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 @ 8:45am PDT, 10/30/2002

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)

September 2002
August 2002
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)
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   Live MP3 audio stream

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WWOZ (New Orleans)
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   Live audio stream

Grateful Dead Radio
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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

Reading this month:

The Babbo Cookbook, by Mario Batali.

The Shadow of the Hegemon, by Orson Scott Card.

The Craft of the Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff.

The Martian Child, by David Gerrold.

Pass the Polenta, by Teresa Lust.

The Kingdom of Zydeco, by Michael Tisserand.

Learning to Eat, by Jeff Weinstein.

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):

8 Women (****)
Red Dragon (***-1/2)
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
The Leaky Cauldron
The Making of a Restaurant
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
Q Daily News
Simmer Stock
This Modern World
Web Queeries

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs


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 4.0.1 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, October 30, 2002
Adieu, mon petit cassette.   Here's a really terrific article on the death of the audio cassette. I was hoping that this would mean that when packing I could throw away all the now-obsolete audiocassettes I've accumulated over the years ... alas, no. There's actually a good bit of irreplaceable stuff on there. (Thanks, Mary Katherine!)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 29, 2002
As sung by Dean Martin, to the tune of "That's Amore".

When the realtor bigwigs say, "You've got brand-new digs!"
Wee're in escrowwwww!
It's a house, yep, real nice, sold at the asking price,
Wee're in escrowwwww!

Doorbell rings, ting-a-ling-a-ling, come on in and sing,
And you'll say, "What a great view!
Pack your bags, records and your books, all your DVDs
Bid your landlords adieuuuu!"

Have a drink and play cards in our private courtyard,
Wee're in escrowwwww!
Hardwood floors, furnace heat, fourteen hundred square feet,
We're in looooooooove!

Cocktail parties galore, in and out our French doors,
Eat some gumbo!
Sit on our balcony, Eagle Rock you will see,
Wee're in escrowwwww!

By way of explanation for why I haven't posted in a week. For the truly thick, I just bought a house. (Woohooooo!) I was busy. And boy, am I gonna be busier. Expect sporadic updates over the next two to three months.

Wellstone family to "Underground Dick" Cheney: Feck off.   The vice-president-cum-shadow-president has been officially disinvited from Sen. Paul Wellstone's memorial service. *slap*

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 23, 2002
Saddam? North Korean nukes? Whatever.   You think that's a threat? It's nothing compared to American cigarette manufacturers, who kill 5 million humans every year, and make billions of dollars for doing it.

But, but ... where will they build the Ethical Suicide Parlors now?   Via Brad, who reports that the last remaining Howard Johnson's Restaurant west of the Mississippi, in Kirkwood, Missouri, will close this month. Sigh ... a landscape devoid of orange roofs. What's this country coming to?

And as long as I'm nicking links from Brad...   I know not one, but two people who can sing this song from memory without having to read along with the lyrics or follow the bouncing ball. Once I even witnessed the two of them singing it together. Scary, or what?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Vegetable gardening in the spring.   Okay, I know it's fall, with winter approaching. It's never too late to start planning, though. I'm hoping to have a nice backyard by next spring, and I want to do lots of planting. (Here's hoping I don't kill it all.)

Here's a terrific list of spring fruits, vegetables and herbs with simple care instructions. I'll need all the help I can get, and I love finding stuff like this.

More Edwinisms.   Burma Jones, a ne'er-do-well regular at the Night of Joy bar in the French Quarter, emails us with a few more choice quotes from former-Governor-now-federal-prisoner Edwin Edwards:

During a debate with gubernatorial opponent Dave Treen:

TREEN: Why do you keep talking out of both sides of your mouth?

EDWARDS: So people with nothing between their ears, LIKE YOU, can understand what I'm talking about.

* * *

EDWARDS: Dave Treen says that he is an honest man, and I believe him. But if he is reelected, there won't be any money left for anyone to steal.

* * *

During the infamous 1991 gubernatorial race against Klansman David Duke:

REPORTER: What do you and David Duke have in common?

EDWARDS: We're both wizards under the sheets.

The end of an era indeed!!!

Ryan's World II   Childish eejit rock star Ryan Adams in the news again (thanks, Fred!):

Alt-country singer/songwriter Robbie Fulks thought the Ryan/Bryan story was "so damn funny," he offered a prize via his web site to any reader who disrupts a Ryan show with a Bryan Adams song request. Troublemakers will receive merchandise equivalent to the price of the ticket from Fulks' online store, after they reveal the date and location, what was yelled, and Ryan's reaction.

In a later message, Fulks noted, "This is not Ryan's first desecration of the Ryman. The first was when he walked onstage and dropped a cigarette, which he smashed with his foot, into the 'inner circle' - the patch of wood from the original 19th century tabernacle that is woven into the front part of the stage."

I'm in!

Quote of the day.   Several years ago my friend Jordan and I were travelling around Europe. On our train trek from Frankfurt to Ljubljana, Slovenia we had a several hour layover in Salzburg, Austria. It was a pretty city, with Mozart's name plastered over everything from hotels to chocolate balls. As we wandered around the city we picked out a restaurant for dinner later on and took in the sights as cheaply as we could. Unfortunately, as we returned to the restaurant around 7 for dinner, they were in the middle of closing. Apparently Salzburg rolls up the sidewalks at 6:30pm or so, and everything else that was open seemed to cost far more than we had budgeted for an eight-hour layover.

We finally found this little bar that appeared to offer dinner -- GUNTER MEIER, said the proprietor's sign. We went inside and found the place empty except for three elderly women at the bar quaffing huge draughts from their steins (what's the German word for "barfly"?) and Gunter himself, a bear of a man with a big beard and a bigger belly -- we wondered how he reached the back burner of the stove. After perusing the menu I decided to sample some Teutonic fare, ordering bratwurst and fried Kartoffeln and sauerkraut; Jordan stuck with a more non-threatening spaghetti Bolognese.

When the silent, sullen Gunter put our plates in front of us, I blanched. The taters were pan-fried to within an inch of their lives, the wurst were blackened on the outside and pink on the inside and the kraut was ... well, right out of the jar. Jordan's spaghetti looked a little less frightening, and he began to take a few forkfuls of his dinner, sticking the fork into the mass of pasta and twirling it around one or two times until he had a neat amount of spaghetti wrapped around the tines.

Suddenly we heard Gunter growl "Nein, nein, nein..." He waddled over to our table, stood behind Jordan and reached around him, his massive arms each taking hold of one of Jordan's hands, manipulating his silverware for him. "Like this," he said in German with a tone of voice you'd use with a two-year-old child or perhaps a dog, as he taught Jordan to use his spoon for twirling the spaghetti around the fork. Jordan, who despises being made the center of attention like this, turned radish-red behind an expression of mixed embarrassment and fury. It was all I could do not to burst out laughing, but I wisely held that in; if I hadn't, I would have borne the brunt of that fury later on.

Anyway, I thought of Gunter when I read this quote the other day:

"Italians say that only children, the infirm, and the ill-mannered use soup spoons as props for their forks when picking up pasta. They stick the fork into the mass of pasta, and twirl it around one or two times until they have a neat amount of pasta wrapped around the tines."

-- James Beard

Children, the infirm, the ill-mannered and fat, grouchy Austrians as well, apparently.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 21, 2002
Gov. Edwards? There's a live boy here to see you.   Former Louisiana Governor Edwin W. Edwards reports to prison today to serve a ten-year sentence for extortion. Man alive, I never thought they'd actually finally get him. End of an era indeed.

More stories: Edwards readies himself; Louisiana reacts; summary of key events in Edwards life; finally checking into prison.

"I believe that the American Republic died in the U.S. Senate last Thursday morning and was buried yesterday morning in the East Room of the White House."   John Perry Barlow of the EFF offers his views about the "Resolution Authorizing the President to Use Force, if Necessary, to End the Threat to World Peace from Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction".

Despite a deluge of calls, letters, and e-mails, which Capital Hill staffers admitted ran overwhelmingly against the ludicrously-named "Resolution Authorizing the President to Use Force, if Necessary, to End the Threat to World Peace from Saddam Hussein's Weapons of Mass Destruction," Congress extended to George II the authority to make unlimited and preemptive war against another nation that has neither attacked us nor shown the ability or inclination to do so.

The resolution was deemed necessary on several grounds.

* Iraq possesses and is developing weapons of mass destruction -- an unquestioned if Orwellian phrase that makes no qualitative distinction between a hundred pounds of spoiled hamburger and a 50 megaton bomb.
* Iraq has flouted a number of U.N. resolutions and international accords regarding such weapons, many of which the United States has also ignored or abrogated.
* A member of Al-Queda is thought to have visited Iraq.
* Iraq has shown a willingness to use military force in the Middle East, again, not unlike ourselves.
* Saddam Hussein is a real son-of-a-bitch who is easier to find than Osama bin Laden.

Despite the fact that we have been exposed to far worse during our history -- whether by Bloody Old England, the Kaiser, Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, the Soviet Union, Red China, or, hell, France on a bad day - we have never before declared war without being attacked nor have we extended an American President the right to do so at his pleasure.


Zevon on Letterman.   Wednesday, October 30. Watch. It might be your last chance to see him.

Thanks to John for sending this in, who said "I pray he makes it. And I pray that when it's my turn to go, I can do it with the wit and class he's shown. What a talent. What a shame."

Download Warren's new song "Basket Case".

Quotes of the day.   Gotta give Edwards one thing -- he was funny.

"The only way I can lose this election is if they catch me in bed with a dead girl or a live boy." (Referring to the polls indicating he'd win even if he were indicted and convicted before Election Day.)

"He's so slow it takes him an hour and a half to watch '60 Minutes.'" (Referring to former Louisiana Governor Dave Treen)

"People say I've had brushes with the law. That's not true. I've had brushes with overzealous prosecutors."

(Well, there was that brush with the last judge and jury you were in front of too, Eh-dwahn. So long.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 18, 2002
SIRS: The plot thickens!   Greg sends in this anectode from a Baton Rouge newspaper (presumably the Advocate) that gives us some tantalizing tidbits but doesn't tell us what we REALLY want know!

'My excellence confused them': Ignatius J. Reilly, the fictional New Orleans misanthrope turned cult icon thanks to memorable lines like that in John Kennedy Toole's 1981 novel A Confederacy of Dunces, may finally be destined for the big screen. Baton Rouge's John Hardy is co-producing a film version of the story with Scott Kramer, who owns the rights, and actress Drew Barrymore, who will play the role of erotic dancer Darlene. For two decades, efforts to make the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel into a film have been jinxed. But Hardy and others have been scouting shooting locations for weeks, and filming in New Orleans is scheduled for December to May. Director David Gordon Green is set to direct. Two key questions remain: who will play Ignatius, and will the film include the scene where unknown hands swipe Ignatius' coat while he's indisposed in an LSU faculty restroom?
John Hardy was the producer of eight of Steven Soderbergh's films. David Gordon Green is twenty-seven years old, from Little Rock, Arkansas and two years ago was the director of the superb little indie film George Washington. This is very encouraging, and tells me they won't try to Hollywoodize this production. One more key question, which is probably more important than who will play Darlene -- who will play Jones? Whoa!

The genius behind the Confederacy.   I'd been meaning to read the relatively new biography of John Kennedy Toole, Ignatius Rising, and finally ordered it. Barring that, you can find a condensed version of Toole's life in this article from Tulane's magazine, Tulanian (perhaps an even worse name for a student publication than our own newspaper next door, The Loyolan).

How your dinner died.   Fresh or frozen? Naah ... how about "Harpooned or trapped?" Line-caught? Diver? Day-boat? High-end restaurants are desperate for new ways to keep fickle diners coming back for more, so there are now lots of interesting new menu descriptions. We also see if these food-catching techniques good for you, good for the planet and if there's a catch.

"What a dick," said a friend of mine after reading this delightful little news anecdote from Billboard:

Singer/songwriter Ryan Adams is apparently not amused by the similarity of his name to veteran Canadian rocker Bryan Adams. At a Ryan Adams concert Tuesday night at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, someone in the audience yelled out a request for "Summer of '69," a Bryan Adams hit. Ryan Adams, former leader of the band Whiskeytown, reacted with stream of expletives and ordered the house lights turned on, The Tennessean newspaper reported.

The alt-country musician found the fan who made the joke request, paid him $30 cash as a refund for the show, ordered him to leave, and said he wouldn't play another note until that happened. Ryman general manager Pam Matthews stopped the fan on his way out, "apologized profusely," and allowed him back into the concert. The fan kept Adams' $30.

Y'know, whatever talent this guy might have is going to get more and more obscured by his repellent personality. Another friend kicked in with a prediction that "the karmic payback is that you know he's going to hear the same shit from a half dozen knuckleads at every show he performs for the rest of his life. He'll be wishing for 'Free Bird' requests instead." Interestingly, according to a review in the New York Times, the exact same thing happened during his show last week in NY. Either the same guy and his friends are following Adams around, or else he's in on it (which would be superlatively lame). If he had a sense of humor instead of childish petulance, he'd cover "Cuts Like A Knife", or something.

Half of me is curious to hear his new album The Demolition, and the other half just says, "Ryan Adams ... *yawn*" Hey, I've got an idea -- I wangle free tickets to a Ryan Adams show via the radio station, then shout out "Summmer of 69!", get personally thrown out by the performer who gives me $30 on the way out. Hey, sounds like I come out ahead!

Asparagus pee.   My friend Robb sent in a fascinating article from the folks at The Discovery Channel. "Apparently everyone produces smelly pee after they eat asparagus," he adds. "It's just that not everyone is able to actually smell it." (Jeez, who knew?! Thanks, Robb!)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 17, 2002
In ómós do Derek, 1935-2002.   Derek Bell, the harpist of Irish traditional super-group The Chieftains died yesterday in the US while recovering from minor surgery, even though he had been cleared to return home to Ireland.

He looked like a banker, but was an incredibly talented musician with a mischievous sense of humor. He excelled in both the traditional and classical fields, having played in the BBC Northern Ireland Orchestra before joining Ceoltóirí Cualainn in the late 1950s, the group that would later evolve into The Chieftains. He'll be sorely missed.

The Sicilian Satchmo.   The Times-Picayune's Keith Spera takes a look at Louis Prima, now that the last of his five wives has finally reissued the long-lost songs he recorded at the end of his career, long out of print. He also rates the reissues, for what it's worth (I'm gonna get most of 'em anyway).

"I eat antipasto twice, just because she is so nice, Angelina ..."

My favorite vegetable?   Hard to say. Certainly in the top five would be asparagus. It's just fabulous. I grieve for those poor people who have that unfortunate body chemistry reaction with asparagus ... too bad. Try this some evening -- this is how Chef Andrea Apuzzo sometimes serves asparagus in his wonderful Italian restaurant Andrea's, in Metairie just outside New Orleans (from today's New Orleans Menu Daily).

Broiled Asparagus Parmigiana

Use any quantity you need of:

Fresh medium asparagus
Extra-virgin olive oil
Crushed red pepper
Lemon juice
Finely grated Parmesan cheese (Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
highly recommended, and never use that sawdust from the green can)

Preheat the broiler.

1. Bring a large pan of water to a rolling boil. Meanwhile, trim the asparagus and peel if necessary.

2. Poach the asparagus for 90 seconds, then remove. Rinse with cold water until they're no longer hot.

3. Arrange the asparagus on a baking sheet, parallel to one another and almost touching. Pour a ribbon of olive oil back and forth across the asparagus, but not so much that it collects on the baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with crushed red pepper to taste and lemon juice. Then top with enough Parmesan cheese to form a gappy layer.

4. Put the pan under the broiler, about four inches from the heat, until the cheese melts and just begins to brown.

5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool enough for the cheese to set. Then, using a metal spatula, remove four to six asparagus, still held together by the cheese, and serve.

Oniony goodness.   Just in case you're not a regular reader of The Onion (and shame on you if you're not), here are a few highlights of this week's issue:

Bush on Economy: 'Saddam Must Be Overthrown'
WASHINGTON, DC -- Amid growing concerns about the faltering stock market and deepening recession, President Bush vowed to tackle the nation's economic woes head-on Tuesday, assuring the American people that he "will not rest" until Saddam Hussein is removed from power.

FAA Considering Passenger Ban
WASHINGTON, DC -- Seeking to address "the number-one threat to airline security," the Federal Aviation Administration announced Monday that it will consider banning passengers on all domestic and international commercial flights.

So much for that pesky ol' separation of church and state thing.   In posting about the rise of the Christian Coalition from under their low-key rock, I had neglected this CNN story of last Friday, which among other things reports the CC's exhortations to vote liberals out of office as "doing the Lord's work", and that George W. Bush sent the Coalition's convention a videotaped address, "greeting the Christian conservatives and promising an administration that would advocate the group's key agenda items: anti-abortion activism, low taxes, limited government and judges who don't legislate."

Take a quiz.   Who said it: McCarthy or Ashcroft?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 16, 2002
Facelift, nose job and tummy tuck.   The Los Angeles Times' Food Section gets a revamp today, along with several other parts of the paper. More reviews, more columns, etc.; it's a good thing, as a caterer turned billionaire insider trader is fond of saying.

Among the features today:

* Make your own vinegar. It's more fun than you think, and better than what you can buy.
* Learn to make a dacquoise, with both the recipe and a bit of advice.
* The strands of luxury. Is artisanal spaghetti worth the price? 11 brands are tested, with surprising results.
* "What is this, a wine list or a stickup?" With what you're paying for wines in restaurants nowadays, the sommelier should be carrying a gun ...
Lots more, too. I'm happy.

Hey, what am I, chopped liver?!   Of course, the New York Times Dining & Wine Section is no slouch either. Among their offerings this week: Nigella Lawson blessing the virtues of butter, cream and simple French fare as being true comfort food; Mark Bittman braising away to make us a pork stew with garlic, red wine and coriander; big, food-friendly and reasonably priced Riojas from Spain; lots more here too, as ever.

Ohh, what a surprise!   Take a wild guess who was "re-elected" as President of Iraq yesterday, as described by the SF Gate "Morning Fix":

Saddam Hussein won another seven-year term as Iraq's president in a referendum in which he was the sole candidate, taking a whopping 100 percent of the vote, isn't that just the cutest thing, the Iraqi leader's right-hand man announced, some disturbing apparatus shoved up him from behind and causing his mouth to move, his eyes these vacant black voids of karmic pain and vile sludge. All 11,445,638 of the eligible voters cast ballots, said Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, as no one burst out laughing. "The people of Iraq love their leader, and he loves them right back, much like a man loves a dirty sock full of motor oil and nails," Ibrahim added, in an ether/glue/opium haze. "This is why we pre-punch all the ballots in advance," he continued, apparently refusing to obey the cosmic command from Allah Himself to just shut the hell up already. "Just like Florida."
[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Meaty bacon?   What a concept! Andrew Thielen's artisanal bacon is thick and meaty, with just enough fat to add flavor and texture but much more meat than typical supermarket bacon. Apparently you can actually serve several ounces of it as a main course, because it's "like a smoked pork chop, but crispy." Wow. Might have to order me some of that stuff.

Now that's a chef.   André Soltner, the legendary chef of New York's legendary French restaurant Lutèce for 34 years until his retirement, is in San Francisco this week to promote the French Culinary Institute. I've never had the opportunity to dine there, but I've wanted to ever since I read Irene Daria's excellent book Lutèce: A Day In The Life of America's Greatest Restaurant (sadly out of print).

The Chronicle has a story about him, which begins with a few little caveats for aspiring chefs, including anecdotes I remember from the book.

So you want to be a chef? You want to be rock-star popular and create edible art for the rich and famous. You want to escape the humdrum life of law, medicine, academia or home cookery.

You'd better love the stove.

"Have you ever heard of a chef who retired rich?" [asked Soltner.]

"When the restaurant was open, I was behind the stove... In 34 years, I took four days off, two when my father died and two when my brother died."

Every day he had to get up at six and work past midnight. Lutèce was closed Sundays, and in the winter Soltner would drive 120 miles to go skiing, then drive back to New York for a little sleep before going back to work Monday morning.

Wes and I were in one of our favorite little restaurants recently (which for this story shall remain nameless). It was late, we were the last people there, and the chef was breaking things down. When we were chatting with him before we left, Wes mentioned that I dreamed of having a little poor boy restaurant one day, and the chef declared that I was crazy. "If you want this place," he said, his face a drooping mask of weariness, "I'll walk away for $375,000."

Uhh ... thanks, chef. Maybe not tonight.

Why do people trust this company?   Stung by the success of Apple's "Switch" campaign, Microsoft responded with their own success story of someone switching from Mac to Windows PC. Too bad it was phony. The unnamed person who "wrote" the article was an employee of a PR firm hired by Microsoft, and the picture of the so-called "switcher" was from a stock photography library. Even after all this, after they pulled the story ... they're still trying to claim that it was written by a real customer. It's another case of "'Hello,' they lied."

Where do you want to go today?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 14, 2002
Happy birthday, Mom!   Yes, we still need you and we'll still feed you...

Something has to be done.   Lobby your Senators now, to prepare them for this horribly flawed House bill, which must not be allowed to pass the Senate in its current form. Otherwise, it could spell the end of your favorite Internet radio webcasts.

The Internet Radio community is in turmoil. The Webcasters trade body looks likely to split over the issue of performance royalties, with many grassroots webcasters resigning in disgust at the HR.5469 bill now before the Senate.

HR.5469 isn't what many 'casters had expected.

The smallest, non-profit webcasters accuse a cabal of thirteen small commercial operations of misleading Congress and the public by negotiating a deal which saves the wealthier stations from performance royalties, while many smaller operations, college stations and amateurs -- the core of the grass roots broadcasters -- will go to the wall. (The bill exposes educational and religious terrestrial stations to performance royalties, too.)

And privately, even members who support HR.5469 agree that it will "seal the fate of this industry to be dominated by big webcasters," according to correspondence seen by The Register.


You just can't say the "O" word.   Due to onerous fees and bureaucracy-required paperwork, many organic farmers are dropping out of the officially-certified organic movement. They're still using the same techniques, but are calling it anything but organic.

Y'know, I just separate eggs by hand, or with a little shell assistance. I think I can manage without having to use "the most unappetizing kitchen tool EVER."

Oh please, go away again already.   Just when you thought you had successfully flushed them down the toilet, the Christian Coalition is back. The heat seems to be off the gay community for the moment, for it seems that their new boogiemen are the Palestinians. Problem is, they now seem to want to help good ol' God along by acting out in order to help fulfill their interpretation of Biblical prophecies.

[A] parade of prominent conservative voices at the Washington Convention Center declared that the United States must help protect and preserve Israel at all costs, expand the nation's current borders and forget about an independent Palestine.

They argued that it would be the right thing to do not merely for geopolitical reasons, but because it was prophesied in the Bible.

Pat Robertson, who headed the coalition until December, returned to the podium to endorse what he termed Israel's irrefutable historical claim to undivided control over Jerusalem and lands surrounding the Jewish state. "It was a place of significance long before anybody had even heard of Muhammad or their... clan," he said. "There are millions of us [American fundamentalists], and we will stand with Israel regardless of what the United Nations does."


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 11, 2002
Baa. Baaaa. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!   And so it goes.

*hint*hint*   Former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday, and the Nobel Committee chairman said that the award "should be interpreted as a criticism of the line that the current administration has taken." Carter, who said that Congress was wrong to give George Bush the power to go to war with Iraq, has been nominated for the prize almost every year since 1978, when he brokered the Camp David Peace Accords between Israel and Egypt.

'Cause they disrespected the Bing.   New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, told by organizers that he couldn't march in the annual Columbus Day Parade if accompanied by two cast members from "The Sopranos," said Friday he would simply skip the event.

"I'm sort of walking along, invite two Italian-Americans, want to say thank you on behalf of the city," Bloomberg said in his best Sonny Corleone voice. "And bada bing, bada boom -- all of a sudden they're down my throat. OK?"
Bloomberg had invited actors Dominic Chianese ("Uncle Junior") and Lorraine Bracco ("Dr. Melfi") to accompany him in the parade, but then said, "I'm sorry if anyone's annoyed, but if my friends can't march ... they don't have to have the mayor." Fair enough. Whaddayagonnado?

Hmm, new life for the science projects in my fridge.   Scientists at the University of the West of England in Bristol have come up with a $15 battery the size of a portable CD player that runs off leftover food. Less than two ounces of sugar can apparently keep a 40-watt light bulb burning for eight hours. At that rate, the contents of some of that Gladware in my fridge (like the leftover pasta from six weeks ago and the tuna salad from 1998) could power my whole house!!

I love lemons.   They're good for so many things -- lemonade, lemon zest, limoncello, counteracting oversalting, a must in so many cocktails (mmmmm, Sidecar ...), and the list is nearly endless. Who knew that lemon juice is also a spermicide and can kill the AIDS virus?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 10, 2002
War will not end terrorism.   Tarim Ansary, an Afghan-American who was the author of the eloquent letter "The Taliban: An Afghan-American Speaks" that made the rounds of weblogs and email boxes, now writes that "reducing functioning societies to anarchy by destroying their infrastructure and killing great numbers of their citizens is likely to increase whatever legacy of grudge and grievance is already in place."

Is it not true?   Republican Congressman Ron Paul of Texas has many questions, among them:

1. Is it not true that the reason we did not bomb the Soviet Union at the height of the Cold War was because we knew they could retaliate?

2. Is it not also true that we are willing to bomb Iraq now because we know it cannot retaliate -- which just confirms that there is no real threat?

5. Is it not true that the intelligence community has been unable to develop a case tying Iraq to global terrorism at all, much less the attacks on the United States last year? Does anyone remember that 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and that none came from Iraq?

7. Is it not true that the CIA has concluded there is no evidence that a Prague meeting between 9/11 hijacker Atta and Iraqi intelligence took place?

10. Has anyone noticed that Afghanistan is rapidly sinking into total chaos, with bombings and assassinations becoming daily occurrences; and that according to a recent U.N. report the Al Qaeda "is, by all accounts, alive and well and poised to strike again, how, when, and where it chooses?"

12. Would an attack on Iraq not just confirm the Arab world's worst suspicions about the United States? And isn't this what bin Laden wanted?

13. How can Hussein be compared to Hitler when he has no navy or air force, and now has an army one-fifth the size of 12 years ago, which even then proved totally inept at defending the country?

There are many more. Why aren't these questions being asked bluntly, by every member of Congress? Why aren't they being asked by Democrats? I'm so disgusted with most the Democrats (excluding Byrd, Kennedy, Sarbanes, Durbin and Boxer, who fought tooth and nail) right now I can barely work up the saliva to spit on them. *Ptui*

Battle Creek trumps Beijing.   The laffmeisters at The Onion wrote a funny story entitled, "Al Qaeda Allegedly Engaged in Telemarketing", with great bits like:

Last December, during a sweep of caves near the Afghan-Pakistani border, Maj. Gen. Dan K. McNeill, leader of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, unearthed further evidence corroborating the phone-solicitation theory. Inside one cave, McNeill and his troops found a bank of empty cubicles with individual phone lines, a bullhorn, and 10 desktop bells, commonly rung in the event of a "sale."

"I couldn't believe what I saw," said McNeill, who also discovered bomb-making instructions and detailed maps of U.S. landmarks in the cave. "On top of all the destruction these people had already unleashed, plans were underway to harass the American people with a merciless assault of offers for everything from discounts on home DSL lines to pre-approved, low-interest credit cards."

For all the evidence collected by the CIA, the "smoking gun" in the investigation may turn out to be an alleged Osama bin Laden motivational videotape, currently in the possession of CNN. The controversial tape, which has never aired on the cable network, is rumored to feature bin Laden urging his followers to think positive and believe in the quality of the product they are pitching, closing on the grim slogan "Smile And Dial."

The intrepid Men in Blue of Battle Creek, Michigan believed it, and sent out a chest-pounding press release about their investigation of the Al Qaeda telemarketers:

"In the course of this investigation, it was learned that this is going on throughout the United States and some of these telemarketing programmes are believed to be operated by Al-Qaeda.

"The CIA has announced that it has acquired a videotape showing Al-Qaeda members making phone solicitations for vacation home rentals, long distance telephone services, magazine subscriptions and other products."

I swear, you couldn't make this shit up if you tried.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 9, 2002
Ethyldynamics?   Cocktails in Popular Science? Sure, why not. There is art and science to both cooking and baking ('tho lots more in the latter), and cocktails are no different. Chemist-turned-bartender Eben Klemm talks about how he applies his scientific training to making $12 cocktails at Pico in New York.

Saving the day.   "We can only fit you in at 7:30am on Saturday," said the guy at the I'm-hating-them-more-every-minute Santa Monica Volkswagen dealer, calling them so that I can get my headlight fixed (yep, you can't replace your own headlights or taillights on a New Beetle; it takes a trained mechanic and costs more than $50 a pop, which is one of the reasons why I'll never buy another one). To nap my morning's maggot-ridden, rotten dish with a bit of bile sauce, when I showed up right on time and checked in the guy said, "Okay, the guy who does the headlights will be here at eight." Then, may I ask, why in the ripe fuck did you tell me to come here at 7:30?!" *scream*

Instead of disembowelling him, I took a nap on their horribly uncomfortable waiting room chairs, picked up my car an hour and a half later, and saved the morning by going to the ever-amazing Santa Monica Farmer's Market.

Perhaps the best local farmer's market, it's a place where you'll see everyone from families picking up interesting things for dinner, to well-known local chefs finding ingredients for their restaurant kitchens. There's always something new and exciting there, and last Saturday was no exception. I was in heirloom tomato heaven.

There were enough varieties of tomatoes to make your head oscillate. Red ones, orange ones, yellow ones, green ones (with dark green tiger stripes), purple ones, ones that looked like French crullers, ones that were called "pineapple tomatoes", ones that looked like alien vegetables you'd see on the origial "Star Trek", but which tasted divine. Having a selection like this helps temper how much I miss the huge, infinitely red and juicy and tasty Creole tomatoes from home that I miss so much.

As is often the case, one purveyor was offering tastes of every variety he had for sale, and the tastes ranged from tangy to sweet to (in most cases) very intense, lots and lots of tomato flavor, unlike those reddish/greenish spheroid things the supermarkets label "tomatoes" right after they finish putting them through the deflavorizing machine. We tawkin' real tomatuhs here, podna.

I selected a big basket of tiny and teardrop-shaped tomatoes -- red, orange and yellow, for the princely sum of $1.50 -- plus some of the little globular green-with-darker-green-stripes variety I had seen earlier. I also picked up some mixed salad greens, some beautiful basil, some fat, gorgeous Mission figs, artisanally-made raw goat's milk cheese, and some candied pecans. We, I decided, are eating in tonight.

First, the salad. Easy peasy. First, wash and dry the greens. Make a simple vinaigrette right in the bottom of the salad bowl -- tablespoon balsamic vinegar, three tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, dab of Dijon mustard to help emulsification, teaspoon or two of pomegranate molasses for sweetness and tang, pinch of salt, a grind of black pepper, whisk and there we are. Two big fat figs per serving, two green tomatoes per as well -- quarter each. Greens into bowl, toss to coat each leaf perfectly (and that was the perfect amount of dressing for two -- I hate huge puddles of gloppy dressing left over, like they show on those obscene salad dressing commercials on TV). Plate the greens, add the tomatoes around the edge, figs in the middle, sprinkle on a few candied pecans, crumble some goat cheese on top. Mmmm mmm mmmm.

The pasta was easy too. Wes had some amazing pasta from Italy, made by Giordano. The shape he had is galled gigli in Italian, which means "lilies". They were indeed flower-shaped, although somewhat exploded and even looking a bit like woodear mushrooms, thin and with lots of curls and surface area for holding the condimento. Plenty of water, salt, boil. Wash the tomatoes, thinly slice four garlic cloves, chiffonade and shred about a dozen big basil leaves. Coat the skillet with lots of extra-virgin olive oil, heat until very hot, then throw in the garlic and cook until barely beginning to brown around the edges. Add the tomatoes and basil, throw in some salt, crushed red pepper and freshly ground black pepper, then cook for a few minutes until some of the tomatoes start to pop. Their extruded juice will mingle with the oil and make a lovely sauce. When the pasta's al dente, drain and toss it in with the tomato mixture. Heat on high for another minute, tossing to mix, then into the big pasta serving bowl it goes. Serve with a lighter red or white wine, plenty of fresh-grated Parmagiano-Reggiano, and some thick slices of ciabatta or other Italian bread (toasted or grilled, rubbed with a little garlic and drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil would be fantastico). You can do a pasta dish like this in under half an hour, and it's yum yum yummy.

An extra-added bonus to this dish -- the yellow teardrop tomatoes didn't pop during cooking like the red, green and orange ones did. They remained completely intact, so that when you're eating them with the pasta, they pop inside your mouth, spewing warm sweet-tangy tomato juice for a little bit of sensory lagniappe.

Shop at farmer's markets whenever you can. It's fun, and while it's not exactly cheaper than anywhere else, the produce is loads better, much fresher, and it's a perfect opportunity to challenge your creativity. I'm really glad I went to the market on Saturday, and I'll have to work hard to make it a habit. Still, screw Santa Monica VW anyway.

Quote of the day.   "Don't top my Old Fashioneds with soda, don't use Triple Sec in my Sidecars, and don't leave the bitters out of my Manhattans."

-- Robert "DrinkBoy" Hess (Yeah you rite, bra.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 8, 2002
Anudda weblog to read.   New Orleanian Robert Peyton's site, called Appetites, focuses on food and eating, two of my favorite things (next to drink and drinking). I'll be tuning in daily.

You're not the boss of me.   Woo-hoo! The DVD box set of the complete first season of "Malcolm in the Middle" hits the streets on the 29th, and I think I'll be pre-ordering this week. According to the review on, it looks pretty good and is full of extras, including screen-specific audio commentaries for every episode. Much better than being grounded until I'm forty.

Overkill, methinks.   The folks at Georgia Tech's Everyday Computing Lab are working on an "assisted-cognition food prep system", which "takes snapshots during meal preparatoin and displays the cook's six most recent actions on a flat-panel display above the countertop."

Apparently it'll be primarily aimed at senior citizens to spare them and dinner guests from oversalting and the like. I can't imagine there'd be that much of a market, and there's a little rule of thumb you can follow to avoid having to spend the big bucks on hidden cameras in your kitchen -- always take a little taste before you add anything. I have a rotten short-term memory myself, and even I can remember that.

The computer gizmo probably couldn't have saved me from my two dumbest oversalting incidents, though. One was just klutzily adding too much when I was trying to add a little, and the other was leaving shrimp in a brine for way too long (they're shrimp, not turkeys, so no more than an hour, please). I salvaged the first, but the second was ... well, a horror. I'm still embarrassed over that one (sorry, Wes).

Yuca con chicharrones!   Wes and I have added to our list of favorite little neighborhood joints -- Las Cazuelas, a Salvadoran-Mexican restaurant on Figueroa and Avenue 57 in Highland Park.

When we first discovered them a few months back, it was a tiny, dark little place, cramped and always full, with great (and inexpensive) food. Pupusas rule the roost, along with great sopes and burritos, and the absolutely heavenly empanadas. Unlike the doughy meat pies from Argentina, these Salvadoran empanadas are made of plantain for the "dough" and filled with some kind of stick, creamy filling that I can't quite identify, aromatic with cinnamon and completely delicious. I'm working on my Spanish so I can actually ask what it is.

I had been keen to try some of the truly authentic Salvadoran dishes, so more or less at random I picked "yuca con chicharrones", yuca being the starchy tuber (also called manioc or cassava) which is also the source for tapioca. Chicharrones is a term I usually hear used to describe those huge sheets of fried pork skins sold in Mexican markets as salty snacks, but I could hardly imagine this being a component of the dish. Unfortunately, our server didn't have enough English and I didn't have enough Spanish (something I mean to correct) for me to figure out exactly how this was cooked. "Is pork," she said, which I gathered, but pork how? I imagined something stewed with chunks of pork and chunks of yuca, but that was far too Dinty Moorish a view of what I was going to get. Eventually I gave up and waited to see what would come. Starchy tuber and stewed pork, at least it's probably going to be fairly good for me, I thought.

When she returned, my plate was placed before me -- a bed of shredded pickled cabbage, not unlike the slaw-like curtido served with the pupusas, and topped with ... a huge mound of deep-fried food. Deeeeeeep fried. *glerp* ... So much for my being good for dinner.

Pork may be the other white meat, but this wasn't lean pork by any means -- it was very fatty, with the fat left on the meat quite deliberately. The yuca were peeled and no more than quartered, each piece of yuca being as big around as three fingers. The whole kit y caboodle were then dropped into the deep fryer. Holy beejeebies.

I took a bite of the fried yuca first, chewed ... and my jaw dropped in astonishment. This was absolutely perfect deep-frying. The oil had been at the perfect and proper temperature, and the outside of these yuca fries were crispy to the tenth power, yet completely non-greasy and an interior as fluffy as a cumulus cloud. Given that I probably had two whole yucas on my plate and wanting to share the wealth, I immediately pressed Wesly to try one. He looked askance, as he had a plate of pollo encebollado, chicken stewed in a red sauce with fresh and pickled onions, and a serving twice as big as his head. He too marveled over the fried yuca, and after a while I came up with what I thought was the perfect description:

"They're like God's French fries."

On to the pork. I worried that it'd be tough, being basically chunks of deep-fried meat, and I worried that they'd be overcooked on the outside. My first bite allayed my worries, as the meat was perfect and all that fat ... oh my Gawd, all that deep-fried pork fat, crispy and silky and peppery and absofeckinlutely delicious. I just started giggling. Fried pork fat. Viva El Salvador.

There was easily enough for two, and I couldn't come close to finishing. My plate of fried yuca and pork set me back a whopping seven bucks, and I can't wait to go back and try yuca con something else.

Ayyy-EEEEEEEEEE!   KBON is streaming again! One of my favorite stations, out of Eunice, Louisiana, playing Cajun, zydeco, swamp pop, oldies, blues, gospel and country, is tentatively back on the web. Tune in and tell them you're glad to hear them.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 7, 2002
New life for webcasters?   CNET reports: "A bill exempting small Webcasters from fees that had threatened to drive many small operations out of business passed the House of Representatives on Monday.

"The bill, which still must pass the Senate before Webcasters will see any tangible effect, marks a surprise political victory for a loose Internet community that had never previously launched any concerted political action."

Whew. I hope this is good enough. Let's all keep a close eye on the situation.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, October 5, 2002
Norts spews.   The inclusion of any news from the world of sport in this weblog is enough to prompt a number of concerned emails along the lines of, "Where is Chuck, and what have you done with him?" Rest assured that it's still me, really, and that there's a payoff.

Latrell Sprewell is in the news again; he's apparently some kind of basketball player with a team in New York that has something to do with ladies' knickers, or something. My friend Steve reports via email that Sprewell, who gained his previous notoriety for having tried to choke his coach during an argument, seems to come up with a novel way to injure himself. He may have broken his hand by throwing an errant punch at the boyfriend of a woman who vomited on his new yacht, the New York Post reported Friday.

As I'm indifferent to the world of professional sports this tidbit is perhaps ignorable, or something I might pass with a quick snicker, save for a reply to this anecdote from our brilliant friend Diana:

She did not spew well, which did not sit well with Sprewell.
A sprain, Post tells? Oh well, fou quel.
Damn. I wish I could write like that.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 4, 2002
Hrrmmm.   From The Chronicle of Higher Education: "A key lawmaker pulled a bill from consideration on Tuesday that would have delayed by six months a deadline for Webcasters -- including college radio stations that simulcast online -- to make royalty payments.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., a Wisconsin Republican who is chairman of the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee, said he removed his bill from consideration because Webcasters and the recording industry have begun negotiations to determine new royalty rates and are expected to reach an agreement by Friday. The results of the negotiations will be given to Congress to consider codifying the new terms into law.

But a group representing college radio stations said colleges are being left out of the negotiations. "We're not invited," said Will Robedee, vice chairman of Collegiate Broadcasters Inc.

Typical. I sure hope they don't screw this up.

A progress report from the Martian dad.   One of my favorite authors, David Gerrold, recently published an autobiographical novel called The Martian Child, about the wrenching, arduous and incredibly satisfying process of adopting a child. (It's absolutely superb, by the way; the novella version won a Hugo and a Nebula.) For those who've been wondering what else he's been up to, and more importantly for some, when he'll put out the next novel in the "War Against the Chtorr" series, he's written a nice little letter to his readers. There are very good reasons why other works have come out first, and keep in mind that good things come to those who wait.

Holy bejeebies.   Today in Chowhound was a recipe I can't wait to try -- David Cook's unnamed wife's recipe for Habanero-Lime Cheesecake. It's brilliant. Habaneros have a fantastic, fruity taste (in addition to the near-thermonuclear searing heat), but that heat'll be nicely moderated by the cream cheese and the heavy cream. What an idea.

New stuff from Document.   For those of you into vintage pre-war jazz, blues gospel and old-time music remastered from 78s, Document Records has a new newsletter out. Memphis Minnie, Bumble Bee Slim, Cow Cow Davenport, Lionel Hampton, Son House, Lead Belly and more.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 3, 2002
Lili-livered.   (Okay, enough with the bad puns.) She wasn't quite so bad after all, downgrading to a Category 2 before going right up Vermilion Bay and Avery Island and slamming into New Iberia and Lafayette. My sister and bro-in-law are fine, just a few roof shingles that'll need replacing. Woohoo, hurricane party! "We're sitting here with no power, my house looks so pretty with all the candles lit, and there's nothing to do but eat." Well, and drink, too.

New Times, R.I.P.   In a fairly shocking move, the publishers of the weekly alternative papers LA Weekly and New Times colluded to close papers in two cities to reduce costly competition. New Times ceases publishing today -- zap, poof, gone -- and again we're a one-paper town. An rather annoyed one-paper town, I hope -- what'll we do without "The Finger"? And somebody better pick up Dish or, or ... the Weekly'll be used for nothing in my house other than something to train the dog with. Why you ... grrrrr.

Here's the story in today's Weekly, plus some remembrances of the NT by Scott Timberg in the Los Angeles Times and Brian Doherty in Reason Online.

From "Oink!" to pork chops.   Want to throw your own backyard boucherie? Got yourself a pig? Well, here's what you need to know to process your pig into shoulders, chops, ham, ribs, neck, bones, lard, hog's head cheese, bacon, sausage, boudin, and not to mention your variety meats!

I apologize in adavnce for the extremely annoying "Welcome to a Tripod member page!" popups, but there are yet more interesting articles, on truffles and foie gras, deer processing, elk and caribou, Wagyu and Kobe beef, and lots more. (Thanks, Ray!)

Egg freckles? Foux! There to eat lemons, ice gravy soup!   Ron Grunberg writes in McSweeney's about his five experiments with AOL's new voice recognition system. Evidently there are still a few bugs in the system.

Darling of the C- is exactly a 1 so much for relationship to work and we just work as the heart parts of leaders enough their trust all from the woody cedar dinner tonight love forever more release
Oh yeah, sure. Right. Gotcha.

Piss off, Valenti.   Dan Gillmor, writing about the fabulously ballsy Apple, in the Mercury News:

Intel's doing it. Advanced Micro Devices is doing it. Microsoft is doing it.

Apple Computer isn't.

What's Apple not doing? It's not -- at least so far -- moving toward an anti-customer embrace with Hollywood's movie studios and the other members of the powerful entertainment cartel.

Unlike Intel and AMD, the big chip makers for Windows-based computers, Apple hasn't announced plans to put technology into hardware that could end up restricting what customers do with the products they buy. Unlike Microsoft, Apple hasn't asserted the right to remote control over users' operating systems.


Reaping what we sow.   "Will Saddam Hussein unleash botulinum toxin, perhaps nature's deadliest poison, and other viruses and chemicals if the United States attacks Iraq?" writes Paul Nyden in the Charleston Gazette. "Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., posed this question to the Senate on Thursday, based on documents obtained from different federal agencies."

"We have a paper trail," Byrd said. "We not only know that Iraq has biological weapons, we know the type, the strain, and the batch number of the germs that may have been used to fashion those weapons. We know the dates they were shipped and the addresses to which they were shipped.

"We have in our hands the equivalent of a Betty Crocker cookbook of ingredients that the U.S. allowed Iraq to obtain and that may well have been used to concoct biological weapons."

Those shipments included:
* Between 1985 and 1988, the nonprofit American Type Culture Collection made 11 shipments to Iraq that included a "witches' brew of pathogens," including anthrax, botulinum toxin and gangrene. All shipments were government-approved.
* Between January 1980 and October 1993, the federal Centers for Disease Control shipped a variety of toxic specimens to Iraq, including West Nile virus and Dengue fever.

The U.S. Commerce Department and CDC provided lists of these shipments. "The Defense Department ought to have the same lists, so that the decision-makers will know exactly what types of biological agents American soldiers may face in the field," Byrd said.


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 2, 2002
Darling Lili.   Actually, she ain't much of a darling, she's a bitch. Category 3, winds of 120mph, and it might get stronger. Acadiana's in for a rough time, and they're battening down the hatches. Here's the predicted path of the hurricane.

I feel very bad for Acadiana, because besides the damage to people's homes and farms I couldn't help but think of the potential devastation to the Atchafalaya Basin and the already-endangered wetlands. But I have to confess a sigh of relief that it's not hitting New Orleans head-on, because if it did ... well, that'd be pretty much it for the Crescent City -- the disaster-waiting-to-happen that they've been talking about for years. I hope all my friends in Acadiana and everyone else gets through it with as little damage or flooding as possible.

My friend Michael got a kick out of this storm warning from Lafayette, which had a classic Cajun touch and reminded him why he loves the area so much:

Lafayette Prepares
[Posted Wednesday, October 2, 2002 at 5:26 AM]


Sammy's gonna be busy today. Take care, Acadiana.

Hurricane update.   Lili is now a Category 4. Holy crapola. We have had one this bad hit Louisiana since Hurricane Audrey in 1957.

Now that's a review.   Wiley Wiggins, on the new iMac:

Oh boy. We just brought home a 17" iMac and I am completely flabbergasted at how awesome this machine is. It looks cool, it's fast.... it's got an NVIDIA video card that travels back in time to kick Stalin in the ass after winning an international burrito competition, and it's farming out wireless internet to the whole house. Now I can print from the laptop while I'm in the bathroom taking a crap. Dear god.
I want one. I can usually wait to print until post-crap, though.

Radio killed the radio star.   Todd Spencer in Salon on how the National Association of Broadcasters and Clear Channel Communications brought about commercial radio consolidation that has resulted in "10,000 layoffs, the demise of a beloved trade magazine and a decline in programming quality. But industry execs are fat and happy."

With internet radio endangered, now more than ever the most diverse and interesting radio is found on the left side of the dial. It's probably way too late for commercial radio, so if you listen to public or community radio, support them with your donations and membership.

RIAA sues radio stations for giving away free music.   Y'know, it may yet come to this. The usual brilliance from The Onion.

LOS ANGELES -- The Recording Industry Association of America filed a $7.1 billion lawsuit against the nation's radio stations Monday, accusing them of freely distributing copyrighted music.

"It's criminal," RIAA president Hilary Rosen said. "Anyone at any time can simply turn on a radio and hear a copyrighted song. Making matters worse, these radio stations often play the best, catchiest song off the album over and over until people get sick of it. Where is the incentive for people to go out and buy the album?"

According to Rosen, the radio stations acquire copies of RIAA artists' CDs and then broadcast them using a special transmitter, making it possible for anyone with a compatible radio-wave receiver to listen to the songs.

"These radio stations are extremely popular," Rosen said. "They flagrantly string our songs together in 'uninterrupted music blocks' of up to 70 minutes in length, broadcasting nearly one CD's worth of product without a break, and they actually have the gall to allow businesses to advertise between songs. It's bad enough that they're giving away our music for free, but they're actually making a profit off this scheme."

RIAA attorney Russell Frackman said the lawsuit is intended to protect the artists.


I have had a perfectly wonderful evening, but this wasn't it.   Happy 104th birthday, Groucho Marx! Amuse yourself with some wit and wisdom, and today's secret word is "sandwich".

Double Bind: Guns vs. Butter.   Keep an eye on AlterNet for news stories these days. Here's their good explanation as to why you should:

By focusing our attention on countering the inexorable march to war with Iraq, many of us have lost sight of the economic failings of the Bush administration. There has been a total lack of reform produced in response to pervasive corporate corruption. Jobs are still shrinking, retirement holdings still trashed, and for the sixth straight month, the stock market continues to plunge. Yet the steady drumbeat of Iraq keeps these bread and butter issues on the back pages and they barely merit a mention on the evening news.

The more Iraq dominates the news, the less chance that jobs, health care and the environment will play a key role in November's elections. Iraq and the economy can come together, however, when considering the ramifications war will have on our already limping economy. AlterNet will spotlight domestic economic issues as best we can, while cataloguing the growing resistance to an attack on Iraq. We hope everyone will speak of Iraq and the economy in the same breath.

Quote of the day.   "Excuse me? 'Reign of Fire' was fabulous. It all takes place in the future, when millions of fire-breathing dragons have char-broiled almosteverone. ... Christian [Bale] and Matthew [McConaughey] both take off their shirts, and I'm telling you, it was like some amazing international ab-off."

-- Libby Gelman-Waxner

(Actually, I found McConaughey rather off-putting in that movie. Christian, on the other hand...)

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  Tuesday, October 1, 2002
Oh, Uncle Arthur!   I'm pretty busy today, so I'm busily stealing links, this time from Brad. Someone's collected oodles of great Paul Lynde lines from "The Hollywood Squares", and I might as well repeat the link to the Paul Lynde fan site that I posted a few years ago. He was my favorite square as a kid, even though I didn't quite yet get everything he was talking about ...

Peter Marshall: True or false -- A recent hearing in New Jersey, opponents of fluoridated water argue that too much fluoride in a persons system can cause an uncontrollable desire for sex.
Paul Lynde (shouting): HEY, CULLIGAN MAN!

Peter Marshall: According to the French Chef, Julia Child, how much is a pinch?
Paul Lynde: Just enough to turn her on...

Let's just add a little more butter and cream ...   Julie Powell is taking on a challenge. She's acquired the new 40th anniversary edition of Julia Child and Simone Beck's Mastering the Art of French Cooking and is planning to cook from it every day for a year -- 365 days, 536 recipes. It's The Julie/Julia Project, which begins here and is going to be a blast to follow. Hmm ... maybe I can do something like that with Lynne Rosetto Kasper's The Splendid Table ... although given my work schedule every day is probably going to be impossible. (Via Simmer Stock.)

Maybe this'll get Dubya to sign the treaty.   In addition to all the other woes brought about by global warming, here's one more -- New England and Quebec's sugar maples hardly produce any sap in warmer winters, putting a stop to our supply of maple syrup.

Why does Bush want to invade Iraq?   As Jay Bookman writes in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, it's not really about weapons, threats or oil. It's because this administration desires empire, and has visions of an imperialistic Pax Americana:

The potential implications of a Pax Americana are immense.

One is the effect on our allies. Once we assert the unilateral right to act as the world's policeman, our allies will quickly recede into the background. Eventually, we will be forced to spend American wealth and American blood protecting the peace while other nations redirect their wealth to such things as health care for their citizenry.

Donald Kagan, a professor of classical Greek history at Yale and an influential advocate of a more aggressive foreign policy -- he served as co-chairman of the 2000 New Century project -- acknowledges that likelihood.

"If [our allies] want a free ride, and they probably will, we can't stop that," he says. But he also argues that the United States, given its unique position, has no choice but to act anyway.

"You saw the movie 'High Noon'? he asks. "We're Gary Cooper."

Accepting the Cooper role would be an historic change in who we are as a nation, and in how we operate in the international arena. Candidate Bush certainly did not campaign on such a change. It is not something that he or others have dared to discuss honestly with the American people. To the contrary, in his foreign policy debate with Al Gore, Bush pointedly advocated a more humble foreign policy, a position calculated to appeal to voters leery of military intervention.


Giggle of the day.   Uh, George? It's a little easier to follow along when the book is right-side up. (Alas, obvious but brilliant Photoshop fakery, but still funny. One can't help but wonder if he reads his war plan book the same way.)

Quote of the day.   "One thing you'll have to make sure about if you're a father -- never permit your son to consort with anybody in the building trade. Take my own boy. I can only conclude that he spends practically all his time in the company of some plasterer because, do you know what it is, that fellow comes home thoroughly plastered every night."

-- Myles na gCopaleen, aka Flann O'Brien, aka Brian O'Nolan, aka Briain Ó Nualláin, Irish writer.

September Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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  Monday, September 30, 2002
No need to get homesick.   Just don't live anywhere where you gotta make a long-distance call to talk to ya mamma, as many Cajuns in Vacherie, Louisiana believe. Excellent New York Times story (userid annoying, password annoying).

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  Friday, September 27, 2002
Yay!   Looks like Internet radio might be getting a reprieve. A new bill introduced yesterday introduced by Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, a Republican from Wisconsin and chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, aims to give webcasters a six month reprieve from online royalty rates set by Librarian of Congress last June until the matter can be studied further. Apparently many Congresspersons have been getting lots of feedback from their constituents who do not want Internet radio to be killed off.

Yay! Yay!   WXDU in Durham, North Carolina, is going back on the web-air! Now I can spend Sunday mornings listening to "Topsoil" again! Here's more on the latest developments in Internet radio from Save Our Streams.

Tibetan salsa?   Sure. It's called achar, and according to the Chowhounds, it's "vinegary, smoky and painfully hot." (Sounds great!) For more smokiness use chipotles instead of jalapeños.

Poaching pears.   Another neat tip from Chowhound. Given that poaching pears in good wine can get rather expensive, one of the 'hounds suggests approximating a good dessert wine for poaching by adding honey or maple syrup to a lesser white wine. You can also try broiling the pears with a bit of white wine and honey/maple syrup mixture. The resultant caramelized pears are said to be amazing. Save the expensive dessert wine for sipping along with this luscious dessert.

"Hello," he lied.   During last Wednesday's White House press briefing, reporter Ron Fournier of the Associated Press asked Press Secretary Ari Fleischer the same question six times in attempt to get a straight and truthful answer. Unfortunately for Mr. Fournier, that lying sack of steer manure couldn't give a straight or truthful answer to save his life.

Quote of the day.   War with Iraq. This time it's personal!

"There's no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us. There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad at one time."

-- U.S. President George W. Bush, speaking of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein

(Thanks for this one, Dule!)

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  Thursday, September 26, 2002
They're tryin' to wash us away ...   New Orleans is pretty soggy today. I'm not entirely sure of the level of the flooding, but I'm hoping it's more like the May 3rd flood of 1978 than a hurricane. I haven't talked to anybody at home yet, but all I know so far is that it was just rain in Lafayette. I heard on NPR this morning that "parts of New Orleans are under several feet of water", but I'm hoping that part doesn't include my parents' house.

However, most New Orleanians, who are used to this sort of thing, remain resilient, as this AP story reported:

New Orleans' French Quarter, usually aglitter all night, was empty with many bar fronts boarded up before midnight. One of the open bars was Molly's at the Market, where about a dozen people holed up against the rain.

"It's all hardcore locals -- the people you knew would be here," said bartender Jolie Meaux.

"The owner specifically said we don't close -- ever -- unless they make us. Better to be stuck in a bar than at home watching TV."

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  Wednesday, September 25, 2002
Jaaaysis, I'm such an awful eejit.   Okay, so ... up at 6:30am, into work at 8, at work until 9:30pm. Then head home briefly, then head to Spaceland to see a fantastic band from Ireland called The Frames who aren't scheduled to hit the stage until 11:30, which is closer to midnight, and who don't finish until 1:15am. Some might call me crazy (in fact, one did). It was so, so worth it, though.

Last time I saw The Frames was at Whelan's in Dublin, about 10 years ago. They were amazing then, and are still amazing. Their sound has evolved quite a bit, with less of the anthemic rock songs of "Another Love Song" and more of the quieter, more contemplative (still with great noisy moments) of later albums like "For the Birds" and "Breadcrumb Trail". Glen Hansard is an amazing, passionate vocalist, and his guitar work builds from delicate melodies to raging walls of sound like a rougher-edged Kitchens of Distinction, plus Colm Mac an Iomaire's fiddle giving amazing texture to the sound ... oh yes. Seek out and find The Frames if you can, and here are a few incentives. Listen:

Fitzcarraldo (live, with Czech violinist Jan Hruby; MP3, full song)
Lay Me Down (RealAudio)
Santa Maria (RealAudio)
Rent Day Blues (RealAudio)
You Were Wrong (MP3)
Right Road (Wrong Road) (MP3)
And check out the entire "Another Love Song" album, which is available for download.
Good luck, Louisiana.   My folks and grandmother have headed for the hills, and my sisters, other relatives and friends are battening down their respective hatches. Tropical Storm/Hurricane Isidore is expected to his sometime in the wee hours of tonight, and I hope everyone's okay. It isn't expected to be a bad one, primarily just lots of rain and possible power outages, but there is worry that the flooding could be bad. Let's keep our fingers crossed that this one's easy.

Life is uncertain.   Eat dessert first!

This is just ... wrong.   Entering a single word into Google just for the hell of it lands one in the strangest places. Yesterday my cow-orker Brad and I discovered the existence of ... Velveeta fudge. Yes, the American loaf of plastic cheeseoid substance, with cocoa, as fudge. We were aghast, and thought it was a joke. Apparently not. (Faire le barph...)

Some incredibly sick and twisted part of me actually wants to try to make a batch of this ... just to see.

The Velveeta Rabbit.   No, not a Welsh rabbit variation, but a sort-of children's story. (Somehow I think that velveteen would be more edible. Velveeta couldn't possibly be real cheese anyway ...)

Do any of these words embarrass you?   "Are you embarrassed easily? I am! But it's nothing to worry about ... it's all part of growing up and being British. This course is designed to eliminate embarrassment, to enable you to talk freely about rude objects, to look at awkward and embarrassing things, and to point at people's privates. Lesson 1: Words. Do any of these words embarrass you?"

Shoe. Megaphone. Grunties. Wankel rotary engine. Spotted dick.
(I'm with 'em ... possibly the worst name for a dessert, ever. Still, I'm a stickler for tradition. I say let the dick stay!)

Okay, so the Space Station doesn't suck.   We just wanted to be perfectly clear on this. And can someone tell me why we don't have a supercool spiffy wheel-shaped space station like the one Kubrick had in 2001? It's 2002, after all.

Let us now praise bold and curious men.   It takes people like these to truly extend the breadth of human knowledge, to boldly go where no one has gone before, to answer the burning question, "What's inside a Magic 8-Ball anyway?" by dissecting one.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, September 24, 2002
Good eats!   It was a weekend full of good eatin', although some of us didn't get to enjoy it as much as others. Saturday night we paid a visit to Ralph Brennan's Jazz Kitchen, sort of a casual, mini-Commander's Palace in, of all places, Downtown Disney in Anaheim. (The location is the main reason why we don't go more often.) However, since we had tickets to see Jonny Lang at the Anaheim House of Blues across the street, Brennan's was de rigueur for dinner.

They've got a tremendously exciting bar menu, chock-full of New Orleans specialties -- the Sazerac, Ramos Gin Fizz, French 75, Milk Punch, Herbsaint Frappé Hurricane (with fresh juices) and lots more. I started with a Sazerac ("You must be from New Orleans," said the waitress. "Hardly anybody every orders that; I think it scares them." No need to be scared!), since this is one of the few places in southern California (outside my place and Cinnabar) where you can get one. Unfortunately, it wasn't all that great; not enough sugar or sugar syrup, not enough Peychaud's bitters and too much Angostura. It wasn't bad, though, I guess. My second drink was a mint julep, something I'm not usually inclined to order. It was even more disappointing, being very watery, regular ice instead of crushed, a glass that was way too big, and even though there was fresh mint in the bottom of the glass, I couldn't taste it at all. Someone needs to buy that bartender a muddler.

Things looked up considerably once we started talking food. There was an interesting and very yummy-looking selection of appetizers and main courses on the menu, plus a set of frequently changing dinner specials -- you choose the entrée, then you get gumbo or salad plus dessert for a price based on the entrée choice. I chose the Pannéed Veal, topped with a mixture of Louisiana blue crabmeat, artichoke hearts and oyster mushrooms. This was served atop brabant potatoes with roasted garlic, and the whole thing was drizzled with olive oil. Pure Creole-Italian, and the pannéed veal was some of the best I'd ever had. Poor Wes, unfortunately, began feeling poorly that morning, we suspect as the result of a bad batch of Popeye's chicken (this is the third time he's gotten sick from that particular Popeye's, so we think we may be calling the Health Department). Things looked rather worrisome for a few minutes, but I was glad he managed to get some food down at least -- the soup du jour was butternut squash, absolutely lovely, creamy and with a touch of brandy, and the spinach salad with brie and fresh strawberries was tasty as well. I felt bad that he couldn't deal with even a bite of the pann&eeacute;ed meat, so we'll have to go again soon.

Dessert was perfectly good, although my selection didn't quite blow me away. I had a very good pecan pie topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, and Dave had "Chocolate Decadence", a huge layer cake filled with chocolate mousse and bits of English toffee. That was pretty spectacular, but was more than I wanted; in my case, the pecan pie was perfect.

If you find yourself going to Disneyland or anywhere in the Anaheim area, you'd do very, very well to have dinner at Ralph Brennan's. We've just got to whip that bar into shape.

Free speech in the Boondocks.   Here's a one hour and 48 minute speech given by Aaron McGruder, cartoonist and writer of "The Boondocks", speaking on free speech in time of war.

The CD of the year!   The one you've been waiting for! The one that'll change pop music as we know it! Yes folks ... Tony Danza is releasing a CD.

(Press release) -- Indisputably one of America's most popular and multi-talented performers, Tony Danza has just released his debut album, THE HOUSE I LIVE IN, to stores nationwide. The album, which puts Danza on the map as a viable and talented recording artist, includes his well-received single of the same name and which Billboard Magazine named as the adult contemporary pick of the week when it was released in May. A longtime fan of the song, which was originally released by Frank Sinatra in 1949, Danza calls "The House I Live In" one of America's greatest songs. "It speaks of who we are and what we hold dear," said Danza.
Oh dear. Need a drink coaster?

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