the gumbo pages

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, New Orleans and 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 @ 3:58pm PST, 12/31/2000

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart (who?)

Looka! Archive

November 2000
October 2000
September 2000
August 2000
July 2000
June 2000
May 2000
April 2000
March 2000
February 2000
January 2000

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

Friends with pages:


Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail


Cocktail Time

Bar Asterie

Ardent Spirits

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily


Food Network


The Global Gourmet

The Online Chef


In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

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:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J. K. Rowling.

Papal Sins, by Garry Wills.

Me Talk Pretty One Day, by David Sedaris.


Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

by Peter Blegvad

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Lookin' at da TV:

"The Sopranos"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Iron Chef"
"The Simpsons"
"Star Trek: Voyager"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
Eat, Link and Be Merry
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Hit or Miss
Jonno (if you must know)
Lake Effect
LanceLog 2000
Mister Pants
MonkeyFist (+ MF Food)
Mr. Barrett
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Robot Wisdom
Slightly North of Tomorrow
Strange Brew
The Other Side
Whim and Vinegar
Wild Oats

<< web loggers >>

Must-reads: (Progressive politics & news)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (stories)
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
Spaceflight Now (just like it says

What's in Chuq's Visor? (My favorite Palm OS applications)

AvantGo *
Launcher III *
Showtimes *
WineScore *
Zagat Guide *

(* = superfavorite)

Number of votes by which George W. Bush lost the national popular vote on November 7, 2000

Number of votes to which Bush's lead had dwindled in Florida when the hand recount was stopped

Made with Macintosh

hosted by pair Networks

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  "There ought to be limits to freedom."
  -- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

  Sunday, December 31, 2000
Wow.   I can't believe 2000 is over already. (*whoosh*) I'll have to re-read all of this year's Looka! just to make sure I remember everything I did.

Have a happy and safe New Year, y'all. Watch out for drunk drivers, and don't be one.

When the Boy King Ruled   I'll leave you for this year (and then head off to Sarkis' Bakery, dinner then Dan & Doug's New Year's Eve party) with a wee fable from the New York Times, courtesy of my friend David (thanks bra!). I don't like the ending, though ... that part about "eight years".

Reign of George II. After the Hundred Chads' War, the Bush dynasty once more seized power. [more]

  Friday, December 29, 2000
Grits, greens 'n strawberry wine.   The Southern Foodways Alliance is an organization dedicated to celebrating, preserving, promoting and nurturing the diverse food culture of the American South. I had only heard about them and their site recently, and I'm 100% behind their work. It's a good sign when you see the Queen of Creole Chef, Leah Chase, being listed as President of the organization (whaddaya know, a president I can respect). Listen to her talk about how much she loves strawberry wine, and why sitting down together at the meal table is important.

The Five Worst Republican Outrages   of the 2000 election. In the first of two links shamelessly stolen from Jason today (hey, it's my last holiday this week, after American Airlines ruined yesterday), the Village Voice remembers "how a President who promised to unify a fixed an election".

Open mouth, insert foot, continue until crotch is reached.   From the "Assuring that you'll never have a position in the Bush Administration" department ... Republican Gov. George Pataki of New York was introducing his new DMV commissioner when a reporter asked the commissioner if he had ever been ticketed for speeding or DWI. When the commissioner replied that he had had a DWI in 1989, Pataki quipped, "I guess that qualifies you to be President of the United States."

The quip was met with uproarious silence and a thunderously awkward pause. The press conference then continued, while Pataki schvitzed and watched his future in the GOP drip down his leg and drain into a nearby sewer grating.

  Thursday, December 28, 2000
Ugh.   Hey y'all. Back from New Orleans, only 17 hours late. I hate deregulated airlines and their hub systems, and the fact that it is practically impossible to get a nonstop flight between New Orleans and Los Angeles on any airline. I hate the loathsome Dallas/Fort Worth airport. Holiday travel in general just bites.

All in all, though, it was a nice Christmas, and I'm glad to be home. Hope yours was merry as well.

Quidditch, anyone?   The only good thing about the five hours I spent stuck in the airport last night was that I was able to make a great deal of progress in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, after having finished the first book in a little over three nights. I'd been meaning to get to the Harry Potter series for ages, and now I'm hooked. I finished the second on the plane today, and I'll likely head to a bookstore to night to buy the third and fourth ones.

I've deliberately avoided reading about the movie version before having read any of the books, and now that I'm halfway though what's out there, I had a look at the website and can comment on the casting.

First off, the kids look perfect. Hope they can act. And John Cleese as Nearly Headless Nick! By sheer coincidence, as I read the book I actually pictured Michael Palin as Nick, but Cleese will be brilliant. Alan Rickman as Snape -- perfect. As are Richard Harris as Dumbledore and Maggie Smith as McGonnagall. All I can say is ... if Chris Columbus makes a bad movie that isn't true to the book, I hope he's turned into a slug at first opportunity.

Web design services -- We steal a site for you!   Thanks to my ever vigilant spies (thanks, Greg), I've discovered a web design firm called The Plain Brown Rapper, whose services seem to include wholesale copying from other people's websites, as evidenced by this page they designed for a Louisiana-style restaurant in Detroit, a page that was lifted from my recipe page.

Tsk tsk. That's not a web design company I'd ever want to hire. I've already notified Vinnie the Claw about the matter. I do hope he lets them keep their thumbs.

  Thursday, December 21, 2000
The envelope, please...   The counting of national popular vote in the 2000 Presidential Election is finally complete (except for Florida, of course). Al Gore won by over half a million votes, five times the amount by which Kennedy beat Nixon in 1960.

Kudo-san's cuisine reigns supreme!   "It's the best sushi restaurant in Los Angeles," said my friend Lee, and so last night I dined at Shibucho for the first time, with Chef Shige Kudo sending out dishes as he pleased. It was quite an experience.

The waitress arrived, the sake, Asahi and Sapporo were ordered, and then they simply said one word (which escapes me at the moment) which is apparently Japanese for "tell Shige he may indulge himself". First thing that came out was a grilled ahi salad, with the fish charred on the outside and raw on the inside, on a bed of peppery greens with a simple but delicious shoyu and olive oil dressing. That didn't last long, and was immediately followed by the first truly exotic (for me) dish -- ankimo, or monkfish liver, served with tomato relish and minced scallions. Silky and rich but not as rich as foie gras, monkfish liver is definitely something I want to explore further.

Next came a healthy serving of grilled butterfish, hot and flaky and tender with a crisped skin that was out of this world. We took a short break, and were then presented with a huge tray of assorted sushi -- maguro (tuna), sake (salmon), hamachi (yellowtail), ama-ebi (sweet shrimp), and a spicy tuna roll and one other roll I had never had before, but it was great.

As if this wasn't enough, next was hirame (halibut), two pieces for each of us, seasoned only with lemon and salt, for which there were explicit instructions -- "No soy! No wasabi!" The meat was sweet and delicious, with salty and sour from the seasoning. A perfect dish.

Just as I was beginning to wonder how to say "pig" in Japanese, out comes the salmon skin hand rolls, tightly rolled rather than in a big cone, without any of the greens or garnish I'm used to seeing in these -- just nori, rice, and salmon skin that had at least 1/4 inch of good salmon meat attached. Yum yum yum! Finally, the last fish dish of the meal, and the one that kind of did me in -- kohada, or shad, with the silvery skin still attached and artfully scored along its length (apparently Shige will sometimes slice the filet all the way through and braid it before serving). This was a little much for me, too fishy for my taste and with a texture that I didn't much care for. Perhaps this is a bit of an acquired taste.

And would you believe ... dessert? I was so dizzy from all that food that I barely remember what they were, except that there were two tiramisú-y things, and two ice creamy things, and we split them, and they were good. (Whew.)

My eyes kinda bugged out when I saw the bill, but I have to admit that $67 per person for all that great food is pretty amazing. Go to Shibucho.

  Wednesday, December 20, 2000
That spooky threes thing again.   Kristy MacColl died on Monday, and now Pops Staples died on Tuesday at age 84. He was a giant in the world of gospel, blues and R&B.

And on the same day, 10,000 Maniacs guitarist and co-songwriter Rob Buck died of liver failure. Can the Grim Reaper please lay off for a while now?

What really happened in the "election" and subsequent decisions.   Attorney Mark Levine explains it all for you in A Layman's Guide to the Supreme Court Decision in Bush v. Gore, reposted here with the kind permission of the author.

And so it begins.   Examinations of Lake County votes that were discarded by election commissioners show clear evidence of the voters' intent to vote for Al Gore but were discarded as "illegal", even though very similar votes were counted in other counties. The votes he would have picked up had the recounts not been stopped would have taken Bush's lead down to a couple of dozen votes, a lead which quite probably would have vanished had the recount proceeded.

  Tuesday, December 19, 2000
Sad news has come to town.   Singer Kirsty MacColl died yesterday while on holiday in Mexico, after being run over by a speedboat while in an area reserved for swimmers. The BBC offers a retrospective on her life and music, and you may wish to visit a couple of fan sites as well.

I began my radio program on Saturday with a song featuring Kirsty, my all-time favorite Christmas-themed song -- "Fairytale of New York", which she sang along with Shane Macgowan and the Pogues. She'll be sorely missed.

Subscribe!   As if you don't already get enough spam and junk mail in your inbox, here I come to clog it further. But it's all up to you ...

I've set up a new mailing list at pair for my weekly "Down Home" playlists, as well as very occasional KCSN news and special concert information. So if you tune in to our live audio stream and catch my program on occasion, sign up for the playlist service. Who knows, you might end up finding your new favorite record there.

You're not the boss of me now,   and you're not so big.

  Monday, December 18, 2000
Cocktail time!   We had another smashingly successful cocktail party on Saturday, and I think we might just be able to get into the habit of doing these monthly, with a slightly different mix of folks each time.

There were a couple of new (to me) cocktails that I had been working on which I served for the first time on Saturday. Both went over really well, so I thought I'd share the recipes.

The first was adapted from a recipe I found in Food and Wine magazine, which they called the "Rosemopolian". I can't stand mishmashed neologisms like that, so the first thing to go was the name. The drink they showed in the magazine looked almost as clear as a Martini (odd, since it had as much cranberry as a regular Cosmopolitan), and called for lemon juice. I changed that to lime juice, reduced the quantity, and used a bright red rose-flavored syrup from the Indian grocery store around the corner. Then came a new name, after the best movie of 1999 and my favorite Grateful Dead album.

It's a beautiful drink, with a perfect balance between the perfume from the rose syrup and the tartness from the lime. My friend Ellen raved about it.

American Beauty

2 ounces vodka
1 ounce cranberry juice
2 teaspoons rose-flavored syrup
2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice

Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker; shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally, you may garnish the drink by floating an organic rose petal on top of the drink.

The next was one I'd been wanting to try since I read about it in a review of the San Francisco restaurant and bar called Absinthe; I must've missed this drink when I went there last year and wrote my own review. A little Google searching provided one recipe, which I tweaked slightly to my taste. This is a fabulous drink, in which the pear is there but doesn't overpower the other ingredients, which give it a more complex flavor.

The Perfect Pear

1-1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounce pear brandy
2 teaspoons fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar syrup
1 teaspoon orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice; shake and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Optionally, you may moisted the rim of the glass with a wedge of lime and dip the rim in sugar, then garnish the rim with a thin slice of Comice pear.

Another hit was the Vanilla Cosmopolitan -- just substitute Stolichnaya Vanil vanilla-infused vodka for plain vodka. This drink is delicious, and both it and regular Cosmopolitans look good with a garnish of three cranberries skewered on a toothpick, floating on the drink. Oh, and remember with this drink and any other one calling for lime juice ... lime juice comes out of a lime, not a bottle.

Seeya, WebCom.   I have a new web and email host -- pair Networks, and I love 'em.

I was a charter beta testing member of WebCom when it was first started in October of 1994, and they were a terrific company (warts and all) for a long time. Then about a year and a half ago they were acquired by the loathsome Verio, about whom I'd heard myriad horror stories, and things started to change (including the departure of the founding President of the company). Now things have changed such that the account I was basically getting for free with all my "Hosted by WebCom" button credits (2 cents credit per 10 impressions) is going up to almost $100/month, now that Verio has eliminated that credits program. The new service plan I have from pair will cost me less than 1/3 of that, with far superior service. Bye, Verio.

Speaking of Verio, they just got duly gobsmacked by a judge for illegally using's WHOIS databse to spam their customers with business solicitations.

  Friday, December 15, 2000
Close that barn door, Jeb.   Demonstrating an extraordinary sense of timing, the brother of court-appointee President-to-be Bush says he'll appoint a task force to fix and modernize Florida's voting system, after all the flaws and irregularities served to put his brother into the White House.

Quote of the day:   "It used to be that the President would be the one to appoint new supreme court justices, now it is the supreme court justices who appoint the new president. (I can't bring myself to capitalize the words "supreme court" anymore, which we now know is made up of only four Justices, and five injustices.)"

-- Andy Senasac, in an email to me this morning

Breaking News:   Received in this morning's email:

Announces He will smite Bush later today

In a stunning development this morning, God invoked the "one nation, under God" clause of the Pledge of Allegiance to overrule this week's Supreme Court decision that handed the White House to George Bush. "I'm not sure where the Supreme Court gets off," God said this morning on a rare "Today" show appearance, "but I'm sure as hell not going to lay back and let Bush get away with this bullshit."

"I've watched analysts argue for weeks now that the exact vote count in Florida 'will never be known.' Well, I'm God and I DO know exactly who voted for whom. Let's cut to the chase: Gore won Florida by exactly 20,219 votes."

Shocking political analysts and pundits, God's unexpected verdict overrules the official Electoral College tally and awards Florida to Al Gore, giving him a 289-246 victory. The Bush campaign is analyzing God's Word for possible grounds for appeal.

"God's ruling is a classic over-reach," argued Bush campaign strategist Jim Baker. "Clearly, a divine intervention in a U.S. Presidential Election is unprecedented, unjust, and goes against the Constitution of the state of Florida."

"Jim Baker's a jackass," God responded. "He's got some surprises ahead of him, let me tell you. HOT ones, if you know what I mean."

God, who provided the exact vote counts for every Florida precinct, explained that bad balloting machinery and voter confusion were no grounds to give the White House to "a friggin' idiot." "Look, only 612 people in Palm Beach County voted for Buchanan. Get real! The rest meant to vote for Gore. Don't believe me? I'll name them: Anderson, Pete; Anderson, Sam, Jr.; Arthur, James; Barnhardt, Ron..."

Our Lord then went on to note that he was displeased with George W. Bush's prideful ways and announced that he would officially smite him today. In an act of wrath unlike any reported since the Book of Job, God has taken all of Bush's goats and livestock, stripped him of his wealth and possessions, sold his family into slavery, forced the former presidential candidate into hard labor in a salt mine, and afflicted him with deep boils.

Dick Cheney will reportedly receive leprosy.

  Thursday, December 14, 2000
We are fucked.

  Wednesday, December 13, 2000
Tainted Supremes.   The conservative majority of the United States Supreme Court have reached an all-time low in handing the presidency to George W. Bush. Scalia, ever the bully, had made up his mind before any oral arguments were even presented, and took the shocking step of issuing his own statement to the press essentially saying just that. The impartiality of the court, if it ever existed since the Rehnquist-Scalia-Thomas bloc formed, seems a worthless concept now. Justice John Paul Stevens put it best in his scathing dissent to last night's decision:  "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year's Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation's confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law."

Demand your right to vote for President.   Even after all this electoral mess and the recent Supreme Court decisions, lots of people still do not seem to understand that we as citizens of the United States of America do not have the right to vote for President.

I've started correcting people who said things like "I voted for Gore." Well, no ... actually, you didn't. You voted for a slate of electors equal to the number of Representatives and Senators from your state who were themselves pledged to vote for Gore in the Electoral College if the Gore slate carried more votes in that state. There is no direct election of the President of this country, as is obvious now that it looks like George W. Bush will become president after losing the national popular vote by nearly 200,000 votes, and after allegedly winning one single state by a 0.008% margin but still getting ALL of that states electoral votes, even though he only got half the popular vote of that state.

Michael C. Dorf, Vice Dean and Professor of Law at Columbia University, presents the case for a Constitutional amendment guaranteeing your right to vote for President. If you agree, write to your Representatives and Senators and insist that they do everything they can to grant you the suffrage that should be your right.

  Tuesday, December 12, 2000
Not much today.   It's the office Christmas party, an all day affair being held at some hotel near the beach. Cocktails during the day ... how scandalous! I'm gonna bring a small bottle of Peychaud's and teach their bartender how to make a Sazerac.

Blurb vs. reality.   I love blurbs. They're almost always such pure and utter bullshit that they're often more entertaining than that which they're plugging... if you can find the original source, that is.

Consider CNN -- that respected, upstanding stalwart of television news. The blurb for their relatively new program "The Spin Room", which features Bill Press for the liberals (couldn't they find anyone better?) and post-schoolboy Young Republican Tucker Carlson (who should still be letting his mother pick out his clothes for him). CNN have been advertising this program with blurbs drawn from various media sources, one of which is They quote Salon as referring to "The Spin Room" as "political talk of the frat-boy variety", which to me seems uncomplimentary enough as it is that I find it odd that CNN would use it. However, it was taken out of context; here is a more complete section of Salon's article:

"The Spin Room" is the worst show in the history of CNN -- amateurish political talk of the frat-boy variety. Hosts Bill Press and Tucker Carlson exchange chuckles and giggle uncontrollably, highly pleased at having their very own TV show.

Carlson's a young rightist thug; Press, the lightweight inheritor of Michael Kinsley's liberal mantle on "Crossfire," is, astonishingly, worse. Tonight, for example, as a gag, he brings out "a special guest" -- a puppet on strings, which he dubs Florida Secretary of State Katherine Harris. It's a sophomoric prank for a national news show.

Here's another example of the show's tone: When Press brings on a legal analyst, Laurie Levinson from Loyola Law School, he says, with forced jollity, "You're making history tonight! You're the first guest to repeat an appearance on 'The Spin Room,' a high honor indeed!" Carlson laughs along delightedly.

It's not clear what the point of this amateurish show is. The unprofessional antics never end; neither host has anything interesting to say.

They go on to recommend watching Chris Matthews on MSNBC's "Hardball", saying that he "blows every other news host away. He's smarter and keener than any of his guests, asks offbeat but piercing questions and runs his show with a virtuosic intelligence."

  Monday, December 11, 2000
D'ohhhhh.   Now I have to buy a friggin' Sega Dreamcast.

We went to a Christmas party at a friend's house on Saturday, and he demonstrated a game on his Dreamcast called Samba de Amigo, a music and rhythm game played by shaking a set of maracas (that are attached to the game controller by wires) at the correct position and in the correct rhythm with the music (all bouncy and fun Latin and/or samba-related songs, plus the utterly vile "Macarena", which you can just skip). It is a HUGE amount of fun, completely addicting, and you get a pretty fair workout too -- six or seven minutes playing that game and my pulse was racing.

I've never owned a video game console, and never had much interest, but now it's on my shopping list (and it's $150 even without the maraca controllers and software) during Christmas season, where I'm already broke from shopping for everyone else. Still, I think it'll be worth it, and presumably there might be three or two other games I'd be interested in for this thing. Play this thing if you get the chance. It's a total blast (and a cardiovascular workout!).

King stops watering The Plant.   The new TIME Magazine features an article by Stephen King, looking back at his experiences with electronically publishing the first six parts of his novella "The Plant".

  Friday, December 8, 2000
Imagine.   John Lennon was murdered 20 years ago today. Imagine what he might have been able to give us all that time had he lived.

I was 19, a student at Loyola, living at home and working on a take-home exam for a class I hated. I got a phone call from a strange friend of mine who said, "Someone very important in the music world has just been shot." Startled, I said, "Who?!" He replied, "Guess." (What an eejit.) When he told me, I just thanked him and hung up, then walked into the living room in a daze. It was late, right before the news was coming on anyway, and I went straight to the TV and changed the channel until I found a news report. My father indignantly said, "Hey podna, I was watching that," but remained silent along with me as we watched the news.

  Thursday, December 7, 2000  ::  Day of Infamy
Well, infamy among a few, at least.   It's the birthday of my old friend from gradual school, Hiroki Takiguchi. Hiroki, a truly amazing individual, was the other primary player in The Crawfish-Sea Urchin Tale, which is indeed infamous amongst all of my old grad school friends.

Back in school, when we asked Hiroki when his birthday was, he said, with a twinkle in his eye, "Day Japanese dropped bomb on Pearl Harbor." Such a scamp, that boy.

He seemed to drop off the face of the earth several years ago. Hiroki, if you're out there, please do drop me an email. If you're in L.A. again anytime I'll call Matt and Tracy and Jim and Louie and everybody and we'll have a huge red beans 'n rice bash. No uni though, and no sake please. I still haven't completely recovered from that hangover.

Lorna Dune.   Sorry, couldn't resist. My old friend Bob Habros (where the heck are you anyway, Bob?) came up with that when he was working on the David Lynch film version of Dune about 16 or so years ago.

I'd been looking forward to the SciFi Channel's version of "Frank Herbert's Dune" for months. I taped it all, but watched only part 1 so far. Thumbs-up to Alec Newman and Matt Keeslar, and about 3/4 of the casting. They're taking the time to tell the story more or less properly, without leaving too much out. I like the sets, but some of the costumes make me wonder what kinds of drugs the costume designer is on. (What the hell was up with those dead butterflies on Princess Irulan?!)

The more I think about it, the more I like the David Lynch film. Its major flaw is that it was three hours too short. I went to see it on opening night with a bunch of friends, and I was the only one who had read the novel. I spent the entire dinner afterwards explaining to everyone what was going on, and was appalled at some of the pivotal scenes that were left out (Paul giving water to the dead after killing Jamis was a big one, just to name one.)

I didn't care for Kyle MacLachlan as Paul either, but most of the casting was brilliant (Siân Phillips as Rev. Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam, wow), as was the production design. I also didn't care for the ending -- he's the Kwisatz Haderach, fer Chrissakes, not the Rainmaker. I only wish he had been allowed to make the movie that should have been made.

How the Republicans instituted mob rule in Miami and quite possibly threw the election to Bush by stopping the Miami-Dade recount.

A spontaneous demonstration of outraged local Republicans? Nope. A carefully planned operation orchestrated by the Republican Party in Washington, with "rent-a-rioters" who were flown in to south Florida.

People were roughed up. It was horribly ugly. My contempt for the Republican Party knows almost no bounds.

Our august body of medical research.   A Usenet post by Chris Hansen on soc.motss on 11/17/2000 revealed the following abstract from a medical journal:

"Masturbation Injury Resulting from Intraurethral Introduction of Spaghetti," M. Bacci and M. Porena, American Journal of Forensic Medicine and Pathology, vol. 7, no. 3, September 1986, pp. 254-5.
I must confess that's the very last thing I would have ever thought to do with spaghetti. Manicotti, perhaps ...

  Wednesday, December 6, 2000
Sweetiedarling!!   The BBC will be producing a new series of "Absolutely Fabulous" to debut in 2001. Patsy, Edina and Saffie are back.

Woohoo! This calls for a drink!

And now, a word from our sponsor.   Just in case everyone forgot who really controls network television content ... it's advertisers.

USA Networks pulled the plug on a made-for-TV movie currently in production due to an advertiser's threat to pull all of its ads from the network. USA was producing a dramatization of the 1986 Seattle-area murders in which bottles of Excedrin were tainted with cyanide by a murderess who wanted to make her husband's death look like a random poisoning. Pharmaceutical manufacturer Johnson and Johnson, who survived the infamous 1982 Tylenol poisoning incident and didn't want the public to be reminded of it, issued the threat.

The cancellation of the production caused over 150 actors and film crew members to lose their jobs right before the Christmas holidays.

Mmmm, Shiro.   I'd been wanting to try this place for a while, and last night my friends Mark and Peter took me out for my birthday-present dinner at Shiro in South Pasadena, a most excellent French-Asian restaurant.

It's fairly small, quiet, almost romantic (could be a little darker) with a frequently changing menu that's small but varied, with choices of about five appetizers and five entrées plus a couple of specials. It was superb. My only disappointment is that they serve only beer and wine (I'm fond of a cocktail before dinner), but their wine list was excellent, including some fine selections by the glass.

We started off with lobster and scallop spring rolls, and tuna sashimi with spicy chili sauce and mixed greens, then I moved on to the Chilean sea bass "à la Japonaise", marinated in soy sauce and sweet sake and grilled, atop a bed of puréed potatoes with vegetables. Mark got the filet mignon special, in a red wine reduction sauce, and Peter got Shiro's house specialty -- whole fried catfish with sizzling ponzu sauce, covered in fresh cilantro. Yum! I've had nearly the same dish at Chinois on Main, and this one tasted just as good (and was less expensive to boot).

We liked the desserts a lot too -- banana, pecan and blueberry tart with housemade vanilla bean ice cream and blueberry sauce; chocolate mousse cake with espresso ice cream, and crispy fried wonton skins with yuzu custard, fresh strawberries and pears poached in some kind of sweet wine (this was the best dessert on the table by far). Washed down with '97 orange Muscat, too.

Highly recommended for South Pasadena dining, plus there's a really interesting-looking spirits store right next door -- in the window I saw some exotic-looking green Indonesian fruit liqueur from the Netherlands, some Marie Brizard liqueurs I'd never seen before, and a really ugly bottle of Pervian pisco that looked like a carved head. Woo! Can't wait to check these guys out.

Don't listen to lies.   David Corn on AlterNet reminds us of what's really going on in Florida in the face of all the spew from George Dubya Bush's Ministry of Truth:

Would [George] Orwell be shocked by how the Bush campaign, the Republicans, and the conservative movement were able to generate via repetition the storyline that Gore was trying to "steal" the election by "changing the rules" to allow for "inaccurate manual recounts"? The Bushies were practicing the Orwellian big-lie technique ("war is peace"), for each of the key elements of their script was demonstrably wrong.

One can only "steal" that which belongs to another. A 500-vote difference in a 6-million vote -- a .008-percent difference -- is not a conclusive win. It is hardly surprising that it should take time to sort out such results. In 1960, a presidential recount in Hawaii required two months... Sorting is not stealing. And there has been no change in the rules. Gore filed protests and, after that, contests, in accordance with state law. (When the Bush legal team opposed Gore's pre-certification protests in Florida, it argued that he had taken his case to court prematurely and that he should have waited for the contest period that follows the certification of the popular vote. But after the certification, when Gore contested the results, the Bush mouthpieces then claimed Gore was dragging out the matter.)

Appearing on an NPR station in Los Angeles, conservative commentator David Frum said that Gore's stay-and-fight stance riled people so much because it symbolized a 40-year trend in which the rules of society have been undermined. (Yep, blame it on the 1960s.) But Frum did not name any rule that Gore had violated. Perhaps it's bad form for Gore to trudge on. Though why does any Republican expect the Democrats to accept such a close-call certification conducted by a Bush campaign official in a state governed by Bush's brother?

Florida law permits candidates to challenge election results. In fact, it allows them much latitude in doing so, and Gore, rightly or wrongly, has afforded himself the opportunity presented by the rules. Moreover, the Florida state Supreme Court did not rewrite the rules after the fact, as Bush spinners repeatedly charge. It reconciled two conflicting aspects of Florida law -- the statute that calls for election results to be certified within a week and the statute that grants candidates and others the right to request a recount up to six days after an election. Courts routinely engage in this type of activity -- cleaning up after sloppy legislatures.

Well, if you're going to start practicing acting "presidential", I guess lying from the get-go is a good way to start.

Quote of the day   for all you collectors of photography:

"I have two very rare photographs: one is a picture of Houdini locking his keys in his car; the other is a rare photograph of Norman Rockwell beating up a child."
-- Steven Wright
  Saturday, December 2, 2000
Get yer cookies here!   Ladies and gentlemen, Rhubarb Catering is finally online!

Listed by Buzz magazine as one of the top 20 caterers in Los Angeles after only a year and a half of existence, Rhubarb is the brainchild of one of my oldest friends, Chef Tracy Callahan (classically trained at the California Culinary Academy and in pastry by Le Cordon Bleu in London) and her hubby David Saltzman. So far the web site is primarily designed to sell Tracy's fabulous cookies and biscotti, and lemme tell ya ... her cookies kick major butt.

Apricot hazelnut biscotti, Biscotti di Limone, butterscotch walnut squares, chocolate chip cookies, chocolate mint cookies, coconut macaroons, crystallized ginger snaps, double ginger biscotti, Island Gems (coconut, walnuts, and chocolate chips in a graham crust), Marbleized Meringues, almond and sour cherry biscotti, double chocolate brownies, shortbread stars, chocolate almond chews, bittersweet chocolate-orange biscotti ... *moan*  All made from scratch, by hand, with the finest fresh ingredients, nothing artificial and no preservatives.

They ship nationwide, and will be accepting orders for Christmas delivery up until December 15th, so check them out, get some cookies for your family and friends, and while you're at it get some for yourself too. Don't eat the whole box in one sitting.

"Down Home" broadcast today!   Please tune in to my folk, roots and traditional music radio program "Down Home" today on KCSN 88.5 FM Los Angeles, via Windows Media streaming audio. I'm on the air from 3 to 5pm California time (5 - 7pm Central, 6 - 8pm Eastern, 2300 - 0100 GMT/UTC), and today I'll be featuring new music from Solas, Sonny Landreth, Jones and Leva and more.

Yum yum yum!   Y'know, I just never eat at McDonald's ('cause life's too short to eat icky food), and despite how much everyone loves their French fries, I have many far better places to go when I allow myself a plate of fries. But jeez ... I might just have to beat a path to the door of my nearest Golden Arches and get me a nice big crispy order of Chicken McNoggins! I bet the beak is particularly crunchy. Yum yum yum!

Here comes Tragedy Boy.   I don't watch all that much TV, but I watch "ER". It's been one of my favorite shows for a while now. I gotta say, though, that I'm in complete agreement with Phyl Behrer's review of the episode before last, "Rescue Me", that she posted on the web site (Danger! Spoilers to follow if you're running behind and haven't watched the tapes yet.):

I have known about this [Mark Greene having a] brain tumor plot for quite some time, and I'll begin by saying that I'm not ever one to say that spoilers are spoiling my enjoyment of the show, because they don't. To the contrary, I've been anticipating this plot precisely so I could ridicule the daylights out of it. Yes, I know that Anthony Edwards will get plenty of mileage out of it, I know it might be written beautifully, and I know viewers will be on the verge of tears week in and week out, but to me, this is yet another nail in the "we've run out of ideas" coffin. Mark has been tagged by others (certainly not by me) as the "moral center" of ER, but he's just turned into Tragedy Boy. We break up your marriage, we make your wife cheat on you, we make you kill a mother in childbirth, we sue you, we beat you up, we sue you again, we make you humorless, we give you a bout of impotence. We give you a string of unsuccessful relationships, we move your daughter away from you. We make you lose your two best friends. We kill off your mother. We kill off your father. Oh, here's some happiness, we give you Elizabeth. Whoa! Not so fast! We give you a brain tumor.

C'mon writers, give the guy a break and think of some better ideas. I do have to admit, though, that the scene where Mark becomes aphasic and rushes to the bathroom to look in the mirror and give himself an impromptu neurological exam was really well-acted by Anthony Edwards, who's been a favorite of mine for a long time. (Does anybody remember "Miracle Mile"? Man, what a great movie!)

See, I'm not crazy!   I distinctly remember a weird superhero cartoon from when I was a very small child. It was called "Super President", and it was about a President of the United States who was also a superhero. He was some kind of shape-shifter who could transform himself into any substance -- gas, rock, steel "or whatever the need required", as the opening narration used to say.

I'd ask friends who are around my age if they remembered it, and invariably I'd get very strange looks, gentle pats on the shoulder and comments that were all but "okay Chuck, it's time to go back to your rubber bedroom." NOBODY remembered this damned cartoon but me!

Well, all praise to Google and the Web. I found not just one but TWO references to this program! It was a double-feature half-hour cartoon called "Super President and Spy Shadow", and ran for one season in 1967 (when I was five). President James Norcross (voiced by the legendary Paul Frees) got his special powers via a "cosmic storm", and only his top White House assistant knew his secret identity. When danger arose he'd drop through a world map-shaped trapdoor in the Oval Office and descend into his secret hideout. He could also fly (with the aid of a jet pack).

See?! See?! I'm not crazy!

Quote of the day:   "'C' is for 'cookie', and that's good enough for me."

-- The Cookie Monster

  Friday, December 1, 2000  ::  World AIDS Day
A Day Without Weblogs In observance of World AIDS Day, Looka! is participating in A Day Without Weblogs (DW^2). The weblog ordinarily found on this page will return tomorrow. Please return then, particularly all you Times-Picayune readers who read about Looka! in yesterday's paper.

DW^2 is the brainchild of Brad L. Graham, and was inspired by A Day Without Art, which was created by the group Visual AIDS in New York City. Each December 1, World AIDS Day, the creative community observes DWA in memory of all those the AIDS pandemic has taken from us. Theatres around the world sit dark and empty. Paintings and photographs are draped with black cloths in galleries. Symphonies are silent. Dancers take no steps.

Today, please take a few minutes to learn about the global AIDS crisis and find out how you can make a difference.

A comprehensive database of AIDS information, updated hourly.

AIDS Project Los Angeles
A non-profit community-based organization that provides vital services to men, women and children living with HIV/AIDS in Los Angeles County.

California AIDS Ride 7
Earlier this year, my good friend Jon Fish participated in the California AIDS Ride, a 7-day bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles to benefit LA Gay & Lesbian Center's Jeffrey Goodman Special Care Clinic and other HIV/AIDS Services of the center. Please visit the wonderful web site he created about his AIDS Ride experiences.

CDC National AIDS Prevention Information Network
From the Centers for Disease Control.

Children With AIDS Project
Information about HIV, AIDS and kids.

Gay Men's Health Crisis
The nation's oldest AIDS service organization.

The NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt
Remembering those we have lost, using the world's largest community art project.

National Minority AIDS Council
How AIDS affects peoples of color.

Needle Exchange & Harm Reduction
Reducing the spread of HIV among IV-drug users.

PAWS-LA! (Pets Are Wonderful Support)
A nonprofit organization in 1989 the greater Los Angeles Area dedicated to brightening and easing the lives of those with HIV/AIDS and their pets, and helping them to live more powerfully and independently by providing compassionate assistance with the care and feeding of their animals.

Links to other online resources and national AIDS service organizations
From The NAMES Project website.

November Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this blog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Steve Gardner, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Eric Labow, Michael Pemberton and Greg Beron.
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