Saturday, December 31, 2005

I'm paying for a white Christmas

Christmas morning, we go to wake the girl up and the first thing she asks isn't, "Did santa come?" No, it's "Is there snow outside?" No, but it's 50 and raining, will that do?

And why not? Every single Christmas special and movie is filled with snow -- can't have Christmas without snow. Unless you're the Little Drummer Boy living in the desert, then your home will be burned and your parents will be raped and murdered. Later you will be forced into a life of servitude. I'm sure there's a point to all that, but with all the hysterical screaming and crying I know no one who's made it to the end. Then the nightmares halt any further viewing attempts.

So we're thinking about scheduling a Christmas vacation for snow. Probably not the next one, but soon, while Santa is still real.

My first thought, having been to Grand Marais and camped in the Boundary Waters, was the Gunflint Lodge. Doesn't this sound fun:
The snows keep coming and everything is white and beautiful. The lake has frozen over and the timber wolves are starting to roam about on the ice. Firewood is stacked by each cabin for a warm toasty evening while you are curled up with a favorite book.
The deer have started to come in for their winter handouts and we have about a ton of corn stored, as we plan ahead.

The crosscountry ski trails are all open and groomed. The trail groomer is out nearly every day setting tracks and keeping everything perfect for excellent skiing. The sled dogs have arrived for the winter and the mushers have them out on the trails every day getting them in shape for trail rides.

Guests that came up on our decorating weekends did a bang up job on the lodge and grounds-- the Christmas trees are up and decorated, garlands hang everywhere around the lodge and on the outside light poles, and strings of white lights illuminate the outside of the lodge come evening.

Our chef has an all new winter menu that has some very tasty selections. He is featuring more entrees of the country. Among his new choices are an Elk steak, a big double bone pork chop, new walleye recipes, new pasta selections, new salads, and new breads and desserts.

Otherwise, ski resorts seem the most likely spot for snow and activities.
Also in Minnesota is Lutsen Ski resort along the North Shore.

Within driving distance of Atlanta are the North Carolina resorts. Though actual snow could be a bit of a gamble.

Then there are the usual slopes out West and in the Northeast. Never been to any of them, but our first thought was more towards a New England style Christmas...whatever that is. Then we had the idea of doing a couple days in New York - see the Rockettes, go skating, do some shopping, then head for New England or Maine.

And then we found Rovaniemi, Finland otherwise known as Santa's hometown. There's a Christmas village, reindeer, carolers, parades, elves, etc. And at the Christmas village, there's a big sendoff as Santa leaves to deliver toys! How cool is that.

Rovaniemi is also the capital of Lapland. Arctic safari, anyone? It's also cold and dark. For December, the average high is -7.7 celsius and the average low is -17. Sun rises at 10am and sets at 2pm. Ok, so we'll need new coats.

List of sites:

Going to Finland could be a hassle. Checking Orbitz for New York to Helsinki, fares aren't that bad. Around $500 roundtrip. Didn't see any non-stop flights, so with at least one stop, it's a 12 hour journey. Then we still need to factor in travel from Atlanta and Helsinki to Rovaniemi.

Still, other than the expense, Santa City is getting the biggest wow factor from us. We'll see. Recommendations are welcome. we require snow and over-the-top Christmas celebration would be appreciated.

The Washington Post ran a travel article Christmas about traveling in Finland [link]. This has been printed and filed away:
A reindeer named Charlie pulled Santa to the door of our lodge. We skied, tobogganed down a chute lighted by flaming torches, slept a major part of one night in a four-bedroom igloo, toured husky dog and reindeer farms, and repeatedly warmed ourselves with hot mulled cider served in wooden cups. All the while, the snow kept falling.


Back at the lodge, the cooks have prepared a traditional Finnish Christmas Eve dinner of reindeer, salmon and duck. After dessert, word goes out that Santa has been spotted. He arrives in a small sleigh pulled by a single reindeer, the aforementioned Charlie.

While the kids stand by to await the distribution of presents (the hotel works with parents to make sure Santa gets the wish list straight), Maddie and I go out to meet Charlie. His owner and driver, Markku Rauhala, an English-speaking Sami in traditional native costume, invites us to talk to the animal but tells us that reindeer are shy, gentle creatures that prefer not to be touched.

Getting news the old fashioned way: gossip

Here's how little I think of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and most news organizations in Atlanta. The Sugar Bowl was moved to Atlanta and Atlanta police are refusing parade floats from throwing beads. How did I learn this? From reading Reader Iam in Iowa, who is reading the New York Times.

Also points out how little attention I pay to college football.

Better not interfere with our puppet show plans.

Friday, December 30, 2005

Quoting quoted quotes

Ann Althouse is listing her quotes of the year. I left a comment with some of my favorites. I pulled them from my archives, so I won't repeat them here.

I did list my favorite pop culture quote as being from Lost when Mr. Eko tells Locke "Do not mistake coincidence for fate." Great quote and it works on so many levels for the show. Good to keep in mind for life, as well. Back to Lost, with the betting money on Mr. Eko being a priest or having a religious background, that would add even more subtext.

That's a good quote, but the one that probably caused the most emotion in our house was from Serenity. I'm of course referring to Wash's triumphant: "I am a leaf on the wind. Watch me soar".

And, then...all I can say is "Fuck you, Joss Whedon." Sincerely, bill.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Empirical science of shaftology

Neal Stephenson is a friggin' genius. I won't say much more than that because discussing Stephenson can quickly turn me into slobbering fanboy idiot.

bonus link - Slashdot interview with Neal (October 2004).

In his Best Links of 2005, Jason Kottke listed the Neal Stephenson interview in Reason Magazine. Cool, I'll reread that. Doing so reminded me there were a couple items I meant to follow up on, but didn't. Now that I have this experimental brain dump on the web, I have a place to list them.

I want to read George Dyson’s Darwin Among the Machines. This was an influence on Stephenson's Baroque Cycle. Yes, I did buy the Deluxe Limited Edition for each volume; and no, you can't touch them.

And the way Stephenson discusses Walter Wink and some of his ideas, made me want to follow that thread. Here's a link to Walter Wink and I hope to come back and investigate.

I've clipped the Q&A related to Walter Wink:
Reason: You gave a speech at the Computers, Freedom, and Privacy Conference a few years back in which you suggested that the focus on issues like encryption was too narrow, and that we should give more attention to what theologian Walter Wink calls “domination systems.” This surprised some of the attendees, partly because it reached outside the usual privacy/free speech issue set and partly because, hey, you were citing a theologian. What brought you to Walter Wink, and what other light do you think theologians can shed on our approaches to government?

Stephenson: This probably won’t do anything to endear me or Wink to the typical reason reader, but I was made aware of him by a Jesuit priest of leftish tendencies who had been reading his stuff.

It’s almost always a disaster when a novelist decides to become political. So let me just make a few observations here on a human level—which is within my comfort zone as a novelist—and leave it at that.

It’s clear that the body politic is subject to power disorders. By this I mean events where some person or group suddenly concentrates a lot of power and abuses it. Power disorders frequently come as a surprise, and cause a lot of damage. This has been true since the beginning of human history. Exactly how and why power disorders occur is poorly understood.

We are in a position akin to that of early physicians who could see that people were getting sick but couldn’t do anything about it, because they didn’t understand the underlying causes. They knew of a few tricks that seemed to work. For example, nailing up plague houses tended to limit the spread of plague. But even the smart doctors tended to fall under the sway of pet theories that were wrong, such as the idea that diseases were caused by imbalanced humors or bad air. Once that happened, they ignored evidence that contradicted their theory. They became so invested in that theory that they treated any new ideas as threats. But from time to time you’d see someone like John Snow, who would point out, “Look, everyone who draws water from Well X is getting cholera.” Then he went and removed the pump handle from Well X and people stopped getting cholera. They still didn’t understand germ theory, but they were getting closer.

We can make a loose analogy to the way that people have addressed the problem of power disorders. We don’t really understand them. We know that there are a couple of tricks that seem to help, such as the rule of law and separation of powers. Beyond that, people tend to fall under the sway of this or that pet theory. And so you’ll get perfectly intelligent people saying, “All of our problems would be solved if only the workers controlled the means of production,” or what have you. Once they’ve settled on a totalizing political theory, they see everything through that lens and are hostile to other notions.

Wink’s interpretation of the New Testament is that Jesus was not a pacifist milksop but (among other things) was encouraging people to resist the dominant power system of the era, that being the Roman Empire. Mind you, Wink is no fan of violence either, and he devotes a lot of ink to attacking what he calls the Myth of Redemptive Violence, which he sees as a meme by which domination systems are perpetuated. But he is clearly all in favor of people standing up against oppressive power systems of all stripes.

Carrying that forward to the present day, Wink takes a general interest in people in various places who are getting the shaft. He develops an empirical science of shaftology, if you will. (Of course he doesn’t call it shaftology; that’s just my name for it.) He goes all over the world and looks at different kinds of people who are obviously getting the shaft, be they blacks in apartheid South Africa, South American peasants, or residents of inner-city neighborhoods dominated by gangs. He looks for connections among all of these situations and in this way develops the idea of domination systems. It’s not germ theory and modern antibiotics, but it is, at the very least, a kind of epidemiology of power disorders. And even people who can’t stomach the religious content of his work might take a few cues from this epidemiological, as opposed to theoretical/ideological, approach.

Tips for ordering wine

I rarely order wine in a restaurant because I can't stand the markup. They want me to pay $30 for something I could pick up for $8 at the grocery store? And that's the cheap stuff. No thanks, I'll pass. If in the mood, then I'll hit ye olde wine shoppe and get a $30 bottle for my $30.

But I've recently read two posts on ordering wine in restaurants that contain good advice and are worth keeping in mind.

First, there's Waiter Rant with How to order Wine Without Looking Like an Asshole. More of an etiquette guide for the novice wine drinker or, more so, the arrogant wine drinker who doesn't know what the hell he's doing but thinks he looks good (and the masculine pronoun is very appropriate here, as this is behavior rarely exhibited by women). To sum up: don't show off and don't show up the waiter; as the Waiter says, "Its wine, not the Blood of Christ. Don't worship it. Enjoy it."

Second, Meg Hourihan's How to order a good bottle of wine. Interesting strategy, that doesn't require wine knowledge and makes picking a bottle more of a logic puzzle: "What I look for is a slight discrepancy, like if there's something that's a bit older than its peers but whose price doesn't seem to be correspondingly high." Quick tip: pick the wine that's mid-range in age and price.

Or stay home and just make your own. With a kit, it's simpler than brewing beer and when I made two batches a couple years ago I think I priced it out at $2/bottle. And that was buying the bottles new. Save your bottles to reuse them and subsequent batches will be even cheaper.

Song of the day: His Truth Is Marching On

Didn't listen to much new music this year, but one CD I did buy and enjoy was Haughty Melodic by Mike Doughty. Mike was the lead singer for Soul Coughing and since then has released a number of solo CDs. How do you pronounce Doughty, anyway? Should it rhyme with "haughty"? Or maybe it's Doe-tee? Or Doe-ga-tee? No clue.

Nice CD, I recommend it. This isn't necessarily my favorite track, but it is lyrically interesting. Discuss.

His Truth Is Marching On
They say that God is great
They say that God is love
And I believe them
Don't fear the random fate;
I trust the hand of the almighty and the infinite

His truth
Is marching on
His truth is marching on

Let me know your enormity and my tininess and
Help me see your infinity and my finite-ness and

I'm fucking starved for love
I deeply need to feel connection with the infinite
I want the nourishment
I need to drink it just like water, and it will sustain me

My heart is yearning now
My arms are aching for some girl or other, didn't want me
And still I need you more
Need you to soothe this searing sadness, and the nameless gnawing

I'd rather have the flu

While I've never had any interest in taking a cruise, I really have nothing bad to say about the Dave Matthews Band. In fact, I have nothing to say about them. I neither like nore dislike their music, it's just out there. But I was looking to see if Mike Doughty had any concert dates and I see he's booked on the Dave Matthews cruise ship:
The fun begins the minute we leave port, kicking off the Dave Matthews & Friends Caribbean Cruise Getaway with a Welcome Party on the pool deck with music and a complimentary open bar. From there, you’ll probably want to join us for a memorable dining experience before you begin to enjoy performances by some of our many featured Artists. From headliners in the Showroom to intimate Artist performances poolside, there will be music everywhere. After midnight, parties heat up in each venue culminating in a non-stop dance party. Of course, there are other choices as well, from Casino action to an Adult Comedy Showcase or maybe an impromptu performance in the Schooner Piano Bar by one of our star Artists.

Check out the artists. Guess the coast guard won't have any problem finding these two ships. Just look for the giant clouds of pot smoke. Even the dolphins will get a contact high from following. I could see something like this being fun, except for the fans. For as innocuous as the Dave Matthews music is, the fans are a bit crazed. And the ones who would pay a minimum of $1200 just to be in close proximity to a musician are not stable human beings.

In case you were wondering, Dave & The Matthews will not be on the boat:
Will Dave Matthews & Friends be traveling and/or performing on the ships?No, Dave Matthews & Friends will be performing on the secret island near Nassau, Bahamas only.

Lost comment

I left a comment on someone's site and now can't find it. Actually, I may have left two. It was my first visit and I thought I'd be able to recreate my steps. Also thought I'd copied the link, but none that I have work. So it's just floating out there, probably forgotten, maybe replied to and awaiting further comments.

I can't even remember what the original post was about. I barely remember my comment. Trying to recreate it, I think I was agreeing with two previous comments and added that "margarine is evil." Which it is, but doesn't work well as a bread crumb to find my way back.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

My Kwanzaa story

Tiffany Cochran is a news reader in for the Atlanta NBC affliate. I don't remember why, but we used to watch their morning news, until Tiffany uttered one too many stupidities. We left at least 5 (6, 7?) years ago and haven't watched the news on that station since.

According to her bio, she had 6 years of broadcast experience before showing up at WXIA. You couldn't tell. She was one of the worst readers I'd ever seen. Stumbling, mush-mouthed, never knew where to look, and her copy was written for dumb second graders. We would watch just to laugh. I've seen better newscasters in West Virginia holding their copy in front of their faces.

Back to Kwanzaa. For the sake of argument, let's say it was "Kuumba," day 7. Here is Tiffany's transgression:
Today is Kuuma, which in African means...

I never heard how she finished her sentence because I was too busy yelling at the television. Did she really just call African a language? Yep, that is just too ignorant for air. It's a huge freakin' continent, with many countries and many languages. For the record, Tiff, the language you were looking for is Swahili.

In the scheme of things, it probably isn't that big a deal, just consider it the straw that broke the camels back. Either Tiffany is that dumb or the station thinks its viewers are that dumb. Either way, they've lost me as a news viewer forever.

Not that it's relevant - just kind of interesting - she is Johnnie Cochran's daughter.

Calvin & Hobbes is sold out

Did you forget to buy your massive copy of The Complete Calvin and Hobbes? If so, you're too late.

Here's what it says at
Limited quantities: Due to the number of copies printed, The Complete Calvin and Hobbes is currently unavailable. The publisher is planning to reprint this title in April 2006 and copies will become available soon afterward. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
But check your local bookstores. Checking inventory at, it looks like a couple of my local stores still have copies for $105.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Seriously, WTF happened?

Former Pitcher Reardon Charged With Robbery
Filed at 11:28 a.m. ET

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) -- Jeff Reardon, one of the top relief pitchers in history, blamed medication for depression after his arrest for a jewelry store robbery.

Police said Tuesday that the 50-year-old Reardon, retired since 1994 and sixth in career saves, walked into Hamilton Jewelers at the Gardens Mall on Monday and handed an employee a note saying he had a gun and the store was being robbed.

Reardon, who starred with the Montreal Expos, Minnesota Twins and Boston Red Sox, fled the store with an undisclosed amount of cash. Police found him at a nearby restaurant, recovered the stolen money and charged him with armed robbery.

Lt. David O'Neill said Reardon did not have a gun and offered no resistance when he was handcuffed.

''He said it was the medication that made him do it and that he was sorry,'' O'Neill said.

My Hanukkah story

Back in the last century, one of my jobs was with a large private label credit card company. If a store wanted a credit card, we'd handle everything - printing cards, billing, customer service, etc. Lot's of small mall stores, but plenty of huge multi-state corporations.

The group I was in would proof sample billing runs before the billings were mailed. Each state might have their own interest rates and promotional plans, and every single one would have to be verified that it was calculating correctly. We'd do this four days out, then compare another sample the day of mailing. If anything was calculating or printing wrong, the entire printing of statements would be shut down until fixed.

It wasn't just the math we'd proof, but also promotional messages. These could be related to specific locations; such as, in December, one store would include Happy Hanukkah messages, but only for specific ZIP codes. On the first proof, all was well, Hanukkah was appearing for the appropriate ZIP codes. Then a problem occurs during the final proof.

We worked a small crew for weekends and over the cube walls I hear someone shout "What's this CHA-NOO-KA?" Anybody else seeing this?"

The rest of us head over, because this sounds interesting. Oh, she meant "Chanukah." And it's hitting the same parameters for Hanukkah, so no problem. Someone changed the programming so the statements would get either Chanukah or Hanukkah, but they're going to the correct addresses, so we're cool.

Except, we're not. Everyone else is freaking out.
them: We have to stop this, I've never seen CHA-NOO-KA before. This is wrong.
me: Look, it isn't CHA-NOO-KA, it's pronounced the same way as Hanukkah. It's the same thing, just spelled different.
them: This is bad. We better call [boss].
me: Look, here's the dictionary. See? They're the same.
them: No, I gotta call [boss].
me: Ok, but he's gonna laugh.

Our boss was Jewish. Everyone knew this. Because of his community work, he was selected to be an Olympic torch bearer when the flame was winding through Atlanta for the 1996 Olympics. Nice guy.
them: Hello, [boss]? Yeah, we got a problem with the statements. Some of them are printing Hanukkah and some of them are printing CHA-NOO-Ka, with a CH?

So, that is why, if you ever hear me say CHA-NOO-KA, that's the story.

Maybe tomorrow I'll write my Kwanzaa story and the idiocy that is Johnny Cochran's daughter.

The end of Bridezilla

Well, it's done. The Foodwhore completes the saga of the bridezilla wedding. Let's recap:
  1. Post 1:Not Ok. The way you speak to your mother like she's an insignificant speck. She's footing the bill. And she's too gracious to give you a smack-down in front of people.

  2. Post 2:We're at 450, now.
    In three days we've added 100 guests.

  3. Post 3:But I can tell you that 332 is the magical number.
    Not 450.
    Bridezilla is a twit.
    More, later.

Then we get to the payoff:
As I said, there were 332 people there by our plate count. Not 450. Oh, but we had enough food for 450. There was food everywhere. And while we had to make that much food - because that's what they ordered. I was angry to think of all the extra work we had to do based on the dramatic thinking of a white-dressed twit.

The tension of the night was palpable - it wasn't just us. The Parents of Bridezilla, The Parents of The Groom, the guests, even. It wasn't your average night where people are laughing and celebrating.

Everyone had been privy to the monster that Bridezilla had become, and everyone was tired of her.

But, in a surprise twist, The Foodwhore doesn't deliver the Bridezilla's comic comeuppance. Instead, we get the mother of the bride, ever gracious, feeling no need to help rebuild the bridges her daughter has burnt. The sadness of the mother just takes all the fun out if it. Go read it, it is just brutal.

Monday, December 26, 2005

More than a Christmas Carol

Not me, that would be Charles Dickens. I never knew that he had written more than one Chrismas tale. Obviously, they're less popular, but I wonder if they're any good.

Found while paging through my old copy of "The Creators, A history of heroes of the imagination, by Daniel J. Boorstin:
Whenever Dickens discovered a public enthusiasm, he responded. His first long Christmas story, A Christmas Carol<1843), proved a spectacular success, selling six thousand copies on the day of publication. Even the jaundiced Lord Jeffrey (1773-1850) congratulated him for having "done more good by this little publication, fostered more kind feelngs, and prompted more positive acts of beneficience, than can be traced to all the pulpits and confesionals in Christendom since Christmas 1842." Thackeray proclaimed it "a national benefit, and to every man or woman who reads it a presonal kindness." Naturally, Dickens decided to make it the first of an annual Christmas serial. He followed it with The Chimes, The Cricket on the Hearth, The Battle of Life, and The Haunted Man - - all profitable, but none quite up to the first number. Few of Dickens's other writings had involved him so personally as A Christmas Carol . He had "wept and laughed, and wept again, and excited himself in a most extraordinary manner in the composition; and thinking whereof he walked about the black streets of London fifteen and twenty miles many a night when all other folks had gone to bed."

These other stories are not easy to come by. Searching, here's a volume containing A Christmas Carol, The Chimes, The Crickets on the Hearth. The Battle of Life may not be available for e reasonable price; as we; as well as The Haunted Man.

The following links are to versions by theProject Gutenberg:

Saturday, December 24, 2005

This year's Christmas compilation

Thought I had a nice Christmas mix this year; then the wife critiqued, "My God, that's depressing. It makes me want to slit my wrists." Since I was going for a melancholy/wintery/jazzy mix I knew I was close. I reluctantly dropped the Tom Waits - "Christmas Card from a Hooker" really doesn't mention christmas, spread out Ellington's Nutcracker, bracketed the more downer selections, and added a couple of lighter tunes.

Ok, now we're cooking. I'm thinking this really works. A couple songs are a bit on the down side, but they're not without hope. Then there's my find of the season, Prudence Johnson singing Cantique de Noel. The beauty of this song should carry throughout the rest of the mix. I give a copy to a friend who later tells me, "That's the most depressing CD I've ever listened to."

Cripes, they think this is depressing, wait until next year. Everyone has 11 months to learn to appreciate good music or else.

I have a spare CD burned and ready to go. If anyone wishes to email me an address I'll stick it in the mail. (

Hope it doesn't drive you to drink.
Merry Christmas,

1. Christmas Wrapping, The Waitresses
2. Toot Toot Tootie Toot, Duke Ellington
3. Fairytale of New York, The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl
4. Peanut Brittle Brigade, Duke Ellington
5. Cantique de Noel, Prudence Johnson
6. Sugar Rum Cherry, Duke Ellington
7. A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, Manhattan Transfer
8. Chinoiserie, Duke Ellington
9. Port Starboard Sox, The McGarrigle Sisters
10. Back Door Santa, Clarence Carter
11. Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Jackson 5
12. Santa's Blues, Charles Brown
13. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Jimmy Smith
14. Christmastime, Aimee Mann & Michael Penn
15. Rudolph the Manic Reindeer, Los Lobos
16. Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues, John Wesley Harding
17. I Believe in You, Sinead O'Connor
18. Auld Lang Syne, Michael Doucet
19. Dueling Christmas Carols, Joe Soucheray & Patrick Reusse

Friday, December 23, 2005

Music Meme

Music meme copied from PZB:
Open your music player and set it to shuffle. Write down the first line of lyrics from each of the first 25 songs that come up. (Skip any instrumental pieces.) Let people guess, and then underline or strike out songs as they are correctly identified.

I'm horrible with lyrics, so even with the music I own I did very poorly.
OK, here ya go. I've hidden the answer after the lyric, so after guessing, highlight to see how you did. Use the comments to tell me which ones you got right or to tell me how much my music sucks:
  1. Her breath began to speak as she stood right in front of me Devils Dance Floor, Flogging Molly
  2. And they’ll lay you down low in the easy Glad Tidings, Van Morrison
  3. Don't let no one no one get you down Don't let no one get you down, WAR
  4. I don't love you, but I'm lost thinking of you Drowning, Joe Jackson
  5. Do you remember me, long ago First Glimmer, Paul Westerberg
  6. When I was a child Runnung in the night Hounds of Love, The Futureheads or Kate Bush
  7. Well ya play that Tarantella All the hounds they start to roar Tango Till They're sore, Tom Waits
  8. His ?? shirt is whiskey soaked he’s got a 38 pocket of his coat Quickstep, Trailer Bride
  9. I sit in my room looking out at the rain Tear Drop, Lee Andrews and the Hearts
  10. Somebody better put out the cat Life of Riley, Pere Ubu
  11. Ole man trouble just leave me alone Ole Man Trouble, Otis Redding
  12. friends warehouse pain attack their own kind The Unheard Music, X
  13. When you walk into a party it's a formal universeThe Etiquette Song, Animaniacs
  14. Hardly seems a long time, just a minute of the day Ace, Jimmy Buffett
  15. Experiments and tests have shown we sleep sounder when alone Bed, Loudon Wainwright III
  16. Spent too much money I looked far too glad Footprints, Squeeze
  17. Everyone's wrong and you can't get along End it all, The Muffs
  18. Can I tell you something ? Can I tell you a story? Taut, PJ Harvey and John Parish
  19. I'm on my way from misery to happiness I'm on my way, The Proclaimers
  20. T-Model Boogie(3x) T-Model Boogie, Rosco Gordon
  21. Ding dong the witch is dead Mucnkins from the Wizard of Oz soundtrack
  22. Its gripping, Im ripping I haven't just been sipping 365 Days, Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  23. Me try what about you Me & You, Severin
  24. I never made it as a wise man How you remind me, Nickleback
  25. Here come the big chief My Indian Red, Dr. John

Truffled Chicken

One email discussion list I subscribe to is all about Molecular Gastronomy (more info). The list isn't very active, but does have interesting discussions with chefs all over the world. Most of the cooking, as well as the science is above my head. Still, fun to read.

I want to pull bits and pieces of a recent thread. The first email announces an interesting way to prepare a chicken:
I am working in a small village in Spain near the French Border at a classical restaurant. Last sunday the chef and I prepared a classical french recipe more or less a truffled chicken also called "chicken in half mourning". After cleaning the birds, slices of truffles are inserted between the skin and meat on all sides of the bird.

After they are finished they are individually wrapped in a linen
table cloth and buried in the ground for 14 days. It is winter here
and is normally about 0-4 degrees celcius. The reason of this is
because it was believed that if you put the truffle back in the ground
it will continue to produce its aroma.

Does anyone know if there is any validity in this recipe? I will let
you know how they come out on the 31st of December.

Wow, I'm intrigued. Burying foods isn't uncommon, but was mainly done before refrigeration. Let's look at some of the responses.

Maybe refrigeration would work:
I am not aware of any scientific explanation to support putting a truffle back in the ground. Mind you, if the truffle is placed as you say within the chicken, buried and held at a low temperature then nature is producing a natural vac pac. There will be no fragrance molecules lost into the atmosphere. The fragrance of the truffle should slowly penetrate into the flesh of the chicken. I believe this to be a sensible old recipe. although I don't believe that the truffle gains anything else from being re-buried. You may achieve a similar result buy vac pac and refrigeration at low temp.

sounds like a classic technique:
Probably the fact of buring the chicken is to rotten it. Since the middle ages "volaille" has been let to rotten. It is said that putrefaction is a biological way of "cooking". This will soften the chicken's meat.

Secondly the fact that is was thought that truffle could keep on generating aroma once reburied i think is improbable....but all that i have just said are hypothesis and not scientifically proved (as usually in Kitchen).

Try a vacuum seal:
Truffle is aromatic and will diffuse into the chicken over time. Putting the chicken in the ground is highly likely to be the ancient equivalent of putting it in a refrigirator. You would get the same effect (but better controlled, and more hygenic) by putting truffle under the skin and wrapping it in plastic (or better yet vacuum sealing) in the fridge for a few days.

The original chef responds:
I agree with all the previous comments from ***, ****, and *****. Nevertheless, I will continue doing it in the ground, because although the effect is probably similar wrapped in plastic (and much more hygienic), the poetry in burying the chicken is wonderful.

And finally:
Well thanks everyone for the comments, but it seems that only time will tell. We kept one of the chickens at the restaurant in the fridge. So I will get back to you in the beginning of January to let you know how they turned out.

And I'll update when our chef does.

I did look for a recipe and found this Truffled Chicken from a show on the Canadian FoodTV. Does not involve burying the chicken.

I did find this explanation for Chicken in half mourning(google):
‘chicken in half-mourning’ in which black truffle slices are inserted under the skin, representing mourning coats worn at funerals. The poached chicken skin lays a translucent white chemise over the black funeral coat.

Final note. I've never tried truffle, though I would like to; however, when it comes to nasty truffle oil no one says it better than Poppy Z. Brite in this restaurant review:
Truffle oil is the ketchup of the modern foodie. I didn't make that up, but I fervently agree with it. Plus it tastes like ass.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Go watch this guy's movie

He's left me two comments linking to his movie. Two people exchanging gifts set to the Waitresses Christmas Wrapping.

Despite the fact that maybe 4 people spend more than 20 seconds a day here, he's a bit bitter he hasn't gotten more hits:
This hit mania hasn't helped me and mine. My short film at uses Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses as a soundtrack... but I'm not number one on anything, let alone google.

Well done you, anyway, eh?

Jeebus. With seeding skills like this, he'd probably try planting palm trees in Alaska. I cherish every soul who makes a wrong turn and lands on this site, but, dude, that was sad.

As a favor to me, all 3-4 of you, please watch his movie. That is if you want to watch two people unwrapping presents.

Yeah, this sounds more reasonable

So, maybe,Apple won't rule the world.

Bob Crossley addresses Why Apple won't put Dell out of Business:
There’s a big population of users out there who want to own Macs but can’t for a variety of reasons. Might be they need Windows for some key applications. Might be that the family ‘computer guru’ is a Windows user (likely) and won’t be able to support them if they own a Mac. For whatever reason, they sit on the fence, usually owning a PC, but looking longingly at the greener grass on the OS X side. A Windows compatible Mac would push them right off the fence.

So why won’t Apple put Dell out of business once those users flee? Because they don’t buy the majority of computers. Most computers are sold into corporate environments, and those will remain a Windows stronghold, no matter how sexy the new Apple machines are.

The name of the game in the IT world is manageability. There’s a multi-billion dollar industry built around managing the PC infrastructure of the modern business. Look at the problem of rolling a new version of an office suite out to 10,000 users. You can’t have the IT people visit 10,000 desktops with a CD in hand. You can’t even have all 10,000 users run the install themselves from a network share. You’d wind up with 10,000 variant copies as everyone chose different installation options. This is a support and management nightmare. When a user calls the helpdesk for support, you’d never know how their version of the suite was installed.

Sounds correct. I do think the landscape is changing, but the bigger the support issues, the slower a company will be to change. With individual home users, not tied down to Windows for work, there are fewer and fewer reasons to stay with Windows. Which is not to dismiss Microsoft. Despite my absolute stroke-inducing hatred of MS Word, they really do some superb software development. I think, in many cases, they've grown so huge, it's hard to make the changes they should make because they've too much of a legacy to support. Apple was small enough to tell everyone "OS 9 - it's pretty much dead. Better switch to OS X." Pissed a number of people off, but it let Apple move forward.

The maybe not so reasonable section
Speaking of changing landscapes, there's the Po Bronson book The First $20 Million is Always the Hardest, published in 1997. An entrepreneurial fairytale about the attempt to build the first sub $300 computer. Their software is based on the idea of the "network computer." This keeps popping up every couple years and I think we're close to seeing someone get it to work (cough Google Office cough). Computers and memory are cheap and getting cheaper. The money is in the software. Why not have a generic box that you plug in or WAP and access any software you want? I don't have the need to pay $649 for Photoshop, but maybe I'd pay $30 to rent it for a month. Download what you need to work when not connected and no longer worry about keeping up with updates and new plugins. It's all new everytime you access it.

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

I'm number 1 on Google!

Someone must be having a trivia contest and one of the questions is:
What did the waitress and the guy she's been chasing all year both forget on Christmas Eve?

Because checking my site meter, I've a handful of hits looking for that; including three from Information Systems, U.S. House of Representatives. I should complain about them wasting my tax dollars, but at least they're not making any more laws. What's odd, is that while most of these searches are from the Virginia and DC area, I'm also getting dinged from Chicago and St. Paul. Not to try and decipher the sitemeter numbers, but this was interesting enough to notice. I should also mention that someone showed up yesterday looking for penguin recipes. I wish I could have helped, lord knows I tried.

Couple more comments:
1. Cranberries. They forgot cranberries.
2. The group is "The Waitresses." Nowhere in the song does it say how the singer earns her living.
3. Based on 2, the question is invalid and unanswerable. Claim "trick question!"
4. I'm losing a lot of traffic after December 25. Over the past couple weeks, most of my hits have been for Christmas Wrapping and Kirsty MacColl and the Pogues.
5. I did get a few for King Kong and Dinner and a Movie, but I guess these weren't as humorous as I thought they were.

Will the BBC play BMFA?

From the Martha Wainwright email list:
BBC 6Music in London have given Martha the gift of a primetime show on Christmas Day to wrap up a fantastic year and to share 2 festive hours in her own unique way with you all. The show is broadcast from 1pm-3am on Christmas Day, via digital radio in the UK, and available worldwide online.

The show will also be archived online for a week, more details here:

Have a wonderful festive season.

Katrina cocktails

Poppy Z. Brite:
A local writer -- I think maybe it was Ronnie Virgets in Gambit -- reports having invented a cocktail to get him through the post-K days, the V-11: V-8 juice plus Vodka, Valium, and Vicodin. A kind friend sent me some of his pain pills, and I think I am going to invent the DEaD: Daiquiri (Eggnog) and Darvocet. It doesn't have quite the same ring as the V-11, but it will do.

And Apple shall rule the world

Brian Tiemann, my go to site for all things new in world of Apple, points to some interesting Mac speculation.

Red Sweater thinks the Intel Macs may drive Dell out of business:
A much under-discussed aspect of the new Intel Macs is that, as far as I have been able to glean, Apple has no plans to restrict the ability of users to install Windows on the machines. And why would they? That’s the secret weapon! In the market for a new laptop? Has to run Windows? Why buy a Dell when you can buy a Powerbook with all the same abilities, a sexier design, and the added bonus of being capable of running Mac OS X? Apple is about start selling PCs, and the slightest bit of marketing or consumer word-of-mouth about this fact should ignite a huge increase in hardware sales for Apple at the expense of other Intel-based computer manufacturers.
When Apple releases their first Intel-based computer, it will also be the first computer in history that has the ability to triple-boot Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, all with full performance and compatibility. When the computer maker whose designs have been the envy of the technology world for decades suddenly becomes the most compatible player on the block (Apple!?), you’re looking at a dangerous combination.

Brian is a little less optimistic:
The only unknown here is cost, and a Mac with Windows would certainly cost significantly more than a comparable Dell. Most people surely wouldn't have any reason to spend that money, just to get access to the Mac universe, regardless of how sanguine Jalkut is on the subject. But people within the tech industry would find it hard to resist.

Could this have been a factor in Apple's decision to go Intel? I kinda doubt it; but it would be a nice side effect, to be sure.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Get out of my kitchen

I read Glenn Reynolds' post on over-priced cookware and took a look at the Cuisinart multiclad cookware. This is a very good price. I've been upgrading my cookware to All-Clad stainless steel a pan at a time, but haven't picked any up in a while.

The All-Clad I do have I've picked up at a Williams-Sonoma outlet and it's still pricey. So I'm looking at the Cuisinart MCP-12 Multiclad Pro Stainless-Steel 12-Piece Cookware Set for $299 and thinking that's a great price.

The Cuisinart Multiclad looks comparable to the All-Clad and I couldn't find any red flag dissenting reviews. Maybe a tad lighter. Both can withstand temperatures above 500 degrees, so are heavy-duty and versatile. That's one of the main features that was keeping me away from some of the less expensive lines of stainless steel; such as Emerilware, for example. Even though Emerilware is made by All-Clad, the pans aren't cladded. Most pans that aren't cladded recommend never being heated higher than 450 degrees.

Quick check to make sure no one's giving me All-Clad for Christmas. No? Slightly disappointed. No problem, I'll get the Cuisinart. There's also a pricier line of Cuisinart multiclad TPC-7. Can't find anything that explains what the difference is and at the TPC-7 price I'd just go ahead and get the MCP-12.

Bonus points for I chose the free shipping option, 5-9 days, and the box was at the door in 3 days! Unwrapped everything, gave it a quick rinse, and put it on the racks. Looks real nice next to the All-Clad, has a comparable heft, and so far I have no complaints with how it cooks. Basically considering the crap I've been cooking on, anything would be an improvement, but this does seem as good as anything I've used in those high-priced cooking classes.

Looks like I'll be cooking Christmas dinner and Instapundit's Roast Lamb looks good. Though I'll be using a charcoal grill instead of gas, so more of a smoky flavor. Maybe if I use Bainbridge on Wine for the Merlot recommendation, I can make this an internet/blogger dinner.

Other cookware notes: I like to have a few pans of non-stick around, but I'm not a fan of Calphalon - pricey and stuff sticks. Never been impressed with the couple pans we have and I'll be rotating them out to the donate pile. Since non-stick surfaces eventually wear out, I've come around to the point of view that cheaper is better and just get new ones every few years. I also prefer something slicker than the hard-anodized surfaces of the Calphalon. At Target this Farberware at $40 or the T-Fal at $20 are good buys. The KitchenAid ceramic surfaces also look nice.

Also took the opportunity to order Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. And the Unmentionable Cuisine I came across when researching my Dinner and a Movie post.

Monday, December 19, 2005

Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

L. Frank Baum is overrated as a writer. Wizard of Oz is highly imaginative but the prose is fluid as a tub of molasses. Or clunky as a bag of junk repeatedly kicked down the stairs. It's as leaden as a big fat chunk of lead. Pick your metaphor.

Possibly his greatest abomination is The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus. I'm surprised Coca-Cola didn't sue his ass for besmirching the corporate image of their Santa.

I'll try to summarize: An infant is found by the wood-nymph, Necile. She reports to the Queen Zurline. She, along with the other immortals - Fairies, Knooks, and Ryls, were servants of the Great Ak. Necile raises the human child. One day Ak flies Claus around the world to acquaint him with other mortals. Claus decides to devote himself to the care of children and leaves the enchanted woods; but with the blessing of Ak and the promise that all beings will assist him. There's playing with children, making of toys, etc., etc,.... He borrows magic reindeer from the Knooks, however, he returns them later than agreed. After some negotiation, the Knooks agree to let Claus use the reindeer, but for only one night a year. Eventually, the Great Ak, pleased with the work Claus has performed, grants him immortality.

And that's pretty much it. One of the oddest parts occurs about halfway through the book. There are these Awgwas, who are neither mortal nor immortal. For some reason, they dislike Claus and steal the toys:
One of the principal sports of the Awgwas was to inspire angry passions in the hearts of little children, so that they quarreled and fought with one another. They would tempt boys to eat of unripe fruit, and then delight in the pain they suffered; they urged little girls to disobey their parents, and then would laugh when the children were punished. I do not know what causes a child to be naughty in these days, but when the Awgwas were on earth naughty children were usually under their influence.

After they attack Claus, the Great Ak grows angry:
It is your conceit that misleads you!" said Ak, sternly. "You are a transient race, passing from life into nothingness. We, who live forever, pity but despise you. On earth you are scorned by all, and in Heaven you have no place! Even the mortals, after their earth life, enter another existence for all time, and so are your superiors. How then dare you, who are neither mortal nor immortal, refuse to obey my wish?"

Then the Awgwas threaten to kill Claus. Oh, it's on. Might want to make the kids step out of the room for this next part.
But it is the Law that while Evil, unopposed, may accomplish terrible deeds, the powers of Good can never be overthrown when opposed to Evil. Well had it been for the King Awgwa had he known the Law!

His ignorance cost him his existence, for one flash of the ax borne by the Master Woodsman of the World cleft the wicked King in twain and rid the earth of the vilest creature it contained.

Greatly marveled the Tatary Giants when the spears of the little Knooks pierced their thick walls of flesh and sent them reeling to the ground with howls of agony.

Woe came upon the sharp-taloned Goblins when the thorns of the Ryls reached their savage hearts and let their life-blood
sprinkle all the plain. And afterward from every drop a thistle grew.

The Dragons paused astonished before the Fairy wands, from whence rushed a power that caused their fiery breaths to flow
back on themselves so that they shriveled away and died.

As for the Awgwas, they had scant time to realize how they were destroyed, for the ash switches of the Nymphs bore a
charm unknown to any Awgwa, and turned their foes into clods of earth at the slightest touch!

When Ak leaned upon his gleaming ax and turned to look over the field of battle he saw the few Giants who were able to run
disappearing over the distant hills on their return to Tatary. The Goblins had perished every one, as had the terrible Dragons, while all that remained of the wicked Awgwas was a great number of earthen hillocks dotting the plain.

And now the immortals melted from the Valley like dew at sunrise, to resume their duties in the Forest, while Ak walked
slowly and thoughtfully to the house of Claus and entered.

"You have many toys ready for the children," said the Woodsman, "and now you may carry them across the plain to the
dwellings and the villages without fear."

"Will not the Awgwas harm me?" asked Claus, eagerly.

"The Awgwas," said Ak, "have perished!"

And that is the charming story of the Christmas massacre. Moral: don't piss off immortals. And, yes, Rankin & Bass made a Christmas special.

Luckily I found this site with the complete text. Saved me from having to type all that. Read it, you'll be sure to regret it.

12/14/2007 update: previous link no longer seems to work. However, the entire work is at Project Gutenberg: Project Gutenberg link

Obscene Christmas song of the day

*this is post #200!*
Not that I spent a lot of time looking for one, but since I was given a CD of South Park Christmas songs, Merry fucking Christmas kinda jumped out at me.

And while I was also given some South Park video, if you've never seen the Spirit of Christmas, or need to download it, Throwing Things provides a link. It's the stirring tale of Jesus looking to explain things to Santa, with Brian Boitano saving the day. The Spirit of Christmas is also the video that started South Park:
It started when a Fox executive they'd met through contacts made at Sundance gave them $2,000 to make a video he could send as a Christmas card. "I did the animation using construction paper cutouts," Parker says, "and we both improvised the dialogue, screaming obscenities at each other in my basement while my mom was baking fudge upstairs. It cost $750 and we pocketed the rest."

I would like to say it's equally profane
Dude, don't say pigfucker in front of Jesus.

And respectful
Stan:Hey, Jesus! You have to understand that Santa is keeping the spirit of your birthday alive by bringing happiness and joy.
Kyle: Yeah. And Santa, you need to remember that if it weren't for Jesus, this day wouldn't even exist!
Santa: You're right kids. I'm sorry Jesus.
Jesus: No, no. It's me who should be sorry. I've been a right bastard. I'm sorry Kringle.

This song isn't from the Spirit of Christmas and because Mr. Garrison is a "right bastard" it doesn't have the timely message of brotherhood exhibited by Santa and Jesus setting aside their differences. Still, it makes me laugh.

Merry fucking Christmas
Mr. Garrison: I heard there is no Christmas
In the silly Middle East
No trees, no snow, no Santa Claus
They have different religious beliefs

They believe in Muhammad
And not in our holiday
And so every December
I go to the Middle East and say...

"Hey there Mr. Muslim
Merry fucking Christmas
Put down that book the Koran
And hear some holiday wishes.

In case you haven't noticed
It's Jesus's birthday.
So get off your heathen Muslim ass
and fucking celebrate.

There is no holiday season in India I've heard
They don't hang up their stockings
And that is just absurd!

They've never read a Christmas story.
They don't know what Rudolph is about
And that is why in December
I'll go to India and shout...

Hey there Mr. Hinduist
Merry fucking Christmas
Drink eggnog and eat some beef
And pass it to the missus.

In case you haven't noticed
It's Jesus's birthday
So get off your heathen Hindu ass
and fucking celebrate!

Now I heard that in Japan
Everyone just lives in sin
They pray to several gods
And put needles in their skin.

On December 25th
All they do is eat a cake
And that is why I go to Japan
And walk around and say...

Hey there Mr. Shintoist
Merry fucking Christmas
God is going to kick your ass
You infidelic pagan scum.

In case you haven't noticed
There's festive things to do
So lets all rejoice for Jesus
And Merry fucking Christmas to you.

On Christmas day I travel `round the world and say,
Taoists, Krishnas, Buddhists, and all you atheists too,
Merry Fucking Christmas, To You!

Quote of the day

Michael Schaub, at Bookslut
Who's responsible for introducing celebrities to poetry? Was it Ally Sheedy? Whoever it was, I wish I knew how to kick you.

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Quote of the day

Poppy Z. Brite, with another tale from New Orleans:
It's like the Gift of the Magi, but with Dixie beer.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Song of the day: One little Christmas tree

Written by Ronald N. Miller and Bryan Wells, the most well-known version is by Stevie Wonder.

Oh please Mr Father tree, the tallest of all
I'm so afraid and alone
Could one little Christmas tree so tiny and small
Light up someone's home

One little Christmas tree can light up a home
So one little child can find a toy
One little Christmas tree can light up a home
So one little heart can find some joy

One little angel who was riding a star
Cried as she looked down at the tree
Oh please Mr Father tree wherever you are
May I give him the star you gave to me

Then in the heavens came a voice from afar
A voice that was heard throughout the world
Go down little angel girl and give him your star
Tonight he'll light the world

One little Christmas tree can light up the world
So those who are lost may find their way
One little Christmas tree can light up the world
So all men may see you on Christmas Day

Friday, December 16, 2005

Duh, you think?

Actual headline:

Poor children more likely to die than their rich peers
New Zealand Herald - 15 Dec 2005
Children from lower-income households are more likely to die than those from medium- or high-income families, a study has revealed.

No comment

What isn't on my shopping list:
Stem to stern she's a little over eight feet long and 44 inches wide. I never got a chance to throw it on a scale but it's pretty close to 150 pounds and takes four people to take it out of its crate and mount it to the display stand; one person on the front, two on the sides and one underneath to guide the mounting point into the frame.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Christmas Carol podcast

Penguin Books is podcasting Dickens'A Christmas Carol in five parts. And it's free! Part one starts December 15 and is offered in a number of ways, including iTunes. Here's the direct mp3 download.

It's read by Geoffrey Palmer. He has a large number of acting credits.

Found at

I've been meme'd

Ugh, I’ve been tagged with a chainmail meme. While I appreciate the thought at being included, that’s about it. I guess it can be a topic to write about:
The first player of this game starts with the topic 'five weird habits of yourself,' and people who get tagged need to write an entry about their five weird habits as well as state this rule clearly. In the end, you need to choose the next five people to be tagged and link to their web journals. Don't forget to leave a comment in their blog or journal that says 'You are tagged' (assuming they take comments) and tell them to read yours."

  1. I have no weird habits. It's the rest of y'all that are freaks.
  2. I will suck all of the life out of a joke by searching and google and reporting back: "While I acknowledge that your intent was humor, what you've sent is factually incorrect and/or violates the laws of physics. That picture of the jackolope? It's taxidermy." To me, this is humorous. Actually, I'll usually leave out that part about accepting the attempt at humor and respond as clueless as possible. Even funnier.
  3. When watching Who's Line is it Anyway? and they show the piano player, I am required to yell out, "LooK! It's wedgehead." My wife responds, "And her lesbian lovers!" To which I finish with "Ahh, that never gets old." We've being doing this for 3-4 years.
  4. If we see anyone in a costume in front of a store, we must quote "You poor pathetic son of a bitch." It's from David Sedaris' Santaland Diaries.
  5. When in Cuba, I never accept the first or second hooker offered me. Always the third. Just something my mom taught me.

That's it. I'll let it die here rather than inflict it on five other strangers.


This will result in either a very funny post or a breaking news story on both Fox and CNN. Foodwhore updates:
And BridemMtherFuckingZilla (Sorry, mom. And, you know, others offeded with the cursing) calls in hysterics to add another 50 guests to the list.

We're at 450, now.

In three days we've added 100 guests.

And the same bride, earlier:
Not Ok. Your insistence upon calling me at home so you can bounce ideas off me at 11:00 at night.

Not Ok. The way you speak to your mother like she's an insignificant speck. She's footing the bill. And she's too gracious to give you a smack-down in front of people.

Not Ok. The incessent whining. Honestly, it's so annoying.

Not Ok. The way you interrupted me when you ran into me while I was out Christmas shopping with a friend.

Not Ok. Insisting to me that your mother doesn't know anything when she says that 350 will be attending the wedding. You say you invited 400 people and every single person will show up because they are so excited to see you get married. I've got news for you - you're dreaming.

Not Ok. Adding an entire course to the menu because you are certain people need more choice than the 14 things already offered.

Not Ok. Your incessant whining. Seriously, I mean it this time.

Seriously, anyone who ever thinks of hiring a caterer for anything, particularly a wedding, needs to read every word at Foodwhore and learn to behave like a sane and respectful adult.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Regrets not being in Kids in the Hall

Wednesday's at 10pm EST is a new show on TVland, Sit down comedy with David Steinberg. Audio and video clips are available here and at iTunes (under podcasts). Viewing the clip with Mike Myers, he reveals:
The person I met who was more influenced by the Pythons than me was Dave Foley, of the Kids in the Hall. Who's a good friend of mine. He always claims if I hadn't of joined Second City I'd have been in the Kids in he Hall. Which I kind of regret because they were so brilliant.

Merry Gravmas!

Sir Isaac Newton was born on December 25. What the future might be like (found here):
...Xian sighed. "My word. You see – you don’t know anything. Yes, Newton was the messiah who lived two thousand years ago, and came to save us all from irrationality. Today is his birthday."

Li looked impressed. "Say, what do you know! Where did this happen?"

"In a quasi-stable, in a little town called Cambridge, which was somewhere in Britain."

"That’s in Europe, isn’t it?" Li said.

"Oh, so you do know something."

"My friend Shao was in Europe last year," Li went on distantly. "His parents took him on a trip there to see the ruins. He said it was very dirty everywhere, with the streets full of beggars. And you can’t drink the water. It sounds like a strange place for a civilization like ours to have started from."

"Strange things happen…" Xiang thought for a while. "Actually, according to legend, it didn’t really start there."



"How do you mean."

"Supposedly it was already a holiday that some ancient Western barbarian culture celebrated before then, and we stole it. It was easier to let people carry on with the customs they’d grown used to, you see . . . At least, that’s how the story goes."

"I wonder what the barbarian culture was like," Li mused.

"Nobody’s quite sure," Xiang said. "But from the fragments that have been put together, it seems to have had something to do with worshipping crosses and fishes, eating holly, and building pyramids. It was such a long time ago now that—"

"Look!" Li interrupted, pointing excitedly. Outside the window, a levitation platform was rising into view, bearing several dozen happy-looking, colorfully dressed people with musical instruments. The strains of amplified voices floated in from outside. "Carol singers!" Li exclaimed.

Xiang smiled and spoke a command for the household communications controller to relay his voice to the outside. "Good morning!" it boomed from above the window as the platform came level.

The people on board saw the figures in the window and waved. "Merry Gravmas," a voice replied.

"Merry Gravmas to you," Xiang returned.

"May the Force be proportional to your acceleration."

"Are you going to sing us a carol?" Xiang inquired.

"But of course. Do you have a request?"

"No, I’ll leave it to you."

"Very well."

There was an introductory bar, and then,

"We three laws of orbiting are,
Ruling trajectories local and far.
Collisions billiard,
Particles myriad,
Planet and moon and star.
O-ooo . . ."

Merry Gravmas

Marisol Goes Downtown, Crosstown & Around Town

New email about Chef Pete and his restaurant, Marisol. The shop isn't open, yet; but he's cooking up a storm all over New Orleans. I've edited this down, a bit. If you want to be on their email list, go here:

Marisol Goes Downtown, Crosstown & Around Town

Marisol Downtown

King Bolden's
820 North Rampart Street
In the French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
Thursday, December 15, 2005
7pm - until ?

At the Grand Re-Opening of King Boldens's!

King Bolden's is the hottest new spot for late-night
partying. Named for the legendary trumpeter,
Buddy "King" Bolden, this swell saloon and jazz club
occupies the very spot where King Bolden was born.

Join owner Mario Madero at King Bolden's this
Thursday night from 7pm until the wee hours for a
Grand Opening party that includes:

* Fabulous, Fine Foods and Appetizing Appetizers
by Marisol's Chef Pete!
* A Holiday Bazaar of Hand-made Objets d'Arte by
Laura Guccione of "Little Shop of Fantasy"
* Dinky Doggie Fashions by Michael Cole

Marisol Crosstown

600 Poland Avenue
In the Bywater
New Orleans, Louisiana 70117
Sunday, December 18, 2005

Bacchanal goes to Jamaica...Chef Pete steers the Boat!

Bacchanal is the scene of Chef Pete's newest
culinary excursion...Jamaica!

Please join us for another outdoor extravaganza of
culinary camaraderie in Bacchanal's backyard as Chef
Pete cooks up Jamaican delights like:

* Jamaican Pepperpot Soup
* Akkra (Blackeyed Pea Fritters with Hot Pepper
* Jamaican-Style Greens
* Pidgeon Peas & Rice
* Beef Patties, Mon!
* Jerked Chicken
* Jamaica-Style Curried Lamb
* Jamaican Oxtail Stew
* Jamaican Rum Cake

Need more info? Call Chris at 948-9111.

Marisol Around Town

Chef Pete's Pates at a Deli Near You!

If you live in Metairie, then Martin's Wine Cellar on
the corner of Veterans Boulevard and Elmeer is near

Martin Wine Cellar stocks many varieties of Chef
Pete's handcrafted terrines and pate's. No
preservatives! No artificial stuff! Just freshly ground
meats, foie gras, dried fruits and spices.
Mmmmmmmmm....grab a jar of mustard, some crusty
bread, and a bottle of wine. Dee-lish!

437 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana 70116
504 943-1912


Thanks so much for reading this note. We hope to
see you real soon! Marisol wishes you a Merry
Christmas, Happy Hannakkah and Joyous Kwanzaa.
Best wishes, y'all!

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Living in New Orleans

I've been remiss in not linking more to Poppy Z. Brite. The author of Liquor and Prime, and her chef husband, has moved back to New Orleans. It's all good, so start at the top and start reading. And buy her books. Liquor is a damn fine read and while I didn't enjoy Prime as much, my opinion seems to be in the minority. She'll have a third one out this Spring or Summer - she's doing final edits now.

What's it like, back in New Orleans?
It's kinda like living in The Stand. We are definitely the Boulder Free Zone, and the Feds are Randall Flagg lurking over the mountains (though the highest mountain in Louisiana is only 500 feet). We don't know what he will do, but we doubt it will be good. Where's our Mother Abagail, though? Will Mitch Landrieu go into the wilderness and live on sticks and berries until he has a vision to send Oliver Thomas, Eddie Sapir, and Jackie Clarkson to Washington to be consumed by the Hand of God?

- It's real easy to park just about anywhere.

- It's easy to go to restaurants, if there are any open ones you want to go to.

Mood is occasionally cranky:

The guy's e-mail address is included in the print edition and Chris asked why I didn't e-mail him. I said, "Because I don't think I could say anything to him but YOU FUCKING DICKHOLE WAD OF RANCID FUCKJUICE AFTERBIRTH." Which would be satisfying, but points just don't get made that way. However, the astonished and admiring look on Chris' face as he asked me to repeat the insult imparted its own brand of satisfaction. No one has ever impugned my ability to cuss.

Also, our mayor is a backpedaling liar....

I also think his plan to force the hotel and tourism industry to share its wealth sounds vaguely communistic, but if I say that, you'll really think I'm a crank. So I didn't say it.

But when she isn't writing or swearing at idiots, she's checking out the old neighborhoods:
If you've read any of my recent books, you know something about the Lower Ninth Ward. If you haven't read the books, you've probably seen the neighborhood in the news lately. Very likely you've seen Lakeview too. Only in driving around looking for my Spiritualist churches over the past few days has it really hit me how many other New Orleans neighborhoods, just as devastated or nearly so, no one outside the city has ever heard of. Hell, some people in the city haven't heard of them. Earlier today I told a guy I'd cut my hand on Fiberglass while taking pictures in Hollygrove. He said, "What's Hollygrove?" It isn't that New Orleanians are ignorant about their city, but that there are so many wards, pockets, and casbahs, each with its own peculiar history, many of them overlapping. (For instance, if Rickey was a snootier type, he'd say he grew up in Holy Cross rather than simply the Lower Ninth Ward; however, G-man, whose house was on the other side of St. Claude Avenue, did not.) I want to share some of these neighborhoods using the Greater New Orleans Community Data Center's excellent neighborhood "snapshots":

“In the 1800s, Tremé was a prosperous, ethnically diverse community. In the 1960s, the Tremé’s thriving African American business district along Claiborne Avenue was destroyed to make way for the new I-10 interstate loop. With many long-time residents, Tremé is still an incredibly rich community with tremendous cultural roots and an amazing ability to persevere.” [Read more in the Neighborhood Snapshot]

As the former location of Storyville, Tremé is the cradle of jazz. Pre-K, it contained the African American Cultural Musuem and the important Seventh Ward Creole restaurants Dooky Chase and Willie Mae's Scotch House (which won a James Beard award earlier this year). Owners of these restaurants say they plan to reopen (though Willie Mae is in her 80s). Tremé sustained major flood and wind damage. Most of the areas I've seen are empty, though not completely deserted; some houses have been gutted and people are moving back in. There are still desperate signs spraypainted on some of the empty houses: PLEASE HELP. 20 PEOPLE. WE NEED FOOD. The historic black Catholic church, St. Augustine, sustained $400,000 in damage, but is operational and putting together a new church board, which will include my extremely forceful and capable friend Laura.

Click Poppy Z. Brite.

Gales of November

The S. S. Edmund Fitzgerald sank just over 30 years ago, November 10, 1975. The S. S. Anderson had been following about 10 miles behind the Fitzgerald and was the last ship to have had contact with them. When they pulled into Whitefish Bay the Coast Guard had them go back into the storm as part of the search effort - the nearest Coast Guard vessel was more than 24 hours away. One of the Anderson crewmen spoke his last will and testament into a tape recorder and sealed the tape in a glass jar with candle wax:
The leather jacket to Danny. Books and tapes to Sara. Toss the White Album on the water. The dog, dad. This letter to be played for my son in 20 years and not a day before today.

My dear Joshua, I'm in the midst of a great storm on Lake Superior. The Edmund Fitzgerald has been lost and my ship, the Arthur Anderson, has been sent to find her. The seas build behind us and there's green water on deck. This is my last voyage, I'm certain. As I write you this, you lie in your crib in Duluth. Months ago you left the water and entered the world. We are now passing each other. I have nothing more to give you that I haven't already: my guts, my brains, my bald spot. You will have no more of my face, my time, or my laughter. You will only have my heritage. I will father you from within.

This sailor did survive, but it's one of the many heartbreaking voices heard in Gales of November, a retelling of the loss of the Edmund Fitzgerald with the words of the widows, other sailors on the lake that night, and the final radio transmissions from the captain of the Fitzgerald. Weaving the personal stories with historical facts, Gales of November provides a chilling tale and a worthy memorial.

This is a concert version of the Steven Dietz play, Ten November, with Kevin Kling as narrator. Prudence Johnson, Claudia Schmidt and Ruth MacKenzie provide the voices for other roles, including those of the widows, in addition to providing the musical interludes.

Of those I'm familiar with, Kevin Kling is also a playwright and can often be heard on NPR's All Things Considered. Prudence Johnson is one of my favorite vocalists, and for you non Minnesotans can occassionally be heard on A Prairie Home Companion. Peter Ostroushko also has many appearances on A Prairie Home Companion.

Minnesota Public Radio broadcast the production on November 26 and has it available in RealAudio in two parts (1.5 hours): Part 1, Part 2.

Official website: Gales of November.

A CD of the music can also be purchased: Gales of November CD thru CD Baby.

See also, Lake Superior Marine Museum Association

Practical concerns about King Kong

Practical concerns about King Kong

The previews do a great job of selling the movie and initial reviews are looking positive, so I'll likely make my way to the theater for this one. I do have a couple practical concerns that I fear may inhibit my enjoyment of the movie.

And, no, it isn't about the believability of a 25-foot tall ape. That's the movie's reality and I'm willing to buy into it. Even an island with dinosaurs. Go for it. I do wonder how Peter Jackson convinces us that a giant ape, capable of fending off herds of dinosaurs, can be tied down on a ship and not break loose; though, later, when tied down on a Broadway stage does break loose. But I quibble - the Lilliputians were able to successfully tie down Gulliver.

My concerns are more mundane. I'm assuming that the mysterious Skull Island is somewhere in the Pacific. I'd guess a journey back to New York would be at least 3-4 weeks. That's a long time to restrain such a large animal without it getting sick and dying. I'll put that aside, as well. My concerns and questions are as follows:
  1. How are they feeding King Kong? That's got to be a lot of extra bananas.
  2. Monkey shit. A lot of it. A LOT of it. Someone has to clean it up.

Side note - looking for something to compare it to, I thought I'd look up how much an elephant expels in bodily waste a day. Googling "elephant shit" doesn't do any good unless you're looking for bad jokes about Republicans.

Changing my search parameters to "elephant care" I came across a more helpful site. Elephants eat from 50 kg (in captivity) up to 300kg (in the wild) a day, and drink 100 to 300 liters of water. And according to this site about making paper from elephant dung, "...elephants eat between 200 and 400 kgs of food each day, due to the simplicity of their stomachs, 60% of this comes out undigested in a 50 kg load* of dung each day."

Since Kong is tied down and sedated, his caloric input does not need to be high, so let's say he needs to be fed 50kg of food and 100 liters of water, per day. Converting from metric to the proper American way of measuring, that is 110 lbs of food and 26 gallons of water; a gallon of water weigh 8.3 lbs. That's 325 lbs of food and water for one day. If the voyage takes three weeks, that ship needs to carry an extra 2,310 lbs of food and 4,531 lbs of water. In other words, in addition to the needs of the crew and the additional weight of the giant ape, to care for King Kong, this boat needs to carry an additional 3.5 tons of supplies.

In the words of Chief Brody, "We're gonna need a bigger boat."

*Almost forgot: the guy in charge of the shovel will need to fling at least 110 lbs of solid waste a day. Let's hope Kong doesn't suffer from seasickness.

Quote of the day

In the Ann Althouse post, Tookie must die, Internet Ronin writes (at 12:51am):
...Tookie Williams will die tonight. I really don't care one way or another about the death penalty. I do find it disgusting that so many want to make a hero out of a man such as Tookie Williams, who once admitted but now denies and never repented of his proven crimes. Through the organization he found, once controlled, and never quite denounced, this man brought about the most violent period of black-on-black crime in American history, causing the deaths of thousands of young black men (not to mention innocent bystanders), the incarceration of tens of thousands of others, as well as the damage done to the black community with drug dealing, and the impact on society as a whole.

While Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, NAACP leaders and a host of other "reponsible black leaders" and "progressives" were grandstanding in Los Angeles, across the continent, in Mississippi, a law-abiding black man named Cory Maye finds himself facing the death penalty for defending his family against unknown house invaders because the invaders turned out to be undercover police breaking down the door of the wrong house.

Jesse Jackson, Maxine Waters, the NAACP and the rest of the "responsible black leaders" and "progressives" were in the wrong place. They should have been in Mississippi.

More on Cory Maye:
  • Radley Balko, at The Agitator got this rolling and has done amazing work. Click and scroll.
  • Glenn Reynolds, at MSNBC
  • Find additional links at Technorati
  • Balko links to Battlepanda, who is keeping score by ideology. Good to see that the Cory Maye case seems to be pissing of everyone.
  • Discussion at Reason's Hit and Run

Monday, December 12, 2005

Adding penguins to the menu

March of the Penguins was an enjoyable movie, but, dang, those are a lot of penguins. I'm sure no one would notice if a couple went missing. It's not like the penguins much cared if a youngin' froze to death, either. So, my task for the weekend was to find some recipes for the menu?

Any luck?

Not exactly. I would've thought someone in New Zealand or Chile or the Falklands, or even South Africa would have a recipe for roast penguin. If they do so, I haven't found it. I did come across references that plenty of people, particularly the early antarctic explorers, have eaten penguin and penguin eggs, though it's never seemed to be a common practice. While I have no actual recipes, here's a couple links:
  • Some people eat penguin eggs.
  • Before the Heroes Came: Antarctica in the 1890s mentions: Dr. Frederick Cook--better known for his North Pole rivalry with Robert Peary--who served brilliantly on the Belgica expedition, saving the crew by discovering the benefits of eating penguin to stave off scurvy.
  • An abstract is available for Train Oil and Snotters. The article itself costs $12, and that's just too much to spend without knowing if the article contains actual penguin recipes. The column is discussed at Expedition news:
    The February issue of 'Gastronomica,' a "journal of food and culture" published by the University of California Press (, includes a 13,000-word article on eating Antarctic wild foods titled, "Train Oil and Snotters," by Jeff Rubin. Although seals, penguins, albatrosses and other seabirds are now protected by the Antarctic Treaty, early explorers and sealers ate them frequently - and not just when they were starving, Rubin reports.

  • Vaguely humorous site with fake recipes.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Song of the day: I Believe in You

Written by Bob Dylan and release on the Slow Train Coming album (1979). Though for the holiday theme, I'm referencing the hauntingly beuatiful version by Sinead O'Connor from the A Very Special Christmas, Vol. 2" CD (1992).

I Believe in You
They ask me how I feel
And if my love is real
And how I know I'll make it through.
And they, they look at me and frown,
They'd like to drive me from this town,
They don't want me around
'Cause I believe in you.

They show me to the door,
They say don't come back no more
'Cause I don't be like they'd like me to,
And I walk out on my own
A thousand miles from home
But I don't feel alone
'Cause I believe in you.

I believe in you even through the tears and the laughter,
I believe in you even though we be apart.
I believe in you even on the morning after.
Oh, when the dawn is nearing
Oh, when the night is disappearing
Oh, this feeling is still here in my heart.

Don't let me drift too far,
Keep me where you are
Where I will always be renewed.
And that which you've given me today
Is worth more than I could pay
And no matter what they say
I believe in you.

I believe in you when winter turn to summer,
I believe in you when white turn to black,
I believe in you even though I be outnumbered.
Oh, though the earth may shake me
Oh, though my friends forsake me
Oh, even that couldn't make me go back.

Don't let me change my heart,
Keep me set apart
From all the plans they do pursue.
And I, I don't mind the pain
Don't mind the driving rain
I know I will sustain
'Cause I believe in you.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Song of the day: Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues

Christmas song from John Wesley Harding. Very reminiscent of Talkin' Return Of The Great Folk Scare Blues and probably an old recording from his gangsta folk singing days.

Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues
Well I flew to LA for the very first time
And met Howie Klein and Seymour Stein
They said Wes We do this Christmas thing
And we get all the acts to sing
Said what do you want? A cover of Winter Wonderland or something?
They said, do what you like.
So this is called Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues
This is how it goes

Here it goes

Well Christmas comes but once a year
364 days to get your ass in gear
He's a sucker he's a fool
The man who don't revere the Yule

So this Christmas is just me and you
And a large helping of sweet baby Jeesoo

May all your Christmasses be very white
And your boxing days be out of sight
But spare a thought when you give a gift
For the people doing Christmas shifts

For Christmas is a time of giving
Like lifetime is a time for living

Well they say that money's taken over
And no one wants a cheap legover pullover
They say that when any bell rings
One of God's children gets his wings

Talking of wings there's a sign in LAX that says only 495 shopping days until the Christmas after this one
Buy now, cry later

So deck you halls with mistletoe
And save your sense and hope it snows
Watch some old shows on TV
But don't knock down the Christmas tree

Because you'll be cleaning up pine needles in July
That's a universal truth unfortunately

Christmas Hootenanny

TwelveDrummersDrummingElevenPipersPipingTenLordsALeapingNineLadiesDancingEightMaidsAMilkingSevenSwansASwimmingSixGeeseALaying FiveGoldenRingsFourCallingBirdsThreeFrenchHensTwoTurtleDoves

And her apartment's in a big mess
And the ASPCA's not too happy either

So I'm behind the speakers over here
Wishing you a hip hop happy New Year
A wicked Christmas and the coolest yule
If you're by a fire or in a swimming pool

John Wesley Harding's the name and this is the groove
He was never known to make a foolish move
watch out for the record when it hits the shelves
Happy Christmas Enjoy your elves

Friday, December 09, 2005

Prudence Johnson's Cantique de Noel

For a lovely version of O Holy Night, listen to Prudence Johnson's (with Dan Chouinard) Cantique de Noel.

Fair Tax Carnival

The First Fair Tax Carnival is today:
So, what’s the purpose of the Carnival?

To promote discussion of and blogging on Tax Reform in general and the FairTax in particular. Whether you’re for it or against it, we want your ideas. Why should we adopt it. What’s your favorite argument. If you’re against it tell us why. Tell us why the current system or a different reform package is better.

Should be a weekly discussion. To keep track of where subsequent carnivals will be held, here's the Fair Tax Friday page.

Another menu update

Full menu

Icepick says "HuFu with fava beans and a nice Chianti while watching The Silence of the Lambs?"

HuFu, as in "Human Food?" This is a joke, right? No, I don't think it is.
HufuTM is designed to resemble, as humanly possible, the taste and texture of human flesh. If you've never had human flesh before, think of the taste and texture of beef, except a little sweeter in taste and a little softer in texture. Contrary to popular belief, people do not taste like pork or chicken.
However, it contains no human or animal products, so it's even vegan safe!

I'm not so sure about wanting to sample this, but I'd love the baby seal apron.

While I might have gone with Soylent Green, Icepick suggested Silence of the Lambs, so it is only appropriate that we watch the movie while eating HuFu's Lechter's Liver with Fava Beans.