the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, 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 @ 12:31am PDT, 8/31/2001

Blame this page on:
Chuck Taggart (who?)
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Looka! Archive

July 2001
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.

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Friends with pages:

pat and paul
tracy and david

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

The Mirror Project


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:

"Six Feet Under"
"The Sopranos"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Father Ted"
"Iron Chef"
"The Simpsons"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
David Grenier
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
The Making of a Restaurant
Mister Pants
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
The Other Side
Q Daily News
Robot Wisdom
Strange Brew
Therapy for the Inner Psycho
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar

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


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

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

  Friday, August 31, 2001
Sooo-EEEEE! Pig! Pig! Pig!   So what am I going to do with my first free Saturday (excluding vacations) in 13 years? We're cookin' a pig!

I've got a lot of friends in North Carolina, and I fell in love with North Carolina barbecue on my first visit the state. It's pork, always pork, boneless pork shoulder dry-rubbed with secret mixtures of brown sugar, salt, herbs and spices; cooked over a slow, smoky fire for six hours, mopped with sauce occasionally, then pulled into little thumb-sized pieces, served on buns with lots of tangy cole slaw, a peppery, vinegary barbecue sauce quite unlike the sweet, tomatoey sauces you're used to from Texas, Kansas City and KC Masterpiece bottles, with side dishes of hush puppies, baked beans, macaroni and cheese, plus lots of sweet tea, lemonade and beer. I've never tried doin' 'cue like this before, but with our friend Gregg at the grill with me contributin' some sides, I reckon we'll do rather well.

Jay Farrar's forthcoming solo album.   Here's a welcome note from Sharon, who runs Jay Farrar and Son Volt's mailing list:

We are pleased to announce that Jay Farrar's new album, Sebastopol, will be released on Artemis Records. Currently, the release date in the U.S. is September 25th. We will have more information on foreign territory release dates next week. But, as many of you know, a release date isn't always met due to missed deadlines, etc. So, don't be dismayed if the release is pushed back. Jay Farrar's recording agreement with Warner Bros. Records is officially over. He is now an Artemis Records recording artist.

On September 25th, a limited pressing of Jay's new album will be released. This edition will contain 3 bonus tracks, bringing the total number of songs to 17. The track listing is as follows:

1 - Feel Free
2 - Clear Day Thunder
3 - Voodoo Candle
4 - Barstow
5 - Damn Shame
6 - Damaged Son
7 - Prelude (Make It Alright)
8 - Dead Promises
9 - Feedkill Chain
10 - Make It Alright [bonus track]
11 - Fortissimo Wah (instrumental) [bonus track]
12 - Drain
13 - Different Eyes
14 - Outside The Door
15 - Equilibrium (instrumental) [bonus track]
16 - Direction
17 - Vitamins

Once this edition has sold out, the stores will be stocked with the 14-song album. So, be sure to get to the store on the release date!!!! As you may have already heard, the album features several familiar names: Jon Wurster of Superchunk, Steven Drozd of the Flaming Lips, Matt Pence of Centro-Matic, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, and Kelly Joe Phelps. It was recorded at Jajouka over a period of several months in 2000 and produced by John Agnello and Jay.

Jay, accompanied by Mark Spencer (Blood Oranges), will tour the U.S. once the album is released. Here are the dates confirmed so far:

10/8 - Proud Larry's, Oxford, MS (300 capacity)
10/9 - Young Ave. Deli, Memphis, TN (700 cap)
10/10 - Music Zone, Asheville, NC (500 cap)
10/11 - Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC (500 cap)
10/12 - Variety Playhouse, Atlanta, GA (1000 cap)
10/24 - Irving Plaza, New York, NY (1000 cap)

Since Jay is no longer a recording artist for Warner Bros., the web site ( is outdated. However, you can still view the t-shirt designs at this site. Please be aware that the mailing list for merch and correspondence has changed to Son Volt, PO Box 3141, Jersey City, NJ 07303. If you would like to order merch, please e-mail me at so I can confirm that it's in stock. A new site for Jay is in the works and I will pass on details once I have them.

One of the most asked questions these days seems to be "What's going on with Son Volt?". Currently, there are no plans for Son Volt. As you can imagine we are concentrating on the release of Jay's new album. Please e-mail with any questions you may have. Also, please tell your friends about the new mailing list so they can subscribe. To subscribe, send an e-mail with no message to

Take care,

All this is great news. Thanks, Sharon!

Sex, horror and Disney.   Novelist Dennis Cooper interviews Clive Barker in the L.A. Weekly Literary Supplement, about the above subjects and much more. (I wish I'd look that good when I'm 48.)

"Zero tolerance" run amok.   In the aftermath of Columbine and all the other school shootings, teachers and school administrators around the nation are engaged in hideous overreaction to what are often the most minor of student infractions, resulting in honor students, National Merit scholars and innocent six-year-olds being suspended, expelled or even arrested.

[S]tudents older than 13 who attend public school in Mississippi are now subject to the educational equivalent of a "three strikes" law. Passed by the Legislature last spring, this bill allows for the expulsion of a student deemed to have been "disruptive" in class three times over the course of a year. A state NAACP executive board member was quoted in a local newspaper as saying that her 17-year-old son, who had a cold, was kicked out of class after taking a tissue off his teacher's desk without permission. Under the new statute, that act could constitute strike one.

A 17-year-old honors student in Arkansas [has his] college scholarship in danger because of a 45-day sentence to an alternative school. His offense? An arbitrary search of his car by school officials in the spring revealed no drugs, but a scraper and pocketknife that his father had inadvertently left there the night before when he was fixing the rearview mirror. Despite anguished pleas of extenuating circumstances by the desperate father, the school system has so far adamantly insisted that automatic punishments for weapon possession in school are inviolate.

In a sense, though, this student should consider himself fortunate. At least he wasn't arrested. In a similar incident in Florida, an 18-year-old National Merit scholar was pulled out of class, handcuffed, charged with a felony and banned from her graduation. A police officer had passed by her car and spotted a kitchen knife lying in the passenger seat. She had left it there accidentally after using it the weekend before to open boxes. Although no one disputed her explanation, her principal, citing the need for "fairness," declined her request for leniency.

At its most extreme, evocation of zero tolerance has resulted in an 11-year-old being hauled off in a police van for packing a plastic knife in her lunchbox to cut chicken; a 14-year-old held in an adult jail and charged with "strong-armed" theft for stealing $2 from his classmate; a fifth-grader expelled for a year for hiding razor blades from a friend he thought might use them to harm another; a fourth grader suspended for wearing a Tweety Bird chain on his neck; and, in a tale that would be comic if it weren't true, a 6-year-old cited for "sexual harassment" for running out of the bath naked in his own home to tell the bus driver to wait for him.

Incidents like this are now commonplace around the country. It's completely insane. Are these school principals pausing to use their brains for even a second?

Spam of the day.   Although the domain of their website is actually registered, the web site was unreachable (unsurprisingly).

From: Shitbag Spammer <>
To: undisclosed-recipients
Date: Wed, 29 Aug 2001 17:12:46 EDT
Subject: Enjoy sex? Purchase your .sex domain today! alurx

The latest domain name extension has arrived .SEX!!! It's the fresh ,new, exciting web address that is taking the world by storm.

Who wants to be .com when you can now be .SEX

Register your .SEX domain name today exclusively at:
[I decline to publicize their web site]

To be taken off the mailing list please click below:
[horseshit URL that guarantees you'll get more spam]

Gee, I wonder if is available.

  Thursday, August 30, 2001
"Down Home" moves to its new time slot .. tonight!   Come with me, boys and girls, on an adventure into the mystical, magical land of The Weeknight.

Tonight my radio program "Down Home" begins its new time slot, Thursday evenings from 7:00 to 9:00pm, Pacific time. It's folk/roots/Americana's first foray outside the weekend at KCSN, and I'm proud to be its pioneer. It'll be a great show tonight, with new music from the Del McCoury Band, The Hot Club of Cowtown, Buddy and Julie Miller, plus a visit and live performance from one of my favorite new country artists, Thad Cockrell, from North Carolina. Tune in at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, or listen to our live MP3 audio stream. I'd be mighty pleased if you'd make this a new Thursday night habit.

Speaking of the Hot Club of Cowtown...   I suppose if you can't see yourself glued to a radio tonight, you can go see them play a free show in the City Hall Courtyard in Culver City, at 7pm. You can always tune in on the way home!

I am ready / Lay your cash on me.   It seems that the first label to offer a regular paid subscription service for music downloads isn't one of the majors, but one of the major indies (and one of my favorite labels), Peter Gabriel's RealWorld.

The service will be called the "Womad Digital Channel", and will offer subscribers 40 tracks per month for a rate of about $7.20. That's 18¢ per track, and given an average number of 15 tracks per CD that works out to a CD's worth of music for $2.70, with individual tracks that'll help you decide whether or not you want to shell out more for the entire record. Not too bad a deal, actually. I might have to look into this myself. (Via Steve's Now This.)

Incidentally, Steve mentions that he's never seen Gabriel perform live. I really hope he gets to one day. My first Peter Gabriel concert was in December of 1982. I had just turned 21, and had really only been seeing rock concerts for a little over five years. It was absolutely stunning, like nothing I'd seen before or have seen since (save one more Gabriel show a few years later). The music was dazzling enough, but Gabriel's snaking about the stage like a combination of a dancer and Kabuki actor, and the sheer power and emotion of it all was occasionally overwhelming. I know, I sound like I'm gushing, but for once it's warranted. Gabriel's pushing 50 now, so I doubt he'll be a lithe as he was back then, but I have no doubt that his shows would pack the same musical and emotional punch as they did nearly 20 years ago.

Irish artists on RootsWorld.   My pal Cliff Furnald's superb RootsWorld magazine currently features interviews with two Irish musicians I rather like -- Larry Kirwan, Wexford-born, New York-rooted lead singer and songwriter of the fiery Black 47, who's recently released his first solo album; and John Doyle, formerly of Solas, who's currently backing Eileen Ivers in her band and also has his first solo album out (which makes me happy; he's a superb guitarist, with a sweet and gentle voice we only got to hear taking the lead once with Solas).

Then what the feck is he still doing in the Senate?   Sen. Fritz Hollings (D-S.C.) has been quoted as saying that 98-year-old Sen. Strom Thurmond is no longer "mentally keen", that there is "no question" that he is mentally diminished, and that he stays in the Senate because he has no place else to go.

Gutting the surplus, lies and more lies.   Bush insisted on the tax cut, and pushed it through. Lots of us got our little pittance checks in the mail. Then we find out that there's almost nothing left of the projected surplus, and that they're going to have to dip into the Social Security trust fund just to pay for the budget items Congress has already approved for this year.

[T]he latest White House budget projections (calculated using questionable accounting tricks and over-optimistic assumptions regarding economic growth) show that the government this year will post a $1 billion surplus, rather than the $124 billion surplus forecasted four months back.

Why the change? Bush's tax cut and the economic slowdown. And the picture's the same for next year: another measly $1 billion surplus. A $2 billion surplus is foreseen for 2003, and the new budget forecast shows the ten-year surplus -- not counting Social Security and Medicare -- has fallen from a whopping $2.5 trillion to a next-to-nothing $38 billion.

Those among us who are not stricken by Alzheimer's should recall that when Bush was promoting his trillion-dollar-plus tax cut -- about a third of which will go to the top one-percent of earners -- he claimed that it would not gobble up the entire surplus, that there would still be money for new spending, and that there would be no need to dip into the separate Social Security surplus, now estimated at $157 billion. (Both parties have loudly pledged to keep the Social Security surplus in the infamous "lockbox" and not to use it to fund other government programs.) Bush's assertions have all crapped out.

Not only this, but he wants $33 billion more for defense alone. I wonder where he thinks he's going to get it. Perhaps he'll pull it out of his ass, as he seems to be doing with all of his "baffle 'em with bullshit" economic policy.

Like father, like son.   On the heels of Tuesday's post on Thurmond family nepotism, I give you an article from The American Prospect on Antonin Scalia's son Eugene, who is solicitor for the Department of Labor, the number three position in the department and its top lawyer. He seems to carry on in the family tradition.

As a labor lawyer at Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher, Eugene Scalia specialized in representing management in labor disputes. His area of expertise: downplaying the importance of worker safety, especially the dangers of repetitive-stress injuries. Scalia made his name fighting ergonomics rules like the ones enacted last year by the Clinton administration and recently repealed under Bush.

Scalia has done more than just advocate his clients' opposition to ergonomic standards: Along with Baruch Fellner, another partner at Gibson, Dunn, he has emerged as the leading architect of the anti-ergonomics movement. Scalia refers to repetitive-stress injuries, which afflict 600,000 American workers annually, as "junk science," "quackery," and "strange." Though ergonomics is a well-documented science, he paints repetitive-stress injury as a "psychosocial issue" -- in effect, calling those who suffer from it fakers. "The evidence is clear," Scalia has written, "that the employees most likely to complain of musculoskeletal discomfort are those who do not like their jobs." He has also advocated exempting unionized workplaces from OSHA inspections, to "free" workers from the "cigar-chomping, rough-and-tumble world of labor-management relations."

Scalia is a now familiar type in the Bush administration: a policy assassin who's built a career fighting a specific set of regulations and finds himself appointed to a top position in the very agency he's long opposed. Says one union official of Scalia: "He's the Labor Department's James Watt."

His father must be so proud.

Microsoft Boardwalk and Microsoft Park Place.   Gary Hein writes on c|net:  "Microsoft.NET can be summarized in one simple statement:  Microsoft is building an Internet monopoly."

Quote of the day.   "The reason it's called 'Grape Nuts' is that it contains dextrose, which is also sometimes called 'grape sugar', and also because 'Grape Nuts' is catchier, in terms of marketing, than 'A Cross Between Gerbil Food and Gravel', which is what it tastes like.

-- Dave Barry, "Tips for Writer's"

[N.B. -- People who pluralize a word with an apostrophe before the "s" drive me absolutely batty. Don't do it, or I'm comin' after you.]

  Wednesday, August 29, 2001
"Come ... it is time to keep your appointment with The Wicker Man."   It is one of my very favorite films of all time, and it's finally available on DVD. Yippeeeee!

Despite its flaws and the disservice the studio did to it by hacking it to shreds, "The Wicker Man" is an absolutely astounding, brilliant and completely original film, written by the great playwright and screenwriter Anthony Shaffer ("Sleuth", "Frenzy"), directed by Robin Hardy in an extraordinary directorial debut, starring Edward Woodward in a role for which he will be remembered long after the excellent "Breaker Morant" has been forgotten, and the great Christopher Lee in the finest role of his career.

To call "The Wicker Man" a horror film is to grossly underestimate it. It's creepy, it's eerie, a fascinating look at modern paganism as well as a mystery, and even a musical; it is "a box within a box within a box", but it's not truly a horror film until its final scenes. It's a film about the persistence of the old ways, about our tribal memory, about faith and sacrifice, with quite erotic overtones and undertones throughout. Its horrific ending still never ceases to make one's hair stand on end, too.

The true testament to this film's greatness lies not only in the fact that it's been hailed and regarded as a "cult classic" for so long, but in the devotion and passion its makers had for it. Anthony Shaffer wrote the script for nothing, and Christopher Lee didn't receive a penny for it; Robin Hardy waived all but a pittance of a salary. Lee even personally phoned film critics across Britain and the United States imploring them to at least see the film and write about it, and offered to buy their tickets himself if necessary. Their devotion paid off, for there was never a film the likes of "The Wicker Man" before its making, and there has never been one since.

You can read a bit about the film's convoluted history and how it was initially butchered, with nearly 15 minutes hacked out of it by the suits who bought British Lion studios just as the film was being completed. There are fan pages galore (some with photos of the film's locations, including a shot of the legs of the actual Wicker Man, which still remain at Burrow Head, Isle of Whithorn, Scotland), and now there's even a semi-regular print fanzine as well. Last year also saw the publication in the U.K. of a book entitled Inside "The Wicker Man", by Allan Brown (which I just ordered from Amazon U.K. this week).

This is one of the DVD releases of the year for me, and I must recommend that you not bother with what's now being called the "theatrical version" of the film, available at a cheap price. This is the 87 minute version that had its heart cut out, so leave it alone. Get the limited edition "extended version", which also comes in a nifty wooden box that won't fit in with the rest of your DVD cases. It contains the full version plus the cut theatrical version for comparison purposes, as well as lots of extras -- a 35-minute documentary about the making of the film that includes recent interviews with the film's principals, plus a semi-hidden 22-minute interview with Lee and Hardy conducted on New Orleans local television by a film critic named Stirling Smith. Smith had a highly affected manner, from his perfectly trimmed beard to his over-the-top stage acting delivery and the big round-backed chair he'd sit in for his weekly pontifications. We used to make fun of him when we were kids, but to his credit he had excellent taste in films, and was a champion for "The Wicker Man".

There goes the neighborhood.   Fred Rogers, host of the PBS children's show "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood", has finally retired at age 72. The last shows have been taped, and are being broadcast this week.

Don't fret for your kids, though; there are 33 years worth of reruns that will begin again as soon as the last show airs. We'll miss him, but he'll always be there, which is a good thing.

From Tim Goodman's excellent piece on Rogers in the San Francisco Chronicle:

It's not difficult to fully appreciate Rogers. If you have a decent bone in your body -- even the most cynical among you -- then in your heart you know he's quite possibly the nicest man who ever lived.

In television, we are given daily doses of little lies. We come to love our characters and our actors, and then our reverence is poked rudely in the eye once we get to know them better.

But Rogers was the real deal. That wasn't an act he gave the kids of this country for 33 years. When someone yelled, "Cut!" he didn't angrily peel the sweater off, rush out to his Mercedes and lean on his horn all the way home, cursing life. If you ever met Fred Rogers face to face, you were changed forever.

Heh. Wouldn't that be a stitch?   Ray Warren, a Superior Court judge in Raleigh, North Carolina and an openly gay Democrat, is considering a U.S. Senate run to replace retiring Sen. Jesse Helms, the worst homophobe in the Senate.

Fleshing our your indie rock geek.   A couple of friends of mine had some commentary on yesterday's link on "So you want to fake being an indie rock expert". Michael Pemberton said that what that thing really needed was a list of the stuff it's okay to like by classic rock bands; Tom Krueger offers his parenthetic quibbles:

Elvis: Sun sessions

Stones: You're generally safe picking anything before Ron Wood joined (especially before Mick Taylor joined)

Springsteen: First two albums and (especially) NEBRASKA (Probably "Ghost of Tom Joad" too, which may get extra points for sounding as sparse and claustrophobic as a Palace record at times.)

REM: Anything up through LIFE's RICH PAGEANT. Bonus points for FABLES. (Although I'd say that anything after "Chronic Town" is pushing it.)

Beatles: It's safe to say you like anything after HARD DAY'S NIGHT, but avoid saying positive things about SGT PEPPERS unless you are comparing it to PET SOUNDS (I'd also lobby for moderately obscure early stuff, like say, Live at the BBC. It has the benefit of being out of print, and it rocks pretty damn hard... oh wait, that's probably not so good. Post-breakup solo records might work too, well, except for Ringo's).

Dylan: Pick one of his late 70s records as your favorite, like STREET LEGAL. Only a true Dylan nut will have heard it, and if they're that big of a nut they probably love it and will be excited to find someone else who loves it.

So much for "Hope I die before I get old."   Mick Jagger, age 58, appears on this month's cover of Saga magazine, which is a British publication for senior citizens. I'm guessing that some sort of line has been crossed here. (Yes, yes, I know ... that's a Who lyric, not a Stones lyric. Thbpt.)

Would you trust this man with your family jewels?   From Netsurfer Digest, Vol. 7 Issue 27:

Here's a simple question:  why should you entrust your financial information to a company which can't secure its online services? Microsoft has experienced many problems with the security of its IIS Web server, Outlook e-mail client, Hotmail e-mail service, and MSN Messenger chat service. In fact, Hotmail just got hit with a new hack which exposes private e-mails. Significantly, at least one hacker insurance company already charges more for sites which run Microsoft products. An article in Salon points out yet another alarming glitch: a Hotmail user accidentally made his account a more restricted children's account and Microsoft claims they can't change it back. And you're supposed to trust them with sensitive info? What if a number goes astray? The article points out that the company's less-than-stellar security and reliability record does not bode well for the trustworthiness of its future technology. In the near future, Microsoft will ask us to trust them with our financial information and other consumer profile info as part of their .NET and HailStorm initiatives. There are alternatives.
Indeed. I'll just be saying "no."

If you repeat a lie often enough, does it become the truth?   Via Damien and Cam:  Microsoft's "secret" hardware vendor license is blatantly anti-competetive and designed to perpetuate their OS monopoly (making the so-called "browser wars" less and less relevant).

This is a confidential license, seen only by Microsoft and computer vendors. You and I can't read the license because Microsoft classifies it as a "trade secret." The license specifies that any machine which includes a Microsoft operating system must not also offer a non-Microsoft operating system as a boot option. In other words, a computer that offers to boot into Windows upon startup cannot also offer to boot into BeOS or Linux. The hardware vendor does not get to choose which OSes to install on the machines they sell - Microsoft does.
Damien comments:  "Remember, boys and girls, Microsoft is not a monopoly. Microsoft thinks that if they repeat this enough, the public will start to believe it." Believe it.

  Tuesday, August 28, 2001
Oog.   Busy, stressful day. I was beginning to wonder if there'd by time for any entries.

So two days before I start my new radio shift I'm talking to this dopey person in another office who says, "No, it wasn't really the 29th that we needed you to stay and work late, as we've been saying for the past two months. It's really the 30th!" I was ready to throttle someone. Fortunately, all was resolved, and all I've got left is a delightfully excruciating lower back pain. Anybody got any morphine?

So you wanna fake being an indie rock expert?   Sounds simple enough. There are only five things ya gotta do -- look the part, now some of the history, become familiar with current indie bands and labels, learn to talk the talk, and complete the ruse. However, when the first thing begins with "alter your bathing habits", you know you're in for quite a ride.

The Boss will take you to the river if you help him get there.   A terrific article about Bruce Springsteen's ministry of rock 'n roll -- how he does it, and what he does to us. "Life, love, faith, hope, transformation, sanctification, resurrection, sexual healing, companionship, joy, happiness:  Springsteen is not bullshittin' back here."

Nepotism at its finest.   Living fossil Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina is attempting to make his son, Strom Jr., U. S. Attorney for the State of South Carolina. "Lil' Strom" is 28 years old, only graduated from law school 3 years ago, has virtually no experience and is by all accounts "completely and utterly unqualified" to be U. S. Attorney.

A few weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Strom Thurmond, R-Walter Reed Hospital, was stunned to discover he's not allowed to hand over his Senate seat to his wife, Nancy Moore Thurmond -- a woman whose complete lack of political experience makes Missouri's Jean Carnahan look like John C. Calhoun.

Now, Sen. Thurmond wants to make his son, 28-year-old Strom Thurmond Jr. ("Little Strom," as he's called by friends) South Carolina's lead federal prosecutor.

Forget job set-aside programs based on race or sex. Strom Thurmond's appointment of a 1998 law school grad as U.S. attorney would be affirmative action based on sperm. Call it "genetic affirmative action." Or, in South Carolina, call it "business as usual."

That Strom Thurmond is a nattering nabob of nepotism is hardly news. And though the senator is clearly putting his personal interests ahead of the state's, no one is angry with our state's senile senator because that would first require one to take him seriously.

And nobody takes Strom Thurmond seriously -- not in the Senate, not in Washington, not in the national media. He's a walking punch line, and since we South Carolinians keep electing him, the rest of America assumes we are a bunch of clowns.

This of course begs the question -- if his name weren't Thurmond, would he be considered for such a post for even a second?

The "leader of the free world".   An amusing little trifle. (Move the dollar sign around with your mouse.

Fear no Arch!   I've got a bunch of friends who are from St. Louis; if you're from St. Louis too, you might enjoy this little bit from The Onion as much as they did.

What's Our Excuse for Not Visiting Historic St. Louis?

1. Arch fear
2. Their Mardi Gras stinks
3. Historic East St. Louis took all our money
4. Not Catholic
5. Last time there, forced to fill sandbags
6. Visit not mandatory, if we understand our constitutional rights
7. Thought there would always be time... were so wrong

  Monday, August 27, 2001
Tabasco Chipotle Sauce is out!!   FINALLY! I've been waiting months for this, since I first heard about it in April. Feted by tasters as perhaps their best sauce yet (hard to say, I'm sure, sice they're all great), the new sauce is thicker than regular Tabasco, and can be added in dashes, poured on food or used as a marinade.

It's supposed to be a "secret" with "limited suppplies" (which means they're testing it out to see if people like it and will buy it before making a regular huge run of it), and they "leaked" word out to the people on their mailing list. Well, I don't recall signing any non-disclosure agreements, so I'm leaking it out to all o' y'all. Go to the Chipotle Sauce home page, learn about its use as a marinade and a condiment, get some recipe, and be the first kid on your block to buy some!

Newsflash to the South: You lost the Civil War. Get over it.   Welcome to South Carolina, where buying a barbecued pork sandwich is now a political act. Confederate flags flying, feuding barbecuing brothers, Neo-Confederates saying that they're really not racists, really ... and which one of them you buy your 'cue from apparently makes a difference these days. Sigh.

This past weekend's movie recommendations.   Sébastien Lipshitz' "Come Undone" (an odd title, as the film's French title "Presque Rien" translates as "Almost Nothing") was excellent, beautifully photographed and acted. It has an interesting structure, bouncing back and forth between past and present as Mathieu and Cédric see each other on the beach while on vacation and fall in love, and where this leads them a year later. Stéphane Rideau is intensely, simmeringly good as Cédric -- from "Les Roseaux Sauvages" to "A Tout Vitesse" to "Sitcom" and now this, I'm more and more of a fan of his with each subsequent picture.

Alejandro Amenábar's "The Others" is intensely creepy, a classic English ghost story in the Henry Jamesian mold, with a twist. This is the kind of film that proves you don't have to blow millions of dollars on dopey special effects to attempt (and fail) to achieve scares -- all you need is a great story, top-notch actors, good direction and pacing, a talented cinematographer who knows how to use light and dark, and above all, subtlety. Nicole Kidman, Fionnula Flanagan and especially those two kids are all terrific, and it's a pure delight to see how much more scary a slammed door is than a big, drooling CGI boogeyman. This is the kind of classy horror movie you don't see Hollywood make anymore, and I was glad to see this one. Go.

The Big Mamou!   From lexicographer Anne Soukhanov's "Word Watch" column in the Atlantic Monthly:

I think it's time for "the big mamou." Like "the big kahuna," this is a wonderful expression. It means "the most crucial or momentous thing," but it's rarely seen in print. Oilman T. Boone Pickens Jr. used it in his 1987 autobiography, Boone: "It was becoming clear that we needed to do something bigger -- much bigger. It was time for the big mamou."

"Mamou" is melodic, like "kahuna," originally Hawaiian for "expert or sorcerer." Both words reflect alluring regional cultures. Both have several meanings. But the origin of "mamou" is mysterious.

"Mamou" is a place name in Guinea and France, but it's Louisiana's Mamou -- a town in Evangeline Parish -- that put the word on our map. The town (the "Cajun Music Capital of the World") was immortalized as "the Big Mamou" first in a Cajun song with French lyrics, then in a 1950s pop tune with English lyrics. It became popular much like New Orleans came to be known as "the Big Easy" from a novel, then a movie. "Big Mamou" appears on menus; e.g., "Crawfish Big Mamou." Gastronomically, a "Big Mamou" contains many tomatoes; a "Little Mamou" contains a few. Locals call the huge coral bean plant "mamou." The word appears in the names of Cajun bands, like The Mamou Playboys, and dances, like the Mamou Cajun Two-step.

In the 1700s, the vast southwestern Louisiana prairie encircling the town was called "Mamou Prairie"; hence the town's name. (Anglos called it "Mammoth Prairie" and the French, "la Prairie Mammouth.") The rest is mysterious. "Mamou" may be a Native American word for "Big Hunting Ground" or the name of a Native American chief. It may derive from a local Native American group other tribes called "Ma-Mo." Cajun historian Pascal Fuselier believes the word might come from English "Mammoth," which French-speaking Cajuns and Creoles altered to "Mamou," influenced by the French word mammouth ("huge"). The word could be a place-name import from France. Finally, there's the colorful, if improbable, tale that "Mamou" evolved from people hearing hungry calves on the prairie making the sound "maa," and the cows responding "moo."

Whatever the truth, "mamou" is a Cajun cultural icon. It is a word with history, mystery, mirth, and charm.

I agree. Let's do it. We're goin' for the Big Mamou! (Story via Gary Hayman's ZydeZine)

The Return of Roland.   Lots of Stephen King news recently ... excited as I am about the forthcoming Black House collaboration with Peter Straub (and a sequel to The Talisman), today King's site offers the prologue to the next Dark Tower novel, number 5 and counting. Apparently he's planning to finish the series more or less in one big blowout of writing over the next two years.

Wow. I'd better get busy. I've still only read the first one (a beautiful limited edition hardback I bought as a starving grad student for $25, in lieu of three days' worth of nutritious meals, and which is now apparently worth 25 times that), and I've got to finish the other ones soon because The Black House supposedly answers questions left dangling by later Dark Tower novels ("[it] will reveal the answers to many of your questions about the Crimson King, who and what Breakers are, and how Ted Brautigan fits in"). Sheesh. I'd better start learning to live on less sleep, if I'm going to get all this reading done.

Ya never know who'll be popping up with weblogs these days.   A thought balloon with an exclamation point inside appeared over my head when I discovered that Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, has a weblog. (I can't wait to read American Gods once Wes is finished with it.)

Then the other day I came across Wil Wheaton's weblog, making him the first film and television actor I've ever seen to have one. (If you ever thought making a living as an actor was easy, it ain't, as you'll learn in this guy's blog.) I offer Wil a piece of advice from one of my favorite teachers in college, regarding people on various sites who are attacking him personally because they hated Wesley Crusher ... "Fuck 'em and feed 'em fish heads." (Don Brady, Ph.D.) That phrase has served me well for many years, and I'm happy to pass it on whenever it may prove useful.

Quote of the day.   You may consider this a corollary to Dr. Brady's advice above:

Dá airde a éiríonn an priompallán, siar ar an gcac a thiteann sé i gcónaí.
(No matter how high the dung-fly rises, it always falls back on the shit.)
-- Irish Gaelic proverb.

  Friday, August 24, 2001
You're guilty until proven innocent.   That's the way the Motion Picture Association of America wields its pet law, the DMCA, against the little guy.

The Dark Underbelly of those fabulous cookies.   From AlterNet:  In stark contrast to the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts of America are getting bashed by the Religious Right. Why? Because they tolerate feminism and lesbians.

Curses!   Now you can evolve beyond the The Shakespearean Insult Kit and move on to An tInneal Mallachtaí, The (Irish) Curse Engine. Choose your curse components from each of three parts, and then let it fly. (Don't panic -- phonetic pronunciation is provided as well.)

Go scriosa an diabhal do dhiosca crua!
(May the Devil destroy your hard disk!)

Go lagaí galar tógálach do bhall fearga.
(May an infectious disease weaken your manly part.)

Go n-ithe neach neamhshaolta do mhamaí.
(May an alien being eat your mother.)

You get the picture.

Romani ite domum!   After a tip from an article on Nando, I found a site called De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Emperors. It's big. It's exhaustive. It's nifty! Family trees, maps, biographies and footnotes galore, you could get lost in here for days. Getting lost in history is fun.

And remember, don't touch the figs.

iro·ny, ['I-r&-nE, also 'I(-&)r-nE], n.   1.   Preparations for a United Nations conference about intolerance and racism began on August 1 with a vote to ban the world's largest gay and lesbian umbrella organization from attending the meeting.

A bloc of predominantly Muslim countries (in some of which homosexuality is a crime punishable by death) led by Malaysia brought the vote to a 43-43 tie, and the International Lesbian and Gay Association's application was thrown out under conference rules.

Willy goes wide.   (Get those filthy thoughts out of your gutter minds!)

What I'm talking about is that Warner Home Video, perhaps responding to howls of protest from film buffs about their decision to release the "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" special edition DVD in full-screen pan-and-scan (blecchhh) with the reasoning that "kids don't care about letterboxing", are apparently going to release the same special edition widescreen transfer of the film on November 13. Yay!

I got yer cool right here, pal.   Three pop music critics from the San Francisco Chronicle define "quintessential cool", with a hall of fame (Johnny Cash, Billie Holiday, Keith Richards), a top forty (from Jimi Hendrix to Ken Nordine), who has it (Dolly Parton), who doesn't (Bono), etc. One additional category caught my eye, though:



I take umbrage, as an owner of two flutes and innumerable tin whistles, a practice set of Irish bagpipes and a gorgeous triangle made in Iota, Louisiana from the tines of an old iron hay rake; who once rented a set of Scottish Highland bagpipes in an attempt to learn them but gave up due to an excessive drooling problem and having nearly blown a lung inside-out; who loves oboes, is related to a trombonist and has played the kazoo on numerous occasions. To these self-appointed harbingers of what is and isn't cool, I say ... thhbbllbllthbblpthpt!

That's just the sort of blinkered, Philistine pig-ignorance I've come to expect from you non-creative garbage! You sit there on your loathsome spotty behinds, squeezing blackheads, not caring a tinker's cuss for the struggling artist, you excrement! I'm surprised you didn't accordion-bash while you're at it, you snotty, toffee-nosed bastards! (Incidentally, to anyone who says you can't play an accordion and be cool, I negate that with two words ... Clifton Chenier.)

I'm with ya on the zither thing, though. Most definitely not cool.

(Link via Follow Me Here)

  Thursday, August 23, 2001
The return of Creole cream cheese.   It may never have been gone completely, but it was looking bad there, for a while. Creole cream cheese is New Orleans' unique dairy product, and it's on the way back up.

Chef Poppy Tooker, the head of the New Orleans chapter of Slow Food International, has spearheaded the drive to bring back Creole cream cheese, along with Kenny Mauthe of Mauthe's Dairy in Folsom, Louisiana. Creole cream cheese used to be made almost exclusively by small family-run dairies rather than the big corporations, and as they died out the supply of Creole cream cheese nearly died out as well. Until recently just about the only place in the City where you could get it was at Dorignac's Food Center on Veterans, who made it in-house.

Poppy's and Mauthe's version is really good, custardy and buttery, with a flavor described as falling between crème fraîche and ricotta. I've had it and liked it, but it's not quite the way I remember Creole cream cheese to be. I remember it having a definite curd and lots of whey, and not the mascarpone-like consistency of today's product. Then again, that's the way they did it at Dorignac's and at whichever dairy provided the product for my grandparents' little corner grocery in Bywater. My friend Peter insists that real Creole cream cheese has an element of yeast in it as well as the bacteria used to make the curd; you can smell it when the cheese starts to go bad (it's very perishable). He says the "new" version isn't what he remembered from his childhood. I can't really say since as a kid I wouldn't have touched such a product with a ten-foot-pole (luckily, I grew up.) Which one's the more authentic, I wonder? New Orleanians, please chime in with your memories of Creole cream cheese.

Where to get Creole cream cheese.   Mauthe's Creole cream cheese is sold at the Crescent City Farmer's Market in New Orleans on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and is also sold at the weekly farmer's market in Covington. Mauthe's also sells non-homogenized milk, with the cream that rises to the top, and pasteurizes it at a lower temperature than the big dairies do, to preserve the flavor. Apparently both of these products have been a huge hit in New Orleans, and the family dairy's Creole cream cheese has been inducted into the American section of the Slow Food Ark of Taste, which seeks to preserve culturally quintessential and artisanally made foods from around the world, from fruit and vegetables, cured meats, cheeses, pasta, cakes and confectionery to animal breeds. (The other old Creole delight that's made it into the Ark as well are Creole rice calas.)

Let the MICROS~1 apologists justify this one.   Microsoft have been partially funding a letter-writing campaign, disguised as grass-roots letters from ordinary people, to compel state Attorneys General to go easy on the company in the states' antitrust suits, the Los Angeles Times reported today. Some of the signatures on the letters were those of deceased people.

"It's sleazy," said Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch, whose office received about 300 pro-Microsoft letters. "This is not a company that appears to be bothered by ethical boundaries."
Uh huh.

A treasure trove of twang.   It's one of those houses you read about in the paper, where someone's lived for years, there are newspapers stacked to the ceilings, and maneuvering from the front door to the bathroom is like exploring a narrow passage in a dark, underground cave. Fortunately, in 64-year-old Leon Kagarise's case, it's full of good stuff too.

Kagarise has built a shrine to country and bluegrass music in his home, which contains over 5,000 hours of rare private recordings and over 1,000 slides that don't exist anywhere else. People have come a-sniffin' too, from private collectors to record company executives to the Library of Congress. Kagarise's combination of being an electronics and recording whiz and an obsessive collector have turned into what may be a national treasure, which he's perfectly willing to begin sharing with the world.

See, pack rats are GOOD!

A new (to me) food blog is served.   Two guys batting arond ideas on what they'd want their restaurant to be like, if they had one (and I hope they do). It's The Making of a Restaurant, which has been around since February and is now on my daily reads list. (Thanks to Kristin on Eat, Link and Be Merry for turning me on to this one.)

The accidental Popsicle.   Last Sunday was the 77th anniversary of the Popsicle (and to think, I missed it), although its roots extend far earlier than 1924, when the trademark debuted.

An 11-year-old boy named Frank Epperson once left a mixture of powdered soft drink mix and water outside on the porch overnight. It was freezing cold, and the next morning he found it frozen solid, with the stick he had used to stir it sticking up out of the cup. It all popped out in one piece, and cried out to be licked. Borrowing the name of the icicles that formed on the edge of the porch's eaves, he dubbed his new invention the "Epsicle", and continued to make them for his family. His kids eventually started calling them "Pop's sicles", and one day as he was selling lemonade in the park, the idea lightbulb went off over his head. He applied for a patent for "frozen ice on a stick" (odd redundancy, but no odder than some of the patents issued today), and five years later sold 60,000,000 Popsicles. (Adapted from Saveur magazine). I still have a fondness for Popsicles, but these days I prefer the frozen fresh fruit juice bars from other manufacturers.

It sure ain't 1924 for Popsicle anymore, though. I couldn't view their site at all because they didn't have the proper version of Flash installed on the machine at work. Sigh.

Bad, bad law.   The Washington Post, in an editorial on Tuesday, blasts the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and calls for its reform.

  Wednesday, August 22, 2001
Tuesday night at the Bowl.   If you live in Los Angeles and you haven't been to the Hollywood Bowl yet this season ... go.

As usual, it was delightful. The weather was perfect, the food was good (more on that later), and this show had the distinct advantage of being sponsored in part by KCSN, who hosted a little fundraising garden party at the Bowl which featured many of our supercool staff and wonderful listeners, free wine and hors d'oeuvres and an appearance by that night's soloist (and my favorite classical performer), Joshua Bell. (I met him. He's really nice. I shook his hand. Oh my. I was a-flutter all evening.)

The evening's performance featured Joshua performing selections from his newest recording of the West Side Story Suite, a new arrangement of Leonard Bernstein's music from the show. The show began with Bernstein's "New York, New York", and Joshua's playing was breathtaking from the very beginning. A snapped string proved to be only a momentary setback, as he quickly swapped violins with the concertmaster and went on, barely missing a beat. He had been playing in a very high register, which is pretty hard on the strings. We were way in the back and we could still hear it snap.

Second half of the show featured Brahms' Second Symphony, finishing up a remarkably pleasant evening. Every season I end up regretting not going to the Bowl more often, so I'll have to do better next year (or for the rest of this season, for that matter).

Picnicking at the Bowl.   Today's Los Angeles Times Food section features a story on L. A. residents' love for dining out at the Bowl. The food runs the gamut from hot dogs to terrine of foie gras with Sauternes. Last night we had figs wrapped in prosciutto di Parma; grilled chicken breast sandwiches on French bread with mascarpone cheese, roasted garlic, roasted sweet red pepper, Romaine lettuce, fresh basil and fresh oregano; ratatouille of roasted yellow and green Italian squash, red and orange Roma tomatoes, eggplant, basil and pecorino Romano cheese. Wes brought some beautiful cherries and grapes from Roma, our favorite Italian grocery and deli in Pasadena, Peter baked a fresh peach pie, and we washed everything down with a 1998 Beringer Sauvignon Blanc. Not too shabby for a picnic meal.

Don't throw away that old jar of popcorn that you found in the back of the cupboard. In 1948 scientists found 6,000-year-old unpopped popcorn kernels in a New Mexico cave. They placed 10 of the kernels on a wet paper towel for two days. Then they dropped them into hot oil...

New movies: no surprises.   Two reviews in The Nando Times seem to have confirmed one thing that I'd taken for granted and one other thing I had been worried about.

John Carpenter's "Ghosts of Mars" is described as "mind-numbingly bad". One look at the poster seemed to suggest this, and according to Wes one look at the trailer confirmed it. I hadn't had any intention of seeing this one anyway.

Unfortunately, Kevin Smith's "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" is described as "a long in-joke", and "a reward to all his fans for seeing his movies." I was afraid of that. Jay and Silent Bob have been entertaining enough as minor characters in Smith's other movies, but I wondered if they'd be able to carry a movie on their own. (Don't read the review before seeing the movie, if you're planning to, because it bears the hallmark of all of the untalented film reviewers in this nation -- it gives away too much of the plot.)

If you're one of [his fans], you can sit smugly in the audience, knowing that you're laughing because you're in on the joke. You're a movie geek - you rule, dude.

To achieve this cinematic nirvana, you need to have seen all of Smith's earlier movies - "Clerks," "Mallrats," "Chasing Amy" and "Dogma" - and know specific details about them. You also need to be familiar with - if not a devout fan of - the other movies and TV shows Smith deems important, including "American Pie," "Scream" and "Dawson's Creek."

Being a comic book geek isn't an absolute necessity, but it helps.

Oh dear. Well, it's nice that Kevin made a movie for his fans, but are his fans going to be enough to make the movie profitable? Shouldn't a movie stand on its own without relying on the viewer having seen all of the director's previous films so that he gets all the in-jokes? I'll probably see it anyway, but I've become a bit more hesitant.

"The Adventures of Captain GayMan"?   Oddly enough, just seven months into his acting presidency, George W. Bush has accomplished somerhing that Bill Clinton was never able to do in eight years, and in the seven years since he established his "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy:  the first-ever U.S. Army training guide on homosexual conduct policy.

As the SF Weekly reports, "Now, whenever a soldier has a question about the complex regulations on what exactly it means to be gay in the military, all he has to do is turn to his official Army ... comic book.

Aaron Belkin, director of the UC Santa Barbara-based Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military, does not find the comic book format patronizing either. But he does wish it would re-create situations real people can relate to, and not read so much like a perfectly saccharine Nick at Nite sitcom.

"Some of the situations [depicted in the comic book] are absolutely no reflection of what really goes on in the barracks," Belkin says. "The scenarios are so ludicrous that the author had to be from another planet to think readers would get a serious message. It almost conveys this wink-wink irony that the Army does not take harassment seriously."

While the comic deals with soldiers joking about two men going on a date, it does not tackle the very real dilemma of soldiers using violence to intimidate gay service members. That omission bothers Belkin, who cites a recent Pentagon study that shows 135,000 members of the U.S. armed forces witnessed anti-gay violence last year alone.

Yep, even in every county in the Bible Belt.   Deadheads (i.e., the Grateful Dead fan community) may have appropriated their bumpersticker phrase "We Are Everywhere" from the gay community, but according to the 2000 U.S. Census the phrase's original intent is truer than it ever was. Recently compiled census statistics show that same-sex couples head households in nearly every county in the United States, dispelling stereotypes that homosexuality is limited to large urban centers and college towns. The number of same-sex couples was reported as over 600,000 (and that's just the ones who were truthful on the census form, and not including those who weren't, and couples that don't live together). Better get used to it, relax and just live and let live, all you fundie types.

  Tuesday, August 21, 2001
What's right and wrong with "Iron Chef USA".   Yes, yes, I know. I haven't seen it yet. Neither has anyone else. I'm commenting anyway. I'm a huge fan of the original, I'm persnickety, and therefore I get to.

By now we all know that the Americans, always keen to rip off a moneymaking TV show idea from someone else, are doing their own version of "Iron Chef", with ... William Shatner in the role of "The Chairman". (Only a viewing will tell whether or not this ends up being genius or abomination.) The first one-hour special will debut on UPN on Friday, November 16. The producers seem to have done rather well with their choice of Iron Chefs, with slightly different categories as the ones in Japan:

Iron Chef American:  Todd English, of Olives Restaurant near Boston (check out that menu ... woof! Drool over the photos too ... a really unique Caprese salad, Parmesan pudding with mascarpone cream and pea tendrils, a very elegant-looking timbale of tuna tartare wrapped in cucumber, a very tall pan-seared King salmon served over polenta with baby asparagus polonaise, morel mushrooms and crab hollandaise sauce, and a very American spin on a classic French dessert with a maple crème brûlée in a maple sugar cookie shell with maple-drenched walnut cake. Ooh.). He's a renowned chef and cookbook author, and he's developed a reputation as one of the country's top chefs. He'll be fun to watch.

Iron Chef French:  Jean-François Meteigner, of La Cachette Restaurant in Los Angeles. This is one of the city's top French restaurants, and I've had the privilege of dining there; it's about a ten-minute walk from my office. He's a world-class master chef who has mastered the art of preparing great French food without murdering you with butter and cream. (Yes, it can be done. Try preparing some of his dishes at home, a three-course meal consisting of a Romaine and Belgian endive salad with walnuts, Roquefort and white truffle oil; braised lamb shank with reduction sauce, and baked pear with chocolate sauce and almonds.) I can't wait to watch Chef Meteigner in action, and he's one I'll be consistently rooting for.

Iron Chef Italian:  Alessandro Stratta, of Renoir Restaurant in the Mirage Hotel in Las Vegas. Stratta has a great reputation, but seems a strange choice for Iron Chef Italian; despite his name and roots he's a protegé of Alain Ducasse, is rooted in French technique and cooks in a French restaurant. One would think that a purely Italian chef would have been brought in. However, he is reputed to cook French and Italian equally well, is the recipient of a James Beard Foundation award, and his restaurant was recently named the best overall in Vegas by the local media. (Also, since they're shooting in Vegas, it was undoubtely convenient for both him and the show.) If you want to try his cuisine in your own kitchen, try his Roasted Quail with Pancetta, Sun-dried Figs and Creamy Polenta ... mmmmmm, polenta.

Iron Chef Asian:  Roy Yamaguchi, of Roy's Restaurant in Hawaii. I can see why the producers might want to have a catch-all "Asian" category rather than separate categories for Japanese and Chinese cuisine, and Yamaguchi, who's Japanese-Hawaiian and a precedent-setting chef, fits the bill well. I'd liken him more to Morimoto than Chen, as he cooks in a "Euro-Asian" fusion style, and although I haven't been to his restaurant I've made some of his recipes ... yum.

Problems that I foresee include the casting of the commentators. The play-by-play announcer (the equivalent of announcer Kenji Fukui, or "Fukui-san!") is some guy named Michael Burger, who is ... a game show host. The whole idea behind "Iron Chef" is that it's a competition not unlike a sporting event, and casting Kenji Fukui, who in real life is a baseball announcer, was a stroke of genius. I'm sure it's perfectly American to have a game show host doing this role, but so far I think it's a stupid choice. Of course, we'll see if he pulls it off.

The floor reporter, the equivalent of the awesome Shinichiro Ota, is ... Sissy Biggers, formerly the host of Food Network's "Ready, Set, Cook!". (*scream*) I couldn't stand her on that show, and to my astonishment the Food Network have replaced her with someone even more irritating, Ainsley "Will You For Christ's Sake Just Shut The Feck Up!" Harriott. She was just awful on the Food Network, doesn't seem to know crap-all about food, and will not be able to do 1/1,000,000th the job that someone of Ota's talent would. (To be fair, Fukui didn't know anything about food when he took his job on "Iron Chef", but because he's a great announcer he did a great job. Sissy Biggers is no Ota, and no Fukui.)

At least they seem to have used their heads in the casting of the culinary commentator, the equivalent of Dr. Yukio Hattori on the Japanese version. He's Anthony Dias Blue, who is the Wine and Spirits editor of Food and Wine magazine and is a recipient of a James Beard Foundation award for his work. It seems odd that they would choose someone for this job whose primary area of expertise is wine and spirits, but from what I can tell he has a good knowledge of food as well. I'm confident he'll do a good job.

However ... despite the good choice of chefs and one out of three commentators, further indications that this still could seriously stink comes from the Las Vegas Review, in an article of July 6 that I won't link to because it gives spoilers as to who won the matches:

There's a whiff of scandal surrounding last week's taping of the "Iron Chef" competition at the MGM Grand Garden.

Insiders claim the UPN network turned a serious culinary championship into a joke by rigging the outcome and hiring celebrity judges with limited fine dining knowledge, including a Playboy playmate. The latter, an oxymoron.

Four elite U.S. chefs, including three of them representing Las Vegas restaurants, participated in two one-hour cooking contests scheduled to be aired on UPN over Labor Day weekend.

I hear the Food Network is crying "foul" because at least two of the chefs were given advance notice on what the secret ingredient would be, allowing them a headstart in preparation.

UPN producer Larry Thompson did not return a phone call by deadline.

UPN outbid the Food Network for rights to the Americanized version of Japan's "Iron Chef" concept, which had become the Food Channel's No. 1-ranked program. The half-dozen judges included Brande Roderick, one of Hugh Hefner's seven bunnies-in-residence, actor Steve Schirripa ("Bobby Baccala") of "The Sopranos," and a Hawaiian beauty queen.

Because of lengthy taping delays before a live audience, judges sampled dishes and sauces that were cold from hours of waiting, a source said.

If they're getting Playboy bunnies and beauty queens to be the judges, and the food is sitting around getting cold (something that didn't seem to happen with the original version), then this whole thing is just going to be bullshit.

Goddammit. I should have known it was going to suck as soon as I heard that they had cast Shatner. (Perhaps I just just ignore this thing and keep watching the original on Food Network. They'll be debuting 52 episodes heretofore unseen in the U.S., with Morimoto-san's predecessor Rokusaburo Michiba, and I can't wait to see him in action.) I can only wonder how it would have been had Food Network won the bid for the show's rights, and not UPN. ARGH! Why must they screw this up?!?

On the other hand ... it's just a show. I really should relax.

Thank you, Jesus.   The vile Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) is expected to announce tomorrow that he will not run for re-election in 2002. Perhaps early retirement, even before his current term ends, would be good idea, given the state of his health. That, plus the sooner that son of a bitch is out of the Senate, the better.

If there's justice in the Universe, then he will soon pass on to his Heavenly reward to be seated at the right hand of Jesus ... who will thereupon poke him in both eyes, grab him by the scruff of the neck and drop him down a big chute heading Straight Down.

How to screw up your kids.   Oh, let me count the ways ... but here's just one. When they ask you, "Mommy/Daddy, where do babies come from?", instead of telling them the truth, tell them this. (My favorite is "from tins of spaghetti". Screw that cabbage patch, it's so 20th Century. By the way, "tins" is English for "cans".) Thanks to Greg B. for this one.

Speaking of babies ...   Okay, I know this is a little weird, but an episode of "Six Feet Under" made me think of it again.

When I first moved to Los Angeles and started gradual school at LMU, I noticed a store right around the corner from campus called "Sid's Baby Furniture". It's still there, at 8338 Lincoln Blvd. just north of Manchester Blvd. in Westchester.

As soon as I saw the place it immediately struck me as a really odd, unfortunate and perhaps inappropriate name for a store that sells products for babies. I'd say this to people and almost to a person they'd look at me blankly and ask, "Why?"

"SIDS" is, of course, the acronym for "Sudden Infant Death Syndrome". Um, is this just me, or should Sid have named the store after his wife?

Speaking of "Six Feet Under"...   I don't know how they keep doing it, but once again HBO manages to make a show that deserves the appellation "best show on television". That two-part season finale absolutely kicked my ass -- emotionally wrenching, brilliantly written and performed. It really, really got to me. If you're familiar with the show, you know that each episode begins with a death, and you occasionally catch yourself laughing (in either surprise or shock or because what happened is so absurd it's actually kinda funny), but I wasn't laughing at the death in the second-to-last episode. It was horrifying, to the point where I close my eyes when watching the episode on tape, as you can well imagine. They way David's struggle was portrayed was handled better than any TV show I've ever seen.

This is great television, and I can't wait until the show's second season.

One other nifty tidbit about "Six Feet Under" -- as far a I know, it's the only TV show that has a list of all their music cues on the show's web site. The show's two music supervisors, Gary Calamar and Thomas Golubic, are pals of mine from the old days at KCRW, and they're doing a stupendous job. If you heard any music on the show that you like and want to look for, just hit that web page and go find it.

  Monday, August 20, 2001
Coke's pants pulled down again.   Remember a while back when I posted links to the Coca-Cola website about their campaign to help restaurants discourage the drinking of tap water in favor of fizzy, sugary Coca-Cola products that they called "H2NO"? The one that disappeared from Coke's web site the very following day?

Apparently that story has made it to the New York Times, who credit the weblog community for breaking the story. (I don't remember where I first read about this, but the story first appeared in a weblog at

I had retrieved the missing pages from Google's cache, but fortunately another site has a much better archive of the stonewalled pages. It urges the active discouragement of their customers' drinking tap water in favor of Coke products, with the bullshit line being "to increase customer happiness". The bottom line, of course, is that the restaurant and the Coca-Cola Company make lots more money selling you two pennies' worth of their high-calorie, high-sugar fizzwater for two bucks than they do giving you a glass of water for free. A spokesperson for Coke apparently said that the pages were removed so that they wouldn't be misinterpreted by "folks who aren't in the sales-related business." Pfeh.

Another reason that Google is my favorite search engine.   (No, it's not just because when you go there and type "Creole recipes" or "Cajun recipes", my site comes up first.) You can also search Google in a variety of languages, including Swedish Chef "Bork, bork, bork!" language.

Mmmm, purty.   On August 13th, an extraordinary and quite beautiful "crop circle" was reported in Wiltshire, England.

Renegade artist? Humans with nothing better to do? Aliens with nothing better to do? You decide!

Apple blowout at Sears?   Last week, Damien posted:

According to a number of posts around the web, Sears is clearing out all of their Apple merchandise and really low costs. I'm not surprised, now that Apple's opening more and more of their own stores.
This prompted me to step into a Sears for perhaps the first time in nearly 20 years. I tried the ones in Burbank and Baldwin Hills, and in both of them not only were there no Apple products, but their computer departments were pretty pathetic overall. If anybody knows of a Sears in the Los Angeles area that's actually blowing out Apple products (I wouldn't mind getting one of their 17" CRT monitors for cheap), please do let me know. Thanks!

Now playing.   Just arrived in the mail ... "Don't Let Go", by the Jerry Garcia Band, recorded live at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco on May 21, 1976. A very sweet, very relaxing album recorded when Jerry was at his vocal peak (although I do still like his more "grandfatherly" voice in his later years). The version of "Mission In The Rain", one of my favorites, is gorgeous.

To the cow-orker who walked by me and said, "Ewwwww, what are you listening to??", all I have to say is this:  "Bite me."

  Sunday, August 19, 2001
Blue grass between my toes...   Well, I had a fun time guest-hosting for Frank Hoppe's fine program "Bluegrass, Etc." on KCSN, although I must confess I'm unused to getting up at 6am for a 7:30 downbeat. Surely it's too early for some of you, but if you want to read the playlist of a fine program (since I was lazy and let Frank do all the programming) ... umm, you can't, 'cause I accidentally deleted the playlist file. (*blush*) Sorry!

Get your kicks.   The heck with I-10 and I-40. You wanna really feel like travelling, take Route 66. Today's piece in the Los Angeles Times takes you through the history and the kitsch of today's Route 66, "where nostalgia and reality meet."

  Saturday, August 18, 2001
SirCam procmail filter revision.   The procmail recipe I posted a while back (which, in the interests of full disclosure, I got from the pair.mail users' group) worked pretty well, but wasn't 100% effective. Caltech alumnus Richard Mathews sent in a revision which should get them all. It adds the D flag for a case-insensitive search, and also breaks up and offsets parts of the 64 bit string that's common to all the virus files.

:0 BD
* > 100000
* mDmcOaA5pDmoOaw5sDnAOeA56DnsOfA59Dn4|\
Thanks, Richard!

Okay, it's official.   Not next Thursday but probably Thursday, August 30, "Down Home" will be moving to Thursday nights at 7:00pm, running to 9:00pm, when The David and Peter Show with Miriam ("Broadway, our way!") takes to the air.

I'm excited about this. I think it'll be a great time slot, catching the tail end of evening drive time, and for the first time in 13 years I'll have my weekends entirely free. Woohoo!

Today on "Down Home".   I'll be featuring tracks from the brand-new album by Buddy & Julie Miller, their first as a duo, due Tuesday on Hightone Records; music from Irish fiddler and composer Ed Reavy, who lived in Philadelphia for over 70 years and composed over 1,000 tunes; and more from the new album by Gillian Welch with David Rawlings.

How to tell a bad movie from a truly bad movie.   Franz Lidz and Steve Rushin write in the New York Times about plain old incompetent bad movies (e.g., "Plan 9 From Outer Space", "Manos, Hands of Fate") and truly bad movies, ones with pretentions of greatness, ones that think they're going to change your life but instead just suck.

[A high-placed Warner Brothers executive, who wishes for obvious reasons to remain anonymous] offers her list of Avoidance Rules - a sort of moviegoers' equivalent of the warnings issued by flight attendants before takeoff.

Locate the exit nearest you, she says, before screening any film directed by big-name male actors or Brian De Palma, any film that features Robin Williams in a beard, any film scored by John Williams, any film starring Juliette Binoche or Kevin Costner, any film that features Robin Williams clean-shaven, any film directed by a woman and proud of it, any film that features Robin Williams in a yarmulke and any film positively reviewed by anyone associated with National Public Radio.

T(he Robin Williams comments ("Garp" excepted) are spot-on, although I do like Williams and bristle at the NPR comment, not as an NPR drone but as a public radio guy in general, who enjoys listening to NPR for the most part.)

The article goes on to savage Steven Spielberg's "A. I.", and raises the question, "Is it the worst movie ever made?" (No, "Battlefield Earth" is the worst movie ever made, but "A. I." may have been the most disappointing movie ever made.) Also, if you haven't seen "Pay It Forward" and are planning to, beware ... page two of the article gives away the ending.

  Friday, August 17, 2001
Call that radio moving van.   Looks like there's a strong possibility that "Down Home" might be moving.

No confirmation yet, but keep your listening schedules open for Thursday nights from 7:00 to 9:00pm, at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles and streaming worldwide via your favorite MP3 player. I'll let you know if and when it happens.

Eist! (Listen!)   I've come across some more Irish internet radio, They have five main streaming channels, including traditional Irish, contemporary Irish, news and affairs, etc. For some reason, though, either they or I was having problems last night, since I couldn't get the main channels to stream properly.

I did manage to get some of their individual programmes to stream, though. Their traditional music presenter John Tierney does a damn fine monthly programme, this month featuring on Donal Lunny, Davy Spillane and Iarla Ó Lionaird, and ending with my favorite Skara Brae song. Eist!

Wow. Wow.   I saw a terrific movie the other night -- Session 9, directed by Brad Anderson and co-written by Anderson and Steven Gevedon (who also plays Mike in the film). Shot inside an actual abandoned mental hospital in Massachusetts, it's the tale of a hazardous materials crew who's sent into the hospital to remove asbestos before renovation, and what happens to them during the job. (I understate so as not to give anything away.)

The direction and performances are superb, and it's very well-paced. The impatient among you might find it slow to start, but it builds up the tension bit by bit until it explodes near the end. It is incredibly creepy, and is the film that "The Blair Witch Project" wishes it could be. Unfortunately, it's unlikely to reach those levels because it doesn't have a huge hype machine behind it.

It's the perfect answer to the question, "So what do we do with this abandoned insane asylum we've got here?" In fact, the tapes Mike uncovers of the sessions with Mary Hobbes, the psychiatric patient, are based on actual recordings discovered in the ruins of the hospital. Rich with imagery and detail (pay attention to everything, or you'll miss something), high on creeps, an ascent of terror and a climactic shocker, this is one smart scary movie. Go see it.

Here's hoping we won't have to fight a gantlet of picketing wingnuts.   Terence McNally's controversial play "Corpus Christi" opens in Los Angeles today, running through October 17. I've always liked McNally's work, and I've been very curious about this one ever since all the hoo-hah broke out.

Funny how the media works, by the way ... when a group of misguided Indiana officials filed suit to stop the play from being produced at Purdue University (which receives federal dollars), it was all over the news. Two weeks later when the judge threw them out of court, there was nary a whisper.

You've-got-to-be-kidding-me email of the day.   If this guy is for real, he's a sicko. If he's kidding, he's a genius.

From: Bob T***e <>
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: 16 Aug 2001 21:12:04 -0000
Subject: animals

Chuck, I loved the artikle on absinthe. What wante to know is how I can make me some to give to my fighting roosters they go an fight a match. Right I give them a combination of efedrin/caffine and bourbon, but absinthe sounds like it would be even better in my rooster cocktail. All us cockfighters have their own recipe for the prefight booster and I need this for mine.

Thanks for any info or help you could lend.




Rosie was ahead of her time.   For years there was a store in Metairie, just outside New Orleans, called Rosie's Stout Fashions. It was basically a store for fat ladies-- er, large women, and had very straight and serious local commercials that were actually very endearing. (Bruce Daigrepont once told me that the first song he ever wrote was the "Rosie's Two-Step" in honor of the place.)

I'm not sure if the store's still there, since it's been a few years since I moved out of town, but if she is she's probably doing very well. Seems that nowadays 40% of American women are wearing size 14 or larger, and "plus-size" fashion stores are booming.

New Orleans may be frozen in time in a lot of ways, but we were way ahead of the rest of America when it comes to making fat people. It's taken everyone years to catch up!

Dream journal.   The other night I dreamt that I was cooking for Chef Masaharu Morimoto, former chef of Nobu in New York and also the Iron Chef Japanese. I don't remember what it was I made for him, but he enjoyed it. He's never seemed to be a man of many words, but he did say, "I'm impressed." I was floored. I immediately wandered around wherever it was that I was to find other ingredietns to cook something else for him. I found something and started preparing another dish, but then some other Japanese chef came up to me and started screaming at me in outrage. Apparently I was using his ingredients. I was mortified.

Coulda been worse, I guess. A woman I work with (and who is a part-time supervisor of mine) reported an exhaustively detailed dream in which Tony Soprano ordered her to kill Pussy Bompensiero, and gave her a tiny little Derringer-like gun to do it. After being warned by Tony that "whoever whacks Pussy is going to have to live with it," she calmly shot him in the head. Yeesh. Somebody's watching too much of "The Sopranos".

Quote of the day.   "It's not that New Orleanians are too fat. We're just too short."

-- Joe Cahn, New Orleanian cook, describing the plight of most New Orleanians over 30 (especially men) who love to eat.

  Thursday, August 16, 2001
Yippee! We're back!   After several weeks of ISP-from-Hell hell, KCSN is back on the web. So far the web page is just a placeholder, more or less, but we're back streaming our signal, and this time it's via SHOUTcast in MP3 format (which is most definitely not a Bill Gates product).

Using your favorite MP3 player (e.g., Audion, iTunes, Macast or WinAmp), just open the "Open URL" or "Open stream" command in the menu bar, plug in this URL -- -- then go to town. Tune in with better sound quality and without having to use a Microsoft product!

Jeez ... Wilco now sans dreadlocks.   In a fairly startling bit of news, Wilco have announced that Jay Bennett, a key member since their inception, is leaving the band.

As we've heard many times before, the reason is "creative differences". A spokesperson for the band said that "the talented Bennett needs to strike out on his own", and there was "simply less space for him" in Wilco's new music.

As I reported yesterday, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is still looking for a label amidst dozens of offers, and the band will be touring soon despite the sudden personnel change. Lineup for the tour will be Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, new drummer Glen Kotche, and "multi-instrumentalist" Leroy Bach.

Slamming Zagat.   This month's issue of Food and Wine magazine features an eyebrow-raising critique of the popular Zagat Restaurant Survey, which seems to have practically eliminated all other restaurant guides with its ubiquity. Apparently the critic who sampled several of its top-rated and studied the survey found a lot that was hard to swallow.

Perhaps the weakest link in the Zagat method is that respondents are not asked to supply any proof as to when if ever they visited the restaurants they voted on. Zagat could request photocopies of receipts; even requiring those surveyed to write in the approximate date of their last visit would dampen the impulse to fill out the form willy-nilly, whether the responses are based on recent experience, fond memories or, perhaps, imaginings. Any such tactic, though, might discourage people from taking part in the survey.

Having always distrusted consensus, I feel the system of relying on a vast public rather than professional critics has no more validity in assessing restaurants than it would if applied to art or theater. The majority can be wrong, and one well-informed opinion is worth more than those of a thousand amateurs. Popular success is not a measure of excellence. If it were, it would mean that McDonald's serves the world's best hamburgers, KFC makes perfect fried chicken, Pizza Hut is the envy of Naples and, come to think of it, that the Zagat Survey is our best restaurant guide.

Meow. Rowrr. Pthptt.

Oh gee, what a coincidence.   Microsoft releases an upgrade for Internet Explorer, and once it's installed you can no longer run Quicktime movies. An Apple representative said they are "working with Microsoft to resolve the issue.

In my view, that means that Microsoft is either incredibly incompetent (that they wouldn't even test for compatibility for one of the most popular and widely used types of web video) or it was done deliberately to "remove non-Microsoft product compatibility". (Via Damien)

The Chinese government's population control program?   A new study predicts that one-third of all young men in China will be dead from smoking in the next few decades if current habits continue.

China has 20% of the world's population and consumes 30% of the world's cigarettes. The Chinese government is the largest producer of cigarettes in the world.

Dubya's Amazon Wish List.   Better have a look now, before it gets pulled.

  Wednesday, August 15, 2001
Wilco's looking for a new home.   Wilco, one of my favorite bands, was actually allowed to leave their label, Reprise Records, after the label rejected the bands latest album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot as being "too adventurous". Uh, seems to me that being adventurous is a good thing, and that all the label cares about is making money (big surprise).

Jeff Tweedy is thrilled with this development, and is currently entertaining offers from over 30 labels who are eager to snatch them up, from major corporations to small, plucky independents. Yeah!

Country regained.   Former Whiskeytown frontman and almost-former badboy Ryan Adams has a new label called Lost Highway, featuring roots artists that generally fall under the category of "alternative country". (I love their definition of the term:   "You can successfully carry on a conversation about four of the following five things: William Faulkner, George Jones, Robert Altman, the Clash, and Stax Records.")

Opus, we hardly knew ye.   I was a huge fan of "Bloom County" and "Outland", and I miss them both. If you've been wondering what their creator Berkeley Breathed has been up to, check out the interview with him in the most recent Onion.

Poor baby.   In an Ironminds article entitled "I'm Not Gay!, A. J. Daulerio whines that because he's "too pretty" and "ripped", gay men hit on him all the time. Waah waah waah. Now you know how countless millions of women feel when they're on the receiving end of unwanted sexual advances from men. Get over it.

Women seem to find this line from the article to be the most howlingly funny. "I just want to be treated with the same respect you give females. I just want to be treated the way you would like to be treated. That's all." Oh please!

By the way, A. J. ... if you want gay men to stop hitting on you, you might want to quit going to gay bars, for starters.

Quote of the day.   "People who treat other people as less than human must not be surprised when the bread they have cast on the waters comes floating back to them, poisoned."

-- James Baldwin

  Tuesday, August 14, 2001
Is it prehistory yet?   I miss 'em, me. They're nice and big, they don't break, and sometimes they're bona fide works of art. I'm happy that a number of the more eye-popping of their number are immortalized on When LPs Roamed the Earth, a site that pays homage to "the wonder and beauty of LP covers". Many of 'em are framable (in fact, I have a couple of Record Album Frames from Restoration Hardware, and I love 'em), and of the 1500 or so LPs I've still got in my collection, there are any number of them that I can rotate in and out of the frames, and do.

Yeah, CDs sound great 'n all, but to this day I hate jewel boxes (they break!), and I also hate all of the alternate methods of CD storage -- I can't put them in album books (I need to be able to browse spines and titles), and I don't like drawer storage systems because I want to see my collection. Last, but not least, CD covers are inferior to LP covers because, as my old grad school roommate used to say, "you can't roll a joint on a CD cover". (Ah, school days...)

How to eat cold gruel at the Moscow Airport.   He had a hellish eight-hour layover at Sheremetyevo (jeez, and I thought Dallas/Fort Worth was bad). His first mistake was to buy tickets on Aeroflot, rated by the Zagat survey as the worst airline in the world.

The U. S. Constitution. (Over 18 only, please.)   The California Supreme Court has ruled that school officials may stop, question and search any student without the need for reasonable suspicion. That'll sure teach the little buggers to respect the Bill of Rights.

Crapola News Network?   CNN, in an apparent attempt to lower their credibility to laughable levels, is in discussions with soulless right-wing blowhard Rush Limbaugh, who for years has mocked the network by calling them the "Clinton News Network".

Don't forget to sign on Oliver North, G. Gordon Liddy and Wally George too. (Fox News will no doubt want to one-up CNN by adding "The Lyndon LaRouche Hour" to their lineup.)

Weird human interaction of the day.   I was at the ATM getting money the other day, and at the next one over a young family was waiting for the mom to finish her transaction. They had two boys, maybe five or six and about ten. The younger one kept babbling incessantly, saying the same things over and over. "Do you understand me? Do you understand the words I'm saying? Do you understand the words I'm saying? Do you understand the language I'm speaking? Do you understand the words I'm saying?"

The parents looked beyond exasperated, beyond scolding, beyond even sighing and thinking that if they ignored him he'd stop. They looked weary. This had apparently been going on all morning.

As I was leaving he came up to me and said, with a look of stonefaced seriousness, "Do you understand the words I'm saying?"

I just looked at him strangely, and said, "¿Que?". It seemed to shut him up, if only momentarily, and I walked away.

Oh, as if.   The SirCam worms have been dwindling to just a few a day, and for a minute this morning I thought I had something interesting ... a file called "Jambalaya.doc.pif"! I was all ready to post it, but there was a serious flaw in the recipe. It instructed you to cook the rice separately and serve the sauce and vegetables on top. Wrong wrong wrong. The rice is always cooked in the jambalaya, so that it absorbs all the flavor. We'll just skip this one.

  Monday, August 13, 2001
Excuse me, what did you say?   The BBC report that "former Tory Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's 'Iron Lady' image could be banished by a revolutionary art exhibition. The Blue Gallery in Clerkenwell, north east London, is planning the show for next year and wants it to explore Baroness Thatcher's 'erotic-iconic quality'".

To paraphrase Lisa Simpson, I know what the words "erotic" and "Margaret Thatcher" mean individually, but I cannot parse a sentence in which the former is used as an adjective to modify the latter.

A song comes to mind, although to my regret I cannot remember all the lyrics. I heard it sung by Robbie O'Connell at an Irish music festival many years ago, when Thatcher was still the Prime Minister of Britain (as Christy Moore sang in a revamped version of his song "Delirium Tremens":  "I dreamt I was in a jacuzzi with that owld hoor from Number Ten / then I swore I'd never, ever, ever drink again."). The song was called "How Does Denis Do It?", and its lyrics wondered how Mr. Denis Thatcher could ever manage to shtupp such a beast. I can only remember the chorus (I may not have the lyrics exactly right, but they're close):

How does Denis do it, does he tie her to the bed?
Or does he have to do it with a bag upon his head?
Perhaps he likes to do it with leather, whips and chains,
Or bring some Tory friends along to play some kinky games.
I guess the lurid details will be left to history;
It's how he does the job at all is what bewilders me!
Drink more wine.   It's good for you.

Oh. Right.   An executive from Twentieth Century-Fox explains the ending of Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes":

"Actually, you're not supposed to be able to (explain it)," he reveals. "If the truth be known, it wasn't really supposed to make sense. It was just supposed to go 'whoa,' make you think."
Sure, it made me think. It made me think, "Jesus, what a stupid fucking ending."

Norman Bates is his own mother.   Speaking of endings, there's a site called Movie Pooper that gives away the endings (usually in one clever sentence) to new and classic movies. I love it. My favorite one (you figure out the movie) is, "Nobody is killed, or even seriously injured."

No sex please, we're British.   Sure, it's just a hoary old cliché, particularly in light of reports that fully one-fourth of Britons who use the Internet at home use it to look at porn. ("Wills! Harry! What are you doing?!")

Quote of the day.   "I'm a radio guy because I enjoy invisibility and like to talk without people looking at my mouth to see if there might be shreds of spinach between my teeth."

-- Garrison Keillor, in a CNN interview (amen, brother). His new book Lake Wobegon Summer 1956 will be published soon.

  Friday, August 10, 2001
(Thinking back on my 4th-7th grade classmates...)   The new Joe Henry album "Scar" is near the top of my stuff-to-get list, and from what I've heard of it already I hope it's on yours too. Check out this recent interview with him in which he reveals, among other things, that one of his grammar school classmates from 4th through 7th grade in Ohio was someone we'd all come to hear about later -- Jeffrey Dahmer. (Creepy!)

"Well, duh."   America Online (AOL) and The Microsoft Network (MSN), the two largest self-described Internet service providers in the United States, came out at the bottom of customer satisfaction surveys.

Color me surprised.

Sell out.   It happened. First, The Onion moves to New York, and now they've got feckin' pop-up ads. (Two of 'em, in fact.) What's next? Imminent death of Internet predicted ...

Ain't dat ironical?   I promise to stop talking about "Planet of the Apes" after this, but this was funny. From the in-house film review newsletter at work, by Jim Byerley:

Am I hallucinating, or does [Charlton Heston's ape character] deliver an anti-gun speech on his deathbed?
Vacation scoffing.   Many private sector executives say that they can't imagine even taking two weeks off, much less a whole month, "working vacation" and personal staff tagalongs be damned.

Quotes of the day.   "Here's a sentence you never hear:   'Is that the banjo player's Porsche?'"

-- Richard Thompson, during a show in Durham, NC ("The NEW Durham, that is. You should see the OLD Durham. The NEW Durham is much better.")

"I'm probably the only human being that knows both Madonna and Jeffrey Dahmer."

-- Joe Henry, to an MTV reporter.

  Thursday, August 9, 2001
Getting rid of SirCam.   Use procmail to filter your mail, and put this recipe in your .procmailrc:

:0 B
* > 100000
* mDmcOaA5pDmoOaw5sDnAOeA56DnsOfA59Dn4Ofw5ADoEOgg6HDo8OkQ6SD
That oughta get 'em all. It's kinda sad, though, in a way ... even though I'll be happy to get rid of almost all of these damned things, I have been enjoying getting ones that contain things like this (see below).

Mmmmmm...   So I guess that this latest guy who's been emitting multiple SirCam worms in my direction is a chef. First I got that tasty-looking plum chutney recipe, then I got a list of dishes he's created; given the title of the document, I'm guessing that they were the specials in his restaurant on January 17, 2000:

Black bean, feta and lime soup

Penne pasta, sun dried tomatoes, prosciutto, spinach, artichoke hearts & Parmesan cream

Cajun Grilled Dry Aged Rib Eye, mashed potatoes & crispy yams (Hrmm, I dunno about this "Cajun Grilled" stuff. Most of the Cajuns I know slap lots of Jack Miller's Barbecue Sauce on a piece of meat before it goes on the grill, so if that's how he did it then it's authentic enough for me.)

Grilled salmon with papaya vinaigrette, wasabi mashed potatoes

Pan-roasted Sea bass, golden beet risotto, chervil oil & black olive purée

Damn. I'm gonna have to find me this restaurant.

Money well spent.   Two weeks after shelling out the $50, I'm now very glad I bought my firewall software, Intego's NetBarrier.

Last night as I was browsing on Aimster, I got hit by the Ping of Death from some miserable little penisless pus-sucking fucknuckle from Denmark, IP of, host Up popped my NetBarrier alert, he went into my permanent block list and will be the recipient of some very nasty gris-gris at my earliest opportunity.

Firewalls are good.

Aah, go ahead, nobody'll notice.   (Don't follow any of these links if you don't want spoilers for the ending of the worst movie of the summer.)

In an amazing coincidence, the central image in the ending of Tim Burton's lame-ass "Planet of the Apes" seems to be exactly the same as in a Kevin Smith "Jay and Silent Bob" comic from 1998. (The image in question.)  Burton replies:

"I have not seen the image and anybody that knows me knows I do not read comic books. And I especially wouldn't read anything that was created by Kevin Smith."
Gee, he is tired and pissy, isn't he? Lighten up, Mary. You made a bad movie. Get some therapy, deal with it and move on. Do better next time.

Maybe it's because he's a lazy butt.   The majority of the American public takes exception to George W. Bush's taking a one-month vacation after only six months in office. This is in a nation where the majority of workers get only two weeks per year if they're lucky, many get only one week per year, and almost nobody gets to take a month off after a measly six months on the job.

Over the course of the month, Bush will leave Texas for several one- and two-day trips as part of what aides are calling his "Home to the Heartland Tour." The events are designed to show Bush's compassionate side. Although his approval ratings remain relatively high in opinion polls, aides are concerned that Americans might believe Bush doesn't care about the issues that affect them and is beholden to corporate interests. [Emphasis mine.]
How sad is it when a guy comes across as so uncompassionate that "events" have to be "designed" to "show [his] compassionate side"? Maybe if someone would just fucking be compassionate instead of saying "Who cares what you think?" to an American citizen then nobody would have to try to design events to make him appear compassionate.

Oh, by the way, here's Bush's official reply. Methinks the lady doth protest too much. (Thanks to Wes for sending this one in.)

  Wednesday, August 8, 2001
The Sunday Morning Movie.   When I was growing up, WVUE (Channel 8, then the ABC affiliate in New Orleans, now a Fox station) used to have a weekly feature called "The Sunday Morning Movie". It came on at 10:30am, had a theme song taken from a stock music library (I can still hum it), came on just in time to watch after getting back from 9:30 mass, and showed the most god-awful cheapo B-grade horror and sf movies they could get. "Attack of the Atomic Brain Suckers!" That kinda thing. I loved it.

An announcement has been made regarding a widely anticipated film which should be coming out next year. Its newly-revealed title would have fit in beautifully with the lineup of movies on Channel 8's "Sunday Morning Movie". The film is entitled "Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones".

Plus ça change, plus c'est le même chose. (Well, the effects'll be better, and that Hayden Christensen is a hottie, ain't he?)

Another New Orleans nostalgia moment is triggered.   Speaking of WVUE, who remembers when they used to be Channel 12, not Channel 8?

Channel 8 was WYES, the local PBS affiliate (although then it was NET, National Educational Television, as I recall). I'm not exactly sure what all was involved, as I was just a kid at the time, but WVUE coveted WYES' lower number on the channel knob and made an arrangement to swap frequencies. It was a big deal at the time, heavily promoted, and true to form WVUE ran a B-movie as the Big Event's centerpiece.

"Tune in this Saturday night to WVUE's Channel-Change Movie, 'The Naked Jungle', starring Charlton Heston!
Actually, it was a cracking adventure story based on Carl Stephenson's classic short story "Leiningen vs. the Ants", and still gives me the creepy-crawlies to this day. ("Marabunta! Marabunta!")

The film was dramatically interrupted in the middle for the "Channel Change" ceremony, which featured New Orleans Mayor Moon Landrieu in a plain little set in front of some cheesy prop device with a couple of levers. With a flourish he uttered the magic words, "Okay ... here we go!" and swapped the position of the two levers. (What really happened was that some video engineer flipped a couple of switches back at the station.) There was a black picture, a moment of snow ... and all of a sudden there was some educational program. We hurriedly switched from Channel 12 to Channel 8 ... and there was Chuck Heston, battling the marauding column of army ants.

So silly. Am I remembering the details correctly? And what year did this take place, anyway? Long, long time ago. New Orleanians?

Now this is more like it!   Francine finally stopped worm-bombing me; I suppose either she realized her computer was infected and finally unplugged the damned thing, or else her ISP responded to my (and perhaps myriad other) pleas and yanked her connection. In any case, I'm back down to my normal level of daily SirCam worm mailings.

The latest recipe that came in looks intriguing, and although I couldn't dig the preparation method out of the virus code I did get a list of ingredients and what appears to be a restaurant name -- Blue Palms. (I wonder if it's the Blue Palms on La Cienega in West Hollywood.) I've never tried cinnamon basil, but I'm keen to try it now -- it sounds wonderful, it's flavor having regular basil undertones with a strong cinnamon flavor. I'm also curious as to what the chef served this with.

Plum, Green Papaya & Cinnamon Basil Chutney

4 leeks whites only (med dice)
4 medium green papayas (large dice)
28 plums (peeled, seeded & large dice)
1/3 c sugar
1/2 c mirin
2 tsp chili flakes
2 tsp ground toasted coriander
1/4 cup lemon juice
4 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick
1/2 c chopped cinnamon basil (at the end)

Prepare as one would prepare any chutney, bringing the ingredients to a boil and simmering slowly until thick and syrupy.

I've found some terrific-looking recipes employing cinnamon basil as well:  a Chocolate-Hazelnut Torte with Cinnamon Basil, Ratatouille with Cinnamon Basil, Cinnamon Basil Sorbet (which would make a great intermezzo) and Spiced Pears poached in Zinfandel and Cinnamon Basil. I'm off to find a seed catalogue!

Have it whose way?   Burger King seem to be in the news a lot lately. Some kid is on trial for adulterating burgers by spraying them with oven cleaner while he was in the employ of BK, and there's at least one other similar case which is escaping me at the moment. If I was disinclined to eat there before, I'm even more so after reading Flame Broiled: The Disgruntled Ex-Burger King Employees' Page, which greets you with a Javascript alert saying, "You know what they're tryin' to say when they pay you minimum wage? If I could pay you less I would, but it's against the law!"

My pain runs deep. My acne has never left my face. My memories of adolescence are riddled with the smell of chicken tenders and Vanilla Shakes. I have seen the creatures that live at bottom of the dumpster. I have seen the rat by the soda machine. I have seen dead frogs in the fresh salad lettuce. I have seen undercooked meat served to children and I have seen bags of trash piled higher than I stand as they lay less than 3 feet from the hamburger meat. I am the DISGRUNTLED EX-BURGER KING EMPLOYEE!

Worse than the rat, worse than the dead frog, worse than eating a sandwich of yesterday morning coffee mold with chewed burger buddies and ranch sauce, I have seen office politics in a job lower on the food chain than a fried gopher. I have worked 45 hours a week at age 16 and my yearly pay remained far below the poverty line. I have seen my counterparts work 4 jobs, 90 to 100 hours a week, just for a roof over their heads and the chance to feed their children the same greasy undercooked leftovers that they can take home at the end of the night. I have seen the district manager walk into the store three times a week for 3 years and not once did he ask for my name. I flipped the fries. I made the hamburgers. I fried the chicken. I prepared the salads. I set up the shake machine. I cooked the eggs. I washed the floors. I cleaned shit off of the toilets. I made $5.09 an hour.

I guess having a job when you're a teenager "builds character". Kids, do your best to find better jobs than working at a goddamn fast food franchise. Good luck.

On the other hand...   I do have to take exception to one of the "Customer Rules" on the above site, though. "34) Don't check your order of food after we give it to you. We have better things to do than wait for you to move." Well, sorry ... but I wouldn't check it before leaving if it weren't wrong so often.

These days I tend to limit my fast food intake to El Pollo Loco, which is marinated, flame-broiled chicken and is actually pretty good (and good for you, too; better than BK or "The Scottish Restaurant", at least). I do enjoy a good burger now and again, though. L.A. Burger on Pico just east of La Cienega makes an outstanding Avocado Bacon Cheeseburger, as do Top's Everest and the outstanding Pie 'n Burger in Pasadena. Johnny Rocket's is a good, solid standby as well. (I make a pretty mean burger at home, too.)

Alaska, Shmalaska.   An excerpt from Mark Morford's editorial in today's "Morning Fix":

Go on vacation for one unassuming little week and this is what happens. Suddenly a whole clump of football players buy the proverbial farm and President Cheney manages to cram his hideous and abusive little Alaska oil drilling scheme through the House just before Shrub scampers off to the ranch for a month...

[I]t would be very easy to become terribly depressed if not downright vodka-tonically mortified by Bush's whole insulting Alaska oil drilling plan, as coupled with the outright refusal to enact more stringent mileage requirements on pollutive thuggish SUVs.

The Senate will likely kill the drill but still, the fact that it nearly made it, the fact that we came this close to allowing Exxon-Mobile or whomever to stomp all over a huge wildlife preserve just to sate a tiny fraction of our oil gluttony for the sake of those very SUVs, well, we should be ashamed.

Problem is, this Republican administration has already become such a snickering little lion's den of pro-oil pro-corporate anti-environment inbreeding, such a blatant happy wellspring of negative and socially destructive ideas, criticizing it for such behavior is like criticizing a boa constrictor for squeezing prey too tightly. It's just what the thing does.

And today, in the Stinks-Like-Rotten-Fish Department, Shadow President Dick Cheney has formally refused to turn over documents demanded as part of a Congressional investigation of the administration's energy plan.

In April the [General Accounting] Office, which is nonpartisan, began requesting documents that detail how the administration assembled its energy plan, which Democrats asserted was intended to benefit oil, coal, gas companies and other big contributors to the Bush presidential campaign.

While the administration has already provided some information related to the finances of President Bush's energy task force, it has declined to answer questions about the role of various administration officials and staff members in preparing the report. The White House also said it would not name outsiders who met with Mr. Cheney or White House staff on energy matters.

Numerous corporate chief executives have said they met with Mr. Cheney and White House staff in the spring, when the energy blueprint was being prepared. Environmentalists and consumer advocates said they were not invited to the White House to discuss energy issues until after the report was written in May.

Oh, quelle surprise.

(Footnote: Props to Cam and Damien for the Burger King and Cheney links I cribbed from them today. Hey, they were Looka!-appropriate, though ...)

  Tuesday, August 7, 2001
Sounds like heaven.   Jay Farrar, of Son Volt and formerly of Uncle Tupelo, will finally have his long-awaited solo album Sebastopol released by Artemis Records on September 25. Supporting players include Steven Drozd of Flaming Lips, Jon Wurster on drums, and background vocals by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.


Here's a sample song to help you get by until next month.

Well! A government regulation that makes sense.   Unlike, say, the DMCA.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (an odd bunch, I've always thought) is proposing a new regulation that would force "winemakers" -- and in this case I use the term with reservations -- to label such vile product as "Peach White Zinfandel" and "Raspberry Merlot" as a "flavored wine product".

Thanks to Barry for sending this in; he commented, "Maybe it'll keep the masses from thinking that you can actually make Merlot from strawberries." Don't count on it, but it might help.

Awww, ain't dat sweet?   One of my kind and generous cow-orkers left a nice cherry pie in the office kitchen at lunchtime today, with this note attached to it:

E A T   M E !

I'm free, and I've always wanted to take a trip to your thighs!   :-)
(It ain't my things that're the problem, honey, it's the tummy.) It was a very tasty piece of pie, though. Mmmmm, plump Bing cherries...

Francine is getting on my nerves.   Her name is Francine Bertrand. She's French-Canadian. She has a SirCam worm-infected PC. And she's sending me a SirCam worm, average size 250K, approximately every 15 minutes (sometimes more frequently), and has been doing so for two days.

Attempts to reach her via email have failed, bouncing back because ... her mailbox is full (quelle surprise). I've written to the abuse department of her ISP, begging them to suspend her service until she takes care of her problem.

Francine, if by some miniscule chance you happen to read this ... DISCONNECT YOUR COMPUTER FROM THE INTERNET AND GET IT DISINFECTED! And all you PC people ... STOP CLICKING ON ATTACHMENTS! Jesus, how long have they been saying that? While you're at it, think about using alternative operating systems that aren't so security hole-ridden and easy to infect.

In no small part due to Francine's deluge, SirCam is beginning to fail to amuse me.

Escape from Privet Drive ... soon!   The film version of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's/Sorcerer's Stone" opens in one hundred days. Keep an eye on the Cauldron for news and updates.

The masses speak.   From today's Los Angeles Times Letters and Opinions page:

How ironic that Clinton, a liberal president, had the fortitude to balance the national budget and reduce the national debt for the first time in many decades, but the fiscal irresponsibility of two self-styled conservatives (Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush) did more to undermine the financial solvency of the U. S. by generating a greater national debt than all of the preceding administrations combined. Now we see that in less than nine months, President Bush has succeeded in reversing course, putting us back on the road to massive deficit spending and environmental ruin.
Bennett Lewis
Capistrano Beach

The Middle East is about to go up in flames, we pretend the world is wrong about global warming and pollution, we're about to pave over Alaska, seniors can't see a doctor or pay their light bill and Michael Ramirez [the Times' conservative political cartoonist] is still doing political cartoons about Clinton's sex life. Perhaps the Republican Party can change its symbol from the elephant to the ostrich.
Spider Martin
Laguna Woods

  Monday, August 6, 2001
The record haul.   I was very good on Friday, eschewing a trip to Laser Blazer to buy DVDs. Unfortunately, I was bad and went to The Wine House (running low on Bombay Sapphire and Cointeau) and Rhino. The Rhino haul was actually 60% pop and only 40% weird folky stuff, too!

The Proclaimers - Persevere
It took a listen or two to grow on me, but I really like it. I'm glad to hear such great musicians as Greg Leisz and Peter Ostroushko playing in the band, but I'm not crazy about some of the production; the vocals seem to get lost in the mix sometimes. Still, it's another batch of good songs from Charlie and Craig. Recommended.

Rufus Wainwright - Poses
A gorgeous record; I could listen to this all day.

Glenn Tilbrook - The Incomplete Glenn Tilbrook
I've been a huge Squeeze fan since I was 18, and have been kicking myself in the head ever since I realized that I missed Glenn's solo show in L.A. Picking up the new solo record was de rigueur, and it's still growing on me. If you're expecting a Squeeze record, you won't get it; it has major doses of funk mixed into the guitar pop. I do miss Chris Difford, but Glenn most certainly shows that he can go it alone.

Lúnasa - The Merry Sisters of Fate
One of the better Irish traditional bands these days, full of energy, brilliant playing and the likes of Sean Smyth and Trevor Hutchinson (bassist for Sharon Shannon and the Waterboys, to name two). I only find fault with this band in that they have no vocalist; it's only tunes, not songs. The tunes are grand, though, and barring that small complaint I recommend them very highly; another solid and exciting batch of tunes.

Various Artists - The Music of Ed Reavy
Ed Reavy was a traditional fiddler born in Cork, Ireland but lived most of his life in Philadelphia, where he composed over 1,000 tunes before he passed away at age 90. His influence upon Irish music ranges far and wide, for many of his tunes have become session staples back in Ireland as well as across America. Here, several other traditional musicians perform several of his best-known tunes, as well as a few recordings of the man himself.

The weekend's SirCam haul.   Bob's essay for English 155 at UCLA (which, in my opinion, did not qualify as college-level writing), Bethany's poetry essay (better), two documents from George, who is presumably a lawyer ("evidence issues and answers.doc", summaries and commentaries on some murder cases, and "Plea Bargains.doc", rule 410 regarding when plea bargains can and can't be done), and a little note for someone who might just need the services of the lawyer:

to: gio
from: nina
time: 8:48
date: june 21,2001

hey sup my cuz? me chillen well i got bored and i'm wrighting you now okay? well myrna said keep it real in jail. well i dunno what to say... but whenever you get down look at this picture okay?

ya cuz,

u love me,
i love me.

"Keep it real in jail." Good advice for all of us, no?

  Sunday, August 5, 2001
Happy birthday, Pops!   (Actually, I don't call my dad that, I call him "Dad".) Charlie Taggart was born sixty-six years ago today. Have a fun birthday, Dad!

  Saturday, August 4, 2001
Happy birthday, Pops!   Louis Armstrong was born one hundred years ago today.

Fiddles and banjos and strings, oh my!   The Appalachian String Band Music Festival is taking place this weekend at Camp Washington-Carver in Cliffton, West Virginia, and for the second year in a row I'm missing it (dammit!) ... oh well, maybe next year.

This week on "Down Home" I'll be featuring artists who'll likely be appearing at the festival, the likes of Alice Gerrard, Mike Seeger, Jody Stecher, Brad Leftwich, Tom Sauber, Dirk Powell, Dwight Diller, Dan Gellert, Rayna Gellert and Frank Lee, Geoff Seitz, Kevin Wimmer and many other luminaries of old-time, traditional American and Appalachian music. Our web site's still down (but coming soon!), so you'll have to be local to hear it this week -- 88.5 FM, Los Angeles.

We'll be up and running again soon, this time streaming MP3 stereo! Keep an eye out!

More gifts from SirCam.   Yesterday I got a file called "pouring our hearts out.doc" that contained some rather, um, personal online chat conversations between R. and V., who would be mortified if they knew what SirCam had chosen to send to the world at large from their hard drives. Earlier this week I also got some proprietary business plan information, a nastygram from a guy accusing a business partner of shady dealings and cutting him off, and apparently lots of people got the guarded, private schedule of Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma, after the computers of the Ukrainian administration were infected.

Oh, and another recipe, from Victor. Looks okay, built on a basic velouté base, but I'd add a tablespoon of Demi-Glace Gold de Poulet before I'd use nasty bouillion granules.

Honey-Dijon Cream Sauce

4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons honey
1 teaspoon chicken bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon Tabasco

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add flour and whisk one minute. Gradually add milk. Cook over medium heat whisking until thick. Stir in mustard, then the honey, bouillion and Tabasco. Serves 20.

Is Valenti the Indian or the Cowboy?   There was a protest against the Draconian incarceration of Dmitry Sklyarov in front of the U.S. Embassy in London the other day, where something similar to the following filk song was sung to the tune of the immortal and ubiquitous (Goddamn, won't that fecking song ever go away?) "Y.M.C.A.", by the Village People. This one didn't seem to have a "real" credit, but was credited to "Jack Valenti and the Media People":

Young man, we'll take all your sites down
I said, young man, this won't get off the ground
I said, young man, your mirrors will be found
There's no need to make any copies
Young man, Napster has got to go
I said, young man, we want more of your dough
You can't do this; the law went through Con-gress
Forget about DeCSS

It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
We own everything that young people enjoy
Music, movies, and all your toys
It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
You can only stream Real
You can't get a fair deal
You can't do whatever you feel

Young man, are you listening to me?
I said, young man, don't play that MP3
I said, young man, you can forget your dreams
You reverse engineered our thing
No man makes copies for himself
I said, young man, take Apex off the shelf
Or we'll sue you, through the D.M.C.A.
Didn't you read the E.U.L.A.?


Young man, I was once in your place,
I said, I felt the U.S. was off base
I felt no man cared about regions

I felt the whole world was as one
That's when someone came up to me
And said, young man, no more iCraveTV
There's a thing here called the D.M.C.A.
Next we'll have U.C.I.T.A.

It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
We own everything that young people enjoy
Music, movies, and all your toys
It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
It's here to stay; it's the D.M.C.A.
Young man, young man, we'll take all your sites down
Young man, young man, this won't get off the ground
Just follow the D.M.C.A.

(Via NTK)

  Friday, August 3, 2001
1926-2001.   Poul Anderson, one of the greatest science fiction writers, passed away Wednesday at the age of 75. He left behind a body of work consisting of over 100 novels and story collections, most prominently The Boat of a Million Years and Tau Zero, to name but two.

Here's a remembrance from Warren James, host of the superb sf radio program "Hour 25":

I sit down to write these words with great sadness because I must tell you that this week Poul Anderson died of cancer.

He was first diagnosed with prostate cancer less than a year ago and when we saw him this spring he was feeling well and anticipated a full recovery. But that was not to be. His cancer ultimately resisted all the doctors could do and, in the end, it took him from us.

To say that his loss hurts is to make an understatement of the first order. Through his writing he did much to shape me into the person that I am today and I hope that he could tell from our conversations just how much he meant to me.

I called Karen Anderson yesterday to offer my condolences but it was Karen who ended up comforting me as I cried. She told me that Poul did not suffer and that he was mentally alert and enjoying life right up to the very end.

Poul Anderson was one of the finest Science Fiction authors of our time. But more than being a great writer, he was a fine and noble man. In an era characterized by excesses of unsocial behavior he showed grace and understanding to all who met him. His writings shared with all his love for the beauty and majesty of the world we live in and were a celebration of life and all its joys. I will miss him more than words can express. But I will remember him and celebrate his existence every time I look out into the night sky and feel my spirit being drawn into the vast spaces between the stars.

A memorial gathering is planned for 2 PM, Saturday, August 4 at the First Unitarian Church of Oakland, 685 14th Street, Oakland. A small wake will follow at Greyhaven, starting around 5 PM. Attendees for the wake are asked to bring food or drink.

In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to:

SFWA Emergency Medical Fund
c/o Chuck Rothman, SFWA Treasurer
1436 Altamont Avenue
PMB 292
Schenectady, NY 12303-2977
There will not be a new edition of Hour 25 this week because Suzanne and I will be out of town celebrating Poul's life and memory at his memorial service. (However I have added some links to our homepage to make it easy for you to find our previous interview with Poul along with my readings of some of his stories.) We will upload the next edition of Hour 25 on or about August 10, 2001.

The loss of Poul Anderson shows us just how precious and transitory life is. At times like this, much of our sorrow is over things that now can never happen or words that can no longer be said to our loved ones. Let us take that to heart and live each day to its fullest, not planning on doing things, but doing them. Now, not tomorrow. I am sure that is how Poul lived.

Till next time... keep dreaming but take the time to turn those dreams into reality. (And do it today.)

Hey!   How come nobody told me there's a new Proclaimers album out?!

It's called "Persevere", on EMD/Nettwerk, and it looks good so far (I'll head out to Rhino to pick it up this afternoon). I'm excited by some of the guest musicians who are on it -- Greg Leisz on pedal steel, Peter Ostroushko on fiddle and mandolin, and Dáithí Sproule of Altan on guitar.

And from the album cover, it looks like Charlie and Craig got the same new glasses frames that I got.

They're touring now, which makes me say "YAY!", 'cause they're brilliant live. Unfortunately on this leg of the tour they're primarily opening for Barenaked Ladies (*yawn*), and the only southern California dates are Irvine Meadows (a vile venue I've sworn never to return to), and some Coors-sponsored amphitheatre in Chula Vista, which is so far away it's practically Mexico. Fortunately, they're returning for some yet-to-be-announced small club/theatre dates in October, so I'll keep my fingers crossed.

I'm on my way ... from misery to happiness today ... uh huh ... uh huh ...

"Saigon. Shit.   I'm still only in Saigon..."

Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now Redux" opens today, a new version of his 1979 film that's completely re-edited from scratch with re-mixed and -mastered sound, brand-new three-strip Technicolor dye transfer prints and with 53 minutes of restored footage, that is by all accounts completely brilliant.

It was brilliant when it was first released, although not without flaws, but despite that it really put the zap on my head, as Capt. Willard might have said. I was a mere snip of a lad of 17 when I first saw it, two days before its general release thanks to an advance screening arranged by Br. Alexis Gonzales, the "Mad Monk" and director of Loyola's FBI (Film Buffs' Institute). I walked out of the theatre in a daze, and I can't wait until I can see what Coppola and Walter Murch have done.

(Well, we can't go tonight, but definitely tomorrow or Sunday.)

By the way, when you visit the website, make sure you read the "Director's Statement" and all the anecdotes from Coppola and Murch on the restoration process.

So much for the law.   The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, along with two workmen, sneaked a 5,280-pound granite monument commemorating the Ten Commandments into the court's rotunda Wednesday, in the middle of the night, under cover of darkness. (Seems to me that you don't sneak around in the middle of the night unless you're doing something wrong.)

Roy Moore, a nobody judge who got famous by his hell-bent quest to hang the Commandments in his courtroom, is now for God-knows-what reason is the Chief Justice, and was quoted as saying, "I'm the highest legal authority in the state, and I wanted it there."

"Oh, and by the way," he should have added, "while we're at it, fuck the Constitution."

Patrolman Mancuso nearly hauls in a "character".   In a situation of Toolean absurdity, a policeman working the bus station in Toledo, Ohio threatened to arrest a young German au pair for reading Esquire magazine in public, which the minion of the law declared to be "borderline pornographic."

"There were kids in the area. One of the pictures shows a girl covering up her breasts. It's illegal to show pictures of breasts or buttocks. He had it out in the open and that makes it illegal."
I think Officer Osborne should work undercover in the men's room. He'd have a much better chance of bringing in a character in there.

  Thursday, August 2, 2001
Coke: Ashamed of their corporate policies?   The "H2-NO" page I linked to yesterday on the Coca-Cola Company's web site has mysteriously vanished, no doubt from it having been linked on MeFi and getting "too many" hits. Fortunately, the fabulous Google has a cached version -- read page one and page two.

How to tell if you're in a chain restaurant that's masquerading as a neighborhood restaurant.   It's happening all over the country. Chains like Applebee's are trying to pretend that they're "your neighborhood restaurant". Actually, they're a huge corporation interested primarily in maximizing profits. What do they actually have to do with the neighborhood you live in or grew up in, and its character?

From yesterday's New Orleans Menu Daily, by Tom Fitzmorris:

Maybe your neighborhood was a clutter of strip malls at the intersection of overloaded suburban highways. If so, would you contact me? I never met anyone who grew up in a neighborhood like that.

You should also call me if the corner cafe in your neighborhood was one of dozens or perhaps hundreds of restaurants exactly like it. And if the manager was a twenty-something hotshot, the waitress's name was Heather, the menu read like a comedian's monologue, and if you were asked to fill out a comment card every time you ate there.

He adds telltale signs that you're in a chain restaurant -- spinach-artichoke dip or onion blossoms on the menu, to name two; to this you can add almost any place that serves "jalapeño poppers", those breaded, cheese-stuffed peppers which come pre-made and frozen from Sysco and are exactly the same everywhere you get them.

Oh, isn't that convenient?   Election officials in Palm Beach County, Florida are saying that they "may have" wiped out computer files showing how each ballot was punched in the 2000 Presidential election.

"I can't swear we don't have a backup somewhere," [election supervisor Theresa] LePore said Wednesday. "Generally, as a rule, we don't because it's never been an issue."
Horseshit. I've never been much of a conspiracy theorist, but this is far too convenient to be an "accident". Oh, and we don't back up, either. Please.

Jay and Silent Bob get smacked?   Writer/director Kevin Smith seems to be in for a bit more controversy with his next film, as if the brouhaha over "Dogma" wasn't enough. It seems that members of GLAAD, an organization that's done good work in the past but has a tendency to be, um, a bit shrill at times, have seen a preview of "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back" and have taken exception to some of its content, referring to it as "one big gay joke". Kevin defends himself quite sincerely and eloquently, and strongly feels that he's getting a bum rap.

I swear, I caught it from the right wing on 'Dogma', and now I'm catching it from the left wing on this flick. Which am I, people: a bleeding heart liberal or a Bible-thumping conservative? And when the hell do I get to make a movie in which I don't have to explain myself afterwards? When the hell do I get to make a movie that some special interest group won't demonize? I sweat - it's like all that's left is to walk that thin, boring line down the middle that makes for really bland cinema. Because no matter what you do and say, no matter how good your intentions are, sooner or later, you're going to offend SOMEBODY.
Amen. Can't say I can blame him for being a little frustrated, particularly since he seemed to have such a friendly conversation with the man from GLAAD, only to have him fire off an accusation of homophobia anyway..

I'm hoping GLAAD back off a bit on this one. Kevin has always been nothing but gay-friendly and is more than deserving of the benefit of the doubt. I'll see the film and make my own decision, but something tells me I'll end up on his side, and that the GLAAD lads might not quite have gotten his brand of satire.

Several Sundays ago I stood in line for four hours for Kevin's DVD signing, and if he had been a known homophobe I wouldn't have done it. I think he's a good guy. Give him a break and see the movie if you were previously inclined to. I'll see you there.

  Wednesday, August 1, 2001
This is not a joke.   This is actual policy at the Olive Garden chain of faux-Italian restaurants, where there's an official training program for employees to discourage customers from ordering tap water to drink, in favor of sugary, fizzy beverages. This training program is called, I swear to God ... "H2-NO".

As if the Olive Garden wasn't vile enough anyway (Italian food, my butt), this is an even stronger reason to decline to patronize their businesses. Ugh.

No, I don't think so, dear.   Here's Slate's Josh Daniel providing a really stupid explanation for the really stupid ending of Tim Burton's "Planet of the Apes". (All one can do is roll one's eyeballs heavenward and say, "Give me a break.")

July 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, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron and Barry Enderwick.
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