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looka, ('lu-k&) Yatspeak. v.
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. --n. My weblog - food, music, news, movies, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, my opinions, witty or smart-arsed comments 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.

Last tweak @ 1:40pm PST, 3/31/2000

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Chuck Taggart
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Looka! Archive

February 2000
January 2000

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

Recent Epinions:

1. Mi Piace: It pleases me

2. Wusthof: Knives for Serious Cooks

3. The Isle of Skye

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

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

6. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!

Weblogs I like:

The BradLands
Ethel the Blog
Hit or Miss
Lake Effect
Mr. Barrett
the nubbin
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Riot Hero
Robot Wisdom
Running Tally
Slightly North of Tomorrow
Strange Brew
The Other Side
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar

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


The Fray
The Onion

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Made with Macintosh

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  Friday, March 31, 2000
Awrite, Carlos!   My old friend and classmate Carlos Avila (whom I first met in Ian Conner's Cinematography class at LMU in 1982) is having his feature film directorial debut released today:  "Price of Glory", starring Jimmy Smits, Jon Seda and Ron Perlman. Woohoo! (We're all proud of ya, ya big ol' mojón! :^)

Speaking of movies by friends...   One of my oldest and best friends, Luis Meza, made a terrific independent feature a few years ago entitled "staccato purr of the exhaust". It's a quietly hilarious story about a Mexican-American twentysomething trying desperately to get out of town and start a new life, but forces beyond his control conspire to keep him in Highland Park. "Purr" debuted at the Sundance Film Festival, won the grand jury award at the Florida Film Festival and is being screened next month as part of a film festival at the Guggenheim Museum in New York (woo!). Luis has since been nominated for a Rockefeller grant and has been named one of "ten directors to watch" by Daily Variety. My old roommate done good, ain't he?

He was going to put up a small website on Tripod, but after one perusal of the proto-site with pop-up windows going off in my face left and right, I decided that this wouldn't do. Remember, friends don't let friends put sites up on Tripod or GeoCities (if they can otherwise do something about it). Hence ... is born. No pop-ups, and a nice webmaster to boot.

Attacked by the Collective Unconscious.   Last night my friends Michael and Chris and I were at the House of Lee in Pacific Palisades (our favorite 50-year-old Americanized-style Chinese restaurant with mediocre Chinese food, great tropical drinks, Albert the World's Most Expressionless Waiter and terrific cheeseburgers) and were asking one another the movie and TV trivia questions that were printed on the bar napkins.

Michael asked, "Who was Garry Moore's sidekick on 'The Garry Moore Show'?" Before I realized what I was doing or saying, I blurted out, "Durward Kirby!" just as Chris was about to ask "Who the hell's Garry Moore?" Michael's jaw dropped slightly and he replied, "That's right." Then I asked, "How the fuck did I know that?" It was an honest question. I don't recall ever having any idea before then who Durward Kirby was, why his name was in my brain and had just leaked out, and couldn't have picked him out of a police lineup to save my life. (Cue Theremin music ... ooooo-WEEEEEEE-OOOOO-oooooo....)

I won't have a chance to pick him out of a lineup anyway; Chris says that according to, he just died recently. Spooky!

A vegan with sense.   I have several friends who are vegetarians, ranging from "eggs and cheese are okay" to my friend Sean's "I don't like to eat anything that has a face" to complete vegans. I respect their personal choices and/or dietary needs. When I cook for them, I accommodate that if I know in advance that they're coming. I don't tease them or give them or anyone else a hard time for their choices. But I swear to God ... I'm going to slug the next idiot that shrieks at me in public that I'm a "murderer" because I eat meat, poultry and seafood. (This has happened.)

Molly Scoles explains in Salon why she's a vegan, and does it rationally, calmly and with a sense of humor. She asks that people not give veg-heads a hard time. Absolutely, why would I? All I ask is that veg-heads do the same for us omnivores.

A list of tasty critters.   In fact, I'm a pretty decent omnivore. Now that I think about it, I've eaten cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, ducks, geese, ostrich, emu, quail, pheasant, squab, pigeon, deer, sheep, goat, turtle, alligator, rabbit (ohhh, do I love rabbit...), raccoon (just a taste of raccoon sauce piquante once), crawfish, crab, shrimp, lobster, langoustine, oysters, clams, mussels, any number of different kinds of fin fish plus a few critters i've undoubtedly forgotten about.

I've never had snake, but I've always wanted to try it. I've also never had nutria, which have become such a pest in Louisiana that they're pushing them had as a source of meat just to help thin the population. Thing is, they're actually good eatin', but people seem to have this aversion to them beacuse they look like overgrown rats. They're actually relatively friendly herbivores, but they eat too much and have been destroying marshlands wherever they live. The guy outside of Houma who gave me the taste of raccoon sauce piquante said nutria make good pets too, and the good thing about 'em is that "when you get sick of 'em as a pet, all you gotta do is wring da neck, sell da hide and eat da meat!" (Riiiiight.)

Quotes of the day:   "I'm not a vegetarian because I love animals. I'm a vegetarian because I hate plants."
-- Steven Wright

"It doesn't take much intelligence to sneak up on a leaf."
-- Speaker-to-Animals, a member of the Kzinti race from Larry Niven's "Known Space" novels and stories, including Ringworld. The 8-foot-tall, feline, carnivorous Kzinti view the non-meat-eating humans as weak prey but who always lose their wars with humans anyway).

  Thursday, March 30, 2000
Oh, great choice, y'all. (Ecch.)   Studio moguls have made their choice for the man who will direct the first film version of the Harry Potter novels, the biggest thing to hit children's literature since who knows when, and a publishing phenomenon ... Chris Columbus. The director of "Bicentennial Man", the biggest box-office flop and critical disaster of 1999. The books' fans are livid.

New recipe!   A delectable Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Gingersnap-Pecan Crust and Praline Sauce has been added to the Desserts section of the Creole and Cajun Recipe Page.

Quote of the day.   "Power corrupts. Absolute power is kind of neat."  Mark blogged this yesterday, but unfortunately left off the attribution. This was actually spoken by John Lehman, Secretary of the Navy during the Reagan Administration from 1981-1987.

  Wednesday, March 29, 2000
Play it all night long...   We saw Warren Zevon at the House of Blues last night, and he was great. It had been quite a long time since his last show, so we leapt at the chance. He's in fine form (if not finest), performing solo on acoustic guitar, harmonica and piano, and has a terrific new album out called "Life'll Kill Ya".

The surprise of the evening was the opening performance by Jill Sobule, who for some reason I thought I wouldn't like. She was excellent as well, and has a witty touch to her songwriting that complements what we were hearing from Warren (though not quite as grim :^)

Perhaps the strangest moment of the show came when Warren invited Jill out to duet with him on the old Johnny Cash/June Carter song "Jackson" -- you know that one ...

We got married in a fever,
Hotter than a pepper sprout,
We been talkin' 'bout Jackson
Ever since the fire went out,
I'm goin' to Jackson...
And as they kept singing "Jackson", someone started walking out from backstage ... and it was Jackson Browne. He basically just stood there smiling, mouthing a few words along with them, and looking goofy. Then he went backstage again after the song was over. Surreal, but nifty.

Dinner at the HoB's re-re-revamped restaurant, The Porch, was good too. Cedar plank roasted catfish with asparagus and whipped sweet potatoes for me, red beans 'n rice with andouille and rosemary cornbread for Wes, and we split a white chocolate banana bread pudding with crème anglaise and chocolate sauce.

Zoinks.   Looks like CDnow might be going belly-up.

I'll stop soon, I swear.   I know that we're supposed to be done with Oscar, but Slate's critic David Edelstein had some amusing observations ("Faye Dunaway's face is so tight from plastic surgery that she must need someone to chew her food for her.") The most interesting observation:

There was a near-collision when The Cider House Rules winner John Irving ended his speech by thanking Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League right before Mel Gibson strode on to present the next award, his face clenched. Mel's a religious guy and a bit of a right-winger, and he and his wife reportedly don't even believe in birth control. Would he mouth off at Irving? No, Mel's a pro. But the pressure showed. "Consider the writer," he gritted. "Locked in a lonely room waiting for Lady Muse to alight gracefully and turn the stark blank empty void of a page into the stuff of masterpiece... ecchhh. Who wrote this stuff?" True, you don't have to be a devout Catholic to think that's bilge, but it's not as if Mel hadn't seen it before. Still fuming, the homophobic Gibson had to give the prize to Alan Ball, a gay man whose movie has the most powerful homosexual subtext of any Best Picture winner ever. Mel must be thinking it's time to go back to Australia.
  Monday, March 27, 2000
Oscar redux.   The party was fun. We had snacks and hors d'oeuvres up the wazoo, thanks to our generous guests (my favorite was the wonderfully smelly Camembert that Eitan brought from his recent trip to Paris). I made chicken and andouille jambalaya, a jicama-orange salad with red onions and cilantro (a perfect cooling and crunchy accompaniment to the spicy jambalaya), and for dessert ... white chocolate bread pudding with rum-soaked dried cherries and a superb mango-rum sauce (concocted at the last minute from a jar of Trader Joe's chunky Mango Sauce dumped into a blender with 1/4 cup of New Orleans Rum).

A few comments on Hollywood's self-congratulatory extravaganza:

*   "American Beauty". Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! The only category in which it was unrecognized and should have been was Best Supporting Actor. Wes Bentley was amazing, and he wasn't even nominated.

*   Phil Collins Must Die. (The only outrage of the evening.)

*   <voice source="offscreen" character="Rod Serling">
Picture if you will ... a Warren Beatty State of the Union Address. Only here ... in The Twilight Zone.

*   Thank GAWD there was no Debbie Allen Dance Number. Debbie Allen is The Devil.

*   What is up with the (apparent) torrid love affair between Angelina Jolie and her brother?

*   Hilary Swank ... YES! That was the one big one I was hoping for. And it was sweet to see her hubby Chad Lowe cry for her.

*   As much as I've liked John Irving's novels, and as nice as it was to see him get an Oscar, I didn't think the film version of "Cider House Rules" was all that. It was okay, but I think the adapted screenplay Oscar should have gone to "Election", which I thought was completely brilliant. Despite the blow struck for independent film by Hilary Swank's win, "Election" probably didn't have a snowball's chance in hell of winning, 'cause it was a small indie film that was released in May.

*   "Being John Malkovich" should have been nominated for Best Picture, and not "The Green Mile". And it would have been nice to see "Malkovich" get something.

*   It was nice, though, to see "Star Wars: The Phantom Menace" completely shut out. I thought "The Matrix" was one of the best films of last year, and I was glad to see it get four Oscars. Thanks also to the director of the Oscar telecast, for repeatedly cutting to shots of Keanu Reeves so we could see him make an eejit of himself over and over and over...

*   Don't worry about documentary short-subject winner "King Gimp" subject Dan Keplinger -- he's just fine. You try having a film about your life win an Oscar and not fall out of your chair with joy... and you probabaly don't even have cerebral palsy.

*   Another reason to be bummed that "Blame Canada" didn't win Best Song:  being robbed of the chance to see Matt Parker go up onto the stage in that dress.
  Thursday, March 23, 2000
My David Sedaris story.   Thanks to Matthew's mention I've now bookmarked a link to an archive of David Sedaris stories from Esquire. Woo!

I'm seriously bummed because ever since I moved in '98 I've been unable to find my autographed copy of Sedaris' latest book Naked. He did a reading and signing at A Different Light a few years ago, which I attended. After waiting in the signing line for over an hour, I finally got to him. I handed him my book, he smiled, said hi and asked me my name. I told him, and he closed his eyes and shuddered. "Uuuuuggghhhh," he said. "Um ... are you okay?" I asked. He replied, "Ooooooold boyfriend." Apparently the other Chuck wasn't a very good boy.

I tried to recover from that and failed -- in the process of making small talk, I mentioned that my guests and I had enjoyed listening to his taped reading of "The Santaland Diaries" on Christmas Eve, and he griped that he was sick to death of that story. Then he finished signing and handed my book back. "Dear Chuck," it said. "I'm haunted by your name. Love, David Sedaris."

And I can't find the damned thing anywhere. Fortunately, I've managed not to lose my autographed hardback of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Childhood's End and 2010: Odyssey Two. I stood in line for five hours at the late, venerated A Change of Hobbit bookstore to have them signed during Arthur C. Clarke's 1982 visit to L.A. If I lost those I'd plotz.

Y'know, there might just be something to this MP3 thing...   (from the "Where the feck have you been all this time, Chuck?" department)

So I downloaded Macster last night, which is of course the Mac version of Napster. I figured it was my last resort.

Several weeks ago, I heard a song on KPCC (back before they dumped all their music programming, the fools) that blew me away. It was a newly-recorded version of Genesis' "The Carpet Crawlers", done in 1999 with Peter Gabriel and Steve Hackett rejoining what's left of Genesis. I was a big Genesis (pre-Phil Collins Band days) fan back in college, and I was and still am a huge Peter Gabriel fan. This version sounded fantastic, with Hackett's much-missed guitar work in a song that sounded like it was a current Gabriel song. I loved it, and wanted to buy it. Unfortunately, it's an extra track on a Genesis umpty-umpth recent "greatest hits" collection, each and every one of which sucks. Buying an entire 15/16ths awful CD just for one song?

So I started up Macster, did a search, and five minutes later I had an MP3 of the song on my computer. Life is good.

So long, Kor.   Canadian actor John Colicos, who portrayed one of "Star Trek"'s most delicious villians, the Klingon Kor, is dead at age 71.

Janeway out, Sulu in?   Looks like next year is the last year for Star Trek: Voyager. (Jeez, has it been six years already?) I don't suppose it'll be missed all that much, as it was the most wildly uneven of the series.

Although nobody's talking yet, apparently they're planning to do a new series within a couple of years, and there's more and more buzz about the idea of doing a series with Captain Sulu. The fan movement, of course, has their own web site. Could be cool.

  Wednesday, March 22, 2000
1 down, 62,999 to go.   Microsoft seem to have been particularly embarrassed by the most recently discovered Windows 2000 bug.

That's 9 - 0, folks.   In a unanimous decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled that the University of Wisconsin does not violate the First Amendment rights of students when it uses their mandatory student activities fee payments to finance campus groups they oppose. The case was based on objections by conservative religious students to having their student fees go to (among others) the campus gay/lesbian group.

I don't think so.   The first experiment in voting via Internet didn't go so well in Arizona, which is fine with me. First off, it wasn't a public election supervised by an election commission. Then, there were equipment problems, for God's sakes (no Mac users could vote). There's the issue of lack of access to the net for the poor, and I'm not convinced that an Internet ballot is a secret ballot. Any electronic means for voting can have code inserted to link one's login with how one voted. I think we should stick to voting the way we do now, thanks.

Cartoon of the day:   by Ruben Bolling (thanks to Noah Grey for the link).

  Tuesday, March 21, 2000
The other SXSW.   Much of the weblog world is gleeful over how much fun they had at SXSW, and I'm glad they did. I've wanted to go to SXSW for years but haven't made it yet, unfortunately. Had I gone this year I would have enjoyed meeting my fellow bloggers, but I must confess I'd've skipped the web stuff and gone to the music festival instead.

From what I've read, few bloggers if any have stayed on for the music portion of SXSW (it was a music festival first and foremost, y'know). So, to be perhaps one of the lone voices in blogdom to concentrate on the musical side of this event (ahh, y'know, it's a tough job, but some selfless bastard has gotta do it, even if I didn't actually, um, go), I present a brief musical travelogue of SXSW 2000, courtesy of my friend and frequent Gumbo Pages correspondent Michael Pemberton. (If I missed any bloggers mentioning that they were staying for the music festival, mea culpa! You may whoop me upside the head.)

A census taker once tried to test me...   I ate his liver with some fava beans, and a nice Chianti. *sluuurrrrrrrp!*

Okay, that's not true. I don't really care much for liver, unless it's foie gras (mmmmmmmmmmm) or if it's mixed up in boudin. I'm also not one to blame the messenger, even if I don't like what I see on my census form.

I objected to the question on race. I was given the choice of telling them what race I "consider myself", and the first choice was, with their capitalization, "White". Then there are a lot of specific Latino and Asian subchoices, then "Other". Y'know ... the only people I ever hear referring to themselves as members of the "White race" are Ku Klux Klansmen, skinheads, neo-Nazis and other such scum. I don't refer to myself in that way. Lance Morrow Time magazine and his Masai friend in Kenya have similar problems with all this:

Why not also ask: Turkish? Bulgarian? French? Basque? Nepalese? Maori? Egyptian? Sicilian? Finnish?

The only decent answer is "American." Refuse to cooperate with a racial inquiry that in its implications is bizarrely reminiscent of Nazi practice or of the blood rules of South African apartheid. The Census Bureau, in trying to count Americans, seems to have misplaced the entire meaning of America. The long form of Census 2000, sent to one in every six households, is considerably more intrusive, filled with questions about personal finances and even household plumbing.

The intentions of the census are allegedly benevolent. I do not believe it. In the first place, racial sifting and enumeration and categorization are inherently wrong. If the purpose is to provide a citizen count in order to determine congressional districts, fine. But, insidiously, we are told it is necessary to have all the detail, racial and otherwise, in order to apportion some $182 billion in federal government funds. In other words, we are being bribed with $182 billion of our own money...

By nationality, I'm American; or, so as not to offend Canadians and South Americans, I'm a citizen of the United States of America. By heritage, I'm primarily of Irish descent. Culturally, I'm a New Orleanian.

On the form, where it asked me what race I am, I checked "Other" and wrote "Human". I suggest y'all do the same.

  Monday, March 20, 2000  :: Spring is finally here
Quelle coincidence.   Hey, they found the missing Oscars. Wes mused that it might all be a huge publicity stunt -- the missing ballots, the missing statuettes, all to help call attention to a ceremony that last year had its second-lowest TV ratings in 10 years. A tad uncharacteristically conspiracy-theorist of him, but we still find the idea interesting. :^)

UPDATE:  If it is a hoax (and we don't really think it is), then it's gotten more serious:  there have been two arrests in the case.

Oh yeah, sure. Real Soon Now.   Now somebody else seems to have bought the Amiga technology and allegedly claims to be debuting new machines and a new version of Amiga OS. Mmm hmm. Real soon now.

  Saturday, March 18, 2000
Yo! Break out the cappacol' and Sfogiatelle!   "The Sopranos" has been renewed for at least 2 more seasons. Molto buono.

Quote of the day:   "Let's just say that where a change was required, I adjusted. In every relationship that exists, people have to seek a way to survive. If you really care about the person, you do what's necessary, or that's the end. For the first time, I found that I really could change, and the qualities I most admired in myself I gave up. I stopped being loud and bossy ... Oh, all right. I was still loud and bossy, but only behind his back."
-- Kate Hepburn, on Tracy and Hepburn

  Friday, March 17, 2000  :: Éireann go bragh
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig agaibh.   Happy St. Paddy's Day, and all that. Today is the day when yahoos all over the U.S. will overcrowd bars and drink green beer, which has nothing to do with actual Irish people or how the Irish actually celebrate St. Patrick's Day, the feast day of the patron saint of Ireland (he drove out all the snakes and vermin, don't ya know).

It's a national holiday in Ireland, and most folks just use their day off of work to do something fun. There's a huge festival going on as well. Most of the beer drunk is black, not green. They also have huge parades in Dublin and Cork which, unlike New York and Boston, welcome the local gay and lesbian groups to participate and march. Ironical, ain't it?

You won't find a quiet Irish pub anywhere in the States today, so if you don't want to be in the company of a bunch of noisy drunk Americans, keep clear of bars tonight and throw a party at home. Drink lots of Guinness, and avail yourself of a wee drop of the craythur, the best thing in nature for sinking your sorrows and raising your joys ... a bit of John Powers', Paddy's, Jameson's or Black Bush.

Listen to some good Irish music. Go to the Ceolas Irish music archive and get discographies for two brilliant bands -- Planxty and The Bothy Band. Stature-wise, they were ... um, sort of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones of the Irish traditional music renaissance of the 70s.

For some of the coolest new Irish music, don't forget to check out Kíla, and listen to their entire new album "Lemonade and Buns" in RealAudio. Good listening if you're stuck at a desk looking at a computer all day. Kíla will also be on today's edition of "All Things Considered" on National Public Radio.

Have a look at Hot Press magazine to see what's going on in music, culture and politics in Ireland today.

Take an Irish language lesson:  Tá mé, tá tú, tá sé, tá sí, tá muid, tá sibh, tá siad...

Learn about what's going on with the peace process in Northern Ireland. Help Project Children, who bring together Catholic and Protestant children in the North, establishing relationships and friendships that cut through the years of bigotry. Reconciliation and forgiveness are the only roads to peace.

Now playing: "Music from Matt Molloy's", on RealWorld Records. Recorded live in ex-Bothy Band, ex-Planxty, current Chieftains flute virtuoso Molloy's Co. Mayo pub.

  Thursday, March 16, 2000
Kookoo for King.   Apparently readers can't get enough of the new Stephen King novella, available exclusively online. I managed to get a Palm OS-compatible copy on the first day without too much trouble, 'cept ... I loaded it on my Pilot, but it turns out that the reader won't work on Palm Pilot Personal models, only later Palm devices. Also, the technology is incompatible with the millions of Macintosh machines out there. So that means that I, as some of my Irish friends might say, am fooked.

Spielberg to do Kubrick's "A.I."   Steven Spielberg kicks off his first project in three years by taking the helm of Stanley Kubrick's 18-plus year vision:

"Stanley had a vision for this project that was evolving over 18 years," Spielberg said in a statement."I am intent on bringing to the screen as much of that vision as possible along with elements of my own."

Kubrick bought the rights to "A.I." (short for Artificial Intelligence), a short story by author Brian Aldiss, in 1982. Kubrick had planned the film -- which revolves around a childless woman who adopts an android that resembles a 5-year-old boy -- as his follow-up to Eyes Wide Shut, even going so far as to commission Industrial Light and Magic to do some tests with robots and shoot some footage with a child actor. The film reportedly had a $100 million-plus budget. However, the project was shelved after the director died last March.

Kubrick himself thought Spielberg should helm the project. "During preparations for 'A.I.', Stanley came to realize that Steven would actually be the ideal director for the project, and I know they talked extensively about a collaboration," says Jan Harlan, Kubrick's brother-in-law. Harlan, who produced all of Kubrick's films since "Barry Lyndon," will serve as co-executive producer on "A.I.".

  Wednesday, March 15, 2000  :: Beware the Ides
Ugh.   Home sick today ... the latest nasty cold that's going around, with its scratchy throat, pounding head that doubles as a snot factory, cough and general overall blah. I slept until noon, though, and I feel a lil' bit better.

The good news is .... my doctor is now officially happy with my blood pressure. Yesterday I clocked in at 125/75, to which he exclaimed, "EEEEEX-cellent!" My magic combination of 30mg Zestril, 50mg hydrochlorothiazide and 80mg of Inderal daily seem to have done the trick. Woohoo! Now, if I can just start getting my butt out there exercising, we might really be on to something.

Caffeine redux?   Now that I'm under control, I'm apparently allowed small amounts of caffeine again. ("One, maybe two cups of tea a day. No more two-quarts-of-iced-tea-a-day for you again, though. If you've gotten to like the decaf iced tea at home, stick with it.")

Jon Carroll in the San Francisco Chronicle muses about caffeine as a legal drug (as opposed to the legal-but-regulated ones like alcohol and tobacco and the illegal ones like pot), and also feels my (former) pain:

Also, addicts who try to quit cold turkey, perhaps for health reasons -- caffeine's malign effect on hypertension has long been noted -- experience the vicious caffeine-withdrawal headache, a pain impervious to Advil even at non-recommended dosages.

Do I speak from experience? Oh, my yes.

He also wonders about caffeine's contribution to the myriad stresses of modern life and incidents of road rage he sees, and sensibly says:

I AM NOT advocating government regulation of caffeine; that way lies madness. But as long as we pretend that the law maps to pharmacological reality in any way, we are doomed to misunderstand the problem.

Maybe if every adult were able to take responsibility for his or her own drug use, maybe people who drink coffee and wine would not be quite so smug about their habits -- and people who use marijuana and cocaine would not be quite so in-prison-forever.

Interview question of the day:   The aptly named Donna Air of MTV UK and Ireland, while interviewing The Corrs, asked, "So where did you guys meet?"

The Corrs are a (bland) Celtic-pop group whose members are all siblings with the surname Corr.

Quote of the day:   "If it were up to me, I'd eliminate the initiative process entirely. It has proven again and again to be a tool of special interests, a way to bypass representative democracy, and a vehicle for the tyranny of the majority against unpopular minorities."
-- Ken Rudolph, on soc.motss

  Monday, March 13, 2000
That banjo from Hell!   Finally, the long-awaited (well, since last August, for me) album from my Clifftop neighbors and temporary bandmates Ken Bloom and Harry Bolick is done and will be out soon. It's entitled, oddly enough, "That Banjo From Hell", and it feature fiddle tunes new and old, plus a slew of Civil War-era songs. Harry's a fiddler and composer of old-time music (plus doing nifty graphic and web design), and Ken's a marvelous musician and instrument-maker (minstrel banjos, banjo-fiddles and bowed dulcimers, among others!), and they were a blast to have next-tent-over at Clifftop. If you're a fan of old-time American music, this CD will be a must-get.

The return of the man with the blue post-modern fragemented neo-traditionalist guitar.   My spies tell me that Peter Case's forthcoming album on Vanguard is his best in years. Since Peter's been one of my very favorite singers and songwriters since the days he was in The Plimsouls, this news is very good indeed.

The website also has some free MP3 downloads of some live material he's done recent, mostly covers ranging from Woody Guthrie to Robin Williamson to The Beatles' "I Am the Walrus".

Incidentally, Peter's debut solo album "Peter Case" is on sale at for six bucks. It's a brilliant album, with every single track a gem, and this price is a steal. Get it if you don't have it. Trust me on this.

Yum! (Sorry, Rocky.)   A market in Contra Costa County was busted by the health department for selling wild squirrel meat. It's a bit of a cultural problem; selling squirrel meat is illegal, but squirrel is a delicacy among the East S.F. Bay area's Laotian immigrant population.

Here's a tasty looking recipe for Laotian Squirrel á la Nompraseurt:

Take one squirrel. Remove fur and intestines and clean well. Bake at 450°F for 15-20 minutes until medium rare. Remove bones, then chop into fine pieces. (Chef Nompraseurt leaves the head on, snips off the claws, and dices the tail. "It's crunchy", says he.)

Mix in minced lemongrass, ginger, parsley, red chili, salt, pepper and mushrooms, then bake it all at 450°F under an aluminum foil tent for 30 minutes. Serve over rice.

Yummers. Nompraseurt says squirrel tastes "like rabbit, but not really".

The GOP is right: big business only has our best interests at heart.   For a prime example, read about how Standard Oil, DuPont and General Motors poisoned the planet with leaded gasoline (via Robot Wisdom). This article is very disturbing.

More modern than ever!   The web site for one of my very favorite comic strips, "This Modern World", by Tom Tomorrow, has had a redesign.

  Sunday, March 12, 2000
Happy birthday, Marie!   It's my kid sister's birthday today. Have a great one, dawlin'!

  Saturday, March 11, 2000
Very creative, KPCC.   Pasadena-based public radio station KPCC have made their final switch today to an all news/talk format. After removing all of the wonderfully diverse musical programming on the weekend, they replaced it all with ... canned NPR and Minnesota Public Radio shows, with no local programming at all. The station might as well be automated on the weekend. Now that's creative.

Dubya = pinhead.   Presidential aspirant George W. Bush last week again demonstrated his lack of knowledge of foreign affairs as he blithely fell victim to a prank by a Canadian comic.

Rick Mercer, of the Canadian TV satire "This Hour Has 22 Minutes", approached Shrub at an event in Michigan; while the candidate was signing autographs, the "Hour" crew asked, "Governor? A question from Canada?"

"Yeah, what about it?" snapped Bush.

The reporter said, "The Prime Minister of Canada, Jean Poutine, has said you look like the man who should lead the free world into the 21st Century."

Bush stopped and visibly brightened. "Well, I appreciate his strong statement," Bush said enthusiastically. "He understands I believe in free trade ... that I want to make sure our relations with our most important neighbor to the north of us, the Canadians, is strong."

Dubya's first response to the pseudo-reporter should have been, "Excuse me? Jean who?" ... because the Prime Minister of Canada is Jean Chrétien, and "poutine" is a rather disquieting fast-food "delicacy" among French-Canadians consisting of French fries slathered with cottage cheese and gravy. (Ick.)

This is not the first time that Shrub has failed to demonstrate knowledge of foreign policy. While I must confess that I also don't know the name of the president of Uzbekistan, I do however not only know that Chrétien is the P.M. of Canada, but I also know what poutine is (I make fun of my Canadian friends for eating it). And George W. Bush apparently didn't know that the P.M. of Canada, the United States' closest neighbor, largest trading partner and strongest ally, isn't named "Poutine".

While the Washington Post seemed sympathetic to the Shrub, calling the ambush "unfair" and offering the excuse that the candidate was "a little tired", I'd have to disagree with the glop-covered fries and say that Shrub is most emphatically not the best man to lead the free world into the 21st Century.

  Friday, March 10, 2000
Brilliant music and craic last night.   For the first time in years, I'm missing the San Francisco Celtic Music and Arts Festival, which is happening this weekend at Fort Mason. I decided to save the money, and as it turns out the two biggest acts I wanted to see were both playing in L.A. tonight -- Kíla and Luka Bloom. As it turns out further, they were playing at two different venues with times staggered enough for me to be able to see both in their entirety. (Sometimes, life is very good indeed.)

Kíla may be familiar to listeners of my radio program and readers of my annual favorite albums list -- they ranked highly in my "Best of '98". They are an absolutely brilliant band, rooted in the Irish tradition but travelling far beyond it. While their lineup features traditional instruments such as uilleann pipes, flutes, guitars, bouzoukis and mandolin, they also feature a veritable menagerie of percussion instruments -- bodhrans, dumbeks, djembes, congas, bones, sticks, mussel shells and llama toenails. All the various band members trade off on various percussion instruments from song to song and tune to tune, bringing to the music influences from the Balkans, Eastern and world music as well as Irish trad, and the result is mindbendingly polyrhythmic, with a groove that doesn't quit. Ireland's Hot Press had a pretty accurate description:  "acid-céilí tribal groove". They're a lot of fun and tremendously exciting; check their web site for U.S. tour dates. Their new album will be released in the States by Green Linnet on April 4 -- it's called "Lemonade and Buns" and can be previewed in its entirety in Real Audio.

Unfortunately Kíla were only able to play one short one-hour set, opening for some rock band I couldn't give two shites about. Also unfortunate was the pathetic turnout -- when the band stated, there were maybe 25 people inside Luna Park, including the bartender and the waitress. A few more people showed up, but it was sad for a band of this caliber. The venue did zilch for publicity. Oh well.

As soon as the Kíla show was over I dashed off to the Troubadour to catch Luka Bloom. He played as brilliantly as ever. It's rare to hear so much fantastic music, energy, joy and passion come out of just one guy with an acoustic guitar (actually, he brought three guitars -- Rudy, Judy and Carmen), and he's one of the few performers who can literally make my scalp tingle. He played lots of songs from his most recent record "Salty Heaven", a few classic older songs, and lots of covers. He said that the past 25 years had been filled with writing songs, and he wanted to take some time this year to learn lots of songs by people he loved. We heard him do songs by everyone from Joni Mitchell to U2 to LL Cool J to Elvis to The Temptations to Mike Scott to ABBA (!!). He's touring the States this month, so check your local listings and see him if you can. It's worth a long drive, too. Believe me.

Post-election depression.   Wednesday I was just to bummed out to blog much of anything. As usual, I voted, and as usual, very little of what I voted for won. Not only did Californians vote in numbers of 61.4% for the nasty Prop. 22 in the mistaken belief that a "no" win would allow gay marriage, but they also voted to send offenders as young as 14 to adult prisons and try them as adults at the whim of frequently overzealous prosecutors. They voted to increase the number of death penalty crimes, voted in the anti-lawsuit props that the insurance companies wanted, voted against making it easier to approve bond measures for school improvement ... at least they voted down the tobacco companies' vile attempt to repeal the tobacco tax they had just voted into law a couple of years earlier.

Now I'll just sit on pins and needles until November and hope that Al the Bore Gore gets elected instead of Dubya Shrub. Gawd, I don't know what I'll do if that creepy right-wing pinhead becomes president.

Gee, thanks for the raise, House.   The ever-gracious U.S. House of Representatives have magnanimously voted to increase the minimum wage to $6.15 per hour. For someone working minimum wage for 8 hours a day, 6 days per week, this amounts to an annual salary of $15,350.40. This ain't exactly what you'd call a living wage, and there are many, many people who get stuck in a full-time quagmire of minimum-paying jobs and never get out.

  Thursday, March 9, 2000
They re-use hot dogs at movie theatres? Well, duh.   When I was in college, I worked as an usher at Gulf States Theatres' Village Aurora Cinema 6 (and before that at the Plaza Cinema 4, working concession and usher) in New Orleans. The disgusting revelations from this kid are nothing compared to the stuff I used to see perpetrated on a daily basis at work.

I could go into more detail, but I won't. It's too disgusting, and this is a food-oriented website after all. All I'll say is that on some occasions I'd threaten to quit rather than clean up some of the things they wanted me to clean up. "I make $3.35 per hour minimum wage, and that's not enough money to do that," I'd say to the hapless assistant manager. "You want to fire me, fine. I don't make nearly enough to go within 10 feet of that." And he'd glare at me, clean it himself, and then not speak to me for a week (no big loss). Gee, that's what you get when you have a big $3.60 an hour assistant manager position.  :^)

Ugh, let's change the subject. How 'bout...

Last night's dinner!   I took Wes out for his birthday, and we went to Bistro 45 in Pasadena, one of the best restaurants in the city. We started by splitting one of the menu's "tasters", the Simmered Escargots. They were served on a brioche canapé with a Morel mushroom and burgundy sauce and a Roquefort fondue underneath, with diced tomatoes and a drizzle of herbed oil. It's a treat to get snails served in more creative ways than just in garlic butter.

Next came the appetizers. Steamed mussels, lobster bisque en croute, seared scallop risotto, their wonderful blue crab salad. They all looked so good that I wanted to order one of each. I'm not Mr. Creosote, so that was impractical. (Mr. Creolesote, hehehe. Okay, I'll stop now.)

Believe it or not, I declined the foie gras appetizer, which is very uncharacteristic of me when I go out for a fine meal. Wes looked at me with narrowed eyes and said, "Where is Chuck, and what have you done with him?" I assured him that I wasn't a pod person, I just wasn't thrilled with the idea of foie gras on lentils; I wasn't in a lentil mood.

Wes got the Ravioli of the Day, which was duck confit inside spinach pasta, in a lightly curried tomato sauce with julienned vegetables. I got the "Two Tartares", which was a surprisingly large oval mold of marinated salmon and tuna mixed with infinitesimally diced shallots and herbs, and topped with a cilantro cream; this was accompanied by five crispy French bread toasts that were themselves well-seasoned with salt, chives and what seemed to be a tiny amount (just right) of grated Parmagiano Reggiano. This was absolutely heavenly.

Entrées! Another tough choice. The pan-roasted leg of Denver venison with mango-Cabernet reduction and rosemary potato risotto looked terrific, as did the roasted loin of veal, filled with Roquefort, parsley and shallots, served with pearl pasta (Israeli couscous, maybe?), fresh herbs, and a Roquefort-cognac sauce. Oh my. I ended up with the Roasted Atlantic Monkfish, served with a vanilla-lobster sauce (oh Gawd), potato mousse and American sturgeon caviar. There were lots of baby vegetables, and crispy leeks on top. This was fabulous. Wes got the Sautéed Chilean Sea Bass, crusted with acorn squash purée, served over a ragout of Portobello mushrooms and a deep, red wine sauce that worked surprisingly well with the fish.

Dessert! ("Right! I'll have the lot!" No, no, no ...) Wes ended up with the Lemon "cannoli", lemon mousse-filled cannoli-shaped lace cookies, with fresh fruit in an intense raspberry sauce. I got the Pineapple Tarte Tatin, with extra drizzles of caramel sauce and a scoop of peppery ginger ice cream.

And what am I having for lunch today? Leftover cold cuts sandwich from Togo's. (Oh well, what the hell ... my company paid for it.)

  Fat Tuesday, March 7, 2000
Happy Mardi Gras!!   For your Mardi Gras music fix today, listen to and/or Radio Free New Orleans.

There's a Mardi Gras celebration in rural Acadiana (French-speaking Louisiana) that's vastly different from what you see in New Orleans. It's an ancient tradition dating back for centuries, all the way back to medieval France:  Le Courir de Mardi Gras, where masked revelers on horseback travel the countryside from farm to farm and house to house, begging for ingredients (demander la charité) for that night's big gumbo. "Capitaine, Capitaine, voyage ton flag, allons allez chez autres voisins!"

(Jock-a-mo-fee-na-ney, jock-a-mo-fee-na-ney, say if you don't like what de Big Chief say, you say jock-a-mo-fee-na-ney...)

While everybody sees the parades in New Orleans and the debauchery of the French Quarter, the heart and soul of the Crescent City's Mardi Gras don't get seen very much outside their neighborhoods. The Black Indian tribes of New Orleans, sometimes called "Mardi Gras Indians" emerge into their 7th Ward, 9th Ward and 14th Ward neighborhoods and beyond, dancing, singing, chanting and drumming the day away in one of this country's richest and most expressive African-American folk cultures.

The Wild Magnolias, The Golden Eagles, The White Cloud Hunters, The Yellow Pocahontas, The Guardians of the Flame, The White Eagles, The Ninth Ward Hunters and more hit the streets today, battling one another with the beauty of their costumes, the quality of their singing and chanting, and the complexity of their dancing. Two-way pocky way!

RIP Big Chief Jolly, of the Wild Tchoupitoulas.

Meanwhile, in Trinidad...   they do Carnival in a big way too. (Thanks, Anita!)

I have only one other thing to say today:   If there's an election in your state today, go vote.

And if you live in California, vote NO on Proposition 22.

  Monday, March 6, 2000
Lundi Gras!   The second-to-last day of Carnival in New Orleans is upon us, and debauchery reigns in the French Quarter. The Quarter is small, though; most of the metro area features more family-friendly parades, parades, parades. Tonight Harry Connick Jr. leads the Krewe of Orpheus, with Whoopi Goldberg as grand marshall, plus Proteus and the Bards of Bohemia uptown; Zeus parades in Metairie.

Bad move, KPCC.   Pasadena City College's NPR-affiliated radio station KPCC 89.3 FM are eliminating all of their musical programming this week as they begin their transformation to all news and talk. Here are the shows that are getting axed, among others:

Hand-Picked Music, with various hosts, semi-eclectic AAA, folk, singer-songwriter and roots-rock, weeknights from 8pm-2am for the last 3 years.

The Friday Night Blues Revue, Fridays from 8-10pm, hosted by Ellen Bloom and blues musician John "Juke" Logan, featuring the blues and its musical descendents, on the air for almost 8 years.

Rhapsody in Black, Friday nights from 10pm-1am, Bill Gardner's legendary program of rhythm & blues from the 40s, 50s and 60s, on the air for 15 years.

John's Attic, Friday nights/Saturday mornings from 1-4am, with John Minnicucci, picking up where Bill leaves off; on the air for 5 years.

The Swinging Years, Saturdays from noon - 4pm, another legendary program featuring big band music, hosted by Chuck Cecil for 17 years.

The Sancho Show, Saturdays from 6pm to midnight, featuring Latino music with a positive, pro-education message, syndicated from Central California to Texas, on the air for 16 years.

Ann the Raven, playing the blues from midnight Saturday to 4am Sunday, an L.A. institution for 10 years.

The European Sunday Concert, Sundays from noon to 4pm, featuring German-language programming and Germanic band music, hosted by Tibor Paul for an astonishing 27 years.

Gee Dad, It's a Wurlitzer, organ music Sundays from 7-8pm, on the air for many years.
KPCC have been acquired by Minnesota Public Radio, those nice-sounding folks who bring you "A Prairie Home Companion" every weekend, among other programming. They're a mini-network of their own, and have created a subsidiary called Southern California Public Radio to run KPCC. Their vision is to create an all-news formatted station concentrating on the Los Angeles area.

Question is, do we need this? SCPR seems to think so. Predictably, neither I nor any of the music listeners I spoke to think this is a good idea. Paramount is the question -- why couldn't they leave the weekend alone? Why alienate an audience who in some cases have been around for decades? Who wants to listen to news and talk all day and all night on the weekend? Not me, and they'll be losing my financial support; I pledged to that station for music programming, as did thousands of others. In fact, they'll be losing many, many listeners over this change ... and the bottom line is, they don't seem to care. MPR are pouring millions and millions into the station's coffers, and they plan to build up a new audience. Slapping many of their previous listeners in the face isn't the way to do it, though.

Time for a shameless plug.   With the death of all of KPCC's music programming, one of the most diverse public radio stations in California goes all news/talk.

Gee, this seems to leave the station where I work, KCSN 88.5 FM, Radio for Music Lovers, as the most diverse station in the city -- we've got classical, opera, film music, jazz, Broadway, cocktail/lounge music, surf music, bluegrass, country, folk/roots/traditional music, American roots music, German music, British Invasion rock, Latin music of all kinds, "The Grateful Dead Hour", children's music and theatre, old-time radio theatre, cowboy comedy and music, Jewish music, Ken Nordine's "Word Jazz", alternative/indie rock, "This American Life", BBC News, our own locally-produced award-winning news programming, my own program "Down Home", and more.

Y'know, if that's not the most diverse radio station in Los Angeles, I don't know what is.  :^)  Tune us in! (Apologies for our web site at the moment; it's brand-new, still in beta and still in pieces. Ken's working hard on it, though, so keep checking in.)

Um...   Unsatisfied with being a cartooning giant, Scott Adams diversifies. (Don't kwitcher day job, Scott.) Wes suggests the slogan, "High-tech food for high-tech nerd techies." Snappy.

Power to pork and Porter Wagoner!   Paul Thompson has been living in the middle of the woods in Florida since 1957, raising pigs who like to listen to country music on the radio (makes the meat more tender, believe it or not). A few years ago big money moved in and started building upscale subdivisions and golf courses nearby. The golfers, who didn't care for the smell of the pigs or Paul and his porcine pals' taste in music, started trying to get rid of him. Paul thinks this is un-American. (via SF Gate Morning Fix)

Whoa, Madonn'!   Did you see "The Sopranos" last night? Holy bejeebies. I can't believe how stupid those two mooks are. Despite their repeated stupidity over the last several weeks, I didn't see the final scene coming at all.

I also offer major props to the writers and the cast this season, particularly for the character of Richie Aprile. The writing is top-notch, and David Proval's performance is so chilling that every time Richie is on-screen (and even when he's not and only referred to), I get tense.

What, me bitchy?   My friend Jon challenges me to have at least one Looka! day in which all the entries are positive. Gee, is that doable? And there's so much to be outraged about.  :^)  Can I get through a single day without ranting about anything? By Gawd, I'm going to try!

  Saturday, March 4, 2000
Preachin' the blues, one last time.   Tonight I was honored to be the final guest on Ellen Bloom and John "Juke" Logan's long-running radio program "The Friday Night Blues Revue" on KPCC Pasadena. We celebrated Mardi Gras with two hours of Mardi Gras music, R&B, Cajun, zydeco, swamp pop and blues from Louisiana; here's the playlist. Next week's their last show, as it will be for every music programmer at KPCC. I'll be ranting about this later.

Miscegenation no longer sinful, apparently, says Bob.   Bob Jones University have scrapped their ban on interracial dating among their students -- not because it was wrong, but because it gave them so much bad (rather, unwanted) publicity. Telling is the comment from Bob III himself:  "the policy is meaningless to us". It seems the school's administrators are still too stupid to realize the meaning and implications of forced separation of people based on race, and even admit that "we can't back it up with a verse in the Bible".

Would you excuse me? The Man of the Year is calling.   Tim O'Reilly reports on his conversation with Jeff Bezos following O'Reilly's open criticism of's patenting of anything that isn't nailed down, and concedes a point or two to the Man of the Year.

  Friday, March 3, 2000
The madness begins this weekend in New Orleans, as the final weekend before Mardi Gras commences. Mardi Gras can be a lot of fun if you do it right, which for me includes doing your best to avoid all the drunken frat boys as much as possible.

Lots of people head to the Quarter, which is ... an experience. I try to make sure people don't miss the parades, though. I love Mardi Gras parades. They're my favorite parades anywhere. As beautiful as the floats are, the Rose Parade here in Pasadena just doesn't cut it, mostly 'cause they don't throw anything off the floats, and the people just stand there and watch it go by. (Where's the fun in that?)

Anyway, the parades I recommend include several of the ones I used to march in when I was in the band in high school -- the Krewe of Hermes tonight (uptown at 6:30pm), and tomorrow the Krewe of Thoth (uptown at noon) and the Krewe of Okeanos (uptown at 11am ... yes, I know they conflict, but when I was a kid they didn't). Saturday night is the biggest (and some say the best) Krewe of 'em all, the Krewe of Endymion, who parade through Mid-City at 5pm. Sunday brings the Krewe of Mid-City with its famous band competition at 1:30, and the Krewe of Bacchus, uptown at 6.

This year's King of Bacchus is ... Luke Perry. Ugh. Can you say "lame"? They've had far too many crappy Bacchus kings of late. Why can't the krewe get back to the glory days of kings like Jackie Gleason? I think he was the best King of Bacchus ever. Luke Perry is such a has-been.
Watch this on Sunday.   "If These Walls Could Talk 2", an excellent anthology feature film chronicling tales of lesbian love in 1961, 1972 and 2000, premieres Sunday at 9pm Pacific/8pm Central on HBO.

I've seen it. It's really good. Particularly good is the "1961" episode starring Vanessa Redgrave; I just sat there and cried. This episode hammers home why the vile Proposition 22, AKA "The Knight Initiative", on California's ballot next week must be defeated. Vote NO on 22.

If you're gonna be down there and you have a Palm Pilot, you can download the entire parade schedule in .doc format. (Neato!)

The U.S. Patent Office is on crack.   It's the only explanation for why these people are issuing patents for things like this. No wonder they're also issuing any patent they want. (Patent shmatent, I'm not paying that bastard every time I take my laser pointer out and play with a cat.)

Kronikling the Kinks.   My uncle Mike Luquet reviews a near-forgotten classic, the Kinks' "Preservation Act 2", on -- listen to it here! (You can also listen to "Preservation Act 1", "Muswell Hillbillies", "Everybody's in Showbiz" and "Limited Edition Compilation 2".) We were always big Kinks fans, and we encourge you to dig out your old Kinks albums if you've still got 'em.

  Thursday, March 2, 2000
Oscar's irony.   "Blame Canada", one of the Oscar-nominees for "Best Original Song", contains several words which will be censored during the Oscar telecast. The song is, of course, from a movie that's about how censorship is bad. I can't wait to see who's going to sing it.

Nice try.   Poland is about to pass the most sweeping and Draconian anti-pornography laws in Europe. (via Flutterby.) Threats of prison for selling smut don't seem to bother the sellers, though; they're all planning to go underground. My favorite quote:

"Prices will be higher, but everything will still be available. It will be just like under the Communists in the past, only now it's the church that is pushing us around."
Quote of the day:   The trouble with people is not that they don't know but that they know so much that ain't so.
-- Josh Billings, 1818-1885

  Wednesday, March 1, 2000
This is NOT from The Onion.   President Clinton 'amazed' by screensaver.

Patent stink gets stinkier.   Computer book publisher Tim O'Reilly publicly slams in an open letter, lambasting the company for patenting "obvious business ideas" like one-click ordering and affiliate programs.

Vieux who?   The Krewe de Jieux, mentioned in yesterday's entry, is a sub-krewe of the Krewe du Vieux, who apparently have their own web site. The now-ubiquitous tab navigation achieves unique heights with a tab at the top of the page that says "Le Monde de Merde".

Silly people.   I just don't get all the fuss. They're actually called "soft drinks". If you're from certain New Orleans neighborhoods, they're called "cold drinks" (unrefrigerated ones are called "hot cold drinks").

Eine kleine ... schwanzstucker.   Apparently lots of German men seem to be having a wee bit of trouble with their condoms.

February entries to Looka!   have been archived.

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