the gumbo pages

looka, <'lu-k&> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look", in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans; usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

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

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

Page last tweaked @ 10:26pm PDT, 4/22/2003

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)

March 2003

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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Buy stuff!

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)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   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
   (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:

To Your Scattered Bodies Go, by Philip José Farmer.
Jinn, by Matthew B. J. Delaney.
Gypsies, by Robert Charles Wilson.

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

  Wednesday, April 23, 2003
Almost home.   Wes and I are off to New Orleans today. Although I was home visiting family and friends back in February, Himself hasn't been there in two years. It's about feckin' time, I should say.

If we're industrious we'll manage to pack a tasty home-prepared lunch so that we can avoid the Abomination that is airline food these days, and tonight our first reservation (along with most of The Fat Pack) is at Restaurant Cuvée on Magazine Street. It's relatively new, co-owned by Chef Kim Kringlie of The Dakota Restaurant and with Chef Richard "Bingo" Starr (formerly of the Grill Room at the Windsor Court, NOLA and Emeril's Delmonico) at the Executive Chef helm. Reviews so far have been brilliant, and all I have to say about this place is ...

Crispy Mirliton Napoleon, Spicy Shrimp and Tomato Rémoulade with Cayenne Butter and Frisée, and Sugar Cane Smoked Duck Breast and a Crispy Confit Leg; with Savory Roquefort-Pecan Risotto; Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras.

Holy crapola. Expect lots of forthcoming food porn.

UPDATE: A check of Cuvée's online menu offers a slightly different but perhaps even more delectable version of that duck dish ... Steen's cane syrup-cured-smoked duck breast and whole confit leg, Cashel Bleu-walnut risotto, seared Hudson Valley foie gras; pear glacé. (*moan*)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, April 22, 2002
Oh no! (Get in the second line...)   Legendary New Orleans rhythm and blues guitarist and songwriter Earl King passed away last Thursday at age 69. Earl was responsible for countless classic songs, especially "Big Chief", "Street Parade" and "Come On (Let The Good Times Roll)". Man, are we gonna miss him.

Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?   Apparently not:  the Republicans are staging their 2004 convention at the latest date in 148 years -- Shrub's acceptance speech will be on September 2 -- in order to exploit the upcoming third anniversary of the September 11 by having the "event ... flow into the commemorations of the third anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks" as Shrub "shuttles between political events at Madison Square Garden and memorial services at Ground Zero." (Via Tom Tomorrow)

Pardon me while I retch.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, April 21, 2003
Better living through chemistry!   And endodontics! It's a wonder what a root canal procedure (which was actually the single most pain-free dental experience of my life, primarily because the nerve in my tooth was dead, and that I had about a quart of lidocaine shot into my head) and lots of lovely Vicodin can do to improve the quality of one's life. Our Working Boy is no longer in excruciating agony and sends lots of lurve and gratitude to Dr. Phillip S. Min and to the inventor of codeine.

My TiVo, My Self   Or, "What's happening to my viewing habits."

Matt linked to a great article that pretty much summarizes Wes and me these days: "Why TiVo Owners Can't Shut Up". I'm afraid I've become a bit of a TiVo evangelist, just because of how feckin' fantastic it is, and how, to use the oft-repeated phrase, "I control my TV now; it doesn't control me." No more having to remember to leave a tape in the VCR, no more having to remember to turn the timer on, no more wondering whether there's room on the tape, no more having to rush home after the radio show to watch "ER" because I know I didn't set the VCR ... nope, I told our TiVo to record all new "ER" episodes once, months ago, and now it just does it. And I watch it at my leisure. And that's just one show.

Then there's the auto-record feature, where you can tell it to automatically record certain shows that are based on your viewing habits, which occasionally nets us lots of really interesting stuff. From the article: "You come home every night and think `What did TiVo do today?' It's like a pet."

(Quote of the day from the MeFi thread inspired by this article, with spelling correction: "Is TiVo a cult? I don't know for sure, but if TiVo told me to drink Kool-Aid, I'd do it.")

Buy a TiVo. You'll thank me. Better yet, get the Philips (or Sony) combo unit that contains a DirecTV receiver and a TiVo -- more bang for your buck.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, April 18, 2003
How lovely to be stoned on Vicodin.   How perfectly awful to be stoned on Vicodin because you're in excruciating pain from an abcessed molar and was up until 4:00am the night before because of jaw-crushing, thought-obliterating agony. Pain! Pain! No kill I!

(Ehh, such a drama queen.)

Posting is liable to be a tad scarce today, due to the fact that I'm likely to be seeking a root canal from any endodontist who'll see me today and who has clean hands. (Can you tell my standards have been lowered somewhat?)

"A chill wind is blowing in our nation."   Tim Robbins' speech to the National Press Club, April 15, 2003. (Listen to the event via NPR.) A few excerpts:

I can't tell you how moved I have been at the overwhelming support I have received from newspapers throughout the country these past few days. I hold no illusions that all of these journalists agree with me on my views against the war. While the journalist's outrage at the cancellation of our appearance in Cooperstown is not about my views; it is about my right to express these views.

A relative tells me that a history teacher tells his 11-year-old son, my nephew, that Susan Sarandon is endangering the troops by her opposition to the war. Another teacher in a different school asks our niece if we were coming to the school play. "They're not welcome here," said the molder of young minds.

Another relative tells me of a school board decision to cancel a civics event that was proposing to have a moment of silence for those who have died in the war because the students were including dead Iraqi civilians in their silent prayer. A teacher in another nephew's school is fired for wearing a t-shirt with a peace sign on it. And a friend of the family tells of listening to the radio down south as the talk radio host calls for the murder of a prominent anti-war activist. Death threats have appeared on other prominent peaceniks' doorsteps for their views against the war. Realtives of ours have received threatening e-mails and phone calls. My 13-year-old boy, who has done nothing to anybody, has been embarrassed and humiliated by a sadistic creep who writes, or rather, scratches, his column with his fingers in the dirt.

Susan and I have been listed as traitors, as supporters of Saddam, and various other epithets by the Aussie gossip rags masquerading as newspapers and by their "fair and balanced" electronic media cousins, 19th Century Fox. Apologies to Gore Vidal. Two weeks ago, the United Way cancelled Susan's appearance at a conference on women's leadership and both of us last week were told that both we and the 1st Amendment were not welcome at the Baseball Hall of Fame.

A famous rock and roller called me last week to thank me for speaking out against the war only to go on to tell me that he could not speak himself because he fears repercussions from Clear Channel. "They promote our concert appearances," he said. "They own most of the stations that play our music. I can't come out against this war." And here in Washington, [veteran White House correspondent] Helen Thomas finds herself banished to the back of the room and uncalled on after asking Ari Fleisher whether our showing prisoners of war at Guantanamo Bay on television violated the Geneva Convention.

A chill wind is blowing in this nation. A message is being sent through the White House and its allies in talk radio and Clear Channel and Cooperstown. "If you oppose this administration there can and will be ramifications." Every day the airwaves are filled with warnings, veiled and unveiled threats, spewed invective and hatred directed at any voice of dissent. And the public, like so many relatives and friends that I saw this weekend, sit in mute opposition and in fear.


All of those people who threaten and insult other people for speaking their minds in a free democracy are the true disgrace to their country and its Constitution.

It ain't da seafood dat makes ya fat, it's da batta.   We're at the end of an era, apparently.

Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, whose weight has soared to 375 pounds, underwent gastric bypass surgery Thursday in Pittsburgh, hoping to end his years-long fight against fat.

His surgeon, Dr. Philip Schauer, said there were no complications to the surgery, Lee tolerated it very well, and his vital signs are good.

The surgery turned Lee's stomach into a pouch about the size of the last joint of a man's thumb, holding one to two ounces. Since that will drastically limit the amount of food Lee can eat, he could lose as much as 75 percent of his excess body weight.

Good on him for trying to lose the weight. But will he go insane, being in the New Orleans area and only being able to eat a few spoonfuls of food before he's full? Best of luck, Harry.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, April 17, 2003
The Cocktailian.   Today the Professor mixes for Doc and Drinkboy, goes into a Tailspin and polishes (off) some Mahogany, in Gary Regan's biweekly column.

Professor Jerry Thomas, Father of the Cocktail.   He was a bartender, born in 1830, credited with having written the first book on cocktails (including shrubs, punches, smashes, juleps, cobblers, slings, toddies, sours and flips). If not for him, we might not all be here today, quaffing cocktails to our neverending delight.

In March in New York City, a tribute to the great Jerry Thomas took place at the Plaza Hotel. Many luminaries of the cocktail world, including Dale DeGroff, Gary Regan, Dave Wondrich (who organized the event along with the Slow Food folks), Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh and Robert "DrinkBoy" Hess, took part and prepared several of the Professor's now-classic recipes, plus some new cocktails were created in his honor. At the above link you'll find new recipes for the Arrack Punch, Thomas' legendary flaming Scotch drink called the Blue Blazer, a Brandy Crusta, a Gin Daisy, the Japanese Cocktail, the classic Manhattan, the Martinez, the fabulous but almost-forgotten Tom and Jerry. Gawd, I wish I could have been there.

There's another excellent account of the event in the New York Times, also archived at Dale DeGroff's site in case the main link goes away one day, plus Dale's own writeup. Here's one of my favorite parts, showing one of the myriad reasons why Doc is such a delight:

By hook and by crook, Mr. Wondrich's team pulled it together. Sasha Petraske, the owner of Milk and Honey, the cult bar on the Lower East Side, recreated the gin daisy, a light summer drink flavored with cura ao and lemon juice. Robert Hess, who runs a cocktail Web site called, made a Japanese cocktail, combining Cognac, almond syrup and bitters of his own formulation. Ted Haigh, a cocktail historian and spirits collector, did Mr. Hess one better. For his brandy crusta, a sort of sugar-rimmed sidecar garnished with an oversize lemon peel, he decided to recreate Thomas's own bitters. Along the way, he experimented with 14 kinds of snakeroot before discovering that the real thing, Virginia snakeroot (Aristolochia serpentaria), could cause cancer and renal failure.
Hee heeee ... I've experimented with making my own bitters, but of all the ingredients I used nothing was that toxic. (Well, almost nothing.) Doc says my bitters taste great in a blended Scotch on the rocks. I'm still tweaking the recipe, though, and I'll post it when I think it's ready.

More Ent for your buck!   It looks like the forthcoming DVD of "Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" will be an extended cut featuring 43 additional minutes, up from 32 minutes in "Fellowship". Whoo!

Wendell, we hardly knew ye.   He's baaaaaaaaaack! (Hide your daughters!) Oh, and don't go to his old site unless you follow the adage, "Porn happens when you click on it." has been pornjacked! (Um, that didn't come out right, did it?)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, April 15, 2003
Let me tell you how it will be.   There's one for you, nineteen for me...

Leftovers.   Dinner the other night made me think of an old Bunny Matthews "Vic and Nat'ly" cartoon. A customer is seated at Vic 'n Nat'ly's Ninth Ward restaurant, looking at the menu with some skepticism:

Customer: "Crab Vic"? I'm afraid ta ax what dat is.

Nat'ly: Aw, it ain't nuttin' ... we just take some crabmeat and mix it up wit 'a lotta left-ova gawbidge ...

Which is what we had -- a lotta left-ova gawbidge. Two of us hungry, and not much in the fridge other than some of my leftover carnitas from Villa Sombrero in Highland Park. Hey, waita minute ... we've got stuff from LOVE Delivery, other pantry staples I picked up at Eagle Rock Italian Deli & Bakery ... let's see what we can come up with.

Orzo with Carnitas and Chipotles, or...
¡Carnitas Surprise!

6 ounces orzo (rice-shaped) pasta
About 6-8 ounces leftover carnitas (Mexican fried pork)
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
About 4 ounces various mushrooms
1-2 chipotle chiles in adobo, chopped, with about 2 teaspoons of the adobo sauce
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
2 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled Salt & pepper to taste

Cook orzo in salted boiling water for about 9 minutes, until just before it's al dente.

Heat the oil in a large skillet, then add onions and garlic; cook until onions are soft, about 5-6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. Add the carnitas (shredding if necessary) and cook another couple of minutes, until they've softened up a bit. Salt and pepper to taste, then add the chipotles and adobo and combine. Add the orzo, oregano and mix thoroughly; add oregano, then check seasonings. Crumble the cotija over the pasta and mix in, heat on low for a few minutes until the cheese begins to melt. Serve in bowls, along with dark beer and crusty bread.

It wasn't half-bad, actually. See, it doesn't take much to cobble together a meal out of leftovers instead of just re-heating it.

Cocktail of the Day.   I'm engrossed in Colin Field's The Cocktails of the Ritz Paris (particularly since the English version arrived today and I no longer have to struggle with my rusty French), and I think I'll share a few more of his wonderful concoctions with you this week.

Let this be enough of a taste for you to want to acquire this marvelous book. It's €30.49, plus €16.77 airmail shipping (mine arrived in six days) from Mme. Florence Juncker, Boutiques and Gallery Manager, Ritz Paris; email her at boutique (at) ritzparis (dot) com.

The City
(Bar Hemingway, Ritz Paris, 19 May 2000)

8/10 raspberry vodka (see yesterday's recipe)
1/10 fresh squeezed lime juice
1/10 Cointreau

Shake with cracked ice and strain into a cocktail glass.
No garnish.

You could substitute Stolichnaya Razberi for the homemade
raspberry infusion, but it wouldn't be nearly as pretty.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, April 14, 2003
Les Cocktails du Ritz Paris!   I could have had this book last year, but of course, as I am God Emperor of Procrastination, I only got it on Friday.

It was worth the unnecessary wait. Colin Peter Field, master bartender and cocktailian at the Hemingway Bar in Paris' Hotel Ritz, has written a wonderful and beautifully bound and illustrated volume filled with his philosophy and "psychology" of cocktails, a few classic recipes, and a whole lot of original ones. Here are two, presented as our Cocktails of the Day-- the first is one of the most popular drinks at the Hemingway Bar (and just a simple infusion), and the other is a variation on the classic French 75.

Raspberry Vodka

250g fresh raspberries
750ml good vodka (SKYY, Finlandia, etc.)

Wash the raspberries and carefully pick them over for
rotten ones. Place the raspberries in a 1-liter sealable
infusion jar, cover with the vodka and refrigerate for
3 weeks, gently agitating the jar once or twice a day.
Decant and strain through several layers of cheesecloth,
repeating until the vodka is clear and free from all particulate
matter. Allow to rest for at least a couple of weeks, then
shake with ice and serve straight up in a cocktail glass.

I'd bet this would make a superb (albeit more richly colored)
version of the Footloose, too.

Ritz 75

2 ounces gin
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce fresh mandarin orange juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup
Champagne, cava or other dry sparkling wine

Build the first four ingredients in a Collins glass over ice,
stir, then fill with Champagne (about 2-3 ounces). Garnish
with a wheel of lime and a wheel of mandarin orange.

Some of you are naughty boys.   Michael Hanscom takes a look at the human rights records of the members of the "Coalition of the Willing", using statistics and reports taken from our own Department of State, and finds many of them rather lacking in that regard.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, April 11, 2003
French Quarter Festival!   It starts today, and it's the 20th anniversary of this little mini-Jazzfest, and it's free! 14 stages of music, plus almost 60 food booths. If you're local, you really ought to go. Even if you're not, it's worth the drive or flight. One of these days I oughta go home for longer and do the FQF too. Or instead, even.

"So what do you suppose Dick Cheney is thinking right now? 'Thank God, my decades-long dream of liberating the Iraqi children has been realized! Now, to cure AIDS!'"

"Maybe he'll say, 'Thank God, Saddam Hussein will no longer assist al Qaeda in terror operations!' Then he'll think, 'I can't believe I actually just thought that.'"

"Then he'll roll up his sleeves and think, 'OK! Let's get moving on that ROAD MAP FOR PEACE! That's something I give a flying fuck about!'"

Episode Twenty-Three of "Get Your War On" is up and available for your perusal and enjoyment.

Why wine costs what it does.   Weren't you wondering why that bottle of fermented grape juice costs $135 while another costs $15? (I tend to buy wines at that lower end of the scale.) Let's find out.

Apple to buy Universal Music?   If it happens, that'd make Apple the owner of one of THE Big Five music labels. Wouldn't that be interesting?

"Fair and balanced? We report, you decide?" Phyeah, right.   The Los Angeles Times' television columnist Howard Rosenberg writes about the end of the era of objectivity in broadcast journalism, with the shameless editorializing of right-wing Fox News, as well as MSNBC and even CNN.

The photographs tell the story.   In his most excellent weblog, Patrick Nielsen Hayden says, "As far as I can tell, most Americans are currently convinced that Baghdad is an ongoing street festival of star-spangled liberation. "OVER," proclaims the front page of today's New York Daily News. "Baghdad Falls; Scenes of Joy," says the Post. It's a happy rerun of Eastern Europe at the end of the Cold War.

"But when the Berlin Wall came down, they didn't loot the hospitals."

Conservatives like Michael Reagan say that "[t]hat statue was Iraq's Berlin Wall". In fact, the Berlin Wall fell because of a massive movement of the people for freedom, a movement from within, and the people who took the Wall down were the citizens of Berlin, both east and west. The big difference is that the statue of Saddam was brought down by U.S. Marines and only a handful of Iraqis, in a square that was sealed off by U.S. tanks and mostly devoid of people.

Like Patrick, I hope I'm wrong, but I get a bad feeling about all of this. I don't think things are nearly as rosy as they're saying, and I think everyone who's jumping up and down while shouting "Victory!" are seriously counting their chickens. For instance, where is the Iraqi army and what are they up to? Do we really believe that they all just up and went home?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, April 10, 2003
S-E-P-A-R-A-T-E. Separate.   I've always been a good speller, since I first started school. But I misspelled that word in a spelling bee in fourth grade and lost, when it was down to me and one other kid. I never felt so much like Charlie Brown in my life. ("I could have been the hero. Now I'm the goat.") I have never misspelled that word again.

Andy Baio, armed with a list of popular spelling errors and his old friend Google, decided to see if he could find the most frequently misspelled words on the web. My old friend comes in second on his list.

My own addition to the comments section was one of my own perennial favorites: the misspelling of lesbian as "lesbain", which occurred approximately 288,000 times in Google's index. (Odd that Google's misspelling detector didn't kick in and ask, "Did you mean 'lesbian'?" Odder still, it offered a sponsored link for a lesbian porn site.)

It rather sounds like a character in a series of detective stories. I can see it now ... The Purlioned Toolbelt: A Les Bain Mystery.

LOVE me!   Yesterday we got our first delivery from Los Angeles Organic Vegetable Express, delivered direct to our door. Our friends Fred and Heather recommended them very highly, so I thought I'd give 'em a whirl, hoping that it'd save me some shopping time and be a bit of a mystery box, like I had in school. (A "mystery box" exam is when you open a box containing ingredients you didn't know you'd be getting, and your assignment is to prepare a meal in a fixed amount of time using all those ingredients in a creative manner. Kinda like a low-rent "Iron Chef".)

Our first $25 box contained collard greens, onions, fresh straw mushrooms, kiwis, tomatoes (which were too green for my taste), bananas, apples, an avocado, some new White Rose potatoes, a bunch of lovely asparagus, a 6 ounce container of blackberries and Bartlett pears. Not knowing exactly what I'll get will inspire me to be more creative in my cooking, and we'll have fresh fruit and vegetables to eat every day. I think it'll be a good thing.

So much for those bills.   According to The Smoking Gun, Kentwood, Louisiana's own Britney Spears has closed down her ill-fated New York restaurant, and she and her partners have filed for bankruptcy.

Along with the crappy food, poor service, and trail of disappointed diners, Britney Spears's now-shuttered Manhattan restaurant also left behind nearly $400,000 in unpaid bills, The Smoking Gun has learned.

According to an April 2 bankruptcy court filing, the eatery Nyla owes money to more than two dozen creditors, ranging from a Brooklyn beverage wholesaler ($864.27) to a General Motors subsidiary that built the restaurant's sweeping staircase ($101,000).

A hundred grand for a staircase? Maybe she and her investors should have put more money into the food to start with, rather than hiring a four-star chef after the place had already gone down the tubes.

Many of the creditors who are getting stiffed on their bills are small businesses who have been hurt badly by Spears and her partners; thanks to the bankruptcy, they don't expect to see a dime. "It hurts business anytime you're owed that kind of money," said Pete Blau, the electrical contractor who is owed $45,000. "We're a union shop. We paid all our bills and we're the ones who get stiffed." Phil Leggio, the restaurant supplier who is owed over $44,000, says, "We're not a big conglomerate. It hurts, big time."

How rich is she, again? Well, last year she made $39.2 million.

Always remember to face the telescreen.   Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and a coalition of Republicans want to make the PATRIOT Act permanent rather than letting it expire in two years as the law currently states, so that government spying on Americans can continue forever.

I'm momentarily speechless.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, April 9, 2003
CocktailDB is back!   The Internet's largest and most authoritative database of cocktails and cocktail ingredients is back online after a complete rewrite and a fairly long absence. Hats off to Martin and Doc!

The database contains over 4,200 cocktail recipes from published, authenticated sources, is arranged to search by name or by ingredient(s), and is a lot faster and more streamlined than before. You can plug in a list of ingredients that you have in your bar and receive a list of cocktails you can make (without all the detritus and fratboy drinks that contaminate This is all The Good Stuff. Have at it.

"Baby" vegetables.   Tiny veggies are all the rage now, helping to fuel a nation in which consumption of vegetables is increasing, despite the onslaught of fast food and all its saturated fats. Some of the vegetable producers' tactics raise my eyebrow, however; scroll down in the article and note how what's sold as bagged "baby carrots" are just regular carrots lathed down to something small and stubby.

Know real baby carrots this way: they come in bunches, often with earth still clinging to them; they're still shaped like carrots, narrowing to a point; they have skins; they have green tops. Accept no substitutes.

The Reason Why.   An examination of current times by George McGovern, former United States Senator, presidential candidate, author and World War II bomber pilot. From the current issue of The Nation:

Thanks to the most crudely partisan decision in the history of the Supreme Court, the nation has been given a President of painfully limited wisdom and compassion and lacking any sense of the nation's true greatness. Appearing to enjoy his role as Commander in Chief of the armed forces above all other functions of his office, and unchecked by a seemingly timid Congress, a compliant Supreme Court, a largely subservient press and a corrupt corporate plutocracy, George W. Bush has set the nation on a course for one-man rule.

He treads carelessly on the Bill of Rights, the United Nations and international law while creating a costly but largely useless new federal bureaucracy loosely called "Homeland Security." Meanwhile, such fundamental building blocks of national security as full employment and a strong labor movement are of no concern. The nearly $1.5 trillion tax giveaway, largely for the further enrichment of those already rich, will have to be made up by cutting government services and shifting a larger share of the tax burden to workers and the elderly. This President and his advisers know well how to get us involved in imperial crusades abroad while pillaging the ordinary American at home.

The invasion of Iraq and other costly wars now being planned in secret are fattening the ever-growing military-industrial complex of which President Eisenhower warned in his great farewell address. War profits are booming, as is the case in all wars. While young Americans die, profits go up. But our economy is not booming, and our stock market is not booming. Our wages and incomes are not booming. While waging a war against Iraq, the Bush Administration is waging another war against the well-being of America.


You'll want to read the whole thing. In the above excerpts he's only getting started.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, April 8, 2003
Quote of the day.   From former First Lady Barbara Bush, when asked if she and her husband watch television (scroll down for source):

"But why should we hear about body bags and deaths and how many, what day it's going to happen, and how many this or what do you suppose? Oh, I mean, it's, not relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that?"
Waste your beautiful hideous mind on this, you horrid woman.

Quote of the day, no. 2.   "When one seeks out to destroy monsters he should see to it he does not become a monster himself in the process."

-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Cocktail of the day.   'Cause I need a drink.

This is an original by Dr. Cocktail, adapted from the classic Singapore Sling recipe and using some of the same ingredients. However, it's a straight-up cocktail rather than a long drink. Be sure to use kirschwasser and not a sweet red "cherry flavored brandy" for this drink.

Straits Jacket

1-1/2 ounces gin
3/4 ounce Bénédictine D.O.M.
3/4 ounce Kirschwasser (dry, clear cherry brandy)
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice

Shake with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker and strain
into a cocktail (Martini) glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.

"For gin, in cruel sober truth, supplies the fuel for flaming youth."   Ah, flaming youth ... ahem. That was Sir Noel Coward extolling the virtues of gin (among other things). If you agree with his sentiment, you may find interesting a recent article in the New York Times regarding gin, in which a panel of experts (including Dale "King Cocktail" DeGroff) do a gin tasting and rating, with some surprising results.

Prosciutto-wrapped salmon is what we had for dinner last night. Oh man, was it good.

It's a takeoff on a technique I saw Jamie Oliver, the not-nearly-Naked-enough Chef, do on one of his Food Network shows. It works like a charm, and takes almost no time to prepare.

Preheat your oven to 425°F, and after you turn the oven on grease a small baking sheet with olive oil and stick it in the oven to preheat as well. Take two skinless salmon filets and remove the pinbones with a needlenose pliers if you need to. Throw two or three cloves of garlic into your mortar and pestle, add some kosher salt as an abrasive and grind them into a paste. Strip the leaves off a couple of sprigs of thyme (or lemon thyme!) and add that to the mortar, pounding away still. Add maybe 3 or 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil and mix it all well.

Season your salmon filets with salt and freshly ground pepper, and if you've got the little thin end on one side, fold it over so that the thickness of the filet is a little more consistent. Rub the nice garlicky oil all over your filets, then put one or two basil leaves on top of each filet and wrap each one with two slices of prosciutto di Parma (cut paper-thin). Leave the two ends of the fish exposed. Take two nice big Russet potatoes, peel them and cut into 2" cubes. Boil in salted water for 20 minutes or until tender, then drain and mash or put through a potato ricer. Add a couple of tablespoons of butter, then drizzle in some milk until they reach your desired consistency. Add salt, pepper and Japanese wasabi to taste (try to keep the flavor of the wasabi distinct but in the background; it shouldn't blow your head off). Heat over low fire until warmed through.

When your potatoes have got about four minutes left, put some trimmed asparagus spears into a bamboo steamer and pop that atop your pot of boiling potatoes. Steam for 4 minutes, then transfer to a hot skillet with a tablespoon each of butter and extra virgin olive oil. Sauté until hot, season with salt and pepper.

Put your wrapped salmon parcels onto the hot baking sheet, moving them back and forth a bit to make sure they don't stick, then, as Jamie would say, whack it into the oven for eight minutes. At seven minutes, prepare your warmed plates with servings of wasabi mashed potatoes and asparagus, then go right from baking sheet to plate to table. The prosciutto gets a little crispy, and helps keep all the lovely salmon juices in (man, was that salmon juicy!). Serve with a Pinot Noir or a nice Merlot ... and that was our dinner last night. Easy peasy!

I would have posted a photo of how lovely the dish looked, but I don't have a digital camera. Anyone wanna buy me one?

National Poetry Month continues...   with the "poetry" of Donald H. Rumsfeld. Hart Seely of Slate tells us that the Secretary of Defense is a poet (and he doesn't know it):

The Digital Revolution
Oh my goodness gracious
What you can buy off the Internet
In terms of overhead photography!

A trained ape can know an awful lot
Of what is going on in the world,
Just by punching on his mouse
For a relatively modest cost!

-- June 9, 2001, following European trip

T. S. feckin' Eliot, look out. (I must confess that on first reading I read the last word of the fourth line as "pornography.")

Here's my favorite:

The Unknown
As we know,
There are known knowns.
There are things we know we know.
We also know
There are known unknowns.
That is to say
We know there are some things
We do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns,
The ones we don't know
We don't know.

-- Feb. 12, 2002, Department of Defense news briefing

"His work, with its dedication to the fractured rhythms of the plainspoken vernacular, is reminiscent of William Carlos Williams'. Some readers may find that Rumsfeld's gift for offhand, quotidian pronouncements is as entrancing as Frank O'Hara's." Hee hee hee! (Thanks, Robb!)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday,April 7, 2003
"I Am Not At War With Anyone."   Luka Bloom, one of my very favorite singers and songwriters, has written and recorded a new song, so far not on any record. The title of the song is in the header of this entry, and here's what Luka says about it on his web site:

January 23, 2003.

I woke up 2 weeks ago, and decided to write a song concerning the impending war with Iraq, from the perspective of one Irish citizen.

My reason is very simple. Ireland has no quarrel with Iraq, yet the Irish government is allowing US military planes to refuel in Shannon airport, on their way to wage war in Iraq.

The US is a great friend to Ireland, but it is not always appropriate to do exactly as your friends do. And sometimes it is difficult, but necessary, to say to your friends; 'I love you, but I don't support what you are doing now'.

So I have written a very personal, non-political song, simply to express how I feel in this current crisis in the world. It is on this website, for all who wish to hear it.

Listen to the song and watch the video in a variety of formats.

How the Bush Administration supports our troops.   Quite the policy: use 'em now to fight their wars, then throw 'em away later. From Steve Lopez' article in the Los Angeles Times entitled "The War's Dirty Secret: It's About Changing United States, Not Iraq" (LA Times userid annoying, password annoying).

We're asking 200,000 troops to risk life and limb in Iraq, and the White House and Congress are preparing a welcome-home party by slashing veterans' benefits.

Last week, I visited the Veterans Affairs dorms in West L.A., where I met a Vietnam vet who was wounded six times. He had a brace on his leg and shrapnel scars from head to toe, and he'd finally given up on his fight for enough disability pay to live on.

When I walked away, patients were calling out to me, saying there's no hot water for showers.

Things are not looking good for the future veterans of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

By [U.S. Rep. Maxine] Waters' count, current budget proposals would trim $15 billion from veterans' programs -- something's got to cover those big tax cuts -- over the next 10 years.

Eight rules for standing near me at a show.   Filter magazine offers some rules of rock 'n roll etiquette. I'd like to add a couple more.

Rule #1A: Keep your bleeding mouth shut!
Yes, I know it's a rock show. Yes, I know rock shows are noisy. Yes, I know it's not Mozart. But shut the fuck up already. If you're standing right behind me (as you usually are) and you spend the entire show shouting conversation at your companion so that all your important utterances can be heard over the din of all that annoying music the artist is making, you're a rude bastard and I have to wonder why you spent money on a ticket in the first place. If you want to talk, go outside and let the rest of us enjoy the show.

(Worse yet -- I often hear this at acoustic shows as well. Inexcusable.)

Corollary: Hey, music industry weasels -- behave or die.
Of course, lots of people who tend to be the worst talkers (particularly in this town) are music industry weasels who got in for free. One day, someone is going to throw a drink in the face of one of you chatty bastards and start pounding on you. I wish it could be me, but alas, I don't do the physical violence thing.

In the interest of full disclosure, I'm a radio weasel, and over the last 15 years I've gotten into lots of shows for free. Hey, nothing wrong with that ... because when I'm inside I try to be courteous enough to think of the people around me. Remember what happens to rude and discourteous people in Dr. Lecter's universe? They end up on his dinner table. Clap, cheer, applaud, sure. But if you entertain thoughts of constant conversation during someone's musical performance, assume that Dr. Lecter is standing right next to you. And he won't be pleased.

Rule #1B: Beatle Bob, go away.
If you don't know who I'm talking about, you can skip this one. Yeah, Beatle Bob has good taste in music and goes to all the good shows. However, I'm sick to death of Beatle Bob violating rule #1 (see the link) by pushing his way through the crowd to get all the way up to the front, and then either taking up too much room at a crowded show by doing his spastic gyrating "dance"; or worse, climbing up on the state and making himself part of the show. Bands, please stop encouraging him. Beatle Bob, you are not the show. Go away.

Okay, crankiness over. We now return you to your regularly scheduled Chuck.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, April 4, 2003
It's National Grilled Cheese Month!   I can't believe it's been a year already. Gee, I can still taste that Cheddar and Applewood Smoked Bacon with Green Apples on Organic Wheat.

The ever-fabulous Clementine (who unfortunately don't seem to have a website anymore) celebrates NGCM once again with another slate of luscious-looking savory delights. I very much enjoyed my lunch today -- Grilled Gouda, Spinach, Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Capers and Basil on Panini Bread, accompanied by two deviled eggs and washed down with some ginger limeade. If you're within a reasonable drive of Clementine in Los Angeles (Ensley near the corner of Santa Monica Blvd. in Century City), treat yourself to a different grilled cheese sandwich every day! If not, steal their ideas and make your own.

4/1 - Meaty chili and Cheddar on country white -- sloppy and delicious!
4/2 - Havarti, Mushrooms and caramelized onions with dill and paprika on rye.
4/3 - Cheese steak with provolone, white American, peppers and onions.
4/4 - Gouda, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, capers and basil on panini bread.
4/5 - Grilled Rachel -- turkey, Gruyère and coleslaw on rye.
4/7 - Patty melt with Cheddar, Swiss and roasted onions on seeded wheat.
4/8 - Posciutto, Fontina, arugula and balsamic roasted red onions on baguette.
4/9 - Cobb sandwich with chicken breast, bacon, blue cheese and avocado on country white.
4/10 - Hector's spicy chicken with pepper jack and avocado.
4/11 - Cheddar, Gruyère and scallions de-luxe on country white.
4/12 - Fontina, hot Coppa salami and roasted cherry tomatoes on country white.
4/14 - Grilled steak with Havarti, horseradish and spinach.
4/15 - Spinach, brie and toasted pinenuts on baguette.
4/16 - Monte Cristo with Swiss, ham and turkey.
4/17 - English Cheddar, chutney and red onion on pumpernickel.
4/18 - Smoked Gouda with mushrooms, Dijon mustard and pickled onions on multigrain.
4/19 - Breakfast panino with bacon, Cheddar and scrambled eggs.
4/21 - Monterey jack and sharp Cheddar with cilantro, red onion and chipotle chiles on country white.
4/22 - Smoked mozzarella, roasted garlic and tomatoes on country white.
4/23 - Steak panino with blue cheese and bacon.
4/24 - Grilled American cheese on white bread with a touch of cayenne, plus tomato soup!
4/25 - Havarti, cream cheese and pimento-stuffed green olives on potato-dill bread.
4/26 - Quesadilla with sautéed mushrooms and squash blossoms with the fixins.
4/28 - Feta, provolone and roasted tomatoes on olive bread.
4/29 - Pressed Cuban pork sandwich with Swiss.
4/30 - Quattro Staggioni mozzarella with mushrooms, artichokes, ham and pepperoni on panini round.
Further celebrations of cheese: Chef Thomas Keller of The French Laundry in Napa Valley recommends white English Cheddar on brioche, lightly brushed with clarified butter. (Holy crapola.) Some say you can't go wrong with a combination of three cheeses (particularly if one is Gruyère) and bcon on rosemary potato bread. (*moan*)

And it's National Poetry Month, too!   That's what we need in this world right now -- more grilled cheese and poetry. (Not to mention drinking, dancing and sex.)

To help you celebrate this as well, Knopf will very kindly send you a poem every day during NPM, and you can sign up on their web site.

Grilled cheese haiku.   During National Grilled Cheese Month, Clementine is also sponsoring a haiku contest. The best will will win t-shirts and free food, and I'm all over that. And heck-ola, it just beautifully coincides with National Poetry Month to boot. Here are my two offerings, written while waiting in the long line at Clementine today:

Butter me, cheese me.
Grill me, flip me. I'm crispy
now ... it's time to eat!

Cheese! Sensual joy!
None of that Velveeta crap;
Emmenthaler, please.

Rummy the traitor?   Joe Conason reports in Salon about how Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld "seems furious about attacks on the war plan in Iraq. But he never hesitated to criticize the Clinton administration's war in Kosovo." (As did many other Republicans, while we had troops on the ground and pilots in the air.)

He thinks all those retired Army officers should just shut up because their dissension harms morale. So does the president, whose wartime demeanor is the subject of a rather disturbing profile in USA Today. But Rumsfeld didn't hesitate to offer his own criticisms, back when the Clinton administration and NATO, led by Gen. Wesley Clark (now a CNN commentator) were prosecuting what turned out to be a highly successful war in Kosovo.

Four years ago, he told CNN that he saw a "similar pattern" to the Vietnam debacle in that conflict. "There is always a risk in gradualism. It pacifies the hesitant and the tentative," whatever that meant.

Rumsfeld went on to use a phrase that has since become an unwelcome cliché: "What [gradualism] doesn't do is shock and awe and alter the calculations of the people you're dealing with." Rummy had still more to say, again on CNN, about Clinton's Kosovo strategy. "I think the goal is to complexify the problem for the enemy and not simplify it. And so when you begin to start ruling things out, like ground troops, or say we're only going to hit these targets and not those targets, the effect of that, it seems to me, is to make the problem for the other side much simpler." (Of course, our announced doctrine in Iraq today is to hit certain targets and avoid others, as it should be, but never mind.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, April 3, 2003
The Cocktailian.   In today's installment of Gary Regan's excellent bi-weekly column, The Professor squabbles with his boss about the cost of fruit and liquor, examines four superb fruit-infused vodkas from Charbay, then makes us a Tangiers Tartini (which sounds great; I've only got one of the Charbay flavors, and I must try more).

Radio Free Chowhound.   Being a subscriber to the Los Angeles edition of the weekly ChowNews, I tend to neglect the huge, unwieldy but thoroughly magnificent Chowhound website. Have some fun with their audio feature, Radio Free Chowhound, featuring "alpha hound Jim Leff -- or special guest host-hounds -- as they uncover secret deliciousness around New York and around the world. Hanker as Leff and his ravenous cohorts scarf ribs in the Chowmobile. Drool to the provocative sounds of frying Filipino pork haunches... and groan with vicarious ecstacy as you sample sacred buttery offerings from the magical street cart of the Jackson Heights Arepa Lady."

Sounds delicious to me!

I should not be allowed to say the following things about America.   More genius from The Onion.

It's one thing to question our leaders in the days leading up to a war. But it is another thing entirely to do it during a war... That is why, in this moment of crisis, I should not be allowed to say the following things about America:

Why do we purport to be fighting in the name of liberating the Iraqi people when we have no interest in violations of human rights -- as evidenced by our habit of looking the other way when they occur in China, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Syria, Burma, Libya, and countless other countries? Why, of all the brutal regimes that regularly violate human rights, do we only intervene militarily in Iraq? Because the violation of human rights is not our true interest here. We just say it is as a convenient means of manipulating world opinion and making our cause seem more just.

That is exactly the sort of thing I should not say right now.

Teresa comments, "If you're a person from the future, reading this perhaps-historically-interesting old weblog post, please understand that we are in equal measure delighted and terrified by the frequency with which the most accurate news reporting in the United States is done by The Onion."

"Everyone in America -- myself included -- has been driven insane by this war,"   writes Neal Pollack, and I see symptoms of this around me as well. (Thanks for sending the article, Steve!)

Let's run down a list of incidents that I've heard about in the last month alone: A French woman in Houston, who's lived in her neighborhood for 20 years, wakes up on a Saturday morning to find graffiti on her garage door telling her to go back to France. A guy from Seattle arrives in San Diego and finds a threatening note from airport security because he's packed two "No Iraq War" signs in his bag. In Austin, the French owner of an antique shop hears on a radio call-in show that people want to blow up the miniature Eiffel Tower in front of his store. Radio stations in Kansas City and Louisiana stage Dixie Chicks bonfires and monster-truck CD stomps. At a rodeo in Houston, a guy starts a brawl because a kid and his friends don't want to stand while Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the U.S.A." plays over the loudspeaker. The guy tells the kid, who's half Mexican and half Italian, to "go back to Iraq."

And in my tiny corner of the world, I've gotten into two fights in the last six months, and I previously hadn't been in a fight since 1980, when I was 10 years old.

All you need is love.   Rev. Mel White has been banned from the pulpit by the Catholic Archbishop of Minneapolis/St. Paul.

The archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis apparently doesn't think his flock has anything to learn from a man who travels throughout the country to deliver a message of love.

Mel White, a national leader in attempting to make Christian churches more hospitable to gays, was to have given the homily at the 9 and 11 a.m. masses at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in south Minneapolis Sunday. But on Monday, St. Joan officials telephoned White to tell him that Archbishop Harry Flynn was forbidding him to use the St. Joan's pulpit.

"We're very disappointed we can't have Mel speak," said the pastor, the Rev. George Wertin. "I respect him very much. He was not going to say anything contradictory to church teaching."

Wertin said he will deliver the message that White was planning to deliver, which White said is about embracing Jesus, the church and each other.

"For the archbishop to be afraid of me and my commitment to Christ is a sign of a bureaucracy giving way to the voices of a frightened few," [Rev. White] said.

Love is all you need.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, April 2, 2003
Cocktail of the day.   'Cause we still need a drink.

I've been devouring Dale DeGroff's book lately; it spent far too much time packed up in a box during the moving and unpacking ordeal. Besides helping me learn new things, it's helping me learn old things too. For instance ... cobblers! They were a class of drink unto themselves in the 19th Century, when "cocktail" meant one particular type of drink -- whiskey or brandy, sugar, water and bitters. There were lots of types of drinks: daisy, flip, sangaree, smash, sling, etc. A cobbler (as served by Jerry Thomas in 1862) was some type of spirit or wine sweetened with sugar, shaken with seasonal fresh fruit, garnished with more fruit and served over ice. Dale has improved on the cobbler technique by muddling fresh fruit in the shaker with the drink ingredients, then decorating the drink with new, fresh fruit. The result is very, very refreshing.

You can make cobblers with just about anything: gin, whiskey, port, sherry, champagne, etc. Here's the brandy version we had and enjoyed last night.

Brandy Cobbler

2 wedges fresh pinapple (one without skin for muddling; one with skin for garnish)
2 wedges orange
2 wedges lemon
3/4 ounce raspberry syrup (such as Torani, Monin, etc.) or raspberry liqueur
2 ounces brandy or Cognac (we use Hennessey V.S. for cocktails)
1 ounce water

Muddle the skinless pineapple wedge and one each orange and lemon wedges
in a shaker with the raspberry syrup or liqueur and the water. Pound the
living hell out of it so that you extract oil from the citrus peel, as well
as juice from the fruit. Add the brandy plus ice, then shake vigorously.

Strain into a large, double Old Fashioned glass filled with crushed or cracked
ice. Garnish the drink with the remaining orange and lemon wedges and the
pineapple wedge.

"Fuck Saddam. We're taking him out."   Ladies and gentlemen, those are the words of the man who currently claims the office of president of the United States. Apparently, according to TIME magazine, it's a direct quote, uttered as former Governor Bush

... poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room.
I'm always glad for an intelligent, well thought out foreign policy.

[W]hat is unfolding in Iraq is far bigger than regime change or even the elimination of dangerous weapons. The U.S. has launched a war unlike any it has fought in the past. This one is being waged not to defend against an enemy that has attacked the U.S. or its interests but to pre-empt the possibility that one day it might do so. The war has turned much of the world against America.

Even in countries that have joined the "coalition of the willing," big majorities view it as the impetuous action of a superpower led by a bully. This divide threatens to emasculate a United Nations that failed to channel a diplomatic settlement or brand the war as legitimate. The endgame will see the U.S. front and center, attempting to remake not merely Iraq but the entire region.

The hope is that the Middle East, a cockpit of instability for decades, will eventually settle into habits of democracy, prosperity and peace. The risks are that Washington's rupture with some of its closest allies will deepen and that the war will become a cause for which a new generation of terrorists can be recruited.

"The bullshit piles up so high," said Martin Sheen's character Capt. Willard in "Apocalypse Now", referring to the war mentality in Vietnam, "that you need wings to stay above it." Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Yesterday the Pentagon declared that Saddam Hussein is "the worst ruler in world history". (Via Tom Tomorrow.) Sure, he's bad. But never mind those lame wannabe Hitler guy and that poseur Stalin dude, eh?

An ugly story from New Orleans.   Oddly enough, while Googling the above movie quote to make sure I got the wording right, I stumbled across this completely random weblog post that tells the story of what happened when a guy in a (possibly Ninth Ward) neighborhood bar happened not to "raise his pom-poms" for Shrub's latest televised rah-rah speech. What happened was beyond ugly; if true, it's not terribly surprising, unfortunately, but depressing nonetheless.

And I'd bet ya the proverbial dollars to doughnuts that the subject of this sordid tale is none other than our pal Dr. Cliff over by Cardhouse. Remind me never to drink in any neighborhood bar back home that's owned by a guy named Whitey. Man, he'd really love me, wouldn't he?

Unfortunately, the story includes a slam on New Orleans. That's not terribly fair; our city doesn't have a monopoly on nutball racists. I see this tale as being much more indicative of what's happening across the country -- people who protest or even express anti-war sentiments being verbally and/or physically abused, even assaulted. That's what's making me feel appalled at my own country, and even angrier at a government whose propaganda and "if you're not with us you're with the enemy" crap is causing all this.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, April 1, 2003
Cocktails of the day.   The house has been officially broken in. We've had our first cocktail party. It works! (Whew.)

Well, it wasn't an official cocktail party; last Friday we went out to dinner with some good friends that live in the neighborhood, and afterwards we assembled back at our place for drinks. The kitchen functions very efficiently with two people mixing, and once we get a real bar setup somewhere, it should work even better. We made quite a few drinks that night -- both versions of the El Floridita, a Casino Cocktail, a Footloose, a Sazerac, a Widow's Kiss, a Vesper and a few Blue Moons. One guest was driving, however, and she wanted something nonalcoholic. I dug through the fridge, came up with this off the top of my head, and it was pretty tasty. Her boyfriend dubbed it a "Flaming Lips", which I thought was a great name, except for a complete lack of flaming. Voilà! Add a flamed lemon peel and it's right on the money.

The Flaming Lips
(nonalcoholic version)

2 ounces guava nectar
2 ounces pineapple juice
Splash of grenadine
Lemon peel

Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds and strain
into a cocktail glass. Flame a lemon peel and use it
to garnish the drink.

(Citrus peel flaming method: Cut a slice of lemon peel
about 1-1/2 by 3/4 inches; use a large, thick-skinned lemon.
Grasp the peel by the sides, very carefully. Hold a lit match
between the drink and the peel, slightly closer to the peel.
In one quick, fluid motion squeeze the peel from the sides;
the spray of lemon oil should ignite and cover the surface of
the drink. Practice makes perfect.)

I want to make an alcoholic version of this too, so tonight I'll experiment with this:

The Flaming Lips
(proper boozy version)

1-1/2 ounces light rum
1 ounce guava nectar
1 ounce pineapple juice
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Lemon peel

Combine ingredients with cracked ice in a shaker. Shake vigorously
to help froth the pineapple juice. Strain into a cocktail glass
and flame a lemon peel over the drink; garnish with the lemon peel.

Okay, one more. Wes' sisters came over on Saturday to see the new house, and since it was such a beautiful day cocktails on the veranda were de rigueur. I made a few from Dale DeGroff's excellent book The Craft of the Cocktail, including Dale's own creation, The Milennium Cocktail, plus this excellent drink I tried more or less at random. It's a creation of the legendary Colin Field, master bartender at the Hemingway Bar, in the Ritz Hotel in Paris. It's most excellent.

The Paris Cocktail

1 ounce gin (French, of course; we used Citadelle)
1 ounce dry vermouth (French, bien sur; Noilly Prat)
1 ounce crè de cassis
Lemon peel

Combine the liquors in a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
Shake and strain into a cocktail glass; flame the lemon peel
over the drink and garnish.

Why do 70% of Americans support the war?   Perhaps because they're not reading articles like the following. (Thanks to Ben for sending it in.) It's from the Times of London, regarding trying to take and secure the bridges in Nasiriya. It's horribly disturbing and extremely graphic and I seriously doubt that US media would ever send such reports out. In fact, you may wish to skip the link. But you shouldn't.

Some 15 vehicles, including a minivan and a couple of trucks, blocked the road. They were riddled with bullet holes. Some had caught fire and turned into piles of black twisted metal. Others were still burning.

Amid the wreckage I counted 12 dead civilians, lying in the road or in nearby ditches. All had been trying to leave this southern town overnight, probably for fear of being killed by US helicopter attacks and heavy artillery.

Their mistake had been to flee over a bridge that is crucial to the coalition's supply lines and to run into a group of shell-shocked young American marines with orders to shoot anything that moved.

"The Iraqis are sick people and we are the chemotherapy," said Corporal Ryan Dupre. "I am starting to hate this country. Wait till I get hold of a friggin' Iraqi. No, I won't get hold of one. I'll just kill him."

As we set off towards the eastern city gate there was no sense of the mayhem awaiting us down the road. A few locals dressed in rags watched the awesome spectacle of America's war machine on the move. Nobody waved.

Can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs, eh?

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