Sunday, February 28, 2010


Bailey finally decided to call it quits. His lengthy hitch qualified him for a full pension, and he was sick to death of Camp Swampy. Sarge had been bad enough, but the officious Lieutenant Fuzz had put him dangerously close to the edge. Enough was enough.

Shit, he thought. All those years in the Army and still a lousy PFC.

Screw that. He had come into a small inheritance, and with it he planned to open a bar. But what to call it?

When he came up with “The Foo Bar,” he knew his old buddy Smokey would be proud.


The Book of Esther, today’s Required Reading.
[Click to embiggen.] kill us. They failed. Let’s eat drink ourselves silly.

Yes, today is Purim, the holiday that celebrates the deliverance of the Jews from a planned genocide. Last night, we observed the holiday in the traditional manner, by (1) listening to the public reading of the Book of Esther; (2) making donations to the poor (matanot l’evyonim), (3) exchanging gifts of food with friends (mishloakh manot); dressing up in silly costumes, (4) participating in a Purimshpiel, a comedic acting-out of the Purim saga; and (5) consuming adult beverages.

Houston Steve graciously provided a flask of Maker’s Mark, a perfect tipple with which to toast my reading of Perek Daled (Chapter Four), in which the Queen is warned by her Uncle Mordechai of the plot against the Jews and told that she must intercede with the King on behalf of her people. Exciting stuff.

And now, a Purim joke:

Q: Back in ancient Persia, why did all the ladies love Haman?

A: Because he was well-hung.

Friday, February 26, 2010



Hakuna has discovered the joys of my Kelty Light Year Down 20 sleeping bag.

I had left it on the bed to air out after last weekend’s mountain retreat... and it was only a matter of time before Hakuna checked it out. Smooth nylon and soft, comfy down. What’s not to love?

Now if I can just train her to schlep a backpack...

Update: Friday Ark #284 is afloat at the Modulator. And for yet more cat-related hijinks, head on over to Friends Furever Sunday evening for Carnival of the Cats #311. It’s a perfect way to close out this frigid February!

Update 2: CotC #311 is up.


Another week has flown by. Yes, it’s Friday again!

Not only is Friday the Gateway to the Weekend, it’s also time for the weekly installment of the Friday Random Ten, that compilation of Random Tuneage straight from the electronical storage of the iPod d’Elisson.

What’s tickling the Eardrum d’Elisson today? Let’s see:
  1. Monks Chant / He Is Not Dead Yet - Monty Python, Spamalot (Original Cast)

  2. Woman In The Garden - The Judybats

  3. Busted Bicycle - Leo Kottke

  4. Cowboy’s Dream No. 19 - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

  5. Lurgee - Radiohead

  6. Free Bird Jam (live) - Ben Folds Five

  7. Yellow Submarine - The Beatles

  8. Al Baba’s Camel - The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

    You’ve heard of Ali Baba, forty thieves had he
    Out for what we all want, lots of LSD
    He also had a camel, stole it from a zoo
    How he loved the camel, and the camel loved him too
    (Oh, how the how the camel loved Ali Bar Bar!)

    Ali Baba’s camel loved Ali Baba so
    No matter where he went to, the camel had to go
    Some say that he’s in Heaven, but this I know is true
    Wherever you think Ali has gone, his camel’s gone there too

    Crossing the Equator, ooooh, how hot it was
    Poor old Ali Baba cursed and swore, because
    He was so very thirsty, and everybody knows
    It’s horrible to walk for miles with sand between your toes
    (Oh, how the camel loved Ali Baba... brrrrr!)

    Ali Baba’s camel turned round and licked his hand
    He said, “Oh, Ali Baba, I surely understand
    We must find an oasis and get a drink somehow
    But, hark! I hear the temple bells, they’ll all be open now”
    (Bleah bleah. Glorious beer, fills you right up with it... aaahh)

    They entered for the races at the desert sports
    There goes Ali’s camel in his filthy cotton shorts
    The starter cracked his pistol, off the camels hared
    Ali Baba’s camel wins by half a camel’s hair
    (Hey Ali Baba! Hey Ali Baba!)
    (Your camel loves you! Your camel loves you!)

    Ali Baba’s camel had run for miles and miles
    His tail was pointing backwards - that’s how a camel smiles
    But Ali and his camel, they both were out of breath
    They’d run so far, they laughed so much
    They laughed themselves to death
    [Sounds of crying and wailing)

    Oh! Gather round the campfire! Sing a roundelay!
    But don’t sing out of tune, though
    (’Cause eggs are cheap today!)
    Sing of Ali Baba, sing about his men
    Sing about his camel, and then sing it all again
    (Oh, how the camel loved Ali Baba)

    Ali Baba’s camel loved Ali Baba so
    No matter where he went to, that camel had to go
    Some say that he’s in Heaven, but this I know as well
    Wherever you think Ali has gone, his camel’s gone to...

  9. When She Dances (Bonus Track) - J Ralph

  10. It’s the Same Old Song - The Four Tops

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


According to Skippy, the insanely popular Twitter feed shitmydadsays is being converted into a family television comedy. [Just what kind of family, deponent sayeth not.]

Yeah, I did a spit take, too, when I read that. But the beauty part? William Shatner has been cast as the eponymous Dad.

I’m guessing that if an actual network picks the series up, they’re gonna have to change the name. Even HBO, which may have set the land speed record for utterances of the word “cocksucker” during the series “Deadwood,” probably would back off from using the word “shit” in a show’s title.

Now I’m waiting for a teevee producer to come along and decide to make a series out of, say, a blog that features a lot of recipes, cat pictures, and poems about topics like painful rectal itch, tapered stools, and taint warheads. But maybe I shouldn’t hold my breath.


Every so often, my eye is drawn to an interesting texture or pattern. It could be something as mundane as paving stones. Or pasta.

I spotted these a few weeks ago while visiting Elder Daughter. Can you figure out what they are without mousing over the images to look at their file names?

Tree Bark Camo

Metro Roof

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This month’s Guild event will be held this evening at Pura Vida, an upscale tapas joint in the Poncey Highlands section of Atlanta. As you might expect from the choice of restaurant, we’ll be drinking a variety of Spanish wines.

I’m hoping Denny will be able to make it. Houston Steve, alas, will not be there, having been called away for business on the Left Coast.

Here da menu:

Speaker’s Wine:
Segura Viudas Brut Reserva “Heredad” Cava NV

First Flight:
Burgans Albariño 2008**
Valdelainos Verdejo 2008*** [surprising grapefruit flavor notes]
Vina Godeval Godello 2008

Bacalao Pavias: Salt cod fritters with saffron, lemon aioli

Second Flight:
Bodegas Faustino “Faustino I” Gran Reserva 1996
Mas Garrian “Mas del Camperol” 2000***
Bodegas Muga “Muga Reserva” 2005

Slow roasted local Berkshire pork belly, aluvias negras (black beans) and slow cooked egg

Third Flight:
Telmo Rodriguez “Dehesa Gago” Tempranillo 2007
Bodegas Nekeas “El Chaparral De Vega Sindoa” Garnacha 2008
Juan Gil Monastrell 2006

Asado de Tira: Flash grilled boneless beef rib, wild mushrooms & papitas (Columbian gold potatoes), beef jus

Jorge Ordonez & Co. Special Selection Muscat 2006***

Helado de Turrón: Honey almond ice cream terrine, Marcona almond butter and Marcona almonds, candied blood orange zest & segments

[Quite possibly the best ice cream I have ever tasted, a perfect match for the Muscat dessert wine.]

Since I missed the January Guild event, I’m really looking forward to this one. Viva España!

Update: My favorites noted with asterisks, comments in brackets.

Friday, February 19, 2010


I like hot dogs and beans as much as the next guy... hell, it was a once-a-week tradition back in the Days of My Youth... but who says a weeknight meal, even if it’s something as prosaic as chicken and ’taters, has to be boring?

Pollo al Mattone and Hasselback Potatoes
Pollo al Mattone, Braised Bok Choy, and Hasselback Potatoes.

Here’s a tasty repast that wasn’t all that difficult to throw together:

Pollo al Mattone - a fancy Eye-Talian name for Brick Chicken. You can go to Ted’s Montana Grill and they’ll mash a chicken breast under a brick and cook it up for you, or you can do it yourself. Here, I used a couple of Cornish hens and spatchcocked ’em by hacking out their spines and opening ’em up like a couple of paperback novels... with legs. A good recipe is here.

Braised Bok Choy - Take bok choy (Chinese cabbage), cut up and wash thoroughly, then throw it in a sauté pan with a little chicken stock over medium heat.

Hasselback Potatoes - From a Swedish restaurant comes this interesting way of baking a potato. Take a nice, well-scrubbed Idaho russet, slice off a thin layer from the bottom so the potato won’t roll around on the cutting board, lay a couple of chopsticks parallel to the potato, and, using a chef’s knife, slice the potato laterally at 1/8-inch intervals. The chopsticks will keep you from slicing all the way through - you want the potato to stay in one piece.

Drizzle the ’tater with olive oil and dot with butter. If you like garlic, place thin slivers of sliced garlic clove in the potato incisions. Sprinkle the whole mess with a 50:50 mixture of grated Parmesan and bread crumbs (if desired) and bake in a 425°F oven for 45 minutes. Is it steak fries? Is it a baked potato? It’s a little of both.

I used some Spanish sparkling wine (cava) to make the sauce for the Cornish hens; there was plenty left over for drinking with this pleasant weekday dinner.


It is Friday again already? Holy crapoley, time flies when you’re having fun.

It also flies faster as we get older. Ever notice that? I call it Elisson’s Law of Proportional Perception: The longer we live, each passing day constitutes an ever-decreasing percentage of our lives; we therefore perceive each day’s passage to be proportionally swifter. Our lives are, in this wise, like toilet paper. As we approach the end of the roll, the roll spins ever more rapidly, alas.

Profound, ain’t it?

But you did not come her for profundity, did you? No, you came here for the Friday Random Ten, the weekly pile of randomly selected Choons from the Little White Choon-Box. Let’s take a peek and see what’s on the box this week:
  1. Fast Enough For You - Phish

  2. Fakin’ It - Simon & Garfunkel

    When she goes, she’s gone.
    If she stays, she stays here.
    The girl does what she wants to do.
    She knows what she wants to do.
    And I know I’m fakin’ it,
    I’m not really makin’ it.

    I’m such a dubious soul,
    And a walk in the garden
    Wears me down.
    Tangled in the fallen vines,
    Pickin’ up the punch lines,
    I’ve just been fakin’ it,
    Not really makin’ it.

    Is there any danger?
    No, no, not really.
    Just lean on me.
    Takin’ time to treat
    Your friendly neighbors honestly.
    I’ve just been fakin’ it,
    I’m not really makin’ it.
    This feeling of fakin’ it -
    I still haven’t shaken it.

    Prior to this lifetime
    I surely was a tailor, look at me...
    (“Good morning, Mr. Leitch.
    Have you had a busy day?”)
    I own the tailor’s face and hands.
    I am the tailor’s face and hands and
    I know I’m fakin’ it,
    I’m not really makin’ it.
    This feeling of fakin’ it -
    I still haven’t shaken it.

  3. 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover - Paul Simon

  4. Mozart: Requiem In D Minor, K626-06 Sequenz #4, Recordare - Herbert Von Karajan

  5. Satumaa (Finnish Tango) - Frank Zappa

  6. Miracle Man - Elvis Costello

  7. Flight of the Fly - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

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

  9. Genius of Love (Remix) - Tom Tom Club

  10. You Know What You Could Be - The Incredible String Band

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Uncle Rebus here, with a visual pun for you.

Aventura Mall Sculpture

Gaze upon this image of a sculpture located at the upscale Aventura Mall in Aventura, Florida. Click to embiggen if you need to take a closer look.

Now: This piece of Fine Art, intentionally or not, suggests a well-known television personality. Who is it?

Leave your answer in the Comments. Use your imagination... and look below the fold for my thoughts on the matter!

My Esteemed Commenters have deposited several fine suggestions in the ol’ Feedback-Bag. I’ll confess that I had been thinking “David Letterman,” but Peggy U has nailed it with “Art Linkletter.” After all, what is a sculpture but Art? WTG, PeggyU!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


Meet Honey Bunny.

Honey Bunny

Ain’t she cute? (Even if she does look like she’s giving me the Stink-Eye.)

Hakuna, meanwhile, insists on equal time...

Hakuna Sunbathes

Here, she’s catching a few afternoon rays. Sleep all day; prowl all night. Oh, for the life of a cat!

Update: Friday Ark #384 is afloat at the Modulator, with Honey Bunny and Hakuna in pole position. Not enough kitties for ya? Sunday evening, drop by When Cats Attack! for Carnival of the Cats #310.

Update 2: CotC #310 is up.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Morty loved Mardi Gras.

A recent convert to Catholicism, he had embraced his new faith wholeheartedly, if not wholestomachedly. Try as he might, he could not give up the culinary traditions with which he had grown up. No Easter ham for him: his table was reserved for braised brisket and chopped liver.

Lent was difficult because he truly regarded it as a penitential period. From Ash Wednesday until Easter, Morty would practice strict self-denial, completely avoiding something he loved.

As he did every year, he would give up schmaltz and gribenes.

But that was tomorrow. Today was... Chicken Fat Tuesday!


From the “You Can’t Make This Shit Up” department comes this piece of news concerning MARTA, Atlanta’s rapid-transit rail system.

Seems that back in October, MARTA renamed their four rail lines in an effort to simplify navigation. I guess it was pretty difficult trying to figure out where the various lines went, what with complicated names like “North Springs” and “Doraville.” No, it made much more sense to color-code the lines... ’cause it’s so much more intuitive.

The two east-west lines were renamed the Blue and Green lines. OK, fine. The North Springs line - the one She Who Must Be Obeyed and I take when we need to go to the airport - was renamed the Red line. Excellent. And the Doraville line, which serves the northeastern quadrant of the city, was titled the Yellow line.


Problem is, the Doraville line serves Doraville and Chamblee (AKA “Chambodia”), districts with a significant Asian population. I know that in this day of Political Correctness, some ethnic groups tend to get their noses out of joint over pretty much any slight, even imagined ones... but given the past use of the term “yellow” in such Asian-friendly terms as “Yellow Peril” and “Yellow Scourge,” you’d think the double-domes at MARTA would have figured out that a different color choice might have been more, er, ahhhh... sensitive.

I mean, I notice that there’s no Black Line. Would that have been considered insulting to the city’s large African-American population? Would it have mattered which line it was? I don’t know, and I certainly can’t speak for that segment of our city’s citizenry - but I see that that was not one of the names selected.

There were a few folks that saw this (ahem) train wreck coming. John Yasutake, MARTA’s former manager of equal opportunity and conflict resolution, met with MARTA senior staffers a month before the proposed name changes took effect, reminding them that there was a very large Asian community in Doraville and its environs that might not look too kindly upon being told they had to ride the Yellow Line. But nobody seemed to think it was any big deal. At the time, anyway.

Culturally driven sensitivities being what they are, color-coding is fraught with the potential to offend. The Red Line? Commies! Or even worse, Alabama fans! Purple? Horrible. Not only does it remind people of Barney the Dinosaur, it’s the color of eggplant... and melanzane (eggplant) is a derogatory Italian expression for people of African descent. Blue? That’s on the Israeli flag, and it might piss off the city’s Arab population. Hey, even Crayola knew when to rename its “flesh” color crayon when they figured out that not everyone’s flesh was Whitey Pink.

Maybe that’s why the New York subway uses letters and numbers. Of course, with twenty-six different lines, color-coding the New York MTA would require dipping into the more exotic regions of the color palette: raw umber, burnt sienna, aquamarine, Indian red chestnut, salmon, et alia. And a Salmon Line might offend smoked fish-eating Jews.

To extricate itself from this mess, MARTA has agreed to re-rename the Doraville Yellow Line, giving it a name that is less offensive to Asians: the Gold Line.

Community leaders are pleased with the planned revision, indicating that it shows that MARTA is sensitive to their concerns. Albeit belatedly, I would add.

But I don’t think this goes far enough. Correcting MARTA’s faux pas requires more proactive measures. And that’s why I propose that the Doraville line be renamed the Lucky Dragon Triple-Eight Golden Success Happiness Sun Line.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Let’s close out Hearts ’n’ Flowers ’n’ Candy Day by enjoyng this little film by demented genius zefrank.

[Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to the Mistress of Sarcasm for the link.]


Russian emigrés, newly arrived in the United States from the U.S.S.R. back in the 1980’s, used to suffer a sort of Brain-Lock when confronted with the myriad of choices on any American grocery store shelf.

It was a real problem for people accustomed to finding only one brand of, say, toilet paper back home. One brand? Sometimes they were lucky to get toilet paper at all... but as Yakov Smirnoff used to say, “Is no problem to have no toilet paper in Soviet Union. No food, no need to have toilet paper.” Suddenly, these people had to choose between the countless brands and varieties we see here, an impossible task. Multiply it by the vast number of products in the supermarket, and you have the recipe for a nervous breakdown.

I thought of this while She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were rummaging through the aisles at our local Publix today. I had wandered into the cereal aisle, and I saw something that both fascinated and disturbed me.

Chocolate Cheerios.

Good Gawd. Chocolate Cheerios?

Look, I was around when the first chocolate-flavored cereals appeared back in the late 1950’s: Kellogg’s Cocoa Krispies in 1958, followed by General Mills’ Cocoa Puffs that same year. Both took an existing cereal template - Rice Krispies and Kix, respectively - and added chocolate flavoring. Both, to my six-year-old taste, were a disappointment. There’s no reason to expect anything different from Cheerios.

Cheerios started out almost 70 years ago, a cereal based on whole-grain oats with minimal sweetening. Simple and uncomplicated, it was a reasonably nutritious choice if you wanted a ready-to-eat cold cereal. Kids liked it, yet its simple, unadorned oat flavor was appealing to adults as well. And it’s still popular.

But the name of the game in the Food Bidnis is shelf space, and the way you get more shelf space is to offer more and more variations on an established brand’s theme. General Foods started to expand the Cheerios franchise back in the late 1970’s, introducing Honey Nut Cheerios in 1979. Like all varieties introduced subsequently, Honey Nut Cheerios was (and is) considerably sweeter than original Cheerios.

Today, I counted no fewer than eleven different kinds of Cheerios on the cereal aisle shelf:
  • Cheerios (the boring, plain-ass original kind)
  • Honey Nut Cheerios
  • MultiGrain Cheerios
  • Banana Nut Cheerios
  • Berry Burst Cheerios
  • Yogurt Burst Cheerios
  • Fruity Cheerios
  • Frosted Cheerios
  • Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
  • Oat Cluster Cheerios Crunch
  • Chocolate Cheerios
It’s out-of-control proliferation, I tells ya!

What’s next? Peanut Butter Cheerios? Prune Danish Cheerios? Beer ’n’ Skittles Cheerios? Gefilte Fish Cheerios?

Just how much of the cereal shelf needs to be occupied by Cheerios? It’s like football... or war. Cheerios and their allies (General Mills cereals like Kix, Trix, and Wheaties) duke it out with the Enemy (products from Post, Quaker, and Kellogg’s). Your side seeks to control as much territory as possible, and you can’t do it without leaving Occupying Forces in-country.

The marketplace ends up deciding which of these varieties will hang around for the long term, which is fine with me: American capitalism in action. But it’s a little depressing to see that all of these new varieties are jacked up with more flavoring (mostly fake) and more sugar. We like to talk about “eating healthy,” but en masse, we’re all a bunch of fucking hypocrites... and our buying habits prove it.

As for me, if I eat Cheerios at all, I eat the original version. I’m just an old curmudgeon, after all. I don’t need all that sweet shit, and I sure as hell don’t need to buy something just because it’s “new and improved.”

Electronics excepted, of course.


I’ll be the first to concede that sardines - them little fishies that come packed in a flat can - might not be everyone’s favorite snack.

Even if you get all fancy and call ’em sprats, pilchards, or brislings (all various types of small fish that are packed and sold under the generic term “sardines”), they’re still off-putting to many. Oily and fishy. Not exactly what you’d call a breath-freshener... unless you’re a cat.

Me, I love ’em.

Even when I was a young Snot-Nose, I liked these smelly little guys. A sardine-and-cream cheese sandwich was a perfectly tasty luncheon, even if eating one would cause the other kids to sit farther away from me in the school cafeteria.

As an adult, I would often bring a tin of sardines to work. The ones in tomato or mustard sauce were good low-calorie protein sources, perfect for a mid-day meal... at least, on those days we weren’t going out for barbecue or Mexican food.

Once in a while - generally when She Who Must Be Obeyed isn’t around - I’ll open up a 15-ounce can of those humongous sardines in tomato sauce, the ones we used to call “tomato herring.” Those puppies are huge, and completely unlike their tiny, flat-canned brethren. Only serious sardine-lovers need apply.

A few days ago, while I was trolling my blogroll, I happened upon Neener, who had written a post about Alton Brown and a fishy sandwich creation of his: the Sardicado Sandwich.

Alton Brown and sardines in one sentence. That got my attention.

The good Doctor Brown has, apparently, adopted the Stink-Fish (packed in olive oil) as one of his weapons in the fight against Fat-Ass, consuming them three times weekly. Sure, they’re a bit oily, but it’s good oil: olive oil, which contributes to “good” cholesterol, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are heart healthy. They also pack a solid protein punch and, owing to the fact that you eat them bones and all, plenty of calcium as well.

As for the Sardicado Sandwich, Brown calls it “Sherried Sardine Toast,” probably because his recipe includes sherry vinegar. But you can use white vinegar or cider vinegar if you prefer, and the results will be quite pleasing. That vinegar, along with lemon zest, jacks up the sardines’ flavor, and the whole thing is mellowed out by the addition of avocado. Yes, avocado!

Sherried Sardine Toast

I built a brace of these bad boys this afternoon, and I have to say they’re superb. Even the Mistress of Sarcasm - no sardine lover she - was brave enough to essay a taste. Only thing is, Hakuna has been following me around the house ever since I had lunch.

Check it out. The recipe is here. And don’t let my scary, snarky post title put you off - this stuff is really good!


Valentine 1938
Valentine, circa 1938, from the collection of Billie Bob, the late Daddy d’SWMBO.

O, please consider, Lady Mine:
Won’t you be my Valentine?
Sign upon that dotted line,
And our love could be so fine.

If you were my Valentine,
Life would be as sweet as wine.
On the love-seat we’d recline;
I’d run my fingers on your spine.

Should you be my Valentine,
For your loving I would pine.
Hearts (and other parts) we’d jine -
Making love would be divine.

If I had a diamond mine
Or a thousand fatted kine,
All I own, it would be thine,
If you were my Valentine.

If you were my Valentine,
I’d achieve my Grand Design.
Like the Sun our love would shine!
If you were my Valentine.

Saturday, February 13, 2010


Men tracht und Gott lacht (Men make plans and God laughs). - Yiddish proverb

I’m writing this from the warmth of Chez Elisson... which means there has been a Change in Plans. For She Who Must Be Obeyed and I had scheduled a trip to our nation’s capital this morning, there to visit Elder Daughter and survey the remnants of Snowpocalypse.

Alas, it was not to be, thanks mainly to yesterday’s storm, a storm that dumped all of about three inches of the White Shite on us. It’s not much, but apparently it is enough to bring the entire operations of the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport (whew! that’s a great big honkin’ mouthful of an airport name) to a grinding, shuddering halt.

I logged in to the Delta website late last night and checked us in for our 8:25 a.m. flight, at which time there was no indication there was anything amiss. And the airline asked for (and received) updated contact information. Presumably, if they had to cancel our flight, they had any number of ways to tell us about it. But they did not... and so we headed off for the airport at the Butt Crack of Dawn.

With the local roads sporting a thin glaze of black ice and frozen slush, we elected to make the ten-mile drive to the Dunwoody MARTA station and take the train to the plane. That was a wise choice, especially considering the heart-stopping fun we had negotiating the hills and curves enroute: Taking the freeway all the way to the airport would have given my sphincter a permanent clench-spasm.

We rode to the airport in the pre-dawn darkness. As we approached the airport stop, the eastern horizon was lit up in gorgeous colors of deep blue and red, the twinkling lights of aircraft on their landing approach visible against the impending sunrise. When the announcer came on the PA system to tell us we were arriving at the airport, so struck was she by the sight that she said, “Ladies and gentlemen, look out your left window - isn’t that beautiful?” (Would that ever happen in New York?)


Once we arrived in the Delta terminal, we quickly discovered that things had, overnight, gone all pear-shaped. Our flight - and about 90% of the others - had been canceled. No phone call, no e-mail, no nothing. And the terminal was packed with harried travelers, queued up to reschedule their flights. Packed, indeed: the line was folded in upon itself in the manner of Disneyland, and we were told the wait was over three hours long.

Alla those “XLD” flights? Not a good sign.

A handful of foreign departures was still flying, and an even smaller cohort of domestic flights. Other than that, nothing. That miserable two inches of snow had somehow kept almost every airline from putting planes in position to handle the morning’s departures, and from there, things must have rapidly escalated into Clusterfuck Territory.

As we stood in line - for no obvious reason except to preserve the illusion that we were accomplishing something - I tried to get American Express on the phone. And after an interminable period of holding, all the while with some bouncy, jazzy On-Hold Muzak blasting in my ear, we managed to establish that we would not be getting to Washington any time soon.


Rather than fly up late tomorrow for an abbreviated weekend (and the risk of getting snowed in on Monday), we elected, reluctantly, to biff the trip. And so we headed back to the northern end of town, seated comfortably on our MARTA train as the whole north-south axis of Atlanta flashed by, incongruously daubed with snow. By this time the sky had turned a brilliant blue; the contrast with the trees, still completely white-encrusted, was startlingly beautiful.

MARTA Snowscape

That’s the magic of snow, I suppose. As much as it can be a royal pain in the ass, it offers a certain amount of visual compensation - especially here in the South, where it doesn’t stay around long enough to become grimy, grey slush.

Almost before we knew it, we had arrived at our destination, the Dunwoody MARTA station. Not the morning’s intended destination, to be sure, but a destination nonetheless, where we would salve our Elder Daughter-missing hearts with hot coffee and a lazy day under the covers. And the gradually thawing roads welcomed us home.

Friday, February 12, 2010


O, joy! It’s Friday!

That means, of course, that it’s time for another installment of the Friday Random Ten, the list of musical selections puked up at random by the iPod d’Elisson.

This has been a week of contrasts. I just got back from a two-day trip to balmy south Florida, and now we Atlantans are girding our collective loins for a skirmish with Old Man Winter, who is expected to dump up to three inches of snow upon us.

I guess it would be ridiculous to complain. After all, the folks in our Nation’s Capital have had to deal with something on the order of fifty-three inches of snow, thanks to two back-to-back blizzards in less than five days. The first one alone was enough to set new snowfall records; the second was an exercise in lily-gilding. Snowpocalypse? Snowmageddon? Pick your euphemism.

Meanwhile, as I await the arrival of the first flakes, there’s music to listen to. What’s playing today?
  1. Jump Up - Elvis Costello

    Everybody’s talking like they can’t sit down
    And looking like they can’t stand up
    It must be the lastest style
    And they’ve seen a lot of things that you never see
    Back on the mile up to the hanging tree
    Some people can’t keep their fingers clean
    Just clicking their heels to the beat of the scene
    Trying to keep careen until the first edition of last night’s obituaries

    Jump up - hold on tight
    Can’t trust the promise or a guarantee
    ’Cause the man ’round the curve says that he’s never heard
    Of you or me

    No tombstone would ever surprise me
    When I’m locked in a room about half the size of a matchbox
    Got holes in my socks
    They match the ones that I got in my feet
    I put my feet in the holes in the street and somebody paved me over
    I was a statue standing on the corner
    Tell me, how else can a boy get to see those pretty pleats?

    Candidate talkin’ on the radio from the “Cheater’s Jamboree”
    It must be their lastest fool
    ’Cause it’s a two-horse race and he changed his bets
    Like it was just another brand of cigarettes

    Some people judge and they just guess the rest
    They can’t understand that don’t mean that you’re blessed
    They ought to catch the Express Next Stop Nowhere
    That way you can forget

    Jump up - hold on tight
    Can’t trust the promise or a guarantee
    ’Cause the man ’round the curve says that he’s never heard
    Of you or me

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

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

  4. Tank Graveyard - Paul Cantelon, Everything is Illuminated

  5. Exaltation - Matisyahu

  6. Fixing a Hole - The Beatles

  7. Heavenly Bank Account - A Tribute Band for FZ

  8. Act III: The Maos Dance - John Adams, Nixon in China

  9. Luck Be A Lady - Skanatra

  10. The Laughing Song - Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?

Volume 23.

Still 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.

ffriend [f’-frend] (n) - A friend, acquaintance, friend of a friend, or total stranger that you designate as a “friend” on social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, et al. An abbreviation of “Facebook friend.”

“Charlie? Never met the guy in my life, but we’ve been ffriends for two years.”


Loveseat Katz
Hakuna and Matata relax on the sunroom loveseat.

Given that Valentine’s Day is hard upon us, I recalled this photograph of Hakuna and Matata side-by-side, each of them forming a Kitty-Heart against the cushions.

It’s a bittersweet thing, to look at this picture: a reminder that Matata is no longer with us. But that’s love, isn’t it? Bittersweet... with the sweet far outweighing the bitter, tasting all the better owing to the contrast.

Update: Friday Ark #282 is afloat at the Modulator. If you’re still hankerin’ for a heap of Kitty-Love, swing by Meowsings of an Opinionated Pussycat Sunday evening, where Nikita can fix you up with more cat-related linkage as he hosts Carnival of the Cats #309.

Update 2: CotC #309 is up.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


DC Snow Again!
Another blanket of snow falls on Washington. [Photo by Elder Daughter]

As if last weekend’s record-breaking snowfall were not enough, the Northeastern megalopolis is getting hammered with Yet Another Honkin’ Blizzard today.

That includes Washington, D.C., where intrepid reporter Elder Daughter grabbed this frosty image of a buried vehicle at Lanier Place.

Meanwhile, I’m in sunny Hollywood, Florida, where “snow” usually refers to the stuff many of the local residents jam up their nostrils in search of a good time and an empty bank account. I won’t have to worry about the other kind of snow - the freezy kind - until this weekend, when we’re planning to pay a visit up Elder Daughter’s way. Weather permitting.


As pygmies go, Mbogo was a veritable giant. Though only 70 centimeters tall, he was a Zulu warrior to his tribesmen.

He stood before them in the jungle clearing behind the abandoned refinery, contemplating the sign written in letters of the colonial past: “VERBODEN TE ROKEN!!!”

Mbogo would never admit to his men that he knew no Flemish... or any of the other languages he claimed to speak fluently.

Pulling a large Cuban from his pocket, he unsheathed his golden lighter as though it were a machete. He thumbed the flint...

...and the town went up like a fused atom.

[Based on a story by Cousin Eli.]


“War is hell.” - William Tecumseh Sherman

“War is shit.” - Colon Bowell

Sunday, February 07, 2010


Well, it looks like the N’Awlins Saints found the plastic Baby Jesus in their slice of Super-Bowl King’s Cake, confounding the bookies with an upset. But I don’t really give a rat’s ass about the ballgame. I watch the game for the deliriously ridiculous ads... and the elderly Musical Icons they trot out during the halftime break.

Seems to me the best part about watching the Stoopid-Bowl in the last few years has been the overblown half-time shows.

Never mind Janet Jackson and her saggy kalamatunis. I’m talking about Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, and, now, the Who. It’s like musical heaven for old ginks like me.

Tonight, I had the pleasure of listening to a room full of superannuated baby boomers - me among them - rock out to “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” The irony of listening to a nearly 65-year-old Pete “Hope I Die Before I Get Old” Townshend was probably lost on most of us. “Old? Hell, sixty-five ain’t old!

I’ve had the pleasure of hearing the last three Super Bowl half-time show artists in live concerts over the years - never, of course, at the Super Bowl, but at three different venues in Houston, Texas. She Who Must Be Obeyed and I caught McCartney at the Astrodome in April 1993; I saw Springsteen at the Music Hall in November 1974 and September 1975. As for the Who, I was there when they played the Summit in November 1975 - it was the opening show of their “Who ’76” tour and the very first event in that then newly-built venue. [It was also the loudest fucking concert I have ever heard, before or since.] Holy crap - that was more than 34 years ago! And they’re still at it!

Listen: This final blowout of the football post-season is the quintessential example of American over-the-top panem et circenses. Snazzy graphics, endless ads for beer and cars, and music with fireworks. Lotsa fireworks.

But this year when I listened to the half-time show, I didn’t know whether to feel young or old...


Elder Daughter is dealing with the effects of a record-shattering snowfall in Washington, D.C.

DC Snow

Lanier Place, one of the streets in the Adams Morgan neighborhood, is buried under more than two feet of snow in this shot from Elder Daughter’s iPhone.

Those white lumps on either side of the road? At first I thought they were bushes... but they are not. They’re cars.

Holy Fuckamoley.

This being a Sunday, and with plenty of food in the apartment and a functioning electrical grid, Elder Daughter is not inconvenienced in the slightest. Hell, it’s like being a kid in Connecticut again. Sledding in Rock Creek Park! Hot chocolate and freshly baked cookies!

The commute to the office tomorrow, however, will inject a cold note of reality into the proceedings...

Saturday, February 06, 2010


“If the Stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inhabiting Greater Suburbia as we do, She Who Must Be Obeyed and I rarely get a really good look at the stars. Light pollution from a myriad of sources, coupled with the smog that accumulates around any urban area, will always manage to blot out all but the brightest denizens of the nighttime firmament. It’s one of those subtle costs of living amongst large hordes of our fellow humans.

Stars over North Georgia
A sky full of stars over North Georgia - February 2007.

The human eye can discern about 3,000 stars, but it’s only in remote places, far away from city lights and air, that one has a hope of seeing a fraction of that number. They say that the stars at night are big and bright deep in the heart of Texas, yet it was in a semi-remote part of Québec in the late fall, where the air is cold, crisp, and clean, that I saw the Milky Way with its billions of stars, stretched like a hazy band across the sky. These days I get to see the stars when I make my annual foray into the North Georgia mountains... provided we get a clear night.

And I saw them again on Wednesday night, camped out atop Starr Mountain in Tennessee with Eric, the Jeremiah Johnson of McMinn County.

Now, the last time I went camping in the woods was some forty-five years ago. That was in the summertime, in the wilderness surrounding Camp Wel-Met in Barryville, New York, sleeping under the stars with a small army of fellow Pubescent Snotnoses and a counselor or two. But a few weeks ago, when Eric called me up and asked whether I’d like to accompany him on a cold-weather camping expedition, I was signing on for a different sort of adventure.

We met Wednesday at Eric’s place, the fabled Straight White Compound, and crammed our rucks with the necessary supplies. Sleeping bags and Thermarests. A two-man tent. A portable butane/propane stove and accompanying cooking vessels. Five liters of water, along with a couple of aluminum bottles filled with the Water of Life. Miscellaneous gear. Two mysterious quart-sized Mason jars, wrapped up carefully in a scarf.

“Whatever you do, don’t break that,” Eric admonished. “That’s our dinner.”

Supplies packed, we piled into the Elissonmobile and drove about ten miles to the trailhead at the base of Starr Mountain. Rather than hike the entire way up, we wisely elected to drive about a third of the way and leave the car parked in a turnout. This is trickier than it sounds: The road, an old gravel-and-dirt logging trail built in the 1930’s by the Civilian Conservation Corps, was narrow and covered in spots by ice and tree branches knocked down by last week’s storm. But we parked the car without incident, shouldered our packs - each one weighing some 45-50 pounds - and began trudging up the road towards the top of the mountain, stopping every so often to rest our legs and take in the magnificent views to the east.

After a hike of roughly three miles, we were within a few hundred feet of the ridgeline. A reasonable expanse of flat ground was visible to the left side of the trail - Eric later speculated that there may even have been a house there in the distant past - and we decided to make camp.

Home Away From Home

Aside from setting up our tent, the first order of business was making a fire. We foraged around for some dry wood and a few rocks with which to border the firepit, and Eric set to work. Within minutes, we had a crackling campfire, thanks in no small measure to Eric’s firebuilding expertise... and the chunk of military-issue trioxane he used as an accelerant.

Eric, Master Fire-Builder

Fire built, we set about heating our dinner... the contents of those two Mason jars. For this we used a portable LPG stove especially suited to the task. What was for dinner? you may ask, and I will answer: Nothing less than a fine pot roast. Beef chuck, carrots, potatoes, and onions, all long-simmered in a rich broth. All we had to do was heat it and eat it, which we did with gusto.

As the dusk settled and the temperature began to drop, we hunkered down by the campfire and enjoyed a few wee drams of Macallan single malt and Jameson’s fine Irish, all the while admiring the sparkling, starry sky through the trees. Only twice did vehicles pass by on the logging road, and in no event did we have to deal with bugs, bears, or boars.

Later, as we folded ourselves into our sleeping bags and read Robert W. Service’s “The Law of the Yukon” - perfectly apropos on a frosty night - I felt a strange sort of contentment, the kind that comes with a challenge overcome. No, it wasn’t as though we were camped out with no tent in an Alaskan whiteout... but we were somewhere other than our soft, comfortable, civilized beds, and it made sense at an unexplainable, cellular level. For, somewhere buried in that reptilian hindbrain we male humans possess, there is a desire to kindle a fire and sleep in the woods out of doors that dates from when our earliest forebears crouched in hollowed-out shelters in the savannas of Africa.

When dawn broke and a hazy sun rose in the east, we cooked up some breakfast and coffee and rekindled our campfire from the embers of the night before. Then we packed up, cleaned up the campsite, and marched back down the mountain to the waiting mud-bespattered Elissonmobile.

[Hiking down a mountain, it should be noted, is way easier than hiking up a mountain.]

A hazy dawn.

Mark Frickin’ Trail
Elisson, AKA Mark Frickin’ Trail.

Less than half an hour later, we were back at the Straight White Compound, enjoying hot showers, indoor plumbing, and the glories of Whomp Biscuits and MRE’s. Cushy? Hell, yeah. But it’s a lot harder to see the stars when you’re indoors...

More pics below the fold.


Elisson - a little light-headed.

Reading Service
Reading “The Law of the Yukon” by candlelight.

Morning by the Campfire
Morning by the campfire.

Eric surveys the valley
Eric surveys the valley to the east.

Friday, February 05, 2010


Just as we ingest oxygen and food, converting it to water vapor, carbon dioxide, and shit, so does the Wheel of Time gobble up the days, converting future into past. Before you know it, another week has flashed by, never to be seen again.

And what a week this has been, Esteemed Readers... from eating pot roast atop a snow-capped mountain two days ago to snarfing up smoked fish and bagels with the Minyan Boyz today. I live a life of happy contrasts, savoring every single one.

Those happy contrasts can even be found in my collection of music, a random assemblage of which I post here every Friday. Where else will you see Light Opera interspersed with dub poetry set to reggae music, selections from film soundtracks, Ethiopian wailing, and Rock Music (both alternative and classic)?

Let’s see what the Little White Choon-Box has for us this week:
  1. Akale - Maritu Legesse

  2. The Mikado, Act II: Mi-Ya-Sa-Ma, Mi-Ya-Sa-Ma - D’Oyly Carte Opera Company

  3. A Quai - Yann Tiersen, Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain

  4. Reggae fi Peach - Linton Kwesi Johnson

  5. Gort - Bernard Herrmann, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

  6. Hot Cha - They Might Be Giants

  7. Amish Paradise - Weird Al Yankovic

  8. La Grippe - Squirrel Nut Zippers

    There’s a flu bug getting passed around
    And it’s spreading like fire through the town
    There’s a virus holing up inside us
    Everyone that I know is coming down
    There’s an Asian influenza
    Infecting us all by the score
    And it’s turning into pneumonia
    We must go out once more
    There’s a fool moon howling at the night
    And its bark is much worse than its bite
    So we must go out and dance around
    Yes we must go out tonight
    So the doctors came on the evening train
    With their flasks and their caskets and vials
    Mass psychosis was their diagnosis (yes)
    So we all cashed our checks and went wild
    There’s a fool moon howling at the night
    And its bark is much worse than its bite
    So we must go out and dance around
    Yes we must go out tonight
    La grippe! Ahhhh!

    There’s a fool moon howling at the night
    And its bark is much worse than its bite
    So we must go
    Yes we must go
    Yes we must go out tonight
    La grippe! Ahhhh!

  9. Rudy Wants To Buy Yez A Drink - Frank Zappa

  10. We’re Going Wrong - Cream

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


“Sir, a woman preaching is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well but you are surprised to find it done at all.” - Dr. Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

Dr. Johnson’s sexism notwithstanding, his quote is a thing of beauty, for it may be paraphrased and used in all manner of ways.

For example:

“Sir, a Tennessean building a snowman is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well but you are surprised to find it done at all.”

Think about it: If a decent amount of snow should fall once in a thousand days, how would men preserve for many generations the knowledge to create a Snow-Homunculus? So what if the damned things came out (after a few warm days) looking like the bastard get of Frosty and a wayward shmoo?


Lest my buddy Eric take offense at any perceived snarkiness - for it is, indeed, his hand (along with that of the lovely Fiona) that crafted these fine examples of the Snowmanly Arts - I can provide yet another paraphrase:

“Sir, a middle-aged Jewish suburbanite camping in the Tennessee backwoods is like a dog walking on his hind legs. It is not done well but you are surprised to find it done at all.”


...a Kitty in a Basket.


Hakuna catches some Z’s whilst nestled in a pile of blankets.

Update: Friday Ark #281 is floating happily upon the Bloggy-Sea, ably piloted by Cap’n Steve of the Modulator. Also, be sure to stop by iMeowza Sunday evening, where you can enjoy the feline delights of Carnival of the Cats #308.

Update 2: CotC #308 is up.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010


Eric, the Straight White Guy, is apparently suffering from an unfortunate medical condition. Please join me in wishing him a speedy recovery.

As unfortunate medical conditions often do, this reminds me of a joke my buddy Irwin likes to tell. Seems there was a young lad who, while taking a leak, had the misfortune of having the toilet seat fall, whereupon his little penis was smashed between the seat and the rim of the bowl.

The boy’s wails of pain brought the nursemaid a-running. She immediately figured out what happened and began gently stroking his petzl in order to try to comfort him.

The lad’s sobbing gradually abated. Still sniffling, he said to the nursemaid, “Now, kiss it.”

She answered, “You and your father should both rot in hell.”


Groundhog Day
©2006 King Features Syndicate.

Or, the Day of the Land-Beaver. Groundhog Day.

To call Groundhog Day an actual holiday may be a bit excessive. Nobody gets the day off, nobody gets time-and-a-half, no special festive meals are prepared and consumed. Call it, rather, a Folk Celebration... and a rather ridiculous one at that, in which a bloated marmot is assumed to have weather prognosticative abilities. Statistics would seem to indicate otherwise.

I’d say, “Only in America,” but that’d be inaccurate. Our Canadian friends observe this silly-ass occasion, too.

The day received a shot in the arm from the eponymous 1993 film, in which Bill Murray’s character, a newsman sent to cover the festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and who relives February 2 over and over again until he “gets it right.” [By “gets it right,” the film script apparently means “figures out how not to be a Gaping Asshole any more.”]

I‘d be horrified at the prospect of reliving one day over and over again. Like this guy:

Thank goodness everyone knows that’s impossible...

Groundhog Day
©2006 King Features Syndicate.

Or, the Day of the Land-Beaver. Groundhog Day.

To call Groundhog Day an actual holiday may be a bit excessive. Nobody gets the day off, nobody gets time-and-a-half, no special festive meals are prepared and consumed. Call it, rather, a Folk Celebration... and a rather ridiculous one at that, in which a bloated marmot is assumed to have weather prognosticative abilities. Statistics would seem to indicate otherwise.

I’d say, “Only in America,” but that’d be inaccurate. Our Canadian friends observe this silly-ass occasion, too.

The day received a shot in the arm from the eponymous 1993 film, in which Bill Murray’s character, a newsman sent to cover the festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and who relives February 2 over and over again until he “gets it right.” [By “gets it right,” the film script apparently means “figures out how not to be a Gaping Asshole any more.”]

I‘d be horrified at the prospect of reliving one day over and over again. Like this guy:

Thank goodness everyone knows that’s impossible...

Groundhog Day
©2006 King Features Syndicate.

Or, the Day of the Land-Beaver. Groundhog Day.

To call Groundhog Day an actual holiday may be a bit excessive. Nobody gets the day off, nobody gets time-and-a-half, no special festive meals are prepared and consumed. Call it, rather, a Folk Celebration... and a rather ridiculous one at that, in which a bloated marmot is assumed to have weather prognosticative abilities. Statistics would seem to indicate otherwise.

I’d say, “Only in America,” but that’d be inaccurate. Our Canadian friends observe this silly-ass occasion, too.

The day received a shot in the arm from the eponymous 1993 film, in which Bill Murray’s character, a newsman sent to cover the festivities in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and who relives February 2 over and over again until he “gets it right.” [By “gets it right,” the film script apparently means “figures out how not to be a Gaping Asshole any more.”]

I‘d be horrified at the prospect of reliving one day over and over again. Like this guy:

Thank goodness everyone knows that’s impossible...

Monday, February 01, 2010


...because they have teeth.

Welcome to the world of, home of the most twisted e-cards on the Inter-Webbynet. Each one is a mini-video, roughly a minute in length... and most of ’em are completely deranged.

Take a look through the various e-cards available. Send one to a friend.

You might even recognize one of the actors.