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looka,   v.   (Yatspeak)  
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  
2. My weblog - news, movies, food, music, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, my opinions and whatever else tickles my fancy. Please feel free to contribute.

Chuck Taggart
icq: 8591604

Looka! Archive

September 1999
August 1999
July 1999

Recent Epinions:

1. The Isle of Skye

2. The French Laundry (Wine Country, CA): Meal of a lifetime

3. Sanamluang: Best Thai food in L.A.

4. Frontier Restaurant, Albuquerque, NM

5. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!

Weblogs I like:

The BradLands
Bring the Rock
Lake Effect
Mr. Barrett
the nubbin
One Swell Foop
Robot Wisdom

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Made with Macintosh
  Stuff worth reading
   Updated (almost) daily | last tweak @ 11:24pm PDT, 10/30/99

    My opinions are contained herein.
    If you don't want to read 'em, feel free to go elsewhere.

  Sunday, October 31, 1999
Happy Halloween!   For our favorite ghoulish holiday, we bring you a ghoulish story from the Associated Press, with commentary from The San Francisco Chronicle's SF Gate Morning Fix:

"Hey Kids! Burn in Hell!   When hardcore, clueless Christians put on a haunted house featuring a Columbine re-enactment, you know the fun will be sin-a-riffic."

A haunted house featuring a re-enactment of the Columbine school shootings was briefly shut down after sheriff's deputies confiscated two guns organizers had used as props...

[The pastor] said the church is using the Columbine skit, complete with earsplitting gunshots, to scare teens and others into accepting Jesus...

"Hell Houses" across the country have staged controversial haunted houses for the past several years, including displays likening abortion, suicide and homosexuality to sin. The Potter's House ... has done shocking scenes in past haunted house displays. In 1997, community members were angered over a scene in which a young boy who is molested by his father rapes a girl before beheading her.

Praise the Lord.

  Saturday, October 30, 1999
"JonBenet Mania Hits New Low",   by Jon Carroll:

Just when you think American culture can't get any weirder, it gets weirder. Just when you think there are no new ways to give offense, another one comes along. I refer you to

This Web site may cause powerful side effects, including headache, nausea, bleeding through the nose and cramping. Do not click on it until you have read this column. Advanced students only. [ more ]

  Friday, October 29, 1999
Real horror for your Halloween weekend.   You want scary? Read about what happened at 1140 Royal Street in New Orleans in 1834:

New Orleans in the 1800's -- the days of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, slavery and the Old South. On 1140 Royal Street, stands a house -- beautiful to behold, but full of horror inside. This is the Lalaurie House, owned by the socialite Delphine Lalaurie. The house caught fire one day and what firefighters discovered inside caused some to faint and caused Delphine Lalaurie to flee for her life. It is the stuff of nightmares and of history. Once you know what happened at the Lalaurie House, you will understand why, in New Orleans when you say 'The Haunted House', it can be no other than the house on Rue Royale."
Since when is a Republican senator a doctor?   Here's a more balanced look at why ignorant conservative legislators shouldn't pass sweepingly generalized legislation regulating medical procedures about which they know nothing, affecting patients about whom they know nothing.

Heads up, animal researchers.   You might want to start using letter openers.

"True enough."   Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader writes a joint review of "Boys Don't Cry" and "The Straight Story".

Konichiwa, Miyazaki-san!   As much as I admire the artistry of the animation in Disney films, more often than not I feel my gorge rising in the midst of incipient diabetic coma in reaction to their dopey cutesy stories, simplistic characters and those songs. Imagine my glee at reading David Ansen's review in Newsweek about a new Japanese film I've been hearing about recently:

"Princess Mononoke", the most successful anime film in Japanese history, breaks most of the animation rules Walt Disney lived by. Hayao Miyazaki's wondrous 14th-Century tale about the never-ending battle between man and nature isn't the usual bouncy and compact 75 minutes but a leisurely (though action-packed) 2-1/4 hours. No animals trot out Borscht Belt routines. No one bursts into song. The handsome prince and the beautiful princess don't get married. Most remarkable of all, good and evil are not conveniently packaged in separate, clearlly marked containers, but spread about equally in almost every character -- man, woman, beast or god. This, you see, is the thinking kid's cartoon.
Oh my. I can't wait to see this movie. To the best of my knowledge, it's the first of anime-master Miyazaki's films to get a wide release in the U.S.; it opens today.

  Thursday, October 28, 1999
Thank you, Your Honor.   It seems as if the judge in the trial of Matthew Shepard's admitted murderer Aaron McKinney is equally sickened by his "scoundrel's defense", the appalling "homosexual panic" non-excuse as well as the drug- and alcohol-induced "diminished capacity", and may disallow it. Yes.

Icky icky p'tang.   I read in Newsweek yesterday that the Altavista folks describe their new site redesign thusly: "Smart is beautiful."

Funny, but I don't remember it that way. In grammar school, all the smart kids were geeky, and we got picked on by the beautiful kids. (Not that there's anything wrong with being beautiful, mind you ... okay, I'll shut up now.)

Anyway ... after reading several of my fellow bloggers complaining about it, I bypassed the Altavista plain text link I usually use and checked out their new look. Y'know, the bloggers are right. It reeks. Copy the URL above if you just want to do a search, and you get a nice, plain, grey-backgrounded text page with search boxes. That's all I need Altavista for, not all that other crapola.

Mr. Smith won't be going to Washington.   Former Republican and independent presidential candidate Sen. Bob Smith quit the race for the White House today. He says it was due to lack of money (like everyone else who quits is saying ... why do you have to be rich or raise millions to do this? It's maddening.) However, I think his problem can be summed up by my reaction to seeing his announcement on CNN: "Who the feck is Bob Smith? He was running for president?"

An important message for women in rainy climates:   This is the best reason yet to consider eschewing wearing bras. (Seriously ... I'm amazed that there are still people who don't know that you're not supposed to take refuge from a thunderstorm by getting under a tree.)

Sacré misère ... moins de Canadiens parlent plus français.   The number of Canadians who speak French at home is declining.

Incidentally, the world's greatest Québecois bands (and one of the world's great bands in general) is La Bottine Souriante (et en français). Joyous, upbeat traditional French-Canadian music with the contemporary stylings and arrangements featuring their jazzy horn section = "instant happy music". Order their last four or five albums ("Xième", "en spectacle", "La Mistrine", "Jusqu'aux P'tites Heures"). They're absolutely fantastic. Trust me on this. You'll thank me later.

Bogus BVM alert!   Turns out that what thousands of people were turning out to see was not, in fact, an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was just those wacky Nguyen boys and their laser pointer.

I don't drink soft drinks.   I.e., sugary, fizzy beverages in cans. The fizz is unkind to my insides, and those things have like six tablespoons of sugar per can. Like the good New Orleans boy / caffeine adddict that I am, I drink about two quarts of iced tea per day (but only regular iced tea, not that flowery tropical crap). Otherwise it's water or juice or occasionally lemonade. But if I hadn't already eschewed the consumption of the current incarnation of Asa Pemberton's creation, the prospect of this would make me resolve never to purchase another drop of it.

Today's birthdays:   Elsa Lanchester (1902 ... I swear, one day I'm going to be the Bride of Frankenstein for Halloween), Lew Parker, Marlo Thomas' dad on "That Girl" (1907 ... I used to watch this show all the time when I was really little, for some reason), actress Dody Goodman (1929 ... I used to love "Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman"), actress Jane Alexander (1939 ... "Testament" is one of the most wrenching movies I've ever seen, and she was brilliant in it), billioinaire Antichrist William Gates (1955), and actor Joaquin Phoenix (1974).

  Wednesday, October 27, 1999 = phone spamming swine.   Yesterday I was interrupted at work by a telephone solicitation from a web hosting company called Valueweb. Since the phone solicitor referenced a domain that I own,, which I reserved for future use for my radio program and which is currently parked, it is obvious that they got my phone number out of my InterNIC whois info in an attempt to solicit my business ("I see you own the domain and that you're with Webcom now ... well, let's see if we can make you a better deal!").

It's bad enough that I have to take a few seconds to delete email spam from jerks like this, but when I am interrupted in the middle of a busy work day by the smarmiest sounding phone sales rep imaginable, I am infuriated. I don't put my information into whois for the purpose of providing free telephone solicitation fodder for ethically suspect businesses. I told her in the strongest possible terms that was inappropriate, that they shouldn't be calling me or anyone else based on their phone numbers listed in whois, and that I was outraged. As angry as I sounded, I didn't even get the satisfaction of a reaction from her. In fact, she poured on the smarm even more: "Well, that's great. You have a wonderful day now!"

I will never do business with people like this, and I urge all of you not to do business with them either. Feh.

Awwww.   Hoyt Axton died yesterday. Lots of y'all may know him as the dad from "Gremlins", but he was a well-known songwriter as well, his biggest hit probably having been "Joy to the World", by Three Dog Night. His momma co-wrote "Heartbreak Hotel", whose co-writer Thomas Durden just died last week. Bad week for songwriters.

Pass the butter.   In yesterday's New Orleans Menu Daily, food writer Tom Fitzmorris said, in reference to a new study on cholesterol:

The study in question links a lowering of cholesterol with violent behavior. The researchers found that men who had cholesterol levels lower than 160 were the victims of homicide, suicide or fatal accidents to a degree fifty to eighty percent more often than comparable men with higher cholesterol readings. Although the effect was most pronounced in men, it also seems to be present in women, at about a thirty percent increased rate of demise.

The explanation for this seems to have something to do with serotonin, a chemical that is thought to work in the brain to control violent behavior. Whatever the effect is, it has been known for some time that people who lower their cholesterol levels dramatically over a short period of time are in much greater danger of dying by suicide than average.

And it's also your attitude. My own theory (certainly not unique to me) is that people who live happy lives live longer. And if eating great food makes you happy, I suspect it may do more to keep you healthy than cutting back on eating will. Both strategies have their dark sides, but the counter-intuitive sides of both are rarely investigated.

By the way, if you're interested in good food, and in New Orleans cuisine in particular, you really need to subscribe to the New Orleans Menu Daily. It's full of coverage of the New Orleans restaurant scene, essays on food, great original and local restaurant recipes, wine notes and more. It's sent out every weekday, and it's FREE!

*Sigh* ... of course it was.   Okay, so I fell for it, but only because I heard about it on NPR Monday night and read about it in the New York Times to boot. But FEED Magazine reports that the supermodel egg auction is a hoax. (Via Tomalak's Realm)

epinions caught in the Lycos spiderweb?   I don't use Lycos 'cause I don't particularly like it, but yesterday Cam and Wendell reported that has "partnered" with Lycos. I'm not sure if this is good or bad. If it means that lots more people will be reading my epinions, then I guess it's good. Wendell noted that the script that rotates pictures of epinions "featured reviewers" yesterday spat out ... me! (Ack. How embarrassing. I don't want fame, only fortune. I guess I'd better get my ass in gear and write some more epinions; I haven't done any in three weeks.) When I tried it, though, it only spat out a picture of some guy named Steve, who founded some company called Infoseek.

Oh, and Wendell says he really doesn't mind being on Tripod (one of those free webhosts with pop-up ads that I rant about). That's cool. Hey, when you're low on dough, "free" is my favorite price. Actually, it's my favorite price all the time.

Quotes of the day:   "If it's free ... take two!   -- Dean A. Leone, M.D.

"When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now
I'm beginning to believe it."   -- Clarence Darrow.

  Tuesday, October 26, 1999
Further proof of the coming end of civilization comes to us from this "auction" site that's just ... vile.

Dems might just be a shoo-in for 2000. Wake me up in 2004.   Pat Buchanan is now even too loony for the Republicans. If he gets the Reform nomination (which is doubtful) or runs as an independent (more likely, once the Reformistas dump him), he might carry enough of the loony vote to erode Dubya's tally so that we'd get four years of Al or Bill. In any case, this election is shaping up to be almost (but not quite) as interesting as one in Louisiana, i.e. ... vile.

Let me get this straight...   Excite pays $780 million for a company that gives stuff away for free. Assuming that Blue Mountain's 9 million users are per month, then Excite paid $86.66 per user, basically for the privilege of having an opportunity to sell things to these people.

Okay, so. The Gumbo Pages site, which gives away all its information for free, gets approximately 48,000 users per month. At that rate, if Excite were interested, The Gumbo Pages would be for sale at a price of $4,160,000. Would I sell The Gumbo Pages for 4 million dollars? You bet! In fact, as of now, it's for sale. I'll give you a deal ... you can have it for three million.

  Monday, October 25, 1999
Ugh ... lousy morning.   I was awakened at 5:52am this morning, by a fax machine.

Given that this is two hours and thirty-eight minutes before I normally rise, it's safe to assume that I was mad as hell. I tried going back to sleep, and just as I was drifting off 15 minutes later ... the goddamn thing called again. It kept calling every 15 minutes, because some idiot set one of those stupid autodialing fax machines and walked away. It was apparent that there was no one standing by the fax machine, because he or she would have been shocked at the stream of obscenities that would have been spewing from the tinny little fax machine speaker. (One might think that it's an improvement in the technology to just scan your document and walk away, whereupon the fax machine sends it later when it can get through. But this doesn't work too well when said machine is dialing a human being in a time zone that's three hours earlier.)

Finally, at 7:15am, bleary-eyed, supremely pissed off and unwilling to go around disabling all of the phones in the house, I turned to the net for assistance. I remember years ago that there had been free email-to-fax services, but given how everything on the net has become commercialized and nothing is free anymore, I wasn't terribly hopeful.

I managed to find one - "The Phone Company", at Apparently they're not perfect -- sometimes it might take days for it to go through if there's a backlog in the queue, but it can take minutes, which it did in my case. After emailing an extremely irate fax to the offending machine (thank Gawd for Caller ID), threatening them with reporting the number to the phone company for harrassment, the fax attempts stopped.

At 9am (a very reasonable hour), a nice lady named Marilyn called from a company called National Fleet Service, or something like that. She had gotten my fax and apologzied profusely, then spent the next half hour digging through their databases to see why I was being faxed. A half-hour later she called back, having found the error, and assured me that it wouldn't happen again.

Thanks, Marilyn.

"Oh, you were? Well, okay then."   The trial of Matthew Shepard's other murderer, Aaron McKinney, begins today, and his "defense" is "I was all messed up on alcohol and drugs." Gee, that'll work. How 'bout we just throw away the key now?

"The Big Easy" is a huge piece of crap.   I'm referring, of course, not to my beloved hometown of New Orleans, but to the movie of the above title. Oh sure, it had a good soundtrack, but it was so full of shit about what New Orleans is really like that I felt like Ignatius J. Reilly, standing in the back of the theatre shouting, "What degenerate produced this abortion?!" Unless you want to get your ears barbecued by a huge rant, don't even get me started on this.

Hollywood almost never gets it right. Of all the films shot in New Orleans over the last 15 or 20 years, almost none of them have depicted the city in any way close to reality. You'd think that we were tripping over jazz funerals three times a day. Times-Picayune columnist Angus Lind talks about "Double Jeopardy", and how it presents the latest cockeyed view of New Orleans.

Incidentally, one of the only films I can think of which allowed New Orleans' charm and atmosphere to emerge properly, as its own minor character, was Jim Jarmusch's "Down By Law", the first film in which I saw Roberto Benigni; Tom Waits was great in it, too.

Y'know, I couldn't care less about sports, but... I think they should stop hassling Pete Rose.

Jeez!   I had to go all the way back to Mary Pickford to find an actor who had a Bacon number of greater than 2 at The Oracle of Bacon.

  Sunday, October 24, 1999
The Southern Baptist Convention continues in its quest to offend every other major religion.   This time it's Hindus, who are described in 30,000 booklets published and distributed by the Convention as being under the sway of "darkness and the power of Satan."

  Saturday, October 23, 1999
Um ... right.   In 1650, Archbishop James Ussher declared that he had figured out that "the heavens and the earth" were created on this date in 4004 B.C., at 9:00am GMT. Heh. Wonder how those calculations pegged the exact time.

Speaking of mythology ... does Santa Claus really exist?   Or rather, can he? A mathematical explanation. (I wonder if Bishop Ussher's computations would have been more accurate had he used math like this!)

Today's birthdays:   Inventor of food canning (woohoo!) and bouillon cubes (d'oh!) Nicolas Appert (1752 ... by the way, never use bouillon cubes. MAKE HOMEMADE STOCK!), Johnny Carson (1925), Michael Crichton (1942 ... I first read "The Andromeda Strain" when I was in the 6th grade) and Weird Al Yankovic (1959).

  Friday, October 22, 1999
My holiday resolution.   As the article in the item below says,'s 1999 holiday business will increase 30% from last year. And last year, due to the proliferation of online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, many independent bookstores went out of business. I heard a report on NPR that tied these bookstores' demise directly to the loss of business they suffered from people who bought books over the Internet. And by default, buying a book "over the Internet" almost always means Amazon or B&N.

I felt bad about this, doubly so because of my own complicity; my web site is an Amazon affiliate. It has been for years, ever since I was personally invited (i.e., it wasn't a form letter) to join the program, long before Amazon was the juggernaut it is now. Over the last few months I had intended to gradually switch my online links and bookstore affiliations to BookSense, a nationwide consortium of independent bookstores who use a shared online database for ordering. This is a great idea, but it's running behind schedule and hasn't yet been implemented. (I hope to God they get it going before the holiday season.)

I'll switch over as soon as I'm able, but as for now ... I've decided that I'm not going to contribute to the demise of independent bookstores. It's a small, perhaps futile gesture, but here it is.

As of now, I'm not going to buy from Amazon anymore.

I'm not going to do any of my Christmas shopping there this year, or ever. I'm going to do all of my holiday book-buying at a local, independent bookstore that I love -- Vroman's in Pasadena, founded by Adam Clark Vroman in 1894. It might cost me a few dollars more, but I'll feel better about it. I love shopping at Vroman's anyway; it's a great store. You can order online, too; plus they've just opened a new Museum Collection Store featuring 10,000 square feet of items for lovers of art, architecture, design and photography (I'm heading over there tonight; I can't wait to see their Arts and Crafts section). On top of that, they have a program called Vroman's Gives Back; sign up for it for free, and 1% of all your purchases are donated to the local arts or charitable organization of your choice. They're extremely cool.

So are all the other independent bookstores I patronize, some of which have appealed to their customers and any other book buyer who's listening to keep their business at their stores, or they might not be able to survive the year. Vroman's, Dutton's, A Different Light, Dangerous Visions, The Other Change of Hobbit in San Francisco ... they've got my all of my business from now on.

Will this do any good? Will this affect The Big Pictures. Probably not. Will it do any good if enough other folks do this too? Maybe. Sure, we can save a few bucks at Amazon ... but we can't browse through the stacks for hours, which is something I love to do. And besides, sometimes I just want to keep my money in my own community.

Support independent booksellers.

Will the juggernaut crash and burn? What'll happen if it does?   The Seattle Weekly takes a look at, and wonders if it's "a house of cards waiting to collapse." I'm not terribly knowledgeable about business models, economics or the stock market, but it just seems odd to me that a company can keep losing so much money, quarter after quarter, while its stock price rises. When will this all come tumbling down, and how will it affect Internet commerce in general when it does?

New Mexico needs tougher drunk driving laws.   In my humble opinion, I think this guy needs to get 20 years to life.

Today's birthdays:   Derek Jacobi, amazing actor and star of the greatest miniseries ever, "I, Claudius" (1938), Mouseketeer and late-50s teenage-boy hubba-hubba fodder Annette Funicello (1942 ... I include no links here 'cause all the ones I found were just too nauseating), and Olympic skater and South Park icon Brian Boitano (1963).

Speaking of skaters...   If you haven't yet outgrown drinking games, try your hand at The Scott Hamilton Drinking Game.

  Thursday, October 21, 1999
Ireland passes the U.S. in moving toward the 21st Century.   Dáil Éireann (the Irish parliament) have passed the Employment Equality Act, which went into effect on Monday. This law codifies protection against discrimination in employment on the basis of sexual orientation and five other categories, and will soon be joined by another law providing similar anti-discrimination protection in housing and public accommodations. Ireland can manage this but the United States can't? (I note with disgust that a Republican-dominated committee has scuttled a rider to the Hate Crimes Protection Act which would have added sexual orientation, gender and disability as categories protected under federal hate crimes laws. Typical.) I also note with some pleasure that the Irish law also specifically protects the Irish Traveller community, who have suffered worse discrimination in Ireland than any other group.

The U.S. "Screw 'Em" Senate   Yesterday I heard an excellent commentary by Daniel Schorr on NPR about our unilateralist Congress and their indifference toward foreign policy (based in a large part on their "We're against anything Clinton wants 'cause we hate him" agenda) is crippling the United States' standing in the world.

Alfred Hitchcock's "The Weblog Vanishes"   First vanished for a few days last week (server problems, it seems), and now I've been unable to reach Cardhouse for two days now ("Netscape is unable to locate the server It's an international conspiracy, I tell you!

Update - 2:36pm   Okay, after playing in traffic for a couple of hours, I returned to work to note that Cardhouse has returned. Gee, am I the only one who thinks all servers should be 100% reliable, 24 hours a day? :-o

I wonder how many people they'll really sue.   After ignoring Pez candy since I was about eight, I saw a number of links in other blogs referring to the Pez Candy Company's Draconian copyright policy, which, among other things, says:

You may NOT use the PEZ® mark (or any other registered trademark belonging to Pez Candy, Inc. or its affiliates) on your website or your business in any way, shape or form. Usages such as THE PEZ STORE, THE PEZ MUSEUM, THE PEZ COLLECTOR, THE PEZ TRADER, THE PEZ FANATIC, THE PEZ CAR are specifically prohibited, though the above-list is not meant to be exclusive.
So ... apparently if you're a Pez fan, you may not refer to yourself as such on your website. If you've spent your entire life collecting Pez dispensers, you may not refer to this or display your collection on your web site. In fact, you're apparently not even allowed to say the word "Pez". Pez this, Pez that, I got yer Pez right here, pal.

I don't know if any of y'all have actually eaten any Pez since you were a kid, but as candy goes, it really is pretty crappy (in my humble opinion). There's absolutely nothing distinctive about it except for its dispensers, and the value placed on them by people who collect them.

I think I'll start collecting empty Scharffen Berger chocolate wrappers. Now that's some intensely fabulous candy.

Today's birthdays:   Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772), sf writer Ursula K. LeGuin (1929), bebop jazzman Dizzy Gillespie (1917) and English actor Leonard Rossiter ("The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin", and Dimitri Smyslov in "2001: A Space Odyssey", 1926).

  Wednesday, October 20, 1999
"The kind of thing that should offend reasonable people."   The Washington Post reports that Microsoft is pressuring Congress to cut funding for the Justice Department's antitrust division. Actually, this is the kind of thing that should offend unreasonable people too. Empires fall, particularly arrogant, bloated ones. Microsoft should keep this in mind.

Today's birthdays:   Beloved Hollywood actor, star of the Hungarian stage and Edward D. Wood Jr. repertory company member Béla Lugosi (1882), composer Charles Ives (1874, and another Charles Edward), country musician Grandpa Jones (1913), satirist/columnist Art Buchwald (1925) and French poet Arthur Rimbaud (1854).

  Tuesday, October 19, 1999
Some refreshing perspective on the NYC art flap.   Critic Roger Ebert has written a thoughtful and interesting article about the painting at the Brooklyn Museum that has Rudy Giuliani's panties in a wad. As usual, the condemning is done by people who have neither seen nor understood the work of art in question. While it might not be great art, it has a context and a cultural background that zooms over Giuliani's and many other people's heads at about Mach 2.

Foopage!   There's a neato new weblog called One Swell Foop -- I like the name 'cause I actually use that expression now and again. My hat is off to Wendell not only because the blog is good, and not only because he's written a highly amusing epinion that is undoubtedly not what the Powers That Be there had in mind ... but to top all that, Wendell has inserted a little bit of Javascript in his page to instantly and automatically close the vile pop-up ad window that all sites on the Tripod hosting site are forced to have. That is supremely cool. Awrite, bra. :^)

Speaking of "free" web hosting services that enforce ads and pop-up windows ... I hate them. If you access a site on Tripod, you'll get a pop-up window on EVERY single page on that site, unless you turn off Javascript in your browser. I hate it. It's beyond annoying. It drives me up the feckin' wall. I've started offering friends of mine free space on my server with a* URL if they need a free site and are considering places like Tripod and Geocities. It made me coin a new motto -- "Friends don't let friends put web pages on Geocities or Tripod."

Oh my. I stand corrected.   Yesterday I had the temerity to suggest that Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, brand-new to Los Angeles and currently with only one store in the entire metro area, might be suffering from excessive hype and might not be worth a wait in line. My good friend Michael Pemberton put me in my rightful place, thusly:

You should put in your Palm Pilot that one of the things you absolutely must do next time you are in North Carolina is to go the the Krispy Kreme at the corner of Peace and Person St. in Raleigh. It's been there for years and years so there isn't any hype or any lines, but there will be some of the best doughnuts you will ever expose your mouth to. When the "Hot Ones!" light is lit on the cool neon sign outside and you can go in and see the suckers being fried right in front of you, and then see them go under the beautiful waterfall of glaze, and then burn your mouth a bit while eating doughnuts that were raw dough 2 minutes before, you will know the definition of heaven on earth. The whole scene, with thousands of the little guys parading around on a conveyor belt cooling so they can be boxed, is something from one of Homer Simpson's wet dreams. They also make all manner of non-glazed doughnuts there, and though you can't eat them hot they are superdelicious. I'm very glad for my waistline that the place was a good 30 minutes from our house when I lived here.
Well. I guess I shouldn't run my mouth off before I actually try one. Fortunately, I won't have to wait for this experience until my next annual trip to the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area - I'm told that Krispy Kreme will be ubiquitous in L.A. before too much longer, with 40 stores planned. Jesse says that there's already one more in La Habra, but I'm even less inclined to drive there than I am to drive to Van Nuys.

I'm afraid I'll be subjecting Krispy Kreme to an unfair standard -- the only other time I get doughnuts right out of the fryer, piping hot and covered with powdered sugar, is when I go back home and have the superb hot beignets at Café du Monde in the French Quarter. Now that Michael is a resident of New Orleans and can walk to CDM whenever he wants (the bastard!), he'll have to get back to me about now Krispy Kreme glazed compares to CDM beignets.

Michael qualifies his raves for Krispy Kreme, though:

I definitely am not guaranteeing that the experience or the flavor of the doughnuts made in L.A. will compare. Part of the beauty of the place in Raleigh (and dozens of other similar places in the South) is that these places have been there forever, are part of the culture, and are full of good vibes. Someone in L.A. or San Francisco could cook Shrimp Uggie using Mr. Anthony's recipe and I bet the taste and experience would be quite a bit different. I saw a quote from Mr. Anthony somewhere that they don't really need to season their fried seafood because the friers themselves are seasoned after all this time, and I suspect that something similar is true about the older doughnut places.
The "Mr. Anthony" that Michael refers to, by the way, is Anthony Uglesich, who with his wife Gail runs one of the very best restaurants in New Orleans -- Uglesich's. It's a little hole in the wall in a scary neighborhood, and it closes at 4pm every day (open weekdays only). There's often a long, long line, and the reason for it is for food that'll make you pound your fist on the table and moan. Shrimp Uggie, Crawfish Hugo, Shrimp and Grits, Shrimp Rémoulade on Fried Green Tomatoes, and the fried seafood ... Gawd sakes. Next time you're in New Orleans, head down to Uglesich's and enjoy.

Oh my. I need to keep up with my daily blogs.   Being a few days behind on my blogreading, I learned yesterday that Peter Merholz of blog fame and beyond, started a new job yesterday as Creative Director of I think this is a smashing thing. Congratulations, Peter, and good luck!

Today's birthdays:   Drag queen extraordinaire Divine (1945), French novelist and dramatist Jean Genet (1910), beloved Hollywood character actor Tor Johnson (1903), French cinema pionieers Louis and Auguste Lumière (1864 and 1862, respectively).

  Monday, October 18, 1999
Blowed up real good.   I'm still reeling at the gross irresponsibility and appalling partisanship of the Republican Party in rejecting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Let's see ... they weakened our position in the world, just because they don't like President Clinton? They did this in the same week in which there was a military coup in a country that has nuclear weapons? They invalidated nearly forty years of work on this treaty, which has been signed by 154 nations? Jesus H. Christ.

We saw "Fight Club" Friday night.   Um. Well, it had a great first hour, and was visually brilliant. But it lost its way, to the point where the turn the plot takes makes you want to say "Huh? What the ..." I don't think the word-of-mouth is going to be good. It'll top the opening weekend box-office charts, then I think it'll tank.

And I thought I was absentminded.   I've never left a $2.5 million, 266-year-old musical instrument in the back of a cab. I've lost lots of umbrellas and sunglasses, though. (Let this be a lesson to you ... keep ALL receipts, especially taxicab receipts, until you're sure you've got everything.)

Did any of you actually drink "Orbitz"?   The other night my friend Chris and I stopped into a little doughnut shop in Sherman Oaks (after having been turned away from the L.A. area's sole Krispy Kreme franchise ... the incessant hype triggered extremely long lines even at 11:45pm, and I have to doubt that mere doughnuts are worth a long wait in line ... but I digress). Offered for sale in the shop's drink cooler was something I thought had gone away - the Canadian soft drink called Orbitz, which is teeth-shatteringly sweet and contains these little fruit-flavored gelatin globules suspended creepily throughout the beverage without sinking.

Chris actually liked this stuff, and was thrilled to see it; he hadn't seen it for sale anywhere in quite a while. The Thai shop owner said he got it from "a Korean distributor" rather than from a major beverage company, and we began to wonder if this guy had bought lots of leftover stock of a defunct beverage.

The bottles plugged a web site at, which is now defunct, as was its Canadian counterpart at However, the Clearly Canadian Beverage Company, who manufactures/manufactured the stuff, still lists it as one of their products. I found a page that describes the alchemy-- er, food science involved in suspending those disgusting little globules in the drink, and a few of anti-fan pages which describe the drink as "atrocious ... the flavor tastes absolutely horrible ... like radioactive mucous Tang", "nasty ... looks like a lava lamp" and "a product created by aliens for the purpose of reproduction in humans." I just say ick.

Hail, hail, rock 'n roll!   Charles Edward "Chuck" Berry is 73 today. Happy birthday, Chuck! (I never knew his middle name. I was born Charles Edward Taggart until I Gaelicized my middle name to Éamon several years ago.)

  Sunday, October 17, 1999
Jesus of the Week, by Peter Gilstrap. It's gonna be the last one, too. D'oh.

  Saturday, October 16, 1999
"Love and Hell" is a great article about Merle Haggard in this week's L.A. Weekly:

Without doubt, Haggard rates as one of the greatest artists the Golden State has ever produced, a folk-song chronicler and outspoken crusader trafficking in generally ignored subject matter. From dust-bowl emigrés to itinerant Chicano field laborers, much of his music is born of and reflective upon life in California. Haggard has managed it on such a grandly sweeping and successful scale that he's wholly unrivaled. Yet today, at age 62, with all his considerable talents intact, he operates in a strange, cloudy netherworld.
Take this job and shove it...   I ain't workin' here no more.

I miss Kikaze.   Hope all is well with Dave.

  Friday, October 15, 1999
Would we change it if we could?   Yesterday Jack wrote:

monday was columbus day, a federal holiday and an unspoken celebration of the discovery of the americas.  in his october 12th website entry, matt dabrowski mentions how, five hundred years ago, "a genoan sailor stepped ashore in the bahamas and changed the world."  he may have changed the world, but christopher columbus also committed many atrocities upon discovering the new world: murder, taking slaves, plundering for gold..  they don't teach students about *that* in history class; instead, they give the chump his own day of honor.
I tend to mark that "day of honor" by playing music from America's indigenous peoples on my radio program. It's such a bogus "holiday" anyway. But I digress ... what Jack wrote made me think about an excellent sf novel I finished a few weeks ago: Pastwatch: The Redemption of Christopher Columbus, by Orson Scott Card. In this novel, future scientists on a ruined and doomed planet Earth have the ability to observe and record events in the past. Their discovery that their current road to extinction could possibly be prevented by going back in time and stopping Columbus from returning to Europe with his "discovery" of America also begs a question: should they? Even if they could prevent the destruction of the indigenous peoples of the Americas and save billions of lives over time, could they do it if it meant the disappearance of the only world they knew, even a doomed one? If we stopped that "chump" from doing what he did, it would have prevented mass slaughter and slavery, but none of us would be here (i.e., in America) now. Thought-provoking stuff. I highly recommend the book.

Gimme a break.   Newsweek reports:

Could this be the ultimate Washington cover-up? Georgia teachers have altered a history text book for fear of snide student comments about the well-known painting of the nation's founding father crossing the Delaware. Superintendents in at least two suburban Atlanta school districts -- Cobb and Muscogee counties -- authorized principals to edit the Emanuel Leutze artwork in the fifth-grade text "United States in Modern Times." Their concern? That fifth-graders may interpret the ornamental watch fob lying on George Washington's thigh as exposed genitalia.
Don't the kids get to have any fun anymore? (via BradLands)

Gentlemen, it is my duty...   Via Bifurcated Rivets comes a link to one of one of my favorite folk/trad bands of all time, Silly Wizard, from Scotland. The link is part of the Harbourtown Records site, a label co-owned by former SW member Gordon Jones.

To my chagrin, I only just noticed that the site and link are hosted by RootsWorld, the world's best roots music web magazine, run by my friend Cliff Furnald. Check it out.

  Wednesday, October 13, 1999
Irony is rarely this sweet.   Lance Arthur's glassdog reported this absolutely delicious item yesterday:

Turns out that if you examine Microsoft's Annual Report, downloadable in MSWord format from their Web site, you can look through the document's edit history (because Word keeps all that info so the file size can bloat) and discover that the company didn't use an Intel-based Windows machine to create it.

They used a Mac.

The fact that the company reported its profits generated mostly from bloated, buggy operating systems on a computer that doesn't use any of those bloated, buggy OS's was not lost on the Mac user community.

Rumors that Bill's new house runs on Linux could not be verified.

My latest epinion:   The Isle of Skye, one of the Inner Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland.

Ick.   Y'know, I eat sweetbreads and liver and stuff, but this is where I draw the line.

Neato!   The San Diego Zoo's Baby Panda Cam.

  Tuesday, October 12, 1999
Remember.   Matthew Shepard died one year ago today.

Remember him and those like him who died or were hurt as a result of someone else's hate. Love your neighbor. Judge not. Live and let live. Make a difference.

Can't we just stop having babies for, like, ten minutes at least?   According to the United Nations, the Earth's population will hit 6,000,000,000 people (yup, six billion with a "B") today. Perhaps we need to embark on a project to translate the words "family planning" into all current human languages.

"We have the house surrounded! Come out with your hands up! This is the New York Public Library!   I thought I was bad, but this guy takes the cake.

Looka! design tweak: Epinions box.   I've been writing oodles of epinions of late. It's been fun and a tad successful -- some of the folks who run have asked me to be a featured reviewer (thanks, y'all!). I've shamelessly stolen the idea from Cam to put a "recent epinions" box on my weblog page, and you'll see it there to your right. I'll also add a weblog entry every time I write one. I also invite you to join the site as my sponsoree; it's free, and I get brownie points. Wouldn't it make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside to know that you're responsible for my brownie point accumulation? I knew that it would.

  Monday, October 11, 1999
Cool spacecraft and bad grammar.   The Galileo spacecraft just passed Jupiter's moon Io and took some really cool pictures, including one of a volcano that's the size of Louisiana. (Gee, if Louisiana even had one little volcano for real, maybe we could sacrifice some of our politicians into it.)

CNN had a story about the flyby today that really tweaks the English minor in me. If you'll note, the headline on the story is "Galileo space probe flys by Jupiter's volcanic moon". Now ... I know the term for this type of maneuver among aerospace scientists is "flyby" or "fly-by", but how the hell is that supposed to be verbified? "Flysby"? "Flys-by"? Given the fact that CNN chose to make the term two words -- "flys by" -- then they should have said "flew by" ... or zipped by or passed by or passed or flies by or just about anything else. Sorry, but "flys by" looks like something I'd see on a fourth-grader's paper, and something I'd mark with a big red "X".

I'm gonna ask my friend Jeff at JPL about this, but ... he's a rocket scientist, not a grammarian.

Update - 3:39pm   My friend Jon, who's an aerospace engineer as well as a grammarian, informs me that the verbified spelling "flys by" is most definitely incorrect. "Flies by" would be used, but they actually tend to say "performs/executes a flyby".

Verbing weirds language.

No Netscape 5.0. Hmph.   Netscape's parent company, the vile America Online, has scrapped the release of Netscape version 5.0 for this year. Apparently one big reason is because of AOL's plans "to incorporate instant messaging directly into the e-mail client and browser software. One of the ideas is that instant messages can default to e-mail if the recipient is not available online."

I despise AOL Instant Messenger, which installed itself without so much as a "by your leave" when I installed Netscape Communicator 4.6. I was so incensed by that (plus how they, to my irritation, moved the "New Window With This Link" menu option one lower than where I was used to, plus the bloat of all that email and conferencing and composer crap that I don't need) that I uninstalled it and went with the stand-alone broswer version 4.08.

And I tell you what, podna ... the instant that the MacOS version of Opera is available, I'm getting it and never looking back.

Woohoo! New album from Dirk Powell!   Dirk is one of America's finest traditional musicians, a master of Appalachian styles and old-time fiddle and banjo. He's also a member of Balfa Toujours, the current musical incarnation of the legendary Balfa family of Cajun music (he plays accordion and fiddle, plus composes new songs in the traditional style and sings such that you'd never know he didn't grow up speaking French in southwestern Louisiana). He has an absolutely wonderful new album out called "Hand Me Down", out on Rounder, featuring Jim Miller and Ginny Hawker on vocals. It's a contender for best of the year.

  Friday, October 8, 1999
Okay,'s there.   Dan from apathy weblog kindly wrote to tell me it was indeed there and to provide me with the URL that I actually already had, but it wasn't working yesterday. I swear I kept getting "The page that you requested was not found in AOL Hometown" by clicking on the link that's been on my local Netscape start page since the late 1700s (at least). I suppose I could have just emailed Adam, but I guess I figured that if his page disappeared then his email might have too.

Have I ever mentioned that I loathe AOL?

We went to see Doc Watson the other night.   In case you don't know, Arthel "Doc" Watson, from Deep Gap, North Carolina, is a guitarist and singer of traditional American music, a living legend and a treasure. It was a relatively rare opportunity to see him in a small room, the always-wonderful McCabe's Guitar Shop, in their intimate 150-person capacity back room (it'd been 8 years since he'd been there). He was accompanied (as usual) by a brilliant guitarist named Jack Lawrence, and he was absolutely wonderful. (He records for Sugar Hill Records, and each one of his recordings is superb; you could pretty much pick one at random and do well. "My Dear Old Southern Home" might be a good one to start with.)

"Greetings."   While perusing I was reminded of a link he found (via Camworld) that I had toyed with several months ago, before I started weblogging. It's from CNN's site about their excellent documentary series "The Cold War". On the page related to episode 13 of that series, "The Draft", there is a calculator for determining whether or not you would have been drafted had you been of draft age in 1969. In this particular draft lottery, anyone with a number (based on their birthday) higher than 196 would not have been drafted; anyone who received a number lower than 196 eventually would have been drafted.

My number was 46. (*glerp*)   Fortunately I was only 8 at the time.

I entered the birthdays of 15 good friends into the draft lottery calculator. Exactly half of us would have gone (myself included), and half would have been spared the draft. Well, I suppose I might have gotten rejected for one reason or another ...

  Thursday, October 7, 1999
Cell phones are banned on airplanes...   but not for safety reasons. They're banned so that the airlines and GTE can charge you six bucks a minute to use that phone in the seat back in front of you.

Our descent into a nation of idiots continues.   The term "evolution" has been deleted from the curriculum in Kentucky public schools.

"It was a dark and stormy night..."   You too can write wretched prose if you just apply yourself. Enter the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, where your assignment is to write the worst possible opening sentence for an imaginary novel. The contest is named for the almost-forgettable Victorian-era author who opened one of his novels with the aforementioned execrably purple prose.

Um...   I think this is a bit of a stretch ... and this, and this, and this and this. Y'know, I looked up at the clouds once, and saw a ducky, and a bunny, and a very distinct image of St. Ignatius Loyola in a Humvee, chasing an elephant in his pajamas ... what that elephant was doing in his pajamas was no doubt a Mystery.

  Wednesday, October 6, 1999
We blowed 'em up real good.   Anyone who thinks it's a good idea for us to be bombing Iraq nearly every day should read each and every one of these articles about what sanctions and bombings are doing to the people of Iraq. Not Saddam, just folks.

Ni!   Yesterday was the 30th anniversary of Monty Python's Flying Circus, whom I still quote almost daily ("That's a rather personal question, sir."), and who singlehandedly may have been responsible for my surviving high school with my sanity intact. There's a retrospective of their career up, courtesy of the BBC. (Heads up from peterme.) Salon has a piece on why Monty Python is the best sketch comedy there ever was or ever will be, which also opines that "The Meaning of Life" is their "true masterpiece". Hmm.

Yeah you rite.   What is the advantage of a long life if you can't enjoy the pleasures of food and drink? Eat dangerously!

I'm liking more now.   I've written a pile of reviews for 'em already, and I'm sure more will be on the way. Have a look, and join the site -- it's free, and if you do, I'd be tickled pick to sponsor you.

Ack! seems to have vanished. Anybody have any idea where it went?

  Tuesday, October 5, 1999
Biiiiiig surprise...   Leaked internal emails show that Microsoft's so-called "charity" was just carefully planned PR. Well, duh.

"Open the pod bay doors please, Hal. Hal?"   "Superhuman" speech recognition is apparently on its way. Neat.

  Monday, October 4, 1999
Louisiana politics, again.   Baton Rouge prosecutors who successfully get juries to vote for the death penalty get a free meal at Ruth's Chris, at the expense of Louisiana's taxpayers. Such a deal.

Jesse, Jesse, Jesse...   "The Mind" speaks.

Remember what was I was JUST saying about how advertising is evil?

Gullibility alert!   Could ZDnet really think that this is for real?

What's up with this?   Does Bob Mould really need a gig this badly that he has to get in bed with tobacco companies?

  Friday, October 1, 1999
Whoops.   The $125 million Mars Climate Orbiter was lost because Lockheed Martin were using the English measurement, and NASA were using the metric system. Uh, guys ... if you like, next time you launch a space mission, use my U.S./metric conversion tables. I put 'em there to help people from around the world convert the amounts in my recipes. Er, come to think of it, NASA aren't going to be using cups and tablespoons, I guess...

"Getting it both ways"   A thoughtful review of "American Beauty", one of my favorite films of the year, by Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader, who's rapidly becoming one of my favorite film critics. I might not always agree with him 100%, but he always makes me think.

September entries for Looka!   have been archived.

Thanks to regular Looka! contributors Wesly Moore, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Michael Pemberton and Steve Gardner.
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