Saturday, April 30, 2005


What’s this?

Why, I do believe it’s food! Here, give us a taste, mate!

Matata challenges She Who Must Be Obeyed for ownership rights on a chunk of Mina de Matzoh.


On Thursday, April 28, Hakuna celebrated her tenth birthday.

Mostly, she celebrated by trying to stay out of Matata’s way. Because nothing says “Happy Birthday” like a nice, sisterly Bite on the Ass.

Happy Birthday, Hakuna! Fish heads and grog for all hands!

Friday, April 29, 2005


Today being Friday, we have a Double-Header: the Friday Ark, hosted as usual by Steve at The Modulator, and the 37th Carnival of the Recipes, this week at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Even better, Bd’E has a Double-Header at The Ark, with not one, but two - count ’em! - two posts. One is the usual Kitty Post fare, the other is more...avian. Check ’em out!

Gee...what if you combined the Friday Ark with Carnival of the Recipes? Bet you’d get some interesting recipes. Gack.

Thursday, April 28, 2005


Instead of the usual pictures of Hakuna and Matata, today we’re going to visit with The Original Carnival of Cats: Lair Simon’s Kitty Menagerie!

Here we see Laurence with Edloe, the Great Furry Grumpus. If it looks like Lair’s eyes are bulging just a bit, it’s only from the raw physical effort of hoisting Edloe’s mighty bulk.

Nardo, the Cat with Opposable Thumbs, made friends with me in short order. Here, he accepts an offering from the Humble Supplicant.

Frisky. Between her and Edloe, you have two of the finest, wooliest bed-warming kitties on the planet.

Piper was a bit of a recluse, but eventually she came out and accepted the skritches of the Humble Supplicant.

Aw, I couldn’t resist. Another one of The Grumpus.

And of course, Matata was only too excited to see me when I got home. “Back from your trip already? Saaaay...why do you smell like Other Cats? Have you been steppin’ out on me? Why, I oughta...”

[Rahel, I know this is gonna make you eat your heart out, but I gave them all extra skritches for you.]


Damn right. It’s the rare Suburban Wild Turkey.

Out where we live, most of the Wild Turkey is kept locked away in people’s liquor cabinets. But here, the Real McCoy is waltzing across the driveway of our friends Laura and Don Z-.

Quick! Where’s the cranberry sauce?


Last night, I worshiped at the shrine of perhaps the most famous cats in Blogdom: the cats of This Blog Is Full Of Crap.

Yes, I actually paid a visit to the King of Catbloggers his ownself, Lair Simon, bringing yummy treats for the four Simon cats. Does that make me a Kitty-Hajji?

Edloe and I hit it off right away. Lair calls Edloe the furry grumpus, but her actions belie her nickname. She’s a sweetie - and a big one, at that. About ten kilos of Kitty Goodness. Edloe actually ate treats out of my hand within moments of my arrival.

Nardo also favored me with the honor of accepting a treat or two from the Hand o’ Elisson. Aloof at first, he gave up the “hard-to-get” business within minutes. Skritchereenio!

Frisky would not take the proffered treat, but she enjoyed getting skritched...big time. Even Piper, the recluse, eventually warmed up and accepted her share of Rubby Love.

Lair is the King of Catbloggers, as I said before, but that is damning him with faint praise. He runs a string of websites and blogs, somehow managing to find time amidst the crevices of his day-job to put up hundreds of posts. If you are not already thoroughly familiar with TBIFOC and its satellites (Dear Abby Is Full Of Crap, The News Is Full Of Crap, The Dead Pool, Santa Claus Is Full Of Crap, Saddam Is Full Of Crap, the brand-new Tom DeLay Is Full Of Crap, and the soon-to-be-released Ariana Huffington Is Full Of Crap), you should be. Oh, yes, and did I mention the IFOC Catcams? And Carnival of the Cats?

The man has got a demon wit and a brain that works on overdrive. And I’m not just saying that because he loaded me up with Chuck Palahniuk novels before I headed back to my hotel. (I can be bought, but it takes more than that.) But what impressed me was that this guy, who savages idiots of all political stripes, who calls “Bullshit” on the Israel-bashers of Europe, the U.N., and the Arab world, and who can be both profound and profane when he writes - and he writes a lot - this guy gets all melty when it comes to them beautimus cats of his. So he’s got his priorities straight, anyway, interspersing Asshole Rippin’ with Kitty Skritchin’.

This historic occasion will be suitably documented with photographs once I return home from Sweat City tonight. And meanwhile, the question remains: Why is there no cat named Buffalo Speedway?

Wednesday, April 27, 2005


Holy Crap.

It looks like TeaFizz has resurrected my infamous Punchbowl Meme.

Even now, this vile piece of work is swirling around the Bloggy-Sphere, although as yet it has touched a relatively small number of writers. And maybe that’s a good thing...

Just for (ahem) shits and giggles, I decided to do a little Meme-Tracking. It looks like, as of this writing, The Toid has penetrated nine 14 levels deep. Over 69 165 blogs have been tagged and at least 30 80 have gone so far as to write a piece of Punchbowl Poetry. Even a few “untagged” people are responding and passing (you should excuse the expression) it on. It remains to be seen whether this will become the Next Big Blog Thing - I kinda doubt it - or whether it will end up circling the drain quickly. Its success hinges, I suppose, on just how revolting bloggers are willing to be. Heh.

Update, 4/29: This thing appears to be taking on a bizarre life of its own. As in a game of telephone, people change things and leave things out. Some people have forgotten to pass on the requirement that the second and fourth lines rhyme, while others are going to haiku and blank verse variations. Fascinating. There’s even one blog that posted an .mp3 file of a synthesized voice (purported to be physicist Stephen Hawking) reading the Offensive Poetry (!)

Meme propagation is similar to chain reactions in nuclear and conventional chemistry. As long as your reaction is kicking out enough “neutrons” to be self-sustaining, it will just roll.

It’s rapidly getting to where I will be unable to track its progress any longer...

Here are the tracking stats. An asterisk (*) indicates a response and this mysterious symbol (§) indicates a blog that has been tagged two or more times:

Blog d'Elisson (Originator)
1 TeaFizz (*)
1.1 This Blog Is Full Of Crap (§)
1.2 Gut Rumbles
1.3 Tulip (*)
1.3.1 Dating Dummy (*) Tired of Men (*) Home Detention Lady (*) Spelunk in the Trunk (*) Bloken Blogic The Silly Page (*) You can't make this stuff up (*) only in the desert (*) one day i will write a book Holy Schmidt! (*) Tof Reknin Day! The Spurious Plum (*) (end) (§) Terri~Torial Spookalot (*) Jenorama Outside In 500 Miles to Nowhere (*) BosphorusRamblings Wilson World (*) (*) Clear Lake Reflections insert witty title here (*) Espresso Sarcasm Domestic Deviance (*) Of Sinners and Saints Scorpio Ascendant lyddy the morning guy kiwords Stress Rehearsal TheBerryPage Von Krankipantzen (*) Suburban Misfit (*) The Spurious Plum (*) (end) (§) Random and Odd Dad Gone Mad Nerds Are In Mowses Hum Pij Life With Harlow And The Boys (*) Doc Ern Goodnight, John Boy klog (*) madden round the land (*) Sharkey Malarkey (§) babbling bente (*) don't take any wooden nickels Out OUR Way… iknowthismuchistrue... Wave of Modulation Baby Lauren (*) 4 Sanity's Sake The Speth Adventures Sharkey Malarkey (§) Lady Bug high on boredom (*) What Was I Thinking? (*) The Bucky Four-Eyes Cotillion (*) poop and boogies (*) (end) Snick-r-snack Life Through Cherry's Colored Glasses serially single (*) Charming But Single Indian Girl Dating Lady at 5280 (*) just waiting to be screwed over… A Singular Man the bachelor chronicles Grateful Dating (*) Voyeurism for the Literate Dating in Miami
1.3.2 President George Bush
1.3.3 Dr. Sanjay Gupta
1.4 Just Breathe (*)
1.4.1 Phin's Blog (*) Sortapundit Oystersnout (*) Pirate's Cove (*) Cao (*) And Rightly So (*) Flight Pundit (*) Stacking Swivel (*) GM’s Corner American Warmonger (*) (§) The Adventures of Chester Point of Tears (*) Bubblehead.US Cow Dog The Unbearable Bobness of Being Ogre's View (*) Ravings of a Mad Tech Crystal Clear Cathouse Chat And What Next… (§) Vince Aut Morire (*) Cranky Neocon (*) Llama Butchers Saving Aeneas Fistful of Fortnights Six Meat Buffet (*) Steal the Bandwagon (*) Merri Musings (*) Kender's Musings (*) My Vast Right Wing Conspiracy (*) It's A (*) The Nose On Your Face (*) Point Five (*) Right Hand of God IBeJO (*) This Blog Is Full Of Crap (§) The Flying Space Monkey Chronicles (§) Evil White Guy (*) Straight White Guy Velociworld (*) BaneRants (*) (end) The Boiling Point (*) Redneck Ramblings (*) Parkway Rest Stop (*) A Different Lemming (*) Irritation Station Rightwingsparkle The Therapist (§) Villainous Company (*) TigerHawk Heigh-Ho (*) Castle Argghhh! Wuzzadem (*) The Ebb and Flow Institute (*) Riehl World View (*) Third World County (*) Boudicca's Voice (*) One Happy Dog Speaks Miasmatic Review And What Next… (§) Anywhere But Here (*) purple fish guts (*) This Blog Is Full Of Crap (§) mountaineer musing Random Rambling The Therapist (§) Pajama Pundits (*) Army of Mom BeldarBlog fling93 loves fishies (*) No Government Cheese (*) Bare Naked Larry (*) Not for sale. Please come again I Love Jet Noise BlameBush! Hector Vex's Infotainment (*) (end) What Attitude Problem? Garfield Ridge Julie with a B (*) LOSLI (*) BurstTransmission (*) Daisy Cutter (*) MakesMeRalph American Warmonger (*) (§) Holy Tornado (*) Patty-Jo (*) Miss Patriot (*) aimeebreanne Texican Tattler (*) Pirates! Man Your Women! The Baba Gannouj (*) hamstermotor (*) American Girl (*) I Was Just Thinking (*) Espresso Ramblings (*) She Said Hopefully The Daily Blitz DJ Groovy Slug Spins... (*) This Just In Butterfly's Flutter Bys (*) Branches Over My Head (*) 1,000 Shades of Fool absent without leave My Journey Turn the page (*) BackTalker1 Dazed and Confused (*) Pongomania. Woodland Forays limbshiplace (*) English 344 School is Cool The Tango Project Saving Switzerland (*) Metaphysically Wrinkle Free Bad Example Moe's Woes (*) The Flying Space Monkey Chronicles (§) The Blue Site GOP and the City
1.4.2 TheWizard
1.4.3 WitNit (*)
2 The Bisch (*)
2.1 Mango
2.2 Fat Eye For The Skinny Guy
3 Yoga Korunta (*)

All y’all out there are sick. Sick, I tell ya.


This week, the Carnival is hosted by the Ravings of John C. A. Bambenek. Get over there and enjoy a Steaming Pile of Bloggery Goodness!


Or, as most of us know it, chopped liver.

It’s Passover, which means - among other things - that it’s Chopped Liver Time at Chez Elisson. Sadly, I am the only one in this household who will touch the stuff, but in a way, that’s good: more for me.

This year, I took advantage of the duck schmaltz I had sitting in the freezer. In fact, I had been saving it for just this occasion.

To make your own Gehockteh Leber, you will need the following:

1 lb chicken livers
2 cups chopped onion
2 hard-boiled eggs
5 tbsp schmaltz

Take your chicken livers and devein them as best you can. Take a goodly tablespoon of schmaltz (chicken, or duck if ya got it) and sauté the livers at medium-high heat until they’re cooked through. Set the livers aside on a plate.

[If you really want to be hardcore, render your own chicken fat to make schmaltz. The crispy little cracklings that are left over - gribenes - make a terrific High-Cholesterol Snack by themselves - better yet, add them to the livers. Yow!]

Now take about four tablespoons of schmaltz and, over medium heat, cook the onions down until they just begin to develop some color. You want ’em lightly caramelized, but not burnt.

When the onions are done, throw ’em in a food processor with the livers. Pulse a few times until the livers and onions are well-mixed. Be careful not to overprocess, though, as you don’t want a texture like Portland cement. If you prefer, use a mezzaluna - and plenty of elbow grease - to chop everything up. The texture can range from smooth (not too smooth!) to moderately coarse - your preference.

Chop the hard-boiled eggs well (I use a hand-chopper) and then combine with the liver-onion mixture using a wooden spoon. Season well with freshly ground black pepper and salt. If the mixture is too dry, add more schmaltz as needed.

Chill and serve with matzoh. This stuff is great washed down with lashings of Kosher-for-Passover slivovitz - plum firewater brandy, which helps to dissolve the vast amounts of cholesterol from the lining of your arteries. Heh.

Any liver lover will tell you: If you’re suffering from Iron-Poor Blood, Gehockteh Leber beats the crap out of Geritol...tastes great, too!


Or: I Scream.

A call to a radio talk show today while I was enroute to the airport - yes, it’s back to Sweat City again this week - reminded me of a summer long ago.

The caller was reminiscing about Good Humor ice cream, which (as some of my older Esteemed Readers may remember) used to be sold from a fleet of trucks that cruised the neighborhoods in the summer. You always knew the Good Humor truck was coming, thanks to the distinctive jingle of the Good Humor Bells. No tacky prerecorded music for Good Humor: just the bells.

Back in my runny-nose days, when we’d spend several weeks visiting the Grandparents d’Elisson in North Miami Beach, I always looked forward to the evening arrival of the Good Humor Man. He sold, in addition to the familiar array of Ice Cream-on-a-Stick novelties, an item called the Bittersweet Chocolate Sundae. It was a little flattish cup of vanilla ice cream with a layer of bittersweet chocolate sauce on top. That sauce, with its ineluctable bitter chocolate flavor, is a sensory memory that I can conjure up today, forty-five years later.

Buried deep in the Archives d’Elisson, there is a photograph of me, my parents, and a Good Humor truck. One of these days, I hope to find that picture and post it. Because I’m the one driving that Good Humor truck.

Yes, Elisson was the Good Humor Man for one distant, dismal summer back in 1973.

I was heading toward my last year of college, and I was sick of working in the retail job I had had the previous two years. Beach jobs were almost impossible to get unless you had connections - at the very least, to get one of those coveted state jobs, you had to be a registered Republican. Political patronage, then as now, counted for something. So I applied at the Good Humor plant in Lindenhurst, a few miles east of home.

My training consisted of making the rounds for a couple of days with a Grizzled Veteran. There were two age cohorts among the drivers: college kids, and Retired Guys who would work the ice cream route just long enough to qualify for unemployment. Then they’d take off and spend the rest of the year in Florida. Cushy...if you were not encumbered with a High Maintenance Lifestyle.

The geezer who trained me drove one of the larger trucks, a van. He would go through a couple of six-packs during the course of a day, all the while instructing me in the Fine Points of Bell-Jingling. The lesson to be learned from this is, get your ice cream early and stay the hell away from those drunk-piloted trucks in the later hours of the day.

When I got my own truck, I eschewed the six-packs. My main vice was stopping on the way out to my route and picking up two huge bottles of Dr Pepper. I’d stick ’em in the freezer and work on those bad boys all day, by the end of which they were nice and slushy, perfect in that hot summer weather. A full gallon of Dr Pepper every day. Gawd.

I had my name on a sign on the side of my truck, but the kids on my route took to calling me “Gomez.” This was on account of my moustache, which conveyed a certain vague resemblance to John Astin (Sean’s dad, for you youngsters), who played a character of that name on The Addams Family. So naturally, I made up a new sign that said “Gomez.”

The only problem I had was one particular cop in Hauppauge who had taken a dislike to me - probably my longish hair and moustache was to blame. At one point, he accused me of hitting someone’s car in an apartment parking lot. I was cooperative (maybe foolishly so) and took my truck to the “scene of the crime.” It was so obvious that the ding on the car could not have been made by my truck that Mr. Arresty-Pants’s own partner made him lay off me. End of problem.

It was a good gig from the standpoint of being out-of-doors and on my own schedule, but from a financial perspective, it was a fucking disaster. Given the commissions I made and the hours I put in, I figured I was making about a buck an hour...but I worked seventy-two hours a week, leaving me no time to spend my meager earnings. Remember, gas was only 32¢ a gallon then.

My big stroke of Sales Genius was on Labor Day, my last day on the job before heading back to school. I stocked the truck until it groaned and headed out to my route. What with the holiday weekend, I had customers in droves...and I was prepared with the goods. I cautioned everyone that it was my last day, and I had no idea if or when there would be a replacement, so they had better load up. And they did. Damn near cleaned me out by the time I limped back to base that night with a thick bankroll.

A couple of months ago, I spotted a Little Golden Book in our local Printed Matter Emporium, and I had to get it. It was entitled The Good Humor Man, and it brought back all sorts of memories. I gave it to Dee, who already knew the story of those Good Humor Days that took place long before she had met me. After all, what could be more romantic than marrying the Ice Cream Man?

Tuesday, April 26, 2005


Remember that old prank wherein you would put a paper sack full of assorted Dog Turds on someone’s porch, then set fire to it, ring the bell and run like hell?

Well, that is the Mission Statement of the Bonfire of the Vanities, the Bloggy Assemblage of the Week’s Crappiest Writing, self-selected by the offending posters themselves. This week, Boxing Alcibiades gets to have the Flaming Sack o’ Turds on his porch.

Ding-Dong. (scamper, scamper...)

Monday, April 25, 2005


Kimberly, who spends much of her time blogging about Music and Cats, (architecture, too), dropped a comment on a recent post of mine, to which I responded in an e-mail. But, in the constant Hunt for Blog-Fodder, I figured that her question was one shared by many of my Esteemed Readers:

“What's with that awful jacket?”

The answer, of course, is that it is a Princeton Class of 1974 Reunions Blazer.

Princeton has some unique traditions with respect to its alumni reunions - at least, I think they’re unique, but I haven’t exactly researched the subject. Reunions are held every year, generally the last weekend in May (the date has shifted between end-May and early June in recent years), and run from Thursday afternoon until Sunday morning. People from all classes show up, although most alumni save their energy for the five-year reunions: fifth, tenth, etc. On Saturday afternoon there is a huge parage - the P-Rade, naturally - in which alumni and their families, led by the 25th-year class, parade through the campus and are cheered by alumni and students. It’s quite the spectacle.

One of the things that adds to the dementia is that each class has its own distinctive uniform. The newer classes may use various themes and ideas - one class, for example, is using a “Viva New Jersey” theme that takes off on Viva Las Vegas - but typically, a class will use a given uniform and/or theme for five years, then change it completely.

When you hit twenty-five years, though, that all changes. That’s when you get The Blazer.

Each class, twenty-five years out and upwards, has its own distinctive Reunions Blazer. These don’t change - except for rare occasions where a class will reinvent itself at its fiftieth reunion. And the variety is astonishing.

You’ve already seen my class’s Awful Jacket, but here it is again, in a photo of me and the Mistress of Sarcasm taken last year at my Thirtieth Reunion:

The Class of 1974.

But check out this beauty from the Class of 1965:

The Class of 1965.

Extreme? Sure! And note the matching vest on Mrs. Alumnus.

The Class of 1978.

This one’s a classic. Tigers are always welcome!

I could go on and on, but I will leave you with whatever appetite you have left.

Awful jackets ‘R’ Us!


...the creator of a successful meme, I’d sit back and watch it rip its way around the Bloggy-Sphere.

But I’m not. The one meme I tried to start, the Punchbowl Meme, never got any legs. Possibly that's because (1) it was disgusting, and (2) I relied on people who read Bd’E to pass it on spontaneously. What a dolt.

I’m lucky if I get comments equal to 5% of my visitors on a given day. To grab a meme? Too much work. So you need a meme that you can tag people with. Then, a good one will grow like a chain letter.

Well, I got tagged with this one by TeaFizz - so here goes.

First, here’s how it works. You need to pass this on to three bloggers. Tag! [Select three who have not already answered this thing, as otherwise you are merely trying to Piss People Off.]

Now, below you will find a list of 18 occupations. Select at least five of them (more is OK) and feel free to add to the list after you have made your selection from the list that was sent to you.

For each one you select, simply finish each sentence with what you would do as a member of that profession. Be serious, be funny, do whatever the hell you like: just complete the sentences, OK?

Here's the list I got from TeaFizz, with one more tacked on by me:

If I could be a scientist...
If I could be a farmer...
If I could be a musician...
If I could be a doctor...
If I could be a painter...
If I could be a gardener...
If I could be a missionary...
If I could be a chef...
If I could be an architect...
If I could be a linguist...
If I could be a psychologist...
If I could be a librarian...
If I could be an athlete...
If I could be a lawyer...
If I could be an innkeeper...
If I could be a professor...
If I could be a writer...
If I could be a backup dancer...
If I could be a llama-rider...
If I could be a bonnie pirate...
If I could be a midget stripper...
If I could be a proctologist...
If I could be a TV-Chat Show host...
If I could be a knish-stuffer...

Now, for my answers:

If I could be a writer, I could spend time writing an online journal for no compensation other than the occasional linky ego-boost or comment. On second thought, no.

If I could be a missionary
, I could, at least, have job security. A missionary is always assured of having a position.

If I could be a lawyer, I could sue myself and get rich.

If I could be a painter, I could spend my time deciding whether to paint pictures or houses.

If I could be a proctologist, I could study under the G.I. Bill. And I’d study the Big Question facing members of my profession: Is it true that a proctoscope is a silver tube with an asshole at both ends?

If I could be a chef, I could start the Extremely Slow Food movement, for those people who want their food prepared lovingly and carefully from the finest ingredients and who are willing to pay through the eyeballs for the privilege. But every so often, I would have to have a greasy Lump-o’-Crapburger from one of the Fast Food Emporia: Know thy enemy.

And a parting shot: If I could be independently wealthy, I could sit on my ass and blog all day. But I’m not, so I can’t. Shit.

Now, who gets tagged? Hmmm.

I’m going to pass this little gem on to Karen, who likes to do the Meme Thing; the inimitable Bakerina; and to Sharon. Enjoy. Heh.

Sunday, April 24, 2005


57 Varieties. It worked for Heinz, why not Carnival of the Cats?

Yeah, I can see it now: Heinz Kit-Chup.

Mira, lovely host of The Oubliette, has graciously put up the fifty-seventh edition of CotC. Visit and see some of the finest cats of the Bloggy-Sphere!


Every so often, Matata likes to help with the laundry.

Dammit! I was getting ready to fold that sock! And spindle and mutilate it, too!

Yes, there’s nothing like a nice, warm load of freshly washed, just-dried Human Garments for Matata to park her hairy ass in. And that’s why my undershorts are filled with cat hair.


Saturday, April 23, 2005


I spoke to Bro d’Elisson – technically speaking, he is also Elisson, but I’m the one with the blog – the other night. His leg was bothering him, painful enough to the point where he was going to have to cancel his trip to Atlanta to join us for Passover.


It’s a hell of a note when your plans are affected by your kid brother’s problems with his aging corpus. Getting old (er) is no picnic – but I still think it beats the Big Dirt Nap all hollow.

Bro had spoken to Aunt Marge and Uncle Phil and was concerned about Phil’s health. Phil has the attitude of a 30-year-old, unfortunately encased in a body that looks 70 but is really quite a bit older than that. And the signs of age are starting to creep in…

But it still beats that Big Dirt Nap – keyn ayin hora.

You may remember meeting Phil and Marge in a post I wrote back in September, when many sane Floridians were fleeing from the wrath of the eighty-seven hurricanes to hit the laughingly-named “Sunshine State” that summer.

Phil - with Sabrina, the Teen-Age Witch.

Maybe it’s kismet, karma, or What-Ever, but I always think of Phil and Marge this time of year. Passover time.

Passover – the Hebrew term, Pesach, gives its name to the Paschal lamb, and Pâques, the French word for Easter – is a holiday that has close associations with food. That’s because there are foods that are prohibited during Pesach, including anything made from fermentable wheat, spelt, barley, oats, or rye; and foods that are mandated: matzoh and bitter herbs.

As a result of the complex food-related laws and customs of the holiday, it has evolved its own peculiar dishes. Eastern European Jews will eat gefilte fish (think of it as the offspring of Mr. Fish and Mrs. Meatloaf), beef brisket, chopped liver, tzimmes (a sort of dried fruit and meat stew), spring vegetables such as asparagus, and the famous Chicken Soup with Matzoh Balls. Fruit compote and sponge cake for dessert... and all of this washed down with plenty of wine.

The central ritual practice of Pesach is the Seder meal, essentially a Socratic retelling of the Biblical Exodus story. Four mandatory glasses of wine punctuate the meal at specific times, with other glasses consumed at the participant’s (hic) discretion. For those ritual shots of vino – and only those ritual shots of vino - I use the tried-and-true Manischewitz Concord Grape Wine.

Ahh, Manischewitz.

Sure, it’s nasty, and sweet. Sure, it’s a favorite of winos around the civilized world. Sure, it has the finesse of a chimpanzee in a wedding dress and the subtle tact of Ann Coulter on steroids... but it has the absolute lock on the Passover Taste-Memory Association.

And for this I can blame Phil and Marge. You knew I was going to get back to them eventually, didn’t you?

Back in my Runny-Nose Days, we would spend several weeks in Florida every year, visiting the Southern branch of the family. Those vacation trips eventually became a thing of the springtime, which inevitably meant spending part of Passover with Phil and Marge, who would host the Seder meal.

Those were memorable Seders. Already wound up from the excitement of seeing my cousins, I would eagerly await sundown on Seder night – a chance to drink a few sips of the Elusive Fruit o’ th’ Vine, to eat matzoh slathered with charoset (a mixture of grated apples, cinnamon, nuts, and wine intended to represent the mortar with which the Hebrew slaves constructed the Pharaoh’s cities), and to eat gefilte fish with a load of horseradish sufficient to water the eyes and shorten the breath. I loved those Seders.

Not that they were “ritually correct” in any significant way. Yeah, we did the major stuff. We read the Haggadah – well, the first half, anyway. We ate the matzoh and bitter herbs. We dipped the vegetables in salt water. But I’m sure there was a lot we glossed over. I mean, my family’s level of Jewish Observance was such that we would, like as not, order in a pizza for the second Seder – if we had ever bothered to have a second Seder. [N.B. – Outside of Israel, Seder meals are held on both the first and second nights of Passover.]

But we always had fun Chez Phil ’n’ Marge. One night, our cousins’ dog, an evil-tempered piece of shit dachshund yclept Rembrandt, bit a chunk out of my kid brother’s hand. Yes, Rembrandt: the model of the Temperamental Artiste, creating Living Sculpture. It made for an exceptionally exciting Seder, and Bro still carries the scar.

And I still carry the sense-memories. Every year at this time, as the perfume of simmering chicken soup wafts through the house and the pong of freshly-opened Gold’s horseradish attacks the sensitive nasal lining, those memories bubble up from deep inside me, and I remember with love all of those Seder meals long past. All of those grandparents who no longer walk this planet. My mother, SWMBO’s father, both of blessed memory.

And I think of the ones who are still with us, and I treasure them.


Our friends Gary and JoAnn were on a family ski outing in Banff last month. Along for the trip was Gary’s three-year-old grandson Josh.

It was time to change Josh’s pull-ups: the little guy is now in that intermediate stage between diapers and Big-Boy Pants. And his Mom obligingly put him into a pair of Buzz Lightyear pull-ups.

But Josh was having none of that. He is a fan of the other star of Toy Story, and so, he announced loudly to the Assembled Multitudes:

“No, Mom! I want a Woody!”

And all of the adult males present responded in unison:

“Yeah, kid - so do we.”


I was out of town for this, but the story was recounted to me last night and was too good to pass up.

At the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium yesterday, two of the Minyan Guyz, Larry and Barry, were having an animated discussion. Larry, like so many of us People of the Hebraic Persuasion, tends to talk with his hands, so it was only a matter of time before he knocked over his cup of coffee. Quick action prevented him from getting a thorough Crotch-Soaking.

A Crotch-Soaking with hot coffee, of course, can be a Nut Scalding, too. But Larry dodged that bullet...and proceeded to gripe about it in his Famously Gravelly Voice.

“Hey, if this had landed in my lap, I coulda sued! Like that McDonald’s case, remember? I coulda sued them for boiling the Crown Jewels!”

Barry had a quick riposte:

“Aww, Larry - the evidence would never stand up in court.”

[Ba dump bump.]


I have refrained from posting anything related to Star Wars here - so far.

I enjoyed the hell out of Star Wars when it came out in 1977 - the summer of my wedding to She Who Must Be Obeyed. Saw it in the theaters three times, when seeing a theatrical release more than once was something I rarely did (or do today, for that matter). The sequels - The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi - were reasonably good follow-ups, with yet more special effects.

Yet special effects were not what drove the story. The first movie was an unabashed homage to the action-adventure and science-fiction serials of the 1930’s, complete with all the right Filmic Archetypes: The Young Hero, The Raffish Sidekick, The Wise Elder, The Vulnerable Princess. And in that movie, each Archetype played its expected role perfectly.

In the later movies (I’m still talking First Trilogy here), the Archetypes were put through the mixmaster a bit. More bang, more zoom. But they weren’t the same. They didn’t have the excitement of the Completely New Thing.

As for the second trilogy, of which we have seen two thirds so far, George Lucas seems to be either merely going through the motions, or he has bought in to his own mythos. These movies have been “kinda, sorta” entertaining, on a superficial level, but they just don’t Do It for me.

Maybe I’m just getting old.

Anyway, this is a long-winded introduction for something I snarfed up from Pete at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog:

Darth Vader’s Blog.

Yep, Darth has an Online Journal. And the entry titles will give you a nice flavor of the enterprise:

* I Am Surrounded By Idiots
* Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner
* Haste Makes Waste
* Lunch Surprise
* And Me, With A Pain In All The Diodes Down My Left Side
* New Probe Droids
* My Sinister Agents Have Failed Me Again

Gotta love it! It may just get me interested enough to see Revenge of the Sith when it comes out. I do so hope they impale Jar-Jar Binks on a spit and roast him over a slow flame...

Friday, April 22, 2005


The Friday Ark’s up at The Modulator.
Go there and see a kitty - or a ’gator.
’Cause Steve has truck with more than just the mammals.
He’ll link to posts of snakes as well as camels.

Thursday, April 21, 2005


Today was a little unusual in that it featured two - count ’em! - two - Events of Minor Religious Significance.

The first was personal: my mother’s Yahrzeit, the anniversary of her death. The Yahrzeit is observed on the Hebrew date, so it floats around relative to the secular calendar - but it’s always the 12th of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar.

Three days before the start of Passover.

I can tell you that our Passover seder in 1988 was the most difficult one I have ever experienced. Here it was, only three days after Mom shuffled off this mortal coil, and we were obligated to foreshorten the normal seven-day period of mourning - shiva - due to the arrival of the holiday. Not only that, but we were obligated to have a festive meal.

Well, it wasn’t especially festive - but at least we had the benefit of having the entire family together in one place already.

Seventeen years later, I still miss Mom, but I no longer suffer the acute pain of a mourner. That’s as it should be, of course.

Jewish practice with respect to death and bereavement is designed to facilitate the healing process for those who have suffered the loss of a loved one, while at the same time ensuring that the memory of the deceased is kept alive and honored. A seven-day period of intense mourning (shiva) gives way to a thirty-day period of restricted activities (sh’loshim) during which certain amusements - concerts, movies, and the like - are forsworn. After sh’loshim ends, the deceased is honored by the daily recitation of Kaddish for a year - eleven months for parents, who, as the custom goes, are said to have sufficient merit in the eyes of the Almighty that the extra month is not required. Once the year (or eleven months) ends, a memorial stone may be erected and the bereaved person is able to go back to a normal life.

But five times a year, on the deceased’s Yahrzeit and during special memorial services held on the major Jewish holidays, surviving relatives stand and recite the Mourner’s Kaddish.

The Kaddish is often wrongly described as the Jewish prayer for the dead. It is that, but it is so much more. The Kaddish is an Aramaic prayer of praise and blessing - one of the oldest in our liturgy - that does not mention death at all. Many versions of the Kaddish are sprinkled throughout Jewish worship services, where they function as transitions between different sections of the service. Its significance to mourners lies in the fact that it is a supreme act of faith in and respect for the Eternal to praise Him at a time when the natural tendency would be to blame Him for taking a loved one away.

Kaddish must be recited only in the presence of a minyan - a quorum of ten adult Jews. Therefore, to fulfill one’s obligation to honor the memory of a loved one, one needs the support of the community. It’s our local practice that the person observing a Yahrzeit treats the others attending minyan that day to breakfast at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium - a way of thanking everyone just for being there.

And that brings me to the second Event of Minor Religious Significance.

Normally, the day before Passover is the Fast of the Firstborn, a day on which firstborn males are obligated to fast in memory of the firstborn males of the Egyptians, who died in the tenth plague as recounted in the Bible. The fast is also an expression of thanks for the Hebrew firstborn males, who were spared. This year, however, Passover begins on Sunday. Because it is traditional to not fast on the Sabbath or the day before the Sabbath, the fast is moved up - to the 12th of Nisan. Today. And so, this year, the Fast of the Firstborn falls on my mother’s Yahrzeit.

There is a way to avoid having to fast. Completing the study of a tractate of Talmud is a happy occasion, one celebrated with a festive meal. So we simply tack on a Talmud study session to our morning worship, and Bingo! No fast.

And that’s just what we did. Our study session, heavily attended by the Annual Load o’ Firstborn Males, was followed by breakfast at the synagogue, so technically, I could have dodged the Breakfast Bullet.

But as it turns out, several of us ended up at the Local Smoked Fish and Bagel Emporium anyway, tradition being hard to ignore...and breakfast was on me. And I really didn’t mind, having had the honor of reading the day’s Torah portion.

Torah, Kaddish, and a chunk of Masekhet Sanhedrin. It was a nice way of remembering Mom before running off to the airport for my trip to New York.


Reflections on a Business Trip

I ride the Silver Aerial Bus again,
Heading north.
Italian Tommy meets me: my Corporate Friend.
The New York sky is blue, fantastic.
But my afternoon is spent with the sound of jackhammers
And the smell of molten plastic.
We leave the dingy plant
And roll - intermittently - along the Harlem River.
I gaze across at the House that Ruth built, a scant
Mile away. There, men with bats and balls
Make their living, running bases and contesting
Umpires’ calls.
If only I could earn a living thus, I think:
Wearing pinstriped whites.
I frown and blink,
And feel the age encroaching in my bones.
My life is paperwork,
Computers and cell phones.
A springtime day, all green in leaf and bud
Cam make me daydream, but
The smell of molten plastic’s in my blood.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005


Once again, Hakuna and Matata position themselves strategically at the top of the stairs, the better to collect the Kitty Toll.

Don’t even think of evading the toll, either. You may find yourself tripping over a Fuzzy Obstacle and sprawling headlong. The MSM will call it an accident...


Yesterday was one of those Tough Days at the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

No, not really.

One of my Weighty Responsibilities of the Day was to accompany a colleague on a golf outing with a customer. The customer sent two of their guys to meet with our guy, so our guy decided that he needed a Fourth Guy to even things up.

Dat’s me: Elisson, the Handy Fourth Guy.

The golf itself was pleasant enough, although my on-again, off-again skills were painfully rusty from months of inexcusable disuse. The fun began as we repaired to the locker room to clean up for dinner.

This particular Country Club is a big, impressive, Jack Nicklaus-designed affair in one of Atlanta’s northern ’burbs. Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown own a house that sits between the sixteenth green and the seventeenth tee, a gaudy monument to Pop Culture Excess. The locker room itself is spacious and well-appointed. I grabbed a guest locker, stripped down, jumped in the shower, washed up, got out, toweled off, got dressed: the usual Post-Golf Routine. Next step in the process was to throw my used towel into the Club Hamper.

That’s when I noticed a trail of blood that appeared to lead from the other wing of the locker room into one of the shower stalls. It was a respectable spatter trail, punctuated by larger splotches, as though someone was bleeding from a leg or foot and had walked from the locker room to the shower stall. Jackson Pollock would’ve been proud.

I called into the stall, not having any idea who might be in there. The answering voice established that it was my colleague, a gentleman to whom I will refer as “Irish Tommy.” [This is to distinguish him from “Italian Tommy,” another colleague that I will be visiting later this week.] The stall door was open…

…and there stood Irish Tommy, trying to stanch a gusher of blood that was issuing from his left shin. The blood was squirting out in an arc, as though his leg were taking a demonic piss. I could see that the flow was not pulsatile, so it was not a punctured artery – good – but I had never seen so much blood in my life outside of a Red Cross donor center. It was all over the shower stall floor.

“Jesus, Tom! We gotta get some pressure on that thing!” I ran to get some towels to make a clean compress and instructed Irish Tommy to keep pressure on the offending vein. A handful of bandages and some adhesive tape to hold the whole mess together, and we got matters under control.

It seems my friend has a wonky varicose vein that wraps completely around his leg. He’s had problems with this bad boy before…but now he’s going to have to do something about it. Something surgical.

I can tell you that whoever washes the towels there is going to have a frickin’ coronary when they see the pile of blood-soaked towels in the hamper. Probably, the Towel Guy will start scouring the locker room, looking for the guy who got shot over a Golf Handicap Dispute or some such.

With Irish Tommy bandaged up and no longer leaking fluid, we had one more thing to do: eat dinner.

And Tommy was a good patient, following kindly old Doctor Elisson’s instructions to the letter: eat plenty of nice, red beefsteak, washed down with lashings of Kenwood’s Jack London Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon. ’Cause when Red Stuff comes out, ya gotta put Red Stuff back in.

Ah, Corporate Golf! The bloody adventure never ends…


[News item, 19 April 2005: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is elected Pope by the Conclave of Cardinals at the Vatican. Cardinal Ratzinger chooses the Papal name Benedict XVI.]

Mob enforcer Tony “Eggs” Benedict sat down on the end of the park bench, the wooden slats groaning from the weight of his 325-pound bulk. He took one last draw on his unfiltered Camel and flipped the butt to the ground, where it smoldered unnoticed.

“Haddaya like that?” Tony said, to no one in particular. “They got us a German Pope, and he goes and names himself after me!”

Later, in the quiet gloom of the confessional booth, he found out, to his distress, that his newly-shared Papal Name did not swing any weight with Father Rindisi.

Whackin’ a guy will still get you 200 Hail Marys, with 50 Our Fathers thrown in if Father R. is in a pissy mood.


A Pæan to Martian Geology

Let's hear it for Yogi and Barnacle Bill:
They are two rocks that were found on a hill.
You can’t visit them in your snazzy new cars
and that is because them two rocks is on Mars.


This week’s Non-Controversial Edition of the Carnival is hosted by Conservative Dialysis.

This is a “classic” carnival: posts arranged by category, with a few descriptive words for each post - and no overblown editorializing. A model for future hosts to consider!

Tuesday, April 19, 2005


Senator Bill Frist ponders the Nuclear Option after his meeting with Christian conservatives, in which he agreed to join a telecast portraying Democrats as “against people of faith” for their efforts to block President Bush’s judicial nominees.

Previously, Frist
...has distanced himself from the statements of others like the House majority leader, Tom DeLay, who have attacked the courts, saying they are too liberal, “run amok” or are hostile to Christianity.

The telecast, however, will put Dr. Frist in a very different context.
Well, everybody’s got his or her own vision for the future of America. Why shouldn’t Senator Frist have his?


Today’s poetic masterpiece (ahem) is in honor of one of my Medical Buddies. One session with this guy could cure the Famously Constipated dooce™ of all her problems.

Why I Admira Ira,
or How To Rack Up a G.I. Bill

As regular as income tax,
I go to visit Doctor Flax.
He plumbs the deepest depths of me,
My duodenum for to see.
He brooks no ifs or ands or buts,
While he investigates my guts.
My innards are an open book:
With silver tube he takes a look.
I will not scream or moan or howl
While Dr. Flax checks out my bowel.
My liver loves his healing hand,
As does my pancreatic gland.
O Ira, master of your art,
Cure my digestion; win my heart.

Monday, April 18, 2005


Recruitment poster, 2004.

It’s more in the way of a top hat, à la Uncle Sam. This is a poster that was used to recruit campus interviewers for an East Coast institution of higher learning. It is also a Reasonable Facsimile of a Cat.


Penn: Prince Among Men
(An Imagined Tribute in the Voice of Teller)

’Way back when,
Dinosaurs roamed swamp and fen.
Eons passed, and then,
Slow, steady changes came to their DN
A. Over and over, again and again,
As lizard evolved, becoming duck or hen,
More numerous descendants filling vale and glen,
Generations passed—numbers too large to ken.
Now goats, now bears (like Gentle Ben)
And carnivores: the lion in his den.
What then?
At last — at long last — men.
And not just men — great men,
Men of history, like Franklin (Ben) —
Men of courage: Senator John Glenn —
Men of letters: those that wield a pen.
But I would give a sawbuck (that’s a ten)
Could any of them equal good ol’ Penn.
It makes me glad to think he is my frien’.

Sunday, April 17, 2005


That Mark Hoback
Just might be on crack.
Dude sure can talk smack
Like some ol’ Daddy Mack.

Jump back, Jack!
It’s a Hoback attack.
Blogshit all in a stack.
Pretty as Parton’s rack.

What’s that, Jack?
The URL, you lack?

It’s Virtual Occoquan.
And, Daddy-O, it’s gone, gone, gone.
So click here and step right on.
Hosted by Salon, mon.


How appropriate that Watermark is hosting the Carnival of the Cats this week, it being smack dab in the middle of National Poetry Month.

Even better, it’s National Poetry Writing Month: NaPoWriMo. To celebrate the occasion, here is a poem inspired by a Famous Cat:

Hello, Kitty

A former star
who graced that smaller screen in days gone by,
I recognized him,
his ginger pelt and tiger stripes
announcing his arrival.

Retired now,
he still commands attention with aristocratic voice,
a voice that holds a note of condescension,
or of boredom.

No more 9 Lives for him,
our little tiger.
His palate has a worldly bent today.
Shall it be French? Or Thai? Perhaps Chinese -
but then, with that aristocratic voice,
he casts his vote for sushi.

O Tempura! O Morris!


- I want to say one word to you. Just one word.

- Yes, sir.

- Are you listening?

- Yes, I am.

- Plastics.

- Just how do you mean that, sir?

[Dialogue between Mr. McGuire and Benjamin Braddock, The Graduate (1967)]

Poem in Praise of a Particular Polymer

Let us speak of the wonderful automobile—
That fabulous driving machine,
Made of rubber and glass (and let’s not forget steel)
And fine polypropylene.

We shall talk of the car seats protecting our kids
As we motor past fields so green,
And shiny containers with living-hinge lids—
It’s all polypropylene.

We will buy a dishwasher—yes, that’s what we’ll do,
Because we want dishes so clean.
It’ll last twenty years (give or take one or two)
Thanks to our polypropylene.

Don’t forget the fantastic returnable bin
Packed with produce: the lowly string bean
And the kumquat. To throw boxes out is a sin,
But we keep polypropylene.

And let’s go get some yogurt, both fruited and plain,
Low in calories: helps us stay lean.
It’s protected (so it will not give us ptomaine)
By food-grade polypropylene.

The stuff’s all around us! From birth until death,
Its impact on our lives is seen.
So please mold my coffin (when I draw no more breath)
Of long-lived polypropylene.


A recent post by Meryl Yourish reminded me that some time ago, I had posted the menu for my (imaginary) restaurant, House of Meat.

Meryl is the creator of Eat an Animal for PETA Day (EATAPETA Day), and I believe that House of Meat should be made the Official Restaurant of EATAPETA. Even if it doesn’t exist. Because sometimes the idea of meat is as important as the meat itself. Unless you’re hungry.

I’m rambling here, but it’s because I’m suffering from a mild Meat Hangover. We dined out with friends last night, and it was a Meaty Experience. Italo-Greek home cooking of the first water: braised lamb shanks, lamb saltimbocca, real old-school chicken cacciatore (you knew She Who Must Be Obeyed would not be eating that lamb, right?).

And it occurred to me as we sat at table, that to be truly worthy of being the Official Restaurant of IEAPD, House of Meat would need to add an item to its menu.

Something exotic.

Something expensive.

Something outrageous.

Something to send the PETA folks off the deep end - as if they weren’t already there.

And this is what I came up with:

Whale steaks.

But not just whale steaks. Any Norwegian restaurant can sell you a whale steak.

Baby whale steaks. Hell - fetal whale steaks. Kind of like veal, only from whales.

We could call it “wheal.” Get Real - Have Some Wheal™. Wheal™ - It’s The Real Deal.

Damn - now I’m hungry again!

Saturday, April 16, 2005


Now that I have rendered this Strange Alien Life Form helpless, watch me as I destroy it with my Kitty Laservision!


SWMBO and Elder Daughter.

It’s a treat when She Who Must Be Obeyed gets together with Elder Daughter - even more so because we live far enough apart to make visits less frequent than we’d like. That’s an unfortunate side effect of having intelligent, independent-minded children, I suppose.


In the world according to Elisson, turnabout is fair play.

Men are from Mars...

Marty sez to Jim, he sez -
I’m in a foul mood,
I’m full of nervous tension,
To my customers I’m rude.

And Mr. Panagopoulos
Was overheard to say
I’m hungry fit to eat a horse,
Let’s go to the Café.

And Louis says to Donohue,
My temper sure is shorter,
I barely fit into my pants -
Am I retaining water?

And all the ladies have a laugh.
Revenge, when cold, is best.
Just look at all these macho dudes
Beset with PMS...

But is that Susan’s scalp we see -
A circle clean of hair?
And what is that on Lisa’s head?
Is that a bald spot there?

While all the guys have PMS,
Don’t be too quick to chuckle.
With female-pattern baldness
You shine like a belt-buckle!


Ya want good eats? We got good eats.

Just go to this week’s Carnival of the Recipes, hosted by Countertop Chronicles. Plenty of fine dishes that’ll knock the hungry right outta you!

Friday, April 15, 2005


Lair Simon paid me a fine compliment today.

Thanks, Lair! Next time I’m in Houston, treats for all the kitties!


The Amityville Horror, that is.

Yes, the eagerly-awaited (hah!) remake of 1979’s movie about a haunted house on Long Island has opened. Oy.

The reviews are trickling in, and what I’ve seen so far isn’t very encouraging. But that’s OK - I have no plans to see this stupid Crap-Fest anyway.

I have a problem with Hollywood doing remakes of perfectly good movies - remakes that are invariably inferior. Can anyone say “King Kong”? (OK, I’m curious about Peter Jackson’s upcoming version, but I don’t expect it to be superior to the 1932 original. Different, maybe.)

How ’bout “Rollerball”? Now, there’s a movie that was screaming to be remade, innit? The 1974 original was not great science fiction, but not a bad little movie. Oddly prescient in some ways, too. The Naming Rights Mania of the last decade has resulted in a lot of sports venue names that would be perfectly at home in the World o’ Rollerball. But did we need a new one - with Chris Klein, yet?

Yep - when Hollywood remakes good movies, it’s bad enough. But when Hollywood remakes crappy movies, look out.

I’ll let y’all in on a little secret.

It’s all bullshit.

Yes, the Amityville Horror is based - very loosely - on a true story. The Lutz family did move into that house, a house whose previous owners, the DeFeos, had been murdered by their deranged son Ron. And the Lutzes subsequently moved out in a big hurry...and then had their “story” written up in a book by a Newsday reporter. But the Lutzes were marginally capable of affording that house, and my mother contended at the time that they had scraped up just enough money to buy it with the prior intention of concocting a “haunting” story...then got out after a reasonable amount of time living there. Of course, they eventually ended up making some fine coin from their adventure.

Mom was pretty familiar with the story, and with the house itself. We lived one town over from Amityville - just about two miles from the Infamous Dwelling as the crow flies. And she was friendly with the people who bought the house from the Lutzes. She used to spend a lot of time playing bridge in that house. It’s no surprise that she had a different perspective on the story.

Too bad she’s no longer around to tell us her take on the old Horror House. Bwah-hah-hah-hah!