Thursday, August 31, 2006


Sometimes, the best of intentions are undone by a Brain-Fart.

After dinner with our Minyan Crowd, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I walked over to the adjacent Kroger, there to purchase some cat litter. I went inside to hunt down the Dry Goods, as it were, while SWMBO stayed outside to talk on her cell phone, reception inside the store being hit or miss.

When I came out, SWMBO was nowhere in sight. As it turns out, she had gone into the store looking for me.

While I waited for her to figure out that I was no longer in the store, a gentleman pulled up in front of me in the parking lot, asking directions to a nearby subdivision. Since it is the neighborhood wherein is located our shul, it was an easy matter to give him directions.

“Just take a left coming out of the shopping center. Go down about two miles - it’s the next left after Home Depot.”

Ahh, that’s me. Helpful Mr. Debonair. I felt good about myself, helping my Fellow Man in some small way. Paying it forward. Tikkun Olam - repairing the world, one good deed at a time.

It was only as SWMBO and I were pulling out of the parking lot that I realized to my horror that I had forgotten that we were at the Kroger on Johnson Ferry Road just south of Shallowford. The directions I had given this nice gentleman unfortunate clod were based on the assumption that we were at the Kroger on Roswell Road at Coleman Road.


That, friends, is the sound of a Brain-Fart. Fear it.

I had just sent this poor schmuck on a merry ride down Johnson Ferry Road, where nary a Home Depot is to be found. Perhaps he would realize his mistake before he crossed the Chattahoochee River into Fulton County...and perhaps not. Either way, he would be cursing “that stupid sonofabitch who gave me these Shit Directions,” and the shame of it is, he’d be right.

Now, if you will kindly excuse me, I need to wash the egg off my face.

Mr. Smart-Brains, dat’s me!


SWMBO Rose 1977
She Who Must Be Obeyed, 1977 edition.

The picture above is from our honeymoon, 29 years ago this month. She Who Must Be Obeyed had, in a fit of whimsy, stuck a rose petal in her mouth to create a pair of Simulated Lips. Every time I look at that picture, I smile. It seems to have captured part of her essence.

SWMBO celebrates Yet Another Birthday today.

Will there be weeping, wailing, gnashing of teeth? Hardly. The Missus and I believe that getting older is a good thing, far better than the alternative of the Long Dirt Nap. And this year, SWMBO has something to celebrate.

Having gotten the Dreaded Maxillofacial Surgery out of the way nine weeks ago, my bride looks more beautiful than ever. Thanks to two-plus months on a no-chewing diet regimen, she has lost a few pounds here and there, and (I speak as a disinterested observer here, not a Moonstruck Hubby) she looks far younger than anyone our age has a right to look.

The surgery has resulted in a subtle resculpting of her jawline. What was plenty good-looking before has been enhanced. She is a Genuine Knock-Out.

We have been part of each other’s lives for over 30 years now, yet when I look at her, I still see the same sparkle in her blue eyes that I fell in love with all those years ago.

The celebratory Steak Dinner may have to wait until the Jaw Doc gives us the hi-sign, but no matter. I celebrate every day I spend with my sweetie...and I hope to continue doing so, at least for as long as she will continue to put up with my Incessant Bullshit.

“Bis Hundert-Tzvantzik Yoor” – ’til one hundred twenty years, darling, and may I be around to wish you a Happy Birthday for each one!

Birthday SWMBO
She Who Must Be Obeyed, 2006 edition.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006


I saw Mr. Wilson, through the base of the screen
I noticed he was looking just a little bit green
And moldy ’round the edges. Then I started to freak
When I remembered that he turned his toes up last week.

Well, you know that them zombies gotta get ’em some brains,
It’s the Standard Zombie Diet, in snow, sun or rain.
They don’t go for no Grape-Nuts, no yogurt or pie.
They just wanna eat your brains, and that makes you die.

O Zombies, keep the hell away
O Zombies, keep the hell away from me
I’m hiding in my zombie-proof basement
With my computer and my color TV

But there’s one kind of zombie that’s worse’n all the others
He’s looked upon with horror by ’most all his zombie brothers.
He don’t wanna eat your brains - no, he just wants to pack your puddin’
He try to catch you, do things that zombies really shouldn’t

O Zombies, keep the hell away
O Zombies, keep the hell away from me
I’m hiding in my zombie-proof basement
With my computer and my color TV

O Zombies, keep the hell away
O Zombies, keep the hell away from me
I’m hiding in my zombie-proof basement
With my computer and my color TV

I got dem Brokeback Zombie Blues...


Every one of us has, lurking in our deepest heart of hearts, a Dark and Secret Fear.

As children, we are terrified of the Monster Under the Bed, or perhaps the Boogey-Man that Lives in the Closet. We dare not sleep if the closet door is open even a crack, lest the Boogey-Man escape to do foul and unmentionable things to us while we sleep.

Most Childhood Fears, ridiculous as they are, have a thread of reasonableness running through them. We fear the Monster Under the Bed and the Closet Boogey-Man precisely because there are evil people in the world, people who would harm us if they could. As a child, I feared mushrooms (yes, mushrooms)...because I knew that one had killed the old Elephant King in Babar the Elephant. [An unintended consequence of learning to read at the age of three, when the ability to discern fiction from nonfiction is not yet fully developed.] Cautionary Tales and folk memories may indeed serve a survival role in their own convoluted way.

When we grow older, many of these Childhood Fears diminish in intensity, in some cases disappearing altogether. My childhood dread of mushrooms is long gone, as is the one I had of horror movies.

And then you have those fears that persist.

Whether stoked by the Hollywood Myth-Machine or simply by our own perfervid imaginations, there are those things we dread as adults that we know are unreal, and yet...and yet...

Eric has copped to a fear of zombies. It’s a reasonable enough bête noire to have, I suppose: animated corpses with a hunger for living human brains. Or at least it would be reasonable, provided such things existed.

And if zombies walked the earth infused with not a mere hunger for human brains, but for penetrating the tender Nether Regions of living, breathing, screaming victims, why, that would indeed be something to regard with abject terror.

As disturbing as it may seem to Eric, I believe I have unearthed (disinterred? dug up?) evidence that these fell creatures may exist after both sinister varieties. Be very afraid. And learn to tell them apart, so to avoid a Fate Worse than Death.

Regular Zombie
Regular, garden-variety zombie.

Cornhole Zombie
Brokeback Zombie.

But meanwhile, as we lock ourselves behind our Zombie-Proof Doors to bed down for a night of nervous, one-eye-open sleep, I propose that the Semi-Official Beverage of this year’s Yellin’ in Helen be - as a supplement to the traditional Chatham Artillery Punch - nothing other than the Zombie.

Zombie Cocktail
  • 4 ounces or 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 ounce or 1-1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons fresh grapefruit juice
  • 1/2 ounce or 1 tablespoon sugar syrup
  • 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons dark rum
  • 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons golden rum
  • 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons white rum
  • 1 ounce or 2 tablespoons 151-proof rum
  • 1-1/4 ounces or 2-1/2 tablespoons spiced golden rum
  • 3/4 ounce or 1-1/2 tablespoons Cherry Heering
  • 1/2 ounce or 1 tablespoon Falernum syrup
  • 2 dashes or scant 1/2 teaspoon Pernod or other anisette-flavored pastis
  • dashes or scant 3/4 teaspoon Grenadine
Shake with 4 ice cubes, then pour into 1, 2, or 3 highball glasses that have been filled with crushed ice. This will make one extremely deadly drink - as close to the original Don the Beachcomber version as you can reasonably get - but feel free to break it up into smaller portions, as it is deadly...the cocktail was named for its ability to make its consumers stumble around like zombies for hours. Regular or “Brokeback” zombies, the recipe does not say...

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


Snakes on a Plane

I know it may seem as though I’m the last to hop on the Snakes on a Plane bandwagon, but Not So! For back in May, I posted my prognostications of projects that would be in the pipeline as soon as SoaP made a decent showing.

Alas, all of the Internet buzz seems not to have helped buoy ticket sales for this Fine Cinematic Epic. It will make money, but it will not be the humongous Blockbuster Phenomenon that the studio was hoping for. And that’s too bad, because the reviews have been - albeit with their fair share of snark - fairly positive. Who’dathunkit?

As an example, Pete Vonder Haar, who writes reviews for Film Threat when he’s not being the Resident Genius at A Perfectly Cromulent Blog, recently weighed in as follows:
There are two things you need to know about “Snakes on a Plane” that I’m going to share with you now:

1. It has the potential to supplant “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” as the greatest audience participation movie of all time.

2. It is, simultaneously, one of the worst and best movies I’ve ever seen.
Go read the whole thing. Any review that incorporates the words “metric assload of snakes” has got my attention...and admiration.

And for a review of an entirely different sort, go here. By Gadfrey! It’s Serpentes on a Shippe!

There’s a silver lining, of course. We will likely be spared at least one of the otherwise inevitable sequels: Reptiles in a Range-Rover.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Agent Bedhead, who provided the link to Geoffrey Chaucer Has A Blog. Dayum, the things you find on the Inter-Web!]


Brewster Rockit 082906
©2006 Tribune Media Services, Inc.

Clearly, Tim Rickard knows way too much about my business.

Colander Borg-Man!

Something must be done!

Monday, August 28, 2006


Our Lady of Perpetual MiseryOur last Caption Contest having attracted a sizable pile of entries, it’s time for another. But first, let’s see to the housekeeping.

The Winner and Champeen Captioner from the last Contest is Pammy, from Lollygaggin, with this gem: “(sigh) I DO wish I knew how to get rid of this pesky ‘feminine itch.’”

Honorable mentions:

Libby Spencer (Last One Speaks): “When he said he was going to work on my bust, I thought he meant he was going to get me implants.”

K-Nine (Dead Dog Walkin’): “K-Nine was terribly disappointed. When he told the barmaid he liked that he wanted a little head for his birthday, this was not what he had in mind.”

And how could we not salute this piece of Bizarrity from the Straight White One his ownself: “...the giant, singular, misshapen breast that Penelope had been cursed with in her early pubescent years always made her that wee bit pensive...especially on prom night...”

Caption Contest Winner!

Pammy, feel free to use this Winner’s Button in your is a veritabobble Badge of Shame Honor. And thanks to everybody who contributed a caption!

And now for the next Caption Contest:


Sunday, August 27, 2006


There is something about the smell of meat roasting over a charcoal fire that excites the sensorium like few other things.

Unless you are a die-hard vegetarian - or worse, a vegan - there are few aromas more enticing. Whether it’s just a few burgers or hot dogs sizzling on the grill, or (better yet) a nice, inch-thick slab of steak, that Meaty Pong gets the juices going, big time.

She Who Must Be Obeyed opined, the other day, that it must be a Cultural Memory thing, that the smell of sizzling meat recalls to us the days of the Sacrificial Cult in the days of the ancient Temples in Jerusalem. And this may very well be true. Think on it: Back in the Day, hundreds of animals were brought to the Temple to be offered up unto the Lord...and not incidentally, the Levites and priests. A big-ass barbecue, 24/7, all in the name of the Almighty! OK, so there was no pulled pork...but think of alla them Rib-Eyes...chickens...turtledoves...tender baby kids...

But I think it goes back farther than that.

I think we Modern Humans still carry the ancestral memories of those first cavemen who discovered the wonders of Fire-Roasted Meat. We are all descendants of those ancient Brave Souls who first thrust chunks of bloody dripping meat into the communal flame. It’s an aroma - a sweet savor - that connects directly with the innermost Reptilian Brain lurking in the back of our skulls.

Yesterday evening, with our friends Gary and JoAnn, we had a feast that even a caveman could appreciate.

Huge slabs of Hanger Steak, seasoned with kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper, and ground thyme, roasted on the grill, smothered in sautéed shallots. Accompanying them were ears of corn, slathered with a blend of butter and mellow roasted garlic and grilled in their husks; roasted asparagus spears; and buttered sugar snap peas. And for SWMBO, who is still on the No-Chew Meal Plan, fillets of salmon, seasoned and steamed in foil on the grill.

It was all I could do to keep from picking up those steaks with my hands and gnawing on them, Fred Flintstone-style.


It was Saturday afternoon, and I was picking up some supplies for dinner: eight ears of corn, to be given the Laurence Simon Roasted Garlic ’n’ Butter treatment.

On my way out, I swung through the Frozen Goodies section, solely to torture myself. I have no business buying anything in that aisle, but I use it as a test of willpower, similar to Rob Smith waltzing through the beer department. And besides, I like to see what interesting and ridiculously obesifying new flavors those Two Fat Fucks from Vermont™ have come up with. Screw Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough...we got us Dublin Mudslide, Black & Tan, and Vermonty Python now!

While there, I saw a little boy, perhaps all of seven years old, with his mother. Something - perhaps her failure to buy every fricking flavor of Haägen-Dasz for him - was pissing him off, and he complained to his momma thusly:

“You’re getting on my last nerve!”

He said it at least twice, so there was no mistaking it. He must have heard it from some adult at some point in his life and thought it was either (1) cute, or (2) effective.

His momma did not think so.

She grabbed his little ass right then and there and hauled him up short.

“You do not speak to me like that, young man!”

That put the little snot in his place, I can tell you. It was a welcome sight indeed. I could not help but smile...


Lest we forget, there are a lot of fine Carnivals out there, begging for your Linky Attention.

The 101st Friday Ark is up at the Modulator. I’m still trying to figure out just what it is Steve modulates...

Catymology hosts the 127th Carnival of the Cats. Fulla fuzzy fun.

Carnival of the Recipes is at The Common Room this week. Uncommonly good stuff!

You say you want more food? Head over to the ninth Kosher Cooking Carnival, hosted by Sarah’s View. While you’re there, be sure to check out the pictures Sarah posts. It ain’t just about the Kosher Kooking, ya know!

Saturday, August 26, 2006


Zombie Letters from

For some reason, I’ve been jonesin’ for some nice, fresh, living Human Brains...

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Cowtown Pattie for the link]


SWMBO and the Kitties

Between the dark and the daylight,
When the night is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Kitties’ Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The patter of fuzzy feet,
The sound of a door that is opened,
And meowing soft and sweet.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Descending the broad hall stair,
Hakuna, and little grey ’Tata,
A-covering the house in their hair.

A purring, and then a silence:
Yet I know by their sneaky eyes
They are plotting and planning together
To take me by surprise.

A sudden rush from the stairway,
A sudden raid from the hall!
By a couple of doors left unguarded
They enter my castle wall!

They climb up onto the sofa,
O’er the arms and back of my chair;
If I try to escape, they surround me;
They seem to be everywhere.

They almost devour me with licking,
Their paws about me entwine,
Till I think of the fate of the mousies
Gobbled up with the kibble and wine!

Do you think, O my blue-eyed kitty,
Because you have climbed on my legs,
That you will get dinner this early,
No matter how much you-all begs?

I have you fast in my Cat-Box,
And will not let you depart,
But put you down into the dungeon
In the Cat-Bed of my heart.

And there will I keep you forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till the Cat-Box shall fill up with Cat-Poop,
And I throw the litter away!

[Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]


Huh. Huh. Huh-huh-huh-huh. Huh. He said,“Longfellow.” Huh huh.
Huh. Huh. Huh-huh-huh-huh. Huh. He said,“Wad.”
Shut up, Beavis.





Reading this post of Velociman’s might cause the innocent bystander to throw up a little in the back of his or her mouth. Disgusting, eh?

And thereby hangs a tale.

Our friend Harris the Podiatrist - the one who diagnosed me as having monkeyshit feet - once told us an entertaining story of his misspent youth. It seems he had a cousin Enid (great name, what?) who had an unfortunate propensity to get carsick at the slightest provocation. Harris, meanwhile, was that rare kind of child with a cast-iron stomach.

One day, it befell that Enid’s parents decided to spring for a brand-new car, complete with brand-new car smell, shiny chrome doo-dads, the works.

Shortly thereafter, Harris happened to take a road trip with Enid and her parents. Said parents, knowing of their daughter’s notorious proclivity for the Blown Lunch, warned her that there was to be no getting carsick in the new car. Fell punishments were threatened in the event that Enid exercised her natural tendencies. And Enid took these threats to heart.

Harris and Enid shared the back seat. Not long after setting out, Harris glanced over at Enid and noticed that she was turning a lovely shade of green. Suddenly, her stomach spasmed and her cheeks bulged with what had to be a massive influx of Stomach Contents.

And then, she gulped it all back down.

Whereupon Harris, he of the cast-iron stomach, lost his shit completely, projectile vomiting unto the backs of the heads of the adults in the front seat. Bye-bye, New Car Smell.

And this is why She Who Must Be Obeyed and I use the word “Enid” to indicate the act of swallowing your own vomit rather than allowing yourself to puke it out. A Worthy Addition to the Blog d’Elisson dictionary, to be sure.

Friday, August 25, 2006


Homunculus Man

Today’s squib from the Department of You Can’t Make This Shit Up comes to us courtesy of the estimable Velociman, who has an uncanny ability to sniff out Gem-Like Stories.

Maybe this is what comes from drinking the spectacularly nasty water from the River Ganges, but it seems like whenever there’s a Bizarre Medical Case, it comes from that same Subcontinent that gave us Lamb Vindaloo, Rogan Josh, Bollywood, and the most toxic farts on the planet.

I speak, of course, of India, where a 36-year-old man has been found to be harboring, neatly nestled in a humongous bloated tumor, his Unborn Twin Brother.

It’s a medically rare event, they say, with only ninety cases in the literature. [Said literature excluding most popular supermarket tabloids, which might have bumped the numbers up considerably.] And that’s probably a good thing, because the idea of screaming hordes of grown men walking around with Brotherly Fetoid Guys inside them totally skeeves me out.

Think on it, Esteemed Readers. Here you are, a happy little blastocyst, comfortably ensconced in a warm womb, your twin brother floating in the amnion beside you. And then suddenly, Twin Bro becomes an overzealous zygote, engulfing your embryonic ass like an amoeba gone haywire. Gaah! Now you get to spend the next 36 years in a bizarre limbo, as neither Fetus nor Man!

And meanwhile, the twin brother who has enwombed you in a tumoresque matrix walks the planet with a grotesque pendulous belly, looking like a pregnant Brood-Mare...which, in a bizarre and unexpected way, he is.

Given a choice between having two fully functional Johnsons [known as Patels in India, BTW] and having an Internal Homunculus, I’d happily choose the former. Rogering conjoined twins on Pay-per-View might bring a few meagre coppers into the till, whereas nobody is going to pay to see Tumor-Boy. Unless...

We need to take up a collection and get this sumbitch a berth in Gibtown. Perhaps we can even set up his defunct, malformed Itchy Brother with his own Kiddie Show. Something that falls in the twilight zone between Pee Wee’s Playhouse, Captain Kangaroo, and Swamp Breath Theatre: Uncle Homunculus and his Placental Playhouse.



Huzzah! It’s Friday yet again!

Any day that starts out with a blast on the ol’ Ram’s Horn can’t be all bad. Yes, it’s that time of year - the month of Elul, kicking off the penitential season that precedes (and includes) the Jewish High Holidays. This month, it’s traditional to close out the daily morning service with a few shofar blasts, and I am the Designated Blowhard.

SWMBO and the Governormobile

Here’s a shot of SWMBO standing between the Elissonmobile and Governor Sonny Perdue’s Big-Ass SUV, taken yesterday evening when Governor Perdue spoke at our synagogue. I did not vote for the man, but Georgia seems to have fared reasonably well under his stewardship. Between SWMBO and me, our biggest issue with Sonny is that he was swept into office partially because of a strong groundswell of support among teachers - who were then roundly screwed as soon as he entered office, as he backtracked from pretty much every education-related campaign promise. But I’ll give the big fella credit: he has been a strong supporter of Israel, encouraging mutual investment between Georgia-based and Israeli businesses.

Whaddaya say we take a look at what the iPod d’Elisson has on its Random Tap for us today? Lookee:
  1. UFO’s Are Real - MC 900 Foot Jesus
  2. Mix Tape - Avenue Q, Original Broadway Cast
  3. Cry Baby Cry - The Beatles
  4. I Missed The Bus - Skankin’ Pickle
  5. Magdalene (My Regal Zonophone) - Procol Harum
  6. Myst Theme - Robin Miller
  7. Femme Fatale - The Velvet Underground
  8. Reelin’ In The Years - Steely Dan
  9. Peaches En Regalia and My Friend, My Friend (live) - Phish

    My friend, my friend he’s got a knife
    A statement from his former life
    When he was easy but alone
    Beside him was an empty throne
    But what of silver silken blade
    Affix his gaze, his features staid
    Grasps the handle, clips the cable
    One steps up, sits at his table
    My friend, my friend, he’s got a knife
    My friend, my friend, he’s got a wife

    My friend, my friend, the clever ruse
    Persuasion through his thoughts peruse
    A hidden relic from his past
    That wasn’t there when he looked last
    He feels it ticking like a bomb
    Feeding fear, assaulting calm
    Takes the object, starts the game
    Moves closer to the flame

    My friend, my friend, the clever ruse
    My friend, my friend, he lights the fuse

    My friend, my friend, he’s got a knife
    My friend, my friend, he’s got a knife
    My friend, my friend, he’s got a knife

  10. (They Call Me) Dr. Professor Longhair - Professor Longhair
It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, August 24, 2006


[Laurence Simon, who operates the 100 Word Story Podcast, famously says that he - and his blog - are Full Of Crap. Inspiration!]

Jackson discovered, quite by accident, that if he ate nothing but spinach for a day, his poop would be green the next day.

Experimentation showed that a diet of beets resulted in dark red excrement.

Rice with plenty of turmeric ended up as yellow feces.

Carrots - lots of ’em - generated loaves with an orange cast.

He was ready.

He ate the biggest meal of his life, one food at a time, sequentially. Then he took a handful of Doxidans and stood naked over the huge blank canvas, waiting patiently.

In just a moment, thought Jackson Poolock, Art Happens.

PASSINGE STRAUNGE... thysse Webbe-Syte, which appeareth to be defuncte, and yet none the less worth vysytynge.

Reminiscent of a 16th century alter-ego of Velociman, I’ll warrant...


If your cat does this, get rid of it.

As if this isn’t bad enough, the cat in the video looks kinda like Hitler.

From now on, I won’t complain about Matata’s trick of unrolling the bunwad when she’s impatient to be fed. At least she hasn’t figured out what that flush handle is for.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Barry D.]


Asparagus Gazpacho
Asparagus Gazpacho.

There’s something about the bright, happy green of asparagus that shouts “Springtime!” no matter what time of year it may be.

I like asparagus, I freely admit it. It’s one green vegetable that I will happily eat whenever it’s available, no matter that it makes for Stinky Asparagus Pee afterwards. White asparagus is excellent as well; some people prefer its delicate flavor to that of green asparagus, and in Europe, it’s pretty much the only game in town. But most of the time, I find myself going for the green.

Asparagus is good steamed; I use a steamer that holds the stalks so that their bases sit in the boiling water, thus tenderizing them. Or you can boil it. Some like it hot with Hollandaise sauce; I prefer it chilled with a drizzle of white truffle-scented olive oil. For a real summertime treat, marinate it in olive oil with a little kosher salt, then throw it on the grill until the stalks are tender and lightly charred. A quick grind of pepper, and you’re good to go.

With the hot weather this time of year - yes, it’s still summer - there’s nothing like a bright green, cold soup to refresh and recharge the ol’ Bodily Battery. Here’s a recipe that I tried last night for the first time, and it looks like a winner...packed with flavor and easy on the eyes. And it’s easy to make, requiring only about ten minutes. The only cooking involved is a brief blanching of the asparagus to kick its bright green color up a few notches.

It is Asparagus Gazpacho, a recipe that is practically Zen-like in its simplicity.

Asparagus Gazpacho

6 (1-cup) servings


1 pound fresh asparagus, tough ends removed
½ pound leek tops, medium to dark green parts only, rinsed well
1 large green bell pepper, seeds and white membrane removed
¼ cup tightly packed fresh basil
4 cloves fresh garlic
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ cup cold water
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup white wine vinegar


Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds, until it turns very bright green; immediately immerse it in ice-cold water to shock it. In a blender or food processor, purée the asparagus, leek tops, bell pepper, basil, garlic, Parmesan cheese and water until the soup is well-combined and smooth. Add the seasoned salt, sea salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar and pulse to combine. Adjust seasonings and thickness as desired and chill until serving time.

You may want to add part of the vinegar and taste-test the soup before adding more, as vinegars vary widely in potency. You want a gazpacho that’s tangy without being overwhelmingly acidic.

Like may cold soups of this type, this will benefit from being made in advance in order to allow the flavors time to marry. Serve it at a dinner party or throw it in a thermos to have during your lunch break - however you enjoy it, it will put a springtime in your step!

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


In the two-plus years I have been filling the ether with my patented brand of bullshit, I have had a few opportunities to hijack guest-blog on other sites.

I’m not sure whether giving me the keys to one’s blog is a mark of insanity, ignorance, or idiocy - probably a combination of all three - but I always take it as a compliment of the highest order.

I’ve written guest-posts at a wide variety of places, ranging from pesky’apostrophe (always better than an unexpected period) to The Dax Files. The legendary and exalted Velociman even loaned me the keys to his site a few months ago, a decision I’m sure still causes him to question his mental stability.

But a few days ago, I got an invitation to write a few guest posts from someone whom I’ve always regarded with a certain amount of awe: David Bogner of Treppenwitz.

Treppenwitz Banner

Treppenwitz is an award-winning Israeli blog with an intelligent and diverse readership. Despite the (occasionally) politically contentious topics David writes about, his commenters are, almost without exception, well-behaved - even when disagreeing passionately with his opinions or those of other commenters. For David does not brook trolls or people who do not obey his rules for a civilized discourse.

The topics on Treppenwitz range from Israeli politics, observations on day-to-day life in Israel, family, food - the whole gamut. And David can tell a story that will tear your heart out by the roots. He’s a rational voice in a region that too often seems irrational to people who are unfamiliar with its history and culture.

About the only issue I ever have with David is his unfortunate tendency to write “it’s” when “its” is called for. A small price to pay, I suppose.

David is not overly prolific, but he is consistent. He typically writes one post a day (except for Shabbat), and responds to his many commenters, usually in the form of a large comment with a section addressed to each commenter.

So when he e-mailed me last week to request that I help fill in, along with a handful of other writers, while he and his family went off to take a well-deserved vacation, I was practically bowled over. His request was made almost apologetically...but I was flattered. Honored, even.

Treppenwitz is beginning to pick up some readership among the Georgia crew, thanks (so far) mainly to Erica. If you haven’t yet visited, by all means do so...and not just to read my crap. Check out the archives; there’s all kinds of good stuff in there.


Seducing Sylvia was going to be difficult, but Ralph was determined to get laid tonight.

A C-note for the maître d’ ensured that he got a table with an unobstructed view of the bay. Moonlight glinted from the waves as sailboats sought harbor. Beautiful.

A bottle of Dom Perignon lay chilling, and the pianist was doing his level best to out-Sinatra Sinatra. Ralph smiled wolfishly as his date was shown to the table.

Just then, the moon turned a brilliant blue-white. On the other side of the world, the Sun had gone nova.

“No nookie for Ralphie,” thought Ralph darkly.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


Salmon and Corn

But hark! A sound is stealing on my ear -
     A soft and silvery sound - I know it well.
Its tinkling tells me that a time is near
     Precious to me - it is the Dinner Bell.
O, blessed Bell! Thou bringest beef and beer,
     Thou bringest good things more than tongue may tell:
Seared is, of course, my heart - but unsubdued
Is, and shall be, my appetite for food.

I go. Untaught and feeble is my pen:
     But on one statement I may safely venture:
That few of our most highly gifted men
     Have more appreciation for their trencher.
I go. One pound of British beef and then
     What Mr. Swiveller called a “modest quencher”;
That, home-returning, I may “soothly say,”
“Fate cannot touch me: I have dined today.”

     - C. S. Calverley (from Beer)
Well, no British beef for us last night, though we did not suffer for its lack. On the Elisson menu:
  • Potlatch Salmon with Blueberry Chutney

  • Roasted Ears of Corn
Yesterday, I decided to take a page out of Laurence Simon’s book. I took five heads of garlic, drizzled ’em with olive oil, and stuck ’em in a 350°F oven for about an hour. After giving them time to cool, I took the cloves and squeezed out the roasted garlic, now reduced to a mellow paste. I got close to a cup of roasted garlic paste out of the deal, enough to last several weeks.

One heaping tablespoon of roasted garlic paste, run through the food processor with a couple of tablespoons of butter, made - what else? - Roasted Garlic Butter. I took this and schmeared it liberally on a couple of ears of corn. Then I wrapped the corn back up in its husks and tied the husks in place with butcher’s twine. These now were ready to be thrown on the grill.

I had planned to grill the salmon as well, but my Trusty Bag o’ Hickory Chips was missing in action, and my Cedar Plank inventory was down to nil. So I prepared the fish by drizzling it with olive oil and applying a liberal dose of Williams-Sonoma Potlatch Seasoning, then letting it chill for a few hours to let the flavor penetrate. Baking the fish in the oven at 350°F for about 40 minutes (it was a big, thick fillet) yielded excellent results.

Alongside the fish I served Kimberly’s amazing Blueberry Chutney, the gingery, spicy sweetness of which is a perfect complement to the rich salmon.

Hmmm, lessee. Corn. Salmon. Blueberries. Why, here was a true American meal, made with North American ingredients. Patriotic...and yummy, too.

Ask not for whom the Dinner Bell tolls. It tolls for me!

Monday, August 21, 2006


Mickey D

These people will try anything to sell their Beefy Discs, won’t they?

[Go to the Ronald McHummer site and have fun making your own Snarky McDonald’s Signs. Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Karen at Verbatim - my blogmomma!]


A rabbit hopped into a bakery.

“Ya got any carrot cake?” asked the rabbit.

“Sorry, no,” said the baker.

The next day, the rabbit came back.

“Ya got any carrot cake?” asked the rabbit.

“Sorry, no,” said the baker.

This went on for days. The baker began to feel bad for the rabbit, and so he decided to bake a carrot cake - cream cheese icing, the works.

The next day, the rabbit came back. “Ya got any carrot cake?” he asked.

“As a matter of fact, I do!” said the baker with a smile.

“Tastes like shit, doesn’t it?”

[A tip of the Elisson chapeau goes to Barry ben Mendel for this chestnut.]

Sunday, August 20, 2006


The eighty-third edition of Haveil Havalim - Vanity of Vanities, the Carnival of Jewblogging - is up at A Barbaric Yawp. Lots of good posts and food for thought here...well worth a visit. Yawp!


Elisson and the Dopey Shirt

No, not the stupid-ass shirt.

Check out the new specs!


Matata Is Full Of Crap
Matata peruses one of her favorite Online Web-Logs.

“This guy thinks he’s full of crap? He oughta check out my litterbox. Yeah, I got yer crap...right here.”

Persian Rug Hakuna

Hakuna, meanwhile, enjoys parking her hindquarters on a Persian rug. She has asked me to remind you that Carnival of the Cats #126 is being hosted (starting Sunday evening) by Red Peonies. Go pay a visit and enjoy the Fuzzy Parade!

Update: Carnival of the Cats #126 is up.


This week, Everything And Nothing hosts the Carnival of the Recipes. Stop by and check out some of the fine foodie fun. Hell, there’s even a recipe for a “Ferburger” - which is either a misspelling, or something that needs to go on my Infamous List.

Saturday, August 19, 2006


To She Who Must Be Obeyed and me, there are few fruits with the eye appeal and ease-of-use of the banana.

Brightly colored, easy to peel and eat, the banana is a great addition to a bowl of cold cereal; an excellent source of potassium; and an indispensable ingredient of Bananas Foster, one of the great Obscene Desserts of the Western World.

The Missus and I, like so many Americans, like to buy our bananas slightly green. This betokens a certain optimism. People who buy green bananas assume that they will still be walking the planet when the bananas ripen and are ready to eat.

Within a few days, our bananas have turned a golden yellow. To us, in the World o’ Bananas, yellow means “go.” That’s from an old Mitch Hedberg routine: “With bananas, green means ‘stop,’ and yellow means ‘go.’ And red means ‘where the fuck did you get that banana?’”

In Latin America, folks like to wait until bananas are farther down the Ripeness Path. From golden yellow, the next stop is a peel speckled with brown, then onward to a mostly brown peel. To us, bananas with a brown peel are too far gone to be eaten out of hand; to your average Costa Rican, they’re just beginning to look edible. [Plantains, a starchy variety of banana usually eaten cooked, need to ripen past the “black peel” stage, whereupon they become tasty platanos maduros. But that’s another story.]

We had a few bananas that, through inattention or laziness, we had neglected to eat while they were golden yellow - or even lightly speckled. Fact is, they were beginning to liquefy, filling the kitchen with an intense banana aroma. Time to make...Banana Bread!

Banana Nut Bread

¼ cup butter (½ stick)
¾ cup sugar
3 large ripe bananas
½ cup pecans, broken or chopped
1 egg, large or extra large
2 tbsp lemon juice
1½ cups all-purpose flour, sifted
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt

Grease a loaf pan with butter; set aside. Preheat oven to 350°F.

Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Beat the egg and add it to the creamed butter and sugar, along with the lemon juice and the three bananas (peeled and well mashed).

Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the dry ingredients and mix well. Add the nuts.

Turn the mixture out into the loaf pan and bake for approximately one hour, or until a toothpick inserted into the loaf comes out clean. Turn out onto a rack; allow to cool.

* * *

I made this last night, omitting the nuts to accommodate SWMBO, who still is on the “No-Chew” meal plan. The alternative would’ve been to 86 the bananas. This was better.

Banana Bread is yummy as is, or you can slice it, toast it, and butter it for a Calorific Treat. But if you really want to be decadent, do as SWMBO did this morning. Inspired by the Sunday brunch at Savannah’s Firefly Café, she made Banana Bread French Toast.

Just take a couple of slices of banana bread, soak ’em in a mixture of beaten egg and milk, and fry ’em in butter. At the Firefly, they serve a pitcher of warm Crème Anglaise alongside the BBFT...but to me, that’s gilding the lily.

Washed down with a couple of mugs of hot, steaming java, this was the kind of breakfast that puts a spring in my step, a smile on my lips, and a deranged glint in my eye. O, noble Banana – how tasty thou art!

Friday, August 18, 2006


Eric lines one up
Eric lines one up.

A recent post over at Where the Hell Was I? got me to thinking about my own experiences with the Sport of Kings.

No, not horse racing. The other Sport of Kings...billiards.

Most people in the United States use the term “billiards” rarely, except in reference to the heavy, flat, felt-surfaced table upon which Billiards-Related Games are played. And that is fair, because billiards proper is unusual in these parts. Most of the time, people here play pool, or a variation of it: eight-ball, Fuck Your Buddy Screw Your Neighbor, et alia. Give most people here a table with no pockets, and they will shit a peach pit trying to figure out what the hell to do with those pee-waddly three balls.

I am a middling pool player. No, really. I’m aware that pool players are masters of the art of concealing their true skill level, but since I don’t play for a living - or even to pick up the odd double-sawbuck - I have no need to overplay the fact that I really ain’t all that good. Or hide it, for that matter. I play a few times a year, mainly at Houston-area sales meetings where my heart really isn’t in the game.

Back when I was in college, my eating club (our local alternative to the forbidden Greek-letter fraternities) was blessed with two billiard tables: one for pocket billiards - pool - and the other for straight billiards. These were massive, ancient tables, seemingly carven from the trunks of trees in a manner reminiscent of Odysseus’s mythical bed. The pool table had leather mesh pouches for each pocket, something I had never seen before in the cheap rec-room equipment and quarter-a-game bar tables with which I had been familiar. Over the course of months, I developed a reasonable amount of skill at both pool and three-cushion billiards - yet not enough skill such that I could be accused of being a Billiards-Sodden Wastrel.

Many years later, on a marathon Asia-Europe trip, I spent time visiting with a colleague in northern Belgium. Much of that time was spent drinking powerful Duvel beer and playing three-cushion billiards - yes, three-cushion is a bar game amongst the Flemings - under the baleful influence of heavy jet lag and waffles.

These days, I play on those rare occasions when I find myself near a Billiard Table. It’s not often enough to keep my game sharp, but I can hold my own, as I found out when I journeyed to the Straight White Billiard Parlor and Indian Kitchen some weeks back. For the occasion, I dug out my very own pool cue from the bowels of the Basement d’Elisson, a cue I had won as a safety award some twenty-odd years ago at the Great Corporate Salt Mine. It had never been taken out of the box in all that time...still a virgin cue...but, by Gawd, I put it to good use at Chez Eric. Yes, I got thrashed a few times...but I was able to win games off of both Erica and Eric, his ownself.

I don’t know if it was the Scotch, the cameraderie, the Indian food, or the Pocket Billiards...but I felt like a king that weekend, playing the Sport of Kings.


Our Lady of Perpetual Misery

Leave your suggestions in the Comments.

Commenter with the best answer (as adjudged by Yours Truly) gets to use this Snazzy Sidebar Button! Boo-yah! (Or just plain boo.)

Caption Contest Winner!


Is it possible? Could it be?

Yes! It’s Friday!

I started the day with my usual trip to shul for Morning Minyan, followed by a quick breakfast with the Minyan Boyz at La Madeleine. We don’t spend all of our time at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium these days, preferring to mix it up: the Emporium some days, La Madeleine on others, and once a week at J. Christopher’s, what The Mistress of Sarcasm calls “the waspiest WASP nest in the world.”

After that, it was over to Sandy Springs where I did an hour-long guest shot on my friend Drugstore Richard’s Friday morning radio show. The radio station is a low-power AM station (1620 on your dial) whose saving grace is that it’s streamed on the Internet at This means that we have ten listeners instead of three.

One hour of stupid-ass Comic Improv (in my Dr. Israel Patel persona) later, and it was time to take advantage of my location in Sandy Springs and head down to Northside Hospital. There, I visited a friend who had just had major surgery...and I also got to meet the latest addition to the Jawja Blodger community, little Christopher Lee - the beauteous Kelley’s brand-new offspring. Kelley herself looks wonderful, all things considered...and mighty relieved, I can tell you. Being pregnant during a Georgia summer is - so they tell me - absolutely no fun.

Now I’m home and ready to see what my Little White Choon-Box has coughed up. Let’s go take a look, shall we?
  1. Nite Club - The Specials
  2. The Clouds Are Full of Wine (Not Whiskey or Rye) - Captain Beefheart

    The clouds are full of wine
    Not whiskey or rye
    ’N’ the sky is full of bluebrains,
    Bluejays, mermaids
    Bluebrains, bluejays, bluebirds, mermaids
    Bluejays, bluebirds, rainbows
    ’N’ the night is full of rhinestones,
    Pinecones, telephones
    ’N’ the sky is full of rhinestones, pinecones, telephones
    Wolfhowls, milkcows
    Shadows to some hows
    ’N’ the clouds are full of wine
    Not whiskey or rye
    ’N’ the sky is full of bluebrains,
    Baboons, rhinos, fools ’n’ buffoons
    ’N’ my eyes are full of bloodbones,
    Snowcones, serenaders ’n’ sen-n-n-oritas
    ’n’ so on...
    Melodies that go on, go on,
    Go on, go on, go on, go on,
    Go off, go off, go off, go off

  3. Jabberwocky - Tom Waits
  4. River - Joni Mitchell
  5. Bleecker Street - Klaus Badelt, The Time Machine soundtrack
  6. The Sinister Minister - Béla Fleck & the Flecktones
  7. Creep (Acoustic Version) - Radiohead
  8. Kate (Ska Version) - Ben Folds Five
  9. Late - Ben Folds
  10. Philosophy (live) - Ben Folds Five
Geez, three - count ’em - three Ben Folds tunes in a row! What are the chances?

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


The Friday Ark reaches a major milestone today, with its Centennial Edition posted over at the Modulator. Go visit all them kitties, puppies, and Gawd knows what other creepy crawly things that have boarded this week’s sailing.

Of course, don’t forget to visit Carnival of the Cats. Simply scroll down to see Edition #125...and stop by Red Peonies Sunday evening when Edition #126 is posted.

Thursday, August 17, 2006


One of the things that makes childhood such an exciting time of life is that the Big People - adults - wield real physical power over us.

When you’re a kid, you take that kind of thing seriously.

In our house, nothing brought about Instant Obedience quite as effectively as the classic Daddy Threat: “I’m gonna get out the belt!” Never mind that, in all the years I lived under the same roof with my father, not once did he ever actually get out the belt. It was the mere suggestion that such a powerful piece of weaponry would - could - be brought into play. My brother - the other Elisson - and I would not have snapped to attention any faster had Dad threatened to get out his .44 Magnum.

When a less serious threat was called for, other weapons - more versatile weapons - in the Parental Arsenal would be trotted out.

“Keep it up, and I’m gonna give you a frask im pisk!

Ah, the old Frask im Pisk. That’s a smack in the mouth, for any of y’all that may be Yiddish-impaired: a serious sanction reserved only for the most egregious infractions. Fortunately for me and my brother, our folks were not big users of the frask im pisk. Strong medicine, that.

“I’m gonna give you a potch in tuches!

That’s a smack on the ass. It’s pronounced almost as a single word with the accent on the first syllable: potchintuches. The “ch” in tuches has that same throat-clearing guttural sound that’s found in the Scottish “loch.”

And that potch in tuches was a very versatile threat, for it could be issued in perfect seriousness...or it could be meant completely in jest. Compare and contrast the potch in tuches with “I’m gonna kick yer ass!” The former is almost deceptively playful, while the latter is an unalloyed warning. When we were threatened with a potch in tuches, we could never really be sure whether it was a real threat, a threat made in jest, or mere posturing. One thing’s for sure: nobody was in a hurry to find out.

The best threat, though, came from my Uncle Gerry, of blessed memory.

Back on our Snot-Nose Days, when we would horse around to the point of becoming annoying, Uncle Gerry would warn us: “I’m gonna give you a funge in the knibber!

To this day, nobody has ever, to my knowledge, figured out what a funge was, nor what part of the anatomy the knibber represented. But when we were little, nobody wanted to find out, all too late, that a funge was “an ashcan-sized exit wound, similar to that left by a hollow-point projectile,” and that the knibber was another word for “skull.”

What Parental Threats do you remember fondly...or not so fondly?


Breaking news, just in!

Kelley, who has been Great with Child these past nine months, has now had her baby, according to this post by the lovely and estimable shoe.

[Well, technically, she has been With Child these past nine months. The “Great” phase doesn’t settle in for a while.]

Please join me in welcoming the latest addition to the Jawja Blown-Eyed Blodger gang. Now, how long will it take us to corrupt the li’l sweetums?


Matata in the Afternoon

Matata soaks up the afternoon sun whilst perched on her favorite barstool.


[Huh. Huh. Huh-huh-huh. He said “stool.” Huh.]


Wednesday, August 16, 2006


Talk Dirndl To Me

What? You haven’t ordered your Semi-Official Logo Swag for the Yellin’ in Helen? Time’s a wastin’!

WTF are you waiting for, an engraved invitation? Click on the picture, dammit!

[Proceeds will be directed to the American Diabetes Association in Rob Smith’s name.]



A Brief Tragedy in Three Acts.

Act I

Elvis: You ain’t nothin’ but a Hound Dog. Love me tender. I’m all shook up. Say, Colonel Tom, yew got any more o’ them pee-yulls?

Colonel Parker: Sho ’nuff, Elvis. Now, be sure to drink a glass of water when yew takes them pee-yulls. He’ps digest ’em. Now, I got this heah movie contract fo’ yew t’ sign...

* * * * *

Act II

Colonel Parker: Say, Elvis, yew want anothuh fried peanut butter and banana sammitch? Yew’ve only et seventeen a them thangs fer breakfast so far.

Elvis: Yes, Ah do, thankyewverymuch.

Cybill Shepherd: Say, Elvis, kin Ah blow you?

* * * * *


Elvis: Excuse me, boys, Ah gotta go crimp off a length. Now don’t go snortin’ up alla that blow while Ah’m gone, y’heah?

Elvis: Nggggggh. Nggggggggh. Ngggggggggggg (oy) … [thud]

* * * * *

- The End -

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to IMAO for the image.]


Farmer Brown watched in amazement as his new rooster went to work. This bird was gung-ho, to say the least.

He rogered every hen in the henhouse until they squawked for mercy, in a marathon Chicken Fuck Session that would’ve given a lesser rooster a hernia. He then nailed all the turkeys, after which he ran to the pond and dicked all the ducks.

Later, Farmer Brown found the rooster flat on his back. He shook his head sadly. Screwed to death, he thought, fetching the shovel.

The rooster saw him coming.

“Buzz off, bub! See them vultures up there?”

[The theme for Weekly Challenge #18 at the 100 Word Stories Podcast is rooster and hernia.]

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Marietta Sunset 1

Marietta Sunset 1

Sunset in Georgia.


Chef Jean Boudreaux was eager to be a part of the renaissance of New Orleans, and so he decided to open a restaurant in the French Quarter. But surprisingly, he opened a Chinese restaurant.

Precisely because it was such an unexpected choice of cuisine for its location, “Le Vieux Sécret Chinois” was a smashing success.

Another reason for its success: Chef Boudreaux’s legendary sangfroid. Nothing bothered him.

One time, some dumplings caught fire in the kitchen after having been left in the wok too long. Responding to the excited sous-chef’s shouts, Boudreaux was unflappable.

Laissez les Won-Tons brûler,” he said.

Monday, August 14, 2006


Rebus Greetings
Happy Birthday, Ducks Montana.

There’s a certain Mountain Man
Who one day had a plan
To escape the world of Augusta.
So he ran, with a will,
To those North Georgia hills,
For which he had long had a lust-a.
And now his life is grand -
Just watch his brood expand
And his pay piles up in stacks.
Forty trips around the Sun,
And he’s still having fun!
Wish a Happy Birthday to Dax!

Dax Montana


You can infer a lot about a culture by how much garlic it eats.

The Japanese famously – and derisively - refer to their Korean counterparts as “garlic eaters.” Garlic is much more suited to the rough and earthy Korean cuisine than it is to the refined delicacy of nihon-ryori.

Compare the garlic-eating French to the garlic-averse British. On the one hand, you have extremely stinky cheese and women with hairy armpits; on the other hand you have the Stiff Upper Lip, pip pip, cheerio, overcooked Brussels sprouts and grey roast beef.

Garlic is, perhaps, a mark of the Less Refined...but it is also the hallmark of a robust, hedonistic outlook. Which nationality favors it more – the gloomy, suicidal, vodka-drinking Swedes, or the happy, murderous, wine-soaked denizens of the sunny slopes of Sicilia?

Emeril Lagasse is a “gollick” fan. Bam! Are we surprised that he comes from Massachusetts, home of bland cod-based dishes? No, not when we realize he comes from New Bedford, a hotbed(ford) of subversive Portuguese culture and cooking.

Among us Eastern European Jews, garlic is an essential component of many savory dishes. It’s hard to imagine a braised brisket or a roasted chicken without the gentle kiss - or, more typically, a Great Big Slobbering Smooch - of knubble.

[Knubble. Isn’t that a great word for garlic? It comes from the German Knoblauch. The “k,” by the way, is not silent.]

Me, I loves me some garlic. Last week, Laurence Simon threw some corn cobs on the grill after slathering them with generous amounts of butter and roasted garlic paste. Roasting the garlic mellows it, removes the harsh bite – and that corn was just about the best I had ever tasted.

Last night it was new potatoes, roasted with whole unpeeled garlic cloves and splashed with plenty of olive oil. Mmmmm, good.

Garlic, of course, has its Infamous Side Effects. Eat plenty of it, and no amount of mouthwash will sweeten your breath. Moreover, you will notice it coming through your very skin. Late at night, after eating Lair’s grilled corn, I could practically see the little wavy Cartoony Smell-Lines radiating from me. Good thing I was alone.

In my case, garlic consumption usually manifests itself as a galloping case of Extreme Flatulence. And the effect is almost instantaneous. One bite of Szechuan Garlic Chicken, and I start levitating off my seat. And late at night, after things have had a chance to cook for a while, it’s downright evil. The pong is what I imagine it would be like if a family of zombies took up residence somewhere around my Ascending Colon. Gawd, there are few things worse than Garlic Farts.

And yet...

I will happily endure them, whilst forcing those around me to endure them as well. Because life without life without joy.

Plus, it keeps away the vampires.


Jews in the South used to be pretty thin on the ground, but they have had an impact on local culture that goes back well before today’s popularization of that famously Jewish food, the bagel.

Many regional department store chains got their start as Jewish-owned dry-goods businesses. Go to any medium-sized Southern city and you will find that there remain clothing stores with distinctively Hebraic-sounding names. Not all of these survive – in many cases, all that is left is some faded paint on the side of a downtown building, memorializing a family livelihood long gone.

When I first moved away from the Northeast back in (gasp!) 1974, I had to adjust to a whole new paradigm of Jewish life. In Houston, there was a thriving Jewish community, but it was a mere drop in an ocean of Texas gentiles. And the familiar accents were replaced by something...different.

“Y’all come on over – we’re havin’ a barbecue this Shabbes. The gantzer mushpucker will be there...except for Cousin Sidney. He’s a smuck.”

Yeah, hearing that Texas accent was a little was, a few years later, hearing Yiddish phrases spoken by people from Memphis in what was by then a familiar Southern drawl. It became clear to me that the South had had an impact on its Jews just as its Jews had had an impact on it.

I thought of that peculiar Southern Jewish cultural amalgam as I was making breakfast yesterday.

There’s an old Romanian dish that still serves as classic Comfort Food to Eastern European Jews: Mamaligeh. The spelling varies, but the concept is the same. Cornmeal mush, AKA polenta, served up in traditional fashion with cottage cheese and sour cream. Here’s a typical recipe:

Romanian Mamaligeh

4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 cup yellow or white cornmeal
½ cup milk
2 tsp butter

Combine water and salt in a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil. Add cornmeal in a thin stream (like falling rain), stirring constantly. Reduce heat and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring constantly with a long-handled spoon. Mixture will become a thick mass and pull away from the sides of the pan. To avoid lumps, don't stop stirring until done.

Add the milk and butter; stir to mix.

Yield: 4 to 6 servings.

Once you’ve cooked up a mess o’ mush, serve it with lashings of cottage cheese and sour cream. Delicious!

Well, yesterday morning, She Who Must Be Obeyed decided to breakfast upon Cheese Grits – a Southern favorite, and no chewing required! And that’s when the little Lightbulb o’ Inspiration lit up above my noggin.

Grits are corn. Cornmeal is corn. So why not have Southern-style mamaligeh?

I simply substituted grits for the cornmeal in the “standard” mamaligeh recipe, lobbed in some cottage cheese and sour cream, and Bingo! A breakfast dish – also great on a Sunday evening, by the way – with roots in the Deep South and in Eastern Europe...and packed with Vitamin Y.

Yiddishkeit*, baby.

[*The word “yiddishkeit” translates as “Jewishness.” It refers to both the religious aspect of Judaism as well as its cultural accoutrements. On the Yiddishkeit index, Fiddler on the Roof is a ten; Miracle on 34th Street is about zero.]

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Welcome to the 125th Carnival of the Cats!

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

Hakuna on the Bed Matata in the Bag

Hakuna: Oh, I love it when other kitties come to visit! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go hide. Now!

Matata: I am happy to welcome all of my Kitty Visitors...and their Human Companions. Fresh meat!

And now, on with the cats...

Share some memories of Archie, who left us for the Scratching Post in the Sky two years ago, in this touching post by anniemiz.

Mensabarbie is off on a trip and must leave Butterscotch behind...and Butterscotch does not like it one bit.

Just Between Strangers gives us some pictures of Pixel and Pasha at play. Hey, that’s alliterative!

Fellow East Cobber Myke, of Myke’s Weblog, tells a harrowing tale of his cat Scooter nearly using up one of those fabled nine lives. More harrowing than that is the fact that Myke himself had his own brush with the Unexpected Visitor shortly afterward...

At Mélange, Nicky is King of the Hill. Meanwhile, Tucker and Nyssa are So Happy Together...and who can blame them?

For those who like their cats well-rounded, head on over to Jelly Pizza and check out whaleshaman’s Circular Kitty.

Chameleons do it. U.S. Marines do it. And now Russ’s sister’s cat Lou does it, too. What izzit? Hiding in plain sight...with camouflage, of course!

Let Chris Dolley bowl you over with these photographs of Kitties in Hemispherical Vessels.

Blueberry, at Texas Oasis, tells us about Duncan, a cat so cute that he can be forgiven for the Bad Habit of pissing on the couch. Bloob knows, as did my late Grandma, that all such problems are solved with just two words: Plastic. Slipcovers.

The redoubtable Mister Gato of enrevanche knows how to have fun. Chow Fun, that is. Check out this post about a couple of Unlikely Buddies.

Debra deals with a mystery at Manx Mnews. Suspects abound: Boo, Jinx, Ping, and Gracie are all under the shadow of suspicion. Will Inspector Abby find all the missing socks and identify the perpetrator of this Foul Deed?

Princess Lotus Blossom shares her thoughts on the important Issues of the Day in a series of Video Interviews at Anchored by Grace. Kimberly has managed to tease some intriguing sound bites out of the Princess, who says, “Sure, I know I’m an indoor kitty, and it’s for my own safety while I’m out here...but this cage sucks!

Roll on over to Far Cartouche (“In Far Cartouche did Kukla Fran a Silly Pleasure Blog Decree”) and check out Lady and Houdini, the Kitty Minions of the Robot Vegetable. And at the Vegetable’s other site, Middle-Fork, Lady adopts a Newtonesque role.

Huckleberry needs to lay off the catnip...or turn down the volume, over at Stereophile. Meanwhile, Bagheera tries her hand at being a Modern Art Model.

A wealth of Recumbent Kitties awaits the visitor to Rahel’s site, Elms in the Yard.

At composite drawlings, there is an Implied Concept that cats are good for the blood pressure. True that may be, except for the times Matata wakes me up at 5:30 a.m. playing “Smacky-Face.”

Aloysius, at Catymology, shows us his fluffy and enormous tail. Actually, there seems to be much more tail than Aloysius. Where’s the rest of him?

Da Nator, at Delectatio Morosa, offers up a Cautionary Tale: Don’t Drink & Groom.

At Athenamama, the question of the day isn’t “Where’s Waldo?” It’s “Where are Thalia, Angel, Jacqueline, Salem, and Ebby?” OK, not all of them are cats, but they do make on big happy pile of Animal Love!

Perhaps an appropriate Motto of the Day at Watermark is “My karma just ran over your dogma.” For it is here that you will learn the secrets of Kitty Yoga and Feline Meditation. Remember to concentrate intently while repeating your meowntra!

Say hello to Cosmo, who has timed his sojourn with Maggie Katzen’s parents to coincide with Maggie’s own visit. Coincidence? I think not...

Nothing beats a man and his meezer...over at Crazy Meezer’s place.

Aunty Holly offers some Useful Tips and Tricks for the aspiring Feline Model.

Jumpin' Cats!Babeth van Son lives in a House of Chaos...and at houseofchaos, you can see what happens when Loup-Garou and Bean Sidhe (love those names!) mix it up. Action-packed...and featuring a Guest Appearance by Mr. Rubber Chicken his ownself!

Rondi, who operates the Blog With A Freakin’ Long Name, Begin Each Day As If It Were on Purpose, uses Pushkin to illustrate the simple concept behind Tummy Tuesday.

And while we’re on the topic of Tummy Tuesday, Mog has a great shot of Ritzi in the Belly Shot Attitude. The Mogster also has the answer to the question, what do you do with the last shot on the memory card? You take a Kitty Picture, of course!

At EclectEcon, Mystery investigates the Hot Tub in the act of being refilled. “Why, what is that Strange and Potentially Unpleasant Substance in there?”

Arrrh, ye scurvy scum of the Seven Seas! Here be a picture of a Piratical-Looking Kitty at What Did You Eat? Arrrh, I don’t know what Upsie ate, but I wanted to eat the Black Cod in Tomato-Saffron and Fennel Stew that was posted just below (befArrrh!) the Pirate Kitty pic.

Brian J. Noggle isn’t all about the musings. Sometimes, he reads books...and sometimes, the bookshelf has eyes.

Rico Loco, of the eponymous Web-Log (“The MISAdventures of Rico Loco”), is a cat with several aliases. Crazy Loco, man!

Sammy says, “Rico may be loco, but I’m totally nuts...about my Daddy Eli!”

At The Wide Awake Cafe, even the best catnip is poor consolation when one of your favorite humans goes away to school.

Kimberly (Music and Cats) wonders whether yawning is contagious. I’d say yes, but I can’t afford to go to sleep and miss out on the batch of Kimberly’s Blueberry Chutney I cooked up this morning.

Beezer - a handsome cat, indeed! - makes a pitch for the Conway Area Humane Society... that Ramona can see her Big Dream come true. Check out the story over at Caturday.

Don’t cry for me, Argentina
You see, we got us plenty kitties
Some are quite fuzzy
Some are insistent
Just give them kibble
Or keep your distance...

The Cats of Argentina are the topic of the day at Red Peonies. ¡Las gatitas somos muy hermosas!

They say a cat can look at a king, but in this post at Keewee’s Corner, Rocket looks an awful lot like a Kiwi.

Laurence Simon almost had a new addition to his Kitty Harem, but then common sense took over.

Pishalou: Hear Me Roar

Neighbor, here, can tell you that it’s not easy being the New Kid on the Block in an established household full of kitties. It’s Puffy Tail Time, for sure!

Meankitty Says...check out this pretzel I found. And what’s this? A hamster with nunchucks? Are those metal nunchucks? Or are they wood ’chucks?

Valerie, it would seem, has just given Tigger a once-through on the old Fluff-Dry Cycle. Check out that bushy tail...

Rafe and Rico display a little Brotherly Love at No Deep Thoughts.

My buddy KeesKennis - that’s Baboon Knowledge, for all you Afrikaans speakers out there - will occasionally do a little will his Better Half. But usually, when I’m looking at Kees’s site, I see a different sort of cat...


Ah, here’s a more typical post. Hungry kitty, that first one.

Pishalou: Hear Me Roar

Pishalou says, “Where do you think you’re going with my zebra, bub?”

Well it looks like that’s all the Carnival entries for this week. Let’s check in with Hakuna and Matata, shall we?

Matata: Thanks once again for stopping by, Esteemed Readers!

Hakuna: Be sure to visit next week’s Carnival, to be hosted by the gang at Red Peonies. And, lest we forget, ’Ta and I want to thank our co-hosts Sammy, Neighbor, and Pishalou. You guys are the best! Really. Just stay the hell away from me, OK?

[Linked to the TTLB ÜberCarnival Home Page]

Technorati tags: cats, catblogging, carnivals