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. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news, movies, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 9:12am PDT, 8/1/2002

If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author.
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Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
February 2002
January 2002

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
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WWOZ (New Orleans)
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Grateful Dead Radio
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KPIG, 107 Oink 5
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KRVS Radio Acadie
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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

   (A work in progress; Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

Bar Asterie
   (Martin Doudoroff)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
(Robert Hess, et al.)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (Kallisti et al.)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Chef Talk Café



Food Network

The Global Gourmet

The Online Chef

Pasta, Risotto & You

Slow Food Int'l. Movement

So. Calif. Farmer's Markets

Zagat Guide

My adventures on Mardi Gras Day 2002


Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Now reading:

At Swim, Two Boys, by Jamie O'Neill.

The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, by JT LeRoy.

Café Royal Cocktail Book, (Coronation Edition, 1937), by W. J. Tarling.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

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

Miles of Music

No Depression


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

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


Bloom County / Outland,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

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

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Films seen recently
(with ratings):

Road to Perdition (****)
Men in Black II (**-1/2)
Notorious C.H.O. (****)
Minority Report (****-1/2)
The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood (**-1/2)
The Bourne Identity (****)
Insomnia (***)
Star Wars, Episode II: Attack of the Clones
Spider-Man (***-1/2)
Donnie Darko (****)
Murder by Numbers
The Time Machine
Y Tu Mamá También
Le fabuleux destin d'Amélie Poulain (****)
Training Day (**-1/2)
A Beautiful Mind (**-1/2)
Gosford Park (****)
The Count of Monte Cristo (***)
Brotherhood of the Wolf
Black Hawk Down
Vanilla Sky (*-1/2)
2001: A Space Odyssey

Lookin' at da TV:

"Six Feet Under"
"The Sopranos"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"Odyssey 5"
"The Simpsons"
"Iron Chef"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

Chuck's Daily Crawl (IE sidebar)

The BradLands
Considered Harmful
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jonno (on hiatus)
The Leaky Cauldron
The Making of a Restaurant
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
The Other Side
Q Daily News
This Modern World
Web Queeries
Whim and Vinegar
Wil Wheaton Dot Net

Matthew's GLB blog portal

<< web loggers >>


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (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) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

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

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

(* = superfavorite)

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS 9.2.2 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  "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

  Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Bartenders say the darndest things.   A priceless excerpt from this month's edition of Gary and Mardee Regan's Ardent Spirits:

Leafing through The Complete Imbiber Twelve, a 1971 book edited by Cyril Ray, we found a wonderful short story by veteran British journalist René Cutforth. "Where my caravan has rested" explains why good hotels are so important to reporters, mainly because, at that time, they had the best telephone systems.

One hotel favored by Cutforth was the St. George in Algiers, and here he enjoyed, "the perfect dry martini produced by Monsieur Charles, the barman." M. Charles was apparently an opinionated gent who, "had been shot at five times and wounded twice," and Cutforth seemed to think that the bartender's life was often in jeopardy because of his outspoken nature. On one occasion, though, Cutforth was the recipient of M. Charles' tongue, and he described the occasion as, "the most crushing retort [he'd] ever heard spoken across a bar.":

"The row started when M. Charles was giving out his customary evening piece on the glories of France. 'A la tête de la civilisation du monde,' he roared. The customers at that moment consisted of one Dutchman, four Germans, two Swedes, an Italian and three Englishmen, including me. And I said: 'What do you mean at the head of world civilization? None of the French lavatories works, even in Paris, and in the country they are unspeakable.' The northern races flew to my support, and the Dutchman informed M. Charles that in civilized countries like Holland and England lavatories were sacred and cleanliness was godliness. M. Charles drew himself up to his full five feet three to offer his rebuke: 'Eh bien, monsieur, en France on mange bien: en Angleterre, on chie bien. C'est une petite différence du tempérament.'"

Those of you who are French-challenged may consult Babelfish, which provides a surprisingly good translation of the punch line.

They're tryin' to wash us away.   One day New Orleans will be decimated by a massive hurricane. It's only a matter of time, as they say about the prospect of a massive earthquake in the Los Angeles area.

The New Orleans Times-Picayune has been running a multi-part series called "Washing Away", which takes an indepth look at the Crescent City's vulnerability as well as the even more vulnerable coastal areas, the evolving dangers, prospects for evacuation and how tens of thousands will be left behind to face a storm, and more. Sobering reading.

Godwin's Law in real life.   Or, "Life imitates net."

Godwin's Law, as many of you know, states that "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one." The Corollary of Practicality to this states that "There is a tradition in many groups that, once this occurs, the thread is over, and whoever mentioned the Nazis has automatically lost whatever argument was in progress. Godwin's Law thus practically guarantees the existence of an upper bound on thread length in those groups."

Former New Orleans Chief Administrative Officer Marlin Gusman, who was former mayor Marc Morial's top aide for six years, brought the Law to life when he had this to say about the current wave of investigations and arrests in the infamous New Orleans City Hall corruption case:

"I remember from reading in history books how some of the greatest atrocities in the history of the world started off with, 'Let's stamp out corruption,' " he said. "Hitler in Nazi Germany, Fidel Castro in Cuba, racist whites in Reconstruction, just to name a few. So I think we ought to be real careful about prejudging someone in government, someone in private industry before we just run out and convict them in the court of public opinion."
Uh, Marlin ... if this had been an online discussion, you'd have just lost it.

Deep thought in Texas.   Godley, Texas, in fact. Gotta love a place that inspires this kind of profound spiritual reflection.

Y'know, life keeps getting weirder and weirder...   Well, not so much life in general, but television, and who said television is anything like life?

As if "The Osbournes" wasn't enough, guess who's getting the latest "reality" TV show. Yep, none other than Mrs. and Mr. Liza Minnelli.

Trying to imitate the ratings magic of sister channel MTV's "The Osbournes," VH1 is offering its own version of a celebrity home invasion television series, "Liza & David," starring Minnelli and Gest in their Manhattan penthouse.

"It's an intimate evening at our house, kind of like our wedding," Gest quipped, referring to their lavish, celebrity-studded March nuptials that included 15 bridesmaids.

The couple's show will emphasize music, with Minnelli singing solo and joining entertainer-friends in duets, Gest said. It's set to begin in October. While no performers are confirmed, he suggested they would include such musically diverse artists as Mary J. Blige, Alan Jackson, Dr. Dre, Al Green, and Barry White.

I can't decide whether to laugh hysterically over the multi-levelled kitsch of all this, or just flee.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, July 30, 2002
Watch grapes rot.   Oh, but it's the good rot. Or rather, the noble rot.

Dolce is the brand name of a fabulous dessert wine made by Far Niente in the Napa Valley, using either Semillion or Sauvignon Blanc grapes that have been infected with botrytis, the "noble rot" that causes tiny perforations in the grape's skin, thereby causing them to dehydrate. This intensifies the sweetness (and also reduces the amount of juice you can get from it, making these wines trés pricey) and results in some of the world's great sweet wines.

The makers of Dolce have a webcam pointed at a bunch of their grapes, so you can watch their progress ... if you have absolutely nothing better to do.

If you want to splurge on a bottle of this stuff, it tends to run about $60 for a 375ml bottle. (Eep.) It's sooooo good, though. A special-occasion meal with an elegant dessert, something celebratory, would be perfect. Celebrate soon!

Lookin' at da TV!   A hilarious TV schedule courtesy of The Onion ... not too far off the mark, actually.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, July 26, 2002
Give your sysadmin a hug.   Today is System Administrator Appreciation Day. Be nice to your sysadmin. Thank him or her for helping you. Don't keep calling incessantly with inappropriate or stupid questions. Try to actually learn a smidgen about the computer systems you work with, so that you can keep the help desk calls to a minimum (the Lard helps those who help themselves!). If you have a PC problem, don't call the mainframe admin or the network admin, call feckin' PC support! Don't download porn at work or click on an unknown attachment and infect your workstation and possibly your network. Don't become a tech support horror story!

Clip those chefs!   If you've felt unwell after your last restaurant meal, try getting a look at the chef's fingernails. Studies have shown that it's nearly impossible to remove germs from under long or artificial fingernails. Ick.

The Friday Five.   Although today's questions might have been more appropriate on July 9, we'll give 'em a whirl anyway:

1. How long have you had a weblog? Since July 9, 1999.

2. What was your first post about? Other than the one saying hello, my first post was bitching about Microsoft. :-)

3. How many changes (name, location, etc.) of your weblog have there been, if more than one? My weblog has had the same name and has been at the same URL since Day One. The design has remained pretty much the same (when you're not a designer and you arrive at a workable design, why change it?). The only major changes have been a new subtitle ("Stuff worth reading" became "Weblog and (almost) daily blather"), more links on the right-hand sidebar and the recent addition of permalinks to each day's posts.

4. What CMS (content management system) do you use? Do you like it or do you want to try something else? I don't use a CMS. I code everything by hand, using a series of prepared templates and macros, using BBEdit on my Mac or Pico on my UNIX account. I've considered trying Moveable Type, but ... I'm just too used to doing it this way.

5. Do you read people who have both a journal and a weblog? Or do you prefer to read people who have all of their writing in one central place? I tend not to read purely personal journals, but I enjoy weblogs that have a very personal feel to them, which would include some journal-y elements. As far as a preference ... well, if it interests me, I read it.

Incidentally ... I dislike the term "blog" and tend not to use it.

Boy, if you read all that, you must really need something better to do today. Dig out a good book, or go cook something!.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, July 25, 2002
Down and out.   From the Baton Rouge Business Report, sent in by Greg:

Marc Morial's reputation is staggering like a drunk on Bourbon Street. The former mayor of New Orleans, attacked by current Mayor Ray Nagin, is getting slammed in an online poll at the Times-Picayune site, This morning, 93.2 percent of respondents to the poll said that the Morial administration ignored major corruption in city government, while 1.9 percent said he did not. The rest, 4.9 percent, did not know. Another step for Nagin's sweep of corruption in the city's taxicab industry occurred yesterday, when investigators raided the offices of United Cabs and police arrested the former head of the city's utilities department.
Bummer, Marc.

Gary feels Jimmy's pain.   Rep. James Traficant was expelled by the House of Representatives yesterday due to his conviction on bribery and racketeering charges, only the second time a sitting member has been expelled since the Civil War.

The vote was 420-1. The lone dissenter? Gary Condit. (*snort*)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, July 24, 2002
I gotta get reading.   The Hugo Award nominations for 2002 are in. Two of the nominated novels are on my Pile -- Neil Gaiman's American Gods and Robert Charles Wilson's The Chronoliths. (Sigh. I'll never get through them all ...)

Tim Eriksen and "Cold Mountain".   The lead singer of Cordelia's Dad, an expert in the field of traditional American music, is lending his expertise and his voice to Anthony Minghella's film of Charles Frazier's astounding novel.

In addition to providing the dubbed-in singing voice for Brendan Gleeson's character, Tim's consulting in the use of shape-note singing in the film, which due to his influence will have a far greater role than initially planned. Music supervisor T-Bone Burnett is also using some "O Brother" alumni, including Dr. Ralph Stanley. This ... is gonna be great!!

Da octapus...   its tentacles continue to spread through City Hall in New Orleans. Yesterday the phone lines at the Metropolitan Crime Commission rang and rang, with "tipsters alleging various kinds of malfeasance in nearly every area of city government." Also, vehicle inspector at the North Lopez Street brake tag station allegedly told an undercover cop who paid an extra $20 for a brake tag for a defective car last week to call her at home if he needed more tags because she kept extras there. Former mayor Marc Morial said that the announcement of the arrests and continuing revelations of corruption took him by surprise, "because I had no prior information that there was a problem... I never heard anything about it."

*sniff*sniff* ... Do you smell anything in here?

Death by chocolate. (No, really.)   We're not talking about a dessert here. Apparently a candy factory worker in Philadelphia died after being submerged in a 1,200 gallon vat of liquefied chocolate. (Umm, well ... I guess there are worse ways to go.) The Morning Fix reports that "noted flamboyant chocolatier Willy Wonka is being held on $1 million bail."

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, July 23, 2002
Chef healing, restaurants rebuilding.   A near-simultaneous call from Mary and email from Michael this morning told me about Chef Anne Kearney of Peristyle Restaurant in New Orleans ... apparently she suffered a ruptured aneurysm on July 14. I had no idea; apparently this was the first media mention that I'm aware of. The good news is that she's doing very well, and her recovery is being described as "miraculous". Whew.

Also in the article -- news about the rebuilding of Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge after their fire in June; they're expecting a late September/early October reopening.

N.O. corruption crackdown continues.   Brake tag stations were closed down, dozens of city employees and cab drivers were arrested, and a high-level bureaucrat -- Utilities Department director Lilliam Regan -- was dismissed and escorted out of her City Hall office yesterday.

Also, Mayor Ray Nagin took "dead aim" at predecessor Marc Morial's administration, saying that "it was complicit in the corruption it did too little to stop."

AppleCare, blam!   Holy bejeebies. I sent my iBook back to Apple via Airborne Express on Friday. I got it back this morning with a new CD/DVD drive, which works great. I haven't yet had a chance to check the "it won't boot from the CD or FireWire drive" problem yet, but so far so good. Nice going, Apple!

Y tu muggles también!   It's finally official -- Mexican director Alfonso Cuarón has been signed to direct Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the third film in the series. I think this'll be great; the story gets much darker in the third book, and I think Cuarón's much more suited to the material in the later parts of the story. Although he did a decent job on the first film, Chris Columbus is first and foremost a fluff-meister, and it could have been much better. We can only keep out fingers crossed for Chamber of Secrets...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, July 22, 2002
1915-2002.   Alan Lomax, who brought a staggering amount of traditional music, American traditional music in particular, to the ears of the public passed away this past weekend at age 87. Starting in 1933 at age 18, he assisted his father John Lomax in travelling the country with a 300-pound "portable" metal disk recorder to preserve the sounds of this country's musical tradition, a career which lasted for decades and produced a truly staggering body of work.

My fellow Louisianian Josh Benton has an excellent post on his site regarding the Lomaxes pivotal role in popularizing Cajun and zydeco music; go there to read more. Some of the songs and tunes the Lomaxes recorded in southwest Louisiana from 1934-1937 might have been lost without their efforts. Because of them, many of those songs remain influential today.

Rounder Records currently produces and distributes CDs from the Alan Lomax Collection; there's a lot in which to immerse yourself. No better time to get started than now!

Corruption arrests in New Orleans.   Police began arresting dozens of people Monday for alleged corruption at the city's taxi bureau and all of its car inspection stations -- a widespread scandal the mayor says has been pervasive for years.

[New Orleans Mayor Ray] Nagin, who was inaugurated in May, said his first clear whiff of how corrupt City Hall's business practices could be came a couple of months earlier, when a man seeking government work approached him in a restroom. The man, whom Nagin refused to name, said he wanted to give more than the legal limit he had already donated to the campaign and tried to stuff a wad of cash into Nagin's pocket. Nagin said the implication clearly was that this is how the man thought contracts routinely were secured at City Hall. The gift was refused.

Nagin, who succeeded two-term Mayor Marc Morial in May, said there is "hard evidence," that previous administrations had been alerted to corruption and done nothing to eradicate it.

"It is very clear that this type of behavior has been going on for many, many years," Nagin said. "This is a battle for the soul of New Orleans, as far as I'm concerned."

In addition to the taxi bureau, apparently the city's "brake tag" stations were targeted as well, with every employee at several of the stations being implicated.

This is amazing. Corruption arrests in New Orleans are rare, because corruption is endemic and just happens. This is why this story is making headlines from CNN to The Guardian in the UK. Navin's kickin' some ass!, 1995-2002.   The first radio station to simulcast on the Internet, the legendary KPIG 107 Oink 5 from Freedom, California near Santa Cruz, has suspended its Internet broadcasts due to exhorbitant new royalties required for webcasting, along with the staggering amounts of record-keeping now required.

"This is the last refuge for people who want to do radio with no restrictions, doing it for the love of radio, not radio for maximizing revenues in the quarter," said Bill Goldsmith, KPIG's Web consultant.

Seattle author L.A. Heberlein, who in his new book, "Rough Guide to Internet Radio" described KPIG as one of the top Internet radio stations for its "fresh, inventive and lively programming," was disappointed to learn about the station's decision to halt Web simulcasts.

KPIG was a symbol of the diversity of programming found on Web radio, he said. The impending music royalty rates won't kill Internet radio, but "the funky, marginal stuff is what you're going to lose," Heberlein said.

Nice going, record industry, Copyright Office and every member of Congress who voted for the DMCA without thinking of its far-reaching implications. As we said you would, you're killing net radio stations. Pretty soon Internet radio is going to sound just like big commercial radio (i.e., crap).

A more reasonable solution must be found.   For years, Internet radio broadcasts were covered under the respective stations' blanket licenses. For some reason, the record industry thinks that people are going to tape things off Internet radio, making "perfect copies". Umm ... ever listened to Internet radio? The fidelity is not there. It's very, very far from a perfect digital source. It'd really be no different than taping songs off broadcast radio, except not nearly as easy.

There has got to be a better way, and the only way they're going to find one is if the listening public insists. Vehemently. KPIG has some suggestions. And what everybody has to remember is this:

Each time a song gets played on the radio,
it's like a commercial for that artist and that CD.
Internet radio doesn't hurt artists. It helps them.

TIPS and National IDs go bye-bye.   After the United States Postal Service told the government to feck off when it came to the idea of using postal workers to spy on civilians in the name of "homeland security", the House Select Committee on Homeland Security (who are drafting legislation for creation of the new Department) included sections banning national ID cards and the organized use of civilian informers. The guy responsible for saving us from all that? Dick Armey, of all people. (Guh?)

Cocktail of the day, revision.   Regarding the exquisite Blue Moon cocktail I mentioned a few weeks back (2 gin, 1/2 Crème de Violette, 1/4 fresh lemon juice), I had a great idea for a better garnish this past weekend. When they're in season, impale three big fat blueberries on a cocktail pick and rest the pick on the side of the glass. If they're not in season, a nice curly lemon twist will still do just fine.

Fine whining.   Chris Rose of the Times-Picayune visits Galatoire's Restaurant to observe the current state of affairs there after the fired-waiter brouhaha.

When I read the story about the Galatoire's waiter controversy in this paper two Sundays ago, I was struck by three notions.

1) That my colleague Brett Anderson had told perhaps the most exotic and revealing story about New Orleans that I have read in 10 years; 2) that it was destined to become a national story and 3) that I could really go for some saut´ed soft-shell crab.

Man, I know how he feels.

Cufflinks of the Apocalypse.   Reported in today's SF Gate Morning Fix: "A belt buckle that raised suspicion with security workers at LAX caused the temporary evacuation of part of a terminal area Sunday. The belt buckle had an image of an explosive device on it. Because this is what it's come to. Sigh."

Could've been worse, though ... the guy could've had a copy of Hayduke Lives!, by Edward Abbey with him as well.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, July 19, 2002
July the 19th ...   why does this day strike me as important?

(Hmm, let's see ... Galway liberated from Indians ... Marathon becomes Snickers ... Ice Age ends ... holiday. Pfeh. No bleedin' holiday scheduled here ...)

Mmmm, perhaps Mrs. Doyle will have some cake for me! (Aah, you're right there, Ted.)

Thunderbirds are go!   In live action form, finally, in a film to be directed by Jonathan Frakes. We'll see. If any classic needed updating, it's this. Even when I was a kid, I thought those puppets looked really stupid.

The Airline Traveler's Bill of Rights.   I saw this in a Slashdot thread about some guy who's suing Ashcroft et al., claiming his constitutional rights are being infringed by being required to show an ID to travel (whether this is actually unconstitutional or not, he'll lose). Some syndicated radio talk show host named Neal Boortz (given his Harry Knowles-like caricature and bad logo spelling, I think I'm glad I've never heard of him) proposed this. Obnoxious as this guy may be otherwise, I think this sounds reasonable:

1. The right to be treated with dignity and courtesy by all government employees engaged in the screening process.

2. One passenger ombudsman to be made available at all airport screening stations to mediate disputes between federal screeners and agents.

3. No passenger will be separated from his baggage during the screening process. All screening of passenger carry-on items shall be handled in the full view of the passenger.

4. All passengers traveling with family members shall have the right to have one adult family member present during all aspects of the screening process.

5. Baggage screeners shall take extraordinary care to repack all items in passengers luggage neatly and carefully.

6. Seating shall be provided for all passengers who are required to remove their shoes in the screening process.

7. Screeners shall be responsible for all damage to passengers property during the search process.

8. Screeners will not be permitted to search the contents of a wallet or other item carrying passengers cash or credit cards without a supervisor present.

9. All passengers who have personal items confiscated at the screening stations shall be provided with mailing envelopes for use in mailing seized items to passengers home address. The passenger shall be permitted to place the item in the envelope, seal the envelope, and place the item in the U.S. mail at the screening station.

10. The right to the immediate intervention and assistance of a local law enforcement officer in the event passenger suspects that a screener has stolen property of the passenger of if the screener has touched or groped the passenger in an inappropriate way.

11. All screening stations shall be under constant video and audio surveillance and tapes of said surveillance shall be available to local law enforcement officers in the event of a dispute between passengers and screeners.

All this, of course, presupposes the existence of trained federal screeners at all airports, and not some gobshite off the street who's making minimum wage and who's on a power trip.

My own airline experiences since September 11 have been pretty benign, but I've heard some stories that range from the absurd to the horrifying (tune into Harry Shearer's "Le Show" for his regular feature, "Tales of Airport Security"). Some quite reasonable rules like the ones above are a good idea.

Regarding the right to travel anonymously ... well, ID checks were in place before September 11, and presumably all the hijackers had some form of ID. Checking them didn't seem to prevent anything bad from happening. And as one Slashdot reader pointed out, "It does occur to me that it wasn't so long ago we criticized the Soviet Union for their inhumane policy of questioning any traveler they felt like. Now we not only question almost every interstate traveler, we search them and arrest them if they question the legitimacy of the search."

Food for thought.

Incidentally,   I've been told via a number of folks' emails that I should be very glad I've never heard of syndicated AM talk radio host Neal Boortz. Quelle surprise.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, July 18, 2002
The Anthology of American Folk Music, at 50.   This monumental and highly influential six-disc set, compiled by Harry Smith, was first released by Moe Asch's Folkways Records fifty years ago this week, affected a whole generation of musicians (from Dylan to the Grateful Dead and beyond) and was a primary inspiration behind the folk revival movement in the 1950s and 60s, and (thank Gawd) in 1997 was released as a beautifully remastered and repackaged set from Smithsonian-Folkways. NPR have a page about the Anthology, with yesterday's "Morning Edition" piece, clips from the songs and lots of great links.

Robert Hunter, lyricist for the Grateful Dead, has often spoken of Harry Smith's influence on what became the Dead -- they started out as a bluegrass ensemble, then an "old-timey" band, then a jug band, then became the Warlocks, and then evolved into the Dead. He and Garcia always found the Anthology to be hugely inspirational, and I think that to this day the Dead don't get enough credit for being not only great makers of American music, but also as interpreters of American traditional musical forms as well. Five years ago Hunter wrote in his diary:

Finally got a copy of Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music." Took thirty six years to acquire my own set. Back in 1961 there was only one copy around our scene, belonging to Grace Marie Haddy. The six disk boxed collection was too expensive for guitar playing hobos like me and Garcia, even if we had a record player - or a place to keep a record player. Grace Marie had a job and an apartment and a record player. We would visit her apartment constantly with hungry ears. When she was at work, we'd jimmy the lock to her apartment door or crawl through the window if the latch was open. Had to hear those records.

Accustomed to cassette recorders as we are, it's hard to imagine having been starved for music. Records you might have wanted to hear were generally inaccessible. To feed, you actually had to go to the house of someone stable and rich enough to afford a record collection. Be sociable. You had to listen to the music there; you couldn't "run off a copy" without a big reel to reel tape recorder. Besides, outside of jazz or classics, there wasn't that much you'd have wanted to record. The folk revolution was just getting started. Things were pretty dry. When you listened, you listened like you might never have a chance to hear those tracks again, which was often true. The Anthology is a case in point.

Nothing like it ever existed, before or since. It was out of print for decades before being re-released recently on CD. There's no way to estimate how important that Folkways collection was to our musical sensibilities. It radically informed and purified our tastes, as well as the tastes of a whole generation of folk performers, by presenting us with selections from the full spectrum of what had been accomplished in recorded indigenous American folk music: a lost music after WWII. Sure, the material existed in archives but it might as well have been on the moon for all the good it did us until Harry Smith collected, selected, packaged and presented his eighty four song sampling of the old disks to the public. To hear them was an initiation. Presto! Instant roots!

As I listen to the CDs, I experience vivid recollections of those listening sessions in 1961. I can see Grace Marie's cluttered apartment, sense the season and the whole flavor of the time in sudden windows of memory. The joy and excitement of discovery. Reminds me of the astonishment H. Rider Haggard's adventurer experienced uncovering the treasures of King Solomon's Mine.

Tonight on "Down Home" I'll be featuring songs from the Anthology, plus a few recent covers of those songs that I dug up at the last minute and at great expense. Tune in at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, online around the world, 7pm Pacific time.

This is where I might have to draw the line.   I love cocktails. I love pork. However, combining the two isn't exactly as great an idea as the peanut butter cup.   "Hey, you got your pork in my vodka!"   "You got vodka on my pork!"   "Wow! Two great tastes that taste great together!" Erm ...

Radio Radio!   Wow, talk about a Proustian rush (and I'm not even wearing "Proustian Rush" by Chanel). I found a post on Andre's site that made a magical moment come flooding back.

It was December 1977; I was 16 and a senior in high school. I was a HUGE fan of the original "Saturday Night Live", with the original Not Ready For Prime Time Players ('member, back when it used to be funny). The musical guest was this skinny, scruffy Buddy Holly lookalike that I had only just recently heard of, by the name of Elvis Costello. (At the time, the famous quote about him was that he had "stolen his name from Elvis Presley and Lou Costello, his glasses from Buddy Holly and his shoes from Chuck Berry," or something like that.)

They had arranged for him to play a song from his new album My Aim Is True. Things didn't go quite as planned.

Let me set the scene: the SNL (Saturday Night Live) announcer says: "Once again here's Elvis Costello" as the band launched into a slightly hyper version of "Less Than Zero". Elvis is wearing a grey jacket with a dark tie and a striped shirt, plus narrow-leg blue jeans. As Elvis reaches the line about "there's a vacancy waiting in the English voodoo" he stops short, not quite getting the word "voodoo" out as he starts to turn, yelling frantically "Stop! Stop!" to the Attractions. The second "stop" is almost inaudible as he has his back to the microphone by this point.

Having gotten the band's attention Elvis turns back to the audience and rather earnestly announces "I'm sorry, Ladies and Gentlemen, there's no reason to do this song here". He then turns back towards the band and says "OK, Radio Radio... 1, 2, 3, 4" and the band crash, slightly awkwardly, into the opening chords of "Radio Radio".

It was an amazing performance of an amazing song. Meanwhile, Lorne Michaels was furious -- he had told Elvis that they couldn't play that song, probably due to length rather than content, and was about to pop an aneurysm in the control room. "He'll never play in this country again!" he cried, or words to that effect. (Yeah, well done there, Lorne. That worked.) And of course, 25 years later, that particular song is more relevant than ever.

Elvis is King!

"Bike-selling Scots strand Alaskan chicken hypnotist"   No, it's not a random string of words put together by magnetic refrigerator poetry. It's my favorite headline of the year, so far. The story will touch your heart ... on a very special episode of "Looka!", tonight at 10, 9 Central.

So sorry.   The Irish Republican Army have apologized for their 30-year campaign of violence in the North of Ireland.

Predictably, the Loyalists have rejected the apology, calling it "inadequate," "too little, too late" and "words, words, words." Hey, why don't you lot try to meet them halfway ... for instance, by not having your "We're the majority and you have to do what we say, ha ha bastards!" marches through Nationalist/Catholic neighborhoods every bleedin' July?

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  Wednesday, July 17, 2002
Dammit.   My lovely little iBook has been misbehaving. First it stopped letting me boot from CD or any external FireWire drive, and now the CD/DVD combo drive has stopped working altogether. I called AppleCare and they said I had to send it in ... with three days remaining on my warranty. *whew*

Therefore, email replies will be even more sporadic than they already are, and Looka! posting may be thin as well. Five to seven business days, they said, but "often we get it back to you faster." We'll see.

By the way, Larry at AppleCare was very nice and helpful, and did a great job.

Speaking of Apple,   Here's the gist of Jobs' MacWorld keynote, including Jaguar (soon to be OS X 10.2), plus cheaper, thinner and bigger iPods and a 17" iMac, to name two.

Everything's better when you add bacon!   Um, well ... except a cocktail, maybe.

Some think it can be done, however.   My friend Michael was trying to find a way to combine my interest in cocktails and bacon, and in addition to the unsavoury link above, he found a guy named Andy's Martini page. Andy's got a few rather unsavoury ideas himself, involving cigars (feh!) and combinations of vodka with peach schnapps, amaretto and the juice from a jar of maraschino cherries (oy). However, this one sounds intriguing, along the lines of the city (the name of which is escaping me at the moment) where it's become popular to garnish Martinis with blue cheese-stuffed olives.

Andy's Cocktail Olives

  • Buy some good-sized cocktail olives, bacon, and cream cheese.
  • Remove the pimento stuffing from olives.
  • Cook up a few slices of bacon until crispy. Blot with paper towel to remove all excess grease.
  • Warm up some cream cheese to soften.
  • Crumble the bacon into many small pieces and combine with the cream cheese.
  • Spread cheese/bacon mixture on a plate and cover with plastic wrap.
  • Put into the fridge or freezer until it's very cold.
  • Remove from freezer and thinly slice the cheese. Using a butter knife, stuff the cheese into the olives.
Makes a great addition to any gin or vodka martini!
I'll save a slice of bacon next time I make some, and give this a shot. Who knows? Incidentally, I've really got to get around to trying that jar of chipotle-stuffed olives I got a while back. I'm thinking that might make an interesting Martini garnish, or perhaps even better, a Gordon garnish (5:1 gin and Amontillado sherry, with a twist).

Eejit.   U.S. Representative Billy Tauzin, a Republican from Louisiana (you know, my home state, the one that has that long, honorable history great, honest politicians) topped his To-Do List yesterday with the composition of a letter to the president of PBS.

The creators of "Sesame Street" are adding an HIV-positive Muppet character to the cast of the South African version, in sensitivity to the fact that that country is ravaged by AIDS (including many cases where it was transmitted to a child by the mother during pregnancy). Representative Tauzin, speaking for himself and several other Congresspeople who really ought to have more important and intelligent things to do, assures the PBS prez that such a character would not be welcome on American television.

Yep. AIDS is that hommaseckshul disease. God's punishment, remember! It should never be mentioned around children! (Even children who might have it.)

"It was a dark and stormy night..."   The winner of the 2002 Bulwer-Lytton Bad Writing Award is Rephah Berg of Oakland, California. Her winning piece compared a faltering relatinoship to a balky roll of toilet paper.

(Yah, relationships are like that sometimes...)

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  Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Big Brother is Watching You.   First we hear tell of "Operation TIPS", the "Terrorism Information and Prevention System" the government is planning to launch which will encourage certain workers who see a lot of the public (or, more ominously, have access to their homes) to inform on their neighbors and customers if they see any "suspicious or unusual activity". (The Washington Post takes a look at it.)

This is a bad idea.

Some have tried to compare this to Neighborhood Watch. The comparison doesn't hold. Neighborhood Watch has been around for a long time, and the point of it is that you get to know your neighbors and you keep an eye out for signs of crime. This thing takes the idea of keeping an eye out much further. How many paranoid wingnuts are going to be peering into other people's windows or conjuring up fictional crime or terrorism scenarios in their own heads once the government starts asking them to inform on people? (Nosy wingnut neighbors are already doing shit like this.) Will you be able to trust your letter carrier or meter reader if you know the government's asked him or her to keep an eye on you? (Well heck-ola, if you're a good, law-abiding citizen, then you've got nothing to worry about!) The books or magazines you've got lying on your coffee table could be a "dead giveaway", at least in someone's eyes. Do you really want to live in a country where people are encouraged to spy on their neighbors?

"Who denounced you?" said Winston.

"It was my little daughter," said Parsons with a sort of doleful pride. "She listened at the keyhole. Heard what I was saying, and nipped off to the patrols the very next day. Pretty smart for a nipper of seven, eh? I don't bear her any grudge for it. In fact I'm proud of her. It shows I brought her up in the right spirit, anyway."

Mmmm hmmm. I thought not.

Now, from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office website comes this apparently new logo, from the April 2002 issue of their online newsletter:

Sauron's eye!

Either it's a joke (which is what I think/hope; a web designer with a sense of humor), or else these people are getting really and truly nutty ... (Via Tom Tomorrow)

Big John - My way or the highway!   The San Jose Mercury News takes a look at John Ashcroft's long history of "using extraordinary measures to shape public policy to his political agenda and religious beliefs". (Also purloined from Tom.)

Saddam? Howdy. Dick here. Got yer pulse neutron generators. Where shall I deliver 'em?   A primer on the delightful history of the Halliburton Corporation, formerly chaired by Dick Cheney, from the Washington Post. A snippet:

Halliburton came under fire in the early '90s for supplying Libya and Iraq with oil drilling equipment which could be used to detonate nuclear weapons. Halliburton Logging Services, a former subsidiary, was charged with shipping six pulse neutron generators through Italy to Libya. In 1995, the company pled guilty to criminal charges that it violated the U.S. ban on exports to Libya. Halliburton was fined $1.2 million and will pay $2.61 million in civil penalties.
To quote fave writer/cartoonist Tom Tomorrow (from whom I'm shamelessly stealing links today), "So let me get this straight. The administration in which Dick Cheney serves as Vice President is about to take us to war with Iraq because Saddam Hussein might have nuclear weapons -- which he'll be able to detonate because Dick Cheney's old company, Halliburton, once sold him the technology to make said detonation possible. My head hurts."

What? But he said he didn't know!   It's been reported by the Times of London that George W. Bush "received confidential information that his former company, Harken Energy Corp, was in trouble shortly before he sold stock worth more than $800,000. Only 16 days before he got rid of his company stock in June 1990, Mr. Bush received Harken's "weekly flash report" and learnt that the company was about to report huge losses. (Link from The Statesman of India, as the Times' own story has already scrolled off into the archives.) Another story reports that 2-1/2 months before Bush sold his Harken stock, he had signed a "lockout letter" promising not to sell stock for at least six months.

I have an idea.   Let's vote all these bastards out of office in 2004, shall we? (Yeah, yeah, I know ... we didn't vote 'em in in the first place.)

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  Monday, July 15, 2002
Make mine bacon-wrapped!   I love bacon. Some of my friends and I have been doing a lot of thinking about bacon lately.

Not that we weren't already obsessed with bacon, pork fat, and all pork products in general. The most recent madness began with Meredith finding that damned, wonderful cookbook. Not three days before that, Steve had said, "We should have a party where all guests bring some food dish that could be bacon wrapped. Shrimp. Hot Dogs. Filet Mignon. Asparagus. Doesn't matter. Has to be bacon wrapped. Dessert is a little problematic, but I think they can do it." Sheer brilliance. (I can do a dessert.)

Don't cringe at the bacon wrapped hot dog, either. You may see them being made on the streets of Los Angeles on little portable grills of questionble sanitary quality by lots of squat little guys who don't speak English, and that may give you pause ... but they smell fantastic and taste even better.

Also, there was an entertaining piece in last week's TIME magazine by Joel Stein, in which he joins some Lewis and Clark buffs to sample the gustatory delights (ashcakes, roots, dusty muffins and lots of various critters) upon which the famed travellers dined during their legendary expeditions.

I get down on the grass and cut up salt pork -- which is essentially really, really fatty unsmoked bacon -- for a stew, using a split log as my cutting board. I don't know exactly how this stew will taste, but I am pretty sure it will include toothpicks. While I am chopping, I take my first bite of hardtack, the unspoilable bread substance the corps took with them. It's whole wheat flour, salt, water and a drop of butter, baked very crisp. And it's delicious, like a health-food-store wheat cracker. It would go great with goat cheese or pâtè. This last comment doesn't endear me to my new friends.

I put the splintery salt pork in a pot with some cornmeal, sage and water to make what my new friends call "Pork and Cornmeal Stew" and what I call "Fatty Fat Fat." Actually, it isn't that bad. This is the first of many lessons that anything made with pork fat tastes good.

Joel. Joel, Joel, Joel. You have seen the light. Come in to the light. We love you.

We started thinking beyond the bacon-wrapped party, and thought ... t-shirts! We could come up with a logo that expresses the way we really feel about bacon, with the whole world wrapped in bacon! Make t-shirts, and that attire would become de rigueur when we attend any boucheries or events like the Basile, Louisiana Swine Festival. Mary sent this idea around to some friends, and Rick got busy -- Voilà...

Make Mine 
Bacon Wrapped!

That's not all. Mary emailed again, "Rick made us a web page. He's begging me to make him stop." The logo evolves again, even more brilliant than before. We simply MUST draft Rick into the Fat Pack; his initiation will be the enormous smoked pork steak sandwich at the Swine Festival in Basile. He should get up on the stage and squeal competitively, too.

By evening's end we were buying domains. By Friday evening Steve was the proud owner of, and by Saturday morning I was the proud owner of I don't know what the hell I'm going to do with it yet, but it's MINE MINE MINE!

Saturday afternoon brought a passel of ideas from Diana. I haven't laughed this much since we saw "Notorious C.H.O."

Other content suggestions for the new Web site:

1. Pork 'N Cork. Expert winematches for your bacon-wrapped delights.

2. Page 3 Sizzler Shots. Haughty models stripped to the judiciously-placed strips!

3. Dear Flabby. Advice for the slablorn; i.e., "Dear Flabby, I'm confused. What's Canadian about bacon?"
"Dear Flabby, my girlfriend prefers thick cut, and I'm, well, a thin slice kinda guy. Is there hope for us?"
"Dear Flabby, My mom serves us Sizzlean. I'm frightened, and my little brother wakes up crying every morning. Please help." [Answer: "Don't wait, call Child Protective Services today. Your future is at stake. And please write again. I care."]

4. Celebrity Boxing. This month: Farmer John vs. Jimmy Dean. In the archives: Porky vs. Babe; Roseanne vs. La Liz; Wilbur v. Arnold

5. Six Degrees of Eating Bacon. Recipes -- go nuts, Chuck.

6. The Swag Shop.
* Alternate T-shirt: "I Went to the Bacon-Wrapped Party and All I Got Was Arteriosclerosis"
* New! The MMBW Belt! Tasty red & whitebelt with oversized, rhinestone "MMBW" buckle!
(Rick, your graphic talents are welcome here).
* DermaBlendCorrective Make-up: Now available for every shade of splatter burn!
* Mug: "Give Me Bacon or Give Me Death. Successively."
* Additional merchandise available at Cool t-shirts from "

7. Links: The Onion's "Where does bacon come from?" (beautifully addressing Wes' unease over establishments that serve pork products featuring pictures of smiling, delighted pigs in their logos); The SPAM Haiku Archive; and finally, the National Institute of Health on heart attacks.

I do hear a "Bacon Rap" theme song in our future, perhaps a suitable commission for Snoop Dog (or maybe Lil' Oink Oink. Better yet, the Beastie Boys). Should repeatedly sample Chuck's award-winning squeal. Meanwhile, we are living in a bacon-wrapped world, and I am a bacon-wrapped girl.

Steve's latest idea is the best yet. We'll keep this one under wraps, due to the slight chance that we may actually pull something like this off one day, and we don't want people stealing it. I like the way it starts, though ... "We know that some day, eventually, Chuck will realize his destiny and open an eatery..." (Such an idea. My own restaurant, really and for true, not like being mistaken for the owner of Gabrielle! Hmm, it'll take a little time for me to become insane enough to actually do it ...) This is how great an idea it is, though -- can someone from the Nobel nominating committee please contact me right away, so that I'll know which would be the appropriate category to submit his name for a Prize? It could be a new Nobel ... a combination prize for comedy, culinary arts and the promotion of World Peace Through Bacon.

My friends are the greatest. May they never be low on bacon.

Life is full of bacony goodness.   According to the venerable test kitchens at Cook's Illustrated magazine, far and away the best supermarket-brand bacon in America is good ol' Oscar Meyer. It's always been good for me. Accept no substitutes. (And stay far, far away from that turkey bacon crap. I once tried it, fried some up and made a BLT. It made me violently ill. The very idea ... turkey bacon. Obviously my body rejects the idea wholesale.)

However, if you want to rise above the level of the garden-variety supermarket brand, uou can participate in one of the truly stratospheric levels of life by signing up for the Bacon of the Month Club at The Grateful Palate. If you think the club is too expensive, you can also buy their artisanally-made bacons one at a time.

Esquire Magazine wrote about the Club a while back, and graced us with a whole slew of articles singing the praises of one of the porcine world's greatest gifts:

And you heard it here, folks. If you don't overdo it, bacon is NOT bad for you. Four strips, cooked crisp and well-blotted, but not more than twice a week. Hey, it'll give you something to look forward to every few days!

Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!   What do you think was just placed in my hand by the postman, not two minutes ago?

Everything Tastes Better With Bacon, by Sara Perry, with photographs by Sheri Giblin, courtesy of a wonderful independent bookseller by the name of Andrea Drinard of Papermoon Books, 4707 SE Belmont, Portland, OR 97215, whose services I recommend without hesitation.

Breakfast (of course); salads (bacon-fat vinaigrettes rule!); pasta, polenta and risottos with bacon (Amo la pancetta affumicata!); vegetables (sure, I'll eat my vegetables ... with bacon); party foods; "forbidden pleasures" (Gorgonzola cheeseburgers with bacon ... oh my); and ... dessert. Bacon brittle. Peanut butter and bacon cookies. Pear-Apple Crisp with Brown Sugar-Bacon Topping. Hazelnut-Bacon Candy Crunch. Maple Sundae. And more.

I'm about to squeal like a pig.

Third? Pfeh. We're NUMBER ONE, baby.   No matter what anyone says. Paul Sanchez once remarked that New Orleanians drink professionally, but that's not all. We also sweat professionally. Nobody sweats like a New Orleanian. (Think you're tough? Go there and stay through all of July and August.) Dallas and San Antonio are amateurs; only we know true sweat.

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  Friday, July 12, 2002
Crappity crap crap crap.   Such is my first (and last) experience with Martha by Mail.

A great deal of my TV-watching is directed at Food Network, the best thing since sliced bread (Italian, grilled, rubbed with raw garlic and topped with chopped tomato, bufalo mozzarella, basil, and a drizzle of white truffle oil). When I heard that Dale deGroff, the "King of Cocktails" would be on Martha Stewart's show, I made sure to turn in. Among his other tips, Dale suggested making little cocktail recipe cards for his two or three featured drinks, displayed on the bar in these neat little metal card holders. After a while, you can make your cocktail party self-serve; the guests will know how to make that evening's specialty drinks, and the host will have more time to socialize.

Great idea! I thought. And wouldn't you know it ... those little nickel-plated card holders were available right there on Martha's site. Set of six, $18. What a feckin' coincidence, eh?

Apparently lots of other people had the same idea, as they were out of stock and backordered indefinitely. "Indefinitely" turned out to be over two months, and my card holders arrived yesterday ... yay, just in time for our cocktail party next week!

They're lousy. Solid, heavy ... yes. But rough and scuffed and flawed, with many blemishes in the plating on every single one. They don't like like the nice, smooth, shiny ones that were pictured on the website. Feh. That's the last time I do business with Martha by Mail.

Have fun in jail, babe.

A Roosevelt you're not.   Richard Cohen in the Washington Post unsheathes his rapier and goes to work on Bush's flaccid proposals to "clean up corporate America." (Lifted from Medley).

But unlike any of the Roosevelts -- or John Kennedy facing down the steel tycoons -- Bush could not turn on his own. This is not a surprise. After all, his own career in business was launched and nurtured by friends of his father's, and he himself benefited greatly from selling stock in Harken Energy Corp. shortly before it tanked. (For this, Bill Clinton would already be facing a special prosecutor and, at the insistence of John Ashcroft, the death penalty.) [...]

It's these figures that drive home the point that relatively few people have benefited from the system that Bush lauds, while a whole lot of people are getting almost nothing. The system may be wonderful, but it is truly wonderful for CEOs and other corporate officers. Like feudal barons, they can pillage their companies, leaving the serfs to starve.

[...] A Roosevelt -- either Roosevelt -- would have said something about those figures. A Roosevelt would have spoken with true passion and true indignation -- as Bush himself has done when the subject was terrorism or some moral issue. But Bush, really, is not alarmed at what has happened, only at the political ramifications of it.

  Wednesday, July 3, 2002
"A cookbook for US!"   says delightfully evil, wonderful Meredith, who emailed me about the existence of what might be the greatest cookbook ever. Yes, it is the fifth food group.

As I've mused before, three of the most beautiful words in the English language, when strung togetherin this order, are "applewood," "smoked" and "bacon" ...

I forwarded the email to Wes, who replied with, "Well? Did you order it yet?"

Daily crawling.   The very clever, talented and thoroughly adorable Matt Kingston has wielded his Perl wizardry and cobbled together some very nifty weblog-surfing scripts. The Daily Crawl allows you to track updates to a list of weblogs you read, and with a crontab it'll do it on an hourly basis. All you need is an account on a server that'll let you install and run custom CGI scripts, Perl with the LWP module, and the ability to run cron jobs. Even a UNIX.doofus like me managed to get it installed, configured and running. It's been a big help already, so give it a shot, whydontcha.

Oh, and if you want, you can access my own daily crawl. I'll also add a link to it below, on my weblogs sidebar. Whee!

Thank God, it's not just me.   Bob Mould, who's been one of my musical heroes for the last 17 or so years, said in the current issue of Magnet Magazine that his new album modulate will require at least three listenings before it sinks in. I despaired at the thought. As much as I've loved Bob, I'm certain that three listenings of that almost completely, heartbreakingly wretched album will do nothing for me other than make me want to smash my head against the wall to just please God make it stop. It's that bad. How could it possibly be that bad? Every time I tried to listen to it, I thought I was having some kind of waking nightmare.

Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks so, which is a bit of a relief. Comfort in numbers, and all.

I don't remember the last time a record has appalled me this efficiently. By a minute and a half into "180 Rain", the opening song, Bob Mould has accumulated such a litany of offenses to his own legacy that I'm suspended in horror. Gutless drum loops, twittery factory-preset synth fills, pointless flanging, one-note bass pulses and, credibility-defyingly, a pitch-corrector straight out of Cher's "Believe".

"180 Rain" sounds like exactly what ACID expects you to be doing after ten minutes, pushing random buttons and grooving along uncritically, and the fact that it's Bob Mould singing over it, and Bob Mould's name that gets it released as if it's a real song, no more redeems it for me than Todd English could rescue a McFish sandwich by salting it adroitly. This is Bob Mould, I mutter to myself in infuriated amazement. This man wrote "New Day Rising" and "Black Sheets of Rain" and "Hoover Dam"; listening to him reduced to two-finger typing on an idiotically perky iBook (or however this was done) is like enduring repeated aversion-therapy screenings of the end of "Charly".

Glenn McDonald captured my feelings precisely. Appalled. Horror. (Sigh.)

"Name me a song that everybody knows / I'll bet you it blongs to Acuff-Rose," sang Jeff Tweedy on the fourth Uncle Tupelo album. The music publishing company was founded by country singer Roy Acuff and songwriter Fred Rose in 1942 and contains some of the most famous and revered country music classics. Now it's owned by Sony. They'd better take good care of it.

Nearly half of all new restaurants fail in the first year.   This is something the scourge of Kentwood, Britney Spears, should remember. Apparently she's now a New York restauranteur, with her new eatery "Nyla" (that's half New York, half Louisiana) featuring cuisine described as "Southern-tinged fusion-something" and a decor I'd best describe as a chiffon-and-pastel horror.

"I am so excited," the 20-year-old popster told reporters on her way into the bash. "This is going to be my new hangout."

Although the likes of Jennifer Lopez and Cher were reportedly on Brit's guest list, they didn't make Nyla their hangout on Thursday. Instead, fans who braved a powerful thunderstorm to watch the beautiful people gather for free food got treated to the magical sights of old-school popster Debbie Gibson, porn star Jenna Jamieson, ex-Big Apple mayor Rudy Giuliani and the most magical of man of them all, David Copperfield.

Copperfield apparently also was powerless to make Spears appear at her own party. According to reports, the singer turned impresario was an hour late for her scheduled strut down the red carpet... Maybe Britney was just too anxious to get inside and start a-sampling her food. (Something which, according to the New York Times, she hadn't done as of last weekend.)

As a passionate cook, gourmand, foodie, chowhound, what have you, I can certainly understand how La Britney's passion for fine cuisine and for serving great food to people has manifested itself:

When asked Thursday why she chose to go the restaurant route herself, Spears replied: "Why not?"
I can't wait to go to New York... and dine at Babbo, Le Cirque, Jean-Georges, Rao's (maybe in my dreams). Mmmmmm. (Hmm, better rob a bank before I go.)

Calling all Poles!   Or at least Polish speakers.

All the time I'd been reading the works of Polish sf author Stanislaw Lem, I never quite knew how to pronounce his name properly (and as far as I can tell, his website isn't helpful with this question). I have a vague idea, having learned how to pronounce "Walesa" along with everybody else, but some confirmation would be nice. Please enlighten me. (David, you took a semester or two of Polish, didn't you? Help!)


I'm off until Monday (at least).   It's a holiday weekend starting this afternoon. I plan to get the hell away from the computer and go outside. We'll be seeking fabulous and cheap Vietnamese poor boys, barbecuing various kinds of animal flesh, quaffing cocktails and lazing about for the next four days, so I'll see y'all next week. Have a great holiday!

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  Tuesday, July 2, 2002
Oh no!   One of my favorite restaurants in Acadiana, Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge, suffered a bad fire last Thursday. It apparently didn't affect the dining area, and the restaurant is not a total loss, but there was a lot of smoke and water damage. From local coverage:

The apartment above the restaurant, where owners Dickie and Cynthia Breaux live, was heavily damaged by smoke and heat from the fire, said Breaux Bridge fire Chief Terry Theriot. The fire started in a laundry room on the second floor, Theriot said. Smoke damaged the restaurant downstairs, he said.

"The restaurant is not nearly as bad as the apartment," Cynthia Breaux said. "I just can't believe it. It was 10 years ago today that we opened."

The Breauxs vow to reopen the restaurant, which has drawn people from around the world. "We are hoping to open as soon as possible," said Cynthia Breaux.

The restaurant came to notoriety in the last three years for its Saturday zydeco breakfast, which began almost by accident. "Officials from the city of Lafayette were entertaining dignitaries, members of parliaments of France and England," Dickie Breaux said. "They brought musicians here to entertain them, and it just caught on."

The eight employees on duty and the few customers that were left over from lunch evacuated the building and were not injured in the fire.

"It's going to be missed not only by the local people, but for the people who came from far off that enjoy the food," said Harry Jackson, a cook, who prepared such dishes as crawfish pie, Cajun shrimp stew and duck and andouille gumbo. The Breauxs' two dogs also escaped uninjured thanks to Mary Miller, a manager on duty, who discovered smoke coming from a laundry room on the second floor.

Firefighters from the Breaux Bridge Volunteer Fire Department contained the fire within 30 minutes, Theriot said. The cause of the fire is unknown.

All the best to Dickie and Cynthia, and thanks a million to Ray for letting me know, and to Amy for sending in the article.

Beesweb is flying.   After centuries of waiting, we're finally treated to an official website from Richard Thompson! Exhaustive discography, a "Song-O-Matic" in which you can search a database of RT lyrics, and oodles more.

Sheesh, Nancy emailed me about this weeks ago, and I forgot to make a post. Sorry 'bout that, y'all.

It's about time.   My beloved Food Network, while incorporating bits about wine and spirits into their various programming, have never had any programs devoted entirely to drink. Finally, that changes tonight with the premiere of a new program called "The Thirsty Traveller". Host Kevin Brauch will go on "the globe-trotting journey of a lifetime" as he "visits the world's greatest beer, wine and spirit-producing regions, from the sun-drenched hills of Sonoma Valley, California, to the frothy beer halls of Belgium." The first programs will be from Mexico (about tequila) and Ireland (about Guinness and other Irish beers). Sounds good to me!

10:30pm, Eastern and Pacific. (Don't forget the cocktails, Kevin.)

Mmmmm ... finger-lickin' good!   I've been waiting for this to come out on DVD for ages. It's an old favorite of both Wes' and mine.

Announced for release by Anchor Bay Entertainment on Sept. 24, 2002:


The immortal classic comes to DVD in a THX Approved 2-Disc Set. Widescreen (16x9), DTS 5.1 & Dolby 5.1 Surround Sound. Includes audio commentary from director Kathryn Bigelow, an all-new 47 minute featurette containing new cast & crew interviews including Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen, Adrian Pasdar and others, a rare deleted scene with commentary by Kathryn Bigelow, theatrical trailers, original storyboard gallery, poster & still gallery, behind-the-scenes still gallery, original screenplay (DVD-ROM) and more!


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  Monday, July 1, 2002
Cocktailian adventures.   Indeed they are adventures, because these days one never knows what to expect when one goes into a strange bar.

The latest strange bar was Club Tee Yee, a neighborhood joint on Glendale Blvd. in Atwater Village. Wes and I had gotten together with our friends Gregg and Michael for dinner at a fabulous little Cuban place across the street (Baracoa Cuban Café, delicious, plentiful portions and cheap!), and we're always game to try a new bar. We got an instant "this is our neighborhood bar and we do things our way" vibe when we walked in, as about half the clientele were smoking. (So much for L.A. law.) We brightened up a bit when we saw how well-stocked the bar was, and began to muse about what we should order.

I opted for a Manhattan, Wes decided on the "test drink" of an Old Fashioned, and since they had to get up early and work the next morning, Gregg and Mike split a Negroni. Simple enough, eh? I saw good whiskey, sweet vermouth and Campari behind the bar. Should be no problem.

I watched the bartender put the whiskey and vermouth into the shaker, he stirred it (good sign) and was pouring it into the glass before I could stop to remind him that he had FORGOTTEN THE BITTERS (bad sign). When he presented the drink to me, I asked if he had any Angostura bitters. He reached behind the counter, got the bottle out and placed it in front of me. As I shook two or three healthy dashes into my drink and swizzled with the cherry, he made a face and said, "EWWWWWWWWWW!"

I've had bartenders tell me that "nobody wants bitters" anymore. I've never had one give me this particular reaction. I merely replied, "Now it's a perfect drink."

Wes had better luck; the bartender did know how to make an Old Fashioned, including the bitters. He apologized to Wes for not having any bar sugar, but made do with regular granulated. He added the tiniest splash of water (NOT soda!), just enough to help dissolve the sugar, and made quite a lovely Old Fashioned. Unfortunately, he had to be talked through the Negroni but was game for it; "I can't remember the last time I've opened that bottle of Campari," he said.

Apparently we were fairly unusual characters, as our bartender then asked, "Where are you guys from, anyway? I haven't made any of these drinks in years!"

"Well," Wes replied, "I live in Pasadena, Chuck's near the Miracle Mile, and these guys are in Silverlake."

"Ah, yes," said the bartender, as if it explained everything. Perhaps it did, as Wes observed. In any case, the entire time we were there we never saw anything more complex than a draft beer or a gin and tonic being served to the regular clientele. Oh well, Cinnabar is right up the street!

Do people really not want bitters anymore?   That is the question of the day. "These are trying times for cocktailians," says Gary Regan in the DrinkBoy discussion thread I started on this topic. It's the so-called "Martini menu" era, the fruit-juice-and-vodka drinks era, and people probably think something silly like "It makes the drink bitter!" instead of realizing that it ties the other flavors together, it acts like salt and other seasonings do in a savory dish. Sigh.

Well-seasoned archaeology.   Archaeologists digging at the site of a black-owned saloon in an Old West Nevada mining town have unearthed a Tabasco bottle dating back to circa 1870.

It predates the familiar round-shouldered bottle we all know and love now, and was one of the earliest Tabasco dispensers ever, used in this bustling town only a couple of years after Tabasco's invention in 1868. (Hmm, now if they found a Peychaud's Bitters bottle, that'd be extremely cool!)

Backing off, tail between legs.   National Public Radio seems to have rather hastily rewritten their odious linking policy, with an "Oh, we were thinking of changing it anyway" excuse.

NPR encourages and permits links to content on NPR Web sites. However, NPR is an organization committed to the highest journalistic ethics and standards and to independent, noncommercial journalism, both in fact and appearance. Therefore, the linking should not (a) suggest that NPR promotes or endorses any third party's causes, ideas, Web sites, products or services, or (b) use NPR content for inappropriate commercial purposes. We reserve the right to withdraw permission for any link.
Don't mess with the Web. We'll smack you down.

Quote of the day.   An ode to Manhattans, originally published in the now-defunct Au Juice magazine, reproduced today in my aforementioned DrinkBoy thread:

Our Daily Reward

The hour arrives; we chill our cocktail glasses. Crisp, clean ice fills the tall tumbler where sweet sour mash and deep crimson vermouth tumble together over the cubes; liberal dashes of bitters fall into the fray. The long, slender bar spoon slowly enters the glass, gently easing its way between the slick cubes, turning slowly, introducing the threesome to one another. The ménage à trois indulges in prolonged foreplay, the ice melting, ever so slowly, over their bodies. They caress, probe, taste, and explore each others desires. Time passes; they find their roles. Whiskey is a dominant soul, fiery yet gentle, gruff yet soulful, he wants to control the passion. But dear, sweet vermouth, her body slathered with rich, ripe fruits, tongue coated with sensuous spices, gently insists her whims be met. The struggle for power subsides into a blissful compromise; each has found its soul mate. The bitters slip in, out, and around the intertwined couple, softly nuzzling every nook and cranny, making the union complete. Passion is high as they leave the ice -- the time is very, very near. The glasses reach our lips. Oh God, thats good.

-- Gary and Mardee Regan, Ardent Spirits

June Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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