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 @ 10:32am PDT, 8/30/2002

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)

July 2002
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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Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
roxi and merck
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
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   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
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   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
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   Live audio stream

Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete shows!)
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
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

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

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 this year:
(with ratings):

One Hour Photo (***-1/2)
Cube (***-1/2)
Jackie Brown (****)
The Good Girl (***-1/2)
I Am Trying To Break Your Heart (****)
Signs (****)
The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (***-1/2)
Road to Perdition (****)
Men in Black II (**-1/2)
Notorious C.H.O. (****)
Reign of Fire (**-1/2)
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
Simmer Stock
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

  Friday, August 30, 2002
Cocktail of the day.   Caveat -- I also have yet to try this one, but it looks so yummy that I'll go ahead and link to the recipe.

Tomato water is quite the trendy ingredient these days, with chefs from Thomas Keller to Charlie Trotter to Emeril Lagasse touting its flavor and uses. It's easy enough to make -- you need very ripe, very aromatic and flavorful tomatoes. Just whiz them in the food processor with a little salt, place in a strainer or colander with a few layers of cheesecloth, and let drain into a bowl. The pale red liquid that drips out is tomato water, and it's mighty tasty. Chefs have been using it for broths, marinades and sauces ... why not use it for a cocktail too?

Of course, someone has. I'm not sure where the originating bar is (New York, perhaps?_, but the recipe was reproduced in Chowhound this week ... the Bloody Martini.

Quote of the day.   This guy is so full of crap I hardly know where to begin.

Satellite radio is not the answer to good radio, much like cable TV is not the answer to good TV. Both just give you more choices of crap. Radio is categorized, and it ought to be. Only a slim number of people would like to hear Ja Rule, Rusted Root, Barry Manilow and Dwight Yoakum (sic) on the same radio station. If you are actually looking for a station that will play Norah Jones, B-Tribe, Ned Otter, etc., then look for your closest college radio station. Give them a good listen. I guarantee you that after 30 minutes of pure hell, you will switch back to a Clear Channel Radio station, because we play the hits.

-- Steve Smith, Production Director/Imaging Director, Clear Channel Broadcasting, a huge commercial radio conglomerate, in a letter to the editor of Entertainment Weekly, July 12, 2002.

First of all, college radio != community radio or public radio. "The hits" means the same 40 songs, played over and over again, no requests taken, nothing that pushes the cutting-edge of music. No independent labels, no local bands, no nothing ... other than what the five huge record industry conglomerates want you to hear. Feh.

See you in September.   I'm gonna be pretty scarce over the next few days. It's a three-day weekend. You should be scarce, too. Stay off the computer. Go outside. Have a barbecue. (Can't wait for Sunday's "Karaoke 2: Electric Barbecue", which will be very, very bacon-wrapped.) Go on a hike. Play with your dog (or cat). Eat out. Climb a tree. Stay off the computer.

Have a great Labor Day weekend, y'all! Seeya's next month.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 29, 2002
Weblog outta the oven.   Somehow I've managed not to have come across the existence of Simmer Stock, an outstanding culinary weblog prepared and served by Richard Chase. It's now on my daily read list. Toques off to ya!

Uncorking.   Afraid to drop $16,000 on that bottle of 1945 Château Petrus? Worried it might be spoiled? Well, until they specialize the technology a bit more, just take it to the hospital for diagnosis.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, August 28, 2002
West Nile Blues.   The Times-Picayune reports that 62 more cases of the virus have been documented in Louisiana. Serious, yes. Still, one can't help finding the amusing "only in Louisiana" angle, as Jef Jaisun pointed out in a recent email:

Despite health officials' continual emphasis on getting rid of these mini-ponds, [Department of Health and Hospitals Secretary David] Hood said an informal Baton Rouge survey found that about three-fourths of the city's residents had standing water in their yards.

When asked for his reaction to such noncompliance, [state epidemiologist Raoult] Ratard chuckled, clutched his midsection and said, "In spite of all my warnings, I am still obese."

"Y'all are too funny down there!" says El Jefe.

Incidentally, Jef also contemplated a move from Seattle to New Orleans by weighing the statistics in the following table:

  Seattle New Orleans
"Fixer" home: $350,000 $35,500
Jazz Clubs: 1 8,329 (counting Metairie)
Crappy months: 9+ 2.44
WTO Riots: 47 0
Mardi Gras: Six hours Six weeks
Mardi Gras Riots: Annual Never
Crawfish Boils: What? Daily
Min. Income required: $298,000 $30,800 (not counting throws)
Okay, you choose ...

Hey, Takeuchi!   That cocktail o' yours, the Long Shot? Not bad at all! Remember folks, it's 3 parts Bourbon, one part Campari and a teaspoon of simple syrup, stirred (my preference) and garnished with a cherry. Now, I think a Bourbon-Campari drink can be made better, and more complex, by altering the proportions. Next time I make this I'll do it 2:1 rather than 3:1, and just for kicks I'll add a dash or two of orange bitters. Might have to end up changing the name, though ...

Oh, and speaking of Bourbon ...

A good reason to drink Maker's Mark.   I don't usually drink Jim Beam Bourbon, preferring the brand I mentioned above. I do drink various brands of their Small Batch Collection, which consist of Basil Hayden, Booker's, Knob Creek and Baker's. I'll miss them, because I don't think I'm going to drink Jim Beam products anymore until they start treating their employees like human beings.

Workers at Jim Beam's distillery are limited to a maximum of four bathroom breaks per 8-1/2 hour shift, only one of which can be unscheduled. Extra trips to the bathroom bring on a reprimand. Six reprimands and you're fired. Too bad if you're on diuretics or have a small or weak bladder, I guess.

The United Food and Commercial Workers local said some of the 100 affected employees have urinated on themselves because they were afraid to leave the line. Some wear protective undergarments and others have feigned illnesses to go home and avoid getting violations, said Jo Anne Kelley, president of the union local.

"It's a shame when you feel you have the need to go to the bathroom, but you ask yourself, 'Do I soil myself or do I protect my job?"' Kelley said.

Workers can be exempted with a doctor's note. So far, 29 have gotten waivers for medical necessity and can go as often as needed.

Beam has been cited by the state, but is actually fighting the citation, saying they need to "maintain productivity".

One can't help but make the pun ... that's a piss-poor attitude. Beam, your employees will be productive if you treat them with respect and dignity. Yep, it's Maker's Mark for me as usual, and for my top-shelf sippin' Bourbon, I think I'll try the 17-year-old Eagle Rare once my bottle of Booker's runs out.

Movin' on uuuup ...   In the Periodic Table of the Weblogs (which I think may be my favorite weblog portal). I used to be down at atomic number 118, assigned to the element ununoctium. Fortunately for me, it was discovered that ununoctium doesn't actually exist, so I got bumped up. I now reside at atomic number 8, assigned to the element ... oxygen! One of my very favorites, allowing me to both breathe and drink. And I'm explosive, too! Quite an element. I'm very pleased.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, August 27, 2002
Cocktails of the day.   The first is something I probably should have noticed before; the second is a terrific variation. They're both great.

In a recent issue of Ardent Spirits, Gary Regan brought up a nearly-forgotten classic that appeared in Harry Craddock's The Savoy Cocktail Book, from the Savoy Hotel in the early 1930s. Wes tried it a couple of weeks ago and it's his current favorite. I like it a lot myself, and I particularly like the variation. "We need more rye cocktails in the world!" he says, and I agree ... and I'll add that we need more Irish whiskey cocktails too.

The original recipe for this one called for proportions and then "the juice of half a lime"; given how the juice content of limes tends to vary, Gary modified the recipe to specific measurements, and it seems to work much better that way. As for the cocktail's name ... well, there's a story. "In August, 1924, an American engineer nearly died of fever in the Philippines, and only the extraordinary devotion of Dr. B_____ saved his life. As an act of gratitude, the engineer gave Dr. B_____ the recipe of this cocktail."

I think people should be rewarded with cocktail recipes more often.

The Oriental Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces (1 jigger) rye whiskey
3/4 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
1/2 ounce fresh squeezed lime juice

Combine in a shaker with cracked ice; shake and strain
into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino or brandied cherry.

Wes likes to drizzle a teaspoon or so of the cherry juice
(or even better, some brandied cherry juice) down the inside of
the glass so that it makes a little layer on the bottom. Very pretty,
and you get a little burst of sweetness at the end.

One of Gary's students at "Cocktails in the Country" came up with an ingenious variation. Make the exact same drink, except substitute Irish whiskey for the rye. The difference it makes is amazing, and in my opinion it's an even more complex drink. When making this variation, the drink is called a James Joyce.

Iron Chef Cocktail!   Well, I'm being complimentary. This morning I stumbled across the homepage of one Takeuchi Tomohiko, from Shizuoka Prefecture, Japan. He's a Mac guy (gotta love 'im), and claims to have invented 176 original cocktails. I haven't yet been through them all, and it's possible that there are some dupes of things already out there; he cites his definition of "original" as such: "if it is not mentioned in The Savoy Cocktail Book and The Cocktail Book (Japan Bartender's Association)." Well, that's only two books, but so far I've never come across most of the drinks he's made. Caveat: I haven't tried any of these examples yet.

Long Shot

3/4 Bourbon
1/4 Campari
1 teaspoon simple syrup

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

Intriguing! I love Campari -- Wes and I are Negroni fanatics -- but I've never tried it in combination with Bourbon. I'll give this one a try tonight and let you know tomorrow.


1 ounce Bourbon
2/3 ounce Cranberry juice
1/3 ounce Dry Vermouth
1 dash Orange Bitters

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass. Takeuchi says, "This is a light cocktail; you had better use a Bourbon that has a strong taste to avoid being too simple a cocktail. It seems to be good to drink as an aperitif.

"As for the name, it came from the fact the original home of the cranberry is Appalachia. Because the sourness is strong when cranberry is drunk as it is, I used diluted fruit juice."

I imagine he means cranberry juice cocktail, rather than 100% cranberry juice (which you can get at Trader Joe's, and which I find fairly unpalatable. I liked the name of this one, and it looks intriguing.

Baton Rouge

1 ounce Bourbon
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
1/2 ounce Pastis
1 teaspoon peppermint schnapps or white Crème de Menthe

Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.

I was attracted to the name of this cocktail, it being the capital of my home state, but that teaspoon of peppermint threw me for a loop. I'll wait until I'm in a very experimental mood to try this one.

Mom ... Dad ... y'all can get rid of your VCR now.   Okay, to be honest, they got rid of their sweet little Sony Betamax many, many years ago. Dad, thinking cleverly, asked me, his communication arts major son, what type of VCR was better -- Betamax or VHS. Betamax, Dad! It looks so much better!

There was just one thing, though. Silly Sony wouldn't license the format, and even though it was superior to fuzzy VHS ... it tanked. Dad ended up getting pissed at me, because he couldn't borrow tapes from anyone he knew, and the video rental store had almost no Beta format tapes for rent. Oh well.

Oddly enough, they were still being made ... although Sony only made 2,800 of them last year, in Japan only. No longer, though. Today Sony pulled the plug, and will finally stop manufacturing Betamax. (Actually, I thought they had stopped years ago.)

Department of Pre-Crime ... already?   Nope, it's not a Philip K. Dick novel. It's the city of Wilmington, Delaware (which I've heard described as an "armpit" by someone who's been there), where the police have been compiling a photographic database of people whom they believe "are likely to break the law in the future."

Civil libertarians are livid, of course. James Baker, the mayor of Wilmington, speaks thusly on the issue:

"I don't care what anyone but a court of law thinks," he said. "Until a court of law says otherwise, if I say it's constitutional, it's constitutional..."
Let's get busy, courts of law.

Woke up this mornin', got myself a gun ...   Season Three of "The Sopranos" is out on DVD today. Season Four premieres two weeks from Sunday. Woohoooo!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, August 26, 2002
Billions with a "B".   The Nestle Corporation has made an $11.5 billion bid to acquire Hershey's Foods, makers of what is arguably the worst readily-available brand of chocolate. I hope they change the formula; eating Hershey's chocolate is like eating chocolate-flavored wax.

The dangers of foreign hooch?   A piece sans byline in this weekend's Observer warns against bringing home souvenirs of local booze from your travels. I think he's trying to be funny, but ... hey, ya great pillock -- I happen to like limoncello, pisco and pastis! Thbpt!

D'oh!   What happens when an employee in a power plant presses the wrong button. I guess his mind was on other things ("I want a bag of peanuts!").

Doing as he pleases.   The White House has declared that George W. Bush does not need Congressional approval to attack Iraq. If he does, I have a feeling he'll lose his presidency, in 2004 if not before.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 23, 2002
That's one small step for a man...   A team of particle physicists have brought us one step closer to "Star Trek"-style warp drives ... well, on paper, at least. (Via NTK)

I thought we were supposed to be feckin' professionals here!   Wes and I have been looking forward to the release of the 10th Anniversary Special Edition of "Reservoir Dogs" for quite a while now. Unfortunately, initial word is that the transfer looks terrible. What were they thinking of?!

Wes adds:

...Wes and I have been looking forward to the release of the 10th Anniversary Special Edition of "Reservoir Dogs" for quite a while now. In fact, ever since Wes broke down a while back and bought the Plain Edition for $9 at Best Buy and, upon opening the shrink-wrapped package, was greeted by a flier that proclaimed, "Coming Soon! Reservoir Dogs 10th Annivery Special Edition DVD!" Translation: "Suckerrr! We got you to buy this cheapie movie-only DVD and now we'll get you to buy the fancy one, too! Ha! Ha ha! Ha ha ha!" Grrrrr.
And to add insult to injury, the fancy one apparently looks like crap. Thanks, y'all.

Weapons of mass distraction.   President George W. "Pot" Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld actually had the temerity to complain about "intense speculation" and a media "frenzy" about a potential attack on Iraq.

Almost scoffing at the media attention devoted to Iraq, the president responded to a reporter's question by calling Iraq "the particular country that you seem to be riveted on."

In fact, the administration has kept the public eye trained on Iraq and whether it is seeking to build an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. [...] Top officials -- beginning with the president and including Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice, the president's national security advisor -- have spoken frequently about the administration's goal of removing Hussein from power. They have made it clear that they are considering a military operation to do so, even as critics say an expanded war would threaten the anti-terrorism coalition and risk conflagration throughout the Persian Gulf and the Middle East.

On this issue, the media kettle is only as black as Shrub makes it. Sheesh.

In other news, the White House invokes Godwin's Law by comparing Saddam to Hitler. Does this mean that the thread is over, and they've lost the argument?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 22, 2002
This pasta is soggy. YOU'RE UNDER ARREST!   Below-par Italian restaurants, watch out. The Italian taste police are coming to town.

I nominate Primo from "Big Night" to be the first Chief of Police. ("Do you know what goes on in that man's restaurant every night? Hmm? RAPE! THE RAPE OF CUISINE!!") Let's make sure they have the pronunciation police with them, too. It's "broos-KET-ta", goddammit, not "brush-SHET-ta"!

Of course I'm French! Why else do you theenk I have thees outrageous accent?!   Reported in today's Toronto Globe and Mail:

A French stage version of the British TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus" has opened in Paris to rave reviews, reports The Week magazine. Four men and one woman perform 25 sketches, including the Ministry of Silly Walks. They also sing French versions of beloved Python lyrics, such as: Je suis un bucheron et ça me rejouit, je travaille le jour et je dors la nuit.
I'm guessing it'll lose something in the translation...

"Je souhaite me plaindre au sujet de ce perroquet, que j'ai acheté pas il y a une demi-heure de cette boutique même!"

"PERSONNE ne s'attend à l'Inquisition Espagnole!"

"Bonsoir, et la bienvenue à les Bains Commémoratifs de Arthur Ludlow, Newport, pour des finales de cette année de la Concurrence Tout-Angleterre de Récapitulent de Proust."

"Je n'ai aucun glace chocolat, j'ai seulement ce maudit albatross."

"Bonjour, Bruce!" "Comment ça va, Bruce!"

"Et je m'ai pensé, 'un peu lait caillé fermenté fera le tour,' ainsi, j'ai raccourci mes activites de Walpoling, essayés en avant, et infiltrés votre endroit de purveyance pour négocier la vente de quelques comestibles de fromage!" "Excusez-moi, monsieur?" "Je veux acheter du fromage." [...] "Heu, c'est un peu liquide, monsieur." "Je ne m'inquiète pas à que liquide foutu il est. Remettez-le plus d'avec toute la vitesse."

Oh hell, why not? "Speed" was fucking funny in French.

LAFD on the ball.   This morning's drama: I had just gotten out of the shower and was standing naked in my kitchen (the answer to your question is "Why not?") when I heard a woman screaming outside. That doesn't sound good, I thought. I couldn't quite tell where it was coming from, next door or perhaps two doors down. She sounded very distressed, and it was unclear what was happening -- was she being attacked, did she have a mouse in the house, what? Then her shrieks became somewhat more articulate. "FIRE! FIRE!!"

Oh dear, I thought. Maybe I shouldn't be naked now. (Okay, so I have weird thoughts.) Actually, I quickly decided that I should get dressed and see what was going on, and make sure that my own house wasn't in any kind of potential fire-spreading danger.

I got dressed and went out into the front yard, and by that time I heard the piercing, insistent pulsing of a smoke alarm. I walked down the block a bit and saw a woman out on the balcony of the 4-unit apartment building on the corner, frantically waving and hollering into a cordless phone. By that time I could already hear the sirens in the distance, and in less than a minute two fire engines pulled up to the house.

This was one of the instances when our 911 system worked rather well; it couldn't have been more than three minutes since I heard the screaming. Turns out to have been a grease fire in the kitchen -- the intrepid men of the L.A. Fire Department brought up a fire extinguisher, doused the flames with two blasts and were packed up and gone within 10 minutes. All in a day's work.

Today's lesson: Always keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen.   I've had some experience in that area, having put out a kitchen fire that could have burned the house down had we not had an extinguisher handy. Back in gradual school my roommate thought it'd be a good idea to heat a Pepperidge Farm® Raspberry Turnover in the toaster oven rather than in the conventional oven, the latter being what the instructions specified. The turnover smelled done well before the allotted 20-minute baking time, and not long after that I smelled burning pastry. I went into the kitchen to investigate.

The toaster oven was glowing.

My roomie, who probably hadn't had a science class since high school, opened the door with a broom handle before I could stop him. The smoldering fire inside welcomed the rush of oxygen and showed its gratitude for being fed by bursting forth with a fireball that began to lick at the bottom of the cabinets. I grabbed the extinguisher and had it out with two well-aimed squirts.

Gotta love it when college students try to cook. (To his credit, he made fabulous huevos con chorizo, though.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, August 21, 2002
Bad taste is its own reward.   The New York Times spends an evening at home with John Waters.

Schaaaaaadenfreude! Schadenfreude! Schadenfreude!   (To be sung to the tune of the "Hallelujah Chorus".)

The odious Georgia Representative Bob Barr has been ousted from the United States Congress. Unfortunately, the other Republican who defeated him in the primary doesn't sound much better. Despite that, though, it's nice to see the Karma Kops catch up with Barr.

Email of the day.   We should all be thankful for the existence of the plethora of drugs in today's psychopharmacoepia. It's unfortunate, however, that not everyone who needs them gets them.

From: ASHLEY G____
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: 22 Aug 2002 00:02:57 -0000


Oh dear. Are you all right?

Quote of the day.   "[G]ood bad movies as a breed are almost gone. 'Showgirls' is the last good bad classic. That is the 'Citizen Kane' of good bad movies of the last 20 years."

-- John Waters

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, August 20, 2002
Pentagon busily ruining credit ratings of service personnel.   The Village Voice reports on the Government Travel Card (GTC), credit cards which "hapless" military personnel are ordered to use and are then unable to pay back because of classic military Catch-22.

It works like this: Servicepeople are ordered to apply for personal GTCs -- interest-free credit cards issued exclusively by the Bank of America. Instead of requesting vouchers or getting cash to pay for travel expenses, servicepeople pay up front with the their own GTC cards -- essentially floating interest-free loans to the government. As a result, they have to submit expense reports and wait for reimbursements.

But reimbursements often come late, according to a recent report issued by the General Accounting Office, which means the GTC bills aren't always paid on time and servicepeople are getting branded as "delinquents." The GAO found "substantial" delays in reimbursements; in one command unit, for example, the California National Guard failed to pay its personnel within a month 61 percent of the time, and of those payments, 42 percent were inaccurate.

Just in the past year, the names of more than 10,000 military personnel have been reported to national credit bureaus as "credit risks," according to the Military Times. Instead of changing the mechanics of the travel card system, however, the DOD and the bank have only tightened their grip on cardholders; since October, the Pentagon has garnished over $19.5 million from military paychecks to pay off "delinquent" GTC bills, according to DOD accountants.

The card has plunged thousands of ordinary servicemen and servicewomen into debt so deep that the Pentagon is busy garnishing the wages of its own soldiers. And the only military commander known to raise hell about the scheme -- a lone Air Force colonel based in the Midwest -- says that blowing the whistle on the GTC ruined her career.

Why you should always kill your food before you eat it.   Well, because it might decide that it doesn't care to be eaten and get rather cross with you.

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  Monday, August 19, 2002
Trust us. We're the Joint Chiefs of Staff.   ABC News reports: "In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba. The plans were developed as ways to trick the American public and the international community into supporting a war to oust Cuba's then new leader, communist Fidel Castro. Code named Operation Northwoods, the plans reportedly included the possible assassination of Cuban emigrés, sinking boats of Cuban refugees on the high seas, hijacking planes, blowing up a U.S. ship, and even orchestrating violent terrorism in U.S. cities."

If anyone suggested that such a thing would be possible today, they would immediately be branded as a kook and a conspiracy theorist, wouldn't they?

Secret rituals and handshakes! Double double animals!   The New York Times, perhaps a little jealous that they don't have any of these places, reports on the "cult" of In-N-Out Burger, arguably the best fast-food burger out there. (Now I wish they'd just learn how to make French fries; although the "fries well done" trick is a bit better, fries have to be done twice, at two different temperatures, to be really good.)

Bug mechanic wanted!   Echoing Jason's request, I'm looking for a good, trustworthy independent Los Angeles Volkswagen mechanic who's conversant with the New Beetle. I'm sick to death of Santa Monica Volkswagen and I'm not entirely sure I trust them anymore. Anywhere from the Westside to Hollywood would probably do. Anybody got any suggestions?

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  Friday, August 16, 2002
Elvis is King.   Oh, I just don't know where to begin ...

Waxing nostalgic.   Twenty-five years ago today, I was fifteen years old. I was on a school bus with several members of my high school band. We were on a trip somewhere out of town -- Baton Rouge, I think -- on a field trip to see a Chicago concert. (Yeah, yeah, I know.) I had been chatting with Mike Orkus, the assistant band director, when he said, 'Oh hey, did you hear that Elvis died today?"

I hadn't, and I thought it was sad. I'd thought it even sadder when I heard of the circumstances of his final moments. Musically, though, it didn't have much of an impact on me at the time. Elvis Presley was someone my friends' parents listened to (but not mine). The musical passing that had a much greater and more visceral impact on me was still to come -- just about three years, three months and three weeks away.

$55 for a wine glass?   I have a glassware obsession. (I almost wrote "fetish", but it's not really quite like that, and I don't want to give any of you's the wrong idea, ya daerty feckers.) From garden variety cocktail glasses of every description to French juice glasses to antique Irish coffee glasses to a set of Serbian cokanjcici ... I've got 'em. I love 'em. I'm running out of room for 'em. And I'm only just getting started.

Every time I go into my favorite wine and spirits emporia, I pass the display of Riedel glassware. They're touted as being the ultimate wine glasses, concentrating the flavors and aromas in such a way that the glassware (of countless varieties, including ones specifically designed for wine made from a specific grape) enhances the experience of the wine or spirit. They're also shockingly expensive. Do they really make a difference? Michael Steinberger of Slate tries to find out.

Not so fast, Shrub.   According to the New York Times, "leading Republicans from Congress, the State Department and past administrations have begun to break ranks with President Bush over his administration's high-profile planning for war with Iraq, saying the administration has neither adequately prepared for military action nor made the case that it is needed. (NY Times registration: userid "annoying", password "annoying".)

These senior Republicans include former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger and Brent Scowcroft, the first President Bush's national security adviser. All say they favor the eventual removal of Saddam Hussein, but some say they are concerned that Mr. Bush is proceeding in a way that risks alienating allies, creating greater instability in the Middle East, and harming long-term American interests. They add that the administration has not shown that Iraq poses an urgent threat to the United States.
The attitude of the Bush administration hawks who want to invade? "The failure to take on Saddam after what the president said would produce such a collapse of confidence in the president that it would set back the war on terrorism." Oh, we wouldn't want the president to look like he has a small penis or anything, would we?

The entire world has indicated that they would not support us if we invaded Iraq. The CIA and FBI say there's no evidence to support a September 11th tie to Iraq. If the White House goes ahead with this, the reason will be patently obvious -- little Georgie wants to play war. Poppy got to have a war with Saddam, and Junior wants one too. If he does do it, I think it'll end up being the biggest mistake since the Bay of Pigs -- worse, even, because it'll cost a lot more young American lives.

The mantra for 2002: Vote them out, vote them out, vote them out, out, out. Let's get a head start by removing the Republicans from power in the House this November.

Mmmmmm, umami.   A few years back, umami was finally recognised as the fifth taste, after salty, sour, sweet and bitter. But, even so, how many of us can say what it really tastes like?

They don't make rubber drainplugs this big.   Here's a flashback to a little bit of Louisiana history, and learn why you should look before you drill.

Recipes of the day.   Here's a batch from English TV chef Kevin Gould (author of Loving and Cooking With Reckless Abandon) that range from the sublime (Rococo chocolate sauce poured over fresh cherries) to what Sean calls "about the strangest thing I've ever heard", a blanched fennel salad with pastis mayonnaise. (Sounds intriguing, actually.)

No day job required.   After his highly visible but supposedly amicable departure, musician Jay Bennett finds that there is indeed life after Wilco, as he tours and releases a new record with singing and songwriting partner Edward Burch. He's also pleased to be able to "eke out a modest living" with his music and consultation on other musicians' projects, without having to get a 9-to-5.

"Wilco has to sell a million copies before they ever see a penny (in profits)," he explains. "I've already seen a penny."
Email of the day.   I've heard of dessert items being converted into savory dishes -- sabayon, cheesecake, etc. -- but not so much the other way 'round.

From: alice f______
To: Chuck Taggart
Date: 15 Aug 2002 22:23:43 -0000
Subject: Dessert using Gumbo

Do u have a recipie that I can use that will use Gumbo in a dessert?

So what kind of gumbo dessert are you looking for?

Chicken and sausage gumbo pudding?
Crabmeat gumbo custard?
Smoked duck gumbo pie?
Shrimp and collard greens gumbo ice cream?

Y'know, I don't know about you, but I myself don't care to have any of those things in my dessert. Yuck!

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  Thursday, August 15, 2002
Happy birthday, Julia!!   American cooking diva Julia Child turns 90 years of age today. She might be slowing, but she hasn't stopped ... and she certainly hasn't stopped eating butter and cream. (More stories here, here and here, plus a MetaFilter thread.)

Her contributions to American culinary arts, particularly in the area of home cooking, are nearly immeasurable. When you have a look at the way we were cooking before "The French Chef" came along, you'll be doubly grateful for what she's taught us.

She's left her longtime home in Cambridge, Massachusetts for much smaller digs in Santa Barbara, California ... and subsequently donated her legendary kitchen and over 1,200 items from it to the Smithsonian Institution, who disassembled it and painstakingly rebuilt it inside the museum. Julia's Kitchen at the Smithsonian opens to the public on Monday.

La. to L.A.   In this week's Times of Acadiana, Cliff Schexnayder writes about displaced Cajuns and Creoles who've settled in southern California, and how they cling to their roots and the culture they left behind. (I know just how they feel.)

Tonight on "Down Home".   More new music from Nickel Creek plus the brand-new release from Linda Thompson; plus Peter Blegvad, Peter Case, Ann Savoy, a burst of blues, a pinch of zydeco, a dash or two of old-time and lots more. Tune in tonight at 7pm PDT at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, or anywhere via the web at

Two more years until we can make these bastards go away...   Until then, Molly Ivins talks about class warfare:

Some days, you have to believe that right-wing ideologues have lost touch with reality completely. Their latest proposal to prevent future Enrons is -- ta-da! -- cut the capital gains tax.

And exactly what does that do to prevent future Enrons? Nothing. Except Ken Lay won't have to pay taxes on the stock he sold while his company cratered and his employees watched their life savings disappear.

When George W. Bush came into office, the first thing he did was give an enormous tax break to the richest 1 percent of Americans, the same people who had gained at such a madly soaring pace. That's class warfare [...] If Bush has his way, we are going to fight an unprovoked war with Iraq without the financial aid of any allies. The health care system is falling apart in front of our eyes; schoolteachers should be paid at least twice what they make now; lack of low-income housing is making life hell for the working class; and now the right wing wants to cut taxes for the rich yet again? That's class warfare.


Life as war.   "Naqoyqatsi", the third film in Godfrey Reggio's trilogy that began in 1983 with "Koyaanisqatsi", will be out on October 18. The trailer's up. Wow. I can't wait for this one; in fact, I've been waiting about 14 years for this one. (Thanks, Kevin!)

Nearer dark.   Yesterday Wes told me that our long-awaited DVD release of "Near Dark" is actually being bumped up! Previously set for a September 24 release, it's now coming out on the 10th. Woohoo! Check out the packaging and specs. (Sorry, I didn't mean to drool all over your screen.)

What's the Turkmen word for "straitjacket"?   Saparmurat Nizayov, the nutball "President-for-Life" of Turkmenistan, apparently unsatisfied with emptying his country's coffers to build huge palaces, erect golden statues of himself and issue guides for moral living to the entire population, is at it again. He's now issued a decree officially extending adolescence until age 25 and postponing old age until age 85.

Stages of the life of a Turkmen

0-12: childhood
13-25: adolescence
25-37: youth
37-49: maturity
49-61: prophetic
61-73: inspirational
73-85: wisdom
85-97: old age
97-109: Oguzkhan

Those lucky enough to live beyond 97 enter a period named "Oguzkhan", after the believed founder of the Turkmen nation.

President Niyazov will also be changing the name of the country to "San Marcos" and has declared the official language to be Swedish. I predict, however, that he'll be deposed and replaced by a New Yorker named Fielding Mellish.

Getting serious.   The September issue of "The Green Lantern" will feature a bit of a milestone in comic book history. Terry Berg, the Green Lantern's sidekick (actually, a teenaged intern working for the Lantern's alter-ego, cartoonist Kyle Rayner), becomes the victim of a gay-bashing. Terry came out back in 2001, and his orientation has been part of the story ever since. Writer Judd Winick says, "Terry represents acceptance. And now, in this hate crime, we're discussing the worst side of the gay issue."

Quotes of the day.   All but the last are from the wit and wisdom of Julia Child; the last is an anecdote about her. Actually, this first one is more like the paraphrase of the day, as I'm reconstructing it from memory and I might not have gotten it exactly right.

"I'm eighty-seven years old, and finally my doctor put his foot down and told me I'd have to stop eating butter and cream. So ... I got another doctor."

"I was 32 before I started cooking. Before that I just ate."

"You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces - just good food from fresh ingredients."

"It's fun to get together and have something good to eat at least once a day. That's what human life is all about -- enjoying things."

"I wouldn't keep him around long if I didn't feed him well." (Regarding her husband Paul, I imagine.)

"In department stores, so much kitchen equipment is bought indiscriminately by people who just come in for men's underwear."

"In France, cooking is a serious art form and a national sport."

"Life itself is the proper binge."

"Whenever you see food beautifully arranged on a plate, you know someone's fingers have been all over it."

"Noncooks think it's silly to invest two hours' work in two minutes' enjoyment; but if cooking is evanescent, so is the ballet."

"Red meat and gin ... that's the secret."

"I got to sit next to [Julia Child] when 'Fellowship of the Ring' was here in town, and let me tell you, even at ninety, she's a big burly lady, and the clutch she gave me the first time the Balrog appeared liked to have torn my hand off." -- Eric, posting on MetaFilter.

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  Wednesday, August 14, 2002
Camps for Citizens: Ashcroft's Hellish Vision.   A commentary by law professor Jonathan Turley in today's Los Angeles Times, in which he describes the current Attorney General as "a menace to liberty." Why am I reading about this "proposal" on the op-ed page, one week later and 42 pages into the paper, instead of as a news item on the front page the day after the proposal was disclosed?

Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft's announced desire for camps for U.S. citizens he deems to be "enemy combatants" has moved him from merely being a political embarrassment to being a constitutional menace.

Ashcroft's plan, disclosed last week but little publicized, would allow him to order the indefinite incarceration of U.S. citizens and summarily strip them of their constitutional rights and access to the courts by declaring them enemy combatants.

The proposed camp plan should trigger immediate congressional hearings and reconsideration of Ashcroft's fitness for this important office. Whereas Al Qaeda is a threat to the lives of our citizens, Ashcroft has become a clear and present threat to our liberties.

[...] Ashcroft hopes to use his self-made "enemy combatant" stamp for any citizen whom he deems to be part of a wider terrorist conspiracy. Perhaps because of his discredited claims of preventing radiological terrorism, aides have indicated that a "high-level committee" will recommend which citizens are to be stripped of their constitutional rights and sent to Ashcroft's new camps.


And who will Ashcroft declare to be an "enemy combatant"? Perhaps he'll start with those who publicly criticize him. After all, he's already said that such people are helping the terrorists...

Red or white?   Calvin Trillin, in discussing his level of wine expertise in The New Yorker ("ignorance, tempered slightly by philistinism"), tells us of blind taste tests in which tasters, including experts, were unable to tell the difference between red and white wines.

The horror ... the horror ...   No, it's not Conrad's heart of darkness. It's the evolution of Michael Jackson's face. Pretty soon he's going to end up like that lady in "Brazil" -- "My complications have had complications" -- before he just disintegrates.

Some suggested slogans for the TIPS program.   With the right combination of striking graphics and these slogans, the Justice Department's now-scaled down TIPS program could make some great posters:

Information: The Key to Prosperity.

Trust in haste; regret at leisure.

Be Safe -- Be Suspicious.

Suspicion breeds confidence.

Don't suspect a friend. Report him.

Actually, they really can't use these; it'd be copyright infringement. They were already used in the aforementioned film, "Brazil".

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  Tuesday, August 13, 2002
The Church of Soul.   Have a look at the fabulous paintings of New Orleans-based artist Leslie Staub.

I love her "Church of Soul" series, featuring artists, writers and musicians, and I've just been introduced to some of her newer stuff. The "Right Here" series, currently in exhibition at LeMieux Galleries on Julia Street, features the flora and fauna -- birds, plants, weeds, what have you -- that can be seen within ten blocks of her house in Bayou St. John.

Careful, now.   It seems that the sweeping investigations and arrests in the New Orleans City Hall corruption scandal has already netted one false alarm.

Linky goodness!   A plethora of mind-spinning links from the past week or so, some of which I'd been meaning to blog but never quite got around to it. This particular list was lifted shamelessly from Tom Tomorrow ('cause it was easy), in case you don't read his weblog, 'cause you ought to read them.

* In a surreal development, the Bush administration routs TIPS calls to TV show "America's Most Wanted". "This is like retaining Arthur Andersen to do all of the SEC's accounting," said Rachel King, an ACLU Legislative Counsel.

* North Korea, a "reprehensible Stalinist regime" and the third member of George W. Bush's "Axis of Evil", last week poured the concrete foundation for the first of two U.S.-supplied nuclear reactors, from which it will be able to extract sufficient "near-weapons-grade" plutonium to make dozens of bombs. The world should be used to double standards in the Bush Administration's foreign policy. But whichever way you look at it, this one is breathtaking.

* The U.S. has moved to block a lawsuit against Exxon-Mobil Corp. for alleged human-rights abuses at its Indonesian natural-gas operations, claiming the court action could hurt relations with Jakarta and undermine the war on terrorism. The State Department said the action alleging the oil company knew of human-rights abuses by the Indonesian military guarding its facilities in Aceh province "could impair cooperation with the U.S. across the full spectrum of diplomatic initiatives, including counterterrorism."

* No one complained two years ago when the University of North Carolina required its incoming freshmen to read a book about the lingering effects of the Civil War, nor last year when it assigned a book about a Hmong immigrant's struggle with epilepsy and American medicine. But this year, the university in Chapel Hill is asking all 3,500 incoming freshmen to read a book about Islam and finds itself besieged in federal court and across the airwaves by Christian evangelists and other conservatives.

* A day after President Bush's release of a homeland defense strategy calling for the possible domestic use of U.S. military forces, Alabama activated a 300-soldier Army National Guard tank battalion as part of a homeland defense force. In a statement released Wednesday, Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman said the Ozark, Ala.-based 1st Battalion, 131st Armor "is equipped with modern battle tanks, the M1A1 Abrams" and "will serve in the homeland defense role within the United States." Siegelman, commander-in-chief of the state's national guard, did not say what role the tank battalion would serve in homeland defense.

* U.S. jet fighter pilots, responsible for at least 10 deadly "friendly fire" accidents in the Afghanistan war, have regularly been given amphetamines to fly longer hours. Then when they return to base, the pilots are given sedatives by Air Force doctors to help them sleep, before beginning the whole cycle again on the next mission, often less than 12 hours later.

* Nearly two years ago, in October 2000, Samantha Buck of Astoria, Oregon bought a small coffee shop in downtown Astoria and named it Sam Buck's -- after herself. One year later, Starbucks Coffee® opened a Starbucks® store inside Fred Meyers, five miles away. Starbucks® lawyers then served Samantha Buck with a cease and desist order: she must stop using her own name on her store, because they claimed it was causing confusion for Starbucks® customers who might be led to believe they were patronizing a Starbucks® store when in fact, they were going into Sam Buck's.

* A tourist from England bought a G.I. Joe doll as a gift for a child back home. However, when it was found in her bag by security officials at Los Angeles International Airport, they refused to allow her to board because the two-inch plastic replica rifle Joe carried was considered "a dangerous weapon". Joe was disarmed before she was allowed to board.

This country is going nuts.

Better living through chemistry.   A new drug is being developed for use in the U.S. and Australia that promises spiffy looking tans without exposure to harmful UV rays by chemically increasing the concentration of melanin in the skin (and thereby helping ward off skin cancer in people who would otherwise lie in the sun to tan), plus has extra added effects of increased sexual drive, with male drug trial volunteers reporting "spontaneous erections."

They'll make a fortune. That spontaneous erection thing could get a little embarrassing at times, though. Hey, have you been getting some sun, or are you just happy to see me?

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  Monday, August 12, 2002
So long, Pops.   James "Pops" Farrar, father of Jay Farrar, self-proclaimed "father of Uncle Tupelo" and grandfather of today's, passed away last week at age 71.

I scream, you scream ...   The other day Jerwin wrote about what seems to me to be a rather wacked flavor of ice cream -- corn and cheese.

While I have enjoyed Filipino-style ice creams before (avocado, mmmmm!), something about corn and cheese in ice cream makes me say, "Uhh, I dunno ..." Then again, if it were something like cream cheese, or Creole cream cheese, or mascarpone ... well, actually, that might not be bad at all. Hell, I'd try it. I'll try anything.

Well, almost anything. Apparently the Filipinos have nothing on the Japanese, who seem to be the world leaders in truly wacked ice cream flavors. I'm all over the wasabi, I'd even try the crab, but you can keep the octopus and eel. Bleucchh.

Missing feature!   We just got the new "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" DVD. It looks great! They did a wonderful job with the mastering and authoring; there are far shorter DVDs out there with much less of a need for compression that don't look nearly as good as this.

However, there's a feature missing from the extras disc. I can't believe that this was left out. Such a crushing disappointment! (Actually, the sight of it makes me want to pound my head against the wall.)

Beam me up, get me some dinner from the replicator, then adjust the dilithium crystals in the warp core, and watch out for cloaked ships.   The linguistic legacy of Star Trek, from my new favorite site, World Wide Words.

"Defenestration" gets a run for its money.   It's been my favorite word for a while now, both fun and potentially quite useful in its execution. However, the aforementioned World Wide Words site has provided me with some definite contenders in its Weird Words section, such as "absquatulate" ("The posse's comin', boys ... let's absquatulate!") and "sternutation" ("Wes often expresses consternation over my sternutation.")

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  Friday, August 9, 2002
Tastes like chicken!   It seems that when the collapse of a catwalk dumped 10 people in to the shark tank at the Aquarium in New Orleans, the sharks -- stuffed to the gills on a fabulous meal of mahi-mahi -- were actually startled and hauled ass.

The love of which is the root of all evil.   Andy sent in an delightful little Flash movie -- something to think about in 2004, eh?

Lactose intolerant airport security.   A Long Island mother is considering a lawsuit after JFK airport security guards "forced her to drink her own breast milk from three bottles of which she had saved for her baby daughter, so that she could prove she wasn't carrying "dangerous fluids".

Apparently current airline safety rules require only that any liquid carried on board a plane be in a "resealable container that can be sent through a scanning machine without spilling."

It's a good thing this happened, though. I, for one, would be terrified to travel along with a woman who had bottles of breast milk in her carry-on. Why, we all could have been killed!

Not-so-bad/truly wretched.   You've got to love a story that begins with the line, "There's something seriously wrong with the world when Sammy Hagar outshines David Lee Roth in a Van Halen contest."

One friend of mine said, "To think I actually work with people who were looking forward to going ..." Well, to each his own, I guess. Me, I'd rather have needles stuck in my eyes...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 8, 2002
New Orleans blues.   Jeez ... first there's the killer mosquitoes, now 10 people almost become shark food at the Aquarium. What the hell's goin' on back home? We need to work up some good juju and bust us some more crooked city officials!

Cheney administration & Ashcroft Justice Dept. above the law, apparently.   The Justice Department defied the orders of a federal judge yesterday, after the judge ordered them to provide documentation to support their claims that a U.S. citizen being held incommunicado is an "enemy combatant".

Stephen Dycus, a national security law expert at the University of Vermont, said he could not think of any other time the government ignored a court's order. "I don't think the Justice Department has the power to simply defy the court," he said. "...I don't remember anything in the 4th Circuit's order that would limit the District Court's ability to look into the national security necessity for keeping this guy."
A bona-fide Constitutional confrontation is looming, it seems. Perhaps all these gentlemen would be well-served to take a remedial civics class to re-learn all about how the balance of powers work, and what the constitutionally defined roles of the executive and judiciary branches are. (Am I the only one that's bothered by the fact that these bastards seem to think they can just do whatever they want?)

Related NewsFlash:   Cheney says he'd like to continue to be president until 2008.

"If the president is willing and if my wife approves, and if the doctors say it's OK, then I'd be happy to serve a second term. But I emphasize again, that's the president's call, not mine."
Uh, no ... it's the American people's call, Dick. See, there'll be this pesky election in a coupla years ...

(323) 883-1779.   I suspect that once word of the existence of this free telephone service gets around, it'll be getting lots of calls from L.A.'s teeming masses of waiter/actors, waiter/screenwriters and waiter/directors. Oh, and if you're in the Big Apple, call their version (the original) at (212) 479-7990.

Yummy tasty frosty beverage treat!   And no, for once it's not a cocktail.

Last night as I stopped at one of the Middle Eastern markets near my house to pick up some lemons (big, fat juicy ones too, and four of them at Alef Market cost less than one lemon costs at the big Ralph's Supermarket), I noticed some new products in the section with the exotic juices and syrups. There's a company in Slovenia called Adriatic that makes fruit syrups, and one of them was blueberry. (Ingredients -- blueberry juice and sugar. No artificial anything, no preservatives, no nothing. Gotta love that.) A liter of the stuff was barely three bucks.

Take a tall glass, fill with ice cubes, pour in some Adriatic® brand Blueberry Syrup a little over 1/4 of the way up the glass, fill with fizzy water, stir to blend. Mmmmmmm. Gorgeous.

Grateful undead.   No, they're not calling themselves The Grateful Dead; they're calling themselves "The Other Ones", although they're playing exclusively Grateful Dead songs. Their last shows were a huge success, apparently, so now they're going to tour.

I don't know.

I have very, very mixed feelings about this. Sure, I love the rest of those guys, and sure, I've been to countless Dead shows and I'd love to hear some of those songs again. But it just ain't gonna be the same without Jerry, one of the most amazingly distinctive guitarists I've ever heard. There'll be a huge hole in the music, and I'm not sure I want to put up with all the hassles that such a show will undoubtedly have to hear an incomplete Dead concert.

Karloff, as The Monster, said, "We belong dead." Maybe the Dead belong dead too.

Quote of the day.   A bit of explanation: one thing you'd always see at a Dead show was a group of Spinners. These people seemed comprised mostly of young women in long dresses who instead of dancing would spin in place [2.5 MB QuickTime], round and round and round, all during the songs. Someone said that they were in some kind of cult, and I remember reading an article that said the Spinners belonged to this group called The Church of Unlimited Devotion; they'd take vows of celibacy and evidently worshipped Jerry Garcia as a god. (Garcia was reportedly uncomfortable with this but tolerated it, as they were harmless; he did say something like "I'll draw the line if they start coming at me with nails and a cross.")

I was at a Dead show with my old friend Matt Brown one time, and he remarked that the Spinners seemed to only spin to certain songs. It hadn't really registered with me, but as I was curious too I decided to go and ask one of them. I chose a beatific looking young woman of maybe 19 or 20 and asked, "Excuse me, but my friend and I noticed that y'all only spin to some songs but not others. Why is that?" Her reply:

"We only spin to Jerry's songs. We don't spin to Bobby's songs, because Bobby sings from The Dark Side."
Ohhhhhhkayyy ... thanks. Well. I'll be leaving now.

(Great music at those old shows, though. Really.)

I'm guessing the Spinners will be skipping the Other Ones' shows, now that God is dead.

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  Wednesday, August 7, 2002
Y'know, even though I can hear certain friends of mine howling already ("Dammit, I want my free content!"), not updating for five days means that I actually have a life away from the computer. This is a good thing.

Belated birthdays from Sunday and Monday.   Happy 30th, Gregory! Happy 67th, Dad!

How to make cracklins.   You know you always wanted to know. Mmmmm, I can hear the bubbling pork fat already! I can smell the crispness in the air! Put on an acoustic Delta blues record. Gimme a beer. Yeah you rite.

I Am Trying To Break Your Heart.   Sam Jones' long-awaited film about Wilco and the making of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was finally released last Friday, and I finally saw it Monday night. I thought it was excellent, and for Wilco fans it's not to be missed.

Unfortunately for many of you, it's in a fairly limited release. Not to worry, though ... there's good news about the forthcoming DVD release, plus some tantalizing comments on new songs and forthcoming album(s):

Jones reveals that the DVD will feature "another hour-and-12-minute movie, hopefully as a separate disc. It's not more story. It's not more enlightenment about what happened. I feel the film tells that story in a concise way. But we have 21 other songs, and between those songs there are some weird little moments we caught."

The director says he views the DVD almost like a separate Wilco record. "We even just got [Rolling Stone journalist] David Fricke to write the liner notes for the DVD. There'll be my diary, and a nice book with photographs. We made a seven-minute featurette, which is cool, since it interviews me, our camera assistant, and [Wilco frontman] Jeff [Tweedy] about making the film, and [Wilco manager] Tony Margherita about letting us do it. There are some real insights there. Then there are odd little scenes that didn't make it into the movie that are priceless."

Last but not least, Jones hopes to rope the band in for a full audio commentary later this year.

This is good. Very very good.

First Church of Wilco.   And speaking of Wilco, here's a weird but interesting and highly favorable article about a recent Wilco show that took place in a "refangled church" in Atlanta.

This one goes to eleven.   Today Steve ranted about "ego-googling", in which people try to make their name come up first when searching only on a first name in Google. "[E]go- and fashion-based wankery, just another way to see who can pee furthest; silly and pointlessly vain," he says. Well sure, he's right. It's silly, but it's never really bothered me because it's never even occurred to me before. Prompted thusly, however, I googled "Chuck" to see what happened.

Turns out, to my surprise, that this humble weblog came in eleventh in a Google search on "Chuck". Preceding me in the lineup are a very distinguished group behind whom I'm more or less honored to be Number Eleven (although couldn't at least ONE of those Senators not have been a feckin' Republican?).

1. Amateur astrophotographer Chuck Vaughn.
2. Animation genius Chuck Jones (RIP)
3. Fight Club author Chuck Palahniuk.
4. U.S. Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska).
5. U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa).
6. Convicted Watergate criminal turned Bible-thumper Chuck Colson.
7. Former NOAA employee and independent meteorological consultant Dr. Chuck Doswell.
8. Comic strip dog Mr. Chuck, by J. Myers.
9. Pizza and video-game magnate Chuck E. Cheese.
10. Singer/songwriter Chuck Brodsky.
Now, there's some wankery!

Quote of the day.   Listening to a piece on NPR last night about how members of our current government are arbitrarily and unilaterally usurping the rights of non-citizens in a highly unconstitutional manner, and then stumbling across this quote were a bit coincidental, I thought.

"The rights you have are the rights given you by this Committee. We will determine what rights you have and what rights you have not got."

-- J. Parnell Thomas, U.S. Representative from New Jersey, 7th District, 1937-1950. Chairman of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. (Indicted for embezzlement and salary fraud, convicted, resigned from Congress, sentenced to prison.)

Incidentally, I'm looking forward to any and all forthcoming Bush Administration prison sentences.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, August 2, 2002
What will happen when the snooping begins?   In last week's New York Times, Michele Kayal remembers the effects of neighbor-spying from her years living in Prague soon after the fall of the Iron Curtain, and reflects on the societal costs of surveillance.

Pistol-packin' papa.   Britney Spears fans, take note: if you're considering making a pilgrimage to Kentwood, Louisiana (the spring water capital of the state), better not pass by your idol's childhood home. Her dad still lives there, and he won't like it.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, August 1, 2002
Bouncy bouncy.   I had some really weird problems with my email and web servers today. It was serving pages fine, but bouncing some of my email. Turns out that all of a sudden file permissions all over my account went haywire, and it probably had something to do with my failed attempt to install SpamAssassin a few weeks ago. I gotta quit doing things like that when I really don't know what the hell I'm doing.

So, if you emailed me today and it bounced, try again. Thanks a million to Sean at pair networks support for sorting out the whole mess for me.

Tonight on "Down Home".   New music from Nickel Creek and Ken Bloom and his bowed dulcimer (!), plus newly reissued Louvin Brothers, the ReBirth Brass Band, cuts from the Johnny Cash tribute album, classic Bothy Band and more! Tune in at 88.5 FM in Los Angeles, or worldwide via

Proud to call it home.   New Orleans is now apparently The Sausage-Eating Capital of America. In 2001 New Orleanians ate 20.8 million pounds of sausage. In just one city! With all our fabulous andouille, chaurice, Creole hot sausage, hot smoke, Italian sausage and more ... well, it's no wonder.

Bruce vs. Britney.   Bruce Springsteen played more songs during a "Today" show broadcast from Asbury Park, NJ on Tuesday than Britney Spears performed during a "concert" in Mexico City Sunday night. And he didn't flip anybody off, either.

That's why he's The Boss.

You can call me "Commander".   So yesterday for the first time, I met someone who said he was "impressed" that I was Chuck Taggart -- not because he appreciated my public radio work for the past 14 years, not because he enjoyed my website, but because I "had the same name" as the Space Shuttle Commander on "Odyssey 5". (Yeah, thanks, but I had the goddamn name first, ya know? It's mine!)

Incidentally, I fell out of the habit of watching that show after the first three weeks. Is it any good still? Who has time for more television?

Prescient Onion.   On January 18, 2001, I posted a link to an article in The Onion. It is so eerily prescient that I'm compelled to link it again:

Bush:  'Our Long National Nightmare of Peace and Prosperity Is Finally Over'

WASHINGTON, DC--Mere days from assuming the presidency and closing the door on eight years of Bill Clinton, president-elect George W. Bush assured the nation in a televised address Tuesday that "our long national nightmare of peace and prosperity is finally over."

"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

Bush swore to do "everything in [his] power" to undo the damage wrought by Clinton's two terms in office, including selling off the national parks to developers, going into massive debt to develop expensive and impractical weapons technologies, and passing sweeping budget cuts that drive the mentally ill out of hospitals and onto the street.

During the 40-minute speech, Bush also promised to bring an end to the severe war drought that plagued the nation under Clinton, assuring citizens that the U.S. will engage in at least one Gulf War-level armed conflict in the next four years.

"You better believe we're going to mix it up with somebody at some point during my administration," said Bush, who plans a 250 percent boost in military spending. "Unlike my predecessor, I am fully committed to putting soldiers in battle situations. Otherwise, what is the point of even having a military?"


Weblog Cymraeg!   I don't exactly remember how I got there, but yesterday I stumbled across a weblog written entirely in Welsh. Unfortunately I can't read it, as I never learned more than a few words of Welsh (Diolch, Hwyl!, Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwlllantysiliogogogoch).

This is very cool. I love seeing weblogs written in minority languages, particularly Celtic ones. Hey, is anybody out there weblogging as Gaeilge (in Irish)?

July Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

[ Link to today's entries ]

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron, Sean Burke, Shari Minton and Barry Enderwick.
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