Friday, July 31, 2009


Hardy Girl

She had an Ed Hardy tat above her ample ass
She had a snootful of Scotch in a Martini glass
It seemed to me that she had lots of class
So I asked her to dance.

She slurred her words – perfect Whisky Diction
She responded to my subtle pelvic friction
And pretty soon I started getting an eriction
Hoping to get in her pants.

Tattoo on your titty
Tattoo on your back
My favorite’s the one
Over your Ass-Crack
Makes a snazzy target
When I take aim
I like to Party Hardy
It’s my favorite game

Oh, I wish this night would never stop
Gonna try to get you out of that halter-top
You look like you could use some Horizontal Bop
Can’t you feel the romance?

Tattoo on your titty
Tattoo on your back
My favorite’s the one
Over your Ass-Crack
Makes a snazzy target
When I take aim
I like to Party Hardy
It’s my favorite game

[This would make a fine Country Song: all it needs is some music. Anyone want to give it a try?]

Inspired by the fine Sunday Ink posts over at Dead Dog Walkin’.


Today’s Pith and Vinegar brings you a Brief Imagined Dialogue from the White House, where President Barack Obama joined Sgt. James Crowley and Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr. yesterday evening for a few cold beers and a chance to smooth over the Great Racial Imbroglio created by Crowley’s arrest of Gates last week for disorderly conduct.

Obama: Gentlemen, I’m glad both of you agreed to meet here with me and sit down over a couple of brewskis. I firmly believe that there are no problems that Man cannot solve after having a few brewskis. Speaking of which, how do you like this beer? It’s a craft brew made especially for the White House by a Belgian guy we keep locked up in the basement.

Gates: Tastes great.

Crowley: Less filling.

Gates: Tastes great!

Crowley: Less filling!

Gates: Tastes great!!!

Crowley: Less filling!!!

Gates: Yo mama!

Crowley: You’re under arrest!


Thank Gawd it’s Friday!

Of course, these words ring just a little bit hollow, coming as they do from a Man of Leisure, but they are a most effective way of warning the Unsuspecting Reader that the Friday Random Ten is sure to follow.

Yes, indeedy: It’s time for that weekly compilation of Randomized Musical Miscellany as coughed up by the iPod d’Elisson.

We’ve marked a few Major Events this past week. The Mistress of Sarcasm, I am happy to report, has scored a new gig, one that is a perfect fit with her skills, her personality, and her Life Experience - she’s now a recruiter for her very own Alma Mater, the Savannah College of Art and Design. She’ll be traveling throughout the Southeast, visiting high schools and giving folks the skinny on the SCAD experience.

The other major event? As of yesterday, we have lived in this latest incarnation of Chez Elisson for eleven years. That’s a long time, especially considering that this is the seventh house we have owned. We can thank the Great Corporate Salt Mine for all that moving around...

...and now it’s time to move again, this time Back to the Topic at Hand. What’s on the box this week?
  1. Us and Them - Frankie Paul

  2. Locatelli - 10 Sonatas, Op. 8, No. 4 in C Major: III. Vivace - Rachel Isserlis & The Locatelli Trio

  3. Mozart: Requiem in D Minor, K 626 - 01. Introitus - Requiem, Adagio - Herbert Von Karajan

  4. Emaline - Ben Folds Five

  5. At The Zoo - Simon & Garfunkel

  6. I’m Going Straight to Heaven - MC 900 Foot Jesus

  7. Pygmy Twylyte - Frank Zappa

    Green hocker croakin’
    In the Pygmy Twylyte

    Crankin’ an’ a-coke’n
    In the Winchell’s Donut midnite

    Out of his deep on a four-day run
    Hurtin’ for sleep in the Quaalude moonlight

    Green hocker in a Greyhound locker
    Smokin’ in the Pygmy Twylyte

    Joined the bus on the 33rd seat
    By the doo-doo room with the reek replete

    Crystal eye, crystal eye
    Got a crystal kidney & he’s afraid to die
    In the Pygmy Twylyte
    Downer midnite
    Pygmy Twylyte
    Downer midnite
    Pygmy Twylyte
    Downer midnite
    Pygmy Twylyte
    Downer midnite

  8. Love Life - Fatboy Slim

  9. Any Dub You Like - Easy Star All Stars

  10. Talk Show Host - Radiohead

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Jackass du Jour 073009

“Hey, check out my Lexus SC430 coupe! Isn’t it shiny? I have a really tiny penis, but my snazzy car more than makes up for my inability to satisfy a woman!”

Yeah, Bub. Just go on believing that. And, by the way, a hearty “Fuck You” for parking your midlifecrisismobile so that it hogged two parking spaces in a crowded shopping mall parking lot. Now, go eat shit and die.

Oh, yeah - and you, Bub, are the Jackass du Jour!

Update: As Houston Steve points out (and as SWMBO also figured out when we were in that parking lot), the driver of that car was likely a woman. And so, the narrative may read as follows:

“Hey, check out my Lexus SC430 coupe! Isn’t it shiny? My ass looks like a burlap sack filled with cottage cheese, but I sure have a nice ride, don’t I? In fact, considering that making love to me is like throwing a hot dog down a hallway, it’s the only nice ride I can offer!”

(2009 EDITION)

Last week, when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I visited Eric and Fiona up in the wilds of McMinn County, Tennessee, we (of necessity) visited their two cats, as well.

Fred and Bob 1

Fred and Bob 2

Yes, it’s two cats these days. Fred and Bob are still around, but Ginger seems to have disappeared. Whether she simply wandered off in search of greener pastures, or whether she became a meal for one Woodsy Predator or another, is an exercise best left to the imagination.

These guys are as friendly as ever... Fred will even trot right up to you if you whistle a Cat Call. And he simply loves SWMBO. Lookee:

Fred in the Face

(Can you blame him?)

Update: See lots more kitties (and plenty of other fauna as well) at the Modulator, where Friday Ark #254 has set sail.

And for yet more Kitty-Linkage, drop by Three Tabby Cats in Vienna Sunday evening to check out Carnival of the Cats #281. It’s Katz-gezeichnet!

Update 2: CotC #281 is up.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Lamentations by Candlelight

Megillat Eichah - the Book of Lamentations - by candlelight.

Tonight marks the onset of Tisha b’Av, the most mournful day in the Jewish calendar. In a couple of hours I’ll be in synagogue, sitting on the floor, reading the Book of Lamentations by candlelight.

Unlike Yom Kippur, which is a day of solemn introspection and soul-searching, Tisha b’Av is sad. It’s the day we set aside to bewail pretty much all the Rotten Crap we Jews have had to deal with these past 2,600 years or so. And, trust me, that’s a lot of Crap... including the destruction of not one, but two (count ’em) Temples in Jerusalem. Oh, and did I mention a couple of exiles?

Rather than rehash the stuff I write every year on this day, I’ll simply put up links to a few of my previous posts. Here ya go:

Tisha b’Av 2008.

Tisha b’Av 2007.

Tisha b’Av 2005.

I’d tell you to enjoy reading ’em, but that’s not the point of the day, is it? So suffer. No need to thank me.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


Me, I like to go a long time between car washes. It’s not that I’m cheap or anything (well, maybe a little); it’s just that I like to be able to see the difference afterwards. Filth-encrusted jalopy goes in, shiny new ride comes out.

Today, though, I opted for the Full Monty. Wash, vacuum, shine the wheels and hubcaps. And I plumped for the Turtle Wax, which adds $500 to the bill.

I know that sounds like a lot, but Turtle Wax is expensive. You need a lotta little Q-Tips to get the wax outta all them tiny turtle ears...


It was sometime in the late 1960’s that a new appliance found its way into our home.

Not an electric coffeepot; not a waffle iron or toaster. This was something new, something health-related. It was a Waterpik, a device whose function was to irrigate and massage your gums with a high-pressure pulsating jet of water. Years later, I would see similar devices in use at the Great Corporate Salt Mine’s refineries and chemical plants, where the process is known as hydroblasting.

Both of my parents were long-time sufferers of gum disease, probably spending as much time or more with their periodontist than at their regular dentist. For them, the Waterpik was a godsend.

Waterpik oral irrigation devices were very popular in the 1970’s, but since then they have settled back into a minor slot in the American consciousness. Which is unfortunate, because they really are that rara avis: devices that actually perform a useful function... unlike half the crap I own.

After I moved out of Chez Eli and went off to university, I didn’t think about the old Waterpik all that much. But eventually, one would end up in our house, mainly used by She Who Must Be Obeyed, whose closely-spaced teeth made using regular dental floss a near-impossibility. A few years back, she bought an updated model to help manage her oral hygiene while she was wearing braces... and just recently, I went and got one of my own.

Believe me when I tell you that your mouth will never feel cleaner than right after you have used a Waterpik. It blasts all the hidden guck out from under the gumline, including all the crap you thought you had gotten out by flossing. And if you really want to clear out your head, you can do what I did after my nasal surgery seven years ago...

I had had a septoplasty... correction of a deviated nasal septum. As part of the postoperative regimen, I was supposed to irrigate myself with warm salt water, for which purpose I had been given a rubber bulb syringe. But I had a better idea... and it involved using our old Waterpik. You can do it too!

You simply take one of the regular dental irrigation tips and cut off the end with a hacksaw, leaving only a one-inch length. You then fill the tank with warm saline solution, jam the irrigation tip up one nostril, and hold the other nostril closed. Now start the machine running - at the lowest pressure setting, of course - with your mouth open over the sink.

Once you get used to the remarkably disconcerting sensation of having your head fill with warm salt water (it’s a bit like drowning), Waterpikking your head out is not all that bad. That is, until you look at the stuff being washed out of your sinuses. Yeef. One time as I was Head-Pikking, something that looked like a cross between a Big Mac and SpongeBob SquarePants came floating out...

Maybe you’d better stick to using the Waterpik on your gums, at that.

Monday, July 27, 2009


As if Jimbo weren’t paranoid enough with respect to Florida’s native fauna, we now have this story.

Here’s the money quote:

“The State of Florida recently declared war on the out-of-control python population.”

Roll that one around on your tongue a few times. “The out-of-control python population.” Jeebus.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Meryl Yourish for the link... and the post title.]

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Pithed Off

If you wish your status to be Legendary and Mythical,
Be sure to find yourself a Helmet that’s Pithical.

[Sometimes, Mr. Debonair
Finds something besides a Colander for to wear.]

Pith helmet courtesy of Eric.


Rhea County Courthouse
The Rhea County Courthouse in Dayton, Tennessee, home of one of the Scopes trial of 1925.

The Missus and I have just returned from a brief mini-vacation in the wilds of Tennessee, where we enjoyed the hospitality and company of Eric - the Straight White Guy hizzownself - and his lovely bride Fiona.

Eric is a brave man, and I say this without reference to his experience as a United States Marine. He is a brave man because he is willing to put up with my company for days on end, allowing himself to be inveigled into drinking Bizarre Concoctions and partaking of Strange Adventures.

One such Strange Adventure was our trip to Dayton, Tennessee, site of the infamous Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, a trial loosely dramatized in the various stage, film, and television productions of “Inherit the Wind.”

Rhea County Courtroom
The second-floor courtroom, restored to its appearance during the Scopes trial. Imagine this room packed with over 600 people.

Rhea County Courtroom Seats
Hard seats made for little comfort during the sweltering July trial.

Scopes vs Tennessee was, at its core, a publicity stunt financed by the ACLU and promoted by a group of local businessmen who saw possibilities in the attention a controversial trial would bring the town of Dayton. John T. Scopes, a local high school teacher, was a friend of one of those businessmen, who asked Scopes to teach evolution in violation of Tennessee’s just-enacted Butler Act, which provided
“That it shall be unlawful for any teacher in any of the Universities, Normals and all other public schools of the State which are supported in whole or in part by the public school funds of the State, to teach any theory that denies the Story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.”
Interestingly enough, the state-mandated biology textbook described and even endorsed Darwinian theory... which meant that pretty much every teacher in the state was violating the Butler Act anyway. But Scopes happily offered himself up as a test case.

The trial turned out to be the publicity bonanza its planners had envisioned, and then some. It was huge, on a scale not to be seen again until the Lindbergh kidnapping trial almost a decade later. Atheist Clarence Darrow - the man who had saved thrill-killers Leopold and Loeb from the death penalty - was on the defense team; meanwhile, noted populist Democrat, three-time Presidential candidate, and Fundamentalist orator William Jennings Bryan was on the prosecution team. With these two facing off against each other, you had all the ingredients of a Flapper-Era Media Circus. It was the first trial broadcast nationwide on radio, an early example of the power of a mass medium to blow a minor event all out of proportion. It would not, as we know, be the last.

There was never really any issue over Scopes’s guilt: He was convicted, fined $100, and subsequently had the conviction overturned on appeal on a minor technicality. The jury deliberated all of nine minutes after an eight-day trial. Even Darrow, in an address to the jury, acknowledged that, because the court had held any evidence he had planned to offer inadmissible, that he could not in fairness ask them to return a verdict of not guilty.

But the case was really never about Scopes. It was a landmark clash between anti-evolutionists and evolutionists, between Biblical fundamentalism and modern scientific thought, and the echoes of that clash still resound today, more than four decades after the Butler Act was repealed by the State of Tennessee. It was a battle between the Urbane versus the Homespun, with H. L. Mencken, famously venomous columnist for the Baltimore Sun, excoriating the locals and calling them “yokels” and “morons.”

The Bible vs Darwin controversy is still with us today, despite the increased emphasis on science education driven by the National Defense Education Act in the late 1950’s. We’ve dealt with it here in Cobb Country, Georgia in recent years, with stickers proclaiming that evolution was merely a theory, not scientific fact - stickers that had to be removed months later after yet another court case.

Me, I'm not a Biblical literalist, and so I have no problem reconciling Darwinian views of evolution and natural selection with my belief system. I look at evolution as the way God manages the business of Creation... and the Biblical story of Genesis as allegory and myth, our ancestors’ attempt to explain where they came from. Faith and Science can coexist, as long as you recognize that the two do not necessarily have much to do with one another.

A Paul Harvey-esque sidebar - Five days after the Scopes trial ended, William Jennings Bryan had the opportunity to find out whether his religious beliefs were sound by direct observation. He died in his sleep on July 26, 1925 - exactly eighty-four years ago today - leaving a void in the Fundamentalist movement that would never again be filled.

William Jennings Bryan
William Jennings Bryan, preserved in bronze.

After our jaunt to Dayton, we returned to the happy climes of McMinn County, where we had a fine feast - Eric’s Tennessee ’Taters, by the way, are Da Bomb - and spent many happy hours stuffing ourselves, drinking, and teaching the ladyfolk the finer points of Texas Hold-’Em. My advice? Watch out for that Fiona... to beat her you’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


Normally, as my Esteemed (and Extremely Patient) Readers are aware, on Fridays I post a list of Choons spewed out at random by my Little White Choon-Box. That’d be the Friday Random Ten.

This week, given that the Missus and have been away from home and disinclined to monkey about with Computery Biznis, the Friday Random Ten has been displaced to Saturday. Big Fat Hairy Deal, you say... and I agree.

But now that it is Saturday, it’s time to get on with it. What’s playing today? Let’s take a look:
  1. The Ascent of Stan - Ben Folds

  2. Kuvernöörin Tytär - Tuomari Nurmio & Alamaailman Vasarat

  3. Come With Me - Monty Python, Spamalot (Original Cast)

  4. Vital Transformation - Mahavishnu Orchestra

  5. Midtown (Instrumental) - Tom Waits

  6. Mozart: Requiem in D minor; K 626 - 13. Agnus Dei - Herbert Von Karajan

  7. Eyn Mol - The Klezmatics

  8. There’s Always Someone Cooler Than You - Ben Folds

  9. Tales of Brave Ulysses - Cream

  10. Gimme Shelter - The Rolling Stones

    Oh, a storm is threat’ning
    My very life today
    If I don’t get some shelter
    Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away

    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away
    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    Ooh, see the fire is sweepin’
    Our very street today
    Burns like a red coal carpet
    Mad bull lost its way

    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away
    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    Rape, murder!
    It’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    Rape, murder!
    It’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    Rape, murder!
    It’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    The flood is threat’ning
    My very life today
    Gimme, gimme shelter
    Or I’m gonna fade away

    War, children, it’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away
    It’s just a shot away

    I tell you, love, sister, it’s just a kiss away
    It’s just a kiss away
    It’s just a kiss away
    It’s just a kiss away
    It’s just a kiss away
    Kiss away, kiss away

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

Friday, July 24, 2009


The cacophony heard on the quarterdeck
That rises as high as the Giraffe’s neck?
It comes from the animals lodged in their cabins:
The rats, platypuses, kitties, and babb’ns.

Friday Ark #253 is up at the Modulator, with Hakuna in Pole Position once again.

Want more cats? Head on over to When Cats Attack! Sunday evening for the 280th installment of Carnival of the Cats.

Update: CotC #280 is up - and it’s a beaut.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Colander du Jour
Elisson sports the Colander du Jour. This one, a sort of Metallic Top Hat, bears the Food Network logo.

Though salespeople might get pissed,
There is one thing I can’t resist:
A Colander, to wear upon the Head.

One benefit (I have no doubt),
It keeps the Alien Voices out.
Try one today, in Silver or in Red.

If people would adopt the goals
Of wearing Metal Hats with Holes,
The world’s problems would be at an end -

So wear a Colander with me,
And Foolishness will set us free!
What better way, an afternoon to spend?


Korrugated ’Kuna

I like to sit on that cardboard, there;
I prefer it to almost any chair.
The corrugations caress my bottom,
And I don’t really care where you gottum.

Hakuna has become very fond of the corrugated cardboard scratching-boxes that we’ve scattered strategically throughout the house. Originally, we put them out so that Neighbor (z’’l) would have something to shred besides the furniture; now that Neighbor is, alas, no longer with us, they make perfectly functional Kitty-Beds and -Chairs.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009


Wiener Wreck

O, I wish I were an Oscar Mayer
Shtupping garages would be
A real good deal

That dinky-ass Beemer
That skanky-ass Benz
Can’t love you like I do
They just your friendz

Just open up
That great big door
And I’ll give you
A whole lot more

Roll your gate up
Nice and wide
So I can slide my Hot Dog
Deep inside

Just like a train
Going into a tunnel
Let me cram my wiener
Into your Love-Funnel

Got a sausage with a length
Measured in feet
Gotta whole lotta lovin’
Gotta whole lotta meat

Wiener Mobile
Is my name
Satisfyin’ your homestead
Is my game

[Inspired by this breaking news story, forwarded to me by The Other Elisson as well as having been the subject of a recent post at All Atwitter.]


Yesterday I accompanied my friend and Bidnis Podnuh Barry while he took his car in for an oil change. The dealership - not Barry’s usual place - was running a special, and the price difference was enough to justify the twenty-mile drive down to Buckhead.

Barry usually pays $240 to get his oil changed. This place was only charging $99. Wow, wotta deal!

You may ask, “Is Barry out of his ever-loving mind? $240 is the normal price for an oil change?” Ah, but not just any oil change: Barry (or, more properly, Malka, his wife) drives a Mercedes-Benz 350E SUV.

Going to the Mercedes-Benz dealership in Buckhead - a tony in-town Atlanta neighborhood - gave me an opportunity to see how the Other Half drives. The Other Half meaning the half with money... a boatload more than I have.

For one thing, on the showroom floor in this place, they have cars like the McLaren SLR Roadster 722S, which sells for something north of $550,000 - excluding tax, title, and license. A small problem is that, owing to various regulatory matters, the 722S cannot be registered in Georgia. That poses no problem for the typical McLaren owner, who can buy his own state in which to register his car.

Most car dealerships have a grimy service area, typically featuring an even grimier waiting room in which there is a vending machine that sells stale Oreo cookies and pork rinds, and a guck-encrusted coffee machine that was last run sometime last Thursday. But not here. Not at Mercedes-Benz of Buckhead.

You can eat off the floor in the service bays - that’s how clean everything is. Most people, however, choose to wait for their vehicle in the snazzy Café Benz, a full service coffee spa that would put Starbucks to shame.


Coffee is gratis at the Café Benz, but a goodly portion of the clientele will plump for one of the fancier coffee drinks: cappuccino, espresso, and a full armamentarium of lattés. Pastries and Fancy-Pants desserts? They’ve got them, too.

Cafe Benz Food

While you wait for your car to be serviced, you can be serviced as well. If you’re not content with the library of magazines or the array of flat-screen HD televisions, why not have a hot oil massage with the aroma of your choice? Coconut, mango, passionfruit, and New-Car Smell: take your pick. And every 30,000 miles, they’ll gladly throw in a Happy Ending.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald once famously observed. “They are different from you and me.” Sure: They have more money... and they get to have coffee and massages while their cars are getting lubed. Sweet.

Barry’s car was ready in about 45 minutes. Not bad... and at a bargain price, too. Because if you’re driving around in a Benz, a $99 for an oil change is chump change. Especially when they throw in a free car wash and coffee.

I’m hoping Barry asks me to join him when he goes back for his 90,000 mile service. I hear that one’s a doozy.

Monday, July 20, 2009


Wonder and amazement are in short supply these days, and the word “awesome” is sorely overused.
“These chili cheese fries are awesome, dude!”
But forty years ago today, I witnessed something truly awesome: Men set foot on the Moon, our planetary companion.

NYT Front Page 072169
Front page of the New York Times, July 21, 1969, a well-preserved copy of which resides in the Elisson Archive.

In a very different context, Arthur C. Clarke found just the right words to describe our feelings, and what that moment - the moment when Neil Armstrong hopped off that ladder and felt lunar dust under his feet - really meant:
This was the moment when history held its breath, and the present sheared asunder from the past as an iceberg splits from its parent cliffs, and goes sailing out to sea in lonely pride. All that the past ages had achieved was as nothing now...”
The words are from Clarke’s magnificent novel Childhood’s End, and are (in the novel) inspired by the arrival of aliens on Earth. But in a very real sense, our having thrown off the shackles of gravity and transported ourselves to another cosmic body is the end of our Human Childhood.

Now, if we could only stop acting like children.

I wrote about my impressions of the Apollo 11 voyage two years ago, and pretty much everything I said then is valid today.

We achieved such great things forty years ago. Why are we not back on the Moon, learning, building, and exploring, when the computational power that guided the Apollo 11 moonshot is now available in a device the size of a pack of smokes? Why do we no longer dare to dream of doing great things? Our bodies are earthbound, though they need not be... and our minds, if we allow them the liberty, can travel anywhere in the Universe.


Tonight’s Guild event at Petite Auberge is the annual BYOB night at which memberships are renewed and the new year’s slate of officers is elected.

The Grouchy One will not be there, alas - he’s in the process of returning from this year’s Blownstar Blodgemeet. But I expect that Houston Steve will attend.

I'm planning on bringing a nice Saint-Émilion, a Château Troplong Mondot 1998. I’ll post the other offerings - everyone is supposed to bring a bottle to share - after I get back.

Update: I did indeed bring the Troplong Mondot, and it was superb. Three asterisks, at least, as befits a wine that received a 93 rating from Wine Spectator. Here are the other wines we had:

Stony Hill Napa Valley Gewurztraminer 2006
Walter Hansel Russian River Valley Cahill Lane Vineyard Chardonnay 2004
Bodega y Viñedos François Qurton Mendoza 2008**

Château Guiot Costières de Nîmes 2008

Bacio Divino Napa Valley 1995 (66% Cabernet Sauvignon, 22% Sangiovese, 12% Petite Syrah)
Domaine Piquemal Revesultes Ambré 1988
Domaine Terlato & Chapoutier Shiraz-Viognier 2005
Luca Malbec 2007***
David Family Vineyards Russian River Valley Syrah 2003
Cakebread Cellars Napa Valley Merlot 2003
Château Taillefer Pomerol 2005**
Courbissac Minervois 2004
Hacienda Monastero Ribera del Duero 2004
Mount Eden Vineyards Santa Cruz Mountains Cabernet Sauvignon 2000
Shafer Napa Valley Firebreak 1997
Seppelt Dorrien Vineyards Barossa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1996
Sterling Vineyards Sterling Reserve Red Table Wine 1986
Artaldi Viñas de Gain Rioja 2005

R L. Buller & Son Victoria Fine Tokay***

Oh, there was food, too. What had been advertised as hors d’oeuvres turned out to be a nice cheese selection, accompanied by chicken, salmon, and filet mignon... enough to help sop up all that alcohol. Yummy!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Today I returned home from morning minyan to find She Who Must Be Obeyed jonesing for an Eggy Breakfast.

This is strange, as anyone who knows SWMBO will attest. She is not a fan of the Cackleberry by any stretch of the imagination.

She will happily eat egg whites all day... and she has no problem eating dishes that incorporate whole eggs, as long as they are well-disguised. It’s the yolks she has an issue with.

Imagine my astonishment, then, when she commenced to boiling up a handful of hard-cooked eggs. Good Gawd! Was the Earth going to fall off its axis?

The perfect hard-cooked egg, by the way, is easy to prepare - and yet, so few people get it right. What you want to do is place the eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Place the pan over a high flame and bring to a rolling boil. Turn the heat down to a low boil, cover and cook for ten minutes. As soon as the eggs are finished, dump out the boiling water and run cool water over the eggs to stop the cooking process. Your eggs will be easy to peel, will have perfectly cooked yolks - not runny, not dry and grainy - and the yolks won’t have that nasty-looking green surface.

So here the Missus is with a clutch of gorgeous hard-boiled eggs... the whites of which she proceeded to eat, leaving the yolks behind. [Amazingly, the Mistress of sarcasm and I prevailed upon her to taste a wee bit of yolk, but that is as far as we got.] Then, for sheer perversity’s sake, she took the remaining eggs and deviled them. Not that she intended to eat the deviled eggs, mind you. She just was in a devilish mood.

I had a couple of those deviled eggs. Not bad at all. And I even improved upon ’em by replacing half of the deviled yolk mixture with a spoonful of SWMBO’s freshly-made guacamole. Green eggs without the ham!

As for me, I took three eggs, a dab of milk, a small onion, half of an avocado, and a handful of chopped cilantro and made myself an omelette.

Avocado Omelette
Avocado omelette with caramelized onions and cilantro.

There is something about the aroma of eggs and caramelized onions cooked in butter that penetrates directly to my reptilian hindbrain, calling forth deeply-buried memories of childhood. I can almost see my Grandma Shirley of blessèd memory, standing over the stove as she made my favorite Sunday-morning breakfast: scrambled eggs and onions. She would fry those onions until they were blackish-brown, then stir in the eggs and cook the whole mess down until it became a sort of Jewish ambrosia. My version was, alas, a lot more frou-frou... but it hit all the right buttons.

Flavor. Nostalgia. Now I’m ready to take on the whole hard-boiled world.

Friday, July 17, 2009


There is a saying that water, flowing drop by drop, can eventually wear away the most adamantine of mountains. That this has some small basis in reality is attested by an astonishing statement Eli (hizzownself) made several months ago at my retirement party: He was considering getting a computer.

Only if you know Eli do you know how jaw-droppingly unexpected this pronunciamento was. He, aided and abetted by his bride Toni, is a technological Luddite of the first water.

Getting the two of them to use modestly innovative devices such as cell phones (for safety if for no other reason) and answering machines took years of gentle persuasion. I’m sure they still harbor private doubts about electricity and indoor plumbing.

Years ago, in the workplace, even as the day-to-day functioning of his business became more computer-dependent, Eli continued to do things the way he had learned as a youth: by writing things out longhand. It was left to others to transcribe and handle the word processing tasks, a way of doing things common to men of his generation. Any pressure to become computer-literate that his work may have imposed evaporated, of course, as soon as he retired.

For years, Eli was proud - even a bit defiant - concerning his computerless status. Didn’t want one. Not interested. E-mail? Fuhgeddaboudit.

I’m not sure when the first cracks in the armor started to appear. Was it the Garmin, that semi-magickal GPS device - a device that actually proved useful? Was it the monthly grind of paying bills by the labor-intensive process of hand-writing chack after check, addressing and stamping envelope after envelope? Was it a gradual feeling of being disconnected from the rest of the Internet-savvy, e-mailing, Facebooking, Twittering world?

Who knows?

But She Who Must Be Obeyed actually heard Eli utter those unexpected words back in March, and so she came up with the Brilliant Suggestion that my brother (the Other Elisson) and I buy Eli a computer for his 84th birthday.

We discussed the matter at length, my brother and I, and when the Missus and I were in New York at the end of May we floated the trial balloon before the Old Man himself. And, shockingly, he did not demur.

Eli gets a computer
Eli, flanked by his two Elissons, checks out an H-P laptop. Note the look of sheer horror and/or consternation on the Other Elisson’s face.

The first of June found us at Costco, checking out the offerings. We settled on an H-P laptop, adding a Canon printer, a wireless mouse, and a few other minor (but necessary) gewgaws and doodads. And home with Eli went all the Electronic Swag.

Eli and Toni are now in the process of negotiating a steep Learning Curve. They’re taking Computer Kindergarten courses, dipping their toes gingerly into the Aqua Electronica. Those are deep waters, as we all know, and there is much, much to learn.

So far, they’ve mastered the art of Computer Solitaire... and they’re using the wireless mouse. Baby steps... baby steps.

But the mere fact that, at the age of eighty-four, Eli is willing to give it a shot - why, that is simply one more reason (in a long list of reasons) to admire the guy.


Walter Cronkite
Walter Cronkite (1916-2009), veteran newsman.

With today’s passing of Walter Cronkite, veteran reporter, a final nail has been driven into the coffin of the twentieth century. Cronkite, 92, was at one point considered “the most trusted man in America” thanks to a felicitous combination of professionalism and an avuncular demeanor.

Cronkite’s career took him from a brief stint in newspaper reporting to radio, from which he made the jump to television in 1950. He cut his teeth covering political conventions and hosted the program You Are There, which used a news reporting format to recreate historical events. Beginning in 1957, he hosted an narrated The Twentieth Century, a program that documented key events of (you guessed it) the twentieth century using newsreel footage. It was on that show that I first heard his unforgettable voice.

It was “Uncle Walter” who brought the major events of my formative years to the small screen. The Cuban Missile Crisis (I was ten years old and scared shitless); the assassination of President Kennedy; the Apollo moon missions... all of these are indelibly engraved on my brainpan with a soundtrack provided by Walter Cronkite.

It is unfortunate that Cronkite did not live a few days longer. Monday evening will mark the fortieth anniversary of the first manned moon landing, perhaps the most significant technological achievement of the human species... and covered wire-to-wire by Cronkite, of course.

I cannot name a single contemporary television reporter who can hold a candle to him. Alas, the Infotainment Biznis being what it is these days, I fear that I shall never see his like again.

Requiescat in pace, Uncle Walter. We’ll miss you... and that’s the way it is.


The Ark is sailing! Animals rejoice:
A bunk on port or starboard is their choice.
There’s room aplenty for assorted Beasts,
From Cats and Dogs unto the smallest Yeasts.

[I know a Yeast is not a Beast. But it rhymes. - Ed.]

Friday Ark #252 is afloat upon the gentle waters of the Bloggy-Sea. Catch it over at the Modulator.

Sunday evening, Carnival of the Cats is scheduled to be doing its Carnivally Thing at Artsy Catsy. It’ll be the 279th edition of this, the longest running Carnival in Blogcarnivaldom... so be sure to stop by.

Update: CotC #279 is up... but at iMeowza. Surprise!


Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana. - Groucho Marx

Tempus nudgit. - Eli (hizzownself)

Time flies when you’re having fun - and even when you’re not. - Elisson

* * * * *

Time flies, indeed: Here it is Friday again already, which means it is time for the Friday Random Ten, my weekly compilation of Musical Miscellany as spewed forth from the iPod d’Elisson.

Not a lot of excitement this weekend - thank Gawd. Tomorrow, as part of our congregation’s normal summer routine in which the inmates are encouraged to take over the asylum in order to give the regular staff a rest, I will be the Acting Rabbi for Shabbat morning services. I will try to resist the temptation to sing Adon Olam (our closing hymn) to the tune of “Roast Beef of Old England.” (Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.)

Meanwhile, what’s on the box? Lessee:
  1. I Wanna Be Like You - Big Bad Voodoo Daddy

  2. Golden Shower of Hits - The Circle Jerks

  3. Too Much Exposition - Urinetown - Original Cast

    Officer Lockstock
    Well, hello there. And welcome - to Urinetown! Not the place, of course. The musical. Urinetown “the place” is... well, it’s a place you’ll hear people referring to a lot through the show.

    You hear the news? They carted Old “So and So” off to Urinetown the other day.

    Is that so? What he do?

    Oh, such and such, I hear.

    Well, what do you know. Old “So and So.”

    It’s kind of a mythical place, you understand. A bad place. A place you won’t see until Act Two. And then...? Well, let’s just say it’s filled with symbolism and things like that. But Urinetown “the musical,” well, here we are. Welcome. It takes place in a town like any town... that you might find in a musical. This here’s the first setting for the show. As the sign says, it’s a “public amenity,” meaning public toilet. These people have been waiting for hours to get in. It’s the only amenity they can afford to get into.

    Little Sally
    Say, Officer Lockstock, is this where you tell the audience about the water shortage?

    What’s that, Little Sally?

    Little Sally
    You know, the water shortage. The hard times. The drought. A shortage so awful that private toilets eventually become unthinkable. A premise so absurd that...

    Whoa, there, Little Sally. Not all at once. They’ll hear more about the water shortage in the next scene.

    Little Sally
    Oh, I guess you don’t want to overload them with too much exposition, huh.

    Everything in its time, Little Sally. You’re too young to understand it now, but nothing can kill a show like too much exposition.

    Little Sally
    How about bad subject matter?


    Little Sally
    Or a bad title, even? That could kill a show pretty good.

    Well, Little Sally, suffice it to say that in Urinetown (the musical) everyone has to use public bathrooms in order to take care of their private business. That’s the central conceit of the show!

    Better hope your pennies
    Add up to the fee -
    We can’t have you peeing
    For free
    If you do, we’ll catch you
    We, we never fail!
    And we never bother with jail

    You’ll get Urinetown!
    Off you’ll go to Urinetown!
    Away with you to Urinetown!

    You won’t need bail

    Later on you’ll learn that these “public bathrooms” are controlled by a private company. They keep admission high, generally, so if you’re down on your luck you have to come to a place like this - one of the poorest, filthiest urinals in town.

    Little Sally
    And you can’t just go in the bushes either, there’s laws against it.

    That’s right, Little Sally. Harsh laws, too. That’s why Little Sally here’s counting her pennies. Isn’t that so, Little Sally?

    Little Sally
    I’m very close, Officer. Only a few pennies away.

    Aren’t we all, Little Sally. Aren’t we all.

    (to audience)
    Well, we’ve talked on long enough, I imagine. Enjoy the show. And welcome - to Urinetown (the musical)!

  4. Who Stole My Monkey? - Boozoo Chavis and the Magic Sounds

  5. Inca Roads - Frank Zappa

  6. Barnyard Story - Procol Harum

  7. In Blue Hawaii - Brian Wilson

  8. Children’s Song #6 - Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

  9. Lost in the Flood - Bruce Springsteen

  10. Les Jours Tristes (vocal) - Yann Tiersen

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Update: “Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should do it.” But sometimes you’ll end up doing it anyway.

Thursday, July 16, 2009


My friend Ron knocks another one out of the park with this post about a very special visit to a very special Lady.

Go. Read.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Gruyère cheese, when it’s piping hot,
Has a smell reminiscent of Unwashed Twat.


The “Take Three” challenge, posted at Leslie’s Omnibus, works as follows:

I send you three sentences. You write 1,000 words in any format you choose - short story, essay, poetry, screenplay, news article. You must use all three sentences. The twist is that you can use them anywhere you want in the story, as long as all three sentences appear somewhere within your 1,000 words.

I’ll select four writers at a time, posting the challenge sentences on Friday, with the 1,000 words due the following Friday.

Leslie asked me to try my hand at this, and since a 1,000-word story is like a 100-word story (only bigger), I figured I’d give it a shot. The sentences set forth in the challenge are highlighted in boldface.

* * * * *

My heart was still jackhammering as I walked away from Final Table. It felt as though a jet of pure adrenaline would squirt right out of my ears if I unscrewed the Panama from my head. There was a brick of Benjamins the size of a cinderblock waiting for me at the cashier. Somehow, I had pulled it off.

I have no idea what impelled me to enter the tournament. No fucking clue whatsoever. I had been playing penny-ante games with my buddies for years, online Hold ’Em for a few months. But I had never spent any time in a bricks-and-mortar card room. Hell, I could’ve counted the total number of times I had ever been in a casino on my fingers... and a few toes.

When Irwin and Barney suggested a trip to Vegas, I wasn’t all that excited about it. But after a while, it started sounding better and better. Barney had a friend who was a fairly serious player. Not a whale, mind you, but serious enough to get a suite at the Bellagio. (Comped, of course. Who the fuck pays for a suite at the Bellagio?) Anyway, this guy had planned a trip out there but had to bail. Instead of canceling, he offered the room to Barney. Free is hard to turn down.

Friday afternoon, I met up with Irwin and Barney at the airport. Three clock-hours later we were sitting in this huge-ass suite, figuring out what to do next. What to do next, we decided, was to grab a quick bite and then check out the casino.

As I’ve already mentioned, I’m not exactly what you’d call a casino hound. But I love people-watching. There’s always at least one glaze-eyed biddy sitting at the slots or the Keno machines, robotically mashing the buttons, a thin stream of spittle leaking from the corner of her wrinkly puss... a mute testament to the power of variable ratio reinforcement. Keeps gamblers coming back, you know.

There was a ten-dollar blackjack table with a couple of open seats. I sat down and bought in with a few hundred. Blackjack’s OK. Pretty much everything else in a casino is for suckers, but with blackjack there’s an element of skill.

My first five hands were bullshit. I’d have thirteen or fourteen, the dealer showing a face card. Crap. Draw; bust; repeat. Twelve hands in, I was starting to get a little pissed off. I’d won maybe two out of the twelve, and my stack was melting like a stick of butter under Grandma’s armpit. (Don’t ask.)

Just about when I was ready to say “Fuck it,” and walk away, the cards started coming. Blackjack. Again. A five-six double down capped with a King, with the dealer busting. For the next two hours I rode a hot streak; when I sensed that my luck was beginning to turn, I colored out and stood up.

In a celebratory mood, I decided to take a walk on the Strip in the cool of the neon-lit night. Maybe I’d grab a Negroni at Caesar’s, just on the other side of Flamingo Road. Yeah. I could almost taste that cold, bittersweet goodness...

I had just turned north when I caught a flash of movement from the corner of my eye. A “charity mugger” swinging a clipboard like a weapon and a wearing a determined set to her jaw came barreling down the street in my direction. She planted herself right in front of me and launched right into her pitch, brandishing her lipstick-smeared front teeth.

“Japanese and Norwegians murder hundreds of whales every year! Whales are intelligent! As smart as we are...”

Sure they are, sweetheart. And they’re delicious. Ever try whale bacon? Tastes like pastrami.”

I was being deliberately cruel, but suddenly I could see a big, red “ASSHOLE!” light up in electric letters over my head. Shit, I thought. I’ve just won a pile of money and all I can do is act like a tool.

The girl had already reached the same conclusion and had turned to walk away. She was muttering under her breath; I was glad I couldn’t make out the words.

“Miss, please don’t go. I’m sorry I was being a jerk just then.” I peeled off five crisp Bennies from my roll and handed them over. “Here. Go save a few whales. Maybe buy yourself a nice dinner.” She looked like she could use it.

She smiled. As she turned to head west on Flamingo, she said, “Thanks, Mister. This’ll be a lucky trip for you.”

Next day, I wasn’t thinking about Whale Girl when I saw the sign advertising a Texas Hold ’Em tourney at the Mirage. Why not, I figured.

* * *

Poker in Real Life is way different from online. Your heart wants to jump out of your mouth half the time, especially when a couple of Kings show up on the board and you bluff that you’re holding the trips.

At first the blinds are small. People are checking each other out, testing the waters. Of course, that’s not action. Action is when the blinds start getting humongous... and the wild men come out of the woodwork.

One asshole kept pushing all-in with garbage pocket cards, winning by sheer luck. The guy was just a twitching loon who needed to be locked up before he hurt himself, much less anybody else. I simply bided my time, folding every hand until American Airlines showed up. Then I jumped on his sorry ass and sent him home.

It was then that I remembered Whale Girl. “Lucky trip,” she’d said.

That’s when I really started playing. Started taking a few big pots. Folded a few hands that I knew were traps. And when I got to Final Table, I knew I had everyone else by the shorties.

So here I am, recovering my wits after pulling off the biggest win of my life. “Save the whales,” I think to myself.

“Collect them all. Win valuable prizes.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Howard Stern has been claiming to be the “King of All Media” for years.

The two-word takeaway from that sentence? “Has Been.” ’Cause there’s a new king in town, Howie.

Who dat? Me, of course!

First the New York Times... and now, Woman’s Day (Yes - Woman’s Day!), who managed to get their hands on my Strasburg Pie photo.

There’s gotta be a way to parlay this into a Food Network show. And then, with the truckloads of money that throws off, I can finally open my House of Meat Restaurant. I’ll kick Emeril’s ass, you betcha!

Next stop: The Tonight Show, followed by the big screen! It’s just a matter of time.


Winey Elisson
Mr. Debonair, your sommelier du jour.

She Who Must Be Obeyed likes a good party. Even better, she likes to entertain. All she needs is a good reason.

A good reason came along in the form of Jessica, youngest daughter of our friends Marc and Shelly. Jessica’s older sisters are both married now, and in both cases, SWMBO and several friends hosted bridal showers at our house. Now that Jessica is on the hook, so to speak, it was her turn to have a bridal shower at Chez Elisson.

The Committee of Four (for so I shall refer to them), consisting of SWMBO, JoAnn, Laura Belle, and Betty, agreed on a Wine-Tasting theme. This provided an opportunity for me to trot out the expertise I’ve garnered during my years as a member of the Sommelier Guild of Atlanta... said expertise mostly consisting of knowing whom to ask.

In our case, I decided to consult with Lloyd, a fellow Guild member and manager of a well-stocked wine shop. Given the array of dishes the ladies wanted to serve, what wines would match up well with those dishes, while at the same time providing enough variety to be interesting?

The food was to be divided up into three “courses”: Fruit and cheese, a beef entrée, and dessert. We would serve two different wines with each course, with guests free to move from course to course at their own pace.

The fruit and cheese course consisted of red and green grapes, blackberries, and Abate Fetel pears; Camembert and Sweet Grass Dairy’s Green Hill soft cheeses; and Amadeus, Gruyère de Comté, and five-year-old Gouda hard cheeses. To match up with these, we selected a Domain Daniel Chauveau Chinon Rosé 2006 and a Domaine Marc Portaz Apremont Vin de Savoie 2005 - two crisp, dry wines.

For the beef entrée (open-faced flank steak sandwiches served with grilled asparagus), we picked a Villa Mt. Eden Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2005 and a Terra Andina Reserva Pinot Noir 2008. Both of these turned out to be extremely popular, with the Cab being the hit of the party.

Flank Steak Sammitches
Open-face flank steak sandwiches, served alongside grilled asparagus and accompanied by an array of horseradish cream, soy-mustard, and barbecue sauces.

Dessert was an assortment of cupcakes - red velvet, vanilla, and caramel - which posed a real challenge vis à vis wine selection. It’s not an easy task to find wines that will work well with all three of those (sweet) flavors, but we did an admirable job with a Dow’s Tawny Port and a Martin Weyrich Moscato Allegro 2007.

Cupcake Bush
“It is a Tree of Cupcakes for those that hold fast to it.” - Proverbs 3:18 (paraphrased)
Assorted cupcakes courtesy Lulu’s Bakery, Roswell, GA.

All in all, the party was a little like a Sommelier Guild event brought home... except with an all-female cast. I was there mainly to open the bottles, explain how the wines should be tasted (pour, swirl, gargle, wear lampshade on head), and stay the hell out of the way. Which I tried to do, while snarfing up random bites of food and washing them down with this or that Fine Vintage.

A good bridal shower - not that I am any kind of expert in these matters - should be (1) fun for the Guest of Honor, the bride-to-be, and (2) fun for the other guests. Based on what I could see, the Committee of Four did a superb job and accomplished both objectives handily. Furthermore, the wine and food pairings got high marks... which means that I don’t have to sleep in the back yard.


This morning, I had breakfast at the safest place in Cobb County: the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium.

Safe - because roughly half of Cobb County’s finest was enjoying their breakfast there at the same time. Pretty much a Crime-Free Zone, right there.

[Except, perhaps, for the table next to the Peace Officers, where a lively game of Liar’s Poker was going on. Plenty of money exchanging hands... but the shamuses wisely decided to look the other way.]

I’ve ruminated before on the affection Police Officers have for Toroidal Foodstuffs... an affection that even inspired a group of Michigan cops to purchase a donut bakery. But based on my observations here, both doughnuts and bagels seem to hold equal attraction for the Shamusary. Is it the shape that matters? One could, conceivably, test this with an offering of sausage rings.

I choose to believe that the ring shape offers a deep symbolism. It is nothing less than a Wedding Ring, signifying the polygamous marriage of the police force, the Law, and Society.

That... plus it’s tasty.

Monday, July 13, 2009


Hakuna Speaks!
Hakuna, in a talkative mood.

I know many of my Esteemed Readers - especially the ones who live with cats - wonder just what it is that they are saying.

A cat’s language, as we know, is all but impenetrable to the human mind and ear. Delicate, high-pitched overtones, coupled with carefully modulated subsonics, combine to create a vocal medium that can rival the complexity of a Bach concerto, the tonal subtlety of Mandarin Chinese. All but impenetrable... until now.

For I have, using sophisticated electronic audio recording devices, along with carefully developed computer algorithms for analysis and decoding, figured out exactly what Hakuna is trying to tell me!

It’s too sensitive to be revealed on the index page, of course. But that’s what the “Whip it out!” link is for.

Meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow, meow. Meow.

A MODEST PROPOSAL... solve the two most critical issues that plague the estate and family of the late Michael Jackson.

Those issues? What to do with Jackson’s three offspring, and how to deal with the mountain of debt that he left behind.

The children - Prince Michael Joseph, 12, Paris Michael, 11, and Prince Michael II, a.k.a “Blanket,” 7 - have never known a normal life. They have no real friends; they have never attended a day of school. They have been zealously guarded and protected all their lives, in what was perhaps the most rational act of their colossally famous daddy.

A little normalcy might be just the ticket for them. They need to be part of a loving family, a family that resides somewhat closer to the mainstream of American life.

And the debt issue? Various sources place the estate’s red ink at about $500 million. There are enough assets in the estate to pay off that debt, but to do so would require a massive liquidation in a difficult economic environment. Not the best answer... but an answer must be found. And I have one.

My modest proposal?

Auction off the children on eBay. Use the proceeds to pay off the estate’s debt.

They’ll have to be sold as a single unit. Separating them would be cruel and inhumane. Plus, they’re probably worth more as package deal anyway.

Any prospective buyers would need to be carefully screened. We don’t want these kids ending up as sex slaves in a Saudi brothel - we want ’em to have warm, welcoming homes.

Preferably very far away from Grandpa Joe.


Thanks to Anna of primalpurge, I now know what I’d call my band... if I were ever to start a band.

Stretch Pants Buffet.

Other options include Buttloads o’ Hummus and Wrinkly Piano.

What would you call your band?

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Except for a brief post I put up immediately upon learning of his death, I haven’t jumped into the Jacko tank.

I was never a fan of the Jackson Five - “Rockin’ Robin” made me want to peel the skin off my body with a Carvel spoon - and I never was all that much of a Pop Music fan to get off on the Musical Stylings of the so-called King of that selfsame Pop. Give me a choice between MJ and FZ (that’d be Frank Zappa), and I’ll take Zappa every time.

OK, I own a copy of Thriller - on vinyl, yet. (Doesn’t everybody?) Gotta stay in touch with the zeitgeist at least a leetle bit, y’all.

There’s really no point in my writing a postmortem on MJ. First of all, I lack the emotional investment in his career and his life story to do such a task justice... and second, someone else has done a far better job than I could ever hope to.

I speak of skippystalin, whose Jackson-themed posts at his new site, Postcards of the Hanging, say everything I could possibly want to say about the late, lamented Michael Jackson - only far more eloquently.

Read this one.

Then read this one.

See what I mean?

Now: when you’re finished reading about Jacko, go to this (NSFW) post and learn all about Biscuit Holes... and possibly the most demented (and outrageous) ad campaign I’ve seen in years. Or ever.

And if Postcards of the Hanging is not already on your blogroll... well, why the fuck not?


Lucky Charms
Lucky Charms: a Breakfasty Guilty Pleasure.

Folks who stop by here regularly know that I am, breakfast cereal-wise, pretty much a shredded wheat and Grape Nuts man. The sweet kiddie stuff holds very little attraction for me.

Frosted Flakes? I loved ’em as a kid, but they’re too saccharine-sweet for me now. Same with Corn Pops (formerly known as Sugar Pops). And I watch bemusedly as General Mills, in their constant effort to grab more shelf space, takes a perfectly decent minimum-sugar cereal like Cheerios and tarts it up, offering twenty-seven different varieties - all basted with plenty of sugar. Honey-Nut Cheerios? Who the fuck needs that?

I’ll confess to glomming a bowl of Froot Loops once in a blue moon, mainly for the nostalgia value. But they don’t really hold my attention. For the same reasons, I once (re)tried Trix, a cereal memorable mainly for its rabbit-exclusionary advertising. It is loathesome. I don’t remember hating it quite so much as a Snot-Nose.

But then there are Lucky Charms.

What with the Mistress of Sarcasm being a Lucky Charms aficionado, it was inevitable that they would show up in our pantry. A nondescript oat-based cereal, not too sweet by itself, but jacked up to the nth degree by the addition of freeze-dried chunks of a marshmallow-like polymer. The “marshmallows” - for so we are instructed to call them - have a bizarre crunchy texture and a vaguely chemical pong, but they render any milk remaining in the bowl (it’s devilish difficult to make the milk and the cereal come out even) pleasantly sweet.

I’m old enough to remember when Lucky Charms first appeared on our grocery shelves back in 1964. There were, at the time, a far sight more appealing than other then-new products, such as the horrible Alpha-Bits, which managed to be both vile-tasting and didactic. But I was never a regular consumer. Even then, there was something wrong... something vaguely pagan... about a cereal that consisted of 75% cereal and 25% “marbits.”

Originally, Lucky Charms had only four kinds of marbits: pink hearts, yellow moons, orange stars, and green clovers. Over the years, like pretty much everything else in our lives, the Charms have piled on more and more stupid-ass marbit shapes - now we have blue diamonds, purple horseshoes, red balloons, rainbows, pots of gold, leprechaun hats, shooting stars, hourglasses, blue dildoes, and gold diaphragms. Eventually, I suppose, they’ll figure out that nobody gives a rat’s ass about nutrition, and they’ll just sell boxes of marbits (“Free dental insurance policy in every box!”).

I may be an official, AARP-card-carrying Old Dude, but Lucky Charms are nevertheless a guilty pleasure. They’re Tragically Delicious™... mainly because they are so wrong to love. Whenever I eat a bowl of ’em, I feel like Humbert frickin’ Humbert.


Philly Ink
A red-maned Irish faerie graces the thoracic spinal area of a young woman in Philadelphia. Oh, and check our the Ed Hardy-style neck-skull. Sweet!

Alpha K-9, the resident blogger at Dead Dog Walkin’, has a regular feature at his site, Sunday Ink, in which he posts pictures of interesting tattoos - usually sported by attractive or interesting young ladies.

I was thinking of ol’ K-9 a week ago today as I was walking through the courtyard at Philadelphia’s City Hall, for along came a lovely young thing with a Serious Tattoo. I asked if I could photograph her, and she happily acceded. And so, as an homage to the finest Inkblogger (and Chipmunk-Tale Raconteur) of Austin, Texas, I post it here.

Think of it not as a “Cheesecake Photo,” but rather a “Cheesesteak Photo.” It’s Philly, yo!

Friday, July 10, 2009


Fossil fuel supplies were dwindling fast. Worse, they were located in remote places, places often ruled by tinpot dictators and corrupt kings. Clean, cheap nuclear power had scary disadvantages, like waste disposal. Wind and water power were hostage to geography and required costly, high-maintenance equipment.

The search for an inexpensive, inexhaustible supply of energy frustrated scientists for years, but it was just another challenge to be overcome by Cristobal “Colon” Carlinsky.

When Carlinsky discovered how to convert shit to electricity, he was hailed as a genius, becoming wealthy beyond measure. The world rejoiced.

Doodiecell: The Copro-Top Battery. Get one today!


Here follows a conversation overheard by the Mistress of Sarcasm yesterday at our neighborhood pool:

Five-year-old girl #1: Did you hear that Michael Jackson died?

Five-year-old girl #2: Yes.

Five-year-old girl #1: You know, the only reason why he died is because he said “yes” to drugs.


Back in my Snot-Nose Days, I looked forward to our annual road trip to Florida. It was a long-ass time in the car, but it had its compensations. One of those was the opportunity to have my annual bottle of Dr Pepper, a mysterious and exotic soft drink that, at the time, was not available in New York. Another was using the AAA Triptik booklet to keep track of our slow and steady progress as we wended our way up and down the eastern seaboard.

Every page in the Triptik booklet represented a measurable chunk of travel progress: somewhere between 90 and 160 miles. Every page turned meant we were that much closer to our destination. And every page was filled with landmarks, names of nondescript towns that became familiar over the years. Santee. Walterboro. Dillon.

The Triptik is still around, but I have a feeling its days are numbered. For that, you can thank (or curse) Modern Technology.

Finding your way from Point A to Point B is a lot easier these days, thanks to a whole host of Electronic Navigational Devices. For computers, you have Google Maps, Google Earth, Mapquest. And on the road, you’ve got Magellan, Tom Tom, Garmin. Higher-end automobiles - and smart phones (like my iPhone) - incorporate Global Positioning System (GPS) capability as well.

These days, when someone tells you to get lost, you can ask him, “Now how the fuck am I gonna manage to do that?”

I never gave much thought to ever owning a GPS device, but when the notoriously technology-averse Eli (hizzownself) got one - and actually used it! - we could see the handwriting on the wall. Even he saw that there was value in having a doo-dad that would bark navigational orders at you as you drove places. Eventually, we bought one for the Mistress of Sarcasm, who was always somewhat cartographically challenged... and it proved to be a godsend.

And thus it was that She Who Must Be Obeyed drank deep of the GPS Kool-Aid. She bought us a Garmin about a month ago: a soi-disé anniversary present.

The Mistress had dubbed her Garmin “Carmen the Garmin.” We accordingly named ours “Charmaine the Garmaine.”

Except for a few places where her routing instructions make No Fucking Sense Whatsoever, Charmaine is fairly useful. Amusing, too - because the geniuses that programmed her Voice Module have a few kinks still to work out.

Abbreviations, f’r instance. You and I know that “Dr.” can stand for both “Doctor” and “Drive” - and that “St.” can stand for both “Saint” and “Street.” You'd think that the text-to-voice algorithms for a GPS device would be set up for, say, street names, eh? When I hear “In 0.2 miles, turn right on Riverside Doctor,” or “Turn left on N Saint,” it kinda sorta undermines Charmaine’s credibility a tad.

But this is merely a quibble. It’s amazing technology, this GPS business... and maybe a bit scary to know that there are chunks of metal orbiting the Earth that know where you’ve been. Gaaah!


It’s Friday, time yet again for the Friday Random Ten. That’s where I put up a list of Randomly-Generated Tunage barfed out by my Little White Choon-Box. The point (and there is one) is to give you a bit of insight into my musical tastes... or at least, a peek at the contents of my iPod. Whether that is meaningful to you or not is another question.

This weekend, we’ll be relaxing at home for once, having spent all too much time on the road in recent weeks. “Relaxing,” of course, is a relative term, as She Who Must Be Obeyed prepares to host a wedding shower for the daughter of our friends Marc and Shelly. It will be, in part, a Wine-Tasting shower, so my Sommelier Guild expertise and contacts will prove useful.

Meanwhile, what’s playing today? Let’s take a look, shall we?
  1. Brain Smashing Dub - Linton Kwesi Johnson

  2. The Last Laugh (featuring Van Morrison) - Mark Knopfler

  3. Ghosts - Randy Newman

  4. The Shaft and Finale - Bernard Herrmann, Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959)

  5. The Fool on the Hill - The Beatles

  6. Sinfonia in D major (from Cantata #29) - Wendy Carlos: J. S. Bach

  7. The Vacuumist - Mitch Hedberg

  8. The Enchantment - Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

  9. Act I: Behold the Lord High Executioner - D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, The Mikado

  10. Dikiy Muzhchina (live) - Leningrad

    Ты называешь меня говнюком
    Да, я все время бухой
    И твою жопу при людях хватаю
    Своей волосатой рукой.

    Да, мои ноги вонючие палки
    На которых все в дырках носки
    А эти две кучи из пыли и грязи -
    Это мои башмаки.

    Да, ты права, я - дикий мужчина,
    Ты права, я - дикий мужчина,
    Ты права, я - дикий мужчина:
    Яйца, табак, перегар и щетина

    Да, ты права, я - дикий мужчина,
    Ты права, я - дикий мужчина,
    Ты права, я - дикий мужчина:
    Яйца, табак, перегар и щетина

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The Ark sets sail upon the Bloggy Sea;
The bowsprit crashes with the billows’ heave.
But all within are safe and sound, you see -
They’re in the care of noble Captain Steve.

Friday Ark #151 is up at the Modulator.

This Sunday, be sure to visit the Carnival of the Cats, the 278th installment of which will be hosted by The M-Cats Club. It’s Cat-Astrophic™!

Update: CotC #278 is up.

Thursday, July 09, 2009


Several months ago, the New York Times website linked to one of my posts, placing me in the august company of real Content Providers like the Wall Street Journal and Time magazine.

The joke, of course, was that the Times somehow confused a post I had written about Hungarian Goulash with something that might conceivably be of interest to readers looking for “world news about Hungary, including breaking news and archival articles published in the New York Times.”

Amusing, to be sure, but not half as amusing as their linking to my recent piece about the Hubble Space Telescope:

NYT Webpage 070909
Today’s New York Times webpage. [Click to embiggen.]

I’m sure our young nephew William will be pleased to know that the photograph he took of his cat’s asshole has now been linked by the prestigious, tasteful Grey Lady. And that same Grey Lady would be most displeased to know the same.

Ain’t Science grand?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009


Oscar Mayer, whose grandfather helped found his namesake company, has gone to the Great Sausage Grinder in the Sky. He was ninety-five.

Oscar Mayer (the company) stood out from its competitors partly because of its catchy jingles... and the Wienermobile.

At Mayer’s request, the Wienermobile will not make an appearance at his sendoff: Unlike his father and grandfather before him, he wished to avoid the funerary spectacle of a car shaped like a giant Meat-Dick.

Me, if my bologna had a first name and a last name that matched mine, I’d want that Wienermobile at my funeral. As the hearse.


Thanks to recent repairs to the Hubble Space Telescope conducted as part of the STS-125 Atlantis shuttle mission, we should expect its useful life to be extended at least through 2014.

It’s an amazing tool, the Hubble Telescope... and the latest fixes have made it even more so:
With the newly installed Wide Field Camera, Hubble will be able to observe in ultraviolet and infrared spectrums as well as visible light, peer deep onto the cosmic frontier in search of the earliest star systems and study planets in the solar system. The telescope’s new Cosmic Origins Spectrograph will allow it to study the grand-scale structure of the universe, including the star-driven chemical evolution that produce carbon and the other elements necessary for life. [NASA]
Since its initial launch in 1990 (and an early repair mission in 1993 to correct issues with the ’scope’s main mirror), the Hubble has provided a stream of astounding images of distant cosmic events. Here are a few:

Jupiter’s Red Spots
Jupiter’s Red Spots.
[Image: M. Wong and I. de Pater (University of California, Berkeley)]

Star-Birth Clouds in M16
Star-Birth Clouds in M16.
[Image: NASA, ESA, STScI, J. Hester and P. Scowen (Arizona State University)]

Cone Nebula
Cone Nebula.
[Image: NASA, H. Ford (Johns Hopkins University), G. Illingworth (UCSC/LO), M.Clampin and G. Hartig (STScI), the ACS Science Team, and ESA]

Omega/Swan Nebula (M17)
Turbulent Gases in the Omega/Swan Nebula (M17).
[Image: NASA, ESA, J. Hester (Arizona State University)]

Some of these dramatic images depict phenomena that are reasonably well-understood, at least by current astronomical and astrophysical standards. Atmospheric turbulence on a gas-giant planet. Star formation. Other Hubble images have captured the accretion discs of collapsed stars, the titanic energies of colliding galaxies.

This recent image, however, has proven to be completely mysterious:

Cosmic Mystery
A cosmic mystery.
[Image: William Magnus]

What the hell is it, anyway? A quasar at the edge of the known universe? A chunk of ice and dust from the Oort Cloud that surrounds our solar system? The double-domes at JPL and NASA have been completely flummoxed.

Until now...

Cosmic Mystery, Revealed At Last!
Cosmic mystery, revealed. It’s Ringo’s ass!
[Image: William Magnus]

Why, it’s the Cat’s-Ass Nebula!

A tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora goes to Morris William, who forwarded the two Mysterious Images above - taken by our nephew William on his Daddy’s iPhone!

Tuesday, July 07, 2009


Philadelphia at Dawn

I’ve visited Philadelphia numerous times over the years. In the early 1970’s, we would make the occasional pilgrimage to the Spectrum, a favorite concert venue. And throughout the mid-1980’s, I would journey there on various Business Errands for the Great Corporate Salt Mine. But these visits were transitory - quick in-and-out events. Wham, bam, etc.

It was in 1980 - fully half my lifetime ago - that She Who Must Be Obeyed and I spent a long weekend in the City of Brotherly Love, accompanied by Elder (then Only) Daughter. We did all of the obligatory Touristy Shit: Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, Betsy Ross’s house, Elfreth’s Alley, the Mint. We ate cheesesteaks; we ate hot soft pretzels with mustard; we ate at Bookie’s.

But last weekend, I saw Philadelphia at its Philliest. Independence Day!

I was there for a convention, arriving Wednesday noon and departing Sunday morning, during which time SWMBO elected to stay in Washington with Elder Daughter. Most of the time, the heavy schedule of convention activities kept me indoors at the Loew’s Hotel, but I had a few opportunities to wander off when there was a break in the action.

And you never know who you might stumble into in the heart of Philadelphia. Look:

Mr. Fish and MacMac and Elisson at Capogiro

It’s Mac, of pesky’apostrophe, with Mr. Fish and me!

Mac and I have been online acquaintances for a ridiculously long time, even unto guest posting on each other’s sites, but until last Thursday we had never encountered each other in Meatworld. It’s an omission we were both happy to correct.

We couldn’t conclude our (thoroughly enjoyable) visit without a stop at Mac’s favorite gelato place, Capogiro, conveniently located at 13th and Sansome - just a couple of blocks from my hotel.

Timing is everything. Capogiro’s 13th Street location had only just reopened after having been closed due to a fire... but open they were, and the daily offerings were spectacularly tasty. Alas, Single Malt Scotch gelato was not on the menu that day (it was, however, four days later) - but the Cioccolato Scuro (dark, dark, bittersweet chocolate), Pistaccio Siciliano (Sicilian pistachio), and Turkish Coffee flavors were ass-kicking, rollicking bombshells of flavor.

Gelato at Capogiro
Assorted gelato flavors at Capogiro.

[I made two return trips to Capogiro, the last of which was at midnight Saturday, accompanied by a small army of fellow conventioneers. A fine nightcap after a spectacular fireworks show!]

We had a chance to wander around a bit on Saturday afternoon. The streets were filled with people getting ready to enjoy a free Sheryl Crow concert, with fireworks to follow above the Art Museum. Later, we would enjoy those fireworks from the vantage point of the 33rd floor of the Loews Hotel.

A few blocks on the other side of City Hall, I noticed the looming hulk of the Sheraton Hotel. In my mind’s eye, I saw a picture of a little girl, barely more than a toddler, standing in the elevator lobby. I would be seeing that little girl again in less than 24 hours. Well, not quite so little: She’s now thirty years old and living in the nation’s capital 125 miles to the south. And the independent spirit she has today might just be the result of that early childhood visit to the Cradle of Independence... Philadelphia!

More pics below the fold.

City Hall 2
City Hall, from the inside of the courtyard.

City Hall 1
City Hall, from the outside. That’s William Penn at the top.