Sunday, August 31, 2008


Another trip around the Sun?
Congratulations! Oh, what fun!

One good thing about turning fifty-five
Is that (kein ayin hora) you’re still alive.

And each year, the Missus looks better and better.
She still can sure fill out a sweater.

Becoming “mature” is a wonderful thing:
Next to Queen SWMBO, I feel like a king.

Though we’ve both of us hit the Double Nickel,
We still enjoy a bit of that old Slap and Tickle.

Friday, August 29, 2008


Friday! Oh, boy! Time once again for the weekly Menagerie o’ Musical Miscellany spewed directly from my Little White Choon Box.

We’ll be having a celebration this weekend, one of those Mini-Milestones of Life. Need a clue? Look below the fold.

I’m especially excited because we’ll have both Daughters d’Elisson in the house this weekend. Yes, not only is the Mistress here, awaiting her move to Nashville in about a week...but Elder Daughter herownself will be flying in from our nation’s capital!

But meanwhile, we got us some tunes to listen to. Let’s take a look at what’s playing today:
  1. Litha - Chick Corea

    From one of the definitive Chick Corea recordings: “Inner Space,” originally released as a double album on vinyl in 1966. The CD version left out two cuts so as to cram the album onto a single disc...but I still have my original vinyl copy, too.

  2. I’m All Alone - Monty Python’s Spamalot

  3. All Is Full Of Love - Björk

  4. Sea Of Holes - The Beatles

  5. Father In The Forest - Matisyahu

  6. The Orange County Lumber Truck - Frank Zappa

    Oh no
    I don’t believe it
    You say that you think you know
    The meaning of love
    You say love is all we need
    You say
    With your love you can change
    All of the hate
    All of the fools
    I think you’re probably
    Out to lunch

    Oh no
    I don’t believe it
    You say that you think you know
    The meaning of love
    Do you really think it can be told?
    You say that you really know
    I think
    You should check it again
    How can you say
    What you believe
    Will be the key to a
    World of love?

    All your love
    Will it save me?
    All your love
    Will it save the world
    From what we can’t understand?
    Oh no
    I don’t believe it

    And in your dreams
    You can see yourself
    As a prophet
    Saving the world
    Words from your lips
    I just can’t believe
    You are such
    A fool


  7. Walking Batteriewoman - Don Preston Trio

    Don Preston
    Don Preston with Project/Object, November 2003.

    Don Preston was one of the original members of the Mothers of Invention back in the 1960’s, performing and recording with Frank Zappa until 1974. He also was featured as a guest keyboardist with the Zappa tribute band Project/Object (featuring Zappa Band alumni Ike Willis and Napoleon Murphy Brock) for several shows in 2001-03...where I got to see him up close and personal. He has been called the “father of modern synthesis” in recognition of his pioneering use of electronic synthesizers in both rock and jazz.

  8. Hello, Goodbye - The Beatles

  9. Kalfou Danjere - Boukman Eksperyans

    Direct from Haiti! “Kalfou Danjere” is Haitian patois for carrefours dangereux - dangerous intersection.

  10. Tiny Cities Made Of Ashes - Modest Mouse

    Not to be confused with “City of Tiny Lights” by Frank Zappa.

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, August 28, 2008


I spent some time visiting with Shanghai Steve this morning. He’s one of the Minyan Regulars, showing up most Mondays and Thursdays. Since he is one of the few Levites (descendants of the tribe of Levi, the chief cooks and bottle washers in the Temple back in the day) to attend morning Minyan on those days, he tends to score the Levi aliyah fairly often...which means he is the second to be called up to recite blessings over the Torah scroll as it is read.

I’ve written about Steve here before. He had an interesting the sense of the old Chinese curse: “May you live in interesting times.”

He was born in Berlin in the spring of 1938, mere months before Kristallnacht, when the Nazi campaign against the Jews really began to pick up steam. His family managed to escape Germany two years later, finally ending up in Shanghai in 1940, where they remained for the next seven years.

Interestingly, the Chinese never had any issues with the local Jews. Perhaps they did not want to endanger potential future consumers of their cuisine. Even the Japanese, despite their alliance with Nazi Germany, did not single the Jews out for especial ill-treatment when they overran the city.

Back in Germany, however, things had become dire for any Jews who could not escape...or who had been living in areas that became subject to Nazi control. The concentration camps were up and running, and the beginnings of the Final Solution loomed.

Concentration camp inmates were permitted to write postcards, at least for a while. They could even receive responses, although those responses (as well as their own cards) could only be written in German. Other languages such as Yiddish were verboten.

Postcard address

Postcard message

[Click to embiggen.]

You had to be careful what you wrote, since censors went through everything with a fine-tooth comb. Even so, real information could be communicated through the use of code phrases.

Postcard address

Postcard message

[Click to embiggen.]

Note the highlighted words (“Schwaigerin Milli ist hier”, i.e., sister-in-law Milli is here). This was code that meant that someone had died.

Later, when exterminations at the camps were fully underway, the German authorities would cynically arrange to send fake postcards from deceased inmates in order to ensure that remaining relatives remained unaware of the fate that eventually awaited them.

Steve’s relatives, including the aunt and uncle who sent these cards, perished in the camps. But he was safe, half a world away.

Among the Jewish refugees there in Shanghai was a boy who would later grow up to be the artist who, more than any other, would define the visual backdrop of the late 1960’s: Peter Max. Steve has several Peter Max originals - oils and prints - hanging in his home, including at least one with a personal inscription.

Peter Max oil

Peter Max print

Whenever Peter comes to town, Steve makes it a point to visit his old friend and neighbor...and he always gets a warm greeting.

In 1947, the family left China and emigrated to America. As refugees from the Nazi horror, they were stateless. Here is the affidavit that Werner Stefan Loewy (his original name before becoming “Shanghai Steve”) used in lieu of a passport to gain entry to the United States:


“AND further deponent saith not.” [Click to embiggen.]

More travel papers, as well as a news article about the soon-to-be-arriving refugees:


[Click to embiggen.]

All of these documents were carefully kept by Steve’s parents, who must have had some idea that they would be valuable one day...or at least of passing interest to their son. But now they tell a story of fear, flight, and ultimate redemption that is beyond the reach of a price tag.

Steve has grown a little older since his travel documents were prepared 61 years ago, but he still has a ready smile and a Harry Potteresque twinkle in his eye. Because, like Harry Potter, Steve is the boy who survived.

Shanghai Steve

Shanghai Steve today.


We got all kinds cats here at Blog d’Elisson.

We got catsup.

Hunt’s Catsup

Hunt’s Catsup, vintage 1952.

We got Cat Soap.

Cat Soap

Soap courtesy of Rahel - image courtesy of Laurence Simon.

We got Cat o’ Nine Tails.

Cat o’ Nine Tails

We got Catfish.

Cat o’ Nine Tails

We got Katmandu.


Katmandu, capital of Nepal. (Courtesy Wikipedia.)

We got white cats.

Cat Necklace

And we got a black cat.

Sunny Neighbor

Man, thassa lotta cats!

Update: Friday Ark #206 is afloat at the Modulator.

Normally, I’d put up a link to the next Carnival of the Cats site...but it looks like a splog has snagged hosting duties for CotC #233, so I’ll take a pass. My free (and therefore valueless) advice to the people running Carnivals? Check out the blogs who offer to host your link-fest...and if they consist mostly of advertising unrelated to the topic at hand, don’t waste people’s time promoting them.


DDI Sunset with Lightning

Sunset at at Toronto’s Centre Island, ©2008 Sam Javanrouh.
Click to embiggen.

This dramatic sunset shot is even more dramatic thanks to the radial lightning stroke caught during the two-second exposure.

It’s just another example of the amazing work of Sam Javanrouh, one of my favorite photobloggers. Go to Daily Dose of Imagery for your daily fix of high-quality photography.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Torch Mistress

The Mistress in her studio, wielding her acetylene torch.

The Mistress is hard at work in her studio these days, getting ready for a trunk show she’s hosting next week. Hand-made necklaces, pendants, brooches, and earrings - that kind of thing.

Quite the artist, she is.

She has a few Hitchcock-inspired designs. Quick: what movies are these based on?

Vertigo Brooch

Birds Pendant

Take a peek below the fold for more.

A Galaxy of Necklaces

A galaxy of necklaces.

Cat Necklace Detail

Cat necklace detail.

Jacob’s Ladder

Jacob’s Ladder.


According to my friend Barry, that’s how barbecue aficionados describe this infamous Fast Food creation:


The McRib.

Faux ’Cue, indeed.

Think on it: a hunk of compressed Zombified Porky Detritus, molded so as to have the appearance of bones, drenched in a gloppy barbecue sauce and served on a bun.

The McRib falls into that select category of foods that I refer to as “Things I Would Eat, Albeit Reluctantly, In The Event Of a Nuclear Holocaust.” About two steps ahead of head cheese.

Not the best idea to come out of Hamburger University, in my not-so-humble opinion. Probably the result of a case of Fallen Golden Arches.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


Never mind turning lead into gold...or sows’ ears into silk purses.

Raw Materials

Take some sugar, vanilla, butter, flour, salt, baking soda, an egg, and a pile of bittersweet chocolate chunks... apply some mixing energy... a little time and temperature... and presto!

End Product

Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Cookies, fresh from the oven.

Now, where the milk at?


This morning, a small group of us sat around the table at the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium, talking about the usual topics. The care and feeding of aging parents. The Democratic convention. Rep. Tom Price (R-GA)’s talk at the synagogue last night (which I missed in order to attend the August Sommelier Guild function).

And the weather. Because it was pouring down rain outside, pouring as it had not done for months. Raining cats, dogs, frogs, logs, entire bogs. The remnant of Tropical Storm Fay had finally come to roost in north-central Georgia. We were hoping that it would rain up at Lake Allatoona and especially at Lake Lanier, where water levels continue to be well below normal. The Army Corps of Engineers is still releasing plenty of water into the Chattahoochee so that Florida (which just got between 18 and 30 inches of Fay’s rain dumped on it) doesn’t dry up. Gaaah.

The phone rang. It was SWMBO, calling from school, checking to see if I was OK. We had been under a tornado warning for the past 20 minutes, complete with sirens...sirens that we couldn’t hear from inside the Local Bagel and Smoked Fish Emporium. We all should have been cowering under the sink in the washroom, but Tommy, the proprietor, who had heard the sirens from the back door of the kitchen, had not bothered to inform us.

Bagels, it seems, are the perfect cushioning material in the event one is caught up in a tornado. And besides - if the cops who were sitting there enjoying their bagels (what is it about police officers and toroidal foods, anyway?) weren’t concerned, why should we be?

So we sat, munching away, as the rain poured down.

All of a sudden the wind picked up outside, swirling through the parking lot. Debris went flying. A man, running through the parking lot trying to get to the restaurant, nearly got blown off his feet as his umbrella was yanked inside-out by the nearly 100 MPH gusts.

It reminded me of an afternoon thirty-one years ago on Long Island, when a violent thunderstorm sent a telephone pole through the plate-glass window of the restaurant at a local motel...right at the table where our friends had been sitting just minutes before. The event had all the hallmarks of a funnel cloud almost - but not quite - touching down.

And that’s what this probably was. The Funnelly Finger o’ Tornadic Doom poking out of a low cloud, brushing the ground gently, and then changing its mind...for which we were extremely grateful.

Because being caught up in a tornado at breakfast really sucks. And blows. At the same time.

Monday, August 25, 2008


The stovewhores’ dishes fill the studio sinks
Where Emeril sautées Andouille sausage links,
And Rachael smiles. She looks at me and winks.
“EVOO to him,” she says, “who EVOO thinks.”


Now, courtesy of the Bush administration, here’s a genuinely blockheaded piece of proposed legislation, one that has the potential of unleashing all sorts of Unintended Consequences:
The Bush administration yesterday announced plans to implement a controversial regulation designed to protect doctors, nurses and other health-care workers who object to abortion from being forced to deliver services that violate their personal beliefs.

The rule empowers federal health officials to pull funding from more than 584,000 hospitals, clinics, health plans, doctors’ offices and other entities if they do not accommodate employees who refuse to participate in care they find objectionable on personal, moral or religious grounds.

“People should not be forced to say or do things they believe are morally wrong,” Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt said. “Health-care workers should not be forced to provide services that violate their own conscience [sic].”
Like the misguided but well-intentioned No Child Left Behind legislation, this sounds ever so reasonable until you take a look at some of the implications.

It means that if a pharmacist objects to prescribing, say, RU-486 (the “morning-after pill”) based on his personal belief that its effect is tantamount to abortion, he could not be sued or punished for failing to fill a legal prescription written by a licensed physician.

It means that a Muslim cab drivers could not be punished for refusing fares from people they believe to be carrying pork or alcohol. Can’t happen, you say? It has happened... in Minneapolis.

My own position? If you’re not prepared to do the job you were hired to do, then get the hell out and let someone else do it. If you work in a hospital, you are obligated to do your job, whether that is cleaning bedpans, processing invoices, performing surgery, or dispensing medication. And determining whether a specific procedure is acceptable is outside of your job scope. That’s why we have legislatures and courts.

If you’re a cabbie from Somalia and your inclination is to turn a paying passenger away because of what may or may not be in his luggage - as if it’s any of your fucking business - for your own personal religious reasons, then get the hell back to Somalia. Or find another job.

Flipping burgers at Mickey D’s? No go. Them burgers are not halal. Sorry.

You don’t see too many orthodox Jews working as pork butchers. There’s a reason for that. If there are aspects of a job that conflict with your conscience, you get a different job. You don’t stand there and gripe, “I can’t sell this ain’t kosher!” and still expect to get a paycheck from Mr. Semprini.

This is a continuing pattern for Bush et al.: the failure to perform due diligence and think about the ramifications of something that is done to please a certain constituency. It’s the kind of thinking that results in Federal funds being cut off from clinics that provide information on contraception because they may also offer abortion services... resulting in more abortions rather than fewer. It’s the kind of thinking that cuts off aid to family planning services in poor countries because they don’t preach the (ineffective) gospel of “Just Say No.” It’s the triumph of ideology over science and logic.

Barack Obama scares me to death... and yet the current administration continually manages to keep me agitated about the possible consequences of another four years of Republican rule. Way to go, Dubs.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Mac at pesky’apostrophe for the link.]

Update: Og has a different take on the matter.


Tonight’s Guild event will be a little different: a blind tasting of 2005 and 2006 Chardonnays at The Tasting Room in Sandy Springs.

It’s the first blind tasting I’ll have attended since joining the Guild. Should be interesting.

The menu? Knew you’d ask. Here ’tis:

Speaker’s wine
Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc Brut

First Flight
3 Chardonnays tasted blind
Peekytoe crab cake with grapefruit beurre blanc and micro pea shoots

Second Flight
3 more Chardonnays tasted blind
Pan roasted branzino (Mediterranean sea bass) with fava beans and Silver Queen corn, lemon oil and hazelnut crème

Third Flight
Yet 3 more Chardonnays tasted blind
Rosemary roasted Ashley Farms organic chicken with foie gras gastrique

I’m hoping to see Denny there - he missed the event two months ago and I missed last month’s Annual Meeting, so we have some catching up to do. I’m also hoping Houston Steve will make it.

And I won’t annoy you with the mocking pretense of having to suffer through these Guild events. The food is almost always excellent; the wine superb; the conversation sparkling. No: there’s no whining when the Guild is dining!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Last night, after a thoroughly pleasant dinner with friends Gary, Joanne, Jackie, and John, I nipped into the local liquor locker to pick up a few things.

First on the list was a bottle of Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka. We had just had a couple of Espresso Martinis with dinner, consisting of nothing more complicated than Van Gogh Double Espresso vodka shaken over ice and poured into a Martini glass. SWMBO and I both liked the drink enough to want to be able to make it at home. I may try doctoring it up with a squirt of half-and-half...maybe a sidecar of Kahlua...a little chocolate vodka... Hey, it’s fun to experiment!

While I was in the Van Gogh section, I grabbed a bottle of their pomegranate vodka. Last year I had been gifted with same by the lovely Wiseass Jooette prior to the Hammerin’ in Helen, and we finally killed the bottle last weekend in an orgy of Pomegranate Pile Drivers. So I needed to replenish my inventory.

Van Gogh has a fine array of other flavored vodkas - eighteen in all, including a regular unflavored version. So far, the ones I’ve tried have been excellent. I may have to do some more research!

[I should point out that Three Olives also has an excellent line of flavored vodkas. I’ve had the cherry (courtesy of Richard and Holder) and, of course, the legendary chocolate (thanks to the Farookin’ Hairboy). There are plenty more Three Olives flavors I want to try, including their triple espresso. But Van Gogh gets the nod: every bottle comes with a chunk of genuine human ear in the bottom of the bottle.]

Meanwhile, two bottles on a shelf near the cash register caught my eye...and I had to buy ’em:


Coney Island Lager and Rejewvenator Ale.

Two fine products of the Schmaltz Brewing Company! Schmaltz sounds jokey, but their beer is no joke at all. Their Messiah Bold (“The Beer You’ve Been Waiting For!”) is a fine amber ale, and their heavyweight craft brews are surprisingly good.

Get a load of this label...

Coney Island Lager

Coney Island Lager

One look at that face - a twisted, malevolent version of the one that used to adorn George C. Tilyou’s Steeplechase Park - and I knew that I had a beer that Erica herownself could appreciate. L’chaim, baby!

Friday, August 22, 2008


Anyone remember seeing one of these?

Bosco Bear

Bosco Bear, lovingly preserved by the Other Elisson.

Why, it’s Bosco Bear!

Back in my Snot-Nose Days, there were several brands of chocolate drink mixes competing for the consumer dollar. You had powders: Nestlé Quik, Hershey’s, and Ovaltine (which tasted only vaguely of chocolate). On the syrup side, you had the venerable Hershey’s Syrup, sold in steel cans with the iconic Hershey brown and silver trade dress. You had Bosco and Cocoa Marsh...and you had Fox’s U-Bet.

Allegiances were a serious matter, as engrained in a family’s collective soul as their political leanings. Never mind whether you were an Eisenhower Republican or a Stevenson Democrat...were you for Bosco, or (gag) Cocoa Marsh? Or one of those weird Five Towns frummie families who bought only Fox’s U-Bet?

We, as a family, voted the Bosco ticket. Hershey’s was OK, but it was only sold in steel cans into which you punched openings with a church key. Old syrup tended to accumulate in the openings, forming a nasty black crust. Ecch.

But Bosco came in its own special glass jar with the “Bosco” name molded right into the glass. No need to punch holes in the handy-dandy metal screw top, which meant no nasty black crust. Much less mess...unless you dropped the fucking thing on the kitchen linoleum, whereupon it would explode like a chocolatey A-bomb.

If you lived in a house full of serious neatniks, you could get a special pump dispenser that replaced the regular jar lid. Two or three squirts of that pump, and it was Chocolate Milk o’Clock.

And if the pump dispenser was too High Rent for you, you could get Bosco Bear. Not a mere mascot, but a decorative plastic Bear Head that you could purchase (for about 25¢) to use in lieu of the standard screw-top. Not only did it have a convenient pouring spout under the snap-off cap, but when you got sick unto death of drinking Bosco, you could punch a slot in the back and convert the empty Bosco jar into a savings bank!

They still make Bosco. But nowadays they sell it in convenient, unbreakable plastic squeeze bottles. No soul whatsoever. And today’s Bosco Bear looks like a goddamn gangsta-redneck hybrid with his lopsided smile and stupid-ass gimme cap. Douchebag.

At least (gag) Cocoa Marsh had the decency to die a natural death.


When aging athletes gather
Their old friends for to greet,
The conversation turns to
Their memories, so sweet -

Of younger days, when they were strong,
When they were fast and fleet;
When they’d outrun (what joy! what fun!)
The cars along the street.

Alas, age brings its aches and pains.
Their doctors now must treat
The pain of the patella
And the agony of de feet.


Time again for the weekly Collection o’ Collated Cacophony crapped out of the electronic bowels of the iPod d’Elisson.

It’s shaping up to be a busy weekend. The Mistress of Sarcasm has continued her basement-organizing efforts, having set everything up for a garage sale to be held this weekend. And, now that she has found a place in the Nashville area, she’ll be making preparations for her move, currently set to take place in two-three weeks.

Could I ever have imagined that a child of mine would one day live in (of all places) Tennessee? Land of Fred Thompson, Bill Frist, Maxwell House, and the Grand Ole Opry?

She’ll fit right in.

Meanwhile, we got us some tunes to listen to. Let’s take a look at what’s playing today:
  1. I Can’t - Radiohead

  2. Lomir Heybn Dem Bekher - The Klezmatics

  3. It’s All About Money - Bobby Slayton

  4. I Came As A Rat - Modest Mouse

  5. Brazil - Chick Corea and Béla Fleck

  6. Sense Outta Nansense - Linton Kwesi Johnson

    di innocent an di fool could paas fi twin
    but haas a haas
    an mule a mule
    mawgah mean mawgah
    it noh mean slim
    yet di two a dem in common share someting
    dem is awftin confused an get used
    dem is awftin criticised an campramised
    dem is awftin vilified an reviled
    dem is awftin foun guilty widoutn being tried
    wan ting set di two a dem far apawt dow
    di innocent wi habah dout
    check tings out
    an maybe fine out
    but di fool...cho!

    di innocent an di fool could paas fi twin
    but like a like
    an love a love
    a pidgin is a pidgin
    an a dove is a dove
    yet di two a dem in common share someting
    dem is awftin anticipated an laywated
    dem is awftin patronised an penalised
    dem is awftin pacified an isolated
    dem is awftin castigated an implicated
    wan ting set di two a dem far apawt dow
    di innocent wi habah dout
    check tings out
    an maybe fine out
    but di fool...cho!

    di innocent an di fool could pass fi twin
    but a rat is a rat
    an a mouse is a mouse
    a flea is a flea
    an a louse is a louse
    yet di two a dem in common share someting
    dem is awftin decied an denied
    dem is awftin ridiculed an doungroded
    dem is sometimes congratulated an celebrated
    dem is sometimes suprised an elated
    but as yu mite have already guess
    dem is awftin foun wantin more or less

  7. Angel From Montgomery - Bonnie Raitt and John Prine

  8. Wild Packs Of Family Dogs - Modest Mouse

  9. Cours d’Amours - In Trutina - Christian Thielemann, Orff: Carmina Burana

  10. Nothing That I Didn’t Know - Procol Harum

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Neighbor’s Neighborhood

Neighbor makes use of a convenient window to keep a weather eye on...the neighborhood.

Update: Or perhaps she is trying to get a glimpse of Friday Ark #205 as it sails by. She’d have better luck by going over to the computer, opening the browser, and cruising on over to the Modulator...but she’s a cat, so what does she know?

Does she know that Carnival of the Cats will be hosted this coming Sunday at The Catboys Realm? Probably not. But now you do.

Update: CotC #232 is up, with a Viennese theme. Wiener Prater, anyone?

Volume 17.

Yet more stuff that should be in the dictionary but isn’t.

Previous installments of the Blog d’Elisson Dictionary may be found in the Archives: Volume 1, Volume 2, Volume 3, Volume 4, Volume 5, Volume 6, Volume 7, Volume 8, Volume 9, Volume 10, Volume 11, Volume 12, Volume 13, Volume 14, Volume 15, and Volume 16.

enthusigasm [en-thoo-zi-ga-z’m] (n) - The physical and emotional release occasioned by involvement in a pursuit, occupation, or activity in which one’s mind is thoroughly absorbed.

“When Johnny’s team won the state Little League championship, his mother had an enthusigasm right there in the bleachers.”


No, this is not a political post...although given our options in the upcoming presidential elections, the title might’ve been apropos...

What I’m referring to is the juxtaposition of two seemingly random, unrelated events that, taken together, would seem to indicate an epidemic of Major Dumbassery.

First, we have the story of idiot windsurfer Kevin Kearney, who, in an act of Blithering Genius, harnessed himself to a kite and went windsurfing in the midst of a tropical storm...with predictable results. A gust of wind picked him up, flung him through the air, and smashed him against a concrete wall.

The whole thing was captured on video:


Kearney is apparently showing signs of improvement after having been admitted to the hospital in critical condition. Which, for better or worse, means that he still may have a chance to pass his DNA on to another generation. I weep for our species.

There’s a lot of Stupid Shit going around. Just last week, credulous reporters gathered at a press conference to hear Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer tell them about finding a defunct Bigfoot in the forests of North Georgia.

When I first saw the photograph of said Alleged Bigfoot Corpse crammed into its Sasquatch Sarcophagus, I said to She Who Must Be Obeyed, “That’s a frozen gorilla suit stuffed with organ meats. What bullshit.”

As it happens, I was close. “Bigfoot” turned out to be a gorilla suit. Some accounts state that it was stuffed with small snimals...all dead, of course. Feh.

Surprise, surprise.

That any news organization bothered to send anyone to hear these two clowns is a blot on our National Escutcheon.

But there’s more. An organization that calls itself Searching for Bigfoot, Inc. (based in California - where else?) actually coughed up $50k to Whitton and Dyer for the rights to the story. They’re now suing to get their money back. Good luck, morons. Our two Intrepid Sasquatch-Searchers are now nowhere to be found.

What is worse? That “Searching for Bigfoot” got screwed, or that such an organization exists in the first place?

As Steve H. says, “There is no bigfoot. There is no yeti. There is no Loch Ness monster. We aren't being visited by aliens.”

And I will add: There is, as well, no Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, or Santa Claus. But the Dopopulace must have their myths.

Whitton, meanwhile, has been fired from his job with the Clayton County (Georgia) police department. Ostensibly, it’s for violating the law by pulling a hoax for financial gain, thereby damaging the stature of the police department...but it could just as well be for rank stupidity. Just what Clayton County needs...another scandal.

It’s a constant source of amazement to me. No matter how full our stomachs, none of us can resist taking a few bites from the old Stupid Loaf.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


The presidents of numerous colleges and universities have joined the so-called Amethyst Initiative, releasing a statement expressing their support for lowering the legal drinking age from 21 to 18. Their rationale? Because drinking is illegal for most students, they resort to binge drinking rather than the more sensible consumption pattern of someone who is able to purchase alcohol legally.
The Amethyst Initiative, launched in July, is a coalition of college presidents who say that the legal drinking age of 21 encourages binge drinking on campuses. William Kirwan, chancellor of the University System of Maryland; William Brody, president of Johns Hopkins; C.D. Mote Jr. of the University of Maryland; and the presidents of Washington and Lee, Sweet Briar, Towson, Randolph-Macon, Duke, Tufts, Dartmouth and others have signed on to the effort.
Predictably, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) has taken the opposite position, citing the likelihood of more highway deaths should the drinking age be lowered.

When I was a young College-Age Snot-Nose, I attended school in a state (New Jersey) where the drinking age was 21. We had no problem getting alcohol and other Consciousness-Raising Substances, although we could not simply waltz into the local A&P to buy our beer. And the parties on Prospect Street, where sat the eating clubs - Princeton’s answer to the Greek fraternity system - were fueled by plenty of ethanol-bearing liquids.

At home in New York, where the drinking age was 18, I could drink legally. I developed a taste for vodka Gimlets and blended Scotch. Not at the same time, of course. [Hey - I was young, and single malts were still pretty much unknown over here in the States.] I also began learning about wine. Ripple with meat, Boone’s Farm with chicken - that sort of thing. Ya gotta start somewhere.

I had my share of Drunken Evenings, sure. But I quickly learned that imbibing to excess has Painful Aftereffects. And the kids who didn’t figure that out pretty quickly on their own went on to have problems...and Wall Street careers. It’s the phenomenon of the Learning Curve.

New Jersey lowered its drinking age to 18 right around the time I turned 20. Thanks a lot, guys, for waiting. The biggest benefit for me was the conversion of part of the Student Center to a Student Pub, where pizza and pitchers of beer were the order of the day. My ass still carries a few pounds of Student Center pizza embedded within its fleshy cheeks.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have discussed this issue many times over the years. The problem seems to be the national hangup with the two specific numbers 18 and 21.

If the drinking age is 21, most college students (who are under 21) will drink illegally if they drink at all. Whatever impact the larger society might want to have on the formation of healthy, reasonable attitudes toward drinking is muffled, robbed of effect. And kids being kids, they will find ways to get in trouble, especially when they are away from home’s guiding influence for the first time in their lives.

If the drinking age is 18, college students can drink legally. Problem is, there is a small cohort of high school students who can also drink legally...and serve as a supply conduit for all their younger friends. So what’s the answer?

How about...a drinking age of 19?

Most kids are out of high school by age 19, so the risk of increasing the supply of illicit alcohol into the high school environment is minimal. Or at least, not much greater than it is today. And because most college students are 19 or more, they can drink legally, as befits people who are old enough to vote...and old enough to get their asses shot off while serving their country.

Nineteen - the new twenty-one!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


This year’s Summer Olympic Games have had their share of amazing moments.

Michael Phelps has managed to pull off an unprecedented feat, winning eight - count ’em! - eight gold medals in as many swimming events.

One of those medals was won by the improbably narrow margin of 0.01 second. One one-hundredth of a second, the difference between gold and silver. And by that same slim margin, swimmer Dara Torres missed winning a gold medal in the 50 meter freestyle.

But two silvers - Torres’s final medal count - is still nothing to sneeze at...especially when you’re competing in the Olympics at the ripe old age of 41.


She Who Must Be Obeyed and I enjoyed another Olympic moment last night as we watched the women’s beach volleyball.

Ya gotta love the fact that beach volleyball is an actual Olympic sport, bikinis and all. Come to think of it, the women are wearing bikinis in more and more events. I figure that, eventually, they’ll work their way back to the style of the original Olympic games in ancient Greek times: competing in the altogether, wearing nothing but a slick, shiny layer of olive oil.

And maybe there’s room for more beach-related sports. The Women’s Suntan Lotion Application finals would be something to see...not to mention the Trying Not To Get Sand In The Frint competition. Gotta give the ratings a shot in the arm.

But back to the beach volleyball.

Last night, Brazil was competing against the United States, and suddenly SWMBO started cracking up as she watched the Brazilians return service. What was so funny? This:

Shelda Bede

Shelda Bede of Brazil spikes the ball.

It was immediately obvious that, while the Brazilian team members certainly knew their way around a volleyball court, they were a few beans short of a feijoada. Why, each part of their team uniform had to be labeled lest they put it on upside down!

But, Elisson! you will say. You dumbass! That “BRA” is not a stands for “Brazil”!

Well, that’s what we thought, at first. But then we saw...

Shelda Bede - Full Monty

...the rest of the story.


I picked up the shovel and drove its blade, upside-down, into the mound of red earth. I swung the blade, with its small payload of Georgia clay, over the grave. The sound of the dirt thudding on the casket lid was the sound of finality.

One of the small kindnesses we can do for those who have passed on to the World to Come is to tuck them in for their Forever Sleep. It is the last favor we can do for a beloved parent...a friend...or God forbid, a child. It is the penultimate act at a Jewish funeral, followed only by the washing of hands.

Only three months ago I had stood beside Marc at his grandson’s brith milah, the ritual circumcision that marks the entry of a male baby into the Covenant. His house was full of family and friends celebrating a happy occasion, and Marc, as usual, had a smile on his face.

Marc always had a smile on his face. Not the smile of the Happy Idiot, but the smile of a person who makes a comfortable living, has a loving home, has married off his children, and who is now beginning to reap a bumper crop of grandchildren. It’s a smile of appreciation and thankfulness from a man blessed with abilities, good luck, and a serene spirit.

There were times I could have envied Marc, were I capable of feeling envy. He was a regular attendee at our annual Men’s Club regional retreats, and in recent years he was accompanied by his son Scott, his son-in-law Ben, and Ben’s brothers Mark and Josh. The Manly Intergenerational Bonding that would take place on those retreat weekends was something that I, a daddy of daughters, could only enjoy from afar.

Marc and Scott

Marc (r) with son Scott, 2005.

This weekend we received the shocking news that Marc had died unexpectedly.

Saturday morning, he had decided to take a nap (a favorite Shabbat tradition) while his wife Mindy went out to run a few errands. When she tried calling him from her cell phone, no answer. She came home to find him still in bed, so she left him alone for a while...but after a few hours, when she tried to rouse him, she was horrified to realize that he was no longer merely napping. A massive heart attack had carried him off in his sleep.

I’ve heard all sorts of rabbinic and philosophical explanations as to why it is that God sees fit to call someone home before his or her if we know what an untimely death is. Fact is, until the advent of modern medicine, people were done in by all kinds of diseases and accidents at all ages. But these days, with some justification, we feel cheated if a lifespan is cut short before, say, age 80.

She Who Must Be Obeyed lost her sister Polly at age 16. I lost my mother at age 60. Marc only made it to 52. In all of these cases, we, the survivors, feel an especially keen sense of loss because we know so many people who keep walking the planet into their 80’s and 90’s. And when we try to invoke our fragmentary, limited understanding of a Higher Power in order to explain it all, we may or may not be satisfied with what we hear...for at the end of the day, we know that we’re all going to end up in the same place. It’s just a question of timing.

A respected rabbi once told us that to die in one’s sleep was God’s kiss, reserved for people who merited a special place in the World to Come. For Marc, that kiss meant an infinitely prolonged Sabbath Rest. It was a kiss that came all too soon, for reasons we will never know, for reasons we are not given to understand. And we, the living, can do nothing but shed our tears, rend our clothing, and then get on with the business of life, having been reminded that the Unexpected Visitor awaits every one of us.

Barukh Dayan Emet. Blessèd is the True Judge.

Sunday, August 17, 2008


In the olden days, before tobacco became Politically Incorrect, the post title above might have referred to ciggies...but this weekend, it was all about meat.

We had enough Smoked Meat this weekend to cause PETA’s board of directors to have spontaneous brain hemorrhages. (At least we tried.)

It started Saturday evening at the home of our friends Bart and Rosalie, who hosted a pleasant get-together that turned out to be a birthday party for Bart. Good thing we had come prepared with a gift...a fancy-pants grill spatula with the Georgia Tech logo cut right into the metal. When SWMBO had seen it earlier in the day. she knew immediately that it was the perfect gift for Bart - regardless of the occasion. He’s the kind of guy who would be perfectly happy to get a human turd in a box as long as it had a Georgia Tech logo stamped into it. Go Jackets!

Bart had given his huge-ass drum smoker a workout all day, with racks upon racks of ribs and braces of chickens. (The dark meat parts, anyway.) And the results were impressive. Those ribs were perfect: tender, fall-off-the-bone meat, with just the right balance of smoke, sweetness, and char. We ate until the point of physical pain before going home to toss and turn with our bloated kishkes.

But that was not all. Oh, no.

Today, we went to the home of “After Dinner” Mintz, who, along with Minyan buddy Irwin, was throwing a pool party to celebrate the graduation of Irwin’s younger son Danny from UGA. Not just UGA the regular way: he had spent the last year in Paris, studying at Sciences Po and learning how to eat stinky cheese.

Irwin, SWMBO, and Danny

(L to R) Irwin, SWMBO, and newly-graduated Danny.

Well, there was no stinky cheese in evidence this afternoon. But there was lots of other stuff.

First off, plenty of Adult Beverages. I had brought the necessaries for making Pomegranate Pile Drivers, which turned out to be the Sleeper Hit of the day. But there were lots of other cold libations...and you do not want to be out of doors on a summer Sunday in Georgia without adequate hydration. Even if that hydration brings with it a hefty load of Vitamin “A.”

Then there was the meat. Oh, the meat. Enough to provide the protein requirements for a battalion...and all jammed into an enormous trailer-sized smoker.

Jeff the Chef

Jeff the Chef and his Monster Smoker.

There was an entire flock of chickens. Huge homemade sausages, jacked up with hot peppers. Racks upon racks of ribs. Wait: there was more. A whole beef tenderloin, tucked away on the top rack. And, in the center of the middle rack, the pièce de résistance...a turducken. What Steve H. refers to as “The Hindenbird.”


Turducken, AKA “The Hindenbird.”

A turducken, for those who are unfamiliar with this Most Perverse of Meats, is a deboned chicken shoved into a deboned duck shoved into a partially deboned turkey. As if that were not enough, in amongst all this Bird-Meat are layers of dressing.

The nice thing about a turducken is that you have something that resembles a turkey but which is solid meat, with the exception of the dressing (which functions as a sort of spackle, filling in the gaps). It is massive.

But Jeff the Chef could’ve accommodated an even larger version with his Portable Meat Smoker and Blast Furnace. You know: the Osmu-Turducken, where you stuff the turkey into an emu, which is then, in turn, stuffed into an ostrich.

Accompanying all this meat were the traditional sides: corn on the cob (boiled in a hot tub-size cauldron that sounded like a jet aircraft on takeoff), jambalaya, green beans with sausage, boiled new potatoes. Good Gawd.

The Missus and I split before the desserts were trundled out. Who could think of eating slabs of apple pie and chocolate cake after all that meat, anyway? (OK, OK, I could.) And for some strange reason, we felt no need to raid the fridge when we got home.

More pics below the fold, if you need to look at more Meat-Porn.

Smoked Meats

Chicken, sausage, and ribs.

Carving the Turducken

Nadine looks on as Chef Jeff carves up the turducken.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Rhetorical Butler
Today’s Rhetorical Question from Rhet Butler is courtesy of She Who Must Be Obeyed, who asked this very question while reading today’s paper.

Friday, August 15, 2008


It’s time once again for our weekly installment of Random Musicality, brought to you by my very own Little White Choon Box.

It’s a massive exercise in self-indulgence, this business of posting iPod playlists. Who really gives a crap what I listen to on a Friday morning?

But, looked at another way, it’s an opportunity for my Esteemed Readers to get some insight into the kind of music that forms a backdrop to my twisted life...and vice versa. Besides, blogging itself, when you boil it down to its essentials, is itself nought but a massive exercise in self-indulgence. And, in my case, Self-Aggrandizement and Time-Wastage, too. Says so, right up at the top of this page.

Speaking of which, I’ve already wasted enough of your time. What’s on the box this week?
  1. I’ve Got My Mojo Working - Professor Longhair

    The king of Creole (not to be confused with King Creole). One of the highlights of our visit to New Orleans five years ago was an evening at Tipitina’s, Fess’s old dance hall.

  2. Maahan - Alamaailman Vasarat

    I think Gregor would love this band.

  3. Dem Rebn’s Nign - The Klezmer Conservatory Band

  4. Five Fifteen - Phish

    Being a cover of the song from the Who’s Quadrophenia.

  5. Scenic World - Beirut

  6. Stairway To Heaven - Frank Zappa

  7. Fries - Bill Hicks

  8. Act I - Overture - D’Oyly Carte Opera Company, The Mikado

  9. Act III - King, Part 2 - Philip Glass, Satyagraha

  10. Dachau Blues - Captain Beefheart

    From the landmark Trout Mask Replica album. For many people, TMR is completely unlistenable...but it has some amazing flashes of genius.

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Neighbor and Hakuna eye each other warily.
(I had
hoped that they would get along merrily.)
But there is one thing on which they agree:
The Friday Ark is the place to be!

The Friday Ark’s 204th voyage is underway at the Modulator.

And if that’s not enough to satisfy your jones for Fauna-Related Photographs, swing by The Whole Kitten Kaboodle, where you can catch the Carnival of the Cats in its 231st incarnation.

Go! Look at some animals now!

Update: Animals boring you? Go check out the best of the Jewish blogosphere at Havail Havalim, the 178th edition of which is up at The Rebbetzin’s Husband.

Update the Second: CotC #231 is up...early, yet!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


The nightly TV fare these days is given over to the Olympics, that quadrennial exercise in Citius, Altius, Fortius - faster, higher, stronger. Also more excessive production values, bigger venues, higher bribes for public officials, and ever more costly in every possible way.

The Games this year are being held in China for the first time. Beijing (and the entire surrounding region) has been given a thorough makeover, the kind of makeover that makes Atlanta’s half-hearted Relocation of the Homeless back in 1996 look downright fuzzy ’n’ warm. All this focus on Beijing reminds me that, despite having traveled extensively in Asia, I never made it to China’s capital city. Guangzhou, yes; Beijing, no. I had a trip in the works back in mid-1989, but a little fracas known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre got in the way.

But all the current publicity about China got me in a mood to reminisce about Asia. Fascinating part of the world.

Even things as prosaic as fruit in the local market can be very different on the other side of the globe. You’ll see all kinds of fruit there that you never will set eyes on here...unless you stumble upon it in an out-of-the-way Asian market. Exotica like the mangosteen, the rambutan (think of an oversize red golf ball with hair)...and the Infamous Durian.

The Infamous Durian

The durian is beloved of people in Southeast Asia, especially in Thailand, Malaysia, Sinagapore, and Indonesia. It’s a huge, scary looking fruit, resembling nothing so much as the left half of Godzilla’s nutsack. Inside, the edible part of the fruit is the subject of diverse opinions:

“rich custard highly flavoured with almonds...” (Alfred Russel Wallace)

“like eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory...” (Anthony Burgess)

“your breath will smell as if you’d been French-kissing your dead grandmother...” (Anthony Bourdain)

“its odor is best described as pig-shit, turpentine and onions, garnished with a gym sock...” (Richard Sterling)

As with bananas, with durians there are several regionally-based opinions with respect to the optimum degree of ripeness. In Thailand, minimally ripe durians are the order of the day, while in Indonesia, the fruit is allowed to ripen until it achieves an extreme degree of funkitude...the equivalent of a banana with a completely black skin and a liquefied interior.

In case you’re wondering, I have never sampled the fabled durian. My hosts in Southeast Asia assumed I would loathe it; once learning of it, I never felt the burning urge to seek it out. But all that may change, thanks to the intervention of Fate.

For I received an e-mail today, an e-mail that was followed by an apology, for it had been sent to me by mistake, the sender having inadvertently hit “Send” while our corporate e-mail software was performing an address lookup function. It consisted of a recipe...for Durian Dream Cake.

Durian Dream Cake


300 gm butter
300 gm gula
5 biji telur (buang 1 putih telur)
2 sudu besar fresh milk
¾ cup durian puree
320 gm tepung gandum
1 sudu teh baking powder


Putar butter dengan gula hingga kembang. Masukkan telur satu per satu, pukul dengan high speed sampai kembang. Masukkan durian puree dengan fresh milk, pukul dengan medium speed sampai sebati. Masukkan tepung yang dah dicampur dengan baking powder, sikit-sikit, dalam 5 kali tuang. Masukkan dalam loyang dah bergris, bakar.

[Yeah, I know it’s in (mostly) Bahasa Melayu. I know enough to figure out the ingredients and amounts - sudu besar is a tablespoon, and gula is sugar, f’rinstance - but some of the detailed instructions escape me. Maybe Fiona or Brandon can help us out.]

Until now, I had never considered the durian a proper subject of Cakey Dreams, but surely that is only owing to the wimpitude of my westernized palate. I should embrace the durian...and perhaps, with the help of this recipe, you can too. Whiff a turd? Have a slice of cake? Now you can do both at once!


There’s a headline you don’t see every day.

I’m not proud to admit that in my Snot-Nose Days, I created my share of havoc-wreaking turds. Whether it was my low-fiber diet, the specific configuration of my fundament, or a Perfect Storm-like combination of the above, I was a Past Master at dropping enormous loaves that would necessitate the use of our trusty Plumber’s Helper. I am, of course, pleased to report that this is no longer a routine concern...but it did create its share of excitement back in the day.

Newsworthy, though? Not really.

Yet “Turd Wreaks Havoc” is not only a real headline, it’s an abbreviated one. The full version, as ripped from today’s Inter-Webby Net, reads “Giant Inflatable Turd Escapes, Wreaks Havoc.”

I’m sure there’s an entire legion of headline editors that will go out tonight and get drunk, so giddy are they at having the opportunity to write a headline like that...for a real news story.
A powerful gust of wind recently swept a house-sized sculpture of dog feces from its display outside a Swiss museum, an art official in Berne said Monday...

The massive inflatable sculpture, created by U.S. contemporary artist Paul McCarthy and titled Complex Shit, is part of the Paul Klee Centre’s exhibit East of Eden: A Garden Show.
Heh. You never know what you’ll find in your garden, eh?

According to the article, the house-sized turd-balloon broke the window of an orphanage before being falling to the ground. (I had had a mental image of the Fearsome Floating Feces being wrestled to earth by a team of butt-crack Turd-Wranglers, but no such luck.) One can only wonder at the psychological damage those orphans suffered, gaping slack-jawed and pants-pissing terrified as they watched the enormous Doom-Dung’s silent but deadly approach...

One can also wonder at what the Art World is coming to. Imagine...a house-sized Bogus Turd as a museum piece. Did it come with a stadium-sized punchbowl? Now, that’s something I would’ve paid to see.

Turd in a punchbowl
All chunky and brown;
Turd in a punchbowl
As big as a town!

[Thanks to El Crapitan El Capitan for finding this heart-warming little story.]

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Say what you will about Barack Obama - his Media Consulting and Design team sure knows their stuff.

By now everyone has seen what I call the “Posterized Obama,” with its bold, colorful graphics. For some reason, it reminded me of all those extremely progressive Big-Character Posters that used to be ginned out by the millions in China. You know: the ones depicting the Happy Peasants Tilling the Fields...or the Standing Worker, Clutching His Tool While Resolutely Facing the Rising Sun of Progress. In its proper context, this type of imagery can be pretty inspiring.

Diego Rivera, noted Mexican artist and Communist, made a career out of painting murals of this sort. Much of his stuff dates from when the American left was still in love with Stalinism. Sweet.

It’s as good a time as any to confess that I am an avowed Marxist. Been that way ever since my college days.


Groucho. My man.

Yep. Powerful stuff. Maybe too powerful...for it occurs to me that this powerful Political Iconography could be twisted to further the Nefarious Purposes of certain sick individuals...


If there were, it might keep people like this off the streets.

Monday, August 11, 2008



Hakuna. Ever suspicious of the Inky Interloper.


Neighbor. “What the hell is an interloper, anyway?”

Those of my Esteemed Readers who have been wondering where Hakuna has been lately should know that she is spending a lot of time in our bedroom, avoiding the Inky Interloper - Neighbor.

Every so often, she will venture out. Inevitably, she will come into contact with Neighbor. Spitting, hissing, and yowling ensue. And seems that Hakuna will let Neighbor approach a little closer every day. So maybe there’s hope of conciliation.

Personally, I think Hakuna wakes up every day with her memory wiped. With us, she’s always been skittish in the morning, gradually growing more cuddly and friendly during the day. By evening time, she will deign to sit on the couch or bed, leaning up against She Who Must Be Obeyed...although never actually walking or sitting upon her. Come morning, we start all over again.

So I wonder whether every day, Hakuna sees Neighbor and thinks, “Damn! There’s a strange black cat in my house!” without ever realizing that it’s the same black cat that has been here every day for the past two months.

What does this mean vis-à-vis prospects for the two cats getting along? Who knows? But take a peek below the fold for a recent vignette.

Showdown at Elisson Rock
Showdown at Elisson Rock.

Hakuna, ever suspicious, sits on the landing as Neighbor s-l-o-w-l-y essays an approach in this animated composite of three images.

As we watched things unfold, the scene seemed eerily reminiscent of the climactic moments in High Noon. All that was missing was the soft jingle of spurs and the slap of hand on gun-butt. And moments after the third image was taken, Hakuna went into full-blown Puffed Out and Yowling mode.

Maybe next week they’ll be friends...but I won’t hold my breath.



Summer apricots: beauty in a bowl.

This bowl of rosy-cheeked New York State apricots makes me wish summer would never end.


...of our recent Painty Adventures in the Mistress of Sarcasm’s room.

Mistress Bedroom 1

This solitary chair will have the company of a lamp and framed wall photo. The angles helped make painting this room a real challenge.

Mistress Bedroom 2

The photo atop the bookcase is of She Who Must Be Obeyed in her Snot-Nose days.


Old records and new paint.

Now that all the rooms in the house have been painted (finally!), I suppose we’ll have to start replacing the wallpaper. It’s always something...