Thursday, July 31, 2008


Most of us have spots in the Bloggy-Sphere that we visit on a regular basis. We develop an interest – perhaps even an affection – for certain writers’ styles and peculiarities. Over time, however, our memories become foggy and details get “lost in the sauce.” Take the following quiz and see how well you know your bloggers!

1.  Laurence Simon says that he’s “so full of crap, his eyes are brown.” What’s the name of his main blog?
     a.  This Blog Is Packed With Excrement
     b.  This Website Is Crammed With Dookie
     c.  What The Deuce?
     d.  This Blog Is Full Of Crap

2.  Mac, who writes over at pesky’apostrophe, claims that her site is
     a.  more pleasant than parentheses
     b.  now with more ampersands!
     c.  better than an unexpected period
     d.  better than not getting a period when you’re expecting one

3.  The term “cock ring” is most likely to be found at:
     a.  Boudicca’s Voice
     b.  Velociworld
     c.  Shadowscope
     d.  Instapundit

4.  Denny, the Grouchy Old Cripple, would probably describe himself as:
     a.  a libertarian atheist
     b.  a Eugene McCarthy Democrat
     c.  an old school socialist in the style of Norman Thomas
     d.  a crotchety, superannuated paraplegic

5.  Jim of Parkway Rest Stop prides himself on one of his notable physical characteristics. What is it?
     a.  Fareekin’ Silky Thighs
     b.  Farookin’ Great Hair
     c.  Frickin’ Ripped Abs
     d.  Fungus-catchin’ Innie Navel

6.  Harvey calls his blog “Bad Example.” But it didn’t start out that way. What was it originally called?
     a.  Cautionary Tale
     b.  Sad Grandpa
     c.  This Blog Sucks
     d.  Bad Money

7.  Eric, the Straight White Guy, is sometimes known as Eric the
     a.  Tactical Nuclear Weapon
     b.  Pigsticker
     c.  Zombie
     d.  Blade

8.  At Erica’s Blog, you may find snide references to a neighboring state. You may also find the following epithet:
     a.  Kooshball
     b.  Douche-Bag
     c.  Dooshbag
     d.  Fatoushbagge

9.  At sisu, Sissy Willis often combines incisive political commentary with extraordinary photographs of her two cats. The Chelsea Grays, as she calls them, are named:
     a.  Hakuna and Matata
     b.  Baby Cakes and Tiny
     c.  Tig and Gracie
     d.  Tuck and Goomp

10.  “Indiana Jones” is to “fedora” as “Elisson” is to:
     a.  “beret”
     b.  “Panama hat”
     c.  “colander”
     d.  “gimme cap”

I’ll post the all-too-obvious answers in a couple of days. Meanwhile, show us your Big Bloggity Brains by sticking your answers in the comments...or on your own site. Winners will be rewarded with effusive and fulsome praise.


High Up Neighbor

Neighbor communes with Ceiling Cat.

Neighbor continues to surprise us, parking her Kitty Butt in places where Hakuna and (the late) Matata would never think to go.

She’s the Captain Kirk of Kitties, boldly going where no cat has gone before.

Here, she sits atop a tall bookcase in my office. At first, I didn’t notice her there as I toiled away...but after a while, I began to get the feeling that I was being...supervised. Looking up, I saw Neighbor’s familiar silhouette in an altogether unfamiliar place.

She stayed long enough for me to grab my camera. Then she jumped down gracefully, using the top of the piano as a stair-tread. Presumably, that’s how she got up there in the first place.

Maybe Neighbor is getting religion. After all, where else would you go to seek Ceiling Cat but right up there next to the ceiling?

Wednesday, July 30, 2008


Verkrimpte Punim

The Mistress of Sarcasm, SWMBO, Boudicca, and Morrigan.

Sometimes, madness is hereditary.

But sometimes, it’s not madness. Just a bunch of people acting Bou-Diculous.


Chez Elisson

Chez Elisson, October 2006.

Today marks the tenth year of our residence in Chez Elisson, Atlanta. It was ten years ago that we signed the closing papers on this, our current home.

It’s the longest time we’ve ever spent in one house as a married couple, the previous record having been our immediately prior stint in west Houston. That one lasted seven-and-a-half years.

[For that matter, it’s the longest time I’ve lived in a single house since I was a kid growing up in my childhood home on Lawn Guyland, where we moved when I was nine months old. We spent the next fourteen years there.]

Seven houses in thirty-one years, an average of four-and-a-half years in each house. That’s what happens when you sign on for a career with a big multinational corporation, and they don’t come much bigger than the Great Corporate Salt Mine. But we decided many years ago that once we reached our fifties, we were not going to still be traipsing about the country like all too many of my Corporate Colleagues, trying to reestablish ourselves in a new and unfamiliar landscape at the whim of the Salt Mine. And so once we got back to Atlanta after an absence of twelve years, we dug our heels in. It was our favorite among all the places we had lived, and we wanted to stay.

Ten years.

A lot has changed here in ten years. More traffic, more growth. New shopping centers sprouting up to replace land once used for driving ranges, farm stands, and Christmas tree saleslots. New homes with price tags in the seven figures.

We’ve changed, too. Ten years ago, Elder Daughter had completed her freshman year at Boston University, and the Mistress of Sarcasm was midway through her high school career. Unlike me, they never had a chance to get too accustomed to one place growing up, although their Rootless Upbringing inculcated in them both a certain adaptability that I envy. Now they’re Grown-Ups, out on their own. And we’ve had the chance to reconnect with our old friends while making new friends, sinking our Familial Roots into the community.

I’m looking forward to seeing what the next ten years will bring...kein ayin hora.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


There has been a change in the local Breakfast Dynamic in the past few weeks. Goldberg’s, a local chain of bagel shops, has opened an outpost nearby - just down Johnson Ferry road from Bagelicious, AKA the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium.

While our little corner of East Cobb County is not exactly crawling with restaurants, there’s no shortage of places to grab a bite for breakfast. There are the usual chain operations: Einstein Bros. Bagels, Dunkin’ Donuts, IHOP, La Madeleine, Waffle House, etc., etc. There’s J. Christopher’s and the Flying Biscuit Cafe, two more chains, albeit ones that originated in Atlanta.

Some of these places sell bagels. Or what passes for bagels, anyway. Anyone familiar with the Real Thing knows a genuine bagel from an Einstein Bros. impostor. When it comes to the Real Thing, the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium - Bagelicious - was the only game in town. This part of town, anyway.

And then there’s the matter of the Smoked Fish. If you wanted real Nova Scotia smoked salmon... belly lox... sable... kippered salmon... whitefish... there was only one place to go. If you had a jones for a hot pastrami and corned beef sandwich and didn’t want to drive down into Sandy Springs, there was only one option.

So what if the coffee was - is - hit or miss? So what if the place is a little down-at-the-heels in appearance, with every square inch of wall space covered in Yankees memorabilia or banners and photos of local Little League, soccer, and Pop Warner teams? It may not pass muster with the frou-frou Interior Decorator crowd, but in what other restaurant could you see Gravel-Voice Larry’s walking stick hanging on the wall, mute testament to his prodigious abilities as a Fish-Maven?

Now here comes the New Kid on the Block.

Goldberg’s, it should be pointed out, is “new” only in the sense of “new to this area.” They’re a venerable operation. Back when we first moved here in the early 1980’s, Goldberg’s was where you went if you wanted real New York-style bagels...or smoked fish. You had to drive fifteen miles to get there, but they were the only option.

For years, Goldberg’s was in no hurry to move to East Cobb. Now they’re here in full force, and the Local Bagel Emporium is scared shitless, facing the first straight-up competitive battle of their life. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out. Bagel versus bagel. Bialy versus bialy.

The newcomer’s place is big, glitzy, staffed with an army of servitors. It’s decorated with three-dimensional dioramae illustrating scenes from popular Broadway musicals and Hollywood films. It’s spotless. It’s bustling. It’s expensive. And on Sundays, it’s packed with the local church crowd, fresh from the Matinée Service.

You can get a bagel with excellent smoked fish. Or you can get shrimp and grits. [Which means the new place will not be catering any functions at our synagogue.] You can get baked goods, deli takeout, all kinds of beverages. You can even use credit cards. It’s Full Service!

But you won’t find everything at the New Place.

You won’t find the guys playing Liar’s Poker with Tommy, the owner of the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium. You won’t find too many banners on the walls, emblazoned with the names of the local softball team. You won’t find pictures of Mickey Mantle or Yogi Berra. You won’t find a whole lot of haimishkeit.

And, except on rare occasions, you won’t find me there either.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Every so often, I like to survey the deli counter, looking for disturbing meats. Scary meats.

Headcheese, for instance. No cheese, but plenty of head, chunks floating in a sea of gelatinous goop. I wouldn’t eat it on a dare.

Or mortadella. Sounds like Morticia’s older sister. Looks like sliced cellulite. Ecch.

The most disturbing of all? Gotta be Olive Loaf.

The name’s bad enough, like something Popeye’s girlfriend might drop off at the pool. All those embedded olives, sliced in cross-section, staring out of the meat case like evil eyes? It’s the lunchmeat that looks at you.

Scary, man.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


Pantry d’Elisson

Behold the freshly cleaned and organized Pantry d’Elisson. No Olde Foode here!

Yesterday we drove down to Savannah, picked up the Mistress of Sarcasm’s remaining belongings, and drove back to Atlanta. It was brutal. Nine hours on the road, combined with schlepping stuff down a narrow stairway in the Savannah summertime heat for a couple of hours, filling up a pickup truck and the Elissonmobile. But now the Mistress is one step closer to Nashville.

One of the nice things about having the Mistress of Sarcasm with us for these few transitional weeks, aside form being able to enjoy her company, is having the advantage of her industriousness. She’s a ball of energy.

Three weeks ago, she and the Missus cleaned out and organized the basement, a thoroughly unpleasant job that we had managed to put off for almost ten years.

The past few days, she’s been doing surface prep, getting ready to paint her room. It’s the last bedroom in the house that hasn’t been painted since we moved in. We always dreaded doing it because it’s a big room with a complicated ceiling...and the walls have borne the effects of the Mistress’s high-school-era decorating efforts. Lotta ticky-tack and two-sided tape remnants.

A couple of days ago she tackled the fridge and the pantry, mercilessly discarding all of the old, outdated crap. They’re both pristine now.

I have a nasty habit of buying Interesting Food Items, stuffing them away, and then either forgetting to use them or just moving on to other things. Sometimes the pleasure of owning a jar of something like Prune Butter (AKA lekvar) interferes with the pleasure of consuming it. Call me a Food Collector. Or better yet, a psycho nutjob. And I’ve resisted the Missus’s previous attempts to clean things out. Because, after all, you never know when you’ll need that nine-year-old tin of garam masala.

Look, it’s reasonably easy to keep up with the refrigerator, with a little due diligence. When stuff gets old, it usually tells you. It starts to smell funky, or it starts to grow green hair like some sort of alien zombie armpit. But old stuff tends to accumulate. Jars of olives, capers, various Exotic Condiments...these can get pretty old. And even though they last a long time, they don’t last forever.

The freezer is worse, because it’s easy to throw something in there and forget about it. Three-year-old meat is not a Good Thing.

But the pantry...ahhh, the pantry. That’s where the really ancient stuff lurks. Olde Foode. Stuff you buy with every intention of using it, but somehow never do, until finally it’s too old to consume.

A few weeks ago, I made a piña colada using some Coco Lopez piña colada mix I had found hiding in the pantry. One taste, and it was pretty damn obvious the stuff was way too old. Feh. The moral? Just because it’s in a can or jar doesn’t mean it’s good forever.

Staples also don’t last forever, with the possible exception of sugar. Flour, especially whole wheat or rye flour, gets rancid. And spices are generally useless after a couple of years. But I’ll bet that you have spices in your pantry that are old enough to get a learner’s permit.

Years ago, after my mother passed away, SWMBO and I took on the unenviable task of cleaning out her pantry and freezer. If you wonder where I get my pack-rat tendencies, wonder no more. I am my mother’s son. There was stuff in that freezer that was amazingly ancient. We took everything that looked like it might be usable.

[For months afterward, whenever we had anything to eat, the kids would ask whether it had come from Grandma’s freezer. If it had, they wouldn’t touch it. All that stuff tasted…worn out. We finally ended up tossing it all.]

The pantry was worse. There was crap in there that dated back to the Nixon administration. Here’s the evidence:

Ancient Jell-O

You’re looking at a box of Jell-O (duh). But it’s a really old box of Jell-O. How old is it?

Back when we found it in Mom’s pantry, I knew it was way too old to use. The package design was one clue. Here was another:

Ancient Jell-O with price stamp

Check out that price...27¢! Stamped on the box with a rubber stamp! (Of course, this was way before the days of bar codes, back when each item in the supermarket was individually priced.)

One of our neighbors worked for General Foods. I showed him the box, and he told me that it was produced in August, 1974. That was the month Nixon resigned...and the month I started working for the Great Corporate Salt Mine. That box was fourteen years old.

But that was back in 1988. It’s been living in our pantry for the past twenty years. Not that we ever planned to use it, mind you. It was a keepsake.

And we still have it. As you know, there’s always room for Jell-O. In the basement.

[Got any Olde Foode stories of your own? Why not write ’em up and link back to this post?]

Friday, July 25, 2008


It’s Friday once again: time for this week’s Dookie-licious Download and Danceable Data Dump straight from the maw of the iPod d’Elisson. Yes, it’s the Friday Random Ten!

Those of you who wonder where I got the idea to post a Friday Random Ten should know that the idea is hardly original. I first remember seeing it at Verbatim (my Blogmomma), but there were plenty of other sites doing it. In my case, I had to wait until I had an iPod...but once I did, well, the rest was history. As it is said.

A fun weekend awaits. A fast drive down to Savannah, there to pick up the remnants of the Mistress of Sarcasm’s possessions, and a fast return. But meanwhile, there are Choons to Check Out. Whadda we got today?
  1. The Sun Is A Mass Of Incandescent Gas - They Might Be Giants

    Quoth the Mistress of Sarcasm: “Someone once asked me what my major musical influences were, growing up. I told them, ‘They Might Be Giants, Frank Zappa, and the Judybats.’”

  2. Scar Tissue - Red Hot Chili Peppers

  3. Cripple Creek - Leo Kottke

  4. It’s Only Love - The Beatles

  5. Don’t Pass Me By - The Beatles

  6. Blinded By The Light - Bruce Springsteen

    Madman drummers bummers and Indians in the summer with a teenage diplomat
    In the dumps with the mumps as the adolescent pumps his way into his hat
    With a boulder on my shoulder, feelin’ kinda older I tripped the merry-go-round
    With this very unpleasing sneezing and wheezing the calliope crashed to the ground
    Some all-hot half-shot was headin’ for the hot spot snappin’ his fingers clappin’ his hands,
    And some fleshpot mascot was tied into a lover’s knot with a whatnot in her hand
    And now young Scott with a slingshot finally found a tender spot and throws his lover in the sand
    And some bloodshot forget-me-not whispers Daddy’s within earshot, save the buckshot, turn up the band

    And she was blinded by the light
    Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
    Blinded by the light
    She got down but she never got tight, but she’ll make it alright

    Some brimstone baritone anti-cyclone rolling stone preacher from the east
    He says, Dethrone the dictaphone, hit it in its funny bone, that’s where they expect it least
    And some new-mown chaperone was standin’ in the corner all alone watchin’ the young girls dance
    And some fresh-sown moonstone was messin’ with his frozen zone to remind him of the feeling of romance

    Yeah he was blinded by the light
    Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
    Blinded by the light
    He got down but he never got tight, but he’s gonna make it tonight

    Some silicone sister with her manager’s mister told me I got what it takes
    She said I’ll turn you on, sonny, to something strong if you play that song with the funky break
    And go-cart Mozart was checkin’ out the weather chart to see if it was safe to go outside
    And little Early-Pearly came by in her curly-wurly and asked me if I needed a ride

    Oh, some hazard from Harvard was skunked on beer playin’ backyard bombardier
    Yes and Scotland Yard was trying hard, they sent some dude with a calling card, he said, Do what you like, but don’t do it here
    Well, I jumped up, turned around, spit in the air, fell on the ground
    Asked him which was the way back home
    He said take a right at the light, keep goin’ straight until night, and then, boy, you’re on your own

    And now in Zanzibar a shootin’ star was ridin’ in a side car hummin’ a lunar tune
    Yes, and the avatar said blow the bar but first remove the cookie jar we’re gonna teach those boys to laugh too soon
    And some kidnapped handicap was complainin’ that he caught the clap from some mousetrap he bought last night
    Well I unsnapped his skull cap and between his ears I saw a gap but figured he’d be all right

    He was just blinded by the light
    Cut loose like a deuce another runner in the night
    Blinded by the light
    Mama always told me not to look into the sights of the sun
    Oh but mama that’s where the fun is

  7. Istanbul (Not Constantinople) - They Might Be Giants

  8. The Grotto - Bernard Herrmann, Journey To The Center Of The Earth (1959)

    The 1959 version of this just-remade Jules Verne epic featured state-of-the-art cheesy effects, along with the acting talents of James Mason and Pat Boone (and the feminine pulchritude of Arlene Dahl). But the best part - to me, anyway - was the eerie score by master film composer Bernard Herrmann.

  9. I Came As A Rat - Modest Mouse

  10. Growin’ Up - Bruce Springsteen

Wow - three Double-Plays. The Beatles, TMBG, and Springsteen. A first!

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


I am thoroughly disgusted with myself for having missed the Bicentennial Edition of the Friday Ark last week, but it could not be helped. The deadly combination of being away from home and having a Misbehaving Camera conspired to keep me from putting up my usual Kitty Pic.

Accordingly, this week I’m making up for lost time with not one, but two posts.

So: Cruise on over to the Modulator and check out Friday Ark #201. It’s Better than Bicentennerific™!

And don’t forget that on Sunday evening, just as you are getting depressed over the onset of Yet Another Boring Workweek, along comes the Carnival of the Cats to cheer you up. The 228th edition will be hosted by

Update: CotC #228 is up. And while I think to mention it, Haveil Havalim (Carnival of the Vanities, Jewish-style) #175 is up over at Frume Sarah’s World. Go getcha a nice big taste of Yiddishkeit.

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Kitchen Neighbor
Neighbor, camouflaged against a black tablecloth. Invisi-Kitty!

Last night, the Mistress was in the kitchen when she got the feeling she was being watched. By the kitchen table...which seemed to have sprouted a pair of eyes.

It was, of course, Neighbor, almost invisible against the black tablecloth. The old cliché about the painting of a polar bear eating vanilla ice cream in a snowstorm, only reversed.

It would never have occurred to Hakuna or (the late) Matata to jump up on the kitchen table. Not while we were in the house, anyway. But Neighbor is unaware of Local Custom and Usage.

What could have compelled her to explore the forbidden zone of the tabletop? No food; just the laptop. Perhaps she wanted to check out the mouse...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Gilad, the Mistress, and Con Man
Gilad, the Mistress, and Con Man.

Gilad, here, looks natural atop Con Man. I suspect he has a certain amount of natural ability as a horseman. It’s a family trait...and one without which Gilad himself would never have existed.

It seems that Gilad’s maternal grandfather - a grandfather with whom he is especially close, having stood in loco parentis for most of the lad’s formative years - was a Holocaust survivor. And not only a Holocaust survivor, but one of the few to emerge at the end of World War II from one of the most horrific places on the planet: Auschwitz.

To stay alive in a Death’s Head Camp, you either had to show the Powers That Be that you were useful, or you had to be extremely lucky. Preferably both. And Gilad’s grandfather Eliezer managed to be both.

Shortly after arriving at Auschwitz, incoming prisoners were asked whether they had any skills. It was a routine question, the answer to which carried life-or-death consequences. If you had job skills, you might be spared. For a while, anyway.

Eliezer, having grown up on a farm, offered up his equine management and riding abilities and was put to work in the camp stables. Failure was not an option. To fail was, literally, to see your career go up in smoke. He did not fail.

Over time, his riding talent began to show itself and he acquired a certain reputation, impressing one of the camp’s higher-ups. At one point, this particular officer even told Eliezer that he had doubts about his ethnicity: “You cannot possibly be a Jew. No Jew could ever ride a horse the way you can.”

A left-handed compliment, to be sure...but the kind of compliment that kept the young man alive in the midst of history’s most horrendous charnel house.

Out riding one day, this same higher-up told a group of his fellow officers that Eliezer could outride any of them. One officer was skeptical. How could a Jew outride an Aryan übermensch? And so Eliezer galloped his mount, leaping over a broad trench. The skeptical officer, not quite as skilled, was unable to negotiate the trench. He broke his arm.

Thanks in part to the efforts of the senior officer who admired his riding skill - but mostly due to his own resourcefulness - Eliezer survived. He remained alive long enough to be forcibly marched out of the camp along with all the other surviving prisoners. The Nazis’ plan was to try to outrun the fast-approaching Russians and massacre the Jews in the woods - a last-ditch attempt to hide the evidence of what they had done.

But the imminent arrival of the Russian army threw their plan into disarray. In the confusion, Eliezer ran away, taking refuge in an abandoned house where he hid...and slept for days. Then, upon awakening, he ransacked the kitchen. Food!

A few days later, while wandering into a nearby town, Eliezer spotted an SS officer from the camp who had disguised himself in the hopes of evading Allied justice. When Eliezer pointed him out, the SS man denied having had anything to do with Auschwitz.

Not for long. Eliezer grabbed a rifle and forced the man to strip, revealing the damning evidence: an SS tattoo. He then marched the man into the center of town in the midst of liberated camp inmates who were too weak from their ill-treatment to even lift a foot to kick him.

Eliezer executed the SS man on the spot.

But he was still alive. He had managed to outlive Auschwitz.

Later, Eliezer would have a family. And his daughter, in the fullness of time, would bear him a grandson. A grandson who, today, sits a horse with a certain barely discernible naturalness...and an untapped reservoir of horsemanship as part of his genetic heritage.


After a lengthy career in gastroenterology, he had grown increasingly frustrated with the medical profession. The ever-growing burden of paperwork; the incessant arguments with insurers; the avaricious pharmaceutical giants; the creeping dehumanization of high technology; these were all intolerable now. He closed his old practice and set off into the woods.

Forsaking modernity, he explored the ways of folk medicine. Acupuncture, reflexology, herbal remedies, macrobiotic diets, all yielded up their secrets to him.

When, after years of study, he discovered a long-sought-after cure for hemorrhoids, he was elated. Now he could proclaim himself the world’s foremost practitioner of Ass-Holistic Medicine.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


Gilad (the Mistress of Sarcasm’s Extremely Significant Other), it seems, is also a Chapeau Aficionado. Good news for those awaiting the resurrection of the Rat Pack Look.

Now, all I gotta go is get him to try on a colander or two...

Rat Packin’


The Mistress and the Kitteh
The Mistress says hello to a Feline Resident out at the barn.

This past Sunday, while I stayed back at the house in Denton helping Morris William with the Smoked Brisket mentioned in the previous post, the rest of the gang went down to Krum, where Rebecca (Mrs. Morris William) keeps her ever-increasing stable of horses.

Both the Mistress of Sarcasm and Gilad had a chance to ride Con Man, the daddy of the Mistress’s erstwhile horse, Mi Anam. Even nephew William joined in the fun.

William and Con Man
William, the Bareback Rider.

Every well-equipped Horse-Barn has at least one cat, the better to keep the vermin under control. And where there’s a cat, sometimes you will find a kitteh or two. And the Mistress could not resist cuddling with one of those little fuzz-balls.

Meanwhile, I relaxed in the 100-plus degree heat back at the Casa de Morris William. I smoked a Cohiba as the brisket smoked...and Toby, the Family Dawg, kept me company.

Toby, the Family Dawg.

Toby is the sweetest-tempered dog I have ever known. Morris William and Rebecca took him in after he had been abandoned by his abusive and obnoxious owners...and he has been in Dawg Heaven ever since, living with a family that loves him. He towers over Madison, our 22-month-old niece, yet is gentle as a lamb with her and her brother William.

Which is why I had no compunction about sneaking a few pieces of brisket to him...

Sunday, July 20, 2008


Outside the cabin, smoking some meat.

“I was outside the cabin, smoking some meat. There wasn’t a cigar store in the neighborhood!” - Groucho Marx as Captain Jeffrey T. Spaulding, in Animal Crackers

I was outside on the patio, smoking a Cohiba Esplendido. Havana. There may not have been a cigar store in the neighborhood, but no matter. One of Morris William’s friends had smuggled a few of these bad boys in on a recent trip, and he had set one aside for me.

As I smoked my cigar, I kept a weather eye on the humongous chunk of beef brisket sitting in the smoker out back. It was getting close to being ready. Just an hour or so more...

We had found whole briskets on sale at Super Target a few days prior, down in Foat Wuth. As we looked at each other, then at the meat, a single Idea-Based Light Bulb appeared in the air above our heads. Barbecued beef brisket! It was the kind of thing Billie Bob, my late father-in-law, would have endorsed wholeheartedly as a Family Gathering Dinner Entrée. Morris William grabbed one, and we eventually managed to wrestle it into his kitchen.

Yesterday, I trimmed some (not all) of the fat off of the enormous Beef-Chunk. You want some fat; it keeps the meat moist as it slowly cooks over hot smoke. But a whole brisket has a lot of fat. You don’t need it all.

I seasoned the trimmed-up (but still enormous) brisket with an improvised rub, using the ingredients on hand in an approximation of Billie Bob’s classic blend. It sat all night, tightly wrapped, in the bottom of Morris William’s fridge, awaiting its day-long exposure to hot charcoal and mesquite smoke - an exposure that began at about seven o’clock this morning.

Morris William kept the firebox (the smaller compartment on the left in the photo below) stoked with charcoal and big chunks of water-soaked mesquite wood, filling the entire neighborhood with fragrant smoke. Some folks prefer to use hickory, or a hickory-mesquite blend (in the style of Billie Bob hizzownself), but the pure mesquite turned out just fine this time.

The Smoker!
The Infernal Smoke-Generating Device.

After nine hours, the meat was ready to come off. In the meantime, we had prepared a small pile of cheese-stuffed jalapeños...the hottest damn jalapeños I’d had in years. Just sitting in the kitchen, they were giving everyone violent coughing fits. Smoking them did little to tame their incendiary heat.

The metal jalapeño holder is a device I first saw at Laurence Simon’s place. A useful kitchen gadget if you like to roast your innards with mass quantities of capsaicin.

Stuffed Jalapeños
Stuffed Jalapeños...hotter than the hubs of hell, as they say here in Texas.

The Mistress fixed up a bowl of guacamole, picking up tips and hints from the Guacamole Queen herself - She Who Must Be Obeyed. The results were espetacular.

Makin’ ’mole with the Mistress
Makin’ ’mole with the Mistress. Mmmm, mmmm.

Morris William had heated up some barbecue sauce to serve alongside the meat. Texans do not apply the sauce while the meat is cooking, preferring to slop some on to meat that has already been sliced or chopped. To jack things up even more, we had an assortment of Tabasco products...including a fiery habanero pepper sauce. Morris William do love his Tabasco.

Tabasco Assortment
An assortment of Tabasco sauces.

With the meal laid out and the finished brisket resting happily on a cutting board, I began carving slices. The deep red smoke ring - and the tender meat - together furnished evidence that we had created a Meaty Meal any Texan would be proud to eat. Better: a meal Billie Bob himself would have been proud to eat.

Barbecue Beef Brisket
The finished product.

We begin our return trip to Atlanta at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow. The consequences of eating cheese-stuffed jalapeños prior to a 13-hour car trip are best left to the imagination. Just three words:

Screaming. Monkey. Butt.

[But, ohh, it was worth it.]


SWMBO’s sister Polly, 1958-1975.

I’m not normally in the habit of blegging, but that makes any occasion when I’m willing to do so just that more important. So consider this your Fair Warning: The purpose of this post is to get you, my Esteemed Readers, to unlimber your wallets.

Those who know She Who Must Be Obeyed, either in person or through reading the various screeds on this site, know that she lost her younger sister Polly a little over 33 years ago. It was a tragic loss, not just because Polly was only sixteen, but because of the repercussions her death had on the family dynamic.

When your sixteen-year-old child is suddenly taken from you - a grief the depth of which I cannot conceive, thanks to a happy failure of my own imagination - your life is permanently changed. When your sixteen-year-old sister is gone forever, a part of your soul is gone forever as well.

I’ve written about Polly and her untimely loss before, most notably on the thirtieth anniversary of her death. But there’s a lot I haven’t shared about her.

Polly was born and raised in Fort Worth, attending Paschal High School and the religious school at Temple Beth-El. She was an active member of the Alton Silver chapter of BBG. A passionate and talented dancer, she studied with the TCU Ballet.

At the time of her death, her friends, who constituted a significant proportion of the Jewish youth of Fort Worth, planted a tree and dedicated a plaque in her memory at the Dan Danciger Jewish Community Center, located off Old Granbury Road. Since the closing of the JCC, the plaque has been in the care of a long-time member of the community pending the creation of a permanent memorial.

That permanent memorial is now becoming a reality.

Led by Bro-in-Law d’Elisson, Polly’s family and friends are building a Memorial Garden at the Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center of Fort Worth. The Garden, designed by Mrs. Etta Korenman, is located behind the Chabad Center, close by the playground facilities. Once completed, it will be a place where the Jewish youth of Fort Worth can play and learn.

Memorial Garden 1

Memorial Garden 2

The Garden is under construction, and just a few more dollars in donations are needed to make it a fully-realized part of the Local Landscape...and to ensure that funds are available to maintain it on an ongoing basis. And that’s where the blegging - “blog-begging” for you noobs - comes in.

If you have a few extra bucks rattling around in your pocket, there is certainly no shortage of Worthy Causes towards which to put ’em. You have the various victims of natural disasters - Burma and China come to mind. You have medical research trying to find a cure for everything from cancer and heart disease to painful rectal itch. And political candidates are only too happy to take your money, the better to purchase airtime with which to sell their vaporous Snake Oil to the greater commonweal. But you could also use those dollars to create a little oasis of peace, beauty, and spiritual the same time honoring the memory of a bright, lovely girl who never lived to go to her senior prom...who never got to see her nieces and nephews, or have children of her own...whose absence still aches in the hearts of the family she left behind.

If that sounds like a worthy use of your dollars, then get out your checkbook and write a check to Chabad of Fort Worth. On the memo line, note that it is for Polly’s Garden.

Send that check to:

The Sonnenschein Chabad Jewish Center
c/o Aaron Boardman
4516 Embercrest Drive
Fort Worth, TX 76123

All donations are greatly appreciated, regardless of amount. Contributions to Chabad of Fort Worth are tax-deductible, by the way, although you should consult a tax expert for the sake of good order. And you don’t have to be Jewish to contribute.

We’re hoping to be able to complete work on Polly’s Garden in order to be able to hold the official dedication on her 33rd Yahrzeit (the anniversary of her death according to the Jewish calendar), one week from tonight. So if you’re going to whip out that wallet, faster is better.

If you have any questions, please e-mail me [elisson1 (at) aol (dot) com] or Bro-in-Law d’Elisson [moshesbro (at) sbcglobal (dot) net], and we’ll be happy to answer them to the best of our ability.


Sometime in the next day or so, the old Blog d’Elisson Sitemeter should register Site Visit #300,000.

Four years, a little over three thousand posts, and a whole lotta forbearance by a jaded cadre of Esteemed Readers have brought us to this Metrical Milestone. Your continued support, however difficult to understand, has made it all possible.

Just for fun, if you happen to snag a screenshot of the Magick Number, I’ll send you a gift. Send in your .jpg file and your street addy, wait patiently for me to get up off my Lazy Ass, and you’ll be rewarded with a useless, yet endearing, piece of Bloggy Merch. Oh, boy!

Update: We have - in theory, at least - a winner!

Visit #300,000

Visitor #300,000 clicked through from Bloglines (my favorite RSS aggregation service) at 9:24:37 a.m. on Tuesday, July 22. Let me know if this is you, if you want your trivial piece of Bloggy Swag.

Saturday, July 19, 2008


Given that I didn’t get a chance to post a Friday Random Ten yesterday [thanks to the Sad Old Goth for putting up his own FRT in my absence!], and given that I am too lazy to run out and get my own iPod from the SWMBOMobile’s glovebox, I’m posting a Random Ten from the Mistress of Sarcasm’s very own Little White Choon-Box.

There’s some stuff on her iPod that would be very much at home on mine...and other stuff, not so much. But it’s fun to look at a different spectrum o’ tunes every so often!

Here ’tis:
  1. Avalanche - Leonard Cohen

  2. Seen How Things Are Hard - Elliott Smith

  3. Don’t You Evah - Spoon

  4. Ships Passing In The Night - Michael Leviton

    The Mistress and I discovered Michael Leviton together: He was the opening act at a They Might Be Giants concert in Savannah, back in May 2006.

  5. Can’t Buy Me Love - The Beatles

  6. Scream - Michael Jackson

  7. My Love - Justin Timberlake

  8. Beach Side Property - Modest Mouse

  9. Hold Up - Girl Talk

  10. Wintertime Love - The Doors

    Wintertime winds blow cold the season
    Fallen in love, I’m hopin’ to be
    Wind is so cold, is that the reason?
    Keeping you warm, your hands touching me

    Come with me, dance my dear
    Winter’s so cold this year
    You are so warm
    My wintertime love to be

    Winter time winds blue and freezin’
    Comin’ from northern storms in the sea
    Love has been lost, is that the reason?
    Trying desperately to be free

    Come with me, dance my dear
    Winter’s so cold this year
    And you are so warm
    My wintertime love to be

    La, la, la, la

    Come with me, dance my dear
    Winter’s so cold this year
    You are so warm
    My wintertime love to be

It’s Friday Saturday. What are you listening to?


Attend Shabbes services at Chabad while wearing silk Tommy Bahama pants and a Hawai’ian shirt.

Friday, July 18, 2008


We covered all the bases today, from Denton to Foat Wuth, from old friends to new, from biscuits to blintzes.

Our day began in Denton at the home of Morris William, SWMBO’s younger brother. SWMBO and I were up at the Butt Crack of Dawn™, getting cleaned up and throwing our stuff together for a return trip to the southwestern end of the Dalworth megalopolis. But first, we slipped out for a cup of coffee and a bite of biscuit with Gradual Dazzle, who writes over at Anywhere But Here.

Dazz and I first came to each other’s attention back in May 2005, when the Infamous Punchbowl Meme was circulating around the Bloggy-Sphere. Not only was she a good enough sport to play along, she added her own perverse twist: a Turd in a Punchbowl poem in iambic pentameter. Surely this was a sign of a Truly Original (and Bizarre) Mind. We’ve been Blog-Buddies ever since.

After a very pleasant visit (not to mention the Tasty yet Unmentionable Biscuits and Gravy), we went our separate ways: Dazz to the north and us to the south, down to Foat Wuth, where SWMBO’s Momma was busily assembling a passel of cheese blintzes.

Ahhh, cheese blintzes. The quintessential Jewish dairy food, a blintz is nothing more than a crepe filled with a sweet cheese filling, then fried in butter. If your sole exposure to this noblest of dishes is from the local IHOP, or from the frozen foods section of the Stoopid-Market, you really haven’t experienced the Real Thing. And SWMBO’s Momma is the Past Master of the Cheese Blintz. Golden brown, slathered with cool sour cream and a dab of orange marmalade, these were enough to make me weak in the knees. Oy.

Later in the day, Rose and Jim, family friends of long standing, came over to break bread with us as we enjoyed Bro in-Law d’Elisson’s amazing Glatt Kosher Meat Loaf. We ended the day much as we had begun it, with good food, pleasant companionship, and enjoyable conversation; and it occurred to me that in our wanderings from Denton to Foat Wuth, we had partaken of both the old and the new, of the South and the East(ern European).

It was a good day.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Gael Greene, who styles herself as the Insatiable Critic these days, was famous for the purple prose in her New York magazine food reviews. When you read a Gael Greene review, you weren’t sure if you were supposed to be eating the food or making hot monkey love to it.

I’m not exactly sure what put Ms. Greene’s sexually charged Food Imagery into my head, but it may have had something to do with the breakfast we had yesterday at the Waffle House in Temple, Georgia, hard by the Alabama border.

Both Gilad - a Waffle House newbie - and I ordered the All-Star Breakfast. It’s an immense array of Things Breakfasty, including toast, eggs, a waffle (what else?), etc., etc. But Gilad opted for the biscuits and gravy in lieu of a waffle.

Biscuits and Gravy, I will here point out for the non-Southerners among my Esteemed Readers, is a local favorite: fluffy, tender biscuits buried under an oozing mass of cream gravy. Ideally, the gravy will be nice and peppery, with bits of sausage contained therein. Dietwise, it’s a High-Calorie Horrorshow, what with all the flour and grease, but it’s amazingly tasty.

Tasty...but not especially pretty. After we got back on the road, I seem to remember hearing the words “horse” and “spooge” in close proximity, somewhere in the Breakfast Post-Mortem Discussion. I wasn’t sure whether to be amused or horrified at the notion that a southern Breakfast Favorite could elicit such explicitly sexual imagery. Gael Greene would have been proud.

And that got me thinking about other conflations of Sex and Sustenance. It’s a heady (you should excuse the expression) combination of elemental human desires that treads at the edges of Societal Taboo, often crossing the shifting, ill-defined border between Literature and Pornography.

My first exposure to Food ’n’ Fuckin’ Literature had to have been Philip Roth’s novel Portnoy’s Complaint, a story with a hero so Onanism-obsessed that he takes a piece of liver out of the refrigerator in order to violate it sexually. In Alexander Portnoy’s own words, “Around my cock at five o’clock, on my plate at seven.”

Later, during his psychotherapy session, Portnoy confesses: “Now you know the worst thing I have ever done. I fucked my own family's dinner.”

If this isn’t enough to make you rethink that plate of liver and onions you were about to order at the local IHOP, what about modern cinema? I refer, of course, to the infamous adventures of the eponymous apple pie in American Pie.

[The other pies probably call that apple pie a whore behind its back. Especially the cherry pie. She a virgin.]

So here’s the question: Are there any foods that turn your thoughts to the lascivious and libidinous? Share, please, in the comments.


[Being the Verbatim Transcription of a letter from Morris William (SWMBO’s younger brother) to his mother, written from summer camp in July, 1979 at the ripe age of thirteen.]

Dear Mom, Hows life?
Everything here is fine.
this is for Rootie [the family dog - Ed.]:
Arf Arf Arf Arf Arf? Arf Arf
arf arf Rootie Arf. arf Arf Arf
Arf mom & dad arf. Hows
dad. you need to send
me some pool clogs the other
ones broke. Well thats about
         Morris William

Monday, July 14, 2008


This morning at the Butt Crack of Dawn™, we - She Who Must Be Obeyed, the Mistress of Sarcasm, Gilad, her (extremely patient) boyfriend, and I - will pile into the SWMBOmobile for the day-long drive to the Dallas-Foat Wuth Metroplex in Texas.

For the next week, we’ll be dividing our time between Denton and Foat Wuth, zooming up and down I-35W with a certain metronomic regularity as we shuttle from the Momma d’SWMBO’s household to that of Morris William, SWMBO’s younger brother, and back.

Since our eminently squeezable nephew William and his equally squeezable (and even more mischievous) sister Madison are in Denton, I suspect we will be spending a lot of time there. SWMBO loves squeezing them babies. You’d think she were in the Baby Oil business...

The drive should be interesting. Both Gilad and I are Frank Zappa fans, and I have an iPod full of Zappa tunes. I suspect SWMBO will want to kill us after hearing “Zomby Woof” for the eightieth time.

Posting will continue after a brief travel-related hiatus.

Update: We arrived safely in the southwest corner of the Dalworth metroplex after a 14-hour marathon drive, during which SWMBO provided 100% of the pilotage. Iron Woman, she is.

Driving time proper was about 12 hours 30 minutes, but we stopped a few times for the obligatory Eat, Pee ’n’ Get Gas Breaks. We even had a chance to see this guy in his Worky Stomping Grounds as we ate a massive West Georgia breakfast.

Gilad, who moved to Tennessee a few months ago from the Left Coast, is (we are happy to report) no longer a Waffle House or Crapper Barrel virgin.

Sunday, July 13, 2008


Well, we certainly got our money’s worth out of this morning’s DirecTV service call. (What, there’s another kind of Sunday Service?)

It took almost three hours for the two technicians to track down all of the issues that were bedeviling our satellite TV reception. By the time they were done, they had replaced almost every component in the system: the dual LNB, the multipass switch, the satellite receivers in the upstairs bedrooms, and, finally, our DVR. In addition, they cleaned up some of the jury-rigged connections left by the last service technicians to come through. About the only thing left untouched was the dish itself.

So now we have fully-functional TV again. Goody.

Considering the fact that, out of several hundred channels available, I spend 95% of my television viewing time watching maybe four of them, it almost seems a waste.

The techs finished their job just in time for me and the Mistress of Sarcasm to meet up with She Who Must Be Obeyed at Pappasito’s Cantina for a pleasant Sunday lunch with a few of the Usual Suspects. We got to visit with Zonker the Ex-Blodger; Denny the Grouchy Old Cripple; Boudicca, her three sons, and sis Morrigan; Holder and her girls Pete and Re-Pete; and Annie, one of Holder’s Science Teachin’ Colleagues.

I wonder what possessed Annie to join a bunch of Online Journalists for what amounted to a mini-blogmeet. Were we what she expected? Was she horrified? Or lulled into a false sense of security by our Polite Behavior In Front Of The Children?

There was much talk and much food, including a pile of nachos bigger than Pete’s head.

Bou’s boys are two years older than when I saw them last. Still good-looking, well-behaved, and yet playful as appropriate for young men of a certain age. And the blue-eyed Re-Pete kept trying to wallop me in Tic-Tac-Toe, with all the enthusiasm a five-year-old can muster for an exercise in pointlessness.

Photos will follow, but with my primary computer out of commission, I have to decide whether to try downloading ’em to this Alien Machine, this “Mac-Book.”

Saturday, July 12, 2008


Years ago, the Morton Salt people came up with a brilliant slogan to promote their table salt, compounded with special additives that allow it to remain free-flowing even in humid environments.

“When it rains, it pours.”

But the slogan itself is not original: It’s a slightly edited version of a venerable old proverb, “It never rains, but it pours.”

More crudely: Not only does shit happen, but when it happens, a whole bunch of it happens all at once.

This has been the month of the Failing Mechanical Contrivances.

First it was Mr. Camera. For some inexplicable reason, the main control chip cacked while we were in Destin. I was able to squeeze out a couple of photos, but it was a Herculean effort involving a lot of tinkering with the reset switch. Not a tenable long-term solution. So into the shop it went.

Mr. Camera is back home now, $235 dollars later...but at least now I can take pictures.

Too bad I can’t do much with ’em. Mr. Computer ate it Thursday evening, probably the result of an electrical storm. It had been running normally that day, but after I put it through an uneventful planned Windows-approved shutdown, it refused to awaken. The problem? A blown power supply. So it’s in the shop now.

The lightning took down our Internet connection. Fortunately, the issue was simply a blown-out surge protector, a Protective Device that had done its job admirably, laying down its life so that our DSL modem might live. One new surge protector, and our high-speed Internet was back in business.

Alas, our satellite dish was now also on the fritz. It took several hours to reestablish partial service...the working diagnosis is a dead or dying LNB. The service people are supposed to fix everything up tomorrow evening...and we may end up with a new DVR as part of the deal.

Our Wii died, too - probably a result of the same electrical storm that played hob with our surge protector. It’s still under warranty, so all we have to do is ship it to Nintendo...a pain in the ass, to be sure, but at least not an expensive pain in the ass.

Did I mention that we just replaced our 17-year-old washer and dryer? The washer was fine, but the dryer had developed the bad habit of depositing a mysterious brown substance on light-colored clothing. The Missus had had her eye on one of those new front-loading washers, so this provided the perfect excuse to get a Matched Set. Whee!

I guess I can’t complain. Mechanical contrivances will break; it is their nature. Better that than broken people (kein ayin hora).

But why, O Lord - whay all at the same damn time?


“If you’re gonna take a shit, take your pants down first.”
- Laurence Simon

Sage advice even the Boy Scouts (“Be Prepared”) would approve of.

Friday, July 11, 2008


It’s Friday once again, which means it’s time for this week’s Digital Debrief of Musical Miscellany, spewed straight out of the iPod d’Elisson.

I don’t know about you, but I am certainly ready for the weekend. Watching the Missus and the Mistress of Sarcasm slave away in the basement, cleaning out ten years of Accumulated Crap, is a soul-crushing experience.

Did I say ten years? No - it’s more like thirty. There is junk and detritus that I’ve been schlepping around since our early days in Texas...and before. It’s easy to be a Pack Rat when you (1) have room for your stored crap, and (2) have an employer who is willing to pay to schlep it from one corner of the country to another, every time you relocate. Magazines. Carbon-film typewriter ribbons. Stuffed animals. Photographs. Clown makeup. Old sewing machines. Hundreds of Sunday color comics supplements.

I haven’t been sitting completely idle all this time, having been engaged in a minor project of my own. I’ll tell you more about it when it’s done.

Meanwhile, what’s on the box today?
  1. The Hornburg - Howard Shore, The Two Towers

  2. Five Fifteen - Phish

  3. Walking Down The Hill/Some Sad Song - Travis

  4. Dig A Pony - The Beatles

  5. Junco Partner - Professor Longhair

  6. Funeral for a Friend (Love Lies Bleeding) - Elton John

  7. Whip It - Devo

  8. Skotshne - The Klezmer Conservatory Band

  9. Love Street - The Doors

    She lives on Love Street
    Lingers long on Love Street
    She has a house and garden
    I would like to see what happens
    She has robes and she has monkeys
    Lazy diamond-studded flunkeys
    She has wisdom and knows what to do
    She has me and she has you

    She has wisdom and knows what to do
    She has me and she has you

    I see you live on Love Street
    There’s this store where the creatures meet
    I wonder what they do in there
    Summer Sunday and a year
    I guess I like it fine, so far

    She lives on Love Street
    Lingers long on Love Street
    She has a house and garden
    I would like to see what happens

    La, la, la, la, la, la, la
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la
    La, la, la, la, la, la, la

  10. The Inner Light - The Beatles

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The Friday Ark is creeping up on its Bicentennial Edition, this week being its 199th voyage across the waters of the Bloggy Ether. Stop by the Modulator and visit all the kitties, doggies, snakies, and birdies...

...and then, Sunday evening, be sure to pay a visit over at The Bad Kittycats Festival of Chaos, where Kashim & Othello will host installment #226 of Carnival of the Cats.

Update: CotC #226 is up.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


Hakuna shows off her blue eyes.

With Mr. Camera in the shop and Mr. Desktop Computer acting all strange, I am having to rely on rerunning a Golden Oldie for this week’s Kitty Photo.

It was either that, or steal borrow a few pics of Baby and Tiny from Sissy Willis, masterful photographer of kitties and other subjects. But in the name of self-reliance, I elected to dig down into the Catblogging Archive, where I found this shot that highlights Hakuna’s beautiful blue eyes.

On a sadder note, Rahel (of Elms in the Yard) reports the loss of The Lady in Red, a cat much beloved by not only Rahel (her adoptive Momma), but also by many of us in the Bloggy-Sphere. Please stop by and give her your condolences.


Billie Bob 1976
Billie Bob - SWMBO’s Poppa - showing off his Mad Brisket Smoking Skillz, circa 1976.

Ever since we got our smoker, I’ve been working on satisfying my serious jones for Smoked Meat. Last night’s beef ribs might’ve been the best effort so far.

I had seasoned a rack of beef ribs Monday evening, using Billie Bob’s signature spice blend...with one minor modification. I added a little sugar, looking to get some additional caramelization as the ribs cooked. This turned out to be a good idea.

I usually try to season ribs and briskets a day in advance of smoking. This time, I did it two days ahead. The extra day allowed the rub to really work its way into the meat.

After about ninety minutes over hickory smoke at 300°F, I decided to wrap the rack up tightly in foil and finish it in the oven at 275°F...mainly because it was pouring down rain and I was getting tired of getting drenched every time I needed to check the meat. An hour later, I turned the temp down to 225° just to keep the meat warm until suppertime.

As the house filled with the aroma of Texas barbecue, SWMBO started going quietly insane in anticipation. There’s something about barbecue that affects her at the cellular level, I’m convinced. Must be that Texas DNA.

I am pleased to report that the ribs were a success. The meat had a dark crust and a deep red smoke ring extending fully 1/4 inch below the surface - this despite my not having put a pan of water under the rack as it smoked. [Sorry, no photographs: My camera is in the shop.]

The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, and the flavor, I am honored to state, met SWMBO’s extremely high standards. She grew up eating nothing but the best, thanks to her Daddy, and as I gnawed on those ribs I felt as though I was standing on his shoulders, a million miles high.

Update: This is published post #3000. Hoo-hah!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008


The Mistress of Sarcasm and She Who Must Be Obeyed have spent the last three days in a frenzy of Basement-Organizing Activity.

This is no lightweight job. We’ve lived here in the latest incarnation of Chez Elisson for hard on to ten years...and the basement is the Final Frontier, the last repository of Random Accumulated Crap. Getting it in some semblance of order is no job for the faint of heart.

In three days, there has been an astonishing amount of progress as the Mistress and SWMBO have relentlessly attacked the Mountains of Miscellany. You can now walk around down there without tripping over twenty thousand separate obstacles.

Once we Garage-Sale some of the more useful detritus and have Mr. Trash-Man haul off the remainder, we’ll have a reasonable amount of space down there.

We’ve found all kinds of interesting things that haven’t seen the light of day in years. Old laboratory glassware. Darkroom equipment. Hundreds of Sunday newspaper comics sections. Magazines from the 1980’s. Anybody remember Cuisine?

And we’ve found Old Photographs.

Grandmomma d’Elisson 1931

Here’s one of Anna, the Grandmomma d’Elisson, flanked by her two children. On the left is nine-year-old Uncle Phil; on the right is the Momma d’Elisson, who is all of three years old in this photograph taken sometime in mid-1931.

Anna was unusual for the time. A strawberry blonde, she drove a car...and she was an athlete, playing both golf and tennis. Back then, none of these were typical Motherly least, not amongst Our Crowd.

She could lob a mean oath, too. A useful talent in Sheepshead Bay, back in the day. Or now.

I sure miss her. She was, as they might say, a pistol.


I’ve never been the sort who would shy away from writing about Revolting Food.

And there are times when I will even eat Revolting Food. I’ve had snake soup, Singaporean fish head curry, and Shanghai hairy crab. I’m the guy who will go into a deli and order a hot tongue sandwich.

I’ve had steak and kidney pudding. Most people can handle the steak; it’s the thought of eating kidneys that puts them off. Isn’t that the organ that makes the wee-wee?

I’ve gobbled the gonads of sea urchins. Uni, anyone?

But even I have to draw the Adventuresome Eating line somewhere...and I draw it right here.


Tuesday, July 08, 2008


I happened upon a television program this evening about a retired Anchorage schoolteacher who lives amongst a small army of black bears...with the occasional grizzly thrown in.

This guy is probably stark raving bonkers, but he seems to have a better understanding of bears and their relationship with the Resident Human in their midst than the late wide-eyed naïf Timothy Treadwell, who had an unfortunate (and ultimately fatal) habit of regarding grizzly bears as big cuddly pets. Better understanding or no, I have a feeling “Charlie,” our schoolteacher friend, will eventually end up as a Bear Entrée at some point.

The show got me thinking about a story that had flickered briefly through the local papers, a story that we mostly missed out on owing to our having been away in Florida on our annual Beach Vacation.

It appears that, while we were gone, our neighborhood was invaded by bears.
A resident of the East Hampton subdivision in east Cobb reported seeing the “mid-sized” black bear crossing a street Thursday morning. The bear, which was wearing a tracking collar, was also seen near a fitness club on Roswell Road.
Great. Just great. Bears in my bushes.

Jimbo (to name one obvious example) may harbor a perfectly legitimate dislike - even a phobia - of alligators and other Humongous Reptiles. But the chances of Jim actually encountering an alligator in his Union County, New Joisey neighborhood are slim to none. But here, in the happy confines of east Cobb County, just north of Atlanta, there is the very real possibility that I will go out to fetch my newspaper from the driveway one morning and have a Close Encounter with a bear.

Or a steaming pile of Bear Feces.

Because, after all, we know that bears shit in the woods. And even the Charmin people will tell you that if you have bears in the ’burbs, you’ll have b’ar stools in your back yards.

Monday, July 07, 2008


One of ’em, anyway.

It ain’t anatomy. It’s how we choose to be entertained.

We all know the difference between Manly Cinema and Chick Flicks. Manly Cinema covers a broad spectrum: Three Stooges flicks (or their latter-day equivalent in brainlessness, i.e., anything with Adam Sandler or Rob Schneider) to Jerry Bruckheimer/Michael Bay blow-’em-ups to Mutant Kalamatunis from Outer Space sci-fi. Chick Flicks - well, to paraphrase Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of obscenity, we all know a Chick Flick when we see one.

There’s a television equivalent, too, demonstrated by the various viewing choices at Chez Elisson this evening.

Said choices were somewhat limited by the powerful electrical storm that rumbled through the area at about 8:00, playing hob with our satellite reception. There was enough lightning in that storm to animate an army of Frankenstein monsters sufficient to populate half of China, and Mr. TiVo did not like it at all. Fortunately, things settled down just in time for the Missus and the Mistress to catch the dénouement of...

“The Bachelorette.”

It’s the kind of programming that makes the average male want to drive a ten-penny nail through his eyeballs. But my programming choices have the same effect on the Missus.

Let’s face it. It is a rare female that will put up with (much less enjoy) the likes of “Assy McGee.”

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Men are from Mars, women are from the Andromeda Galaxy.


I’m constantly astonished at the things I learn on the Internet.

From the Greenville, SC Post Card Blog comes this revelation of a dish so horrifyingly calorific, so culinarily over the top, that it would have the legendary Steve H. Graham pissing his pants.

I speak of nothing less than the Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger, AKA the Luther Burger. Behold:

Luther Burger

The Krispy Kreme Bacon Cheeseburger in all its glory.
Photo from Al Dente.

A pound of beef, some cheese (American slices preferred), grilled onion, five strips of bacon, and two Krispy Kreme donuts in lieu of buns, and you have something that could have been a contender for a chapter in Eat What You Want and Die Like A Man. [Speaking of which, have you ordered your copy yet?]

My ass just grew three inches merely from looking at the picture. Gawd help anyone who actually eats that stuff...but at least he’ll die with a smile on his face.

Sunday, July 06, 2008


Image In Search of a Caption

Use your imagination.


Summer is, next to spring, Mr. Debonair’s favorite season. That is because it is the perfect time to indulge one’s Sense of Whimsy.

You know what a Sense of Whimsy is, don’t you? Of course you do.

SWMBO has one.

Velociman has one.

And Mr. Debonair has one, too. A Sense of Whimsy, coupled with an unerring ability to spot the latest fashion trends...and shit all over them.

Behold: Martini Madness!

Martini Madness
Mr. Debonair models his Martini Madness Slacks.

You really cannot appreciate these Fine Pantaloons unless you check ’em out up close:

Martini Madness detail
Little cocktail shakers and Martini glasses!

Perfect for a few holes of golf down at the Country Club, or for tippling after tennis, these impressive machine-embroidered pants - made in some sweaty, God-forsaken country like Indonesia where a Martini is but a distant pipe-dream fantasy to the impoverished factory serfs who produce them - come with an official Letter of Commendation from the Republican National Committee.

Admit it. You want a pair, don’t you? Sure you do.

Mr. Debonair knows.


People who question my occasional penchant for Crap-Blogging need only refer to the very first post on Blog d’Elisson four years ago today, a review of Kellogg’s All-Bran Apricot Bites. It was a cereal with, shall we say, certain Digestive Benefits.

So: in my very first post, I make an oblique Poop Reference...and I drop my first Blogly F-Bomb. A sign of things to come, I suppose.

But it is not All About Poop here.

I’ve written about family...of childhood experiences as a semi-practicing cats...the contents of my bookshelf, music library, refrigerator, nightstand, and liquor cabinet...and thrown in a liberal dose of Random Stupid Crap besides. Poems about Tapered Poops and Painful Rectal Itch. Hundred-word stories.

Colanders, too. Lotsa colanders.

Four years...three thousand posts...and close to 300,000 visitors. Yeef.

Something I never expected when I began my involvement in “this thing we do” four years ago was the new friendships I’d make. Meatworld friendships, with real live people...because all these bits ’n’ bytes are, at the end of the day, created by Real People. I’ve met a veritabobble army of Online Journalists face-to-face, none of whom I would have been likely to encounter in the normal course of existence, and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.

I’ve said farewell to a few of these Bloggy Buddies, too. Some I knew only by the streams of electrons they scattered across the Internet; others I had broken bread with. One thing they share is having a legacy, a legacy scattered far and wide amongst the Web-Servers of the world. Not a bad thing to leave behind.

I started this site to amuse myself. It has since become a source of catharsis, of relaxation, and a sometimes focus of obsession...and I’ll probably keep slapping stuff up here until I get thoroughly sick of it.

Meantime, thanks fer stopping by. Your visits and comments are a constant source of wonderment, enjoyment, astonishment...and After-Dinnerment.

See you around.

Saturday, July 05, 2008


Alison Doody.


It was Thursday evening, and our Minyan Gang was just sitting down to dinner at one of the local Italian eateries when my cell phone rang.

Or, more properly, buzzed. I prefer to avoid annoying everyone within earshot with the sound of Yet Another Obnoxious Ringtone, so I have my CrackBerry set on “Vibrate.” [Sometimes I’ll shove it into my skivvies and encourage everyone to call me. Why do you think they call it a “Crack”Berry?]

Two buzzes means an incoming e-mail; four or more means a telephone call. As soon as I realized that it was a phone call, I looked at the caller ID.

It was a number in Sweat City, home of the headquarters of the Great Corporate Salt Mine. On the chance that it might be important, I picked up.

It was Denise, my Overseer’s Overseer. I asked how she was; she answered, “Not very good.”

When your Overseer’s Overseer calls you up at 7:30 p.m. the evening before a three-day weekend, your initial thought is likely to be, “Oh, shit” - especially if she says she’s “not too good.” It matters not whether your conscience is pure as the driven snow: You will experience a momentary thrill of absolute paranoia. What now?

The last time I got one of these calls, it was my then-Overseer, calling to deliver Evil Tidings about a colleague who had been murdered, along with his wife, in a home invasion. And this call, as it happens, was much the same.

Our department’s Administrative Assistant had been stabbed to death in an apparent home invasion in northwest Houston. Her husband had also been stabbed in the chest and was recovering in the hospital; their two children, thankfully, were unharmed. All of this had happened early that morning, but it had taken all day for the news to reach the folks at the Salt Mine.

My Overseer’s Overseer was weeping openly on the line. I felt like a block of wood.

Dorothy - the victim - was as close to a secretary as I still had since I had begun working from my Home Outpost in late 2005. It was to her that I would send my expense accounts and my time reports, it was with her that I would book meeting time with the Grand Panjandrums at Headquarters.

A little over a month ago, we were at our semiannual departmental meeting, a meeting that I had organized with no small help from Dorothy. We had had a Team-Building Activity one evening, playing Laser Tag and racing go-karts. Now this vivacious young lady (well, she looked young) was gone. Good God.

My in-box is full of her e-mails. My speed-dial has her number, front-and-center.

You lose one colleague to a home-invasion murder, it’s bad luck.

You lose two colleagues to home-invasion murders, you start wondering if your department is snakebit. I began feeling very thankful that I had decided never to relocate to Houston.

And right before July 4, of all days. Independence Day is a happy day for our nation, but it’s a day of quiet, private grief for the Missus. It’s also the day on which Dash and Christina had their house burn to the ground two years ago...fortunately, without loss of life or limb. Now, this.

SWMBO tried to comfort me, but as I related more of what I knew - and as we checked the news reports coming from Houston over the Internet - she began to suspect that something about the story didn’t quite hang together.

Home invasions usually involve robbery... yet here, nothing was taken. The husband was stabbed in the chest - non-fatally - while the wife suffered multiple stab wounds. Wouldn’t an invader want to neutralize the husband first, then deal with the (presumably less dangerous) wife afterwards?

The story the next day confirmed SWMBO’s suspicions. The husband had stabbed his wife to death; under police questioning, he had confessed to staging the break-in in order to cover up his act of murder.

A host of horrifying little questions began to nag at me.

Did he stab her while she slept? Did she know what was going on? Did she wake up to the terror of seeing her life’s blood drain away?

I do not know the answers to these questions. I hope that I never know the answers to these questions. But what I do know is, as unpleasant and morally questionable as the death penalty may be to some people, there are cases where the Sleep-Needle is the Right Thing To Do. And this sure looks like one of those cases.


“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your pants.”
- Line attributed to Chuckles the Clown, whose funeral was the subject of a memorable “Mary Tyler Moore” episode.

“Bozo is dead. Long live Bozo.”
- Unidentified mourner.
Larry Harmon, who made Bozo the Clown a household word (although in what sort of households I fear to speculate), has died at the age of 83.

At the time of his death, Harmon presided over a multi-billion dollar Bozo Empire, with ventures ranging from syndicated television shows and cartoons to a successful film franchise (Bozo II: The Wrath of ’Zo), theme parks, and licensed merchandise. Volkswagen’s Bozo Edition Beetle, with a hidden compartment capable of holding up to two dozen clowns, was an early winner, as was a highly popular (albeit controversial) network of Bozo-themed massage parlors (“Happy People deserve Happy Endings!”).

Harmon bought the rights to the Bozo character from Alan Livingston, its creator, and then proceeded to license it to numerous television stations around the country. A measure of Harmon’s success is that Bozo is still popular and well-known after fifty years, showing no signs of disembedding himself from the Popular Culture.

Bozo’s legacy even extends to the English least, as it is used in some quarters. His name is practically a synonym for “clown.” And, as defined by the Official Blog d’Elisson Dictionary, bozo is “pubic hair that protrudes simultaneously from both sides of the knickers, reminiscent of a certain redheaded clown’s hairstyle.”

According to family sources, Harmon will be buried in a special I-beam shaped casket in order to accommodate his unique wing-shaped hairdo and his size 83AAA shoes.

Friday, July 04, 2008


Chrysanthemum Shell

It’s Friday. Not just any Friday, either: it’s July 4, celebrated in the United States of America as Independence Day, the nominal Birthday of our Nation. And later, we’ll mark the occasion by joining our friends Barry and Malka for that quintessential American holiday observance, the Cookout.

For me, this day conjures up childhood memories of the huge July 4 clambakes we used to go to at my Dad’s partner’s home in Old Westbury, New York. He had a two-acre spread - the most immense chunk of real estate I had ever seen - complete with swimming pool. I’m not sure I ever saw a clam there, but there was an entire bank of grills, upon which enough hot dogs and hamburgers would be roasted to feed the Mongol Hordes. As the day wore on, we would look forward with mounting eagerness to the (strictly illegal) fireworks we would set off after sundown.

The activities today will be less drawn out, but no less enjoyable thanks to the presence of good friends...and, no doubt, good food.

But meanwhile, here I am blithering about my Snot-Nose Days while you’re waiting for the Main Event: the weekly Scattershot Selection from the iPod d’Elisson. What’s playing today?
  1. You And Whose Army? - Radiohead

  2. Bookends Theme - Simon & Garfunkel

  3. A Salty Dog - Procol Harum

    “All hands on deck! We’ve run afloat!”
    I heard the captain cry
    “Explore the ship! Replace the cook!
    Let no one leave alive!”
    Across the straits, around the horn
    How far can sailors fly?
    A twisted path, our tortured course
    And no one left alive

    We sailed for parts unknown to man
    Where ships come home to die
    No lofty peak, nor fortress bold
    Could match our captain’s eye
    Upon the seventh sea-sick day
    We made our port of call
    A sand so white, and sea so blue
    No mortal place at all

    We fired the guns and burned the mast
    And rowed from ship to shore
    The captain cried, we sailors wept
    Our tears were tears of joy
    Now many moons and many Junes
    Have passed since we made land
    A salty dog, the seaman’s log
    Your witness, my own hand

  4. Act III: I Have No Offspring - John Adams, Nixon in China

  5. Theme from “Lumpy Gravy” - Frank Zappa

    A live version from the Best Band You Never Heard In Your Life album. Lumpy Gravy was the first Zappa album I ever bought, back in 1968. I haven’t been the same since...

  6. L’enfant - Vangelis

    This was the haunting theme from the movie The Year Of Living Dangerously.

  7. Light My Fire - Dread Zeppelin

  8. Cabasa - Max Tundra

  9. Baby It’s You - The Beatles

  10. Ballet Mécanique - George Antheil

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?