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 @ 9:53am PST, 3/31/2002
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KCSN (Los Angeles)
"Down Home" playlist
Live MP3 audio stream
Subscribe to the
"Down Home" weekly
playlist email service
WWOZ (New Orleans)
Live audio stream
Grateful Dead Radio
(Streaming complete shows!)
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
KRVS Radio Acadie
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
(Science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
(Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)
The Sazerac Cocktail
(A work in progress.)
DrinkBoy and the
Community for the
La Fée Verte
Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
New Orleans Menu Daily
Chef Talk Café
The Global Gourmet
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
In vino veritas.
The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wally's Wine and Spirits
The Wine House
The Wine Spectator
Black House, by Stephen King and Peter Straub.
Juno & Juliet, by Julian Gough.
Listen to music!
Chuck's current album recommendations
La Bottine Souriante
The Old 97s
The Red Stick Ramblers
Miles of Music
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)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
J. T. Seaton
The Mirror Project
Bloom County / Outland,
by Berkeley Breathed
Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley
by Aaron McGruder
Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson
by Garry B. Trudeau
Get Your War On
by David Rees
by Peter Blegvad
by Al Capp
The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner
by Ted Rall
This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow
Films seen recently:
Gosford Park (****)
The Count of Monte Cristo (***)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (**) Black Hawk Down (***-1/2)
Vanilla Sky (*-1/2)
2001: A Space Odyssey (*****)
Lookin' at da TV:
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
The Food Network
Weblogs I read:
Eat, Link and Be Merry
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jonno / now
The Leaky Cauldron
The Making of a Restaurant
More Like This
Neil Gaiman's Journal
The Other Side
Q Daily News
Therapy for the Inner Psycho
Whim and Vinegar
Wil Wheaton Dot Net
Matthew's GLB blog portal
New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.
AlterNet.org (Progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (Quotationable)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (your stories)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence) The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs)
The Final Frontier:
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Locus Magazine Online
Epinions I've written:
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)
Launcher III *
Zagat Guide *
(* = superfavorite)
hosted by pair NetworksDéanta: 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.
"This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island,
From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me."
-- Woody Guthrie
Sunday, March 31, 2002
Happy Easter! I hope your Elmer's Candy arrived in time. It just ain't Easter without it.
I now offer a wonderful Easter story by David Sedaris (excerpted from his book Me Talk Pretty One Day). Um, not necessarily about the celebration of the religious holiday, but about trying to explain it in French class. The scenario: David's moved to Paris with his boyfriend and is attempting to learn the language, along with people from all over Europe and North Africa. The teacher asks the class...
"And what does one do on Easter? Would anyone like to tell us?"It only gets funnier. Wait until they start talking about the Easter Bunny.
The Italian nanny was attempting to answer the question when the Moroccan student interrupted, shouting, "Excuse me, but what's an Easter?"
Despite her having grown up in a Muslim country, it seemed she might have heard it mentioned once or twice, but no. "I mean it," she said. "I have no idea what you people are talking about."
The teacher then called upon the rest of us to explain.
The Poles led the charge to the best of their ability. "It is," said one, "a party for the little boy of God who call his self Jesus and ... oh, shit."
She faltered, and her fellow countryman came to her aid.
"He call his self Jesus, and then he be die one day on two ... morsels of ... lumber."
The rest of the class jumped in, offering bits of information that would have given the pope an aneurysm.
"He die one day, and then he go above of my head to live with your father."
"He weared the long hair, and after he died, the first day he come back here for to say hello to the peoples."
"He nice, the Jesus."
"He make the good things, and on the Easter we be sad because somebody makes him dead today."
"Alive and Picking" says goodbye tonight. My friend Mary Katherine Aldin, who's been hosting a superb folk music radio show in the Sunday 7-10pm slot on KPFK since the ridiculous cancellation of "FolkScene" bids farewell to her audience tonight, graciously making way for the return of Roz & Howard and "FolkScene"! She did a great job over the last 17 months, and you'd do well to peruse her playlists during that time. I'm sure it'll be a great show tonight.
Friday, March 29, 2002
"Nobody's perfect!" Yep, we all gotta go sometime, and if you can do all the wonderful things Billy Wilder did and make it to 95, you've done rather well, I think. The great writer and director passed away yesterday.
"Double Indemnity", "The Lost Weekend", "Sunset Boulevard", "Stalag 17", "Sabrina", "The Seven Year Itch", "Some Like It Hot", "The Apartment" ... wow.
I was fortunate enough to have an entire class on Billy Wilder's films when I was in gradate school, where we heard lots of great stories. My favorite Billy Wilder story: "Sunset Boulevard" originally had a different opening scene, in which several corpses in the morgue, covered up on slabs with just their feet and toe tags sticking out, chat about how they got there. William Holden's screenwriter character begins his opening narration, and the film proceeds from there.
They were doing a test screening at Grauman's Chinese Theatre in Hollywood prior to the film's release. Wilder, like all good nervous filmmakers, was pacing in the theatre's lobby. A frumpy, matronly woman came out of the theatre during the opening scene and headed to the ladies' room. As she pass Wilder, not knowing who he was, she said, "My God, have you ever seen such a piece of crap in your life?"
"No ma'am, I haven't," replied the great director, who promptly fled to the men's room and threw up.
Gotta love Slidell. That little town to the east of New Orleans where ... um, people live for some reason, finally makes national news by having two crackheads steal a Krispy Kreme truck the back door of which was open, and left a 15-mile trail of doughnuts behind them. Mmmmmmm, doughnuts ...
The best seafood we eat in New Orleans. All during Lent in The New Orleans Menu Daily, Tom Fitzmorris has been counting down all the best seafoods we eat in the Crescent City. Today he arrived at his pick for #1, which although I love, I'd quibble with slightly; I'd take his #3, which was crabmeat, and swap it for his #1, which is oysters. Oh, don't get me wrong, I love dem erstas! Here's an excerpt with which I happen to agree, despite my slight preference for crabmeat:
My favorite assessment of the goodness of our local oysters was by Richard Collin [the "New Orleans Underground Gourmet", and the city's first real restaurant critic]. In his last restaurant guide, his recommendation for the Best Meal at the Acme Oyster House was: "One Dozen Oysters on the Half Shell; Beer."See, here's the deal ... I do love oysters. I love 'em fried, alone or in salads or on poor boys. I love 'em in gumbo. I really love 'em in oyster artichoke soup. I love 'em in oyster dressing with holiday turkey. I just can't eat 'em raw.
Then he offered his Better-Than-Best Meal at the Acme: "Two or Three Dozen Oysters on the Half Shell; Two or Three Beers."
Yep. The only thing better than oysters is more oysters.
Sacrilege? A Nint' Wawd boy who don't eat no roy erstas? Well, there are New Orleanians who don't suck crawfish heads either, and while I pity them, I do not scorn them. All I ask is the same consideration, ersta-wise.
But crabmeat ... crabmeat, crabmeat, crabmeat. Ambrosia.
Who speaks for Ruthie? The legendary Ruthie the Duck Lady, a "Quarter character" in New Orleans since the 1950s, no longer skates through the streets of the Quarter with her ducks; she now lives in a nursing home Uptown. Some think that Ruthie can't take care of herself anymore, but several of her friends believe that she'd be better off back in the Quarter.
Cooking for Easter. Okay, you've got two days left. I've got ideas, as does Chef Emeril Lagasee, who's contributed a few more recipe ideas.
SUGARCANE BAKED HAM WITH SPICED APPLES AND PEARSAnother suggestion -- Tom Fitzmorris' Root Beer Glazed Ham, which is fabulous. Also maybe try a Roast Leg of Lamb on a bed of potatoes and wilted greens.
12 sugarcane swizzle sticks, each cut into about 3 inch pieces
1 hickory smoked ham, spiral sliced, 8 to 10 pounds (no bone, water added, cooked)
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 cup Steens 100 percent Pure Cane Syrup
1/2 cup dark molasses
1/2 cup dark corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon dry mustard
1/4 cup water
1-1/2 pounds (about 4) Bartlett pears
1-1/2 pounds (about 4) Granny Smith apples
2 dozen medium buttermilk biscuits
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Line a shallow baking pan with parchment or waxed paper. Insert the sugarcane sticks into the ham at 3 to 4-inch intervals. Tie the ham, using kitchen twine, at two inch intervals horizontally and vertically to keep it together. Place on a wire rack in the baking pan.
In a mixing bowl, combine all of the ingredients together except for the mustard and water. Mix well. In a small bowl, dissolve the mustard in the water, then add to the spice mixture. Blend well. Makes about 2-1/2 cups.
Brush the entire ham with the glaze, coating it evenly. Wash, core, and halve the fruit. Place all around the ham. Baste the ham a second time and baste the fruit with the glaze. Bake for 45 minutes. Baste the ham and fruit again. Bake another 45 minutes.
Remove the ham from the oven and let it rest for 5 minutes. Remove and discard the string and swizzle sticks. Serve the apples and pears on a platter with the ham. Serve everything warm or at room temperature. Serve the biscuits on the side.
Yield: 10 to 12 servings
PORTUGUESE FIVE EGG EASTER BREADSome more suggestions -- Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Favas and Morels, and a Fresh Raspberry and Mascarpone Tart for dessert.
4 cups milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 pound lard
Three 1/4-ounce envelopes active dry yeast
5 pounds flour (St. Elizabeth or Rose brand preferred)
12 large eggs
4 cups sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, grated
1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for glaze
5 eggs (optional)
In a saucepan combine the milk, salt, and lard and bring to a boil. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine the yeast, 1 cup of the flour, and 1/2 cup warm water and set aside. In a large bowl, with a whisk, combine the eggs, sugar, and lemon zest and mix thoroughly. Add the milk mixture, yeast mixture, and remaining flour and thoroughly combine. Set aside to rise, kneading 6 times every half hour. The bread will take 6 hours to rise.
Prepare 5 round loaf pans with butter or lard. Divide the batter among the pans (pans should be half full). Press the dough evenly in the pan and let it rise again until it reaches the top of the pan.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Brush with beaten egg and bake for about 1 hour, until golden brown.
Yield: 5 loaves
Note: If you choose to add the five eggs for Easter, place an egg on top of each loaf during the final rising.
Thursday, March 28, 2002
Oh my God, Elmer's Candy, aieee! The very very very best Easter candy in the whole wide world is made in New Orleans, by the Elmer's Candy Company, the oldest family-run candymaker in the United States. Bar none, the best. Screw all that Cadbury Cream Egg crap. Hollow chocolate bunnies? Pfeh.
No no no ... Elmer's Gold Brick Eggs ... silky, luxurious, nutty-tasting chocolate that melts instantly in your mouth into a sort of godlike ambrosia. Heavenly Hash Eggs, marshmallow goodness that makes the vile Marshmallow Peep look like the disposable trash that it is. The Pecan Egg, chewy pecans around an even chewier white nougat, mmm mmm mmm!
Easter just hasn't been the same for me since I moved away from all this. Easter candy everywhere else is just dull dull dull, by comparison. Elmer's had all the aforementioned, plus all the chocolate eggs filled with pineapple, coconut, strawberry ... lots and lots of creamy, gooey fillings that delighted me throughout childhood. And you couldn't get it very far outside the New Orleans area.
I remember doing web searches and eventually giving up. I thought of getting family members to mail me some, but that wouldn't work -- where do you think I got my procrastination genes from? They'd probably melt in the mail, too. No company website, at least as my fruitless searches led me to believe.
Well, not no more, bra. Apparently they've had this for a year now ... the Elmer's Candy Company website!!! And they mail-order!
Thing is, it's a wee bit expensive. Their sampler packs include 24 Gold Bricks, 24 Heavenly Hashes, 24 Pecan Eggs, plus two big 14-ounce ones, a Gold Brick and a Pecan. Sixty bucks, plus almost $38 for the overnight shipping with the cold pack to keep the eggs from melting. Almost a hundred bucks. But you get 72 of the best candy Easter eggs anywhere, and two great big ones. It's worth it. It's worth it. Order today.
Tonight on "Down Home": Tracks from some great new compilations from EMI, the Crescent City Soul series, featuring lots of Fats Domino (including a 4-CD box set), Dave Bartholomew, songs produced by Allen Toussaint and lots more; Bay Area-based honky-tonk band The Bellyachers; special acoustic material from Scott Miller; more from my three recent Louisiana-related favorites -- The Red Stick Ramblers, Fiddlers 4 and the fabulous Cajun music tribute "Evangeline Made", PLUS Uncle Tupelo, Mississippi John Hurt, John Lee Hooker, Dervish and lots more. Tune in at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, or at www.kcsn.org.
Golf and shuffleboard for the singing D.A. Harry Connick, Sr., the father of the noted singer, pianist and actor and also the District Attorney of New Orleans for 30 years after taking over the position from Jim Garrison, is retiring. Maybe now he'll be a full-time bandleader instead of just on the side.
The Universe, in a nutshell. The current edition of "Mike Hodel's Hour 25" (the long-running science and science fiction radio program) looks really, really good. (I haven't listened to it yet, but it's high on the to-do list.) The guests are Dr. Stephen Hawking (you know who he is) and Dr. Brian Marsden, the Director of the Minor Planet Center at the Smithsonian Observatory, and a pioneer in the study and observation of asteroids and comets. Producer Suzanne Gibson says, "This show is, in my opinion, the very best science show we've ever done. Not only is it very informative, it's also extremely entertaining. I hope you'll agree."
She also says:
It was a special pleasure on March 15th to be able to attend a lecture at CalTech and listen to Dr. Hawking tell us about new research that shows that the universe we live in may be just a sliver of a vaster universe, that there may be other 'realities' than our own and that these theories about other universes may be testable in the laboratory. It was awe inspiring to listen to him as his computer-generated voice took our imaginations to the limits of our universe and beyond.Wow. Don't miss this one.
So it is my special pleasure to bring you a brief excerpt from that lecture through the kind permission of Dr. Hawking and CalTech.
Munich is famous for its beer, rather than its sex dolls. Aren't nosy neighbors annoying? Damen und herren, keep your curtains drawn!
Quote of the day. A two-parter. First is a line of dialogue by Dr. John Carter (Noah Wyle) from last week's episode of "ER", followed by a comment from Dave Ragsdale, who reviewed the episode on the alt.tv.er web site.
Carter: "Reality television. It's one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse."
Dave: The other three are Ron Popeil; "Walker: Texas Ranger" lasting nine seasons; and medicines that cause "gas with oily discharge, increased bowel movements, an urgent need to have them, and an inability to control them." (See Xenical)
Wednesday, March 27, 2002
So long Derek, Stanley Moon, Arthur Bach ... Comedian and actor Dudley Moore died of pneumonia today, aged 66.
It's quite possible that this man has made me laugh harder than anyone in my entire life. I keep thinking of when Stanley Moon was granted his last wish by George "Beelzebub" Spiggott, and I laughed so hard I thought I would breathing. If you only know Dudley Moore from "Arthur" and "10", good as they are, you really need to get to know more of his work -- rent the original "Bedazzled", and listen to some of the old routines he did with Peter Cook as "Derek and Clive".
It's considered bad taste to laugh when someone dies, and I was sad when I heard of Dudley's passing, but then I started thinking of the nun and the raspberries and the trampoline ... and I laughed and laughed. Thanks for it all, Dudley.
Uncle Tupelo: I Could Go On and On... In the new issue of the alt.country/roots/twang zine Fresh Dirt, writer-editor Steve Gardner writes about UT, the new anthology and his thoughts on all the songs therein.
Chocolatissimo! From the Guardian: Some of us like chocolate, some of us even adore it -- and then there are the inhabitants of Turin [Italy], for whom it's more than a religion. And who can blame them?
Oblivious. That's what I've been not to have noticed that an old favorite album of mine has finally been re-released on CD, with extra tracks, no less! I loved Aztec Camera's "High Land, Hard Rain" when it came out in 1982 (ACK! Twenty years ago!), saw Roddy and his band open for Elvis Costello several months later and was blown away. He's got a new one coming out soon too, whoo!
Cooking for Passover. It's tomorrow. If you haven't yet figured out what you're making for the main meal portion of your Seder ("Oy, you waited to the last minute?!"), here's a suggestion from Chef Emeril Lagasse. To answer a question posed to me at a party recently ... yes, there are Jews in New Orleans, who like their food as well-seasoned as any other New Orleanian would. And of course, you don't have to be Jewish to love this dish!
PASSOVER BRISKETA good reason to get a cat. Catherine mailed in and agreed with yesterday's entry on why it can be good to get a dog, then offered a good reason to get a cat.
8 to 10 pound brisket
1 quart beef stock (unsalted or low salt)
3 large onions, sliced
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons Emeril's Original Essence or Creole seasoning blend
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 cup ketchup
1 cup chili sauce
1 cup brown sugar
Preheat oven to 500°F.
Using a paring knife and your finger, stuff brisket all over with garlic. Place brisket in a baking dish or casserole and bake until browned on top, remove from oven, turn brisket and return to oven until browned on both sides. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F. Add enough beef stock to casserole to come up 1 inch on sides, cover with foil and bake one hour.
While brisket is cooking, heat a large skillet over medium high heat and s auté onions in vegetable oil, stirring occasionally, until caramelized and most liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes. Set aside.
Remove brisket from oven after one hour and add caramelized onions and all remaining ingredients, moving meat around to combine ingredients. Cover and continue to bake until very tender but not falling apart, another 2 to 3 hours. Remove brisket to a carving board and slice.
Strain reserved cooking liquids and pour over sliced brisket. Brisket may be returned to casserole dish and allowed to cool, then served the next day. (Reheated in oven.) Brisket is better if made a day in advance.
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
I'm very glad this turned out the way it did, and very relieved that the girl escaped her attacker, but I submit that this was a complete anomaly. I don't think most cats would do this. In fact, I'm reminded of my beloved cat Vic, who sat on the sofa and watched a burglar cart all of our stuff out of our house about 15 years ago. I'm sure she probably yawned.
Tuesday, March 26, 2002
The return of "FolkScene"!! Great, great news. Roz and Howard Larman's legendary Los Angeles folk music radio show "FolkScene" is now back on local airwaves! KPFK, who've had at least six times as many general managers as Italy has had postwar governments, now has a new interim general manager (thank Gawd they got rid of the last one), who has brought this venerable show back; now we're no longer tied to the computer to hear it. Incidentally, not counting the hiatus, the show recently celebrated its 32nd anniversary; I was in 3rd grade when they started.
In their own words:
For all you folks living in Southern California, FolkScene can once again be heard on KPFK 90.7 FM. The program will return, after almost a 17 month absence, on April 7th. The program will air in its old time slot of 7-10:00 PM PT on Sunday evenings, and also streams on the internet at www.kpfk.org. The special guest that evening will be Loudon Wainwright III.Welcome back, youse two! Boy, are y'all gonna be busy...
FolkScene will continue to be heard on kpig.com 24/7 on two channels, with a new program each week. We are aiming to keep this program different from KPFK, but at times there will be some overlap.
Roz & Howard Larman also produce FolkScene for WUMB Boston. The program airs on Saturday evenings from 9-11:00 PM ET and repeated on Thursday evening 7-9:00 PM ET. WUMB streams on the internet at www.wumb.org
FolkScene can also be heard on KPFZ Lucerne, California and on Plains FM, Christchurch, New Zealand. Both these radio outlets, at this time, do not stream on the internet.
Our thanks to Mary Katherine Aldin, who has graciously consented to leave KPFK. She never intended for it to be a regular place for her, she just wanted to make sure the time slot would remain folk music. Our thanks to everyone who in some way contributed to the return of FolkScene on KPFK. Your support now and over the years, will always be greatly appreciated.
Roz & Howard
Now that's some blooper-spotting! Graphic designer and illustrator Mark Simonson has written up an article about some movie mistakes that really catch his professional eye: anachronistic use of typography. A few of his observations:
About "Chocolat": The movie is set in a small town in provincial France, mid-1950s. About halfway through the film, the town's mayor puts up notices forbidding anyone to eat anything but bread and weak tea during Lent (which of course coincides with the opening of the new chocolaterie). I almost laughed when they showed a close-up of the notice. The headline was set in ITC Benguiat, a typeface which debuted in 1978 and was mainly popular in the '80s.Whoa. This guy's good. Face it, Hollywood. No matter how hard you try, somebody's always going to notice something amiss. Sheesh. I'm all for period authenticity, but I must confess that I'm not going to lose any sleep over a slightly anachronistic typeface. As long as the Roman soldier isn't wearing a wristwatch, I'm happy. (Nicked from Brad)
About "That Thing You Do": This is a fun movie to watch. Although I was only eight in 1964, this movie really seems to capture the look and feel of the period. There really is a lot of attention to typographic detail: record labels, industry trade magazines, newspapers, even product packaging for cold remedies. Everything looks just the way it should. Somebody did their homework on this one (or spent a lot of time in vintage collectible shops). The Pattersons' appliance store looks like it belongs in the Smithsonian, it's so accurate. I was only able to find one bit of type out of place: Early in the film, a billboard flashes across the screen briefly which has a few words set in Helvetica Bold. Even this is only slightly implausible.
About "L.A. Confidential": A highly regarded film, tightly written, well-acted, beautifully filmed, but pretty mediocre in its use of type. This one is set in the early '50s, but the type was clearly not. "HUSH-HUSH," a Hollywood gossip magazine, is featured prominently sporting a logo set in Helvetica Compressed (1974).
Better than menudo? Let's hope. The Aussies claim to have invented the ultimate hangover cure, being marketed under the name of "Alcodol". Two tablets taken with the first drink supposedly prevent a hangover, using a combination of amino acids, sugars, vitamins and minerals. Hmm. I'd say don't forget to drink plenty of water as well. I expect to hear from Aussies and Kiwis on this as soon as it's out. Does it work?
Horrifying statistic of the day. Seen on soc.motss:
82: The number of Marshmallow Peeps eaten in 30 minutes by the winner of the Sacramento Peep-Off.Golden Gate honky-tonk. What is it with all these great country bands coming out of the San Francisco Bay Area? Well, to be honest, "all" in this case is two, but hey, that's a lot for San Francisco! First came my all-time favorite Red Meat, and now I just got a CD by the Oakland-based band The Bellyachers. I'm listening to their debut CD "Bottoms Up", the title track of which quotes Brecht & Weill's "Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)" so well that you'd never know that those two weren't from Bakersfield. I've got a sampler from their forthcoming record "Heavy in My Hands" as well, and I hear great songwriting, sweet harmonies, good twangy guitar and nice touches to the arrangements like accordion and trumpet. Yee-ha!
Why I want a dog. Well, there's lots of reasons, the main one being that I love dogs and I haven't had once since poor old Scotty, my beloved Irish setter mix (dognapped!). Here's a really good reason, which just arrived in email this morning:
John Hayes, program director of KTAO Taos, was in a one-car accident on Sunday evening, March 24. He was driving from Ft. Collins to Taos when his car slid off the slippery deserted road and rolled a few times. Thankfully, his dog Hank climbed back up to the road and, when a passing car stopped, was somehow able to convince the driver to follow him back down the embankment where John was trapped in the car. Hayes is in intensive care in Pueblo, CO for the next 24 hours with some broken bones, but all signs point to a full recovery.Hank, you rule. All my best wishes to John for a speedy recovery.
Monday, March 25, 2002
They was robbed! "A Beautiful Mind" was most certainly not the Best Picture of 2001. I walked out of the stunning "Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring" completely astonished, thinking that I had perhaps seen one of the best movies I'd ever seen. I walked out of Ron Howard's latest saying, "Ehh, it was okay. Well-acted Oscar bait."
Once again, a thoroughly conventional Hollywood product, Oscar bait from out of the gate, won the Academy Award for Best Picture. (Very well-done Oscar bait, mind you, but I wouldn't even have nominated it; I would have nominated "Memento" or "Mulholland Drive" in its place.) Still, giving Ron Howard "Best Director" of the astonishing achievement of Peter Jackson ... nope.
I suspect the Academy voters' bias against "LotR: FotR" was that it wasn't a complete story in itself, but the first part of a trilogy that will conclude in two years. Also, Peter Jackson is from as far outside Hollywood as you can get. Oh well. Next year, maybe. Or the year after.
But there were some great moments last night. Halle made everyone in the room cry. Touchin' speech, dawlin', heartfelt and emotional and real, and we were all really happy for you ... but you kinda lost me when you started thanking your lawyers. Oy.
A few other observations:
1. Bring back Billy Crystal or Steve Martin. Sorry, Whoopi.Music! Love! Life! Joy! Gin fizzes! A joyous exultation indeed, taken from a bit of dialogue from Walker Percy's novel Love in the Ruins, an impressive drinker who in the course of the novel's five days consumes no less than 16 gin fizzes, "not to mention one Southern Comfort; three glasses of Tang with two duck eggs, two ounces of vodka and a dash of Tabasco, one Early Times and Coke, one duck egg flip (Worcestershire and vodka), and one buttermilk. This man is constantly pickled."
2. Get better gag writers for the hosts.
3. I'm really glad Randy Newman finally won, even though his song from "Toy Story 2" last year was far better. He's deserved it so many times before (and for original score as well), and this one seemed to me to be a lifetime achievement award. But now it's time to get rid of that stupid song category. Almost nobody writes songs that actually work in a movie anymore, and I'm tired of all these lame pop songs that get stuck over the end title crawl getting nominated for Oscars. They don't deserve it.
4. Denzel Washington and Sidney Poitier -- classy, classy, classy.
5. Favorite moment after Halle, Denzel and Sidney -- Woody Allen, standup comic.
6. The quotes from artists and filmmakers regarding the various categories was a classy touch.
7. It's nice to show gratitude to the people important to you, but I think more actors should take their cue from Maureen Stapleton's Oscar aceptance speech: "I'd like to thank everyone I've ever known in my entire life."
An archived artcile from the Fort Worth Weekly explores the now and then of the gin fizz, and especially that king of gin fizzes, New Orleans' own Ramos Gin Fizz. The article features an interview with Bobby Oakes, who at the time of the article's publication was the bartender at Arnaud's Bar, attached to the legendary Creole restaurant. He's described as the best bartender in the city, and unfortunately I have yet to sample his concoctions. I'll have to remedy that next time I'm home (if I can pick a time when the bar isn't too cigar-smoky).
Momma, hanging over the mantel. Sitting in an urn on the mantel is apparently passé. The latest (and perhaps weirdest) treatment for your loved ones' cremated remains -- hand over 6 tablespoons or so of ashes to Bettye Wilson-Brokl, and she'll mix 'em up with some acrylics and turn them into a painting, which she calls "memorial art", and "an alternative to the urn".
Uhrm, maybe I'd be less weirded out by this if she were a better artist. In any case, I can't wait for this kind of thing to show up on "Six Feet Under"; it's still not as weird as the little mini-urn necklaces that enable tyou to carry around a teaspoon of ashes wherever you go.
Me, I think I'd rather be fertilizing a garden when it's time to burn me up.
"It's just a show; you really should relax." Salon Magazine, who occasionally deign to allow us to read an article for free, present Cintra Wilson's take on the Oscars. I agreed with several points but thought the article somewhat shrill; I think that for the most part she needs to take a pill and rembember that it's all just showbiz and P.R. However, given my feelings about the fabulous Nicole Kidman's ex-husband, I larfed and larfed at this part:
I must warn the world about Tom Cruise. I feel he is an utterly terrifying Superior Life Form, with the power to melt heads and braid spines. His eyes are as hard, shiny and brutally penetrating as diamond drill-bits. The new braces on his teeth suggest that he is erasing all that remained of his tiny imperfections, and he is now metamorphosing into Ultra Super Perfection Man 3000. I fear his intense, mind-beating politeness, his titanium imperviousness to human weakness, his barking power-laugh.Quote of the day. "It's so embarrassing to receive an award for doing what you should be doing."
"Movies make a little bit of magic touch our lives," he commanded us to acknowledge, with steely resolve and Mach-5 mega-humorlessness.
People in the audience started laughing, until they realized that Tom was Not Being Funny At All. He was chosen to frankly address the post-Sept. 11 whither-the-Oscars conundrum head-on. "Should we celebrate the magic the movies bring? Now?" Tom asked, his eyes boring into the eyes of the TV multitudes and implanting rays of total domination. "Dare I say it?" He flashed a smirk with his robotically flawless teeth. "More than EVER," he hissed, laying on his most Extreme Scientological Unction. He had been commanded by the Elders to Obi-Wan-Kenobi-ize the audience into rebelieving in the importance of the obscenely superfluous Oscars. Tom Cruise is becoming the Scary Flaming Eye from "The Lord of the Rings," and I fear that nobody can stop him.
-- Arthur Hiller, recipient of the Academy's 2001 Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award.
Friday, March 22, 2002
Looking for po-boy recipes? To those of you who've come here from this week's New Times "Dish" article, welcome! I suppose you want to make roast beef debris and Creole hot sausage for your po-boys, eh? Get your bread from Le Pain du Jour in Santa Monica, if you're local to L.A. Barring that, the non-sourdough baguettes at Vons aren't half-bad.
I'm stifling myself. The latest breaking news from MSNBC:
In a humbling reversal, AOL Time Warner Inc. is retreating from a top-level directive that required the divisions of the old Time Warner to convert to an e-mail system based on AOL software and run by America Online's giant public server computers in Virginia.Bruce on Broadway. From Playbill: "Whether or not the Bruce Springsteen musical drama 'Drive All Night' was 'born to run' on Broadway is now up to The Boss himself. The project which received a star-studded workshop at St. Clements Church in midtown Manhattan March 12 was greeted by a standing ovation, according to conceiver Darrel Larson.
The drive to get all the company's 82,000 employees to use AOL e-mail was an attempt to give symbolic resonance to the marriage of AOL and Time Warner, the largest corporate merger in U.S. history and perhaps the most-scrutinized litmus test for the marriage of the old and new economies.
Instead, management got months of complaints from both senior and junior executives in the divisions involved, who said the e-mail system, initially designed for consumers, wasn't appropriate for business use. Among the problems cited: The e-mail software frequently crashed, staffers weren't able to send messages with large attachments, they were often kicked offline without warning, and if they tried to send messages to large groups of users they were labeled as spammers and locked out of the system. Sometimes, e-mails were just plain lost in the AOL etherworld and never found. And if there was an out-of-office reply function, most people couldn't find it.
But there was more. Staffers groused they had to log onto their office computers using a portable electronic number tag that sometimes broke; and they grumbled they were no longer able to use portable e-mail devices, such as BlackBerries, because they weren't compatible with AOL. In late January, executives at Warner Music tried to alert employees to problems with the new system. "2% of e-mail is being lost," the internal e-mail read. "If you are expecting critical e-mail, you may want to follow up with the sender."
Employees of the old Time Warner, already resentful of their corporate bosses at AOL, saw the imposition of AOL's e-mail as corporate arrogance. When computers crashed in the Washington bureau of Time magazine due to the e-mail software, staffers sometimes sung out, "So easy to use, no wonder it's number one," an ironic reference to America Online's ad slogan.
"If Larson and librettist Stephanie Kerley-Schwartz have their way, Broadway will soon see a sung-through musical drama comprising famous and lesser-known tunes by The Boss. Larson is directing and spearheading the piece, which will have no dialogue, just Springsteen tunes forming a story arc."
(Say it ain't so.)
Drifting and listening. The Continental Drifters, one of my favorite roots-rock bands and based in New Orleans to boot, have a new EP out that sounds like a must-get: "Listen, Listen" is a collection of 8 covers of songs by Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny. To make it even cooler, it's available on 10" vinyl as well as CD.
Thursday, March 21, 2002
Ego-boo! If you'll allow me some shameless preening, I'd love to share with you the account written by Meredith Brody, food critic of the New Times Los Angeles, about lots of great Creole eating we did on and around Mardi Gras this year, in which she kindly mentions my name and my cooking! (Thanks so much, dear; in fact, I'd love to do this professionally some day ...)
It's the drinking vessel rather than the drink that'll make your brain hurt this time. Ever seen a Klein bottle? (Sure, you remember studying topology in high school). Now you can get a Klein Stein and drink to your heart's content. They're pricey at $80, but as a glassware fanatic I'd love to have one of these.
Match day. The other day Jason was talking about one of the first memorable days in the life of a doctor-in-training, that being match day, when you find out if you're being granted a residency, and where. I just got an email from my good friend Chun saying that not only did he match, but he matched at his own school's hospital. "I'm about to enter my 9th year as a Wildcat ... *roar!*" said he. Congrats! *smooch*
Wednesday, March 20, 2002
"Uncle Tupelo 89/93: An Anthology". Damn, I got really busy and plumb forgot that the long-awaited UT compilation album was released yesterday. For those of you who've been waiting to own tracks from the first three out-of-print albums, here's your chance to get started.
There's an interesting article about the boys on CNN today as well.
Bob! And while we're at it, there's a new Bob Mould album that's been out since last Tuesday! Man, I've really got to pay attention and get my butt over to Amoeba.
New levels of genius for religious kitsch. My favorite flavor of these would have to be "Crucifix Citrus", but given my aversion to chemical and artificial scents I'd have to rewrite that old ditty ...
Ain't nothin' that can cause my sneezesQuote of the day. "There's a good chance people will listen and realize we weren't anything like they made it out to be. I think one of the reasons people have such fond memories is that the band broke up."
Like the smell comin' off that plastic Jesus
Ridin' on the dashboard of my car ...
-- Jeff Tweedy, on Uncle Tupelo.
Tuesday, March 19, 2002
"Quiet dear, your Auntie Mame is hung. No, it didn't quite take me three days to recover from the amazing cocktail gathering last Friday, although I was a tad big-headed on Saturday. It's been a busy weekend, and remember ... the heading to this sites says it's updated (almost) daily.
That evening, thanks to an incredibly knowledgeable and generous friend, we were privileged to taste Champagne Cocktails made with Abbott's Bitters from the 1930s; sips of Prohibition-era Bourbon labelled "for medicinal use only" by The American Medicinal Spirits Company; Sazeracs made with a longer-aged Old Overholt rye from early in the last century; sips of Forbidden Fruit, a now-defunct liqueur made from brandy and honey and flavored with grapefruit peel; Blue Moon cocktails made with gin, lemon juice and Crème Yvette, a now-defunct liqueur made from violet petals (which was just gorgeous, quite sublime); plus my offerings of vodka infusions (one with Granny Smith apple, the other with strawberry, pineapple, kiwi, blueberry and vanilla bean), Walter Bergeron's classic Vieux Carré cocktail from the Monteleone Hotel, and Wes' soon-to-be-classic Footloose cocktail.
I'm energized and inspired by all this. Projects are afoot! More on that later.
Y'know, when I go to a bar, it's for the quality of their drinks (and to a certain extent for their atmosphere), not for da fancy turlets.
Happy birthday to legendary New Orleans musician Clarence "Frogman" Henry, who turns 65 today. "OO-oo-oo OO-oo-oo-oo OOO! Ain't got no home ..."
Tom Parr quits Bottle Rockets. Those boys from Festus, Missouri, one of my favorite bands, lost their other guitarist last week. From the band's official statement:
After many, many years and a great recent line of shows in support of "Songs of Sahm", Bottle Rockets rhythm guitarist Tom Parr has officially announced his retirement from the band.I really do hope it was amicable; some of my friends who went to SXSW wondered how amicable it could have been if he left the band right in the middle of their SXSW weekend, the night before their big showcase? Others have hoped that they continue on as a 3-piece, but I certainly wouldn't mind hearing the sound continue to be rounded out by another guitar. In any case, I wish Tom and the rest of the band well.
Tom left the group on very amicable terms this week and has decided to pursue other career interests.
The Bottle Rockets will be fulfilling all remaining tour dates (and scheduling more) as a power-packed three piece until a decision is made on whether or not a second guitarist is desired for the future.
The band wishes nothing but the best of luck to Tom in his future endeavors.
These people must be held accountable. Secret court documents reveal that New York Cardinal Edward Egan, while serving as bishop of the Bridgeport Roman Catholic Diocese, allowed several priests facing multiple accusations of sexual abuse to continue working for years.
Egan failed to investigate aggressively some abuse allegations, did not refer complaints to criminal authorities and, during closed testimony in 1999, suggested that a dozen people who made complaints of rape, molestation and beatings against the same priest may all have been lying, the documents show.The authoritarian nature of this denomination, in which the priests, bishops and Vatican rule absolutely with zero input from and accountability to their congregations seems increasingly absurd to me. I'm quite fond of the Congregational model, in which the church members have voting power and can fire their pastor if they see fit to do so.
In comments that seem starkly out of synch with the current climate of zero tolerance for sex-abuse accusations against priests, Egan said he wasn't interested in allegations -- only "realities. He added that "very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything against a priest.
Friday, March 15, 2002
The 9/11 Fund now for most -- but not all -- of the victims. Kenneth Feinberg, the head of the September 11th Victim Compensation fund (created by Congress and the Department of Justice) has said that gay partners will "not necessarily be eligible" for the same compensation as heterosexual family members who lost loved ones.
Gee, does that include Mark Bingham's survivors? Without him and the fellow passengers he helped rally, Flight 93 might have crashed into the Congress or the White House. Guess he and all the other queers don't count, those lives being apparently worthless.
I'm reaching the end of my patience with this crap. I don't care what anyone's religious beliefs are, or how they try to use them to justify their prejudice ... this discrimination is wrong, wrong, wrong.
Jerry Thomas lives! Jeremiah "Jerry" Thomas was a bartender who wrote a book about his profession. No big deal, you may think; lots and lots of such books are written today. The difference is that Jerry wrote and published his in 1862, and as far as I know, it was the first of its kind in this country.
It's one I've been reading about for a while, and I've wanted to get my hands on one. Unfortunately, these 100 plus-year-old editions (from 1862, 1876 and 1887) are now very expensive; my last check on ABE Books showed one for $300. Glaq.
Good news, though, for all cocktailians and students of such -- a mixologist in Lyon, France by the name of Fernando Castellon has overseen the reprinting of this book in a beautiful facsimile edition of the 1887 version: The Bar-Tender's Guide, Containing Receipts for Mixing All Kinds of Punch, Egg Nog, Juleps, Smashs, Cobblers, Cocktails, Sangarees, Mulls, Toddies, Slings, Sours, Flips and 200 Other Fancy Drinks. (I love dem ol' wordy book titles.)
Among many other things, one thing for which this book is notable is the first mention of the Martinez Cocktail, which was the progenitor of the classic Martini. I suppose Jerry wouldn't begin to recognize most of the things being shilled as "martinis" these days, but anyway, it may have all started with this.
Fernando has a PayPal account set up at email@example.com, and says that the price including shipping is US$27.29 for shipping to the USA, and US$24.96 for shipping within the EU. Such a deal. Get one!
Speaking of indispensible books... I recently got a well-deserved rap on the kniuckles for not having any books by the estimable Charles H. Baker, world traveler, writer for Town & Country, Gourmet and Esquire magazines from the 1930s through the 1950s and cocktailian extraordinaire. Fortunately, copies of his long out-of-print books, The Gentleman's Companion and The South American Gentleman's Companion are far easier and cheaper to obtain. Each is in two volumes, one on exotic cookery and the other on exotic drinks, and I got each set via ABE for under $20. His writing style is very entertaining, and you'll learn of drinks and dishes you've never heard of anywhere else. (My undying gratitude, Doc!)
His recipes (or "receipts", as he says in the old-fashioned way) for home-made concoctions are particularly fascinating. I'm all ready to make my strawberry-infused reposado tequila and the Vicomte de Mauduit's rose-infused brandy. Mmmmmmmm.
Gee, ya think?! An editorial in the nation's oldest Catholic newspaper finally asks aloud if the state of celibacy is tied to sexual abuse.
Well now, it only took 2,000 years to figure that one out. Celibacy is a wholly unnatural state (far more so than lots of other things this church likes to call "unnatural") for your average, healthy, non-screwed-up human. Forcing people to be celibate is quite likely to drive lots of them nuts. (Duh.)
Dovidjenja, Jugoslavija. (1918-2002) The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia officially ceased to exist yesterday, with what little was left of the former Yugoslavia now becoming a loose confederation of two republics, now called "Serbia and Montenegro". It's entirely arguable, though, that Yugoslavia really died when Slovenia, seeing what was coming, broke away, and when Milosevic and his ultranationalist cronies started killing everybody they didn't like.
Alton, meet Winona. Alton Brown, host of one of my most favoritest shows "Good Eats", had a little incidence of inadvertent shopliifting recently, pointing out that in the midst of food-lust such a thing could happen to anybody.
Quote of the day. (Ah, the joys of Internet technology...)
"You haven't lived until you've gotten IMs reminding you that your webcam is still on while you pick your nose."
-- Choire, posting in MetaFilter
Thursday, March 14, 2002
Ceol na hÉireann! Since Saint Paddy's Day is coming up this Sunday, it's time for "Down Home"'s annual Irish Music Extravaganza. I'll be playing lots of classic Irish traditional music as well as some of the newest stuff (although not nearly as much as I'd like; I'm way behind in picking up the very latest stuff from Ireland, and I've gotta give Mike at Mulligan's in Galway). From the new Luka Bloom (plus a special version of "I'm a Bogman" he did with his brother Christy) to Planxty and the Bothy Band, Sweeney's Men and Stockton's Wing, Kíla, Coolfin, Dervish, De Danann, amhráin as Gaeilge, Willie Clancy, Séamus Ennis, and maybe even some Horslips ... jigs, reels, slides and songs go leor! Pull yourself a pint and tune in tonight at 7 on 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, or anywhere ya like via the web.
Bellagio's cocktail guru. Unfortunately, Wes and I didn't get to meet Tony Abou-Ganim, the "beverage specialist" at Las Vegas' Bellagio on our last trip, but we will next time. As I mentioned before, he oversees the specific operations of all the Bellagio's bars, including creating new cocktails for them. His dedication to cocktail as cuisine and his insistence on the finest raw materials and fresh squeezed juices makes imbibing there a pleasure; it's people like him and Dale DeGroff who are going to elevate cocktail cuisine in this country's minds to the level it deserves. (Slowly but surely, anyway.) I'm very glad he ended up doing this for a living instead of becoming a stockbroker or actor (as may have happened).
From what they told me at the Petrossian Bar, Tony ended up being the first American to place (third, in fact) in Bacardi's Grand Prix International Bartending Competition in Spain with his cocktail the "430". It's named after the traditional beginning of cocktail hours (gee, and I thought it wasn't until 6), and consists of Bacardi O (orange-flavored rum), Bacardi Tropico (an Alizé-like liqueur made from Bacardi Rum and "tropical fruit juices"), guava nectar, a little sour mix (that's made from equal parts fresh-squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup, and not some manufactured crap out of a bottle) and Campari. A long drink, shaken and served over ice with slices of lemon and lime. It's gooood. Unfortunately again, I didn't get a chance to get the proportions from Michael, our favorite bartender there. Next time, perhaps ...
Catfish haiku. From today's New Orleans Menu Daily comes a great site -- 100 Mississippi Delta Blues Haiku, exploring "the similarity of life in the Mississippi Delta, even the Blues, and everything Southern, to the agrarian life which spawned Japanese haiku." Neat neat neat.
Scarecrow in Chevy with hood up
On the catfish pond keeps
Today Tom also features a nifty-looking recipe for fried catfish.
The Metamorphosis. Last time I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law in Lafayette, we were hanging out and waiting for our cousin to arrive, and my sister Melissa brought out some Abitas as well as some salty snacks. They'd had a party recently, and friends of theirs had brought over tons of stuff, so I began nibbling on some Doritos.
After a while I began noticing some blue stains on my fingers. Odd, I thought. I wasn't handling newspaper or anything, and I didn't imagine that a plastic chips bag could leach ink. Then Melissa noticed that my lips were stained blue too ... and my tongue! What the feck?! For several seconds I was indeed freaking out; for no apparent reason, I was metamorphosing into a Smurf, perhaps even more horrifying than Kafka's cockroach.
Turns out that neither of us had ever heard of Frito-Lay's new Mystery Colorz* snacks. The Doritos (which I actually do kinda like) and the Cheetos (which I don't) are their usual bright neon orange or whatever, but have some kind of chemical in it that turns blue or green when activated by moisture or saliva.
You can't even avoid blue food if you try. Sometimes you're just assaulted by it.
<cliche>Pot. Kettle. Black.</cliche> Heh. George W. Bush said that he did not recognize the results of the presidential election in Zimbabwe, because it was "flawed" (via MetaFilter). *giggle*
Some of the MeFi comments are priceless. "Takes one to know one," says one. My favorite:
Expect an Onion headline any day now:You really can't make up stuff like this. (Yes, I know, in all seriousness, Mugabe is a despot and a nutball and this does not bode well for Zimbabwe. Still, one can't help but be struck by the irony.)
"Mugabe refuses to recognise the outcome of flawed American election".
Peeves of the day. * - pluralizing words with "z" instead of "s" when writing English. It doesn't look young and hip, it looks stupid. While we're at it, the spelling of "boy" as "boi" is really annoying too. It all kinda ties into my longterm rule of thumb: Never date anyone who doesn't know the difference between "your" and "you're", or between "there", "their" and "they're".
Wednesday, March 13, 2002
Busy busy busy! What Bokononists whisper whenever they think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.
Maybe I'm easily amused (and for the record, I'm not), but dang ... that new iMac commercial is funny.
Email of the day. <cliche>Pot. Kettle. Black.</cliche>
Date: 13 Mar 2002 05:36:52 -0000No dear, please ... don't have any children. Please.
To: Chuck Taggart
From: danielle <dan516182>
i just wantd to tell you that you are the biggest loser i have ever seen in my life and when i have children someday i hope to god they do not endup like you
Tuesday, March 12, 2002
Happy birthday, baaaybee! It's my sister Marie's birthday! Love ya, kid! She's ... um, 29. That's right. Just like me.
Monday, March 11, 2002
More amazing every day. CocktailDB, the Internet Cocktail Database, still way in alpha testing and still not ready for prime time, is already the authoritative source for cocktail information and recipes (over four thousand of them), ingredients current and obsolete and far more. And they're only just getting started.
CocktailDB grew from Martin Doudoroff's Bar Asterie site (still around, but no longer being developed; all the work's going into the new site), along with the incredible scholarship of Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh and other members of Robert "DrinkBoy" Hess' Community for the Cultured Cocktail. From Doc's newly-written manifesto for the site:
[CocktailDB] aims to be the final authoritative word on mixed drinks, 1862 to present.Y'know, "wow" just doesn't cut it.
It will differ radically from other cocktail websites in numerous ways. Viewers will not be able to input recipes without clear attribution. This will cut out all the silly, never-once-ordered recipes clogging other drink sites.
Recipes on CocktailDB will always have a clearly attributed and verifiable source. This means every recipe will automatically link with its entry source (be it book, pamphlet, or bottle tag) and the date of its publication. Ever wonder when the first time a recipe showed up? We will tell you.
All recipes already link to the most massive ingredients data bank in the world. Don't know what something is? Merely click on it and you will be immediately told... and shown! Photographs of bottles of all the ingredients will be just a click away... Even for ingredients not produced in 60 years! Furthermore, if something is difficult to find, substitutes will often be advised right there and then. You'll soon be able to sort out an entire substitute chart.
The recipes will automatically adjust to a glass size of your choosing, or you'll be able to read them in their own original language if you desire. And speaking of glasses, all glass names, shapes, sizes, measures and date/derivation will be at your fingertips with, of course, illustrations of what we are talking about. We will, in scant weeks, have the largest collection of verified drink recipes on the internet or in any book. As you can see, though, that is just the beginning! We aim to be the authority. In any media, at any date in human history.
We don't think it's worth doing otherwise. CocktailDB is a tool for bon vivants and scholars alike.
It's staggering, and already you can get lost in it for hours ... as well as being able to find exactly what you're looking for very quickly. If you have any interest in the subject, check it out. If you're an aficionado of fine cocktails (i.e., ones that don't have names like "Unprotected Sex in the Bus Station" and don't involve mixing four different kinds of Sour Pucker Schnapps with Popov Vodka, d00d), come by and have a look at the DrinkBoy community as well. Fine, eminently knowledgeable folks there, and I'm already learning a ton.
Ashcroft Sings, Nation Cringes. In a funny (and very scary) editorial, Mark Morford offers us "more proof positive that the United States Attorney General is quite possibly insane".
Like it's not creepy enough that everyone's favorite terminally bitter ultraconservative Christian US attorney general actually has himself anointed with cooking oil upon the assumption of every public office he has every held.Quote of the day. "Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. Christianity is a faith in which God sends His son to die for you."
Like it's not disturbing enough that when John Ashcroft was forcibly installed as AG as a token bone to the conservative right, and well before anyone realized he would swallow 9/11 whole and suddenly become one of the strangest and most dangerous law enforcers in history, none other than Scalia sycophant and noted Coke aficionado Clarence Thomas performed the oleaginous honors.
Like it's not sad enough that the most ferociously religious antigay antichoice attorney general of this or possibly any other century, the one designated to enforce unbiased laws such as those separating church and state as well as those separating the mildly psychotic from public office, gives speeches at Bob Jones University and holds rigid Pentecostal prayer meetings in his office every day.
And while he doesn't require staffers to attend, he does indeed make each and every one of them feel rather discomfited and weird about it, perhaps akin to your own boss holding nice daily little kitten-bloodletting rituals in the company conference room and "suggesting" you attend but he won't hold it against you if you don't and never mind the little notebook he keep scribbling in while scowling at you.
And is it not embarrassing enough that the man used eight grand of your tax money to have those scary partially naked statues representing Justice and Law, the ones that have been standing in the DOJ's Great Hall for over 70 years, covered with heavy curtains, because he has a deep fear of sex and large aluminum nipples and did we mention the man doesn't drink or smoke or dance? Ever? And he ostensibly believes calico cats are signs of the devil? And we're not making this up?
But now this. Now the public singing. You have to see this. It is incredible and sad. It is available via CNN, right here. Go ahead. Click. You simply must.
-- United States Attorney General John Ashcroft
Friday, March 8, 2002
Happy birthday, Wes! (*smooch!*)
Takin' a wee break today. See y'all Monday (or Tuesday).
Quote of the day. "Never answer an anonymous letter."
-- Yogi Berra
Thursday, March 7, 2002
J'ai fatigué. Not much to write today. When you're up until 2am singing folk songs, Tom Lehrer songs and show tunes around the piano (yeah, I know, my fault), then have to get up at 6:30am to get your car to the VW dealer's service department by 7:30, rent a car to get to work and then the radio station, and have a hideously busy day at work to boot ... well, you get the idea. *yawn*
Tonight on "Down Home": Oh yeah, there will be a show tonight, and I promise to do my best to sound as enthusiastic as usual and not fall asleep at the control board. Tune in to hear new music from Fiddlers 4 (Mike Doucet, Bruce Molsky, Darol Anger and Rushad Eggleston), The Red Stick Ramblers, Sligo-based Irish traditional band Dervish and, of course, "Evangeline Made". We broadcast at 88.5 FM, and stream worldwide at kcsn.org.
Hate Mail 101. 99.98% of all my email is perfectly nice, from perfectly nice folks. However, for all the twits who trickle the hate mail my way (the ones who attack my opinions rather than civilly disagreeing, who take personal offense that I state that "Bourbon Chicken" is not an authentic Louisiana dish, who don't seem to think that I have a right to dislike my elementary school) ... John Scalzi is right. You really need to try harder and be more creative.
Wednesday, March 6, 2002
Ann Savoy doesn't like gutless music. "Evangeline Made", the new Cajun music tribute album, is getting more and more press, which is great. In an interview with Reuters, Ann offers some delightfully pithy observations.
"I'm hoping that America's getting fed up with all this mouse music," Savoy said in an interview from her home near Eunice, Louisiana. "So much of the stuff you hear just doesn't have any guts."Oh yeah, cher. On va les embêter.
Savoy hopes her recording reaches people who might not otherwise be exposed to Cajun music.
"They're playing really hard-core traditional Cajun music on this project," she said. "But somebody might pick it up and say, 'What's John Fogerty doing on a Cajun record? I like John Fogerty,' and then they go, 'Hey, this is really cool stuff.'
"What I was trying to do was to do a traditional recording with a little fresh edge on it so maybe other people could hear it, but I didn't want to change the music to make it a 'progressive' thing."
Given the huge sales and recent Grammy success of "O Brother, Where Art Thou?", all based primarily on mere word-of-mouth and a hunger for some real, heartfelt and authentic music, "Evangeline Made" is hitting at the perfect time. Go out and get it.
A taste of Pitcairn. A while back I stumbled across an absolutely fascinating series of articles in the Toledo Blade written by Josh Benton, who in 1999 was the first American reporter in a decade to visit Pitcairn Island, one of the world's most remote inhabited places, and famous for being settled by the HMS Bounty mutineers. You have to have permission from the island's residents to go there, and they don't like reporters much; they've had bad experiences. Josh managed to get there and had some fascinating experiences amidst a unique culture that's in danger of dying out. Don't miss these articles; there's a lot you don't know about these people.
One thing that may help save the island, at least economically, is the fact that they have what's perhaps the most disease-free bee population in the world, which produce an extraordinary honey from the myriad Mango, Lata, Passion Flower, Guava, Roseapple and other unique blends of flowers found on the island. They're now exporting their honey, and it's only US$5 (!) for a 250g jar (about 8 ounces). I've got eight jars on the way (although given the difficulty of getting anything to and from Pitcairn, it could take up to three months to arrive), and I can't wait to try it.
Oh crap, I might actually have to watch this. Reader Pete weighs in with his opinion on "The Osbournes":
I saw the MTV "Osbournes" show. It was a train wreck -- a brilliant, frequently incomprehensible, laugh-out-loud funny, jaw-droppingly weird and completely out of left field train wreck that I simply could not have imagined possible. I emailed other friends about it, and the two phrases from that email that best flesh out my feelings on it are "classic" and "WTF?!"First a tribute web site to Cannon Films, now a "reality"/sitcom featuring Ozzy Osbourne's family. I wonder how it's going to get any weirder.
Ozzy comes across as perhaps THE modern example of the eccentric, addled and lovably mad Englishman.
Too bizarre to not be true. I was blown away.
Tuesday, March 5, 2002
Evangeline Made! It's a label you see on lots of products made in Acadiana, it's the local brand of bread (well, Evangeline Maid, actually), and now, it's a wonderful collection of songs.
Musician, musicologist and folklorist Ann Savoy of Eunice, Louisiana has produced a wonderful tribute album to Cajun music, seeking not musicians from within the tradition but from the world of pop and rock music, all of whom have roots-music connections and all of whom love Cajun music. Evangeline Made: A Tribute to Cajun Music comes out today from Vanguard Records, and features Cajun songs (all in French, which sometimes required a lot of work with Ann to get the language and pronunciation right) from artists like Richard Thompson, Linda Thompson, Maria McKee, Linda Ronstadt and Ann Savoy, Nick Lowe, Rodney Crowell, David Johansen (who sounds like an old Cajun man on this record) and Patty Griffin. It's really superb, very heartfelt, and has a how-can-you-go-wrong all-star backup band featuring Marc Savoy, Michael Doucet, David Doucet and Marc and Ann's son Wilson on keyboards (he rocks!).
Check out the web site, which features notes from the musicians, plus audio clips and lyrics with English translations. Then you can enter Vanguard's current promotional contest, in which you can win a trip for two to New Orleans, tickets to the Gospel Brunch at the House of Blues in the French Quarter and an autographed copy of Ann's wonderful book Cajun Music: A Reflection of a People. Bonne chance!
Thai food heaven. Tonya has passed along a terrific web site that any of you who, like me, love Thai food will enjoy. Adventures in Thai Cooking and Travel is the work of chef Kasma Loha-unchit, who provides recipes, articles on the cuisine, guides to markets and ingredients, and even her favorite Thai brands so you'll know what to shop for at places like Bangluck Market in Los Angeles. Also, if you're lucky enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, you can take an intensive five-day cooking course in which you'll learn the secrets to balancing the five primary flavors -- sweet, sour, salty, pungent and bitter. If she offered that down here, I'd do it in a second.
Not quite Ozzie and Harriet. From the "I'd Buy That For A Dollar!" department comes MTV's newest magnum opus and contribution to the Everest-sized mountain of horseshit so mind-bogglingly inaccurately called "reality TV" and so thoroughly wrong that it may actually be brilliant: "The Osbournes", described as a "thoroughly inspired twist on the reality TV phenomonon", featuring actual footage shot inside the Ozzy Osbourne mansion in Beverly Hills and the family within: "wife Sharon, teenage kids Jack and Kelly, and the dim-bulb dad himself."
Ozzy, 53, ponytailed, generously tattooed and a little thick around the middle, comes across like the forgotten man of the house. While the kids bicker and their mother conducts a stream of assistants and cable guys, the heavy metal maniac who was once arrested on charges of attacking his own wife shuffles around aimlessly in his sweatpants.Or maybe we can just skip this, make a few Sazeracs and Manhattans, listen to some Johnny Dodds 78s lovingly remastered to CD and read a good book. I'm in one of those "Kill Your Television" moods today (well, at least until "Smallville" comes on ...).
Having successfully completed rehab several years ago, Ozzy has been utterly domesticated. His expression is perpetually dazed, as if he's just been whacked in the forehead with a 2-by-4. It's priceless.
The Anonymous Coward's email of the day. One disadvantage of my email contact form is that it's easy to send anonymous emails, such as this one:
From: <>I think not, cap. Although it wasn't the little prison château that Ferncrest was, I have very few good memories from there (except for Mrs. Kay Fuselier, my 7th grade English teacher; she was great). When I was there it ended with ninth grade, but when they added the high school later on I heard it became one of those "no dancing" kinds of schools like in the movie "Footloose" ... ugh. Apparently not many people "stuck it out", because the school is now gone. In any case, my life is plenty goddamn rewarding, pal, and I'm thankful for it every day.
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: 5 Mar 2002 20:41:07 -0000
Subject: ganus high school
You should have stuck it out at Ganus...your life would be more rewarding.
Incidentally, there's been a revision on the contact page -- emails sent without a real name and valid return email address as of now will be deleted unread. As always, my thanks go out to the 99.9% of my readership who are nice people and who don't abuse my email service.
Monday, March 4, 2002
"Hizzoner, the cable guy." New Orleans has a new mayor-elect today. Ray Nagin, who's a Cox Cable television exec, beat soon-to-be-former N.O. police chief Richard Pennington by a percentage large enough to be considered a mandate for reform. Given that Nagin is the first mayor I can think of (certainly in my lifetime) who came from outside the New Orleans political machine, this could get very interesting.
Cocktail of the day. The Hemingway Bar of the Ritz Hotel in Paris is renowned for its cocktails, and for the top-notch skills of its main bartender, Mr. Colin P. Field. Field has written a book called Les Cocktails du Ritz Paris, which by all accounts is outstanding. There's just been an English translation released, but Amazon don't seem to be carrying it as yet. I'll fill you in on how to get it in a bit.
Here's one of Field's creations, his variation on the venerable French 75, which looks even better. I'll be off to pick up a half-bottle of bubbly and some fresh mandarines to try this one out, tout suite!
THE RITZ 75So far, in order to obtain the English version of this book you must contact the Ritz Boutiques and Gallery Manager, Florence Juncker, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. The book is, I think, €30.49 plus shipping. They'll need your credit card number, expiration date, shipping address and whether you want regular mail or express. Enjoy! (Thanks to Robert, Fernando, Rafael and everyone else on the DrinkBoy community for turning me on to this!)
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh mandarine juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces gin
In a tall Collins glass, add the first four ingredients over ice, stir to mix, then fill with Champagne (you may substitute cava or prosecco, whatever good white sparkling wine you have on hand). Garnish with a wheel of lime and a wheel of mandarine.
Infuse-o-rama. I've got two jars of vodka infusions going right now -- one with fresh pineapple, strawberries, kiwi, blueberries and vanilla bean; the other with Granny Smith apple. Given that no Sour Pucker crapola products will come within 100 feet of my house, and that I've had good but limited success with Berentzen Apfelkorn (an excellent product nonetheless), I'm looking forward to what I can do with a good fresh fruit infusion, apple cocktail-wise. (I'm sorry, but it's not a goddamn Martini unless it has vermouth in it. Period.)
More nasty colored food. Phil Lempert, the Supermarket Guru, made an appearance on Chef Evan Kleiman's "Good Food" radio program last weekend, decrying something I was just complaining about myself: the marketing of awful, gaudily colored processed foods to kids. As if teal ketchup wasn't awful enough, now Ore-Ida are coming up with "Funky Fries" -- frozen French fries artificially flavored with chocolate ("Cocoa Crispers"), cinnamon ("Cinna-Sticks") and ones that are dyed blue ("Kool Blue"). Then there's Kool-Aid that changes color, carbonated skim milk, and more culinary abominations each day.
According to Lempert, those "French fries" taste horrible, at least to an adult palate, and I agree with his complaints 100% -- during a time when childhood obesity and early-onset diabetes are becoming more and more common, why are these companies marketing crap like this to kids instead of encouraging them (and everyone else) to eat good but healthy food? Well, it's because they don't give a crap about you or your kids, they just want your money. Tell the kids no, go home and cook some proper food.
Ashcroft lunacy continues unabated. As if the Attorney General's daily prayer meetings in government offices weren't bad enough (and you don't have to go to these, really you don't, if you want to work at Justice ... no really), now Justice staffers are being subjected to sing-alongs of patriotic songs penned by the increasingly frightening Mr. Ashcroft.
Ashcroft broke into song at a recent public appearance, and now printed copies of his "lyrics" are being distributed at staff meetings so that everyone can join in. Justice staffers are not happy.
When asked why she opposed the workplace singalong, one of the department's lawyers said: "Have you heard the song? It really sucks."Hello, rubber bedroom.
Friday, March 1, 2002
Fahn-TASS-teek! One thing I love about this weird world of ours ... just when you thought you've seen everything, you see something like this.
My old pal Mattattack just forwarded me a URL which is now making the rounds of former Cannon Films employees (or should I say "survivors") here in Los Angeles. It is accompanied solely by the sentence, "You really have to see it to believe it." The URL is cannonfilms.com, and the site is called "The Online Cannon Appreciation Society".
Patrick Runkle, the madman behind this site (actually a very nice guy, who assures me that he's completely sane) told me that the site sprang from an article he wrote for a class while getting his Master's in Journalism. He decided to share his work with the world after a grad advisor wondered why anyone would ever want to write about such a thing. Hey, I have my own love for cheesy movies too; Patrick apparently loved the supreme cheesiness these movies provided him as a 1980s teenager. However, somehow I doubt that his adulation would be quite as fervent if he had ever worked there. Christ in a sidecar. (My deep memory is currently disgorging anecdotes and experiences, ranging from hilarious to horrifying.)
Incidentally, to this day I still maintain that I do the world's best Menahem Golan impression. It's been years since I've heard him speak, so I might be a little rusty, but it goes something like this (imagine a reedy Israeli-accented voice, and don't forget to roll those "r"s in the back of your throat) ...
Look at zees! Our next feelm! Eet vill be fahn-TASS-teek! A vorldvide smash heet! Hundred million dollar gross!All of the above lines were actually uttered at various times by Menahem Golan, and were heard with my own ears.
Look at zees keed! Michael Dudikoff! He's fahn-TASS-teek! He vill be ze next Clint Eastvood! And zees keed! Robby Rosa, he vas one of ze Menudos. Ve bring heem all ze vay from Puerto Rico! He vill be ze next Michael Jackson! "Salsa" ees fahn-TASS-teek! Eet vill be a vorldvide smash heet!
The scariest news of all from this web site? "Just recently, Golan announced that his production company is now called New Cannon Incorporated. The original 'go-go' boys are back."
AIIIEEEEEEEEEEE!!! Wish them into the cornfield, Anthony!
Cocktail of the day. One of my favorite bars in New Orleans is the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel. There's a piano bar in the back with comfy booths, and a faux-starlit sky on the ceiling -- very nice atmosphere. My favorite spot in here is actually at the bar, which is built from parts of an actual old carousel (or "flying horses", as we used to call them as kids in New Orleans) and the barstools revolve around the circular bar. Not to worry, it's slow enough that you won't get dizzy, unless you have way too much to drink.
As I think every good bar should, this bar has a signature cocktail. I always find it amusing that the last several times I went to the Carousel, the cocktail waitresses seem not to be familiar with the drink, but all the bartenders know how to make it, and one said that he gets at least a half-dozen orders for it every shift. It was invented in 1938 by the man who was then their head bartender, Mr. Walter Bergeron, and he named the drink for the French name for the French Quarter. In New Orleans you say "French Quarter" if you're speaking English, but if you're speaking French it's not "le Quartier Français", it's called "le Vieux Carré" (the Old Square).
THE VIEUX CARRÉ COCKTAILIt's mighty, mighty good. If you can't find Peychaud's Bitters in your area, order some (.pdf file) -- they're cheap. If you're serious about cocktails, your bar is not complete without them.
1 ounce rye whiskey
1 ounce Cognac or good brandy
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 teaspoon Bénédictine D.O.M.
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
Half-fill a double Old Fashioned glass with ice, add ingredients
and stir to mix. Garnish with a stemless Maraschino cherry.
Ted Straub reveals himself. Well, sorta. Thanks to Ray for pointing this out. Turns out that all I had to do was do an internal search on my own frackin' website. He's some twit who wrote me an abusive email last year, whereupon I invoked my long-standing web site email policy of "If you sent me abusive email, I'll probably post it." And now it turns up as "email@example.com" as a forged email "To:" header. Weeeirdness.
Strange spam update. Yep, lots of people have been getting that "Thanks for the lunch Mike" spam; Paul, Mike and Stuart wrote in to say they've been getting them too. Stuart opined that they are trawling for valid email addresses. A lot of people will probably reply saying, "Oh no, you sent this to the wrong address," so now they have a valid email address to send more spam to or put on a CD-ROM to sell. Bastards. This never occurred to me, because I don't allow spammerthoughts into my head.
February Looka! entries have been permanently archived.
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