Thursday, March 31, 2005


Honey, have you packed the cat yet?

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are getting ready for our Long Weekend in Foat Wuth. And we have to make sure to pack all of the important stuff.

After all, four days without a Cat’s Ass in the Face by way of an alarm clock - four days without Superfluous Cat Hair on the Clothing - might be too much for us to stand!


Ho-Bag ’Ta.

Here’s Matata, indulging in one of her favorite pastimes: rolling on her back and acting like a Big Fuzzy Ho-Bag.

She loves carpet...and those nice nubbly tassel loafers. They’re the closest thing to a French Tickler for Kitty Backs.

Yeah, all this is cute, ’Ta. But I’m kinda...busy at the moment. Now will you give me a few minutes to take a crap in peace?


July 16 is the scheduled release date for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the next installment in the popular series of fantasy novels by J. K. Rowling.

It will have been roughly two years since the last Potter book came out to unprecedented hype, fanfare, and ballyhoo. Thus, to welcome Harry back (as it were), I have come up with an appropriately half-assed idea for an imaginary television series.

The setup: An adult Harry Potter returns to Hogwarts to take over as Headmaster after Dumbledore’s departure. Now he has to deal with all of those unruly students...students very much like him and his friends “back in the day.” Hilarity ensues.


Harry Potter - Daniel Radcliffe

Hermione Potter - Rachel Dratch

Severus Snape - Chris Parnell


Draco Malforino - Seth Meyers

Ron Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein - Chris Kattan

Willy "Boom Boom" Weasley - Will Ferrell

Arnold Dingfelder Hagrid - Horatio Sanz


Welcome back,
It’s been a “spell” since you were here.
Welcome back,
Pour yourself a great big mug of butterbeer.

Well, the place hasn’t changed much since Dumbledore
Molested a kid and was shown the door.
Who’d have thought they’d get ya
(Who’d have thought they’d get ya)
Back to school, you betcha?
(Back to school, you betcha?)

Yeah, we tease him a lot, Hogwarts got ’im on the spot,
Welcome back.
Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back.
Lame? Sure!

Leave your own casting ideas in the Comments.


Tomorrow night, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I board the Great Silver Aerial Bus for a long weekend in Foat Wuth, visiting the various In-Laws d’Elisson.

By then, maybe the weather here will have settled down. This morning, it rained like a cow pissing on a flat rock...except the cow usually can’t generate the lightning and thunder. Nasty business.

The driving force behind the trip is Bro In-Law d’Elisson, who is undergoing a sort of Re-Bar Mitzvah Process. I guess now that he’s frum (observant), he wants something with a little more religious substance than the Reform-style event he had 32 years ago. No fancy party this time, just your basic Saturday-morning service - only this time, it’ll be Hasidic-style, old-school. Chicken soup for the Jewish soul, as it were, made from a glatt kosher chicken.

And, of course, we get to see Nephew William and his mom and dad. And the Folks de SWMBO.

The Nephew, whom we last saw in December, has continued to amaze everybody with his child-like brilliance. A few weeks ago, he had received a stuffed cow in the mail from his Auntie SWMBO. Shortly thereafter, he asked his mother if he could “call Auntie SWMBO on the phone and thank her for the cow.” Which he proceeded to do. Made SWMBO’s day, that did.

This is a kid that, at the age of two years and two months, could look in a book of animal photographs and identify just about every animal by name. I’m not talking your basic “cow,” “cat,” “dog,” either. I’m talking “bear,” “snake,” “rooster,” “antelope,” “ox,” “whale,” et alia. Complicated stuff. I do believe the boy has veterinary potential - which would be a right good fit with Momma’s horse breeding business.

Yeah, we’ll see little William...which means we will also be seeing Thomas the Tank Engine, whose best quality, in my eyes, is that he is Not Barney.

I can deal with that kid stuff - Uncle Elisson! - but when I’m home?

No Tanks.


Prince Charles, in the week before his wedding to Camilla Parker Bowles, is reported to be in a “cranky mood,” according to The Today Show.

And She Who Must Be Obeyed knows why:

Prince Charles, you will recall, once famously expressed his desire to be reincarnated as Miss Parker Bowles’s tampon, in a telephone call that was intercepted by a British tabloid.

Now, with the wedding fast approaching, Charles realizes that if Camilla is not already menopausal, she will be - real soon.

Which means he’ll be out of a job...

[Linked to today’s Beltway Traffic Jam at Outside The Beltway]

Wednesday, March 30, 2005


Lair Simon - the resident genius at IFOC - has foolishly given me the keys to Dear Abby Is Full Of Crap, where I join the inimitable James Owens and Lair his ownself as Purveyors of Fine Advice in Matters of Everyday Living. So if you think some of the crap I toss out here is in bad taste... ain’t tasted nuthin’ yet.


After acting all pissy and such yesterday afternoon, Blogger was completely locked out this morning, so I had to wait until now to put up the link to this week’s CotV.

Blogger is a piece of crap. A good blogging package would include stuff like trackback (I have to use Haloscan and I have to send pings manually, a major PIA), the ability to post extended entries (you can do this in Blogger but it’s tricky), and would keep track of how many entries I’ve posted (Blogger used to do this, but they’ve turned off their stat gathering). Oh, yeah, and some reliability would be nice...

Gripe, gripe, gripe.

The thing Blogger has going for it is that it’s free. And, just as I can’t complain about the talky teenagers in the 50-cent movie (yes, we have a theatre here that offers 50-cent admission on Tuesdays), I can’t really bitch about Blogger - because I’m not paying them a thin dime.

At least they got rid of those stinking pop-up ads.

At some point, I’ll take this blog and migrate to a real domain name of my own, with a real blog design - not something that started off as a Blogger template and just...kinda...grew like Topsy. Soon. Maybe after I do our taxes.

Yeah, that’s it. That’s the ticket.


Vanity, vanity, all is vanity -
At least, in this Carnival. Oh, the humanity!
Eric Berlin has compiled the insanity
It’s a mountain of blogposts all high and granite-y
And all of it’s funny - no Colmes and Hannity,
No “Save the Whales” or “Protect the Manatee,”
No earthquake, tsunami, or other calamity.
So go thou and risk your delicate sanity
And visit this Carnival of the Vanities.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005


This is just plain wrong.

Perverse and tasteless, too. Insensitive. Maybe even cruel.

And I didn’t think of it first.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to mhking, who posted this over at The IFOC Dead Pool.]


SWMBO and the Mistress of Sarcasm.

Two of ’em, anyway.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and the Mistress of Sarcasm in a photo taken during one of our recent visits to The Beautiful Lady With The Dirty Face. Dirty face she may have, but good places to eat breakfast she also has.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Or, if you will, a Pissy Puzzlement.

Here I am, visiting The Room - what Indonesians call the “Kamar Kecil” - and Draining the Lizard, when another gentleman walks in and parks himself at the adjacent urinal. Then, once he gets matters flowing along, as it were, he flushes the urinal.

Now, really - what’s the point of flushing the urinal before you’re done?

Is it so that the flushing noise will cover up the sound of your “tinkling”?

Did the previous, er, ahh - user - not flush? Does that bother you?

Really, what’s the point here? Because when you’re done, it’s not like you flush the damn thing a second time, leaving it pristine for the next visitor. No, you went and flushed early, so that when you finally finish up and leave, whizzy remnants are left behind.

If I had known this guy, I would have up and asked him - but I didn’t, so I didn’t. It’s a violation of the Unwritten Manly Code to make conversation with people you don’t know when you’re in The Room.

So, with the grand anonymity of the Internet at my disposal, I’m asking my (male) Esteemed Readers: Can you think of any reason to flush the urinal before you’re finished?

Inquiring minds want to know.

[Linked to today’s Beltway Traffic Jam at Outside The Beltway]

Sunday, March 27, 2005


We’re back from a brief visit with the Mistress of Sarcasm. Inclement weather today - forecasts of baseball-size hail, that kind of thing - plus the threat of another six-hour horrorshow drive, got us back on the road early.

That, plus the fact that the Mistress felt like crap, laid low with a sinus infection.

We spent part of the day yesterday securing medical attention, filling prescriptions for Powerful but Hopefully Effective Medication, and making chicken soup for our baby girl. This is (cue Martha Stewart voice) a good thing. SWMBO’s chicken soup, crowded with matzoh balls, could bring back Lazarus Jesus Terri Schiavo Moishe Rabbenu back from the dead. Yeah, it’s a little early for matzoh balls, but She Who Must Be Obeyed subscribes to the school of “Anytime’s a Good Time for Matzoh Balls.” Kinda like “There’s Always Room for Jell-O.” Thanksgiving, Shavuos, Tisha B’Av Passover - you name it, SWMBO’ll lob a matzoh ball at it.

The weather cooperated long enough yesterday for me to snag a few pictures. Savannah is preternaturally beautiful in the springtime. Just go there yourself if you don’t believe me.


The second year of Carnival of the Cats kicks off this week at Music and Cats.

Not only is Kimberly a most worthy host, but check out the pictures of Lyra, Sasha, and Sergei on the sidebar. Them is some seriously gorgeous cats!

[And, yes, I do use the word “ass” a lot. Tough toenails. Heh.]


Texas Capitol, Austin.

Between school quarters several weeks ago, the Mistress of Sarcasm spent a few days visiting friends in Austin, Texas. Aside from catching up on old times with her buddies, her more nefarious purpose was to do some advance recon on a possible Place to Live After Graduating.

What timing. SXSW was going on, and the place was a zoo. Too bad the Mistress didn’t have her camera with her to document her historic meeting with Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad - the Aqua Teen Hunger Force!

Here are some of the pictures the Mistress took at the State Capitol.

Texas Capitol Rotunda.

Galleries in the Texas Capitol Rotunda.

Well, if ya gotta live in Texas, Austin’s an ideal place. It’s in the scenic Hill Country, it’s got a great music and arts scene, it’s a college town as well as being the State Capital. Oh yeah - and it’s just a few hours from Fort Worth and Denton, home of the various In-Laws d’Elisson.

Now, excuse me while I go slash my wrists get a drink...


Wondering what you should drink to wash down that nice Easter ham?

My suggestion: Rolling Rock Beer.

Just seems appropriate, is all.

Saturday, March 26, 2005


Jesus saves. Moses invests.

And Pepperidge Farm remembers...


Yesterday afternoon, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I piled into the Vehicle d'Elisson and headed down to Savannah to spend a weekend with the Mistress of Sarcasm. The nominal reason was to see an exhibition of a few of the SCAD Metals and Jewelry students' work at one of the local galleries - but we didn't need too much prodding.

We crammed everything we needed into one single (small) suitcase. That's counting an extra two pairs of shoes for SWMBO. Damn, but that woman knows how to pack! Why, some of our friends would have needed to rent a U-Haul to carry all of their crap...before they got religion from SWMBO, that is. Heh.

The drive down from the north side of Atlanta, normally a four hour and fifteen minute affair, took over six hours. Sheer hell, at least until we were halfway to Macon. It wasn't the usual obnoxious Friday afternoon traffic, of course - it was Good Friday, and almost every single car heading south on I-75 was from some upper-midwestern state or another.

Ohio. Michigan. Illinois. Indiana. Minnesota. South freakin' Dakota!

We speculated that most of these damyanks would stay on 75 while we peeled off to the east on I-16 - and we were right. Good thing, too, because another two hours of struggling with that horde of Smacked Asses might have been too much.

How stupid must you be to ride shotgun in a minivan with your feet on the dash? We saw a few people doing this, and it makes me wonder. What happens if the airbag goes off? Does it simply break your legs or does it snap you in half like a stale Zagnut bar? I'm just askin'...

Anyway, we arrived in the City of the Hanging Crap on the Trees a little after ten. The Mistress was feeling a mite puny, so we made it an early night.

Driving around Savannah today, it occurred to us that this may be the first time we've come down at the exact right time to catch the azaleas and dogwoods in bloom. That's a nice enough time in Atlanta, but here, with the Spanish moss hanging on everything, it's downright...ethereal. I'll post pictures when we get back.

Tonight: Loafing and watching DVD's!

Friday, March 25, 2005


...why I get cat hair on my ass every time I sit down on the loveseat in the sunroom.

Hakuna is on the right. Matata is on the left.

And their hair is all over the place. Thank Gawd for “Mr. Sticky.”


Today’s list of Completely Unsurprising Headlines:

“Sun Rises in East!”

“Dog Bites Man!”

“The Friday Ark is up at The Modulator!”

Well unsurprising it may be - but always entertaining. Check out this week’s crop of beasts - and be sure to see the T. Rex exhibit at Pharyngula!


This week it’s the PajamaPundits who are hosting the Carnival of the Recipes.

I’m already making plans to cook up some Duck Fudge...and, no, it does not require the use of any of the fine, garlicky duck schmaltz I have in the freezer.


What? Friday again?

It’s Friday morning, the start of a busy day for me and the Great Bifurcated Gods who share my house.

I kicked things off with my normal Morning Routine. At 5:15 (I don’t know what that means, but that is what appears on the face of the Mysterious Glowing Music-Box) I begin by nuzzling the faces of the Great Bifurcated Gods, each in turn, and by rummaging amidst the Small Objects that are found on the table whereupon sits the Mysterious Glowing Music-Box. Often I can knock a few of these objects to the floor for closer examination.

Then I extend Butt-Sniffing Courtesies to the Great Bifurcated Ones, who for some reason are always strangely uninterested. In fact, oftentimes they will become agitated and will grab me by the scruff of my neck to remove me from their midst. Temporarily, of course.

I like this.

Then it is Breakfast-Time. The Big One gets out of the “bed” and shambles downstairs to replenish my Eating-Bowl...and I am happy. Hakuna will want her portion; I will deny her!

But something is up. I overheard the Great Bifurcated Ones speak of a place called Savannah, and they have taken the Bags with Handles out of the Little Room With All The Crap In It. I fear they will leave my sister Hakuna and me to our own devices this weekend!

Oh, well. I can always bite ’Kuna on the ass. Who’s gonna be there to stop me?

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Some words in the English language are just plain silly.

Take “fishmonger,” or its close cousin “warmonger.”

What is it exactly that these people do? Mong fish or war?

Is “to mong” a transitive or intransitive verb? Inquiring minds want to know.

I went to the fishmonger to get some red snapper,
But when I got there, he had gone to the crapper.
I called out to him: “I am longing
For you to resume your monging.
Come on out and stick a filet in a wrapper.”


when Purim - the Feast of Lots - comes around.

Hey, this ain’t a fedora!

Q: How much did we read?

A: The whole megillah!

Ya gotta love a holiday when you’re supposed to get silly.

Der Narrischkeiter Rebbe.

And here’s Bro-in-law d’Elisson - he’s being silly, too. Looks just like Great-Great Grandpa, innit?


[Being the Odyssey-inspired story of Elder Daughter’s college search trip, told in sestina form rather than the original dactylic hexameter.]

Tell me, O Muse, sing with me of the story:
Of how our heroes, Elisson and his daughter
(The elder one), so enamored then of Boston,
checked out the places where she thought to study.
Begin the saga with the steel-eyed father,
calling up the airline. Frequent flyers, free of charge.

Arrived they then in Beantown, where the charge
of British redcoats (in that ancient story -
the one with Paul Revere, so said the father)
kicked off a revolution. O my daughter,
what is it that should make you want to study
in such a town as far away as Boston?

Throw any rock, you’ll hit a school in Boston.
And none of them are cheap: the yearly charge
at any of the ones our heroes study
’S enough to break the bank, friend. End of story.
But nothing is too good for Elder Daughter.
He’ll foot the bill - no Beemer for this father,

because he is a good and doting father.
His purpose now on Earth - at least, in Boston,
must solely point toward educating daughter.
Though cost be large, he rises to the charge.
Tuition, though, is but part of the story
of this voyage through New England. Let us study

our heroes’ route. Had they a map to study,
that interview at Brandeis for which father
showed up late might have been a different story.
As it was, meandering the twisty roads of Boston
Took time and many burgers. “Take charge
of your future,” Dad admonishes his daughter.

At restaurants along the way, the daughter
leaves scraps upon her plate while they both study
their plan to hit Vermont. The hotel charge
at Dartmouth is too steep (or so says Father)
for such a one-horse burg. We’re not in Boston.
Hey, Middlebury’s next. Now, what’s their story?

“In interviews, take charge,” advises Father.
If BU’s where she’ll wish to study, Boston
Must needs be home to daughter. Dorm? It’s multi-story.


[I wrote this almost two years ago after the sudden, completely unexpected death of a friend. Since that time, I’ve had it tucked away in a drawer, as it were - but today is just that type of beautiful Spring day that, perversely, brings those dark memories back. So: here it is.]

It is a gloriously sunny spring day, and we have a job to do. We have to bury my friend Paul.

Less than a week ago, Paul had been presiding over his family’s Passover seder. He and wife Andi were making preparations for elder son Alec’s Bar Mitzvah in two weeks. Now Andi stands at a graveside lectern, bravely swallowing her tears as she says a last goodbye to her husband of eighteen years. And now, with tremendous courage, Paul’s two young sons take turns delivering their own farewells to the father that just three days before had been playing and joking with them.

“I spent thirteen years with you, Dad, and I had been hoping to have a few more decades to enjoy your company.” Oh, how those words resonate with me. I remember my own mother’s words, fifteen years ago when she was facing the inevitability of her own terminal illness. Back then, she had said that there were so many things she had wanted to do with her granddaughters - my girls. And back then, with both of us knowing that she would never have the chance to do those things, I had sat in my car in the hospital parking lot and wept.

But Paul did not have time to regret the decades he would miss spending with his sons. He may never have really known what hit him. He went to bed with a headache on a Friday night and began having convulsions in the small hours of the next morning. Andi, lying next to him in bed, at first thought he was up to his old husbandly trick of contorting his face and mimicking the “gaaacckkkk...” rattle of someone suffering a heart attack. But Andi’s “honey, knock it off” punch on his shoulder did not elicit the usual laugh. Paul was in trouble. Delirious and combative when the EMS ambulance arrived, he was immediately given sedatives and rushed to the nearest hospital. He never woke up. A fulminant case of pneumococcal encephalitis had overwhelmed his system so completely and so thoroughly, he had been struck down with the suddenness of a blow from a headsman’s axe.

And now, here we are. We have a job to do.

The familiar, comforting words of the 23rd Psalm float on the air. The voices of the family now, haltingly reciting the ancient Aramaic litany: “Yisgadal v’yiskadash sh’mei rabah...” So do we praise and reach out to a God whose life-and-death decisions we cannot pretend to understand.

The last kindness we can do for our loved ones who have died is to cover their graves with earth. In the poignant words of one of the officiating rabbis, it is an act of tenderness akin to a mother tucking a blanket around a beloved child. Thus I find myself taking the shovel in hand, feeling the blade slice into the mound of red-brown soil, hearing the thud of dirt on wooden casket lid. This is really happening, I keep telling myself. This is really happening. Here I am with this shovel, and Paul is in that fucking box.

We leave the cemetery, saying our inadequate words of comfort. Three hours later, I’m in an airplane, headed west. I’m sitting in an easy chair in a huge aluminum tube, 35,000 feet above the surface of the planet, moving at 525 miles per hour through wispy cirrus clouds, sipping fruit juice, headed for yet another few days at Company Headquarters. (After all, I have a job to do.)

Another day, casually accepting the miraculous. Another day, taking for granted that I will wake up the next morning and will be warm and vertical when the sun goes down.



A diner at a Wendy’s restaurant in San Jose, California, got more than he or she bargained for with a bowl of chili:
“This individual apparently did take a spoonful, did have a finger in their mouth and then, you know, spit it out and recognized it,” said Ben Gale, director of the department of environmental health for Santa Clara County. “Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited.”
The diner was later heard to say, “Next time, I am so not ordering the chili with extra meat...”

Wednesday, March 23, 2005


with a good site statistics tracker.

I just installed StatCounter to give it a test run. Word of mouth (word of blog?) had been very positive on this hitcounter/stat tracker, so I figured on giving it a try. Besides, BlogPatrol is down.

And I’m finding...such interesting things.

Like there’s someone in Plovdiv, Bulgaria - Bulgaria! - who found my blog via a Google search for “enema blog.”

OK, so I did write a post once about Mrs. Eli finding a used enema bag in a public restroom...

But what is it about Bulgarians and enemas, anyway? I’m just askin’.

[Update: You can also get here by Googling “latkes and constipation.” Now, that makes sense.]


Sundown Thursday marks the start of the festive Jewish holiday of Purim. There’s an old joke about how most Jewish holidays got started (“They tried to kill us. They failed. Let’s eat.”), and Purim is probably the one that best fits that mold. It commemorates the deliverance of the Jews or Persia from a planned genocide during the reign of Ahasuerus (Ataxerxes), a genocide instigated by one Haman, son of Amidasa, and thwarted by Queen Esther. The story (set down in the Book of Esther and found in both the Hebrew and Christian Bibles) reads like part suspense movie, part Seinfeld episode, with all of its subplots, twists, and turns.

Like Chanukah, Purim is a post-biblical holiday, with its roots in historical events that took place after the Hebrew Bible was written. Observance is fairly simple. The main thing is to listen to a public reading of the Book of Esther. Traditionally, this reading must be done from a parchment scroll (megillah) on which the story is written by hand in the original Hebrew. Since there are no vowels and no cantillation notes, readers must study the text carefully in advance so they know how to pronounce the words correctly and sing them with the distinctive melody that is unique to this holiday.

We read the whole scroll - this is what gives rise to the popular expression “the whole megillah,” the Yiddish-American equivalent to “the whole ball of wax.” And when the bad guy’s name is read, everyone makes plenty of noise to drown it out.

It’s permissible - nay, encouraged - for adults to do a little boozing. The old rule of thumb was that you had to get shicker enough so as not to be able to distinguish between “Blessed be Mordechai” (the hero of the story, Esther’s guardian and uncle) and “Cursed be Haman.” You can be sure that I will down a few shots, but I don’t plan to get slobbering, falling-down drunk. Heh.

Besides reading and drinking, other observances are donating gifts of money to the poor, and sending gifts of food to friends and family. Simple, huh?

If all this isn’t arcane enough for you, my Esteemed Readers, there’s an even more obscure day on the calendar. The day before Purim is Taanis Esther - the Fast of Esther - one of a handful of minor fast days in the Jewish year. It’s “minor” in that it is observed only during daylight hours - not like that 27-hour starve-fest that we call Yom Kippur.

Taanis Esther - for those of you that give a rat’s ass - commemorates the three-days of fasting by Esther and her fellow Jews prior to her approaching the king - uninvited - to plead for the lives of her people. Back in the day, going to see the Formaggio Grosso without an appointment was punishable by death unless the king was in a good mood, so Queen E. was taking a big gamble. The fasting was a way to purify oneself and get the help of the Big Guy Upstairs - and it apparently worked, because I’m here to write this.

I’ll admit that I’m not quite observant enough to fast on the minor fast days - I plan to be at the Local Bagel Emporium tomorrow morning, as usual - but we all make our choices, don’t we? I will participate in the public Megillah reading (I’ve got Chapter 4), appropriately attired in some sort of silly costume. All y’all may have Hallowe’en, but we dress up on Purim.

Christians do not celebrate Purim, although one could argue that without the events commemorated by the holiday, their own history - if any - would have been very different. To my Christian friends, my best wishes for a happy Easter.


The latest installment of Carnival of the Vanities is up at CodeBlueBlog.

The good Dr. Boyle (Heh. Is his first name “Lance”?) has given me some nice props:
Blog d’Ellison [sic] is good. This is also how the whole blogger phenomenon started, with clever, intelligent people saying funny and insightful things about their everyday lives. Read Fast Times. And is that REALLY your DAUGHTER?!
What a nice compliment. It’s enough to make me blush, even if he spelled my name wrong - and, yes, that IS really my daughter. Watch it, bub.


I had expected to spend this evening in my own bed, in the warm embrace of She Who Must Be Obeyed, after returning from this week’s trip to the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

Alas, no.

I allowed the usual two-and-a-half hours (give or take a few minutes) to get to the Sweat City Intercontinental Aerodrome. And I made it...but it was a real squeaker. Two major accidents on two different roadways turned a routine drive into a sweaty, curse-laden wait-fest. Ahh, such is life in the Big City.

I noticed that they had toll-takers standing next to the change baskets on the exact-change lanes. My suspicion, at first, was that they were there to assist the Gaping Assholes. You know who they are: the idiots who cruise into the exact change lanes with no change, allowing them to simultaneously avoid the bone-crushing waits at the manned lanes and to piss off everyone who gets stuck behind them while they wait for someone to rescue their sorry asses. My solution is more pragmatic. In The World According to Elisson, when you try to use a bill at an exact change lane, you get your headlights whacked with a baseball bat.

Apparently, these toll-takers serve another function. They take the change from the smacked-ass drivers who lack the basic motor skills to handle the complicated tasks of navigating through the toll lane and throwing the money in the basket. My Sweet Gawd, how helpless do you need to be? Can you imagine this happening at the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge?

But despite all this nonsense, I made it in time for my flight. That’s when the fun began.

I should have known something was up when I was able to check in at the electronic kiosk a mere 30 minutes before my flight. Sure enough, the flight was delayed due to ATC in predictable as sunrise.

And we waited, and we waited. And we boarded the plane, and waited some more.

Finally, about 10:00, I decided that enough was enough. If the plane were to leave immediately, I’d be home in bed, what, at 2:30 am? Feh.

A couple of quick phone calls and here I am at the Sweat City Intercontinental Aerodrome Marriott. I’ve got a half-bottle of nice red wine, a healthy block o’ cheese, a high-speed line, and a fluffy king-size bed. And a seat on the first flight out in the morning.

But what I don’t have is my SWMBO.



Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) signs off on the Senate’s historic bill mandating specific guidelines for end-of-life care.

Said Frist, “The Bible instructs us to ‘Choose life.’ Where that is no longer an option due to the cessation of an individual’s normal physical functions, it is even more important to protect those who are unable to protect themselves. As Americans, our presumption should always be in favor of the patient’s receiving all possible care. This legislation will ensure that the rights of Zombie-Americans to nutrition and hydration are preserved.”

Under the new law, removal of feeding tubes from patients suffering from zombification would be permitted only in the event of their having advance written directives in place. Absent any specific AWD or other instructions such as a Living Will, patients will be hydrated with a weak saline solution and given nutrition in the form of liquefied human brains until they recover sufficient post-mortem motor skills to enable them to forage for sustenance among the living.

Mmmmm, brains. Zombies like brains.

President Bush is expected to fly directly to Washington from Wherever-The-Hell-He-Is, Idaho in order to sign the hastily crafted, yet extremely nuanced bill into law.

According to a recent Tom DeLay-authored memo surfaced by the Washington Post, Republican support of this bill is expected to yield significant political gains in the 2006 election cycle among members of the rapidly growing American Church of Voudoun.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I normally don’t write about work-related matters here - I have no intention of getting dooced - but (a) this doesn’t get into specific personalities or (gasp!) sensitive information, and (b) I needed to pull something out of my ass to post.

This inspiration for this little poem comes from an edict handed down a couple of years ago from the Powers That Be at the Great Corporate Salt Mine, in which our polyethylene (that’s plastic, folks) salesforce was informed that they would no longer be able to write off shoe shines as an incidental expense.

Of course, if your shoes were to get soiled in the performance of your duties - say, you got some kind of Mysterious Crap on them at a customer’s plant - an exception could be made. Provided, of course, that the salesperson submitted Appropriate Documentation of the Incident. Sounds like something right out of Dilbert, doesn’t it?

Anyway, here was my response at the time...
We sell our polyethylene
In scuffy shoes that have no sheen.
Down at heel and out of luck
Because we cannot spend a buck
To sit upon the leather seat
While wax is slathered on our feet.
Our Captain lacks the slightest use
For troops that tread with shiny shoes.
We spend no money on Shinola —
Don’t drink Champagne - drink Coca Cola.
It’s good to see the Management
Concerned about our betterment.
The bread we save on spit and polish
Perhaps could send our kids to collish.

Monday, March 21, 2005


Holy Crap!

After several months of “always a bridesmaid, never a bride,” Blog d’Elisson has finally won something in the Zero Boss’s Blogging for Books contest.


Several months ago, when I first discovered Blogging for Books (thanks to Mir), it never occurred to me that I could or would take the time to write enough Bloggy Stuff to even consider entering. But somehow, I sucked it up, screwed my courage to the sticking post, [insert your favorite cliché here], and got on with it.

Probably the most fascinating aspect of B4B is seeing the diverse ways the entrants will use to attack the topic and/or style of that month’s contest. Me, I’ve had fun with my Sherlock Holmes and (most recently) Damon Runyon pastiches, and the only reason I haven’t jumped off into dactylic hexameter is that it’s already been done - successfully.

Congrats to my fellow winners - Jim of Patriside and Green Tuna of Tuna News. Green Tuna is new to me, but her Pentatunatuch cracked me up (and since I was reading the Pentateuch on my flight last night, I can really appreciate the parody).

As for Jim, I’m not entirely convinced that he and I don’t share some DNA somewhere in our deep chromosomal heritage. He’s got a Zappa quote on his sidebar, he reads Hunter S. Thompson (requesciat in pace), and his musical tastes tend to be...strangely similar to mine. Oh, yeah, and he’s been known to blog about shit. Feces, that is, not “shit in general.” It’s a Daddy thing.

But the sweetest thing about Jay’s little contest is that my post was, in its entirety, a snarky swipe at ZB his ownself. And it’s nice that he’s enough of a mensch to have laughed at the joke and kept me in the running.

Now, all he has to do is send me my damn books.

All of ’em, bitch.


I arrived in Sweat City - Houston - late last night. The voyage on the Great Silver Aerial Bus was uneventful. There was a goodly wait for the jitney ride to the rental car lot, but no surprises. I had to suffer through the usual ungrammatical pre-recorded announcement (“For your safety, and those around you...”) - will they ever fix that? - but the ride to town was smooth thanks to the late hour. I tuned the radio to one of the local college stations in order to get my Minimum Annual Requirement of death metal, and arrived at my hotel just in time to catch The Venture Brothers on the Cartoon Network.


I like to have a book with me when I travel. I can usually sleep through a two-hour flight, but it helps to have reading material in order to get the snooze process started, and to me, “reading material” does not encompass the dog-eared copies of Boating World, Ebony, or Latin American Business that constitute the majority of Airplane Reading Matter these days. That, and that stupid-ass Catalog of Useless and Overpriced Crap for Travelers. Feh.

So I brought a book along.

Usually, I have a few unread books handy on the nightstand, but I just killed Big Bang by Simon Singh, and there was nothing new in the pipeline. So I ransacked Elder Daughter’s room to find something. There’s a treasure trove of literature in there, much of which has been, ahem, borrowed from Dear Old Dad and somehow never returned. Hell, at least it’s here and not in Cambridge...not all of it, anyway. To be honest, I’m flattered and pleased that my daughters enjoy many of the same reads I do.

So I grabbed a copy of In The Upper Room (and other likely stories) by Terry Bisson.

Bisson is a relatively recent entrant on the SF scene - to me, recent meaning within the last 10-15 years - and he writes with a distinctive voice. There are a few short pieces in this collection that are now on the list of Stories That May Be Reread Many Times, Ad Infinitum, Without Boring Me. To wit:

“macs” - Set in an America in which victims’ rights are dramatically expanded, Closure is the process by which a victim’s family extracts their personal revenge on the criminal. In the case of multiple murderers, cloning technology comes into play...

“There Are No Dead” - If your life had a magical “reset” button, how old would you want to get?

These are just the premises of the stories. What makes them so compelling is the way Bisson tells them: his voice, his narrative technique, his inventiveness. The other stories in this book are also good, but to me, these two stand out.

And if you want to get another taste of Bisson’s work, get hold of a copy of Bears Discover Fire, his first short story collection. Don’t miss “They’re Made Out Of Meat.”


Yes, McSweeney’s has shot down another one of my list submissions.

I suppose I can’t complain - I’m batting about .500, with half my submissions ending up on their site. And just because they took a pass, it doesn’t prevent me from inflicting my material on you, my Esteemed Readers. So here it is:


January Japery!

February Foolishness!

April Assholery!

May Monkeybusiness!

June Jumping Around a Whole Lot!

July Jumping Around a Whole Lot More!

August Augasm!

September pSychosis!

October Out-of-Controllery!

November ’Nsanity!

December Degeneracy!

Sunday, March 20, 2005


Hakuna and Matata contemplate one year of Kitty Carnivals.

I just know Lair Simon is going to be putting up a super-duper extra-helpin’s-o’-kitty-goodness Carnival later today at IFOC.

He started this nonsense, after all, and it’s therefore so fitting that the Carnival come back to its Full of Crap Roots this week. It is one whole year since the first Carnival reared its fuzzy head!

I’m getting a head start posting this (link to follow) because when the Carnival goes up, I will be preparing to get on the Great Silver Aerial Bus to go to Houston Sweat City. And I don’t want any of my Esteemed Readers to miss out.

Update: The Carnival is up, and, as expected, Lair has done a sterling job. Check it out!


There’s an old story about a wealthy old man who is dating a hot young ingenue. Over dinner - an expensive dinner - he asks her, “If I were to offer you a million dollars for sleeping with me for one night, would you take it?”

The sweet young thing giggles and blushes, replying, “Ooohh, a million dollars is a lot of money - I suppose I would! Tee-hee.”

The conversation moves on to other topics, until, hours later, the evening winds down. Now the old guy asks, “Say, how’s about a hand job? There’s a nice, crisp five-dollar bill in it for you!”

WHAP! The sweet young thing smacks the elderly gentleman across the face and shouts, “How dare you? What kind of girl do you think I am?

[wait for it...]

“Oh, we established what kind of girl you are several hours ago. All we’re doing now is negotiating.”

With that introduction out of the way, this is an update on my project to whore myself out and score some free swag by advertising Adagio Tea on this (hitherto unsullied by crass commercialism) Personal Web Journal.

Adagio Tea. You’ll notice that there’s no link there. Not today. The deal was, put up a link and get a pack o’ swag. And I’ve already put up my link.

It’s a one-shot deal. One link. One post on the index page. No sidebar link. No button. Nothing that will stick around forever. Two weeks, and that sucker is buried in the archive, never again to see the light of day.

I got my swag in the mail yesterday, quid pro quo. Was it the fancy tea set? No. Was it the four-ounce sample tin? No. It was the dinky-ass sampler containing four one-ounce tastes of black tea, along with some little steeping bags.

Unlike Jay, I don’t operate an 800-pond gorilla blog, so I can’t get all excited about deserving the fancy “ingenuiTea Set” and not getting it.

I cooked up some of that stuff this morning before heading off to minyan. Tried the Earl Grey, which looked promising with little bergamot flowers mixed in amongst the tea leaves. That stuff was heady enough to have perfumed my entire car when I tore that shipping box open yesterday, and it did not disappoint. That is an unbiased review. Quid pro quo. One link, one tea freeb. The review is gratis.

Would I order this stuff if I had to pay for it? Mebbe. I’m a Republic of Tea fan - no swag from them! - and I resist change, but you never know.

Hmmm. What kind of blogger do you think I am?


A recent post at Gut Rumbles about driving fast set me to reminiscing.

As a regular on the Atlanta-Savannah run, the idea of getting from the Atlanta airport to Savannah in 2 hours 30 minutes just plain freaks me out.

I don’t drive fast-fast any more - at least, not by Atlanta standards. That means that I will go 70 on the freeway where the speed limit is 55, but mainly because to drive slower than that will result in your being flattened like a puppy under a steamroller.

But I have, in the past, driven fast.

My personal record is probably the 120 I did somewhere in South Texas, driving between San Antonio and Laredo on I-35 in a friend’s Datsun 260-Z back in 1975. (Yes, Datsun. These were the old days, friends.)

Back then, I was driving a Mazda RX-2, a semi-dowdy sedan with a hot little rotary engine. This was before Mazda figured that that zippy rotary engine belonged in a sports cars (the RX-7). On the way home from work, there was an unpatrolled stretch of I-610 on the northeast side of Houston where I could open ’er up - and often did. You could kick that little Mazda from 75 to 105 MPH in just a few seconds, it had that much juice...and that’s what I’d do, cruising at 105 until the traffic thickened up to where that kind of speed was no longer a good idea.

The one time I got nailed in Houston was after I got off the freeway. A shamus on the feeder road pointed me (and quite a few others) into a parking lot. Seems I had been doing 50 on the feeder where the limit was 35. I resisted the urge to say “You shoulda seen me five minutes ago” as not being helpful.

All this, however, was kid’s stuff compared to my Belgian Adventure.

It was 1990 and I was visiting my European sales manager. For the sake of convenience, I was staying at his house in northern Belgium, hard by the border with the Netherlands north of Antwerp. (Convenience, and the fact that it made sleeping off all that Belgian beer and Scotch whisky a lot easier.) We had a flight at 7:30 the next morning out of Brussels to Geneva, Switzerland, which meant getting up at the Butt-Crack of Dawn and driving a good 90 minutes or more.

It was not a good sign when we were rousted out of our beds by Mrs. Manager at 6:00.

We were totally screwed. There was no way we could get to Brussels on time to check in, go through security, etc., etc., and get on the morning flight to Geneva. And that would mean rescheduling appointments and a whole lot of aggravation.

But my manager had a BMW 740-series turbo-diesel, and what’s more, he knew how to drive it. Fast.

We managed to clean up, pack, and get out the door by - what, 6:20? And we were at the Brussels airport at 7:10. By the thinnest of margins, we made our flight.

We cruised all the way to Brussels at 230 Km/H. That’s more than 140 MPH, folks. Didn’t slow down once. Good thing European drivers are trained from birth to stay the hell out of the left lane unless they’re passing, or we would have been a grease spot. Good thing Interpol, or the Belgian traffic cops, were all still in bed, or eating the Belgian equivalent of donuts. (Waffles, most likely.)

Gawd, was that stupid. And more fun than it should’ve been.

Saturday, March 19, 2005


What does a Flying Space Monkey know about cooking and recipes?

Visit the latest Carnival and find out. He knows enough to eat bro-in-law d’Elisson’s heavily-garlicked salad with little wooden stakes...

Friday, March 18, 2005


The Republican intrusion into the lives of American citizens is getting downright scary.

I have refrained from commenting on the Terri Schiavo case so far, mainly because there’s not a lot I can add to the sturm und drang of the debate, but the latest action by the cynical bastards in Washington simply has me stunned.
U.S.lawmakers said on Friday they plan to issue a congressional subpoena to keep alive Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged Florida woman at the heart of a heated debate over the right to die.

“Later this morning, we will issue a subpoena, which will require hospice administrators and attending physicians to preserve nutrition and hydration for Terri Schiavo to allow Congress to fully understand the procedures and practices that are currently keeping her alive,” three Republican leaders said in a statement.
It amazes me how the Republicans, formerly the staunchest advocates of minimal governmental intrusion in peoples’ lives, have made a complete 180-degree turn. What they are doing now is involving the massive machinery of the Federal government in the most intimate decisions that must be made by families in pain.

Make no mistake about it. This case has turned into a media-driven political circus, and it is no longer about Terri Schiavo, who is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) from which she will never awaken. It is now about people who are so wrapped up in the Right to Life that they have removed every shred of dignity that this poor woman and her family once had.

It’s very easy to cast Michael Schiavo, Terri’s husband, as the villain in this melodrama (He wants to starve Terri to death!!!), but to me, Terri’s parents, with their stubborn refusal to accept reality, have (tragically) become the bad guys. They are engaging in the worst sort of wishful thinking, hoping that their daughter will magically wake up one day. They refuse to listen to the physicians who have done brain scans that show a good portion of Terri’s brain having atrophied and been replaced by cerebrospinal fluid. They want so badly to have their little girl again...and for that, I do not blame them.

But this is so sad, so unfair to Terri’s husband - and to her.

Nobody likes to hear bad news. Nobody wants to lose a child. Nobody wants to believe the neurologists who have seen this sort of thing so many times before. But Terri has been gone for years now - what lies in that hospital bed is a husk, a shell. Let her go.

And for you cynical bastards in Washington who are turning this family’s agony into such a circus, shame on you. I hope you never have to deal with this sort of suffering on a personal basis, but if you did, maybe you would have some rachmones for Terri.

Let her go.

And you, my Esteemed Readers - whatever your opinions in this matter - make sure you have a Living Will in place, including written directives that tell people - including your well-meaning relatives - how you want to be treated in Terri’s situation. As for me, I don’t want that feeding tube if it means lying in bed like a vegetable. I will make room for someone else to walk the planet.

[Update: The feeding tube was removed Friday, after
Circuit Judge George Greer held a telephone hearing to consider the congressional effort to intervene. Greer rejected that bid and reinstated the order allowing removal of the tube. Congressional lawyers appealed the decision before the Florida Supreme Court, which rejected it.

Late Friday, in yet another attempt to keep Schiavo alive, the House Committee on Government Reform made an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court to have Schiavo's feeding tube reinserted, but that application was denied.
A difficult, heart-rending case...but we have a system in place to deal with it. Jeb Bush, the Florida legislature, and the United States Congress tinker with it at their peril. The Supreme Court, at least, knows how things are supposed to work. Now - may this poor woman find peace.]


What? Friday again?

That means this week’s Friday Ark is boarding over at The Modulator.

Don’t be like those stupid-ass unicorns and dragons who got left behind. All aboard!

Thursday, March 17, 2005


Comfy, no?

Yes, happiness is a warm kitty. [Sparky almost got it right.]

And therefore two kitties are twice as good.

She Who Must Be Obeyed is not always pleased when I post pictures of the cats cuddled up next to her. She fears the my Esteemed Readers will get the idea that all she does is lie around in bed, eating bonbons and skritching kitties.

And that would not be true. SWMBO works for a living, as do I. And she teaches, which means she works extra hard and earns every thin dime the Cobb County (yes, that Cobb County) throws at her.

But when you’re on your feet all day, what better comfort than to be on a nice warm bed (better yet, in it) with a warm, friendly mammal cuddled up next to you. And the cats? They’re a bonus.

Now, all we need is some whisky and chocolate. Nirvana!


A big Blog d’Elisson shout-out to my Irish (or Irish-derived) friends who are celebrating St. Patrick’s Day today.

They say everyone’s Irish on St. Patty’s Day. Well, no - because that would be unfair to the real Irish - but the sentiment is that everyone enjoys a celebration and so, OK, we’re honorary People o’ Eire for a day.

The Mistress of Sarcasm, normally resident in Savannah, is on her way back from a spring break trip to Austin, Texas. She is happy to have avoided the Great Drunken Debauch that Savannah becomes on March 17. Normally the “Beautiful Lady with the Dirty Face,” Savannah this week is the “Beautiful Lady with the Dirty Face Who Is Throwing Up in the Alley and Taking Off Her Panties In Public So As To Wave Them About.” With all of the local citizenry getting all slaintè-eyed with strong drink, I’m happy that the Mistress is far away from home, for once.

As for me, my pants are a (dull) green today, and I consumed a green bagel at breakfast at the Local Bagel Emporium. That’s not all: Houston Steve was celebrating his second-place win in a raffle, and he graciously took a small fraction of his winnings and purchased breakfast for the Minyan Boyz, so there was Fish a-Plenty.

Pickled herring. Baked salmon. Nova Scotia smoked salmon. Smoked whitefish. Smoked sable.

I tell ya, it was a Fishy Orgy.

In closing, let me share an old Irish-Jewish song with you, my Esteemed Readers, and wish you a most happy St. Patrick’s Day, regardless of your ethnic origin, religious affiliation, skin color, or political leanings.
There’s a little bit of Ireland in a place called Palestine,
And how it ever got there is no concern of mine.
For they sprinkled it with bardust, just to make the barflies grow,
And if you’ll give me a piece of matzoh, I’ll be on the go!


If I had a band, what would I want to call it?

The Mistress of Sarcasm has a few good band names up her sleeve, and I could add a few of my own. Of course, this is all highly hypothetical, because the last musical instrument I played in a public performance was the kazoo (really), and the Mistress’s electric bass sits idle, mostly.

But here are a few that might work...either as band names or blog names, take your pick:

- Buttloads o’ Hummus

- Rincoly Peeyanoe (“Wrinkly Piano” in Early Mistress-Speak)

- Red Silk Boxsters

- Peevish:Colon (Far More Irritating than a Pesky’Apostrophe)

What band/blog names can you come up with?

Wednesday, March 16, 2005


We bloggers can be absolutely shameless in our Pursuit of Goodies - almost as shameless as we are in our “quest for adoration from people who don’t know us.” (That quote cribbed - shamelessly, of course - from Acidman.)

I don’t have a PayPal tip jar - now, that really would be shameless, since I’m still using cheap-ass Blogger - and I don’t put up an Amazon wish list. Not yet, anyway. But now, thanks to The Zero Boss, I have an opportunity to whore myself out for some fine tea.

That’s Adagio Tea, folks.

Just click the link above to find out more about this wonderful product...a product that I have never tried, myself, but plan to as soon as their freebie shows up in the mail.

And I sure hope it’s a nice freebie.

Jay had to, ahh, deal with the Customer Service folks to get the nice freebie. And I can sure understand his consternation. It’s hell when you’re told you’re gonna get a freeb that never shows up.

Hell, I tell ya.

Now - go tell those nice people at Adagio Tea how much you love ’em. Me, I think I need to take a shower.


Bird’s Eye View hosts Edition #130 of Carnival of the Vanities this week.

Bird, AKA The Radical Centrist - he who writes Bird’s Eye View as well as the eponymous blog The Radical Centrist - is a man after my own heart. He’s a man who appreciates a fine fedora. Men in hats, out to take over the world!

And because of Bird’s appreciation of the fedora, Blog d’Elisson gets the coveted lead-off position in the Carnival. Boo-yah!

One small point: When you go to Bird’s Eye View, just be aware that there’s a quirk in the blog template that causes the main content to load below the left sidebar. You can sit there and stare at an empty page for a long time unless you think to scroll all the way down to where that left bar ends. Bird, you just might want to fix that quirk (which does not affect The Radical Centrist) - because it will tend to drive traffic off your site. Easily-frustrated blogsurfers who can’t be bothered to scroll, anyway. [This may be an artifact of my monitor at the office. At home the page loaded properly. I’m just letting you know...]

But do go and visit the Carnival. Bird has taken the time to write fairly lengthy intros to the various posts, meaning he has actually read them. Such diligence should be rewarded!

Plus, the guy wears a fedora. ’Nuff said!



Yesterday, in observance of International Eat an Animal for PETA Day, I enjoyed the flesh of many kinds of animals, including fish, birds, and mammals.

Tasty good.

For breakfast, Baked Salmon, AKA Kippered Salmon. Fish may not have the most advanced central nervous systems amongst the living things on this planet, but their flesh is plenty yummy, especially served up alongside some romaine lettuce and thinly sliced Vidalia onion.

For lunch, a nice, beefy chunk of Sirloin Steak. Leftovers, schmeftovers - when something tastes this good, who cares that you had it for dinner two days ago? Liberally coated with Montreal Steak Seasoning and lovingly grilled, this honkin’ hunk of meaty magnificence was delicious hot...and made an excellent cold lunch when sliced.

For dinner (supper in some circles), Take-Out Chinese Food. Or is it Take-In? I take it out of the restaurant, I take it into my car, and I then take it out of my car and into the house. Then I take it out of the sack, throw it on a plate, then put it into my mouth. Nothing fancy: Hot and Sour Soup for She Who Must Be Obeyed (and I am all too happy to obey when her command is, “Go order us up some Chinese"), Won Ton Soup for me, Moo-Shu Chicken, House Special Egg Foo Yung, and sweet Barbecued Boneless Spareribs made from...well, let’s just say it was some kind of mammal. Hell, the Egg Foo Yung alone allowed us to cover the entire Fish, Bird, and Mammal spectrum...

You get the idea. We dined well yesterday, we two, despite our not being in Houston to enjoy a fine Repast o’ Mudbugs with Laurence Simon. TFB.

Now: what’s for lunch?

Tuesday, March 15, 2005


It’s perverse to post a salad recipe today, seeing as it is International Eat an Animal for PETA Day, but I figure you need to have something to accompany that nice Prime Rib, porterhouse, filet mignon, T-bone, New York strip, cheeseburger, saddle of lamb, or what have you. And a little roughage is not only good for you, it’s tasty, too!

This recipe comes to us courtesy of Bro-in-Law d’Elisson, who spent a couple of years living with us as he studied for his degree in Culinary Arts at the Art Institute of Houston. And the post title should tell you that there’s plenty of garlic in this bad boy.

Wilted Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts and Dried Currants

Nice pile of fresh baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
Quarter-cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 or 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
Quarter-cup pine nuts
Quarter-cup dried currants
Pecorino Romano cheese

Put the washed and dried spinach leaves in a bowl.

Toast the pine nuts in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat, shaking frequently, until golden brown. Do not let ’em burn: the idea is to bring out the full aroma of the pine nuts without turning them into little carbonized Pellets o’ Death. Set aside.

Meanwhile, soak the currants in a dish of warm water.

Throw the garlic in a small saucepan with the olive oil over medium-high heat. Let it get nice and hot so that small bubbles appear, but do not let the garlic brown. When the oil is hot, dump it (and the garlic!) into the bowl with the spinach. Toss well until the spinach is slightly wilted.

Throw in the toasted pine nuts. Drain the currants and throw them in, too.

Toss well, then cover liberally with freshly grated Pecorino Romano. Toss again to distribute the cheese, then finish off with additional grated cheese on top.

Feeling adventurous? Use dried blueberries instead of the dried currants. You don’t need to soak ’em, by the way, but some folks like a softer texture to their dead fruit.

I love this salad, I really do. Sometimes I love it a little too much, and there are consequences, mainly owing to the high concentration of garlic and chlorophyll. But I will graciously spare you the details.


Remember all of those dopey red and blue maps we were seeing so much of after the 2004 election?

It seemed that everyone was trying to use maps to make points about red states, blue states, red counties, blue counties, on and on and on.

Well, Michael Gastner, Cosma Shalizi, and Mark Newman over at the University of Michigan have come up with several inventive ways to create graphical interpretations of the 2004 election results. What they’ve done is to create a series of cartograms - maps in which the area of the various political units (states or counties) is adjusted to reflect their population or electoral vote count. It conveys (I believe) a better picture of the relative political strength of the various parties - the acreage of the states or counties, which is what shows on a normal map, really has nothing to do with how many voted wingnut or moonbat.

Conventional map showing 2004 election results by county.

Here’s a conventional map that shows the 2004 election results by county. The color scale is nonlinear - solid red for 70% Republican or more, blue for 70% Democrat or more, shades of purple in between. Note that there are a lot of ways to play with the colors, depending on how you want to spin the data or what, exactly, you are trying to measure. You can use solid red or blue to show who won - or more important, who is running things. Or you can blend the red and blue to reflect the actual percentage results, which gives you a better picture of the blend of voters in a given geography. The image shown is a sort of compromise between these extremes, but I like it from an esthetic standpoint.

Now let’s look at a cartogram that shows the same data, using the same color scale. Here, the counties have been scaled to reflect their population. The result is a strange-looking (but perversely beautiful) map of the country, one that shows a lot more blue than the first map.

Cartogram showing 2004 election results by county.

You can find more here.

Data and art: who’d ’a’ thunk it?


is the Church Sign Generator, courtesy of Lair Simon (This Blog Is Full Of Crap).

Hours of blasphemous fun!

Monday, March 14, 2005


Tomorrow is the Ides of March - International Eat an Animal for PETA Day.

And I will take it a step further. I will not content myself with merely eating an animal. I want mammal.

I don’t know what your plans are, but as for me, there’s a honkin’ big chunk of cold grilled sirloin in the fridge with my name on it. Unless She Who Must Be Obeyed gets there first.

As a fallback option, there are a couple of huge T-bones in the freezer.

And I mustn’t forget that nice, tender leg of Australian Spring Lamb. SWMBO won’t go anywhere near lamb, which means there will be More for Me.

Hell, I’ve worked up such an appetite, only a Country and Western Song will do to relax me:
You can have your birds and your fishies, too
Of course, I know they’re good for you
But sometimes nothin’ but Red Meat will do
Eat a Mammal for PETA.

Brown rice is nice, but I won’t think twice
And that bland ol’ tofu needs too much spice.
If you’re feelin’ hungry, take my advice -
Eat a Mammal for PETA.

You got tasty cows and delicious lambs
And if ya ain’t Jewish, ya even got hams.
I buy ’em by the gross at Costco or Sam’s -
Eat a Mammal for PETA.

[I got dibs on them ribs, sibs...]

So grab some beef, or bear, or even some beaver.
Get out of the way and hand me that cleaver,
I’m deep in the grip of Carnivorous Fever.
Eat a Mammal for PETA!

[You can find out more about the Third Annual International Eat an Animal for PETA Day at And if you’re in Houston, don’t forget Laurence Simon’s IEAFP bash this evening at the Rajun Cajun on Richmond!]


I vant to be alone.

When I, Miss Hakuna, wish to have a little “alone time” – which is often – I will sometimes secret myself between the two mattresses of the guest room trundle bed. The Great Bifurcated Gods do not often trouble me there.

It is quiet, and it has that pleasant nest-like feeling to it, like being snuggled up next to Momma Kitty so long ago...

Until Mr. Busybody with the grubby, pokey hands comes along. Dammit, I vant to be alone!

The mysterious red dot.

And now that you’ve dragged me out of my Sanctum Sanctorum and let me cuddle up against the Leg o’ SWMBO, what the hell is this annoying red dot?

Can I eat it? No.

Can I touch it? No.

Can I smell it? No.

And since the Great Bifurcated Gods had my genitalia adjusted when I was a kitty, I do not even care to screw it.

Why, then, do I want it so much?

Sunday, March 13, 2005


Carnival of the Cats #51 is up and running at Maggie’s Meanderings.

How many bloggers do you know who can post catpix and sing Carmina Burana?


What sort of searches point people to Blog d’Elisson? Here are the top twenty, according to BlogPatrol:

man bites dog (Google)

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Georgia Hail Storm February 21, 2005 (Google)

Blog D Ellison (Google)

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hakuna (Google)

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savannah blog (Google)

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charlie hatton (Yahoo)

sunbathing (Netscape)

I took a picture of carrot top 2005 (Google)

cherry herring (Google)

sylvia browne homosexual (Google)

intara wut (Google)

Idea stolen from Karen at Verbatim.


Blogging for Books

[Following is my entry in the Blogging for Books contest #9, hosted by The Zero Boss. This month, entrants must write a blog post about any incident in their lives in the style of their favorite author. The author can specialize in either fiction or nonfiction, and can even be another blogger. See if you can figure out whose style I used...]

It is 8 o’clock of a Sunday evening and I am sitting in Mindy’s restaurant on Broadway partaking of some cheese blintzes, which is a very fine dish indeed, when in walks a fellow with a white fedora. Of course I know this fellow to be none other than Elisson, because of all the citizens who are likely to be in Mindy’s restaurant at any given time, he is the only one who is likely to be sporting a white fedora, never mind that it is the middle of March.

And this Elisson with the fedora comes right up to me and gives me a big hello, and I give him a big hello right back, as Elisson is always ready with the jokes and is even ready to stand a citizen to a platter of blintzes when said citizen has lost all of his potatoes on some proposition or another. That is not the case with me this fine evening, but it never hurts to be prepared, as them Boy Scout types would say.

Well, Elisson sits down and orders a dish of gefillte fish with horseradish, a dish for which Mindy’s is well-known and even famous, and we talk about how things on Broadway are not the same as they were in the old days. I notice that the older a citizen gets, the more likely he is to talk about how things are not the same as in the old days, and Elisson is no exception, seeing as how he is getting a bit long in the tooth.

“You notice how nobody on Broadway seems to care about the old stuff anymore?” says Elisson. “Nobody goes to the races anymore, and I am thinking that this is because the OTB came in and took all the fun out of it. And nobody seems to care about shooting some craps anymore, because you can run down to Atlantic City or up to Foxwoods and shoot dice, completely on the up-and-up. Even poker has lost its mystery – they show it on the television, and every Tom, Dick, and Harry is now studying Texas Hold ’Em like a doll studies a guy’s wallet. I am thinking that this has become a boring existence any more.”

“You have a good point,” says I. “Why, it seems that it is a good long stretch since I see most of the old gang. Nathan Detroit, Sky Masterson, Brandy Bottle Bates, Sorrowful Jones…come to think of it, these guys all must be playing the duck.”

And my fedora-wearing friend cannot help but agree with me, because it is as plain as the beezer on Durante’s kisser that lately many of these fine citizens are thin on the ground.

“I will lay you plenty of five-to-seven,” says Elisson, “that this blogging business has very much and not some little to do with it, too.

“Why, it seems to me that there is a whole new gang of citizens on Broadway, and they spend all of their time wearing pajamas and writing stuff that would be in the daily bladder, except that these guys do not care to write for the daily bladder as the dress code for reporter types, last I have heard, does not include pajamas.”

Elisson is right as rain about this, and as we are chowing down on our platters of blintzes and gefillte fish and talking about old times, I remember that some of these blogging citizens are not only writing such things as would be printed in the daily bladders, but they are also coming up with interesting propositions.

Propositions have been around at least as long as Broadway and these Johnny-come-lately bloggers are not the only ones who have the good ideas. I recall the time when Sky Masterson makes himself a few potatoes off of a fellow citizen in this manner. At the Polo Grounds, he buys himself a bag of peanuts from Schultzy the Gimp and dumps them in his pocket, and after the game is over, he says like this to the citizens walking with him toward the parking lot:

“What price I cannot throw one of these peanuts past second base from behind home plate?”

Well, everybody with two brain cells to rub together knows that a peanut is too light to throw much of anywhere, so Nebbish Nelson, who never met a proposition that he did not like, says, “You can have three-to-one from me, buddy.”

“Done – two Ben Franklins against six,” says Sky, and he proceeds to stand behind home plate, takes a peanut out of his pocket and whips it practically to the warning track. This is a most astonishing throw indeed, and it is a good thing for Sky that he is nowhere in the vicinity of Nebbish when it comes out that the peanut Sky throws is not a typical Schultzy the Gimp offering, but instead has been filled with lead.

But these blogging citizens have other propositions that are interesting in their own ways. Some of them have doped out a way to get a free iPod, whatever that is, and that must be a good thing because these iPods are costing not a little amount of moolouw over at the Apple store, whatever that is.

And there is another one that operates a contest every month and the citizen who writes the best “blog-post” wins a book. I myself have worked this proposition a few times but have zilch to show for it, but someone must think it is a good idea because a whole raft of guy bloggers and doll bloggers are writing like one-legged jockeys on nose candy in order to get hold of this book.

Well, of a sudden, Elisson jumps out of his chair and runs over to the front door of Mindy’s, where he hauls off and pastes a citizen right in the beezer and proceeds to give said citizen the old heave-o right out Mindy’s front door.

Mindy is, of course, none too pleased at this turn of events and so he says to Elisson, “What for did you put the blast on that citizen who, for all you know, could have been one of my regular customers? I can not afford to have my patrons afraid to come in here for a plate of sauerkraut and ribs lest some guy in a white fedora smack them upside the snoot. Please explain this to me, or I will have Cooksie give you the old heave-o.”

And Elisson explains things like this:

“A couple of months ago, this guy Cap, who seems to be on the square, comes out with a proposition. You write the best fifty-word movie review, and Cap sends you a couple books.

“And I am thinking that this is a good proposition, because I can write fifty words twice as fast as I can write one hundred words, and also, I am very interested to read the books that Cap is sending to the winner of this proposition.

“So I write the fifty words and there is nobody else that even bothers to write the fifty words, and I am thinking that there is not a single citizen who will say ‘Boo’ to me if I declare myself to be the winner of the proposition. But there is not a word from Cap on this matter.

“And then one day I send a note to Cap and he says that he is a ‘smacked ass’ or some such for forgetting about the proposition, and that I have won the proposition and he will send me the books. He even writes about this on his blog.

“But another month goes by, and there are no books, and I am a disappointed citizen.

“I send a second note and Cap sends back the same sort of answer, and I am beginning to think that I will never see those books unless maybe I am sending Gravel-Voice Larry to collect them, and I do not wish to do this because getting Gravel-Voice Larry involved usually means someone will get his feelings and other appendages hurt. So I am just a little bit frustrated, when of a sudden I see none other than Cap himself coming in the front door just now, and I am compelled to put the blast on him.”

And at this, Mindy says, “You have done me a favor, then, because I don’t serve Welsh Rabbit in my restaurant, if you know what I mean. Lunch is on me, boys.”

And then it occurs to me that Mindy is not referring to any melted cheese, or for that matter to anyone from Portmeirion or one of them places with two L’s next to each other, but to Cap, whose real handle is Capo di Nil, which translates to “Zero Boss” any day of the week, except my friend Elisson says it really means “Zero Books.”

Saturday, March 12, 2005


If you were ice cream, what flavor would you be?

Sounds like a Barbara Walters question, doesn’t it? But no.

This evening, She Who Must Be Obeyed, the Mistress of Sarcasm, and I were enjoying a Beefy Repast. The Mistress is between quarters at school, so she was getting her dose of Home Cookin’ before heading off to visit friends in Texas. She was describing some friends at school that were going out with each other despite their being dramatically different in habits and temperament.

The young lady is exactly that: the quintessential Southern Belle, genteel, well-dressed, courtly of manner, eschewing vulgar language. By contrast, her boyfriend is a Northerner: sloppy, with machine-gun speech that can spray a room with extreme vulgarity in no time flat.

But for some reason, they’re an “item.” Maybe opposites do attract - for a while, anyway, before the novelty wears off.

The Mistress was relating how this couple had gone out to get some ice cream. Southern Belle asked her boyfriend, “If I were ice cream, what flavor would I be?”

Northern Boyfriend considered this briefly and, in a languid Savannah-style drawl, responded, “Pralines and Dick.”

So: what flavor of ice cream are you?

Friday, March 11, 2005


I saw this picture in today’s Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was all too happy to snarf up a copy from Tony Pierce’s blog.

All it needs is a good caption. Something better than “Putting the ‘Ga’ in the PGA?” or “Sinking Putz.”

Come to think of it, “Insert” may have been a poor choice of words.

[Check out Outside the Beltway’s Caption Jam for more Caption Contest Fun!]

Thursday, March 10, 2005


Tiger Magazine, September 1972.

Well, a tiger is a cat, innit?

I’m giving Hakuna and Matata a break this week. Filling in for them is this motley crew of Princeton tigers, reenacting Washington’s famous Crossing of the Delaware on this vintage magazine cover.

Note the demented glare in the eyes of Tiger Washington. You’d be demented, too, if you were in the middle of a freezing river while some asshole was trying to draw a picture of you.


Yeah. Mr. Jet Set - dat’s me.

Yesterday, I arose at what the Mistress of Sarcasm calls “the butt-crack of dawn” to catch a flight to New Jersey. After lunch with a customer near the Meadowlands, it was back to the airport and home in time for dinner.

That “home in time for dinner” business was looking a bit sketchy for a while. During lunch, my airline called to inform me that my flight home had been cancelled. Not to worry, they said - I had a seat on the very next flight, departing an hour later. Foo.

But in a rare Stroke o’ Travel Luck, I was able to get back to EWR in time to catch a flight an hour earlier than my original return. Woo-Hoo!

While I was dashing through Newark, something occurred to me. Maybe I was just noticing it for the first time, but...

Nobody uses pay phones any more. Of all the pay phones I saw yesterday, not a single one was being used.

Thanks to cell phone technology, the pay phone is now the buggy-whip of the early twenty-first century. It’s obsolete.

Hell, some of the newer technologies are making plain ol’ cell phones look ancient. BlackBerries. Those nutty Bluetooth earpieces. Now, when you see someone wandering around, mumbling to himself, it’s like as not that he’s a high-powered CEO and not just some random psychotic. (Although if he has a stream of urine dribbling down his pant leg, I’d be placing my money on “psycho.”)

Beepers? Who uses them anymore? Used to be, you’d see someone with two or three beepers hanging off his belt, you would think, “Hey, this guy’s important. Either that, or he hasn’t heard about Beep Waiting.” Now, it’s just as easy to get a text message on your phone...or voice mail.

I’m not gonna miss the pay phone. As an old Road Warrior, I’ve spent too many hours in hotels and airports, trying to place long-distance credit card calls on old rotary phones. Or waiting for a space to open up at that bank of phones near my departure gate. Superman may diagree with me - last time he tried to change while holding nothing but a BlackBerry in his hands, he was arrested for indecent exposure. But that’s his problem, not mine.

Now, what’s the next technology that will be circling the drain?

Wednesday, March 09, 2005


It’s about time for me to put up one of my “What I’ve Been Reading Lately” posts, but for right now, since I don’t feel like writing the usual mini-reviews, I’m going to do it Meme-Style.

The Deal:

On your own blog, post the names of the last ten books you read, and, if you remember it, the months you read the first and the last titles on the list. Start the list with the last book you finished.

Here’s my list:

1. The Taste of America - John L. Hess and Karen Hess (March 2005)
2. Who Wrote the Bible? - Richard Elliott Friedman
3. The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon
4. Homeward Bound - Harry Turtledove
5. Les Halles Cookbook - Anthony Bourdain
6. My Movie Business: A Memoir - John Irving
7. State of Fear - Michael Crichton
8. Days of Infamy - Harry Turtledove
9. ’Scuse Me While I Whip This Out - Kinky Friedman
10. Shanda: The Making and Breaking of a Self-Loathing Jew - Neal Karlen (November 2004)

I’ll regale you with my High and Mighty Opinion on each of these puppies...soon. Meanwhile, it looks like blogging is interfering with my reading. I’m about 2-3 books behind my usual pace.

Now: what have you been reading? (Beside this stupid blog, that is.)


Tired of the usual Bloggy Inanities?
Go and visit the Carnival of the Vanities.

This week, the Carnival is hosted by Solomonia.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


Some random pictures taken in Boston and Cambridge during our visit this past weekend.

Kody, Elder Daughter, and SWMBO at Miracle of Science.

Elder Daughter: Hot for Chocolate.

Elder Daughter.

Basement Bargain Boyz!
Jesse, Kody, and Elisson show off their acquisitions.

Boston’s Old City Hall.

Trees at MIT.

SWMBO relaxes at Harding House.


When giants meet, the earth shakes. Or at least gets nervous bowels.

Here we see Charlie Hatton (Where The Hell Was I?) and Elisson meeting for the first time. A brief period of mutual assessment and admiration... way to shop talk, anecdotes, and mildly coarse behavior. But not too coarse: there are ladies present!

Charlie and Elisson.

A few drinks...some Persian food...and it’s as if we’ve known each other for years.

Blogging - it’s more than just flinging around a bunch of electrons, folks!


A couple of years ago, Elder Daughter turned me on to a new flavor of toothpaste.

[“Turned me on to.” Now, there’s a real ’60’s expression. Bejus, am I showing my age. Oy.]

Anyway, I don’t know about you, but every so often, I get tired of the same old Minty Freshness. Pfaugh. So I start jonesing for an Interesting New Flavor.

Tom’s of Maine has a few unusual ones. They have a Fennel toothpaste I like, and a Gingermint flavor that is pretty good...but after half a tube of these bad boys, I find myself looking for the plain ol’ Colgate again.

Crest - a brand I normally despise - came out with a few oddball flavors, including a mint gel with some horrendous orangey-bubblegummy pong that made me want to boil my mouth so as to rid myself of the taste. Feh.

But Elder Daughter had spent a year in England a couple of years ago and had discovered a new flavor of Colgate that she was also able to buy back home. There’s a little Indian spice shop cum grocery in her neighborhood - Shalimar, I believe the name is - and they carry Colgate Herbal from time to time. The toothpaste is made in India, and it has an indescribable herbal flavor that is refreshing, never seems to get tiresome, and is just plain different.

After trying this stuff, I simply had to get my hands on it. But unless you live conveniently near an Indian drugstore (“chemist”) or market, fuhgeddaboudit.

I went so far as to call Colgate to find out where I could score me some of that fine Colgate Herbal, and to my astonishment, they told me that they were getting ready to introduce it in the States the very next month! Holy Crap, sez I to myself - there is a Gawd!

Well, the next month came around (this was January 2003, if my memory serves), and sure enough, Colgate “Herbal White” began appearing on supermaket shelves. I bought me a shitload of that stuff.

But I was disappointed to find that it is not the same as the made-in-India Colgate Herbal, alas.

Oh, it’s good, don’t get me wrong. Very good. It has been my standard toothpaste for these two years - except for abortive attempts to check out things like Crest and their Orange Bubblegum Wanna Makeya Puke flavored gel.

But it just ain’t the same.

The flavor is less intense. It’s almost as if they were ready to try something bold and different but got cold feet at the last minute, ratcheting the “herbal” flavor components back so that Americans - big flavor wusses that we are - would not be scared off by the exotic intensity of the Real Thing.

Well, screw that. The Real Thing is back in stock at that little Indian grocery, and I just bought a heap o’ toothpaste. I do believe a little Dental Hygiene is in order...