Wednesday, September 30, 2009


Jackass du Jour 092909

You’re looking at northbound traffic on Georgia Route 400 yesterday afternoon. [In case you’re wondering, the Mistress of Sarcasm was driving while I took the picture.]

The Jackass du Jour is the driver of the blue Integra on the left. He (or she) earned the title by virtue of his (or her) amazing tailgating skills, skills which are not fully evident in this photograph.

That blue Integra first got our attention when we were entering 400 from Holcomb Bridge Road. Take a closer look - click to embiggen if necessary - and you will see that there is apparently no driver.

We never did figure out who or what was piloting that car. A child? A Little Person? A shrunken head on a stick? Who- or whatever it was, we were at a loss to understand how he, she, or it could see over the dashboard.

Weird, huh?


Gold Museum
The Gold Museum in Dahlonega.

Yesterday evening, the Mistress invited me to join her at a college recruitment fair in North Georgia. “Why not?” I thought. It would give me a chance to see her performing in her new gig, as well as providing a couple of hours of Father-Daughter Bonding Time in the car together.

It was time well spent. We arrived at our destination early, the better to reconnoiter... which gave us time to wander the town square and grab a snack.

We got to the fair location a half-hour early, plenty of time to get set up. And then, slowly at first but in an ever-increasing stream, came the students.

I watched from a distance as the Mistress informed, charmed, and cajoled. It was a beautiful thing to see. Several colleges had sent representatives to this event, but it was to the Mistress’s table the prospective candidates flocked, each one leaving with an armful of literature and some new ideas on where to get a focused Higher Education.

I’ve seen the Mistress function in her workplace before, but this was different. A real Salaried Job. And she was professional and personable every step of the way.

Can you tell I’m a Proud Daddy? Of course you can. But if I take a step back and try to look at things as a disinterested party, I still come to the same conclusion: My little girl is awesome.

And not just because she can sing along with me to Fishbone’s ska-punk tunes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Another Yom Kippur has come and gone. Over and done with... for a year, anyway. That gives us plenty of time to accumulate another pile of sins for which to atone.

[I don’t give a crap about Glenn Beck’s attempt to designate the day as a National Day of Fasting and Prayer. For us Jews, Yom Kippur is always a day of fasting and prayer. Anyone else who wants to join the fun, you’re welcome to it.]

The day went by quickly, as befits a Fast Day. It began early, as the Missus and I arrived at shul shortly after 7 a.m. in order to queue up and be among the first into the sanctuary when the doors opened at 7:30... the whole point being to score good seats. Sure, we could cough up a few hundred simoleons for reserved seats, but it’s more fun to schmooze with the gang of Semi-Regular Attendees as we wait in line.

Morning services proper started at 8:30 a.m. Jewish Daylight Time - in other words, at about 8:35 - and continued until sometime around 2:00 p.m. Included therein was a thoroughly depressing sermon having to do with the fact that all of us, eventually, will manage to find our way into a hole in the ground. The point, I suppose, was to remind us that no matter what our status, wealth, or fame, we all end up in the same place. There also might have been something to the effect of “make hay while the sun shines,” but by this time half the congregation was wondering whether it would be a violation of halakha - Jewish law - to cut their throats right there during the service. [Just kidding, Rabbi.]

A few days earlier, several of us had set up a betting pool, with the winner providing the closest prediction of the length of the sermon. Irwin the Paintner won, having picked 35 minutes.

At several points in the festivities, we recite Ashamnu and Al Cheit - lengthy litanies of sins that we may have committed during the past year, either individually or as part of our community. As we mention each Bad Deed, we give ourselves a klop - beat our breasts - as a symbolic declaration of guilt. Given that each confessional prayer is recited a total of ten times during the course of the holiday, that’s about 770 smacks on the breast all told... enough klopping to give a person Kloppal Tunnel Syndrome.

Services resumed at 5:30 in the afternoon, and the Missus and I were there to assist in the Torah service. We did not, however, stick around for the Bitter End, having had plans to join friends for a break-fast meal. I managed to stick it out for 26 hours, though, so that’s no small beer.

I broke my fast with a healthy belt of Glenlivet 12-year-old single malt and a chunk of SWMBO’s Apricot Kugel. Aaaahh. Nothing improves the taste of food more than doing without it for a day... and if it’s delicious in the first place, why, so much the better.

Now our spiritual focus begins to shift from penitence to joy, with the impending arrival of Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles. And Fall is most definitely in the air. Today we awoke to a beautiful, blue-sky morning with temperatures in the lower 50’s.

If that’s not a sign that the Big Guy answers prayers, what is?

Friday, September 25, 2009


Ever since my Snot-Nose Days, I’ve preferred the window seat.

I don’t care that getting to the aisle (say, in order to use the restroom) requires that I get past two people. I can hold my water.

I like the view. It has fascinated me since my earliest trips on the Silver Aerial Bus... and I’ve been riding that bus for a loooong time. Over 55 years, ever since I was a snivelling two-year-old being dragged off to Miami to visit the grandparents.

Speaking of Miami, here's one I took of Miami Beach in 1969. The bizarre color scheme is the result of using Ektachrome Infrared Aero, a film that renders anything with chlorophyll (like living plants) in an unearthly red, as though H. G. Wells’s Martians had won the War of the Worlds.

Miami Beach
Miami Beach. The small dick-shaped island is Allison Island; on the left is La Gorce Island, complete with Country Club. [Click to embiggen.]

More below the fold.

Washington, D.C. is always impressive when seen from the airplane window...

Lincoln Memorial
Lincoln Memorial.

Jefferson Memorial
Jefferson Memorial.

The U. S. Capitol.

Here’s New York, the city that never sleeps.

Manhattan Skyline 1
Manhattan and the East River.

Coney Island
Coney Island. You can see the legendary Parachute Jump tower easily, but you’ll need sharp eyes to spot the Cyclone and the Wonder Wheel. And a microscope to find the Jooette.

For a change of pace, here is the polar icecap, shot as I flew the Great Circle Route from Chicago to Tokyo with Elder Daughter last year.

Polar Icecap
Somewhere over the Bering Sea.

And the mountains of Alaska, America’s great wilderness.

Alaska 1980
The rugged landscape of Alaska, shot in March 1980 from a Chicago-Manila flight.

I ask you: From what other vantage point can you see stuff like this?


It’s Friday, the start of a three-day weekend for us Red Sea Pedestrians. But it’s not a fun three-day weekend. Monday is Yom Kippur, which means fasting, introspection, and a whole lotta time in synagogue.

In the meantime, we have a whole weekend ahead of us - plenty of time to listen to this Round-Up of Random Refrains belched out by the iPod d’Elisson.

What’s playing today? Lessee:
  1. Walkin’ One and Only - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

  2. Jump Up - Elvis Costello

  3. Back in the U.S.S.R. - The Beatles

  4. Courage, the Cowardly Dog - They Might Be Giants

  5. Tank Graveyard - Paul Cantelon

    From the soundtrack to Everything Is Illuminated.

  6. Exaltation - Matisyahu

  7. The Devil Went Down to Jamaica - Weird Al Yankovic

    The Devil went to Jamaica
    He was lookin’ to sell some weed
    He was doin’ fine
    They were standin’ in line
    It was excellent weed indeed
    When he came across a young man
    Who was likewise peddlin’ pot.
    And the devil slid down the beach to the kid
    And said, “Boy, lemme tell you what...
    I guess you kinda figured I’m a reefer head of course
    And after all this time
    I guess that I’m
    A connoisseur of sorts.
    Now your stuff smells OK
    But this could tranquilize a horse
    I’ll bet a million in cash
    Against your stash
    ’Cause I think mine’s better’n yours.”
    The boy said, “My name’s Johnny and you ain’t smoked nothin’ yet
    One hit of this grass
    Will kick your ass
    You got yourself a bet.”

    Johnny roll a ball of hash
    And make sure it’s the bomb
    ’Cause the Devil’s got the kind of stuff
    They smoked in Vietnam.
    You’ll get a million smackeroos
    In cash if you can cook,
    But if you can’t the Devil’ll get your dope.

    The devil packed a bong
    With a little Acapulco gold
    And resin flew from his fingertips
    As he fired up his bowl.
    He filled that chamber all the way
    And he took a mighty hit
    As they passed it back and forth
    It gave ’em both a coughin’ fit.

    When the bowl was finished Johnny said,
    “Hey, man, that stuff was great -
    But fill your lungs with some of this
    And prepare to vegetate.”

    Cannabis sativa, sweet Mary Jane
    The devil’s in the back yard fryin’ his brain
    Zig Zag filled with a diggity dank
    Hold on tight, it’ll hit you like a tank

    The devil nodded off because he knew that he was stoned
    And he asked if he could buy an ounce of the stuff that Johnny owned.
    Johnny said, “Devil, just come on back if you ever wanna catch a buzz -
    I done told you once, you son of a bitch,
    Mine’s the best there ever was.”
    Then they fired up doobies one by one,
    Ain’t gonna stop ’til the bag’s done.

    Green as a bullfrog, sticky as glue
    Granted you’ll get high, yes I do

  8. Fixing a Hole - The Beatles

  9. Heavenly Bank Account - A Tribute Band for FZ

  10. Act 3: The Maos Dance - John Adams, Nixon in China

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, September 24, 2009


Hakuna in a Queenly Pose

Hakuna strikes a Queenly Pose
Whilst she sits atop our Bedclothes.

Update: Friday Ark #262 is afloat over at the Modulator.

If that’s not enough to satisfy your Kitty-Jones, head on over to When Cats Attack! Sunday evening for Carnival of the Cats #289.

Update 2: CotC #289 is up.


Manny the Mantis.

Meet Manny the Mantis, my newest Animal Companion.

Disgusting, you say? My Japanese friends would disagree. Mantises are popular Animal Companions there, although the term “pet” might be a bit of a stretch. Bug-in-a-Box is more like it.

No: If you want a disgusting Insectoid Buddy, you need one of these. But Manny is a Class Act.

Some folks call these little guys “praying mantises” on account of the position in which they hold their “hands.” And maybe they are praying, at that... for I found what appears to be a tiny tallit and set of tefillin. Who knew?


SOME say the world will end in fire,
Some say in flood.
Flood’s filled with Products of Digestion:
I hold with those who like combustion.
But for a third choice, I’d take dust.
Unlike a flood, it’s rather dry;
It formeth such a lovely crust -
Yet you can die
In crimson dust.

- Apologies to Robert Frost

Here we are in Atlanta, recovering from unprecedented flooding...

Flooding near East Cobb
This shot was taken with a few miles of Chez Elisson. Yeef! [Photo: Brant Sanderlin, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Six Flags Under Water
At Six Flags over Georgia, the Georgia Cyclone looks like it was hit by one. The whole park was one Log Flume Ride, with nearby Interstate 20 submerged. [Photo: Phil Skinner, Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

...and meanwhile, California grapples with heat waves and fire-wrought devastation.

California Fires
The Fillmore fire, as seen from the Simi Valley. [Photo: Jerry Foster]

Heat Wave
Havin’ a Heat Wave in SoCal. [Photo: Jerry Foster]

The Southeast has been awash up until a couple of days ago, while, southern California roasts and burns. If we could only find a way to average this stuff out...

Meanwhile, on the other side of the planet, a monster dust storm in the Outback blankets Sydney, Australia in powdery red silt.

Sydney Dust
Sydney’s famed Harbour Bridge is shrouded in crimson dust. [Photo: Getty Images]

The above represents just a few of the prizes that are awarded in the Daily Lottery o’ Life. You don’t need to buy a ticket - you get one free, every day you get out of bed!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


...Hey man, did you see that, those poor cats are sure messed up
I wonder what they were gettin’ into, or were they just lost in the flood?

- Bruce Springsteen, “Lost in the Flood”

I wrote about the generally Moist Conditions here Monday morning...

...but things got a whole lot worse later that day.

The entire Atlanta metropolitan area was visited by the kind of scenes I associate with Houston, having lived in that exceptionally damp and low-lying city for so many years. I never dreamed I would see such things here.

Seven people swept away, including a Carroll County toddler whose mobile home was demolished by fast-rising creek waters. Million-dollar homes along Columns Drive in East Cobb - just a few miles away from Chez Elisson - filled with stinking mud and water.

We dodged that big, wet bullet... although we were a little nervous as water began to pond in our back yard. The rain was relentless.

Fortunately, the area caught a break today, with most of the clouds rolling away and with actual sunshine appearing mid-day. We hadn’t seen that Golden Orb for over a week.

And, in an ironic note, Canoe, a restaurant located in nearby Vinings, was flooded. Diners will now need a canoe to get to Canoe... where they can, if they wish, order the Floating Island for dessert.

Monday, September 21, 2009


Elder Daughter is quite the jet-setter these days. She just got back from a trip to Lagos, Nigeria (with a nice stopover in Paris on the way home), and she’s getting ready to head out to Johannesburg, South Africa in a few days. At the rate she’s going, she’ll make the Million-Mile Club well before I did. She has already had to have new pages added to her passport, something I had to do once as well.

Her continent-hopping doesn’t impress me nearly as much as the kind of work she does.

Her employer, the Discovery Channel Global Education Partnership (DCGEP), is up for a U.S. Chamber of Commerce Business Civic Leadership Center (BCLC) Partnership Award... with the recipients to be determined by popular vote.

There are five pairs of award nominees, but the team of interest - to me, anyway - consists of DCGEP and Chevron. DCGEP is a not-for-profit arm of the Discovery Channel, the main business of which is putting up education facilities in various third-world countries and supplying content for same. In their words, it is “a charitable organization dedicated to using the power of television to improve lives in underserved areas of the world.” Chevron (yes, that Chevron) supplies the funding; DCGEP does everything else.

You can learn more about DCGEP here. That “Stories from Uganda” video? Elder Daughter was there when it was shot.

To vote for the Chevron-DCGEP partnership, go here and follow the instructions to sign up and vote. Sure, it’s a modest pain in the ass... but you’ll be sending good vibes and recognition to people who really are working to educate people... a real tikkun olam (repairing the world) concept if ever I have heard of one.

That’s what my Elder Daughter does for a living: repairing the world. Am I a proud daddy? You betcha.

Now go vote. It won’t cost you anything but time... and not a whole lot of that.


Hoverin’ by my suitcase, tryin’ to find a warm place to spend the night
Heavy rain fallin’, seems I hear your voice callin’ “It’s all right.”
A rainy night in Georgia, a rainy night in Georgia
It seems like it’s rainin’ all over the world
I feel like it’s rainin’ all over the world...

...Oh, have you ever been lonely, people?
And you feel that it was rainin’ all over this man’s world
You’re talking ’bout rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’...

- Tony Joe White

Here in north-central Georgia, it has been rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’, rainin, rainin’, rainin’, rainin’ pretty much continuously for the past couple of weeks.

Periods of grey skies have alternated with heavy downpours. Cow-pissing-on-a-flat-rock deluges. Toad-chokers.

Just for amusement, a few thunderstorms have been thrown into the mix. But mostly, it’s the kind of rain that pelts down vertically, not sideways... which means it’s in no hurry to go anywhere else.

The ground is soft and mushy. A strong breeze is enough to topple trees whose root-anchors have come adrift in the squishy soil.

But I am reluctant to complain. Wasn’t it just two short years ago that we were in the midst of a horrendous drought? Everyone was griping then about how dry it was, how much of a pain in the ass lawn-watering restrictions were, how low the water levels were in Lake Lanier and Lake Allatoona. Sonny Perdue, our esteemed Governor, even convened a Pray-for-Rain session at the state capitol.

Well, be careful what you pray for, says I... because you just might get it. A great big case of Reversion to the Mean, is all this is.

They say we’ll have another week or so of wet weather before things settle down. Fine... but I did notice that Home Depot was running low on their supplies of Gopher Wood.

Can’t build an Ark without Gopher Wood, ya know...

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Yesterday was not only the first day of Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - it was also Talk Like a Pirate Day.

You wouldn’t think Jews and pirates would have anything in common, but you’d be wrong.

The only problem? Because yesterday was Shabbat as well as Rosh Hashanah, Jewish pirates (and pirate wannabees) could not listen to the sound of the Shofarrrrh.

To those eager to hear the sounds of the traditional ram’s horn trumpet - tekiarrrrh, teruarrrrh, tekiarrrrh gedolarrrrh - the rabbi could only say, “Wait until tomarrrrhow.”

Saturday, September 19, 2009


It seems that while Houston Steve, Denny, and I were enjoying a Winey Evening a few days ago, veteran New York news anchor Ernie Anastos was busy stepping on his dick.

By now, millions of people have seen the YouTube video clip of Ernie’s bizarre exchange with weatherman Nick Gregory. Entertaining as it is, I’m sure it was much more amusing seen live on WNYW-TV, the New York Fox affiliate.

“I guess it takes a tough man to make a tender forecast, Nick... Keep fucking that chicken.”

Some people - the kind of people that always want to believe the most innocent explanation - think Anastos intended to say “plucking” and was a victim of a slip of the tongue. To which I say “Bullshit.” Ernie knew exactly what he was talking about.

I am convinced that his Perdue chicken reference caused an instantaneous mental flashback... to an old story, a True Story. It is a story I heard from a customer back in the mid-1980’s, about a figure who had become a sort of local legend. I refer to the Chicken Man of Jackson, Tennessee.

It seems this fellow was arrested for having had sexual relations with a chicken. Several chickens, in fact. On the surface, one could be forgiven for considering this to be a Victimless Crime, but nobody asked the chickens... and besides, the happy burghers of Jackson, Tennessee had enacted laws against such behavior, lest the streets of Jackson run riot with Chicken Fuckers.

Strange as this was, stranger still was the fact that he had been turned in by his wife.

It takes a special sort of woman to stand up in court in front of the entire assembled community and finger her husband for being a Chicken Fucker. A confident, self-assured woman. A woman with a “I don’t give a shit” attitude. Because the unavoidable implication is that, given a choice between her schmutschkie and a chicken’s, her husband prefers the chicken’s. Ouch.

Turns out that she didn’t really care at first that he was dickin’ the chickens per se... what sent her over the edge was that he was killing them in the process. Double ouch.

The Chicken Man became a sort of perverse Local Celebrity as a result of all this. Whenever he showed up at a Friday night high school football game, he’d get a standing ovation, with the crowds cheering “Chicken Man!”

Whether it was this old story that inspired Ernie’s outburst Wednesday evening or some random Brain Fart, I think the best part is the look of horror on co-anchor Dari Alexander’s face. In the screen shot below, it almost looks as though her eyes are bugging right out of her face.

Ernie and the Chicken
“Holy shit! Did Ernie just say what I thought he said?”

Yes, he did, Dari. Yes, he did.

Friday, September 18, 2009


Sometimes, just for shits and grins, I like to look at my referrer stats to see just what it is that draws people to this site. One big culprit: Google.

[Diogenes, were he to search for an Honest Man today, might be tempted to use Google. I’m guessing he might not be satisfied with the results.]

Google searches account for a lot of my visitors... but sometimes I wonder whether those visitors have, indeed, found what they are looking for. Here are some from a few hours ago:
  • how to counteract okra snot
  • music for cats blogspot
  • kishke baking instructions
  • taleena wi sun prairie or madison
  • reggae blogspot
  • a cone of stupidity
  • harelip and wood eye joke
  • how to make grape nuts
  • would i harelip joke
  • rosh hashanah torah portion
  • krups waffle recipe
  • weevils blog
And a few from just a moment ago:
  • stephane elisson
  • hineni prayer
  • metallic head gear
  • well adjusted man
  • red sea pedestrian
  • derma with gravy
  • pirat arrrhh
  • fluids plane duty free
I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that some of these search terms will direct people here, based on all the various crap I write about... but if you’ve come here looking for a Well Adjusted Man, I suspect you have come to the wrong place.


Not only is it Friday today, it’s the last Friday of the Jewish year 5769. This year, as the sun sets, the odometer clicks over to 5770... and we prepare to beseech the Big Guy to write us into the Book of Life so that we may be warm and vertical when it’s time to greet 5771.

But let’s put all them Weighty Philosophical Matters aside for now while we see what my Little White Choon-Box has spewed forth this week, the better to entertain us while we prepare for this evening’s feast.

What’s the playlist today? Checkum:
  1. Nubian Sundance - Weather Report

  2. Hilted - Max Tundra

  3. J’ai Deux Amours - Madeleine Peyroux

  4. Mr. Farmer - The Seeds

  5. Big Eyed Beans from Venus - Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band

    Distant cousins, there’s a limited supply.
    And we’re down to the dozens, and this is why...
    Big Eyed Beans from Venus!
    Oh my, oh my.

    Boys and girls,
    Earth people around the circle,
    Mixtures of man alive.
    Big Eyed Beans from Venus,
    Don’t let anything get in between us.

    Beam in on me baby,
    And we’ll beam together
    I know we always been together,
    But there’s more.

    Mister Zoot Horn Rollo, hit that long lunar note,
    And let it float.

    Men, let your wallets flop out,
    And women, open your purses,
    Cause a man or a woman without a Big Eyed Bean from Venus
    Is suffering with the worstest of curses
    Yeah, you’re suffering with the worstest of curses.

    Put ’em out in the sun, and when the night come
    You don’t have to go out and get ’em
    They’ll glow with you
    They’ll go with you
    They’ll show with you
    Ain’t no losers
    ’Cause they’re on the right track
    ’Cause they’re on the right track
    You can be on the right track, woman,
    Of course, of course

    Ain’t no SNAFU, no fol-de-rol

    Check these out, Big Eyed Beans from Venus
    Oh, let a few out, let ’em pass in between us

    Distant cousins, there’s a limited supply.
    And we’re down to the dozens, and this is why...

    Don’t let anything get in between us!
    Big Eyed Beans from Venus
    Big Eyed Beans from Venus.

  6. Baby Got Back - Richard Cheese

  7. Poème Électronique - Edgard Varèse

  8. Cabasa - Max Tundra

  9. Got My Own Thing Now - Squirrel Nut Zippers

  10. Baby You’re A Rich Man - The Beatles

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, September 17, 2009


As Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, approaches, so commences the task of cooking mass quantities of Holiday Food. And so the house is perfumed by the aromas of apricot kugel, and of fragrant beef brisket.

Beef Brisket
A Lil Pachter-style beef brisket, awaiting its blanket of sliced onions before being stuffed into the oven for its four-hour braise.

The delightful scent of mingled onion, garlic, and oregano wafts through the house, conveying visions of the feast to come tomorrow evening. In a few hours, as She Who Must Be Obeyed begins work on her legendary chicken soup, it’ll be downright difficult to think straight.

The Other Elisson will be flying down here to join us. I hope he knows what he’s gotten himself into: Two days of sitting in shul, with interludes of serious Face-Stuffing.

A sweet New Year to all. May it bring all manner of happiness and health, without limit to any good thing. Especially beef.


I’ve been posting pictures of my Extremely Photogenic Kitties for over five years now... and during that time, during my journeys on the Information Stoopidhighway, I’ve seen cats subjected to all kinds of indignities in the search for amusing blog-fodder. Do I need to mention LOLcats? Or I Can Has Cheezburger?

But this... this is so fucking wrong, I don’t even know why I am dignifying it with a link. Except I know that when the Mistress of Sarcasm sees this picture, she will laugh until she passes a blood clot.

Photo by Heather Armstrong.

Yes, this is a real book. And no, that is not Hakuna on the cover.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to the most estimable dooce for the link.]

Wednesday, September 16, 2009


Hakuna gives me The Look.

Penetrating Stare

“Are you gonna get that stupid camera out of my face and give me a kratz, or what?”

Update: Friday Ark #261 is up at the Modulator - where else? And for more Kitty Fun, stop by House Panthers Sunday evening for Carnival of the Cats #288.

Update 2: CotC #288 is up... with “Haduna” in pole position.


A buncha big bottles. Magnums! [Click to embiggen.]

Tonight’s Guild event will be held at Paul’s, and it promises to be extra-special: Our Fearless Leader will be providing all of the wines, and many of them will be from large bottles.

Houston Steve plans to be there, and I expect that the Grouchy Old Gourmet will join us too. Based on my last experience with Paul’s, it should be a fine evening from a food standpoint... and the wines at these affairs are almost always exceptional.

Here’s what’s on the Food- and Wine-Docket:

Ferrari Carano Fumé Blanc 2008

Jumbo lump crab Louis in a tart shell, vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili sauce

First Course: Wines in Magnums
Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1984***
Duckhorn Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1986***
Groth Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 1994****

Thyme-roasted quail salad, mixed greens, cranberry vinaigrette

Second Course: Wines in 750’s
Stag’s Leap Winery Napa Valley Petite Syrah 1996***
Stag’s Leap Winery Napa Valley Petite Syrah 1997****
Stag’s Leap Winery Napa Valley Syrah 1996**

Grilled lamb medallion, rosemary potato cake, sweet garlic jus

Third Course: Wines in Magnums (pictured above)
Château Pavillon Rouge Margaux 1999****
Château Quinault “L’Enclos” Saint-Émilion Grand Cru 1999****
Château Sénéjac Haut-Médoc 2000****

Baked filet mignon Wellington, sweet peas, glacéed onions


Pistachio ice cream profiterole, chocolate soup

I won’t pretend to be suffering as I run off to stuff myself with this fancy-pants fodder, all sluiced down with high-class vintage Juice of the Grape. It should be a gas.

Update: The food was all excellent, and I’ve noted my preferences with asterisks.

A few extras:
Villa Fidelia Rosso 1999***, a Meritage-style blend of 70% Merlot, the balance Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon.
Château Karolus 2000***.
Château Latour 1972. This last wine was characterized by Houston Steve thusly: “It is what it is, but it is not what it was.” And Fearless Leader Pat described it as “the top of the bottom of the barrel.” A fine château, but an unexceptional year and a wine well past its prime. Alas.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


Florida Palms
We spent the last weekend visiting my Uncle Phil and Aunt Marge, running around Hollywood, Florida and its environs.

It was with more than a little shock that I realized that we had not been to South Florida in seven years. Seven years! That’s when we had gone down to celebrate Phil’s eightieth birthday. Since then, we’ve been to Eli and Toni’s winter hideaway in Citrus Hills several times... but that’s about five hours northwest of Hollywood.

During all this time we had been able to see Phil and Marge fairly frequently, since they were always all too willing to jump in the car or on a plane and come up to Atlanta... or wherever we happened to be. But time marches on, and mobility is becoming more problematic for them... which simply means we will henceforth have to do the Heavy Lifting, travel-wise.

Marge and Phil
Aunt Marge and Uncle Phil.

SoFl has changed a lot since my Snot-Nose Days, when we would make annual pilgrimages... and since my days with the Great Corporate Salt Mine, when I would visit clients in the area. The traffic is more fearsome than ever, with I-95 a frantic autobahn where frail seniors duke it out with hot-blooded Latins at 75 MPH. The Atlanta freeways are bucolic country roads by comparison.

Saturday, we met my cousin Debi and her husband Mike for a tasty lunch by the beach in Fort Lauderdale. Then we headed up towards Pompano Beach for one of the local Shopping Adventures: the Festival Flea Market Mall.

Years ago, there was a department store in my hometown that went belly up. Instead of razing the building, the Powers that Be converted it into the sort of retail space that would be immediately recognizable to anyone who has traveled the souks of the Middle East, the frenzied and fragrant markets of Asia. A flea market! In a (former) department store! Thus was the infamous Busy Bee Mall born.

The Festival is simply the Busy Bee writ large, a huge single-story interior space crammed with merchant booths, laid out in a grid pattern... a humongous Bargain Basement at ground level. My mother would’ve loved this place.

Looking at the merch made my teeth hurt, but the pain was more than made up for by the people-watching opportunities. It was a perfect place to observe Moronus Americanus (Florida Australis variety) in its native habitat. Anyone ever tells you that America has become a homogeneous mass of Monoculture, they’ve never been to this place. Trust me.

Dinner Saturday evening consisted of sushi at SushiBlues, a little joint just a few blocks from the Hollywood Circle at the intersection of Federal Highway (US 1) and Hollywood Boulevard. That circle still lives in infamy in my mind: When I was twelve, we went to the Gourmet, a (now long defunct) all-you-can-eat buffet place that sat on the southeastern quadrant of the circle, and I ate until I was in pain. It was an early lesson in the results of a mismatch between Desire and Capability. (We old guys know all about that mismatch... but that is a story for another time.) Our dinner this time was anything but painful, with a Bombay Sapphire martini easing the passage of the various Fishy Goodies to their digestive oblivion. The Ikura Shooter - a blob of salmon roe crowned with a raw quail’s egg, served with a shot of cold sake with which to wash it down - was noteworthy.

Swedish Pancake
Sunday morning, after feeding our faces at the Original Pancake House in Aventura, we took a spin along Collins Avenue - the legendary A1A - down into Miami Beach, and I was bowled over by the massive Wall o’ Hotels and Condos that has sprouted in Sunny Isles, just north of Haulover Beach Park. MB itself is still heaven on earth for fans of Art Deco architecture and Cuban coffee... and, for that matter, pretty much anything Cuban.

We drove back, crossing from Miami Beach into Miami on the MacArthur Causeway, a drive that afforded a nice view of the city and its port facilities. I remembered a similar drive on that same causeway back in 1962, back when the Goodyear blimp Mayflower was based on Watson Island, when we saw that legendary airship land there, seemingly close enough to touch. The blimp base is long gone from Watson Island, alas, but somewhere buried in the Elisson Archive is a photograph I snapped with my little Brownie camera that day...

All too soon, it was time to go. As thunderstorms rolled through the area, the operators of the Silver Aerial Bus somehow were able to find a window of opportunity in which to get out of Dodge, and a few hours later we were back in our familiar environs... with a weekend full of happy memories.

More pics below the fold.

South Beach 1

South Beach 2
Art deco hotel façades in South Miami Beach.

South Beach 3
The iPhone camera shutter distorts a moving target in a manner reminiscent of the old Speed Graphic.

Debi and Mike
Cousin Debi and Mike.


Patrick Swayze
Patrick Swayze, 1952-2009.

Patrick Swayze, having fought the Good Fight against pancreatic cancer for over a year and a half, is now working as a bouncer at the Great Big Roadhouse in the Sky. He succumbed to the disease yesterday.

The actor who famously played a ghost in the aptly-titled Ghost now can experience ghostliness firsthand. Alas.

Swayze and HorseSwayze was a native of Houston and was an accomplished horseman well before he became a dancer and actor. Back in the mid-1990’s, when we were living there and the Mistress of Sarcasm was beginning her Horse-Riding Career, there was always the possibility that he would attend some of the local horse shows. We never did see him, though.

I recall seeing him in The Outsiders, Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 film adaptation of the S. E. Hinton novel, a film that launched several acting careers. But, surprisingly, I have never seen Dirty Dancing, his 1987 breakout film. Even more surprising, I learned of his death by reading a Twitter post from someone in the Philippines. Technology is full of surprises.

Patrick, ave atque vale. We’ll miss you... but whenever we hear the peal of thunder from above, we’ll know that it’s you, beating wayward angels with a pool cue at that Roadhouse in the World to Come.

Monday, September 14, 2009


I’m striding purposefully down Seventh Avenue in New York City, headed for a dinner appointment, when someone tugs on my sleeve to get my attention.

“You look like a nice young man who works near here...”

I turn. It’s a semi-elderly lady, about five-foot-three, looking like she’s seen a few birthdays north of sixty-five. I figure she’s mistaken me for a local and she’s looking for directions.

But no.

“How would you like to come over to my place? We could have a nice evening together...”

Holy Fuckamoley! I’ve just been propositioned by somebody’s grandma!

“Errr, ahhh - sorry, I’m not from around here. And I gotta run. But thanks for the offer!”

Well, what the hell was I supposed to say?

Friday, September 11, 2009


It is eight years after the horrific attacks on New York and the Pentagon, eight years after that bright morning of blue skies and death.

The Twin Towers. The Pentagon. Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The names still evoke the taste of ashes, the sound of screaming.

The Pentagon looks pretty much as it did before the attacks, but lower Manhattan is like a socket where once was a tooth.

It is eight years later, and I wonder if we understand exactly what and whom it is we are fighting.

Political correctness and the desire to be Nice Guys seem to be today’s watchwords in the West. We are fighting wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, the former against a shadowy enemy that melts into the hills and mountains, the latter an ill-conceived attempt to extirpate a nasty dictatorship, albeit one that was contained by its neighbors. Meanwhile, militant Islamist influence grows apace in Europe... and, as well, in South America as Hezbollah spreads its tentacles.

We continue to deal with the results of Jimmy Carter’s weak-kneed response to the takeover of the American embassy in Teheran back in 1979. When you have a policy of trying to placate those who would destroy us, you embolden them. History proves it again and again.

I’m not quite sure our Fearless Leader gets it.

You cannot placate terrorists. You can only fight them, destroy them.

Though I do not expect it to happen soon, may the enemies of our civilization evolve past their barbarities so that, one day, they may no longer be our enemies. And until they do so evolve, may we have the vision and fortitude to destroy the ones who do not.


Friday always seems to come around faster when there’s a holiday on Monday.

But whether it arrives quickly or slowly, Friday comes around every seven days, dragging along with it the Friday Random Ten, the weekly Heap o’ Hashed-Up Harmonies, hocked out by the iPod d’Elisson.

What’s on the box today? Let’s check it out:
  1. Quicksand - Travis

  2. Florentine Pogen (Live) - Frank Zappa

    Lyrics here.

  3. Olisimme Uineet Vieläkin Piedemmälle - Alamaailman Vasarat

  4. Sweet Virginia - The Rolling Stones

    Wading through the waste stormy winter
    And there’s not a friend to help you through
    Trying to stop the waves behind your eyeballs
    Drop your reds, drop your greens and blues

    Thank you for your wine, California
    Thank you for your sweet and bitter fruits
    Yes, I’ve got the desert in my toenail
    And hid the speed inside my shoe

    But come on, come on down, sweet Virginia
    Come on, honey child, I beg of you

    Come on, come on down, you got it in you
    Got to scrape that shit right off your shoes

  5. Unikkotango - Alamaailman Vasarat

  6. Reggae fi May Ayim - Linton Kwesi Johnson

  7. Everybody’s Got Something To Hide Except Me And My Monkey - The Beatles

    Perry Como’s cover version is still my favorite...

  8. The Mikado, Act I: Our Great Mikado, Virtuous Man - D’Oyly Carte Opera Company

  9. My Life Is Good - Randy Newman

  10. Holy Ground - The Klezmatics

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, September 10, 2009


...and I like Heirloom Tomato.

But instead of calling the whole thing off, let’s grab one of those bad boys and make a Heirloom Tomato, Basil, and Arugula Salad with Ciliegine.

Heirloom TomatoWedges with Basil

Colorful, innit? For that you can thank the tomato, which in this case came in a multihued pattern of yellow, red, and green.

Modern supermarket tomatoes are, all too often, picked early while still hard, in order to withstand the rigors of long-distance transportation. Ripened by exposure to ethylene gas, they have a pleasing red appearance that disguises their styrofoam-like flavor and texture nicely. I don’t even bother to buy them any more. What’s the point?

Heirloom tomatoes seem to be the greengrocers’ attempt to bring back real tomato flavor to the produce section. Instead of uniform spheroids, they’re lumpy, knobbly, misshapen, weird-looking. Definitely not pretty.

Ahh, but the flavor. Nice and tomatoe-y in a way that people under the age of, say, forty may never have experienced without having a tomato-growing neighbor.

The salad above was simplicity itself, an attempt to recreate a beautiful dish we had had only the evening before at a wedding reception. I cut the tomatoes into wedges instead of the usual discs, arranged them on the platter, drizzled them with olive oil, and threw a handful of chopped fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of sea salt over them. (It’s handy having a thriving basil plant right there on our deck.) In the center of the platter went a pile of arugula, dressed with a blend of sherry vinegar and walnut oil and decorated with a handful of toasted pine nuts.

The finishing touch? A scattering of ciliegine: marinated mozzarella balls. Sliced fresh buffalo mozzarella would work just as well here.

Nice to look at... and even nicer to devour.

Heirlooms! Not just for your cedar chest anymore.


Hakuna Under the Bed

Hakuna’s ensconced in her Sanctum Sanctorum.
It’s under our box-spring, right there on the floor-um.
The absolute best Kitty Cat Comfort-Zone,
She goes there whenever the Humans are home
And she needs a break from their loving attention.
(This happens quite often, allow me to mention.)
The grimace that shines forth on her lovely face
Sayeth, “Oh, for some Thumbs... and a big can of Mace!”

Update: Friday Ark #260 is afloat over at the Modulator. For yet more Catnis, check out Carnival of the Cats, which will be hosted sometime Sunday evening (thereabouts) at Three Tabby Cats in Vienna.

Update 2: CotC #287 is up.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


We’ve just completed another Pantry-Cleaning Exercise, the Missus and I.

Thanks in part to my Pack-Rat Tendencies, we tend to accumulate all manner of food in the pantry. I have a way of buying things that look interesting without having any definite plans to use them, with the inevitable result that they sit around until we have to toss ’em out.

Being that it is a major Pain in the Ass, the task of pantry-cleanage gets done at Chez Elisson when one of two conditions is met: (1) There’s so much crap in the pantry, we can’t find anything we’re looking for, or (2) We’re hit with an infestation of Granary Weevils.

This time, it was Condition Number Two.

It’s not like it’s the first time we’ve had to deal with those buggy little fuckers. They seem to show up once every several years, even though we’re pretty good about keeping certain dry goods sealed up in plastic. Problem is, weevils will get in by laying eggs inside whole grain kernels, and there is no external evidence that a piece of grain contains a weevil larva... until the little fellow eats his way out.

Weevils are actually pretty harmless. They don’t bite, they don’t sting, and they don’t carry disease. But the idea of having them crawling around on my food, eating their fill and leaving little deposits of weevil-shit and tiny puddles of weevil-piss, just skeeves me out. Feh.

The only solution is to check every item in the pantry and throw out anything that even harbors a suspicion of Weevil-Content. It’s a great opportunity (at least in out house) to also toss out all of the outdated and expired food... all that Useless Crap I bought on sale at William-Sonoma because it looked exotic.

There’s usually one item that turns out to be the source of the weevils... or at least something that holds a powerful attraction for them. I’m pretty sure we figured out what it was: a couple of old packages of Abuelita Mexican chocolate.

Old, sure. Several years, at the least. I love Abuelita (“Little Grandma”), which comes in the form of thick discs of solid chocolate, jacked up with coarse sugar and with a noticeable undertone of cinnamon. When you want a cup of hot chocolate, you snap one of the discs in half, drop it into a cup of hot milk, and stir until it dissolves. Tasty good.

Only trouble is, I don’t drink a lot of hot chocolate these days owing to my aversion to feeding my ever-growing Fat-Ass. And so the Abuelita sits... and sits... and sits...

...and eventually the weevils find it and go apeshit with delight. “Hey, Charlie, c’mere and check this stuff out - it’s top-drawer!”

And thus it was the the Little Grandma (and plenty of other stuff) got deep-sixed. And the pantry is now nice and well-organized and clean and (as far as we can tell) weevil-free.

Time to make another Williams-Sonoma run. I need some more Useless, Exotic Crap.


Marvel Mouse
Marvel Mouse comes to save the day.
Jack Kirby-style Mickey Mouse by Craig Yoe, via a link at Super Punch.

[News Item: Walt Disney Co., the world’s biggest media company, outflanked Hollywood competitors while enhancing its film lineup with the $4 billion acquisition of comic-book pioneer Marvel Entertainment Inc. (credit Bloomberg)]

The clubhouse was in an uproar as the new members filled the meeting room. It took a full twenty minutes of jockeying, shoving, negotiating, and wheedling before everyone found a seat.

Then followed the traditional opening call-and-response:

Phone: Who’s the leader of the club that’s made for you and me?

Antiphone: M-I-C-K-E-Y   M-O-U-S-E!

As soon as the cheers began to die down, Mickey pounded the gavel. “This meeting of the Mickey Mouse Club will now come to order,” he announced. Despite its squeakiness, his voice conveyed years of authority... authority that, on occasion, had demanded enforcement. Pegleg Pete, standing by the door with an ominous-looking club in his hand, caught Mickey’s eye and winked, receiving a barely perceptible nod in acknowledgement.

“First item on the agenda. Will Donald please read the minutes of the last meeting?”

Fifty sets of eyeballs rolled heavenward almost at once. Everyone had already received the minutes by e-mail, but this was Mickey’s cruel whim... to make everyone listen to the Duck quack them out, word by painful word. The aftereffects of a laryngectomy, undergone in late 2006 to excise a fast-growing vocal cord sarcoma, only made it worse.

A hand shot up, a heavy steel hammer clutched in its fist. “I move... that the minutes be approved... as written!

“Thor, you can’t make a motion to approve the minutes... you Marvel guys weren’t here last month.” Christ, thought Mickey. All that drama. Those italics! And the guy was as dumb as a sack of Mjolnirs, at least in his Thor identity. Yeesh.

Goofy made the motion in place of Thor, and Minnie seconded. A quick vote ensued and the minutes were accepted.

The rest of the meeting proceeded without issue, except for one near-fracas that got started when the overhead lights kept reflecting off the Silver Surfer’s metallic skin and shining in the Hulk’s eyes. Only the tag-team intervention of Snow White and Cinderella prevented a violent incident.

As things began winding down for the evening and the closing ceremonies began, the “toss Mickey in the air and catch him” ritual was more exciting than usual, as the new members of the Club took their places. The Hulk was a little overenthusiastic on the third toss, and Mickey sailed straight up through the skylight a good two hundred fifty feet. But Reed Richards - Mr. Fantastic himself! - averted possible disaster by whipping out an elastic arm, catching the Mouse, and depositing him, slightly shaken, safely on the ground.

Memo to self, Mickey thought. Wait until the Hulk reverts to his Bruce Banner persona. Then, have Pegleg Pete kick the crap out of him. The Dwarves can help - they’re masters of the “padlock in the athletic sock” trick.

As the clubhouse emptied out, Mickey, still a little shaken from his unexpected aerial adventure, fell into step alongside Donald, Goofy, and the silent Pluto. There was a certain amount of comfort in being there with the Old Guard, the cadre that had been together since the bad old days of the Three Little Pigs Putsch back in ’32. The Mouse, the Duck, the Dawg, and the Dog.

They walked silently for a while before Goofy spoke. “Shore is different with all those new guys. H-hyuk!”

“Yeah,” said the Duck. “But some things never change. Did you see the way Princess Ariel was eyeballing Ben Grimm? Musta thought he was some kind of animated chunk of coral.”

“She’s gonna have to go through Beauty to get to him,” observed the Mouse. “She had him in her sights since she first got the news about the merger. And I gotta admit, the ‘Beauty and the Thing’ angle might be worth following up on. Look into that, willya, Goofy?”

“Shore, Boss! Hu-hyuk!”

Mickey rolled his eyes. I love him like a brother, he thought. But why does he have to be so damned stupid?

In the gathering darkness, a few hundred paces behind Mickey and his Old Guard friends, Doctor Doom trudged along beside Spider-Man and Captain America.

“I care not that he now styles himself ‘Marvel Mouse’! As sure as I breathe, I shall not continue to vow fealty to a filthy rodent!” he hissed from behind his sinister-looking metal mask... the very mask that had inspired George Lucas as he created the immortal Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith.

“Cool your jets, Doc,” said Spider-Man. “The walls have ears... and around here, the trees probably do as well. Ix-nay on the edition-say!”

Captain America nodded. “Spidey’s right, Doc - we all feel the same as you do. But let’s get the, ahhh, lay of the land before we make our move, OK?”

Doom grumbled his reluctant assent.

“Say, you wouldn’t happen to have any more of that Latverian brandy, would you? I think we all could use a drink.”

Tuesday, September 08, 2009


It was last Thursday evening that I was regaling SWMBO with yet another hoary old joke. This one had to do with the golf buddies who made a pact with each other, that the first one to die would try to communicate with the other in order to tell him whether there was golf in Heaven. Sure enough, Charlie drops dead one day... and then, a week or two later, a grieving Mike hears a disembodied voice speaking to him in the dead of night.

“Charlie, is that you?”

“Sure is! And, Mike, I got good news and bad news...”

“What’s the good news?”

“There is golf in Heaven!” And it’s wonderful! Better than Pebble, better than Pinehurst #2... and I finally straightened out that miserable slice!"

“Well, what’s the bad news, then?”

“You and I have a tee-off time at 9:45 next Sunday morning.”

* * * * *

As I was standing in line at the check-in counter at Reagan National midday Friday, I got an e-mail that informed me that Josh K., one of our Minyan Regulars, had died earlier that morning. I was flabbergasted. Why, Josh had led Minyan services only yesterday! It had been the day before his father’s yahrzeit - the anniversary of his passing - and Josh had wanted to recite Eil Malei Rachamim in his memory, but would not be in synagogue Friday owing to his morning Tee Time. And so he took care of business a day early.

Josh was one of the Respected Elders of our synagogue. Since the passing of Gravel-Voice Larry three years ago, it was Josh that led the dukhening ritual on Yom Kippur, the part of the service in which the congregation’s Kohanim - descendants of the ancient High Priests - stand at the front of the sanctuary and pronounce the Priestly Blessing. During our annual World Wide Wrap program, Josh would instruct the Hebrew school children in the art of donning tefillin, little leather boxes containing words of Scripture (“And you shall bind them as a sign upon your arm, and they shall be frontlets between your eyes...”) And he was one of our Gabbaim, the people who assist during the Torah service by calling up those with honors, helping correct any mistakes in the reading, reciting the blessing for the sick, and announcing page numbers. In fact, on Thursday I had asked Josh to take over my Gabbai duties Saturday morning as I would be out of town, and he had readily agreed.

We had a little joke between us. During services, when someone leads part of the service or otherwise performs a role in the ritual, it’s traditional to say “yasher koakh,” a (somewhat mispronounced) expression that means “may your strength be increased.” (It sounds so much more Jewish than “Good show, old chap.”) But I would always say “Joshy koakh” when Josh was the recipient of my attaboy. OK, it’s silly, but I’m all about the silly. And Josh could appreciate the silly. He always had some sort of comment or observation to share, invariably thought-provoking and generally funny to boot.

Even at the remove of several days, I have a hard time believing Josh is gone. There is a peculiar feeling associated with having seen and spoken with someone the very eve of his passing. It’s both hair-raising (there but for the grace of God go I) and saddening - because one never gets a chance to say goodbye. And Josh, being a Minyan regular, was someone I would see almost every day of the week.

Josh had only recently returned from a trip to Israel, where he was able to visit his father’s grave... and he died on the golf course, playing the game he loved. I suppose there are worse things than to have the Unexpected Visitor appear in the guise of the Golf Ranger, bearing a scythe in lieu of a three-iron.

And I have a vision of the Eternal, standing at his great Reading Table in the Sky, where He reads Torah on Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and the various Yomim Tovim... and standing on each side, making sure the reading is letter-perfect and that the pages are announced properly, are Gravel-Voice Larry and Josh.

Monday, September 07, 2009


Last week, I had found an exotic-looking vegetabobble over at Harry’s Farmers Market.

I had gone there in search of a couple of hanger steaks, but on the way through the produce section I saw a sign pimping purple sweet potatoes.

Purple! Sweet! Potatoes!

As an official sucker for Weird Food, how the hell could I resist that? Mutantaters! So I grabbed a few, tossing them into my cart along with a couple of normal-looking sweet potatoes...

...because an image had formed in my head of multicolored chunks of roasted sweet potato, carrots, and onions, all nicely caramelized... a fine accompaniment to those hanger steaks.

It was easy enough to make this hash-like concoction. Get two purple and two regular orange sweet potatoes. Peel the ’taters (you can throw in a Yukon Gold for variety, if you wish), hack ’em into half-inch cubes along with a couple of carrots and yellow onions, add 2-3 cloves of minced garlic, and a generous drizzle of olive oil. A sprinkling of coarse salt and freshly-ground pepper and they’re ready to go into a 350°F oven. While the potatoes are roasting, be sure to stir them up from time to time to ensure even cooking. Roast for about 55 minutes, or until tender and lightly browned - you’ll have a dramatic-looking and delicious side dish.

Roasted Sweet Potato Medley
A medley of multicolored roasted sweet potatoes. Look - they’re sitting there singing “Kumbaya”!

If you want to goose the Flavor Index even more, take about a half-pound of bacon, chop it into little bits, and cook until browned. Drain well, then sprinkle atop the potatoes before you put them in to roast. I tried this with beef bacon, and the results were very good. Next time I may try using some goose schmaltz in place of part of the olive oil... but if the Missus finds out, she’ll debone me.

But even without the bacon and/or goose grease, it’s a fine dish. I know this because it received the Mistress of Sarcasm Seal of Approval. When she got home after an evening presentation and began rooting through the fridge for something that could approximate a Late Dinner, she found the leftovers from our meal a few hours prior.

Her reaction?

“This stuff is fucking delicious!

Even Julia Child can’t argue with a comment like that. (Of course, that may be because she’s dead.)

Friday, September 04, 2009


How did it get to be Friday again so soon?

No matter. What matters is, it is Friday...which means that it is time once again for my Little White Choon-Box to disgorge yet another Random Pile of Choons with which to prepare myself for the rigors of Labor Day. Ohh, the pain!

What’s playing today? Lessee:
  1. House Where Nobody Lives - Tom Waits

  2. Your Mother Should Know - The Beatles

  3. Freylekhe Kneydlekh (Happy Matzoh-Balls) - The Klezmer Conservatory Band

  4. The Mikado, Act II: Brightly Dawns Our Wedding Day - D’Oyly Carte Opera Company

  5. Black Napkins - Frank Zappa

  6. Blues For The Muse - The Incredible String Band

  7. New Holes - Doug Stanhope

  8. Back To The Family - Jethro Tull

    My telephone wakes me in the morning -
    Have to get up to answer the call.
    So I think I’ll go back to the family
    Where no one can ring me at all.
    Living this life has its problems
    So I think that I’ll give it a break.
    Oh, I’m going back to the family
    ’Cos I’ve had about all I can take.

    Master’s in the counting house
    Counting all his money.
    Sister’s sitting by the mirror -
    She thinks her hair looks funny.
    And here am I thinking to myself
    Just wond’ring what things to do.

    I think I enjoyed all my problems
    Where I did not get nothing for free.
    Oh, I’m going back to the family -
    Doing nothing is bothering me.
    I’ll get a train back to the city
    That soft life is getting me down.
    There’s more fun away from the family
    Get some action when I pull into town.

    Everything I do is wrong,
    What the hell was I thinking?
    Phone keeps ringing all day long
    I got no time for thinking.
    And every day has the same old way
    Of giving me too much to do.

  9. Animal Zoo - Spirit

  10. Bloody Well Right - Supertramp

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Thursday, September 03, 2009


Have you ever probed your ear with a Q-Tip, only to withdraw it encased in a heinous wad of goop, as though your ear canal had taken a crap?

Yeah, me neither.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


This was the question posed by Jimbo in a recent post.

As Jimbo points out, it’s not a matter of politics. It’s all about wristwatches. Namely, on what wrist do you wear your wristwatch?

Most right-handers will wear their watches on their left wrist, the better to be able to access the stem of the watch. Also, because the left hand is used for fewer routine tasks, the watch is subject to a skosh less abuse.

The southpaw, on the other hand (sorry, I couldn’t resist), has a problem. If he or she wears a watch on the right wrist, the damnèd stem is still on the right side of the watch, where it is a pain in the ass to reach without taking off the watch. The left-handed wristwatch does, in fact, exist, but it is a rara avis.

Jim’s soi-dise penetrating question is as follows: On which wrist do you wear your wristwatch? Is your wrist of choice your dominant or non-dominant hand? Why is it your wrist of choice?

And here’s my equally penetrating answer: On most weekdays, I wear my watch on my right (dominant) wrist until about 8 am, after which I transfer it to my left (non-dominant) wrist, where it stays for the rest of the day.

Saturdays and certain holidays, it starts out on the left wrist and stays there.

Why the complexity? you may ask.

On most weekdays, I attend morning worship services over at the local Jew-Church synagogue, brief affairs that typically run 30-45 minutes depending on the Order of the Day. On those days, I will wear tefillin, AKA phylacteries (not to be confused with prophylactics) - leather boxes containing passages of Scripture that are affixed to the non-dominant arm and the head by leather straps. Since it’s not appropriate to have a wristwatch come between the leather straps of the arm-tefillin and the arm, I wear the watch on the other wrist until after services are over - then, if I remember to do so, I switch it to the normal (left) wrist.

On Saturdays, and on certain Jewish holidays, tefillin are not worn... and so I simply put my watch on my left wrist.

Davenin’ Elisson
Elisson, wrapped up in tallit and tefillin... and thought.
[Image by John Spink, Atlanta Journal-Constitution.]

So: Any questions? Well, I have Jimbo’s, from the top of this post:

What wrist do you wear you watch on... and why?


Seventy years ago today, Germany’s blitzkrieg attack on Poland sounded the opening bell for World War II.

[Ahh, those were the Good Old Days... when World Wars, not movie sequels, used Roman numerals for identification.]

World War II wreaked profound changes in the political landscape of our world. It confirmed America’s status as a superpower and marked the sunset of the British Empire. It set up the conditions for the next war, the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States that would persist until the collapse of the USSR in the early 1990’s.

The war had unprecedented impacts upon civilian populations, who were, to an extent never before seen in warfare, made targets. Nuclear weapons lit up two Japanese cities with the fires that shine at the heart of the Sun. Fifty million people were slaughtered...

...among them, over six million Jews who were the object of Adolf Hitler’s “Final Solution,” a genocide that far outstripped anything of its kind, before or since, in both reach and ferocity. The hatred and cruelty of the Nazis toward Gypsies, Poles, Slavs, homosexuals, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and any other group they happened to dislike was amazing enough; toward the Jews, it was ratcheted up to a level almost unimaginable today. Their behavior during those years stands as a stark reminder that we humans are capable of the darkest evil.

People bandy the term “Nazi” about when they wish to demonize their enemies. Arabs love to use the term, perversely enough, when talking about the hated “Zionists” - by which they mean, of course, the Jews. But that simply shows ignorance and disrespect: ignorance of what it was, exactly, that made the Nazis so evil; and disrespect towards their victims.

We were heroes, then, we Americans. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the British (and, yes, the duplicitous Russians), we defeated the Third Reich and the Japanese Empire, the ur-Bad Guys in a time when it was easy to tell the Bad Guys from the Good Guys.

It’s still easy, actually. If you live in a nihilistic society that sends children on suicide missions to kill unarmed civilians, if you locate your bomb factories and rocket launchers amongst your own civilian population, if you demonize another people and teach your youngest children to hate, you’re amongst the Bad Guys. Sad that the only thing that has changed is the players. The game remains the same.