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 @ 8:05am PDT, 3/28/2003

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)

February 2003

January 2003

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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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You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
roxi and merck
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

KCSN (Los Angeles)
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   Subscribe to the
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WWOZ (New Orleans)
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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
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
Hacking Food
Honest Cuisine
KIPlog's FOODblog
The Making of a Restaurant
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu

à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

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 Solace of Leaving Early, by Haven Kimmel.

Things My Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, by Mil Millington.

The Bartender's Best Friend, by Mardee Haidin Regan.

The Wild Shore, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Esquire Drinks, by David Wondrich.

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
The Reivers
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):

The Pianist (****-1/2) Chicago (****)

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:

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
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
Q Daily News
This Modern World
Web Queeries
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

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)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
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 X 10.2 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

weblog and (almost) daily blather

  "This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to the New York island,
  From the redwood forests to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made for you and me."
  -- Woody Guthrie

  Friday, March 28, 2003
Coup de Main for the Culture.   A very important message from home.

In an effort to save and restore more than 1,800 recordings of Cajun and Creole music that span over a century, we are passing along an appeal for donations to all Cajun music fans.

Considered by musicians (including the Mamou Playboys, Zachary Richard, and Beausoleil among others) and scholars to be one of the most important audio collections in the world, hundreds of tapes in the Archive of Cajun and Creole folklore are in danger of permanent loss caused by aging and environmental damage.

The recordings were stored without climate control during three years of renovations on the University of Louisiana Dupré Library. Located on the uppermost floor of the library, the archive was subject to the full onslaught of several Louisiana summers, exacerbated by an unusual period of drought that denied even a few cooling rain clouds. Many recordings exist only on reel-to-reel tapes, some of which literally melted in their boxes. Others often fall apart as they are being re-recorded onto other media. The Archive's administration is doing the best it can: it recently won a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts and has received some support from the University. But the undertaking is expensive and time consuming, and the few resources the Archive has are stretched as far as they can go.

Current efforts are focused on two primary goals: 1) capturing as many of the recordings as possible in their raw state, digitizing them as is for future conservation efforts, and 2) making compressed versions of the digitized files available to local and national musicians who visit the archive to hear for themselves these unique recordings. Once the collection has been recovered and stabilized, the Archive hopes to begin issuing a series of recordings to the wider public so that all who are interested can hear, for example, Dewey Balfa playing in his own living room.

Friends, this situation is bordering on tragic. With only volunteer labor and exhausted funding, John Laudun, Carl Brasseaux and Erik Charpentier are trying to save an irreplaceable treasure. These are field recordings of non-commercial Cajun and Creole music and storytelling dating back to the 1930s, when most of the performers were carrying forward music from the previous century. Most of the artists captured on tape in the Archive are long departed, and some of them can only be found in this Archive. It is a wealth of music and oral tradition that has never passed through the needle's eye of the record business, and it enables us to conceive the depth and breadth of our musical heritage.

We are asking for your help. The goal for this fundraising appeal is $50,000, which will allow the first primary goal to be achieved -- transferring the recordings from tape to digitized media. It would be a great help if all who read this could contribute $10 to this much-needed project.

Tax-deductible financial contributions to the effort of saving the Archive can be made payable to Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism, or CCET, and sent to:

Dr. Carl Brasseaux
Center for Cultural and Eco-Tourism
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
P.O. Box 40199
Lafayette, LA 70504

For more information contact: John Laudun at

Merci, mes amis.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, March 27, 2003
Cocktail of the day.   Once a year our department head at The Day Job takes us all out for a nice, long, leisurely lunch at the company's expense, and that day was yesterday. Typhoon was new to me, although I'd heard of it; it's a pan-Asian restaurant located in the second floor of the General Aviation Building at Santa Monica Airport. Large windows around the circumference of the restaurant offer a nice view of planes taking off and landing.

I was a bit skeptical, with the menu offering a mishmash of Chinese, Thai, Korean, Vietnamese, Filipino, Indonesian and even a few Indian dishes, but everything I tried was very tasty. The goi cuon (cold Vietnamese spring rolls) were quite good, although the peanut dipping sauce was too sweet and could have used more chile; grilled Chinese sausages with sliced raw garlic was delightful (and smelly!); sesame crab cakes were a tasty and interesting variation; even the samosas were up to snuff. My main course was very, very good -- a fiery Korean beef soup called yukkaejang (although I think my version was minus the tripe) that I enjoyed very much, although it's still not as hot as the Hot and Peppery Soupy Beef at the fabulous Fu Shing in Pasadena.

I was more enamored with the hunky Hawaiian bartender, though, who unlike many of his peers is very good at his job. (For one thing, he shakes his drinks for at least ten seconds, for the proper amount of chilling and dilution, unlike what seems like 80% of American bartenders who give it one or two shakes to mix the ingredients, then they pour.)

The specialty drink menu was full of the requisite rum-based tropical drinks (some of them blue), but a couple of things caught my eye. One of their house specialty cocktails contained ginger-infused vodka, and in fact they offered several infusions on their menu. This indicates to me that it's a bar that cares about how their drink tastes. I ordered the one that looked the most intriguing, and that's the one we offer you today. Besides this one, I can also recomment his Martinis -- mine was made with Hendrick's Gin, more than just a drop of vermouth, shaken ... and was exquisite.

This drink has an incredibly stupid name, but it's pretty tasty. Feel free to call it whatever you want.

Gilligan's Friend
from Typhoon Restaurant in Santa Monica

2-1/2 ounces ginger-infused vodka
Splash of 99 Bananas liqueur

Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with several strips of thinly julienned ginger.

To make the infusion, peel and slice up a good-sized hand of
ginger and steep in the vodka for one week. Strain through
cheesecloth a few times until clear, and allow to rest and
settle for another week. If you can't find 99 Bananas, which
I had never tried before, use Crème de Banane banana liqueur.

A new use for bottom-shelf vodka like that crappy bottle of Popov (or plain-wrap!) that some cheap bastard brought to your house for a party and was left there intact and unopened because you have far more decency than to actually serve that turpentine, even later in the party when everyone's too drunk to know the difference.

Oh ... what's the new use? Use it to run your laptop.

The continued brilliance of The Onion.   It truly is America's Finest News Source.™


Bush Bravely Leads 3rd Infantry Into Battle:
IRAQ-KUWAIT BORDER -- As the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division began its ground assault on Iraq Monday, President Bush marched alongside the front-line soldiers, bravely putting his own life on the line for his country by personally participating in the attack...

U.S. Forms Own U.N.
WASHINGTON, DC -- Frustrated with the United Nations' "consistent, blatant regard for the will of its 188 member nations," the U.S. announced Monday the formation of its own international governing body, the U.S.U.N....

Dead Iraqi Would Have Loved Democracy:
BAGHDAD, IRAQ -- Baghdad resident Taha Sabri, killed Monday in a U.S. air strike on his city, would have loved the eventual liberation of Iraq and establishment of democracy, had he lived to see it, his grieving widow said...

Point: This War Will Destabilize The Entire Mideast Region And Set Off A Global Shockwave Of Anti-Americanism
Counterpoint: No It Won't.

Sheryl Crow Unsuccessful; War On Iraq Begins
WASHINGTON, DC -- In spite of recording artist Sheryl Crow's strong protestations, including the wearing of a "No War" guitar strap, the U.S. went to war with Iraq last week...

Vital Info On Iraqi Chemical Weapons Provided By U.S. Company That Made Them
BALTIMORE -- The Pentagon has obtained vital information on Iraqi chemical weapons from Alcolac International, the Baltimore-based company that sold them to the Mideast nation in the '80s. "It's terrifying what Iraq has," Pentagon spokesman James Reese said Monday. "Saddam possesses massive stockpiles of everything from ethylene to thiodiglycol, according to sales records provided by Alcolac."

Coalition of the Shilling.   (er, "Willing", that is, apparently, sorry.) Let's point out who they all are, shall we? The ones that have actually sent troops to Iraq are in boldface.

Afghanistan, Albania, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Czech Republic, Denmark, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Eritrea, Estonia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Honduras, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Latvia, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Mongolia, the Netherlands, Nicaragua, Palau, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Rwanda, Slovakia, the Solomon Islands, Spain, Turkey, Uganda, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Uzbekistan.
Good thing we've got all this support. I don't know if we'd be able to pull off this war without Albania, Eritrea and Palau.

Oh wait ... sorry, we've just been handed a bulletin ... the Solomon Islands have pulled out of the Coalition of the Willing, and are now reportedly joining the Coalition of People Who Oppose Empire-Building Wars That Will Drag On Endlessly And Likely Envelop The Entire Region. Film at eleven.

The end is near.   Could it be The Last Days when, out of all the frothing, babbling, talking heads on television the one who's the most level-headed and making the most sense is ... Jesse Ventura? Speaking yesterday on MSNBC:

On Iraqis "not fighting fair" with tactics against the "rules":
"Their country has been invaded ... this is a matter of survival... their leader may be scum, but the grunts are doing anything they can to survive... this is not a football game or the Marquis of Queensbury rules... [if the US was invaded] I know I would do whatever it took."

On Michael Moore's Oscar speech:
"He was totally within the Bill of Rights."

On Sean Penn going to Iraq:
"Sean Penn pays taxes. He has every right to make that trip."

On Bush trying to come off as not being a career politician:
"Oh come on! He is completely a career politician."

It gets more surreal every day.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, March 26, 2003
Because we can all use this,   it's The Gulf War Drinking Game. My favorites: drink when...

* you see soldiers in gas masks
  x2 if they were actually necessary

* an initial news report turns out to be false
  x2 if the anchor openly admits it

* ari fleischer lies
  x2 if it is directly to helen thomas

If you play, I preduct you'll be stinking drunk in fifteen minutes.

Free posters!   And y'know, free is my favorite price. (Hey, if it's free, take two!)

And you thought he was pro-life provides free downloads of some most excellent anti-war protest posters for those so inclined, available in .pdf format for easy printing. My other favorite captions are "'YEE-HA!' is not a foreign policy" and "Talk Him Down: (202) 456-1414". Make sure you scroll down and click the "More Posters" link to see them all.

Oh, and once again, while we're on the subject of posters, Micah Wright's "1940s Propaganda Remixed" is the Mother Of All Anti-ShrubCo-and-Their-War poster site. They're not free, but they're well worth the money.

Stars? What stars?   From the San Francisco Chronicle: "Two Idaho mountain towns are flicking off light switches, putting in dimmer bulbs and directing street lamps to shine down at the street -- all in the name of letting people experience the simple pleasure of seeing the stars again."

"It's a precious natural resource that's no longer available," said Stephen Pauley, a chief proponent of the local dark-sky ordinances in Ketchum and Hailey. "At least 60 percent of Americans can't see the Milky Way."

Americans seem to think if lighting is good, a huge amount of light was better, Pauley said. Grocery stores, used-car lots and trophy homes such as those in Ketchum installed flood lamps Pauley calls "glare bombs."

Satellite images show the East Coast, southern California, western Europe and Japan immersed in light, while the Sahara, Amazon and northern Asia remain pitch-black. Much of the American West is so lit up that residents cannot see the night sky.

This is a great idea and I support it wholeheartedly, although it's probably far too late for Los Angeles. I've seen the Milky Way far too infrequently, and the last time was probably four years ago in Clifftop, West Virginia. Visit the International Dark Sky Association, and see what you can do.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, March 25, 2003
Great seafood. Bad feet. Retirement? (AIEE!)   The rumors have spread in horrified whispers. Surely it couldn't be true. Unfortunately, it looks like it is -- next year, Anthony Uglesich, proprietor of a dingy little hole-in-the-wall joint in New Orleans called Uglesich's, which happents to be one of the best restaurants in town, will probably retire.

I know he's tired and deserves a rest, but damn ... I want to eat at Uglesich's for the rest of my life! The only good thing about Anthony and Gail's potential retirement is that he says he'll publish a cookbook of his unique and wonderful dishes. When he announces the date, I'll take a trip back home and eat there every day for a week.

¡Y tu chilaquiles tambien!"   We went to an Oscar party Sunday night, where the potluck dishes had to be (loosely) based on one of the nominated films. I decided to honor the original screenplay nominee "Y Tu Mama Tambien" by whipping up some Mexican treats.

I love chilaquiles, the delectable Mexican breakfast-or-anytime dish of tortilla strips cooked in a sauce with sausage or chicken or whatever else. My favorite way to have them is with a really good red sauce redolent with different kinds of chiles. This version is based on one I found in Sunset magazine years ago -- refined and improved, of course. It's quickest to use ground chiles and store-bought chorizo, but it's a lot better if you start with whole dried chiles and make the chorizo yourself.

Chilaquiles con chorizo

3 medium-sized tomatoes
8 ounces canned tomato sauce
3 ounces tomato paste
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, sliced
2 chipotle chiles in adobo
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped and packed
2 teaspoons pasilla chile powder
2 teaspoons New Mexico chile powder
1 teaspoon ground achiote (annatto)
1/2 cup chicken stock or broth
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

1 pound chorizo, removed from casing
16 corn tortillas, cut into 1" strips
Oil for frying
1 cup sour cream
6 ounces cotija cheese, crumbled
More chopped cilantro, for garnish

Heat the oil to 375°F and fry the tortilla strips in batches, just until they're a little stiff (about 30 seconds). Use a deep-fry thermometer to make sure the oil is at the proper temperature before you fry each batch. Drain on paper towels and reserve.

Core and slice the tomatoes in half; remove seeds. Place cut side down on a greased baking sheet and roast them under the broiler until the skin blackens.

Sauté the onions and garlic in a tablespoon or two of oil, add salt and pepper and once the onions turn translucent add the tomato paste. Continue to sauté until the vegetables are soft and the color of the tomato paste has deepened somewhat.

Place the onions, garlic and tomatoes in a food processor (making sure to save all the pan juices from the roasted tomatoes) with the tomato sauce, chipotles, achiote, chile powders and cilantro. Purée the ingredients, and add salt, pepper and/or more chiles or chile powders to taste.

Crumble the chorizo in a skillet and cook until browned (skimming off most of the fat). Add the sauce and cook for 5 minutes, then add the stock and tortilla strips. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the tortillas begin to soak up the sauce.

In a 2-quart casserole dish, make a layer of 1/3 of the tortilla/sauce mixture, then cover with 1/2 of the sour cream and 1/3 of the cheese, add 1/3 more tortillas, the second half of the sour cream and 1/3 more cheese, then top with the final layer of tortillas, then top with the rest of the cheese. Optionally you may sprinkle some more chile powder or smoked paprika for garnish.

Bake uncovered at 350°F until the cheese is bubbly. Serves 8.

Tomorrow I'll post a recipe for homemade chorizo that's tons better than the store-bought stuff (which I will eat, but I occasionally have to hide the packaging. One friend in college saw the ingredients and was horrified. "CHEEKS?! LYMPH NODES?! SALIVARY GLANDS?!!" Um, well, it tastes good! It's all pig!)

Blame corn syrup!   The Los Angeles Times health section reports that the use of high fructose corn syrup as a cheap sweetener is seen by some as responsible for soaring obesity. (Annoying LA Times login: annoying/annoying)

"High-fructose corn syrup is a really low quality, really cheap sugar," [writer-educator Robin] Landis says dismissively. The syrup starts out as cornstarch, which is then made sweeter by converting some of its glucose to fructose; the more fructose in the end product, the sweeter it is. "It is not something our bodies should be dealing with. It's completely unnatural."

She also objects to the fact that high-fructose corn syrup turns up in unlikely places, such as ketchup, baby food and baked beans. "Even chocolate tastes more like sugar than chocolate when it is sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup," says Landis, who favors products sweetened with organic, unrefined cane sugar.

Talk about unlikely places ... when shopping for ingredients for my chilaquiles I picked up a brand of tomato sauce and was shocked to see that it contained tomato purée and corn syrup as well as lots of other unnecessary things. I found another brand that contained only puréed, cooked tomatoes, and that's what I want. There's absolutely no good reason to have high fructose corn syrup in a canned tomato sauce.

The apology Natalie Maines should have made.   A helpful suggestion from "The Specious Report", via Lia:

As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I now realize that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect.

I hope everyone understands, I'm just a young girl who grew up in Texas. As far back as I can remember, I heard people say they were ashamed of President Clinton. I saw bumper stickers calling him everything from a pothead to a murderer. I heard people on the radio and tv like Rush Limbaugh, Pat Robertson, Newt Gingrich and Trent Lott bad mouthing the President and ridiculing his wife and daughter at every opportunity.

I heard LOTS of people disrespecting the President. So I guess I just assumed it was acceptable behavior.


[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, March 24, 2002
Inconsequential personal updates.   Because a couple of people have asked (and thanks for asking).

My avulsed finger is almost completely healed, and I'll probably have a lovely concave scar there once it's all over with. All the better to tell the story. (As Frank Orrall of Poi Dog Pondering sings, "You should wear with pride the scars on your skin / They're a map of the adventures and the places you've been.") Astonishingly, my friend Mary found me a replacement bottle for Sazerac 18 Year Old Rye in New Orleans for which the store had apparently forgotten to charge her (they only charged her for the styrofoam travel packaging). It's lovely to know that the Cosmos thought I should get that bottle back.

The house is also coming along splendidly, thank you. We're down to maybe three boxes in the living room, which is entirely presentable and we've actually begun to have people over for chat and cocktail-quaffing. There's still the Lack Of Aesthetically Pleasing Clothes Hamper issue (piles of dirty clothes on the bedroom floor do not constitute furniture!), and the My But Isn't The Back Yard Getting Overgrown issue (because we haven't touched it since we moved in, and it's getting to be about time to do something about it). Ah, the joys of homeownership -- every project is much more expensive than you think it'll be. Still, I wouldn't trade it for any thing. I love our house!

If you're looking for non-war-related posts today,   you might want to skip all this today and wait until tomorrow. I'd really prefer to just post about food, drink, music and other more peaceful things, but unavoidable things just keep cropping up.

Quote of the day.   This is perhaps the most chilling one I've ever posted. Will this be George W. Bush's legacy?

"Today you have created an Osama bin Laden in every village in the Arab world."

-- An unidentified anti-war protester in Egypt, quoted on the BBC World Service, March 20, 2003.

Liberating the Iraqi people.   Here's one of the tools we're using in our newly-renamed War to Liberate the People of Iraq.

[T]he 2,000-pound Mark-84 JDAM bomb -- Joint Direct Attack Munition -- the new workhorse of the U.S. military... In nanoseconds it releases a crushing shock wave and showers jagged, white-hot metal fragments at supersonic speed, shattering concrete, shredding flesh, crushing cells, rupturing lungs, bursting sinus cavities and ripping away limbs in a maelstrom of destruction.

These and other effects, calculated and charted by Defense Department war planners in a predictive software program called "Bug Splat", are largely obscured by smoke and debris.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday praised the precision of the JDAM and "the humanity that goes into" the use of the weapon.

The simple fact, said Dr. Harry Severance, an emergency physician and associate clinical professor at the Duke University Trauma Center, is that weapons like JDAM are designed to kill.

No one in the Defense Department nor its research labs or weapons contractors would publicly discuss the actual effects of the munition as it detonates. Privately, however, engineers and weapons designers were eager to describe the mechanism.

As the Mark-84 JDAM strikes the ground, its fuse ignites a priming charge that detonates 945 pounds of Tritonal, a silvery solid of TNT mixed with a dollop of aluminum for stability.

The ensuing chemical reaction produces an expanding nucleus of hot gas that swells the Mark-84's 14-inch-wide cast steel casing to almost twice its size before the steel shears and fractures, showering a thousand pounds of white-hot steel fragments at 6,000 feet per second and driving a shock wave of several thousand pounds per square inch.

Instantaneously, a fireball lashes out at 8,500 degrees Fahrenheit, and the explosion gouges a 20-foot crater and hurls off 10,000 pounds of rock and dirt debris at supersonic speed.

Almost no one survives primary blast injuries, experts say. The brutal shock wave, a force that far exceeds the pressure the atmosphere normally applies to the human body, smashes into and explodes body cavities of lesser pressure -- lungs, colon, bowels, even through the sinuses into the skull. The overpressure can burst individual cells and rupture critical blood vessels, forcing air through them and on into the heart and brain, causing instant death.

Very liberating effects indeed. In reading this article, in fact, my lunch was almost liberated from my stomach.

It is to boggle.   An editorial by Ted Rall:

Now it's official: most Americans are idiots.

Decades of budget cuts in education are finally yielding results, a fact confirmed by CNN's poll of March 16, which shows that an astonishing 51 percent of the public believe that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was responsible for the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

There is no reason to think that. None. True, George W. Bush has asserted the existence of indirect links between low-level Al Qaeda operatives and Iraqi intelligence officials -- a lame lie repeatedly denied by the CIA -- but even our professional prevaricator has never gone so far as to accuse Saddam of direct involvement in 9-11. Despite their increasingly tenuous grasp on reality, not even the Bush Administration's most fervent hawks deny that the secular dictator of Iraq is a mortal enemy of the Islamist extremists of Al Qaeda. No mainstream media outlet has ever reported otherwise.

So why do these pinheads think such a thing?


That perennial government employee, Mr. Prop A. Ganda, that's why.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, March 21, 2003
Lady Sings the Booze.   Natalie MacLean writes a bi-weekly wine newsletter that Wes has been subscribing to for the last couple of months, and he loves it. I finally started reading a few forwards from him and I'm hooked too; I subscribed yesterday.

This time she writes about cocktails, and in particular about someone I'd love to meet one day: "Libation Goddess" Audrey Saunders of Bemelmans Bar in New York, and a frequent contributor to the DrinkBoy Community for the Cultured Cocktail. It's full of her most excellent philosophy on the art and craft of the cocktail, and features several scrumptious-looking original drink recipes.

Incidentally, Nat has been nominated for two (!) James Beard Awards for journalism; one for her wine newsletter, and another for the above article itself. Congratulations, Nat!

"The Coalition of the Willing is about to rock!   Thanks, Uzbekistan! Thanks, Macedonia! You guys are the best!"

Episode twenty-two of "Get Your War On" has been posted.

(My other favorite quote from this episode: "All I have to say is, 'Once this is over, the Iraqi people better be the freest fucking people on the face of the earth. They better by freer than me. They better be so fucking free they can fly.")

Quote of the day.   (Well, other than the above brilliance, of course.) Wes sent me the new DVDFile review of "Ghost Ship", which begins thusly: "Boy, does this movie suck. 'Ghost Ship' is so bad in every conceivable way that I could only sit there dumbfounded, hoping and praying to find something -- anything -- to hold my interest." Gotta love that; no beating around the bush there. Here's the best line, though:

"But why is everyone running around a ship with enough disco lighting to make it look like the Halloween episode of 'Queer as Folk'?"
Peter M. Bracke, ladies and gentlemen.

Waging peace.   Dr. Robert Muller, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations, now Chancellor emeritus of the University of Peace in Costa Rica was one of the people who witnessed the founding of the U.N. and has worked in support of or inside the U.N. ever since. Recently he spoke on how thrilled he is by what's going on in the world today regarding the role of the U.N. "Never before in the history of the world has there been a global, visible, public, viable, open dialogue and conversation about the very legitimacy of war".

The whole world is in now having this critical and historic dialogue--listening to all kinds of points of view and positions about going to war or not going to war. In a huge global public conversation the world is asking-"Is war legitimate? Is it illegitimate? Is there enough evidence to warrant an attack? Is there not enough evidence to warrant an attack? What will be the consequences? The costs? What will happen after a war? How will this set off other conflicts? What might be peaceful alternatives? What kind of negotiations are we not thinking of? What are the real intentions for declaring war?"

All of this, he noted, is taking place in the context of the United Nations Security Council, the body that was established in 1949 for exactly this purpose. He pointed out that it has taken us more than fifty years to realize that function, the real function of the U.N. And at this moment in history-- the United Nations is at the center of the stage. It is the place where these onversations are happening, and it has become in these last months and weeks, the most powerful governing body on earth, the most powerful container for the world's effort to wage peace rather than war. Dr. Muller was almost in tears in recognition of the fulfillment of this dream.

An interesting and unexpected viewpoint, particularly considering that we are at war at the moment (however, his remarks are a couple of weeks old by now). He's right, though; the world expressed its opinions in a civilized manner, from the Big Five powers to little countries like Cameroon and Guinea (for all the good it did).

Emailing your MP.   That's "Member of Parliament", for all you 'Murricans. Greg Allen writes about a communication not with his U.S. representative, but with a member of the British Parliament: (bold typeface emphasis mine):

Utterly remarkable.

Tuesday on NPR, I heard an excerpt of British MP Malcolm Bruce's comments in the marathon Iraq debate in the House of Commons. What I heard

That leaves us with the United Kingdom divided, Europe divided, NATO divided and the UN divided. Many of us share a deep anxiety -- and it grieves me to say so -- that those divisions may be exactly the outcome that the Bush Administration wanted.
wasn't as widely reported as his closing comment,

...if the United States is going to provide leadership for the world, the United States needs to provide a world leader.
and I couldn't yet find a transcript online. So I Googled Mr Malcolm Bruce, found his official page, and emailed a request for a complete transcript of his remarks. Here they are.

They came this morning via email, excerpted from the official proceedings, put into Word, and accompanied by a note from Mr Bruce himself. If you can show me one US representative who even reads, much less answers, his own email, I'll post a giant picture of him or her here.

Update: Mr Bruce's Parliamentary researcher has followed up with links to both his comments, and all the comments made in the (10-hour+) Commons Iraq debate. Also, listen to the NPR report of the debate.

Remarkable indeed.

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  Thursday, March 20, 2003
Sigh.   Let's just hope it ends quickly, with as little loss of life as possible (that said, I wouldn't cry if Saddam and his rat bastard sons were casualties) and with every one of our people coming home safe. In the meantime, don't let anybody tell you that you can't speak your mind.

Peace never had a chance.   Eric Alterman, writing for MSNBC:

For me, the antiwar movement such as it was, is over. We lost. It's time to wish the best for our soldiers and the victims of this war focus on building a better future.
Sounds like a good course of action. Oh, just one more thing from Eric, though...

Of course, all rules have exceptions and in this case, one must be made for the unpatriotic anti-American attacks made by Republican leaders in Congress during the war on Kosovo. Can you believe the noive of these hypocrites in going after Tom Daschle for saying what virtually everyone knows to be true?
Quote of the day.   "To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

-- Theodore Roosevelt, 26th President of the United States (1901-1909), speaking in 1918

Good advice from Molly Ivins for both the pro- and anti-war crowd.

I have some unsolicited advice for both those who are pro- and anti-war at this point. If you are anti-war, keep in mind that anyone who suggests or urges that you do anything illegal or violent to oppose the war should immediately be regarded as poison. Peaceful civil disobedience is another matter, but I have always maintained that there is a good case to be made for taking out Saddam Hussein. I'm just sorry the administration -- by constantly changing its rationales, making dubious or unprovable claims about nuclear weapons and links to Al Qaeda, and relying on what turned out to be forged evidence in the case of the Niger papers -- has so muddied the water and alienated the rest of the world.

To those super-patriots who are now picking on the Dixie Chicks, I would suggest you curb your enthusiasm. In World War I, "patriots" used to go around kicking dachshunds on the grounds that they were "German dogs." It's the kind of thing that gives patriotism a bad name. Dissent is not unpatriotic, even during wartime. Try not to be as silly as Congress was about renaming French fries.

Even if the war goes well, and we all pray it does, it's going to be the peace from hell. Let's try being a little gentler with one another. If you don't want to drink French wine, instead of pouring it out, why not make some bum really happy?

Or me? French-haters, I'll be happy to take all your French wine off your hands and dispose of it properly.

Cocktail of the day.   'Cause goddamn, we could all use a drink today.

I normally don't drink drinks like this, nor do I recommend them, nor am I in the habit of drinking myself into stupefaction. Today I'll make an exception. From Dave Wondrich of Esquire magazine:


1 ounce white rum
1-1/2 ounces Puerto Rican gold rum
1 ounce dark Jamaican rum
1/2 ounce 151-proof Demerara rum
Juice of one lime
1 teaspoon pineapple juice
1 teaspoon papaya juice
1 tsp bar sugar

Stir together all ingredients with ice except for the
151 and pour into a 14-oz glass three-fourths full of
cracked ice. Float the 151 on top by pouring it into a
spoon and gently dipping it under the surface of the
drink). Garnish with mint (either straight or dipped in
lime juice and then bar sugar) and/or fruit. (Suggestions
from Dave: on a toothpick, impale a lemon slice or pineapple
cube between two maraschino cherries and lay this atop the drink).
Supply a straw and, as Dave suggests, "after two, a hammock.
After three: a stretcher."

Dave explains that the papaya juice is what mixologist David
Embury calls the "mystery ingredient; it can be pineapple juice,
passion fruit nectar, coconut milk, apricot or cherry brandy --
just about anything", really; it's not like you can even taste it.

The Cocktailian.   Here's today's installment of Gary Regan's most excellent bi-weekly column, in which The Professor makes a Bloody Mary in its original form, and discusses a somewhat controversial work of art with a new customer.

Uh-oh, Spaghetti-Os!   When I was about 12, my mom finally got fed up with my bitching about what I considered to be the weekly abomination that in my household was known as "roast", threw up her hands and bellowed, "Fine! If you don't like it, fix your own dinner!"

I took that exhortation to heart, and therein began my long career as a cook. It was an ignominious beginning, however, since my idea of a better dinner back then consisted of a can of a product called "Beef-O-Getti", Chef Boyardee's version of the venerable Franco-American product "Spaghetti-Os". Having once tasted them during adulthood while in a fit of inexplicable nostalgia (and having spat them out almost immediately and scraped the rest of the day-glo orange goo down the garbage disposal), I can't imagine how I survived a bite of that stuff, much less a can a week.

Skot shares a brilliantly hilarious account of how he's managed not to shake off this particular bit of gustatory desire, even though he's a grown-up:

There is one thing I didn't quite grow out of, at least not totally; almost but not quite, and it fills me with horror to even confess this, but: Spaghetti-Os. I don't know what to say about this, except that there is evidently some tiny, unkillable node somewhere in my brain that every now and then raises itself from its torpor and barfs up some synaptic whatsis that generates a bunch of electrochemical holy-fuck all over the goddamn place until finally my brain gets it and throws up its cerebrospinal hands and yells, "Jesus, fuck and Liberace, we have to buy Spaghetti-Os again." I don't know why, and it's horrible.
As if I'm not already very grateful to Skot for the near-daily enjoyment I get out of his writing, I will always be indebted to him for contributing the exclamation "Jesus, fuck and Liberace" to my vocabulary. (*wipes tears from eyes*)

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  Wednesday, March 19, 2003
So long, Melvin.   Melvin Wine West Virginia fiddler Melvin Wine passed away last Sunday at age 93, in a hospital near his home in Braxton County, West Virginia. I was privileged to hear Melvin play several times at various appearances at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia.

Melvin received the National Heritage Fellowship in 1991, and was the first recipient of the Vandalia Award, the State of West Virginia's highest folklife honor, in 1981.

If you're a fan of traditional Appalachian fiddle music, you should certainly check out Melvin's recordings if you haven't already. "Cold Frosty Morning" was first released in 1976 and is now available on CD. A 1989 recording, "Hannah at the Springhouse", is available from Augusta Heritage.

Ninety-three years is a good long time, and he had a good run -- influencing generations of musicians, playing lots and lots of fiddle, and, as one friend of mine pointed out, "pinching lots of girls' backsides". Thanks, Melvin.

The shape of things to come.   Paul Krugman writes in the New York Times about what we can expect in the world after Bush wages his war.

The members of the Bush team don't seem bothered by the enormous ill will they have generated in the rest of the world. They seem to believe that other countries will change their minds once they see cheering Iraqis welcome our troops, or that our bombs will shock and awe the whole world (not just the Iraqis) or that what the world thinks doesn't matter. They're wrong on all counts.

Victory in Iraq won't end the world's distrust of the United States because the Bush administration has made it clear, over and over again, that it doesn't play by the rules. Remember: this administration told Europe to take a hike on global warming, told Russia to take a hike on missile defense, told developing countries to take a hike on trade in lifesaving pharmaceuticals, told Mexico to take a hike on immigration, mortally insulted the Turks and pulled out of the International Criminal Court -- all in just two years.

Quote of the day.   "When I was a boy I was told that anybody could become President. Now I'm beginning to believe it."

-- Clarence Darrow

L'abomination: The American school lunch.   Here's one thing the French know how to do a lot better than Americans: feed their kids in school. Those of you who have witnessed the horror that is the school lunch in much of this country should be focusing your outrage in that direction. (Via Jason)

Finally, notice how hard it is to eat a healthy diet at the American school. You would be relegated to a ghetto of garden salads, 'soups of the day', and whatever nutritious innards you could pull out of the breaded main dish. The message American kids get is that healthy food is second-rate and tastes bad, that they should eat lots of meat, cheese and potatoes, and that eating fast food every day is a normal diet.

There is no suggestion (like in the French schools) that a palate is something that must be nurtured and formed over time. Instead, kids are taught to favor sweet, fatty, salty foods and treat eating as just another source of entertainment.

School administrators (along with many parents) will argue that they have no choice in what they can offer, because kids just won't eat healthy food. But that is Lord of the Flies logic. If you applied it in the classroom, you would be forced to teach English from comic books and math not at all. In fact, some schools do take this line of thinking it to its logical conclusion, and allow fast food franchises to take over their lunch programs. Many more set up vending machines that give kids unrestricted access to candy, soda, and snacks.

The dirty fact about American school lunches is that they are a dumping ground \ for surplus and substandard beef, chicken and dairy products. Many of these foods cannot be served fresh because they would be too dangerous to eat. This is especially true for ground meat, which is at times so contaminated with bacteria that it would not be legal to sell it in a supermarket.

The current push for irradiating meat (under the euphemism of 'cold pasteurization') is an attempt by the beef industry to make meat safer not by improving hygiene at the slaughterhouse, but by rendering contaminated meat harmless. Presumably, it doesn't matter whether meat in school lunches has been in contact with cowshit, as long as it is no longer infectious.

I can't speak for the food quality now, but when I was a kid the lunches at my high school were so vile -- limp, tasteless, mushy vegetables out of a #10 can and boiled to extinction; thick, doughy, lumpy "buns" for the "sandwich lunch"; textured vegetable protein burgers of myriad shapes that still had finger marks in them from when they were squeezed together that morning; French fries so greasy and limp that could have been used as shoelaces -- that often I'd go to "The Huddle", as the campus snack shop and hangout was called, to get three doughnuts and a strawberry soda for my lunch. Neither was a terribly nutritious or pleasant alternative.

Another reason war is wrong.   'Cause it would be, like, a crime against humanity if this didn't happen. (Thanks, Shari!)

'THE' party on hold

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- Liza and David regret ... Plans for what was being billed as THE showbiz party of the year have been put on hold because of the gathering Iraq war clouds.

"We held off sending our invitations out because we want to have our party when the world is at peace and people can come and enjoy themselves," said singer-actress Liza Minnelli. She had planned the celebration of the first anniversary of her marriage to producer David Gest for April 15 at New York's Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square.

"With the threat of war imminent and considering more than 1,200 guests would be traveling from many different parts of the world, Liza Minnelli and David Gest have decided to postpone their anniversary party," spokesman Warren Cowan said.

"The couple feels that it is not an appropriate time for a celebration until after the resolution of the problem with Iraq, when a new date will be announced," he said.

Minnelli and her fourth husband, Gest, married last March in New York in a star-studded ceremony whose guest list included Elizabeth Taylor, Michael Jackson and Diana Ross.

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  Tuesday, March 18, 2003
Fait attention, idiots; America is French as well.   A perspective on current foolishness from French-speaking Americans who live not far from where I grew up. (Thanks, Ray!)

Marie Dean did not know until yesterday that America was on the brink of war with Iraq. Although she has lived every day of her 85 years in the steamy Louisiana Bayou, she speaks only Cajun French and cannot understand the news on television.

It came as even more of a shock to her that a campaign against all things French is being waged across America because of the diplomatic differences between President Chirac and the Bush Administration.

"They should stop them ugly ways they got," Mrs Dean said via Thelma Philips, her 60-year-old niece and part-time translator. "Before they say anything else against French things, they should think about us people who speak French in America."

In the past week the word "French" has been banned in government office canteens in Washington. French fries have become "freedom fries" on menus and French toast "freedom toast". Officials at the Office of Tourism in New Orleans have received bags of letters and telephone calls demanding that the famed French Quarter of the town be renamed the Freedom Quarter.


If anyone were to make such a demand in my presence, I would have no option but to smack him in the head. Very, very hard. The heritage of my city and my culture is predominantly French, and anyone who doesn't like it is welcome to -- how shall I delicately put this? -- go fuck himself.

(I'm really fed up with this.)

Dissent.   The Washington Post, who seem to have taken a supportive view of the impending war in the past, finally start asking some tough questions.

As the Bush administration prepares to attack Iraq this week, it is doing so on the basis of a number of allegations against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein that have been challenged -- and in some cases disproved -- by the United Nations, European governments and even U.S. intelligence reports.

But these assertions are hotly disputed. Some of the administration's evidence -- such as Bush's assertion that Iraq sought to purchase uranium -- has been refuted by subsequent discoveries. Other claims have been questioned, though their validity can be known only after U.S. forces occupy Iraq.

In his appearance Sunday, on NBC's "Meet the Press," the vice president argued that "we believe [Hussein] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons." But Cheney contradicted that assertion moments later, saying it was "only a matter of time before he acquires nuclear weapons." Both assertions were contradicted earlier by Mohamed ElBaradei, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, who reported that "there is no indication of resumed nuclear activities."

Well, which is it, Dick? Either he has nukes or he doesn't.

Suffer.   I hate to be deliberately cruel to you, my lovely readers, because I'm very fond of all of you (even the ones from whom I get hate mail every now and again, because it's so vastly entertaining). If the following link is upsetting, you may blame my friend Sean for sending it in.

Ahem. Okay, here it is:  Weight Watchers recipe cards from 1974. Imagine the worst recipes from James Lileks' Gallery of Regrettable Food, made for people on diets. The horror. The horror.

Mmmmmm, bunny.   I have good friends, some of whom read this weblog, who have rabbits as pets. Mary, Gregg, Mike ... you might want to skip over this entry, and tell Dennis Hopper and Desi that it's nothing personal.

Now, on to the meat of the matter, so to speak -- Robert made rabbit and andouille jambalaya the other day, and it looks really good. I love rabbit, and if I could have it as frequently as I have chicken, and instead of chicken, I'd be a happy man.

Madonn', what a relief!   James Gandolfini backed down, everyone shelved their lawsuits, and production on Season Five of "The Sopranos" will commence on March 31, only a week late. I'm glad I'll be getting my fix next year; I wouldn't have wanted to have Tony whacked, ya know.

The Shrubtimatum.   While reading the New York Times article about reactions to The Speech, I was dumbstruck by one passage:

"The sooner we do it, the faster we do it, the better and safer the world will be," said Rodolfo Castillo, 40, a fashion designer, as he watched the president's remarks on a flat-screen television above the black marble bar at Le Méridien hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. "The uncertainty of what is going to happen is the worst part of it."

Undaunted by the prospect of war, Mr. Castillo had been spending the day readying the gown and accessories that will be worn by the singer Anastacia at the Academy Awards ceremony on Sunday night.

Jonno was struck by the same comment, and remarked, "As she might say: I laugh. Because I will cry if I don't."

Gee, thanks.   Patrick Nielsen Hayden offers his undying gratitude to Ralph Nader voters, in a post certain to rankle some (and I can think of a few specific readers who will be rankled, so please remember I'm just posting a link). There's a followup as well, with excellent comments attached to each post.

As for my own input, I have to say that I lost whatever shreds of respect I might have had for Ralph Nader back when he bellicosely declared that it didn't matter whether Bush or Gore was elected, as there was no difference between the two. Given what's been going on since the last presidential inauguration, it's difficult to see how anyone could fail to realize how mindbogglingly wrong that was.

"Frog. Bloody French."   In one of the early Monty Python books there was a guide on how to insult other Europeans, in commemoration of Britain's entry into the Common Market, precursor to the modern-day European Union. The above quotation was the sole entry for France, accompanied by the annotation, "The French are very easily insulted by the English; almost anything will do."

Neil Gaiman, one of my favorite authors, offers some advice on that subject for Americans in a recent entry in his journal (no permalinks, unfortunately; link nicked from Patrick as well).

I have very mixed feelings about Americans disliking the French. I'm English, after all. We have a special relationship with the French: we are in awe of their sophistication, their cuisine and their wines, we think their women are beautiful, we like them as individuals, we badly want to go and live in their country when we retire, while at the same time we are deeply suspicious of them. It's like having people living next door to you who may be snappier dressers and better cooks, but who, after all, borrowed the lawn mower sometime in the thirteenth century and never gave it back.

Anyway, the English dislike the French. We're really good at it. We've been doing it ever since we got up one day and realised that the Norman Conquerors were now, like it or not, Us, and weren't conquering French people any more. We feel, frankly, that if anyone's going to dislike the French, it's going to be us. On the whole we manifest our dislike for them by drinking their wines, buying up their cigarettes, and, despite the fact that all English people can naturally roll their Rs and speak perfect French, declining to do so, and when forced by circumstances to speak French the English do it with an English accent on purpose.

These are tactics we've worked out over the course of hundreds of years, and if carried on long enough, they will bring France to its knees. I'm English. I know these things.

Changing the name french fries to freedom fries, on the other hand, will just make them laugh at you.

That's not all, Neil; it'll make us laugh at them too. Unfortunately, I'm almost beyond the point of laughing, and as I mentioned earlier, at the point where I'm ready to smack somebody.

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  Monday, March 17, 2003  ::  St. Patrick's Day
Beannachtaí na Féile Pádraig agaibh!   First off, forget about the green beer. No one in Ireland drinks green beer on St. Patrick's Day, unless they want to do an imitation of an eejit American. Just good Irish lager, ale or stout, if you please. Although if you're in New Orleans in the Irish Channel, you may throw cabbages.

There's a lot going on in Dublin this year, and if there's a parade in your town, go and have fun. Listen to some Irish music. (Recommendations: Kíla, Altan, 4 Men and a Dog, Planxty, The Bothy Band. Read an interview with ex-Bothy Paddy Keenan, uilleann piper extraordinaire, and get his new album The Long Grazing Acre.

Corned beef and cabbage is an American dish, not an Irish one; so, if you want something traditionally Irish, it's bacon and cabbage and that's Irish-style bacon, not American streaky bacon. (Feel free to be untraditional and add seasonings). You might be better off with an Irish breakfast -- rashers of lovely Irish bacon, brown bread, jam, eggs, and strong Irish tea. (It's good for dinner, too.)

Take a quiz to see how much you know about Ireland. (It's hard.) Check out Ireland's newest monument (The Nail in the Pale! The Stiletto in the Ghetto!) Watch "Father Ted" (on BBC America in the States). Read Ardal O'Hanlon's new book, and anything by Roddy Doyle.

Oh, and have a bit of the pure drop while you're at it.

Email of the day.   I'm being boycotted, apparently. From J. L., whom I thank for at least being civil:

Chuck, you certainly have the right to say and speak and write your thoughts and opinions. I certainly have the right to disagree with them.

I have had your site on my favorites list since I found it some time ago. I enjoyed reading your recipes and articles.

I live in Louisiana and love eveything that is Louisiana. That's what drew me to your site in the first place. However, I have found that when I don't agree with a certain point of view, that my best choice as a consumer is to just ignore them.

So I am dropping your site from my favorites list and shall not return.

Sir, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Just ask the Dixie Chicks.

Oh, I think the Dixie Chicks and I will be just fine, rampant idiocy notwithstanding. Thanks again to J. L. for being nice about it, unlike the guy back in January who suggested I rename my site "The Falafel Pages". Lovely.

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  Tuesday, March 11, 2003
Le Google ... avec!!   I'm not one of these idiots who's jumping onto the "boycott France and everything French" bandwagon. France is perfectly within its rights to disagree with the Shrub administration with regards to the upcoming war with Iraq, and to exercise its veto on the Security Council, just like the U.N. set it up to begin with. Don't get me wrong, though; one is also entitled to intelligently disagree with the French position. By "idiots" I mean people like the guy who started calling French fries "freedom fries", and the Republican lawmakers who followed his lead. They're idiots.

I love French Fries and won't call them anything else (even though they were invented in Belgium). I eat Camembert and Roquefort, and I can't do without French bread (because without French bread there would be no poor boys). I love Bordeaux, Sauternes, Cognac, Armagnac and Calvados. Bring on the Périgord truffles and foie gras d'oie with gingerbread pain perdu (which is, of course, French toast!) and a cinnamon-caramel-fig sauce... yum yum yum). I have French doors in my house. I like to French kiss. I enjoy the sound of the French horn (although it's properly called the "Horn in F"). Yep, I love the French, rude waiters and all. They can keep Jerry Lewis and that whole not-bathing thing, though.

Still, this is too funny to resist. Go to Google, enter the words "French military victories", then hit the "I'm Feeling Lucky" button. Oh sure, it's a hoax (a sublime bit of Googlebombing, I suspect), but come on, it's funny. (Thanks, Steve and Haven!)

Why aren't we reading this in American newspapers?   It's no wonder that more and more Americans seem to be getting their news from newspaper sites in Britain and Australia, which seems like a very good idea to me.

Bush Sr warning over unilateral action

THE first President Bush has told his son that hopes of peace in the Middle East would be ruined if a war with Iraq were not backed by international unity.

Drawing on his own experiences before and after the 1991 Gulf War, Mr Bush Sr said that the brief flowering of hope for Arab-Israeli relations a decade ago would never have happened if America had ignored the will of the United Nations.

He also urged the President to resist his tendency to bear grudges, advising his son to bridge the rift between the United States, France and Germany.

"You've got to reach out to the other person. You've got to convince them that long-term friendship should trump short-term adversity," he said.

The former President's comments reflect unease among the Bush family and its entourage at the way that George W. Bush is ignoring international opinion and overriding the institutions that his father sought to uphold. Mr Bush Sr is a former US Ambassador to the UN and comes from a family steeped in multi-lateralist traditions.

Although not addressed to his son in person, the message, in a speech at Tufts University in Massachusetts, was unmistakeable. Mr Bush Sr even came close to conceding that opponents of his son's case against President Saddam Hussein, who he himself is on record as loathing, have legitimate cause for concern.

So far the only other reference I've been able to find (thanks, Rick!) was an article from Business Week, detailing that the speech at Tufts took place on February 26.

UPDATE -- Here's the transcript of the Tufts speech. Apparently the Times took several of the former president's speech out of context, and he was not directly addressing his son. Still, his views seem to support by example his views of the necessity of cooperating with the U.N. and our allies. And I still think it's a really good idea to read European and Australian news sites.

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  Monday, March 10, 2003
Reasons for going to war:   Saddam has weapons of mass destruction! (Um, somewhere.) He defies the U.N. and has defied the U.N. for 12 years! He's a tyrant and a murderer! He's gassed his own people! Oh, and this:

A company tied to Vice President Dick Cheney has won a Pentagon contract for advice on rebuilding Iraq's oil fields after a possible war. The contract was disclosed in the last paragraph of a Defense Department statement on preparations for Saddam Hussein's possible destruction of Iraq's oil fields in the event of a U.S.-led invasion. The statement calls for proposals on how to handle oil well fires and for assessing other damage to oil facilities. The contract went to Kellogg Brown & Root Services, which is owned by Halliburton Co., of which Cheney was chairman until his election in 2000. [more]
Oh, and this too:

In recent months, as America has threatened and prepared for war against Iraq, the price of oil has gone from the low 20s to the high 30s a barrel. American consumers, therefore, are paying an extra $15 a barrel, or $300 million a day, or over $100 billion a year as a "war premium" on the oil they consume. It's like a taximposed as a result of government policyexcept that the government doesn't get the money. That's before the war even starts, and it is in addition to the $300 billion or so they're saying that prosecuting the war is going to cost directly. Of that $100 billion, $55 billion pays for the oil we import. But $135 million a daya dayor more than $45 billion a year (minus some taxes) goes into the pockets of domestic oil producers.

"Producer" is a misleading term for people who pull oil out of the ground and sell it. "Oil extractors" would be more accurate. The oil is there, produced from leftover dinosaurs that God or nature has tossed into the recycle bin. This oil costs something to extract, but that something is less than $25, or no one would have been extracting it before the war buildup started. So, the extra $15 is a gift from Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush.

I don't believe that President Bush is prosecuting a war against Iraq in order to enrich, or more accurately further enrich, his oil-patch cronies. But we all are happier when we can make our friends happy. All this happiness among his buddies must at least make a man like Bush, who is not plagued by self-doubt or second thoughts in any event, even more confident as he marches forward.

Marches forward to what, one wonders. War? Then what?

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  Friday, March 7, 2003
U.S. spying on U.N. Security Council going unreported in U.S.   It's apparently been headline news all over the world, except here.

The Observer has obtained a National Security Agency memo describes how "the U.S. government developed an "aggressive surveillance operation, which involves interception of the home and office telephones and the e-mails of U.N. delegates... [a]s part of its battle to win votes in favor of war against Iraq." From the New York Times to the Washington Post and everywhere else, there hasn't been one word about this in the major American media.

Salon also has an article on this (accessible after clicking through a commercial), which makes an excellent point:

What might be most telling about the episode, however, is not that the U.S. is spying on U.N. Security Council members in search of information "that could give U.S. policymakers an edge in obtaining results favorable to U.S. goals or to head off surprises," as the memo states. Spying at the United Nations is nothing new, nor is it necessarily nefarious. Rather, the story is significant in that it reveals much about the way that the Bush administration has handled its foreign policy: clumsy or arrogant or righteous, depending upon your point of view, but indisputably alienating to most of the rest of the world. The media maelstrom the memo has set off as far away as Sydney and Moscow is indicative of how much the U.S.'s reservoir of goodwill has dried up.
ShrubCo are a naught but a bunch of unbelievably arrogant, stupid bastards. The massive outpouring of goodwill around the world in the aftermath of September 11 has been completely squandered in less than 18 months. This latest little escapade will only exacerbate that. With every single thing this administration does, half of me isn't surprised in the least, and the other have wonders if I'm going mad.

Quote of the day.   "It's a blanket matter of policy that we do not answer questions of that nature."

-- White House Official Liar Official Obfuscator Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, when asked to comment on the above memo.

Recipe of the day.   Fried green tomatoes, from the Whistle Stop Café. To make a New Orleans version of this (originated at Upperline, then on to Uglesich's and everywhere else), add some Creole seasoning to the flour, place three fried green tomatoes atop some shredded lettuce and top with shrimp rémoulade. Yeah you rite.

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  Thursday, March 6, 2003
Lights, camera ... Floridita!   In today's issue of Gary Regan's column "The Cocktailian", our bartender bumps into a guy who's somewhat of a legend among cocktailians, and they discuss a couple of drinks created at one of Ernest Hemingway's favorite Cuban bars.

Just 20 more months ... 20 more months ...   A nationwide survey of U.S. voters reveals that if the November 2004 presidential election were held today, George W. Bush would lose to an as yet unnamed Democratic candidate by a margin of 48 to 44 percent.

We've got plenty of time to expand that four points. My current dream is to see him defeated by the largest margin in American history. Then again, I was always an imaginative boy; I'll just be happy when he's out.

Sign sighting of the day.   Which, I must admit, is a lame feature when I don't have a picture of said sign. I've gotta get me one a' them nifty neato digital camera thingies.


Carrollton Avenue Baptist Church
New Orleans, February 22, 2003
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  Wednesday, March 5, 2003
Happy Mardi Gr-- ... oh wait.   It's Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is over. No more parades. No more King Cake. Time for Lent. Penance, and all that. Giving up stuff. (Historically I've given up neurosurgery for Lent, but this year I think I'll give up cigarettes, alcohol and rollerblading. Well, maybe not alcohol. "Sacrifice? ARSE!")

I've been busy the last few days, with lots of cooking on Lundi Gras night and Mardi Gras. Creole roast beef for poor boys (the stock for the braising liquid/gravy cooked all night long ... mmm), Creole hot sausage and red beans 'n rice. Not much revelry, but lots and lots of comfort food (and a constant stream of Mardi Gras music from black Indians to brass bands to Professor Longhair and the Neville Brothers). It ain't the Krewe du Vieux, but it'll do.

Welcome to Shrub's America, 2003   A man was arrested for trespassing in New York state after refusing to remove a t-shirt which bore a slogan advocating peace.

It's nauseating to consider that the people who perpetrated this (from the initial complainant to the mall security guards to the arresting officers) probably have no idea that they are very, very bad Americans. The mall officials counter that it's private property and they can do whatever they want. What's next, I wonder?

Okay, show of hands!   Please raise your hand if you're the least bit surprised by this:

Health care economists said the drug benefit President Bush proposed for Medicare yesterday would be a bonanza for the pharmaceutical and managed-care industries, both of which are huge donors to Republicans.


Nature's Klein bottle ... with an agenda, apparently.   Jason wrote an interesting post today about seedless watermelons and how we get them (so, like, what do they grow from?). Tasty without having to spit probably wasn't good enough for the theocracy of Iran, who in September of 1995 saw seedless watermelons in a different light.

NICOSIA, Cyprus (Reuters) - Iran's parliament voted to ban the sale of seedless watermelon deemed corrupting by Moslem clerics. Deputies voted for the bill after a two-day debate in which a minority argued that people should not be denied watermelon because it has no seeds. "The government has to defend Islamic and cultural values, just as it has to defend the borders...Spreading corruption, robbing the youth of moral values. Seedless watermelon promotes homosexuality and asexuality." The law will take effect after further debate on details of the bill expected in several weeks' time.
We're here! We're queer! And we're not spitting seeds!

February Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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