Thursday, June 23, 2005


Nothing quite like looking out your window, as you’re waiting for takeoff, to see an endless queue of aircraft snaking along the tarmac, as far as the eye can see.

It means you are going to wait. Possibly a long, long time.

This picture is similar to what I saw looking out the window yesterday on my flight from Houston to Chicago. That same ol’ conga line. Fortunately, it looked worse than it really was and we were on our way in about 20 minutes.

But the picture is different. Look at all of those skinny-fuselage planes, the ones with four engines hanging from the wings. Those are Boeing 707’s.

The photograph - from the Elisson Archive - was taken at New York’s JFK Airport in September, 1968, during the height of a (then) unprecedented aviation boom. Too many flights without the infrastructure to handle them. Long waits - this one two hours long - on the tarmac as the conga lines snaked along.

The reddish color is a combination of the effects of sunset and Ektachrome Infrared Aero, which renders grass and anything else bearing chlorophyll as red.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


...and, dammit, I plan to take one.

I am logging a lot of miles on the Great Silver Aerial Bus this week.

Monday it was dinner in Manhattan. Then, at what the Mistress calls the “Butt Crack of Dawn,” it was off to Sweat City – Houston – for a couple of days’ worth of meetings at the Headquarters of the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

As I write this, I’m off to Chicago to meet with another customer, accompanied by another one of our Crack Sales Reps. By which I mean he is a skilled and talented sales rep...not that he actually sells crack. Just in case you were wondering.

It’s not a bad flight, I’m on, really. I’m sitting next to Terry Brechtel, former City Manager of San Antonio, a pleasant enough individual. She’s on her way to spend a few days in the Big Windy to attend a Library Foundation shindig with her husband, who’s following her on the next flight. She’s banging out some consulting stuff for one of S.A.’s neighboring communities...while I’m writing more Bloggy Crap. Difference is, her laptop computer is a newer model Dell, about half the size of this one – and hers is running an up-to-date OS while I am stuck with the Salt Mine’s NT 4.0 and Office 1997. Holy Crap...that’s so eight years ago!

Tomorrow, after an early meeting with Mr. Customer, it’s back to O’Hare for the trip home. And that’s when the week will really get interesting...because that’s when the precious, long-awaited Summer Vacation begins.

First: several of us will pile into our assorted vehicles for an evening drive into the wilds of Opelika, Alabama, there to begin a tour of four Robert Trent Jones golf courses. Four different courses in two days - seventy-two holes - as we wend our way towards Montgomery. And, as evening activity, as we soak and soothe our tired muscles (after rinsing off the Crust o’ Accumulated Sweat), there will be poker, fat cigars, and Whiskey Drinks.

With my bottles of Wild Turkey Rye and Herbsaint, my Peychaud Bitters, and my cocktail shaker, I can make enough Sazerac cocktails to bring visions of N’Awlins to shuddering, lurching life. It’s that or the Macallan Single Malt. Decisions, decisions.

Did I mention that this part of the trip is “Boys Only”?

She Who Must Be Obeyed enjoys her a drink now and again...and again, but the golf, poker, and cigars put her off. So I will hook up with her Saturday night, down in sunny (at least, when it’s daytime) Destin, Florida. That’s when the real vacation begins...and by that time, having spent a grand total of only fifteen hours with me over the past two weeks, she might even be extremely happy to see me, if you catch my drift.

I figure a few days of lying around on the beach, eating fine meals, drinking to excess, and catching up on our reading, will be just the ticket to recharge our saggy-ass Mental Batteries.

And by then my mental acuity may rebuild itself to the point where I can answer the question I always ask myself, year after year:

“Why in Gawd’s name do we go to Florida during the hottest fucking month of the year?”


On this flight from Houston to Chicago, they’re showing a movie on these dinky-ass screens that fold down from the overhead screen every three rows. There is one right over my head, which means I am as far from a watchable screen as it is possible to be. Watching the damn thing is like looking at a half-dollar held at arm’s length, so I have declined to pay the extortionate fee of five US dollars for a set of headphones.

Plus, the movie they’re showing is Robots. Watching this piss-poor excuse for a flick – even without the soundtrack to grate on my nerves like a wood rasp – is enough to give me the Screaming Meemies. Could they possibly cram more Violently Moving-Around Shit in the frame?

My aching ass.

Really. I’m not just copping one of Acidman’s catchphrases. My ass aches from sitting in this airplane seat. As much as Ca-Ca-Nental has gotten their act together in recent years, they still haven’t figured out the fact that if you have crappy seat padding, your ass will inevitably begin to hurt. And people with aching asses get cranky...just ask Rob.

Ah, thank Gawd. That rattling, clanging Visual Train Wreck is over at last. Roll credits!


Why, it’s gross, I tell ya!

Yes, it’s been a full gross - a dozen dozens - of CotV’s since the Carnival was first spawned by Bigwig over at Silflay Hraka as a way for bloggers to showcase their best posts and (ideally) be exposed to a broader audience.

This week, the Carnival is hosted by noted Houston-based blogger Laurence Simon at This Blog Is Full Of Crap. And, as expected, Laurence hosts the proceedings with style and panache, helped by his Notorious Squadron o’ Kitties.

Visit, read, and enjoy!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005


I don’t know whether they still have Color Wars in summer camp any more – the term is fraught with potential danger and political incorrectness. After all, we live in a society where a person can be chastised unto job loss for using the word “niggardly” in a sentence. [That word, incidentally, means “cheap” – it has no racial overtones whatsoever, except in the minds of ignoramuses – but let that pass for now.] Healthy competition is sometimes viewed with disdain, lest it cost someone his or her Self-Esteem. And, even worse, that horrible word...War! Why, it evokes...images of violence!

But years ago, when I went to day camp in the summer, we had Color War.

Camp, it should be explained, lasted for six or eight weeks, beginning at the end of June when school let out. In addition to providing us kids with a Valuable Recreational Outlet, it freed our mother up to play golf almost every day. No way were two snot-noses going to get in the way of her fulfilling her heavy responsibilities as a charter member of the Fairway Women of Bethpage.

[Yeah, that Bethpage. Five 18-hole courses back in the day, the Yellow and Green courses fairly easy; the Red and Blue moderately challenging; and the Black a total ball-buster. She’d play ’em all – and respectably well, too.]

But my brother and I would be packed off every day (sleep-away camp would be a couple of years later) for our sojourn at Captree Day Camp. And it had its good points. Baseball, archery, target shooting...all the kinds of stuff they probably don’t let kids do anymore for fear they’ll hoit their widdle selves.

The last week of camp was Color War.

The entire camp population was divided into two opposing sides, each designated by a color. My memory is a bit hazy on this score, but I’m pretty sure it was Blue versus Red. And for the hell of it, each side picked the name of a country. Our side chose the USA, and we were obnoxiously patriotic about it. I have no idea what country the other side selected as their avatar – but who gives a shit? They couldn’t stand up to the mighty USA.

The “war,” per se, consisted of any number of competitions. Baseball, track events, you-name-it. Forging a competitive, “never say die” spirit and teaching us that self-esteem is something you earn through your own hard work. What-ever.

And we would sing Color War Alma Maters and crap like that, which I now suspect the counselors and staff made up when they were drunk or stoned and had been reading too many Mad magazines:
We thank Uncle Mike and Aunt Flo
For teaching us things we must know
Shirley, Joan, and Sy for helping us live and play to-ge-ther...
(to the tune of “Younger Than Springtime”)
Even today, that fucking song sticks in my head like an earwig.

But we won, dammit! USA rules!

And then summer was over. Back to the real competition. Back to Grade School.


The latest Bonfire of the Vanities (Puppy Blending Edition) is up at It’s A, where nine Bonfires in one can roast a whole lotta blended puppies. I guess we should all be prepared for the Itsalanche.

Go check out the Worst the Bloggy-Sphere Has to Offer™!

Monday, June 20, 2005


I’m relaxing in my hotel room hard by New York’s La Guardia Airport after a meaty dinner in midtown Manhattan.

The flight in on the Great Silver Aerial Bus was uneventful. I sat by a starboard window, which gave me a magnificent view as we made our approach to the Big City.

The familiar scenery unrolled past the window. Sandy Hook, New Jersey. Coney Island, with the skeletal remains of the old Parachute Jump. Belt Parkway. The Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting eastern Staten Island with Brooklyn.

And then, Manhattan. We flew directly over the Hudson River, past Lower Manhattan with the intricate traceries of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Manhattan Bridge just north of it, spanning the East River. I looked right into the enormous gash in the ground at Ground Zero.

Can anyone look at the place where the Twin Towers once stood without feeling a momentary pang?

Still over the river, we passed midtown Manhattan, the needles of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings seemingly close enough to touch. Then up past Central Park. Columbia University. Grant’s Tomb. Then, the long swoop over the Bronx, toward the distant Throgs Neck and Whitestone bridges, lining up for the La Guardia runway.

As many times as I’ve seen New York from the air, it still takes my breath away.

Checked in to the hotel, there to be met by Italian Tommy, our ace New York sales rep. Then into Manhattan for dinner.

Tuna tartare for starters, then a nice, juicy hanger steak with garlicky broccoli rabe on the side. It was a lot like the one I made for myself last week, only this one cost six times as much. Fortunately for me, the Great Corporate Salt Mine pays the freight on adventures such as these.

Now, I’m back, in a ruminative frame of mind. And it occurs to me that Harry Potter would know just what to do in my situation: He’d wave that wand of his at his distended entrails and say, “Digestio!”

And now I need to work my own kind of magic. “Alarum preparatio!” “Obtenium shuteye!”

Until tomorrow, Esteemed Readers. Sweat City beckons!

Sunday, June 19, 2005


A hearty Blog d’Elisson welcome to those of you who are stopping by to see all of the Feline Pulchritude of Carnival of the Cats.

After you’ve had a chance to check out the many Carnival links, feel free to spend a little time getting to know what lurks under that ol’ White Fedora. Here are a few of my favorite posts, for your convenient delectation:

Say, who knows? You may just like it here enough to become a regular visitor. Blog d’Elisson: more than just the cats!


Welcome to the 65th edition of Carnival of the Cats!

This week’s Carnival is brought to you by Hakuna and Matata, the Resident Kitties at Chez Elisson.

Hakuna on the Stairs     Matata in the Bag

Hakuna: Elisson tells me that there are forty-six posts in this week’s Carnival! Why, I do believe I will slink off to my nice Quiet Place inside Elisson’s box spring whilst all of these Strange Kitties come to visit.

Matata: Ahh, cats! So many cats! O, how many of them can I terrorize with my Dog-Like Personality?

First off, Christine of BTW... presents Biscuit, a handful of orange tabby goodness. Too bad the household dogs think a “Biscuit” is something to eat. Auntie to the rescue!

Gina (A Weight Lifted) weighs in with a Tale of Two Kitties, Part 2, with a fascinating (and surprising!) lesson in feline longevity as illustrated by “Laurel” and “Hardy” (my names, not hers).

From Bootstrap Analysis comes Nuthatch’s horror story about when not to pick up an unhappy cat. Many of us would say “never,” but pretty much all of us would agree on “not when you’re naked.” Alas, this post lacks a photograph of Nuthatch and Kady in feligrante delicto.

And from Jim’s Lemurland blog comes this picture of an extraordinarily literate cat, Molly. You could call it “Kitterati Literati,” I suppose.

No Carnival is complete without a visit from Mister Gato, the tabberrific mascot of enrevanche. Here, El Señor Cat is - what? - apparently shredding and/or crushing a Records Storage Box whilst displaying the ol’ Cat Haunch. Barry Campbell is, I suspect, helping Mister Gato seek employment in a top accounting firm.

Kat, of The Wisdom of Change, tells a sad but all-too-common story, that of an abandoned cat. Bad enough that the father of her kittens got squashed by a car, now her human companions have kicked her to the curb. Bastards.

At Mélange, srp shows off the elegant, blue-eyed Nickerdoodle, propping up the world. Nicky favors what I refer to as the Old Man Posture, sitting on his butt with legs out front. Hey, comfort is comfort.

Alicia, of The Venus and Mercury Cat Blog, shows us how her kitties love their toys. What with Mercury’s grey color and being tagged with nicknames like “Tubs,” you would think Matata was leading a double life.

Ferdinand T. Cat, AKA The Conservative Cat, likes to help his human companion Bruce with his work by cramming himself into a convenient chair. It’s a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Julie, of the blog, has handsome Bandit starring in this week’s Friday Cat Blogging. Bandit seems to be asking the question, “Is it Saturday yet?”

Check out Chuq’s site, 7610 - there, you will see Blur demonstrating his India-Rubber Cat routine.

At Quite Early One Morning, BJ digs into the archives to show us some pictures of Pi and friends. I can appreciate the bittersweet aspect of the Wayback Machine, having recently posted pictures of our first cat, Stripes. (Love the Don Martin banner, BTW...)

Aunty Holly presents Faster PushyCat Run Run!, being the further adventures of Princess PushyCat and Captain Morgan. Worth checking out for the title alone, especially if you’re a Russ Meyer fan.

Pipsqueak, over at The Common Room, is looking for a name for this newborn calico. Well, not quite newborn anymore - she’s now three weeks old. Anybody? Anybody?

At Scribblings, Amber displays her Food Whore Talents (turkey, Mommy!) while Mouse looks on disdainfully, content with the Ol’ Dish o’ Kibble.

Annoyed? Naaah. Spider looks way too comfortable in this Friday Cat Blogging post from Jazz at Running Scared. And as far as “reclusive” is concerned, Spider can take lessons from Hakuna, the Cat That Hides In The Box Spring.

Jill of Brilliant at Breakfast serves up Miss Jennifer: The Sweetest Cat On Earth. Of course, to claim that title, Miss Jenny will need to go mano-a-mano with Matata in a Steel-Cage Skritchies Match...

Ogre, who (unbeknownst to him) taught me everything I know about tracking memes, has tracked down a Most Formidable Kitty.

The Desert Rat Democrat gives us this lovely pair of kitties: Mojo and Loki. Sounds like there’s some sorcery and mischief afoot!

At Sundappled Wood, frightwig presents Ornette & His Shadow, a mini photo-essay in three parts. I’m guessing Ornette might be named after Ornette Coleman...and that his “shadow” had a recent encounter with a razor. Heh.

Brian Moon roots around in the Lunar Obverse Archives and comes up with a most appropriate Friday Night Catblogging post: Smacky, newly arrived at Chez Luna. Nice thing about cats, BTW - they’re less likely than dogs to howl at the Moon...

Carlos, resident kitty at maggies meanderings, has discovered that the best place to be in the world of entertainment is on top of it.

Jay Tea - Mr. Wizbang! his ownself - sends in a veritable prosefest: What’s New, Wussycat? It’s the harrowing story of a home invasion, complete with pillowfights, squirt guns - and the thoroughly nonheroic Elmo.

Matt, from The Tattered Coat, shows us that his companion Luna knows how to cool off in the summertime. Reminds me of my days as the Ice Cream Man...

At Middle-Fork, the Robot Vegetable offers us this study in black and grey. Lady, like many kitties, takes comfort where she finds it.

It’s not just kitties this week at Watermark, where SB offers up Friday Flickr Critter Blogging. Learn about Flickr photobadges - both flash and HTML versions - and then link to some of SB’s albums. Take yer pick - there are dogs, cats, and budgies - and I’ll confess that all of those budgie pictures gave me a case of Instant Nostalgia for pets of long ago.

Laurence Simon (This Blog Is Full Of Crap) weighs in with a Videogame Vision of Edloe: All Your Treats Are Belong To Us. I use the term “weighs” advisedly, because Edloe is one hefty grumpus, currently clocking in at over a quarter of a hundredweight.

Over at By the Way...I’m guessing Darcy is being ironic when referring to Mel as “little.” And, yes, that pose really is reminiscent of Kirstie Allie.

Sweet lisa jay shows us a kitty in Imminent Pouncing Mode at doodle-y-doo.

Jack, of The People’s Republic of Seabrook, sends in a picture of what is, apparently, an extremely tasteful, well-bred cat. Off the wagon...and into the catbox, eh?

Miko demonstrates her Chair-Stealing Skills at The Daily Brief. In a matter of mere moments, she has managed to not only get in the chair, but to Assume the Position of Serious Repose. I am impressed.

Catherine’s submission for this week’s Carnival shows Emily looking pensively at a windowblind twist rod: “A twist rod is not a toy, Emily.” “It is, if I play with it.” I love the way this photograph is composed.

When you visit Kimberly’s beautiful new Music and Cats site, you may very well happen upon Sasha, Lyra, and Sergei, here performing the important task of Decorating the New Morris Chair with Gaboons of Cat Hair. Good thing is, cat hair is easily removed from leather...even if the cats themselves are not.

Nicholson puts in an appearance at pages turned. It seems there’s been a Snubbing Contest going on between Nicholson and R., with Nicholson taking R.’s going away to school a little too personally...

Mind of Mog reminds us - as if we needed reminding - that Kitties Rule! And Laurence Simon has the stats to back that statement up.

Coby, Pixel and Pica are featured in this photo from Lab Kat (who will be hosting next week’s Carnival). What makes the picture unusual is that, apparently, the three get along together about as well as Nardo and Frisky. Heh.

It’s finally warming up in the Great North Woods, and Hi is taking in the sunshine. I guess if Your Moosey Fate is to live in Winnipeg, “Hi” doesn’t exactly refer to the average temperature.

Mira, over at The Oubliette, sends this unforgettable series of pics showing Noah and Maleficent going ga-ga over some catnip. Hey, that’s why they call it “Kitty Crack.” Meanwhile, The Wild Eep simply sits there, looking...wild.

Sissy, at sisu, has been catblogging her brains out lately. First off, we have Tiny and Babe in a demonstration of Mannered Kitty Dining. Next up, Tiny meditates on the issues of Paper and Printer Ink Consumption, which must be dealt with if you actually make a hard copy of your Bloggy Output. And last but not least, we combine Cat- and Food-Blogging with this Father’s Day feast - with Tiny trying to cadge a few morsels. Can’t say I blame her.

[There is, by the way, at least one blog binding service out there, and likely others - for those of us who wish to see our Reams o’ Crap in print. I’d be interested in hearing from anyone who has tried it.]

Martin (Ego) squeaks in under the wire with this last-minute entry: Morris in the Window.

At, Tigger does an impersonation of a feral cat. Well, somebody’s gotta keep down the surplus blue jay population...

I’m not quite sure what to make of this next item, but it was too demented to ignore, and since it is, after all, cat-related, here it is: a link to the website for the forthcoming book by Karen Mahony, Shadow of the Vampuss. I suppose you could call this a RFOAUC (Reasonable Facsimile of an Undead Cat).

No Carnival - on this site, anyway - would be complete without a passing nod to the Infamous Punchbowl Meme. So, appropriately modified for the Subject Matter of the Day, here is a happy little poem:

Load in the catbox,
Left there by the kitty.
Load in the catbox,
Say! Isn’t it pretty?

Load in the catbox,
Sitting there, fumin’.
Load in the catbox,
So huge! Is it human?

Wait...whatever happened to Hakuna and Matata?

Er, aaah, we’re not sleeping - just checking our eyelids for pinholes.

Matata: Thanks for visiting, Esteemed Readers! As Elisson, our Great Bifurcated Overlord, might put it, it’s been a real Slice o’ Life!

Hakuna: And don’t forget, next week’s Carnival will be hosted by Lab Kat. Mark your calendars and territories!


There are certain objects that, over time, become associated with people. Handling those objects can trigger a flood of memories.

Sometimes the object is not a physical one per se; it can be a sound or an action. Regardless, it can work the same magic.

When I see a trumpet, it makes me recall the days in my Runny-Nose Years when my Daddy would take out his old music stand, cover the floor with newspapers, and play the trumpet. This he would do in the room that would become my brother’s bedroom, the papers spread over the hardwood floor to catch the Trumpet Juice that he’d blow periodically from the spitvalve.

Dad was a trumpet player as a young man. He and his bandmates would spend summers working at resorts in the Catskills – the old Borscht Belt. Many years later, after the funeral of a man who lived in his current neighborhood, he got into a conversation with the man’s widow only to realize that he and his band had played at the couple’s wedding reception, all those years ago.

To this day, whenever I see or hear a trumpet, I think of my Daddy. He doesn’t play the trumpet any more, but he still plays the piano every day…and when I hear those old songs, I am transported.

SWMBO’s dad used to smoke a pipe, and after he passed away nineteen years ago, she snagged his collection of pipes from his personal effects. Smelling those old briar pipes and that little leather tobacco pouch conjures up her daddy’s spirit more effectively than any old videotape – of which, regrettably, there are none.

It’s Father’s Day, and I think it’s a perfect time to listen to a little Miles Davis and take a whiff of that old tobacco pouch.


Elisson’s Dad (L), SWMBO’s Dad (R)

As I write this, She Who Must Be Obeyed and the Mistress of Sarcasm are somewhere in the wilds of northern Louisiana enroute to Chez Elisson, while Elder Daughter is in her Cambridge digs.

It’s just me and the cats today, which means it’s as good a time as any to reflect on the manifold blessings of being a Daddy.

I viewed this whole Fatherhood business with trepidation, if not outright terror, until the moment Elder Daughter arrived on the scene. After that, it was one adventure after another:
  • The Fried Rice in the Cheeks…and in the Diaper.
  • The arrival of the Mistress of Sarcasm after one full month of enforced Laying Around So As Not To Aggravate The Phlebitis.
  • The Pool o’ Runny Shit at the Fast Food Chicken Place.
  • Watching Elder Daughter retch into the wastebasket at the hotel while the Mistress went off to the zoo with Mommy.
  • Listening to Elder Daughter recite Politically Inappropriate Stories, entirely from memory, on an airplane flight.
  • Leaving Boston after our first Parents’ Weekend, and watching Elder Daughter disappear into the bowels of the T…by herself.
  • Meeting the Mistress’s Purple-Haired Roommate.
  • Listening to Elder Daughter deliver a Kol Nidre sermon to a congregation of 2,400 on the holiest night of the year.
  • Seeing the words “Magna cum Laude” under the Mistress’s name at her college graduation.
  • Appreciating what my Daddy – and SWMBO’s Daddy – did for us.
Being a Daddy is a team effort, and I owe a lot of my Mad Daddy Skillz to the fact that I am attached at hip and shoulder to the one and only SWMBO, mother of my chillins. But that is a subject for another, lengthier post.

“Daddy.” It’s a title I carry with pride, an accomplishment for which I was trained by riding on the shoulders of giants.

Happy Father’s Day to all you Dads out there! You’ve earned it.

Saturday, June 18, 2005


I am at sixes and sevens, trying to decide what to have for a late-evening supper here at Chez Elisson. SWMBO is still on the road with the Mistress, and they’re not scheduled to be back until late tomorrow evening, which means I can have whatever Nasty Shit they refuse to eat when they’re here.

Perhaps a nice, pungent chunk of Red Hawk cheese, alongside the remnants of the gravlax I picked up last week. A combination of scatly and fishy stenches that is truly hair-raising, it’s the kind of meal that makes the Listerine bottle run and hide in the closet, whimpering.

Hmmm. Wonder what else there is that combines those two particular aromas? I have my suspicions, but this is a family blog.

My family, anyway. Yours? You’re on your own there, Bunky.


She Who Must Be Obeyed had reminded me a couple of days ago about this little story, which she left as a comment on one of MetroDad’s posts.

By way of background, the post had to do with the remarkable ability of children to absorb every single Vile Expostulation they hear from a parent’s mouth. Since all many some of us occasionally give vent to foul words from time to time, this can become a real issue when you’re trying to raise kids that can carry on a conversation without lobbing in a fuckbomb every other word.

And SWMBO’s story is a classic. So in case you haven’t seen it before...

Back when we were living in Houston, She Who Must Be Obeyed taught sixth grade at a private school for children with Learning Differences: dyslexia, that sort of thing. One year, she had a student with an Outsize Personality (as she puts it)...and the student’s mother had an Outsize Personality to match. Seems the kid’s great-uncle had been a notorious Central American dictator; the other family members evidently had some of the same traits in common.

One day, SWMBO was having a conversation with the mother, who shared a little story about her son: Momma had been waiting for her son to come home on the school bus, but when the bus arrived, the driver got off - not Sonny-Boy. Trouble.

So Momma goes up to the driver and asks, “What did the little asshole do now?

Whereupon the driver dropped his head and said, “He said ‘asshole.’”


In which Random Idiots write in for advice from Mr. Smart-Brains.

Our question today is from a Mr. Ricardo Cabeza:
Dear Mr. Smart-Brains,

How did you get that honkin’ big knot on your head?
Dear Mr. Cabeza,

Simple. I had gone out to run a few Miscellaneous Errands. Upon returning, I decided to leave the car in the driveway, since I was planning to head out again in a little while. But since I don’t generally carry the house keys with me, I opened the garage door to get in, using the handy-dandy Electronic Garage-Door Opening Schmitchik.

Once I got into the garage, I started the door to closing, then realized I needed to get the mail. So I pushed the button to stop the door’s downward progress, and since it was mostly open, I just left it that way, ducking my head slightly to exit.

I got the mail and started thumbing through the usual Assortment o’ Junk as I walked back up the driveway. Must’ve been really fascinating junk, too, because the next thing I knew, WHACK! I had clocked myself a good one by walking directly into the door, the lower edge of which was just above eye level.


There’s a silver lining in this Cloud of Stupidity, though. I didn’t smash my new set of eyeglasses, I was still conscious, and I was not bleeding.

And as stupid as I felt, I did not feel as stupid as this guy must have when a similar event befell him.

Now: any more questions for Mr. Smart-Brains?


Graffiti Billboard for Tiger Magazine, 1971.

[RFOAC: Reasonable Facsimile Of A Cat. ©Laurence Simon, all rights reserved.]

The time: Fall, 1971.

The place: Princeton University.

Two years prior, there had been a fire at Whig Hall, one of a matched set of Greek Revival buildings named after the 19th century Whig and Cliosophic debating societies. When it came time for the hall to be gutted and rebuilt, a plywood barrier was erected to keep wayward passersby out of the construction zone.

It was perhaps a Sign o’ the Times that the University, rather than trusting to random Graffiti Taggers, elected to have an official Paint the Wall festival. Students could sign up for a panel of the wall and decorate it as they saw fit. The result was...well, a lot of Peace and Love crap...but what did you expect from the early 1970’s, anyway?

One panel stood out, however, with its advertisement for the Tiger, the campus humor magazine. The magazine’s mascot was, naturally enough, a tiger, here rendered by two undergraduates, one of which just might have been Yours Truly.

Holy Crap, is that tiger drinking a can of Iron City beer - and smoking a spliff?


This week’s Carnival of the Recipes is up at Meanderings.

Read ’em and eat!

Friday, June 17, 2005


Spacemonkey has put up the latest Carnival of Comedy at IMAO (what the hell does that stand for, anyway?)

Funny stuff. That’s why it’s called the Carnival of Comedy, innit?

What with the proliferation of Carnivals in the Bloggy-Sphere these days (hell, there’s even a Carnival of Carnivals), I wouldn’t be surprised if eventually, that’s all there is: carnivals. No posts, just Carnival linkfests. With a single click, you will be able to access all of the Useless Crap™ your twisted heart desires!

Right, whatever.


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

All of this is a happy prelude, of course, to the Carnival of the Cats, for which I hope to see you Sunday evening!

Thursday, June 16, 2005


I finally found something that just may make me ruin my 34-year, 11-month No Puke Record. It’s thoroughly revolting.

It’s here. [Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Pammy for the link.]

Jeezus Creeping Shit.

And I don’t give a flying fuck what the verdict was. The jurors - some of them, anyway - made it clear that they voted for acquittal because the state did not quite meet the burden of proof...but that something not quite right probably was going on nonetheless.

I still think he had all of those little boys playing with his Wee-Wee.



I’m not sure what his Mommy calls him...

...but as far as I’m concerned, his name oughta be Godzilla.

Can’t you see it: Tokyo, devastated, in ruins! Yep - the world is his mousie.


Just a reminder...

The Carnival of the Cats plants its furry paws on Blog d’Elisson this Sunday. Be sure to send your Kitty-Related Material to Carnival HQ using the new mailbox:

submissions (at) carnivalofthecats (dot) com

Even better, avail yourself of the convenient Carnival Submission Form, available through the fine offices of that most Conservative Cat, Ferdy.

Submissions will be accepted through 7:00 pm EDT (that would be 6:00 pm CDT), Sunday, June 19. If you prefer military time, that would be 1900 hours EDT, 1800 hours CDT, or 2400 hours Zulu. For a complete set of guidelines and FAQ’s, visit the main Carnival page.

I’d call it Lair Simon’s Magnum Opus, but he has so many Opuses going on at once, I have trouble discerning which one is the Magnum at any given moment.


...with a hanger steak.

This is an interesting cut of meat, sometimes difficult to find in this country but gaining in popularity. Popular in France, where it’s called onglet, it is also sometimes known as “butcher steak” – because the butcher takes it home for himself rather than selling it.

The hanger steak takes its name from the fact that it is the part of the diaphragm muscle that “hangs” between the ribs and the loin. It is therefore similar to skirt steak, another diaphragm cut. Like the skirt, the hanger tends to be somewhat grainy, but full of nice, beefy flavor. It also responds especially well to marinating. Because it tends to dry out, you need to be careful when using dry heat cooking methods.

I’m a big fan of the skirt steak, so when I saw a chance to cop a hanger steak, I jumped on it. And I’m glad I did. Here’s what I did with mine:

First, I coated the meat with a sprinkling of kosher salt and a liberal application of freshly ground black pepper. Then a dusting of dried thyme leaves...and fresh would have worked even better, but sometimes ya gotta Make Do With What’s In Da House.

I heated up a skillet and threw in some olive oil. Once the oil was hot and shimmery, I put the meat in, about five minutes on each side over medium-high heat. After the steak was done – seared dark brown and crusted on the outside, medium rare inside - I removed it to a platter to let it rest.

Into the still-hot skillet went two or three (I used three) chopped shallots. I turned the heat down to medium and sweated those bad boys for about 5-10 minutes. With the residual Meaty Juices and oil in the pan, they cooked down to a lovely caramelized brown. Then I dumped the shallots on the steak. Ready to rock – it’s food o’clock!

As much as I love skirt steak, this was even better, with a texture somewhere between sirloin and skirt and a rich flavor, nicely accented by the herbal taste of the thyme. All it needed by way of accompaniment was a salad of Belgian endive, romaine and radicchio to make a perfect Bachelor’s Supper, washed down with some McManis Family Vineyards cabernet.

Sorry, no photo: She Who Must Be Obeyed absconded to Texas with the digital camera, so you will just have to use your imagination. But trust me when I tell you, it was a Damn Fine Meal.


Who says blogging isn’t good for anything?

I will frequently wax rhapsodic about breakfast at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium - our daily post-minyan ritual. [“Our,” in this context, refers to the Minyan Boyz, AKA the Roswell Road Irregulars.] And in these Poetic Flights o’ Fancy, I will frequently talk about the variety of breadstuffs available at said Emporium. Bagels. Bialys. That sort of thing.

Apparently, all this caught the attention of a young lady, a native of Middle Georgia, who had somehow developed a serious Bialy Jones as a result of a New York sojourn. For years this young lady lived in downtown Atlanta, miserable and unfulfilled, unable to find a local source of bialys.

Elisson to the rescue.

I got the e-mail the other day, after said young lady discovered my Bialy-Laden Posts through diligent websurfing. Could I help her locate a source of bialys in Atlanta?

Of course I could.

And that is how Ms. Jessica Pierce showed up at Bagelicious this morning, where I treated her to a sack of nice warm bialys. [Since Jessica uses her “street name” on her blog, I figured she wouldn’t mind my using it here.]

Anyone who is insane desperate dedicated enough to brave the morning Atlanta traffic and drive twenty miles into the Heart of the East Cobb ’Burbs for a bialy deserves no less. Cheers!

Wednesday, June 15, 2005


Some time ago, I wrote a post on the Fine Art of Ionizing the Atmosphere.

I learned how to use Vile Language at my Grandma’s knee - or at least, sitting in the car with her as she drove. So I’ve had plenty of time to get, er, ahhh...well-practiced at it.

When our children came along, I had to pull back on the Filth-Reins a bit. This I did...with mixed success. The result? My daughters are lovely of mien and manner, but they know how to hurl the well-placed fuckbomb when the occasion demands.

We have in our possession a 1984-vintage videotape that shows the (then) 22-month-old Mistress of Sarcasm saying an indistinct, but recognizable, “Oh, shit!” This tells you that the training starts early.

And I see that I am not the only Daddy who has had to grapple with this very issue. Read this fine post by MetroDad (tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Jay for the link) to see how another parent is progressing in this titanic struggle.

And be sure you have no liquid in your face as you read it. Them monitors is expensive.


I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz...

Allen Ginsberg, January 1970.

From the Elisson archives comes this picture of the quintessential hipster, Beat poet Allen Ginsberg, seen here at Miami International Airport with his mother. He was a mere 43 years old when this photograph was taken.


The latest Carnival of the Vanities is up at mister snitch!, who has elected to use a New Joisey theme. Very appropriate, as Mr. Snitch hails from the fine metropolis of Hoboken, former home of Francis Sinatra, Ol’ Blue Eyes his ownself.

Between Sopranos references and pictures of crooked NJ politicos, you might even find a few links in there! Heh. Indeed.

What, no pix of McGreevey? My, how quickly they forget...


David Bogner’s post concerning Blind Dates got me to reminiscing about one memorable blind date from years past…

A well-meaning friend had given me a young lady’s phone number several months prior. The young lady was the roommate of a friend of a friend, a native Texan recently graduated from college and freshly ensconced in Sweat City. But because I was already Hooked Up, so to speak, the slip of paper with said number languished in my billfold like a condom in a nerd’s wallet, unused.

As the New Year approached, my relationship with Existing Girlfriend went south in a big hurry. Perhaps this bitch sweet young thing realized that there was no long term prospect for the two of us – whatever the reason, it became apparent that I was going to be left high and dry at New Year’s. Shit.

Then I remembered the scrap of paper with the mysterious phone number.

Seeing as how it was a scant few days before the turn of the year, there was no way in hell I was going to call that number cold. So I checked with my well-meaning friend, who did a little sniffing around. Lo and behold, it turns out that the young lady had just broken up with her boyfriend. Why, if this wasn’t kismet, what was?

So I screwed my courage to the sticking post, as it were, called the young lady up, and asked her out on a New Year’s Eve Blind Date. What cojones! What chutzpah!

Amazingly, the young lady accepted. We agreed to meet at a neutral location (a friend’s place) at a party, so if things didn’t work out each of us could beat a hasty retreat.

Came the fateful day, and I showed up at the appointed place. Rang the doorbell, and tried to avoid shitting myself from Nervous Tension.

The door opened, and my heart sank. I was greeted by a vision in Electric Orange Hair and way too much eye makeup, with hefty-sized (but slightly droopy) kalamatunis. Two trains of thought left the station simultaneously: (1) Gawd, this woman is vaguely sleazy looking, and (2) at least it looks like I may be Getting Lucky tonight.

Men are such pigs, am I right?

But then the Orange-Haired Vision said, “Oh, you must be Elisson – Miss X- is in the kitchen. Come on in.”

I didn’t know whether to be relieved or disappointed, but when I reached the kitchen and saw the young lady – my Blind Date – I decided I was relieved. Much, much nicer. Attractive without looking like a Cheap Slut. There was yet hope that the evening would not end up being a Fucking Disaster!

And, as it turned out, we had a very pleasant time. At some point during the proceedings, a bunch of us decided to take in a late showing of Monty Python and the Holy Grail at the local Bijou (I had already seen it twice, but who cared?). It was a testament to the young lady’s Willingness to Go Along with Stupid Shit that she appeared to enjoy the movie…at least, while she was awake.

The rest of the evening was spent in a marathon Bullshit Session, just talking the night away. Apparently, there was another Hopeful Suitor at this party who refused to leave, so I decided to wait him out. Eventually – at about 3 am – Mr. Fifth Wheel gave up and went off to crash somewhere. Boo-yah!

The two of us enjoyed the evening enough to justify another, no-longer-blind date. And another, after that.

And here it is, almost thirty years later, and we are still together. Yes, the young lady was She Who Would Eventually Become She Who Must Be Obeyed, and we have been married twenty-eight years.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005


Today is Flag Day. June 14.

Did you remember to honor Old Glory today?

It ain’t the scrap of cloth. Fifty million jackasses in Islamabad can burn it, piss on it, and wipe their asses with it...but they can never destroy what it represents.

We live in what is perhaps the grandest Thought Experiment the Western world - hell, the entire world - has ever produced. It may not be perfect, but nothing created by humans ever is. It is, however, the finest example of what humans can do when they are set free to make their way in the world.

“A new Nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” That’s what that scrap of cloth means. Long may it wave.


The redoubtable Mr. D. Montana has a lot of Food Industry secrets lurking in the Basement Levels of his brain, one of which he has graciously chosen to share with the Great Unwashed Hordes of Blogdom™. [That’d be us, Esteemed Readers.]

But there’s another little secret that we’re both privy to, something that came up in the course of a lengthy telephone discussion yesterday evening.

Those of you who are old enough to remember the Great Coca-Cola Marketing Fiasco of 1985 will recall that Coca-Cola, with great fanfare, announced at that time that they were reformulating Coca-Cola. Henceforth, said the Marketing Geniuses, “New Coke,” with a seemingly Pepsi-like flavor profile, would be the flagship soft drink. The “Original Formula” would be retired.

Imagine the surprise of the Coke Marketing Double-Domes when a huge public outcry erupted.

Among certain circles - in Atlanta, especially – the notion of tinkering with the Sacred Formulation of Coca-Cola was viewed with the same horror that you would expect were someone to translate the King James Bible into Snoop Dogg gangsta-speak:
  1. In tha beginn’n God created tha heaven n tha earth.
  2. And tha earth was witout form, n void; n darkness was upon tha face of tha deep. And tha Spirit of God moved upon tha fizzle of tha wata
  3. And God said, Let there be light: n there was light.
  4. And God saw tha light, that it was good: n God divided tha light frizzom tha darkness.
  5. And God called tha light Day, n tha darkness he called Niznight. And tha even’n n tha bustin’ were tha first day.
  6. And God said, Let there be a firmament in tha mizzidst of tha wata, n let it divide tha wata from tha wata
  7. And God made tha firmament, n divided tha wata which were rappa tha firmament from tha playa which were above tha firmament: n it was so.
  8. And God called tha firmament Heaven. And tha pimpin’ n tha blingin’ were tha second day.
What was the point, anyway? If you wanted something that tasted like Pepsi, you could simply buy Pepsi. Die-hard Coke drinkers, meanwhile, did not want someting that tasted like Pepsi. They wanted the Real Thing, that supercharged phosphoric acid-laden Cola Pong, not some test-marketed-to-death focus-group alternative.

After almost three months of noise, smoke, and mouth-foaming media frenzy, the Coca-Cola folks did something practically unprecedented: they backtracked. “Original” Coke was resurrected as “Coca-Cola Classic,” and “New Coke” was kept on as a second flagship brand. Later rechristened “Coke II,” it has since died a natural death, at least here in the U.S.

But what most people don’t know is that Coke Classic is not the Real Thing. Not anymore. Hasn’t been, for a long time.

It’s not because they took the cocaine out of Coca-Cola. That happened in 1905, after the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Acts, when the company switched to using coca leaf from which the cocaine had previously been extracted. [The amount of cocaine in Coke was microscopic to begin with; after the switch, it was infinitesimal.]

No: the biggest difference between today’s Coca-Cola Classic and the Coke we grew up with is the sweetener. Today’s Coke is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup, but back in the day, the sweetener was sucrose. Cane sugar – or beet sugar.

You don’t think it makes a difference? Think again.

If you want to experience the Real Thing in its true, pre-corn syrup glory, go to a major metropolitan area in the springtime – the month before Passover, which usually falls close to Easter. Look for Coca-Cola Classic that’s marked Kosher for Passover. Typically, the marking is on the bottle cap – in Atlanta, the Kosher for Passover Coke has a yellow cap so it’s easy to spot.

Why “Kosher Coke”? Because products derived from corn are off-limits to observant Jews during Passover, acceptable soft drinks must be formulated with sucrose. Good old sugar.

The way all soft drinks used to be made.

The Kosher for Passover version of Coke is only available in the springtime, during those few weeks leading up to Passover. After that, it's back to the Regular Crap – not the Real Thing. Now, if they would only sell it in heavy returnable glass bottles...


Edition 102 is up at Basil’s Blog.

Shameless. Simply shameless.

Monday, June 13, 2005


Acidman and Dax have been waxing poetic about a Great American Institution: the Southern Breakfast. As a Northerner-by-birth who has been happily transplanted to the South and who has lived everywhere from New York, New Joisey, Connecticut, Texas, and Georgia, I feel qualified to throw my own two cents’ worth in on the subject.

Anyone can make pancakes, waffles, and all that crap – but what makes a Southern breakfast magnificent? Even if you don’t love the wonderful Porky Products like country ham, thick-sliced bacon, and sausage (I do, but I generally avoid them for any number of reasons), you have grits and biscuits.

If the Southern contribution to American gastronomy stopped cold at grits and biscuits, dayyenu: It would have been enough. There is almost nothing as heavenly as a hot buttermilk biscuit slathered with sweet butter. But you also have cornbread in all its wondrous forms, including hoe-cakes cooked in a heavy iron skillet. And, of course, the aforementioned Meatstuffs. Red-eye gravy!

Grits. Many unfortunate Northerners just don’t understand grits. They get ’em all confused with crap like farina and try to sweeten ’em up. But I learned about this Quintessential Southern Breakfast Food from my Daddy, who may have grown up in Brooklyn but who discovered grits in the Army. A little salt and pepper is all you need to make grits palatable – and cheese makes them downright upright.

I have my own Breakfast Traditions that are, in their own way, every bit as pleasurable as the Southern Breakfast.

One of my earliest Breakfast Memories is of my grandmother making scrambled eggs and onions for me. She would slice up a yellow onion and throw it in a skillet with some butter. Once it was a nice, dark, caramelized brown, she would add in a few eggs and scramble the whole mess together. Damn, but those were some fine eggs. Last Saturday, She Who Must Be Obeyed cooked me up some of those fine oniony eggs, and I will tell you that Grandma Shirley must have been smiling down on her as she did it.

But when I want to get serious about breakfast, Smoked Fish will inevitably come into play.

Back in my runny-nose days, a favorite Sunday breakfast treat was bagels and lox. The Old Man – Eli, his own self – would go down to what was called the “appetizing store” and get a sack full of fresh, warm bagels and bialys. Sesame seed, poppy seed, garlic, pumpernickel, egg, and plain: those were the flavors. None of those Johnny-come-lately flavors like cinnamon raisin or Asiago cheese: these were real bagels, with a glossy crust and just the right amount of “tooth.” And the fish. Ohhhh, the fish. Salty, translucent slices of belly lox. The less salty, darker-colored Nova Scotia smoked salmon. Sometimes, tubs of pickled herring filets with oniony cream sauce, or the more exotic pickled lox – cubes of salmon, pickled in the same sauce. Kippered salmon, oily and flavorful. Sable, even more oily – for the most dedicated Smoked Fish lovers. And when it was time to splurge, maybe even a few slices of smoked sturgeon.

A little schmear of cream cheese for lubrication, and you were good to go. Heaven!

I’m lucky in that I live only a mile from the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium, and I can eat this kind of stuff as often as I want to – subject, of course, to the limitations of the Household Budget. I’ve backed way off on the bagels and similar breadstuffs – like as not, I’ll get a mini “everything” bagel and have the insides scooped out of it – but that fish is irresistible.

How fortunate are we to live in a country with such diverse and pleasurable Food Traditions! Who the hell needs cold cereal, anyway? Now: what’s fer breakfast at your place?

Sunday, June 12, 2005


King Ranch Chicken was the absolute shiznit when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were newlyweds, but it’s twenty-eight years later, and our tastes have become a little more…raffinée.

This evening we celebrated our 28th trip around the sun as a married couple by treating ourselves to a Big Feed. Even better, the Mistress of Sarcasm drove up from Savannah to join us. She and SWMBO will be heading out on a fourteen-hour Road Trip to Foat Wuth tomorrow morning, and I wanted to be sure that they were fortified for the voyage.

We dined at BluePointe, a tony eatery in the heart of Buckhead. SWMBO and I started our meal with aperitifs of Campari and soda, and then Mr. Moneybags ordered a bottle of Champagne. “Voovy Clickit,” if you please.

A couple of rolls of sushi arrived to whet the appetite. Soft shell crab, lobster, all of that yummy trayf. Yowza.

By way of entrées, SWMBO ordered a salmon in a citrusy sauce; the Mistress took halibut in a rice paper wrapper. After a few bites, they decided to exchange dishes. Now, that’s cooperation for you! Meanwhile, I had a roasted beet and goat cheese salad, followed by lobster served in a Thai coconut curry sauce.

Dessert? Damn right we had dessert. A molten chocolate cake with a nugget of pistachio ice cream. Blueberry mascarpone eggrolls with a mango dipping sauce. A chocolate-peanut butter mousse with white chocolate ice cream.

Bejus, was that tasty.

And the best part is, the Great Corporate Salt Mine was paying most of the freight, thanks to the Mystery Award I had won last fall. Now was the perfect time to cash in…which left me more money in my own wallet to buy a nice gift for the Missus. Once in a rare while, workin’ in the Salt Mine pays off.

Fine meal. Fine ladies to share it with. Life is good.


Carnival of the Cats is hosted this week by the gracious Kimberly of Music and Cats. That new banner is gorgeous!

Next week, stop by Blog d’Elisson as Hakuna, Matata, and I host Edition #65!


“Dang! These Smurfs is mighty tasty!”

Nephew William dispatches a couple of the Blue Horrors o’ Cartoonland.


The Missus and I grabbed a quick bite at the local outpost of Panera, a Bread-Oriented Eatery. Baked goods, salads, soups, that sort of thing. Quick and inexpensive.

This is one of these places where they hand you a beeper device when you place your order. When your food is ready, the beeper is supposed to light up and buzz. Apparently, only about 10% of the beepers are functional, which means the waitstaff has to call out beeper numbers over the P.A. system.

“Beeper number 52, your order is ready.”

How fucking stupid is that? Why bother handing out nonfunctional beepers? Why not just announce the order numbers, which are printed on the receipts? Gaah.

More stupidity: A mother sitting near us was trying to deal with her obstreperous little boy. At one point she had taken him into the restroom to smack his ass, but he continued to act up. As they were leaving, she said to him, “I don’t like you today.”

How fucking stupid is that?

If your kid is being a jackass, there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I don’t like how you’re behaving.” In fact, it is essential. But for a parent to tell a child that she doesn’t like him? And in front of her mother, no less, who remained silent.

Tells you a lot about some people’s parenting skills. The sad thing is, parenting skills - or, more properly, the lack thereof - are passed down from generation to generation...and we all suffer for it.

How fucking stupid is that?


Yesterday, She Who Must Be Obeyed was running around town performing various Shopping-Related Activities. Meantime, I went to get my ears lowered.

This left me just north of midtown Atlanta with a little bit of time on my hands, so I decided to make a quick run over to Star Provisions for some fancy-pants groceries. After all, what better occasion than a Wedding Anniversary to justify the purchase of a few Overpriced Yet Tasty Comestibles?

First stop was the Baked Goods section, where I drooled at the various items until settling on a small Gâteau Victoire. This is a dense, bittersweet, flourless chocolate cake. You know you are in for some Serious Chocolate when the instructions for cutting the cake call for you to clean off the knife with hot water after each slice. As a nice fillip, they provided a small container of Schlag – whipped cream – to serve with the cake.

Second stop was the Cheesemongery. These people operate what may be the best cheese shop in Atlanta, and I decided on a hand-made lump of cow’s milk cheese from a little artisanal dairy in California. Red Hawk, it was called, from Cowgirl Creamery. Try something new every so often, and you’ll never get old – that’s what I was telling myself, anyway.

On to the Meat and Fish department, where I picked up a hanger steak (for during the week when SWMBO and the Mistress will be on their Thelma and Louise-style road trip to Foat Wuth) and some gravlax to have with breakfast Sunday morning.

Groceries in hand, I headed in the general direction of home, stopping off for a few errands on the way. And at each stop, when I got back in the car, I noticed a subtle, yet persistent, funk. “Must be the cheese,” says I to myself.

Upon arriving home, I wrapped the cheese in an extra layer of aluminum foil, the better to prevent Aroma Buildup. This I do because SWMBO has a low threshold of tolerance for Stinky Cheese. Once, in Houston, she took a wheel of especially pungent Camembert and hurled it into the back yard, having decided that she did not enjoy opening the fridge to the aroma of Godzilla’s Diaper Pail. And Gawd forbid I should melt a little aged Gruyère on an English muffin: the resulting sweat-socky pong will chase her right out of the house. By use of the foil, I hoped to avoid undue Stinky Provocation.

By and by, we headed out to dinner with a few friends, after which we returned to Chez Elisson for coffee and dessert: that Gâteau Victoire.

When we came into the kitchen, there was a faintly detectable Cheese Pong in the air. Not a good sign.

When I opened the refrigerator, the source of that Cheese Pong was immediately apparent. The foil had been no match for the Extreme Turdly Stench of the Red Hawk Cheese. I grabbed the cheese, jammed it into a super heavy-duty freezer bag, and ran downstairs to the basement fridge, there to bury the evidence.

Meanwhile, SWMBO was on the verge of accusing somebody of taking a crap in the upstairs refrigerator. Then she put two and two together.

“How can you eat that stuff?” you may well ask. How, indeed. I noticed that no flies would land on it…

The answer is, it tastes pretty good once you can get past the Pungent Aroma, which seems less pungent as you get used to it. Hey, guys have been nibbling on Stinky Things since time immemorial – why shouldn’t we enjoy a Grownup Flavor now and then? Fact is, I had a chunk with breakfast today, and the Missus didn’t even notice.

But you better believe I brushed my teeth about ten times before leaving the house.


Twenty-eight years seem to have passed like a dream.

In that time, you have given me two wonderful daughters, both now college graduates. We’ve lived in seven different houses. We’ve each buried a parent. We’ve taken vacations, watched school plays, gone to PTSA meetings, run to soccer games and doctors. Laughed. Cried. The whole gamut of emotions, from turkey sandwich-throwing anger to the tenderest sweetness.

We finish each other’s sentences and think of the exact same things at the same time. Was it only last night that we were watching the news on TV and something the announcer said had us simultaneously singing the same stupid “Salagadula Mitchicabula” song?

We speak our own private language.

We make each other laugh. Did I say that already? It’s the key ingredient to a successful marriage.

If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t hesitate. Not for a New York second.

You got any plans for the next twenty-eight?

Saturday, June 11, 2005


News from the Great Beyond hosts this week’s Carnival of the Recipes.

There are plenty of interesting dishes in this week’s Carnival that I am itching to try. Perhaps I’ll have time to play around with a few during the upcoming week. She Who Must Be Obeyed will be running off to visit with the Texas branch of the family, which leaves me here to work my Bachelor Chow Magic.

Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Friday, June 10, 2005


It’s Thursday afternoon, and I’m coming back from a short trip to Indy. For once, the flight to Atlanta is on time, with none of the usual late-afternoon thunderstorm activity kicking up to snarl the airline schedules. (Damn, how I love Convection Season!)

I get off the plane. I walk to the center of the concourse to catch the Underground Airport Choo-Choo to the main terminal, then it’s up the escalator, through the terminal and out the door.

It’s a seven-minute jitney ride to the offsite parking lot where the nice, shiny new Vehicle d’Elisson is parked. Once there, I have to wait for almost everyone else to get off…because I am parked in North Bumfuck. The curse of the Midweek Traveler: you miss the horrendous Monday-morning crowds, but you get shithammered at the parking lots, where all the good spaces get snapped up Monday morning by the same Road Warriors who choke the airport with their heaving, pulsating bodies.

But finally, I am deposited at my car. The jitney drives away, and I extract the keys from my garment bag. I push the button…

…and nothing happens. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

At first I think, Damn, the batteries in this remote entry dingus sure didn’t last long – I’ve had the car only a month! I use the key to open the door, and when I push the unlock switch to open the rear door for the bags, nothing happens.

That’s when the little light bulb goes on over my head. The battery is dead! Sure enough, I’ve left the headlights on, and now I know with the bitter knowledge that comes from experience that this new car does not, unlike our sedan, shut the lights off automatically.


It takes a grand total of twenty minutes to flag down another jitney and have the parking lot folks come out with a booster pack. Twenty sweaty minutes.

Damn you, Mr. Smart-Brains Elisson! Damn you, I say!


Blogging for Books

[Following is my entry in Blogging for Books #12, hosted by The Zero Boss. The theme choices for this month’s contest are: (1) a memorable trip or “mini-vacation” (with “memorable” covering everything from “best time of my life” to “unmitigated disaster”); (2) a time you did something spontaneously, in order to shake up your life; or (3) a time you metaphorically took "the road less traveled", and made an unpopular or uncommon decision. I’m going with Option One.]

As part of my responsibilities at The Great Corporate Salt Mine, I have traveled a lot over the years. It’s usually not too exciting.

Much of this travel has been the routine, boring, grindingly dull sort, the kind that is associated with covering a sales territory. Monday, go here. Tuesday, go there. Fly some days, drive others. After a few years, the fancy restaurants and expense account meals get to be a drag, and you find yourself looking forward to the nights when you can just pick up some random sustenance from the local Food Emporium and consume it in the hotel room.

There have been times that I would fly to New York for lunch, then fly home that same day.

I’ll admit, not all of it has been draggy and routine. Some of my positions have involved international travel, with just enough frequency to be interesting without bringing the dreaded Boredom Factor into play. I’ve been to places as diverse as Belgium, Japan, and Indonesia, and found things to enjoy and appreciate almost everywhere I’ve gone.

Boredom Factor or not, if you travel enough, you begin to appreciate the value of Routine. Airline travel disruptions, last-minute itinerary changes – these all must be dealt with from time to time, and all of them involve extra work and irritation. Keeping a cool demeanor is not always easy, but it’s essential. After all, you never know what sort of surprises you may have to deal with on the road...

Let’s wind the clock back to the last week of January 2003. I’m working on a project that requires an enormous amount of advance preparation and training for our Intrepid Sales Force, and as part of said project, I am visiting our various sales offices and conducting day-long training sessions. Not the easiest job: keeping sales reps alert and interested in any one topic for a full day is a little like herding cats. This week’s Exercise in Cat-Herding is to be held in Farmington Hills, Michigan, a suburb of Detroit.

I arrive in Detroit on a snowy evening and wait for two colleagues to arrive on their flight from Houston. Once they show up, we throw all the luggage into the rental car and head for the (Farmington) Hills, about a 45-minute drive. Routine.

We arrive at the hotel and check in. Routine.

Next morning, I get up and go through my usual Morning Ablutions. Take a crap. Brush teeth. Floss teeth. Routine.

Take shower. Hmmm, no hot water. Shit! Not Routine! Freezing! Gaaaahhh!!

Now thoroughly awake...and slightly thoroughly pissed off, I dress, pack up, and head to the lobby. My colleagues are wearing the same happy expression I am, which means I am not the only one who has taken a cold shower that morning.

We drive over to the sales office and get set up. Projector, on. Computer, on. Routine...again.

The presentations for the day will be in several segments. Ms. Senior Project Executive will take the first 45-minute segment, then I will take over for most of the day. We start...

And after a few minutes, I notice that I just cannot get comfortable. There’s a dull ache in my lower back that will not go away. In fact, it becomes more noticeable and persistent with every passing minute.

After half an hour, I am in considerable discomfort. Not agonizing pain, mind you, but the kind of discomfort that is the body’s way of saying, “Hey, Bub! Yeah, you! Something ain’t right!” And I notice that my forehead is bedewed by droplets of sweat.

Hmmm. Not Routine. Very much Not Routine.

Now it’s time for a break, and that’s when I need to make the Fateful Decision: do I try to soldier on through the whole day like this, or do I call a halt to the proceedings? Is this gonna get worse, or will it just go away? Screw it, I say to myself. I choose Door Number Two and announce that something is wrong and I need medical attention.

In seconds, I’m lying down on the reception area’s couch, with everyone acting all concerned. In minutes, the paramedics arrive. They hook me up to an EKG and quickly figure out that whatever is going on, at least it’s not a heart attack.

And by this time, I’ve already figured out what is going on, and the paramedics agree. It’s a kidney stone.


We send the paramedics on their merry way, and I have Colleague Number Two, Mr. Young Marketing Padawan, drive me to the nearest hospital while Ms. Senior Project Executive runs through my presentation materials, avoiding the need to scrub the training session. It’s not a long ride, but it’s a painful one: by now, the discomfort is getting fairly intense.

At the hospital, I cool my heels in the emergency room for an unexplainably long time. The place is empty, but I’m waiting...and waiting. Finally, after what seems like hours but is in reality closer to 30 minutes, they admit me. I put on the Ass ’n’ Back-Revealing Gown and lie down on the gurney, which thankfully is provided with nice, warm sheets, fresh out of the hospital laundry. Ahhhh.

After another seemingly interminable wait, they (finally!) do something about the pain, shooting me up with a nice, big bolus of Dilaudid. Aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Then it’s off to get an MRI.

And, yes, Virginia, there is a kidney stone.

The resident geniuses give me a prescription for pain medication and a screen. Piss though the screen, they tell me, until you pass the stone. OK, fine.

Back to the office, now. There are still a few hours of presentation to go through, but by now I am feeling no pain...and very little else, thanks to the Dilaudid. So I do my Stand-Up Routine and finish out the day. Mr. Tough-Guy, that’s me.

After all the shouting’s over, I have Mr. Young Marketing Padawan pilot us back to the airport in my rental car. I’m happy to get on an earlier flight, and I’ve arranged to have the thoroughly freaked-out She Who Must Be Obeyed pick me up, since I am still stoned out of my mind on Dilaudid and Vicodin and in no condition to make the 45-minute drive home from the airport.

Whatta trip.

[Postscript: Next day, I’m getting checked out by my urologist, who is horrified that the hospital in Michigan allowed me to fly home. She (yes, she) has no intention of waiting for the stone to pass of its own accord. Instead, she will go in and get it. Which, the very next day, she does. I will spare you the description, except to tell you that I was mercifully rendered completely unaware of the proceedings.]

Yes, I have traveled a lot over the years. It’s usually not too exciting. And I guess I’m happy to keep it that way.


Steve, AKA The Modulator, celebrates the sixth day of the week with the usual Assortment of Life-Forms.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


This past weekend, She Who Must Be Obeyed was attacked by a Major Case o’ Nostalgia, possibly driven by our impending twenty-eighth anniversary. For this, there was only one cure: to resurrect a favorite recipe of our Newlywed Days.

Back when we had first Tied the Knot, a favorite dish was King Ranch Chicken. SWMBO would prepare a huge casserole-load of this stuff, enough to feed four to six normal adults, and the two of us would snarf the entire thing down in one sitting. Sure, we were slobs, but this stuff was irresistible! Even today, I wonder how much of my Permanent Burden of Ass-Fat consists of the distant residuum of platters of King Ranch Chicken from days gone by.

It had been years since we had last had KRC, and it was every bit as tasty as we remembered it. It took a supernal effort of will not to revert to our old Casserole-Devouring Frenzy, but somehow we managed it in order to avoid shaming ourselves in front of our friends.

And now, for your delectation, I present the recipe for King Ranch Chicken, that you, too, may enjoy its glories. [A caveat: This is the only recipe you will ever see from the Files o’ Elisson that contains the dreaded Cream of Mushroom Soup. All of you Food Snobs, get over yourselves.]

King Ranch Chicken

1 good-size chicken (hen or fryer)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
1 can Ro-Tel tomatoes and green chiles (use ½ can if you want the dish a little milder, ya baby)
1 tsp chile powder
1½ tsp cumin seed or powder
1½ tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can condensed cream of chicken soup
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
1 cup chicken broth
1 package soft corn tortillas, cut in quarters
Shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, cheddar, queso blanco)

Put the chicken in a pot and add cold water to cover. Turn up the heat and once it starts to simmer, adjust the heat. Simmer the chicken until tender, remove the chicken from the pot (without burning the crap out of your hands – use tongs or utensils!) let cool, and remove the meat from the bones. Reserve the broth.

In a skillet, heat up the oil and add the onion and green pepper. Cook at medium heat until the onions are soft and transparent. Add the Ro-Tel tomatoes, the chile powder, the cumin, and the oregano. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together the cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soups and one cup of the reserved chicken broth. Add this mixture to the sauce in the skillet and mix well.

Cover the bottom of a large baking dish with pieces of chicken, then cover with a layer of tortilla pieces, then cover with half of the sauce mixture. On top of this, place another layer of chicken, another layer of tortilla pieces, and the remaining sauce. Cover with a layer of shredded cheese. Cover pan with foil and bake at 350° for 25-30 minutes.

This recipe serves 4-6, but you will be tempted to eat the whole pan at once – it’s that good.


Hell, no, I’m not getting in that roasting pan!

I don’t care that you tried to fake me out by putting a nice pad of newspaper in the bottom. I see that carrot!

I am so outta here!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


This post comes to you from the sunny prairies of Indiana, with me having been deposited here by the Great Silver Aerial Bus for yet another Corporate Travel Adventure.

I’m here to visit the plant site of one of our customers, out in “Terrible Haute,” about 70 miles west of my current location hard by the Indianapolis airport. Oh, joy.

But there is always an upside to these little jaunts. In this case, said upside was the chance to have a nice dinner with Italian Tommy, one of our intrepid sales reps. Some of my Esteemed Readers may remember Italian Tommy (AKA Mr. New York Sales Rep) from some of my earlier posts. He is a Child of New York, and to listen to him talk is to imagine yourself on the set of The Sopranos. And I mean that in the best way possible.

We drove into downtown Indy for dinner at The Palomino, one of the tonier local eateries. I was wearing my Johnny Cash All-Black Duds - black suit, black collarless shirt, black shades...and at least one passerby remarked, under his breath so it was barely audible, “Yo, Don Corleone!” as we walked by. I don’t know if it was the way I looked or the way Tommy sounded. Whatever...

Dinner was a pleasure. A couple of fine Bombay Sapphire martinis and some Copper River salmon cakes to start, then a salad of field greens. Lobster ravioli. Raspberry sorbet. Coffee.

Damn, but that was a fine meal. And I learned a few things about Italian Tommy that I hadn’t known before. For example, the fact that he’s a Seventh Day Adventist. Who ever heard of an Italian that wouldn’t eat sausage or clams and who grew up davening on Saturday?

My Brothah!


The 142nd edition of the Carnival of the Vanities is hosted by The Conservative Edge.

Is it a blog? Is it a news service? Who the hell knows? All I know is, they’ve put together a whopping good go and enjoy.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


The Mistress of Sarcasm and her uncle, the Other Elisson.

My Kid Brother - the handsome guy in the picture - turned 49 today. I can still remember Mom heading off to the hospital that day in 1956, and my asking her to bring me home a baby brother. And, whaddaya know - she did!

Happy Birthday, Elisson2 - from Elisson1!

TEN YEARS BEFORE THE MAST not half as pants-pissingly exciting as ten minutes atop one.

View from the Crow’s Nest, 1969.

It’s the summer of 1969, and while hundreds of thousands of Freaky Peepul are gearing up for a certain three-day music festival in upstate New York, I’m sailing the Long Island Sound with my friend Walter (he of the Infamous Vermont Applejack Escapade); his two sisters and mother; his dad, the former Water Cop; and the improbably-named Gilbert Joynt. We are on the Lucayo, the 62-foot pride of the Long Island University Oceanographic Fleet, said fleet being commanded by Walter’s dad. (You can take the cop out of the water, but you can’t get the water out of the cop.)

And at some point in the proceedings, I take it upon myself to get in the Bosun’s Chair and ride up to the top of the mainmast, egged on by Walter and Gib.

Holy Shit! When you get to the top of the mast, you discover two things very quickly: One, the most minute rocking motions of the vessel are enormously magnified by the long lever-arm effect of being atop a forty-foot mast; and two, that mast is Enormously Fucking High Up There.

I was not quite, as Stephen King might put it, “bullshit with fear,” but ten minutes up there was about all I could take without pissing myself. After snapping off a handful of photos with my trusty 35mm, it was back to Decka Firma for me!


That could very well be the title of a regular feature on Blog d’Elisson, to be filed by our Intrepid Automotive Travel Correspondent, the Mistress of Sarcasm. This past week resulted in yet another Travel Adventure.

My Esteemed Readers know that we spent most of Memorial Day weekend in the charming coastal city of Savannah (AKA the Beautiful Lady with the Dirty Face, AKA the Garden of Good and Evil) where we, along with a motley assortment of friends and relatives, had assembled to watch the Mistress receive her degree from Savannah College of Art and Design. After the main festivities on Saturday and the lesser festivities on Sunday, most of us scattered to the four winds: Texas, Hilton Head, New York, and Atlanta.

[Hilton Head. Hmmm...what with the infamous Miss Paris so omnipresent in the media these days, that pair of words takes on a whole different meaning, doesn’t it? Heh. But I digress...]

Remaining in Savannah were Elder Daughter and her boyfriend Kody, who stayed with the Mistress a couple of days before the three of them headed up to the ATL to join us.

Friday rolled around, by which time everyone at Chez Elisson had departed for home with the exception of the Mistress. She hit the road for Savannah in the early afternoon...but did not quite get there. About 50 miles past Macon, 110 miles from home, ominous vapors began spewing from beneath the hood of her 1995-vintage Saturn coupe. Wisely, she pulled over and stopped...and then got well away from the car. No point getting picked off by a random drunkard with poor Lane Control Skills.

Now, you may or may not be a fan of Cellular Communication Technology. Like me, you may not like listening to total strangers having loud telephone conversations in public, or enjoy seeing people wandering around with Borg-like Bluetooth contraptions stuck to their ears, wandering around and mumbling (seemingly) to themselves. But if there is one good thing about cell phones, it’s that they facilitate getting help when you’re stuck on the highway outside East Bumblefuck, Georgia. The Mistress used hers to call us and Triple-A: that way, we could worry our brains out and she could get help simultaneously.

At one point a kindly police officer stopped and asked the Mistress if she needed help. By that time, both the AAA tow truck and a friend from Savannah were enroute, so she graciously declined...but not without noting that Officer Kindly’s eyes had been glued to her Bodacious Ta-Tas the whole time. Jeez.

Did I mention that all of this activity was punctuated by Georgia’s patented Violent Thunderstorms? Oh.

So: the Mistress eventually managed to get back to Savannah, and now the fine automotive experts of East Bumblefuck supposedly have solved the problem – a burned-out radiator fan motor. As I write this, she is even now headed back to pick up her increasingly trouble-prone chariot.

I suppose if I had to extract a moral from this story, it would be to always have a paid-up AAA (or other roadside assistance service) membership and a charged-up cellphone. Especially if your car is nearing the 100k mark.

Or, if you’re Paris Hilton, to make sure your private jet does not run out of fuel.

Hilton Head. Indeed. Heh.