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 @ 8:48pm PDT, 12/30/2002

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)

November 2002
October 2002
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)
   Broadcast schedule
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   Live MP3 audio stream

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   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

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

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

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):

Catch Me If You Can (****)
Star Trek: Nemesis (***-1/2)
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (*****)
Far From Heaven (****)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (****)
Punch-Drunk Love (****)
Food of Love (***)
The Ring (***-1/2)
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
Anil Dash
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

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

  Monday, December 30, 2002
I love moving in.   I hate moving out, and packing, and packing, and packing, and packing ... arrrrrghhhh!

Mmmmm, meat pies ...   The New York Times discovers the joys of one of Louisiana's best-kept secrets: the Natchitoches spicy meat pie (that's pronounced NACK-uh-tish, by the way).

I hate to say it, but as always, I have to. Despite how lovely the Natchitoches meat pie is, in my opinion it's still inferior to the Lafayette's best-kept secret (except to Jazzfest attendees), Creole's Stuffed Bread.

The case for gluttony.   The author of Food: A History opines in the Times of London that gluttony isn't such a bad old sin after all, and is in fact a gift of evolution.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, December 24, 2002   ::   Christmas Eve
Merry Krimble and a Happy Goo Year!   I hope all y'all are having a wonderful holiday. Please, stop reading this drivel and go tear open presents and stuff your face with food. (I can still hear my grandmother saying, "Save da bow! Save da bow!") But in the meantime, let's have a carol ... everybody ready? Pogo? Albert? Churchy? Aaaaaa-HEM! (Me me me me meeeeeeee ...)

Deck us all with Boston Charlie,
Walla walla, Wash., an' Kalamazoo!
Nora's freezin' on the trolley,
Swaller dollar cauliflower alleygaroo!
Don't we know archaic barrel,
Lullaby, Lilla Boy, Louisville Lou?
Trolley Molly don't love Harold,
Boolaboola Pensacoola hullabaloo!

Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Polly welly cracker n' too-da-loo!
Donkey Bonny brays a carol,
Antelope Cantaloup, 'lope with you!
Hunky Dory's pop is lolly-
gaggin' on the wagon, Willy, folly go through!
Chollie's collie barks at Barrow,
Harum scarum five alarum bung-a-loo!

Duck us all in bowls of barley,
Ninky dinky dink an' polly voo!
Chilly Filly's name is Chollie,
Chollie Filly's jolly chilly view halloo!
Bark us all bow-wows of folly,
Double-bubble, toyland trouble! Woof, Woof, Woof!
Tizzy seas on melon collie!
Dibble-dabble, scribble-scrabble! Goof, Goof, Goof!

(All blessings, honors and huzzah to the late, great Walt Kelly.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, December 23, 2002
Decision.   Bruce Hardwood Floors, by Armstrong. Fulton LG Strip, Butterscotch. 3/4" thick solid oak, 2-1/4" longstrip pre-finished, with a 15 year warranty on the finish, lifetime on the structure. We got a good package deal from Carpet Empire Plus in Pasadena, who's doing carpet downstairs (Fabrica's Antigua, a frieze-style carpet in a dark café au lait color called Caribe), and they're providing flooring, labor and installation, quarter moldings, sills and threshholds, subfloor repair and door trimming for the same price as others had quoted for just materials and installation. It's gonna look great, and it'll ... almost be done by our desired move-in day. Not too bad.

Thanks a bunch to all the folks who wrote in with advice and encouragement, especially Greg, Jennifer, Scott and Andrew.

So long, Joe.   Joe Strummer died yesterday, at age 50. (My first thought was, good lord ... Joe Strummer was 50?) Billy Bragg shares his thoughts on Joe's passing.

The Clash woke me up when I was a 16-year-old college freshman and helped send me in a musical direction that was far removed from most of what I was listening to in high school. I was privileged to see him with The Clash as well as fronting The Pogues after Shane left the band.

This morning, on a behemoth Los Angeles non-commercial radio station's popular morning pop music show that isn't at all eclectic, the host properly began the show by announcing a musical tribute to Joe Strummer ... then started off by playing two songs that featured Mick Jones on vocals. Gobshite.

That's some Irish diaspora.   The BBC World Service took a poll to ask listeners around the globe what their favorite song in the world was. The winner? Not The Beatles. Not anyone you might expect, in fact. It was "A Nation Once Again", a hoary old Irish republican standard, written in the 1840s to support the end of British rule in Ireland. The most popular recorded version was by the Wolfe Tones in 1964.

Weird, weird, weird. It's not even a very good republican song, either. Jaysis.

If you want to see the Top Ten Global Hit Parade, here it is, and it's really feckin' bizarre ... not because of the songs you don't recognize, but because of the ones you do:

1. A Nation Once Again, The Wolfe Tones

2. Vande Mataram, Various artists (With the lyrics taken from a poem written by Bankim Chandra Chatterjee, Vande Mataram is regarded by many as India's national song.)

3. Dil Dil Pakistan, Vital Signs

4. Rakkamma Kaiya Thattu, llayaraaja

5. Poovum Nadakkuthu Pinchum Nadakkuthu, Thirumalai Chandran

6. Ana wa Laila, Kazem El Saher

7. Reetu haruma timi hariyali basant hau nadihruma timi pabitra ganga hau, Arun Thapa (Oh, how I remember tapping my toes to this one on WTIX, the Mighty 690, as I was growing up in New Orleans ...)

8. Believe, Cher

9. Chaiyya chaiyya, A R Rahman (Weirdly enough, I know this one.)

10. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen (Wayne and Garth thank you all.)

It's nice to see local hits being embraced over most of the American and Brit generated pop. I will shower eternal gratitude to whomever can burn me a CD of all these songs. Even the Cher one. I must hear the whole mix as it was chosen!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, December 20, 2002
Out, damned Lott!   Like a steam locomotive rollin' down the track, he's gone, gone, and nothin's gonna bring him back. (Well, he's still a Senator, but there's time to work on that, too.)

The neat little troika of December resignations (Kissinger, Law, Lott) will make for a nice little extra Christmas present.

Flooring follies.   A decision has been made! (Well, sorta.) It'll definitely be new hardwood over the linoleum and old hardwood, and not a laminate product. The decision that still remains: do we buy 600 square feet of price-slashed, pre-finished liquidation flooring from Amigo's and have the $2.50/sq. ft. installer guy do it, thereby saving a pile of money, or do we hire one of the other (more expensive) installers we found who lay down unfinished red oak, then sand, then stain, then 3 coats of polyurethane finish? We need to decide by tomorrow, so if any of you have experience of pre-finished versus custom sanded/finished new hardwood floor installations, I'd love to hear from you.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, December 19, 2002
Good to the last drip.   Absinthe -- the real thing, not some wormwood twigs steeped in vodka, Gawd -- is on the way back, thanks to the amazing efforts of a New Orleanian chemist and absinthe connoisseur. Although its low-grade illegality seems to be a draw for many people, it's basically gotten a bad rap. It's not a drug any more than any alcoholic spirit is a drug; it's not a hallucinogen any more than alcohol is (Hello? Pink elephants, anyone?). It's a powerful herbal spirit awash in history and stunning in flavor, once it's made the way it's supposed to be made. And yes, the myriad herbs that go into its fabrication do have a combined effect on the body in addition to the alcoholic buzz (the herbal liqueur Fernet Branca, for instance, settles my upset stomach in three minutes), but it tends to be a heightened sense of clarity, apparently. As a fellow connoisseur of spirits I, for one, can't wait to try it.

Drop dead, you redneck putz.   To the male human (I decline to say "gentleman") sitting behind me at the Paseo Colorado Cinemas during the 8:00pm showing of "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" last night who kept making remarks and laughing at inappropriate moments throughout the film last night ... be grateful that I'm a peaceful human being, because if I weren't, you'd be dead now. I'd have killed you with my bare hands.

Looking up!   Looka! readers, friends and cow-orkers have been forwarding hints, suggestions, supplier and installer names to help relieve our hardwood floor problems; thanks especially to Dottie and George. We're off to Amigo's Carpet and Flooring Superstore tomorrow, who sell materials at hugely discounted rates and who have installers who come personally recommended for their expertise as well as their very affordable rates. We'll also be looking into Armstrong Swiftlock flooring as a possible do-it-yourself option. I feel better now!

It also helped to have heat and hot water established today, 'cause that place was ice-cold. The lovely floor furnace got it positively balmy within about 10 minutes, though. Whoo!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, December 18, 2002
Welcome to the joys of home ownership.   After hours of backbreaking labor on my part (with a lovely blister on my palm just below my ring to show for it) only unveiled about four square feet of hardwood floor after scraping up the horrid old linoleum that some Evil Person had glued to it using an impossible-to-remove adhesive I've come to refer to as "The Black Death", and upon consultation by two flooring contractors, I've come to realize that removing the linoleum to refinish the floor is going to be well-nigh impossible. It'll cost me a fortune and will take weeks (actually, working by myself and at that rate it'll take me six months). It looks like we'll have to install new flooring over that, which adds another four grand to the flooring cost. Sigh.

However, to cheer me up ...

My precioussssss!   We're seeing "The Two Towers" tonight! Woohoooo!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, December 13, 2002
Go to Cuba with The Iguanas!   Adventures in Rock, a travel agency that specializes in trips involving bands and their fans is organizing a trip with The Iguanas to Havana and Trinidad, Cuba for eight days beginning January 3, 2003. This is a cultural exchange with the Cuban band Mezcla, and they are great. The full itinerary and booking information can be found at or call (877) 788-7625. You can also also visit

This sounds like an amazing opportunity. The Iguanas are, of course, one of my very favorite bands, hailing from the Crescent City and blending New Orleans R&B, rock, Tex-Mex and more into a unique and wonderful sound. Mezcla blend Cuban son, jazz, rumba, Yoruba/Afro-Cuban sounds and nueva trova with elements of rock, blues, rap, reggae and souk (wow!). Deadline for signup is December 16, and that's Monday ... so check it out and sign up!

Chuck scarcity as of today.   Good thing I'm not triskaidekaphobic -- today Wes and I take possession of our new house. (Woohoo!!!) I'll be spending the next three weeks painting, scraping, sanding, flooring, tiling, packing and moving ... so there won't be much time for me to be doing much weblogging, if any.

I'll try to check in with a few progress reports, but just in case -- Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year! Now, to begin my thirty years of debt ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, December 12, 2002
New York Times: Fire Trent Lott.   Today's editorial minces no words.

There are 51 Republican members of the United States Senate. Surely they can find someone to be majority leader besides Trent Lott.

Mr. Lott was in full-bore apology mode yesterday, trying to explain why, at Strom Thurmond's 100th-birthday party last week, he publicly bemoaned the fact that Mr. Thurmond had not won the 1948 presidential election, when he ran as a segregationist protest candidate. We have since learned that Mr. Lott said much the same thing in 1980, at a campaign rally for Ronald Reagan in Mississippi. Mr. Lott, at that time a congressman, said that if America had elected Mr. Thurmond president "we wouldn't be in the mess we are today."

Lott fucked up. Not for "misspeaking", but for making the mistake of saying what he really thought. The mask is off.

Cue up Randy Newman's "Rednecks" ...

Oh, and what a surprise ...   in 1981 Trent Lott declared that "racial discrimination does not always violate public policy" as he tried to save the tax exemption of a Christian university that banned interracial dating.

Even Shrub denounced him (although for purely political reasons; i.e., to make sure he and his agenda don't suffer any damage from Lott's remarks) but, predictably, North Carolina Senator, noted homophobic troll, fellow racist and hellbound rat-bastard Jesse Helms defended Lott's remarks. When Helms was a broadcaster he used that forum to defend owners of segregated businesses, condemned civil rights marchers, and as a Senator fought against the Martin Luther King holiday. Birds of a feather ...

A toast! Here's to Judge Richard M. Berman! *clink*   New York wine drinkers should be happy today. A federal judge ordered New York State yesterday to allow wineries in the rest of the country to ship wine directly to consumers in the state. Don't break out the special corkscrews too soon, though ... the state is going to appeal.

It's ridiculous, really. That state law is protctionist and benefits nobody but wine wholesalers. Those guys can compete just like everyone else, and soon New Yorkers can partake of the joys of wineries that don't export their wares, like one of my favorites -- V. Sattui, in Napa Valley.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, December 11, 2002
Food, glorious food: L.A.'s Top 10 Dishes.   Good issue of the Los Angeles Times' Food Section today. Critic S. Irene Virbila goes over the best dishes that the city's restaurants have to offer, in her opinion ... with recipes! (userid/password = annoying/annoying) It's amazing how some of them are relatively simple dishes, but many times with simplicity and great ingredients lies elegance and perfection.

Foie gras with roasted pineapple, from Chef Jeff Armstrong at Whist in Santa Monica.

Sugar-and-salt-cured salmon, from Chef Ulf Strandberg at contemporary Swedish restaurant Gustaf Anders in Santa Ana.

Big-eye tuna tartare, from Chef Michael Cimarusti at the incomparable Water Grill in downtown L.A.

Main Courses:
Grilled prime rib steak with cannellini beans and red wine sauce, from Chef Mark Peel at the fabulous Campanile.

Scallops with Indian-spiced cauliflower, from Chef Lee Hefter at Spago Beverly Hills (site of one of the three best restaurant meals I've ever had in my life).

Bombolotti all'Amatriciana, a variation of my favorite Italian pasta dish, from Chef Gino Angelini of Angelini Osteria, on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles. (Bombolotti are like half-rigatoni.) I still haven't been to Angelini, which is my Number One Most-Want-To-Go-There restaurant in the city.

Black mussels with water spinach and fennel salt, Chef Suzanne Tracht at Jar, on Beverly Blvd. in Los Angeles.

Lucques stuffing, a piece of boned chicken stuffed with bread, chicken livers, currants and Swiss chard, from Chef Suzanne Goin at Lucques in West Hollywood.

Cardamom pot de crème, from Chef Shelley Register at Red Pearl Kitchen in Huntington Beach. So simple! Only four ingredients!

Vacherin glacé with lavender ice cream and raspberry coulis, from Chef Alain Giraud at Bastide in West Hollywood.

Jones.   Last night I finished packing up all the glassware, including the cocktail glasses. Crap. I should have left at least one of them out. Tonight I'm packing up the liquor, too. I think I'll have to subsist on bottled beer for the next couple of weeks. There'll be lots of take-out, too.

Friday, maybe tomorrow, we get the keys. I'll be on the edge of my seat until then.

Just Me and My Racist Toupee.   From Mark Morford, in the "Morning Fix":

Senate Republican leader and noted misogynist, racist, ungodly mama's boy, toupee abuser, and adorably flabby epitome of all that is dank and wrong with the conservative viewpoint Trent Lott, facing fierce criticism for more dumb remarks seeming to endorse the segregationist positions once held by crusty scrap of used shoe leather Sen. Strom "No One Knows Why I'm Still Alive" Thurmond, made nearly identical comments at a Mississippi rally with Thurmond more than two decades ago, because he's just that sort of execrable white meat.

The furor over Lott's comment that the nation might have been better off if the then pro-segregationist Thurmond had been elected president in 1948, comes just weeks before he is to return to the position of Senate majority leader with the GOP's takeover of the Senate, thus inducing an enormous collective cringe in the viscera of the human oversoul.

Sen. Lott wasn't available for comment, as he was reportedly busy affixing a "WHITES ONLY" sign to the water fountain outside his office door.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, December 10, 2002
George W. Bush: Not a moron, but a sociopath?   Creepy article by Bev Conover in the Online Journal, which looks beyond his image of the affable bumbler, and looks back to the man who as a boy used to torture and kill small animals:

The striking thing about this George, even though Karen Hughes is often seen hovering at his elbow, is that he isn't tongue-tied when he is pumping up his ego, dishing out digs and being sarcastic and crude.

Mark Crispin Miller, author of The Bush Dyslexicon and professor of media studies at New York University, who also sees the darker Bush, said in a Nov. 28 interview with the Toronto Star, "Bush is not an imbecile. He's not a puppet. I think that Bush is a sociopathic personality. I think he's incapable of empathy. He has an inordinate sense of his own entitlement, and he's a very skilled manipulator. And in all the snickering about his alleged idiocy, this is what a lot of people miss."

"He has no trouble speaking off the cuff when he's speaking punitively, when he's talking about violence, when he's talking about revenge," Miller told Whyte. "When he struts and thumps his chest, his syntax and grammar are fine. It's only when he leaps into the wild blue yonder of compassion, or idealism, or altruism, that he makes these hilarious mistakes."

In a speech last Sept. in Nashville, trying to strengthen his case against Saddam, Bush's script called for him to say, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." But the words that came out of his mouth were, ""Fool me once, shame ... shame on ... you," followed by a long pause, then, "Fool me-- can't get fooled again!"

Said Miller, "What's revealing about this is that Bush could not say, 'Shame on me' to save his life. That's a completely alien idea to him. This is a guy who is absolutely proud of his own inflexibility and rectitude."

Exaggeration, or cause for worry? Food for thought, certainly. I for one have no difficulty believing in his lack of compassion and empathy, or his mindboggling sense of entitlement, for starters. Or that he is what the friends of Bill W. call a "dry drunk ".

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, December 9, 2002
Trent Lott and The Negro Problem.   No, I don't mean Stew's most excellent band. In case you hadn't heard by now, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott was, for some inexplicable reason, paying tribute to the retiring Senator Strom "Shouldn't He Have Died 25 Years Ago?" Thurmond, and I think Dr. Freud let him slip out some of his true feelings:

Speaking Thursday at a 100th birthday party and retirement celebration for Sen. Thurmond (R-S.C.) in the Dirksen Senate Office Building, Lott said, "I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either."

Thurmond, then governor of South Carolina, was the presidential nominee of the breakaway Dixiecrat Party in 1948. He carried Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and his home state. He declared during his campaign against Democrat Harry S. Truman, who supported civil rights legislation, and Republican Thomas Dewey: "All the laws of Washington and all the bayonets of the Army cannot force the Negro into our homes, our schools, our churches."

On July 17, 1948, delegates from 13 southern states gathered in Birmingham to nominate Thurmond and adopt a platform that said in part, "We stand for the segregation of the races and the racial integrity of each race."... The gathering, which included many Thurmond family members and past and present staffers, applauded Lott when he said "we're proud" of the 1948 vote. But when he said "we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years" if Thurmond had won, there was an audible gasp and general silence.

Perhaps Sen. Lott might want to retire from the Senate and become David Duke's next presidential running mate.

H minus four days.   Today we went to the escrow office, and I signed my name 25 times; I also scrawled my initials 31 times. That, plus handing over an eye-poppingly large cashier's check ("Is that really my money I'm handing over?! Where the hell did all that come from?!") and waiting four days, I should then magically transmogrify into a homeowner. It'll be wonderful. I can't wait. I'll just try not to think about that staggeringly large debt that won't be paid off until 2033.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, December 6, 2002
Cruel and unusual punishment.   Boredom, wrestling and soap operas on TV all day, and worst of all, bad food -- former Louisiana governor Edwin Edwards describes life in federal prison. Poor béb´.

Uh, I don't think McRazorblades is an official menu item.   An 18-year-old McDonald's worker in Eunice, Louisiana (a town of which I'm an honorary citizen) got busted for placing razor blades in a Hot Apple Pie, and is now facing federal charges and 10 years in prison. Time for a little Cajun music -- cue Canray Fontenot's "Les Barres de la Prison" and "La Valse de Quatre Vingt Dix-Neuf Ans".

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  Wednesday, December 4, 2002
Just call me Two-Lunch Chuck, or Three-Dinner Taggart.   Today's New York Times Food and Dining section features an excellent article about southwestern Louisiana cuisine and culture. I'm glad that the author gets the fact straight right from the start:

[T]he best Cajun cooking isn't blisteringly hot, contrary to popular belief. It's not about incinerating fish and meat. The guardians of regional tradition produce rich, slowly simmered soups and stews, more boldly flavored than most American food, yes, but not one-dimensional.
Remember this: Cajun and Creole food isn't regular food that's encased in red pepper. If it's too hot to eat, it's ruined.

A related article also points out something I've been trying to teach people for years -- don't go looking for Cajun food in New Orleans, which is not a Cajun city. It's there, but it's a fraction of what's to be found in New Orleans, which has its own related but very distinct Creole cuisine tradition. Again, you want the best Cajun food? Go to southwest Louisiana and eat at places like The Pig Stand in Ville Platte, or Robin's in Henderson, or Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge.

(Thanks to Ray, Steve and Ryan for sending this in. I was too busy to read the NYT today, but between the three o' yas, I found it.)

What's on your Permanent Record?   Tom Tomorrow wonders the same thing, in his latest cartoon, which as usual makes you laugh while it makes you wonder. How much will the noted liar-to-Congress John Poindexter's Office of Total Information Awareness really want to know? Man, I used to subscdribe to Mother Jones when I was in college. I guess I'm fucked.

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  Tuesday, December 3, 2002
Keeping America safe from musicians.   New "anti-terror" laws are also making life (and performing) very difficult for musicians from outside the United States. many of whom have had to cancel concerts:

Organizers of cultural events in the Bay Area and across the nation say they're being forced to cancel and change scheduled acts, squeezing the groups financially and depriving audiences of seeing acclaimed singers, filmmakers and other luminaries from foreign countries.

Last weekend, the Afro-Cuban All Stars, one of Cuba's most famous musical acts, was scheduled to perform in Berkeley in front of sold-out audiences. But the new visa policy prevented them from entering the United States.

Other recent cancellations include the Cuban-Haitian group Desandan, which was supposed to play at La Pena Cultural Center in Berkeley; Cuba's Los Van Van, which had been scheduled to perform at this month's San Francisco Jazz Festival; Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdes, who couldn't attend the Latin Grammy Awards in September; and the Whirling Dervishes of Syria, who had to miss their scheduled performance at the L.A. World Festival of Sacred Music in September.

Attorney General John Ashcroft: Enforcing the laws that suit him.   From the Washington Post, it seems that our esteemed attorney general is once again being selective in enforcing this nation's laws, except for the ones he doesn't like:

Today, at the Justice Department, some laws are more equal than others.

One 36-year-old U.S. law can be broken, it seems. Attorney General John D. Ashcroft, who is sworn to enforce all laws, has told federal employees that they can bend -- perhaps even break -- one law, and he will even defend their actions in court.

That law is known as the Freedom of Information Act.

Last October, the Justice Department cited the Sept. 11 attacks in a memo to federal FOIA officers that stated, "When you carefully consider FOIA requests and decide to withhold records, in whole or in part, you can be assured that the Department of Justice will defend your decisions."

That memo superseded Attorney General Janet Reno's memo of 1993 that told FOIA officers to presume government documents are public. Citing the D.C. Circuit opinion Hemenway v. Hughes, Reno urged care to make sure that the government "is not unduly limiting the records found responsive to those requests."


Sounds like "The Skulls".   Except that was just a bad movie. This was real life, and even more disturbing.

What began in 1920 as an inquiry into a student's suicide ended in Harvard University convening a secret tribunal that labeled 14 men "guilty" of being homosexual, and forcing the students among them to leave not only the school, but the city of Cambridge.

The history of the body known only as "The Court" remained hidden for more than eight decades. Then, this year, a student reporter searching the school's archive came across a file labeled "secret court".

The file was actually labelled "secret court". Gee, glad those boys knew how to keep secrets. They could learn a thing or two from Skull and Bones. Fortunately, Harvard's administration has vehemently repudiated what happened, but it still sends a chill.

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  Monday, December 2, 2002
Get Your War On: "Henry Kissinger?!"   The current edition of this brilliant online comic has outdone itself this time. I was thinking some of the very same things ...

*urp* ... we are so goin' to hell.   Well, if the sin of gluttony carries heavier penalties, that is.

The Fat Pack convened yesterday for a Second Thanksgiving, and we feasted. There were a variety of starters, some of which were even good for us (crudites and dip), and then Diana produced the first bit of outrageousness -- bacon coated with brown mustard and brown sugar. Delectable little bits of bacon candy, that's what it tasted like. *inhale*

We deep-fried a turkey, which was a smashing success, albeit with a few bumps in the road. For some reason, once the turkey was completely submerged in the boiling 350°F peanut oil, Steve decided to drop the deep fry thermometer into the pot, whereupon it sunk all the way to the bottom of the 30-quart pot. Um. Sounds like something I would have done. While Steve, Dave, Jon, Wes and I stood around scratching our heads over what to do, and after Jon stuck metal tongs into the boiling oil with ungloved hands ("I'm a welder! Three hundred fifty degrees is not hot!"), Jon's wife Aileen came to the rescue, deftly dipped the turkey lifter into the pot and immediately fished out the thermometer. In the midst of all these men she trumpeted her success to the world at large: "And who was it that managed to get the thing out of there? The drunk ... woman!" (Thank Gawd she was there.)

[Disclaimer: Don't try this at home, folks. Fry the turkey, I mean, but wear gloves and don't drop the thermometer into the oil.)

The turkey was the healthiest thing on the table. Side dishes included a spicy cornbread dressing filled with big chunks of andouille sausage; a potato-cheese-onion casserole thing topped with corn flakes and (yes, you guessed it) bacon; baked creamed corn, cut fresh from the cob and made with real cream (not that canned glop made in the factory in Smallville); my "macaroni and cheese" (the macaroni was rotini, and the cheese was over half a pound of gorgonzola); Opelousas Yam Crunch, a truly decadent dish from the monstrous talents of Sherl Picchioni, who until recently ran the Estorge House Bed and Breakfast in Opelousas (it's a private home again, unfortunately ... and as for the dish? It's a side dish! It's a dessert! It's a side dish! It's a dessert! *fight*).

And for dessert? We wrapped candy bars -- Snickers, Dark Chocolate Milky Way, and 3 Musketeers -- in puff pastry and deep-fried them. Sprinkled 'em in powdered sugar. Hoo-boy. We are so goin' to hell.

November Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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