e Looka! 02.2007 | Down in New Orleans where the blues were born, it takes a cool cat to blow a horn ...
the gumbo pages

looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look"; in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans, it is 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, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, 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 @ 3:14pm PST, 2/28/2007

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Buy my New Orleans music box set!

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores (such as the Louisiana Music Factory, because you should be supporting local New Orleans retailers) or via Amazon if you insist.

The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)

*      *      *

"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans

"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.

"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune

"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.

"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan, AllAboutJazz.com

"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy, PopMatters.com

"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times

A new book featuring the best of food weblogs.

Digital Dish is the first ever compilation volume of the best writing and recipes from food weblogs, and includes essays and recipes contributed by me. Find out more and place an order!

U.S. orders:
How to donate to this site:

Your donations help keep this site going. PayPal's the best way -- just click the button below, and thanks!

You can also donate via the Amazon.com Honor System, if you wish (but they deduct a larger fee from your donation and I keep less).

(Also, here's a shameless link to my Amazon Wish List.)

Buy stuff!

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

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

February 2007
January 2007

2006:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2005:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2004:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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.

My Photos on Flickr

My Darlin' New Orleans...

The Flag of The City of New Orleans

Shop New Orleans! Visit the stores linked here to do your virtual online shopping in New Orleans. The city needs your money!

Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki

Gambit Weekly
NOLA.com & The Times-Picayune
Scat Magazine
WDSU-TV (Channel 6, NBC)
WGNO-TV (Channel 26, ABC)
WNOL-TV (Channel 38, WB)
WTUL-FM (91.5, Progressive radio)
WVUE-TV (Channel 8, FOX)
WWL-TV (Channel 4, CBS)
WWNO-FM (89.9, classical, jazz, NPR)
WWOZ-FM (90.7, Best Radio Station in the Universe)
WYES-TV (Channel 12, PBS)


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

2 Millionth Weblog
A Frolic of My Own
Ashley Morris
Dispatches from Tanganyika
Home of the Groove
Humid City
Library Chronicles
Mellytawn Dreams
Metroblogging N.O.
People Get Ready
Da Po'Blog
Suspect Device Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
World Class New Orleans
The Yat Pundit
Your Right Hand Thief
Cocktail hour.

   The Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

Museum of the American Cocktail
   Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
   other passionate spirits in Jan. 2005.
   Celebrating a true American cultural
   icon: the American Cocktail.
   (Their weblog.)

*     *     *

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

*     *     *

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple
   we don't, just for fun.)

*     *     *

Peychaud's Bitters
   (Indispensible for Sazeracs
   and many other cocktails.
   Order them here.)

Angostura Bitters
   (The gold standard of bitters,
   fortunately available everywhere
   worldwide. Insist on it.)

Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
   (Complex and spicy orange
   bitters for your Martinis,
   Old Fashioneds and many more.
   Order them here.)

Fee Brothers' Bitters
   (Classic orange bitters,
   peach bitters and a cinnamony
   "Old Fashion" aromatic bitters.
   Skip the mint variety, though.)

*     *     *

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

Alcohol (and how to mix it)
   (David Wondrich)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

The Art of Drink:
   An exploration of Spirits & Mixology.
   (Darcy O'Neil)

Beachbum Berry:
   (Jeff Berry, world-class expert
   on tropical drinks)

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)

The Cocktailian Gazette
   (The monthly newsletter of
   The Museum of the
   American Cocktail.)

A Dash of Bitters
   (Michael Dietsch)

DrinkBoy and the
   Community for the
   Cultured Cocktail
   (Robert Hess, et al.)

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Drink Trader
   (Online magazine for the
   drink trade)

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

Imbibe Magazine
   (Celebrating the world in a glass)

Jimmy's Cocktail Hour
   (Jimmy Patrick)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)

   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Martini Republic: Drinks
   (featuring posts by Dr. Cocktail!)

The Ministry of Rum
   (Everything you always wanted to know)

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)

Spirit Journal
   (F. Paul Pacult)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)

   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

The Wormwood Society
   (Dedicated to promoting accurate,
   current information about absinthe)

Let's eat!

New Orleans:
Culinary Concierge (N.O. food & wine magazine)
Mr. Lake's Non-Pompous New Orleans Food Forum
The New Orleans Menu
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
Il Forno
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu
Waiter Rant

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Chowhound (L.A.)
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
The Hungry Passport
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
Southern Food & Beverages Museum
Southern Foodways Alliance
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wine Enthsiast
The Wine Spectator
Wine Today
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Wine/spirits shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Mission Liquors, Pasadena
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena

Other wine/spirits shops we visit:
Beverage Warehouse, Mar Vista
Wally's Wine & Spirits, Westwood
The Wine House, West L.A.

Reading this month:

D*U*C*K, by Poppy Z. Brite.

To Marry Medusa, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Microcosmic God: The Complete Stories of Theodore Sturgeon, Vol. 2, by Theodore Sturgeon.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
The Frames
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Professor Longhair
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Toasted Heretic
Uncle Tupelo

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans Bands.net

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA

Talking furniture:

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

KCSN (Los Angeles)
   Broadcast schedule
   "Down Home" playlist
   Live MP3 audio stream

Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Shrine
   (A rich history of N.O. radio)

   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Raidió Idirlíon
   (Irish language & music)
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

In the cinema:
Babel (****)
Children of Men (****)
Notes on a Scandal (***-1/2)



Lookin' at da TV:

"The West Wing"
"Battlestar Galactica"
"The Sopranos"
"Six Feet Under"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network



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
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)

My photographs at Flickr


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

by Walt Kelly

Suspect Device,
by Greg Peters

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak


Polly Ticks:
AlterNet.org (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
Think Progress
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)

Borowitz Report
(Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.)
Whitehouse.org (Not the actual White House, but it should be)

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Creek Running North
Ethel the Blog
Un Fils d'un État Rouge
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
Martini Republic
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?
Your Right Hand Thief

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
michael p.
tracy and david

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site


"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

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

"You don't get everything you want. A dictatorship would be a lot easier."

-- George W. Bush, describing what it's like to be governor of Texas, Governing Magazine, July 1998

"If this were a dictatorship, it would be a heck of a lot easier, just so long as I'm the dictator."

-- George W. Bush, CNN.com, December 18, 2000

"A dictatorship would be a heck of a lot easier, there's no question about it."

-- George W. Bush, Business Week, July 30, 2001

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 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.)

LOOKA!Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

 "Eating, drinking and carrying on..."  -- Adelaide Brennan

  Wednesday, February 28, 2007

You can't fix stupid.   I didn't get a chance to see Da Papuh (i.e., the New Orleans Times-Picayune) online this morning, but Michael sends along this article that had him splutter his morning coffee all over the paper this morning.

There's a bar in Gentilly called "Kisses" (formerly called "The Big Easy," which is a stupid name for a bar that's owned by an actual local) that's trying to reopen over the strenuous objections of its neighbors. The neighbors said that pre-Katrina it was a haven for underage drinkers, who would get very rowdy late at night, get into fights, sexual assaults, etc. So in that context, the bar owner had this to say about a compromise solution that would make the bar close at 2 AM:

[Building owner August Williams] said New Orleans, like Las Vegas, "is a 24-hour town" and that forcing the club to close at 2 a.m. would cost it business from late-night customers, such as those leaving high school dances.


Cheeses ... Mary and Joseph!   Last Saturday we threw an Audreypalooza!; a.k.a., a party in honor of our friend Audrey's visit to L.A.-L.A.-land from her East Coast Connecticut/New York digs. We knew a Fat Pack food extravaganza of the highest order was called for, so first we stocked up on needed supplies -- four packages of bacon (two Nueske's, two Niman Ranch). Then we came up with the idea of a Grilled Cheese-O-Rama -- several of us would bring our panini presses and George Formans (and in our case, the spiff new Cuisinart Griddler we just got with a delightful 20% off coupon from Bed Bath & Beyond), plus cheese acquired everywhere from Trader Joe's to the Cheese Stores of Beverly Hills and Silverlake and Roma, our favorite Italian deli/grocery in Pasadena, plus fresh-baked breads from La Brea Bakery, L.A. Bread Company and other small local bakeries, plus a host of mustards, preserves, spreads, fruits, nuts, what have you, and let our grilled cheese imaginations run wild. We'd cut each sandwich up into six or eight pieces and spread 'em around (or, if we were too impatient, just take a bite and pass).

The cheeses we came up with were delightfully varied: Prima Donna (Netherlands, cow), Roaring Forties Blue (Australia/Tasmania, cow), a French sheep's milk blue cheese that someone wrote down as "Onctiel" (but for which I can find no reference anywhere on the Internets using the Google), Montenegro (Spain, sheep, soft ash-covered), Dubliner (Ireland, cow), Organic Pepper Monterey Jack, Extra Sharp Cheddar and Fresh Mozzarella (all domestic), Époisses (France, cow, and the pasteurized version, sadly), an Italian truffle cheese of indeterminate variety from Trader Joe's, a goat's milk Brie-style from France, Fontinella, English Cheddar with Caramelized Onions (another Trader Joe's find), Cotswold (Cow, England), Queso Poblano (a locally-made, creamy melting cheese in the northern Mexican style) plus Good Ol' Kraft American slices.

The sandwiches we came up with were, I must say, fantastic. Every single one of them was great. We ended up with twenty of 'em.

* Prima Donna, English Caramelized Onion Cheddar with Garlic/Onion Jam on Rustic Bread.

* Roaring Forties Blue (and the mystery French sheep's milk blue) with Lavender Honey on Rustic Wheat.

* Montenegro, Dried Cherries and Caramelized Onions on Country White.

* Roaring Forties Blue, Caramelized Onion English Cheddar, Prosciutto and Sweet Hot Mustard on Rustic Wheat.

* Dubliner, Irish Bacon Rashers, Sauteed Leeks and Creole Mustard on Country White.

* Cotswold with Nueske's Applewood-Smoked Bacon on Asiago Cheese Bread.

* Époisses and Fig Preserves on Country White.

* Italian Truffle Cheese with Sun-Dried Tomato Tapenade on Garden Herb Bread.

* Prima Donna, Goat's Milk Brie and Fig Jam on Olive Bread.

* English Caramelized Onion Cheddar, Tomato-Basil Chutney, Sauteed Leeks on Asiago Cheese Bread.

* Fresh Mozzarella with Prosciutto on Italian.

* Goat's Milk Brie with Quince Paste on Multigrain.

* Extra-Sharp Cheddar and American Cheese on White Bread (what Dave called the "Traditional Grateful Dead Village Cheese Sandwich").

* Extra-Sharp Cheddar and Nueske's Applewood-Smoked Bacon on Country White.

* Roaring Forties Blue, Montenegro and Bacon on Garden Herb Bread.

* Fontinella, Speck (smoked prosciuttoi) and Fig Preserves on Italian.

* English Caramelized Onion Cheddar, Cotswold with Garlic/Onion Jam on Rustic Wheat.

* Extra-Sharp Cheddar, Garlic/Onion Jam, Sauteed Leeks on Rustic Wheat.

* Prima Donna, Pepper Jelly on Asiago Cheese Bread.

* Monterey Jack with Peppers, Queso Poblano, Roasted Pork Carnitas and Chipotle Pepper Jelly on Country White.

And there were snacks, chips and salsa and there was cake and there were cupcakes and there were cocktails both alcoholic and non, and an absolutely splendid time was had by all.

Chodorow has a beef.   You may remember restauranteur Jeffrey Chodorow from that train wreck of a TV "reality" show entitled "The Restaurant," where we watched staged, contrived depictions of pretty-boy celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito's real-life Chodorow-financed restaurant self-destruct before our eyes ("where Mama's meatballs were sauced with acrimony and eventual litigation," said New York Times food critic Frank Bruni). Chodorow's 29 restaurants seem to revolve more around gimmickry and exclusivity of "the scene" than around the food (from what I've read, anyway; I've yet to dine in one). That said, he's been very successful and he's made a ton of money.

His latest, a staggeringly expensive New York establishment called Kobe Club, features Japanese, Australiana and American wagyu ("Kobe" or Kobe-style) beef at stratsopheric prices. The Times critic Bruni was mostly unimpressed, giving the restaurant a zero-star review (zero stars at the Times cover the range from poor to satisfactory, and Kobe Club was deemed "satisfactory").

Chodorow rather unwisely responded to this review with a full-page ad in the New York Times, in the form of a letter to Dining Section editor Pete Wells, denouncing Bruni but leaving behind a distinct whiff of "methinks the lady doth protest too much." Subsequently Chodorow banned Bruni from "all my [29] restuarants," promising his staff that the first one to recognize Bruni and eject him will receive a free trip for two to the Caribbean.

I find this all terribly amusing, primarily for how it's continuing to shake out. Bruni's next review was for another steakhouse, this one at the Penthouse Executive Club (i.e., Bob Guccione-owned and Penthouse magazine-related), where the steaks are served with a side order of strippers. Bruni gave that restaurant one star. (Incidentally, Andy at Towleroad has an interesting take on that review.)

The clincher comes from Anthony Bourdain, who's almost always right on the money, commenting on the whole brouhaha:

One might ask if it's ever a good idea anyway to spend 40,000 bucks reminding the public that the New York Times think you suck.

Heh heh heh ... yeah you rite, Tony.

Not quite, Laura.   Laura Bush, apparently an Iraq war and insurgency expert now, declared on CNN the other night that things are going really well in Iraq, but the awful treasonous liberal media keeps reporting that "one bombing" per day that makes it all look bad. As John Aravosis points out on AmericaBlog, it's not one attack a day, it's more like two hundred thirty (averaging 180 attacks per day on U.S. troops and 50 on civilians). From Stars and Stripes:

Attacks against coalition forces in Iraq averaged nearly 180 a day in January, the highest level since major combat operations ended and more than double the rate one year ago, according to intelligence officials.

Lt. Gen. Michael Maples, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday said the attacks matched the previous high, set in October 2006.

Attacks on civilians also reached a new high, with almost 50 per day in January, according to the agency. Attacks on Iraqi Security Forces remained consistent with recent months, at about 30 a day.

John also observes, "if a shopping mall or a university a day were getting blown up in the US, would Mrs. Bush reassure us that it's only one a day? And speaking of comparisons with the US, Iraq has less than one-tenth the population of the US, so "one bombing a day" - and let's be clear, what she means is "one suicide bombing a day" - would be equal to 10 suicide bombings a day in the malls and universities and kids' soccer fields of America."

Otherwise OK though, right? (Perhaps Laura should just STFU, before she starts inviting comparisons to Elena Ceauşescu.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Happiness is ...   finding out that the plumbing repair that we were afraid would cost thousands will probably only cost about $450, and that the resultant musty stench emanating from our crawlspace under the house can be eliminated "easily." (Whew.)

1300% of retail?!!   The DallasFood.org site does a fascinating investigative report of a brand of simple yet absurdly overpriced chocolates called Noka that are sell for between $300 and $900 per pound. The question is ... are they worth the money?

Editorial cartoon of the day.   Yes, it's chuckleworthy, but it's also a chilling portrait of our dangerously delusional vice-president.

Noteworthy is the fact that this cartoon was drawn by the cartoonist of the Salt Lake Tribune, not exactly a bastion of the so-called (and largely mythical) "liberal media."

Sociopathic quote of the day.   Could it be that this woman is even more of a monster than her mother-in-law?

Many parts of Iraq are stable now. But, uh, of course, what we see on television is the one bombing a day that discourages everyone.

-- Laura Bush, on CNN's "Larry King Live," February 26, 2007.

Laura the Iraq expert ... and damn that awful television for showing those discouraging once-daily bombings.

TODAY: A car bomb exploded Tuesday near a park popular with young soccer players, killing at least 18 boys in a city west of Baghdad known as a center of the Sunni insurgency, police said.

The bomb-rigged car blew apart in central Ramadi late Tuesday afternoon while the boys were playing, and police said those killed were ages 10 to 15. The attack was also reported on Iraqi state television. The Interior Ministry did not immediately comment.

Young people are often caught in Iraq's daily bloodshed. On Sunday, more than 40 people, mostly college students, were killed in a bombing outside a mostly Shiite college in Baghdad.

YESTERDAY: Iraq's Shi'ite vice president and a cabinet minister were wounded in an apparent assassination attempt on Monday when a bomb killed six people at a ministry in Baghdad where they were attending a ceremony.

Near the volatile western city of Ramadi, a suicide bomber blew up an ambulance at a police station, killing 14 people including women and children, a local hospital official said.

DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY: A suicide bomber killed at least 41 people and wounded another 46 outside a university in northeast Baghdad on Sunday.

Iraq's interior ministry said the bomber was wearing a vest packed with explosives.

He detonated the bomb when guards stopped him near the entrance to the business studies school, which is part of Mustansiriyah University, police said.

The same facility in Baghdad's Talbiyah neighbourhood, a mostly Shia district was hit by a series of explosions last month, including twin car bombs and a suicide blast that killed 70 people.

DAY BEFORE THAT: A fuel tanker rigged with explosives killed 40 people when it blew up near a Sunni mosque in western Iraq on Saturday, a day after the mosque's imam had criticized al Qaeda militants, police and residents said.

The bomb exploded in a market in the town of Habaniya in the restive province of Anbar, where U.S. forces are battling Sunni Arab insurgent groups, including al Qaeda.

Local police said they believed the mosque was the target, adding that the market had been destroyed and 64 people wounded. Women and children were among the dead, they said.


Yeah. Discouraging. But other than that, stable!

What do you think would happen in the United States of America if there were one such daily bombing? Only one? You know exactly what would happen -- the entire country would fall apart, and we would likely end up under martial law. Even though "most parts" would be "stable."

(What is it about the Bush family that produces such horrid, horrid people?)

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  Friday, February 23, 2007

The two faces of Thomas.   Taken by his mom.

Thomas the Angel
Thomas the Angel

Thomas has the blues
Thomas has the blues

Oh, and it's his mom's birthday today too ... happy boit'day, dawlin'!!

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  Fat Tuesday, February 20, 2007 :: Mardi Gras Day!

Go to the Mardi Gras!   Let's let Fess sing it, shall we?

If you go to New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
If you go to New Orleans
You ought to go see the Mardi Gras
When you see the Mardi Gras
Somebody'll tell you what's Carnival for

Get your ticket in your hand
If you wanna go through New Orleans
Get your ticket in your hand
If you wanna go through New Orleans
You know when you get to New Orleans
Somebody'll show you the Zulu King

You will see the Zulu King
Down on St. Claude and Dumaine
You know, you'll see the Zulu King
Down on St. Claude and Dumaine
An if you stay right there
I'm sure you'll see the Zulu Queen

Happy Mardi Gras, y'all! And because I couldn't go home this year, and because I live in a heathen, uncivilized land that makes you go to work on Lundi Gras, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, here I am at frakkin' work (and a busy day it's been too). I hope you had (and are still having) a great Mardi Gras wherever you are, and since I can't join you, I'll at least share a few pictures from last year, taken on the streets of the Tremé outside St. Augustine Church and the Backstreet Cultural Center.

Me Big Chief, me feelin' good ... Get out de way! The littlest Indian He sang mighty-coo-tee-fi-yo on a Mardi Gras Day ... Big Chief Donald Harrison Jr. of the Congo Nation

Well the prettiest little thing that I ever seen, Mardi Gras Indians down in New Orleans! He sewed all night and he sewed all day, Mardi Gras morning, went all the way! Indians comin' from all over town, Big Chief singin, gonna take 'em down, Jock-e-mo feeno, ee-la hey, Indians are rulers on the holiday! Mardi Gras morning won't be long, gonna play Indian, gonna carry on, maskers runnin' up and down the avenue, "Here come the Indians, let 'em through!" I'm a Indian ruler from the 13th Ward, Blood shiffa hoona I won't be bought, I walked through fire and I swam through mud, snatched the feathers from an eagle, drank panther blood! I got an itty-bitty spy with a heart of steel, shank won't get you his hatchet will, geddie may hocko mmm yoo na no, he shoot de gun in de jailhouse door! I'll bring my gang all over town, drink fire water till the sun go down. We get back home, we gonna kneel and pray ... we had some fun on the holiday!

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  Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why New Orleans needs you.   This very good article is linked from MSN's main page today, which (some perspective) is the start page for millions of people's web browsers across the country. I don't often get the chance to thank Microsoft for anything, but this would be one of those times. (Thanks, Wes!)

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  Monday, February 12, 2007

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my nephew Thomas.   Photographed on his birth day, February 1, 2007.

Thomas' first picture

It is my very objective and unbiased opinion that he is the most beautiful child in the history of humanity. (Although if you have kids I suppose he'll end up coming in second. :-)

Climb onto The Levee!   I'm not sure why I hadn't heard of this before (well, they're only on their third issue), but there's a great new publication in New Orleans, also available online, called The New Orleans Levee, a satirical paper probably best described as "The Onion for New Orleans." Here's a sample story:

Army Corps of Engineers searching for a new slogan
by Bud Faust
The Levee contributing writer

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, in the wake of the biggest gosh-darn crisis in the history of this country with the failures of the Corps' New Orleans levee system, is searching for a new slogan to invigorate its image.

The Corps' current slogan, "You can't sue us," seems to have worn a bit thin throughout the country, the Corps said in a statement.

The Corps opened the contest on its Web site and has been keeping a running tally on the top vote-getters. So far, the Top Ten slogans are:

10 - Don't blame us, blame God.

9 - We're not a real Army, you know.

8 - What do you expect from a bunch of people who can't cut it in the private sector?

7 - We can only guarantee your safety until it starts raining.

6 - We just do what the politicians tell us to do.

5 - If it hasn't collapsed yet, give it time.

4 - You try building things with government screwdrivers.

3 - Don't these fatigues make us look like we know what we're doing?

2 - If it ain't broke, we didn't build it.

1 - Destroying America one failed engineering project at a time.

In other name news, the Corps defended its stand on the question of what to do about the problem of New Orleans apparently sinking at an alarming rate and someday becoming part of the Gulf of Mexico.

Army Corps officials said they have studied that problem and that after a thorough review recommended the city change its name to, "Yatlantis."

Um, say bra ... dis is really funny! And in the grand tradition of The Onion so true that it's almost not funny. Read The Levee thoroughly, every time it comes out, either online or else pick it up somewhere in the city. Support its advertisers. They'll help us keep dat sensa humuh well erled ... and New Orleans needs that now, especially when the satire is as pointed as this.

Tony Bourdain on why the Food Network sucks now.   I used to watch it every day. Now I never watch, or almost never. All their greatest shows are gone now, replaced by mostly crap, and Uncle Tony tells it like it is.

Food Network now seems to be personnified not by the likes of Mario Batali, but by the likes of Rachel Ray (and sorry love, I don't buy the self-defense). That, plus Tony's other egregious examples of Food Network's current programming, mean that I've switched to reading food writers and cookbooks (which is better for me anyway).

While we're on the subject, here's a bit from the New Yorker, Bill Buford on the state of food television. Julia, we miss you. (Via MeFi)

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  Friday, February 9, 2007

I wish I hadn't read this.   The second posting of the day, below this one, was news that came to me this morning and filled me with joy. I couldn't wait to post it and pass it on. I made the mistake of going to NOLA.com, the Times-Picayune's website, looking for any coverage and more details, and came across this instead.

Teen sought in slaying got gun from his mom
She gave him weapon to avenge lost fight with victim, cops say

CENTRAL CITY, NEW ORLEANS -- Seventeen-year-old Clarence Johnson lost a fistfight, and he walked away. Then he went to his mother's apartment, police said, where she kept a home with cocaine, a gun and a picture of her young son smiling, holding a pistol and a wad of cash. [WWL-TV has the picture.]

His mother sent him back out with the gun, police said, and clear instructions: Get revenge.

Johnson did as he was told, police said, getting a ride from a friend to the corner of Simon Bolivar and Clio streets in Central City, where he waited for the boy who had beaten him up to come out of a corner po-boy shop. When the teen emerged, Johnson lit him up with several gunshots, leaving 17-year-old Robert Dawson lying dead near a street corner.

Dawson had returned to New Orleans just four hours earlier from Katrina-induced exile in Dallas.

Johnson remained at large Thursday, while his mother, Vanessa Johnson, 44, was in jail on second-degree murder charges after being picked up by police the night before at her apartment in the 2500 block of Erato Street, part of the Guste public housing development.

Police said Vanessa Johnson played a principal part in the murder, in a disturbing scenario that police said underscores their inability to prevent killings in a street culture that embraces deadly retaliation.

"No police department can make up for that degree of deficient parenting," police spokesman Sgt. Joe Narcisse said. "Even with our best-laid plans, these type of incidents cause us great pause. What more can a department do to prevent these type of incidents?"

Robert Dawson and his mother spent 10 hours on a bus from Dallas on Wednesday and returned to their hometown about 3:30 p.m., relatives said. Four hours later, Dawson became the city's 21st murder victim of 2007.

How do you address the crime problem in the city when you have things like this happening? What kind of mother, what kind of human being, would do this? She needs to be put away for a long time, obviously, but how many more people are there like her? Is it even possible to rehabilitate her kid after being raised by someone like this? Jesus Christ.

"How ya want dat cooked? Fried, or deep-fried?"   (There WILL be good news today, goddammit ...) Real and wannabe Chalmatians and Arabians rejoice ... Rocky & Carlo's has reopened!

Rocky & Carlo's Restaurant and Bar, Chalmette, Louisiana
Wop Salad Macaroni 'n cheese with red gravy
Braciole Shrimp po-boy

The restaurant opened quietly yesterday, and even though it wasn't announced the place was apparently packed anyway. I wish I had been there ... I'd have even had the stuffed peppers!

The pictures were from our last visit to Rocky and Carlo's on May 1, 2005, just shy of four months before it was submerged by the Army Corps of Engineers' flood that was brought about by Hurricane Katrina. It's amazing that given all that damage they came back so relatively quickly. From what I've heard the layout is the same but the interior is different, obviously, spruced up and with new, clean bathrooms (hooray!), but not to worry -- we'll dinge it up properly soon enough. We gotta go back there too, as soon as possible.

All right, give us a goddamn break ...   Yes, it's terribly sad that Anna Nicole Smith died, and that her infant daughter is left parentless. Despite all her problems I'm sure she was basically a good person. That said, her death merits a mention on the news but not the insane media frenzy that allegedly "respectable" news sources like CNN are providing. The lady was a stripper and ditzed-out unscripted-TV personality who became famous only because she married a billionaire old enough to be her grandfather, and fought with his family for the money when he died just over a year later. The amount of coverage by the "news" networks is completely unwarranted.

Or, as ThinkProgress says:

The death of Anna Nicole Smith yesterday was a feeding frenzy for the national media, and coverage of the war was drowned out: NBCs Nightly News devoted 14 seconds to Iraq compared to 3 minutes and 13 seconds to Anna Nicole. CNN referenced Anna Nicole 522% more frequently than it did Iraq. MSNBC was even worse 708% more references to Anna Nicole than Iraq.

Three American soldiers died in combat yesterday, fourteen in the past three days. They're shooting down about one helicopter a week now. There are enormous car bomb explosions among crowds of civilians every couple of days. The Iraqi army is a tragedy of errors, corruption and incompetence. U.S. airstrikes bomb insurgents, killing 13 of them, but also manage to kill 45 civilans, including women and children. Senate Republicans are refusing to allow a debate on the Iraq War. The right wing are smearing Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in a hail of bullshit.

Bob Harris points out some other aspects of that apparently slow news day that got trumped by the Smith coverage:

North Korea may agree to stop its nuclear program.

Hamas and Fatah have reached an accord giving the Palestinians a united front.

NATO's top commander in Afghanistan says more troops will be needed to fight the Taliban, but many large NATO nations don’t want to send them.

Iran has just tested a missile which can strike US ships in the Persian Gulf, and they promise to retaliate for any attack. Still, Bush's advisers are pushing for war.

This is what needs to be in the news, not Anna Nicole Smith (may she rest in peace, finally ... although nobody's letting her).

U.S. Government, Army Corps of Engineers face Gargantuan lawsuit.   If this is what it takes to get money out of them, and to get them to do the right thing, then so be it.

The federal government and Army Corps of Engineers are targeted in a new lawsuit that alleges flooding during Hurricane Katrina was the fault of a corps decision to allow dredging of the 17th Street Canal, weakening the soil base that supported its levees.

The suit, which seeks class-action status and unspecified damages, was filed Thursday in U.S. District Court by a legal team led by Joseph Bruno and representing seven residents of the Lakeview area. The neighborhood was hard hit by flooding when a levee on the east side of the 17th Street Canal broke. If class-action status is granted, tens of thousands of New Orleans residents and claims in the tens of billions of dollars could be affected.

The suit's basic argument -- liability of the corps -- was bolstered by a decision last week. In that ruling, U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval allowed to go forward a suit charging the corps with liability for flooding of eastern New Orleans and St. Bernard Parish from the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet. The ship channel, maintained by the corps, connects New Orleans' inner harbor with the Gulf of Mexico. Bruno is also involved in this suit.

"That decision is a clear blueprint on the court's thinking," Bruno said Thursday at his law office in downtown New Orleans.

The corps declined to comment on the suit.

Yeah, I'll bet.

Now that's what I call a doughnut.   (Thanks to John Miller for the tip on this one.) If I ever find myself in Portland, Oregon, I'm heading straight to Voodoo Donuts, and I'm gonna have me the Maple Bacon Bar. With apologies to Stan's in Westwood and his legendary chocolate chip peanut butter pocket doughnut, I think the Bacon Maple Bar could well be the most perfect doughnut ever. (I shall avoid like the veritable plague, however, the tray of "vegan donuts," because it is physically, spiritually, scientifically and culinarily impossible to make vegan baked goods that don't taste like shit.)

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  Thursday, February 8, 2007

New Orleans food news, good and bad.   OffBeat reported in their weekly newsletter that "last week, Starbucks donated $175,000 to Leah Chase to finish repair work on Dooky Chase Restaurant. The Southern Foodways Alliance got renovations started on the famed restaurant, which took on four feet of water after Hurricane Katrina. Chase plans to have the restaurant open again in April."

This is very good news, and means we can celebrate with a Dooky Chase's meal during Jazzfest! Kudos to Starbucks for putting their money in the right place. (Their coffee still sucks though, sorry.)

I'd also read a report last week that Chef John Besh of Restaurant August had bought the venerable La Provence restaurant on the North Shore, taking ownership while leaving legendary Chef Chris Keragiorgiou at the helm to continue his fine cooking. The sad news is that Chef Chris (beloved to many New Orleaninans who not only loved his restaurant but loved the wacky local cooking TV shows he used to do with Chef Goffredo Fraccaro, formerly of La Riviera) passed away suddenly last weekend. OffBeat reports that this "throws the restaurant's future in doubt ... Besh announced that he will keep the restaurant open through Valentine's Day in honor of Chef Chris, for whom the holiday was important. After that, it will close for five weeks, during which time Chef Besh will plan the future of the restaurant with the vision of Chef Chris in mind." I hope he can keep it going, and keep the memory of Chef Chris alive on its menu.

Fantastic New Orleans food news!   Mandina's has reopened on Canal Street!!

It actually reopened yesterday, a week ahead of schedule, and reportedly is restored to ... well, beyond its former ... well, splendor isn't the word one might use, but y'all who've eaten there know what I mean. The bar's been moved back to where the back dining room used to be, and from what I've read it looks fantastic -- they didn't just restore it to the way it was before the flood, they restored it to the way it was when it originally opened in the 1930s. (Wow!)

As much as we want to revisit Delmonico, this is where we need to eat the Wednesday night we get back into town, Fat Pack.

Just when you thought they couldn't get more incompetent.   It's just crazy ... as Audrey said in email this morning, "There's something so Wile E. Coyote about this whole thing. Literally tons of cash, being loaded up with forklifts? Did they not have the official Acme Cash Catapult available that day?"

U.S. Sent Giant Pallets of Cash Into Iraq

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. Federal Reserve sent record payouts of more than $4 billion in cash to Baghdad on giant pallets aboard military planes shortly before the United States gave control back to Iraqis, lawmakers said on Tuesday.

[...] Bills weighing a total of 363 tons were loaded onto military aircraft in the largest cash shipments ever made by the Federal Reserve, said Rep. Henry Waxman, chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

"Who in their right mind would send 363 tons of cash into a war zone? But that's exactly what our government did," the California Democrat said during a hearing reviewing possible waste, fraud and abuse of funds in Iraq.

On December 12, 2003, $1.5 billion was shipped to Iraq, initially "the largest pay out of U.S. currency in Fed history," according to an e-mail cited by committee members.

It was followed by more than $2.4 billion on June 22, 2004, and $1.6 billion three days later. The CPA turned over sovereignty on June 28.

[...] Democrats led by Waxman also questioned whether the lack of oversight of $12 billion in Iraqi money that was disbursed by Bremer and the CPA somehow enabled insurgents to get their hands on the funds, possibly through falsifying names on the government payroll.

[...] The special inspector general for Iraqi reconstruction, Stuart Bowen, said in a January 2005 report that $8.8 billion was unaccounted for after being given to the Iraqi ministries.

Former CPA head Paul Bremer, when questioned about this, recited a litany of excuses. And as is typical of this administration, there is no accountability whatsoever.

"Want to get even angrier?" Steve added. "Look at it this way -- pallets of currency were lifted into Iraq, while in New Orleans, people are still waiting for a single check." They can make the money happen lickety-split for the Iraqi Minister of Finance, but they can't make it happen in a year and a half for tens of thousands of American citizens in New Orleans who lost everything they had?

Love that chicken from Bon Chon ...   Y'know, in my book Popeye's is tough to beat for fast food fried chicken (even if it's not quite what it once was), but I'm gonna have to keep my eye out for Korean-style fried chicken, which looks really, really good -- "crunchy, spicy, perfectly nongreasy chicken the apotheosis of the Korean style."

Young Jin, who opened a friendly little chicken joint called Unidentified Flying Chickens in Jackson Heights last month [said,] "We use fresh, not frozen, chicken, always fried to order, no trans fats, no heat lamps."

In Korea, chickens are much smaller, so the whole chicken is fried and served, hacked up into bite-size pieces. But the large breasts and thighs of American chickens are a challenge to cook evenly.

According to Mr. Jin and others, that's why the Korean-style chicken places here serve mostly wings (true connoisseurs can specify either the upper arm or the wing) and small drumsticks. The chicken is typically seasoned only after it is fried, with either a sweetish garlic-soy glaze or a hotter red-pepper sauce that brings the dish into Buffalo wing territory.

But do not look for blue cheese and celery sticks, or even biscuits and gravy. The typical accompaniment to Korean fried chicken is cubes of pickled radish and plenty of beer or soju; the combination produces an irresistible repetition of salt and spice, cold and hot, briny and sweet, crunchy and tender. [...] Korean-style fried chicken is radically different, reflecting an Asian frying technique that renders out the fat in the skin, transforming it into a thin, crackly and almost transparent crust.

Oh my Gawd, that sounds good.

With such a huge Koreatown in Los Angeles, surely there must be some of this around. Does anybody know of a place?

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  Wednesday, February 7, 2007

He rode a blazing saddle, he wore a shining star...   Francesco Paolo LoVecchio is gone. This son of Sicilian immigrants, who was better known as Frankie Laine, singer of "Rawhide," "Mule Train" and everything from jazz numbers to the theme song from "Blazing Saddles," died yesterday at age 93.

Head 'em up, move 'em out ...

"Can we recreate this?"   asks Steve. "This" is the staff party for the staff of the Spotted Pig in New York. It was held at Mario Batali's Del Posto (where my sister and brother-in-law went a few months before Thomas was born and had a meal that made me so jealous I had to hate them both just a little bit, for about five seconds), and featured, among other things, six roasted suckling pigs, deep-fried bacon, deep-fried Rice Krispies treats, and scenarios like this:

He [Mark Ladner, executive chef at Del Posto] left the kitchen for a moment, carrying a blowtorch. This was to ignite the grappa hed poured inside two hollowed-out wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. When the flames died, Mr. Ladner filled the wheels with boiled rigatoni, grated cheese, olive oil, butter and what the menu called "mad amounts of large chunk Black Truffle."

Employees of the Spotted Pig crowded around to learn what $1,350 worth of truffles smelled like. "Ooh, Chef Ladner," said a woman, swaying like a tulip in an April breeze.

Um ... oh my.

What I'm not sure about is the dishes scattered with Twinkies, Ringdings and other store-bought sweets, and the sauce for the foie gras that was made by "melting three bags of Starburst candy into two cans of Red Bull and seasoning with salt and pepper."

"It sounds kind of silly but its actually quite good," Mr. Ladner said. The sauce, an early innovation of Mr. Batalis, glowed red-orange with a transfixing intensity and hardened as it cooled -- "like plastic," Mr. Ladner observed cheerfully.

Ohh, I dunno, Crow ...

That said ... pigs, bacon, deep-fried Rice Krispie treats ... sounds like us. These are our kinda people.

Can we recreate this? I feel it is our duty. I'll even try that awful-sounding sauce.

Speaking of Del Posto ...   here's the tasting menu from the night my sister and brother-in-law dined there.

SALUMI MISTI with Erbazzone and Sweet Pumpkin
Roasted Autumn VEGETABLES with Truffled Hazelnuts
Soave Classico Superiore "Monte Grande," Pra 2004 Veneto

INSALATA di MARE with Sea Weed
ORATA with Romanesco
Refosco Rosato, Bastianich 2005 Friuli

GARGANELLI al Ragù Bolognese
RISOTTO with Funghi Misti
Morellino di Scansano "I Perazzi," La Mozza 2004 Toscana

VENISON with Brussels Sprouts and Sour Plums
"Vespa Rosso," Bastianich 2003 Friuli

BUDINO di Fichi (Warm Fig Pudding)
Moscato d'Asti "Sourgal," Elio Perrone 2005 Piemonte

Oh Jesus ...

The English contribution to world cuisine.   Ah, Otto ... it goes far beyond the chip. (Hey, I love chips.) If you include the entirety of the U.K. there are Scotch eggs, spotted dick and haggis too! Alana, an American living in Scotland, has been doing a tour of traditinal British cuisine and offers her opinions. A sampling:

Pickled onions: In the end, I didn't hate them, but I also don't imagine myself tucking into a big jar of them as a snack. I think maybe pickled onions are kind of a guy thing. [I love pickled onions, me. Chop 'em up and mix 'em in your red beans! -- Chuck]

Yorkshire pudding: They taste a lot like popovers too, but a little bit greasier. This could be seen as a bad thing, but I kind of like it. Because of the grease content, the outside crust gets a bit crispier than popovers. So it is a crispy golden-brown outside around a soft and almost creamy-tasting inside. They are very oily and bad for you. But they do taste really good. [Yay, love Yorkshire pudding! -- Chuck]

Lucozade: The color is a natural orange color, from orange juice and beta carotene, not neon artificial colors. It is extremely sweet and just a little fizzy. The orange flavor doesn't stand out much past the sugar. But it was quite crisp and refreshing. With the calorie and sugar content of this stuff, I wouldn't want to drink it very often, despite the pleasant flavor... It tastes good and could be a nice boost if you're working a long shift, but I wouldn't want to drink this very often. [God, I hate this stuff. Lucozade barley water is even worse. -- Chuck]

British hot dogs: [T]he British eat hot dogs too. And they do it wrong. First off ... [t]hey come in cans. Packed in brine. (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little.) ... The can smelled briney. And acidic. And scary... [They were] really squishy. Not just a little soft. Squishier than Spam. The mustard helped me choke them down, but they were really very bland and very squishy. [Umm ... ewww. You can get real hot dogs in Britain, why would anyone eat this? -- Chuck]

Haggis: Category: possibly meat-ish ... My husband cooked the haggis because a) he is Scottish and knows how to do that, and b) he is not afraid of our microwave, like I am. It smelled like a mix of sausage and liver. Kind of like the worst parts of my grandmother's stuffing recipe. It looks completely indescribable. It's dark brown, almost black, with little light flecks where the oatmeal is. Kind of like maybe some kind of wild rice and squid ink casserole. Or the poop of someone with advanced colon cancer. [C'mon, good haggis is good. Okay, there are some who'd say that's an oxymoron, but I really enjoyed the haggis I had in Scotland. It's like Scottish boudin. C'mon Alana, don't be a baby! -- Chuck]

Marmite: This stuff had to have been invented as a practical joke. Here's what I picture: some guy at a food company said, "You know L. Ron Hubbard? He invented that religion Scientology and admited that he totally made it up, but there are still people dumb enough to follow it. I think we can do that with a food. We'll concoct a foul tar of smoker's lung and yeast poo and market it as a health food. People will buy it and eat it, no matter how nasty it is. I'll bet you £10." And now decades later that guy has his £10 and the rest of the world is stuck with Marmite and Tom Cruise. [Seconded, thirded, and ... yes, vile vile vile. -- Chuck]

I have a shameful, shameful confession to make ... I ... I ... actually kinda like Heinz Salad Cream. *hangs head*

You reap what you sow.   "Conservatives," says John Aravosis, "aligned with religious right Republicans, have spent the past six years (plus) demonizing gays, immigrants, Muslims, and everyone else they could get their hands on," and what has that led to? the resurrection of the Ku Klux Klan, who see opportunity in the rising tide of Muslim-, immigrant- and gay-bashing.

Oh, well done. (Do some reading up on the law of unintended consequences sometime, whydontcha?)

Digby has more examples of the current wave of right-wing lunacy:

Ann Coulter and others on the right have spent the last few years saying that liberals are a fifth column consciously working on the side of the terrorists. She wrote a book called "Treason" on just that subject. Michele Malkin and her little friends went completely nuts over those Danish cartoons, screeching to high heaven about free speech and the inalienable right to criticize religion to matter how offensive the believers found it. It has been an article of faith that the left is in cahoots with the terrorists from the beginning.

Now, they've decided that the terrorists attacked America because it hates the American left --- its alleged supporters for lo these many years. And the finest minds of the right seem to be saying that America should appease these terrorists by succumbing to their demands that America stop tolerating liberalism at all.

When in the company of conservatives these days, be sure to carry an umbrella. You can never be sure when one of their heads is going to explode.

Their lunacy is increasing because they're becoming increasingly desperate, knowing that more and more Americans aren't buying their claptrap anymore.

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  Monday, February 5, 2007

A Few Words In Defense Of Our Country.   The new single by Randy Newman (currently available exclusively as an iTunes download) demonstrates that the guy we thought was happy just doing soundtracks is indeed still, as he was 30 years ago as well, a sharp political satirist.

The unexpurgated lyrics:

I'd like to say a few words
In defense of our country
Whose people arent bad nor are they mean
Now the leaders we have
While they're the worst that we've had
Are hardly the worst this poor world has seen

Let's turn history's pages, shall we?

Take the Caesars for example
Why within the first few of them
They were sleeping with their sister
Stashing little boys in swimming pools
And burning down the City
And one of 'em, one of 'em
Appointed his own horse Consul of the Empire
That's like vice president or something

That's not a very good example, is it?

But wait, here's one, the Spanish Inquisition
They put people in a terrible position
I don't even like to think about it

Well, sometimes I like to think about it.

Just a few words in defense of our country
Whose time at the top
Could be coming to an end
Now we don't want their love
And respect at this point is pretty much out of the question
But in times like these
We sure could use a friend

Hitler. Stalin.
Men who need no introduction

King Leopold of Belgium. That's right.
Everyone thinks he's so great
Well he owned The Congo
He tore it up too
He took the diamonds, he took the gold
He took the silver
Know what he left them with?


A President once said,
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself"
Now it seems like were supposed to be afraid
It's patriotic in fact and color coded
And what are we supposed to be afraid of?
Why, of being afraid
That's what terror means, doesn't it?
That's what it used to mean

[To the first eight bars of "Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean"]

You know it pisses me off a little
That this Supreme Court is gonna outlive me
A couple of young Italian fellas and a brother on the Court now too
But I defy you, anywhere in the world
To find me two Italians as tightass as the two Italians we got

And as for the brother
Well, Pluto's not a planet anymore either

The end of an empire is messy at best
And this empire is ending
Like all the rest
Like the Spanish Armada adrift on the sea
Were adrift in the land of the brave
And the home of the free

Goodbye. Goodbye. Goodbye.

As Monty Python once sang, I bet they won't play this song on the radio.

Here's a Newsweek interview with Randy about the new song.

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  Thursday, February 1, 2007

Well kid, it's about time you showed up!   My nephew Thomas was born at about 5:30pm today, eight-and-a-half healthy pounds. Reddish-brown hair, and already has his hands in his mouth, preparing to shovel in the bacon as soon as it's time. Mother and son are doing well.


Molly Ivins, RIP.   She passed away yesterday, after long, multiple bouts with breast cancer. She was one of the good guys, and she went way too soon.

Thanks to Rick, who compiled a few favorite quotes of hers:

* The first rule of holes: when you're in one, stop digging.

* I am not anti-gun. I'm pro-knife. Consider the merits of the knife. In the first place, you have to catch up with someone in order to stab him. A general substitution of knives for guns would promote physical fitness. We'd turn into a whole nation of great runners. Plus, knives don't ricochet. And people are seldom killed while cleaning their knives.

* I know vegetarians don't like to hear this, but God made an awful lot of land that's good for nothing but grazing.

* What you need is sustained outrage... there's far too much unthinking respect given to authority.

* The thing about democracy, beloveds, is that it is not neat, orderly, or quiet. It requires a certain relish for confusion.

* I believe that ignorance is the root of all evil. And that no one knows the truth.

* You can't ignore politics, no matter how much you'd like to.

* It is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.

* Politics is not a picture on a wall or a television sitcom that you can decide you don't much care for.

* I believe in practicing prudence at least once every two or three years.

* I still believe in Hope - mostly because there's no such place as Fingers Crossed, Arkansas.

* Any nation that can survive what we have lately in the way of government, is on the high road to permanent glory.

* During a recent panel on the numerous failures of American journalism, I proposed that almost all stories about government should begin: "Look out! They're about to smack you around again!"

The United States of America is still run by its citizens. The government works for us. Rank imperialism and warmongering are not American traditions or values. We do not need to dominate the world. We want and need to work with other nations. We want to find solutions other than killing people. Not in our name, not with our money, not with our children's blood.

Thanks for your words and your passion, Molly. I fear we may not see your likes again.

January Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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