Saturday, January 29, 2005


Winter came to Atlanta last night in the form of the Dreaded Ice Storm - freezing rain and sleet that created a beautiful tracery of crystal on every branch.

But beautiful as it may be, an ice storm is a Major Pain in the Ass.

Our steps and driveway were covered with a half-inch glaze of sheet ice. Only the thin layer of sleet encrusted in the top surface provided enough traction so that I could walk down the driveway to fetch the morning paper.

You know you’re in trouble when you rely on sleet to provide extra traction.

The ice gave us an excuse to stay in bed a little longer than usual. Instead of rushing off to shul, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had a leisurely morning. A Pancake Morning. A lounge around in the pajamas morning...something bloggers should all relate to. Hah!

Rather than spend the day watching the tube, I decided to bake a couple of batches of cookies. First out of the chute was a load of cardamom cookies. The most estimable Bakerina had written a cardamom-infused post a couple of weeks ago, which in turn directed me to Kimberly (she of the gorgeous cats), who had posted a recipe that had been gnawing at the base of my brain ever since I first saw it.

I followed Jen’s advice and jacked up the cardamom content of these cookies roughly sixfold from Craig Claiborne’s original recipe, and they were dead solid perfect.

And then, since I already had a Big-Ass Bakin’ Mess on my hands, I figured “what the hell” and decided to throw together my all-time favorite: Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies.

The recipe is one that I originally found many years ago in Maida Heatter’s Great Book of Chocolate Desserts over twenty years ago. You can tell how much I enjoy that book - and that recipe in particular - by the amount of crusty build-up on the pages. It was a pleasant surprise to see that Saveur magazine had published the recipe in their most recent issue, but I was shocked to discover an apparent error in the version they printed [their version called for ½ cup of flour versus 1½ cups in the Heatter original. Wrong-O!]

Anyway, for your delectation, go to PCAMB for your Mexican Chocolate Icebox Cookies and remember that it’s 1½ cups of flour, not ½ cup. (My bad for not noticing the hack when I transcribed the Saveur version!)

Our friends Gary and JoAnn braved the ice this evening and joined us for dinner: pan-seared Hamburger steaks, sugar snap peas with butter and Ile de Ré fleur de sel (fancy-pants sea salt), and whole-grain kasha with onions, prepared with my yummy made-from-scratch chicken stock. Dessert? Coffee, cookies (natch!), and a fine 1999 Deinhard Riesling Beerenauslese. Boo-yah!

As for the ice storm, we lucked out. An enforced day of leisure, with no power outages, no broken trees, no pratfalls. Turns out that the only real negative was that it forced a one-day postponement of our shul’s Talent Show. Funny, that. The last time our congregation held the “Challe Follies,” it was five years ago.

The exact same day Atlanta had its last big ice storm.

Friday, January 28, 2005


I try to avoid overindulging in pastries and pies, due to an allergy from which I have suffered all of my life. When I eat pie, I break out in Fat-Ass.

But then, sometimes you just have to deal with the Occasional Rampant Pie Jones.

It’s my own fault, of course. If I am going to pay a visit to the Bakerina, I am just setting myself up to have to deal with Major Temptation. And I was not disappointed when I saw this excellent recipe for Shaker Meyer Lemon Pie.

No wimpy, everyday lemon meringue pie, this. No, this pie is made with whole sliced Meyer lemons, macerated in sugar for at least a day, and crammed into a flaky butter crust. I could not resist.

Shakerina Pie

My pie is not as pretty as the one Jen made, but, then again, who gives a crap? I’m purely an amateur at this baking business - it’s not like I grew up in a household where baking took place.

[My mother baked a cake - once. I can still recall its aroma (it was a spice cake), possibly because of the dramatic rarity of the event.]

Amateurs do what they do for the love of it, and I do love me this wonderful dish of intense lemony goodness. The Meyer lemons lend it a finesse that is lacking in regular stupid-market lemons. It is a happy, happy pie, and I am happier for having made it. It is sunshine on a plate, on a cold, sleet-raddled winter night.


Is it bedtime yet?

Must be...because I’ve gotten undressed, brushed my teeth, and taken the Evening Round o’ Pharmaceuticals. (Just wait’ll you’re 52, smartass. Then it’ll be your turn in the Medicine Barrel.) Yep - ready for beddy.

But what’s this? What hairy ass graceth mine pillow? Why, it’s Miss Matata, her ownself! Fie! Cannot a man sleep in his own bed without getting a face full of cat hair?

Not at Chez Elisson.


This week’s Ark is up and running...on little cat feet, doggy paws, and squid The Modulator.

Thursday, January 27, 2005


The latest trend in Hollywood plastic surgery has nothing to do with chin tucks or Botox. It’s a little more...fundament-al.

Celebrities are flocking to doctors practicing the latest and most innovative subspecialty: plastic gastroenterology. With a few snips and stitches, they can get their sphincters reshaped, allowing them to crap “designer turds.”

Credited with originating this new procedure is Dr. Richard Thomas Braun, of Sloan-Kettering Memorial Hospital in Garden City, New York.

“It’s remarkable how quickly this has all caught on,” Braun said in a recent interview. “The procedure originated as an unintentional side effect of a particularly serious hemorrhoidectomy, but when the patient noticed that the surgery had an apparent, er, ah...aesthetic effect on his stools, well, the rest was history.

“We now have the capability to allow people to create all kinds of profiles. Stars, hollow tubes, rectangular prisms, turdblossoms...the possibilities are almost limitless.

“Why, just the other day, we had a well-known director come in to have a ‘triangle job.’”

The procedure is performed on an outpatient basis and typically costs $5000-8000. Most insurance companies do not cover the procedure at this point, although discussions are underway. Despite the cost, several thousand people have had the “tushie tuck” performed in recent weeks, to the point where the waiting list at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in LA is over a month long. And there seems to be no end (you should excuse the expression) in sight. One well-placed Tinseltown source commented, “Plain old cable? How boooorrring.”

Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpson are rumored to have undergone the increasingly popular surgery. An anonymous source reported that Spears had had “one of those six-sided stars done...a Mogen Doody, she called it.” (Spears’s publicist refused to comment on the rumor.)


Blogger, being a cheap-ass platform, does not give me the capability of categorizing my blogposts, but I’ve made a few observations in the months since I started this little time-sink. One thing I’ve noticed is that the amount of feedback I get from you, my Esteemed Readers, varies widely. Some topics always seem to generate a lot of heat and smoke in the form of comments (although, keyn ayin hora, nothing so far in the way of trolls and other random obnoxiousness). Others seem to drop into the Cone of Silence, where you can’t even hear the crickets.

My posts about religion and food usually attract a lot of commentary. Conversely, if I throw off a post about feces, I get goornisht. Nada. Zero. Zilch. The Punchbowl Meme, f’rinstance, never seemed to go anywhere. A few comments, sure, but nobody grabbed that bad boy and ran with it.

She Who Must Be Obeyed noticed this some time ago. “Nobody wants to talk about shit,” she said.

I disagree.

But maybe it’s because I don’t talk about shit well. In that arena, I must yield to the Famously Constipated Dooce™, the world’s pre-eminent poopblogger. She rarely opens her blog up for comments, but one of those rare times, I saw that she got, what, 225 comments? On one post? And a turd-related post, at that. So either Heather Armstrong is insanely popular (she is), an extremely talented writer (ditto), or people just love to talk about shit (they do).

Just not with me. And that stinks. Like, well...shit.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005


No, this post has nothing to do with Acidman.

As I was zooping through my Bloglines feeds during lunch today, I caught this entertaining post by Mac.
Like a smacked ass, I decided I’d throw caution to the wind and eat a bowl of Kashi Go Lean for breakfast this morning. Bad move. My stomach is making increasingly alarming whining noises that are loud enough to attract attention. I fear the worst.
Those lines, in particular, reminded me of an incident that took place a long time ago...

It seems a couple of my esteemed fellow slaves in the Great Corporate Salt Mine co-workers decided to get married - an office romance that actually turned into something permanent. [“Permanent” is a strong word for any affair of the heart involving Normally Fickle Humans, but this one is still going strong after 20 years. WTG, J.T. and Juanita!] And She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were invited to the wedding.

When we arrived at the church, SWMBO and I took our seats amidst several other of our co-workers, and, at the appointed time, the ceremony got underway.

That’s when I had a major attack of The Dreaded Borborygmi.

For no apparent reason, my stomach started growling. Well, “growling” is not an adequate descriptor. “Squealing like a semi-trailer load of hogs locking up its brakes going downhill at 85 miles per hour” is maybe a little closer to it.

It’s not like it was painful or anything. I had eaten nothing to roil the ol’ kishkes, and in fact I felt just fine. But the noise...the noise! There was absolutely no fucking way everybody in the whole damned church couldn’t hear it.

This is all going on right in the middle of the wedding ceremony, mind you. I took one look at SWMBO, and she looked right back at me, and then the real struggle began: the struggle not to burst out into uncontrollable, hysterical, fall-on-the-floor-and-piss-yourself laughter. How the two of us managed to get through the rest of that wedding ceremony without totally cracking up, I have no clue.

Hah. And they say I have no self-control.


This week’s Carnival is hosted by The Raving Atheist. Lots of nice, chewy blogposts - get ’em while they’re hot!

Tuesday, January 25, 2005



Balm for the afflicted. Opiate of the masses. Fairy tales. Myth. The deepest truths.

Religion is a lot of things.

In today’s various wars - the War on Terrorism, the Culture Wars, the Jihad Against the Great Satan and the Little Satan, religion is a key element, if not the key element. Religion inspires us to do and be our best - but through so much of history, religion also has inspired us to kill and hate one another.

The Crusades were just one example. Western Christians think of knights in shining armor on a holy mission, but Muslims and Jews remember that slice of history differently: women and children raped, disemboweled; whole families, whole villages murdered. Not that the Muslims were that much more pleasant to live with, if you were not a believer.

And it’s no different today. Islamic fundamentalism. Suicide bombers. The 9/11 atrocities. Madrid. Bali. Executing teenage rape victims for “indecency” in Iran.

Not that the Christian fundies have given up. You have right-wing religious zealots bombing abortion clinics, shooting doctors. They even have us hatin’ on SpongeBob! The bastards!

The Jews have their own issues. Some Jews throw rocks at other Jews because they do outrageous reading Torah. Outrageous, that is, if you’re a woman - at least, so the ultra right-wing Haredim say, even if you are in a women-only prayer group.

Sometimes, a little perspective is in order.

Twenty-seven years ago, I was working on a project with several technologists from one of our affiliated companies in Japan. These guys got to spend a month in Texas, learning about an alien culture and eating bizarre food. Barbecue! Chicken-fried steak!

The work required round-the-clock coverage, and so it was that one cold Sunday morning in mid-December I found myself wandering around the process area with Yamada-san, one of the Japanese technology guys. And he turned to me and asked, “Elisson-san, what will your family be doing for Christmas?”

[Actually, this sounded more like “Erisson-san, what wirr your famiry be doing for Kurisumasu?” But the meaning was plenty clear enough.]

And I answered, “Not a whole lot, Yamada-san. We are Jewish, and we do not celebrate Christmas.”

Yamada-san considered this for a moment. Then he said, “Oh, that’s OK. All you Western religions are the same to us.

* * *

Christian or Muslim, Muslim or Jew -
The difference depends upon your point of view.
Step far enough back, and that alien “other”
Starts in to lookin’ more like your brother.
When the little green men come from outer space,
They won’t ask to whom you pray or note the color of your face.
To them we’ll just be Humans - prey to be destroyed,
By the Bug-Eyed Monsters from the Outer Void.
And will God shed a tear? Will He say “Boo-Hoo”?
Well, the bug-eyed dudes are His children, too.
So we’d better stick together in our Earthly stew,
’Cause the difference depends upon your point of view.


One of the guys in our morning minyan told me this story a while back. Supposedly it’s a true story, but I have my suspicions...

By way of background, Roy is a former New Englander who has boldly re-entered the world of Little Kid Daddyhood after raising adult children. He and his wife have three-year-old twin daughters, cute as the dickens. [Just how cute is the dickens, anyway? Oh, never mind.]

One day (so the story goes), Mrs. Roy was out for the evening, leaving Roy in charge of the dinner-fixing and child-monitoring activities. In lieu of the usual macaroni and cheese, or beanie weenies, or whatever the hell it is kids eat these days, Roy decided to get some venison out of the freezer and make Bambi-burgers.

As the girls started to chow down, they realized that something was...different about their hamburgers. They didn’t taste like regular hamburgers. So one of the girls asks Roy, “Daddy, what is this we’re eating?”

And this is where Roy decided to get cute and play the “What Izzit?” game. So he says, “See if you can guess.”

“Is it chicken?”


“Is it beef?”

“No...but I’ll give you a hint. It’s something Mommy calls Daddy sometimes.”

Whereupon the little one turned to her sister and said, “Sarah! Spit it out! We’re eating assholes!


I know it’s shameless and oh-so-lazy, but once in a while one of these things comes bubbling up out of the Internet or the e-mail inbox like a fart in a Jacuzzi, and (like a fart in a Jacuzzi) I am compelled to share it with you. So here it is:


You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. You feel guilty for being successful. Barbara Streisand sings for you.

You have two cows. Your neighbor has none. So?

You have two cows. The government takes one and gives it to your neighbor. You form a cooperative to tell him how to manage his cow.

You have two cows. The government seizes both and provides you with milk. You wait in line for hours to get it. It is expensive and sour.

You have two cows. You sell one, buy a bull, and build a herd of cows.

You have two cows. Under the new farm program, the government pays you to shoot one, milk the other, and then pours the milk down the drain.

You have two cows. You sell one, lease it back to yourself and do an IPO on the 2nd one. You force the two cows to produce the milk of four cows. You are surprised when one cow drops dead. You spin an announcement to the analysts stating you have downsized and are reducing expenses. Your stock goes up.

You have two cows. You go on strike because you want three cows. You go to lunch and drink wine. Life is good.

You have two cows. You redesign them so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce twenty times the milk. They learn to travel on unbelievably crowded trains. Most are at the top of their class at cow school.

You have two cows. You engineer them so they are all blond, drink lots of beer, give excellent quality milk, and run a hundred miles an hour. Unfortunately they also demand 13 weeks of vacation per year.

You have two cows but you don’t know where they are. While ambling around, you see a beautiful woman. You break for lunch. Life is good.

You have two cows. You have some vodka. You count them and learn you have five cows. You have some more vodka. You count them again and learn you have 42 cows. The Mafia shows up and takes over however many cows you really have.

You have all the cows in Afghanistan - both of them. You don’t milk them because you cannot touch any creature’s private parts. You get a $40 million grant from the US government to find alternatives to milk production but use the money to buy weapons.

You have two cows. They go into hiding. They send radio tapes of their mooing.

You have two bulls. Employees are regularly maimed and killed attempting to milk them.

You have one cow. The cow is schizophrenic. Sometimes the cow thinks she’s French, other times she’s Flemish. The Flemish cow won’t share with the French cow. The French cow wants control of the Flemish cow’s milk. The cow asks permission to be cut in half. The cow dies happy.

You have a black cow and a brown cow. Everyone votes for the best looking one. Some of the people who actually like the brown one best accidentally vote for the black one. Some people vote for both. Some people vote for neither. Some people can’t figure out how to vote at all. Finally, a bunch of guys from out-of-state tell you which one you think is the best-looking cow.

You have millions of cows. They make real California cheese. Only five speak English. Most are illegals. Arnold likes the ones with the big udders.

Monday, January 24, 2005



Yeah, life’s a real bitch for Miss Matata here at Chez Elisson.

Bite Hakuna on the ass.
Sleep some more.

It just never lets up!

Where the hell is my caviar, dammit?

That spokescat for Sheba cat food? Pfaugh. Trailer trash, sez Hakuna. Ya want elegant? I got elegant, right here. Why, my cat box is filled with caviar-scented litter, and I eat only the finest Mouse Brain Soufflé for my din-din. I’m so frickin’ high-class, I can’t even stand myself.



I generally don’t listen to music while I blog. Maybe it’s because I’m just too lazy to stick a disc into the CD-ROM drive, too lazy to sort through the heap of .mp3 files on my hard drive (a heap that got a lot smaller after some necessary housecleaning last summer). Maybe it’s simply too much of a distraction for someone who can barely walk and chew gum at the same time.

But I love me some tunes, yes I do.

Since I don’t have an iPod (unlike some people), I can’t play “Random Ten,” the blogmeme/game that Rox, its creator, has now decided is uncool. Whatever.

But I’ll almost always have something on the box when I drive. When I’m alone in the car, I can play whatever crap I like at whatever volume I like - and my volume knob goes all the way to 11 - without driving She Who Must Be Obeyed to the point of distraction. The Missus is not a fan of Miles Davis (at least, not “Bitches Brew” Miles Davis) or of Frank Zappa, particularly, so when I’m by myself in the car, I wail. Hey, it’s not like we got married because we had identical musical tastes, OK?

This week, I’ve been enjoying the soundtrack to Garden State. I normally avoid soundtracks that consist of random compilations of contemporary popular songs, mainly because so often they have little to do with the movie - they’re just excuses to throw a mish-mash of tunes together in the hopes that the movie will help sell the whole stinking pile. Me, I’m a Bernard Herrmann - Danny Elfman soundtrack kind of guy. I like ’tracks that were written for a movie as an organic whole. Check out Bernie’s work in North by Northwest, Vertigo, Psycho, The Day The Earth Stood Still, Obsession, Journey To The Centre Of The Earth, and Taxi Driver (immediately after the completion of which he keeled over, stone dead). Bernie was The Master. And Danny (remember Oingo Boingo?) is the Worthy Disciple. Think Batman. Think Pee Wee Herman’s Big Adventure. Think Beetlejuice.

But Zach Braff has achieved the (almost) impossible. He has cobbled together what is mostly a group of disparate indie-pop songs - from groups like The Shins and Coldplay - into a soundtrack that really works, that’s an integral part of the movie. After seeing the scene in which Braff, Natalie Portman, and Peter Sarsgaard stand at the edge of the Bottomless Pit in the pouring rain, I’ll never hear Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Only Living Boy In New York” quite the same way again.

The other CD I’ve been listening to is From Avenue A To The Great White Way: Yiddish and American Popular Songs From 1914-1950, a compilation that traces the remarkable influence of Yiddish theatre and vaudeville on the development of the mid-20th century popular music culture. It’s fascinating stuff.

One example. Many of my (ahem) older readers will be familiar with “And The Angels Sing,” a tune that was a huge hit for Benny Goodman, with Martha Tilton singing Mercer’s lyrics. Mercer so loved the song that it is his epitaph: his gravestone in Savannah reads simply, “And The Angels Sing.”
We meet, and the angels sing,
The angels sing the sweetest song I ever heard.
You speak, and the angels sing -
Or am I breathing music into ev’ry word?

But the tune that was the basis for “And The Angels Sing” was Ziggy Elman’s “Frailach in Swing,” recorded in 1938 and in turn based on “Der Shtiller Bulgar” (“The Quiet Bulgar”), an old klezmer dance. The Avenue A CD juxtaposes a 1918 recording of “Der Shtiller Bulgar” with Mildred Bailey’s version of “Angels,” and it’s a revelation.

There’s also “Yosel,” a Yiddish vaudeville classic that moved into mainstream American pop music as “Joseph, Joseph.” But when I listened to it the other day, I got that nagging feeling that I’d heard that music before, in a completely different context. And finally, it came to me. The opening bars of “Yosel” are echoed in the first riff of Fishbone’s “When Problems Arise,” from their 1996 CD In Your Face. Hah!

Fishbone: Bringing you the proud tradition of Yiddish theatre! Whodathunkit?

Sunday, January 23, 2005


These pictures of Elder Daughter were taken by her friend Milla, who normally lives in Finland but who has been on an extended visit in San Francisco. Elder Daughter visited Milla last month, figuring she’d use the opportunity while the two of them were on the same continent.

Milla is a talented photographer, as these shots evidence. What is it about the Left Coast that brings out the artiness in people? No matter: I loved the pictures.

She Who Must Be Obeyed pointed out that in one of the photographs (the top one), Elder Daughter bears a striking resemblance (except for the artistic Margaret Hamilton-As-The-Wicked-Witch-Of-The-West greenish cast) to the late Mom d’Elisson. And she’s right. I guess I will have to do another one of those “Separated at Birth?” posts in the very near future.

And I’ll be willing to bet that Elder Daughter wishes she were still in San Francisco right now. Instead, she’s in Boston, digging out from what may very well be the heaviest single snowfall ever to hit that esteemed city. At least, that’s what the National Weather Service was saying earlier today...and when you’re talking record snowfall in Boston, you are talking about one big frickin’ heap o’ snow.

Sheesh...I can’t even gripe about our single-digit wind chill here in the heart of Jawjuh.


Her beautiful smile.

Here’s She Who Must Be Obeyed with her pre-orthodontia smile. She is wearing a reticulated silver pendant made by the Mistress of Sarcasm her ownself.

Is it any wonder I’m in love?

Saturday, January 22, 2005


A comment made to one of my recent posts by Morris William (one of the Brothers-in-Law d’Elisson) reminded me of a little game we sometimes play amongst ourselves.

And now you can play, too!

It’s the Punchbowl Meme, and it’s so easy, your grade-school-age children could do it. And would, if they ever get the chance.

Simply compose a four-line poem and post it on your blog. The first and third verses of the poem should read “Turd in a punchbowl.” Verses two and four may be about any subject (including turds!) but they must rhyme with each other.

Here’s one to start you off:
Turd in a punchbowl,
Is hot; gives off steam.
Turd in a punchbowl,
Ain’t this a great meme?

And of course, there’s the one Morris William dropped in here the other day.

Morris William is a past master at Turd in a Punchbowl poetry. He and I will sometimes get on the phone or will IM each other for hours (seems like hours, anyway), swapping TITP poems back and forth, each more vile than the last.

Anyway, this is my feeble and somewhat disgusting attempt to get a meme circulating in the Bloggy-Sphere. Now, won’t you do your part?

Friday, January 21, 2005


Here’s Hakuna in the Posture o’ Submission.

She’s wondering: “Is the Short Grey Aggressive One going to make nice, or is she going to commence to biting on my ass?”

And Matata’s wondering pretty much the same exact thing.

Decisions, decisions!


How better to honor my Blogroll Buddies than by giving them a little Linky Love? These are just a few of my regular reads, but I hadda start somewhere:


Big shout-out to The Chainik Hocker.
He’s young; he’s not an alter kocker.

From Cowtown we have Texas Trifles,
Ya gotta love longhorns and rifles.

If I had a blog like Instapundit,
Could I get the GOP to fund it?

Pete’s blog is Perfectly Cromulent,
Thank Gawd his day job pays the rent.

Hello to the Pesky’Apostrophe!
Do you think Mac could knit a new brain for me?

I get nostalgic for nickel beer
From The Thrilling Days of Yesteryear.

Are you sick of the Preznit’s bullshit fog?
Then go take a swig from the BottleofBlog.

I try and try, but what’s the use?
Can’t blog ’bout poopin’ as well as Dooce.

When all is done, and all is said,
I’m glad to have Rox in my head.

Few blogs are as strange a sight as
The stuff you’ll see on Fried Green al-Qaedas.

Got a recipe for duck by reading Verbatim.
I cooked that son-of-a-bitch and ate ’im.

I’d like to trade my old farina
For the grainy goodies of the Bakerina.

He delivereth unto morons a good bitch-slap:
Get thee to This Blog Is Full Of Crap.

What with Chickadee and Monkey, and all they do,
Mir (Woulda Coulda Shoulda) coulda started a zoo.

And a tip o’ the hat to Acidman.
If he can’t shoot or eat or screw it, nobody can.

[More to come soon...but my brain hurts right now.]

Wednesday, January 19, 2005


Today was the day She Who Must Be Obeyed had been dreading for the past two years.

Back then, the news from the first doctor was grim. SWMBO was so distraught when she first heard it, she called me at the office and had me meet her for coffee, whereupon she divulged, with teary eyes, the harrowing course of treatment that lay ahead.

Maybe it’s our cultural heritage, our people having been slaves in Egypt once upon a time, but this was the trigger for a Long Sojourn on a Well-Known Egyptian River. Yes: for the next 18 months, SWMBO was in De Nile. But you can’t stay in De Nile forever, not when your physical well-being is at stake.

So the Missus did something she had never done. She sought out a second opinion. For her trouble, she got the choice of two - count ’em! - two difficult and expensive courses of treatment. Finally, after seeing yet a third medical practitioner, she decided to proceed with pretty much the same course of treatment that had originally been proposed more than a year ago...but with Practitioners 2 and 3.

And so, today, She Who Must Be Obeyed got her braces.

It’s not a life-threatening condition she suffers from (keyn ayin hora), but it’s something that has been in need of attention for several years. While her teeth look straight at first glance, her congenital overbite and natural jaw structure have been causing her front top and bottom teeth to clash. The resulting wear has accelerated in recent years and will eventually cause massive problems if unchecked. While some men may look at toothlessness in a wife as an advantage (oh, behave!), I do not - and neither does SWMBO, who enjoys her solid food.

She Who Must Be Obeyed does have a beautiful smile, though, and we’d both like her to keep it.

If it were just braces, that would be bad enough - SWMBO deals with middle-school kids all day and does not care to look like them, metalmouths and all. But after 18 months of braces will come the jaw surgery. Then another 6 months of braces. Yowch.

But it was the oral surgeon - Practitioner 3 - that tipped the balance and convinced the Missus to go ahead and begin treatment. He reassured her concerning the jaw surgery - it’s done from inside the mouth and in 99% of cases does not require wiring the jaw shut (!) And in the process of doing the surgery, why, a few other little tweaks could be made around the neck and jawline.

And thus it was, on the way home from the consultation with Dr. Oralsurgeon, that I put the question to SWMBO: “Are you going to go ahead with this, or what?”

And her answer: “He had me at liposuction.”


is up over at The People’s Republic of Seabrook.

You don’t need a passport to visit this Republic, just a functioning web browser. Stop on by and catch up on the latest output of the Big Egos of the Blogoverse!

Tuesday, January 18, 2005


But we here in Cobb County will debate about it incessantly.

From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
As if taking a federal judge’s ruling against them as fighting words, the Cobb County school board voted Monday to appeal a court order to remove evolution disclaimers from textbooks.

In a 5-2 vote, board members said U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper’s decision “amounts to unnecessary judicial intrusion into local control of schools,” according to a statement they released immediately after the vote.

Well, when “local control” means the school board has been hijacked by a bunch of fuckwits right-wing religious nuts, that’s precisely the point of having judges and courts. They are there to curb the more egregious abuses of them “local controllers.”

Why these well-meaning-but-sorely-misguided folks don’t just “step away from the briefcase” and go home, I do not know. But at least it won’t cost the school district anything:
Board members said they would pursue the appeal at no additional cost, a promise stemming from board attorney Glenn Brock’s pledge to do his remaining work on the case for free. Brock's law firm has charged the board roughly $74,000 so far.

Anything but credibility among people who want to consider moving to Cobb County but who don’t want their children placed at a competitive disadvantage due to a hobbled science curriculum, that is. Thanks!

Yes, evolution is “just” a theory. Here are a few others:

Electromagnetic Theory
Theory of Relativity (Special and General)
Germ Theory

Hell, let’s get stickers for them, too.

Theory, people, means one thing in casual conversation and quite another thing to a scientist. Sure, evolution is “just” a theory - but it explains observations better than other scientifically testable theories having to do with the origin of life on Earth.

Did God create the world and everything in it? Who knows? That’s an article of faith. You can’t test’ve gotta believe it. And, therefore, it ain’t science, and, therefore, our taxpayer-funded schools have no business teaching it as fact.

Belief in scientific explanations of life’s origins does not preclude a belief in God. A reasonable religious person could very well conclude that evolution is the technique God uses to effect creation. You want to be impressed with God’s handiwork? Study molecular biology! When you begin to understand the complexity of how our bodies function - how cells reproduce - how our immune systems work (just to name a few), you just might find yourself thinking that you are seeing the evidence of a Higher Power. The only people who might have a problem with that are those who believe in the literal truth of every word in the Bible. No allegory, no metaphor - just Plain. Unvarnished. Trooth!

And to such people, I have one answer. Good luck with that. Me, I believe that God (if there is one!) gave us more brains than that. One of the prayers we Jews say every morning blesses God for endowing us with wisdom and discernment. What the hell is wrong with using that wisdom and discernment?

OK, rant over. From Moron Central in Cobb County, Georgia, this is Elisson reporting. We now return you to your regular webcast.

Sunday, January 16, 2005


Hey, Bub! You don’t get down these stairs without you pay the Kitty Toll!

Guardians of the Staircase.

Excuse me; it’s Nappy Time.

Hakuna, or A study in tan and chocolate.

Edition 43 of Carnival of the Cats is hosted by IbeJO. You may know the acid-tongued James Owens from his “Dear Abby is Full of Crap” posts, but now you can see just how full of crap James is. Crap...and, this week, cats.

By the way, James, I would have been perfectly happy to name our cats “Stalin” and “Lenin.” “Butch” works just fine, too. In fact, if I could rename these cats today based on what I know about their personalities, I’d call ’em “Amnesia” and “GetthefuckawayfromMYfoodandMYpeopleyabitch.”


Maybe it’s an accident of birth, or maybe it’s embedded in my DNA, but every so often, a powerful Roast Duck Jones comes upon me, and there is nothing that will satisfy it save a Wretchedly Excessive Dinner Involving Roast Duck. And this was a weekend when the Duck Jones would not be denied.

My mother was enjoying a roast duck when she was first struck by the labor pains that heralded the birth of Yours Truly - at least, so the story goes. That might explain the mystic attraction I feel when I go to Harry’s Farmer’s Market (a division of Whole Paycheck Foods) and see the row of fresh ducklings in the meat case. It’s an attraction, incidentally, that She Who Must Be Obeyed does not share with me: under no circumstances whatsoever will she eat any bird that (1) is all dark meat, and (2) is not either a chicken or a turkey. Good, say I. More for me.

One of my kindred spirits - Stefan, a fellow member of the Minyan Boyz - also appreciates a good Roast Duck, and is a wine enthusiast besides. So it was inevitable that we should join forces to create the finest Roast Duck Dinner in recent memory.

My starting point was Karen’s fine recipe for The Ultimate Roast Duck. This is not a last-minute project: it takes every bit of five hours of oven time. But at the end of that five hours you have a gorgeous, crispy-skinned, tender-fleshed duck, along with about a cup of golden duck schmaltz that you can use for other projects. The trick is to use a slow (300°F) oven and to keep flipping the duck over every hour, each time draining off the grease and making little slits in the skin. During the last hour, you jack the oven temp up to 350° in order to brown the skin.

But I have my own little tweaks to Karen’s recipe. Rather than use a nondescript chicken stock for the sauce, I took the duck giblets (absent the liver, of which there was, sadly, the merest smidgen) and simmered them with carrots, onion, celery, a few parsley stems, a garlic clove, a sprig of fresh thyme, a bay leaf, and a few whole peppercorns to make a nice, aromatic duck stock. This was used to deglaze the roasting pan. After adding a little cornstarch to thicken things up a bit, I dumped the whole mess into a separate pan in which a gastrique (vinegar and sugar, cooked down until light brown) had been simmering. Now in went the juice from a couple of blood oranges and a liberal splash of Cointreau, and Bingo! - a perfectly workmanlike Sauce Bigarade.

Bottom line, it’s a big time investment, but worth it.

The Ultimate Roast Duck.

To keep Mr. Duck company, I trimmed and halved a bunch of Brussels sprouts (or, as they call them in Brussels, “sprouts”), blanched them, and sautéed them in butter. By way of a starch, we had a mixture of small red, purple, and Yukon Gold potatoes, halved and roasted in their skins along with a handful of garlic cloves in their skins, a sprig of fresh rosemary, and a coating of olive oil. [Plus a few teaspoons of the secret ingredient; Duck Schmaltz!] She Who Must Be Obeyed whipped up a killer mesclun salad with artichoke hearts and hearts of palm, and fixed some sugar snap peas for those (like her) who loathe Brussels sprouts. And since SWMBO loathes duck as well, she grilled a pile of Thai chicken sausage in order that she might enjoy some protein along with the rest of us.

As good as all this may sound, what really made the dinner special was the assortment of Great Wines Stefan and Pam brought with them.

An evening of great wines.

To whet the appetite, we started off with a 2000 Hardys Crest, an Australian blend of Cabernet, Shiraz, and Merlot. Tasty.

As Mr. Duck made his appearance in all his dismembered glory, out came the 1967 Château Latour, an old first-growth Pauillac that, as it turned out, had held up quite well. Nothing - nothing! - says Red Wine Aroma quite like an old Bordeaux, and this one was no disappointment.

After we had demolished the duck and the other miscellaneous Dinner Goodies, it was time for some cheese, and in keeping with our Bizarro International Night theme, we had Spanish cheese and German wine. Mahon. Manchego. A few slices of membrillo (a Spanish quince-lemon paste). These were washed down with a 1976 Koberner Weisenberg Riesling Beerenauslese, a wine that could have been past its prime...but was surprisingly good. And when we had killed that bottle, out came the 1997 Calais Botrytis Tokay, a honey of a dessert wine from Australia, redolent of apricots and almonds.

Coffee and a few Belgian chocolate cookies finished off the meal. After all that wine, there was no speck of room left for Cognac. Oh, well.

Stefan is an interesting guy. He’s retired military - an MP, no less! - and one of the little jobs he had “back in the day” was to figure out how to get Ferdinand Marcos out of the Philippines when his dictatorship-cum-kleptocracy imploded back in the 1980’s. Along with five other Marines, he worked up a plan to get the larcenous bastard out before his countrymen had a chance to string him up à la Mussolini, or perhaps shoot him à la Ceaucescu. And it worked. Marcos flew on one plane; two others were needed to carry all of the money and other miscellaneous swag...including, perhaps, some of wife Imelda’s shoes. Sweet.

And it was in the military that Stefan learned to appreciate fine wine, even as others were (I suspect) learning to appreciate fine weed. In his current line of work, his business manufactures and sells electronic equipment to various international military and police organizations, so he’s always traveling to one exotic port of call or another. Replenishing his stock of unusual Australian wines is never a problem.

But those old Bordeaux vintages...those will not see the light of day again, except that you pay a boatload of money. Wotta meal!

Saturday, January 15, 2005


Hail Moses, full of grace.
You could not gaze upon G-d’s face;
But when on Sinai you were chillin’,
You saw the knot of His tefillin.

Hail Moses, full of grace.
You brought us to our holy place.
From Nebo’s heights you saw the border,
But entered not, for so G-d ordered.

Hail Moses, full of grace.
Of your grave there is no trace.
It doesn’t matter where you lie.
Your Torah: it will never die!

Friday, January 14, 2005


As mentioned in my last post, I had read a piece at Inblognito that got me all hot ’n’ bothered about the latest Assault on Dietary Discretion from our friends at Starbucks. I’m talking about Chantico, friends, the Obscene Hot Chocolate Beverage from Hell that was rolled out on January 8. [Say what you want about Starbucks coffee - love it or hate it - but Dis Shit Ain’t Coffee.]

Hot ’n’ bothered, yes: especially after reading Queenie’s lurid description of the experience:
calling a Chantico a “hot chocolate” is like calling the recent tsunami “a wave”; yeah, they’re both moving water, but one wets the hem of your trousers rolled, and the other will knock your fucking house down and maim you for life.

How could I not try one after reading that, obsessive chocophile that I am? So what if that little six-ounce cup has (cue Christopher Lloyd voice) “1.21 gigafats? 1.21 gigafats? Great Scott!”

Actually, it’s a “mere” 390 calories in that deceptively tiny cup, but, trust me, a little goes a long way with this high-test chocolate. Chocolate: not cocoa. It’s loaded with cocoa butter, a component that is absent from cocoa. That cocoa butter jacks the calorie count up, but it also gives this stuff a silky, slightly unctuous mouthfeel that puts it way over the top.

I ordered my Chantico - named after the Aztec god of “extreme tastiness,” or perhaps of “jiggly fat asses” - and savored it, sip by sip. And man, this is one serious cup o’ choc. Intense, bittersweet. Not for sissies - or Swiss Missies.

And yet, the earth didn’t move beneath my feet in quite the same way it did for Queenie. Maybe it’s because, as good as this stuff is, it has serious competition.

If you’re ever visiting in the Boston area - or if you have the great good fortune to live there - get thee hence to L.A. Burdick in Cambridge and order their hot chocolate. It is perhaps a hair less intense than Chantico...but you get a lot more of it, and it’s overwhelming enough as it is. I don’t think there’s a finer hot chocolate anywhere.

But to get an honest-to-Gawd L.A. Burdick hot chocolate, I’ve got to get on the Aerial Bus. To snag a Chantico, all I’ve gotta do is drive one mile. Nah, better run that mile - because that stuff, excellent as it is, is Big Fat Ass in a Cup™.

Hey, how about a contest? The Great Chocolate Beverage Smackdown, featuring Chantico, L.A. Burdick, and Dagoba Xocolatl. I am pleased to offer my services as judge, jury, and executioner.


A recent post at Inblognito inspired me to do something I will likely regret: run over to Starbucks (“Your Favorite Megalithic Corporate Caffeinator since 1971!”) and try their new Obscene Beverage. Which I did. But in the process of writing the Inevitable Blogpost About the Experience, I went back to Inblognito to snag the link...and I stumbled across a new post about tornadoes.

Queenie has had more experience than Clan Elisson with these things. In fact, there have been only three occasions when we have seen the Finger o’ Gawd dip down from the sky, and none of those qualify as Big-Time Tornado Sightings. And yet...

Occasion One was immediately before our post-honeymoon wedding reception in New York. Sounds strange, no? But here’s the chronology: Wedding and reception in Foat Wuth, mid-June. Honeymoon in Québec, early August. Second wedding reception in New York, early August - this one for the benefit of the Northern Tribes who could not make it to Foat Wuth for the Actual Wedding. Sweeet.

But a scant two hours before the reception, a violent thunderstorm struck, sending a telephone pole through the plate-glass window of the motel restaurant where our friends had been sitting just minutes before. We saw no funnel cloud, but the event had all the hallmarks of a mini-tornado touchdown.

Occasion Two was in the Bahamas in 1983. We were water-skiing off Paradise Island (perhaps “attempting to water-ski” is more accurate) and suddenly, three waterspouts appeared in the distance. As they moved closer, we got the hell out of Dodge and watched from the shore as one ’spout tracked parallel to the beach...just a wee bit scary.

Occasion Three was during our annual Destin vacation, July 2003. The weather sucked almost all that week, but nothing is quite as “sucky” as a waterspout, one of which we watched from our second-story terrace in a combination of horror and fascination. Waterspouts, of course, are dinky-ass things compared to land-based tornadoes, but still, nothing to sneer at. They’re still the Finger o’ Gawd.

Waterspout in Destin, July 2003.

But tornadoes, like all Great Forces of Nature, lurk in the very base of our brainstems at the most reptilian level of cognition. And so they come to me at night, in bizarre dreams, dreams that are at once terrifying and exhilarating.

When I read these lines by Queenie, I knew that the post on the Obscene Beverage would have to wait:
I know that tonight I will have tornado dreams, where funnels slip menacingly through lowering, blackened skies, chasing me and my bags full of neuroses with far more intent and malicious purpose than a real tornado ever could.

Yes, I read those lines, and thought: “How does she know about my tornado dreams?” Because I have them, you know. And maybe you do, too.

Tornado dreams. The sky is black, splashed by lightning, heavy. And then the funnels come, snaking down through the air like worms. And there are hundreds of them...

Tornado dreams. Tsunami dreams. Somewhere buried deep down in our deepest subconscious, they’re there, where the elemental forces of the planet resonate. But they don’t stay buried, not for me. Once a month, maybe, they will drift to the surface, and I will wake with those mingled feelings of fear and excitement. And I will want to go back to sleep to see what happens next.


This week’s Friday Ark is up at the Modulator.

You don’t even have to be a vertebrate to play!


[Got nothing to say? Yank an old photograph out of your ass and post it!]

Old and new in Tokyo.

This was taken in the spring of 1980, during my first visit to Tokyo. You’re looking at one of the small buildings on the grounds of the Imperial Palace.

When you’re at the Imperial Palace, it’s easy to imagine that you are in another century...until you see the modern glass and steel of contemporary Tokyo looming in the background. So much for Zen contemplation among the sculptured gardens.

“What is the sound of one horn honking?”

Thursday, January 13, 2005


Matata has discovered a nice, private place in the corner of SWMBO’s closet...

Zol zayn sha! I’m hiding.

but after a while, the impulse to boot Hakuna off the bed becomes irresistible. So out she comes. Up onto the bed. Make way for Her Royal Fatassedness!

Hey! I’m walkin’ here...


(I was going to keep this post at the top of the Index Page through January 17, but then I got sick to death of looking at it. Scroll down for more new stuff!)

Voting in the BoB Awards continues through Monday, January 17. I strongly encourage you to vote for your favorite blogs - mainly because the BoBs seek to focus attention on the “Best Personal Blogs You Ought To Be Reading.” No Instapundit or Daily Kos or other Godzilla-sized political blogs, just the crap us little guys churn out.

Yeah, I’m a finalist and all, but I find myself competing in a category where I don’t quite fit - Daddy Blogs. (Don’t get me wrong - I’m honored to be counted among the DadBlogs of the world. And since Bd’E defies categorization, I guess the stories I spin about Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm qualify me in the Dad Department.) And my fellow DadBlog finalists are all super bloggers - and I say that without any of the irony Marc Antony used at Caesar’s funeral (“...and Brutus is an honorable man!”) I’ve discovered a lot of great blogs thanks to BoB. This is a long-winded way of saying that I didn’t write this post just to pimp my own blog. (Well, maybe a little.)

And some of my regular reads are in the running. The Bakerina is making her bid for Best Cooking/Recipe Blog, and Do you have that in my size? is in the Best Weight Loss/Fitness Blog category. Show ’em some love, people!

So: click on the links below to vote. When you vote, you’ll have to provide an e-mail address - the BoB folks will then send you an e-mail with a link back to a verification page. That keeps the ’bots and turdjackers out (I just made that last word up - good one, huh?).

Vote for the Best Daddy Blog

Vote in Multiple Categories

You can vote only once in a 24-hour period, but you can vote every day until the 17th, so stuff that ballot box for the blog of your choice!


Superman - attacked by a giant turd!

The January meeting of the Superman Haters Club will be held at the Fried Green al-Qaedas room at the Holiday Inn Express on Route 22.

It’s Aquaman’s turn to bring the refreshments.

We had trouble getting through all items on the agenda last month, one of which was Superman’s Unprovoked Attack on Mr. Hankey. This time we’re hoping to have Trey Parker and Matt Stone hooked in by teleconference to talk about how the incredibly biased MSM are serving this story up. The picture above is just one example!


We have a lot of Steves in our congregation. A lot of Steves. I’m not sure why, but I suspect that “Steven” was a very popular name among Jewish families of a certain vintage.

In addition to Yours Truly, we have Steve the Gameboy, he of the Cream Cheese Sculpture. We have Lung Machine Steve (no, he doesn’t use one; he sells them). We have Steve “After Dinner” Mintz. We have Houston Steve - more about him later. We have Shanghai Steve, who grew up in Shanghai when his family fled the Holocaust. We have Broadway Steve. There’s even a Stephen...and a Stefan!

Our story today features Houston Steve, who, with the Minyan Boyz this morning, celebrated the imminent departure of his son, who is off to spend twenty-seven months serving in the Peace Corps. Yeah, kids still join the Peace Corps.

Twenty-seven months. Three months in language immersion classes, then two years in the field. “And where is that field?” you may well ask.


Jeez, think of it. Two years in a country full of guys like Borat. Uz-Frickin’-Bekistan.

Two years in “FoodDreckistan,” where who the hell knows what they eat?

As if to ensure that his son had a full belly (or at least the memory of a good meal) when he left, Houston Steve treated his family, along with the entire Minyan crowd, to breakfast at the Local Bagel Emporium. And, dear friends, this was a serious breakfast. Fish of every variety: smoked salmon, baked salmon, smoked whitefish, pickled herring, sable. And the accompaniments: bagels; sliced tomatoes and onions; hardboiled eggs; good, salty black olives. Not those miserable things you get out of a can, either. Real olives. All of this washed down by lashings of the Local Bagel Emporium’s fine, hot, creosote coffee.

Houston Steve and I share an interesting bit of connected history. A couple of years ago, we were having breakfast with the group at the Local Bagel Emporium and I mentioned, offhandedly, that I was going to be heading off to Sweat City later that day. Whereupon Houston Steve said, in a tone of mock indignation, “Now, don’t be saying anything bad about my town!” For indeed, he had been a resident there some time ago (which is why I call him Houston Steve. Duh.)

And I explained that we, too, had been residents of that fine (but sweaty) metropolis. Not once, but twice – in the mid-1970’s, and then later, through much of the 1990’s.

“Where did you live?”

“Oh, the first time around, down in the Southwest. The second time, we were on the west side, two blocks off Memorial Drive.”

“Really? Where in the Southwest?”

“A little ways south of Bellfort…just west of Hillcroft. It was a reasonable neighborhood back then…”

“Well, we used to live right around there. On Lattimer Drive.”

And then Houston Steve proceeds to announce the house number. Our house number. The exact same house number on the exact same street. The first house She Who Must Be Obeyed and I ever owned, back when I was just learning how to obey.

Further discussion revealed that Houston Steve had actually bought the house from us when we moved to New Jersey in early 1979. Since it was a corporate transfer, we had never sat down at the closing table together. Who knew?

Amazing, the things you can learn over a Smoked Fish Breakfast!


comes this picture of the Princeton University campus, spring 1974.

Princeton University, 1974.

And no, it doesn’t look that way because of any, er, ahh...chemicals that may or may not have been ingested by the photographer. Shame on you! Just because it was the 1970’s!

No, it’s because the picture was taken using a deep yellow filter and Ektachrome Infrared Aero, a false-color transparency film that renders infrared as red. Since chlorophyll is a strong infrared reflector, healthy trees and grass appear red in the photograph. This technology is still used today to monitor the health of natural areas by aerial and satellite observation.

Bet you didn’t know that! Bet you didn’t give a shit, either.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005


(A Movie Review in 50 Words or Less, Excluding This Title!)

Team America lampoons just about everything, including Kim Il Jong and Alec Baldwin. A musical (!) update of “Thunderbirds” with liberal amounts of attitude, vulgarity...and hot puppet-on-puppet action. I laughed ’til I peed. This one gets the Bd’E “Thumbs Up.”

America! Fuck, yeah!


First Dick Clark has a stroke, and then I make my move on New Year’s Eve. Now all that stands between me and World Domination is Mark Hoback’s Virtual Occoquan. If I can just get him to put me on the cover, I could be ruling the planet by Groundhog Day...and I can crush Jay Leno’s nuts into butter!

Issue Number 68 of VO is up. It’s not just a bunch of Salon bloggers...Mark even lets riff-raff like this Elisson guy play in his sandbox. Come in and admire my manly physique!


Once a month, our synagogue Men’s Club hosts a breakfast meeting at which various personages are invited to speak. Past speakers have included politicians (e.g., Newt Gingrich), sports figures (e.g., baseball Hall of Famer Phil Niekro), and other assorted people of (mostly) local interest.

This past Sunday, our featured speaker was Judge Debra Bernes, recently elected to the Georgia Court of Appeals. Judge Bernes won office in a statewide election that was of special interest because it involved no less than four separate days of voting, thanks to a crowded field and one runoff that was invalidated because of a technical error. At the end of the day, however, the results were decisive.

Judge Bernes is a member of our congregation and is noteworthy for being the first Jew to be elected to statewide office in Georgia (others who have held such offices did so by appointment). And as it turns out, she was a good speaker, although her discussion centered around the mechanics of the campaign and the unusually drawn-out election process, rather than on her opinions on the “hot topics” of the day. And this was deliberate. She made a point of stating that she was circumspect with her opinions because in the event a matter came before her in court, any previously expressed opinions could conceivably indicate prejudice. A good reason for avoiding the stupid questionnaires that certain right-wing groups such as the Christian Coalition send out to judicial candidates, by the way.

But the Featured Speaker is not what inspired this blogpost. It’s the sculpture.

Our Men’s Club breakfast (the “Best Breakfast in Town™”) is a pleasant enough affair with respect to the food. The menu is more-or-less standard: assorted bagels, smoked salmon, tuna salad, whitefish salad, sliced tomatoes and onions, pickled herring, Danish, coffee, juice. And then there’s the cream cheese.

Ahh, the cream cheese.

Think of Michelangelo. Think of Phidias, of Auguste Rodin. Great sculptors all, but they created their masterworks in simple media such as marble, clay, and metal. Never did they tackle the most challenging sculpture medium of all: Philadelphia Cream Cheese.

That’s where our man Steve - “The Gameboy” - comes in. He is a past master at fashioning elaborate Cream Cheese Sculptures, generally taking as inspiration a theme related to the Speaker of the Day.

And this time, the Gameboy did not disappoint. He was at the top of his Cream Cheese Sculpting Game. To honor the visit of Judge Bernes, he created a Cream Cheese Electric Chair, a Cream Cheese Scaffold (with Noose), and a Cream Cheese Headsman’s Axe, complete with Chopping Block. I would have gone for a boring-ass Cream Cheese Scales o’ Justice, but that’s the difference between mere talent and True Genius.

The Gameboy is a True Genius.

And when the Judge went to get her breakfast and saw that Cream Cheese Electric Chair, she exclaimed, “Oh, what a nice Judge’s Bench!”

Of course, nobody bothered to correct her...


Multiple Mentality hosts the 121st edition of the CotV. And this week’s Carnival actually has a theme: Cartoon Network’s [adult swim].

Yes, the posts have all been organized into blocks around all of the various animated Strokes o’ Genius (mostly) that comprise [adult swim]. It’s a novel concept, and one that I enjoy because, quite frankly, AS cuts into my sleepy-time about as much as blogging, which is to say too damn much.

Anyway, go pay the Carnival a visit. Plenty of good reading!

Tuesday, January 11, 2005


SWMBO and the Mistress, June 2004.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and the Mistress of Sarcasm - two of the three ladies at the center of my life. Not counting the cats, that is.

Sure, I’m outnumbered...but what a way to go.

Elder Daughter does not appear in this picture, but it is in her Cambridge apartment that the photograph was taken, during our Great Northeastern Pilgrimage of last June.

Interestingly (at least, to me), Elder Daughter informs me that her boyfriend has just taken up pissing away huge blocks of precious time blogging, inspired in part by Bd’E.

I do not know whether kudos or condolences are in order.

Monday, January 10, 2005


Tired of those boring-ass Cosmopolitans? Sick to death of the Bombay Sapphire dry martini? Those fancy bleu cheese- or anchovy-stuffed olives not helping matters, bunkie?

Here’s a martini created by the master mixologists at Chez Elisson...and now it’s yours to enjoy.

It’s the Chocolate Babkatini.

First, get a nice, heavy-as-dwarf-star-matter Chocolate Babka from your nearest Jewish bakery. If you’re lucky enough to live in an area where the local Stupid-Market carries Chocolate Babka, you are doubly blessed.

Next, go to your friendly neighborhood Booze Shoppe and purchase a bottle of Chocolate Vodka. Yes, there is such a thing. In the event you cannot procure Chocolate Vodka, you can always put a squirt of white creme de cacao in with plain ol’ vodka, but it will not be the same.

Chill the vodka in your freezer until it is ice-cold and syrupy. Now you’re ready to assemble your drink.

Pour a couple of shots of the ice-cold Chocolate Vodka into a chilled martini glass. Now cut a 1-inch cube of Chocolate Babka off the loaf. Spear it with a toothpick and lob it into the drink.

Now sit back and savor, preferably while listening to some appropriate music. Klezmer works just fine.


Sunday, January 09, 2005


Blogging for Books

[Following is my entry in the Blogging for Books contest #7, hosted by The Zero Boss. This month, entrants are to choose which genre of fiction best represents their lives - mystery, romance, horror, SF, fantasy, whatever - and write a fictionalized account of a life incident using that genre.]

Of all the escapades in which it has been my fortune to take part with my friend Sherlock Holmes, few illustrated the quick wit and extreme perceptiveness for which he was famous, as did the mystery that confronted us early in January of aught-five.

It was a wintry Thursday morning when I woke to find Sherlock Holmes standing beside my bed, fully dressed, with his pipe in hand – thankfully, as yet, unlit.

“Sorry to knock you up at this hour, Watson, but I am expecting a visitor presently, and I should like to know your impressions of him once we have spoken. Would you be so kind as to join me in the drawing room in half an hour?”

“On one condition only.” My voice was, I fear, a bit harsh, owing to my just having awakened, but Sherlock Holmes took no offence.

“Name it: it shall be seen to.”

“I should like to have a cup of Earl Grey awaiting me when I arrive downstairs.”

Holmes was agreeable, and thus it was that I arrived in the drawing room twenty-nine minutes later, my face speckled with a band of plasters as a result of my haste with the straight razor. But the sting of my many small wounds was soon eased by the steam from my hot cup of tea. I was surprised to see a familiar face sitting in the room.

“Why, Elisson! A pleasure to see you once again!”

“Ah, the good Doctor Watson. It is, as well, a pleasure for me to see you, but my reason for being here is no pleasure – no pleasure at all!”

At this our visitor sank down into an armchair and covered his face with both hands, shuddering. After this momentary paroxysm had passed, he sat upright, images of the Klees and Dalis that adorned the walls reflected in his spectacles. Then he began to speak in a low voice.

“All is lost, and I fear I shall never find it again.”

Holmes responded instantaneously. “Why, Elisson, surely a Blog-Poster such as yourself knows that That Which Is Lost May Always Be Cached.”

At this our visitor started and his eyes flew open wide.

“You are familiar with the relatively recent technological phenomenae of the Inter-Net and the Blogo-Sphere?” asked Elisson. “How... how did you... how did you know I am a member of the Society of Blog-Posters?”

“Why, my dear Elisson, that required the most minimal of deductive skills to uncover. You hold your hand in the attitude of one who is on the verge of suffering from Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, and your fingertips are flattened approximately 0.25 millimetres from their normal shape. Both of these conditions may be explained by repeated contact of the fingertips with a Keyboard Mechanism. But there were two additional clues that were even more telling.”

“And those were...?”

“First, I overheard a brief snatch of your conversation with the housekeeper as she admitted you to our lodgings just now. Surely, no-one but a Blog-Poster would use a word such as ‘Crap-Tacular.’

“And second, you are in my drawing room here at 221B Baker Street dressed in your pyjamas. What more need I say?”

“Mr. Holmes, you amaze me,” said Elisson. “Perhaps you can indeed be of service.

“My present situation has presented me with a genuine conundrum. I operate a Blog-Post Repository, into which I deposit Blog-Posts regularly. You are familiar with these?”

“Yes,” replied Holmes. “Go on.”

“It is but a simple Blog-Post Repository, consisting of a Main Body, and a Side-Bar, the latter being the place where are located the basic Navigational Tools, Useful Hyper-Links, and Stupid, Useless Flash. Yesterday evening, upon starting my Computational Device, I saw that, while the Main Body and Header of my Blog-Post Repository were intact, the Side-Bar was gone! Fie upon those villains at Blogger, with their wretched software!”

“That is serious, indeed,” said Holmes, who spent the next several minutes in a brown study. The study looked much more somber since it had been painted brown; its former teal and mauve colors had been brighter, but had had a deleterious effect on Holmes’s digestion.

Holmes’s next question was unexpected. “You say the Side-Bar is missing. But is it gone completely? Or does it appear in any way? Think carefully, man!”

Brows furrowed, Elisson considered this question for several moments, then answered as follows: “The Side-Bar appears momentarily, when I first navigate to my Index-Page. But, moments before the page finishes loading completely, pouf! It is gone, as though through a conjurer’s trick!

“But that is not all! If I should navigate to an individual Blog-Post, rather than the Index-Page, why, the Side-Bar is there in all its glory!”

At this, Sherlock Holmes leaped up and paced the room excitedly. Fixing me directly in his piercing gaze, he expostulated: “Watson! Have you heard all this? This is a new phenomenon! Not at all like the Case of the Missing Pre-Haloscan Comments... you recall how I discovered a means of resurrecting those old comments that a previous Blog-Poster client had feared were lost in the ether. But I am quite sure that the instant difficulty will be resolved as well.

“Mr. Elisson, pray tell me, has this difficulty ever happened before?

“Why... why... yes! Two times in the past several months! Each time, it about drove me mad, but after a day, the Side-Bar reappeared as though nothing whatsoever had happened!”

“A day? One day, no more, no less?”

“Yes – one day,” answered Elisson with a degree of assurance. “But what bearing could this have on the instant matter?”

Sherlock Holmes smiled and began lighting his pipe. As the vapors from the carefully contrived blend of Turkish Latakia tobacco and Jimson weed swirled about his head, he announced, “Come back in exactly six hours, at which time I shall have resolved this mystery to your satisfaction.”

* * *

It was three o’clock that afternoon when we three reconvened at 221B Baker Street. Elisson handed his topcoat and hat – a peculiar white fedora – to the housekeeper, and immediately sank down in a well-upholstered armchair. Sherlock Holmes, for his part, paced excitedly, to and fro, in front of the glowing fireplace, pausing only occasionally to launch a gobbet of sputum towards the flagstone hearth.

“Your problem is solved. The culprit, it seems, is not the maleficent programmers at Blogger, but rather an insignificant piece of Java-Script provided by TrueFresco-Org. Remove the Java-Script, and your Side-Bar will be safely in place once again.”

Elisson shook Holmes’s hand warmly. “My good friend, if I may be so bold as to enquire, how did you deduce the source of my difficulties?”

“Quite simple,” responded the Sage of Baker Street (for so he was known). “This afternoon, I paid a little visit to my friends at the Blog-Patrol.”

“You mean,” our visitor said, “that organisation of Hit-Counters and Referrer-Trackers?”

“Just so,” said Holmes. “It appears that a recent visitor to your Blog-Post Repository had an extraordinarily long name. To be specific, the name was over seventy characters long, the sort of name that a Ceylon Hindoo would have. Or, more significantly, the sort of name one would have if referred by a Search-Engine, one that was tasked with an especially complex search.

“What happened then was clear. The TrueFresco-Org Java-Script lists referrers to your Blog-Post Repository for the immediate past twenty-four hours. When this long-named referrer came along, it overwhelmed the Java-Script, causing your Side-Bar to vanish – but only at the moment that part of your Side-Bar loaded. Thus it was that you would see the Side-Bar momentarily, only to have it vanish.

“Because the Java-Script does not operate on individual Blog-Posts, you were able to circumvent the difficulty and view your Side-Bar by navigating to them. But this was no cure, only a temporary palliative measure, and one that would not be of use to the casual visitor to your Repository.

“As for the previous instances, it is clear what must have happened. The Java-Script, as I have just described, lists referrers for the immediate past twenty-four hours. At the end of that period, the long name would drop off the list, and the Side-Bar would be restored!”

“So,” said Elisson. “It was the TrueFresco-Org Java-Script at fault all along. I cannot thus blame Blogger for my immediate difficulties, then?”

“No,” replied Sherlock Holmes, as he adjusted his deerstalker cap in the looking-glass. “In fact, to properly assess blame, one must look to both TrueFresco-Org, who provided a Java-Script that could so easily be subverted, and to, whose Search-Engine is configured in such a way that its referrer names are so impossibly long. Yes,” he said, “it is that latter organisation that is chiefly the author of your woes.”

“You mean...?” I said in astonishment.

“Yes,” said Sherlock Holmes with a grin. “The butler did it.”


Take a ride on Leslie’s Omnibus this week and enjoy the Carnival of the Cats, Edition 42. Make sure the windows are open, because, well, you know how a bus fulla cats is gonna smell, am I right?

And this week’s Carnival is extra funky, because not only do you get a double dose of my catpix, but Hakuna does a guest shot from Israel, thanks to her favorite Shabbat songstress, Rahel!


’Ta lurks in the closet.

It’s dark and quiet in here. Just the way I like it. Yeah, this is sweet. Box smells of leather...

Oh, no! The Large, Bifurcated God has arrived! And he carries with him the Flashy Thing! Do not look directly at the Flashy Thing!

O, Large, Bifurcated God, Source of all blessings and pelleted food! Source of all bellyrubs and chin skritches! Be Thou gracious unto me and shut the damn door on Thy way out! Let it not smite Thy holy butt as Thou takest Thy leave!


Wait’ll you hear what they did with my hair!

You won’t believe what my Auntie and my nutty Uncle did when they were here visiting a couple of weeks ago. They take me to this place... at first, I thought it was gonna be all fun and such, ’cause they had a table with Thomas [The Tank Engine. AKA “Crack for Toddlers.” - Elisson, with a tip o’ the fedora to the Bakerina] and all his friends for me to play with. But then it got all weird-like, ’cause there were these other kids who wanted to play with Thomas and Percy an’ all, and Aunt SWMBO made me share, and, like, I hated that... Yeah... Yeah... Dude, I know!

So, anyway, then they drag me off and make me sit in this weird-ass chair that looks like, oh, I dunno, some sort of race car... and then all of a sudden this wack bint with crazy-ass eyes starts wailin’ on my hair with scissors!... Yeah, that’s right... Yeah, I couldn’t believe it either!

Well, before you know it, the wack lady is done and she’s goin’ all Polaroid on my ass, and they got my Nummy shoved in the ol’ pie hole, so things are looking up. And on the way out, I caught a look in the mirror, and ya know? Different... but smoooove!

Peace out!


I’m not sure who designs automobiles these days, but they sure seem to have a sense of humor.

By now, most of us have become accustomed to the sight of the PT Cruiser, which was a dramatic retro-styled departure from pretty much everything out there. Me, I wasn’t impressed. I rented one once and found that, while the thing drove well enough, the controls were clumsily positioned. And the design, which seems to hearken back to something-or-other in the 1930’s, just looks bizarre in the opening years of the 21st century. This wasn’t what cars were supposed to look like in the New Millennium, was it?

Let’s face it: The PT Cruiser is the perfect hearse for Mickey Mouse’s funeral. It’s cartoony!

But when it comes to strange car designs, I don’t think you can beat the two latest Boxmobiles from Japan. I’m talking about the (Toyota) Scion and the Honda Element.

There’s something about the squared-off, boxy designs of these...are they cars? Are they SUV’s? WTF are these things? Whatever the hell they are, they look like they were designed by the same folks that brought us Stalinist Russian Concrete Blockhouse Apartment Buildings.

And who comes up with these names? Scion? What happens if you cross a Scion and a Prius? Do you get a Prion? Yeah, I want to drive a car that’s named for the infectious agent that causes Mad Cow Disease. Thankyewverymuch.

But yesterday, as She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were on our way to shul, we saw a Honda Element that made us both laugh hysterically.

On the rear of the car, right under the word “ELEMENT,” in smaller, matching lettering, were the words “SCREW AERODYNAMICS.”

Truth in Advertising. Hah!

Friday, January 07, 2005


I’ve noticed that my sidebar seems to have disappeared. I can resurrect it by going to individual posts or to the Archives, but on the index page, it disappears before the page finishes loading. WTF?

This has happened before and usually clears up in a day or so. I don’t know if it’s just me and my Travelin’ Machine or if it’s something that affects what you, Gentle Reader, are seeing. So please, leave a comment and let me know if you can see my sidebar. Pretty please?

Blogger blows. It’s only a matter of time before I ditch it and get a real blogsite with functional Bloggy Software. Maybe this’ll push me over the edge...

[And I think I’ve figured out the problem. Now to test my hypothesis...Success!]


Hakuna and Matata appear in a “twofer” in today’s Friday Ark, hosted at the Modulator. Go visit if you like kitties, doggies, birds, banana slugs, or what-have-you.


I’ve been a fan of Timothy McSweeney’s Internet Tendency for years, and one of my favorite sections of that massive literary website is the Lists. And every once in a while, I come up with one that they will actually opposed to ones that end up on the cutting room floor. (My batting average is about .500, in case you have a Useless Statistics Jones.)

Here’s one that got posted today:

Nuclear Winter Wonderland

Olympic Village Idiot

Banana Nut Sack

Plumber's Crack Whore

Vanna White Supremacist

Of course, there are plenty of other lists on the McSweeney’s site to look at...some are sorta random and bizarre (which is why they work so well as humor), others are witty, and yet others are laugh-out-loud hysterical. I won’t burden you with a...list of my own favorites; check the site out and discover your own among the hundreds there. Just the titles alone are a Rich Mutha-Lode o’ Fun.

Woo-Hoo! Two McSweeney’s scores in two consecutive days! Perhaps the Earth will fall off its axis now, but meantime, I feel like celebrating. SWMBO, break out the bubbly! Get fried with your hubbly!

Thursday, January 06, 2005


Sweat City beckons
and I needs must go.

It does no good to whine
When it’s time
To make a pilgrimage
To the Great Corp’rate Salt Mine.

Pack the bag... what a drag.
Clean shirt, tie, socks, and gotkes, too.
(Just wait’ll I get my Hanes on, you!)
Fresh razor blades and
The daily dose of pills.
What, no Lipitor? - That thought gives me chills.
Toothbrush and paste.
No time to waste,
The silver bus (the one with wings)
Is many things,
But “patient” ain’t among ’em. Make haste.

And now...
must fly!
Houston calls!


Dad and Toni, 14 years ago today.

Yes, fourteen years ago today, my Dad (Eli. I’m Eli’s son, remember?) married Toni, the second great love of his life, putting an end to almost three years of widowhood.

They’ve seen and done a lot in those fourteen years. They’ve traveled the world, watched the family grow, seen our daughters become b’not mitzvah, weathered Dad’s heart-stopping experience (five years ago this Saturday). And eaten a whole lotta sushi.

And they’re still all moony-eyed over one another.

I’d be jealous, except I’m also lucky in that department.

Happy Anniversary, you guys. Health, happiness and love for many, many more.


Every so often, I like to read the Reviews of New Food published by McSweeney’s. Especially today, when they put up one of mine:
Ocean Spray Wildberry Diet Juice & Tea

Sweet, good-for-you fruit juice. Refreshing, mildly caffeinated iced tea. Many have tried to combine these beverage concepts, few with happy results: Snapple and Arizona Iced Tea come to mind. What you want is a drink that gets these two different Flavor Ideas to interact with just the right amount of mutual assertiveness. It's a tougher job than it looks.

Now let’s kick the difficulty level up a notch. Where all of these fine products run up against the rocks is in the Low-Calorie Zone, where the requisite artificial sweeteners just ... don’t ... fucking ... work. Most low-calorie/low-carb juice-and-tea combos taste like ass.

But not anymore.

Finally. Finally! A drink with no unpleasant aspartame-saccharine pong, thanks to the beneficent goodness of Splenda, artificial sweetener of the gods. Wildberry Diet Juice & Tea makes my parched throat happy, and I can drink it by the gallon without giving Mr. Blood Sugar an aneurysm. It has given me a reason to rejoice.

Exultate! Juice tea!

The version above is the way I wrote it. On the McSweeney’s site, a typo crept into the last line, killing the pun. Let’s see if they get around to fixing it.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005


Just when I couldn’t think of anything interesting to post about, along comes this blogmeme courtesy of Roxanne. Here it is:

Copy the list of ten authors below. Replace any that are not included in your home library with one(s) that are. Note any replacements in boldface.

1. Arthur C. Clarke
2. H. L. Mencken
3. Kinky Friedman
4. Herman Melville
5. P. J. O’Rourke
6. Joseph Heller
7. John Irving
8. Michael Chabon
9. Margaret Atwood
10. William Shakespeare

Roxanne didn’t have any in boldface, but I sure as hell do. My library only managed to bat .400 against Rox’s list, which included Simone de Beauvoir, Salman Rushdie, Sarah Vowell, James Joyce, Iris Murdoch, and Vladimir Nabokov. I know what you’re thinking: No Nabokov? No Joyce?


But not only do I have a Kinky Friedman book - autographed, mind you - I have a bag of Kinky Friedman coffee beans. So what my library might be missing is more than made up for by what my bladder is filled with.

As to one of the authors I didn’t have, I could have replaced Sarah Vowell with Neal Pollack, f’r instance, or maybe David Sedaris... but I picked another McSweeney’s alumnus/contributor, Michael Chabon. I’m not going for obscurity here.

Now, for the real (non-meme-related) question: How many of these authors’ books have you read lately? ’Cause I’ve read books by two of the authors on Rox’s list (Friedman and Irving) within the last month. Boo-Yah!


“Bis Hundert-Tzvantzik” (literally, “To 120”) - old Yiddish expression, as in “You should live to be 120.”

Well, the Carnival of the Vanities is now 120, and we’re not tired of this weekly ego-fest. Not just yet.

Catch the latest edition at Vessel of Honour, your estimable Host o’ th’ Week. And guess who’s batting lead-off? Some Fedora-Wearin’ Jackass™!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005


[This is another Guest Blogpost by the Mistress of Sarcasm. Enjoy.]

Documentation of my seemingly abnormal Road Trip Bathroom Adventures of Winter 2004:

Why is it that people find Dairy Queen bathrooms an appropriate environment in which to shoot up? Who knows?

Why do people find it necessary to wipe their asses and then dispose of the used paper in the trash can next to the toilet, as opposed to IN the actual toilet? Who knows?

Apparently the Dairy Queen patron mentioned above was only following instructions, according to the astonishing Manager’s Note I found in my stall at a Louisiana DQ on the second leg of my trip:
Please do not put ANY toilet paper
or ANYTHING in the toilets.
Thank you!
What the fuck?

The next pit stop luckily involved no alarming signs; however, it was not lacking in the “Large Black Man Entering The Women’s Bathroom, Taking One Look At Me, And Screaming ‘SHIT’ For Thirty Seconds Straight” department. Again...what the fuck?

Ahh, how I love road trips, and how grateful am I that I was blessed with such a miniscule bladder that I have the opportunity to be exposed to situations such as these as often as I am.