the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect (New Orleans) 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 @ 1:08pm PDT, 7/31/2001

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart (who?)
(Wanna send me e-mail?)

Search this site:

Looka! Archive

June 2001
May 2001
April 2001
March 2001
February 2001
January 2001

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

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

How to donate to this site:

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More

Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Friends with pages:

pat and paul

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail


Cocktail Time


Bar Asterie

Ardent Spirits

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Ingredients & substitutions

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

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Now reading:

Juno & Juliet, by Julian Gough.

A Star Called Henry, by Roddy Doyle.

The Torturer's Apprentice: Stories, by John Biguenet.

Listen to music!

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
Red Meat
Zachary Richard
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Uncle Tupelo


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston


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: Enterprise"
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
The Leaky Cauldron
Mister Pants
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
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 Complete Bushisms (Quotationable)
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

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!

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

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS 9.1 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work.

weblog and (almost) daily blather

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

  Tuesday, July 31, 2001
Another gift from SirCam.   The highly annoying SirCam worm/virus is still popping up in my email, but it did deliver something tasty-looking (although it has a corny name). It came from Debbie N.'s hard drive -- you're infected, honey! -- along with a second file from her machine that was entitled "Permacath or Hickman Catheter Placement". (I don't wanna know.)


This is a great gift for someone who enjoys baking. Make the basic cookie mix and give it to your friends and family along with the recipes for making different cookies using the mix. Give the mix and recipes alone or make a basket with a jar of cookie mix and recipes. Add small containers each with a different ingredient such as chocolate chips, pecans, granola, peanut butter and raisins. You can also add things like cookie cutters, an apron, pot holders etc.

Basic Cookie Mix
4 1/2 cups flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups nonfat dry milk
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shortening

In a very large bowl, combine first 5 ingredients. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse meal. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator. Mix may be stored up to 6 months in the freezer. Give with recipes for the following Chocolate Chip, Peanut Butter, and Granola Cookies. Yield: 1 to 1-1/2 cups cookie starter

Granola Cookies
1 cup Cookie Mix
1 cup granola cereal
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together first 3 ingredients. Add egg and vanilla; stir until smooth. Fold in raisins. Drop by teaspoons onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

Peanut Butter Cookies
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 egg
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups Cookie Mix

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine first 4 ingredients; beat until smooth. Add Cookie Mix; stir until a soft dough forms. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3 dozen cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
1/2 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups Cookie Mix
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; beat until smooth. Add Cookie Mix; stir until a soft dough forms. Fold in chocolate chips and pecans. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until brown. Cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container. Yield: about 3 dozen cookies.

All right, that's it.   If I hadn't been nice enough to put all those convenient "mailto:" tags when I started building this site seven years ago, I might not be getting all this spam now (and all these goddamn SirCam worms). I've snapped. I've had enough.

Last night I spent a considerable amount of time and labor (much of it automated, thank Gawd) to remove every single instance of my printed email address from the over 1,000 pages on the entire site. You won't find a one (unless I missed one).

What you will find is a new web-based email form that'll zap your email right into my inbox. Nice, convenient, and better still, it defeats all those evil rat bastard spambots.

Those of you who already know my email address, please feel free to use it in your normal email software. And if you don't ... well, if you're a human and not a spambot it's not too difficult to figure out, especially if you read the rant at the bottom of the email contact page. You're all clever little buggers. You'll figure it out.

Philip Morris: Our products cause "very real, serious and significant diseases".   In the wake of Big Tobacco giant Philip Morris' appalling report to the Czech Republic, my friend Andy wrote them a letter, which said in part:

Now that Philip Morris has issued a report touting the economic benefits of killing people with lung cancer, would you claim too that Philip Morris has a greater economic benefit to America than the Bush tax plan? Perhaps you could convince President Bush to announce the Philip Morris economic benefit plan at a White House press conference.
The reply from the Philip Morris Company:

Sent: Monday, July 30, 2001 12:12 PM
Subject: RE: Address Information [#8706]

     Thank you for your email regarding the recent release of the 1999 study commissioned by the Czech affiliate of Philip Morris International. The funding and public release of this study which, among other things, detailed purported cost savings to the Czech Republic due to premature deaths of smokers, exhibited terrible judgment as well as a complete and unacceptable disregard of basic human values.

     For one of our tobacco companies to commission this study was not just a terrible mistake, it was wrong. All of us at Philip Morris, no matter where we work, are extremely sorry for this. No one benefits from the very real, serious and significant diseases caused by smoking. [Editor's emphasis.]

     We understand the outrage that has been expressed and we sincerely regret this extraordinarily unfortunate incident.

     We will continue our efforts to do the right thing in all our businesses, acknowledging mistakes when we make them and learning from them as we go forward.

     We are not distributing copies of the report; however, we thank you for sharing your opinion with us.

Consumer Affairs
Philip Morris U.S.A.

"exhibited terrible judgment" = "we never meant for that to be public".

"terrible mistake, it was wrong" = "huge publicity gaffe"

"No one benefits from the very real, serious and significant diseases causes by smoking" = "Except us, the Philip Morris Company, who reap billions every year from the products that cause said diseases."

"we sincerely regret this unfortunate incident" = "we regret only the fact that it got out, the subsequent bad publicity, and lemme tell you, the guy who leaked it is gonna get his ass barbecued and can kiss his pension goodbye".

"We will continue our efforts to do the right thing in all our businesses" = "We will continue to sell toxic tobacco products both at home and especially in the third world, we will continue to market them to teenagers and children, we will continue to reap the untold billions therefrom, but we'll continue to make those syrupy commercials about all the 'good deeds' we do with our blood money".

"We are not distributing copies of the report" = "We've got to stonewall this, cover it up..."

"we thank you for sharing your opinion with us." = "Send that Andy guy the standard bullshit reply and delete his email."

Bye, horse! (Hey Jeb, close that barn door, willya?)   A bipartisan commission headed by former Presidents Ford and Carter has issued a report on how to avoid potential electoral problems that could put someone in the White House after he or she failed to get the proper number of votes. Shrub endorsed the general idea of the report without endorsing or commenting on any of the specific ideas contained therein. "Yeah, well, this all sounds good, I guess," he could very well have said, "but don't take out any of the parts that got me to be the President."

Remember how magnets work.   A horrifying story out of New York, in which a little boy was having an MRI at the Westchester Medical Center, north of New York City. During the procedure someone "accidentally introduced" a metal oxygen tank into the exam room. The MRI machine, powered by a 10-ton electromagnet, immediately magnetized the heavy metal oxygen tank, which flew across the room into the center of the machine where the boy lay. How could someone be so stupid and thoughtless to bring a huge piece of metal into a room where there was a 20,000 pound magnet being used to examine a patient? Good God.

  Monday, July 30, 2001
Great craic!   Last night the Hollywood Bowl presented its second "Celtic Journeys" program (second annual, let's hope), pulled in over 10,000 people to see it, and put on a brilliant show.

Young traditional band Danú opened the show -- it was the first time I'd seen them, and they put on a grand set of songs and tunes (in particular the blasting set entitled "Are You Ready Yet?") Their singer and uilleann piper were particularly good, and when you see young groups as good as this come along, you know that the future of traditional music in Ireland is assured.

Second on the bill was the Eileen Ivers Band, and while their sound is based firmly in Irish music, I'd be more inclined to describe them as a New York band, as they combine several elements of the ethnic cultures found in that city (the drummer/percussionist is Puerto Rican, the bassist Brazilian, and it's the first ostensibly "Irish" band that has congas and timbales in their percussion lineup). Ivers is a New Yorker who's fascinated by blending differents sounds and rhythms from around the world into her music, which has a solid traditional base (she's an eight-time All-Ireland champion on the fiddle). She's also got a monster of an uilleann piper with her in the person of Jerry O'Sullivan, from the ancient Irish village of Yonkers, New York. Her set was very enjoyable indeed, although I must confess I didn't care much for the vocalist (although he's a fine percussionist).

The unparalleled highlight of the evening was the appearance of the mighty Altan, probably the greatest Irish traditional group today. They were, as always, at the top of their form, driven by the twin fiddles of Maáiread Ní Mhaonaigh and Ciarán Tourish (with beautiful singing from Maáiread as well). As if this wasn't enough, they were joined for most of the set by Donal Lunny (Planxty, The Bothy Band, Moving Hearts, Coolfin), one of the greatest names in Irish music in the last 30 years, on bouzouki and bodhrán, and for three songs by Paul Brady. As I was hoping, Paul and Donal did a duet on Paul's great song "Nothing But the Same Old Story", which they recorded for the soundtrack of "Bringing It All Back Home" in 1991.

The encore featured everyone from all three bands for a huge blast of reels to finish the show. Great job from all the musicians, Laura Connolly of the Bowl and everyone who worked on the show.

I did, however, find it highly ironic that the show was sponsored by KCRW and hosted by two of their DJs, when KCRW couldn't be bothered to actually play any Irish music, except maybe once in a while on Tom Schnabel's show. Maybe.

A huge, steaming pile of monkey poop.   That is Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes", which was a major disappointment. Use your cursor to highlight any areas where the text seems to be missing; as awful as this movie is, and as much as I would like to discourage you from wasting time and money on it, I don't want to be a prick like Matt Drudge and issue spoilers without warning.

My first comment as the lights came up was, "Boy, I sure do miss Rod Serling." The screenplay was wretched, with major plot points that made absolutely no sense whatsoever. It had none of the satire of the original, and with the exception of the makeup was no match for it. I found it interesting that Burton kept denying that it was a remake, yet frequently referred to the original (from one of the apes' first lines, to the ridiculous appearance by Charlton Heston, which elicited nothing but hoots and giggles from the audience; I couldn't believe they actually had Heston's ape character utter as his dying words, "Damn them all to hellllll ...") After Heston uttered his last line, Wes leaned over and said, "I sure hope this is his last movie."

Those weren't the only dreadful lines of dialogue, either. Would you believe, "I'm having a bad hair day" from a female chimp, and "Can't we all just get along?!" from Giamatti's orangutan. Jee-zus. What are you thinking of, Tim Burton?! Your job as a director (among myriad other things) is to cut lousy dialogue from the script!

The film also suffered from a badly presented and confusing visual style, to the point where I was thinking that this doesn't even look or feel like a Tim Burton film. The elaborate Ape City was never shown in a way where we could get a feel of the place. It always seemed claustrophobic, and we could never really tell where we were. All those chase scenes that had the characters running in and out of various apes' dwellings seemed to be there for no reason other than to try to be funny, and kept the viewer wondering "Where the hell are we, exactly?"

There were a few good things about it. The ape makeup and the apelike movements and choreography was astounding, and Rick Baker will probably pick up another Oscar. Tim Roth was good, if one-note, but Paul Giamatti stole the show as the orangutan slave-dealer and trader who gets taken along with Our Heroes for the ride. He worked beautifully with his makeup, was expressive and funny as well. Too bad that his lines and character really belonged in some other movie.

Any fan of hard science fiction should avoid this movie like the veritable plague, as he or she will be gagging from the first ten minutes on. (Use your cursor to highlight the blank space to come, which will contain my spoiler-laden ranting.)
What was with that dopey "storm"? Was it supposed to be a wormhole? Could they at least offer some kind of bullshit technobabble? How did that little pod with no heat shield do a re-entry? How did that little pod with a thruster-type engine achieve escape velocity to actually leave their planet's gravity well? How come when he reappears off the rings of Saturn he's appraoching Earth in the very next shot, a trip which should take a good two years? Oh, and isn't it convenient that he lands right in D.C. and splashes down in the Reflecting Pool. Finally, that so-called "twist ending" was ridiculous, made absolutely no sense, was completely unexplained and unexplainable and had no logical connection to the rest of the story as to how that could have happened.


Save your nine bucks.

Rocket man (whom we hope ain't gonna get blowed up real good).   A good friend of mine is an actual rocket scientist, someone whom you might think might be excited about the prospect of space travel. Not so, actually; he has no desire whatsoever to be launched (seen a few too many of his company's satellites blow up on Chinese or French rockets, p'raps), and he thinks this guy is a major wingnut.

I spent my entire childhood wanting to be an astronaut, and I think this guy's a wingnut too.

  Saturday, July 28, 2001
Red Meat is good for you!   The world's best (and my favorite) country band, Red Meat, will be paying us another visit at the radio station today as my guests on "Down Home" at about 3:15pm PDT. I'm hopin' they'll be playin' a few songs too, so tune in!

You can catch them tonight at The Mint, on Pico just east of La Cienega, at around 10pm.

Quote of the day.   "Y'all got some pretty good barbecue back there in Texas, but the next time you're in one of them barbecue pits, go in the back room and look at what they're barbecuing up and it'll say Iowa pork. Now until you've pulled on them green rubber boots and stepped out into a foot and a half of hog shit, and wrestled with a 400 pound hog to cut its nuts off, don't be telling me about what country is and what it ain't."

-- Red Meat vocalist Smelley Kelley, to a Texan who suggested that the Iowa native wasn't sufficiently western to sing real country music.

  Friday, July 27, 2001
Finally!   As I mentioned yesterday, I'm getting deluged with SirCam viruses to the tune of 10-25 per day. It's about time that I got one that's actually truly interesting.

It came as a file called "GÂTEAU AUX BANANES.doc.bat", and once I pulled the ASCII out from within the virus' binary, it was a lovely (if a little plain) banana cake recipe ... en français.


     1-1/2 tasses de farine
     1 cuiller à thé de soda à pâte
     1/8 cuiller à thé de sel
     1/2 tasse de graisse
     1-1/2 tasses de sucre
     2 oeufs
     1/2 tasse de lait
     1 tasse de bananes écrasées
     1 cuiller à thé de vanille
     1/2 tasse de noix

Mélanger parfaitement la farine, le soda et le sel. Défaire la graisse et le sucre jusqu'à consistance cr´meuse. Ajouter les oeufs 1 à la fois. Battre après chaque addition. Incorporer les bananes écrasées et la vanille. Ajouter les ingrédients secs en alternant avec le laitasse Incorporer les noix. Étendre la pâte dans un moule carré de 9 po. Cuire à 350°F 50 à 60 min

Wes suggested I call this "virus cake", but I have to surmise that such a dish might not sound terribly appetizing to one's dinner guests.

While a plain banana cake can be lovely, here are a few versions that have been kicked up a little bit -- gâteau á la framboise et aux bananes (raspberry banana cake), gâteau aux bananes et fraises (banana cake with strawberry jam), et gâteau aux bananes et au chocolat (chocolate banana cake ... le yum!).

Having difficulty reading recipes in French?   Or German or Danish or Dutch? Weep no more, for the Food Terms Dictionary is here, and under continuous development. Pick a page in one of five languages (including English) and food terms in that language will be translated into the other four (with Spanish on the way). Very very handy. Remember that in French the abbreviation "t." means "tasse" (cup, not spoon) and "c." means "cuiller" (spoon, not cup).

Fáilte go Ceolnet!   I've just stumbled across a wonderful new service from Ireland's Radió Telefis Éireann, the national radio and television network. It's RTÉ Radio Ceolnet, their new on-demand traditional music Internet broadcast. ("Ceol", pronounced KYOLE, is Irish for "music".) Here's what it's all about:

Over the years Raidió Éireann and later RTÉ have been leaders in the field of the collection and broadcast of traditional Irish music and song and on Ceolnet we offer the following:

*   A live continuous stream of hundreds of hours of traditional music and song from this collection (as made available by the Archive Remastering Project undertaken by RTÉ in conjunction with the Irish Traditional Music Archive). To access this click on the 'Radio' button in the navigation bar. The Radio Ceolnet channel will then start streaming. If you would like to view profiles of the musicians, groups or genres of music that are playing, you can have these appear automatically by checking the box beside the play-out controls.

*   On demand access to all of this music and song. To access tracks by a musician or group simply find that musician or group by clicking on the 'Artists' or 'Search' buttons above. Then scroll down to the bottom of a profile of an musician or group and click on 'Tracks'.

*   Information about the performers and the music. Again, click on the 'Artist' or 'Search' buttons above to access information about any of the performers on RTÉ Radio Ceolnet. The 'Instruments' and 'Styles' buttons lead to information about the music.

This is ... feckin' brilliant! What a treasure trove. As if I didn't have enough stuff to fill my time...

Achievement of the day.   My friend Michael helped me realize today that I have eaten 23 of the 43 cheeses mentioned in Monty Python's Cheese Shop Sketch.

It annoys me that not even the venerable Cheese Store of Beverly Hills carries Venezuelan beaver cheese.

What would Jesus do?   Today's story of love, compassion, forgiveness and religious devotion comes from the Mexico City borough of Tlalpan. It seems that a group of Roman Catholic parishioners came across three young men who were trying to steal some images of Mary Magdalene, the neighborhood church's patron saint, from inside the sanctuary. Did they hold them for police? Did they ask why they'd steal from a church? (Were they poor and hungry? Were they trying to support a drug habit?) Did they forgive them?

Nope. While two of them escaped, they dragged the third man, aged 29, outside the church and beat him to death.

"Get yer stinkin' paws offa me, you damned dirty ape!"   We're going to see "Planet of the Apes" lwith out friends Pat and Paul tonight, and we can't WAIT. I'm a big Tim Burton fan,and this one's been a long time coming. The trailer hasn't given away much (save for tidbits of what looks to be a fabulous performance by Tim Roth), and Burton has already said that this film is "not a remake" of the 1968 one with Chuckie Heston and that this year's planet is not a future Earth ... although he's let slip that the ending will have a similarly huge twist, albeit a very different one. Hmm. I'm intrigued.

The film's website is also the first I've ever seen for any film that offers you a choice to view the contents in Russian.

Here comes Captain Trips.   While I've been whacking all these annoying (but essentially harmless to me as a Mac user) copies of the SirCam virus I've been getting, there's been another spreading infection that I haven't had to deal with at all -- the Code Red Worm. Have a look at a rather disquieting animation (13MB) illustrating the spread of the Code Red Worm during the 24-hour period of July 19, 2001. Jeezus. If this were a biological virus, we'd all be dead now.

What a way to start the day.   First off, with a lower back ache that was so bad I could barely walk. (Concentrated application of the shower massage as hot as I could stand it, followed by three Advils, and now I can walk.)

Then, outside to bring out the garbage. I grasped the can's handle, rolled it down the driveway, parked it on the curb, took my hand away ... and my hand and arm were covered with ants almost up to the elbow.


Holler, shake, brushbrushbrush ... spend the next nearly 10 minutes making sure that none of the little bastards are left crawling on me. Somehow I managed not to get a single ant bite, oddly enough.

I've been at work for an hour and a half and I'm still picking ants off of me.

  Thursday, July 26, 2001
"Hello Delhi?"   A groaningly bad pun introduces a parade of Indian delights in Artesia, if you're in the L.A. area. Head to Pioneer Blvd., which "abounds with sari shops, goldsmiths, appliance stores stocked with low-priced pressure cookers and the stackable metal lunch containers called tiffin tins; also bangle shops, video stores that stock the latest hit movies from such subcontinent heartthrobs as Sanjay Dutt and Siri Devi, and above all, interesting and authentic places to eat."

This is the fourth in the Times Calendar section's series of articles about the city's best "ethnic eating", also covering Vietnamese, Korean and Armenian food. (Did you know that the city of Glendale, which is featured in the last article, has the highest concentration of Armenians outside of Yerevan? Luckily for us, they brought lots of food, especially pastry. Mmmmmmm, Sarkis Bakery ...)

Sales of hip flasks will skyrocket.   Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca.) is proposing a voluntary rule on the part of airlines to limit passengers to two drinks, ostensibly to reduce incidents of "air rage".

Airlines and flight attendants have quickly rejected the idea, which is a good thing. I think I speak for many people in declaring that alcohol has very little to do with the rage I feel when travelling by air (or attempting to do so). It's the shitty service, shitty food and shitty attitude of airline personnel about their shitty service and food. It's overbooking, it's six inches of legroom, it's missed connections and delayed flights. This is what they need to reduce, not the amount of alcohol served on planes.

Pac Bell owns Boardwalk and Park Place.   A trade group of California ISPs, which rely on the Pacific Bell telephone network to offer high-speed service, has "accused Pacific Bell and an affiliate of engaging in anticompetitive behavior".

"The California Internet Service Providers Association, a trade group, is expected to file a complaint today with the California Public Utilities Commission asserting that Pacific Bell is using its dominance of the infrastructure used for high-speed DSL service to create a monopoly over access to the service. The group will seek an injunction to stop Pacific Bell from enforcing a new contract with them."

One thing that made me brighten further when reading this article was this:

The trade group will also ask the commission to order Pacific Bell to cease the practice of what it calls clenching. The group says this practice discourages customers from switching Internet service providers.

"These tactics include shutting down the consumer's DSL connection and requiring the consumer to order an entirely new DSL line -- a process that typically takes weeks or months -- even though the requested change can be accomplished in a short period of time and with minimal service disruption to the end user," stated the 35-page complaint.

"Technically, it's a matter of a few keystrokes," [Dave] Baker [of Earthlink] said. "There's no reason you should have to be disconnected and go all the way to the back of the queue."

Bastards. I knew there was no reason for crap like that.

Unexpected gifts from SirCam.   As you may be aware, the SirCam virus picks a random file from the infectee's hard drive and mails it out. So far I've gotten fairly boring stuff -- resumes, class papers, payroll files and lots of dreadfully mundane data, all wrapped in a virus and plonked into my inbox.

The other day day something interesting got virus-wrapped and sent all over the world, though. It's apparently the text of the "oath of secrecy ceremony" for the college fraternity Delta Kappa Epsilon, better known as the "Dekes". It's amazingly clichéd, full of solemn intonations, ritual, mystic potions, robes, secret handshakes, amateur occultism, partaking of the "sacred goat entrails", plus all the silliness and barely-masked homoeroticism you can shake a stick at. I don't know how anyone can get through such a ceremony without breaking up into gales of laughter.

When I was in college I remember hearing that the Dekes had gotten themselves thrown off of Tulane's list of officially recognized frats because of their horrendous behavior. I also remember that their dilapidated, Animal-House-looking frat house on ... Henry Clay Ave., I think, had dotted lines painted on the street in front of it, even with the property lines, and the words "D R U N K   Z O N E" painted in between.

Incidentally, the current acting President of the United States was a Deke, as was his Poppy. I suppose they partook of the sacred goat entrails, too. Not to mention Dubya having lived in the "Drunk Zone" for 40 years...

  Wednesday, July 25, 2001
Quote of the day.   Jimmy Carter, on George W. Bush:

"I have been disappointed in almost everything he has done. I hoped coming out of an uncertain election he would reach out to people of diverse views, not just Democrats and Republicans but others who had different points of view. I thought he would be a moderate leader, but he has been very strictly conforming to some of the more conservative members of his administration, his vice president and his secretary of defense in particular. More moderate people like Colin Powell have been frozen out of the basic decision-making in dealing with international affairs."

The New York Times has more of Mr. Carter's comments. (via NextDraft)

Bring on the germs.   The Bush administration has refused to sign up to an international agreement designed to enfoce a ban on the use of biological weapons. This is an abrupt about-face of the last ten years of United States policy on this issue.

Bush's representative to the U. N.-sponsored talks in Geneva (I refuse to say the United States' representative, because these bastards don't represent me) said that the draft accord "would not achieve [the United States'] goals and would hurt American interests." So, do American interests include being attacked with germ-based weapons? Jesus.

This swine in the White House seems determined to re-start the Cold War single-handedly. Even after Nixon and Reagan, I don't think I've ever wanted to see an American president leave office as badly as I do now.

ROAR!   We saw "The Lion King" at the Pantages last night. It was breathtaking.

Although I haven't seen all that many Broadway musicals (oddly enough), this was one of the best I've ever seen. Julie Taymor's costume and character design was astonishing, the score was far superior to that of the film (sounding far more African than the movie did), and the visuals drew you along with nary a dull moment. I think I'd even see it again, just to watch the intricacies of the mechanics and the puppetry by the performers. With the exception of the Timon and Pumbaa characters, who were right out of the movie (but very well-performed), the show was very un-Disneyfied, which was appreciated. (Plus, there was the extra fun of seeing all this within the magnificent Art Deco splendor of the Pantages Theatre.) See it if you can.

"Oh no ... too expensive!"   Don't let the Scottish lobster fishermen in "Local Hero" discourage you. The expense isn't as much trouble as the labor involved in preparing lobsters for eating, but there are those of us who think that the labor is worth it. If you've never tried it, it's certainly worth a try, and might even be a lot of fun. The excellent Fine Cooking magazine has a tutorial in choosing, cooking and shelling lobsters, and The Food Network's Alton Brown did a nifty and tasty-looking stuffed lobster a while back on his excellent "Good Eats" show a while back.

Preparing live lobster is one of the few opportunities you'll get to kill your own food (something you should do at least once if you eat animals). If you're squeamish, remember what Alton said ... a lobster is basically just a bug. It's a big, tasty, non-icky bug, but a bug just the same. Give it a go!

"I send you this file in order to have your advice."   Here's my advice:  As Withnail would say, you can stick this file up your arse and fuck off whilst you're doing it!

I don't know if you've been hit with emailed copies of the now-infamous (for the last week, at least) SirCam worm/virus, but I've been getting at least 25 of them per day, all of them wrapped around files ranging in size from 200K to 2.2MB. When infected by the virus, it (among other things) chooses a random file from your hard drive, incorporates the virus into it and mails it to one or more random email addresses from the Outlook address book or one found in temporary cache files (which explains why I've been getting this from hundreds of strangers -- they must have visited my web site and had pages of it cached).

This is really beginning to piss me off, because I'm getting a minimum of 5MB per day of bullshit virus files in my email. As a Mac user I'm in no danger from these, but I quickly grew sick of having to download them with my mail. I also have no sympathy for anyone who's infected. If you're stupid enough to click on some strange attachment, you deserve whatever you get.

Fortunately, for Mac users deluged with this crap, there's a good solution, one that I've found invaluable. It's a nifty little shareware program called Mail Siphon, which enables you to log into your POP emailbox and selectively delete anything right there on the server, before you ever download it into your inbox. I always run it before checking my email, and whack these giant virus files before Eudora connects to pick up my mail. Even better, you can use it to do fake bounces, which might get you removed from some spammers' lists. Get it, and pay the shareware fee.

It was ... *gasp* ... murder!   Forensic scientists finally found the cause of death of the celebrated "Iceman", whose 5,300-year-old corpse was found frozen in the Tyrollean Alps, almost perfectly preserved. It seems that somebody shot him.

Doubtless it'll be handed over to the Homicide Division now, but it's probably unlikely that the culprit will ever be apprehended and brought to justice.

Will there be a domain name for sale soon?   That beauty parlor down the street might wanna snatch it up. Salon magazine's stock price is now down to a whopping 15¢ a share, and they're about to be delisted from the NASDAQ.

  Tuesday, June 24, 2001
So much for Hurricane Camille.   That's nothing compared to the dust storm that's taking place right now on the planet Mars.

Imagine a dust storm over every continent of Earth, one which raises the temperature of the atmosphere by 30°C. Hoo-boy.

  Monday, July 23, 2001
In the name of freedom and democracy?   I saw a horrifying photograph on MonkeyFist, and you need to see it too. You need to remember it every time you hear any bullshit from George W. Bush or any of the other leaders of the so-called G8 nations, all of whom seem to have a criminal lack of outrage and remorse over the fact that an unarmed 23-year-old protested named Carlo Giuliana was shot dead in the streets by thuggish police, who then proceeded to run over his body with a police vehicle.

"I put on some makeup, turn on the eight-track..."   We saw "Hedwig and the Angry Inch", which was as fabulous as I expected it to be. Sweet, funny, and it rocked, too. (I didn't need much prompting for the sing-along part.) I won't say anything more about it. See it if you haven't already, don't read reviews and avoid any possibility of pre-conceived notions.

Grumpy old women.   Here are some conversations overheard from two elderly women at the movie yesterday, to whom I could not refer as "ladies" but only with the Pythonesque "Old Crone!"

They meandered their way over the seats and over to my right just before the movie was supposed to start. The second of the two, as I was standing to let her pass, stopped right in front of my seat, reached out and groped me just shy of the Official Crotchetal Area. Two more inches to the right and she'd have gotten a handful. "Are you there?" she said.

"Yes, I'm here," I said, annoyed and very close to adding, "And would you mind getting your hand away from my dick?" I wondered who the hell she thought she was speaking to; someone from whom she thought she had permission to grope?

During the show they talked -- croaked, really -- at full conversational volume with voices deepened and made froglike and raspy by an apparent two-thirds-of-a-century of cigarette smoking. They were also particularly adept at timing their croaking to coincide with moments of complete silence on the screen.

In reference to a trailer for an upcoming film, which showed a shot of the protagonists passing a road sign that said "YOU SUCK, 10 MILES":

Crone #1:  "What do they mean when they say, 'you suck?'"

Crone #2:  "Uhh ... well, it's when you take someone and ... uh, I'll explain it to you later."

Other delightful tidbits of conversation included,

Crone #2:  "Who's that? Is that the Angry Inch girl?" (said long after Hedwig made her first appearance)

Crone #1:  "I don't understand what all the people are laughing at." (during one of the film's funniest moments)

Crone #2:  "ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ..." (after about an hour)

It's interesting to see how the patience of the crowd plummeted (mine included). It fairly quickly went from "Aww, what a couple of sweet old ladies," to "Heehee, they're kinda eccentric, aren't they," to "Uh, ladies ... it's time to be quiet," to "If you two old bats don't shut the feck up we're going to wrap those canes around your blue-haired heads."

R.I.P.   Acclaimed writer and photographer (as well as namesake of my email software) Eudora Welty passed away in Jackson, Mississippi at the age of 92 -- a long life well-lived.

All things must pass (but not quite yet, thank you very much.)   Guitarist, singer, songwriter and former Beatle George Harrison wants you to know that reports of his imminent death have been greatly exaggerated.

Doritos! Try Nacho Cheese, Cool Ranch, and our new flavor, toxic perchlorethylene!   Snack food giant Frito-Lay is seeking to permanently seal court documents that show some of its pretzels and chips were tainted with toxins, including substances similar to kerosene and cleaning solvents.

Ooh.   Although not much seems to have been reported yet, apparently Stephen King is about to try his hand at network series television. The show will be called "Stephen King's 'The Kingdom'", and will debut in the fall of 2002. Just make sure that the writing is king, okay y'all?

In other S.K. news, a sequel to The Talisman is due out on September 15, and will once again be co-written with Peter Straub. Apparently it also answers lingering questions about certain characters in the Dark Tower novels, which means that I should probably read parts 2, 3 and 4 of the Dark Tower series before reading this one.

I've only read The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger, after I bought it in a limited edition illustrated hardback upon its release in 1982 for $25, a fairly whopping sum at the time for a starving gradual student. Apparently that edition is now worth over $600, which now leaves me pleased that I skipped a few meals to buy that book when I did.

For the record, I do not live in the San Fernando Valley. Never have, never would, never will. I live about 15 miles south, in Los Angeles proper, not far from the Miracle Mile.

  Friday, July 20, 2001
"Okay, I'm going to step off the LEM now."   Today is the 32nd anniversary Apollo 11's first manned landing on the moon. Read a little about the mission if you haven't already (and remember how exciting and scary it was, as Neil Armstrong landed the Eagle in the Sea of Tranquility with less than 30 seconds of fuel remaining in the Lunar Module), or go rent episodes 5 and 6 of "From the Earth to the Moon"; better yet, rent or buy the entire series, because it's brilliant. And remember ... Neil meant to say "That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind," even if that's not what we heard.

So now it's 2001. Where the hell is Clavius Base and Space Station V?

So long, Gunther.   Animal trainer Gunther Gebel-Williams, of the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus, died of brain cancer yesterday at age 66, after 21 years in the ring and bearing scars of a few scrapes with a tiger or three that took over 500 stitches to close.

I can't count the number of times I saw him at the circus when I was a kid. He was always amazing to watch, and there was never a stereotypical whip-and-chair to be seen.

"Respect is the foundation of my training style," he once said. "I worked with tigers as a trainer, never a tamer. ... I did not use brutality. To train my animals I used words, always words."
Wouldn't Lysol or 409 have worked better?   Hindu nationalists tried to wash the Taj Mahal with a mixture of water from the Ganges River (which is massively polluted with raw sewage, industrial waste, fertilizers and pesticides) and cow urine in order to "purify" it after it was visited by the president of Pakistan. This mixture is considered pure by many Hindus.

Remind me not to hire this particular group of Hindu nationalists to come over and clean my house.

Quote of the day.   "Oh how wonderful, really wonderful, opera would be if there were no singers!"

-- Gioacchino Rossini, composer of the operas "The Barber of Seville" and "Otello"

  Tuesday, July 17, 2001
Une culture au carrefour (continue).   The Times-Picayune continues with Day 3 of their series of stories on Cajun culture and its chances for survival. Read about a lost generation of Cajun French speakers intent on saving the language, the semantic differences between Cajun French and European French, the weekly all-French music and storytelling variety show "Rendez-Vous des Cajuns" at the Liberty Theatre in Eunice, and the baggage of the nasty old pejorative term "coonass".

Insanity is.   Trying to sleep. In a room. Containing. One. Mosquito.


Fruits and nuts!   No, I'm not referring to Archie Bunker's description of California. It's a wonderful site by Mark Rieger, based at the University of Georgia, with everything you always wanted to know about 39 varieties of fruits and nuts:  almond, apple, apricot, banana/plantain, blackberry, blueberry, cherry, chestnut, cranberry, currant, fig, gooseberry, grapefruit, grapes, hazelnuts, kiwifruit, lemon, lime, loquat, macadamia, mango, mayhaw, olive, orange, papaya, peach, pear, pecan, pineapple, pistachio, plum, pomegranate, quince, raspberry, strawberry, tangerine and walnut. And I mean everything.

A modest proposal?   The Philip Morris company have released a report in which they actually claim to have done public good by causing tobacco deaths. They assert that they saved the Czech government millions of dollars because the 99+% of Czechs who smoke like stinking chimneys die earlier. Savings on health care, pensions and housing for the elderly totaled $30 million, the report said. Thirty million, woohoo! Party time!

Remember this next time you see all those appalling, syrupy, self-aggrandizing commercials about all the good things Philip Morris do with all the money they made from producing, advertising and selling products that kill millions of people a year, and then bragging how much money is savid by causing early death. Too bad Loki and Bartleby didn't show up in their corporate boardroom.

Quote of the day.   "The surest sign that intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe is that it has never tried to contact us."

-- Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

  Monday, July 16, 2001
Une culture au carrefour.   The New Orleans Times-Picayune is doing a fine series on Cajun culture in Louisiana (don't miss the photo gallery). So far there have been articles on the struggle of the Cajuns to reclaim their culture, folks who hold on to the old ways, Cajun home cooking, tourism in Acadiana and the Balfa family legacy and what they've meant to Cajun music. The series concludes tomorrow.

It doesn't get any better than this.   Speaking of Cajun home cooking...

My friend Sarah Savoy was kind enough to share some of her incredible work with me. I had been looking for a good recipe for Cajun-style catfish courtbouillion, and she obliged -- but that's not all. As part of a Louisiana folklore class project at LSU, she went out with her father Marc Savoy and a few other folks to cook the dish over an open fire in the outdoors, the way it should be done. The recipe includes some wonderful history and storytelling from Marc and his friends.

This is probably the best contribution I've had to the Gumbo Pages since it started 7 years ago, and we're lucky to have it. Thanks, Sarah!

Ack! Whadda we gonna do?!   Hurricane-watching in New Orleans is going to be an even more nerve-racking experience now. Nash Roberts is retiring, apparently for good this time.

The legendary TV weatherman, revered as much for his calm, level-headed presence as the accuracy of his hurricane path projections, is hanging up his black markers to care for his ailing wife Lydia, WWL-TV announced Thursday during its 6 p.m. newscast.

It's actually the third retirement announcement for Roberts, age 83, who also has suffered ill health in recent months. Roberts left WVUE in the 1970s, and retired from WWL's nightly newscasts in 1984.

But even after that, for every serious storm that entered the Gulf of Mexico, Roberts reappeared on Channel 4 newscasts. And in the age of Super Doppler and satellite imagery, there remained for hundreds of thousands of New Orleanians a great sense of relief in seeing Roberts on screen with his throwback bulletin board-style weather map and felt-tip pens.

Roberts cemented his reputation with local viewers by making bull's-eye landfall predictions for Hurricanes Audrey in 1956, Betsy in 1965 and Camille in 1969.

That's the thing. If Nash said a hurricane was going to land somewhere, it did. If Nash said that a hurricane wasn't going to land somewhere, it didn't. He was the first meteorologist to predict that Hurricane Camille would hit Mississippi and not New Orleans, when everyone else was saying that New Orleans was about to be destroyed.

All due respect to Bob Breck, but there ain't no replacing Nash Roberts. I wish him and Lydia well.

Cocktails from Norway.   A while back I had a delightful email conversation with Lina from Sweden, who with her other half Alex is a bar manager and bartender in Norway. She's been kind enough to share some Scandinavian alcohol lore as well as some scrumptious cocktail recipes she and Alex have created, and have offered to share them with my readers. Amounts are metric, so get those conversion calculators ready (or buy a metric shotglass).

Smooth and Dry, by Alex

4 cl Bacardi Limon Rum
1 cl dry orange Curação
1 cl fresh squeezed lime juice
1,5 cl Cranberry Ocean Spray
A tiny, tiny dash of Orange Monin syrup

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a chilled Martini glass. Add a peel of lemon.

This one we truly recommend.

Although I'm not much of a gin Martini fan, there are a lot of gin cocktails that I like, and this next one sounds fascinating. The finishing touch of the herb sprig reminds me of the Martini recipe that calls for an olive that's been stuffed with blue cheese ... savory cocktails!

Martini Thyme

Make an extra-dry gin Martini, but use green Chartreuse instead of vermouth. Add a fresh branch of thyme instead of the olive.

I also love drinks with silly puns in the name, as evidenced by having invented a drink called the Lillet Tomlin.

This next one looks delicious, but I'm not sure about the whipping cream. Last thing I need is cocktail that's even more fattening.

Min Mio, by Lina

2 cl Mount Gay rum
1,5 cl Licor 43
1 cl banana liqueur
3 cl whipping cream
Tiny dash of Monin Passionfruit syrup

Shake with ice, Strain into Martini glass. Small piece of mango on the rim of the glass, 2 leaves of mint.

I love the idea of using tiny dashes of Monin syrups for flavor, but not too much that you'd add too much sweetness.

I had asked her what people were drinking in Norway these days, and she bemoaned "the Cosmopolitan wave", along with the annoying fact that nobody seems to agree as to how to make it properly. I have to confess that I do like Cosmopolitans, but it's gotten to be the trendy drink these days (or what some folks call "that 'Sex In The City' drink") -- who wants to drink what everybody's drinking, anyway?! Hats off to Lina and Alex for making their Cosmos with Cointreau and real, fresh-squeezed lime juice. I'd pass out from the shock if anybody did that in Los Angeles. They also use Absolut Citron for their Cosmos, and I then inadvertently insulted Swedish national honor by saying that I don't like Absolut and find it harsh-tasting. I guess I'll have to stretch my diplomatic skills to the limit to keep Sweden from declaring war on the United States.

I got an interesting history on Swedish hooch, too. Lina says:

Like the Americans, who among others did their own "bathtub gin" during the 20s and 30s, the Scandinavians (mostly Norwegians and Swedes) have been making their own "bathub vodka ", simply called "homeburn". I guess you might have heard about it before. Until 1998 it was actually legal to produce this rejecting spirit at home, here in Norway. Legal to distill and drink, but not to sell, which everyone does anyway. If you like to, we can find out the exact way of making it for you. :-)

Like most Swedes and Norwegians, we have both tried it, and yes, it`s terrible. Tastes like a mix of poor vodka and tequila. You find it most commonly in smaller towns, and in the northern part of Norway and Sweden. You can easily find it with an alcohol strength of 90%. There have been some cases of blindness, and people ending up dead after consuming it.

It's very popular with something called "coffegjøk" ("coffeebird"), simply a regular cup of coffee, mixed with 1 - 2 ounces of homeburn! It comes from the old Swedish history of drinking. The Swedes hade a numbers of daily "shots", going back to the beginning of the 17th Century. For example, the "Wake up shot" which should be taken before you get out of bed, to keep bad spirits away from you during the day, or the "Goodnight shot" to avoid the feeling of fleas biting you.

People thought that because homeburn was made mostly of potatoes, it contained all the vitamins a man could need! They even gave it to their children! The Swedish saying "sup" comes from "soppa" (soup). People used to drink it in the morning like a soup with some bread in it. They also belived that you could cure an alcoholic, by giving him a "dead man's sup" -- they poured the homeburn into a dead man's mouth, kept it there for a while... and then gave it to the alcoholic. If this couldn`t cure him, nothing could!!!

The temptation to create a drink called "The Dead Man's Sup" is overwhelming.

Lina went on to say that long drinks (a.k.a. "highballs") are currently quite popular in Norway, and as cocktail aficionadoes they're not too keen on them ("Boring!"). She did offer a few recipes for what's popular there now, for anyone who might be interested:

"Fjellbekk" ("Mountain Stream")

2 cl Linie Aquavit
2 cl Vodka
1,5 cl Lime Cordial (or Rose's Lime Juice)
Top up with sprite or 7-up.

Enjoy... (or not!)

Linie is a typical aquavit, very famous in Norway, mostly served as a shot (especially at Christmas and Easter), but also with beer or just as it is. Tastes of typical spices and herbs, used for aquavit as cumin, dill, fennel, etc.

This aquavit is famous for its unique voyage around the world. Stored in old sherry casks, shipped to Australia and back, and crossing the equator (linie) twice on its travels. The story behind it is that the Norwegians sold aqvavit to Australia and at one time they brought to much aboard so they had to bring it back to Norway. When it came back the temperature changes and the rollings at sea had devoloped a smooth and ripe aqvavit -- Linie Aqvavit.

Even though I'm not a big long drink fan (Bellissimos and Chuck-style gin and tonics excepted), I'm tempted to try this one.

"Prince Of Norway"

2 cl Vodka
2 cl Marie Brizard Apry (apricot flavoured brandy)
2 cl Lime Cordial (or Rose's Lime Juice)
Top up With 7-Up or Sprite.

This one actually won the Norwegian Championship in the Longdrink category some years ago. Unbelievable if you ask me... (says Lina)

This next one actually brought back some memories...

"Gul Genser" ("Yellow Sweather"!!!)

2 cl vodka
2 cl banana liqueur
Orange juice

Add ice cubes to a tall glass, add the vodka, then the orange juice almost to fill, then float the crème de banana. Another popular (boring) longdrink (says Lina).

Memory lane ... one night while staying up all night and getting drunk at my parents' house (while they lay sleeping), my old friend and roommate Matt Brown and I were raiding my dad's bar and concocting drinks. We made this exact same thing, but called it a "Clockwork Banana". (Ugh.)

Lina says that she and Alex

are very much into "designed martinis", and prefer working and selling them. We put a lot of weight on the old "Classic Cocktails", working with them, and trying to find out the best way of making them without changing the original recipe too much.

We prefer drinking cocktails before longdrinks. These are some of the drinks we like:   Daiquiri, Caipirinha, Monte Cristo, Mojito, Horse's Neck, Kontiki, Fidel Castro, Old Fashioned, Bellini, Hemingway's Daiquiri

I'd like to thank Lina and Alex for sharing their cocktails and their imbibing history. I think that if I'm ever in Norway I'm going to have to stop by their bar for a drink or three!

Quote of the day.   "I can now say that I have experience cleaning Easy Cheese Pasteurized Processed Cheese Spread (from a can, American flavored) out of a Powerbook keyboard. Damn pressurized cheesefoods."

-- Damien Barrett, professional Macintosh technician

Where do I begin? It disturbs me to the core of my being that such a product even exists (aerosol can cheese! *scream*), and its very existence is almost enough to drive me into the middle of the Amazon à la The Mosquito Coast ... and what the hell was some doof doing spraying it into his keyboard anyway, or glopping food around anywhere near his laptop? Sheesh. I wonder if Damien was able to keep a straight face when this guy brought his Powerbook in.

  Saturday, July 14, 2001
R.I.P., Ernie.   The Emperor of the Universe was laid to rest yesterday. From all reports, it was a pretty damned good sendoff.

  Thursday, July 12, 2001
All Hail The Emperor!   O come all ye Loyal Subjects! You are officially invited:

The Universe is invited to attend
both the wake and funeral
to celebrate the life of our Emperor
and the Reigning King of the Krewe du Vieux
Gallier Hall
545 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, Louisiana

The Emperor will be Laid in State
Thursday, July 12, 2001

Visitation 4pm to 8pm
Oral Tributes 8pm to 9pm
Musical Tributes 9pm to 11pm.

Friday, July 13, 2001
Visitation 8am until 10:45am
Funeral Service 11am to 1pm

Jazz Funeral Second Line Procession 1pm
To St. Louis Cemetery #2
(Middle Square)

following internment
shall be at the
Mid-City Lanes
Rock 'n' Bowl
4133 South Carrollton Avenue
(at Tulane Avenue)
in New Orleans

Musicians are invited to play a tune
during the musical tribute at the wake
if you contact Pat Jolly in advance.
(504) 899-8994

Empress Antoinette requests
costume-like attire
to celebrate the Emperor's Funeral

  Wednesday, July 11, 2001
Battle of the brass bands.   The brass band tradition in New Orleans is still going strong, and as in the old days they still perform and sometimes meet one another on the streets. In this month's feature article in OffBeat Magazine we read about the camaraderie that exists between the bands ... until they meet on some street corner and a musical battle ensues. "In the words Tanio Hingle, leader of the New Birth Brass Band, 'That's when you originate more of your music.'"

Yeah, bra! (Another drink, please.)   Wes and I have become huge fans of Cruzan rums, particularly their line of tropical fruit-flavored rums -- pineapple, banana and coconut. The flavor is amazing and true to the fruit, and it's not cloyingly sweet as many fruit liqueurs are. Best of all, they make fabulous Daiquiris.

You know how to make a Daiquiri, right? First, let me tell you how not to make a Daiquiri. Rum plus frozen "Daiquiri mix" from a little six-ounce canister. It's so simple to make a real one that it boggles the mind that people wound use those awful mixes. It's rum and fresh squeezed lime juice, 2:1, with a teaspoon of sugar (or sugar syrup, preferably). That's it. If you've never had a proper one, you won't believe how good it is. (And remember, as DrinkBoy says ... never, never use Rose's lime "juice" in this drink.)

The Cruzan flavored rums are ideal for this. To make it even better, you can usually get them for about nine or ten bucks a bottle. Here's our recent favorite:

New Banana Daiquiri

2 ounces Cruzan Banana Rum
1 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon sugar syrup or bar sugar

Combine in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice and shake; strain into chilled cocktail glasses. Garnish with a lime wheel.

This drink is perfect for a hot summer day. We also like doing them with one ounce each of the pineapple and coconut rums, making a "Coco-Piña" Daiquiri (or, "A Piña Colada That Doesn't Suck").

Thou shalt not commit adultery.   U. S. Rep. Gary Condit (D-Ceres), an evangelican Christian rated highly by the right-wing Christian Coalition and hailed as "a stellar example of a revival of Christian presence in national politics", has finally admitted to having an affair with missing intern Chandra Levy after denying it three times (quelle coincidence) in police interviews.

Why then, given these revelations, is it not surprising that Condit, according to yesterday's Robert Scheer column (annoyingly unlinked by the L. A. Times), co-sponsored legislation calling for the display of the Ten Commandments in public buildings, roundly condemned Bill Clinton's affair with You Know Who, voted solidly to the right on social conservative issues, and went out of his way to point out participation in a weekly Capitol Bible study group?

How easy it is to forget the admonishment against adultery when it is not prominently posted at every turn in the Capitol.

The argument typically advanced in support of the government's dabbling in religion is that the constitutional mandate of a separation of church and state erodes the power of religious truths and leads inevitably to a liberal, secular and amoral society.

How then is one to explain Condit, who has been an evangelical Christian all his life? There's nothing liberal or secular about him. He's a strong pro-life, family values, Bible-quoting son of a Baptist minister who is rated highly by the Christian Coalition and flunks out with the ACLU.

Don't blame his moral lapses on the influence of decadent Hollywood movies or the '60s counterculture. Condit spent the first 19 years of his life in Oklahoma, attending tent revival meetings with his minister father and singing in a quartet on a Christian radio show. When he moved to California in 1967, it wasn't to join a hippie commune in San Francisco but rather to accompany his father, who became the pastor of the Village Chapel Free Will Baptist Church in Ceres, a town in the conservative San Joaquin Valley.

The revelation that sin is widespread in the ranks of judgmental politicians prompted the Rev. Barry Lynn of the Americans United For Separation of Church and State to caution that "Congress should probably spend more time obeying the Ten Commandments and less time trying to exploit them for crass political purposes."

Politicians should also learn to deal honestly with the consequences of their temptations. Obviously Condit was so preoccupied with his appearance as a man of virtue that he did not act with virtuous haste and honesty in telling the police in a timely fashion exactly what he knew.

We've really got to watch these shrill bastards who are the self-appointed Keepers of Public Morality. Seems that each and every one ends up being an enormous hypocrite. If you're a moral person, simply live a moral life, and keep your big mouth shut. Sheesh.

Not so fast.   The White House has backed off on a promised plan to "faith-based" charities to legally discriminate against gay men and lesbians if they accept taxpayer dollars. Dubya and his cronies caved under pressure from Democrats, gay and lesbian groups, and (we can hope) a smidgen of basic goddamned humanity. If you want to use your religion to discriminate, you can do it without my tax dollars, thank you very much.

Mommmmm! There's a liberal boogeyman under my bed!   A new study states that conservative Republicans have three times as many nightmares as liberal Democrats, and these nightmares typically feature "aggression, misfortune and physical threats".

See what you get.

  Tuesday, July 10, 2001
More on the Emperor.   Here's a longer article about the passing of New Orleans R&B great Ernie K-Doe, The Emperor of the Universe. Incidentally, if you go to his web site, it mentions that His Majesty was "the greatest Boy-Child ever conceived at Charity Hospital". Um, I know he was proud of being born there, but I don't think he was actually conceived there too. There's also info on the site about funeral arrangements, and fund-raisers to help his widow Antoinette pay the hospital bills.

Czech Mr. Popeye.   No, this has nothing to do with Eddie Bo. It's just an opportunity for a spectacularly band and meaningless pun.

Actually, this is a little bit about Czech recipes, and a puzzling question brought up by this site's illustrations. Do Czech women really cook naked?

Pare, pare, fizz, fizz.   A group of ... um, strange people have patented a process to carbonate fresh fruit. Yep, they're called FizzyFruit (natch). Note the explicit exploding-banana denial. Ohh, I dunno, Crow ...

This movie kills fascists.   Here's an article about the excellent new film I mentioned a while back, "Man In the Sand", about Billy Bragg and Wilco's work on the "Mermaid Avenue" projects, setting 's hundreds of archived lyrics to music and recording them for the world to enjoy.

"The Right-Wing Big Lie Machine."   Former conservative pundit and darling of the right-wing David Brock has come out with a new book in which he comes clean. He admits that the vicious articles and subsquent book he wrote discrediting Anita Hill during the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings was falsified, so that he could curry favor with the conservative high-and-mighty.

  Monday, July 9, 2001
Back to work, ugh.   I had a rather enjoyable five-day holiday from the Fourth through yesterday, and I hope you managed to play a little hooky and have some fun too. Presumably you didn't miss me, since presumably you have far better things to do on vacation than read weblogs.

Whee!   It's here! (I love it.)

Upshift, baby!   Why manual transmissions rock; or, as Wes puts it, the difference between merely riding, and truly driving.

  Thursday, July 5, 2001
The Emperor is dead.   His Majesty Ernie K-Doe, New Orleans R&B musician perhaps best known for the hit song "Mother=In-Law" and self-proclaimed Emperor of the Universe, died this morning.

Besides the string of minor R&B hits he had, K-Doe was quite the celebrity in New Orleans. He opened a small club called Ernie's Mother-in-Law Lounge "to honor himself", as my friend Michael put it. The club was filled with "wonderfully cheesy K-Doe memorabilia", and the Emperor himself was "often behind the bar, often with hair extensions. Every Sunday he would play with a makeshift band, which sometimes would be just a drum machine, and sometimes a who's who of local R&B guys."

I'd never managed to make it to the Mother-in-Law Lounge, which is a shame. I do remember Ernie's old show on WWOZ (who are running musical tributes to him today); he'd talk-- well, he'd shout over the recordings, usually singing along with them if they were his. He was a certifiable nutcase but, as Michael put it this morning, "he was so damn loveable that the city will miss him like crazy." Amen, brother.

Mmmmm, pig!   Hope everybody had a safe and fun Fourth. We hung out with some friends and barbecued, had a blast, and ate lots of pig ... accompanied by chicken, potato salad, and my Aunt Faye's fabulous baked beans. It's long walks and rabbit food for the rest of the long weekend for me, I'm afraid.

  Tuesday, July 3, 2001
We're doomed.   The United States of America is becoming a nation of idiots. In fact, one-fifth of the next generation is already there.

One in five American teen-agers doesn't know the answer to this fourth-grade history question: From what country did America declare its independence?

Twenty-two percent of those who responded to the survey did not know the answer was England. Fourteen percent thought it was France.

The "Morning Fix" continued, probably not too far off the mark: "Three percent thought it was Texas. Five percent thought the Declaration of Independence was when those slaves dumped all that coffee in that Boston river, thus sparking the Gold Rush. Eight percent thought the Fourth of July commemorated the invention of fireworks." But the vast majority probably know each and every word of the "lyrics" to all of Eminem's "songs". Oy.

Yeah!   By fall I'll gleefully be making progress on my project to own DVD copies of every film on my Favorite Films list.

1.  Jiri Menzel's "Closely Watched Trains" (based on the novel by Bohumil Hrabal, and which won the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1968) is being released by Criterion on September 18.

2.  Anthony Shaffer's "The Wicker Man" is due on August 21.

3.  As I mentioned earlier, the 4-disc box set of "The Godfather" trilogy will be out October 9.

This leaves only four movies as yet unavailable in my top 20:  Victor/Victoria (my favorite musical), Bedazzled (the original Stanley Donen picture from 1967, not that disappointing remake), Breaking Away (which has been a favorite since I saw it at a preview screening at the Robert E. Lee Theatre in New Orleans when I was 15) and Paris, Texas (the nine-minute, one-shot scene where Harry Dean Stanton finally reveals himself to Nastassja Kinski is absolutely amazing).

I'm pretty confident that they'll get to these soon. *wait patiently*

Stay out of Metairie!   Okay, despite my blatant and outright dislike of (most of) Jefferson Parish (i.e., there needs to be a really good reason for me to go there, kinda like how Orange County is to Los Angeles), perhaps it's a little too harsh for me to recommend staying out of it entirely. (There are a lot of good restaurants there, for one.) But you definitely ought avoid the intersection of Clearview Parkway and Veterans Boulevard, which was recently named as the ninth most dangerous intersection in the United States. Luckily, I manage to avoid that one when coming across the Huey P. Narrow and just hit da 10.

Erratum.   Looka! reader Stuart, a Scot living in America (or, to be technical about it, given his letter ... a Briton frae Scotland), points out an error and a bit of irony on the part of the San Francisco Chronicle:

Being Scottish and living in America where so many claim Irish and Scottish ancestory but seem to have no real idea of what that then means, I feel the need to correct the weblog story you have for July 3rd.

America did not declare themselves independent from England but from Britain; by 1707 the Crowns were united so that by 177, Britain, had been and, was the parent country not England. It is probably best for the newspaper not to try and correct the children before they get their own facts correct. Britain is a different political and geographical entity than England and the use of England is simply wrong.

I know it is petty and sounds silly, but maybe when you have been cornered in a bar by someone prefessing their intimate knowledge of their "Scotch" ancestry while not getting one single fact correct; or being able to find that there seem to be an enormous number of people descended from "Rob Roy" etc then you may not find this so petty.

Thanks, Stuart. I should have caught that myself, but I wasn't paying attention. However ... the English started it, didn't they! :-)

Nota bene -- the word "Scotch" is best used to describe sticky tape, and must never be used to describe people. You're better off using the term "Scots" to describe both the people and the whisky, but many Scots seem to allow "Scotch" to describe their beloved uisge beatha.

  Monday, July 2, 2001
A.I.: Ambitious Insuccess.   Many astonishing moments, many great disappointments, lots to think about, lots to curse as unrealized. Oh well.

Wes' main complaint was Spielberg's inadequate screenplay, apparently the first he's written himself since "Close Encounters". "He didn't understand the source material," he said. If you haven't read the source material, you should. Brian Aldiss' story "Supertoys Last All Summer Long" is available online.

Artificial intelligence pioneer Ray Kurzweil rather liked the film, and given his field of expertise has some interesting insights into the film.

Oy, my feet!   Standing on them for four-and-a-half hours on a sultry July day in the San Fernando Valley can be quite a test of endurance. Writer-director Kevin Smith made an appearance at Dave's Video in Studio City for a signing yesterday, commemorating the release of the special DVD edition of "Dogma". I couldn't believe the line. There were at least two more hours' worth of people behind us after we had waited in line from 11am to 3:15pm. Smith's hand must have been ready to fall off (from the looks of the signature by the time we got up to him, his name could be changed to K-squiggle S-squiggle).

Afterwards was a fruitful trip to Dangerous Visions Bookstore, the last remaining SF bookstore in L.A. (that I know of). A fruitful visit there as well; picked up the new David Gerrold novel Bouncing Off the Moon, sequel to Jumping Off the Planet (signed, no less), plus Harlan Ellison's 1982 collection Stalking the Nightmare in a hardback edition.

Seeing that I neglected to say so, someone should tell the proprietors of Dangerous Visions that the bottle of hydrogen peroxide on the shelf in their bathroom expired in April of 1989.

We're all going to heaven, lads! Weyyyyyyyy!   I may have been merely a tagalong to the Kevin Smith signing, but I saw something on the New Releases shelf at Dave's that made me do a double-take worthy of a Tex Ritter cartoon; I was suddenly doubly glad to be there.

The first season of "Father Ted", one of my favorite shows and in my opinion the funniest comedy since "Fawlty Towers", is now available on DVD

"I'm not a fascist. I'm a priest. Fascists dress up in black and tell people what to do. Whereas priests... er... More drink!" -- Father Ted Crilly

More examples of why Microsoft is bad.   Apologists, take note. Everyone else ... if you end up using Microsoft operating systems merely "because that's what everyone else has", before long you will have nothing to do and nowhere to go that isn't completely controlled by Microsoft, unless someone reins them in. The latest example:

Shortly after Thanksgiving last year, Philip Gerskovich, who was deep into the design of a new digital camera for Eastman Kodak Co., discovered his company was headed for a collision with Microsoft Corp.

His team was developing new software to manipulate digital photos and needed to make sure it was compatible with Microsoft's latest version of Windows, the basic software that runs most new computers. An early version of Microsoft's newest software, code-named Whistler, had just arrived at Kodak's software labs. When Mr. Gerskovich and his team loaded it onto their computers, they were shocked by what they saw.

When Kodak cameras were plugged into a PC loaded with Kodak software, it was Microsoft's own photo software that popped up -- not Kodak's. Camera customers would have to go through a cumbersome process to get Kodak's software to pop up every time, and most would probably just use Microsoft's.

More troubling, the Kodak team found that the new program steered orders for picture prints to companies that would have to pay to be listed in Windows, and that these companies also would be asked to pay Microsoft a fee on every photo sent through Windows.

The Kodak team felt double-crossed. They had worked with Microsoft and the camera industry for a year on a new photo-transfer standard that allowed Windows to recognize when a camera was plugged in. Now, Kodak felt, the standard was being used against Kodak and other digital-camera makers, because it favored Microsoft's competing camera software, embedded in the planned new version of Windows.


What surprises me is that any of Microsoft's corporate "partners" trusts them at all.

And yet more ...   In a preliminary license for its fortcoming wireless Internet tools, Microsoft have explicitly banned the use of open source code, which it now labels as "potentially viral", and specifically bans the Linux OS and the Perl scripting language. Distribution of the source is banned in conjunction with what the license describes as any "Publicly Available Software", thusly defined therein:

Publicly Available Software includes, without limitation, software licensed or distributed under any of the following licenses or distribution models, or licenses or distribution models similar to any of the following: (A) GNU's General Public License (GPL) or Lesser/Library GPL (LGPL), (B) The Artistic License (e.g., PERL), (C) the Mozilla Public License, (D) the Netscape Public License, (E) the Sun Community Source License (SCSL), and (F) the Sun Industry Standards License (SISL).

They don't play well with other children, it seems.

"Microsoft has identified Linux as its potential competitor and is attempting to limit its use," said Albert Foer, an attorney and president of the American Antitrust Institute, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit group that acts as watchdog for competitive factors in the American economy. "Microsoft seems to be going ahead as if antitrust doesn't exist and won't affect them."

For a company with monopoly power, "these provisions could be construed as attempting to leverage their current position in the operating system market into new markets," a potential violation of antitrust, said Tim Cahn, an attorney at Legal Strategies Group in Emeryville, California. Whil software companies can put whatever restrictions they choose into a software license, "this isn't just another software company. This is Microsoft," Cahn said.

  Saturday, June 30, 2001
Accordions galore!   Today "Down Home" will be participating in RootsWorld's 4th Annual Free Reed Festival, which celebrates the music of accordions, melodeons, concertinas, bandoneons and all the worldwide variety of squeezeboxen. Tune in via KCSN's website with your Windows Media Player at the ready, from 3 to 5pm Pacific time.

We'll be hearing squeezeboxen from Québec to Louisiana to Texas, Mexico and further south, from Ireland to Finland to Lesotho. Should be fun. And remember ... FEAR NO ACCORDIONS!

Speaking of Harlan Ellison...   Last Tuesday I had one of those "only in L.A." experiences.

In mid-afternoon my friend Andy emailed me asking, "Do you know anything about a Harlan Ellison reading and signing tonight? Apparently it's at Pink's, of all places." Pink's is not a bookstore. It's a hot dog stand.

A very venerable one at that, founded by Paul Pink in 1939 and family-owned and -run ever since. Real dogs with a skin that crackles when you bite into it. Spicy chili make of ... some kind of meat, pulverized until it's practically spreadable, swimming in orange grease. Available in dozens of variations and permutations of toppings, they're basically works of art. (Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, my body will only tolerate one or two of these per annum.)

Harlan's got a new book out, The Essential Ellison: A 50-Year Retrospective, revised and expanded, and figured that Pink's might have been a little more fun than a bookstore for this event. And after all, it was the setting of his fabulous story, "Prince Myshkin, and Hold the Relish". What's more, if you bought a hardback copy of the book at the event, you'd get $10 worth of free Pink's food. How could I pass it up? On three hours' notice, we agreed to meet there at the appointed hour.

I didn't bother trying to call Wes; I knew he wouldn't be able to make it by 7, and by that time I was conspiring to give him the signed book as a gift (he got it last night, which is why I'm writing about this today instead of the day after it happened). There was a moderate crowd at Pink's, waiting in an interminable line to buy books. Interesting crowd, as is usual at such an event, which included the inevitable putz who brought a suitcase full of what was apparently his entire Harlan Ellison library for the man to sign. (I have a special appellation for such a person -- "greedy, inconsiderate bastard." There are lots of other people who'd like to get books signed, and Harlan doesn't need to stay there all night just to sign all 47 volumes you brought.)

The Man Himself finally arrived, greeted one and all, tried to make sure that everyone had gotten a hot dog and was happy, spent what seemed like an eternity assembling his special podium, signed a few books, then led an assault on the garage door of a house across the alley from Pink's back patio. He thought they were playing their music too loud, and recruited four or five people from the crowd to pound on the door. "HEY!" he shouted. "THE COPS ARE OUT HERE!" Nobody came out, but the music did go down. I can imagine them cowering inside, trembling in fear as one of America's most celebrated writers, seemingly insane, was pounding on their garage door, screaming like a madman.

I never dreamed it would get this entertaining.

He read a little, he signed a little, and I went to stand in an even longer line to get my bacon cheese chili dog with tomatoes (oh my GOD, it was good), seasoned fries (y'know, I remember when you couldn't get fries at Pink's, when the venerable counterman named Johnny would scowl at you if you ordered them; "You want french fries, go to McDonald's!") and a Peach Nehi (y'know, I remember when all the soda you could get at Pink's was a kosher brand called Mitz, which was quite good; their slogan was "Don't schvitz, drink Mitz!"). While I was waiting in line I have a very nice chat with a gentleman I instantly recognized, a man by the name of Walter Koenig, who as you may remember portrayed Mr. Chekov on "Star Trek". I wasn't surprised to see him there, as he's an old friend of Ellison's, and as we chatted I thought, "If, when I was a 12-year-old 'Star Trek' fanatic, I knew that one day I'd be having a friendly chat in a hot dog line with Mr. Chekhov, not all that long after having sat in front of Mr. Sulu at the movies, I'd probably have passed out." Or something like that.

I really like living here.

You go, Arianna.   I never thought I'd hear myself saying this, but yesterday's column by Arianna Huffington is terrific.

Oddly enough, it's not archived on the L. A. Times website, so the link is to her own site. It's so full of quotable quotes that I hardly know where to begin. Perhaps just at the beginning, then...

As the dog days of summer approach, it's becoming clear that George W. Bush's presidential "To Do" list is even shorter than his attention span: Tax rates down? Check. Energy prices up? Check. T-ball given its rightful place in the national spotlight? Check. Checks in the mail? Check.

But it isn't just W's anemic agenda that has sputtered and keeled over, it's the very model of leadership that has dominated our democracy since the nation s founding. Bush's ever-diminishing stature is diminishing the presidency itself. In fact, it s the death knell for the "Great Man" theory of leadership, the military model of a single father figure to guide, protect us and set the national agenda.

With Dubya's dubious victory in November and his managerial innovations, like the CEO-in-chief approach and the Cheney prime ministership, it is now abundantly clear that you can be president and not be a leader -- that you can have power but no authority.

There was our sophomoric president, for example, earlier this week turning an Oval Office photo op with Ariel Sharon into an embarrassing display of presidential petulance. In the "Am not!" "Are too!" verbal jousting, Bush kept insisting, despite Sharon's unambiguous disagreement, that "progress" is being made in the Mideast. He used the term 13 times in 11 minutes.

Someone with more maturity -- say your average kindergartner -- would have taken Sharon's hint and dropped the subject after, oh, the fifth repetition. But not W, who insisted on lecturing the Israeli Prime Minister: "Progress is in inches, not in miles. But nevertheless, an inch is better than nothing." No word on whether he added: "I'm rubber, you're glue ..."


Read it. It's just delicious.

Such a deal.   The U. S. government spent $13.8 million on the McVeigh case. Also, at the behest of George W. Bush, the government wasted $20 million on a mass mailing, sending a letter to every American taxpayer for no other reason than for Dubya to take credit for the big-whoop $300 everyone's going to get.

Methinks he needs to start asking someone for permission to invoke his franking privileges. Children need proper supervision.

Hand me a gobstopper!   "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory", a longtime favorite of mine, is finally coming out on DVD in August. It'll feature commentary from the director, as well as from all the now-grown kids who were in the film, which should be a hoot. I hope they get the boy who played Charlie. It'll be interesting to get his perspective. He never did another movie after this one, and went on to become a dentist.

  Friday, June 29, 2001
Short stories to go.   Y'know, I'm kinda likin' Fictionwise.

You can download short stories and novels in Palm format .doc files, .pdf files, what have you, for prices ranging from about six bucks down to about 39¢. In fact, among many other things, you can get two of Harlan Ellison's finest stories to carry around in your Palm or Visor wherever you go for a measly $1.88.

"Repent, Harlequin!" said the Ticktockman.

"Get stuffed!" the Harlequin replied, sneering.

They specialize is science fiction, and you can usually get the current year's Hugo and Nebula nominees (the short stories, at least) for free. As far as Ellison's stuff goes ... sure, I'm paying for stories I've already bought copies of on paper. But this is like buying another copy, and let's face it, 89¢ is almost free, and it's right there in my Visor.

Don't get me wrong, I still love books: paper, flipping pages, smelling them (I love the smell of new books). Maybe this is just a novelty, but I do get a little bit of satisfaction putting a little money in Harlan's pocket, especially when some people seem hell-bent on pirating his work.

A bit late, no?   Looks like Tom Dula might be getting a pardon, 133 years after he was hanged for the murder of his pregnant girlfriend.

You probably know a bit about the case already. His story was a turned into well-known murder ballad around Beech Mountain, North Carolina. One day a traditional singer named Frank Proffitt sang the song, which local dialect had folks pronounce as "Tom Dooley", to Anne and Frank Warner; through the Warners, a group called The Kingston Trio heard it, recorded it in 1958, and the rest is folk music history.

Supporters say that Dula wouldn't have been convicted today, based on the evidence presented at his trial. Dula was quoted from the Afterlife as having said, "Gee, thanks, you bastards. Fat lot o' good it does me now."

Jackson blew it.   From Wired News:  "The Department of Justice could have had its biggest victory in years were in not for the rampant running of the mouth by Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson."

Comic strip of the day.   From June 16, Aaron McGruder's "The Boondocks, which I frequently enjoy (a funny daily comic page strip that pisses people off as well is a joy to behold).

Quote of the day.   "Why do people keep insisting that I join the 21st Century? I LIVE in the 21st Century! I just don't want to be bothered by the shitheads on the Internet!"

-- Harlan Ellison, who still does all his writing on an Olympic manual typewriter (two fingers, if you please)

Parenthetical anecdote.   Last night Wes went to Vroman's for a reading and book signing by Neil Gaiman (I had to work late ... *growl*); apparently Gaiman writes all of his first drafts longhand. With a fountain pen. Wow.

  Thursday, June 28, 2001
Wow ... justice finally prevails.   Former Yugoslav president and past and current war criminal Slobodan Milosevic was extradited by the government of Serbia to face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, and is now in custody in the Hague. Yugoslav President Vojislav Kostunica, an enemy of Milosevic, dutifully decried the extradition as being unconstitutional but was unable to prevent it, and in fact learned about the extradition via media reports.

In a delicious bit of irony, a provision of the 1990 Serbian Constitution, which was written by Milosevic, was used to justify his extradition. It stated that Serbia will not accept federal decisions if they are against its interests.

Stay tuned to independent news source B92 in Belgrade for further updates, including streaming audio.

I hope the bastard never sees the outside of a jail cell again for the rest of his life.

Justice Dept. 0, Evil Incarnate 1.   Microsoft and all their Borg drones are no doubt rejoicing over the appeals court ruling overturning Judge Jackson's breakup order and returning the case to the lower court, under the jurisdiction of another judge. However, remember that the bulk of the ruling dealt with Judge Jackson's alleged judicial misconduct, and that the appeals court still found that Microsoft used illegal means and anti-competetive conduct to maintain an operating system monopoly. It ain't over yet, folks.

Smart Tags 86'ed.   The "Smart Tags" feature, scheduled to be included in Microsoft's forthcoming Windows XP, has been dropped from the OS and will be dropped from non-beta versions of IE6. They're saying that they "just don't believe it's going to be ready", but I'll bet that it was primarily due to the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the idea of Microsoft essentially altering your content without your knowledge or permission adding new links in your pages to sites they have chosen. I was going to be really pissed if I had to add "opt-out" META tags to the more than 1,000 pages on my site, 'cause even if they were implementing this it should have been an opt-in kind of thing only.

Mmmm, "fresh" month-old meatloaf.   Yep, modern food processing techniques allow such a thing to be labeled "fresh" ... which makes me even more inclined to avoid processed food.

Quote of the day.   "I'd rather be remembered as a songwriter, than a singer with big tits and hair."

-- Dolly Parton (whose last two albums, The Grass is Blue and Little Sparrow, as well as her song on the "Songcatcher" soundtrack, are all brilliant)

  Wednesday, June 27, 2001
Hair of the three-headed, fire-breathing dog.   Somebody wrote me recently asking about cocktails containing Chartreuse. It's a powerful concoction, intensely herbal and 110 proof strong, not for everyone. I've been developing a taste for it, though, and I'm working up the courage to try the Tailspin, a current DrinkBoy favorite.


3/4 ounce Gin
3/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth
3/4 ounce Green Chartreuse
1 dash Campari

Shake with cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist and cherry.

Yowza. Oddly enough, the only thing holding me back is the vermouth. I'm still not much of a vermouth fan.

Bitter cultural irony.   The new season of CBS' execrable "Survivor" is preparing for production at the Shaba Game Reserve in Kenya, reports the SF Gate Morning Fix, which also said:

Activities there make it obvious that all-too-soon 16 very spoiled and utterly obnoxious Americans will be flown in to film the new "Survivor" episode, all healthy strong mostly white contestants vying for a $1 million cash price while the average Kenyan living nearby lives in a mud shack and makes an average of $1 a day. "We welcome the Americans and all the tourist dollars that will hopefully result from this show," said one Kenyan shopowner, smiling broadly and trying to make the best of it, while secretly hoping the Survivor cast members get eaten alive by rabid tigers.

Microsoft's really hidden files.   I came across this link yesterday, although I forgot where. It's the first of two M$-related links that made my hair stand on end, and it's regarding hidden files that apparently build up on Windows users' hard drives:

Apparently a name, address, and zip code aren't enough for the boys in Redmond. A cat we know by the name of The Riddler writes: "There are folders on your computer that Microsoft has tried hard to keep secret. Within these folders you will find . . . [a log of all] the sites you have ever visited . . . [and] ALL of your e-mail correspondence -- even after you've erased them from your trashbin." Sure, it's tempting to dismiss this as foolish paranoia -- until you realize that this article provides explicit, step-by-step instructions for uncovering these "really hidden files."

While you can't exactly expect unbiased reporting from a site called "", apparently this is true, whether you're paranoid or not. This definitely tends to give one pause, and makes me even happier that I use MacOS.

Microsoft-bot: I'm shutting you down, Jack!   The second eyebrow-raiser comes from David Coursey at ZDnet. He was working on his laptop while on an airplane, when his copy of Microsoft office suddenly popped up a box that said it had smelled something funny, and that he had to immediately insert his original Office installation CD or his copy of Office would be automatically disabled:

"If you don't perform the reactivation steps, Microsoft Office will go into Reduced Functionality Mode. In that mode you will not be able to save modifications to documents, or create a new document, and additional functionality may be reduced," said the "help" screen attached to the error message.

This was while he was at 35,000 feet, over 2,000 miles away from his original Office CD, and while on his way to a reporting gig at PC Expo. This is an example of software "functionality" that I never need and would never buy.

What's so bad about Microsoft?   you may ask. Given the two other M$-related links that popped up today, I couldn't resist this one too, cribbed from Cam. It offers an interesting analysis on what is wrong with Microsoft, from a user's perspective (bloat, backward incompatibility, perpetual upgrading, vaporware, predatory practices, bundling of inferior products, bugs bugs and more bugs, and insecurity), from a technical perspective (closed "standards", mutilation of existing standards, and lack of innovation) and from the perspective of everyone else (attempts at taking over appliance markets, attempts at buying the public's trust, and outright deception). Interesting reading.

The hard life of the spaghetti farmer.   It's tough indeed, but we're glad they do it. We're particularly glad for good years, when a bumper crop of spaghetti comes in, like back in 1957. Don't miss the video of the BBC report on the 1957 spaghetti crop.

Quote of the day.   "Attaining success in Hollywood is like climbing a gigantic mountain of cow flop, in order to pluck one perfect rose from the summit. And you find when you've made that hideous climb... you've lost the sense of smell."

-- Charles Beaumont, writer

June Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Steve Gardner, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Eric Labow, Michael Pemberton, Greg Beron and Andy Senasac.
chuq's links | the gumbo pages
creole and cajun recipe page | search this site

chuck taggart | email chuck (at) gumbopages (dot) com
This page is best viewed with your eyes, reading words.