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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 a link. If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Chuck Taggart
icq: 8591604

Looka! Archive

December 1999
November 1999
October 1999
September 1999
August 1999
July 1999

Recent Epinions:

1. Wusthof: Knives for Serious Cooks

2. The Isle of Skye

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

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

5. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!

Weblogs I like:

The BradLands
Bring the Rock
Ethel the Blog
Hit or Miss
Lake Effect
Mr. Barrett
the nubbin
One Swell Foop
Riot Hero
Robot Wisdom
Running Tally
Strange Brew
The Other Side
Whim and Vinegar

Brig's big blog portal
Matthew's GLB blog portal


The Fray
The Onion

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Made with Macintosh

  Stuff worth reading
   Updated (almost) daily | last tweak @ 12:11am PST, 2/1/2000

  Monday, January 31, 2000
"This Modern World",   by Tom Tomorrow, is a winner this week.

  Sunday, January 30, 2000
It's Super Bowl Sunday.   ... *yawn*

I didn't even know who was in it until someone at work told me the other day. (Tennessee has a football team?)

  Saturday, January 29, 2000
Doubleclick's collective butt hauled into court.   A California woman is suing for invasion of privacy, for their odious tactic of matching unique ID cookies with their newly-acquired name/address database to find out exactly who you are and what you do on the web. The Slashdot folks report that someone from Doubleclick called them and insisted they remove their story on the suit with their link to the original USA Today story. Their reply, in so many words: Buzz off.

I, reformed coke addict.   Um, I should probably say "reformed Coke addict"; we don't want anyone getting the wrong idea about me.

When I was in gradual school, I drank at least 3 or 4 cans of Coca-Cola a day. That was how I got my caffeine fix in those days. After my iced tea addiction became fixed, I swore off fizzy soft drinks -- most of 'em are too sweet anyway, and I despise diet soft drinks. These days I can't stand sodas at all, as they're sickeningly sweet to me. But I remember my Coke-addict days with a certain amount of fondness, except for three very dark months...

Cokelore, a site featuring true facts and false urban legends about Coca-Cola, includes a fascinating view of a tumultuous period in my life -- the 1985 decision (right in the middle of when I was working on my thesis project at its most intense level and needed my fix), to take my drug of choice away, and, to my complete and sputtering outrage, replace it with the vile "New Coke". Turns out it wasn't a clever marketing ploy, but a screw-up of Gargantuan proportions. (via PeterMe).

  Friday, January 28, 2000
The ongoing struggle.   I have now been caffeine-free for two weeks. (*weep*)

Actually, it hasn't been nearly as bad as I had expected. I had a fairly nasty (but not crippling) headache on the 15th, and milder ones the day before and after, but ramping down seemed to help.

Here are a few things I've learned:

1.  Luzianne Decaffeinated Iced Tea rules!

2.  However, I find that while decaf iced tea (Luzianne's in particular, the only good one) is wholly satisfying, decaf hot tea is, for some reason, wholly unsatisfying.

3.  The heart palpitations ("skipped beats") I had been noticing are caused by excess caffeine. Fortunately, they're common and relatively harmless, although it freaked me out when I first noticed.

4.  Caffeine raises blood pressure only about 2-3mmHg in your systolic pressure, and 1mmHg in the diastolic, up to a maximum of 5mmHg systolic 15 minutes after drinking. In the grand scheme of things, that's not all that much, although regular consumption can cause sustained elevation. (My doctor did say I could have a cup or two of tea per day once we got my BP under control.)

5.  Drinking tea is actually better for you than coffee. Tea contains antioxidants that coffee does not, and they offer reduction of risk of developing cancer and heart disease.

6.  There's a lot you can do on your own to lower your blood pressure without medication.

7.  There are a lot of really good web sites on the subject of high blood pressure.

8.  If you haven't been to the doctor in a long time, go and get your BP checked. You can even stick your arm in one of those free testers you see at the drugstore. For almost everyone, high blood pressure is asymptomatic, and you have no idea you've got it -- hence the name "the silent killer".

I thought I was too young to have this sort of problem, but if I had let it go for much longer, I'd have been asking for kidney damage, congestive heart failure and/or stroke in another 10-15 years. Nasty. Go to the doctor at least once a year.
I'm on a new medication now, an ACE inhibitor called Zestril, and it seems to be having the most effect. My pressure is now down to a between 144/93 and 139/89, which is a hell of a lot better than 225/125. If I can keep it at that last number from the meds alone, I can get it down to well within normal levels with exercise and diet (although I'm still pigging out when I go to Jazzfest).

Oh my.   We've got to get this boy to a really fine restaurant, in the company of people with nice table manners.

Not spam, but Spam.   "I DON'T LIKE SPAM!!!"

"Shh dear, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your Spam! I love it! I'll have Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, Spam, baked beans, Spam, Spam, Spam and Spam!

  Thursday, January 27, 2000
Support AIDS Ride by collecting art.   My friend Jon Fish is participating in the California AIDS Ride this year, biking from San Francisco to Los Angeles to raise money. He came up with a great idea:  seeing that he's a talented photographer, he's decided to offer a portfolio of five prints from his work for an AIDS Ride contribution of $200 or more. What a neat idea. Have a look.

Hopehopehopehope...   A radio engineer at Stanford picked up a signal from Mars that might -- just might -- be from the presumed-dead Mars Polar Lander.

Rats.   No, I don't mean Charlie Brown's preferred exclamation of frustration. I mean vermin -- everything you always wanted to know about rats, and lots lots less. (Not for the squeamish.)

Speaking of rats...   Evil megabucks online toy store have dropped their lawsuit (harrassment, really) against the artists' consortium, but apparently etoy still haven't gotten their domain and email back yet. A compendium of news reports on the sordid saga is available. (via Riot Hero).

Speaking of Riot Hero...   'Tis a brand-new weblog on the loose, first of the 2000s as far as I've noticed. Its author is a 15-year-old high school kid from Connecticut (dang, bloggers are getting younger all the time), and he's doing a good job so far. I must confess that when I first saw his URL, I read it as "Rio Thero" and thought, "Gee, what a cool name..."  (Dave... my mind is going... I can feel it... I can feel it...)

Came across another new (to me) blog yesterday, which I liked a lot -- Running Tally (nifty URL and cool looking root page, too).

Speaking of blogs...   That wacky Foopmeister now brings us ... ScamWorld.


Poem of the day:   For all ye lovers of fine verse.

How I love to watch the morn,
     With golden sun that shines,
Up above to nicely warm
     These frosty toes of mine.

The wind doth taste of bittersweet,
     Like Jasper wine and sugar,
I bet it's blown through others' feet,
     Like those of ... Caspar Weinberger.

                -- Opus the Penguin

Today is...   Ellipsis day on Looka!...

  Tuesday, January 25, 2000
Great chieftain o the puddin'-race!   In honor of the 241st anniversary of the birth of the bard o' Scotland, Robert Burns, tonight you're supposed to have haggis for dinner, properly piped in and honored with a recitation of Rabbie's "Address to a Haggis". Mmmmmmm, haggis. (A little Tabasco helps. I know.)

To spear or not to spear?   From the February 2000 issue of the fabulous Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, a checklist of ten foods best eaten with your hands:

1.  Bread.
2.  Thinly-sliced Prosciutto di Parma.
3.  Shards of cheese -- especially Parmagiano, Grana or Pecorino.
4.  Succulent, summer-ripe tomato wedges sprinkled with sea salt.
5.  Juicy peaches.
6.  Thick slices of salami.
7.  Watermelon -- let the juices run down your chin!
8.  Grilled or roasted chicken.
9.  Corn on the cob.
10.  Strawberries dipped in melted bittersweet chocolate - best dunked and eaten while the chocolate is still hot.
Uh-oh.   Reports of deterioration in dual-layer DVDs ("RDSL rot").

Straights in the military.   Seems that there's far more trouble caused in military installations by pesky, horny heterosexuals than by any gay or lesbian soldiers.

He said warm apple pie, not scalding hot.   From Wired News, as well as my morning's email:

Those of you who have seen the movie American Pie will no doubt recall the infamous "pie scene." Well, young Dwight Emburger must have seen it, since he attempted a faithful reenactment with a freshly baked apple pie. Unfortunately for the Idaho teenager, the pie was a little too freshly baked; Master Emburger wound up in the hospital with a badly burned penis. "This demonstrates that producers should consider the effects their films have on young and impressionable people," a hospital spokesman said. Not to mention stupid people.

Now playing:   "If I Should Fall From Grace With God", by The Pogues. My God, what a brilliant feckin' album that is. Everybody shines, from Shane to Spider Stacy and Terry Woods and Philip Chevron, the writing, the singing, James Fearnley's accordion and all the playing, everything.

  Monday, January 24, 2000
Iowa caucuses are today.   Somebody wake me when there's an interesting candidate.

New recipes added to the Creole and Cajun Recipe Page:

Herbsaint-Poached Oyster Soup, from the Martinique Bistro; Marinated Smoked Duck, Cashew Butter and Pepper Jelly Sandwiches with Apple-Celery Salad, and Crawfish Curry with Mango Chutney from Bayona. I've also split off the sandwiches into their own section.
The Update of Death.   CNN reports that the new AOL software version 5.0 can seize control of your computer and prevent it from accessing other Internet service providers, overwrite existing config files and destabilize your machine; as Slashdot put it, if you install it, yer screwed. Windows Magazine also reports, in an excellent article, everything that AOL 5.0 does and why it's so bad.

In all, I found AOL had added or altered 229 files on my system, including more than 4.5MB of Windows system files! Most of these system files were placed in a directory called C:\America Online 5.0\net\win98se\, and if you're somewhat familiar with Windows, you'll recognize many of these files as essential components of Windows networking -- theyre emphatically not files you want to be fooling around with: A partial list includes ftp.exe, mapi32.dll, msnet32.dll, mswsock.dll, ndis.vxd, net.exe, nwlink.vxd, protman.dos and protman.exe, secur32.dll, svrapi.dll, vdhcp.386, vnetbios.vxd, vnetsup.vxd, vredir.vxd, winipcfg.exe, winpopup.exe, ws2thk.dll, wshtcp.vxd, wsipx.vxd, wsock.vxd, wsock2.vxd and many, many more.
I stand corrected.   My friend Michael Yasui informs me that the longest place name in the world is not, in fact, the lovely little Welsh town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyndrobwllantisiliogogogoch, but is Krungthep Mahanakhon Amorn Rattanakosin Mahintara Yudthaya Mahadilok Pohp Noparat Rajathanee Bureerom Udomrajniwes Mahasatarn Amorn Pimarn Avaltarnsatit Sakatattiya Visanukram Prasit. It is the official name of Bangkok, Thailand. Beats the hell out of the full name of the city where I live, which is El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Angeles de Porciuncula. (Strange Minds Think Alike Dept.:  After not having read EatonWeb for a couple of weeks, I notice that Brig linked to Llanfairetc. two days previously, and pointed out that they've also registered the full town name as the web's longest URL.)

Buttery ... a bit pithy, yet somewhat degenerate with a round, goosing finish.   Why do wine connoisseurs talk like that?

I love wine. I've learned a bit about it over the years, and I'll be learning for the rest of my life. I took a 12-week wine course at UCLA with a master sommelier who informed us, "Drink what you like. Wine isn't nearly as difficult to understand as the wine snobs would have you think it is." Ann Noble, a sensory scientist and flavor chemist at UC Davis' viticulture and oenology department, agrees. She's developed a tool (similar to a hand-drawn chart my wine teacher had) called the wine aroma wheel, which helps cut through the crap and get right down to what a wine tastes and smells like. Nifty!

You go, Canada! Show me those necrotic livers!   The Canadian government will now require cigarette manufacturers to cover half of each pack with graphic photographs of diseased organs, or by a picture of a drooping, flaccid cigarette to symbolize impotence caused by smoking. Heh.

ROFLMAO.   Hilarious IRC "news", via NTK. BTW, for all your IRC newbies, "ROFLMAO" is an abbreviation for "rolling on floor, laughing with Chairman Mao".

  Friday, January 21, 2000
FCC to license low-power stations, finally.   Small community stations in the 10-100 watt range, the type of microbroadcasters that had to operate as pirate stations up until now, will now be able to apply for free licenses. Apparently former stations that once operated and were busted by the FCC won't be eligible, which is a shame. The late, lamented and busted KBLT in the Silver Lake region of Los Angeles was, while it was operating, quite possibly the best, most daring, eclectic and exciting radio station in the City.

Do you understand the numbers?   An astronomy teacher named David Chandler, who's used to thinking about concepts of large numbers and vast spaces, wrote an essay and illustration of income distribution in the United States. His graphic representation is startling (and sobering). He also points out that many people don't understand this and many other things because most people do not realize how big millions and billions are.

DIVX redux?   No, no, no, no, no, no, no! Don't people learn anything? DIVX didn't work, this won't either. This idea addresses some of the more odious aspects of the deservedly dead DIVX (like their being able to follow your viewing habits), but it all boils down to this:  almost nobody wants to be limited in their viewing. It's a bad idea in so many ways, not the least of which is landfills full of discarded "expired" DVDs. Feh.

Rydw i'n moyn mynd i Gymru!   When I finally get around to visiting Wales, I want to make sure to visit the lovely little town of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch, which is, I believe, the longest place name in the world. (Yes, I can pronounce it!)

Quote of the day:   "To cook well, one need only be a gourmand, a hungry appreciator of flavors. Rather, I should probably say, one must be a gourmand to be a good cook. A recipe is like written music. One can follow it very exactly and yet achieve an unintelligent, mechanical, or mediocre result. The recipe is only music on the page; it is you who will make it sing. To cook is to create, to marry ingredients as poets marry words, to play chords with flavors, to invent new and subtle harmonies."  -- Roger Vergé (via The New Orleans MenuLetter)

  Thursday, January 20, 2000
Demon to eat moon tonight.   An evil demon will completely consume the moon tonight, portending evil, death and destruction. (Psst. It's really only a total eclipse. But don't tell anyone.)

The sky is falling.   A meteor exploded over the Canada-Alaska border on Tuesday. Musta been one heck of a show. (It was probably really an alien spacecraft, though ... the truth is out there, Scully!)

The sky is falling, again.   The Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory, in low Earth orbit, will apparently come plummeting out of the sky on March 14 -- into the Pacific, we hope, and not on anyone's head. (With my luck, it'll land on my car.)

Bravissimo.   Real Italian mortadella will now be available in the U.S., due to the lifting of a 20-year ban on its importation. I've always liked the locally-made variety, but I'm looking forward to trying la reale cosa.

Our litigious society, part deux.   I'm still having difficulty believing that someone actually sued over this; I'd have had a few wee drinks and then found a comfortable place to sleep, me.

WOO-HOO! (D'oh!)   Seems that Ridley Scott is planning wonderful things with a forthcoming DVD re-release of one of my all-time favorite movies, "Blade Runner". I'm excited by this, naturally ... but it's a tad frustrating 'cause I already own "Blade Runner" on DVD. It's mildly annoying to have to buy it again, but I'll probably forget about it and start getting excited when the new version is released.

Neato! I want!   Gee, now that I'm a new (and rabid) DVD consumer, I simply can't live without a pair of these.

  Wednesday, January 19, 2000
Will anybody be looking at Looka! today?   Or will they all be heading to Transmeta today to find out what Crusoe is and what it does?

The killer at Thurston High (brrrrrr).   Last night, I watched an outstanding episode of PBS' "Frontline" about Kip Kinkel, the extremely disturbed Oregon boy who killed his parents and shot up his school two years ago. If you missed it, try to catch it in repeat if you can, and read about the case in great detail on the "Frontline" web site (including, among many other things, the gripping statements from the victims and their survivors at Kinkel's sentencing hearing). The show's final segment, during which we hear a segment of the post-shooting police interview with the hysterically sobbing Kinkel, was one of the most riveting and chilling things I've seen or heard on television in recent memory.

Argh!   I scratched another CD.

I hadn't realized it until I put it in the player and tried to listen to it, and after a while I got that extremely annoying ging-ging-ging-ging-ging-ging-ging sound of a skipping CD. This was a bad one, too; the scratch followed the curve of the CD, obliterating information ... and it was my favorite CD last year, La Bottine Souriante's "Xième" (AKA "Rock 'n Reel").

Fortunately, it might not be a goner. There's a CD/DVD scratch repair product called CD Playright, which received a highly favorable review from the folks at I'm off to pick some up tomorrow, and I'll let you know how it works.

Thank Gawd.   My tea arrived today.

I've been completely caffeine-free since Friday, and after a few not-as-nasty-as-I-had-expected headaches, I think I'm clean. The thought of a completely tea-free life was still unacceptable, though. Friends of mine back home who are off caffeine tell me that Luzianne makes the only good decaffeinated tea, so I was determined to get some. It's not available in California, and rather than bother Mom for a care package, I tried typing into my web browser just for the heck of it ... and there it was. Luzianne have a rather nice lil' web site from which you can order all kinds of neat stuff, including decaf tea. Mine arrived in exactly a week, so they get a thumbs-up. It's excellent tea, too; makes perfect iced tea. I'm doing a really good job pretending not to notice the lack of caffeine.

It's kinda sad, though -- this week marks the end of an addiction that probably began in Ireland in 1988, during my first trip over there. I had been drinking iced tea all my life, but hadn't had tea in any quantity until I went over there (and the tea is strong in Ireland). It would begin with tea for breakfast, then at least one if not two cups of tea at every house I visited; e.g.:

Mrs. Aldridge:  Chuck, how about a nice cup of tea?

Me:  Oh, no thanks, Mrs. Aldridge. I'm fine for tea.

Mrs. Aldridge:  Aaah, you will...

If an Irish woman offers you tea, remember this:  resistance is futile. (Note to "Father Ted" fans: I tell you, Mrs. Doyle is not a caricature or an exaggeration! Well, not by much...)

Tea for lunch, afternoon tea, tea at evening visits, and then of course a cuppa before bed. (And it didn't keep them up. *boggle*)  I had about ten cups a day of the strongest tea I'd ever had poured into me when I was there. The loveliest, friendliest and most hospitable people in the world turned me into a junkie. And I'll kinda miss it.

Hang on, the kettle's whistling. Gotta scamper...

  Tuesday, January 18, 2000
Send the boy home, Part II.   Seen in last Wednesday's New York Times (via soc.motss):

... The reporter noted that while legal wranglings were occurring, Elian and a cousin were playing in the front yard. When an airplane passed overhead, the cousin pointed and exclaimed in Spanish, "Look, an airplane. An airplane!". Reportedly, Elian responded, "Good! It's coming to take me back to Cuba. It's coming to take me back to Cuba!"
Hell (Go to) Dept.   I hate telemarketers. If you call me at home trying to sell me something, you'd better be prepared for anything. Recently, instead of just hollering and/or hanging up, I've taken to playing with them when they call. However, my initial attempts pale in comparison to the excellent telemarketer tormenting techniques (and other anti-telemarketing stuff) to be found here.

I guess we kinda knew it, but NASA have given up trying to contact the Mars Polar Lander. (*sigh*)

Cayenne pepper -- in my gumbo, in my socks...   Nifty and unusual alternate uses for spices. (Via Mr. Barrett)

  Friday, January 14, 2000
Send the boy home to his father NOW.   You know which boy I mean. The actions of both the U.S. government and the knee-jerk anti-Castro zealots has been unconscionable. I'd gotten a little behind in blogging anything about this one, ever since I was left gaping and sputtering at the news about how that pitiful excuse for a representative from Indiana had actually subpoenaed the child. Sweet suffering Jesus.

Speaking of the odious Dan Burton, there's an excellent look at Burton's extremely questionable past in the January 10 edition of Ethel the Blog; scroll down a bit and read more about why this man is perhaps the single worse member of Congress, and a stinking hypocrite besides.

Slurpin' down dem roy erstas.   Well, I don't care for 'em raw, actually; I prefer them fried. Or in gumbo. Or in oyster-artichoke soup. Or Oysters Gabie. Well, cooked anyway. Learn lots of oyster lore, oyster recipes, even lookit da oyster cam at Oyster-Rama, courtesy of the folks at NOLA Live.

Uh ... I've eaten there.   At a Supermacs in Galway, anyway, although I'm not sure if it's one of the ones that got nailed. I'm annoyed that the article didn't list exactly which hygiene regs were breached.

'Scuse me, while I kiss this guy.   What? You mean that wasn't the actual lyric to that song? And that Beatles' song was really "Paperback Writer" and not "Take the Back Right Turn"? (I swear to God that my friend Mim really thought that.) Well, just remember ... don't go out tonight, 'cause it's bound to take your life; there's a bathroom on the right.

Ba-da-BING!   New episodes of "The Sopranos" begin airing Sunday on HBO. WHERE'S PUSSY?!?

  Wednesday, January 12, 2000
The history of nachos,   courtesy of the Oxford English Dictionary folks.

Beans, beans, they're good for your heart...   the more you eat, the more you... um, reduce your chance of getting prostate cancer!

Y'ever wonder   why the bubbles in Guinness go down as well as up?

What does the "C" in KFC stand for, anyway?   Don't worry, Kentucky Fried Chicken do not serve mutant chickens. (Rats. Another fun urban myth bites the dust.) Eat Popeye's chicken instead anyway -- it's tons better, spicier if you want it, PLUS you can get fabulous biscuits and great red beans 'n rice there.

The neterati respond to the AOL/Time-Warner merger   in an interesting Salon article:

"The more the Net becomes like TV, the stupider we are going to become; the more TV becomes like the Net, the more intelligent we'll become."  -- Howard Rheingold.
Sheesh.   Just after getting over my fear of roller coasters a few years ago, there's this.

  Tuesday, January 11, 2000
Yeesh.   Yesterday I went to the doctor, who took one look at my blood pressure and said, "If it were any higher, I'd call my broker and sell it." So not only am I now on blood pressure medication, I've also been told ... *choke* ... that I am to completely cease my caffeine intake as of today.

This is gonna be bad. I'm a total caffeine junkie. If I go off, I'm going to have headaches that'll make me feel like my head is in a vise and being cut in two with a chainsaw (just like in Evil Dead 2). Fortunately, I found a fascinating caffeine FAQ which contains procedures from weaning yourself off it; he said I could ramp down, but for no more than a few days. I'm going to be a basket case. (Then again, once I'm off it and once we get my BP under control, I'll probably feel great. Life goes on.)

Included in my 1.5-2 quarts of iced tea I drink every day is what I drink in restaurants. That's gonna have to go, but diehard iced tea junkie that I am, I just went to the Luzianne site and ordered a trainload of their decaf tea bags. Luzianne is the ONLY brand of decaffeinated iced tea that's any good.

You picked who to be the daddy?   Melissa Etheridge has revealed that the donor of the, erm, genetic material used to father her children was none other than David Crosby.

Regular Looka! contributor Steve Kelley opines:   "Wha-wha-wha-what?! If you're dealing in the realm of the sperm donor, where the world of genetic excellence is your oyster, so to speak, and a woman is not limited to the choice of troglodytes that is the general run of human males, why in God's name would ANYONE choose David Crosby to be the genetic father of her child? Unless she was stoned or in love with him, neither of which is probably the case here.

"Okay, maybe he was boyishly cute for about 15 minutes back in the early days of the Byrds, but the guy's bringing obesity, heart disease, liver disease and multiple addictions into the family tree. These kids are gonna be fat, bald, strung-out and in need of liver transplants by the time they're 40.

"But I guess on the plus side, they'll be natural harmony singers."

Had I been Melissa, I might've picked Graham Nash, who seems to have held up the best. I'm glad the kids have loving parents, though ... but maybe Mom and Mom oughta keep 'em out of the news. Who needs that?

  Monday, January 10, 2000
Shell-shocked? Me?   You might say that. This morning I woke up to the news that I now work for AOL.

  Friday, January 7, 2000
Dine with Chef Brak.   Sing about bruschetta and recite sonnets to cheese. Food is good!

Good evening, sir.   Welcome to Café Ptomaine. Would you care for the chicken or the beef? (Um ... I think I'll have the eggplant, thanks.)

Soo-EEE! Pig! Pig!   Join Cholly Mac and the boys at a redneck pig roast.

Speaking of dead animals...   Here's the umpty-umpth story about how the Amiga computer is not really dead, 'cause someone else has bought it, it's resurrecting, and they'll be making new machines again real soon now, and blah blah blah.

Hey!   No dissing my non-cousin!

"It's a prank, but unfortunately, it's in poor taste," Richens said. "It shows a total disrespect for Mr. Taggart."
Oh, lighten up, Dick. (Via Obscure Store)

  Thursday, January 6, 2000
Red wine:   Good for you! Although studies have shown that dealcoholized wine might be a little better for you, cardiovascular health-wise, I think I'll still go for the real thing. Perhaps I'll pop that '95 Renwood Zinfandel tonight...

Wingnut admits he's wrong.   The infamous Gary North, who's been predicting the end of the world by various means for about 20 years now, admits with some bafflement that he was wrong about how Y2K would cause the collapse of civilization. "Y2K's effects, so far, have taken all of the specialists by surprise," he says. Gee, every single one of the computer professionals that I know personally didn't think anything big would ever happen -- just small, annoying but non-civilization-ending glitches. Sorry Gary.

Uncommon man.   An interesting article about Aaron Copland, in conjunction with a newly-published biography.

Plastigoop, Part Deux!   More details on the history of the Mattel Thingmaker.

Then in 1974, after ten happy years of plastic bugs and mild burns, Congress held hearings on the safety of children's toys. The Thingmaker was capable of developing temperatures in excess of three hundred degrees. That fact alone was enough to convince the committee that the Thingmaker was not an appropriate device for children to operate.
Sheesh. Leave it to Congress to screw up all the fun for us kids. I never burned myself with my Thingmaker. (Thanks, Anita!)

  Wednesday, January 5, 2000
Open mouth, insert foot.   The Human Rights Campaign offers us the right wing's most far-out quotes of 1999. Here are a couple of appalling favorites:

"The secret they [the courts] do not seem to understand is that there is no separation of church and state in the Constitution or in any of our founding documents." (Janet Folger, Center for Reclaiming America for Christ; Coral Ridge On-line Newsletter, February, 1999)

"Just last week I saw two homosexual men at the supermarket. The supermarket! In broad daylight! That's what you get when you worship the creation instead of the creator." (Rev. Terry Glidden, Kansas; Washington Post, Oct. 5, 1999)

Don't worry, America.   Don't let those nasty Amnesty International people with their nasty reports get you down. You're not the only government that executes teenaged criminals (although these folks seem to be somewhat speedier about it...)

Our litigious society: Boo and I'll sue!   A woman is suing Universal Studios for injuries and "emotional distress" because their haunted house attraction scared her and made her fall.

No! No! Don't do it! Hang on!   The British struggle in their final conversion to the metric system. Sheesh. If God had intended us to use the metric system, He'd have given us ten fingers! (Um, wait...)

Rolling Stone loses last shred of relevancy   thanks to its daring readers, who have voted The Backstreet Boys as Artists of the Year, Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Band of the Year, et cetera, ad nauseam. The magazine gamely tries to analyze it all, but alas, drowns in its own irrelevancy.

Whoops.   Squeaky-clean Wal-Mart launched its family-friendly web site, but accidentally included some naughty books in its listings.

Hee hee hee.   Ready to upgrade your PC's operating system to Windows 1900?

  Tuesday, January 4, 2000
My "Best of '99" records list is up.   Last Saturday was my first radio program of the New Year, and I traditionally do a countdown of my favorite records of the year. I've got the Top "15" countdown up, with capsule reviews and links, with the long list of honorable mentions and reissues of the year to come later when I have time. Check 'em out, and maybe catch up on some musical gems you missed last year.

Whoa, back up!   You'll definitely need your "back" button from this virtual dead end. (Not only are they a dead end, but they have to put up with Newfie jokes from the rest of Canada too, poor hosers.)

  Monday, January 3, 2000
Mah, yew shore got purty lips...   The Gumbo Pages go redneck.

Miss Manners on netiquette.   Despite the fact that this interview with the almost-always-fabulous Judith Martin is now over three years old, its no less enlightening. Follow he last bit of advice and you'll do well:  "Always think before you communicate."

Plastigoop!   'Member that stuff?!? (Oh yeah, yeah, right, you're too young ... blah blah blah.)

Seriously now ... I was getting all nostalgic for my old toys from the 60s and 70s, and started doing some web searches. I was crazy about my Mattel Thingmaker, which baked variously-colored Plastigoop in little metal molds, and you could make anything from Creepy Crawlies, bugs of all kinds, and even Peanuts characters (those were hard to do). I found a very exhaustive site for Thingmaker collectors.

I also loved my Strange Change toy. It was a little oven shaped like a time machine (just go along with me here, okay?), and you'd put these little square pellets in it and turn it on, and they'd transmogrify into dinosaurs and all sorts of prehistoric beasts! Then you'd play with him on this (cheesy) little plastic rockscape, and then you'd put the monsters back into the chamber, heat 'em up, and when they were soft you could put 'em into this little crusher chamber and crush 'em back into a little square pellet. Neat, huh?!

I swear I'm not going to go looking for this stuff on eBay. (Well, maybe the Strange Change, but not the Thingmaker.)

Diastemas über alles!   If you thought it was incredibly cool that Les Blank made a film called "Gap-Toothed Women", then this is the web site for you. Celebrate your diastema, and the diastemas you admire.

  Saturday, January 1, 2000
Happy New Year!   My shoes still work. So do my lights, my water, my ATM and my Mac. Now ... dig yourself out of your Chicken Little Y2K bunkers and get it through your skulls that the turn of the millennium isn't for another year! (D'oh!)

Whoops, the world didn't end. Sorry for the fuss.   The Los Angeles Times reports on how nothing happened at the turn of the calendar.

"We're finding no significant incidents and the anecdotes we'rehearing are all laughable," said Bruce McConnell, director of the United Nations-supported International Year 2000 Coordination Council. "We've been predicting very few problems, but this is better than I expected."

Ticketing machines on some buses in Australian cities of Adelaide and Hobart briefly jammed, and a provincial court in South Korea reported that it had issued automated summonses to 170 people to appear for trial on Jan. 4, 1900, instead of Jan. 4, 2000."

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