Monday, June 30, 2008

FAREWELL TO A PRETTY GOOD GUY

Nobody Asked

No, it’s not a case of damning with faint praise. It’s how Winston Rand, author of nobody asked..., wanted to be remembered: as a Pretty Good Guy.

I was saddened today to hear of Winston’s unexpected passing after his having suffered a brief illness.

Winston was an occasional poet, an engineer, and a sharp-eyed observer of life. I had hoped to meet him on one of my soon-to-be-more-frequent trips to central Tennessee, but that opportunity will now forever be denied me.

A week ago Sunday, in one of those bizarre flashes of Cosmic Irony, Winston had written a post entitled “Fears Of My Demise...” But no, it was not a prescient vision of things to come; it was the story of a blog platform upgrade that (as it happens) proceeded without a hitch...a situation where any fear that might have manifested itself turned out to be unwarranted.

At the end of that post, Winston thanked his readers “...for giving me a reason to do this in the first place.”

It may be a little late, but we readers maybe ought to thank Winston for sharing that little part of himself that compelled him to keep his Online Journal, a journal that now must serve as a legacy. I hope Roomie and Winston’s other loved ones can take comfort in that legacy, along with the knowledge that he was a daily presence in the lives of so many of us.

Ave atque vale, Winston. Godspeed.

THE LOOMING CLOUD

Looming Thunderhead

As we made ready to head off to the airport to pick up Elder Daughter Friday evening, we saw this dramatically-lit thunderhead looming over the northern horizon.

It was impressive, all right, but it was all show and no performance.

Our drive home was lit by sporadic flashes of lightning, but we had nary a drop of rain...until Sunday afternoon, when the deluge came.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

A NEW ADULT BEVERAGE

We picked up Elder Daughter last night at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport With The Name That Goes On and On and On.

She was still pretty worn out, having returned from her ten-day trip to Uganda Wednesday afternoon...and then putting in a full day of work on Thursday. That’d be “work” in quotation marks, accomplishing whatever could be accomplished in a jet-laggy haze. But once she arrived here, she seemed to get a second wind, probably due to the energizing presence of her kid sister, the Mistress of Sarcasm.

I love seeing my girls together.

As we sat around the kitchen table, Elder Daughter and I nibbled on some gravlax and crackers as we all looked at photos from her trip. But the ice-cold akvavit I was enjoying as an accompaniment to the fish was not to Elder Daughter’s liking. So she invented - on the spot! - her own Adult Beverage.

Inspired by the Ba-Tampte garlic dill she was munching on, she had the bright idea of a Dirty Martini made with vodka...and pickle juice instead of olive juice. A Pickletini!


Pickletini

Pickletini.

I used the garlic dill pickle juice I had handy. [Personally, I would have preferred the juice of the Half-Sour, but that is an experiment I'll reserve for a future time.] A teaspoon or two, and a couple of shots of vodka, shaken with ice and strained into a Martini glass. The garnish? A chunk of pickle, of course.

Skål!

Friday, June 27, 2008

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN - MISTRESS OF SARCASM EDITION

The Mistress of Sarcasm
The Mistress of Sarcasm.

What with the Mistress of Sarcasm’s birthday coming up Monday, She Who Must Be Obeyed had the bright idea of posting this week’s Friday Random Ten using the music from the Mistress’s iPod.

Why not, I thought. My Esteemed Readers are probably sick to death of seeing the same stuff here, week after week. Frank Zappa. Ben Folds. The Beatles. Hookalakah Meshobbab. This way, they’ll finally be exposed to some quality music.

Thus, here followeth a Scattershot Selection from the Mistress’s very own Little White Choon Box. Let’s see what’s playing today:
  1. Lover, You Should Have Come Over - Jeff Buckley

  2. King Kong - Daniel Johnston

    Daniel Johnston is living proof that insanity and talent can coexist in the same individual. His music has an offbeat charm...and he’s pretty much a complete whacko. Check out the documentary The Devil and Daniel Johnston for more about this exceptional musician.

  3. Alone Down There - Modest Mouse

  4. He Keeps Me Alive - Sally Shapiro

  5. Lucky Ball and Chain - They Might Be Giants

  6. Shampoo Suicide - Broken Social Scene

  7. Not If You Were The Last Dandy On Earth - The Brian Jonestown Massacre

  8. Picture Book - The Kinks

  9. Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Your Grievances - Daniel Johnston

  10. Gnossienne #1 - Erik Satie

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

FUZZY FRIDAY

If you like animals, then sooner or later
You should make the acquaintance of the Modulator.
He pilots the Ark on its weekly voyage
A Floating Zoo for all girlage and boyage.


The Friday Ark has set sail on its 197th trip across the Bloggy Sea, ably captained (as usual) by Steve, the Modulator.

If that’s not enough Fuzzy Fun for you, remember to stop by Sunday evening to visit the Carnival of the Cats, hosted by Victor Tabbycat.

Now, what are you waiting for? Go! Look at alla them cats and dogs!

Update: CotC #224 is up and running.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

IMAGES OF DESTIN

A few photos I took during our week at the beach.


Umbrellas

Umbrellas at Sandestin. I like the way the bright yellow contrasts with the deep blue of the sky; the red pennant adds a nice accent.


Bamboo

The texture of this bamboo cutting board fascinated me. But unlike a colander, you cannot wear a cutting board on your head.


Crape myrtles

Crape myrtles. This is a tonemapped high dynamic range image created by compositing three different exposures.


SWMBO Toes

The Missus shows off her red-painted toenails. Much more attractive than my Monkey Shit Feet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

HAI, THERE

Given my regular forays into the realm of Vile Doggerel, and given my affection for things Japanese, one might suppose that I am a fan of the quintessentially Japanese verse form known as Haiku.

And one would suppose correctly, although it is a form on which I don’t spend much time. Don’t need to. Haiku are short and sweet; as a bonus, they can be pithy and (sometimes) elegant. Further, they must follow a strict format: three lines, the first having five syllables, the second seven, the last five.

Kinda like a limerick, but without the dick jokes. Mostly.

I first learned about haiku back in...could it have been grade school? One of those English classes in which they attempted to teach us about the concept of blank verse. Poetry without rhyme. Haiku is a great format for teaching the concept of blank verse, because it has a rigidly prescribed structure...so you know it ain’t prose, unlike some more esoteric forms of vers libre.

Sparrow, of All Atwitter, runs a weekly Haiku Wednesday contest, in which she posts a theme and solicits submissions in the Comments. I’ve had a lot of fun with it...and perhaps you can, too!

Meanwhile, here are a few of my haiku, presented in no particular order...

Home

Some people say that
Home is where the heart is. No.
It’s in your ribcage.

All my possessions
Fit neatly in a knapsack.
My home? The wide world.

Love

Oh, how romantic...
My hand entwined in yours, love.
Now, take off your pants.

Heat

I moved to Texas
In ’seventy-four. It was
Hot as a bastard.

Want to imagine
Houston, depopulated?
Think: No More A/C.

Temptation

Rich foods, fast women,
And strong drink, all Satan’s tools.
Get thee behind me!

Temptation tests me
Ev’ry moment of the day.
It’s the Human Way.

Christmas

Glorious quiet!
Christmas brings a hush to town.
Let’s catch a movie!

Now that the goyim
Have discovered our secret,
The theatre is packed.

Trolls

There’s a small café
Where the Georgia bloggers go -
The Troll, in Helen!

My blog is my home.
You, who come to visit me,
Don’t crap on the floor!

Although it’s the ‘Net,
Manners are not optional.
Were you raised by wolves?

And here are a few older ones, previously posted here, on the Odd Topic...

On Science Fiction Movies

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

On Jerry Falwell

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

On Timothy Treadwell, Nature Lover (and Grizzly Bear Dinner)

Oh, Mr. Choc’lit -
Hold me in your warm embrace.
Nibble on my face.

Bears are so cuddly.
Look at that one, cuddling Tim
In his intestines.

Bears shit in the woods.
It’s their nature - what they do.
Tim Treadwell: Bear Shit!

On Pamela Anderson

She has big titties.
They’re her only claim to fame.
It sure ain’t her brain.

Watch the tape: you’ll see
Tommy Lee look at her. A
“Penetrating” stare.

I like reading books
That are packed full of typos.
Did someone say “titts”?

News bulletin: Flash!
A shortage of silicone!
Where did it all go?

Our sources reveal
That Pamela Anderson
Cornered the market.

Look out! She crushes
All in her path. You could say
She’s a “Jug-gernaut.”

And, just for fun, here is...

A Non-Standard Rhyming Haiku

Strippers strike poses
For drunks with ruddy noses.
Gives ’em stiff hoses.

Haiku! They’re ever so much fun. Write one today!

Update: Commenter Og points out - correctly - that pretty much all of these poems are not haiku in the strict sense; they are senryū.

What’s the difference? According to Wikipedia, “senryū are often cynical or darkly humorous while haiku are more serious.” In addition, traditional haiku generally incorporate a seasonal reference; they also include a kireji - a cutting word - at the end of one of the lines. This is only possible in Japanese (English has no kireji), so any attempt to write haiku in English involves some degree of compromise.

Since most English speakers have a vague idea what “haiku” means, whereas they are clueless about “senryū,” I’ll follow convention and call the damn things haiku.

PUTTING THE “DIE” IN “DIET”


Eat What You Want and Die Like a Man


Steve H. Graham, blogger extraordinaire (Hog On Ice), food expert, and humorist, has come out with a new Must-Read book: Eat What You Want and Die Like A Man.

“New” may be overstating it a bit. Steve released an earlier self-published version of the book several years back, featuring cover art by Day By Day’s Chris Muir. A copy currently graces our upstairs bathroom, where it provides amusement for anyone who stops by to drop the kids off at the pool.

But Steve has assured me that Version 2.0 has been more-or-less completely rewritten, which means that if you’re among the Lucky Handful of People who read the original EWYWADLAM, you’ll still find plenty of great new material in Today’s Edition.

Steve is primarily a humor writer, so perhaps it’s best to approach this book as a comedy piece rather than a straight-up cookbook. Nevertheless, the recipes have been tested to death (Steve is a relentless perfectionist when it comes to food) and can be guaranteed to be tasty, if not exactly Low-Calorie. You know you’re going to be having a Serious Meal when you’re looking at items like Chicken-Fried Rib Eye on a Huge Biscuit...especially when you’re frying that rib eye in lard and using bacon grease to make that Frisbee-size biscuit.

I was a bit disappointed that Whale Bacon didn’t make the cut until I thought about it. You eat Whale Bacon raw, so what’s the point of a cookbook?

Some of the recipes look like they’ve been put in as examples of how much Fattening Stuff can be jammed into a single dish: Hash Brown Casserole with Cheddar and Sour Cream, Yeast-Raised Fried Doughnuts With Coconut/Banana Sauce, Grease Burgers. But all of ’em sound delicious, and they range from the homegrown (Cornbread and Navy Beans) to the exotic (Rotis and Jamaican-Style Goat Curry, Doro Wat).

More importantly, they all reflect Steve’s simple philosophy. Use fresh ingredients, and don’t plug in something “healthy” in place of something authentic. If you want to eat Baklava With Cheesecake Filling, don’t make a half-assed version with skim milk and Olivio, because it’ll suck. Make it right, and it will at least taste good...and if you don’t eat big wads of it every day, your ass won’t grow to be the size of Nebraska and your arteries won’t fill up like the men’s room at halftime. Maybe.

Buy the book. You’re guaranteed a good laugh, and a few good meals to boot.

TOP OF THE WORLD, MA


Top Tread Hakuna

Hakuna, perched at the top of the stairs.

Hakuna is in the catbird seat here, observing the world from the top of the stairs.

She has been very vocal of late. Ever since we returned from the beach, Hakuna has been talking almost non-stop. It’s as if to say, “You have a lot of nerve, you two, leaving me by myself for a week.” A far lonelier week without Matata to get in her face, alas.

The carpet cleaning people come today. I predict an Intimate Reunion: Hakuna and the box spring under Elder Daughter’s bed.

But that will be later. Meanwhile, Hakuna’s on top of the world.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

DAD’S DAY


El and the Mistress


Father’s Day was a week ago Sunday, on June 15.

The following day, as I was preparing for my Semi-Annual Rubdown - a Swedish massage having become an essential part of our Beach Ritual - the Massage Therapist asked me whether I had enjoyed Father’s Day.

“Of course,” I answered. “One of my daughters - the Mistress of Sarcasm - is here at the beach with us, so my day was Extra Enjoyable.”

As indeed it was. I can’t wait for her Big Sister to return home from her trip to Uganda. Summer Kampala, as it were. Both of them will (keyn ayin hara) be here this coming weekend...which will make next Sunday the best kind of Father’s Day of all.

Monday, June 23, 2008

PLEASE SAW MY LEG OFF

George Carlin
George Carlin, 1937-2008.

A few weeks ago, the Missus and I were wandering the aisles at CostCo, picking up a few hundred dollars worth of “necessities.”

It’s amazing how difficult it has gotten, lately, leaving CostCo without having dropped at least a C-note or two. All those things that suddenly seem so...important to own. Like that side of beef...or the 55-gallon drum of extra-virgin olive oil...or the case of Château Cockamamie. Don’t act so damn superior. You know what I mean.

But this time, what caught our Collective Eye was a DVD boxed set: the complete first season of “Saturday Night Live.”

We couldn’t resist. Perfect to have at the beach in the event of inclement weather...and a reminder of some of our early days together. The first time either of us recalls watching SNL was on the weekend we traveled to Foat Wuth in February 1976, there to have me Meet The Family. It was the Momma d’SWMBO’s birthday, which provided the perfect excuse to invite me along.

That weekend turned out to be thoroughly enjoyable. SWMBO’s family clasped me to their bosom as if I were one of their own. Her parents were friendly without being overly intrusive; her brothers were...well, brothers. The elder of the two was sixteen at the time and was appropriately sullen, while the younger, at age nine, was mischievous, rigging up a three-foot-long straw in order to suck up my Adult Beverage while we were out to dinner.

As for SNL, it was strangely entertaining, a show that was, clearly, still struggling to define itself. Desi Arnaz, of all people, was the host that weekend. I seem to recall that Andy Kaufman put in an appearance.

Thus it was that when we saw the DVD set at CostCo, we snapped it up. A chance to relive these distant memories, oh, boy!

Watching the first show - hosted by George Carlin - it was striking how inchoate everything was. Some of the familiar elements of today’s SNL were already in place, but it had something of the feel of a variety show.

Goofy-Face Carlin
Carlin, meanwhile, was brilliant. We had already been thoroughly familiar with his material back when the show originally aired; now, it (mostly) still sounded remarkably fresh despite its age. Some of the routines were variations on older ones Carlin had been performing since he reinvented himself as a counterculture comic, riffs that had been cracking us up since the early 1970’s.

Carlin’s comedy, in later years, took on what seemed to me to be an increasingly bitter, cynical edge...but that never diminished his appeal to me. He became, in a way, the Counterculture Comedy Curmudgeon, a man with a highly refined Bullshit Detector. His various film performances (e.g., as a priest in Kevin Smith’s Dogma) weren’t so much acting as they were Being George Carlin On Screen...but that was OK, too. You knew what you were going to get.

When I found out this morning about Carlin’s death, I was shocked...and saddened. Heart failure? WTF? Having just watched his performance on the debut edition of SNL, thoughts of him and his work were still fresh in my mind, making the sudden loss all the more jarring.

Godspeed, George.

Oops. Given your well-known cynicism on the topic of religion, that’s a poor choice of words. How ’bout these, which effectively sum up my feelings when I found out you were defunct?

Shit!
Fuck!
Piss!
Cunt!
Cocksucker!
Motherfucker!
and Tits!

[The post title, in case you’re curious, is from a Carlin routine which had to do with phrases people were very unlikely to say. “Hand me that piano,” for example.]

JUNE GUILD EVENT

Tonight, the Sommelier Guild of Atlanta will hold its monthly Wine Tasting event. This one’s at Paul’s Restaurant in Peachtree Hills and will be a tribute to the late, great Robert Mondavi, one of those individuals whose life work put California on the Vintners’ List of Respectability and brought worldwide recognition to Napa Valley wines. Among other things, Mondavi championed varietal labeling of California wines; this has now become the industry standard.

Rather than adopt my usual fake-whiny “Oh, how we’ll have to suffer through this excruciating experience” tone, I’ll just say it straight out: The Guild’s dinners and tastings are ridiculously enjoyable. What’s not to love about fine wine, especially when complemented by excellent food and fascinating conversation? [Until I get going, whereupon the Vile Doggerel appears, sending everyone running for the hills.]

Here’s tonight’s menu and wine offerings. Houston Steve should be there to enjoy ’em with me; with any luck, Denny will be there too.

Speaker’s wine
A surprise wine, a light white with a strong connection to Robert Mondavi’s career

First flight
Stag’s Leap District Sauvignon Blanc 2003
To Kalon Vineyard Fumé Blanc Reserve 2005
Chardonnay Reserve 2005

Coriander crusted sea scallop, pecorino risotto cake, lobster emulsion

Second flight
Merlot 1997
Cabernet Sauvignon 1994
Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 1994
Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2005

Forest mushroom tarte, sweet garlic cream, mâche lettuce

Third flight
Seña 2000
Luce 2001
Opus One 2000

Bistro filet mignon, Lump crab Imperial,
Yukon Gold potato confit, summer squash ragout

Dessert
Moscato d’Oro 2006

White & dark chocolate mousse, red berries, passion fruit syrup

It all sounds wonderful. I’m especially excited about the chance to enjoy the Opus One, one of the most desirable California wines, produced under the auspices of a joint venture between Robert Mondavi and Baroness Philippine de Rothschild.

We’ll let you know how it all turns out.

Update: No Denny, alas...but an excellent tasting. Not a dud in the lot. Even the “surprise” speaker’s wine - a 2007 Woodbridge sauvignon blanc, $6.99 retail - wasn’t half bad.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

GHOSTS OF SAVANNAH

We’re in Savannah, the Missus and I, the midway point in our journey home from Destin.

Before you object, telling me that Savannah is nowhere near the midpoint of the Destin-Atlanta circuit, I will pre-empt your objection by agreeing with it. Of course not. It is, in fact, several hundred miles out of the way...but no matter, since our objective was to deliver the Mistress of Sarcasm back to her home turf.

The trip took us through Waycross, Georgia, and the Okefenokee Swamp. I thought of Jimbo, and how much he would enjoy being in the home of Albert the Alligator.


Waycross Water Tower

The water tower in Waycross, Georgia, featuring local resident Pogo Possum.

We’re back at our lodgings now, resting up after the long drive from Destin. Tomorrow morning we’ll log another four hours on the final portion of our journey...but for now, it’s time to relax and digest the fine Cuban dinner we just gulped down at Rancho Alegre with the Mistress and her friend Corinne.

Eating there brought back a lot of memories. It was there, three years ago, that we celebrated the Mistress’s graduation from the Savannah College of Art and Design. It was there, two years and two months ago, that the Missus, the Mistress, and I joined Rob Smith for dinner, for what would turn out to be the last meal I would have with the Original Jawja Blown-Eyed Blodger. Only two months later I would be back, along with a small mob of Blown-Eyes - Rob’s blogchildren, all - to bid him farewell at his funeral. And we would be staying in the very place where the Missus and I find ourselves tonight: the (in)famous LaQuinta Inn on Abercorn. Adjacent to Denny’s, as mandated by Law and Custom.

Savannah has its share of ghosts. Hell, you can pay any number of guides to give you a Ghost Tour, exploring the Haunts of the Haints in the Historic District. Are they real? I have no idea...but I thought I could detect ol’ Rob’s presence as we gnawed on our churrazco steaks at Rancho Alegre. Maybe it was just my imagination. Or the potent, garlic-laden chimichurri sauce.

The Mistress of Sarcasm is out at Pinky Masters, hanging with her buddies as we try to catch some well-deserved Z’s. She won’t be here in Savannah much longer. She’s preparing to relocate to Tennessee, there to begin a new chapter in her Life Saga. Which means that Savannah - the Beautiful Lady with the Dirty Face, as my friend Ivan is wont to call it - will become a less-frequent stopover in our routine travels.

But we have a lot of memories here. And you can be sure, we will be back.

For we will have to visit the ghosts, you know. They’ll be here waiting for us.

Friday, June 20, 2008

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN - DESTIN RESTIN’ EDITION


Destin Sunset


Wow, a week passes swiftly when you’re having fun.

It’s Friday yet again, which means that it’s time to start packing for our trip home after a thoroughly enjoyable week in Destin, Florida.

The crowds were a tad more manageable this year, owing to the timing of our trip (earlier) and the sharp rise in the price of gasoline. But, as it happens, we ate out less frequently than we normally do, relying instead on a couple of handy grills and a goodly supply of hardwood charcoal. Mostly, we hung out at the beach or pool, getting gently toasted...and buying all sorts of Useless Crap at the local outlet mall. Traditions must be upheld, you know.

But, late as it is, it is still Friday, which means it’s time to check out the Unpredictable Outflow of the iPod d’Elisson. What’s playing today? Lessee:
  1. Projector - Philip Glass, Kundun

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?

    Knock, knock.

    Who’s there?

    Phil Glass.

  2. Flamenco Sketches (Alternate Take) - Miles Davis

  3. The Horse - Phish

  4. The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight - R.E.M.

  5. Mountain Top and Sunrise - Bernard Herrmann, Journey to the Center of the Earth (1960)

    I remember seeing this one in the theatre when I was a young Snot-Nose.

  6. When Yuppies Go To Hell - Frank Zappa

  7. Real Black Angel - MC 900 Foot Jesus

  8. Shanty Town - Mr. Scruff

  9. A Very Cellular Song - The Incredible String Band

    From the album The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter, now forty years old.

  10. Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band - The Beatles

    From the legendary album of the same name. Where were you when you first heard it?

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

THE OFFICIAL BLOG D’ELISSON DICTIONARY,
Volume 16.

Yet more stuff that should be in the dictionary but isn’t.

Previous installments of the Blog d’Elisson Dictionary may be found in the Archives: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, Volume 7, Volume 8, Volume 9, Volume 10, Volume 11, Volume 12, Volume 13, Volume 14, and Volume 15.

Fondue-due [fahn-doo-doo] (n) - (1) Digestive upset brought on by the consumption of Molten Cheese; (2) The runny excrement resulting from said Digestive Upset.

“We went out to The Melting Pot last Saturday night, and I spent the rest of the weekend on the Porcelain Throne with a major case of the old Fondue-due.”

THE COMPLEAT JACKASS


The Compleat Jackass

The Compleat Jackass.

As Mr. Debonair will tell you, you cannot be a Compleat Jackass unless you have a pair of Jackass Pants. Or, in this case, Jackass Shorts.

Each pair Brooks Brothers sells comes with a form for enrollment in the Republican Party...and the local Country Club.

Of course, you cannot consider yourself a Truly Compleat Jackass without that most critical fashion accessory...


Fashionable Colander

Mr. Debonair models the latest in Colander Fashions.

...the Colander!

Ode to a smear of yellowish pus I found on the toilet paper after wiping my ass this morning.

I sat, half awake, stunned
By my inability to complete BoxWorld puzzle number 17
Pushing boxes around
And depositing the last
Of yesterday’s chicken wings
I leaned forward, with a wad of wipe, and made my first scrape;
A smooth and easy cleanse, needing
Only a second to make sure
So I dropped, and
Wrapped three sheets (two ply) around my palm
Before taking the sachet of bumwipe
And daubing carefully
And felt a curious pain
I don’t often buy
The best asswipe on earth
But slivers? There seemed to be something amiss,
And as I retrieved the pad from my nether regions
Noted a slimy trail of pus
Next to the bacon strip I’d made there
Twin racing stripes of yellow and brown
Like Wyoming’s School Colors
On a field of white
No sliver had pierced my tender taint,
I caught a stray wild hair
And pulled it like a ripcord on a zit
And schmeared the goo on the paper
I moved to the shower to wash,
Cleaning and rinsing, with exploratory squeezing, to
Make sure the magic moment had passed
All gone, a drop of blood confirmed the worst was over
I washed and rinsed and dried,
Placed a dab of neosporin
Hoped you’d not mind if I
Didn’t take pictures.

With apologies to Doug Adams and Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz.

Roughneck crapblogging

A long time ago, I spent a week or two helping a guy set up a cable tool rig.

A cable tool, for the uninitiated, is a way of getting oil out of the ground that is about as old as it gets. A drill bit is hung on the end of a cable, and the tool is lifted and dropped over and over again, cutting through the rock. A special tool then gets dropped into the ground every so often to clear the debris. Setting and using a cable tool rig is not for the weak of spirit or back, and I worked my ass off.

Anyway, my employer, who I’ll call Mr. Brown, had rented this rig on a ride - in other words, the guy he rented it from got a quarter of a percent of anything he hauled up out of the ground. Mr. Brown was a dowser, and claimed he could find oil as easily as water. So confident was he of his skill that he set this cable tool rig up in his yard.

He hired me to help him and tried to get me to do the work for a 1/8 point ride, but I needed cash, so he paid me $2.75 an hour. And he fed me lunch.

We worked from around six AM to about nine PM, with an hour for lunch. Mrs. Brown would come out and stop us, and we’d go into the house and wash up. Lunch was usually chicken fried something, with lots of gravy and mashed potatoes.

After several days of this, Mr. Brown (who was a Southern Baptist and wouldn’t say shit if he had a mouthful) started to walk away from the rig once in a while, and the percussive nature of his walk let me know he was going away to fart.

I was glad for the break myself, because the chicken and gravy was giving me epic gas. Anyway, we had gone about forty feet, three or four feet at a time, and we got the bailer stuck in the wellhead, right in the pit.

So he and I are in the pit, at the bottom of the rig, wrenches and safety chains all over while we try to knock loose the jammed bailer.

And I felt the fart coming.

I pinched my cheeks together so hard I gave myself a buttocks-Charlie horse. And it didn’t help. That fart was coming out, and it was coming out now.

So I farted. It wasn’t loud, but it was vile. And there were two men and a fart in a hole barely big enough for two men.

He climbed up out of the hole after dropping his tools, and reached down to give me a hand up. We sat on the edge of the pit for fully five minutes, not talking. The fart, still down in the pit, had no comment either.

Mr. Brown looked at me and simply said “I gotta get the wife to back off the spices in that gravy.” I figured I’d been fired, but I kept on working for several more days. Mr Brown never went in the pit with me again. And the only gas ever to come out of that dry old hole was the fart I let. I think Mr. Brown went on to sell insurance.

Crossposted at Neanderpundit.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MONKEY SHIT FEET


Monkey Shit Feet


Yes, that is what my podiatrist - a personal friend - said about my feet when he examined them a few years back...

“I’ll tell you what your problem is. You have Monkey Shit Feet.”

Monday, June 16, 2008

Russell Flint

Were I a wealthy, stylish, hedonistic, Man About Town, I would decorate the walls of my home entirely with William Russell Flint originals. The furniture would be Mackintosh, but I didn't need to tell you that, right? I am sure that you all would have guessed it having known my flair for the debonair.

So, who be Mr. Flint? Well, that happens to be a very good question, dear readers. The answer: why, he’s a relatively famous Scottish watercolorist and noted Royal Academician, of course!

Oh, and he was a big fan of painting buxom, scantily clad French & Mediterranean lasses fetching pails of water, taking baths, wistfully looking at sunrises, walking the seashore, etc. And though he is long ago dead - and by now completely musty and not very open to conversation - every time I see one of his watercolors I am overwhelmed with an urge to buy the old fellow an adult beverage. I mean, just check out this beautiful piece.



My goodness, isn’t Cecilia just grand? The Silver Frock is definitely a keeper.

And what about this one? Honestly, what else could one wish for in a painting? You’ve got mountains, a river, shoreline, beautiful clouds, and a topless brunette with her skirt tastefully tussled all squeezed onto the same artful canvas.




I may not be an artist, but I can definitely appreciate it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Friday, June 13, 2008

MEET THE UNEXPECTED VISITOR

Tim Russert

Tim Russert, linchpin of NBC’s news organization and host of Meet The Press, collapsed and died today of an apparent coronary embolism.

Shocking news, this is. And no less disturbing for the fact that Russert was only 58 years old. I hate it when the Unexpected Visitor picks off someone who is not much older than me...it reminds me that I’m living on borrowed time.

We all are.

Tim, requiescat in pace. We hardly knew ye.

FRIDAY RANDOM TEN - PRE-VACATION EDITION

HDR Seashore
Sunrise in Sandestin, a high dynamic range image taken this January.

This is a long-awaited Friday, it being the day before we head out for our annual Week at the Beach.

Last year was exceptional in that our Week at the Beach was in Cancún, Mexico, rather than the more prosaic (and more easily accessible) Destin, Florida. We did make it to Destin later in the summer for a shorter-than-usual visit - a four-day weekend - but this year we return to our normal practice. Normal practice, for us, means driving down Saturday morning, hitting Pompano Joe’s for lunch immediately upon arrival, and then enjoying a full week of loafing, sunbathing, swimming, playing golf, reading, and consuming copious amounts of Vacation Food ’n’ Beverages. Aaaahhh.

This year, though, we’ll forgo the golf. Playing golf in the blazing heat of a Florida summer is insane in the best of times, even more so right after having completed ninety holes in the swelter of an Alabama springtime heat wave.

But, meanwhile, it is Friday, and that means it’s time to check out the Random Spewage of the Little White Choon Box. Let’s see what’s playing today:
  1. Don’t Utter - Natraj

    Jazz meets India, creating a fascinating Train Wreck o’ Sound.

  2. Bigus Dickus - Monty Python

  3. Not The Same - Ben Folds

  4. Commerce, TX - Ben Kweller

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

  6. Peace Memory - Pat Metheny

  7. My Old Man - Joni Mitchell

  8. I Want You To Hurt Like I Do - Randy Newman

    There’s a lot more to Randy Newman than his Pixar/Disney movie soundtracks. His music from the early- to mid-1970’s had a cynical streak a mile wide.

  9. When Desperate Static Beats The Silence Up - Ben Folds

  10. Getting Married Today - Company, Boston University’s On Broadway

    Elder Daughter takes center stage in this insanely difficult-to-perform patter song.

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

SCOUTS

When I heard of the latest weather-related disaster, in which four young men at a Boy Scout outing were wiped out when an F3 tornado struck their camp, my initial impulse was to make some sort of stupid joke. Something along the lines of, “Well, there’s one troop that won’t be handing out any merit badges for weather forecasting!”

But the words never got past my lips. I like to think I thought better of it all by myself, but it may very well be the fact that She Who Must Be Obeyed was with me.

SWMBO is a living testament to the grief and pain that a weather-related death can bring to a family, to a community, having lost her sister to a stroke of lightning on July 4, 1975. It was almost 33 years ago, but there’s not a day that goes by when everyone in her family experiences a silent, inner pang. And I mourn for the sister-in-law I never knew.

The Boy Scouts at that campground - the survivors - learned a painful lesson in the power of Nature. It’s the kind of schooling that any of us can be subject to at any moment. I hope they can draw strength from one another and help each other through the grieving and recovery process.

May the Father of Compassion grant perfect peace to the young men whose lives were so tragically cut short Wednesday night...and may He offer consolation to their families.

LUNA

Luna Moth
Luna moth.

A Luna moth alights on the side of a brick building in this photo by Houston Steve.

When I was a young Snot-Nose, I used to collect butterflies. We had a large hydrangea in the back of the house behind the garage that attracted butterflies in vast numbers, so much so that we called it the “Butterfly Bush.” Hummingbirds, bees, pretty much anything that liked sweet nectar - all gathered there during those lazy, hot summer days. It was Long Island in the fifties, a good time to be a Suburban Kid.

But big moths were another story. We never saw those...until we moved to Georgia. Once in a while, a humongous Cecropia moth, or a Polyphemus, huge as a bat, would be attracted by the side entrance light.

The Luna moth is the largest of these. They’re not rare, but you don’t see them too often as they only live about a week as adults. This one is a real beauty.

For other Beauteous Fauna, stop by the Friday Ark, captained by the Modulator on its 195th voyage.

There’s more! This Sunday, the 222nd Carnival of the Cats will be hosted by the Mind of Mog, one of my favorite catbloggers. Be sure to stop by and visit all the friendly felines!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

THE LEAN AND HUNGRY LOOK


Predatory Hakuna

Hakuna in a Predatory Pose.

Let me have cats about me that are fat,
Sleek-headed cats and such as sleep a-nights.
Yond ’Kuna has a lean and hungry look,
She thinks too much; dat kitteh dangerous.

AND NOW, THE NEWS...

What’s going on at Chez Elisson today?

It’s a little quieter, now that Aunt Marge and Uncle Phil have returned to South Florida after a week-long visit. Phil is thirty years my senior, but you’d never know it. He and Marge are active, outgoing peeps, the kind you never get tired of spending time with.

Tuesday afternoon we wandered about the High Museum of Art, checking out a remarkable exhibition - Road to Freedom: Photographs of the Civil Rights Movement. Many of the images in the exhibition are familiar, almost iconic, while many others have never before been shown. They are sobering, taken both as a whole body and individually, reminding you of just how shabbily people are capable of treating other human beings. Hosing down peaceful demonstrators, setting dogs on them, burning buses, murdering people, and gathering in mobs to shout at schoolchildren...it’s an unfortunate part of this country’s history that needs to be remembered and taught. Those of us who lost relatives in the Holocaust can appreciate the consequences of a social policy that designates certain people as being less than fully human.

We’ve still got a ways to go, as regards the treatment of minorities...but as a nation, and as a region, we’re light-years ahead of where we were fifty years ago.

But back to Current Events.

She Who Must Be Obeyed is knocking around town with the Mistress of Sarcasm, who is here with us recuperating from a back injury she suffered at Tybee Island last week. (Memo to self: When jumping from a 20-foot-high dock into deep water, be sure to avoid landing on the back or stomach. Yeowch!) The Mistress will be joining us on our upcoming vacation trip to Destin, the annual week of Sun ’n’ Fun in the steaming sands of the Florida Panhandle. We head out first thing Saturday morning.

Meanwhile, Elder Daughter is enroute from Los Angeles to Detroit, from where she will fly to Amsterdam and then onward to Kampala, Uganda, where she will spend two weeks on a film shoot. Perhaps she will run into some of the exotic Local Fauna. Oh, wait: Zimbabwe and Uganda aren’t exactly close to one another...

And it’s a Special Day for SWMBO and me: today is our thirty-first wedding anniversary.

It’s a strange thing. We’ve been together for a long time, but somehow, the Missus finds a way to make every day seem new. Maybe it’s a new haircut, or some whacked-out private joke between the two of us, or...I don’t know what. But I’m looking forward to the next thirty-one with as much enthusiasm (if maybe not as much Raw Energy) as I did the first.

I loves me my SWMBO!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

FLOG DIGEST

“Flog” being, of course, an anagram for “Golf.”


Fighting Joe #18

The sun sets beyond the 18th green of the Fighting Joe course at the Shoals.

This Thursday just past, the Usual Gang of Idiots Suburban Sportsmen headed out for our annual visit to the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail. The Trail consists of eleven separate locations in Alabama, comprising 26 courses - a total of 468 holes. Say what you will about the State of Alabama, but ya gotta give ’em credit for coming up with the idea for the Trail. It’s a first rate attraction, serving not only as a powerful tourist destination, but as an incentive for businesses to relocate to the state. And it’s operated by the Retirement Systems of Alabama, so while you play golf you are, at the same time, ensuring that superannuated Alabama state employees need not subsist on a diet of Cheez Whiz and Tender Vittles.

Prior trips have taken us to the Grand National in Opelika and Capitol Hill in Prattville (just north of Montgomery). This year, we attacked the Shoals (in Muscle Shoals, way up in the northwest corner of the state), then moved down to the Birmingham area to hit Oxmoor Valley and Ross Bridge. Oxmoor Valley was the first of the Trail locations; Ross Bridge the most recent - so we managed to span the entire history of the Trail in a single two-day period.

It’s a Golfy Marathon: 36 holes the first day, 36 the second day, and a single round of 18 the third (and final) day. That’s ninety holes. In three days.

On Friday, we played the Schoolmaster and Fighting Joe courses at the Shoals. The Schoolmaster is named for none other than good old Mr. Wilson...Woodrow Wilson, that is, who, as President, was nicknamed the Schoolmaster owing to his prior history as president of a Familiar University. And, indeed, we were Schooled by the Schoolmaster...after which Fighting Joe (a Scottish links-style layout) put the nail in the coffin.

Saturday had us at Oxmoor Valley, where we played the Valley course in the morning and the Ridge course in the hot, steamy afternoon. The Ridge, especially, was a challenge every inch of the way, requiring precise tee shots to relatively small landing areas. Wayward shots - assuming you could find ’em - would end up in all sorts of bizarrely-sloped lies. Yeef.

Sunday morning, we played at the Trail’s newest addition, Ross Bridge. Gorgeous course...with gorilla-grass rough that would gulp golf balls like a gimme-cap Gomer gulps Mountain Dew. But I managed to finish it. Sore and weary and overheated...and strangely happy, despite a score that would cause a Tiger Woods to shit a blood clot.

We’ll be back next year, although there is a developing consensus that we oughta maybe not play 36 holes a day. On Day Two, anyway.

More pics below the fold.


Golfy Boyz

A few of my Partners in Crime: Houston Steve, Gary F., and Lee B.


Waterfall at Ross Bridge

A waterfall and mill house at Ross Bridge, the Trail’s newest course.


Swing Tryptich

Elisson gets a taste of the Elusive Acorn.

Monday, June 09, 2008

IN VINO VERITAS, IN GRAVLAX GRAVITAS


Gravlax

Homemade gravlax. Yum.

Yessiree, while you may find Truth in that glass of wine, gravlax - Scandinavian salt-cured salmon - is Serious.

Gravlax is a member of the Pantheon o’ Cured Fish, a select group that includes Nova Scotia smoked salmon, belly lox, smoked sable, et cetera. And since Saveur Magazine was gracious enough to include a recipe in their most recent issue, I could not resist trying it out.

It’s easy, but you have to allow a few days before the finished product is ready. There’s no smoking necessary; the fish is cured in a mixture of spices, sugar, and salt.

You get a two-pound chunk of skin-on salmon fillet. Any kind will work, but fattier varieties, such as Atlantic salmon, will have more flavor after curing.

Grind up two tablespoons of white peppercorns and one tablespoon each of caraway and fennel seeds in a spice grinder or food processor. Combine this chopped spice mixture with 1/3 cup of granulated sugar and 2/3 cup kosher salt; mix well.

Cover a dinner plate with a sheet of plastic wrap. Sprinkle half of the salt mixture on the plate, then lay the fish down on it, skin side down. Cover with the remaining salt mixture, then with a cup of loose dill sprigs.

You can stop here, or you can have some real fun by adding 1/4 cup of akvavit. Since I had no akvavit in the house (a situation I’ll want to remedy soon), I added 1/4 cup of gin, figuring that the juniper flavor would marry well with the dill and spices. As it happens, I was right.

Now, fold the plastic wrap over the fish and wrap tightly, using more plastic wrap as needed.

Stick the whole mess in the fridge. If you want, you can weight it down with a heavy flat object.

After a while, the fish will start to ooze brine: this is normal. Every 12 hours, turn the fish over and massage it a bit to help the brine penetrate. Your refrigerator will fill with the unmistakable pong of curing gravlax, but stay the course - it’s worth it.

After 48-72 hours, the fish should be nicely cured. Take it out of the plastic, rinse off the brine, spices, and dill, and pat dry with a paper towel.

Chop some fresh dill - a few tablespoons will do - and scatter it on a plate. Press the fish, flesh side down, into the dill to coat it.

Now lay that salmon, skin side down, on a cutting board. Using a razor-sharp knife, cut thin slices, stopping at the skin. Serve it forth, garnished with capers if you like. The Swedes serve gravlax with a mustard-based sauce, but I think that’s gilding the lily. Decorate the platter, if you’re so inclined, with a few capers and maybe some chopped red onion. Add a few Kavli crackers or a piece or two of Swedish crispbread; a shot of ice-cold akvavit, and you’re good to go.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

OF PIGS AND ACORNS

Even a blind pig will find an acorn now and then, they say...and that is what impels me to continue to play golf.

Almost forty-five years of frustration, and I’m still looking for that Elusive Acorn.

Got a whiff of it last Sunday. I played the best round of my life, somehow managing to avoid minor disasters and Major Screw-Ups. No lost balls. Lotta good, solid tee shots and crisp long irons.

It’s mere preparation for this weekend’s annual Golfy Marathon, which will find me (along with seven other like-minded idiots) in various places in Alabama, flailing away at the Little White Pill.

Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That would make me certifiable: I play golf over and over again, expecting to shoot a magnificent round. Or at least, a halfway decent one. But I can smell the faint aroma of that Elusive Acorn, just pungent enough to keep me coming back for more.

Wish me luck, Esteemed Readers. I’ll need it.

Update: Sunday evening. Just got home. Ninety holes in three days of mid- to upper-90’s temperatures. Shoot me now.

(Seriously, it was fun...but exhausting. Thank goodness we had plenty of “Scottish Advil” with us.)

GO FISH


Carp at Tenryu-ji

Carp at Tenryu-ji, Arashiyama, Japan.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

CONSOLIDATION IN THE GROCERY BUSINESS


Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton at the Kennedy Center. Note that each of her massive kalamatunis must have its own I.D. badge. Photo ©2006 MSNBC.

There is a story circulating amongst the Purveyors of Groceries...

It seems that Dolly Parton, the noted country music and film star as well as the Empress of Dollywood, has decided to expand her extensive commercial interests by investing in the food marketing business.

Her first move, according to sources in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, will be to consolidate several existing grocery chains in order to take advantage of economies of scale and to gain purchasing leverage with suppliers. Three companies - Big Star, Piggly Wiggly, and Harris Teeter - will form the nucleus of the new Parton enterprise, which will be called...


...wait for it...


...wait for it...


...wait for it...


...Big Wiggly Teeters.

[ba dump-bump]

Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Barry for this infamous News Item.

A CONVERSATION IN KYOTO

We had been wandering around the Shinkyogoku-dori shopping arcade in Kyoto, checking out the sights and trying to decide if we were hungry enough for a sit-down meal.

That’s when we saw the Edible Football.


Edible Football

Edible football? No, just an okii-na-omu-raisu. [Click to embiggen.]

There it was, nestled in the window amongst the other Plastic Window Food. An enormous pile of fried rice, tucked under an omelet blanket...and decorated with (gak, choke) ketchup. The sign said it was an okii-na-omu-raisu. Not just an omu-raisu (the Japanified contraction of “omelette” and “rice”), but a giant omu-raisu. Big! big! big! said the sign, and it could be mine for less than a double sawbuck.

No, thanks. I’d sooner have eaten sea urchin gonads. Wait: We had eaten sea urchin gonads, that very day. For breakfast. Cheerios, move over.

But that’s when a familiar - dare I say, comforting - presence appeared before me.

He was an old friend from down South, back home in the good old United States. I’d known him for years, and, though he’d shortened his name in recent years, he was still the reliable, rock-steady Colonel I’d done business with since small-kid days.

At first I didn’t recognize him, owing to the unusual chapeau he was sporting. And I, being a connoisseur of Fine Headgear, asked him about it. “Say, Colonel,” says I, “What’s the deal with...?”

“Aw, son,” he said, with that familiar twinkle in his eye. “Sometimes ya just gotta go with the flow. When in Rome, and all that.”

I guess I understood...


The Colonel

The Colonel and his Unusual Chapeau.

Who’s up for Kentucky Fried Prawns?

Monday, June 02, 2008

BOTTLED UP: A 100-WORD STORY

The old bottle had lain in the alley for... who knows how long? For years, it had managed to escape the attentions of neighborhood dogs, children on bicycles, skateboarders, and other passersby. But when Wino Willie saw the glint of glass peeping out from beneath a mound of trash, his first thought was, “Booze!”

Willie grabbed the heavy, filth-encrusted bottle. He rubbed it on a threadbare sleeve...

...and amidst a cloud of smoke, out popped the Ty-D-Bowl Man!

“It’s been thirty years,” Ty-D explained. “I was looking for a toilet and fell into a whiskey bottle. Been there ever since.”

[The theme of Weekly Challenge #112 at the 100 Word Stories Podcast is Whiskey. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite story in Weekly Challenge #111, while you’re at it!]

Sunday, June 01, 2008

STUFFED AGAIN

Last night, we had a few friends over for dinner.

Among them was Houston Steve, who brought a few bottles of wine. There were two bottles of a 2001 Groot Constantia Landgoed South African Syrah, which we decanted before consuming. Both bottles were excellent; the second one, which had been cellared by Steve, was even better than the first. A third bottle - a 2006 Rosenblum Kathy’s Cuvée Viognier - had just a breath of sweetness and was packed with fruit, a perfect wine to be enjoyed out-of-doors.

[As if that were not enough, he had prepared a few appetizers to go along with the wine. Asparagus with Gruyère cheese and pine nuts. Mushroom, onion, and Gruyère tartlets. Hoo, boy.]

The Missus and I laid on a veritabobble groaning board, following the traditional dictum of “if there are not enough leftovers to feed a small army for a week, you didn’t serve enough food.” Roasted sweet potatoes. A quinoa, tomato, and feta cake. Braised fennel in a rosemary-Madeira-lime reduction. Grilled chicken with roasted yellow tomato sauce. Green beans sautéed in butter and soy sauce.


Braised Fennel

Braised fennel.

Dessert consisted of a big bowl of blueberries, blackberries, apricots and peaches. Glorious...especially with the Jackson-Trigg Vidal ice wine Barry and Malka had brought.

It was one of those evenings where the conversation flowed - as did copious amounts of wine - and friends enjoyed each other’s company.

A couple of the dishes we enjoyed came from the newest addition to our Cookbook Collection: Chocolate & Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen, by Clotilde Dusoulier. Clotilde is the author of the food blog Chocolate & Zucchini, a long-term resident on my blogroll. She’s responsible for the quinoa cake and the braised fennel, both of which were excellent. [Of course, leave it to Elisson to experiment on dinner guests by having them eat dishes from recipes we’re trying for the first time.]

You’d think we’d have had enough, but She Who Must Be Obeyed is busy pottering around in the kitchen, getting ready for a luncheon she’s hosting for a colleague tomorrow. Fourteen people.

Judging by the Orzo Primavera she just stuck in the fridge, it’ll be a Fine Feed.


Orzo Primavera

SWMBO’s Orzo Primavera.