Tuesday, November 30, 2004


She Who Must Be Obeyed will sometimes threaten to get on my case for lobbing too many F-bombs into random conversation. I guess I don’t blame her. Even I can tell when I’m getting a little too salty-tongued...probably thanks to the lovely blue glow the air around me starts to give off when I’ve ionized enough of it.

But I come by my profanity honestly. My earliest memory of having eaten of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil - of knowing that there were “bad” words out there that were not to be used - involves my Grandma Ann (of blessed memory).

Ann and her husband Abe - my maternal grandparents - lived in North Miami Beach beginning in the mid-1950’s. We would make the trek down there every year for our annual Florida Vacation, prized by snowbirds such as ourselves. Of course, we’d stay with the grandparents. Who the hell could afford a hotel for three or four weeks?

And it was on one such visit that I found myself riding in Grandma Ann’s car on 163rd Street, while she ranted at a guy in a panel truck in front of us. Yes: I still remember that panel truck!

“You hunk of shit!”

Poetry. Sheer poetry.

My little five- or six-year-old mind could discern the beauty of well-crafted invective even then. Not “piece,” mind you. Not “chunk.” No, the word Grandma used was “hunk.” The perfect epithet.

I was suitably impressed. So much so, that the very next day, I took a piece of posterboard and made a sign, in my youthful (but quite legible, alas) scrawl.

“SHIT is my Favorite Word.”

And when my parents found it (I was pretty proud of it and may actually have shown it to them), they knocked the shit out of me.

But not entirely. Some 46 years later, I can still appreciate the subtle beauty of the salty bon mot.

There are a few bloggers and commenters out there who can, too. Ricky (BottleofBlog) enraptures me with his fine blend of vitriol, venom, and piss, and Anntichrist S. Coulter (a frequent commenter on World o’ Crap) has contributed a few choice phrases to my profane lexicon. Then, of course, there’s the ASB.

Hey, not everyone is prissy like Jerry “Mr. Clean” Seinfeld. Sometimes, only a right proper fuckbomb will do!

Monday, November 29, 2004


Let’s talk a little bit about Blog Explosion, shall we?

Many of us have been sucked in to this not-so-new-anymore Ponzoid scheme that promises to “explode” our blog traffic. The premise is simple: surf a random assortment of blogs that have signed up for BlogEx, and have a proportionate amount of traffic directed toward your blog. Currently, for every two blogs you surf, you receive one visitor in return.

And wait...there’s more!

If you build up enough credits - either by surfing other blogs or by winning random “mystery credits” - you can use them in exchange for banner ad impressions. With (presumably) an enticing enough banner ad, yet more people will discover your blog.

This becomes an exercise in practical mathematics. For banner advertising to be worth the investment in credits, you have to pull in a reasonable percentage of “click-throughs” - people who see your banner and actually click on it to visit your blog. As of this writing, BlogEx gives you 23 impressions for one credit, so if your click-through rate is 4.35% or more, banners are a reasonable use of credits. But if you have an ugly, sucky banner that only gets, say 1.5%, better to use your credits for other purposes - directory ads, f’rinstance.

OK, so this post reads (so far) like an ad for Blog Explosion. But it’s not.

Jay, the guy who runs The Zero Boss, wrote a well-reasoned critique of the BlogEx concept a month or so ago. His key points, with which I agree wholeheartedly, are:

1. BlogEx is time-intensive, especially in view of the number of uninteresting / crappy blogs that you have to wade through in order to discover the occasional gem. To an extent, the BlogEx folks have addressed this issue by allowing you to create a “do not view” list that keeps blogs you hate / have no interest in from popping up and chewing up your obligatory 30 seconds of surf-time.

2. Traffic per se is not what most bloggers want. We want readers - people who will actually read what we write, and who perhaps will interact with us by leaving comments. Simply jacking up the hit counter does not accomplish this, although a tiny percentage of random surfers may end up as regulars. The way to build traffic is by providing good content, linking to good blogs whose interests match yours, and by commenting. Links are powerful - they’re what distinguish blogging and the Internet from print media. Use ’em! Most of the blogs on my blogroll got there because they were on the blogrolls of blogs I like.

BlogEx still needs a way to allow surfers to narrow down the categories of sites that pop up during surfing, so that it’s not completely random. Right now, it’s a total crapshoot - and there’s a lot of crap out there. As Jay put it so eloquently,
BE is not targeted. In order to get traffic yourself, you have to browse other people's blogs. A fair trade - except that, in a typical BE session, the author of a parenting blog may end up visiting only one other parenting blog, while the rest of the blogs he visits are devoted to politics, economics, chemistry, direct marketing, product reviews, RFID technology, programming on Unix, or what have you.

These are the bloggers who BE will turn around to visit your site once you've built up enough credit. While it's conceivable that someone blogging about Tarot and Astrology will love your blog about European football, appealing specifically to that group is not the smartest way to market yourself. It's as if BE wrote down all of the advice about how to do targeted marketing on the internet, then used it to wipe its ass.

Supposedly, the “targeted surfing” enhancement is already in the pipeline - but it ain’t here yet.

Anyway, if you got here by way of BlogEx and you’ve managed to work your way all the way to the bottom of this post, hooray! You’ve pissed away more than your allotted thirty seconds, and I thank you. Feel free to stick around, read more, comment, whatever. Hey, there might just be something here you like!

Or go ahead and click that surfbar. That “personal musings of a twenty-something stay-at-home biker chick astrologer-web entrepreneur who spells ‘definitely’ ‘definately’” blog is up next, and it’s just waiting for you.


The third edition of Carnival of the Rugrats has just been posted over at KateSpot.

Sure, it’s yet another shameless exercise in self-promotion, but what the hell. I didn’t spend a quarter-century piling up Daddy Cred for nothin’.

There are plenty of excellent posts to look at, most of them by people who spend a lot of time blogging about their kids. In other words, they’re good at this stuff. And then, of course, there’s my crap.

What, you still here?

Sunday, November 28, 2004


The Mistress of Sarcasm is heading into her final months as a Metals and Jewelry major at the Savannah College of Art and Design (otherwise known as The Place Where I Send Honkin’ Big Checks Several Times a Year).

I don’t mind writing those Honkin’ Big Checks because the Mistress is making good use of her time there. She has (kinahora) made the Dean’s List almost every single quarter since transferring there in the fall of 2002. And she makes such interesting stuff in her studio.

The locket in the picture below is one of her own creations. A sturdy oak tree, rendered in sterling silver, with a long branch that wraps around the neck and a little door in the trunk that lifts open to reveal a jewel. Around the jewel is a tiny scroll with an appropriate message. And the piece has a theme, a concept around which it was designed: the idea that friends grow like branches from the trunk of a single tree. While friends may grow apart as they mature, as the branches of a tree grow apart from one another, they still remain connected – and they still share roots. It’s a powerful message, not only for friends, but for family.

The Mistress shows off some of her handiwork.

This unique locket became a wedding present to one of the Mistress’s close friends who tied the knot last year. My two cents: One, I’m very glad we took pictures. Two, that marriage had damn well better last.


Watermark is the gracious host of this week’s Carnival. Come on down and visit all the kitties in their post-Thanksgiving glory! This week, Matata makes two appearances in the Carnival, including one in her fluffy pink chenille robe.


The morning routine is pretty simple at Chez Elisson. Wake up, get ass out of bed, pee, feed cats.

How we wake up depends largely on the day of the week. During the week, friendly Mr. Clock Radio does most of the heavy lifting. She Who Must Be Obeyed may mash the snooze button a couple of times, but that’s another story. On weekends, however, Miss Matata takes over. A few minutes of her traipsing around the bed, stepping on our heads, knocking my glasses off the nightstand, unrolling the toilet paper...you get the picture.

I walk downstairs to feed our fuzzy little girls, and Matata always beats me to the staircase. She doesn’t walk down the stairs - she galumphs. Watching her little cat ass bob up and down as she negotiates that staircase cracks me up every time.

Breakfast! Breakfast! Breakfast!

And occasionally, she will deign to allow Hakuna to eat in her august kitty presence.

Saturday, November 27, 2004


Kids grow up fast, so it seems.

Maybe it doesn’t seem – not when you’re juggling an armload of laundry, warming up strained peas, trying to nurse a sharp-toothed nine-month-old while keeping the spit towel adjusted just so. Schlepping the kids to soccer games, going to school open houses and PTSA meetings, those “impromptu” doctor’s visits…there are times when you think your kids will never grow up fast enough. But I’m here to tell you, it goes by in a mighty big hurry.

Back in the fall of 1981, when Elder Daughter was Only Daughter and we had just moved to Atlanta the first time, she was a mere two years old, an age when she could dance with her shadow in the street, or fit in a laundry basket for a ride down the stairs.

Elder Only Daughter - 1981. Posted by Hello

Twenty years later, she is a college graduate, getting ready to move overseas. On her own, independent, ready to conquer the world.

But in the picture below, she’s back in the exact same spot where she stood twenty years before, near our old house in the Atlanta ’burbs.

And she still can dance with her shadow.

Elder Daughter - 20 years later. Posted by Hello

Friday, November 26, 2004


Picture an expanse of parkland in Florida or Texas. You pay admission, and then you drive through the park in your own car – or you can rent Range-Rovers to get that safari feel – and you shoot wild game when it comes wandering up to check you out.

What kind of wild game? Oh, mostly cows. Maybe some lambs ’n’ deer ’n’ suchlike.

Uniformed functionaries take your kill to the Processing Center (conveniently located onsite) where they gut it, carve it up, and wrap it up in manageable portions. They can even cook it up for you right then and there if you want.

Now, what should I call this wonderful restaurant concept? Ah, I know…

Loin Country Safari.


The Bakerina had made me an offer I couldn’t refuse: a Friday post-mortem of our respective Thanksgiving feasts. I’m holding up my end of the bargain with this post, written after enough time has elapsed so that excessive levels of l-tryptophan in my bloodstream will not cloud my thinking.

This year, we did a few things differently. We had purchased new china a few months back, in one of those little trips to Williams-Sonoma that got way out of control: instead of some cedar boards and seasoning for making planked salmon, we went home with three hundred bucks worth of heavy white porcelain. As Martha would say, “it’s a good thing.” Anyway, we elected to use this nice white dinnerware instead of our Fancy Shit from the China Cabinet. This saved an enormous amount of time in the clean-up phase that inevitably follows Gastric Packing Exercises.

Our table looked pretty spiffy, with a new red tablecloth and a beautiful floral centerpiece. The picture below shows things just before the arrival of the Mongol Hordes our friends. Snazzy, huh?

Chez Elisson, before the invasion of the Mongol Hordes festivities. Posted by Hello

We broke with tradition in yet another respect this year. Rather than horse all of the platters to the table and serve everything family-style, we set up a buffet line in the kitchen. That way, everyone could load his or her plate at leisure, without having to wait patiently for dishes to get passed. Much more efficient.

Now, to the menu items.

Once again, She Who Must Be Obeyed prepared her Maple-Roast Turkey, from a recipe originally published in Bon Appetit magazine twenty years ago, and which we’ve used many times since. The turkey is prepared by inserting mint and sage leaves under the skin of the breast and glazing with a mixture of maple syrup, butter, snipped chives, and minced ginger root. The results this year were superb.

We had two – count ’em! – two types of stuffing, both prepared ex ave. One, a traditional bread stuffing, was made with foccacia croutons enhanced with herbes de Provence, onions, celery, and my made-from-scratch 100-octane chicken stock. The second is a little less traditional: sweet Italian sausage, rice, toasted pine nuts, golden raisins, chopped parsley, and Parmesan. This year, we stepped out of the box a little bit and used turkey sausage and brown rice, small changes that will henceforth be incorporated into the Elisson Cooking Canon. The bread-based stuffing was pretty damn fine, as expected, with a flavor that shouted “Thanksgiving!” - but the brown rice stuffing kicked its ass around the block. It was just that good.

Especially when slathered with my Giblet Gravy. Yes, friends, this is one dish for which SWMBO hands the kitchen reins to me and lets me drive, for it involves Substances She Does Not Eat. Namely, giblets.

It’s basic stuff, really, although it sounds like a big pain in the ass. You take the giblets (minus the liver, which is sautéed separately), simmer them in water to cover, along with carrots, onion, celery, parsley stems, a clove or two of garlic, some whole peppercorns, and fresh thyme. After a couple of hours, you strain off the liquid (now a yummy stock) and mix in some roux (olive oil plus flour, stirred over med-high flame until it gradually turns the color of milk chocolate) to get the right consistency. You take the simmered meat and pull it apart (gotta get rid of the neck bones and gristle), then dice it up fine along with the sautéed liver, then add to the thickened stock. Stir in a splash of Cognac and simmer for about 20 minutes, then keep warm until serving. Yummers!

But wait, there’s more. An assortment of tiny potatoes – gold, red, and dark purple – halved, and roasted to a caramelized turn in olive oil and duck schmaltz, along with about a head’s worth of unpeeled garlic cloves and a handful of fresh rosemary. Butternut squash, split, with the deep orange flesh slathered with butter and honey, then roasted – recipe courtesy of the Mistress of Sarcasm her ownself! SWMBO’s carrot soufflé, a low-carb treat. Our friend Gary’s amazing sweet potato pudding, surprisingly non-cloying.

I can’t forget my Wilted Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts and Dried Currants. “My” is a misnomer – we got this recipe from SWMBO’s brother Aaron (a professional chef) and we love it all year ’round. Take a good-sized bowl of clean, dry baby spinach. Heat up some extra-virgin olive oil and throw in a liberal amount of chopped garlic. As soon as it’s hot enough to perfume the oil (but not brown the garlic), dump it on the spinach and toss until wilted. Throw in some dried currants and a liberal handful of toasted pine nuts, then toss with freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Sprinkle a little extra Romano on top before serving and you’ve got a spinach salad that will kill a vampire at twenty paces.

And – in a semi-appalling nod to American tradition – the Infamous Green Bean Casserole. Yes, you know which one I’m talking about. Canned green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup, canned fried onions. A rare example of the whole being greater than the sum of its (horrendous) parts, this is a dish that makes a statement. “Get down off your foodie-ass high horse and eat some of this.”

All of this washed down with copious amounts of Rex Goliath 47-Pound Rooster Merlot and chilled Peanut Grigio (a local Georgia wine), and you’ve got yourself a meal, laddie buck.

Desserts? Yeah, we had those, too. Our friend Laura Belle contributed two apple pies (one crumb, the other a gargantuan two-crust marvel) and a pumpkin pie, along with ice cream, schlag, and caramel sauce with which to decorate them. Plus some chewy chocolate brownies, if the pies were not enticement enough. We threw in a (store bought, I’ll confess it) chocolate silk pie.

Oy. Some nice hot coffee and a shot of Underberg bitters. Now…(urp) what’s fer breakfast?


Yes, it’s Friday again, and that means it’s time to see what our kitties are up to. Earlier this week, we caught up on the other (former) denizens of Chez Elisson, and now Matata is demanding her time in the spotlight…

As soon as I get this stupid robe off, I’m going to kill you.Posted by Hello

Oh, yes – all that Thanksgiving cooking and preparation, such hard work... it’s all I can do to put on my fluffy chenille bathrobe and lounge around the house eating bon-bons all day to decompress. Gawd, I’m exhausted.

Beulah, peel me a turkey!

Thursday, November 25, 2004


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

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

— C. S. Calverley

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


Yes - where are those turkeys of yesteryear?

As we at Chez Elisson begin our preparations for Thanksgiving Day, I thought it would be nice to reminisce over one of our recent T-day menus. Especially since we just got the house painted and everything will probably end up tasting like Porter Eggshell Latex this year.

Anyway, here’s what we had two years ago, when we last hosted Thanksgiving Day festivities. Eat your heart out:
Maple Roast Turkey
Giblet Gravy, Brown Turkey Gravy

Cranberry-Orange Compote with Cointreau
Cranberry Sauce (Whole and Jellied)

Sausage-Rice Dressing with Golden Raisins and Pine Nuts
Focaccia Dressing with Herbes de Provence

Wilted Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts and Currants

Casserole des Haricots Verts à la mode de Chez Feinberg
(String Bean Casserole)

Sweet Potato Pudding “Gary”

Carrot Soufflé

Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes “Mort de Vampyr”

Fresh-Baked Cracked Wheat Bread

Apple and Pumpkin Pies à la Laura Belle
Blackberry and Chocolate Cream Pies

Coffee, Tea, Assorted Soft Drinks
Cordials and Digestifs

[Gastric Lavage Available Upon Request]

This year’s feast promises to be every bit as enjoyable. Elder Daughter will, alas, not be with us this year, but the Mistress of Sarcasm will grace our table. Add several close friends, and you have the recipe for a satisfying meal - and day.

We have a lot to be thankful for. Wonderful family, exemplary children, good-hearted friends. Health. Prosperity. Life.

Warmest Blog D'Elisson Thanksgiving wishes to all of my friends, family, loyal readers, occasional visitors - whoever the hell you are, I hope your holiday is “without limit to any good thing.” Enjoy!


This week’s Carnival of the Vanities has been posted at Interested-Participant. So: get interested, and participate!

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


comes this 1977 photograph of She Who Must Be Obeyed in a romantic mood.

She Who Must Be Obeyed. Posted by Hello

And well she should be - because she is on her honeymoon with Yours Truly, enjoying the semi-exotic, quasi-European atmosphere of Québec. A few days in Montréal, a few days in Québec City (at the famous Château Front-’n’-Back) and it will be off to New York for our second wedding reception – this given by the ’Rents d’Elisson to accommodate those who were unable to voyage to Texas for the actual nuptials.

But that is several days off. Now, with carefree hearts, we sample the maple-syrup laden cuisine of the Deep North. Hambourgeois (Bifteck Hâché) avec les Petits Pois et Weird Brown Gravy! Iced tea with a solitary sliver of ice spinning slowly, slowly, on the surface of the lukewarm fluid in the glass.

And we sample the warm hospitality of a land deep in the throes of French Separatism. Cochon anglophone! We hear that a lot…I think it means “Have a Nice Day” or something. O Canada!

It’s twenty-seven years later, and I still see those rose petal lips when I wake up in the morning. I am a lucky bastard indeed.


Proof positive that the Internet is a mighty strange place. Any lump of crap you lob out there is likely to get blown back in your face, sometimes in strangely mutated form.

Exhibit One: From Global News comes this little gem:
Formaggi Ispirati a Personaggi di Guerre Stellari
From: rosacrux@mail.com (keroppi) <-rispondi via e-mail
Newsgroups: it.hobby.umorismo,it.discussioni.folli

Queso-Gon Jinn

Jar Jar Brie

Darth Gouda

Bib Fontina

Asiaghin Skywalker

Robi-Olan Kenobi

Lando Camembrissian

Principessa Leiardammer

Grand Moff Tilsit

Jabba de'Hutvarti

Boba Feta

Holy crap - my own McSweeney’s list, come back to haunt me via Italy. I’ve italicized the items that were not on my original list of Cheeses Inspired by Star Wars Characters. Some of the others, of course, have been translated. Principessa! [Rosacrux was, incidentally, kind enough to give proper attribution.]

Exhibit Two: There is no Exhibit Two. How much of this crap do you really want to look at?

Wait’ll Laura Belle (Di Tri Berrese) gets a load of this...


No, Mac and I have not done the Vulcan Mind-Meld - but it sure looked that way when I dropped by Pesky’Apostrophe today:
I almost wish I were in high school again, living in one of those crazy ass regions of the country where stickers warning that evolution is just a theory are put in science texts. I am so up for a little stealth vandalism.

Crazy ass regions of the country like, say, Cobb County? Home of Chez Elisson?

Anyway, Mac has figured out how to deal with those stupid-ass stickers that remind students that “evolution is a theory, not a fact.” The solution? Retaliate in kind, with our own stickers. Quoth Mac:
Here’s a favorite of mine:

This textbook contains material on gravity. Gravity is a theory, not a fact, regarding a force that cannot be directly seen. This material should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically considered.

I also like this one:

This book mentions Creationism, New Creationism, Scientific Creationism, or Intelligent Design. All of these beliefs rely on the action of a supernatural entity to explain life on earth. Scientists rejected supernatural explanations for life in the 1800’s, and still do today.

Mac concludes her screed with this comment:
Satanic theory isn’t taught in school, so why should anything pertaining to the Christian religion? You wanna learn religious stuff? Go to church.

I like Mac’s idea of slapping some stealth stickers into the local science texts so much, I just may print me up a couple thousand of ’em.

Of course, if they catch me, they’re likely to burn me at the stake.


at Chez Elisson. Let’s take a little ride in the Wayback Machine, shall we, Sherman?

Back in the Nervous Nineties, our home was host to more than just a couple of kitties. Thanks to the Mistress of Sarcasm (whose talent for sarcasm was still in its nascent state), we had the Spectrum o’ Mammal Sizes bracketed pretty well.

On the small mammal side, the Mistress had a succession of hamsters. The first, and sweetest of the bunch, was Leona Hamsley, pictured below.

The Mistress and Leona. Posted by Hello

After Leona had passed on to the Great Hamster Wheel in the Sky, she was succeeded by Cinnamon, who had originally been the classroom mascot for She Who Must Be Obeyed. Cinnamon was also a pleasant enough little creature, whose exciting life prior to joining the Chez Elisson Menagerie was immortalized in the Jamaican-style Funeral Dirge I composed on her demise:
Reggae fi Cinnamon

I and I had a hyamstah cyall Cinnamon
Him a little ball a fur but him lots a fun
Him eat deh seed, stuff it in him cheek
An wi datter clean deh cage every five or six week.

One time Cinnamon him get out a deh cage
And all Briarwood dem a shout anna rage
Dey find him two week later, him a hyappy buggah
Ca’ him livin like a king in deh sack a sugah.

I and I feelin’ sad today
Cyaz wi little hyamstah him go away.
I and I feelin’ bad today
On him wheel deh little hyamstah cyan no longer play.

Well, me heard it said, an’ me heard it told
Aftah two year a hyamstah him get mighty old.
When Jah say it time fi him life to end
I and I seh goodbye to wi fuzzy friend.

I and I feelin’ sad today
Cyaz wi little hyamstah him go away.
I and I feelin’ bad today
On him wheel deh little hyamstah cyan no longer play.

I and I feelin’ sad today
Cyaz wi little hyamstah him go away.
I and I feelin’ bad today
On him wheel deh little hyamstah cyan no longer play.

When Cinnamon moved on to the Hamster World to Come, her successor was Mocha, the most evil-tempered little piece of shit we ever had the misfortune to have live with us. After Mocha, we had had it with hamsters.

Enter Kisses, the bunny.

Kisses, the piss factory bunny. Posted by Hello

Kisses was a lovely pet, beloved of the Mistress. Bunnies are cute, and this one was no exception: good-natured and gentle. But there is a drawback to keeping a rabbit as a pet, rooted in Lapine Biology. A rabbit exists solely to convert water into prodigious quantities of Rabbit Piss.

And that piss be stanky and nasty. Cleaning the hutch required hours of scrubbing with wire brushes, followed by at least ten minutes of live steam. Not cleaning the hutch meant the Mistress’s room smelled of piss-saturated litter. Which it did anyway.

Nothing, however, compares, in sheer crap-generating capacity, to a horse. And we know this from first-hand experience.

Yes, we actually owned a horse – right up to a couple of years ago, when the Mistress became too enmeshed in college studies to keep him. His name was (and still is) Mi Anam, a magnificent Arabian that the Mistress her ownself trained from yearlinghood to compete in Hunter Pleasure classes. She showed her handsome gelding several times at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, and we’ve got the pile of ribbons to prove it.

The Mistress canters Anam at the Houston Livestock Show, 1997. Posted by Hello

I suppose if we had wanted an animal that could generate yet more shit than that horse, we could have purchased ourselves a hippopotamus. Perhaps an elephant. But our rule always was Never Keep a Pet That Can Crush You To Jelly In a Random Fit of Pique. (The horse was just about on the edge of acceptability under this rule.)

Today, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are (just about) empty nesters, not just with respect to our children, but with Other Mammals. Alas, now, it is just SWMBO, me, and our two kitties, Hakuna and Matata. They are the perfect pets: friendly, relatively nondestructive (although the furniture and carpets might disagree), and, most importantly, they crap in a box. What more could you ask for?

But the Mistress is coming home tomorrow to partake of the Great Gobbling Bird, and we are ecstatic, pet nostalgia notwithstanding. May your Thansgiving be as sweet!

Monday, November 22, 2004


are all hanging out at Mark Hoback’s Virtual Occoquan. Issue Number 66 is online - come and pay us all a visit!


I normally don’t have much truck with blogmemes, but this one is not too complicated, and it gives me a chance to answer some of the burning questions that you, Dear Reader, may have about me and Blog D’Elisson. Credit Where Credit Is Due: I snarfed this off of the ASB, who in turn ripped it off of The Muttering Muse.

How long have you had a blog?
I started this thing - my one and only blog effort - back in March 2002 and did not write Word One until July of this year. I guess I didn’t know what a blog was when I created my Blogger account, and the idea of Writing Shit Down Every Day was quite alien to me at the time. But since then, I’ve knocked out over 140 posts - over 54,000 words, a novel’s worth. Who knew?

Why did you become interested in blogging? What do you like about it?
Two things piqued my interest in blogging. The first was when I found some blogs through various Google searches (more about this here) and realized what this whole bloggy thing was all about. The second was the amazing degreee of interconnectedness I saw when I began making my first tentative forays around the Bloggysphere. That’s what really drives me: that sense of being connected.

What do you write about more: yourself or _insert subject here_ ?
I write about...whatever I feel like writing about at the moment. One day it might be political stuff, the next day about what I had for dinner (assuming I can remember what the hell it was). It may be family stuff, religion, random crap, comic strips, movies, music. It will generally not be deeply personal stuff - I don’t share everything that goes on in my twisted little mind - but you never know. She Who Must Be Obeyed is still horrified that I posted the story about our Weevil Chili.

If your blog has categories, which one do you post in most often?
My blog does not have categories, since I’m a cheapskate who uses Blogger. If I had categories, well, see my answer to the previous question.

What are 5 of your favorite blogs?
This one’s a toughie. I like pretty much everything on Blogroll D’Elisson, and I am planning (sometime soon) to write a lengthy exposition on what I like about every single one. But right off the bat, I'll tell you that I love Pesky’Apostrophe, Dooce, World O’Crap, Prepare To Meet Your Bakerina, and Where The Hell Was I? Don’t get your panties in a wad if you’re not one of the Chosen Five: there are at least ten more blogs that I have to get a daily dose of. Stinkin’ blogmeme...

Do you use an online alias on your blog?
Yes, I do, although it ain’t difficult to penetrate my thin disguise. Especially now that I’ve begun contributing to Virtual Occoquan. I call myself Steve Elisson in honor of my Dad. His name’s Eli, ergo: Eli’s Son.

Blog entry that has received the most comments:
Before...and After.” This was the post that I wrote for my first-time ever entry in the monthly Blogging for Books contest (hosted by The Zero Boss, another of my favorite blogs). It’s the only time something I wrote got more comments than the stupid cat pictures I post every week. Damn cats.

Tell us how you chose your blog title:
Well, you already know how I chose my alias. The blog title just seemed to work. In retrospect, I could have called it “AAAAAA Acme Blog by Steve” and it would have floated to the top of all them alphabetized blogrolls. Is it too late to change?

How do you feel about Google ads on personal blogs?
I don’t give a rat’s ass about how people choose to whore themselves out. If your site looks cluttered with ugly ads, it won’t stop me from reading it if the content’s good. I’ll just think your taste is all in your sigmoid colon.

The only ads I hatehatehate are the damned pop-ups that Blogger uses. Not an issue at home, but when I’m in the office (only during lunch!), it’s majorly annoying. Oh, but wait...I’m on Blogger. Shit.

Does anyone you know in *real life* know about your blog?
Several family members and a few friends know about (and even read) my blog. And they’re all wonderful people. All of them. All the time. Really.

2 words you use all the time in your posts:
You mean aside from “a” and ”the”? Or the dreaded F-bomb? Well, “crap” and “bloggity” come to mind, but there are plenty others.

Sunday, November 21, 2004


to visit this week’s Carnival of the Cats, kindly hosted by Leslie’s Omnibus.

Damn, they’s a lotta kitties out there!


At the risk of causing Ivan (Thrilling Days of Yesteryear) to suffer a terminal attack of Olde Crappe Envy, I’m going to take a few minutes to show off some of the fine swag I scored a couple of weeks ago on eBay.

Vintage Sunday funnies! I love ’em for so many reasons.

First, back in the 1950’s and before, Sunday comic strips were printed full- or half-folio. None of today’s tiny-ass comic strips crammed eight to a page: these babies were big. The scans below had to be done piecemeal and assembled in Photoshop because the pages were too big for my scanner. This is a good thing (quoth Martha Stewart), mainly because it’s easier for us, er, ahhh…older folks to read the old-style, large strips. Not to mention that it’s easier to appreciate the artwork, which has much more detail. Today’s artists have to be mindful of the huge reduction ratios that the newspapers use, which means little or no chance to show off their fine draftsmanship.

This is one of the things that made Bill Watterson (“Calvin and Hobbes”) hang up his Hunter Crow-Quills. He hated the way his gorgeous pages were turned into Shrinky-Dinks by the newspapers.

Second, there’s that nostalgia factor. Who doesn’t like to re-experience that feeling of having a brand-new Sunday comics section spread out, ready to read? Looking at the same strips, we get that same feeling. I feel like I’m nine years old again, visiting the grandparents and opening the New York Daily Mirror to the Sunday funnies our paper at home didn’t have.

Anyway, for your delectation, here are a couple of golden oldies.

First up is this snippet from a 1934 “Dick Tracy” strip. Chester Gould already is a master at drawing weird-looking villains and constructing exciting stories, but his artwork hasn’t settled in to the hard-edged style that would characterize his work in later years.

Old-school Dick Tracy, 1934. Posted by Hello

This second Sunday strip – a half-page, just like the 1934 strip – shows Gould’s work in its more mature form. Tracy now has his famous 2-way wrist radio (later a wrist TV) – one little example of anticipated technology.

Dick Tracy, vintage 1950. Posted by Hello

So much for serious police drama. Now let’s get silly.

Bill Holman, creator of “Smokey Stover,” wrote what may have been the most crackpot comic strip ever to grace the Sunday funnies. A 1941-vintage example is shown below. Holman’s strip, for its time the equivalent of “Seinfeld” in terms of its contributions to the contemporary catchphrase lexicon, gave us such nutty expressions as “Foo,” “Notary Sojac,” and “1506 Nix Nix.” Look at the strip shown here and see if you can find all the visual and verbal puns.

Smokey Stover - sheer lunacy from 1941. Posted by Hello

It ain’t sophisticated humor – certainly no “Doonesbury” – but it’s funny. There’s nothing like it in any paper today. And that’s too damn bad.

Friday, November 19, 2004


OK, so I’m not sports-obsessed. I’ll go as far as to watch golf on TV, and maybe even go to a tournament once in a while. And I’ve been to the Masters twice – not just the practice rounds or the Par 3 thing they do, but the Real Thing. That is impressive, walking around at Augusta National, the Great Cathedral of the Church o’ Golf.

I don’t get excited about baseball, basketball, football, or hockey. College or pro, doesn’t matter. It’s just not on my radar screen. Does that make me weird? Maybe it does.

A couple of weeks ago, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are over at the local Omaha Steaks emporium, burning a couple of gift certificates. Giving me free shit is about the only way you’ll ever get me into that place, the Palace of Massively Overpriced Meaty Protein. Hmmm, $50 for this pack of six (count ’em) Boeuf Burgers? $37 for this bottle of Rutabaga-Infused Extra-Virgin Walnut Oil? Throw it in the sack! We load up with meat and meat-related products and head for the door.

(Speaking of meat-related products, I do not recommend the Omaha Steaks Beef Jerky for Cats and Dogs. First, it has a picture of a Boston terrier on the package, so you feel like an asshole if you eat it yourself; and second, it made Matata puke all over the living room carpet.)

As we exit the shop, we pass an alcove by the front door where there is a little barbecue grill on display. It’s brown and ovoid, with tapered ends, just big enough for a couple of burgers or a single New York strip. And I remark to SWMBO, “Isn’t that interesting – an egg-shaped hibachi.”

And she says to me, she says: “Good Gawd, you really are a girl. That’s a football, ya feckin’ eejit.”

And, of course, it is. The white stripes and fake lacing are two more clues, which I somehow have managed to overlook. Damn.

Aw, shut up and eat your jerky, Captain Oblivious!


...when you’re trying to locate a friend and, instead of calling up every bar in town, you start phoning the hospitals.


Is it my imagination, or has the start of the Christmas season been slowly creeping back towards Hallowe’en?

It used to be that you wouldn’t see much (or anything) in the way of seasonal decorations, or hear much in the way of seasonal music, until immediately after Thanksgiving. “After” may be putting it a little too forcefully: Santa Claus always made his Ritual Appearance in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This, to many people, was the starting gun for the Christmas season.

But the way things are going, I figure it’s only a matter of time before they start putting lights up right after Labor Day. Who knows just how far this can go? Tisha B’Av?

As a Jew, I don’t have to worry about all this Christmas business, aside from trying not to get sick of hearing the blasted music. Even our Gentile friends acknowledge that “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” starts grating after you hear it for the 1000th time.

But I can tell you, if we were running this holiday, we’d know when to start the festivities - and when not to. Let me refer you to a brilliant little piece of satire, Hilchos Xmas (“The Laws of Xmas”), written a few years ago by Akiva and Ilene Miller. Their premise is, what if Christmas were a Jewish holiday? How would it be observed?

First off, the Millers acknowledge that their premise is ridiculous. The central point of Christmas precludes it from ever being a Jewish holiday, and if you don’t understand why this is, e-mail me or leave a comment and I’ll be happy to give you a long-winded explanation of the obvious.

But there are so many aspects of how the holiday is celebrated - in America, particularly - that have become semi-secularized elements of popular culture, that you can see the potential for humor. Jewish observance is based on Jewish law, and the codification and interpretation of that law is flat-out complicated. Just imagine Talmudic scholars arguing over what sort of tree is acceptable for use as a Christmas tree, and this is what you get.

I won’t pull too many chunks out of the Millers’ magnum opus here (read it yourself!), but here’s one that is oh, so appropriate:

1 This contrasts sharply with Shabbos, for the mitzva of honoring Shabbos applies all week long. For example, if one finds a particularly good food during the week, one should save it for Shabbos even though it is now only Sunday and Shabbos is a week away. However, Xmas preparations may not begin too far in advance, in order to fulfill the dictum, “It’s beginning to look a lot like Xmas.”

2 This is because of the principle that two festive occasions should not be mixed into each other. Note the decree of the great R.H. Macy, who established that Santa Claus may not appear in the Thanksgiving Day parade until after all the other floats have passed.

3 There are some who begin preparing for Xmas as early as Halloween. This is wrong, and they will be called upon to account for their evil ways.

4 Such as setting up the Xmas tree (some say even buying one,) or playing holiday music on the Muzak.

5 Such as buying gifts or buying the Xmas dinner turkey. Cooking the turkey may not be done before Thanksgiving because it will appear to be a Thanksgiving turkey.

There’s lots more of this stuff. Unless you’ve got a nodding acquaintance with Jewish law, you may not find it funny. Personally, I think it’s hysterical, especially the parody of the Passover Haggadah at the end:
If we would have a beautiful tree, but not have stockings hanging from the fireplace, it would have been enough.
If we would have stockings hanging from the fireplace, but not get today off from work, it would have been enough.
If we would get today off from work, and not get off on Erev [N.B. - the evening before] Xmas as well, it would have been enough.
If we would get off on Erev Xmas as well, but not get presents, it would have been enough.
If we would get presents, but not a delicious dinner, it would have been enough.
If we would have a delicious dinner and no dessert, it would have been enough.
If we would have dessert, but not watch the football game, it would have been enough.
If we would watch the football game, but not see our team win, it would have been enough.
If we would see our team win, and have a hangover the next morning, it would have been enough.

(Pick up the eggnog and say:) But we do have a beautiful tree, and we have stockings hanging from the fireplace, and we got today off from work, and we got off on Erev Xmas as well, and we got presents, a delicious dinner, and dessert, and we watched the football game, and saw our team win, and so we will now toast our team, and pray that we do not get a hangover tomorrow morning: “Yay team!”

As for me, I’ll just go and turn on the radio now. Maybe they’ll be playing something...non-seasonal.


Posted by Hello

She Who Must Be Obeyed enjoys blissful repose, accompanied by her faithful attendants, Hakuna and Matata.

Kitties... beating the crap out of the average comforter since 1995.

Thursday, November 18, 2004


I had lunch with Gravel-Voice Larry today, which was unusual.

What was unusual was the fact that it was lunch. I have breakfast with Larry almost every weekday. That is, the weekdays when I am in town and not off on some traveling errand on behalf of the Great Corporate Salt Mine. We both go to the shul and daven Shacharit [that’d be “go to synagogue and offer the daily morning worship service,” for all y’all Gentile-type folks out there], after which we repair to the Local Bagel Emporium for our Toroidal Sustenance [That’d be “bagels,” for all y’all non-doubletalking mathematician-type folks out there]. After a pleasant morning meal (often involving Smoked Fish), it’s off to the GCSM to slag the day away.

But today Larry was trying to find an excuse to not go home after one of his late-morning classes, and I was looking for a way to skeeve off work long enough to run by the shul office and pick up some committee-related crap for the Missus. So lunch it was.

Larry is a tall, tough-looking guy with a gravelly voice – the kind of voice that is extremely effective in such endeavors as bill collecting. One phone call from him, and deadbeats will sell their kidneys to avoid getting an actual in-person visit. Scary. I can only imagine what he was like back in the day, working as a cop in Miami. Some of the stories are pretty...interesting.

Underneath Larry’s crusty exterior lurks an equally crusty interior the heart of a Talmudic scholar. So it never fails to surprise me whenever he gets a phone call on his new cellular phone – as he did at lunch. It’s the ringtone, you see.

How many observant Jews have phones that play Wagner’s “The Ride of the Valkyries”?


Remember the days when you were young and somewhat desperate?

Hell, perhaps you’re still young and somewhat desperate. But not me: I’m not quite so young, and certainly not as desperate as I was 28 years ago. Because back then, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were desperate (or hungry) enough to eat Weevil Chili.

We have an interesting food history together, SWMBO and I. On one of our earliest evenings together, I prepared a sumptuous dinner for two, which we enjoyed together in the sanctity of my Houston apartment. The meal consisted of a lovely roast leg of lamb with a seared dark brown crust on the outside and tender, rosy, garlic-perfumed meat on the inside, along with creamy made-from-scratch mashed potatoes and some nondescript green vegetable, the identity of which has been lost to the mists of history. All of this washed down with a wonderful claret - Troplong Mondot St. Emilion 1967, if my memory serves.

Of course, what I didn’t know, so early in the relationship, was that there was no way on this Earth that She Who Must Be Obeyed was actually going to eat any lamb whatsoever. Lamb, duck, raw onions, organ meats, and eggs belong to the food group consisting of Things That Will Never Be Eaten By SWMBO.

But she did make a brave show of pushing that stuff all around her plate...just long enough for me to get enough of that fine claret in me so that I wouldn’t be in any condition to notice that she had consumed not one molecule of lamb. [I found out later that she had, in fact, actually swallowed, python-like, a few chunks (whole, and lubricated with mint sauce to avoid the necessity of chewing and tasting) because she didn’t want me to think she didn’t like her dinner. What a woman in love won’t do...]

Lest you get the impression that SWMBO is a picky eater, I have to say that, in the early years of our marriage, we, both two of us, had no problems comporting ourselves like True Trenchermen. At least once a week, my bride would prepare a humongous casserole of something called King Ranch Chicken. I’m a little vague on the ingredients, but as I recall, there was chicken (duh), tortillas, chopped jalapeños, cheese, and Gawd knows what else. And the two of us would snarf down that entire honkin’ casserole. A couple years of that, an’ them ass be gettin’ fat.

Even before we tied the knot, what culinary adventures we had. There was the time I bought a whole beef heart, I have no idea why. Probably in honor of Don Van Vliet. But I stuck it in a Pyrex dish, smothered it in tomato sauce, shoved it in the oven...and went out to see a movie with SWMBO. When we got back three hours later, the damn thing was the size of a prune and had the density of White Dwarf Star Matter. Never mind - I ate that sumbitch anyway, just for spite. [No way the Mrs. was going to let a Beef Heart pass her lips, so I had it all to myself. Oh, boy!]

And then came the Day of the Chili.

We assembled all of the ingredients for a big, steaming pot of Texas chili. Coarsely ground meat, because regular ol’ hamburger just won’t do. Tomato sauce. Cayenne. Chili powder. Etc. Etc.

No beans - this was Texas, remember? Self-respecting Texans do not adulterate their chili with nasty beans.

We browned the meat, stirred everything all up, and set it to simmer. Then we dumped in the chili powder.

Only problem was, the chili powder was moving. It was the Attack of the Chili Powder Weevils. Shit!

We now faced an unpleasant choice: (1) Toss the whole mess out and order in some Chinese, or (2) pick the little bastards out of the pot, one by one, and eat the chili.

I am ashamed to say that so strong was our Chili Jones that day, and so great our unwillingness to dump out what must have been all of $7 worth of meat, that we chose Option Number Two. We gobbled up the whole fucking mess, making faces at each other the whole time.

Who knows just what kind of protein we ended up eating as an “enhancement” to our chili meal? Or how much? It tasted just fine...but the thought of what we did that day still gives me the willies. We had to marry each other after that, if for no other reason than to keep the story from ever getting out.


Did I say that we were young and somewhat desperate? Yes, I did.

Wednesday, November 17, 2004


Who says blogging is a useless waste of time? Not I.

Not now, after I actually won something in the “Know Your Wingnut 2” contest at The Higher Pie.

Someone ought to warn Ryan that my family and friends no longer allow me to play Trivial Pursuit with them. Unless, that is, they are free to substitute sports questions for the ones I actually get.

Once my swag winnings arrive in the mail, I’ll have two DVD’s to watch, including one that contains the Wit and Wisdom of Noam Chomsky. Now, watching that will be a useless waste of time. Can’t wait!


This week, Food Basics is hosting the 113th edition of the Carnival of the Vanities. Drop on in and read some scintillating writing...plus some random chunk of crap I lobbed in.


Some time back, my brother-in-law Aaron took up residence with us as he went to culinary school. It was a lot of fun watching him learn his way around a sauté pan, and it was a great chance to absorb a lot of good cooking knowledge second-hand. Plus, I inherited some chef-a-licious reference material, not least of which was The New Professional Chef, an invaluable resource for any semi-serious cook.

While watching Aaron struggle though one of his projects, I was inspired to concoct a bogus restaurant menu just for the sake of self-amusement. But the more I think of it, the more it seems that my “restaurant concept” might be just nutty enough to work. Especially after seeing Pete’s post over at APCB on Hardee’s massive, bloat-inducing Monster Thickburger. After all, nothing exceeds like excess these days.

For your delectation and amusement, therefore, I present some of the fine offerings from our menu at...

The No-Nonsense Restaurant


Stuffed Skins.....5.75
“Get stuffed” with these Idaho potato skins, crammed with cheddar cheese, bacon, and green onions - then deep fried!

Buffalo Wings from Hell™.....7.95
The upstate New York classic, with bleu cheese dressing on the side. Asbestos mitts optional...

Consommé de Meat.....cup 4.50, bowl 5.75
Concentrated beef broth, not for sissies

French Onion Soup.....6.25
Onions simmered in a rich, beefy broth, it’s really just an excuse to eat that big hunk of bread and the half-pound of sizzling Gruyere cheese we top it with

Fancy-pants name for cold potato soup. We serve ours steaming hot and float a baked Idaho spud in it. It’s serious!

(you gotta be kidding)

Meaty Entrees
(Served with our Hot, Heapin’ Basket o’ Biscuits™)

New York Strip Sirloin.....24.95, 30.95
This is what you came here for! 16 oz. Regular and 22 oz. He-man cuts available.

Bone-in, 32 oz. Eat it yourself or share with an army.

Triple-thick Lamb Chops.....28.75
With our homemade mint-apple chutney. Baa-a-a-ad, dude!

Rib-Eye.....25.75, 37.75
An 18 oz. slice of heaven! Also available with the bone, a whopping 28 oz. portion. Heart healthy...not!

And did’ja think we’d forget...
Prime Rib.....19.75, 23.75, 67.50
12 oz. Queen, 16 oz. King, and 48 oz. Godzilla™ portions hacked from the heart of our Mighty Steamship Roast


Grilled Tiger Prawns.....24.95
There’s nothing “shrimpy” about these monsters. We’ll serve you up a brace of these huge fellows, skewered, grilled in butter, and flamed in Cognac. Order ’em with the heads on and scare your friends to death.

Maine Lobster.....Market Price
We have an Olympic-sized tank stocked with these brutes, from “dinky” 3-pounders all the way to Mr. Boston, our 45 lb mascot who hides in the back. But we’ll fish him out for you if you’re hungry enough!

(You want chicken? Get out of my restaurant.)


Baked Potato.....4.25
No foil for these babies...we bake ’em on a bed of rock salt and slather ’em with a full stick of sweet cream butter. Sour cream, chives, bacon chunks, and cheddar available on request

Duchess Potatoes.....4.75
Well, we gotta do something with the insides when we make potato skins!

Potatoes o’Gratin™.....5.50
Our French-Irish recipe. Boiled in Guinness stout, topped with breadcrumbs and cheese - Sacré Begorrah!

Lyonnaise Potatoes.....5.00
With cream sauce, onions. Killer ’taters, and we ain’t “lyon”!

Chicken Fried Steak Fries™.....4.75
Inspired by the classic Texas dish, we batter fry thick-sliced spuds, then serve ’em up with cream gravy. Yee-haw!


Hot Fudge Sundae.....5.25
With our famous “chocolate asphalt” fudge. We’ll even bury a brownie under it for another 1.75

Chinese Chocolate Torture™.....5.00
A thick slab of devil’s food cake saturated with Hershey’s® syrup, served with a fortune cookie. Kung-fu-licious!

Fried Ice Cream.....8.25
Everything tastes better fried...especially this full pint block of Häagen-Dazs® chocolate!

Chunk o’ Choc™.....7.50
Simply the biggest damn Hershey bar you ever saw. For those who don’t want to “gild the lily”


Tub o’ Tini™.....12.75
No wimpy Cosmopolitans here. This is our 16 oz. cocktail shaker full of the Right Stuff...made with Bombay Sapphire gin. Rocket fuel of the stars!

Bucket o’ Black™.....12.75
The same 16 oz. cocktail shaker...filled to the brim with Johnnie Walker Black. Surrender car keys when ordering!

Coffee, tea, soft drinks (free refills!).....2.50

- Ask about our selection of humongous, ridiculously overpriced premium cigars -

So, whaddaya think? Does this place have a chance? Or have I overestimated the American appetite for just too damn much of everything?


I don’t own a restaurant, so this may be viewed as a lot of whiny carping, but would it be too much to ask to have your people proofread your sorry-ass menu before you send it out to the printers?

At one local eatery, the Sunday brunch menu offered a “peach compost.” No, thanks. I believe I’ll be ordering something else with my “trench toast.” [OK, I made that last one up.]

At another place - this one in Roswell, just a few miles up the road - I was tempted to order the “mescaline salad.” But then I figured it would be tough on the drive home. “Gee, lookit all the pretty colors! My brain is, like, all Photoshop ’n’ shit!”

Yep, mescaline. Makes you see things funny - as opposed to LSD, which makes you see funny things. At least, that’s what they tell me.

Maybe the guy who wrote the menu had him some of that mescaline salad.

We won’t even comment on the Great Portobello / Portabello Mushroom debate. [Yes, we will. It’s Portobello, folks.] And if you want to throw in a French term or two, be my guest, only spell it right, SVP. “Buerre” just looks stupid. The wine list is also a death trap for the orthographically challenged.

Rather than spend any more time on this little rant, I’ll just sum it up for all y’all restauranteurs in a handy little epigraph:

“If you can’t spell it, don’t sell it.”

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Some of our earliest and most precious memories are of our mothers singing us to sleep. It’s almost primordial, the pleasure we feel when a loving parent tucks us into bed or enfolds us in loving arms. And these memories, buried deeply below the surface of our consciousness, shape our personalities and give structure to our very lives.

All of which goes a long way toward explaining my twisted mind. Because my earliest “lullaby memory” is of my Daddy singing me this song:
I had a little dog and his name was Jack.
He made a little doody on the railroad track.
The train came by,
The doody flew high,
And hit the conductor right in the eye.
Thanks, Dad. All that I am, I owe to you.

Monday, November 15, 2004


I love Georgia, I really do. This is the second time around for She Who Must Be Obeyed and me, after a five-year sojourn here in the 1980’s, and it’s good to be back. And I gotta tell you, sometimes I’m so proud to live in Cobb County in this Great State of Georgia, I could just crap myself.

It seems we’re always in the news, often for reasons that peg the needle on the Ridiculometer. Here are a couple, just off the top of my head:

A couple of years ago, there was a big stink here having to do with a reproduction of Emanuel Leutze’s famous painting of Washington Crossing the Delaware in school textbooks. [This is the very same painting that served as a basis for the design of the New Jersey state quarter back in 1999.] When you look closely at the painting, there appears to be something hanging near Washington’s crotch. And there is - it’s his pocket watch. But owing to the remote possibility that fifth-graders might look at this picture in their American History textbooks and come to the (false) conclusion that they were seeing the Nutsack of the Father of Our Country, the Board of Education arranged for the offending portion of the image to be covered up. This involved hand-retouching thousands of textbooks (with stickers, White-Out, or Magic Marker), and of course ensured that inquisitive students would spend their entire school day looking for Washington’s scrotum. Brilliant.

And, more recently, Cobb County became the center of a mini Media Hurricane, thanks to a grotesque story that involved a local man who got into what must’ve appeared to him to be a minor traffic scrape after leaving a bar with a friend. Mr. Local Man managed to drive home - twelve miles over narrow winding roads - after this little incident, whereupon he parked his pickup truck in the driveway and went straight up to bed. But he overlooked one small problem - his friend had been decapitated in that little incident, and the dead body was still in the front seat of the truck. Needless to say, this was a tad difficult to explain to the nice policeman who showed up at his door the next morning.

Ahhh, Cobb County. It’s not really Moron Central, but you’d never know any different from reading the National Blat.

And, once again, we’re in the news. This time it’s because of yet another lawsuit brought against - you guessed it - the Board of Education, because said board has decreed, in their wisdom, that science textbooks here must bear a sticker advising that “evolution is a theory, not a fact.” And some parents are calling bullshit on ’em for it.

Good for them, I say.

Yes, evolution is a theory. Let’s be sure we’re all straight on just exactly what a theory is. Webster’s defines a theory as “the analysis of a set of facts in their relation to one another.” It’s also “a plausible or scientifically acceptable general principle or body of principles offered to explain phenomena.” It can also mean “a hypothesis assumed for the sake of argument or investigation.” Conjecture, that is, or supposition.

Here’s how it works, kiddies. You make observations. You offer a hypothesis to explain the observations. You test the hypothesis by experimentation. If the experimental results support the hypothesis, good for you. What a theory does is tie together a whole bunch of hypotheses at once. And a theory is only as good as how well it explains and predicts the results of the experiments that test these hypotheses. This whole process is called “science.”

Faith, on the other hand, is when you believe something that is either not supported by, or possibly even contradicted by, observation and experiment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with faith - unless it gets confused with science.

So far, the courts have managed to keep wonderful faith-based ideas like “intelligent design” out of public school science classrooms. This pisses off the folks who believe in Creationism as the way to explain the presence of life on Earth. The Cobb Board of Education panders to these people by watering down the instruction of Demon Evolution, most recently by requiring these pernicious little stickers. The implication - and the message the District is imparting to students - is that somehow, evolution is just some nutty piece of conjecture - a “theory, not a fact.” So you can go on believing that the Big Guy created everything in six days. Fiat Lux, and all that. Just like it says in the Bible.

Well, just because something is a theory doesn’t mean it ain’t got Validity Mojo. I don’t see too many people talking about how Germ Theory is “just a theory.” It seems to do a good job explaining what we see in the world around us - how diseases are transmitted, for example - and nobody seems to have a problem with it. And relativity theory is still pretty well respected, even if the observations that it predicts so well are a little more arcane than most people deal with day-to-day.

No, it’s the Theory of Evolution that is always held to a higher standard. Problem is, it still explains real-life observations better than any other scientifically verifiable body of principles.

Note that I said “scientifically verifiable.” “Intelligent design” does at least as good a job explaining those observations. But it’s not scientifically verifiable. It’s a faith-based belief system. And that’s perfectly fine.

Just don’t teach it in my public schools and pretend that it’s science - because it’s not.

It’s religion.

Now, should religion be taught in public schools? This one gets tricky. I believe that comparative or descriptive religion can and should be taught. I think children should know about the world’s major belief systems. What makes a Jew a Jew, a Christian a Christian, a Muslim a Muslim, a Hindu a Hindu. What the major religions have in common, their key guiding principles, their differences, their influence on the development of civilization. The problem is, it’s difficult to teach about some religions without (inadvertently or intentionally) proselytizing for them. And I have little faith (that word again!) that our public school administrators can put a fine enough point on things to ensure that the teachers and students know the difference. All too often, religion in a public setting becomes a “bully pulpit” for the majority faith - in every sense of the word.

Let’s for the moment assume that you can teach comparative religion in public school. Now you have a venue in which to teach “intelligent design” - in Comparative Religion class, not in science. But as soon as you teach it as though it might be true, you’re no longer teaching Comparative Religion. You’re teaching Religion. Say, shouldn’t you be in parochial school?

Take those stupid stickers off, folks. And while you’re at it, that thing midway between your shoulder and hand? That’s your elbow, and that thing you’re sitting on is your ass.

Science. Religion. Ass. Elbow. Be sure you know the differences before you set about to teach our children.

Sunday, November 14, 2004


This post by Jay reminded me of just how horrible my own feet are. So horrible, in fact, that my friend Harris once examined them and announced that I was suffering from “Monkey-Shit Feet.”

Now, Harris is a real, honest-to-Gawd podiatrist, but I never have been able to find “Monkey-Shit Feet” in the Merck Manual. However, there are plenty of nasty conditions that do affect the feet, and I am sure that you are burning with curiosity about them. After all, most of us have feet, whether they are prehensile (like Jay’s) or reprehensible (like mine). And so, with that introduction, Blog D’Elisson is pleased to present, as a public service,

The Podiatrist’s Primer
(composed with the kind assistance of Dr. Harris Kleinkopf)

is for Abscess,

A pus-filled infection.
When your feet choose diseases,
Hope this ain’t their selection.

is for Bunions,

A painful condition.
On my worst enemies
I wouldn't wish ’em.

is for Corn,

First cousin to the Bunion.
In terms of size,
Just like a pearl onion.

is for Digits,

Most know them as Toes.
If they gets Frostbite,
Then, WHACK! off they goes.

is for Eczema,

Unpleasant and itchy.
You’re liable to get it
Whether you’re poor or rich-y.

is for Flatfoot,

A.K.A. fallen arches.
Diet can’t cure it,
Neither proteins nor starches.

is for Gout,

Once a rich man’s disease.
It now affects Yuppies
Who drink wine and eat cheese.

is for Hammertoes.

They’re quite often seen
In two basic varieties:
The Claw and Ball-Peen.

is for Ichthyosis,

That scaly fish skin.
Bad enough on the feet,
Even worse on the chin.

is for Joints,

Which between Metatarsals
And Phalanges as well,
Help you walk with your parcels.

is for Keratoma,

Most call it a callus.
I knew a man had one
As big as his phallus.

is for Lacerations,

Bloody slices and cuts.
They’re no good on our feet,
Or our arms, legs, and butts.

is for Metatarsalgia,

Sore, tired feet.
A frequent result
Of long walks in the street.

is for Neuropathy,

Which is really no fun.
It’s something to blame
When your tootsies get numb.

is for Onychomycosis,

Cause of many sad tales.
It’s a long-winded word for
Them ol’ Fungal Nails.

is for Porokeratosis,

When skin pores get clogged.
Try to unplug them,
And you’ll sweat like a hog.

is for Quinous gait,

“Horse walking,” it’s said.
You run ’round on your tiptoes
Just like Mr. Ed.

is for Reynaud’s,

A syndrome in which
Your toes turn bright red
And they hurt like a bitch.

is for Sprain,

A commonplace ill.
Well, common it may be,
But boy, does it kill!

is for Tinea pedis,

A persistent fungus.
Going barefoot in locker rooms
Spreads it among us.

is for Ulcer,

Also called “weeping sore.”
Don’t stand on it too long,
Or it sticks to the floor.

is for Varicosities,

Disgusting blue veins.
They’re just plain unattractive,
And they sometimes cause pains.

is for Warts, plantar

Caused by a virus.
If our feet have lots of ’em,
Who’ll come and admire us?

is for Xeroderma,

A form of dry skin.
Slap some baby oil on it
And rub it right in.

is for Yeast,

Source of bread crusts for pizza.
But just make damn sure
It don’t grow on your feet-sa.

is for Zorro,

That swordsman so fleet.
How could he run so fast?
He took care of his feet!

Saturday, November 13, 2004


is now available in easy-to-take blog form.

No, I’m not talking about King Solomon, the Biblical figure who was renowned for his baby-splittin’ wisdom. I’m talking about Mike Solomon, the cherubic-looking guy in the picture below.

Michael Solomon: minyan guy, fellow blogger. Posted by Hello

Mike is one of the regulars at our morning minyan. More often than not, he’s the one who passes around the pushke, the little collection box into which we stuff our daily charitable donations. He’s a frequent attendee at the group’s Thursday night dinners. And did I mention that he’s the recording secretary for our Men’s Club Board of Directors?

Mike has also taken his first steps into Bloggity World. You can visit his site here.

As a kid, Mike was called “Royteh” – the Redhead. Red hair usually bespeaks a fiery temperament, but Michael is a pussycat. Unless you call him “Mikey,” in which case he is liable to kick your ass.

But what you may not know is that you just might have seen his face before - if you’re old enough, that is. Years ago, he made a living appearing in various TV commercials. One of these got quite a bit of attention, back in the day. “The day” being sometime in the late 1970’s.

“Just pick up the phone.” Posted by Hello

Yep, that’s him – the guy in the old Federal Express ad who yanks the phone booth right out of the ground. “Just pick up the phone,” indeed.

Friday, November 12, 2004


Hakuna: Guardian of the Staircase. Posted by Hello

She thinks she’s the Queen of Sheba, this one does. And we do not wish to displease the Queen by neglecting to post her photograph upon the Royal Kitty Blogpost so that all may admire her lustrous fur. Look upon this kitty and despair!

Thursday, November 11, 2004


and that sound you don’t hear is millions of Jews not saying Kaddish.

Unless it’s to praise God for doing the right thing and removing Yasser Arafat from the planet’s surface.

Mr. Arafat leaves behind a rich legacy - of grieving families, of murdered children, of dead Palestinian suicide bombers who continue to blow themselves and their Israeli victims to bits because of Arafat’s failure to grasp the concept of peaceful coexistence. Hijack victims. Slain Olympian athletes. A rich legacy of terrorism and violence. Of four-year-olds carrying toy AK-47’s and chanting “Death to the Yahoodi.”

But he leaves no Palestinian state. He could have had it, but instead he slapped away the deal Israel offered him and started a second intifada. The stupid, arrogant, thieving bastard.

Pete, of A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, offers this analysis of Arafat’s military genius:
That said, it wasn’t until watching CBS’ “career retrospective” of Arafat that I realized the P.L.O. got its ass kicked in every conflict they ever fought: the Six-Day War, Jordan, Lebanon. Sure, Arafat et. al. got some decent pub with that courageous attack on the Israeli Olympic team in 1972, and by subjecting legions of children to gunfire by encouraging them to throw rocks at armored vehicles (even the kids in Northern Ireland figured out that was a bad idea early on), but as a military leader, Arafat was a joke.
And there’s more in the way of a fitting eulogy from Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe, who says it better than I ever could:

In a better world, the PLO chief would have met his end on a gallows, hanged for mass murder much as the Nazi chiefs were hanged at Nuremberg. In a better world, the French president would not have paid a visit to the bedside of such a monster. In a better world, George Bush would not have said, on hearing the first reports that Arafat had died, “God bless his soul.”

God bless his soul? What a grotesque idea! Bless the soul of the man who brought modern terrorism to the world? Who sent his agents to slaughter athletes at the Olympics, blow airliners out of the sky, bomb schools and pizzerias, machine-gun passengers in airline terminals? Who lied, cheated, and stole without compunction? Who inculcated the vilest culture of Jew-hatred since the Third Reich? Human beings might stoop to bless a creature so evil - as indeed Arafat was blessed, with money, deference, even a Nobel Prize - but God, I am quite sure, will damn him for eternity.
Jacoby goes on to castigate the journalists who seem to have no problem reporting Arafat’s “steadfastness” and how he “shared our pain” under siege in Ramallah, while ignoring the heartbroken families of the victims of his “struggle for the Palestinian people.” The people who could have lived side-by-side with Israel but who instead fought war after unsuccessful war to drive the Jews into the sea.

Well, screw the journalists. At least Jacoby remembers what Arafat’s real legacy is.
Perhaps his signal contribution to the practice of political terror was the introduction of warfare against children. On one black date in May 1974, three PLO terrorists slipped from Lebanon into the northern Israeli town of Ma’alot. They murdered two parents and a child whom they found at home, then seized a local school, taking more than 100 boys and girls hostage and threatening to kill them unless a number of imprisoned terrorists were released. When Israeli troops attempted a rescue, the terrorists exploded hand grenades and opened fire on the students. By the time the horror ended, 25 people were dead; 21 of them were children.

Thirty years later, no one speaks of Ma’alot anymore. The dead children have been forgotten. Everyone knows Arafat’s name, but who ever recalls the names of his victims?

So let us recall them: Ilana Turgeman. Rachel Aputa. Yocheved Mazoz. Sarah Ben-Shim’on. Yona Sabag. Yafa Cohen. Shoshana Cohen. Michal Sitrok. Malka Amrosy. Aviva Saada. Yocheved Diyi. Yaakov Levi. Yaakov Kabla. Rina Cohen. Ilana Ne’eman. Sarah Madar. Tamar Dahan. Sarah Soper. Lili Morad. David Madar. Yehudit Madar. The 21 dead children of Ma’alot - 21 of the thousands of who died at Arafat’s command.
Thanks to Laurence Simon for this link.

I can picture it now, Arafat arriving before Allah’s throne for his performance review:

Allah: Yasser, you got some ’splainin’ to do...


The 112th Carnival of the Vanities is up and running at this week's host, Let’s Try Freedom.

The Carnival is a (mostly) weekly event that allows egotistical bastards like myself the opportunity to further pollute the blogosphere with their miserable electronic “scribblings.” So feel free to pay a visit... you might even find something you like.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004


No, not detergents. Abstergents.

Both get things clean, but that’s where the similarity ends.

“Abstergent” is one of those fifty-cent words that means “bunwad.” You know. Tee Pee. Asswipe. Toilet paper.

We all deal with this stuff every day, except maybe for the famously constipated Dooce. But what got me thinking about it was the huge 18-wheeler I saw on the freeway today as I was headed for the Atlanta airport, on my way to a four-day sojourn in Sweat City. The truck trailer had several giant-sized images of a cartoon bear nestled in clouds. A happy, smiling bear. Happy, no doubt, because he had a clean, non-irritated bear ass.

It was the Bunwad Truck.

I don’t know where, exactly, this connection between bears and asswipe got started, but these cartoon bears shill for one of the big T.P. purveyors. Maybe it’s because we all know what bears do in the woods.

[B’ar stool - what Dan’l Boone always tried to avoid stepping in.]

Personally, I think it’s because of that old joke about the bear and the rabbit who strike up a conversation as they are squatting side-by-side in the woods, going about their business.

Bear: Mr. Rabbit, may I ask you a personal question?

Rabbit: Why, certainly, Mr. Bear.

Bear: How is it that your fur is always so nice and clean and white?

Rabbit: Why, that’s simple, Mr. Bear. It’s because shit doesn’t stick to my fur.

So the bear wiped his ass with the rabbit.

[For some unknown reason, this joke seems to get more laughs when I tell it in an Indian accent. I have no idea why - it just does.]

Anyway, bears and shit just seem to go together. So strong is that association, I’m convinced the luckiest break Tiger Woods ever got was that his dad didn’t nickname him “Bear Woods.” What word immediately comes to your mind when you say the words “bear” and “woods” in close succession?

But the brand of bunwad this particular bear was promoting is not for me. Too damn soft.

“What’s wrong with soft T.P.?” you may well ask. Simple. You want paper that holds up under use, paper that doesn’t disintegrate into little evil-looking spitballs. Paper that resists the occasional inadvertent finger-poke. On the other hand, you want it to be reasonably gentle on the Delicate Rosebud. That’s a fine argument right there against using 75-grit garnet paper. Or the kind of paper favored by summer camps, gas stations, and French hotels.

The best invention to come along since sliced bread, by the way, is that moist T.P. that Kimberly-Clark sells: Cottonelle Fresh Rollwipes. It’s not a big seller, but I’m convinced that that’s because people just haven’t discovered this fine product yet. I don’t need to get graphic with you, but that stuff is a godsend. The trick to using it is to alternate between the regular old dry stuff and a square or two of the moist. Otherwise, you may find yourself taking out a second mortgage just to pay your Bunwad Bill.

Now, for the real weighty issue: should the roll hang so that the free end of the paper is over the roll? Or under? Marriages have foundered on this deep issue. What’s your preference?

Sunday, November 07, 2004


This weekend (well, if you count Thursday evening as part of the weekend, anyway) was chock-full of fine entertainment. I’m still trying to recover.

Thursday, I caught Project/Object’s show at the Variety Playhouse. P/O, as my regular visitors know, is a group that specializes in the music of the late, great Frank Zappa…not the easiest material to work with, and almost all of it very technically demanding. That they do a highly creditable job may be due to the presence of several Zappa alumni in the band’s lineup. This time, the band included Ike Willis (“Joe” of “Joe’s Garage” fame) and Denny Walley, both long-term veterans from the days when FZ still walked the planet. And the show was excellent, with two lengthy sets separated by a short break.

Ike Willis and Andre Cholmondeley (top right),
Don Preston (left), Napoleon Murphy Brock (bottom right).

The nice thing about the Variety Playhouse – especially on a Thursday night when concert attendance is light – is that you can stand right up front, only a couple of feet away from the performers. This provides a more personal perspective on the proceedings. Plus the sheer volume of the music loosens any nasty plugs of earwax that might be building up.

All right, so that’s one night out of the way. Moving ahead to Friday, nothing too complicated: dinner at Panera with our friends Laura and Don Z. And Saturday, yet another dinner with Laura and Don, this time at the Brookwood Grill, followed by yet more amusing stuff. But more about that later.

Fast-forward to Sunday. While She Who Must Be Obeyed caught up on her lesson plans, I entertained myself by playing a round of The Scottish Game with Gary F. and a couple of his disreputable friends.

[Just as actors refer to Macbeth as “The Scottish Play” because it is considered unlucky to mention its name, I refer to golf as “The Scottish Game” for the same reason.]

I had not played The Scottish Game in months, and so I was somewhat rusty. But then again, I can play that stinking game every stinking day of my stinking life, and I will still shoot the same wretched scores. But who cares? It was a perfect crisp-cool fall day in the hills of Georgia, and life was good out there on the course…with just enough sweet shots to make me want to do it again someday.

But the most fun we had this weekend was not on a golf Scottish Game course, nor in a concert hall.

It was at a comedy club Saturday night.

A comedy club where we saw the most demented female comedian to grace a stage in the last twenty years. The Love Goddess... Judy Tenuta.

Bow before The Love Goddess, Founder of Judyism!

We had seen Judy perform in Houston back in the early 1990’s, and she’s just as nuts as ever. But this time, we were up close and personal, with seats at the edge of the stage. Dangerous territory in most comedy clubs.

I will not say much about the show – it’s hard to describe Miss Tenuta or her shtick – but what I will tell you is that SWMBO has officially been relabeled a “Virgin Flower” by the One and Only Founder of Judyism. And your scribe shared a brief but touching moment onstage with The Love Goddess, Her Ownself.

It was exciting. It was intoxicating. And when she handed me that inflatable sheep, thank Gawd I knew just what to do with it...


I have a song stuck in my head and I can’t get it out.

I rode home from the golf course today with my friend Gary F., who had the soundtrack to the movie “Ray” playing on the box. So now I’ve got “What A Wonderful World” playing in my head, and it won’t go away.

“And I think to myself, what a wonderful world...”

Only problem is, in my head, Ray Charles isn’t singing it.

It’s Sidney Greenstreet.