Monday, July 31, 2006


We at Blog d’Elisson are pleased to see that this Fine Gentleman has returned from his vacation in Saint Martin / Sint Maarten.

Didja miss us? We sure missed you...but someone was kind enough to send us this picture, so we knew you were enjoying your Beach Holiday.


Here are some of the things you may encounter when you visit this Pale Heterosexual Gentleman:
  • Fine single-malt Scotch whisky.
  • Tandoori Chicken.
  • The most beautiful Pool Table in the Southeast, and quite possibly the entire eastern seaboard.
  • Heavy armaments.
  • The lovely Princess Fiona.
  • A most unusual guest, one that (in fact) hails from the veritabobble Birthplace d’Elisson.
  • A room filled with miscellaneous ellipses...and italics.
  • Helga and Sylvia.
  • Polish absinthe, AKA “The Potrzebie Fairy.”
  • Two beautiful kitties.

Fred and Ginger
Fred and Ginger.

Bedam. Somehow, I have managed to turn a weekend of utter moderate debauchery into a Catblogging post. What next? Recipes?


This is the story of five sisters.

Hendel, Ceril, Ann, Dorothy, and Helen, their names were, and they lived in a small city near Warsaw.

Times were tough for the sisters. Tragedy had struck their family early on, when their little brother – not much more than a toddler – was struck down by a horse-drawn wagon and killed. The local economy was not especially healthy. Poland was looking steadily worse as a place to live.

Hendel and Ceril, the eldest of the five, were married, and Hendel had already started a family, when their husbands decided to seek their fortunes in the New World. Hendel’s husband struck out for South America, landing in Argentina. Like so many of his compatriots, he could not afford to bring his family over; he would have to establish himself and earn the passage for his wife and child.

Ceril was more fortunate. Her husband had the resources to bring her over with him. His family, from all evidence, was somewhat well-off, as most of them emigrated at about the same time. And like Hendel’s husband, they settled in Argentina.

Meanwhile, back in Poland, Ann, Dorothy, and Helen continued to live with their parents. But the father, as had his sons-in-law, realized that Poland held no future for them. He left for America, and within a few months he had established himself in Kansas City and was able to arrange for passage of two of the remaining daughters. Ann and Dorothy were selected, most likely because they were old enough to earn a living.

They made the trip in 1928. Ann spent the entire eight days of the voyage being violently seasick. Meanwhile, Dorothy – then an irrepressible 16-year-old – partied constantly with the crew, providing early evidence of a feisty personality.

Several years later, when enough money had been saved up for two more steamship tickets, the father sent for his wife, and Helen, the youngest of his five daughters.

Hendel’s husband, meanwhile, continued slogging away at the task of earning passage for his wife and child. But when World War II began in the fall of 1939, he knew, to his horror, that it had taken too long. Hendel and her son were trapped in a Poland that had been overrun by the Nazis. They never made it out, swallowed up in ravening maw of the Holocaust.

In time, the three newly-minted American citizens got married and settled down, as was the custom in those days. Ann was widowed early, her husband dying unexpectedly when their baby daughter was three months old. In time, she remarried and moved away to Fort Worth. Husband Number 2 passed away a mere ten years later, leaving behind a seventeen-year-old stepdaughter and a desolate wife; after that, Ann did not marry again. Meanwhile, Dorothy and Helen stayed in Kansas City, raising their own families there.

In the early 1970’s, Ceril traveled to the United States and was reunited with her three sisters for the first time in forty-two years. Communication was a challenge. Ceril spoke only Yiddish and Spanish, Dorothy only English. It was Ann who remembered enough Yiddish to bridge the language gap and translate the conversations back and forth.

Some ten years later, when conditions in Argentina began to grow difficult for Jews, Ceril made aliyah, immigrating to Israel.

Ann suffered a massive stroke in late 1987. She lingered on in a semi-vegetative state for three more years, finally passing away in December 1990. Sister Ceril joined her in Olam ha-Ba - the World to Come – several years later.

Helen lives in suburban Maryland and is in declining health. Meanwhile, feisty Dorothy, now 94, still lives in Kansas City and only now is preparing to move from her private residence into an assisted living facility.

Our connection to the five sisters?

Ann’s little daughter – the one whose father passed away when she was three months old – is the Momma d’SWMBO. And Dorothy is the Great-Aunt with whom SWMBO and her mother spent this past weekend.

And here it is Monday evening, and SWMBO and I are visiting the Mistress of Sarcasm. She is the next generation, Ann’s great-granddaughter. She and her sister are the ones who will write the next chapter in the Story of the Five Sisters.

I wonder, though, about Hendel, the sister that was left behind.

I wonder about her child. He never saw adulthood, that little boy who never lived to have children of his own. Today nobody remembers his name, and only a sole photograph remains to show that he ever lived.

I wonder about the other children Hendel might have had.

I wonder what their stories would have been like. What their families would have been like...had she and her little boy not been left behind.

Hendel's son
Hendel’s lost son...left behind.

Friday, July 28, 2006


Sometimes I think my life is a comic book.

Unlike Harvey Pekar, who documented his thoroughly unexceptional life in graphic novel form in American Splendor, I have not actually taken the time to storyboard my Quotidian Existence and pitch it to someone who could create something simultaneously Meaningful and Arty.

But it’s not a bad idea. After all, when it came time to write the dreaded Essay on my application to Princeton University, I envisioned my future life as a successful comic strip artist (and Princeton alumnus), the world-famous creator of Super Baciagalupe. It (along with my SAT scores) was enough to get me accepted. It’s 37 years later, but I still have a Funny-Book mind.

Hell, I can’t get though the day without reading the newspaper comics section...even the lame-ass strips like Judge Parker and Mary Worth. And I thoroughly enjoyed The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, Michael Chabon’s novel set in the Golden Age of comic books.

But let’s think about this for a moment. What kind of Comic Strip Hero would Elisson be?

Comic Book Elisson

The Peter Parker type? Serious, possibly even nerdly, but with a hidden reserve of power? Or just plain everyday Joe, à la Harvey Pekar?

Hulk Elisson

Perhaps something a little more violent? Unpredictable?

I’m guessing I know which version some people might prefer...


It’s a quiet evening at Chez Elisson...SWMBO is away in Kansas City, enjoying the company of her Mom and her great-aunt Dorothy, whilst I am left to my own devices.

For dinner, I decided to rustle up a Hanger Steak. I had snapped up one of these at Harry’s, where I had gone earlier in the day in order to load up on Indian Groceries. Some time back, I posted a recipe for Thyme-Dusted Hanger Steak with Sautéed Shallots, and it’s a fine way to prepare this most excellent cut of beef.

Now, what to do for a side dish? Ah!

At the market, I had seen some nice, ripe tomatoes on the vine and grabbed ’em. These I proceeded to slice up, dressing them with a little Fleur de Sel, some olive oil, a squirt of balsamic vinegar, and some chunks of Roquefort.

Some Stoudt’s India Pale Ale for liquid refreshment, and a finger of Calvados for a digestif...and, Presto! Dinner with Elisson!

Bachelor Dinner

Better than a sharp stick in the eye, to be sure, although it would be a whole lot more enjoyable were SWMBO here to share it with me. And I am sure she’d like it, despite having to hack it up into little tiny chunks in order to comply with her No-Chew Dietary Restriction.

What did you have for dinner?


The DEA agents silently took their positions around the dilapidated warehouse, pistols raised.

Jones gave the hand signal. Three officers kicked the door in. The grunts running the lab were caught flat-footed. Didn’t even put up any token resistance. They were led away in manacles.

Jones took his team in to reconnoiter. His jaw nearly dropped when he saw a twenty-foot high pile of what eventually tested out to be pure benzedrine sulfate, all packaged neatly in gelatin capsules.

But victory felt hollow. He groaned, knowing exactly what the Post’s headline would be:

“Feds bust meth ring, find ‘Benny’ Hill.”


...comes this fine recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies.

  1. 532.35 cm3 gluten
  2. 4.9 cm3 NaHCO3
  3. 4.9 cm3 refined halite (NaCl)
  4. 236.6 cm3 partially hydrogenated tallow triglyceride
  5. 177.45 cm3 crystalline C12H22O11
  6. 177.45 cm3 unrefined C12H22O11
  7. 4.9 cm3 methyl ether of protocatechuic aldehyde
  8. 2 CaCO3-encapsulated avian albumen-coated protein modules
  9. 473.2 cm3 theobroma cacao
  10. 236.6 cm3 de-encapsulated legume meats (sieve size #10)

To a 2-L jacketed round reactor vessel (reactor #1) with an overall heat transfer coefficient of about 100 BTU/°F-ft2-hr, add ingredients one, two, and three with constant agitation. In a second 2-L reactor vessel with a radial flow impeller operating at 100 rpm, add ingredients four, five, six, and seven until the mixture is homogeneous. To reactor #2, add ingredient eight, followed by three equal volumes of the homogeneous mixture in reactor #1. Additionally, add ingredients nine and ten slowly, with constant agitation. Care must be taken at this point in the process to control any temperature rise that may be the result of an exothermic reaction.

Using a screw extruder attached to a #4 nodulizer, place the mixture piecemeal on a 316SS sheet (300 x 600 mm). Heat in a 460°K oven for a period of time that is in agreement with Frank & Johnston’s first order rate expression (see JACOS, 21, 55), or until golden brown. Once the reaction is complete, place the sheet on a 25°C heat-transfer table, allowing the product to come to equilibrium.


It’s an old, old story, but one that bears repeating...

Seems that when God was just about done creating the universe, He noticed a couple of left-over things in his Bag o’ he stopped by to visit Adam and Eve in the Garden.

The Eternal One found them relaxing in the shade under the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. He told the couple that one of the things he had to give away was the ability to stand up and pee. “It’s a very handy thing,” God told them. “and I was wondering if either one of you wanted that ability.”

Adam practically popped an aneurysm, so excited was he. He jumped up and begged, “Oh, give that to me! I’d love to be able to do that! It seems just the sort of thing a Man should do. Oh please, oh please, oh pleeeease, let me be able to pee standing up! I’d be so great! When I’m working in the garden or naming the animals, I could just let it rip, and it’d be so cool. Oh please, God, let it be me who you give that gift to, let me stand and pee, oh please...” On and on he went, dancing around and hopping from one foot to another, just like an excited little boy (who had to pee).

Eve just smiled and shook her head at Adam’s little display. Well, why not? Being able to pee standing up seemed to be exactly the sort of thing that would make him happy. And so she told God that if Adam really wanted it all that badly, she really wouldn’t mind if Adam were the one given this wonderful talent.

And so it was. And it was...well, good. Adam immediately ran off to the river in order to test his Wonderful New Ability.

“Fine,” God said, looking back into his sack of Creational Leftovers for something he could give Eve. “Now, what else do we have in the ol’ Godly Goodie Bag? Oh, here’s something you might like. Multiple orgasms...


The house is quiet this Friday morning, with She Who Must Be Obeyed having gone off to spend a weekend in Kansas City visiting her great-aunt Dorothy. Dorothy is still feisty as ever at the age of 94, and SWMBO would like a chance to enjoy her company while she is still Walking the Planet. It’s a Family Two-Fer, as the Momma d’SWMBO is also up there in KC, helping Dorothy sort through the bales of assorted memorabilia in her house.

Which leaves me here in Atlanta to get into stay out of trouble on my own. Heh.

Since it is Friday, it’s time to see what Random Madness the iPod d’Elisson is spewing forth. And this time, I’ll tease you with a few (excerpted) lyrics. Lessee...
  1. House Where Nobody Lives - Tom Waits

    There’s a house on my block
    That’s abandoned and cold
    Folks moved out of it a
    Long time ago
    And they took all their things
    And they never came back
    Looks like it’s haunted
    With the windows all cracked
    And everyone call it
    The house, the house where
    Nobody lives

    Once it held laughter
    Once it held dreams
    Did they throw it away
    Did they know what it means
    Did someone’s heart break
    Or did someone do somebody wrong...

  2. Uf Dem Anger - Were Diu Werlt Alle Min - Christian Thielemann, Orff: Carmina Burana

    Were diu werlt alle min
    von deme mere unze an den Rin,
    des wolt ih mih darben,
    daz diu chunegin von Engellant
    lege an minen armen.

  3. Cabin Essence - Brian Wilson

    Light the lamp and fire mellow,
    Cabin essence timely hello,
    Welcomes the time for a change.

    Lost and found, you still remain there.
    You’ll find a meadow filled with grain there.
    I’ll give you a home on the range...

  4. Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head - Ben Folds Five

    Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head
    And just like the guy whose feet are too big for his bed
    Nothin’ seems to fit
    Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’

    So I just did me some talkin’ to the sun
    And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
    Sleepin’ on the job
    Those raindrops are fallin’ on my head, they keep fallin’

    But there’s one thing I know
    The blues they send to meet me won’t defeat me
    It won’t be long till happiness steps up to greet me...

  5. Junco Partner - Professor Longhair

    Oh, down the road came a poor little Junco
    Boys, he was loaded as can be
    The poor man was knocked out, knocked out and loaded
    And he was wobblin’ all over the street

    I heard him singing 6 months was no sentence
    He said one year was not no time
    He said he had friends still in Angola
    Serving from 14 to 99...

  6. Poor Thing - Stephen Sondheim, Sweeney Todd Original Broadway Cast

    There was a barber and his wife.
    And he was beautiful...
    A proper artist with a knife,
    but they transported him for life.
    And he was beautiful...
    Barker his name was.
    Benjamin Barker...

  7. Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah - The Klezmer Conservatory Band

    Oy Chanukah, Oy Chanukah
    A Yom Tov a shayner
    A lustikher, a freylekher
    Nitav nukh asayner...

  8. Fortuna Imperatrix Mundi - Christian Thielemann, Orff: Carmina Burana

    O Fortuna
    velut luna
    statu variabilis,
    semper crescis
    aut decrescis;
    vita detestabilis
    nunc obdurat
    et tunc curat
    ludo mentis aciem,
    dissolvit ut glaciem.

    Sors immanis
    et inanis,
    rota tu volubilis,
    status malus,
    vana salus
    semper dissolubilis,
    et velata
    michi quoque niteris;
    nunc per ludum
    dorsum nudum
    fero tui sceleris...

  9. All Along The Watchtower - Dave Mason

    “There must be some way out of here,” said the joker to the thief,
    “There’s too much confusion, I can’t get no relief.
    Businessmen, they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth,
    None of them along the line know what any of it is worth...”

  10. The Gulag Orkester - Beirut
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The ninety-seventh installment of the Friday Ark is up, predictable as clockwork, at the Modulator.

Don’t forget to visit the Carnival of the Cats Sunday evening, when Edition #123 is scheduled to be on line at The Scratching Post. Plenty of Kitty Fun to be had.

Update: CotC #123 is up.

Thursday, July 27, 2006


Or, Où Sont Les Freds D’Antan?

Faites la connaissance des Flintstones.
Ils sont la famille moderne de l’age de pierre.
Habitant la ville de Bedrock,
Leur vie quotidienne est une page d’histoire.

Allons-y avec la famille dans la route,
Grâce aux deux pieds de Fred.

Peut-être un jour Fred gagnera la bâtaille,
Et le chat restera dehors toute la nuit.

Quand vous êtes avec les Flintstones,
Ayez un temps «yabba dabba doo»
Un temps «dabba doo»
Nous aurons un temps tellement joyeux.

[Who says high school French was a totally wasted endeavor?]


Therefore I feel justified in jumping the gun on Friday Catblogging.

Catblogging, after all, is not something that can be confined to a specific day of the week. Ya got cats, ya got a camera, ya got a few minutes - who’s stoppin’ ya?

Here we have Miss Matata helping the Missus read her morning paper...

Matata Reads

...stealing a kiss in the process...

Matata Kiss

...while off in the distance, Hakuna watches the proceedings in her Crouchy Posture.

Hakuna Crouches

Kitties! Gotta love ’em.


Spice Girl

Why not alphabetize the spice drawer?

This is a clear sign that SWMBO’s summer vacation is too damn long.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Plenty of people believe that the Shroud of Turin is an actual image of Jesus, not just some old, filthy schmattah with an interesting-looking pattern of light and dark skid-marks splotches. Sure, you may have an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe toasted into your tortilla…and there may be a Religious Icon staring out at you when you look at a leaky crack underneath a freeway overpass.

I used to be suspicious of such Supernatural Imagery…but no longer. Checkit: here’s a Pyrex pan, of late used by SWMBO to prepare some tasty Gefilte Fish. And...and...lookee there! It’’s...

The Pyrex of Marietta

Aw, who the fuck is that, anyway?

Now, which Great and Awesome Religious Figure does this put you in mind of?

Jesus? Moses? Too thin for the Buddha...

L. Ron Hubbard? Elvis?

Feel free to leave your speculations in the comments. Meanwhile, I’m thinking of lobbing this bad boy up on eBay. For, certes, there is someone who will find inspiration in the mundane, something sacred in the profane...and who has more money than brain cells. Minimum bid $1000!


This evening, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I grabbed an early dinner at one of the local eateries just outside the Perimeter. We had been downtown visiting the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon who, not much more than a month ago, was carving upon SWMBO’s delicate jawbone. Conveniently enough, our friends G and JoAnn joined us, both heading to the restaurant in their separate vehicles directly from work.

A number of restaurants in the area offer an Early-Bird Special, with a two-course dinner offered at $10 or $11 to those who can get there before 6 p.m. It’s a substantial discount, and you don’t even have to have an AARP card to take advantage of it. Heh.

It’s only a matter of time, I suppose, before SWMBO and I end up going out to dinner at four in the afternoon, bitching at the waitstaff, stealing the Splenda, and cramming the extra dinner rolls into our Cargo Shorts, the waistbands of which will be up to our nipples. Fuck, we’re getting old.

If we lived in Texas, I guess it’d be about time for me to lay in a stock of Texas Old-Man Jumpsuits. It’s the Standard Uniform for Lone-Star Geezers. But, as usual, I digress.

So here we are, the four of us, at the restaurant in time to enjoy the Early Bird special. And, being the Careful Eaters that we all are, we all order the grilled salmon, which comes dressed in a lemon caper sauce and sitting on top of a pile of garlic mashed potatoes. Eschewing the standard issue, I get sautéed spinach in lieu of the ’taters. I’ve just gotta be a pain in the ass me.

Lo and behold, when our main courses arrive, we notice a strange, unpleasant pong. Something is fishy in Sandy Springs.

I recall a Business Trip years ago, during which a colleague and I set out in search of a sushi bar in Mississauga, Ontario, hard by Pierson International Airport. We scouted out one likely place, walked in the door…and each of us made an immediate U-turn and headed right back out without even breaking stride. If a sushi bar stinks like old fish, you do not want to be eating the sushi there.

We, all four of us, bent low over our plates to administer the Whiff Test. Phewie! The salmon has, as the British are wont to say, gone off. Even the restaurant manager wrinkled his nose when we presented him with the Offending Platters.

Unlike the Swedes, who know how to appreciate truly Stinky Fish, our sensibilities are unequipped to deal with Piscatorial Pungency. We risk disaster if we eat That Which Is Nasty. And I don’t plan to fuck up my 35-year No-Puke Record. Not yet, anyway.

We sent the Stink-Fish back and ordered alternatives, none of which involved seafood. And the rest of the dinner proceeded uneventfully...except for the incredibly confusing scene that took place right after a busload of blind lesbians crashed into the restaurant’s kitchen.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


Monkeyshit being the way my podiatrist describes my feet: “Elisson, your problem is that you have Monkeyshit Feet.”

This little item has been circulating on the Internet forever, but I couldn’t resist snagging it. It’s a collection of (supposedly) actual analogies and metaphors found in high school essays, compiled from submissions sent in by English teachers from across the country. These are some of the winners:
  • Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

  • His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

  • He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.

  • She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.

  • She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.

  • Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.

  • He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.

  • The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.

  • The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

  • McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.

  • From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7:00 p.m. instead of 7:30.

  • Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.

  • The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.

  • Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.

  • They lived in a typical suburban neighborhood with picket fences that resembled Nancy Kerrigan’s teeth.

  • John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.

  • He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.

  • Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long, it had rusted shut.

  • Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.

  • The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.

  • The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.

  • He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck, either, but a real duck that was actually lame, maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.

  • The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.

  • It was an American tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with power tools.

  • He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
I dunno. These are almost too good to be true exemplars of Unintentional Humor. Can you come up with any that are this bad good?

[A tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora goes to Stefan P.]


Gorgeous Gorge at Saint George
The Gorge at Saint George.

This photograph was taken in June during a weekend excursion to the environs of Saint John, courtesy of Lisa and G.

The site is the Gorge at St. George, a community about 45 minutes west of Saint John. There is a place where interested observers can get right up against the thundering cataract...and the dam has been designed so that spawning fish - alewives and Atlantic salmon, et alia - can travel safely upstream.


A fishway! Just Dam!


Lisa’s recent post about some of the ridiculous signs around Saint John struck a chord with me. I’ve spent several weeks in that fair city, and I, too, have seen a few signs that raised a chuckle.

Exhibit A. Festivals.

Saint John Festivals

One thing that becomes evident to the Foreign Visitor from the South: these Maritime folks really try to cram a lot of fun into the all-too-brief summer. There’s something to do in Saint John almost every week, from Bodies on the Boardwalk (presumably not dead ones), to the regrettably-named Salty Jam (actually a jazz festival, not a Sperm-Based Condiment), to the Fundy Fog Festival. And let me tell you, this place has plenty of fog.

OK, so the sign is only mildly amusing, not really a prime source of Teh Funny. But I liked it.

Exhibit B. Buffaloes.

Antedeluvian Buffaloes

I would drive past this building on Union Street every day on the way to and from the Great Corporate Salt Mine’s outpost. And I could not help but think of this Truly Antedeluvian guy...

Fred Flintstone

Exhibit C. The Saigon Noodle Restaurant.

Saigon Noodle

WTF is the deal with the Laughing Cow?

Aside from the fact that when I see the Laughing Cow, I think of little wedges of Cheezoid Spread, there is the matter of the Vietnamese diet. The Vietnamese are not bashful when it comes to eating their beef, as anyone who has had a steaming bowl of pho will tell you. Makes you wonder what that cow is laughing about, eh? A Laughing Cow on an Indian restaurant’s sign would make a lot more sense: the cow could then be enjoying a bit of schadenfreude at the expense of his secular (and therefore edible) Barnyard Buddies, like Mr. Sheep and Mr. Goat. But here? Crazy, I tells ya.

Monday, July 24, 2006


“Nothing’s gonna change my world..”
- John Lennon
Wrong-O, John. Something will eventually come along to change your world, and you can’t do a thing about you yourself found out on that December day in 1980.

This Saturday just past, one of our congregants received an unexpected visit from an Unexpected Visitor, and it changed his world.

It was a routine summer Saturday. The Missus and I went to morning services, as is our custom. And I was Rabbi for a Day.

I should explain that, during the summer when there are no B’nai Mitvah on the congregational calendar, it is the practice of our Rabbi to let the inmates take over the asylum. He sits amongst the congregation and relaxes while various members of the laity take over the duties of running the service. The absence of Ordained Clergy poses no theological problem for us Jews, as you do not need to be a Rabbi to conduct a service: everybody is equal when it comes to the ability to talk with The Big Guy. This week, it was my turn to man the pulpit.

Services proceeded without a hitch, and the congregation moved into the social hall for the Oneg Shabbat, the luncheon that follows the Saturday morning service. SWMBO and I did not plan to stick around long, owing to the fact that there is little available there for her to eat while she is still in No-Chew Mode.

Howard, one of the Saturday Regulars and father-in-law of one of our Minyan Boyz, came over to compliment me on having conducted the services without any major snafus. We got into a conversation about the recent events in the Middle East, the main points of which found the two of us in complete agreement. Discussion over, Howard sat down to enjoy his coffee while I went to grab a bagel, all the while thinking to myself how remarkable it was that this elderly gentleman was so intellectually sharp.

Five minutes later, it became evident that something had gone seriously wrong. In the midst of talking with one of his friends, Howard suddenly became semi-conscious, his coffee spilling from his mouth and onto his tie and shirt, his head partially slumped over.

The Unexpected Visitor had just paid Howard a visit.

I ran over to the Rabbi (the real Rabbi) and asked him to find a doctor, then ran back to the table and sat down next to Howard. It was clear right away that he was having a cerebrovascular incident – a stroke. “Call 911! Now!” I said, to no one in particular.

Cellphone usage is normally prohibited on the Sabbath, but in Judaism, the need to save human life takes precedence over adherence to the Laws of Moses.

“Howard! Can you move the fingers on your right hand?” Yes, he could. He drummed them on the table vigorously.

“Howard! Can you move the fingers on your left hand?”


Howard’s eyes had begun to roll back, and we tried to keep him awake as best we could. He retained enough consciousness to dab at his mouth with a napkin and to respond to his name, but he was fading fast. My mind flashed back to a time almost forty years ago, when my Grandpa Abe had had a similar attack. It was scary, seeing that bizarre state of semiconsciousness, the inability to react normally. Back then, my grandmother and I had horsed Grandpa into the car, and she drove at breakneck speed through the streets of North Miami to the hospital, my terrified kid brother cowering in the back seat. It was a frightening foretaste of the stroke that would eventually carry him off less than six months later.

Meanwhile, the EMT’s arrived and quickly took control, hooking up an EKG and administering oxygen. Within minutes, they had Howard loaded on a gurney and whisked out the door, as SWMBO, using her Teacher Persona, herded the small army of curious children out of the way.

While all of this was going on, someone contacted Howard’s daughter and son-in-law. Howard, a widower for the past few years, lived with them on the other side of our neighborhood.

Yesterday we received word that Howard had slipped into a coma almost immediately and had expired peacefully Sunday afternoon.

A shame, this was, yet I tried to look on the good side. Howard had been sitting down when his Unexpected Visitor tapped him on the shoulder, sparing him the indignity and pain of falling. He had not been driving, as he would have been had the attack taken place mere minutes later. He did not linger, as did SWMBO’s grandmother, for four years in a semi-vegetative state. No, his Unexpected Visitor was kind.

This is not the first time I have seen the Unexpected Visitor in action.

Years ago, in northwestern New Jersey, I watched as the father of one of my Racquetball Buddies turned blue and keeled over after playing a few fast-paced games, games that his body was clearly unaccustomed to, unprepared for. The son administered CPR, but it was to no avail.

In the early 1990’s, at a Great Corporate Salt Mine sales meeting, we no sooner had completed the Safety agenda item – a movie about CPR – when one of the kitchen staff burst into the meeting room, breathless.

“The chef is having a heart attack!”

We all though it was a joke, that we were being set up. It was too much of a coincidence, with us just having watched that movie. Wasn’t it?

Everyone sat there as if poleaxed. Finally, I jumped up and ran into the kitchen with one of the other salesmen. Sure enough, the chef was having a heart attack, big as life. I pulled out his dental plates and started CPR. The EMT’s showed up five minutes later and hauled him away. He made it halfway to the hospital before the Unexpected Visitor called a halt to the proceedings. Damn.

Eighteen years ago, I held my mother’s hand as she crossed over into the Undiscovered Country. The Unexpected Visitor was in fact expected that time, although unwelcome. It was the first time I saw the Visitor complete his work, a sight that has been seared into my soul.

The Unexpected Visitor. Old Mr. Thanatos. The dude with the cloak and the scythe, who walks with soft tread. The guy who will Change Your World. He visits us all, in time...and we never know just when he will tap us on the shoulder and ask us to take that forever walk with him.

I’ll think about that at the funeral today.

Sunday, July 23, 2006


There's a new Apple Shoppe at Perimeter Mall here in Atlanta, full of all of the Electronic Toys that make the modern geek envious.

It may be frustrating to look at all of this computerized Eye-Candy without being able to haul away a few carloads of it to enhance the homestead's Communications Centre, but that matters not. What does matter is that I now have a convenient place to pass the time whilst She Who Must Be Obeyed enriches the local Footwear Purveyors.

And, besides, there are Gew-Gaws with which to amuse oneself. Lookee here:

Elisson at the Apple Store

Photo Booth!

I wonder how many high-end iMacs I can screw around with before they kick my ass out of here? Or perhaps, being Enlightened Folk, might they offer me a small stipend - or free equipment! - to demonstrate the Art of Web-Journalism On the Fly to a live audience?


Many of my Bloggity Friends are in the practice of occasionally gathering with fellow Online Web-Journalists in order to exchange writing tips, technical advice, and - aww, who are we kidding? To get hammered, act silly and then write about it later.

The impending Yellin’ in Helen is a good example. And, for that matter, so was dinner last night with Zonker, Denny, the Laughing Wolf, and the redoubtable Dax Montana.

No matter how much fun you have with fellow bloggers, however, a certain amount of discretion is advised, particularly for the first-time attendee at a blogmeet. It’s been said that it is a bad idea to pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel; it is similarly a bad idea to act indiscreet in front of people who purchase electrons by the barrel - and who, for that matter, drink by the barrel as well.

If you are not careful, you leave yourself open to all kinds of problems:


Of course, there are defenses that can be employed, if you have the right connections...


So if you’re going to Helen in September, remember: Online Journalism is a two-edged sword. Be careful not to cut your nipple nuts off with it!

Friday, July 21, 2006

CURSES! FOILED AGAIN... my attempt to foist yet another of my inane Lists off on McSweeney’s. And since they didn’t want it, I will now shove it down the collective craws of offer it up to my Esteemed Readers:


Moses on a moped

Buddha on a bicycle

Lao-Tse on a lounge chair

Dalai Lama in a Hummer

Ahura-Mazda in a Mazda

Loki in a limousine

Zeus in a Zamboni

Krishna on a krutch


Vinnie horsed the duffel bag onto the counter.

He yanked the zipper, displaying the bag’s contents to the proprietor, an elderly Chinese who had been doing his best to ignore the red splotch on the side of the bag. It glistened wetly in the fluorescent light.

The old man handed Vinnie a cardboard stub. “You come back tomollow aftah five, OK?”

The next day, Vinnie came by at 6:30. He handed over his stub and received two cardboard boxes, each packed with fresh, clean Benjamins, profits from legitimate businesses.

Chang smiled. He owned the finest Chinese money laundry in town.


Friday, blessèd Friday,
The ending of the week.
From work I’m numb, but weekend’s come,
When I get on my freak.
Friday, blessèd Friday,
Tonight I can go play.
It’s not that Friday is so hot,
But it precedes Saturday.

A blue-sky day has dawned here in Toronto, but I don’t plan to stick around to enjoy it here. I am in transit between Saint John, my Maritime Home, and Atlanta.

Maritime Home, yes: when I arrived there this Monday, the place had a comfortable, familiar feel to it, mainly owing to my having spent a goodly chunk of time there in June. It also helps make you feel at home when you have Local Friends.

But it will feel good to get back to Chez Elisson, where SWMBO awaits and I can hear the reassuring purrs of little Matata, who gave us a bit of a scare this week. Purrs? The animal purrs like a 2000 horsepower axial compressor. Quiet, she ain’t.

What do the Little White Choon-Box have in store for us this week? Let’s see...
  1. Act I Prelude, Verse 3 - Philip Glass, Akhnaten
  2. In The Aeroplane Over The Sea - Neutral Milk Hotel
  3. Jesusland - Ben Folds
  4. Big Boobs - Bobby Slayton
  5. Sugar Fart Atomiser - Captain Beefheart
  6. Odessa Medley - Paul Cantelon, Everything Is Illuminated soundtrack
  7. The Mad Hatter’s Song - The Incredible String Band
  8. Puppet People - Bill Hicks
  9. Her Majesty - The Beatles
  10. Roll Over Beethoven - The Beatles
Heh. Sugar Fart Atomiser. SWMBO claims there is such a thing as a Sugar Fart. I am skeptical.

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


So Happy It’s Thursday! Thank Gawd It’s Friday!

Yes, it is indeed Friday, and you know what that means. Time to head over to the Modulator and visit the Great Weekly Floating Menagerie. Friday Ark #96 is afloat.

And, of course, don’t forget to visit the Carnival of the Cats when #122 is posted Sunday evening at Creatures of the Earth. I see from the sidebar photo there that the operator of said Web-Log is a Horsy Person - boy, does that bring back memories.

Update: CotC #122 is up, complete with a submission by - of all people! - Dax Montana!


I’ve been flying since I was about two years old, and I’ve never lost my sense of childlike wonder at the view out the window.

I left Saint John this evening, enroute to Toronto for an overnight stop. Tomorrow, it’s back to Chez Elisson.

The day in Saint John was beautiful, with a clear blue sky, a gentle (well, maybe not too gentle) breeze, and a temperature in the mid-70’s Fahrenheit. Or mid-20’s Celsius. Take yer pick.

A small group of us from the Great Corporate Salt Mine made the ten-minute trek into town for lunch. We sat outside at the Saint John Ale House - one of the places I’ve enjoyed several times over the last few months - and had a pleasant sun-drenched meal. Afterwards, we grabbed coffee at the Coffee Moose. A few of us were jonesing for espresso, and that’s one thing Tim Hortons does not offer.

As the day turned into evening and I laid my plans for departing, the fog began to roll in, in strange, discrete cloudbanks over the water. But things were clear out by the airport, and my departure was right on time.

As usual, I had a window seat. Yeah, I know most grownups like to sit on the aisle. But I’ve got a capacious bladder, so I’m not having to jump up two or three times during an average flight to take an Airborne Whiz...and, anyway, I like looking out the window.

As we headed west over New Brunswick’s gleaming rivers and lakes, we eventually found ourselves over a cloud deck. Off in the distance, toward the west, the sun was setting, backlighting a mesa-like cloud formation that hung in the distance like a plateau over the cloud deck. It was indescribable, and I found myself longing for my still camera.

I still remember the first time I saw a sunset from 35,000 feet. It was in 1963, and I was on the way to Miami with my mother and brother, there to visit the Grand-’Rents. The sky was a deep, rich blue, and the sun was drifting downward behind thin clouds, creating a fantastic skyscape of oranges and reds. It was a vision that made me a Window-Seat Flyer forever.

I’ve looked out the airplane window at the vast expanse of the Pacific Ocean, with not a speck of land from horizon to horizon. I’ve looked out at the ice-capped mountains of Alaska, the frozen crags of Greenland, the polar ice sheet. I’ve watched the setting sun illuminate my plane’s huge Rolls-Royce engines in orange fire, and hours later, the first rays of the rising sun paint those same engines in shades of rose. I’ve seen the skyscrapers of New York and Hong Kong, the mighty gouge of the Grand Canyon. For me, the view out the airplane window is never boring.

It’s a view that we, as Children of a Technological Age, are privileged to have, a view beyond the province of the birds. And it makes me feel like a wonder-filled child again, every time I see it.

Thursday, July 20, 2006


As if American Idol and Canadian Idol were not enough, last night I caught the tail end of Saint John Idol. Live, no less.

Thousands of people packed the boardwalk area just outside of Market Square. The restaurants, all of which have outdoor seating areas, were doing a land-office business. And the weather, which can be notoriously cool, drizzly, and foggy here with no provocation or warning whatsoever, actually cooperated. It was a perfect evening, comfortably cool, the kind that follows a beautiful warm day when the planets are properly aligned. Shirtsleeve weather with a deep Prussian blue sky that stayed light until nearly 10 p.m.

Earlier, I had met up with my blogniece Lisa for an alfresco dinner at Billy’s, a seafood restaurant hard by the City Market. We ordered the planked salmon. Billy’s – and, for that matter, most restaurants hereabouts – do planked salmon up a little differently from the way I do in the Kitchens d’Elisson. Here, the fish is coated in a sauce of ginger, thyme, and maple syrup before being laid on the cedar plank; at home, I use a dry rub. No matter: it was superb.

The waiter and I recognized each other from a meal I had had two months ago at the Asian Palace. A young man with a sardonic sense of humor and an engaging personality – and a Newfie accent to boot – he had recommended Billy’s to me back then. Good call.

For those who don’t already know, Lisa is planning to attend this year’s Southeast Writer’s Conference, Tea Party, and Ice Cream Social in Helen, Georgia. Brave soul, she is, and barring some sort of completely bizarre Surprise Attendee, she will win the Distance Traveled award hands down. Sooper Seekrit Survival Tip (H/T Zonker): That Chatham Artillery Punch? The happy stuff that tastes like the bastard child of a union between Hawaiian Punch and Long Island Iced Tea, with a dash of Hurricane thrown in? Do not be misled by its mild, fruity taste. It is capable of doing some serious damage. Two words: Pace. Yourself.

After Lisa and I parted ways, I headed down King Street to Market Square. I knew that a group of my Corporate Salt Mine colleagues would be there, holding down a table amidst the surging mob. I wound my way through a sea of people and located my Corpo-Peeps, grabbing a few minutes of digital movies along the way.

The deal: The people in this local version of Canadian Idol are competing for – hell, I have no idea what, except I know there’s a trip to Brazil involved for the winner. I got there late enough to have missed all but the last three performers, of whom the first one was so-so, the second was not quite good enough to be so-so, and the third was excellent. And they had judges, just like the Real Thing.

Whatever. It was mildly entertaining. But what entertained me far more than the Performer Wanna-Bes on stage was the crowd, a milling throng of happy people of all ages, out having a good time, and mostly well-behaved. Local folks on a beautiful summer evening at the shores of the Bay of Fundy. And I felt right at home.


She Who Must Be Obeyed called a little while ago to give me the skinny on Matata’s blood work results.

Keyn ayin hara, everything looks OK right now. One of her liver enzymes is a tad elevated, but that may simply be a result of her recent pukishness, not an indicator of something amiss. Nothing pernicious appears to be going on.

SWMBO and I thank all of my Esteemed Readers who sent e-cards and left supportive comments. Your prayers, good wishes, and meow-shebeirachs seem to have done the trick.

We may need to try her out on some of that ridiculously expensive specially formulated cat food for sensitive stomachs...but for now, we’ll just keep an eye on her.

Hrm. You’d think Hakuna, the Carpet Muncher (literally, not in some Variant of Human Sexual Behavior sense) would be the one puking all the time. But no.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


What with vacations and business travel, I have been remiss about contributing to Carnival of the Vanities in recent weeks. But this Carnival is one that I didn’t want to miss, as a great chunk of it consists of a tribute to the late, great Rob “Acidman” Smith. It’s also a milestone of sorts, being the 200th edition of the longest running Bloggy Link-Fest out there.

So: pay a visit to Accidental Verbosity and check out Carnival of the Vanities #200. Lots of good reading...and good memories.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


When I travel, sometimes the most prosaic, ordinary things will cause me to chuckle at the Bizarreness of Life.

Here I am in Saint John, New Brunswick, two weeks after July 4, the day we Americans celebrate our independence from Merrie Olde. Back in those days of Revolution, Saint John was home to numerous Loyalists who fled the colonies, unwilling to break away from their motherland and King. It’s a sort of mirror image, what America would have been had there been no Revolution. There’s a picture of Queen Elizabeth on every coin, on every piece of currency. They even have a picture of some guys playing hockey on the $5 bill. (What, no curling?)

And Tim Hortons. Let’s not forget Tim Hortons, purveyor of the infamous Canajan Crack.

Saint John is the home of a few Notable Personages. Movie mogul Louis B. Mayer, as well as actors Donald Sutherland and Walter Pidgeon, all hail from the Land of the Fog-Eaters.

Tonight I supped at the Church Street Steakhouse with a small crowd of fellow sloggers from the Great Corporate Salt Mine, my second experience there. The first time a group of us had gone there, it was a fucking disaster, owing to a massively shorthanded kitchen and a bewildered waitress. The entrées took months to arrive, and almost all of them were overcooked to a fare-thee-well. Our host was incensed, and she took the restaurant’s management to task. Smart businessmen they, they halved the monster check (we had a Gang of Twelve dining there that night), thus (barely) remaining in our group’s good graces.

Some people earn forgiveness, others buy it. Culinary weregild, you could call it.

But tonight’s dinner was just fine. Appetizers and main courses were delivered promptly and prepared to perfection. I had the left side of a cow, done medium rare, with a couple fingers of Lagavulin to whet the appetite.

What struck me as amusing was the list of Nightly Specials on the menu. In honor of some local Cultural Event with the nasty appellation “Salty Jam,” these specials consisted of a selection of dishes collectively titled “A Taste of Louisiana.”

Great, just great. Here I am in Maritime Canada, and they’re trying to sell me Cajun Food.

But in a strange way, it makes sense. This, after all, is the home of the original Cajuns, the French-speaking denizens of the Acadian Peninsula who were exiled by the British to points south - in some cases, far south - in the early 1800’s. Acadians + 200 years of garbled English = Cajuns.

There was Seafood Gumbo on the menu, but it was a Gumbo no Louisiana Cajun could imagine in a fever dream. Salmon. Haddock. Mussels. Scallops. Plus a crawfish for garnish. Garnish! I would not have been surprised to see it come with a liberal sprinkling of Grand Manan Dulse in lieu of filé powder.

Fuck that, sez I. I can get real gumbo at home. Hell, I can make it myself. That’s about when I decided to order the cow.

I was almost disappointed when it didn’t come garnished with dulse.


That’s All, Folks

I just received a tearful telephone call from She Who Must Be Obeyed. As soon as I answered the phone, I knew that something was not right.

Matata, our little grey tortie cat, is ailing.

She had been puking more than normal during the last few weeks, but nothing unprecedented. Matata, the Alpha Female, has always had a tendency to wolf her food - no doubt to keep Hakuna from getting too much of it - and sometimes this will cause her to blow kitty cookies.

But retching on an empty stomach? Not good.

And today she was, say SWMBO, very lethargic. It was obvious that Matata was not her usual feisty self.

SWMBO has taken Matata to the vet, and she is scared to death that it might be something serious. Meanwhile, I’m 1700 miles away, and not in a position to be very useful as she awaits word from the Animal Physician. All I can do is hope the word is good.

Ahhh, that Matata. She’s just a little grey cat, but so much a part of our lives...

Update, 7/19: The vet didn’t see any obvious issues during Matata’s physical exam and sent her home with a shot of anti-nausea medicine. Matata curled up in her Cat-Bed and slept - typical behavior after getting any shots, and not unexpected. Today she seems to be back to her old chipper self. We’ll breathe easier after hearing the results of her blood work, of which there is nothing to report just yet.

Monday, July 17, 2006


During the weeks leading up to our Beach Vacation, it’s our normal practice to acquire a few Essential Supplies. Many of these Supplies are Adult Beverage-Related.

This year, the Missus was concerned that she might have a difficult time consuming sufficient protein, given that she was (and still is) unable to chew anything following her orthognathic mandibular extension surgery. As it turns out, it was not as bad as it could have been. Fish, hacked up into little tiny bits, can be eaten without chewing, and so She Who Must Be Obeyed did not have to go to Plan B, which was to add soy protein powder to the Frozen Beverages that she planned to enjoy in vast moderate quantities.

In the course of Essential Drinky Supply Acquisition, SWMBO happened upon a new product at the local Publix: Lt. Blender’s frozen drink mixes. The idea behind these attractively packaged products is simple: you add water and a suitable alcohol base to a powdered mix that comes in a plastic bag with a pouring spout and screw top. You shake the whole mess up thoroughly and stick it in the freezer for six hours, and presto! Frozen Boozy Drinks without the bother of using a blender. Just open the screw cap and squeeze the frosty beverage into your glass. It looked like a great idea, so SWMBO picked up a couple of bags: Mojito and Piña Colada.

Yes, it looked like a great idea, but, as they say, there’s many a slip ’twixt the cup and the lip. The problem is, once you froze the bag, it got as hard as concrete. No problem: a few moments under hot running water, and the mixture softened up nicely.

The problem came in the Squeezing Out Operation.

It’s not as easy as it would appear. First, the stuff is pretty difficult to squeeze out of that bag, even after you soften it up. Second, it’s cold as a bastard. Because it contains alcohol, its freezing point is nice and low. Getting it out of that damn bag was a little like trying to strangle a block of dry ice. I finally hit upon the idea of using oven mitts in order to avoid giving myself a case of Beach-Frostbite.

After all that work, was the drink good? Meh.

My advice? If you want a frozen drink, get out the blender and do it right, keeping well away from Lt. Blender and others of his kind.

“Lieutenant,” like many words in our language, has its roots in Norman French. The Anglo-Saxon version of “Lieutenant” is “Placeholder.” But this particular Lieutenant is not going to be holding a place in our bar.


Hermione and Henry were indiscreet.
It’s because they suffered from Prickly Heat.

They would do it in the woods or in the street,
Inspired by that devilish Prickly Heat.

“Afternoon Delight” was a daily treat,
For which they were grateful for their Prickly Heat.

They had the motion; they had the meat,
With propulsion provided by Prickly Heat.

They’d finish scruffy, though they started neat,
A consequence of dealing with Prickly Heat.

They got a wedding license at the County Seat,
Driven by desire and Prickly Heat.

They were Horny Hedgehogs, with quills replete.
Hermione and Henry had Prickly Heat.

[The theme of Weekly Challenge #14 at the 100 Word Stories Podcast is heat...suggested by Yours Truly.]


No matter how nice it may seem, do not consume a “nice chunk of Brie with [your] name on it,” along with a half-bottle of Ontario Merlot, at 1:40 a.m., especially if you need to get your ass out of bed at 5:30 a.m. in order to catch a flight.


I’m writing this from my hotel room in Toronto...a way station, as it were, on my journey to the Canadian Maritimes. Tomorrow, I am off to Saint John, there to spend another week cleaning up after the Elephant Parade at the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

That’s not really a good analogy, come to think of it. My role is closer to hammering corks into the Pachydermatous Bung-Holes in order to prevent an Elephantine Evacuation of Excrement. So far, it seems to be working...but my team and I are there to make sure that them corks stay firmly in place.

I’ve got a nice chunk of Brie with my name on it, sitting on a tray, awaiting my slavering jaws. A Cheesy Nightcap, let’s call it. The only decision I need to make is whether to wash it down with the half-bottle of Ontario Merlot that sits next to it, or save the wine for later and just snarf up some fine Toronto Tap Water.

Tasty, to be sure...but it doesn’t compare to the meal with which I kicked off the day.

This morning, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I enjoyed a superb breakfast in the company of the most lovely Boudicca, her three boys, and sister Morrigan. Absolutely delightful.

SWMBO and I, being the parents of girls, don’t often get to hang out with families whose offspring are all male. These little guys were delightful...well mannered, blessed with photogenic Good Looks (as if that were a surprise, considering their Momma), and with hearty appetites. Bones did a respectable job on his French Toast (which in France is called...“Toast”), while his older siblings did serious damage to various stacks of chocolate chip pancakes. No bananas, though.

Considering the fact that the Boudiccan Brood was up until after 11 p.m. the previous night whilst being entertained by a certain Grouchy Individual, the boys all had their game faces on. Not a cranky moment amongst the lot of ’em.

I’ve never regretted being the patriarch of an All-Girl Clan - hell, in Chez Elisson, even the farookin’ cats are girls - but if I had had boys, I could have done a lot worse than having kids like this.

Sunday, July 16, 2006


Persian Hakuna

Hakuna asked me to remind you that Carnival of the Cats #121 will be posted later today at Musings...

Aw, crap. No, she didn’t. Hakuna does not speak the Language of Men, and in fact she speaks precious little of the Language of Cats. And she probably does not give a Rat’s Ass about the Carnival of the Cats. Pretty much all she cares about is getting a warm place to sleep, two squares a day, and staying the hell out of Matata’s way.

Really, all I was looking for was an excuse to post this photograph. So there you are.

Update: The Carnival is up. Go see it here.

Saturday, July 15, 2006


I sometimes have problems letting go of things.

There’s probably a lengthy sequence of my DNA that would explain my pack-rat tendencies. Anal retentive? Hell, I’m anal-acquisitive.

Scanning my cell-phone directory, I realized that three of the numbers I have stored on speed dial belong to dead men. There is absolutely no reason to keep those numbers...and yet, it’s as if deleting them will somehow delete more of their respective memories than I am yet prepared to part with.

That may be one reason I still have Gut Rumbles on my blogroll, albeit now in its own unique category. At least, it is a category to which I would prefer not to have to add new members.

I have a pile of photographs of Rob “Acidman” Smith that I will eventually slap up on the ’Net, most likely in a passworded location, so that Samantha and Quinton can enjoy them when the time is right.

But there is one other thing.

On April 17, WAGA, the Fox affiliate in Atlanta, sent a reporter and camera crew out to the Crackerbox to interview Rob for a news report focusing on Blogging and the Workplace. The main point of the story was that, despite having nebulous policies concerning blogging, some employers have a thin skin and will fire your ass for doing it - even if it is something you do on your own time. Also, the report stressed that nothing you put up on the Internet will remain hidden from current or prospective schools or employers: Discretion Is Advised.

Rob was featured prominently in the report, which finally aired on May 4 - the week right after the Blown-Star Blodger get-together in Austin. Rob did not see it when it aired in the Atlanta area, but the station was supposedly going to send him a copy of the news segment. I think The Acidic One comes off rather well: soft-spoken, thoughtful, intelligent, refusing to allow himself to be cast as “victim,” disappointed but not bitter.

Anyone who has wondered what Rob sounded like now has a chance to find out. I’ve pulled the video off of my TiVo, digitized it, and uploaded it to YouTube in three parts. Here they are:

Part 1. ©2006 WAGA.

Part 2. ©2006 WAGA.

Part 3. ©2006 WAGA.


It was in a recent discussion of Fine Victuals with our friends Laura Belle and Don that the topic of Death Row Dinner came up.

It’s the ultimate compliment to pay a Food Selection, to call it Death Row Dinner. The implication, of course, is that if it is good enough to be requested as one’s Last Meal in the old Death-House, it is mighty good indeed. One last Smack of the Lips afore Riding the Lightning, as it were, although, sadly, these days few of the condemned actually do any Lightning-Riding. Mostly it is Lethal Injection anymore, and Sliding In the Death-Squirt does not have the same Poetic Ring to it.

This whole business of Last Meals lends itself to philosophizing. There’s a Good News - Bad News aspect to the matter: the Good News is that you can eat whatever the hell you want, because what are you gonna do, worry about your waistline? [“Do these Prison Coveralls make my ass look fat?”] Your cholesterol? Your blood pressure? Hell, naw! The Bad News is, well, you won’t be around long enough to see the Corn on the Cob you requested show up at the other end.

But from our comfy chairs, it’s a wonderful Intellectual Exercise. What would you order for your Last Meal? Sushi? Banana pancakes? A honkin’ thick porterhouse steak, grilled medium rare (Pittsburgh style), smothered in fried onions and accompanied by a baked ’tater and an old first-growth Bordeaux? Perhaps a Moon Pie? Cheesy Mac?

For once, none of this “Bring a slice of cheesecake and six spoons” bullshit. You want to eat the whole fucking cheesecake? Knock yourself out...just don’t make yourself sick! No point being nauseated for your last two hours on the planet, am I right?

Elegance or comfort food? What would you want as your last meal?

What’s good enough for you to call it a Death-Row Dinner?

Update: Check out this nifty website, replete with Final Menus. “I’ll have what he’s having.” “I’ll take one from Column A and - aww, what the fuck. Everything from Column B.”

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson Fedora to the one, the only Velociman, who dropped this little gem in the Comments.]

Friday, July 14, 2006


Ahhh, here it is Friday again, the close of the Post-Vacation Week.

The biggest problem I have with vacations is digging out from the pile of Worky Detritus that accumulates while I am away. And aggravating all of this was the need to ride the Great Silver Aerial Bus to Sweat City this week, there to spend time with the Grand Panjandrums and Factotums of the Great Corporate Salt Mine.

One of the minor highlights of my trip was a Bidnis Dinner at which I received Official Recognition for having slogged logged thirty years in the service of the aforementioned Salt Mine. Thirty years! Hard to conceive of my having spent that much time with these Fine Folks...

The benefits of such longevity are severalfold. One, I got a snazzy Lapel Pin. Two, I got a modest gift of my own choosing, selected from an assortment of Miscellaneous Gew-Gaws. I had decided upon a digital video camera, the better to help me inflict my Visual Perversion upon the world. YouTube, look out!

But the best little 30-Year Trinket of all is my having earned another week of annual Vacation Time. I’m now up to six weeks. Schweet!

No time for vacation now, though. Sunday evening, I will begin yet another journey to Saint John, New Brunswick, just in time to recharge my Blueberry Batteries, stock up on some yummy, yummy dulce, and pay a visit to my Blog-Niece and her dashing hubby.

Meanwhile, let’s just see what’s percolating in the iPod d’Elisson...
  1. Longer Boats - Cat Stevens
  2. When I’m Sixty-Four - The Beatles
  3. Bitches Brew - Miles Davis
  4. Evenstar (featuring Isabel Bayrakdarian) - Howard Shore
  5. Tiny Dancer - Ben Folds

    Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
    Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
    Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
    And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

    Jesus freaks out in the street
    Handing tickets out for God
    Turning back she just laughs
    The boulevard is not that bad

    Piano man he makes his stand
    In the auditorium
    Looking on she sings the songs
    The words she knows, the tune she hums

    But oh how it feels so real
    Lying here with no one near
    Only you and you can’t hear me
    When I say softly, slowly

    Hold me closer tiny dancer
    Count the headlights on the highway
    Lay me down in sheets of linen
    you had a busy day today

    Blue jean baby, L.A. lady, seamstress for the band
    Pretty eyed, pirate smile, you’ll marry a music man
    Ballerina, you must have seen her dancing in the sand
    And now she’s in me, always with me, tiny dancer in my hand

  6. Courage, The Cowardly Dog - They Might Be Giants
  7. In Taberna - Christian Thielemann, Orff: Carmina Burana
  8. Thick As A Brick (entire album) - Jethro Tull
  9. Act II, Scene 1 - The Temple - Philip Glass, Akhnaten
  10. 3rd Planet - Modest Mouse
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The ninety-fifth edition of the Friday Ark is up at the Modulator. Go play with the animals.

Don’t forget to visit the Carnival of the Cats while you’re at it. The 120th Carnival is currently being hosted by Kimberly of Music and Cats; the 121st edition will be available for your Kitty-Viewing Pleasure this Sunday evening at Musings....

Thursday, July 13, 2006


Jawja Blodgers in Black Redux
[Click to embiggen.]

After all, gotta keep Miss Key happy!

Minimal Photoshopping applied. Minimal, ya hear?

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Hollywood El

Aw, it’s not all that expensive, and it just may bump the ol’ Sitemeter a tad...

[You can make your own version at A tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Karen of Verbatim for the link.]


The mind is a strange thing, and memory perhaps the strangest of its abilities. It can discard useful data, such as what one may have had for breakfast that same day, while retaining in poignant detail the savor of meals taken long ago.

Back in my Snot-Nose Days, our family had evolved a Vacation Routine of sorts, one that lasted several years. My brother – the Other Elisson – and I would fly down to South Florida in the springtime, accompanied by our mother, to visit the Maternal Grandparents. After a week, our father – Eli, His Ownself – would drive down to join us, and after another two weeks, we would all pile in the car for the long trip home.

At some point, possibly due to escalating airfares, we began the practice of driving both ways, the four of us packed into the Elimobile for what evolved from a three- to four-day marathon to an efficient two-day run down the Eastern Seaboard. The drive got shorter as the roads got better, Interstate 95 replacing the long stretches of US 1, 301, and 17.

But early on, the Interstate was a fever dream of futurists. We hammered down long stretches of two-lane blacktop between cities and became entangled in those selfsame cities, sometimes breaking our trip to stop at a Quality Courts motel. High living, that was.

There was a one or two year period when we would stop in Jacksonville, Florida, the remaining miles to North Miami Beach being just a little more than the Old Man could handle as the sun was setting. The Lodging of Choice was the Motel Zanzibar, hard by US 1 in the heart of the city. I recall one infamous episode there, the result of an Irresistible Force (a monster turd, especially remarkable for having been produced by a ten-year-old Elisson) meeting an Immovable Object (the plumbing system at the Zanzibar). Carpet was moistened, teeth were gnashed, Housekeeping was called, Parental Embarrassment hung thick in the air. But I digress.

Across the street from the Zanzibar sat a dilapidated hole-in-the-wall eatery yclept The Chicken Shanty. We dined there one evening – one precious evening – and the sense-memory of the fried chicken I ate there that day has never left my reptilian hind-brain.

It was ambrosial, that chicken. Crisp, perfectly battered, moist beneath its fried coating, it was the Chicken of the Gods. Served alongside it were baskets of fluffy Southern-style biscuits and pitchers of golden honey. Simple food, and perfect.

When people ask me what I find alluring about Southern cooking, my mind inevitably flashes back to The Chicken Shanty. Forty-three years have come and gone since that halcyon spring evening, and not once have I partaken of fried chicken without thinking wistfully of that sacred place, long since vanished.


Money was tight in London, and so the two friends, writers both, decided to share a garret. Sparsely furnished and plain, it was nevertheless home.

Over time, Charles became successful, writing novels that were frequently published in serial form. His roommate’s work, meanwhile, found no takers; he grew despondent.

One day, after Charles had sold yet another novel, his friend received another in a seemingly endless parade of rejection slips. Heartbroken, he leaped through the garret window, his body landing on the cobblestones below with a wet thud.

“Who was this?” a horrified constable asked Charles.

“I’m Dickens. He’s Defenestrated.”

[The theme of the 13th Weekly Challenge at the 100 Word Stories Podcast is, of course, defenestrate.]

Monday, July 10, 2006


Everyone remembers and loves the toys they played with as children.

When you get to a certain point in your adult life, the emotional pull of remembered joys gets especially strong. For most people, this takes place sometime around the fortieth year, the period that marks one’s irrevocable entry into Adulthood. For we can all pretend to be kids when we’re in our thirties; it’s when you get into your forties and fifties that you realize there is No Turning Back. It is in this vulnerable emotional state that the tug of Objectified Nostalgia becomes irresistible.

Whether it’s a Tonka truck, a doll, a Gilbert Chemistry Set, or (in my case), a two-by-four into which I had nailed an assortment of dials, springs, and other Metallic Gewgaws, nothing inspires a case of Galloping Objectified Nostalgia quite like a Vintage Toy. I suspect that the love of Vintage Toys is what powers the mighty engine of eBay.

And so, because I knew that a certain Gentleman of Wisdom was reaching an Important Birthday Milestone - thirty-nine years! - I did some careful reasearch to find a Vintage Toy that would ease his gradual transition into those Grown-Up Years.

A toy that would create in him a sense of power, the ability to create...and to destroy. A toy that would plumb the utmost depths of the Man-Child’s Consciousness.

And I think I found it.

That 1 Garloo
That 1 Garloo.


Jawja Blodgers in Black
[Click to embiggen.]

This is what Quentin Tarantino dreams about after a heavy meal.

Especially one consisting of boiled peanuts, Chicken Korma, jerk chicken, fried chicken fingers, Cruzan rum, and curried monkey hearts.

For dessert?

Bad, bad Jujubes.


That’s All, Folks

Back so soon?

Picture Box ’Ta

While you were gone, I decided to go through all those old pictures.

Fer cryin’ out loud, Elisson, don’t you ever throw anything out? You know what I think of pack rats...or any kind of rats, for that matter...

Friday, July 07, 2006


Yes, Esteemed Readers, not only is it Friday, it is also the Second Bloggy-Versary of this, mine own little Electronic Shit-Pile.

As I write this, I am relaxing in the dining area of our rented house in Destin, Florida.

Last night, we celebrated Virginia Steve’s birthday by taking a sunset cruise, followed by a Beefy and Fishy Dinner at Chops, a high-rent Steak Place in town here.

Destin, as befits a Resort Town in the midst of the Redneck Riviera, has eateries of all descriptions. You have Beef ’O’ Brady’s, complete with superfluous apostrophe. You have Mutton O’Malley’s. You have Fish O’Flaherty’s and Shrimp O’Shaughnessy’s. And then you have Chops, which kicks all those pseudo-Irish protein palaces cum sports bars to the curb.

I scarfed down a 16-ounce prime rib-eye steak, done just the way I like it: Pittsburgh-style, with a charred exterior and a rare to medium-rare interior. A fine California Zin served to wash it down. SWMBO, meanwhile, has perfected the art of chopping her food into little tiny bits so that she may ingest it without chewing. [She is recovering nicely from her recent jaw surgery, but mastication is still verboten for at least another week.]

On the way back home, we hit Shakes, the local frozen custard stand. A perfect nightcap. (Urp!)

And now, it is Lunch-Time, time for a Very Special Random Assortment of Choons from the Little White Choon-Box d’Elisson. Here they is:
  1. Mean Mr. Mustard - The Beatles
  2. Ugly - Fishbone
  3. She’s A Woman - The Beatles
  4. Don’t Pass Me By - The Beatles
  5. Paperclips - Travis
  6. Big In Japan - Tom Waits
  7. Turn Around - They Might Be Giants
  8. It’s Only Love - The Beatles
  9. Absinthe Party At The Fly Honey Warehouse - Minus The Bear
  10. Wintertime Love - The Doors
Good Lord - 40% Beatles! That’s what happens when you have their complete works crammed into the ol’ Choon-Box.

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Hard to believe, but today marks two years since I wrote the post that kicked off this Exercise in Time-Wastage and Self-Aggrandizement.

Since then, this site has had over 128,000 visitors, 87.3% of whom arrived on a Google search looking for “enema blog.” I’ve put up over 1,590 posts and have received some 2,300 4,700-odd comments, some of which were even fit for discussion at the Family Table.

It’s been a way to channel my energies, both creative and scatological.

But more important than any of this, it’s been a chance to become a part of a Strange and Growing Community, a community of people who are more than just 1’s and 0’s displayed on a computer screen, a community of people who have experienced joys and tragedies...and who throw a Damn Fine Party when the time is right.

Two years ago, the “Bloggers I’ve Met” section of my blogroll was nonexistent. The very idea of ever meeting a fellow blogger in Meatworld would never have occurred to me. Now, go look. These are not just names – they are Real People, and I’m proud to call many of them my friends.

Will Rogers once famously said, “A stranger is a friend I haven’t met yet.” True enough, as far as that goes. Sometimes, a stranger is an asshole you haven’t met yet. But I’ve found that, despite political differences, despite living lives in a myriad different ways, they Bloggity World is populated mostly by potential friends. May it be ever thus.

Thank you, Esteemed Readers. Keep visiting, and I’ll keep dumping out my Brain-Pan onto these pages. That’s the deal, innit?

Thursday, July 06, 2006


Emotionally, I can be difficult to figure. I can be stoic through the most trying of circumstances, and yet the most trivial things will set me off. I will find myself with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye in the unlikeliest moments. Hell, I’ll even weep like a little girl at the end of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (The old one, not the 2005 Johnny Depp remake.)

One week ago today, I sat in the chapel at the Fox and Weeks funeral home in Savannah at Rob “Acidman” Smith’s memorial service.

I had caravanned down to Savannah with Eric, the Straight White Guy his ownself, with me riding along with the Mistress of Sarcasm, who was returning home after a visit with the ’rents. After parting ways with the Mistress, Eric and I had hooked up with a cross-section of Jawja Blodgers for a late pre-funeral lunch. After that, we checked in at the La Quinta on Abercorn – notable, in part, for its unusual Night Auditor – and prepared ourselves to attend the Memorial Service.

The service was well-attended but not overly crowded. Before it began, I went to the front of the chapel, where the family had placed a display of photographs from Rob’s life. Rob and I grew up under very different circumstances and led very different lives, but you’d not know it from the photographs. We were contemporaries, you see, both Children of 1952, and so the style of our childhood portraits was the same. We had the same periods of long hair, beards, bohemian existence. Had my life been similarly documented, I am not sure it could be told apart from Rob’s...and yet, as I looked at the photographs, my eyes were dry.

There was a box, a small wooden box, sitting there on a table, adjacent to a few sprays of flowers. It had Rob’s name on it...and the image of a guitar. It was the last resting place of Rob’s earthly remains. I looked upon it – and still, my eyes were dry.

We gathered in the chapel then, we Bloggy Friends of Rob, with his family, and listened to a service with a perfunctory shot of religious content, a service that mostly consisted of reminiscences of Rob’s life. It was just the kind of service Rob would have liked: the Skeptical Minister and all! I listened, remembering the way Rob’s writing would make me laugh – or grit my teeth. I listened, thinking of how he had transformed himself between October of last year and April of this year. I listened, remembering the dinner we had had less than two months ago at the Cuban place on Posey. Rob had joined me, She Who Must Be Obeyed, the Mistress of Sarcasm, and boyfriend Mickey for a few plateloads of churrasco steaks, and we had had a Big Time. It was walking distance from where we sat. Still, my eyes were dry.

I saw Rob’s kids – golden-haired Samantha, and young Quinton. Ahh, that kid will be breaking hearts. I thought of Rob’s frustration and anger at not being able to be a part of his son’s life the way he wanted to be; I thought of Quinton as an adult, reading through Rob’s archives, his heart breaking with remembered loss. And still, my eyes were dry.

Blogging is a strange enterprise. I discovered Rob back in the fall of 2004, back when I was a Neophyte Blodger, as a link on Allahpundit’s sidebar. Alas, Allahpundit is no more, but that link...

I am a great believer in the Power of the Blogroll. It’s a system of referrals, recommendations. If you enjoy one person’s writing, chances are better that you will enjoy what that person reads. It’s way, way better than trolling for Random Crap in the Bloggy-Sphere. And, in its own strange way, it’s what brought me to Savannah on this muggy day in June, 2006.

For Rob Smith, simply by way of his writing – his “ceaseless quest for adoration from people who don’t know me” – was the focus of a community. It was a community that grew by accretion over time, a bizarre amalgam of writers residing in Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Maritime Canada – hell, even New Jersey, Australia and Tanzania – all with their own unique relationship to Rob and his writing.

In my case, once I started reading Gut Rumbles and leaving occasional comments, Rob would leave comments at my site and even throw out a link once in a while. He took an especial delight in giving me shit on account of my cats. Then came the day Rob added my site to the blogroll at Gut Rumbles – a signal honor.

Every once in a while, I would leave a comment at Gut Rumbles or put up a post at my own site that would elicit an e-mail from Rob. Almost without exception, these comments or posts had to do with family matters: parents, grandparents, children. For these were the things that really mattered to Rob. He could – and would – write about anything that crossed his mind. Politics? The Overweening Nanny Government? The guns he didn’t own? Crapping his pants? Nailing a Costa Rican floozie? Roscoe, the Original Bionic Dick? His Southern heritage? That, and more...but you could tell the most important things to Rob were his children Samantha and Quinton, and Mommie, his lone surviving grandparent.

He knew that the Missus and I were regular visitors to Savannah, and one day, when he knew I had been planning to be in town, he had asked me to give him a call. I did so with some trepidation: after all, Rob could be a curmudgeon, and I was a (happily displaced) Yankee, to boot. And yet he had a remarkably easy manner, a gentle - and gentlemanly – voice. He sounded like a friend.

He was unable to meet us that day. Now, of course, I know the reason. But SWMBO and I finally had a chance to see Rob face-to-face, and I am glad the two of us had a chance to see him both before and after his Great Transformation.

These were my thoughts as we left Fox and Weeks, and as we headed out to Rob’s old family home for the post-service gathering. And still my eyes were dry.

All that night, as our group sat at Spanky’s (the Exchange being closed) toasting Rob and remembering good times, my eyes were dry.

But when I read the post Catfish wrote after the service, that’s when I lost it. I wept openly. Not for Rob, who was beyond caring, but for Catfish, who lost a friend of long standing and whose words came straight from the heart.

For myself, when the time comes, I cannot but wish for an epitaph as simple and eloquent, a true gift from the hand of a friend.