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 @ 3:17pm PST, 2/28/2001

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart (who?)

Looka! Archive

January 2001

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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

Pasta, Risotto & You

Slow Food Int'l. Movement

Zagat Guide


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:

Pot on the Fire: Further Exploits of a Renegade Cook, by John Thorne.

Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal, by Eric Schlosser.

I Am Legend, by Richard Matheson.

The Essential Cuisines of Mexico, by Diana Kennedy.


Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

by Garry B. Trudeau

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"
"Father Ted"
"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
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
Jonno (if you must know)
Lake Effect
LanceLog 2000
The Leaky Cauldron
Mister Pants
MonkeyFist (+ MF Food)
Mr. Barrett
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Robot Wisdom
Strange Brew
The Tao of Upndown
The Other Side
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar
Wild Oats

Matthew's GLB blog portal

<< web loggers >>

Must-reads: (Progressive politics & news)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (stories)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
The Onion (news 'n laffs)

The Final Frontier:

ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now

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

(Just what do you think you're doing, Chuck?)

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

  Ash Wednesday, February 28, 2001
No more King Cakes, dawlin'.   Mardi Gras is over. For observant Catholics, it's the day to go to church and get ashes. For everyone else, it's the day to sleep in and use all the hangover cures you can think of.

As usual, I will be giving up neurosurgery for Lent.

Many years ago my friend Dave went to New Orleans for Mardi Gras and had a great time. He had heard me talking about King Cakes and the King Cake tradition, and had in fact had a piece or two at one of my Mardi Gras parties (although I can't remember whether or not he got da baby). I knew he'd be there for at least a week, so I told him to be sure to have some King Cake while he was there.

Unfortunately, the silly boy, who was coming back home Wednesday night, waited until Wednesday morning to get his King Cake. He went into a local bakery (the venerable McKenzie's, as I recall) and asked for a King Cake. The lady behind the counter laughed and laughed. "Where you from, dawlin'?" she asked. "Dere ain't no mo' King Cakes 'til NEXT year!" King Cakes are available from the first day of Carnival, January 6, until the last day of Carnival, Mardi Gras ... and not one second after.

I'm tellin' ya, we serious about dis shit.

Yeah, I got ya "Happy Mawdi Graw" right here, cap.   My own Mardi Gras was spent cooped up inside my office all day, working nonstop without a proper lunch or dinner break until about 9pm, making my mood most foul. Ugh. (Oh well, at least I brought along some pasta jambalaya I had made for lunch.)

Zoinks.   I know that they're on the West Coast just like L.A., but for some reason I never think of the possibility of earthquakes happening in Seattle. Oddly enough, as soon as I heard the news a couple of hours after it happened, the first thought that entered my head was a song I used to hear on the Dr. Demento Show when I was a kid:  "Wasn't That A Mighty Day When The Needle Hit The Ground", by Mike & Maggie. Fortunately, that was not the case:

Rick Harris, Space Needle spokesman, told CNN he and a group of tourists had been trapped on top of the tower for about 25 minutes immediately following the quake. Harris said the needle swayed from side to side and it "felt like it was moving up and down too." Although Harris said the tourists were very frightened, they all made it down from the tower without injury.

I'm glad everyone's okay.

Oh, didn't it rain.   It's been very soggy in L.A. for the past week or so. Barry writes in to say that according to KPBS radio in San Diego "L.A. was the wettest city on the West coast receiving some 13 odd inches of rain since January 1. This contrasts starkly with Seattle that's gotten about 4."

Hmm. We get their rain, they get our earthquakes. I like this deal.

AIEEE! THE MAN IN THE WASHING MACHINE!!   I saw a commercial yesterday for a new product called Wisk Tablets. They're solid pills of laundry detergent about the size of a hockey puck, and you just drop 'em into your washing machine. Sounds convenient (although I bet they stink of perfume).

I hadn't seen a product like this for years. When I was a very little kid, there was also such a product, called Salvo (which apparently didn't work very well, often failing to dissolve and leaving a gloppy soapy mess behind on the clothes at the end of the rinse/spin cycle). They used to have a commercial that ended with a shot of a top-loading washing machine, which then opened by itself. A man's hand emerged from inside the washing machine, holding a cake of Salvo.

That commercial used to scare the shit out of me when I was little. I used to be afraid to go into the laundry room.

I got a distinct chill when I saw that goddamn Wisk commercial.

Déjà vu, déjà whine.   It amuses me to listen to the howls of protest from hardcore users about the fact that it was acquired by Google and that the Usenet archive will be temporarily unavailable for the next month or so.

My favorite line was "...many people, who relied on having ready access to the archive, say Usenet archives are too important to be entrusted to a single commercial concern." Uh, isn't that what Deja was? Just relax, people. Would you rather have had Deja just go under as planned, and the archive lost forever?

He reads! He reads!   Here is my favorite line from The Blank Stare's address to last night's joint session of Congress:

Some say my tax plan is too big, others say it is too small. I respectfully disagree. This plan is just right.

Even though it's claimed that this man does not read books, we can all rest in confidence that he has at least read "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" (or at least his speechwriter has).

I guess this is how they'll try to sell this thing to us -- by assuming that the American public is as simpleminded as Shrub.

Poppy's fishy pardons.   Bill Clinton doesn't have a monopoly on issuing shady presidential pardons. Poppy Bush, in his day, pardoned a Watergate felon, an exiled Cuban terrorist, and a Pakistani heroin dealer, not to mention Cap Weinberger ... who was about to go on trial and who very likely would have implicated Bush Sr. in the Iran-Contra affair.

How come nobody screamed in outrage about all that?

  Fat Tuesday, February 27, 2001  ::  Le Mardi Gras!
JOYEUX MARDI GRAS!   Happy Mardi Gras, y'all!

It's happening in New Orleans today -- starting off at 8am with the commencement of the parade by the Krewe of Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club, followed by Rex, King of Carnival. The parades are taking place all over the city and in outlying regions, and the partying gets hard in the French Quarter, with huge crowds, wacky costumes, and copious amounts of nudity. It ranges from the fun and traditional, like Pete Fountain's Half-Fast Marching Club (which parades on foot through the Quarter every Mardi Gras) to some of the slightly more wild celebrations. Take your family to the parades for one side of the spectrum, or brave the debauchery of the Quarter for the other. There's something there for everyone!

It's all different out in rural Acadiana, where many small towns like Mamou there are no parades or trinkets thrown. The Mardi graditino there goes back centuries, to medieval France, and is called Le Courir de Mardi Gras, or Mardi Gras Ride. If everything you know about Mardi Gras in Louiisiana is based on only having been to New Orleans, you don't know the half of it. Check out Le Courir ... ça passe un fois par an, pour demander la charité...

What Mardi Gras is NOT all about.   We New Orleanians welcome visitors to our city to join in our celebrations, but unfortunately it's out-of-town visitors who are beginning to define Mardi Gras to the world by their behavior. Seems that nobody (at least nobody I've run into out here in talks about parades or krewes or King Cakes or catching throws or doubloons or anything else but people exposing themselves. My eyeballs roll skyward.

The media get the credit for a lot of this, of course. It's far more titillating (no pun intended) and ratingsworthy to show censored shots of some flashing tourists than to show, say, a parade.

Mardi Gras is a great New Orleans cultural celebration, with a long and distinguished history, great traditions and rituals. It's about celebrating the city's history and the fun spirit of New Orleans, and if you wanna get all Catholic it has its roots in getting all your partying and meat-eating done before the penitence and self-sacrifice of the Lenten season.

Listen up, now ... there is a LOT more to Mardi Gras than people coming in from out of town, getting hideously drunk and vomiting and peeing on the street, and it's not just about female tourists flashing their tits, either.

So go, learn a little about the rest of Mardi Gras and what the locals do, have fun, have some drinks, keep your liquor and stomach contents inside your own body and don't use my French Quarter resident friends' front stoop as your toilet.

How not to get arrested in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.   No matter how many entirely justified horror stories you may have heard about people's treatment at the hands of the New Orleans Police Department, during Carnival season and especially on Mardi Gras day, New Orleans cops are the best in the world.

They work lots of overtime, but despite being overworked during Carnival they are surprisingly tolerant. They keep the peace better that just about any other police force. Still, amazingly, people (usually tourists) manage to get arrested.

Here's what'll get you a direct trip to Central Lockup:

1. Urinating in public. If you get seen, you're going to jail. The cops will berate you, too. "Where you from? Atlanta? Do you want me to come to Atlanta and pee in YOUR neighborhood?" Etc. Y'know, I have friends who live in the Quarter and on parade routes. Don't pee in their yards or on their front doorstep, or I'll cheer and applaud as you're taken to jail.

2. Anything remotely violent. If you get too drunk and throw a punch, or throw a bottle, or anything remotely like that, the cops'll swarm on you in a feeding frenzy.

3. Exposing yourself. Lots of people get away with it, and lots of cops look the other way. But they're supposed to be cracking down on it, so it's probably a good idea to keep your dick and/or tits inside your clothes.

4. Obvious stuff like theft or vandalism.

And that's about it.

Happy birthday, Zack!   Just got a phone call from my old friend Matt this afternoon -- our friends Julie and Jim are now the proud parents of Zachary Carson May, born this morning at about 6:20am. Not too bad to be born on Mardi Gras, kiddo! Unfortunately, the next time Mardi Gras falls on your birthday, you'll be 62.

Email of the week.   A gentleman named Paul wrote in this week to say:

Great info on the history of the Sazerac. I own a bar in San Francisco and plan on serving it as our special of the night on Tuesday. With your thorough discription of the proper way to make this classic, I am sure our customers will enjoy the Sazerac in a very authentic way, I guess its the next best thing to being in New Orleans.

This is why I enjoy doing this web site so much.

Besides owning the joint, Paul tends bar at The Slow Club at 2501 Mariposa St. in San Francisco, just west of Potrero in the Mission. If you're in town, go have a Sazerac and tell him I sent you! (The menu looks fabulous, too ... and you don't need reservations 'cause they don't take 'em.)

His Lame Majesty.   The Krewe of Bacchus has been a favorite parade of mine and a lot of New Orleanians since I was a little kid. They were the first krewe to get a celebrity to be their king, and in the old days they had GREAT kings -- Danny Kaye, Phil Harris, Jackie Gleason, Ed McMahon. Every now and again, though, they had a dud (Perry Como? King of Wine and Merriment? The guy's practically been in a coma his entire life.), but the duds have gotten more and more frequent (they had Chuck Heston in '83; I wonder if he was armed under his costume).

The worst king ever was in 1981 -- some U.S. Marine sergeant who had been a hostage in Iran. I suppose the krewe's heart was in the right place, but the guy stood at attention in his dress blues on the King's float during the entire parade. Sheesh. It's been every-second-year lame of late, with John Larroquette and Drew Carey being good kings I'd want to see.

This year it was ... Larry King. Sheesh. Not only can I not see him as a reveler, I get the feeling that if he so much as danced with his wine goblet aloft for more than 30 seconds (or did something equally strenuous, like ask a truly hardball question of one of his interviewees), he'd keel over and have to have a sixteenth heart bypass operation. I'll have to ask Jonno if King was a decent King.

Y'all, keep thinking along the lines of Larroquette and Harry Connick Jr. How 'bout we get more famous locals (Emeril Lagasse would be a natural), or celebs who are fun? Larry King seems to me to be about as fun as a prostate exam.

Apocalypse Wow!   Francis Ford Coppola will debut a newly re-edited version of "Apocalypse Now" at the Cannes Film Festival.

The new version, which will be 53 minutes longer than the first version, "did not merely reintegrate scenes left out of the original edit, but had been completely re-edited using original material."

I don't get the George Lucasized "special edition" feel from this one. Apparently Coppola has been wanting to do this since the film was first released. I can't wait!

Clueless George.   George W. Bush's first press conference has been described as "not a total disaster, nothing truly horrifying", but was a clear demonstration that Bush is very good at not answering questions (apparently because he doesn't know the answers), very good at checking his notes and only saying things that are written in his notes. The press conference "did nothing to erase the impression of a man who can't be bothered to actually read up on the laws he's signing."

He non-answered around just about every lightweight question that most of the reporters asked, and floundered completely after one question from a BBC reporter (who apparently wasn't interested in coddling him):

"Mr. President," said a reporter with the BBC, "you have a meeting with Prime Minster Blair tomorrow -- "

"Correct," Bush said.

"There are some concerns in this country about the European plan for what they call a rapid-reaction force, their own military capability. What will you tell Prime Minister Blair about the American attitude to this rapid-reaction force?"

Again, Bush didn't answer the question; it must not have been on his cheat sheets. "I, first, look forward to the visit," Bush said. "I'm anxious to meet the prime minister. We've had a couple of good conversations on the telephone. I'm thankful that he's coming across the -- actually coming down from Canada -- but coming across to see, to visit us. Laura and I are looking to having a private dinner with he and Mrs. Blair Friday night. We'll be having a press availability after our meeting, and -- "

"I know, but I think a lot of people would like to -- "

"Well, why don't we wait until after he and I visit," Bush said, "so I don't have to give the same answer twice."

"But just on the whole outline of the question of the European defense capability -- "

"You bet," said the president. "I understand; you're trying to get me to tell you the answer twice. Britain and the United States have got a special relationship; we'll keep it that way. I look forward to talking to the prime minister about the importance of NATO. It is -- anyway, let me visit with him first. I promise to call upon you tomorrow."

An informal poll of White House reporters indicated that 100 percent were confident Bush had absolutely no idea what the BBC reporter was talking about.

I find this to be profoundly disturbing.

  Monday, February 26, 2001
Happy Lundi Gras!   It's the day before Mardi Gras, and today you should be at your penultimate level of getting your ya-yas out before you spend the next forty days ignoring Lent.

Traditionally the boeuf gras, or fatted calf, is paraded down the streets today, so have a really big, heavy, fatty beef dish today. May I recommend Crawfish-stuffed Filet Mignon with Crawfish Sauce Bordelaise?

Have a Sazerac or three first.

The funkiest band alive.   I decided on a whim to celebrate Lundi Gras by listening to lots of great music from New Orleans, and on the way out the door this morning I grabbed all my Meters records, especially all the individual albums that were reissued by Sundazed this past year.

The original Meters -- Art Neville, George Porter Jr., Leo Nocentelli and Joseph "Zigaboo" Modeliste -- funkified our lives like no others. The band lives on in another incarnation today as the "funky Meters", with two of the original members still playing and with guitarist Nocentelli replaced by former Neville Brothers guitarist Brian Stoltz, and drummer Modeliste (the funkiest drummer in history) replaced by Russell Batiste Jr.

"The Meters", "Look-ka Py Py", "Struttin'", "Fire on the Bayou", "Cabbage Alley", "Rejuvenation"... I'm gonna have a good listenin' day. The last three were in my "Reissues of the Year" section of my list of Favorite Records of 2000, which is not quite finished (the records are there, but there's not much commentary yet)

I love green eggs! (Ham optional.)   When we were visiting our friends in Albuquerque last week, Sean finally made me a Hopi omelette. It was my first proper one, as my own attempts to make one were, shall we say, disastrous.

I tried it last year and slavishly (foolishly) followed Sean's exact directions, not taking into account the difference in altitude between Albuquerque and Los Angeles (5,000 feet vs. roughly sea level). High altitude cooking takes a lot longer than sea level cooking, as I should have remembered from a few years ago when it took me an hour to make them some porcini mushroom risotto.

A simple Hopi Indian-style omelette consists of fine-grind blue cornmeal whisked into eggs and cooked like a frittata. It's a thing of bizarre beauty, and you've probably never eaten anything like it (blue corn + egg whites + yellow egg yolks = green eggs, if you have some trouble picturing how it'll turn out). On my first attempt I cooked this thing until it sort of polymerized into a small green plastic garbage can cover that popped right out of my cast-iron skillet and was completely inedible.

This time, though, it came out perfect ('cause Sean knows what he's doing), and we took altitude differences into account when teaching me how to do it. Sean adds a few extras to his Hopi omelette, like mushrooms and leeks, and offers you his own version of the Hopi omelette ... the Abracadomelette! It's fun to make, and the recipe's fun to read:

Times may vary significantly by altitude -- open the oven and check the texture every few minutes. If you overcook it, you'll end up with a big hard chewy spongiform disc.

If done right, the end product will look like an experiment in extruding polymers into a vacuum, and will be a color unknown in nature. Equals yummy!

Look for blue corn flour at your local gourmet or specialty food market, or try Wild Oats. We made it with some delicious roasted blue corn flour for making atole, which is available from the Indians of the San Juan Pueblo via Casados Farms, El Guique, PO Box 852, San Juan Pueblo, NM 87566. Call (505) 852-2433 and ask for a catalog.

Speaking of atole, it's warm, incredibly filling and great for cold weather. You can make it with either yellow (if you find it) or blue corn flour thusly:

Atole (ah-TOH-leh)

1/4 cup blue corn atole flour
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups boiling, salted water
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups milk, approximately
Sugar to taste

1. Dissolve atole flour in water in a medium-sized saucepan. Add to boiling, salted water and cook for 3 minutes at medium heat. Add baking soda and stir briskly.

2. Place milk and salt in a small saucepan and scald, but do not boil.

3. Serve thickened mixture with hot milk. sugar, or both.

Atole may be served with sugar as a beverage or served with milk and sugar as porridge.

Yield: 4 servings
Cooking Time: Approximately 5 minutes
Temperature: Medium

Once you've tasted basic atole, start experimenting with flavors. One site about blue corn I found said, "Aztecs and Mayas often added other ingredients like chile, honey or chocolate. Each atole had a special name, depending on its ingredients."

Sean adds a few important points: "The weird part about this is that the atole flour seems to not really dissolve at all, at first -- I mean, once you stir it so there's no clumps, it looks like it's just purple water with stuff on the bottom, and stuff floating on top. And once you apply the hot water, still nothing. But at the very end of those three minutes of cooking, it just sets, and its texture changes completely.

"I made some last night, especially as it's getting cold out; and this is definitely a cold-weather drink. Hooboy, there's so much starch in it, I felt like I'd eaten nine bowls of pasta. I needed a nap, even though I'd only been up a few hours.

"BTW, this is all very theoretical unless you can get atole flour. And I'm not really sure that atole flour is simply blue corn flour, as the above recipe implies. I think it also has to be roasted, which is what makes it "atole flour". In any case, the package of the good stuff I have here (15 oz, "Harina para Atole: Roasted Blue Corn Meal") has an address of the people who grow it and make it, Casados Farms." (Address supplied above.)

It's gonna be cold and rainy again tonight; a storm blew into town this past weekend. I think I'll have some atole.

Speaking of New Mexican food, here's a site with a bunch of terrific recipes to get you started. Check Latino markets for fresh and dried New Mexico chiles, which you'll need for lots of dishes.

Here's how to make blue corn tortillas, blue corn bread (from Chef Mark Miller of Santa Fe's Coyote Cafe) and blue corn waffles with fruit butter.

Dinner at Dr. Lecter's for adults only.   The Aussies have toughened up the rating of "Hannibal" after its first week in theatres.

Beethoven and Wagner top German record sales charts!   Whoops ... never mind.

Sneaky Opera.   I got an email from Laurel the other day advising me not to trust my server logs when it comes to registering accesses by Opera browsers.

Apparently Opera has a setting in its preferences which allows it to masquerade as if it were Netscape or IE. Wonder why? Well, this is for all those doofuses out there who won't let certain browsers access their sites ("Don't even bother coming in here without MSIE 5", and crap like that.), even though Opera (when fully implemented) is perfectly capable of handling Java, Javascript, etc. I hate sites that do that.

So Opera's a clever little bugger, ain't it? I'm still evaluating, and won't be able to make up my mind until everything works. Sure is fast, though.

Quote/link of the day.   Nicked from NTK:

Q: Will the virus impact my Macintosh if I am using a non-Microsoft e-mail program, such as Eudora?

A: If you are using a Macintosh e-mail program that is not from Microsoft, we recommend checking with that particular company. But most likely other e-mail programs like Eudora are not designed to enable virus replication.

-- From

NTK adds, "Email client not spreading viruses properly? Upgrade to Outlook today!"

  Friday, February 23, 2001
Happy Birthday, sweetie!   My adorable baby sister Melissa turns 29 today, the age that, if she is anything like her mother, she will remain for the rest of her life. :-)

I love it.   A compendium of haiku movie reviews.

The muse moves me ... may I contribute one for "Hannibal"?

Dr. Lecter dines:
Caviar, foie gras and brains;
Such the epicure.

Somalia's idea of justice.   Two Somali women accused of the "crime" of having a lesbian relationship have been found guilty of "unnatural behaviour" and sentenced to death. Sometime next week it will be announced when they will be put to death by firing squad.

Hundreds packed the court in the northern coastal town of Boosaaso earlier this week to hear the case. They cheered as the judge handed down death sentences on the two women.
American troops died to protect this?

UPDATE -- (2/23/01, 2:48pm PST) The above link now points to a story that retracts the earlier one; apparently police and courts in the cited town and province in Somalia have denied that such a case ever existed. Sheesh, you think you can believe what you read on the Beeb -- apparently they were parroting a newspaper in Mogadishu that seems to have made the story up.

Decide for yourself.   This is the photograph that Rudy Giuliani doesn't want you to see.

The wiring of the Teeming Masses.   Apparently 56 percent of the U.S. population now have Internet access, a tidbit of trivia which the SF Gate Morning Fix annotates thusly:

...37 percent of whom are still TYPING IN ALL CAPS and are all right this minute spamming all their friends with lame email jokes from 1992 and forwarding on that hoax about the 5-cent email tax and the 'proof' that Harry Potter turns kids into Satanists and that scary people are stealing people's kidneys in Las Vegas and that Nina Totenberg is pleading for more funding for NPR.

Not to mention the Craig Shergold thing. I actually got one of those several months ago. Sheesh. I wanted to grab the sender and shake him.

Idle hands...   Presumably because Dick Cheney isn't giving him enough to do, The Blank Stare gave an interview to Bob Costas about matters of earthshattering national importance in which he said he wouldn't intervene in baseball strike negotiations. He also said that he wouldn't want to be baseball commissioner (because I guess the job is even more powerless than that of Texas governor), and that he wouldn't pardon Pete Rose.

By next month I imagine that Cheney'll assign him busy work. Multiplication tables, maybe a few three-paragraph essays (he'll be graded on spelling and grammar).

We be jammin'.   Too bad that this is illegal in the United States.

Insanity and ear amputation coming to Vancouver!   It seems that the province of British Columbia is on the verge of legalizing absinthe for import and sale.

It'll be amusing to see if there's any temperence hoo-hah, as the stuff made today is relatively harmless. I can only see this as a good thing, though, since it may well put the brakes on all those idiots who want to try to make absinthe in their bathtubs and people who drink pure wormwood oil (which is poisonous) while trying to get high.

  Thursday, February 22, 2001
I'm glad it's not just me.   Columnist James Lileks was also appalled to see a small child brought to see "Hannibal". In his case it was a three-year-old rather than the ten-year-old I saw, but I'm glad there are other people out there who think that some films are for adults only, and are inappropriate for little kids.

Too little, too late?   Let's hope not. Today Opera for the Mac, blurbed as "the world's fastest browser", is finally released in an alpha preview version.

I've had it with Netscape, and I've been using iCab, which is not perfect either. IE is faster than Netscape, but I don't like its propensity to just sit there and lock up for seconds at a time (in addition to my dislike for Microsoft products in general), so I'm hoping Opera will do the trick.

I'm a bit disheartened by my server stats, though -- of all the people who access my site, only 0.01% of them do so with Opera, about the same number as people who access it via Lynx. *sigh*

Do they make straitjackets in his size?   Minnesota Governor Jesse "The Mind, formerly known as The Body" Ventura has ordered that journalists who cover his events wear a special badge identifying them as "Official Jackal" and which also feature a full-length photo of the governor.

Forthcoming proclamations from the governor will undoubtedly include:  1) Every Minnesotan under 16 years old will now be 16 years old; 2) The official language of Minnesota will now be Swedish; and 3) Everyone in Minnesota will be required to change their underwear every half-hour; underwear will subsequently be worn on the outside, so that police can check.

There's a lesson to be learned here.   If your dog is going to try to cook, teach him how to do it properly.

Rocket scientists at the DQ.   Employment standards for the minimum-wage workers at Dairy Queen need a little tightening up. They need to be taught that you shouldn't accept a $200 bill with George W. Bush's picture on it, and furthermore you shouldn't give back $198 in real cash as change for a $2 purchase made with such a bill.

"FUKUI-SAN!" "Take it away, big fella!"   I had a very strange dream the other night.

I dreamed that Jeff Manning, the voice-over artist who dubs the voice of sidelines reporter Shinichiro Ota on "Iron Chef", called me at home. He started providing me custom play-by-play of an Iron Chef battle that was currently in progress but ignored all my questions, which ranged from "Which Iron Chef is battling?" to "Um, why are you calling me?" Finally, I turned on my radio on for some reason, and it was broadcasting my phone conversation with Manning/Ota ... on the NPR station to which my clock radio is usually tuned. That's all I remember.

Some might suggest that I watch too much "Iron Chef", but I'd have to disagree; it's my favorite show, after all. Speaking of which ... last week's battle was fantastic! I can't wait for next Friday (I'm very deliberately avoiding spoilers here).

  Wednesday, February 21, 2001
Back from Albuquerque.   A fun visit with my friends, lots of great New Mexico music on KANW, even more green chile (from Garcia's, Frontier, Blake's, C.J.'s/Peña's and the Owl Cafe) and 1.5 Frontier sweet rolls swimming in butter (I couldn't finish the second one).

Not to mention an ice chest full of frozen green and red chile, a coupla great cookbooks, some roasted blue corn atole and other various Southwest foodstuffs. A splendid time was had by all.

The culinary misery of travel by car.   Unless you bring your own food when you take a long car trip, chances are you're going to get a bad meal -- it seems like 99% of the time you're going to get stuck in one of the vile fast food chains that cluster around every highway exit. If you're lucky, you'll end up at a place like Red Robin or Country Home (mediocre as they are), and if you're truly damned it'll be McInedible's and Taco Hell.

It is very much worth your while to drive around a bit and try to find some local, independent little mom 'n pop restaurants if you can. We lucked out in Kingman, Arizona by happening to find a wonderful little place called Mi Sarita Homestyle Mexican Food, right across the highway from a Taco Bell. The food isn't anything new or innovative -- if you've had good Mexican food before you'll recognize everything on the menu. It was just wonderfully prepared, very fresh-tasting and full of seasoning -- perfectly crisp tortilla chips and taco shells without a trace of grease, delicious and incendiary home-made salsas, nice people and good Mexican music playing to boot.

Why anyone would eat at a Taco Hell when this place is just a couple of minutes away is beyond me. Please, take a few extra minutes to drive around the little town where you stop for lunch. Avoid the major chains and avoid fast food like the plague. Support independent businesses.

If you're travelling on the I-40 and pass through Kingman, Arizona, make sure to stop at Mi Sarita's -- it's just off Exit 53, Andy Devine Road, just north of the interstate at 3051 Armour Blvd. a block off Devine (turn left at the Terrible Herbst Country Store and go one block). I highly recommend the chicken tacos, with both red and green salsa.

Battlefield Band: Good and Bad News   The good news is that the Batties have a fine new album out, entitled "Happy Daze". There's been another membership change, too -- the Batties have a talent for making huge strides and changes in their sound with their recent membership changes, while still remaining who they are and very true to their sound. Karine Polwart is the band's first female singer, and I'm really looking forward to hearing how this sounds live (she sounds great on the new record).

The bad news is that their wonderful singer/songwriter Davy Steele (former lead singer of Ceolbeg), who fell ill with a stroke last year, is far more ill than I had thought. I hadn't heard much about his condition since the middle of last year, and a little digging revealed that Davy's far sicker than I knew -- after his stroke he was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and by this point is unable to walk or speak. You can leave messages for Davy and his family at the Davy Steele Message Board (which he reads whenever he is able, although unfortunately not much now).

My very best wishes go out to Davy and his family during this very difficult time. Revel in his music with any of the Ceolbeg albums on which he sang, and the two wonderful Battlefield Band albums "Rain, Hail and Shine" and "Leaving Friday Harbour".

Unbelievable.   The Catholic Church, usually happy to interfere with the separation between church and state when it suits them, is asking the California Supreme Court to dismiss a suit by a priest who was disciplined for reporting a colleague for suspected child abuse.

The priest who sued was, in fact, required by law to report any case of suspected child molestation, and should never have been disciplined by his superiors for doing what was both legally and morally right. The Church apparently doesn't want the courts involved in their "private business"; legally, they may have a point, but morally, their position couldn't possibly be more repugnant.

  Saturday, February 17, 2001
Tsinöhtaiô'o heaahwas. (Happy birthday, Mouse!)   My friend Jordan, who is my gracious host in Albuquerque at the moment, celebrates (in his usual low-key manner) his birthday today. Tentative plans include dinner with lots of green chile and sopaipillas, and seeing a great New Orleans-based Latino/R&B band called The Iguanas at a club called The Launchpad later on.

Incidentally, the subject line is my extremely feeble way of mentioning Jordan's birthday in Unyææshæötká', the language of the West Virginia Mingo, an extremely endangered Native American language in which Jordan specializes in his linuistics work. (Referencing his nickname "Mouse", I said something like "Small burrowing animal, he's having a birthday." Well, it was a nice try.)

Today on "Down Home".   Well, my being in Albuquerque makes doing my radio show rather difficult today, so Frank Hoppe, the host of "Bluegrass, Etc." on Sunday mornings from 7:30am - 10:00am, has graciously agreed to step in as guest host. Frank will be sharing lots of his record collection that he doesn't usually get to share on his own program, and I'm looking forward to hearing it myself (in fact, I think I'll tune in via the web (you'll need the Windows Media Player), and I recommend you do that too... 3:00 - 5:00pm PST (2300 GMT/UTC) today!

  Thursday, February 15, 2001
Love's a bitch.   No, that's not some kind of post-Valentine's day lament. It's the English title of an amazing film I saw yesterday called "Amores Perros", which is Mexico's official entry for the Best Foreign-Language Film Oscar.

Director Alejandro González Iñárritu weaves together three stories, whose characters (and their dogs) cross paths in the horrific car accident that's the central life-changing event of the film. It's perhaps the most outstanding film I've seen so far this year -- an intricately crafted story, beautifully directed and photographed, with top-notch performances and a really engaging soundtrack. It blows away just about everything that's been nominated for Oscars this year, and makes me wonder why we seem to have so much trouble making movies this good in this country.

One comment in a review I read stood out, and I agree with it completely:  "...though its three intertwined tales -- and sometimes the situations -- might immediately lead you to think "Mexican 'Pulp Fiction'", this comparison would do a disservice to Amores Perros. The film is that good."

It's won a ton of awards already, and I fear it'll get buried in the Oscars because of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" -- I'd certainly consider a vote for "Perros" for Best Foreign-Language Film and "Tiger" for Best Picture.

"Amores Perros" is superb -- go see it. It opens in New York on March 30 and nationwide on April 13 (which, oddly enough, is after the Oscars).

Quote of the day.   "Reintegration complete," ZORAC advised. "We're back in the universe again ..." An unusually long pause followed, "... but I don't know which part. We seem to have changed our position in space." A spherical display in the middle of the floor illuminated to show the starfield surrounding the ship.

"Several large, artificial constructions are approaching us," ZORAC announced after a short pause. "The designs are not familiar, but they are obviously the products of intelligence. Implications: we have been intercepted deliberately by a means unknown, for a purpose unknown, and transferred to a place unknown by a form of intelligence unknown. Apart from the unknowns, everything is obvious."

-- James P. Hogan, Giants' Star

  Wednesday, February 14, 2001  ::  Valentine's Day
Happy Valentine's Day.   If you were planning on taking your sweetie to dinner at a romantic restaurant, today's Los Angeles Times Food section tells us about how miserable tonight is for the folks who run the romantic restaurants.

Joyeux anniversaire, Mike!   Happy birthday wishes go out to musician Michael Doucet of the Cajun band BeauSoleil, who turns 50 today.

*collapse into bed*   Sorry y'all ... the little treatise on chocolate I was planning to write last night had to go on the back burner. I had to work until 11pm, and then I just went home and fell asleep. If I can't get to it tonight (which is likely), I'll do it next week after I get back from Albuquerque.

Tentative title is "Why Hershey's Chocolate Sucks". Provocative, ain't it?

To hold you over,   the Food section offers a selection of delectable chocolate recipes, urging us to eat as much chocolate as we can while it's still romantic and sensual, "before it's considered a health food" (yeah, like that's ever gonna happen).

*gasp* ... TINTIN! Qu'est-ce que tu fait?!!   Belgian police (who apparently don't have much real crime to deal with this week) have seized a cache of "forged" comic books featuring the character Tintin. "Generally a model of propriety", Tintin is depicted in these comics on holiday in Bangkok ... um, being naughty.

Quote of the day.   An exchange I read on on Usenet:

"I read ... that [Gourmet Academy Chairman Takeshi] Kaga is really an actor, and that the producers actually choose the Iron Chefs and run the show. If this is true, then does that mean that there is really no Gourmet Academy and that Kaga is not the Chairman of that allegedly non-existent academy?"

"Oh, next thing you know they'll be telling me that the WWF is fake."

  Tuesday, February 13, 2001
Da Osca Nominations.   Quick reactions:   "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" should have been nominated for Best Picture, and I dunno about "Erin Brockovitch". And wouldn't it be a hoot if "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" actually won?

Get your complete list of Academy Award® nominations here; the Official Academy Awards® site is hopelessly slow this morning.

Mmmm, chocolate!   Have American palates for chocolate been ruined by the awful Hershey's chocolate, which is practically our only choice for mass-produced domestic chocolate?

There's an article about a blind taste test of chocolates which is interesting, but which I think has some deceiving results. They talk about how Hershey's rated highly, but fail to mention that the "cheapest" milk chocolate that was rated highest of all was from Trader Joe's, listed merely as "Imported from Belgium", but which is, I believe, their own packaging of bulk-purchased Callebaut chocolate -- one of the very best.

Valrhona, one of the very best in the world, did rate highly in their test of "dark" chocolates (and hightest in their test of "semisweet" ones), although in one test not as highly as Ghirardelli. Well, Ghirardelli's certainly better than Hershey's.

I have to question the taste testers' tastes here. I participated in a similar test in my pastry classes a few years back, and the people in my class almost unanimously voted Hershey's as the worst chocolate of our batch (which was also far larger than that which was used for this article -- we tasted at least 15 chocolates). The most memorable quote was "sits on your tongue like a piece of wax", while the Valrhona and Callebaut melted beautifully, with an intense chocolate flavor.

I'll write a little more on the subject of chocolate tomorrow.

"Official Fine Food Purveyor to Hannibal the Cannibal."   That would be Dean and Deluca, who could very easily adopt this as their new ad blurb. (Hey, if I were Messrs. Dean or Deluca, I'd be pleased to have customers with the fine palate of someone like Dr. Lecter. :-)

Jason points out all the product placement in "Hannibal", but I have to say that the Dean and Deluca reference amused me more than anything else. They certainly do sell the right things -- truffles, foie gras, caviar, Sauternes -- to go with one's ... umm, organ meats.

I'm not sure I'd consider the scenes depicting Agent Starling using Microsoft Internet Explorer to do web searches to be pure product placement, though. I'd rather see a film character use a real and realistic web browsing system than the absurd fictional interfaces that have been used in nearly every movie until very recently. It's realistic for her to use MSIE (according to my server stats, nearly 72% of those who access my site do so with MSIE 5 or 4).

However, I found the use of NetZero to be less realistic. I don't know a single person who uses it, and I can't remember the last time I've gotten an "" email from a reader (your mileage may vary).

They did it!   They actually managed to land the NEAR spacecraft on Eros! It touched down at around 5mph (which wouldn't even scratch my Bug's bumper), and continued to send a signal to Earth. Neat neat neat!

Bushisms of the week.   The Blank Stare's been busy with his erudition of late:

"One reason I like to highlight reading is, reading is the beginnings of the ability to be a good student. And if you can't read, it's going to be hard to realize dreams; it's going to be hard to go to college. So when your teachers say, read -- you ought to listen to her."
-- Nalle Elementary School, Washington, D.C., February 9, 2001

"We're concerned about AIDS inside our White House -- make no mistake about it."
-- Washington, D.C., February 7, 2001, after quickly reversing an announced decision to close the White House AIDS office after an eruption of bad press

"I appreciate that question because I, in the state of Texas, had heard a lot of discussion about a faith-based initiative eroding the important bridge between church and state."
-- Question and answer session with the press, January 29, 2001

What bridge is that, George? The one ... that's prohibited by our Constitution?

Well, he did one thing right this week.   Dubya said that he doesn't support a Congressional investigation into the final days of Clinton's term, especially the pardons.

Don't get me wrong -- Clinton fucked up, but good. He so thoroughly tainted what remained of his legacy by pardoning Marc Rich (and a few others who seemed wholly undeserving) that it may never recover, but I believe we should let history judge him (including the people who now seem disinclined to pay him $100-250,000 for a speech). If it weren't for these smelly pardons, he might have been able to protect history's view of him.

All this talk of amending the Constitution to prevent that kind of pardon-abuse from happening again is absurd, though -- the Repubs foam at the mouth about amending the Constitution far too often (like for that stupid flag-burning amendment they want). Amending the Constitution tends to be for the reason of extending rights, not restricting them. The President's right to absolute pardons has been in place for over 200 years. Don't mess with it just because Clinton used it irresponsibly.

Speaking of a flag-burning amendment... With the mention of that I'm reminded that one of the very first laws passed after the Nazi Party victory in Germany in 1932/1933 was RGB 1-I, 548, Statutory Criminal Law of Germany, which reads as follows:

Whoever publicly profanes the Reich or one of the states incorporated into it, its constitution, colors or flag or the German armed forces, or maliciously and with premeditation exposes them to contempt, shall be punished by imprisonment.
Compare this to the text of the United States' Flag Protection Act of 1989 (later struck down by the Supreme Court), a law so absurd and broad that it would make a child who cut up a paper flag for a patriotic collage into a felon:

Whoever knowingly mutilates, defaces, physically defiles, burns, or maintains on the floor or ground, or tramples upon any flag of the United States shall be fined under this title or imprisoned for not more than one year, or both.
The former is not a precedent I'd want to be following, me.

Incidentally, being upset by flag-burning must be traditional among Nazis. As I recall, when David Duke managed to get himself elected for one brief term as a Louisiana state legislator, one of the only bills (if not the only one) he introduced was to reduce the penalty for assault to a mere $25 ... as long as you were assaulting someone who was burning a flag.

  Monday, February 12, 2001
An amazing job.   The astronauts on the Atlantis successfully installed the "Destiny" module of Space Station Alpha on Saturday.

There's a really cool CG animation of what the astronauts had to do -- the module had to be lifted from the shuttle bay with the robot arm with two inches of clearance, so they could only move it at 1/100th of an inch per second. Then it had to be flipped end over end and rotated, then gentle docked with the station; then the robot arm took a docking ring off the station hub and attached it to the rear of Destiny so that the next module could be connected.

If the astronauts were to have damaged the module while moving it, there would have been no replacement possible (it cost $1.4 billion). The shuttle commander said "We try not to think about [it]".

Now, for amazing job #2?   Today NASA engineers plan to attempt to land the NEAR Shoemaker spacecraft on the asteroid Eros at 3 to 7mph, even though the craft has no landing gear and wasn't designed for it. Touchdown is set for 3:04pm today, and it'll be amazing if they pull it off.

Will "The Motionless Picture" actually move now?   If you were disappointed with Robert Wise's 1979 film "Star Trek: The Motion Picture", you weren't the only one.

Due to studio pressures, it was rushed into release in what Wise considered a grossly unfinished condition, and now he's finally had a chance to rectify that -- Paramount will soon release a DVD of the director's cut of the film. At first I was just curious, but now I'm looking forward to seeing it. I remain skeptical as to how the director's cut can inject some emotion into that emotionless twaddle, but if he pulled it off it'd be ... well, fascinating.

Am I just an old fart?   We saw "Hannibal" yesterday, which I thought was quite good -- not "jump out of the bushes" scary, but it was very creepy and built up a sense of dread rather well. Don't listen to any of this "Julianne Moore isn't as good as Jodie Foster" crap from some critics. She was excellent, and many critics are making the mistake of putting the movie down merely because the role of Starling is played by Moore and not Foster. This may be a sequel, but it should be judged on its own merits and not compared to "Silence of the Lambs".

What I was getting at in the subject line is this:   sitting right in front of us was a couple in their forties ... with a child of about eight, maybe ten. "Hannibal" was a horrific movie and an even more horrific book, and I don't care that they're accompanying the minor -- I don't think this movie is appropriate for a small child. If I had kids I'd never take them to see a film like this. Perhaps a mature teenager, but not a fourth- or fifth-grader.

I'm sure these undoubtedly nice people wouldn't dream of taking their kid to see an "R" rated film with a great deal of sexual content, but it's okay for the kid to see murder, disemboweling and cannibalism? This brings up once again the absurd situation currently extant in America and manifested through its films -- violence is embraced, while anything sexual is cause for people to flip out. You can kill someone, but don't you dare have sex with someone. It never ceases to astonish me.

Google World Domination.   Google, my favorite search engine, has acquired the Deja Usenet service, which I can only see as A Good Thing. I quit using DejaNews long ago because of their execrable interface. One particular phrase in the press release that made my eyes light up was "reformatted to improve performance":

As this historic Deja archive is reformatted to improve performance, Google will provide high speed, high quality access to newsgroup postings already archived by Google from August 2000 onward. Once the optimized Deja archive is added, you will be able to access more Usenet information than ever before. You'll be able to peruse not only recent posts, but all of the 500 million archived messages (many of which had been taken offline previously) with the speed and efficiency of a Google search.
Yeah you rite.

Uh, you guys really don't get it, do you? (Part 1)   A recent article in Christianity Today magazine sings the praises of Ned Flanders, the next-door neighbor in "The Simpsons", as a role model for Christians.

Uh, you guys really don't get it, do you? (Part 2)   A church in Canberra, Australia who are against the "Harry Potter" novels recently plagiarized a newspaper article and used it as fodder for an anti-Harry leaflet. Turns out, though, that the newspaper was The Onion and the article was a satire. [Via NTK]


  Friday, February 9, 2001
Ba-da-BING!   The "Sopranos" Mob Name Generator is back online. Tony must have sent Silvio over to reason with them.

Hello, Clarice.   "Hannibal" opens today. As a big fan of Thomas Harris novels, Ridley Scott, Anthony Hopkins and Julianne Moore (not to mention Giancarlo Giannini), I can't wait.

Actually, I'm going to have to wait, 'cause I forgot that tonight was opening night when I told a friend that we'd be deligted to go to his house for dinner. He's serving liver with fava beans, accompanied by a nice Chianti. (Um, actually, it's Puerto Rican chicken stew.) We'll go see it on Sunday.

Screw the gifts, Dubya takes cash!   So conservatives and Clinton-haters are up in arms because the Clintons took home a little furniture they received as "gifts", big deal. Why aren't there howls of outrage about the gifts George W. Bush is taking?

...even as the public was having fits about the Clintons' U-Haul full of flatware, Bush was quietly pocketing $100,000 checks from his buddies, and no one raised so much as a fish fork.

The occasion for this generosity was the Bush-Cheney inauguration, and the total collected was more than $40 million. In knickknack terms, that's enough for about 786,000 place settings, 32,000 love seats and a solid-gold doggie dish. It's also $10 million more than Bill Clinton raised for his second inauguration in '97.

Whence came such philanthropy? Let's see. Philip Morris, Chevron and General Motors each gave $100,000. So did Exxon, Enron and good ol' Dow Chemical. Money poured in from energy companies, oil refineries, telecommunications moguls, drug corporations -- even uniform manufacturers.

Because this money was paying for the inaugural, donors could argue that their motives were purely patriotic. Believe that, and I've got a pair of coffee tables I'd like to resell you. [more]

Apparently there are no regulations regarding contributions to inaugurals -- a big stinking loophole that undoubtedly deserves scrutiny along with soft money campaign contributions. I hope McCain kicks The Blank Stare's ass on campaign reform.

Disturbing statistics   from a recent Harper's Index:

Number of the 614 arrests of protesters at last year's presidential conventions that have led to criminal convictions : 4

Amount Florida state employees donated to the Bush campaign last year for every dollar they donated to Gore : $4.92

Number of studies showing that the death penalty is a deterrent, according to Attorney General Janet Reno : 0

Chance that the murder rate in a death-penalty state was lower in 1998 than the national average : 1 in 2

Chances that the rate in a state without the death penalty was lower than the national average : 5 in 6

Percentage of the G-8 countries' combined military budgets it would take to halve the world's TB cases by 2010 : 0.4

Two of the more disturbing stats in the recent index:

Days after Al Gore's birth in 1948 that the States' Rights Party nominated Senator Strom Thurmond for president : 108

Rank of Thurmond, as senior majority senator, among those within a heartbeat of the presidency : 3

Finally, as a lifelong sf fan and space nut, one that's a little sad:

Ratio of the record distance for human space flight to the maximum distance depicted in 2001: A Space Odyssey : 1:1,642

By the way, am I the only one driven up the wall by the fact that Harper's pluralizes "index" as "indexes" rather than "indices"? I don't care that it's now in Webster's as an acceptable usage, it still drives me up the wall. I'm a former-English-minor geek.

Looka! brazenly enters 1997!   This boy is always quick to embrace new technology, lemme tell ya. You may notice that as you move your mouse over certain links, you'll get a little bit of extra information or a smart-arsed comment in the status bar, instead of the boring old URL. It's the JavaScript "onMouseOver" command in the tag, and it's cutting-edge 1997.

Perhaps I should rewrite the new Gumbo Pages slogan I came up with the other day:  "Looka! - Using yesterday's technology to help you get laid today."

Quote of the day.   "The election result is good for me. Bush is this stable hard target. It's as if Quayle had won. Plus you have this wonderful narrative of how he got to where he is now. It took his brother, his father, his father's friends, the Florida secretary of state, and the Supreme Court to pull it off. His entire life gives fresh meaning to the phrase 'assisted living.'"

-- Garry B. Trudeau, creator of "Doonesbury", in The New Yorker, January 8, 2001

  Thursday, February 8, 2001
DrinkBoy updates!   It's always worthy of a mention, since it only happens every 1-2 months. Although I'm sad to see the Sazerac go as his featured cocktail, it's nice to see the one he's featuring this time around.

In fact, the featured cocktail is now the Coffee Cocktail, an ancient cocktail that actually contains no coffee whatsoever. Try it and see why it got its name.

Also, he dispenses advice on setting up a home bar (something I was hoping to get around to one of these days, by request from Kendall at MonkeyFist), asking questions like "Is a $40 Cognac really better than a $12 brandy?"

My answer to that is ... depends. I keep a nice bottle of Pierre Ferrand 1er Cru Ambre Cognac in my bar, but I also have a $9 bottle of Christian Brothers Brandy, good for casual mixed drinks and cocktails, surprisingly tasty and rated a "Best Buy" by in their brandy category.

Martinis, Martinis, Martinis!   I got yer Martinis right here, pal.

It's three big pages full of Martini-family recipes, many of which look pretty good (and they're not so much recipes as a brief list of ingredients with proportions and garnish, as in:

AVIATION - gin, Maraschino, lemon juice - 8:2:1 - cherry
This could keep me busy for quite a while.

In other cocktail-related news...   I've made a little bit more progress with my Flame of Love-making (hmm, I rather like that turn of phrase). I was working on flambé-ing the orange oil that's squeezed from the peel -- my efforts the other night were a bit feeble, so I used two matches in tandem. I ended up issuing an amazing gout of flame from my first squeeze of the orange peel ("Hmm! Don't know muh own strength!"), which startled me so much that I dropped the orange peel and the matches.

Fortunately, I managed not to set fire to my kitchen. Back at it ... practice, practice, practice. I'm gonna buy a bag of oranges this weekend.

Folks, we have another "Battlefield Earth"!   An absolutely hilarious (and very, very negative) review of the film "Left Behind" comes from a surprising source ... Billy Buckley's National Review.

Still, I have to give them credit, though -- as much as that publication is crawling with religious and political ultraconservatives, and as much as they may be behind the idea of such a film, they do seem to know a really bad movie when they see one. A brief compendium of a few of my favorite quotes from the guest review by New York Post columnist Rod Dreher:

It's like The Day of the Jackal as conceived by Ned Flanders, and produced by the film and video department of a rural Bible college. Hoo boy, is this thing ever an embarrassment.

Excitable TV evangelists and Left Behind advisers Jack and Rexella Van Impe have milked the crackpot cash cow of Biblical prophecy for all their professional lives, finding prophetic significance behind the headlines (if the European Union announces restrictions on the export of goat cheese, Jack will show you where Ezekiel prophesied this as a sign of the End).

Clearly the video sales of this movie show utter lack of quality is not an impediment to big sales in the Christian ghetto.

Kirk Cameron [as "allegedly swashbuckling TV correspondent Buck Williams"] ... looks too dewy and fragile to cover spring break for MTV News, much less Armageddon.

Imagine "Tora! Tora! Tora!" as depicted from the perspective of the sorting room at the Honolulu post office.

Hee hee hee!

Whacked.   The Sopranos Mob Name Generator I mentioned in yesterday's entry has been taken down already. Some feckin' lawyer probably had it clipped. (They're just jealous that they didn't come up with it first.)

Epinions unhosed?   Epinions seems to be working again. I was finally able to log in, and my review of Sanamluang Café has reappeared as mysteriously as it had disappeared. Enter the site through my link to avoid Epinions' nasty default Arial font (which I find very difficult to read).

Boontling's piked for dusties.   A fascinating report on the death of a language, in this case, one spoken in only a single town -- Boonville, California, in Mendocino County.

I knew they all had dirty minds!   NTK pointed out in its most recent issue the curious similarity between the hilariously strident CAPalert site (Christian Analysis of American Culture), which actually sits there and counts the number of times characters in a movie utter the words "fuck" and "shit" etc, and who document every bit of nudity and sexuality in exhausting detail, with the "rather more secularly motivated" Celebrity Nudity Database.

I have no doubt that this is absolutely excruciating duty for the fundamentalist Christian film "reviewers" at CAPalert, who have to suffer through all that bodacious flesh ... particularly with videos. I can hear them now... "I know it's an extreme hardship and sacrifice for the Lord, but I'd better rewind and look at that scene again just to make sure I can warn everyone about every nice, round, smooth, fleshy, hot, pelvis-thrusting, piston-pumping detail... *moan*"

Email of the day.   There's no pleasing some people, apparently.

From: "Jennie Forson" <jennief@****>
To: <>
Subject: bad
Date: Thu, 8 Feb 2001 16:52:54 +1100

i think this is very bad you should put more things in your website   sorry

Oh no dear, I'm the one that's sorry. I've only put seven years of work into the site. It only has 940 pages, and barely over 10,000 or so links. It's a paltry little trifle, and I should never have dared to put it on the web until there were more things on it. My most cowering and obsequious apologies.

(Y'know, I invite and welcome comments and criticism about my site, but substantial, constructive criticism, please.)

Quote of the day.   "There's a very fine line between pâté and dog food."
-- Paul FR Hamilton, photographer

Some unfortunate folks would watch me eat some delicious, peppery Louisiana-made hog's head cheese and say that I had crossed that line. Oh well, more for me! Pass the beer and saltines.

  Wednesday, February 7, 2001
Don't f*ck with The Fist.   One month from this coming Sunday, Season Three of "The Sopranos" will debut.

I can't wait.

In the meantime, imagine yourself sitting in front of Satriale's Pork Store, sipping a cappuccino, shootin' the breeze with Paulie and Silvio and Hesh. You'll need a nickname, of course. Get one at the Sopranos Mob Nickname Generator.

Tell 'em Chuckie "The Fist" Taggart sent you. (I'm on loan from the Irish mob.)

Coinkydink.   While I wouldn't consider what happened with that wingnut who was waving a gun outside the White House this morning to be a true assassination attempt, I did get struck by a mildly spooky feeling when reading this article in The Onion a couple of hours later.

Flame on!   I just watched "Off the Menu: The Last Days of Chasen's" again yesterday. It's a wonderful documentary about the demise of the hoary old Hollywood classic restaurant in Beverly Hills ("The dishes were hearty; the drinks were large.") -- its final week and its closing night. It was legendary and exclusive -- movie stars, presidents and royalty dined there since 1936. But as the review in Daily Variety put it:

By the '80s and '90s, Chasen's had become something of a relic, a bastion of blue-hairs and Reagan Republicans that was eclipsed by other trendy (and much lower-cholesterol) hot spots. By 1995, the end was in sight, but when the owners posted the closing notice, tout Hollywood decided that they just had to make the scene; as one patron observes, nobody comes to visit you when you're sick, but everyone turns out for the funeral.

Among many other things (including its star-studded clientele), the restaurant was famous for its bartender Pepe Ruiz, and the drink he invented for Dean Martin -- the Flame of Love Martini.

It takes some effort to make (although not 20 minutes, as the bitchy banquet captain complained), but it's quite a drink, particularly if you like vodka martinis. This is my slight variation -- I think Pepe served this on the rocks (at least he did with the one he made for Ed MacMahon in the film), but I don't like Martinis on the rocks. I'd do this straight up. I don't think Pepe garnished his, but I like garnishes in drinks -- a long, thin twist of orange would be really pretty here.

Making this drink takes practice. I haven't gotten the technique nailed just yet. Pepe makes it look a lot easier than it is (then again, he invented it and has made thousands of them).

Pepe's Flame of Love Martini

3 ounces Stolichnaya vodka
1/4 teaspoon fino sherry (Pepe used Domecq La Ina Fino)
2 or 3 large slices orange peel
Twist of orange peel, about 3", thin

Chill the glass thoroughly. Pepe used a wine glass, I like a martini glass. Add the sherry to the glass, swirl to coat completely, and pour out the excess.

Take one of the orange peels, light a match or lighter, and squeeze the orange peel several times over the match into the glass, so that the cascading orange oil will flambé as it falls onto the sherry-coated glass; you'll probably need two peels to get enough oilB. Do this about 8 times.

Stir the vodka with ice in a cocktail shaker to chill, then strain into the coated glass. Squeeze the second orange peel over the drink, then fan it vigorously around the rim of the glass so that it's coated with orange oil. I like to add a thin twist of orange to the glass for a garnish. Serve, and drink like Dean Martin.

After Chasen's closed, all the equipment and fixtures were sold off. They kept the memorabilia, though, and Maud and Dave Chasen's grandson opened another Chasen's on Cañon Drive in Beverly Hills in 1997 (two doors down from the fabulous Spago Beverly Hills), featuring lots of the old photographs and such from the original restaurant. Unfortunately it closed permanently in April of last year, falling victim to the same thing that closed the original -- people stopped going there.

All right, you two ... break it up!   A few days after Al Gore conceded the election to The Blank Stare (*), he confronted President Clinton in a "blunt" and "forceful" manner and dumped a lot of blame on him for costing Gore the election.

For more than an hour, in what sources close to both men described as uncommonly blunt language, Gore forcefully told Clinton that his sex scandal and low personal approval ratings were a major impediment to his presidential campaign. Clinton, according to people close to him, was initially taken aback but responded with equal force that it was Gore's failure to run on the administration's record that hobbled his ambitions.
Not reported by the Post was the actual fistfight that broke out afterwards, broken up by Secret Service agents. They were holding the boys back by their elbows, while they screamed at each other...

"You horny bastard, you couldn't keep your dick in your pants for five minutes, could you? FIVE MINUTES!"

"Oh yeah? Well you couldn't campaign your way out of a paper bag, you know why? 'Cause you've got all the excitement and charisma of a pot of boiled cabbage, you goddamn tree stump!"

Both boys were suspended for a week, made to pick up trash on the schoolyard, and were required to write 1000-word essays on taking responsibility for one's own mistakes.

(* - I don't know who started calling George W. Bush "The Blank Stare" first, but I nicked it from Cam. I love it.)

Dining by the Bay?   If you're looking for a place to eat in The City by the Bay, you might want to have a look at this compendium of the 100 Best Restaurants in San Francisco, compiled by the Chronicle and it's mind-bogglingly large staff of 12 restaurant critics.

Uh, turns out we were full of crap all along, like everyone said.   The leader of a British "ex-gay" group has left the organization after admitting that his group had never been able to change one single person's sexual orientation, including his own.

After fourteen years, he said, "None of the people we've counseled have converted no matter how much effort and prayer they've put into it. There is much more benefit to the honest view."
Fourteen years ... it took 14 years of being told by the American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association and myriad other groups of people who know what they're talking about that such "treatment" not only doesn't work but is harmful, combined with not a single shred of evidence on their part that they had been able to turn gay people straight, before they'd admit it. *boggle* Surely these people have better things they could be doing.

Be what you is, that's right!

Uhh ... what were they thinking?   Y'know, I love turtle soup, particularly as made at Commander's Palace, where it's just about the best in New Orleans. It's made from tasty and plentiful freshwater turtles. However, I think that this particular batch of turtle stew was a really bad idea.

A gift from The Blank Stare.   One of my favorite memes recently, from otherwise-annoying "send to everyone you know" emails to web sites, is nevertheless a smashing idea. Send a donation to your favorite pro-choice or family planning organization, like Planned Parenthood, in the name of George W. Bush. Make sure the gift acknowledgement card gets sent to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20004.

  Tuesday, February 6, 2001
Whoo! Samba, baby!   My maracas arrived yesterday. :-)

I got 'em from Toys 'N Joys, a brick-and-mortar games store in Hawaii with a web site for mail orders, and the service was quick. They were the only place other than eBay where I found them online. Not even ToysRUs had them, nor did, nor did the vile (I just checked out of curiosity; I wouldn't give them my business after what they tried to do to etoy). The maracas controller is after-market, made in China and called "Samba Fans", with some highly amusing instructions translated directly from Mandarin, such as:

* Don't place "Samba Fans" into hot, dank or under straight of the sunshine.

* Don't touch it by hand mixed the mess.

* Keep out of the static electricity and outside force strongly.

Well, it's better than my Mandarin, I suppose. After I got home from work I Samba'ed for over an hour and worked up a good sweat. Too bad Dreamcast just went down the toilet last week. I'll just keep Samba'ing away, until the thing breaks.

Speaking of eToys...   The big evil online behemoth who tried to crush the little European artists' collective that had their domain name years before the behemoth did ... just laid everybody off and will run out of money on March 31. <voice="Nelson">HA-ha!</voice>

Seriously, I feel very sorry for their 293 former employees, and I hate to see anybody lose their job. I wish they had all taken jobs somewhere else instead of working for eToys. Still, I have to feel that a certain amount of sheer corporate arrogance on the part of that company's bosses just got gobsmacked.

My, but don't I have expensive tastes?   This morning I got my most hair-raising want-match from ABE Books. I've been looking for the 5-volume set of Francis Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads for ages; it's been out of print for 36 years, and I'm generally settling with the Dover paperback reissues of 1965 when I can find them. All of the hardbacks and other early editions have been way too expensive (so far I've picked up Volume 5 in paperback for $40). ABE notifies me by email when it matches any of the books on my want list ... so now, the pièce de resistance! The email, in its entirety:

The English and Scottish Popular Ballads. Child, Francis James.
1882. Ten parts in five volumes. With engraved portrait frontispiece of the editor. Large quarto, 280 x 197 mm, bound by Zaehnsdorf in contemporary polished tan calf, triple gilt ruled border on covers, red and blue leather title labels and intricate gilt-tooled compartments on spines, a.e.g. Cambridge: The Riverside Press, 1882-1898. First Edition, limited to 1000 copies printed at the Riverside Press, of the premier collection of ballads and ballad commentary in the English language. This was Andrew Carnegie's personal set, preserved in near-mint condition; each volume contains his "Let There Be Light" bookplate.

Francis James Child (1825-1896) was a specialist in early English language and literature. He is best known for this authoritative five-volume edition of 305 distinct English and Scottish ballads and their textual variants. Ballad texts for this edition were culled from manuscript and printed materials extant at the end of the nineteenth century. Child's The English and Scottish Popular Ballads was the publication that established the groundwork for modern English-speaking ballad scholarship and remains an important historical document.

The work was issued in 10 parts, each with half-title and title-page (the five main title-pages, printed in red and black, were issued with Part X). After Child's death, Part X was edited by G. L. Kittredge. The work includes "A Biographical sketch of Professor Child [by Kittredge]," a glossary, "Sources of the texts of the English and Scottish ballads," "Index of Published Airs of English and Scottish popular ballads," "Index of ballad titles," "Titles of collections of ballads, or of books containing ballads," and an extensive index. A brilliant copy.

The seller is William Wyer / T. Peter Kraus, New York, NY, U.S.A.. <>

The price of the book is US$5750.00.


As much as it pains me to do so, I'm gonna have to let this one pass. It's up for grabs, y'all. Go for it.

Leave it behind.   From the "Well, that's eight bucks I'll save" department, the film version of the Book-of-Revelation-based "Left Behind" potboiler fantasy novels hit the big screen last Friday. Oddly enough, it had been out on video since last fall, and it's fairly unusual path for films to travel (but the producers figure it has a built-in audience in the Bible Belt). I can only imagine how the movie must be, if it's based on the ghastly purple prose I read in the sample chapters on the website. A highly amusing post on the DVD File Community Forum sums it up rather succinctly:

You guys all seem pretty normal; you seem to have it together. So how can you possibly talk about "Left Behind," of all things, with a straight face? That's not even a movie; it's straight-up religious propaganda. I work in a bookstore, and when those books started coming out about five years ago, I chuckled. Who could possibly be reading this laughably bad half-baked mix of Pat Robertson and Tom Clancy? Well, five or six bestsellers later, I'm not laughing. This is one of the more disturbing pop-culture phenomena of our time, and I've seen "Battlefield Earth".

People are apparently so desperate for an easy to digest fantasy potboiler that they'll swallow any amount of Jesus-based nonsense. They're books for people who find Stephen King too dense, and I can only presume the movie is for people who find Star Trek too sophisticated.

Speaking of Stephen King, he thought of the people-disappearing-from-an-airplane thing ten years ago. So there.

And Kirk Cameron? In a comeback role? Isn't that proof there is no God?

Well, I wouldn't go quite that far. I don't think it's proof that there is no God, but I lump it in with things like plagues and swarms of insects and rains of frogs, and the like.

You can read a compendium of mostly-bad reviews of "Left Behind" at Rotten Tomatoes, one of which is quick to point out:  "Rest assured, 'Left Behind' isn't a bad movie because it's Christian. It's a bad movie because it just isn't good."

Speaking of "Battlefield Earth"...   It arrived yesterday from NetFlix, and I'm trying to round people up for a "Battlefield Earth" MST3K Party this weekend. There'll be lots of cocktails, and everyone will be encouraged to be as loud and funny as possible. I can't wait. Foolish humans! Bwahahahahhahaha!

Neologism of the day.   The word "embushen", contributed to the language by a fellow named Steve on soc.motss, who exhorts us to "please make a point to use this word as often as is appropriate in your daily conversations."

Main Entry: em.bush.en
Pronunciation: im-'bush-&n
Function: verb
Etymology: As derived from George W. Bush
Date: January 19, 2001
1 : to imbue with an attribute of stupidity, ineptitude and incompetence
George W.'s father is also responsible for a new word, in Japanese rather than English. The word "Bushu-suru" was coined in 1992; literally it means "to do a Bush", and its usage describes the act of vomiting on someone.

Hiya Shel!   After a well-deserved electronic whack over the head, my friend Sheldon Cooke, a Canajun of fine reputation, gets the long-promised link to his plunge into the wacky world of weblogging. He's now well on his way to blissful happiness after moving (finally!) to Calgary, Alberta from Regina, Saskatchewan -- the town that rhymes with "vagina" and is so beloved by its natives that they say to visitors, "Uh, why did you come here??

  Monday, February 5, 2001
My favorite Song.   Dinner last night was at Saladang Song, which I hadn't been to since my birthday back in November. We've really gotta go back there more often, because the food is just phenomenal (and inexpensive!).

I had what was possibly the most delicious thing I'd had in recent memory, and one of the only dishes on the menu that's easily pronounceable -- the Saladang Song Salad (or "Apple Salad II"), which was mostly grated Granny Smith apple mixed with onion, ginger, a little crushed peanut, chile (spicy!) tossed in a galangal dressing and topped with toasted coconut and threaded carrot (using one of those Japanese gizmos that takes a carrot or a potato and turns it into about 20 feet of spaghettini-like thread). It was unbelievably delicious, just bursting with bright, fresh flavor.

We also split a warm asparagus salad, mixed with shredded chicken, onion, garlic and drizzled with a warm curry sauce, plus a variation on my favorite Thai noodle dish, Pad kee mow (the best version of which in town is served at Sanamluang Café on Hollywood Blvd.) made with roast duck (I was a good boy and didn't eat the duck fat, though). Sanamluang might have the best Thai food in L.A., but Saladang Song (and its mother restaurant next door, Saladang) certainly has the best Thai food in Pasadena (and rivals Sanamluang in many ways).

Epinions is hosed.   Not only are most of their features still disabled, but some of my reviews have disappeared.

I had meant to link my mention of Sanamluang in the above entry to my epinions review that used to live at, but it's just gone. I can't even get onto my publicly accessible user page to see if any other ones are also gone. I hope they get back on their feet and finish that "redesign" soon, or people are going to stop coming to the site.

Guestbook entry of the day.   I read the guestbook every few days, and every now and again one really catches my eye:

This site rules!! I found a lot of great stuff that really helped me get laid :)
that one guy <>
colorado springs, co USA - Sunday, February 04, 2001 at 15:04:59 (PST)
Well, you're more than welcome, guy. Maybe the site needs a new slogan ... "The Gumbo Pages. Doing what we can to help you get laid."

Who's sorry now, phone-boy?   I would have had no objection whatsoever to seeing this done to that obnoxious bastard who received and placed several cell phone calls while sitting next to me in the movie theatre a while back (then played with his melody-ringer because he knew it was annoying me). Maybe those wacky Saudis have got the right idea.

Huh? I did what? Am I the President yet?   At a weekend conference, George W. Bush apparently didn't understand what his first executive order actually did, when questioned about it by Democrats. (You mean it didn't do what Dick told me it'd do?)

"He was boxed into a corner," said Rep. Allen Boyd, D-Florida. Others said the president seemed uncomfortable, with one noting, "He turned bright red."

The question came from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, who asked Bush about an executive order banning U.S. funding for international aid groups that provide abortions or abortion counseling, even if the U.S. funds are not directly used for the abortion work. Bush signed the executive order January 22.

Pelosi asked the president if it was a "double standard" to prohibit that funding because the administration opposes the groups' abortion activities, but allow funding to faith-based charities which conduct religious activities using private funds.

Bush's response, Democrats said, implied he thought his executive order had outlawed only the direct financing of abortions.

Pelosi, according to Democrats in the room, corrected the president. Aides to Pelosi say she explained existing law and how the president's order changed it.

Of course, the White House spokesperson denied that Shrub didn't understand his own executive order, and said it was "just a disagreement on policy". Right.

A Constitutional coup.   That's the term (which I like very much) that Bruce Ackerman, Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale University, uses in his wonderful article in the London Review of Books entitled "Anatomy of a Constitutional Coup".

Call it a crisis of the written Constitution, caused by the enormous historical gap that has opened up between the Constitution of 1787 and the living Constitution of the 21st century. During the 35 days following the election, the written and living Constitutions interacted in unpredictable and awkward ways that challenged America's commitments to democracy and the rule of law.

The challenge proved too great for the country's political and legal elite. Succumbing to the crudest partisan temptations, the Republicans managed to get their man into the White House, but at grave cost to the nation's ideals and institutions. It will take a decade or more to measure the long-term damage of this electoral crisis to the Presidency and the Supreme Court - but especially in the case of the Court, Bush v. Gore will cast a very long shadow.

It's an excellent analysis on how the "constitutional coup", including the "shoddy" decision in Bush v. Gore, will sully the image of this nation's long-professed love affair with democracy for every other country in the world. The article finishes with:

Suppose I had been reporting on the recent election of Vicente Fox as President of Mexico. I would have described how a mob of Fox's partisans stopped the vote count in Mexico City, how Fox's campaign chairman used her authority as chief elections officer to prevent the count from continuing, how Fox's brother exercised his position as governor to take the Presidential election out of the hands of the voters, how the Supreme Court intervened to crush, without any legal ground, the last hope for a complete count. Would we be celebrating the election of President Fox as the dawn of a new democratic day in Mexico?
No ... the Republicans would undoubtedly have shaken their heads and muttered something about "Banana Republics" ... As Banana Republicans, they should know.

  Saturday, February 3, 2001
BeauSoleil live!   If you're in Los Angeles and environs, head to the House of Blues tonight. Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil are onstage tonight, touring in support of their 25th anniversary live album "Looking Back Tomorrow", on Rhino Records.

And on "Down Home today, I'll be featuring the music of BeauSoleil, going back to their earliest recordings through the brand-new live album. Also on the bill is the new import-only album by Zachary Richard, his marvelous followup to "Cap Enragé" called "Coeur fidèle", plus a musical tribute to the late Eddie LeJeune, who passed away a few weeks ago. Plenty of great Cajun music in store today!

Tune in to KCSN from 3:00 to 5:00pm Pacific Time today at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, or tap in to our live audio stream (Windows Media Player required).

  Friday, February 2, 2001
Happy Groundhog Day.   Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning, indicating that we have six more weeks of winter weather to come.

I'm primarily grateful to Phil for being the spark behind one of my favorite movies, Harold Ramis' "Groundhog Day". Rent that this weekend if you've never seen it.

Yeesh.   I had thought something was up when I was unable to log in to my account at the other day, and found that most of its features were disabled. I guess the fact that they had to lay off 27% of their employees on Tuesday had something too with it. Good luck to all of them.

Hmm.   I'm seriously considering implementing GreyMatter to run this page, but it's gonna take me a while to learn it all. I find the ability to add comments to each post very appealing, and I like the fact that the whole thing resides on my server.

Noah has made an amazing product, that's for sure. The one thing holding me back is ... I kinda still like coding the entire thing by hand. It's kinda like digging in your own garden, planting flowers and fruits and vegetables and herbs, and getting your hands dirty.

"Oh well it's Carnival Ti-ime ... ev'rybody's havin' fun..."   February already, and we still haven't had a King Cake party yet. Time's a-wastin' -- it's only 25 days until Mardi Gras.

If there's anybody who needs a piece of King Cake, it's Jonno, who's already sick and tired of the Carnival color scheme. Remember dawlin', ya know yer a true New Orleanian when not only do you like the colors purple, green and gold and think they look good together, but you would also consider eating something that was those colors.

Otherwise, a ticket outta town that returns on Ash Wednesday is the only way to go (which I would most definitely do if I were a Quarter or Marigny resident). Although I do have small Mardi Gras celebrations out here in, I've only been home for Carnival once in 18 years. (I prefer Jazzfest.) I'm not interested in coming home for Mardi Gras unless I can ride in a parade. I've wanted to do that since I was a little kid. Maybe one o' these days...

Typo of the day.   My friend Andy kindly writes in:

From: Andy Senasac
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: Fri, 2 Feb 2001 11:09:08 -0800
Subject: Smoking Gun

Your link to the Smoking Gun website in LOOKA doesn't seem to work. I think it's misspelled as "gum".

... I am pointing a gub... What's gub? ...That's gun... I am pointing a gun at you.

No no, it said to put $10,000 in the bag and abt natural.

Sex, please ... we're British.   According to the latest issue of NTK, if you enter the term "amateur" in a search on, as in "amateur radio", "amateur dramatics" or "amateur astronomy", it'll feed you a banner ad for porn sites. (Apparently they have a high incidence of searches for "amateur sex pics".) Oddly enough, this doesn't seem to work on plain ol' AltaVista.

Quote of the day.   From Lasse Hallström's film "Chocolat":

"I think we can't go around measuring our goodness by what we don't do. By what we deny ourselves. What we resist. And who we exclude.

"I think we've got to measure our goodness by what we embrace. What we create. And who we include."
-- Pere Henri

  Thursday, February 1, 2001
You've gotta be fucking kidding me.   Gee, it seems like these days the Republican Party excel at doing things which make me say the f-word. And I don't mean "feck" either, Mrs. Doyle. You know which one I mean.

As unbelievable as it may seem, the California Republican Party are giving very serious thought to drafting Arnold Schwartzenegger for governor in 2002.

Conan the Republican for Governor?? Jesus H. Christ on a bike. Our most talented satirists couldn't make up anything as absurd as this. The San Francisco Chronicle points out in the above article that if Schwartzenegger were elected, "Americans would have two sitting governors who starred in the movie, "The Predator.'"

And a good pot it is.   No no, I said "a good pot", not "good pot", you dopeheads!

I'm in the middle of a new book called Pot on the Fire: Further Exploits of a Renegade Cook, by John Thorne (with Matt Lewis Thorne), who also have been publishing the "Simple Cooking" newsletter for many years. It's not strictly a cookbook, nor is it just essays on cooking, but it's a little bit of both. The Thornes do a great job in waxing poetic about their love of food and cooking, from the exotic to the simple (like how to make perfect rice, which begins by spreading the rice out on a towel and removing every bit of foreign matter and every imperfect grain).

What caught my eye when browsing through it in the bookstore was the entire chapter on one of the most wonderful things in the world -- Vietnamese banh mi, which are best described (for me, at least) as Vietnamese po-boys. Thanks to John and Matt I learned how to make the nuoc cham spicy dipping sauce, the paper-thin slices of carrot and daikon marinated in rice vinegar and sugar that garnish the sandwich; I went to an Asian market for cha lua, the steamed pork meatloaf seasoned with fish sauce (which the Thornes describe as "an acquired taste for most Westerners", but I love it) and Thai chiles (fiery and cheap -- $1 for a big bag of them!).

All I've got to do is find the perfect po-boy bread near where I live (no mean feat, as almost nobody in L.A. makes the bread properly; I may have to trek to a Vietnamese bakery and freeze the bread), and I'm well on my way to being a pretty fine banh mi maker ... for a non-Vietnamese guy, at least.

Anything for a story.   The folks at The Smoking Gun, which is becoming one of my favorite sites, have a new feature about all the TV shows and newspapers who write ass-kissing letters to "Unabomber" Theodore Kaczynski in hopes of landing an interview with him.

They'll stoop to anything for ratings or newspaper sales, I guess. That nutcase killed and maimed a lot of people and wrecked a lot of lives, and I myself don't give a crap what he has to say.

Who knew?   Calvin's favorite magazine is real. [Cribbed from MetaFilter]

January 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, Greg Beron and Andy Senasac.
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Chuck Taggart   <>