Monday, October 31, 2005


Subway Mistress
Photograph ­©2005 Colin Douglas Gray. Used with permission.

This photograph of the Mistress of Sarcasm (click to embiggen) was taken by one of her friends, a talented young photographer who joined us for coffee Sunday morning. I had seen some of his work before in Chroma, an art gallery in the City Market area where some of The Mistress’s work was being shown; and it was quite striking. Eerie, night-lit panoramas that made familiar parts of the city take on a whole new persona, almost painterly in appearance.

The July-August 2005 issue of Savannah Magazine showcases some more of his work: outdoor landscapes shot on several of the undeveloped Georgia barrier islands. Remarkable stuff. It’s worth it to try locating a back issue.

Colin Douglas Gray. Remember that name. When you see it, you’ll remember his work.


Now once upon a time the King of Astrakhan, at that,
Was sitting on his throne because his throne was where he sat;
And comfortably beside him, and magnificently stocked,
Was a lacquer liquor locker which a liquor lackey locked.

- David McCord, from “The Lacquer Liquor Locker”
What’s in your Liquor Locker?

While hunting for a bottle of Kahlùa the other day, a shot from which was intended to jazz up my Iced Coffee, I realized that my Booze Box was full of a great many things, some of which I have had sitting in there for over thirty years. (Fortunately, spirits don’t deteriorate over time.)

And then I thought to my self, “Self, since you are sometimes so pressed for Blog-Fodder that you will publish an inventory of the crap that sits upon your Night-Stand, why not an inventory of your Liquor Cabinet?”

Why not, indeed.

And thus, here follows a list of the contents of my Lacquer Liquor Locker. No wine, Esteemed Readers, for we store our Wine separately from our Booze like civilized human beings. Likewise, no Beer, for Beer (like Revenge) is best served cold and is therefore not stored with the Distilled Spirits.
  • Rémy Martin VSOP Cognac. I loves me some Cognac every so often....just may kill the rest of this bottle tonight.
  • Mandarine Napoleon. I’ve had this crap for 25 years now and there is little likelihood I will finish it soon. Nice looking bottle, though.
  • Caribe Crème de Vanille. Sitting in the back of the cabinet for 30 years now.
  • Kahlùa. A good all-purpose coffee liqueur.
  • Drambuie. One of the all-time great liqueurs, this one is based on Scotch whisky and honey.
  • Irish Mist. The Emerald Isle version of Drambuie.
  • B&B (Benedictine and Brandy). Another classic.
  • Chartreuse. Yet another classic, the creation of the Carthusian monks of France and the only liqueur after which a color was named. I have the green version, which is 115 proof.
  • Ron Metusalem. Haiti’s finest rum.
  • Ole Nassau Coconut Rum. Despite the name, has nothing to do with Princeton. Essential for the Bahama Mama.
  • Jameson Irish whisky.
  • The Macallan 12-year-old single malt Scotch whisky.
  • The Macallan Cask Strength single malt Scotch whisky.
  • Laphroaig 10-year-old single malt Scotch whisky.
  • Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch whisky.
  • Stolichnaya vodka. I keep this one in the freezer.
  • Stolichnaya Rasberi vodka.
  • Kremlyovskaya chocolate vodka. For Chocolate Babkatinis.
  • Tanqueray London dry gin.
  • Wild Turkey Rye Whiskey, 101 proof. Essential for the Sazerac cocktail.
  • Wild Turkey Bourbon, 101 proof.
  • Knob Creek Bourbon.
  • Grand Marnier.
  • Cherry Marnier.
  • Cointreau.
  • Lazzaroni Amaretto di Saronno.
  • Peter Heering liqueur. AKA Cherry Heering, or what the old guys used to call “Cherry Herring.”
  • Liqueur Chambord. A sweet raspberry flavored liqueur - useful as an additive for Mike’s Hard Lemonade, margaritas, etc.
  • Chicoutai cloudberry liqueur. Souvenir of a trip to Québec a few years ago.
  • Southern Comfort. Yeah, I have a pint bottle of Southern Comfort, which we needed for a sweet potato - peanut butter pie SWMBO made a few years ago. SC brings back so many memories, it having been the Beverage of Choice for my earliest forays into the World of Alcohol. Feh.
  • Mao Tai. One little flask of this evil Chinee intoxicant, which I’ve had for at least ten years and have no plans to crack open. Maybe at the next blogmeet...
  • Fernet Branca. A bitter Italian digestif, great after a bloat-inducing meal.
  • Averna. Another Italian amaro, this one less bitter than Fernet Branca.
  • Campari. Yet another bitter Italian liqueur, this one is great with soda or tonic, or as an ingredient in the evil Negroni.
  • Jägermeister. It’s bitter, it’s sweet, it’s herbaceous.
  • Underberg. Sold in tiny little bottles, this stuff is the German answer to Fernet Branca. It’s bitter. Fuck, it’s bitter. [That’s why they call it bitters, schmuck.]
  • Kirschwasser. This is a bottle I brought back 15 years ago from Zug, Switzerland, home of some of the world’s finest Kirschwasser.
  • Jose Cuervo Gold Tequila. Nothing fancy, but it makes a workmanlike Margarita.
  • Calvados Boulard. Froggy applejack.
  • Metaxa Ouzo. For when you need to get your Greek freak on.
  • Absente. Latter-day absinthe, without the wormwood of the original but no less pernicious.
  • Herbsaint. Another variation on the absinthe model, this one indispensable for the Sazerac cocktail.
  • Pastis 51. Similar to Pernod, pastis is another one of those anise-flavored alcohols and a second cousin to absinthe. A gift from Elder Daughter, who brought it back from Europe.
  • Goldschlager. A cinnamon-flavored liqueur with flakes of real gold leaf. Drink it today; go panning for gold nuggets tomorrow.
  • Old Krupnik honey liqueur. No, I didn’t make the name up. Seventeen years old and counting; obviously one of my favorites.
  • Slivovitz. Croatian plum brandy bearing a flavor profile similar to that of Ronsonol lighter fluid...but it’s kosher for Passover so we keep it around.
  • Sabra. Israeli orange-chocolate liqueur, also useful mainly at Passover but tasty all year long.
  • Crème de Cassis. For making the occasional Kir.
  • Triple Sec. For making Margaritas.
  • Peppermint schnapps. For disguising your breath after having consumed all of the other shit.
There’s a reasonable turnover for some of these goodies, but as you can see, some of this stuff has a half-life at Chez Elisson that compares with that of Atomic Bomb Residue. And yet...and yet, I hesitate to throw any of it out, because, as they say, there’s a Story Behind Every Bottle. Sometimes more than one story.

Going back to the question with which I opened this post, what’s in your Liquor Locker? I’m not slapping anyone with any tags...but this is the kind of Semi-Nosey Personal Inquiry that seems to propagate itself so well in the Bloggy-Sphere. So: have at it!


Thanks to Leslie, my favorite Omnibus Driver, I now have a snazzy Frappr! map that shows where my Esteemed Readers lurk are located. Stop by and stick your very own pin in the map!

Leslie has also created a map of the Infamous Blown-Eyed Jawja Blodger Consortium, which you can visit here.

Unlike some of the earlier “add your pin” maps, such as the one offered by Bravenet, this one has the functionality of Google Maps, so you can zoom in, look at aerial or hybrid views, or do...whatever it is you do with Google Maps. But don’t worry - it won’t identify your location any tighter than your zip code, so you don’t need to get all paranoid about Vicious Random Internet Weirdos knowing where you live.

Update: I’m leaving this Bad Boy at the top of the page for a while to give all y’all a chance to affix your pins. Now, what are you waiting for?

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Leslie and to Barry Campbell of enrevanche.]


The boy stood at the reading table and briefly looked out over the congregation. The sanctuary was full, but from where he stood, the faces were impossible to distinguish. Willing himself to look away from the blurry sea of people, he concentrated on the task at hand.

In accordance with tradition, the first aliyah – the honor of being called to the Torah - was given to a kohen, someone descended from the ancient priesthood. The honoree’s name was announced; he came forward, read the blessing.

The boy responded with “amen” and began to read.

The story was a familiar one, one that he had known since earliest childhood. It was the story of Noah, a righteous man who walked with God, and who was thus spared when God decided that the world was in need of a thorough scrubbing. But this time, the boy was not reading it from a Little Golden Book of Bible Stories. This time, he chanted the words from a Torah scroll, the words inscribed by hand on parchment in clear, crisp script. The words that had been passed down from generation to generation for thousands of years.

Eileh toldos Noach: Noach ish tzadik, tomim hoyoh b’dorosov – es ho-Elokim his-halech Noach. – These are the generations of Noah: Noah was a righteous man, faultless in his generation - Noah walked with God.

The heavy silver yad – the pointer used to mark the reader’s place – danced and skittered over the scroll. It was like a seismograph, jigging and bouncing to the boy’s pounding heartbeat. The boy could feel his knees clacking together, so ratcheted up was he with nervous energy, yet he managed to keep the nervous quaver out of his voice.

As he read, he grew more confident, more at ease. He had studied long hours to get to this point, and he knew every vowel, every cantillation note...all of which he had to know by heart, for the writing on the scroll consisted of unpunctuated consonants.

He finished the first reading, and the honoree said the requisite blessing. The next honoree was a Levi, descended from the Biblical family of Aaron, and the third honoree was called from the Israelites – all those who were not kohanim or levi’im, priests or Levites.

After the first three readings, the boy sat down. He had a little time to rest before he was called up to read again. The minutes flashed by, along with the four remaining readings by the congregation’s Cantor.

Now it was the boy’s turn to be called up. His name - Simchah Baruch ben Eliyahu - was announced, and he stepped forward once again to the reading table.

Taking the corner of his tallit, he touched the spot where he was to begin reading. He brought the fringes to his lips, kissed them, then began saying the blessing. No “amen” this time, for this was his own aliyah – he was saying the blessing on his own behalf. Once again, he began reading.

Vayikach Avrom v’Nahor lohem noshim... – Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves...

The ancient words, the ancient melody flowed, the story of how Abram and his brother Nahor got married; how Terach, Abram’s father, took Abram, Abram’s wife Sarai, and Abram’s nephew Lot and left Ur, heading toward the land of Canaan to settle there; how Terach died at the age of 205 in Charan.

The boy, now a young man, took his tallit fringe and touched the last word of the reading, then kissed the fringe and chanted the concluding blessing.

The celebration, the party with family and friends – all that would come later. But this was the moment that he had worked for, had studied for. This was the moment when he left a part of his childhood behind and became responsible for his own actions. He was now a Bar Mitzvah, a son of the Commandments, a new page in the millennia-old history of his people.

It was forty years ago yesterday.


Hallowe’en Hands

She Who Must Be Obeyed models her Hallowe’en Manicure. Note the spider Nail Appliqués.

Yes, SWMBO do love her some Hallowe’en.

We’ll probably make a Quivering Brain out of transparent Jell-O, complete with Gummi Worms. We’ll have the candy bowl, complete with Shrieking Hand. We’ll be handing out a couple of cases of Air Heads to the neighborhood Snot-Noses. And I will recite, ad nauseam, my Piece of Seasonally Appropriate Poetry, even though we no longer live in Texas:

Hallowe’en in Houston,
Yes, Climate Does Make a Difference

It’s Hallowe’en in Houston: the sweat is on the pumpkin
And children dress as monsters in the heat.
They stalk the stifling streets and visit every city bumpkin
Ringing doorbells, shouting “Trick or treat!”

The torrid Texas towns are filled with tiny ghouls and ghosts
With Fahrenheit approaching 93 -
They look much less like children, and more like little roasts
Extorting molten Hershey bars from me.

I remember in New England, where the temperatures were frigid,
A chilly Hallowe’en would mark the season.
You’d go collecting candy and come home all icy rigid -
It just ain’t spooky if you aren’t freezin’!

Sunday, October 30, 2005


They’re on almost every corner now, kinda like Starbucks was back in the two-thousand-oughts, back before they connected dark-roast coffee to that rare form of prostate cancer. People buy the stuff like it was going out of style...Tom can barely keep up with the demand, even with his crack staff of draftsmen, illustrators, and painters.

He’s practically printing money. Shit, at the rate we’re going, I’ll be able to retire to my own island in two or three years, where I’ll never have to look at one of those damn things again. My own fucking island. Sweet.

Oh, the business was OK before. Good, even. People loved his crap. It was the logical next step after Big-Eyed Kitties and Puppies. The rubes ate it up.

But it was my idea that kicked it into overdrive. Turbo overdrive.

Took some selling, it did...but once the ol’ cash register started ringing, Tom never looked back...and neither did I.

You think a rustic thatch-roofed cottage at sunset, its interior glowing with the bright light of a warm hearth, looks good? How about a rustic thatch-roofed cottage at sunset, its interior glowing with the bright light of a warm hearth, with a gorgeous, naked lady on all fours on the front lawn?

Yeah, I thought so.

“Painter of Light,” they called him. Hell, I said - why not “Painter of Light - and Titties and Asses”?

After that, the money really started to roll in.

Another couple of years, I figure, and I’ll cash out. Buy that island. Do it before the Next Hot Thing comes along, before sales start to cool off. I’ll keep a low profile, enjoy life.

Nobody needs to know that I’m the guy who put the “kink” in Kinkade.


Enroute to Savannah Friday evening with our friends Gary and JoAnn, we stopped near Reidsville to purchase a few Tasty Beverages...and to unload the Tasty Beverages we had consumed earlier.

Me, I had no need for a pit-stop, thanks to my Camel-Like Bladder Capacity. But Gary and the ladies availed themselves of the facilities.

I don’t know what is it about small-town filling stations along the Interstate, but it seems that they feel an obligation to ensure that all female patrons have a chance to purchase sex toys, and that all male patrons have the opportunity to load up on condoms - at least, based on the vending machines in the various rest rooms. What do they expect motorists to do? “C’mon, Myrna - let’s stop at th’ BP - we’ll take a whiz, we’ll get us some beef jerky, some rubbers and one a them ee-lectrical butt plugs, and then we’ll go over to the back of the Shoney’s parking lot and fuck our brains out.”


But here’s the thing that caught Gary’s eye: the vending machine’s offerings included slim-fit condoms.

It struck both of us that the person who thought this particular product line up was not much of a marketer. Who the hell would admit to needing slim-fit condoms?

On the other hand, it took a good marketer to come up with the concept of Trojan Magnum condoms. Magnum! Why, the very name implies a huge load! Yowza!

But a really great marketer would sell slim-fit condoms in the Trojan Magnum package. That way, when Average Joe (who in his heart believes himself to be Big Johnson) wraps the salami and finds the fit of the Protective Sheath to be somewhat snug, he will secretly be pleased with the Enormous Dimensions of his Personal Meat, never suspecting that he is cramming his average-to-small dick into an Undersized Rubber. Result: Happy customer for life.

Now, that’s Really Geat Marketing...and remember, you read it here first.


The Carnival of the Cats - nice, soft kitties, not those nasty, scuttling cockroaches - lodges at Watermark this week. SB has done another fine job assembling all of the Kitty-Related Posts, and has added some disturbing Hallowe’en-themed cat photos as well.


Batya of Shiloh Musings hosts the forty-second edition of Havel Havelim - Vanity of Vanities. Plenty of thought-provoking posts with a Jewish perspective...including a couple of examples of my own narrischkeit.

Saturday, October 29, 2005


Mistress of Sarcasm to Elisson, while at lunch today in the Glorious City of Savannah:

“I’m surprised you haven’t taken pictures of your own shit and posted them.”

Not yet...

Friday, October 28, 2005


Hot off the ol’ iPod d’Elisson is today’s selection of Tasty Musical Treats:
  1. Cultural Dub - Linton Kwesi Johnson
  2. Les Enfants Terribles, Scene 16 - He Wrote His Own Name - Philip Glass
  3. She Loves You - The Beatles
  4. Everytime (Timo Maas Remix) - Lustral
  5. Dem Rebn’s Nign - Klezmer Conservatory Band
  6. Gimme Some Lovin’ - Spencer Davis Group
  7. Where Do The Children Play? - Cat Stevens
  8. Burn Down The Mission - Elton John
  9. Mrs. Robinson - Simon and Garfunkel
  10. Too Much Time - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Meryl Yourish is looking for a job.

If anyone out there knows of work in the Richmond area with which Meryl’s considerable talents might be a fit, please contact her at meryl (at) yourish (dot) com.

Of course, if Meryl finds the kind of position she’s looking for, it may mean she will have less time to write. That’s not so good for me and her other readers...but ya gotta eat, innit?


The Friday Ark is up at The Modulator.

Cats, dogs, birds...hell, even roaches are getting into the act!

Thursday, October 27, 2005


Welcome to Carnival of the Cockroaches, Number Two!

[And how appropriate, since the little fellas love Number Two!]

In order to make things a little more interesting, we’re opening this Carnival up to the Whole Buggy World. It ain’t Just About Cockroaches anymore, although we know who will be running things after Russia Iran some Random Terrorist Richard Simmons drops the Big One...

Kicking things off this week is Vicki, of Outside In, who asks us to join her in a little game of Name That Bug! I’d simply call that thing a Honkin’ Big-Ass Beetle and get the hell out of its way...or even out of its zip code.

PZ Myers, the resident genius at Pharyngula, complains that “There aren’t any roaches here - I guess they can’t handle the winters.”

Where the hell do you live, PZ...Ant-fucking-arctica? I can’t think of too many places on this humble Ball of Rock where the little boogers cannot live all too happily. Be that as it may, PZ nevertheless manages to squeeze in an Exploding Roach story, almost as an afterthought. Way to go, dude!

The Charming, Just Charming GuyK regales us with his Modest Proposal for dealing with Fire-Ants the natural way. Now, that’s how to deal with Mother Nature - let the Bugs and Beasties duke it out amongst themselves while we chill out with a few cold brewskis.

Barbara, of Trying to Catch Up, discusses insects as a source of nutrition, an idea that many of us Westerners have trouble with. I can just hear Carlos the Cockroach now: “Soylent Brown is Roaches!” Great idea, Barb - sorry I’ll be unavailable to join you for dinner for, say, the next 1,000 years.

Cuco EddieWell, my friend Cuco Eddie is telling me that that’s all for this edition of Carnival of the Cockroaches! The crowd may have been a little light this week, but, well, you know how these little bastards multiply. I suspect that once the word gets out, we’ll have plenty of Buggy Blogposts hiding beneath your Bloggy Baseboards.

Linked to the TTLB Übercarnival.

[Cuco Eddie ©2005 by Lalo Alcaraz. Used without permission...but with extreme respect and admiration!]

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There’s a little gap between the hall bookcase and the wall next to our bedroom door - just the right size for a cat. At least, Matata seems to think so. Here, she has crammed herself into the space to catch a few morning rays.

Sunny Matata

Of course, one might legitimately question whether the Bloated Sack shown here is really a cat...or perhaps a Hairy Grey Watermelon.


Mr. Roach
What’s that, with a brown carapace,
That enjoys feasting on human waste?
O, look out! Make way for
Our friendly Cock-chafer -
Always welcomed by those of Good Taste!
The Carnival of the Cockroaches is lurking under your sink, ready to come out when you turn off the lights...

Be sure to send me links to your Cockroach-Related Posts. Stories, photos, whatever. Even RFOAC’s (Reasonable Facsimiles of a Cockroach) are acceptable, right, Rory?

Just to expand our horizons a bit, any Buggy Post will do. Any piece you have written that has to do with Horrible Insects - doesn’t have to be cockroaches! - will be fine Carnival Fodder. Earwigs, anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

As always, I'll be accepting submissions by e-mail at elisson1 (at) aol (dot) com (be sure to include “Carnival of the Cockroaches” in the subject line)...or leave a comment on this post with your permalink. Better yet, use Ferdy’s handy Carnival Submission Form: simply fill in the blanks and hit the “Submit Your Post” button.

The “squashline” is 9:00 pm EDT Thursday - that’s this evening, Esteemed Readers. Like our little Six-Legged Friends, you can run...but you can’t hide. Well, actually, you can hide. Drat.


Yeah, finally – all the signs of fall have arrived here in Atlanta.

This morning was cold and crisp, with frost bejeweling the grass. Pumpkin, bah – this stuff was everywhere.

The trees are starting to turn color at last. It took a couple of cold nights to get the process started, but it is clearly in evidence.

Our holiday season is over. That seemingly endless parade of yomim tovim – Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Shemini Atzeret, Simchat Torah – gone now, for another year. No more holidays until Chanukah, the beginning of which coincides with Christmas Day this the yidden and the goyim will both have something to celebrate. Put tefillin on for the first time in over a week (we don’t wear ’em during holidays or on Shabbat), and it felt good to wind those straps around my arm again.

The annual Torah reading cycle has begun anew. For once, it was easy to find the right spot in the scroll: right there at the Beginning. “Bereishit barah Elokim eit ha-shamayim v’eit ha-aretz...” – in the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth. After the reading, I had the honor of hagbahah – raising the scroll from the reading table and holding it aloft so the congregation could see the words. It’s a challenge this time of year, as all the weight is on the left – and I’m right-handed. But screwing up is not an option.

It’s fall. My favorite time of the year, that few weeks when there’s that snap in the morning air. The cold, the rain, and the bare, lonely-looking trees come later. Right now, it’s heaven, right here on Earth.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005


As a Young Snot-Nose, I had a reasonably comfortable suburban life in a New York bedroom community. Fancy-Pants Mansions were not my stomping grounds; glorified Tract Houses were. While our neighborhood had its own golf course, it was no country club – just a nine-hole muni, but with a wonderful par-5 finishing hole that afforded me and my friends plenty of Ball-Shagging Opportunities.

Once a year, we would make a pilgrimage to South Florida, there to visit the Maternal Grandparents. It was there that I had my first brush with Really Plush Quarters.

It seems that there was a couple living in Miami - Don and Shirley - who had been good friends with my mother and Aunt Marge back in 1940’s Brooklyn. In fact, Don and my mom had been off-again, on-again boyfriend-and-girlfriend in high school, long before both of them met the people they would eventually marry. But, as it happens, they ended up going their separate ways (fortunately for me, I suppose); and he and Shirley ended up in Miami, where he did rather well for himself as a speedboat builder and racer.

One day during one of our family’s Annual Pilgrimages, my mother and Aunt Marge decided to pay Don and Shirley a visit. As it happens, Don was away, but Shirley was only too happy to see her old friends. My brother and I got to go along for the ride, and it was then that I learned that, comfortable as we were, there were people in the world whose wealth made our meager little pile of possessions look downright puny.

Don and Shirley lived in a mansion. A veritable fucking mansion.

I can’t even remember how big the place was, but to my pre-pubescent little brain, it might as well have been Mar-a-Lago. Holy Shit. Rooms beyond count, and a garage filled with Extremely Expensive Motor Vehicles.

Marge, to this day, remembers me asking Shirley, “Where’s the golf course? You’ve got to have a golf course here.” It sounds amazingly snotty, that comment, but I can honestly recall making it in complete innocence: if they had all this shit, then why not their own golf course?

It was an Eye-Opening Experience, I tell you what.

I don’t know whether Marge and my mom ever saw Shirley again. A few years after our visit, Don kicked her to the curb and married a younger woman, perhaps a more suitable (in his mind) figurehead for his burgeoning Speedboat Empire.

Bad karma, that. In early 1987, Don was murdered – shot down gangland style. The story that circulated was that he had gotten mixed up with some Nasty People who were in the drug trade – other rumors floated around that he himself was somehow involved in that business – and there are even a few nutcases people who believe that George Bush (41), with whom he had had both a business and personal relationship, actually had him whacked to cover up said relationship.

I don’t know about all that...but what I do recall is that, after Mom passed away (about a year after Don was killed) I had gone to visit my grandmother. It was evident to me that, as miserable as she was over the loss of her daughter, she was almost as broken up, over a year later, over Don’s death. She still remembered him as a young man full of life and promise back in Brooklyn, a young man who was once a good friend – even a boyfriend! – to her daughter. Losing them both within such a short time was a grievous blow to her, probably contributing to her own demise less than two years later.

“Who was this Don?” you might ask. And I will answer. He was Don Aronow, the designer and builder of (among many others) the Cigarette speedboat...and for a while, there, in Miami, he lived in a Big Fucking House.

WE ARE SUCH STUFF... dreams are made of.

Some of us, anyway.

I leave it to my Esteemed Readers to determine how I ended up in Queenie’s Imaginary Game Show Scenario:
I was led into the warehouse by a cadre of network employees, through the studio audience. I was gratified to see some of my friends there, but could not for the life of me fathom why they were dolled up as they were. There was Velociman, of course, my nearest and dearest, accompanied by Yabu, Sam Moore, Dax Montana, Zonker, Bane, Elisson, Acidman, and my father and uncles – and each and every one of them dressed like a crazed football fan. Naked to the waist, the fellows had painted their faces and chests in the pink-and-green of the game-show logo. Velociman sported fake Halloween wounds (a mental remnant, I feel certain, of something I saw at That Party on Saturday night) and pom-poms. Sammy-baby had my name written across his back. Dax was wearing one of my bras on his head, and Bane had my contestant number emblazoned on each cheek. My dear, dear loved ones, along with the rest of the crowd, went wild as we entered, screaming with joy at the spectacle about to begin.
But I like my explanation best. What if “Bowling with Oatmeal” were not a dream at all?

Suppose - just suppose! - that a carload or two of Merry Pranksters were to rent a bowling alley and assorted television equipment for an evening. Suppose - just suppose! - that this selfsame horde of Merry Pranksters were to abduct Queenie from her nice, warm bed and shoot her full of Powerful Amnesiac Medication (Versed comes to mind) and drag her off to said Bowling Alley? Why, who is to say that all this was a Figment of an Overheated Imagination when it could very well have been real?

One cannot choose but wonder. For there are many mysteries that can be seen only with the Mind’s Eye, and they can be passing strange when that Eye is a Blown Eye.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


This week, El Capitan of Baboon Pirates hosts the Carnival of the Vanities.

Now there’s a Blog-Name that’s fraught with possibilities: “Arrrhh, ye red-arsed Jungle Swab!”

El Capitan notes that, this very week, his blog hits its first Bloggy-Versary. Congratulations are in order!

Another milestone: this post is Number 1,000 at Blog d’Elisson. One thousand little Steaming Turds Nuggets o’ Wisdom and Useless Information...roughly equivalent to Laurence Simon’s weekly output. Should I be proud? Or appalled?


Hakuna and Ted

Even kitties need a Teddy Bear to cuddle up with sometimes.


One of the benefits of being enslaved being gainfully employed by The Great Corporate Salt Mine is the opportunity, every so often, to clamp one’s lips to the Company Teat and suck noisily away. Over the course of years, I have had uncountable Forgettable But Expensive Dinners...but those did not inspire me to write this post. It’s the Memorable Dinners that count.

One of our customers used to send its key executives to Houston every December, there to host annual dinners for its two biggest suppliers - which is to say “The Great Corporate Salt Mine” and “Brand X.” Said dinners would be held on consecutive nights, one supplier on each night. Owing to the prodigious Wine Expertise and Wallet Thickness of these key executives, the dinners would always feature excellent wines. Not that the food was anything but superb, but the wines – ah, the wines! – were the stars of the show.

The dinners were almost always held in the wine cellar at Tony’s, one of the Best and Highest Falutin’ places in a town noted for its wealth of Good and High Falutin’ restaurants. [The sole exception was in 1994, when Tony’s was closed for renovation.] There would generally be two or three representatives from our customer’s firm, and a crowd of between ten and fourteen of us Salt Miners, spouses included. It was a coveted invitation – something like being summoned to the Christmas parties given by the late Jim Williams in Savannah, the ones so well documented in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. The Great Corporate Salt Mine would pay for the hors d’oeuvres and Champagne, but our customer would insist on taking care of everything else. It was, they said, their way of thanking us for being a good supplier...and quite a “thank you” it was.

Myself, I ended up going to nine of these tasty little affairs between 1986 and 1997, many of them accompanied by She Who Must Be Obeyed. Here’s the menu and wine list (wines are in boldface) from the one we had on December 15, 1986:
  • Hors d’Oeuvres: Smoked salmon, caviar, paté, fried zucchini sticks, sweet peppers
  • Dom Perignon 1976 Champagne
  • Appetizer: Linguini Pescatore
  • Bâtard Montrachet 1984
  • Lobster bisque, served with Johnnie Walker Black Label scotch whisky
  • Beefsteak tomato vinaigrette with avocado and hearts of palm
  • Grapefruit sorbet
  • Entrée: medallions of beef in a balsamic demi-glace, or medallions of lamb in a mint demi-glace, or Dover sole Meunière
  • Vegetables, soufflé potatoes
  • Château Latour 1966
  • Apricot soufflé
  • Château d’Yquem 1976
  • Cheese plate: Port Salut, Stilton, Brie
  • Warres 1963 Vintage Port
  • Coffee
  • Cigars
  • After-dinner drinks
By the time you would get to the end of this menu, you’d be gasping for air – but the last thing you wanted to do was to crap out before getting to the Château d’Yquem and the vintage port. Flavors so distinctive and wonderful, I can still taste them, if my eyes are closed and the wind is blowing just right…

Decadent? Sure. But there’s got to be a reason I’ve put up with Corporate Bullshit for, lo, these many years, and the occasional Gold-Plated Feed-Bag is as good a one as any, innit?

[Note: Tony’s still exists, but it has moved from its old digs on Post Oak Boulevard. Is it still as good? I don’t know…but it would be nice to find out.]


...around the sun for Good Ol’ Mister Wilson. And (kayn ayinhora) many more to come.

Smilin’ Denny

Go wish this grouchy old sumbitch guy a Happy Birthday, willya? Just click on the picture.


My blog is worth Jack-Shit.
How much is your blog worth?

See, I knew all of this Bloggy Crap wasn’t a total waste of time!


Bullwinkle, Head Panjandrum at Random Numbers, hosts the eleventy-eleventh edition of this Happy Bloggy Weenie Roast.

“Hey, Rocky - watch me pull a Carnival out of my ass! Nothin’ up my sleeve...”

Monday, October 24, 2005


I found this heinous little story through the good offices of Bane.

Now, the good Bane himself beggars description. Those who are familiar with his work know that he is capable of the most astonishing prose, whipping from insane violence to savage humor, with the occasional detour to heartbreak, loss, and pathos.

Gawd, but the shit he latches on to...

Put it this way. Og (the Neanderpundit) may very well be the King of the Turdbloggers - a title I bestow with the utmost respect. But Patrick , AKA Bad News Hughes, has carved out an impressive niche for himself with this Tale of TMTI: Too Much Tuchus Information. Read it and Yeep!


Prussian Blue

You’ve got to be taught to hate and fear
You’ve got to be taught from year to year
It’s got to be drummed in your dear little ear
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught to be afraid
Of people whose eyes are oddly made
And people whose skin is a different shade
You’ve got to be carefully taught

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late
Before you are six or seven or eight
To hate all the people your relatives hate
You’ve got to be carefully taught

- Oscar Hammerstein II, You’ve Got To Be Carefully Taught
The song was controversial when it appeared in South Pacific in 1949, and there was considerable pressure to remove it from the 1958 film version. But, like all great songs, it speaks truth.

Sad truth, too - because that ol’ Careful Teaching is still going on. With new distribution channels and technology, hatemongers are now able to use music to spread their bilious message.

It’s useful to remember that we’re all just glorified Monkeys with Tools. Whether we use those tools to elevate ourselves or to roll around in the Pit o’ Shit is purely up to us. Alas, there are plenty of us who prefer Door Number 2...


The inimitable Bane reminded me of how much I love pistachio nuts.

Tasty damn things. Addictive. In my personal Nut Pantheon, they are right up there with the godly Cashew. The one thing that keeps me from eating them 24/7 is the fact that, with those shells, you have to work at eating Mass Quantities of pistachios....and I am a lazy bastard when it comes to Unnecessary Snack Food.

But I’m in trouble now.

Last Saturday, I discovered that some enterprising corporate genius has thought to market hulled pistachios in a giant economy-size resealable pouch. Gaaahhh.

The discovery took place at Shabbat (Sabbath) services, where She Who Must Be Obeyed and I are regular attendees. The routine every Saturday morning is pretty much the same:
  • Birkot ha-Shachar (morning blessings).
  • P’sukei d’zimra (psalms).
  • Shacharit – the morning service proper, which includes Bar’khu (the Call to Worship); recitation of the Sh’ma (the declaration of the Unity and Uniqueness of God); and the Amidah (the standing prayer that is the key element of all Jewish worship services).
  • The Torah service, in which one or more Torah scrolls are taken out and the appropriate selection (from the Five Books of Moses, AKA the Pentateuch) chanted.
  • Haftarah – the chanting of a selection from the Prophets (Isaiah, Ezekiel, et alia) that complements the day’s Torah reading.
  • Musaf – the “Additional Service,” essentially a second version of the Amidah that recalls the sacrificial cult of the old Temple days. Musaf is tacked on to the end of the service on Shabbat, Biblical festivals, the High Holidays, and new moons.

  • But there’s another Weekly Ritual as well.

    At some point during the proceedings – usually during the Haftarah reading or immediately following – a small group of congregants quietly slips out of the sanctuary and heads off to the kitchen. It is there that we observe the Solemn Ceremony of the Sabbath Kiddush Club. In the recesses of the Dairy Kitchen, a locker is opened, bottles of Spirituous Liquors are taken out, shots poured, a blessing recited – and everyone enjoys a bit of schnapps. Baptists, we’re not.

    Sometimes, as an accompaniment to our Shots of Strong Drink, we have dried fruit or nuts. And that is when I made my happy discovery. Someone had brought a huge sack of hulled pistachios. Hulled! No shells! You could eat the sumbitches by the handful! As an adjunct to my Wee Dram of J&B (“Jewish Booze”), those pistachios were dead solid perfect.

    Ahh, the Kiddush Club. We may have our Nutty and Bizarre Rituals – what religion does not? – but you just gotta love a Religious Institution that knows how to party.

    Now I am going to have to track down the source of those Damned Pistachios...for I have looked upon them and tasted them, and they are very good.

    Sunday, October 23, 2005


    The Mind of Mog is occupied with thoughts of kitties these days, what with assembling the eighty-third edition of Carnival of the Cats.

    More than just excellent, it’s Mog-errific!


    …comes around, saith the Wise Ones. In the Bloggy-Sphere, what goes around is usually some sort of Viral Meme.

    Memes are to Personal Weblogs as chain letters are to e-mail, but sometimes they offer up a rich opportunity to generate Blogpost Fodder at the expense of a certain amount of self-respect.

    I can’t get too snotty about memes, thanks to The Meme That Will Live In Infamy. And so I will get off my High Horse long enough to deal with this one, thoughtfully prepared for me by that most beautimus Jawja Blodger-Lady wit’ da Red Pimp Hat, Key Monroe. Furthermore, since others have responded already and have shit on anticipated some of my Quality Thinking, I will adopt a more serious tone than I would otherwise have done. So:

    What were three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?

    In a life packed with Stoopid Shit, sorting out a mere three things worthy of especial note is no cakewalk. Let’s give it a try.

    Back in my Early Adolescence, I was, like many a Nerdly Person, engaged in the fine intellectual pursuit of Model Rocketry. One time, some friends and I were putting together a launch ignition switch, a simple affair consisting of not much more than a flexible strip of metal that was bolted down to one of the contacts and that could be held down to touch the other contact, completing the circuit. Building it was not stupid; testing it with live household AC current was. The jolt that shot up my arm when I touched that bare metal strip was unforgettable.

    The Infamous Applejack Episode – documented here in a previous post – illustrates what happens when you take a Gilbert Chemistry Set level of knowledge and apply it to an issue that requires College-Level Separation Processes knowledge.

    Drinking the equivalent of seven airline-size bottles of Scotch on a forty-five minute flight from Houston to Dallas, then trying to get back through the security screening station by crawling through the X-ray machine. True story…not like the stuff Velociman made up about Godzilla’s cock. [It was Rodan’s cock, and V-Man damn well knows it.]

    At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?

    Why, that one’s easy. She Who Must Be Obeyed, with whom I have shared my life for damn near half the time I have walked the planet, who has given me two wonderful children, and for whom the need desire to provide a Suitably Cushy Lifestyle will help keep my nose pressed firmly against some sort of grindstone for many years to come. She laughs at my Stupid Crap, calls “bullshit” on me when I so merit, and shares the Ol’ Fart-Sack with me on cold winter nights (and most every other night, as well). Why should she not influence me mightily?

    If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only select up to five people with whom to dine, who would you pick?
    1. Moses – assuming the language barrier were surmountable, I’m sure he would be fascinated to know that his people were still around, some 3,500 years after he led them out of Egyptian servitude. I would have plenty of questions for him, too, including “would a cheeseburger be OK to eat, since it’s not made of goat?”

    2. Jesus – mainly to find out whether he really believes he was the Anointed One – and to see what he really thinks about the notion that billions of people believe he is a Close Relative of The Big Guy. I suspect he would be horrified. Plus, I would take plenty of pictures. You think a piece of the True Cross, or a swatch off’n the Shroud of Turin is valuable? Wait’ll you see the Polaroid of Yesh and me sitting side by side at our dining room table! The eBay folks’ll crap their pants!

    3. Mark Twain – I want to hear how he likes being called “the late 19th century’s Velociman.”

    4. Adolf Hitler – so I can give him a shot of schnapps and then stick a boning knife into his black fucking heart and twist it.

    5. John F. Kennedy – I want to know whether Marilyn was all dat – and whether he thinks his brother Teddy is a bloated, evil load. Naw, on second thought, Abe Lincoln – ’cause I really want to know whether he was having a good time at the play or if he just went to keep his nutball wife out of his grille.
    If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?

    The premise for this question is interesting. If you are in a situation where you can have three wishes granted, that is prima facie supernatural. But let’s not be a spoilsport, shall we?
    1. A heap of money is an obvious first choice. To wish for more Filthy Lucre than that possessed by Bill Gates or the Sultan of Brunei might require supernatural intervention, so let’s just assume that my $350 mil Powerball ticket pans out. I don’t need a Flashy Lifestyle, but it would be sweet to simply call up the Offices of the Great Corporate Salt Mine and tell them I don’t plan to be coming in to the orifice…ever again. Tell me you wouldn’t do the same, ya lying bastid.

    2. Without health, money Don’t Mean Shit. So: good health.

    3. That my friends and family be around to share these blessings with me for a long time.
    If there were four or five wishes, I could throw in “Whirled Peas” or “Toilet with Heated, Fur-Lined Seat, Magazine Rack, Pillowed Headrest, Shiatsu Massager, and Built-In Minibar and Microwave.” Alas.

    Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.

    Regret not having: Zabar’s. Culver’s Frozen Custard and Butterburgers.

    People should avoid: Driving on any freeway between 6:00 – 10:00 am and 3:00 – 7:00 pm. Walking around downtown after dark in your St. Andrew’s Cross Underoos.

    Name one thing that has changed your life.

    Becoming a father. There have been plenty of Life-Changing Experiences in my fifty-three years, but having children – through the fine offices of She Who Must Be Obeyed, it goes without saying – has been a Profoundly Impactful Event in so many ways. What else will teach you how much love you can have for another human? How ignorant you can be…or how wise? How deeply your actions can affect others? How your decisions can make the world a bit sweeter – or more bitter? How much pain and fear you can feel – or how much joy?

    Whack five other people with this Memely Happy-Stick.

    Oy, it always comes down to this, doesn’t it? OK, here ’tis, the List o’ Victims Happy Participants:
    • TeaFizz - the Gentle Soul who introduced the Viral Replication Element to the infamous Punchbowl Meme.
    • Cowtown Pattie.
    • Verbatim. If anyone could be called my Blogmother, it might very well be Karen. It’s payback time.
    • Moogie.
    • Shoe, who foolishly revealed that she is willing to participate in this Memely Nonsense. Boo-yah!


    When it comes to Whomping Willows, Harry Potter don’t know Jack-Shit.

    We Jews have been whomping ’em for thousands of years.

    The last day of the seven-day festival of Sukkot (AKA Succos, Succot, Sukot, Succoth, Sukes, The Feast of Tabernacles, etc., etc.) is known as Hoshana Rabah - in English, the Great Hosanna. It’s traditionally considered to be the last opportunity for people to be written into the Book of Life for the coming year: while the decree is written on Rosh Hashanah (the New Year) and sealed on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), on Hoshana Rabah the book is opened once again for any last-minute emendations. The Almighty, I suppose, values that final Wordsmithing / Proofreading Session - and which of us Weblog-Writers does not, as well?

    Hosanna - now, there’s a word for you. Churchy people will be familiar with this word, which in Hebrew is rendered hosha-na - please save. An appropriate request for this, the final day of the Penitential Season. [Not to be confused with ha-shanah, which means “the year” - as in Rosh Hashanah, literally “head of the year.”]

    During Sukkot, as part of each day’s morning service, congregants parade around the sanctuary, each holding a lulav (a bound bundle of palm, myrtle, and willow branches) and an etrog (a citron, a fruit that resembles a Giant Economy-Sized Lemon with cellulite), chanting a liturgical poem that includes the plea, “Hosha-na.” Each day, a different poem is recited - but on Hoshana Rabah, we go through all seven of them, after which we take up handfuls of willow branches and beat them on the ground. The idea is to whomp those willows hard enough so that the leaves separate from the branches - symbolizing the idea that sins can be separated from people.

    Sure, it’s nutty - those whacky Jews! - but find me a religion that doesn’t engage in practices that appear nutty to non-adherents yet have deep meaning for its own devotees. Putting bowls of milk in front of statues of Ganesha? Eating and drinking God’s flesh and blood (in easy-to-digest cracker and wine form) on Sunday? Walking in circles around a building that houses a stone? Damn, we humans are weird.

    Tomorrow, as I whomp my own fist fulla willows, I will smile as I acknowledge the ridiculousness of what I do, as I simultaneously acknowledge its symbolic value - and that fact that, in performing this peculiar ritual, I continue the traditions of a people that has been walking this planet for thousands of years.

    Am Yisrael Chai - the people of Israel lives! Take that, Harry Potter.


    This week, Fishtown Chatter is chattering about Recipes.

    Yes, David Spence is the host for Edition 62 of Carnival of the Recipes. Plenty of great stuff here...and even a Helpful Hint from Yours Truly. Enjoy!

    Friday, October 21, 2005


    Gravel-Voice LarrySome of my Esteemed Readers may recall a few of my posts in which I refer to Gravel-Voice Larry, one of the Minyan Boyz. Larry, a retired Miami cop, has the kind of voice that is very much in demand by people in the collections business, on account of it is cheaper, easier, and more effective to hire Larry to call a deadbeat on the phone than it is to have a couple of goons break his legs. One or two words out of Larry, and these guys will sell their children and whore out their mothers to make the nut.

    Larry has been a mite puny lately, having suffered a coronary about seven weeks ago. He’s home recovering from bypass surgery; the rest of the Minyan Boyz are anxiously awaiting his return to his Third Base position in the chapel infield.

    Larry, like another of our Minyan Boyz, has had his fifteen minutes of fame. In his case it was more like five seconds - an extremely brief appearance in the 1960 Jerry Lewis classic, The Bellboy.

    Yeah, I know. Jerry Lewis classic - it’s a wee bit oxymoronic, like “jumbo shrimp.” But The Bellboy is something unique - it’s a Jerry Lewis movie - without Dean Martin - that showcases most of the shtick that made Lewis famous. I was surprised to find that I actually enjoyed it, albeit in a clinical sort of way. You know - when you find yourself thinking, “OK, this is the famous ‘Make-Believe I’m Conducting The Orchestra’ bit.” The humor is surprisingly...surreal, not what you would expect from a vintage-1960 film.

    But we were talking about Larry, who, thanks to his real-life gig as a Miami cop, got cast as an extra. There’s a scene near the end of the movie when Jerry Lewis’s character drives to the airport and pulls up in front of the terminal, nearly running down a Police Officer in the process. The officer, arms akimbo, seems ready to deliver a scathing lecture, but Jerry runs off before Mr. Policeman can do much more than shake his finger at him.

    That’s Larry - Mr. Airport Policeman.

    And, thanks to the Miracle of TiVo, you can see Gravel-Voice Larry in action:

    Larry the Cop in Action
    Gravel-Voice Larry meets Jerry Lewis.

    Ain’t technology wonderful?


    Most Thursday nights, I’ll join the Minyan Boyz for a quick evening service, followed by dinner. It’s a Local Tradition of sorts.

    Last night She Who Must Be Obeyed decided to blow off her Water Aerobics class and join us. A lot of people must have been thinking the same way, because we had a larger than normal group for dinner - a full sixteen of us. What with the logistics of seating such a large crowd on short notice, our choice of restaurants was narrowed down to a mere handful. I suggested one of the local Pizza Joints, and the group consensus fell right in line.

    This particular restaurant does a respectable New York-style pizza, so I split a large pie with Dennis R., an individual who shares some of my perverse taste in food. Perverse, yes: for we ordered a cheese pizza with anchovies and garlic.

    The upside about a Cheese Pizza with Anchovies and Garlic is that you will never be molested by vampires after eating one. The downside, of course, is that you are equally unlikely to be molested by your long-suffering Loving Spouse.

    It would be bad enough if the Missus had only to deal with the pungent Garlic and Cooter-Fish Breath that ensued...but there is also the pernicious effect that garlic has on my gastrointestinal tract.

    Without being too indelicate, let us simply state that SWMBO was treated to a musical evening...courtesy of the Elisson Chamber Pot Orchestra.

    Music hath charms to soothe the savage breast,
    But “Tuchus Toccatas” may not be the best.
    Sphinctural Symphonies irritate the spouse,
    Impelling her (perhaps) to toss me out the house.
    Face it, my friends: very little lovin’
    Comes to him who maketh the Dutch Oven.

    FRIDAY ARK #57

    Fresh off the presses comes this week’s Friday Ark at The Modulator, where you can fins at least 57 varieties of assorted Fauna.

    This week’s Ark features a mention of our own Carnival of the Cockroaches! Oh, boy.


    Hot off the ol’ iPod!
    1. Euphonius Whale - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks
    2. I Got A Line On You - Spirit
    3. I’m Not That Girl - Original Cast Recording: Wicked
    4. Angelina Zooma Zooma - Louis Prima
    5. First There Is A Mountain - Donovan
    6. Too Much Exposition - Original Cast Recording: Urinetown
    7. Zvezda Rok-N-Rolla - Leningrad
    8. Purple Stain - Red Hot Chili Peppers
    9. Sun Zoom Spark - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band
    10. How Many Hearts - Travis
    What are you listening to?


    Inspired by the Velocimeister, his ownself, is this list of Cars In My Life:

  • Chevrolet Malibu (1965)
  • Ford Ranch Wagon (1971?)
  • Mazda RX-2 (1974)
  • Cadillac Coupe de Ville (1976)
  • Toyota Corolla (1976)
  • Toyota Corolla (1981)
  • Pontiac Bonneville G (1982)*
  • Volvo 240 Sedan (1984)
  • Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera (1986)*
  • BMW 528e (1985)
  • Toyota Previa (1994)
  • Toyota Camry (1997)
  • Ford Taurus (1997)*
  • Toyota RAV4 (2001)
  • Chevrolet Impala (2001)*
  • Honda Accord (2002)
  • Honda Element (2005)

    Cars marked with an *asterisk were company cars, provided through the good offices of the Great Corporate Salt Mine - which is to say I wouldn’t actually have gone out and bought those cars, but the price was right.

    The 1976 Toyota Corolla was SWMBO’s car, purchased about a year before we got married. Cheap-ass car with a stick shift, this little guy would sit outside overnight in -20°F weather and then start up immediately. Almost indestructible. We sold it after having had it for five years, and it fetched only $400 less than what SWMBO had originally paid for it, brand spanking new - and about the same amount we got for that big-ass Cadillac.

    That Mazda RX-2 was a honey. Heart of a lion in a dowdy exterior, it had a Wankel rotary engine and could go from 65 to 100 in seconds. I used to cruise on Houston’s East Loop, heading north from I-10, doing 105 MPH routinely. Years later, Mazda got smart and put this same engine in sportier bodies: the RX-7 and now the RX-8. Zoom, zoom, zoom.

    Alas, no Ferraris or Lamborghinis - but I wouldn’t want ’em. Now, a BMW roadster or a nice Boxster? That’s different. Perhaps I will update my Amazon Wish List.

    Is this a meme? Could be...but the onliest reason I’m playing with it is because I liked the post title I came up with. Talk about a snake eating its own tail...
  • Thursday, October 20, 2005


    Welcome to the first-ever Carnival of the Cockroaches!

    Sure, they’re loathsome. Sure, they’re pestiferous. Sure, they carry diseases and crap in your pantry. But roaches need love, too!

    And, just as roaches need love, so also does the Bloggy-Sphere need another Carnival. If Cats and Capitalists can have Carnivals, why not Cockroaches?

    A wee bit of clarification is in order. Unlike the warm, fuzzy Carnival of the Cats, we’re not after photographs so much as we are spine-tingling Horror Stories of your adventures with our Little Insectoid Friends. Of course, photos are acceptable - nay, welcome - but it’s prose we are really looking for.

    With that in mind, let’s begin, shall we?

    First off, we have GuyK of Charming, Just Charming, who has taken this whole Roachy Business to heart. Here, he explains all about Florida’s favorite roach, the Palmetto Bug, which is to a regular old German cockroach as a Sherman tank is to a Volkswagen Beetle. And in this post, he reminds us that there is more than just one kind of Roach.

    Let me introduce our next contributor, Rory, of What Not To Do in Australia! I first discovered Rory when I stumbled on his recipe for Fucked Up Soup. (Back then, he was living in South Korea, where pretty much any soup you make from the Local Ingredients is going to be Fucked Up.) In this fine post, Rory shows us that he is a Talented Artist - not just someone who can Drink Enormous Quantities and Cook Weird Shit. If I ever get to Oz, I have got to meet this guy.

    Cowtown Pattie, who writes at Texas Trifles, is a Blog-Buddy of long standing. Pattie has the double distinction of being my first commenter as well as the first Bloggy Individual I ever met F2F. Such a lovely lady - I’m amazed (yet pleased) that she is twisted enough to contribute to the Roachy Proceedings here. But then again, she does live in Texas, where the roaches are so big, they don’t so much kill ’em as name ’em. Go and read her terrifying little story.

    Velociman is acknowledged by many to be the Mark Twain of the Jawja Blodgers, despite the fact that he currently lives south of the border in Jacksonville. Here, he writes about earwigs in this tasty little missive...but we all know they was really cocky-roaches, now, don’t we? I said, don’t we!??!

    Ivan G. Shreve mostly writes about the Thrilling Days of Yesteryear, but sometimes he deals with more contemporary matters relating to his day job - a job that occasionally brings him into contact with our Six-Legged Buddies.

    As many of us know, Rob Smith, the Acidic One his ownself, will be entering the hospital tomorrow for an intensive six-week program of cramming all his shit into one sock. To make sure our thoughts of Rob stay fresh and happy, I’m taking it upon myself to link one of his Palmetto Bug-related posts: this story of a Fight to the Death. A most appropriate choice of story, as Rob begins a Fight for his Life. I’m therefore dedicating this first Carnival of the Cockroaches to him.

    Coochy CootieWell, Esteemed (and by now, Grossed Out) Readers, that about wraps up the Premiere Edition of the Carnival of the Cockroaches. My associate here, Coochy Cootie, tells me that if there is continued interest, he’ll help me keep this Carnival going as a regular feature - so keep those cards, letters, and e-mails coming in! All three of you.

    Linked to the TTLB Übercarnival.

    [Coochy Cootie ©1970 by Robert Williams. Used without permission...but with extreme respect and admiration!]

    Technorati tags: ,


    Yes, I really will be hosting the first-ever Carnival of the Cockroaches this Friday, October 21, just as I threatened in this post. And, as I said then, this may very well be the most revolting Carnival since Acidman ran the Carnival of the Crappers.

    Send me links to your Cockroach-Related Posts. Stories, photos, whatever. Even RFOAC’s (Reasonable Facsimiles of a Cockroach) are acceptable. I will compile them and the result will be a Carnival that will have everybody scurrying for the baseboards and sink drains as soon as the light is turned on.

    I'll be accepting submissions by e-mail at elisson1 (at) aol (dot) com (be sure to include “Carnival of the Cockroaches” in the subject line)...or leave a comment with your permalink. Even better, simply use Ferdy’s handy Carnival Submission Form to make everybody’s lives easier. Just fill in the blanks and hit the “Submit Your Post” button - it doesn’t get much easier than that.

    Get your submissions in by Thursday, October 20, 9:00 pm EDT (that’s Eastern Daylight Time, folks - same as New York time) to be assured of a slot. If you give me your trackback URL, I’ll make a good faith attempt to send you a ping...subject to Haloscan not showing its ass, that is.

    And if there’s enough interest, I may run Carnival of the Cockroaches as a regular feature. Because after all, everybody loves these little buggers, am I right?

    [A tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to GuyK at Charming, Just Charming for the Tasty Roach Image.]


    I used to do my fair share of travel in Asia, on the other side of The Big Pond - in fact, there was a time back in the early 1980’s when my passport had more stamps from Hong Kong than it did from Mexico.

    Hong Kong, Singapore, China, Japan, Indonesia, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand - I’ve spent time in all of ’em, and, for the most part, enjoyed it.

    Traveling on business on behalf (primarily) of The Great Corporate Salt Mine, I was fortunate to be able to enjoy Reasonably Comfy Accommodations on these trips. No cheesy hovels for this boy. And that can be meaningful in Asia, where a hovel is really a hovel...and the Plush Cribs are really plush.

    Funny, though. In all my travels, I never saw any bugs in my hotel rooms. Surprising, given the tropical or subtropical nature of most of these places. Maybe it’s because the hoteliers there have a more liberal hand with respect to the poisons they strew about the lodgings - stuff that has been on the Forbidden List here in the States for years - stuff like chlordane, which will grow you an extra Shoulder-Head if you give it a chance...

    But there was one time I checked into my room at the Le Meridien (Changi Village) in Singapore, fresh off an Extremely Lengthy Flight from the U.S., there to find a humongous dead roach belly-up in front of the Porcelain Throne. Almost as if he died enroute:

    “Madge, I don’t feel too good...what was that white stuff we had for breakfast? Gaaaahhh...”

    I mentioned the matter to the front desk. What kind of critter was that, anyway? Something exotic, perhaps? A Bukit-Tinggi Water-Roach?

    “Oh, that? That’s just an American Cockroach.”

    And so it was, Esteemed Readers: Blattidae Americanus, the American Cockroach, known in some circles as the Palmetto Bug. The big-ass kind of roach that flies, kicks ass, and takes names, unlike its dinkier cousin, the ubiquitous German roach.

    I was proud to be an American then, I’ll tell you. ’Cause our roaches can beat up your roaches, any day.


    Steve, of Modulator fame, isn’t content to bring us Links to Beasties every Friday – he is also (apparently) a connoisseur of Science Fiction movies. Those who know me know that Science Fiction is near and dear to my heart, with me having learned to appreciate the genre at my mother’s knee, back in my Snot-Nose Days.

    Steve passes on this meme, which he in turn snarfed up from Jaquandor at Byzantium’s Shores. It’s based on a list John Scalzi (Whatever) compiled in his recently-published sheaf of dead trees book, The Rough Guide to Sci-Fi Movies: the 50 Science Fiction Films You Have To See Before You Die, AKA The Canon.

    John Scalzi offers the following caveat with respect to his list, which is of the films he deems to be the most significant in the history of SF film:
    Note that “most significant” does not mean “best” or “most popular” or even “most influential.” Some of the films may be all three of these, but not all of them are - indeed, some films in The Canon aren’t objectively very good, weren’t blockbusters and may not have influenced other filmmakers to any significant degree. Be that as it may, I think they matter - in one way or another, they are uniquely representative of some aspect of the science fiction film experience.
    As with all of these “list’m and mark’m memes” (as Steve calls ’em), simply take the list and bold the ones you’ve seen. Commentary is optional.

  • The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension!
  • Akira
  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • Alphaville
  • Back to the Future
  • Blade Runner
  • Brazil
  • Bride of Frankenstein
  • Brother From Another Planet
  • A Clockwork Orange
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • Contact
  • The Damned
  • Destination Moon
  • The Day The Earth Stood Still
  • Delicatessen
  • Escape From New York
  • ET: The Extraterrestrial
  • Flash Gordon: Space Soldiers (serial)
  • The Fly (1985 version)
  • Forbidden Planet
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • Gojira/Godzilla
  • The Incredibles
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 version)
  • Jurassic Park
  • Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
  • The Matrix
  • Metropolis
  • On the Beach
  • Planet of the Apes (1968 version)
  • Robocop
  • Sleeper
  • Solaris (1972 version)
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  • Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope
  • Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
  • The Stepford Wives
  • Superman
  • Terminator 2: Judgement Day
  • The Thing From Another World
  • Things to Come
  • Tron
  • 12 Monkeys
  • 28 Days Later
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • 2001: A Space Odyssey
  • La Voyage Dans la Lune
  • War of the Worlds (1953 version)

    What? No The Time Machine (1960 version)? No King Kong (1933 version)? I guess I could make my own list instead of carping about a few egregious omissions...but that’s what lists like this are all about, anyway: carping about the egregious omissions. As it is, I’m 36 for 50 - 72%, which qualifies me for...what? Nerd-Boy?

    I’m not going to tag anyone with this one, but if the subject matter appeals to you, have at it.
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    HERE WE GO AGAIN... one of our Recently-Dead Presidents was wont to say.
    Hurricane Wilma

    It was inevitable that there would be a Hurricane Wilma one day.

    Skeptical? Just take a look at Madame Flintstone’s hairstyle. Not one, but two -two! - Tropical Cyclones in there.

    Biding their time, as it were.


    Or, as Nick Schweitzer would call it, the Carnival of the Vanities Birthday Edition. It’s up at The World According to Nick.

    Nick has celebrated his 27th birthday (Gawd, these bloggers - they’re so young these days!) by putting together an exemplary collection of posts, complete with Appropriate Commentary. This is how it’s done, people!

    And while we’re talking about Carnivals, I might as well plug the impending Premiere Edition of the Carnival of the Cockroaches. Don’t forget to send in your submissions by 9:00 pm EDT - either to elisson1 (at) aol (dot) com, or by using Ferdy’s handy-dandy Carnival Submission Form.

    Cats have their Carnival, as do the Capitalists - so why not Cockroaches? I ask you.


    It’s been a good long while since I posted a list of books I’ve read recently. Sure, Booky Posts are a little self-indulgent, but books are the window into a person’s soul, and all that, am I right?

    [Now, if my gastroenterologist can find a medium that will function as a window into my lower GI tract, I can save myself a lot of aggravation in another couple of years when I go back for my regular Colon Looky-Loo. Podcasting, perhaps?]

    Anyway, here’s what I’ve read so far this year, with occasional comments:


  • Les Halles Cookbook - Anthony Bourdain
    How many other cookbooks contain the word “fuck” sprinkled liberally throughout?
  • Homeward Bound - Harry Turtledove
    Yet another installment in the continuing story of the Lizards and the “Big Uglies.”

  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh - Michael Chabon
  • Who Wrote the Bible? - Richard Elliott Friedman
    Fascinating scholarly analysis of how the many strands of narrative in the Hebrew Bible came together.

  • The Taste of America - John L. Hess and Karen Hess
    A culinary must-read - tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to the lovely Bakerina for pointing me to it.
  • Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe - Simon Singh
    A readable history of how our current understanding of the Universe grew and evolved.

  • Shadow of the Hegemon - Orson Scott Card
  • Hart's Hope - Orson Scott Card
  • Excelsior, You Fathead!: The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd - Eugene B. Bergmann
    Not the best written book, this one is nonetheless a valuable addition to the library of anyone familiar with this True American Original raconteur, writer, and radio personality.
  • Final Solution, The - Michael Chabon
  • Field Guide - Gwendolen Gross
    I won this sucker in the Blogging for Books monthly contest. Good read, too.

  • Fight Club - Chuck Palahniuk
    Thanks to donations from Laurence Simon and the Mistress of Sarcasm, I’ve now read pretty much everything this sick, twisted bastard has written.
  • Night Fall - Nelson DeMille
    I won this for a fifty-word movie review over at The Zero Boss. It’s a nice piece of detective fiction based on the real-life, (still) mysterious explosion of TWA 800 off the south shore of Long Island. It has some personal resonance for me as well: my Aunt Marge and Uncle Phil were on that same aircraft on its flight from Athens to New York that day. Lucky for them, they got off...
  • Invisible Monsters - Chuck Palahniuk
  • Living Life Inside the Lines: Tales from the Golden Age of Animation - Martha Sigall

  • The Plot: The Secret Story of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion - Will Eisner
    Eisner’s last book - he died early this year, scant weeks after SWMBO and I met him at the Jewish Book Fair in Atlanta. Eisner is widely credited as the originator of the graphic novel, and this book is a fine example.
  • Stranger Than Fiction - Chuck Palahniuk
  • Hunting Eric Rudolph - Henry Schuster and Charles Stone
    True crime story involving a genuinely scary individual who should’ve got the Needle o’ Doom instead of the plea-bargain life sentence he ended up with.
  • Diary - Chuck Palahniuk
  • Haunted - Chuck Palahniuk
  • Robbing the Bees: A Biography of Honey - Holley Bishop
  • The Bialy Eaters: The Story of a Bread and a Lost World - Mimi Sheraton
  • Running With Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
    Supposedly a true memoir, this one will make your own dysfunctional family seem like Ozzie and Harriet.

  • One False Move - Alex Kava
    Beach reading, in case you’re curious.
  • Forever - Pete Hamill
    A remarkable fable by a masterful storyteller.
  • Caught Stealing - Charlie Huston
    This first novel by Charlie Huston grabs you right away and doesn’t let go.
  • A Portrait of Yo Mama as a Young Man - Andrew Barlow and Kent Roberts

  • Hyperspace - Michio Kaku
    Scholarly treatment of multiple dimensions. Meh.
  • The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Second Annual Collection - Gardner Dozois (editor)
  • Magic Street - Orson Scott Card
  • Six Bad Things - Charlie Huston
    The follow-up to Caught Stealing.
  • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - J. K. Rowling

  • Until I Find You - John Irving
    New books by John Irving don’t appear all that frequently. This one mines themes of truth, falsehood, abandonment, and the search for family connections. Plus: tattoos!
  • Snow in August - Pete Hamill
    Another Hamill fable; this one was made into an Afterschool Special.

  • Settling Accounts: Drive to the East - Harry Turtledove

    Currently working on:
  • Born to Kvetch: Yiddish Language and Culture in All Its Moods - Michael Wax
  • Cloud Atlas: A Novel - David Mitchell

  • So: what have you been reading lately?


    The fog comes
    on big clown feet.
    It parks its butt
    over harbor and city
    with Baggy Pants
    and then burns off.

    - apologies to Carl Sandburg

    Last week, we awoke to a foggy morning here in the northern ’burbs of Atlanta. It’s that time of year when cool mornings combine with moist air, creating those ground-level clouds.

    I like fog, as long as I don’t have to travel in it. There’s something peaceful about a dense fog, the way it blurs the vision and seems to muffle sound. A noted science fiction writer - Larry Niven, if I remember correctly - once speculated that fog was not always an atmospheric phenomenon, that it could be the result of different probability worlds intersecting. If you took a walk on a foggy night, you might come back to one of those other worlds. To a home in which nobody knew you, perhaps...or to a world in which creatures other than human populated the Earth. Eerie, that.

    Fog can be damned scary, too. Ask any mariner.

    We used to drive the Houston-Atlanta route fairly frequently. My in-laws used to live in Atlanta when we lived in Houston; in 1998, that situation was turned around, with us living in Atlanta and them in Houston (a long story, one involving The Great Corporate Salt Mine and probably worthy of its own post someday.) We discovered that the stretch on I-65 from Mobile to Montgomery, Alabama was notoriously vulnerable to fog after dusk in the winter months, so much so that we learned to stop overnight in Mobile rather than risk driving through miles of dense pea-soup.

    And back in the late 1970’s, when I was working on a special project that had me driving from southwest Houston to Bayport, Texas to cover the graveyard shift, I had to deal with dark roads and fog that was so dense, you couldn’t see ten feet in front of you. I would make that drive with my heart in my mouth the whole way, hoping that a random 18-wheeler would not blunder upon me.

    Fog impedes the vision, forces us to slow down. That’s not entirely a bad thing, is it?

    [This post was inspired by the beautiful foggy photograph over at nina turns 40.]

    Tuesday, October 18, 2005


    Sunbathing Hakuna

    Hakuna relaxes in the early morning sun.


    Even now, Republicans are practically crapping their pants with fear over a possible Hillary Clinton candidacy...

    ...but there are a few credible alternatives emerging.

    Christopher Walken General Zod

    I can hear the Inaugural Address now:
    The way your dad looked at it, this watch Administration was your birthright. He’d be damned if any of the slopes Political Opposition were gonna get their greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it in the one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years, he wore this watch Administration up his ass. Then when he died of dysentery, he gave me the watch. I hid this uncomfortable piece of metal politics up my ass for two years. Then, after seven years, I was sent home to my family. And now, little man, I give the watch Administration to you.
    [The scary thing is, I think the Walken campaign is for real...]

    Update: ...but of course it’s not, as astute commenter Dave points out.


    Oh, say, what fun to be a Jew!
    Today is Succoth: what to do?

    We march around and chant Hosannas
    Whilst holding citrons (not bananas).

    The citron is not good to eat:
    Think “big-ass lemon with cellulite.”

    We wave our palm fronds in the air -
    Willow and myrtle leaves get in our hair,
    [Despite them little hats we wear.]

    Does all this sound so very hard?
    Now: Build a shack in your back yard,

    And eat your meals out there all week.
    The neighbors think that you’re a freak.

    Oh, say, what fun to be a Jew!
    If only all the goyim knew.


    This week’s Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Blogposts can be found at Free Money Finance.

    [Now, there’s a Blog Name for ya. I could use me some free money.]

    I am pleased to see that there are two - two! - links to the upcoming Carnival of the Cockroaches. I guess Ferdy was so impressed when I sent in the request for a spot on his Carnival Submission Form, he figured I deserved a roasting.

    Mmmm. Roast cockroaches. Anyone got any Worcestershire?

    Monday, October 17, 2005


    [I had originally left the nucleus of this post as a comment over at Leslie’s Omnibus...but I have decided to snarf it up and make a Full-Blown Post out of it.]

    This political correctness thing is getting out of control.

    She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were at a synagogue board meeting last night. During the course of the meeting, someone mentioned that they had received a complaint from a congregant about the handicapped seating provided during the High Holiday services last week.

    Now, just by way of background, our High Holidays (Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur) are like the World Series of Judaism. On the Scale o’ Holiday Importance, they’re the ones that peg the Needle o’ Observance. Like the Christians who show up in church two days a year - Christmas and Easter - there is a large cohort of Jews who show their faces in shul only two or three days a year - and this is them. (For that matter, I’m sure our Muslim brethren also deal with a healthy contingent that appear in the local masjid for the beginning or end of Ramadan and then disappear for the other eleven months.)

    So right off, you can be sure that the Complainant is someone who is not exactly a Regular Visitor to the Premises.

    So: what exactly was the problem with the Handicapped Seating?

    Was it insufficient? Was access difficult? Was it uncomfortable?


    The seats were labeled “Handicapped Seating” with the familiar wheelchair logo. That apparently was not “PC” enough for this person, who wanted some other “less offensive” label. Good Gawd.

    So, as we sat there in the meeting, SWMBO and I tried to come up with a few alternative labels:
    • Disabled. Naw, too “in yer face.”
    • Differently Abled. Ahh, that’s better.
    • Physically Challenged.
    • Capability Challenged. Continuing the “challenged” theme.
    • Mentally Challenged. OK, but we’re talking physical here.
    • Very Special Person.
    • Individually Different. Like most of us.
    • Grouchy and Crippled. Tip o’ th’ hat to Denny, who is less grouchy than the asshole congregant who complained.
    • FUBF (Fucked Up but Functional) - tip o’ th’ hat to the FUBU folks.
    • Just Plain Fucked Up.
    • My Legs Don't Fucking Work Any More, OK?
    To go with these, of course, the Boring Old Wheelchair Symbol simply won’t do. How ’bout a nice icon showing a guy with a peg leg? Or a pair of crutches? Or an eyepatch?

    It’s not like we’re the geniuses who thought to market a wheelchair called the Spazz. (Really.) If you want to bitch about something, why not that?

    If this keeps up, the Crips and Bloods will need to come up with pleasant, inoffensive, neutral names for themselves. The Differently Abled and the Hemoglobin-Bearing Bodily Fluids?

    [Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Leslie, who had written about the Spazz wheelchair in this post.]