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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, focusing on food and drink, music, Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, my life, my opinions, witty and/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.

Page last tweaked @ 2:55pm PDT, 7/31/2000

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Recent Epinions:

1. John O'Groats: Home cooking, better than home

2. Bombay Sapphire: Gin haters, repent!

3. The Cajun Bistro, WeHo: Skip it

4. Absolut Kurant: I'd sooner drink Robitussin

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

6. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!

Now reading:

Magic Terror, by Peter Straub.

Jumping Off the Planet, by David Gerrold.

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip José Farmer.


Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

by Peter Blegvad

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Lookin' at da TV:

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weblog and (almost) daily blather

  Monday, July 31, 2000
Mixological experimentation.   Last weekend I happened to find myself inside a small but well-stocked liquor store in tiny Sierra Madre, California (right across the street from the little town square where the original "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" was filmed). Their prices were mostly fairly high, but I noticed they had a pretty good deal on one liqueur I'd been wanting to try -- Spain's Cuarenta y Tres, or as it's also called, Licor 43.

The name refers to the 43 basic ingredients used to make the liqueur, mostly fruits and aromatic herbs). They claim that the recipe goes back thousands of years to the Carthaginians (activate skepticism reflex), but it's been produced consistently using modern techniques since 1924. Opening the bottle reveals a lush, delicious orange-vanilla aroma, and that carries on into the flavor. It's extremely sweet, though ... while I could possibly drink this neat in a cordial glass or on the rocks, I think I prefer to mix it. You can make a nifty cream soda with a kick by pouring two ounces of Cuarenta y Tres over ice and topping with club soda or seltzer. The amount of sugar in this liqueur guarantees that your kicked-up cream soda won't need any additional sugar. Mighty tasty.

This is the one I really liked, though:

Gold Rush

2 ounces gold tequila (I like José Cuervo 1800)
1 ounce Cuarenta y Tres
2 wedges lime
Orange slice

Half-fill your cocktail shaker with ice. Add tequila and 43, then squeeze the two lime wedges into the shaker and toss in. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with an orange slice.

The Poetry Corner.   This burst of verse was found on the newsgroup and has been reproduced here with the kind permission of the author. I'm sure you'll be able to identify the source of the rhyming structure.

It was many and many a year ago
  On a network wild and free,
That a business started whom you may know,
  A dialup ISP.
And they provided with nothing beside it
  My email and Usenet to me.

I was quite new and it was quite new
  On this network wild and free.
I had to assume that this was no chat room
  Here on my ISP.
But with my shell access came some scripting practice
  And coding was good for me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
  On this network wild and free,
I got out of college with only the knowledge
  I needed an ISP.
My alt group addiction and ytalk affliction
  Showed the courses for me
And all said that Netcom, this new thing called dot-com
  Was the only provider for me.

The others, not happy on AOL,
  Envied my shell and me
When I with a smile did simply compile
  A client for IRC.
For I had the power in each waking hour
  Oh! my dear ISP.

And on my shell dialup the years did so pile up
  With spammers and talkers and me,
  With girlfriends and bozos and me,
Neither Netcruisers nor bandwidth abusers
  Could break my ISP.
But others grew wider and this service provider
  Was eaten so carelessly.

For Netcom's old dream has been blown into steam
  By Mindspring's purchase of me.
And Mindspring's assertions to stall our desertions
  Shattered by purchase of me.
Now Earthlink's the rot that cashed in and bought
  My Netcom - My Netcom - Destroyed at one shot
  Now lost is my old ISP.
  Lost is my beloved ISP.

			(c) Scrounger
			aka ... For now.
This brought back memories not only of my early days on Netcom, but also of having to learn the original poem this is based on. In fifth grade I had to recite it in class from memory. Of course, I waited until the last minute, then stayed up most of the night (in the bathroom, so that my parents wouldn't see a light on in my bedroom) memorizing it. To this day that experience tends to detract slightly from my enjoyment of the poem. (Yeah yeah, I know, whose fault is that ...)

  Saturday, July 29, 2000
Oooh ... my new second-favorite cocktail!   The position of my current second-favorite cocktail (always after the Sazerac, of course) rotates with some frequency. There's a new one today, which was particularly welcome. I had a shitty day at work yesterday, and with every bit of self-control I could muster I managed not to defenestrate a cow orker of mine whose carelessness meant that I had to cancel afternoon and evening plans and work three hours of overtime when, as it turned out, it wasn't even necessary for me to have stayed. I was fuming when I left -- I wanted a drink, and I wanted a stiff one.

I headed straight to my Savior Store in such circumstances -- the beloved Wally's on Westwood Blvd. I perused their marvelous stock, thinking of what new things I wanted to try, and settled on a liter of a Brazilian spirit called cachaça.

I consider cachaça to be part of the rum family, as it's made from sugar cane as rum is. The difference is that rum is made from fermented sugar cane molasses, and cachaça is made from fresh sugar cane juice, which is then fermented and distilled. In fact, Sharon and Ron Herbst's The Ultimate A-to-Z Bar Guide, an excellent and very handy reference guide which I highly recommend, lists cachaça as a "brandy made with sugarcane"; given that they define brandy as "a liquor distilled from wine or other fermented fruit juice", that makes perfect sense. If one considers it a rum, it's certainly the most widely consumed rum in the world -- Brazilians are mad for the stuff, and there are literally hundreds of brands sold in Brazil.

The three or four brands that you always see here in the States have all been rated pretty highly, so I chose the one that's imported by my hometown liquor producer/importer/distributor, The Sazerac Company, called Cachaça 51. Lest you think the number-name refers to its alcoholic strengh, it's 80 proof, like all exported cachaça that I've seen. I tossed in a couple of wedges of Roquefort and Maytag Blue cheese while I was there, and homeward bound we went.

The particular drink I wanted to make was the most popular Brazilian cocktail of all ... the Caipirinha (kye-pee-REEN-ya). It sounds absolutely heavenly, and incredibly refreshing. Lemme tell ya was. I should have had three or two of these standing by at work.

The Caipirinha

1 lime, cut into 8 wedges
2 teaspoons simple syrup (or superfine sugar)
2 ounces cachaça

Place the lime wedges and sugar in the bottom of a large rocks or Old Fashioned glass. Muddle the lime and sugar together for a minute or so, making sure to juice the lime completely and also press some lime oil from the peel. Add crushed ice or tiny ice cubes to almost fill the glass, then stir. Add the cachaça, then stir again. Put on some Brazilian music -- Cascabulho, Os Paralamas, Gilberto Gil or any samba music -- and enjoy this beautiful, delicious and incredibly refreshing drink. If you can't find cachaça you can substitute a good white rum -- Appleton White is vastly preferable to Bacardi -- but it just won't be the same.

A delightful variation I came up with ... the Cocorinha. For the simple syrup or sugar, substitute 1 tablespoon of coconut syrup (I order mine from Da Vinci Gourmet); you use a bit more because the coconut syrup is slightly less sweet than the simple syrup. The flavor of coconut is subtle underneath the lime but it's still there, and it's wonderful. You put de lime in de coconut 'n drink 'em both up ... it relieve you bellyache, mon.

What a long, strange trip it's been.   Today I prepare to bid adieu to an old friend -- my venerable old Netcom shell account, Earthlink, who merged with MindSpring who had previously acquired Netcom, is discontinuing them as of September 30. They've given their shell clients, some of whom have had their shell accounts for 10 years or more, barely over two months' notice. To their credit, they're reacting swiftly to the howls of outrage, and are offering former Netcom shellers 6 months of free Earthlink PPP service -- which apparently nobody wants -- and have extended their offer to forward emails untl 12/31/2001, which everyone appreciates. (Danger, long reminiscence coming...)

I first signed up for my Netcom shell account in May of 1992 -- shell id #2927 -- just a few days after the service expanded out of the Bay Area (where it began in Netcom founder Bob "bobr" Rieger's garage) into Los Angeles. I had begun BBSing after I bought my first Commodore Amiga 500 and a 2400 baud modem in '89, and not long after graduated to my first online service, GEnie. Their Internet access was nonexistent at first, then marginal -- email only (ahh, my fondly remembered first-ever truly world-reachable email address ...; unwieldy, but it got the job done), but no Usenet, no telnet, ftp, gopher or anything else.

I'll never forget the day I logged on for the first time. I was plopped at a UNIX csh prompt, and ... had no idea what to do. My Netcom introductory manual wouldn't arrive in the mail for a week, and I had no idea what the commands were. No nice menu like GEnie, no ...nothing. I typed "mail", and wham! There I was in the standard UNIX mail program. I tried composing a test message to my GEnie account, and was dropped into text-editor hell; namely the dreaded ... vi! *ominous organ chord*

Those of you who have ever been an utterly green UNIX newbie can relate to my hair-tearing frustration at that, I'll bet.

I went out and bought a UNIX book for beginners, and my journey through the Net began. It would be years before the forces of AOL unleashed the non-net.savvy unto the world, and back then you kinda had to know what you were doing to get around. It was a lot of fun, and Earthlink's purely economic, cost-cutting move is gutting a piece of Internet history. Netcom was one of the first commercial ISPs on the West Coast (after The WELL), and when they started up there were pretty much no others except for Software Tool & Die's The World, Portal, Panix and Nyx.

In fact, I was an exclusive sheller until 1997, when I finally ditched the Amiga and bought my first Mac. Then I finally saw what the Net was looking like graphically via Netscape (as the then-übernifty Mosaic had already pretty much bitten the dust). I never gave up on the shell, though.

I still use my shell account every day. I have copies of all my email bounced there from my mail server so I can at least catch up reading it during the day at work (if not answer it ... sorry). At home I use BBEdit to edit my web site and write this blog, but when I'm on the road or at work, I telnet into my shell and use Webcom's wftp and wedit tools and a variety of quickie formatting macros I've written (I can't figure out how to get the format I want with Blogger, and I prefer having more control anyway). It's incredibly fast and efficient to read news from a shell, and on the rare occasions these days when I go on IRC (mostly to keep in touch with my friends Jordan and Sean in Albuquerque), I only do it from a shell. That's how I started, and I just can't get used to programs like ircle.

I'm in the market for a new shell account, but unfortunately I might have a hard time finding one I can dial into locally; is based in West Hollywood and is a possibility. Panix looks like they may be offering a deal to soon-to-be castaway Netcommies, and their telnet-only deal for $9.95/mo. looks pretty sweet. Then there's always, which, as you may have guessed, is free. I've already set up an account there, but if I want access to telnet, ftp, trn, irc and lynx I have to cough up a lifetime membership fee of $36 (gee, I think I can afford that).

I'm a dinosaur, and I won't give up my shell. I'm a carnivorous one at that, so watch it, Earthlink.

Gee Wurlitzer, it's a Dad!   There's an interesting article in the New York Times about how pipe organs are going digital, and how that's causing consternation among some musicians. Apparently "digital enhancements" to pipe organs are opposed by the Associated Pipe Organ Builders of America, "an invitation-only organization of more than 30 companies". Frankly, I'm surprised that there are that many companies actually manufacturing pipe organs these days.)

I absolutely love the sound of a great big fully functional pipe organ. I'm not crazy about the idea of "digital enhancements" myself, because I've never heard a convincing synthesized pipe organ sound. Also, I don't think a digital enhancement can make your belly resonate the same way a real pipe organ does, when it's actually moving huge quantities of air to make those incredible sounds. (Link via Dennis Lewis' post in soc.motss ... apologies to Thomas N. Scortia for nicking his short story title for my heading.)

  Friday, July 28, 2000
A measly $543 for lunch.   America's most expensive restaurant, Alain Ducasse at the Essex House in New York City, opened in late June and is enjoying a frenzied reservations gridlock -- they seem to have no trouble whatsoever keeping their tables filled. But is the food there really worth the astronomical prices? A reviewer for the Philadelphia Inquirer doesn't seem to think so. His advice -- stick to the six-course prix-fixe, which is $160 for both lunch and dinner; do NOT order a la carte. Beware when you order wine, and take a cab -- parking is $40.

I'm a foodie, and I've been willing to spend a pretty penny on a fabulous meal. But how much is too much? (Um, well, $543 for lunch is too much. Sorry, Alain.)

Yo ho, yo ho, a mutant's life for me...   We saw "X-Men" last weekend, and liked it a lot. Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart were fabulous (natch), and besides being fun and fairly exciting, the movie also gave you things to think about. I hadn't read any of the comics before, but friends of mine who had seemed more or less pleased also. One major complaint I heard was that Halle Berry made a pretty poor Storm. "She never would have let Toad kick her ass like that," said my friend Chris Caldwell, who's been reading the comics since he was 10.

I've decided that I would rather like being a mutant, as long as my powers weren't painful or personally inconvenient. Flying, certainly. Superior intelligence. Some telekinesis would be cool. Also, I'd want to have the ability to transform base metals into truffles and foie gras.

"Professor! Look! Chuck's foiled Magneto's plan by turning his radiation machine into a giant pâté!"
'Course, that would have ended the movie far too early. Oh, and I also want to be as cute as Cyclops.

That's one small step for a cook...   I spent my entire childhood wanting to be an astronaut. Now that I'm a grownup, I realize that I'm terribly unqualified (no science degree, in lousy shape). But it's a lot easier to become an astronaut nowadays than it was in the days of Mercury, Gemini and Apollo in that you don't necessarily have to be a military test pilot anymore. It's still pretty tough, though. If it sounds like a fun job to you, apply!

By the way, wanna see my honorary astronaut certificate, naming me as an honorary member of Space Shuttle flight STS-67/ASTRO 2 in March of 1995?  (I am such a geek.)

Okay, lemme get this straight...   I've been thinking about a couple of recent court decisions, both of which threaten the possibility of putting a company or companies out of business...

A U.S. District Court judge has ordered Napster to be shut down, because they're being held responsible for alleged copyright violations by the music industry. This is a move that could quite possibly force that company out of business.

Then again, tobacco companies which make products that kill about 400,000 people every year are expecting that the multibillion dollar judgment against them will be reduced or overturned, because under Florida law where the case was tried you can't issue a judgment that would force a company to go out of business.

Let's see ... costing the record industry money bad ... shut down company. Killing 400,000 people a year good ... let companies stay in business. (Well, naturally ... Napster not only pissed off big business, but they also didn't have enough revenue to grease politicians for years like the tobacco companies have done.) Okay, got it. Just checking!

(Napster asked for it, though. All those pirated and traded MP3s don't put a penny in a musician's pocket. Then again, one group of musicians whom I really like once said that they barely make anything from record sales anyway, after all the record company deductions; they make over 95% of their income from touring.)

A legal drug that's lethal, but can't be banned. Okay.   Anna Quindlen writes a thought-provoking essay on the paradox of the existence of cigarettes in this country.

Imagine that millions of Americans are addicted to a lethal drug. Imagine that the Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly ducked its responsibility by refusing to regulate that drug. And imagine that when the FDA finally does its duty, an appeals court decides that it cannot do so, that the drug is so dangerous that if the FDA regulated it, it would have to be banned.

Welcome to the topsy-turvy world of tobacco, where nothing much makes sense except the vast profits, where tobacco company executives slip-slide along the continuum from aggrieved innocence to heartfelt regret without breaking a sweat, and where the only people who seem to be able to shoot straight are the jurors who decide the ubiquitous lawsuits.

  Wednesday, July 26, 2000
Utterly shameful.   Former football star O.J. Simpson, who murdered his wife and her friend and got off scot-free in a botched criminal trial, is launching a new web site (for which I refuse to post a link). On this site he'll answer any question you want to ask him for the unbelievably low price of $7.95 -- if you pre-register, that is; it's $9.95 on the day he launches the site. You can also buy autographed footballs for $185.


Simpson lost a subsequent civil trial, in which he was found responsible for the deaths of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman. He was ordered to pay $33.5 million to the families of the victims, but so far he hasn't given them a dime.

Ugh.   A new company called takes the age-old practice of bribing the maitre'd into the era. For a premium of $5-15, they'll get you a last minute reservation at one of the 40 restaurants that have signed up with them so far. Unsurprisingly, this is based in San Francisco -- the land of the $2000 per month one-bedroom apartment rental -- which is currently choked with dot.commies with too much money to throw around.

Maybe it's just me, but this strikes me as just ... wrong. It's not as bad as those vile legalized ticket scalping agencies in California, but it's close. Are we moving toward the days when the average Joe won't be able to get a seat at a good restaurant, just like how today the average Joe can't get a decent seat at a concert, unless he's got a huge pile of money?

Fast work, donkeyboys.   Even though it was only yesterday that Dubya named Dick Cheney as his running mate and would-be veep, it was last Sunday that the Democratic National Committee snagged the domain, turning it into a platform describing Cheney's ultra-conservative, anti-choice and anti-affirmitive action voting record. "Cheney's voting record was slightly more conservative than mine," former House speaker and twice-divorced family values advocate Newt Gingrich was quoted as saying.

Don't forget to stay tuned to for all the latest microscopic coverage of Dubya's attempt to follow in his father's footsteps, as well as Slate's collection of Bushisms, growing weekly. This week's gem: "This case has had full analyzation and has been looked at a lot. I understand the emotionality of death penalty cases."

Okily-dokily, George.

I think the key word here is "certain".   Another recent fave Bushism:

"This is a world that is much more uncertain than the past. In the past we were certain, we were certain it was us versus the Russians in the past. We were certain, and therefore we had huge nuclear arsenals aimed at each other to keep the peace. That's what we were certain of. ... You see, even though it's an uncertain world, we're certain of some things. We're certain that even though the 'evil empire' may have passed, evil still remains. We're certain there are people that can't stand what America stands for. ... We're certain there are madmen in this world, and there's terror, and there's missiles and I'm certain of this, too: I'm certain to maintain the peace, we better have a military of high morale, and I'm certain that under this administration, morale in the military is dangerously low." -- George W. Bush, speaking in Albuquerque, N.M., quoted by the Washington Post, May 31, 2000
Bizarre.   A teenage girl was carjacked outside the Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie, Louisiana (a suburb of New Orleans) by a suicidally despondent heroin addict, who forced her to drive him to Philadelphia so that he could kill himself there. Fortunately, she was released unharmed, and the suspect is in custody. *boggle*

Weird spam of the day.

From: "angelo_iii" <>
To: <>
Subject: mardi gras socks
Date: Sat, 22 Jul 2000 15:58:03 -0600
X-Priority: 3
X-Msmail-Priority: Normal
X-Mimeole: Produced By Microsoft MimeOLE V5.00.2615.200

To whom it may concern,

My name is Angelo Governale. I am with Lin Mfg & Design. Recently, I came out with a line of Mardi Gras socks that I want to try an introduce to you. I have graphics and samples if you are interested. I can also Custom design a sock that represents your company. Please let me know. Thank you for your time.

Angelo III

A pox on your socks, Angelo.

  Tuesday, July 25, 2000
Yeesh, busy weekend/week.   Sorry for the hiatus, but I haven't had a free minute to blog this weekend, and yesterday was pretty busy too. I actually did get one complaining email, so there's at least one dedicated reader out there.

Sorry, dude.   Thanks to Gov. Gray Davis' signature on a bill passed by the Assembly, you may now apologize to someone in California without it being admissible in court as an admission of guilt or liability.

And this is only now just happening? Sheesh. California is weird. (Not to say that Louisiana isn't weirder, mind you...)

Look at the design, please, not the friggin' copy!   Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetaur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua. Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat. Duis aute irure dolor in reprehenderit in voluptate velit esse cillum dolore eu fugiat nulla pariatur. Excepteur sint occaecat cupidatat non proident, sunt in culpa qui officia deserunt mollit anim id est laborum Et harumd und lookum like Greek to me, dereud facilis est er expedit distinct. (Via

  Thursday, July 20, 2000
31 years.   That's one small step for (a) man ... one giant leap for mankind." Neil Armstrong was my childhood hero, even if he did flub The Big Line. No big deal, though. The first landing on the moon was an incredible achievement, and most people don't realize exactly how incredible. Read Andrew Chaikin's A Man on the Moon, or watch HBO's fantastic miniseries "From the Earth to the Moon". The Lunar Module Eagle landed on the moon on fumes, at the very end of its fuel supply, and it was only Armstrong's skill and nerve that made it happen in those final seconds. As Mission Control said in response to "Tranquility Base here ... the Eagle has landed":  "You had a lot of guys down here about to turn blue. We're breathing again ... thanks a lot."

Actually, as far as First Words on the Moon go, I really like what Pete Conrad said. The commander of Apollo 12, the third man to walk on the moon, said as he stepped off the landing pad of the LM onto the lunar surface, "Whoopeeee! Man, that may have been a small step for Neil, but it's a long one for me."

Oh my God. Oh my God.   I want one! And with one of these too!

J'aime foie gras.   Rich, silky smooth, overflowing with flavor ... ahh. Despite what certain unnamed unappreciative Philistine relatives of mine might say ("It tastes like liver cheese!"), foie gras is a culinary luxury that very nearly becomes a necessity if I see it on the menu when I'm dining.

Learn a little bit more about it, find out where to get it, and what to do with once you've got some.

It's high in fat and it's expensive, but I'll order some at least three or four times a year. Be good to yourself.

Poor widdle baby.   Poor, poor David Coursey has burst into tears and is stamping his feet because somebody sniped him at the last minute and he lost an eBay auction. Hey Coursey -- if you really want an item on eBay and you're too feckin' lazy to keep an eye on it as it finishes ... TOO BAD! If someone pays fifty cents more than YOU said you was the maximum amount you were willing to pay for it ... TOO BAD! EBay is combat, baby. I've experienced the thrill of victory there, as well as the agony of defeat. Such is life. (I suggest that you get one.) Sheesh.

  Wednesday, July 19, 2000
Big day.   July 19th ... July 19th. Why does this date strike me as important? Ohh, yes! It's the day the Ice Age ended! What, you don't believe me? I'll have Fr. Dougal check the diary. July 19th ... Vikings invade Galway ... Marathon becomes Snickers ... ah, there it is, Ted! Ice Age ends!

Double eek.   I finished Kitchen Confidential last night. What a hoot. I learned, among many other things, that I do not want to work in Anthony Bourdain's kitchen. However, I'd love to work in Scott Bryan's kitchen. He's the chef of Veritas Restaurant in New York City, a restaurant I'd never heard of but now can't wait to visit (if I can get in). Bourdain admits that not all kitchens are as crazy as his, that some are quiet and focused and nobody hurls insults at one another. That's more like it for me.

Ahh, the smell of Russia.   I went to Russia in 1993 (yeah, that fat guy with the beard is really me), visiting friends in St. Petersburg and proceeding to Moscow. One of the first things that really struck me about Russia is that it smelled really different.

The smell was a combination of great age, pungent stinky cheese, urine and unbelievably harsh cigarettes. It was very jarring. Eventually I got used to it, and in a way it became sort of endearing and comforting (I really loved my visit to Russia). The cigarette portion of the smell permeated nearly everything, because nearly everybody in Russia smokes. They weren't smoking American Marlboros or French Gitanes ... most people I saw were smoking horrible, atrocious things called papirosi, about an inch and a half of the worst quality tobacco in the world, at the end of a two-inch paper tube -- no filter. And they stink.

The most popular brand of papirosi were called Belomorkanal, available everywhere for about 7 cents a pack. I brought some back for a friend of mine who smokes, and he said they nearly brought him to his knees -- they are incredibly harsh and contain about twice the amount of tar as in American cigarettes. Their stench is also quite distinctive. American cigarettes all smell the same to me -- i.e., bad (get that fecking thing out of my face, please) -- but I could still spot someone smoking a Belomorkanal a mile away.

Today's Los Angeles Times features an article about the "degustation committee" at the Belomorkanal factory, who meet every Thursday and smoke papirosi for two hours, inhaling the smoke deeply to test Russia's roughest and cheapest cigarettes for "quality and taste".


He's Al Pacino. You're not.   The latest scam among pushy New York restaurant diners is to show up at a hard-to-get-into restaurant at the last minute, lie about having a reservation and bully your way in, or to make a last-minute reservation claiming to be a celebrity.

The flavor and aroma of Provence.   Lavender, that is. Perfuming everything from quail to artichokes to ice cream to crème brulée (like at my favorite San Francisco restaurant, Absinthe), it's worth exploring for the home cook and is easy to grow as well.

  Tuesday, July 18, 2000
Le yum.   Busy and fun weekend, hence a non-Looka! Monday. Monday sucks anyway, so I'm sure we're all in a much better mood today.

Friday's dinner was delightful. I'm sure that amongst all the wine-swilling picnickers at the Ford Theatre, we were the only ones to have carried in a 1940s-era leather-cased portable cocktail kit and made Sazeracs (slightly self-consciously). They were yummy though, and preceded a meal of baguette sandwiches of French ham and Roquefort cheese with fresh tarragon and Dijon mustard; a nice half-bottle of Bordeaux; potato salad; Napoléons with strawberries marinated in Liquore Maraschino. (I'm currently in love with Maraschino, tarragon and Roquefort.)

How many licks does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?   The world may never know, but I tried to figure it out once. I snapped and bit it after 664 licks.

By the way, I love Tootsie Rolls.

Name that candy bar.   It's not as easy as it looks. I got 11/12 on the first round (but only because I'm extremely clever), and only 5/12 on the second -- quite a few of those second-rounders (and one of the first-rounders) are Canadian, which'll trip up most Yanks.

Eek.   I'm currently reading Kitchen Confidential:  Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, by Anthony Bourdain. I love this book, but any illusions I might have had about working in a restaurant kitchen may well have gone right down into the grease trap. You learn exactly what's expected of you, though, if you're a newbie in a restaurant kitchen.

When a job applicant starts telling me how Pacific Rim-job cuisine turns him on and inspires him, I see trouble coming. Send me another Mexican dishwasher anytime. I can teach him to cook. I can't teach character. Show up at work on time six months in a row and we'll talk about red curry paste and lemon grass. Until then, I have four words for you:  'Shut the fuck up.'
(Hmm ... I can do that.)

Bourdain's hilarious, sometimes scary, and the book can be horrifying but is always entertaining and very informative -- particularly as to things like why you shouldn't order seafood on a Monday, and why you shouldn't order seafood frittata or well-done meat EVER. You'll also learn how to hurl insults and curses in Spanish, which is apparently an essential skill in any restaurant kitchen.

Quote of the day:   "Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter-faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accommodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a 'vegetarian plate', if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine."

-- Chef Anthony Bourdain, author of Kitchen Confidential and executive chef of Les Halles, New York.

(To help stave off the inevitable hate mail I'll get just for having quoted Chef Bourdain's amusing but impassioned rant, let me add that I eat non-meat meals fairly often (although I'm an unapologetic omnivore); here are my recipes for vegetarian jambalaya and gumbo z'herbes (greens gumbo). Bon appetit.

  Friday, July 14, 2000  ::  Bastille Day
Liberté, égalité, fraternité!   Joyeux Jour de la Bastille! Today you should have some great French cheese and a crusty baguette, a nice bottle of Bordeaux, sing "La Marseillaise", listen to some Edith Piaf, and go storm a prison somewhere (well, maybe not that last one).

My own Bastille Day celebrations, such as they are, will involve seeing the newest film by a young French director who's rapidly becoming one of my favorites -- François Ozon. So far I've seen one of his shorts, "Une Robe d'Été" ("A Summer Dress"), and last year I saw the brilliant "Sitcom", the most Buñuelesque film I've seen since Buñuel. Last night at Outfest I saw his second most recent "Les Amants Criminels" ("Criminal Lovers"), which was brilliant, sexy, suspenseful, nightmarish and utterly unpredictable.

Tonight we'll see his latest, "Gouttes d'Eau sur Pierres Brûlantes" ("Water Drops on Burning Rocks"), based upon a play written at age 19 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The trailer was hilarious, and I was hooked immediately. It's being screened outdoors "under the stars" at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, and I'm really looking forward to that. Before the screening we'll be able to picnic on the grounds and sip Sazeracs ... one of my favorite activities, and French enough for celebrating Bastille Day.

Another take on "La Marseillaise" and the history of the French Revolution, courtesy of Allan Sherman. (Ah, memories of Dr. Demento...)

Now here's what you do with MP3s.   Via a link on Salon I found a site called; I think you can probably figure out what you can get there. Odd that I didn't think of looking for this kind of thing before -- it's a natural for portable MP3 players. Who needs Metallica anyway ... screw 'em!)

Current features on the site include three stories by David Sedaris, including one from his new one, Me Talk Pretty One Day, on the joys of learning French via audiotape in "The Tapeworm is In".

  Thursday, July 13, 2000
The Music Issue is out!   Ever since my friend Fred Jasper turned me on to the Oxford American ("The Southern Magazine of Good Writing") a couple of years ago, I've looked forward to every issue's arrival in my mailbox. This is especially true for their annual double issue on Southern music. Check out their current table of contents, which includes the track listing for the 23-song compilation CD that comes with this issue.

Featured in this issue among many, many other terrific articles is a piece about Randy Newman, focusing on his 1974 masterpiece "Good Old Boys" (which is one of my all-time favorite albums). Wes and I just saw Randy Newman in concert last Saturday, so his music is still very fresh in my mind. Author Anthony Walton describes "Good Old Boys" beautifully:

On this record Newman's sad, sardonic and ruthless exploration of the margins of the American scene and spirit segued into something else altogether, a satire so accurate, so vicious, that it became compassionate: a series of tales of American (and in this case, Southern) love, loss, and desolation, narrated by a collection of lonely and lovelorn freaks, misfits, dreamers, drifters and psychotic Romeos. Taken together, these characters' pain and ignorance comprise a worldview, a vision in which irony cannot be separated from tragedy: Call it Stephen Foster on acid, Flannery O'Connor in song; at their best, these songs become lieder -- art songs -- of the American experience.
The CD contains a track from this record, the classic "Louisiana 1927", about which Walton says:

[The song conveys] in allegory, and with immense skill and beauty, the helplessness of the South as change is forced upon it... The song relates the events of the historic 1927 Mississippi River floods which devastated the South from Arkansas to the Louisiana delta; at the same time, the listener cannot escape Newman's double meaning, the transitions fo the Civil Rights era.

With this song, which I nominate as the most beautiful ever written by an American, Newman reaches a level that few, if any, songwriters have attained... If Ezra Pound is right and literature is news that stays news, then Randy Newman, with "Good Old Boys" and much of his other work, is trafficking in literature. I give him my vote for the Nobel Prize.

You'll get no argument from me there.

Get 'im, Freedy.   Not that I approve of attacking people or anything, but I have to say that if anybody ever asked for an ass-kicking in recent memory, it was the guy who heckled Freedy Johnston at the recent "A Taste of Minnesota" festival.

The relatively diminutive singer-songwriter was performing with his backup band at the festival, which generally featured a mellow, older crowd. In front was a small group of men in their late teens or early 20s, however, who proceeded to heckle the singer for almost an hour. Apparently security did nothing to stop the hecklers, and finally Freedy snapped; he leapt off the stage and began to pummel one of the antagonists; only then were they escorted off the premises.

Freedy said he was a little embarrassed afterwards, that he hadn't gotten into a fight since high school, then proceeded to play one of his signature songs, "Bad Reputation".

I haven't been in a fight since high school either. In fact, the time I hit someone was 25 years ago, when I was a tiny, barely 100-pound wisp of a high school freshman. A sophmore named Robert had been bugging me for months, and one day (about ten feet away from the office of the Prefect of Discipline) I just snapped and popped him one. He hit me back, only once -- raising a small knot on my left eyebrow -- then to my astonishment retreated immediately, and never bothered me again. Actually, he was rather friendly after that. (Not much of a fight, but that's the way I like it.)

Happy birthday, Chun!   I'm gonna FedEx you a plate of smothered chicken and waffles from Roscoe's! (And one for Andy, too.)

Quote of the day:   "I'll have what the gentleman on the floor is having."

-- from "Shoe", by Jeff MacNelly (1948-2000)

  Wednesday, July 12, 2000
A remedy for hating the laundromat.   Ah yes, the laundromat. I hate it.

As laundromats go, it's about as convenient as it can be -- it's just a block and a half away. But it's dingy and grungy, as are many of the people who do their laundry there. I live in a fairly nice neighborhood, but I've had to dodge blabbering drunks and panhandlers there. Laundry, which I barely thought about when I had a washer/dryer at home, is now a despised chore. It had to be done last night, 'cause my reserves had run out, and going to Ross Dress-for-Less to buy new underwear was not an option.

The laundromat-induced foul mood that still mired my head in a grey cloud dissipated rather quickly when I came home and made the following drink:

Chocolate Mint Martini

1 jigger (1.5 ounces) Stolichnaya vodka
1 jigger (1.5 ounces) Godiva chocolate liqueur
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) peppermint schnapps (for a slightly drier drink) or white crème de menthe (for a sweeter drink)

Pour the ingredients over cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir until very cold and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Watch your crappy mood fade.

New heights of dining (and absurdly high prices) in NYC.   The celebrated French chef and restauranteur Alain Ducasse, the only human being to possess eight stars from Guide Michelin, has opened an eponymous restaurant in New York. May I interest you in a second mortgage for your house so you can afford dinner there?

Getting in would be half the challenge. The restaurant seats 65, and there would be one seating a night. Lunch would be offered twice a week. The restaurant would be closed on weekends.

The second half of the challenge would be the bill. In a bold see-you, raise-you move, Mr. Ducasse declared that his prix-fixe would cost $160, far more than even the most expensive four-star Manhattan restaurants. As it turned out, the à la carte menu also scaled new heights. Appetizers reached the thrilling $50 level. Entrees toyed with $75, then mincingly retreated to $74. The message was clear: if you wanted to dine at Ducasse, money would be no object. But then, it would be a meal cooked by the world's most celebrated chef.

Clearly, Mr. Ducasse understood a thing or two about marketing. The moment the phone and fax lines at Ducasse were plugged in, the rush was on. Within days, the waiting list for a table was reported to be 2,700 names long...

Oy vey. Read on for an amazing story of unparalleled dining luxury, amazing dishes, not-so-amazing dishes, eye-popping prices (dinner for four -- $1500 sans tip) and very opinionated sommeliers ("What do you think about Château X?"   "No."). In the meantime, I'll have me a large red beans 'n rice from Popeye's, 'cause that's all that fits into the budget today.

A wonderland of noble rot.   The French age almost everything they eat -- "game, cheese, wine, their whole country a wonderland of noble rot" -- but they don't age their steaks much, unlike here in the States.

Learn some of the secrets of French steaks from the world's greatest source -- French butchers. Here's one of my favorites from this article:

The industrious Hubert is a master at work on a romsteck -- called a top butt in America. For steak frites, he cuts and slices the thin, chewy, powerful-tasting leg meat that stands up so well to the freshly cracked black pepper I adore. [Then there's] the heart of the matter: the elusive filet de romsteck, a cylindrical column of beef about a foot long, a tasty, fairly tender and completely trimmed hunk that resembles filet mignon. It's typically cut like a filet and called pavé, and used for steak au poivre.

Pavé, the filet de romsteck, is a cut that one of the few French butchers in town might actually be able to sell you now and again -- especially if you call ahead. And again, the more humble pieces of leg and shoulder work particularly well with pepper: just dredge in cracked peppercorns, sear in a hot, oiled sauté pan to desired doneness (the thick pavé can be finished in the oven if necessary), pour off excess grease and oil from the pan and deglaze with a tablespoon or two of brandy.

Do not flame -- no matter how much fun it is.

Damn. I love to flame.

C'est les bistros pour moi!   I love bistro dining. We do it well in New Orleans (natch), and there are even a few really good ones here in My favorite is Le Petit Bistro in West Hollywood, although my Belgian friend Mireille says it's not entirely authentic, "because the waiters are not rude enough." Fine with me.

If you want the truest bistro dining, however, head to the gay Paree. Today's New York Times Food Section offers a guide to some of the best Parisian bistros. I had exactly one evening to spend in Paris, while I was on an overnight layover between Los Angeles and St. Petersburg, Russia. I really wanna go back, this time for two weeks. (Thanks to Nelson Minar for pointing out all of today's nifty NYT food links.)

Is the valve opening?   In the twenty years since John Kennedy Toole's A Confederacy of Dunces (my favorite novel) has been published, there have been numerous failed attempts to turn it into a film. Apparently now it's closer to the screen than it's ever been, and the #1 name on the current list of directors got me all excited.

My advice -- just cast John McConnell as Ignatius and make sure you get all the details of local color and the New Orleans accents correct. Otherwise it will be an affront to taste and decency, and my reaction to it will be not unlike my reaction to that appalling "Big Easy" picture ... "What degenerate produced this abortion?!?"

No pigeons on Louis!   Roots music site Recall Music is currently running as their lead story the straight poop (literally) about the Louis Armstrong statue in New Orleans' Armstrong Park. (Thanks, Ellen!)

"Goonies" memories.   This Jeff Cohen email flurry (well, two ... the Portuguese wingnut and then Jason) made my cobwebby old brain head back to 1985, when the movie in question was released. My friend George, who at the time was fond of the treacliest of treacly Spielbergiana, organized an opening night trip to the cinema for a gaggle of us school friends to see "The Goonies". I protested, but I went along anyway; it's what everybody else was doing that night. I hated the film almost immediately, and since I didn't take my car that night I couldn't walk out on it. My escape in situations like this was to go to sleep. I slept through most of it, until I was suddenly awakened by George, who was vigorously elbowing me in the ribs as he squealed, "Chuckie! Chuckie, wake up! Look, they found a pirate ship!!"  (George never heard the end of that one. What the hell, though ... he made the world's greatest Kahlua milkshakes.)

Das Oops.   Apparently $32 billion worth of euro banknotes -- 325 million 100-euro bills -- that have been delivered to Germany's central bank are worthless because of a printer's error.

Quote of the day:   "What sane person could live in this world and not be crazy?"

-- Ursula K. LeGuin

  Tuesday, July 11, 2000
Um, no thanks ... just pass the Rioja.   I'm really looking forward to going to Spain; in fact, I'm in the idea stages for a trip there next year. But I think I'll just skip this. (I'd rather go to that festival where everybody strips down and jumps into vats of tomatoes. Isn't that in Spain?)

"This was no boating accident!"   A man in Bossier City, Louisiana was found dead on Monday -- hanging by his neck from a tree, gagged, handcuffed and wearing women's clothes. The intrepid cops there ruled the death "accidental", with "no foul play suspected." One wonders about the Bossier City police. It's a shame what happens when cousins marry, isn't it?

Another shining star of Louisiana law enforcement.   The ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the sheriff of Iberia Parish, Louisiana, asserting that it's not a criminal act to play Britney Spears' music.

The intrepid sheriff arrested the owner and manager of a skating rink near New Iberia because he didn't like the music they were playing, blaming it for a fight that broke out between some kids in the rink's parking lot. He seized over 60 CDs belonging to the rink.

The two arrestees were handcuffed and treated as if they were violent criminals, after they voluntarily went to the sheriff's office for a meeting about the incident. Sheriff Sid Hebert held up three CDs and said, "I have enough here to arrest you."

"Sheriff Hebert has contacted the religious community and spoken out against the music, claiming to represent the moral high ground by saying 'that we will not tolerate this type of corruption involving our children,'" the ACLU's Cook said. "The ACLU asks those same religious leaders to examine Sheriff Hebert's uncivilized and demeaning treatment of both plaintiffs, especially the parading of Ms. Boudoin through the men's section of the prison and into their urinal."
The seized CDs included a few rap and hip-hop albums, as well as such riot-inciting songs as "The Hokey Pokey", "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer", "The Chicken Dance", the soundtrack to Disney's "Tarzan", and albums by Kentwood, Louisiana bubblegum überstar Britney Spears.

Six Flags over Old Sparky?   This has got to be one of the weirdest and most bizarre things I've heard about in quite a while.

Stalking Chunk.   (Hold it, hold it ... that's "Chunk", not "Chuck". Got it? Okay, let's move on.)

After I posted the email from that wingnut from Portugal the other day, Jason was kind enough to send along a link for me -- an anecdote about Jeff Cohen, who played the annoying fat kid in "The Goonies" but who's seemed to grow up into a nice, normal guy with an obsessive (albeit harmless) fan. Ah, the wages of fame...

Quote of the day:   "Nobody can be exactly like me. Sometimes even I have trouble doing it."

-- The fabulous Tallulah Bankhead

  Saturday, July 8, 2000
Ain't he the cutest one-year-old?   Today is the one year anniversary of Looka! ... hard to believe that the year went by so fast, leaving a trail of blather in its wake. (I wonder if any of the links on that first Looka! page still work.

Thanks a million to all my regular contributors -- Wes, Steve, Steve, Michael, et al. Thanks especially to all of you who read this (almost) daily blather regularly and email me with praise, encouragement, suggestions, complaints and the occasional amusing insult.

I plan to keep it up ... Gawd help y'all.

  Friday, July 7, 2000
Mmmmmm, umami ...   It's not all just sweet, sour, salt and bitter. There's that elusive, hard-to-define fifth primary taste, called umami, that's changing the way chefs think, particularly when it comes to pairing wine with food. I've only barely been learning about this, but it's no surprise to me that many of my very favorite foods are rich in umami. Just shave some more of that two-year-aged Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese over that, willya...

Yat restauranteurs and their gaudy retirement homes.   New Orleans has always had a fascinating history of what it does with its deceased citizens, with our tradition of aboveground tombs. Now, two of New Orleans' most prominent restauranteurs are planning to enter the Great Beyond in a big way. Ruth Fertel, of the Ruth's Chris Steakhouse chain, just dropped about a half a million dollars on a "sunset beige" granite tomb on a square 27-foot plot, which features black columns and stained glass windows. Fertel threw a party at the tomb for 150 friends and family after it was finished. The typically ostentatious Al Copeland (of Copeland's, Straya, and the founder of the Popeye's Fried Chicken chain) is finishing construction on a granite mausoleum on a raised platform with black columns and a bronze double door, that's running him about $600,000. Love that chicken ...

Oopsie ... heh.   CBS' "Early Show" host Bryant Gumbel apparently wasn't paying attention to the big "ON AIR" light last Thursday. He had just finished interviewing Robert Knight, spokesman for the ultra-conservative (and notoriously homophobic) Family Research Council, about their support of the Supreme Court decision allowing the Boy Scouts to discriminate against gay scouts and troop leaders. As he swung his chair away from the main camera, Gumbel apparently mouthed, "What a fucking idiot."  Watch that light, Bryant.

Psst! Hey, Louisiana Supreme Court! The world is round!   You have to wonder if people have to be reminded sometime. Their latest shake-your-head-in-wonder ruling on the state's neo-medieval "crime against nature" law basically says: fail to use the missionary position, go to jail. For five years, no less.

The Supreme Court of my beloved home state (which sometimes makes me want to smack it collectively upside the head) ruled yesterday to uphold the state's anti-sodomy law in a 5-2 decision. Justice Chet Taylor, writing for the majority, said "Simply put, commission of what the Legislature determines as an immoral act, even if consensual and private, is an injury against society itself."

The law, which was enacted in 1805, isn't targeted toward gay citizens (as you might expect). In Louisiana it is also illegal for married couples to engage in oral and/or anal sex, and the law provides for a penalty of up to five years in prison. In their dissent, Chief Justice Pascal Calogero and Justice Harry Lemmon wrote, "The only apparent purpose of the prohibition is to dictate the type of sex that is acceptable to legislators. Two married persons should be able to choose how they conduct their nonpublic, voluntary sexual relations in the security of their own home; a law that takes that choice away from them is an intrusion by the legislative branch that is constitutionally intolerable."

This type of intrusion into the private lives of citizens by government must stop. I can only hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will address this issue. However, if Dubya gets in and starts appointing justices, you can write off any protection of your privacy ... probably for the duration of your life.

Quote of the day:   "Genius may have its limitations, but stupidity is not thus handicapped."

-- Elbert Hubbard

  Thursday, July 6, 2000
"There's cocaaaaine in it!"   Well now Mrs. Doyle, I don't know about that. But it's a remotely possible explanation for why Jack Miller's Barbecue Sauce is so goddamned addictive.

I can't imagine why. If you look at the ingredients, it looks like something someone whipped up in their kitchen from what they happened to have on hand in the fridge (which is what I'm sure Jack Miller did in his Ville Platte, Louisiana restaurant in 1941) -- water, mustard, ketchup, oil, dehydrated onions, sugar, chili sauce, tomato paste, margarine (ack!), hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, salt, paprika, "spices", and dehydrated garlic. Nothing special. Not at all.

This sauce is so friggin' good that if you give me a jar of it and a loaf of sliced bread (white bread, even), I'll sit there and spread it on the bread and, if you don't stop me, I'll keep eating bread and sauce until the jar is empty. Todd Ortego, DJ, owner of The Music Machine in Eunice, La. and master barbecuer, made some barbecued chicken at the Savoys' crawfish boil in Eunice last May, and it was the best barbecued chicken I have ever had in my entire life, bar none. All he used was some salt, black and red pepper, and Jack Miller's sauce. *moan*

I love L.A.   Some amusing statistics culled from the June 19 edition of Time magazine (I'm way behind on my reading...)

80 - Number of square feet per person per apartment required by New York City's housing code.

94 - Number of square feet alloted to a well-behaved inmate of Attica, New York's state prison.

Over here on the left coast, San Francisco Bay Area and Silicon Valley housing prices are now the worst in the country. My friend Steve told me that an 800 square foot, 2 bedroom/1 bath condo (in a building with three others) in Campbell, CA (a suburb of San Jose) is going for around $255,000. A 1300 square foot, 3 bedroom/1 bath house in the area recently went for $840,000. A friend of mine in Los Altos saw the value of his house soar to a million dollars. And in San Francisco ... forget about renting a nice one-bedroom apartment unless you've got $2,000 per month. A recent NPR story reported that teachers in San Francisco can no longer afford to live and work in the city. The city's offer of subsidized housing is being spurned by the teachers, who would really prefer a raise.

It's better in L.A., but not by much. It's still gonna be a struggle to buy a house where I want one, and I make pretty decent money. Though I've always loved San Francisco and had thought about how nice it'd be to live there ... I've now forgotten all about that.

More like the Borg of public radio than the Darth Vader.   "We are Minnesota Public Radio. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile. Your cultural distinctiveness will be added to our own." In the case of Pasadena public radio station KPCC, its cultural distinctiveness was wiped out and replaced by canned programming from MPR, who took over the station earlier this year.

The current edition of the Los Angeles New Times has a fascinating story entitled "Radio War", subtitled "Public radio's Darth Vader has invaded L.A. by gobbling up a sleepy Pasadena college station, and that has wary defenders of National Public Radio running scared." It's a sordid tale of politics, power, money, mismanagement, mutiny and more.

(Cue "Twilight Zone" music.)   I swear, for a guy who has a relatively normal food-, drink- and Louisiana-related web site ... I get an inordinate amount of email from complete wingnuts.

Yesterday was a doozy. First I got this one from Portugal:

Date: Wed, 05 Jul 2000 17:19:10 +0100
From: Pedro <pedro@**********.pt>
Subject: Jeff Cohen

Are you Jeff Cohen?
..from the Goonies

Um ... no.

(Update -- I thought the Goonies was the name of a band or something, but Wes just told me that Jeff Cohen played the annoying fat kid in that awful Spielberg-produced kid's movie. How do you say "fuck you" in Portuguese?)

Then there was the periodic dumbass absinthe-related letter:

From: "Me" <>
To: <>
Subject: Chuck
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 23:03:14 -0400

Just a little informationt hat might help get the druggies off your back. Thujone is found in significant quantaties in various essential oils sold in aramotherapy shops. Just state that in your page, and they'll follow that trail. It's true, gives them a starting point, and stops them from emailing you!



Typically, he didn't sign his real name. Bad punctuation and spelling. And from a freebie ISP, no less. "Help" like this I need like I need a hole in the head. I replied, "Hey Einstein ... drinking thujone-containing aromatherapy oil is what landed the first guy in the hospital and nearly killed him." He answered almost immediately:

From: "Me" <>
To: "Chuck Taggart" <>
Subject: Re: Chuck
Date: Wed, 5 Jul 2000 23:52:50 -0400

My god, I was trying to help you, and you respond with a wise-crack? I wasn't suggesting that they drink it, but perhaps perform an extraction of sorts.

- Ami

Persons Unclear on the Concept Department:  That oil is poisonous. The chemical to which you refer, in all but the very miniscule quantities you'd find in expertly-made absinthe, is toxic.

What do you do with people like this? As another recent correspondent pointed out, there are people in several European countries who go to a bar or pub and enjoy a drink of legal and professionally distilled absinthe just as they'd enjoy gin or whiskey or vodka. And then there are idiots here in America who steep horrible-tasting wormwood plants in vodka and who actually try to drink or "perform an extraction" of poisonous essential oils. Well, you go right ahead, spud. One less fool in the gene pool, I suppose.

There was one more email yesterday that was so disturbing I won't even reproduce or even paraphrase it here. Jeezus Gawd ... why me? (To paraphrase Paddy Chayefsky ... "Because you're on the Web, dummy.")

Speaking of absinthe...   La Fée Verte: Absinthe House, the best and handsomest absinthe-interest site I've seen on the Web, has just undergone a very nice redesign.

Woohoo! Free! My favorite price!   Dang, I've really got to do more online shopping. Then again, there are those damned annoying ethics and morals getting in the way...

  Wednesday, July 5, 2000
Happy birthday, Satchmo!   Yesterday was the 100th birthday of the great jazzman Louis Armstrong ... or at least, that's what Louis would have said.

Although it was discovered after his death that he was born about 13 months later, nobody minds ... and we still celebrate his birthday on the Fourth. The superb site has worked up a Centennial Tribute to Louis Armstrong that's worth a look if you're interested in the great man's great music.

  Monday, July 3, 2000
Takin' a coupla days off.   It's been a 4-day holiday weekend, and I'm on day 3. Woo! I haven't been doing much surfing or blogging, but I'll probably be back at it on Wednesday. Have a happy Fourth, y'all!

Quote of the day:   "The state of Utah, where the separation of church and state is about two blocks."

-- Overheard while in a sleepy haze on NPR's "Morning Edition" this morning.

June Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

Several of my friends and loved ones contribute regularly to this blog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Steve Gardner, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Eric Labow and Michael Pemberton.
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