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looka, ('lu-k&) Yatspeak. 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. My weblog - food, music, news, movies, books, sf, media and culture, Macs, politics, humor, reviews, rants, my opinions, witty or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles my fancy.
Please feel free to contribute a link. If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.
Last tweak @ 8:48pm PST, 2/28/2000
1. Mi Piace: It pleases me
2. Wusthof: Knives for Serious Cooks
3. The Isle of Skye
4. The French Laundry (Wine Country, CA): Meal of a lifetime
5. Sanamluang: Best Thai food in L.A.
6. Volkswagen New Beetle: Fun fun fun!
Weblogs I like:
Ethel the Blog
Hit or Miss
One Swell Foop
Q Daily News
Slightly North of Tomorrow
The Other Side
Whim and Vinegar
Brig's big blog portal
Matthew's GLB blog portal
Tuesday, February 29, 2000
KSCN has the power! Today the radio station where I work, KCSN 88.5 FM Northridge/Los Angeles, goes live with its new transmitter -- a sextupled power output beaming forth from a 100-foot tower atop Oat Mountain. This should lock in our signal wherever it was sketchy before, and (we hope) bring it lots of new listeners.
Throw me somethin', bubeleh! NOLA Live's most recent feature article for Carnival season is about one of the marching krewes, currently celebrating their 14th anniversary -- the Krewe de Jieux, who in addition to throwing the traditional beads also throw glittery ... bagels.
Donna Masarra Mervis, vice president of the Krewe du Jieux, said, "The Krewe du Jieux is so anti-Mardi Gras in that we are a Jewish krewe celebrating a Catholic holiday. But that sort of mocks the whole aspect of it because you don't have to be Jewish to be a part of our krewe, plus the fact Mardi Gras used to be closed off to Jews, so it's come full circle I guess."Ah, just one of the many reasons that Mardi Gras is such a blast.
"It's an interesting phenomenon," founder L. J. Goldstein said, "to have a publicly Jewish Krewe, consisting of both Jewish and non-Jewish people, getting together to celebrate a non-Jewish holiday using satire in the same vein of Mel Brooks, Woody Allen and old Jewish vaudeville."
Goldstein, a 32-year-old fine arts photographer, who goes by "Nice Jewish Boy In Charge," is a transplant from New York City. He believes not everyone is comfortable with provoking Jewish stereotypes, the krewe's specialty, but it's something he's comfortable with, because of his love of the religion. "It's an empowering thing", he said, "to be able to make a joke about it and feel good about yourself because you know it's just a joke about a stereotype."
For example, when the Krewe du Vieux's theme focused on the descent of large corporations and chains on New Orleans with, "Krewe du Vieux Being Souled Down The River," the Krewe du Jieux responded with "The House of Jieux," poking fun at The House of Blues, dressing like the "The Jieuxs Brothers," inspired by The Blues Brothers, complete with traditional payes (sideburns) and tallises (prayer shawls).
Speaking of Mardi Gras...
Bared boobs + waggling willies = jail. The New Orleans Police Department are cracking down on public nudity during Mardi Gras this year. Cries of "Show your tits!" are ubiquitous during Carnival, particularly in the French Quarter, and many women who would ordinarily never dream of doing such a thing will flash their breasts in exchage for a two-cent pair of Mardi Gras beads. Guys have been known to let loose their langers as well, and this year the cops warn that too much flailing flesh will mean a trip to the pokey.
Local tourism officials are concerned with the bawdy image that Mardi Gras presents, and worry that it'll chase families away from the many family-friendly aspects of the holiday.
In addition, there's a new ban on tossing beads from French Quarter balconies, apparently because the cops think this exacerbates the flashing. This is a bit much, I think.
If you want a family-friendly Mardi Gras, just stay out of the Quarter. I've attended countless parades along the traditional parade routes; the kids all have a great time, and so do the adults (if you can see past all the ladders). You've got a lot more to worry about, like being knocked down by an old lady who wants that doubloon that just landed at your feet.
Monday, February 28, 2000
The worst episode ever. Last night's edition of "The X-Files" was an unbelievably wretched huge stinking pile of crap.
You go, John McCain! Although I am not a supporter of John McCain's presidential candidacy and I do not plan to vote for him, he has earned a great deal of respect from me today. McCain is the first Republican to have the spine to publicly state that Pat Robertson and his wannabe theocrats are bigots, and that Dubya Bush is their willing little marionette (as was his father before him). McCain is not going to kowtow or pander to these people who want to control the GOP, and I admire him tremendously for that. Too bad he's a conservative Republican with whom I disagree on very many things; this is just this kind of thing that makes me want to vote for someone.
Meanwhile, Dubya apologizes to Catholics for failing to criticize Bob Jones University, that Catholic-loathing, interracial dating-banning, handholding-prohibiting bastion of Neanderthal fundamentalism. (Too little, too late, eh?)
And good ol' Al Gore is so pro-death penalty that he says he's willing to accept wrongful executions (link via Medley). He also is unwilling to raise taxes for the rich and isn't addressing the widening gap between the rich and the poor. This guy wants the liberals' vote? Bill Bradley's got mine so far.
New recipe. 'Member a few days ago, when I posted that mind-spinning food porn about a meal at Uglesich's? I got a wake-up call last Wednesday telling me to hurry up and find a tape to record "Martha Stewart Living" that morning, 'cause Anthony and Gail Uglesich were going to be on. I hurriedly went through my Attack of the Unlabelled Videotapes next to the TV and found one with thirty seconds to spare before the show started.
Anthony showed us how he fries oysters (his secret, besides his limitless expertise, is using the same cast-iron frying pots that have been frying oysters since his father started the restaurant in 1927), and Gail showed us one of their luscious appetizer recipes: "Oyster Shooters". No, it's not a shotglass with an oyster and some Tabasco-laced ketchup in it, it's a wonderful dish of oysters briefly sautéed in a yummy sauce and served on the half-shell. I wrote it down, and here it is.
Neat neat neat! A new gizmo will allow you to play up to 6 hours of MP3 audio on your car's tape deck, in your Walkman, in a boom box, or anywhere else where you can now play audiocassettes. Wired News reviewed the product and said it was indeed nifty, with reservations. It sounded very good with headphones jacked in, but somewhat hissy when play ed on a cassette deck, a problem "not uncommon with digital-to-analog transfers".
Saturday, February 26, 2000
What is with these people? Once again Amazon obtains a patent for something that they have no business patenting: the idea of a click-through affiliates program that pays a commission to the affiliate. The U.S. Patent Office had no business issuing it, either.
Friday, February 25, 2000
The other other white meat. A chef in San Jose has allegedly been serving pork tenderloin for the last five years while claiming it's veal. (via Obscure Store).
Why? He says it's because some customers complained that real veal was tough (gee, it isn't tough when I cook it), but probably really because it's about 1/3 the price of veal. Of course, the faux-veal dishes were still just as expensive as if they were real veal. He's subsequently been suspended, and the district attorney is investigating; meanwhile, his boss is apparently calling local synagogues to apologize. Tsk tsk tsk. (Begin daydream. Pannéed veal cutlet po-boy from Mandina's. Mmmmmmm.)
Altan, from the hometown paper. Ciarán Tourish of the Irish traditional band Altan speaks to the Irish Times about their lives, loves and the new album, "Another Sky".
Palm Pilot Personal = Hockey puck? I've been hobbling by on my 512K Palm Pilot Personal (stone knives and bearskins!) for years now, and have recently been coveting a Visor. But should I hold out for this instead of dropping money on a new Visor? They say it won't work as well here as it will in Europe. Damned advancing technology...
Thursday, February 24, 2000
The Americanization of Lasagna. It's a delicate and complex dish ... in Italy, at least. In America it often tends to be a big pile of glop. (We in this country have a unique talen for taking things that are real and true, and then screwing them up so that the American public will buy them.) Candy Sagon in the Washington Post tells us a bit about what lasagna's really supposed to be like.
Wednesday, February 23, 2000
Boit-day! It's my kid sister Melissa Taggart Willmon's 28th birthday today. (After next year I probably won't be allowed to mention the number anymore.) Happy birthday, dawlin'!
Can you say "debacle", Fox? Darva Conger, the nice but temporarily deluded ER nurse who married alleged girlfriend-batterer Rick Rockwell on national TV after knowing him for less than three minutes, wants an annulment after one week of marriage. Color me surprised.
The dichotomy of Fox producing some of the best shows on TV ("The Simpsons", "The X-Files", "Malcolm in the Middle") as well as some of the worst and most appalling crapola ever seen on the air never ceases to amaze me. I have to wonder what these execs were thinking of in doing this appalling program just for ratings. We can hope this kind of programming will come to an end soon; as John Carman said in the San Francisco Examiner, "Reality just rose up and bit reality programming in the behind."
Today's food porn from Michael. My friends Michael and Louise Pemberton continue to make me jealous fairly regularly, now that they've moved to my hometown and continue to send pornographic descriptions of their meals to this hapless New Orleanian expatriate.
Michael writes about Uglesich's Restaurant and Bar in New Orleans. It's in a bad neighborhood, it's only open for lunch, it's usually described as "a dump"... and it's arguably one of the best restaurants in New Orleans. When you see top chefs like Jamie Shannon of Commander's Palace and Emeril Lagasse from Emeril's dining there, you know you're on to something.
Here's the porn:
"We had some friends come in town for the weekend, and yesterday at Uglesich's was truly religious. There were three of us, and we got 6 appetizers and a slew of raw oysters. I know you don't like raw oysters all that much, but if you go to Uglesich's some day and Mr. Anthony [Uglesich] is raving about the oysters you absolutely need to have some. They were the best I've ever had, and I've had some really good ones. I could have just eaten two dozen of those and gone home very happy. Here's what else we had."
- Fried oysters with blue cheese dressing on a bed of mixed greens. Oh my God, is this good. It's right up there with the rabbit tenderloin at Brigtsen's as one of the very best things I have ever put in my mouth. The rich, slightly salty sauce is to die for.Michael adds, "By the way, I asked Anthony when he was going to put out a cookbook, and he said that if they don't find anyone to take over the business they were going to do a book in the next 3-4 years. Louise immediately offered her services as an editor; that would be really cool."
- Fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp remoulade. I've had this there before, but it didn't strike me like it did this time. Absolutely perfect. We even felt compelled to buy a jar of the remoulade sauce on our way out.
- Firecracker Shrimp. This was 6 huge shrimp bathed in a spicy barbecue and horseradish cream sauce. The sauce was very flavorful, though not as spicy as I would have liked (same deal with all the 'hot' sauces at Uglesich's). One of my favorite things about this was that the shrimp had the head and tail on, but the rest of the shell was peeled off. I hate having to wrestle with the tail, but I still got a kick out of the care they put into things. Great dish.
- Baked oysters stuffed with bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and olive oil. This was the least spectacular of the lot, at least until I slathered them in the extra sauce from the Firecracker Shrimp. It was then moan-inducing. I liked that sauce better on these oysters then on the shrimp.
- Shrimp and bean chili, with chaurice sausage and white beans. This was slightly less amazing then I hoped, but it was still extremely good. Great texture for a chili.
- Fried mirlitons topped with crawfish sauce. This reinforced my plan for eating at Uglesich's, which is only to order things topped with sauces (unless they are raw oysters). This was very straight-forward, but their sauces and frying skills are so top-notch that is was extremely good.
I can't wait to go home for Jazzfest.
J. P. sheriff's deputies, at it again. A Jefferson Parish (County) sheriff's deputy cited a man for running a red light while he was rushing his father to the hospital for treatment for a heart attack. Furthermore, the deputy delayed the family for nearly 30 minutes, which could easily have been life-threatening. (Jefferson Parish lies west and and south of New Orleans and is part of the N.O. Metro area.)
I grew up in New Orleans. I was scared of the cops there. I was more scared of the cops in Jefferson Parish. I guess I still have reason to be scared of them. I keep wondering what I would have done in this situation. Keep driving? Tell the cop to follow me to the hospital and take off? Would the cop have been crazy enough to shoot? (Entirely possible; the deputy had had numerous complaints lodged against him.) I like to think I'd have done whatever would be necessary to get my dad to the hospital and screw the cop.
The current Chief of Police in New Orleans has done a lot to get bad cops off the force in his city. Sheriff Harry Lee -- clean your house!
Tuesday, February 22, 2000
Transmission is the mission! There was a great article in the arts and entertainment section of yesterday's Los Angeles Times on KCSN, my happy radio home. We're gearing up for a new transmitter that'll sextuple our power output and should get us into lots more Los Angeles radios. (The article didn't mention my program, ahem ... but it was a great article anyway. One exception: we don't actually carry "A Prairie Home Companion", like it said we do.)
Etoy.com resurrects. The artists' group etoy.com have got their web address back, after months of harassment by the Evil etoys.com, who somehow managed to convince an ignorant judge to pull etoy's domain even though etoy had it for two years before etoys. Hey etoys, can you guess where I'll be buying all my toys from now on? It ain't you.
Incidentally, there's a really cool toy store on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica called Puzzle Zoo. They've got lots of nifty sf toys and models. That's where I got my action figure of The Spleen from "Mystery Men" as a Christmas present for Wes. ("I'm the Schpleen! Wanna schee my sheecret power? Pull my finger!")
Monday, February 21, 2000
I'm such an awful whinging eejit. The pre-concert talk on Altan went very well. Thanks very much to Jason, Matt, Jen and everyone else who wrote with words of encouragement. I guess I can do this after all. I'll just need better anti-anxiety drugs next time. :^)
I was actually worried that I might not be able to fill the allotted half-hour time slot, but as it turned out I ran out of time, and could have gone on for another 20-30 minutes at least. Sheesh. The crowd was attentive and appreciative and asked good questions, which helped a lot. By the time I got finished teaching about the history and distinctiveness of Donegal traditional music (which Altan specialize in), I only had ten or so minutes to talk about the entire history of the band. Next time I suppose I should rehearse for timing.
(Gee, did I say "next time"?)
Altan were fabulous, by the way. (Here's the review from today's Los Angeles Times arts/entertainment section.) Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh is one of the greatest singers I've ever heard, and the band were at the peak of their instrumental prowess. It's amazing to listen to a band who were already great when they first started out, and just keep getting better and better. We were also treated to a guest appearance from Bonnie Raitt during the encore! She and bassist Hutch Hutchinson joined Altan for two songs, one traditional one from Scotland and a Bob Dylan song ("Girl from the North Country", inspired by traditional song) from the new album. It was one of those moments that makes you really glad to live in a place like Los Angeles -- not only do great Irish bands like Altan make a stop here, but they bring up their music-legend friends who happen to love here.
There was some more good news during the show as well. Seems that Mairéad and the band's accordionist Dermot Byrne were married late last year, which I hadn't heard about. Mairéad's first husband (and Altan co-founder) Frankie Kennedy passed away from cancer five years ago, and I'm really glad she's found happiness with Dermot. Congratulations, you two!
Don't blame the IRA this time. If anyone flouted the spirit of the Good Friday peace accord in Northern Ireland, it was the ever-intransigent Unionists and the British Government, who last week suspended the 10-week-old home rule assembly. They'll say the IRA refused to hand in their weapons by a mysterious "deadline", when in fact no such deadline existed in the agreement.
The immediate source of today's crisis was a revival of what is known in Northern Ireland parlance as "the "Unionist Veto" -- the long tradition Ulster's Protestant majority rejecting any accommodation with the Roman Catholic minority, now nearly half the population of the province. Mandelson's predecessor Mo Mowlam periodically angered Unionists by declining their veto demands, and Mandelson was named in part to assuage that fury.Speaking of whom, why aren't we hearing anything about the Loyalist paramilitaries? The UVF, the UFF, the UDA? Why isn't David Trimble demanding that they turn in their arms as well? The IRA had, in fact, just delivered a schedule for disarmament 12 hours before the suspension of the N.I. assembly, and this was ignored by the British. Alexander Cockburn also points out in the 2/17 issue of Counterpunch that another aspect of the agreement, the dismantling and reconstruction of Northern Ireland's paramilitary police force, the RUC, has not proceeded as recommended.
In this case, Mandelson decided to accommodate the Unionist veto in the form of Trimble's insistence that his Ulster Unionists would only remain in the new government if the IRA began handing in its arms by February. It was a demand completely outside the terms of the Good Friday accord, which set a May date for all of Northern Ireland's Catholic Republican and Protestant loyalist paramilitaries to cooperate with an international disarmament commission.
I have to wonder if the Unionists have ever wanted peace. Throughout history, it seems they've only truly wanted hegemony. They're going to have to realize that peace has to come from all sides. They should also think about the fact that the Catholic/nationalist "minority" in the North is now almost half the population of Northern Ireland, and won't be a minority for much longer.
Perhaps David Trimble should give back his Nobel Peace Prize until he's truly interested in peace.
Who wants to marry a wife-beater? Seems that Fox is cancelling the re-run of their appallingly popular presentation of "Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?". It's been reported that "Rick Rockwell", the M.-M. himself, allegedly beat and threatened to kill an ex-girlfriend, who then got a restraining order against him. I wonder if that poor, misguided nurse who married him on national TV after knowing him for 2 minutes can now divorce him and take half his money... (Via Q Daily News)
Happy President's Day. Let the celebrations begin. (*snore*)
Well, I did get the day off, for which I'm grateful. It'd be a lovely day, except for the fact that it's a pisser of a day -- it's pouring rain outside, the wind is whistling through the bad seal around my back door (thanks, Mr. Landlord), and even with umbrella I'd get soaked just trying to get outside to my car. Blah. I might try to escape for a bit if the rain lets up, and see some of the Oscar-nominated stuff I haven't yet seen, like "The Insider". Staying in and watching a three-hour movie sounds like a good way to spend a holiday in the rain. Or I could just stay home, have a little wine and watch "Big Night" (one of my favorite movies) again.
It doesn't hurt to cuddle a table. Staying inside today is sounding better, because over the last week I've enjoyed being in my house more. This is because of how much I enjoy the new coffee table and lamp table that are now in my living room.
Ten months of saving, five months of waiting, and finally the pieces arrived last week. They were made by Warren Hile Studios of Monrovia, California (who make Arts and Crafts style furniture) and I think I was the last person to get in an order for their Prairie School line before they stopped making it. They're really gorgeous -- quartersawn oak in a medium nut brown finish, in a design that would fit perfectly well in a Frank Lloyd Wright house. Hile Studios don't have a website, by the way, but there's a dealer in San Jose that carries their stuff, and who've got a few pictures online.
Do yourself a favor sometime and buy yourself at least one really nice piece of furniture. It helps make it extra-nice to just stay home and hang out.
The trouble with these tables is that they make all the rest of my cheap furniture look like crap. Looks like I'll spend the next two years saving for a nice brown leather sofa.
There's another problem with this new furniture, too. It's making me become more ... like my parents. You should hear me. "Aaaah! Feet off the table! AAACK! USE A COASTER!! USE A COASTER!!"
Friday, February 18, 2000
(*gulp*) Ah, tonight. The evening I've been dreading for four months.
Tonight Altan, one of the greatest Irish traditional bands, are performing at UCLA Royce Hall at 8:00 pm. I've been asked to deliver the CenterStage pre-concert lecture at 7:00, which should last a half hour or so. It was a great honor to be asked, but if my general manager at KCSN hadn't hornswoggled me into doing it, I probably would have declined. Why?
Stage fright, baby. Perhaps not as bad as the kind that's kept Andy Partridge from touring with XTC for the last umpteen years, but bad enough. I capitulated under René's brutal barrage of persuasion ("C'mon, don't be a wimp, Taggart." He didn't actually say "wimp"; I'm paraphrasing.) and thought to myself that I'd get over it. I haven't. It's going to in a huge fecking lecture hall and I'm stressing out and I hate this.
Fortunately one of the blood pressure medications I'm on, Inderal, is also prescribed to people on a short-term basis for stage fright and performance anxiety. Maybe my doctor will let me double up today.
Okay, I'm done whining now. Wish me luck. The good thing is, once I'm done with this damned lecture, I'll be able to see Altan for free! They are unbelievably brilliant. They've also got a new album coming out on the 29th, entitled "Another Sky". Get it. Get 'em all, actually. Each and every album they've ever done is brilliant.
Thursday, February 17, 2000
Ack. Busy, busy week. Sorry for the lack of Looka! action this week.
Monday night's dinner consisted of a nice big 1998 Rosemount Estate Shiraz before the meal, then poached monkfish and shrimp in a saffron-wine broth with shallots and cherry tomatoes, washed down by a lovely Sterling Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend. For dessert, a Charlie Trotter creation -- Chocolate-Ginger Tart with Pear-Caramel Sauce. I nearly passed out from this one.
Oscar shmoscar. Well, the Academy Award nominations are out. No major surprises, and there's been much spin already. My pick, of course, is "American Beauty". I am 100% in agreement with Tom at Barbelith that Wes Bentley got rooked; he was wonderful, riveting in "Beauty". (Thanks for the link, Tom.) And Spike Jonze got rooked too -- a best director nomination but not best picture? As the NPR reporter said, noting that "The Green Mile" was nominated for best picture (and not best director) instead of "Being John Malkovich", "What, did the picture direct itself?" (Yes, I know that directors nominate directors and everybody nominates for picture.)
Then again, who cares about the Oscars? It's nothing but an excuse to throw an Oscar party. (I'll be cooking chicken, sausage and shrimp jambalaya, most likely.)
I wonder who's going to sing "Blame Canada" -- Celine Dion or Ann Reinking? And as one soc.motss poster said, "I can't wait for Rex Reed's jailhouse Oscar special!"
Don't try this at home, kids. Microsoft Windows 2000 is called a "nightmare" of incompatibility for the home user. An internal Microsoft memo recently publicized asks, one developer to another, "How many of you would spend $500 on a piece of software with over 63,000 potential known defects?" (Is that all?)
Party hats! Cake! Spanking! It's my friend Jordan's birthday today. Happy birthday, Mouse!
Monday, February 14, 2000
Happy Valentine's Day. Hope your day isn't Charlie Brownian.
Speaking of whom... Charles M. Schulz died in his sleep on Saturday. Goodbye Sparky, and thanks for everything.
More ironic arias. Yep, the irony sings to me today in a voice like Caruso's: The Philadelphia Daily News reports that a foster parent who prevented a girl in his care from being adopted by a gay man was sentenced yesterday to 40 years in prison for molesting the girl.
Friday, February 11, 2000
Yow, busy weekend coming up. Sheesh. (Yes, this'll be one of those "Me! Me! Me!" entries...)
So tonight we're going to Highways in Santa Monica to see Tim Miller's new one-man show "Glory Box". Then I have to get up quite early on Saturday and clean up my clunky old Honda Civic, 'cause someone's coming later that morning to (possibly) buy it. Then I've got to take what little time I've got left that morning and prepare for an interview with Alison Brown that I've been assigned to do on "Down Home" this weekend. I stress out when I get assigned interviews at the last minute with people I know next to nothing about.
Saturday night will be a big ol' party at my friend Chris' loft (I'll need the unwinding), and Sunday morning my other friend Chris is helping me pick up my N*E*W F*U*R*N*I*T*U*R*E!!! (More on that later.) I hope there'll be some time for relaxin' Sunday afternoon, 'cause Sunday night I'll be cooking a big meal (which is fun but can get exhausting).
I need a vacation (Oh Chuck, you poor dear. Here, let me whack you repeatedly over the head with a Nerf bat...)
We hate those awful gay kids! (And we hate the chess club, too!) Faced with both a lawsuit and an injunction from a federal judge over their attempts to ban a Gay-Straight Student Alliance at El Modena High School, those bastions of wisdom at the Orange Unified School District are considering banning all extracurricular student organizations just so that the gay kids can't have one. This apparently includes the Black Student Union and the chess club as well.
Meanwhile, a scuffle broke out between about a dozen protesters -- mostly out-of-towners from a Utah-based group called "America Forever Foundation" -- and about 30 El Modena students who shouted at the busybodies to shut up and go away. Club founder Anthony Colin, 15, was whacked over the head with a sign by one of the protesters, who apparently moved to Orange County from Utah solely "to battle the club for as long as it takes"; they plan to become "a fixture in Orange".
"We don't like [the club], and we don't approve of sex clubs for kids," [a protester] said. "We are sure they are going to be talking about sexually related issues." In fact, during their first meeting the kids appointed a committee to draft the club's constitution, and they ate some cookies.
Woof. Okay, so I took that dopey dog test that everyone's blogging about. It said,
You are most like a PUG. You are a lot of dog wrapped in a small package. Your witty humor and undeniable charm puts you at the top of everyone's list. You are blessed with both intelligence and an infectious personality. You are a happy breed who has perfect manners, yet still has a playful and mischievous side. You are admired and respected by all who know you.Isn't that nice? Fortunately they neglected to say, "You look like someone has smashed you in the face with a cast-iron frying pan, then stuck an air hose up your arse until your eyes bugged out." I adore pugs personality-wise, but they are by far the ugliest dogs I've ever seen. (I think I'm much cuter than a pug, thankyouverynice.)
And I also think Jesus must've been cuter than Arafat. Joel at Monkeyfist rants about what many people just don't seem to get: Jesus was not a blonde-haired, blue-eyed white guy.
Nifty math observation of the day: "How many seconds are there in a year? If I tell you there are 3.155 x 10^7, you won't even try to remember it. On the other hand, who could forget that, to within half a percent, pi seconds is a nanocentury?"
-- Tom Duff, Bell Labs
Wednesday, February 9, 2000
Wow. My old schoolmate Darin Morgan -- comedic writer, actor and author of some of the best episodes of "The X-Files" ever ("That's one bleepin' dead alien, all right.") -- has finally made it. I initially thought he had made it when he won an Emmy award, but now I've discovered that he has ... a fan site on the web. Darin, now you've really made it. (via Kein)
Way back when we were at LMU film school, Darin was the co-star with his friend Tony Mortillaro of a short student film entitled "Legends of Doo-Wop", which Tony wrote and directed; it is by far the funniest student film I have ever seen (if not the funniest short film I've ever seen, period). To this day, 14 years later, thanks to this friggin' little movie, I still cannot hear the Buddy Holly song "Every Day" without breaking up into gales of laughter, usually ending in wiping tears from my eyes and, when I can finally breathe again, swearing at the two of them. Damn you, Tony and Darin! You've ruined that song for me!
It's that goddamn Cooley slap ...
Forbes stops squandering his children's inheritance and drops out of the Republican presidential race. This leaves only John McCain and Dubya left to battle it out for the GOP nomination, and Alan Keyes to continue making an ass of himself.
Ork! Ork! (*MOOOOOO!*) Gee, who knew cow orking was so popular?
Anita writes that "cow orker" is much more than a mere accidental and amusing typo, but is "the kind that takes on a life of its own and becomes an idiom, a shibboleth of a subculture." It's got an entry in the Jargon Dictionary, even. (She adds that Ceej, a pal of hers who uses the word often in her writing, hyphenates it -- "cow-orker".)
Animal abuse. A self-described "animal rights activist" in New Jersey is keeping an Arctic wolf as a pet and is feeding it nothing but beans, peas, rice, carrots and broccoli, calling it "the world's only vegetarian wolf".
"I'm not out to turn every pet into a vegetarian and in the wild, obviously, it's never going to happen," said Genteel. "I am, however, showing that we do not have to rely on meat in our human diets or in what we have been told our pets need to eat."In other words, this woman is using this animal to further her own agenda. Wolves are carnivores by nature, and I don't care how carefully you balance the nutrients and amino acids in its "stew", this is tantamount to animal abuse. The irony sings to me. (Via Obscure Store)
California's GOP: Making Austria's Heider sound moderate? The San Francisco Examiner reported on a California Republican "prayer breakfast" that prompts soc.motss poster Dennis Lewis to inquire: "In light of The Examiner's story, I have a question: How can we penalize John Rocker [for his comments] and criticize Austria for forming a government with Jörg Haider's Freedom Party when we have these guys dominating Republican meetings and saying things that make Rocker and Haider sound like moderates?" The genteel Grand Old Party members' comments included many gems:
After listening to a passage from Corinthians about the greatness of love, California Republicans sat down to a prayer breakfast and a warning: gay marriage is an evil akin to Nazi Germany and the "filth and pornography of another kingdom."Let's see ... gay marriage = a long-term, committed same-sex couple wanting to legally formalize their monogamous relationship for the rest of their lives, also entitling them to (among other things) insurance benefits, inheritance rights, and the right to visit one another in the hospital. Nazi Germany = a fascist regime that triggered World War II in Europe, caused the death of tens of millions of people, including the systematic slaughter of six million Jews and another five million Slavs, Gypsies and ... homosexuals. Um, right.
Last September at a GOP convention breakfast in Anaheim, state party Chaplain Doc Burch offended ethnic and religious groups by telling a joke that cast Egyptians as adulterers, Syrians as thieves and Jews as cheap barterers.This is not exactly what I have in mind when I think of prayer. Perhaps we should pray for these people.
This Sunday, Burch made jokes about public school officials allegedly taking teenagers into a "gay and lesbian and homosexual recruiting office" where they are asked, "Have you ever had a sexual feeling you didn't understand?"
"I never had one I did understand," Burch deadpanned. "Every hairy-legged boy I've ever known was hornier than a two-peckered goat, and you're asking him if he's ever had a sexual feeling he didn't understand? It's insanity, and that's what we've done to our kids."
The audience roared with laughter, but state GOP Chairman John McGraw, who was sitting next to Burch, just forced a thin smile and rubbed his forehead.
Burch wasn't the only one joking at the prayer breakfast. Jo Ellen Allen, an Orange County Republican, read a passage from the Bible and then offered a joke about the massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
The April bloodshed left 12 students, a teacher and two gunmen dead.
Allen read a mock letter: "...'Dear God, why did you let the children die at Littleton? Signed, A Concerned Parent,' And God wrote back: 'Dear parent, I'm not allowed in the public schools anymore. Signed, God.'..."
A few people in the audience laughed.
Tuesday, February 8, 2000
And to think, I can't even have a cup o' joe anymore... The Bravo cable network is showing repeats of David Lynch's series "Twin Peaks", with new "Log Lady" introductions that Lynch wrote especially for the rebroadcasts. This is a good thing, but I don't think I'm going to be able to catch them all; I have such terrible trouble watching episodic television these days. The web site is informative, and is "dehanced for Lynx", which gives me warm fuzzies.
When "Twin Peaks" was first aired I was tremendously excited, as I'm a big David Lynch fan. For some reason I never got around to watching the first season, although I dutifully taped it every week. Several friends of mine were equally busy around that time and missed it as well, so we decided to throw a "Twin Peaks" marathon. (I was remarkably restrained and hadn't even peeked at the tapes during the entire first season.)
My good friend Tracy Saltzman organized the marathon and said she'd provide the food. (Nowadays she's the executive chef and owner with her husband David of Rhubarb, one of the best catering companies in Los Angeles. Her food rocks! But I digress...) When we showed up at her house early one Saturday morning there was a steaming pot of coffee waiting for us, and the dining table was covered with little stacks of two doughnuts per stack. It was weird. "What's with the doughnuts?" I asked. Tracy grinned, "You'll see!" (She had seen the pilot, at least.)
We ate our doughnuts, drank hot cups o' joe, had pizza delivered later, and watched the ten hour first season of "Twin Peaks" all in one shot. It was a total blast. Try it sometime.
God's Wheeler Dealers. From the New Times, Los Angeles: "Former L.A. secretary Elaine Piconi struck an extraordinary business deal with a brilliant Vatican priest. But even Satan couldn't imagine how badly things would turn out."
My new favorite typo is "cow orker", written when someone meant to write "coworker" or "co-worker". I've seen it everywhere from newsgroup postings to emails from friends, and I love it. Still, I have to say that orking a cow sounds really disgusting.
This has replaced what until now has for years been my favorite typo, one which might just have to be promoted to favorite typo emeritus (or emerita): the word "lesbian" misspelled as "lesbain". Sounds like a tough cop from the Raymond Chandler genre -- Les Bain, Private Eye. (Les is undoutbtedly short for Leslie, and I'm sure she's quite a formidable adversary to the forces of evil.)
Yes, I know I'm in denial about the fact that my beloved hometown is sinking.
New Orleans, located on the sediments of the Mississippi River delta, may be an Atlantis for the 21st century as more and more of Louisiana coast is swallowed up by the Gulf of Mexico.Surely within the next hundred years they'll be able to pull something off, some "technological miracle" to save an entire city, and a unique culture at that. If not ... well, at least I'll be dead by then.
As the area's fine-grained muds compact under their own weight, the land surface drops lower and lower. Each year about 25 square miles of the Louisiana coastline are erased by the relentless assault of nature, and, ironically, that's been accelerated by humanity's efforts to prevent floods.
It's possible the city could be saved from sinking into the Gulf of Mexico, but experts warn it would take a series of technological and political miracles to pull it off. "New Orleans will likely be on the verge of extinction by this time next century," says Chip Groat, director of the U.S. Geological Survey.
You go, Scotty! Canadian actor and Trekkie engineering hero James Doohan's got a warp drive that won't quit -- he's gonna be a dad at age 80.
I predict, the next big thing in weblogging will be actually have a rest of a site -- wherein, the weblog is but a feature. Ah hell, what am I talking about, that sounds like work.With a great sweep of my peacock-like tail feathers, I will strut proudly and caw that The Gumbo Pages have been assaulting the net with blather on food, music, Louisiana and Gawd knows what else since nineteen and ninety-four, with Looka! having been added in mid-1999 as ... a new feature! But if I'm so feckin' ahead of my time, how come I'm not a dot-com millionaire yet?
(Psst. It is work. This site's kept me up half the night more nights than I can count ... and it doesn't even have spiffy designs or flash or anything. Oy.)
Monday, February 7, 2000
Freedom to associate. A federal judge ordered the Orange County (Ca.) school district to allow a student gay-straight club to meet, after the board had banned it in a rancorous series of meetings.
...in a 23-page written ruling, he took the district to task, saying school trustees already had caused the students significant injury. "This injunction is not just about student pursuit of ideas and tolerance for diverse viewpoints," Carter wrote. Referring to gay teens' high rates of suicide, he continued, "As any concerned parent would understand, this case may involve the protection of life itself." He added, "Though the state education system has the awesome responsibility of inculcating moral and political values, that does not permit educators to act as 'thought police,' inhibiting all discussion that is not approved by, and in accord with, the official position of the state."Savoir manger. So how can the French eat all that butter, cream and foie gras without turning into Jabba Le Hutt? For a long time they thought it was the red wine they drink, but it turns out that the French method of dining -- eating a succession of small courses of different foods, rather than piling up your plate -- is much better for you.
Speaking of bad, as in bad, bad websites... (sorry, hold on to your hats; I'm about to rant):
Yesterday I started at some blog and surfed to one of the links, a personal site that looked interesting and had links to lots of other personal sites. I like nifty and creative personal sites, so I started looking at some of them, and eventually surfed into a site that told me this:access errorI had initially intended to lambast this site's creator in public for this, but thought better of it. Instead I'll just say: This is BAD web programming, and it is in violation of everything the web is about. It's about platform and browser independence. Your site should be visible to everybody, no matter what browser they're using, if there's anything on it worth reading. If it's a purely visual site meant to show off your graphic design or photography, that's fine -- at least it should render.
You are using Netscape, a browser that is incompatible with [this site]. Please return using Internet Explorer. If you do not have IE, you can get it here. If you are using IE and were directed here accidentally, I apologize. Please, try again.
Ironically, his site was perfectly visible and readable with Lynx. Is he that contemptuous of people who choose to use Netscape and not IE? This kind of crap really pisses me off.
Okay, done ranting now. *take happy pill* Normally I'm very nice and cuddly and all. Really.
Books purchased yesterday at Vroman's in Pasadena:
The Kitchen Sessions, by Charlie Trotter. The recipes in this book look fabulous, and look a bit less difficult to prepare than the ones from his restaurant cookbook. It's the companion volume to his PBS series, which I never got to see, because KCET in Los Angeles is lame and never carried it. The food photography is done by Tim Turner, who's done Trotter's big coffee-table cookbooks; the dishes look so beautiful that it's enough to make you dizzy.Letter-to-the-Editor-of-the-Week, from the Los Angeles Times:
More Than Human, by Theodore Sturgeon. I should've read this one ages ago.
The Good Old Stuff: Adventure SF in the Grand Tradition, edited by Gardner Dozois. Great ripping SF yarns from the 40s to the 60s from the likes of A. E. Van Vogt, Brian W. Aldiss, Cyril M. Kornbluth (one of my favorites), Roger Zelazny, Poul Anderson, et al.
After hearing Madonna's cover of "American Pie", I must say there hasn't been such a cutting-edge remake of a great rock song since Pat Boone's take on "Tutti Frutti".
Friday, February 4, 2000
Gee, what an idea ... spam your friends! Fortunately, I don't think any of my good friends will ever do this, but if any of them do ... I'll visit them in the small hours of the night and beat them mercilessly with a Nerf bat until they scream for mercy.
It's blog, it's blog, it's better than bad, it's good! I did two dumb things the other day: I tried to remember that Opus poem with the Caspar Weinberger line from memory (and I screwed it up, and someone called me on it as I knew they would), plus I mentioned a particular blog as being the "first of the 2000s that I've noticed".
I got a nice email from Niel pointing me to his new blog, also new to the dawn of 2000 - a collaborative effort called MonkeyFist, which is mighty darn good. So far they've talked about Billy Bragg, time flowing backwards, A. E. Van Vogt, the final Morphine album, and interesting political links to boot. Thanks for the heads-up, Niel; sorry that I'd failed in my feeble attempts at omnipresence. :^)
Thursday, February 3, 2000
Dan Savage is losing it. I've generally had a lot of respect for Dan Savage as a writer and activist, but it seems he's gone off the deep end. He began with an initially great idea to infiltrate the rabidly homophobic Gary Bauer's presidential campaign, but his infiltration degenerated into his claiming to have licked all the telephones and doorknobs at Bauer's Iowa campaign HQ so that Bauer would catch his flu. Furthermore, he broke state law by registering to vote in the caucuses as a resident, using his week-old hotel address. Now they're going to throw the book at him.
It's not that Savage didn't make some valid points and observations about the outrageous Bauer and his futile bid for the presidency; he did. It's that his behavior in the course of his infiltration achieved, as one Salon reader said, "the impossible: he's made Bauer a sympathetic figure."
I can't believe Savage was this feckin' stupid.
See you in court, Pizza Man. AOL have been hit by an $8 billion class-action suit on behalf of users of their version 5.0 "update of death" software, which prevents users from accessing competing ISPs.
Salon says, "Friends don't let friends use AOL."
From the hills. Some of my favorite bluegrass and old-time musicians -- Hazel Dickens, Del McCoury, and more -- came from Appalachia to get their start in Baltimore. An interesting look at how that came about, from the Baltimore City Paper. (via Mandomonger Farm)
Wednesday, February 2, 2000
New Hampshire follies. It was nice to see Dubya get his overly privileged, insignificant butt get trounced by John McCain.
Happy Groundhog Day. Punxutawney Phil saw his shadow today, which means six more weeks of winter. For me, as a southern California resident, it means having to wear a light jacket for six more weeks, then I can start wearing T-shirts. (By the way, Harold Ramis' 1993 film "Groundhog Day" is getting to be one of my favorites.)
Oh, the irony. A religious arch-conservative sheriff's sergeant, ex-school board president and city councilman from Palmdale, California espouses "family values" and is described as a "self-appointed ... moral judge over all". He is aggressively anti-gay, anti-abortion and anti-diversity. He's also, however, allegedly pro-child molestation, and faces 17 counts of felony molestation and abuse. He has pleaded not guilty, but three weeks ago resigned his city council position from jail. (via Obscure Store)
AIDS origins, further back. Scientists have now traced the earliest known origins of HIV to Africa in 1930.
Aaarrrgh! Earworms! You know, those tunes that get stuck in your head whether you want them there or not. As a music junkie, I have zillions of 'em in mine, and I can usually control them, but sometimes a random tune flies in there, gets stuck and tortures me.
Once during a lunchtime stroll, I passed by someone's boom box that was playing AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". It got stuck in my head for almost a week. I thought I was going to have to pound my head against a wall until grey matter went flying in order to get rid of it. There was a similar ugly incident which has put me off Sammy Davis Jr. forever. ("Who can take a sunriiiiiiiiiise ... dip it in a dreeeeeeeam ...") *scream*
That smarts. There's a new (to me) Los Angeles-based blog called "Ouch!" (hi, Tracy), and its name immediately triggered my aforementioned mental jukebox to play that beloved hit by the Prefab Four ... The Rutles!
Ouch!Speaking of ouch... That first item sounds particularly uncomfortable. (Jeez, is there anything for which they don't have a museum now?)
You're breaking my heart
I'm falling apart
When we first met
I must admit I fell for you right from the start
Now when we meet
all kinds of things it seems upset the apple cart
Don't desert me
Please don't hurt me
Tuesday, February 1, 2000
AIDS in the priesthood. Roman Catholic priests are dying from AIDS at a rate four times higher than the general population in the U.S., and the cause of death is often concealed on death certificates, the Kansas City Star reports in an excellent series of articles. I had no clue this was happening, but I suppose it makes sense, in an awful sort of way. One former priest I know once said that "probably 30-40%" of the priests in his residence hall were gay, and nobody at the seminary talks about sexuality or being safe. The Church needs to learn that silence = death.
Six of 10 Roman Catholic priests in the United States know at least one priest who died of an AIDS-related illness, and one-third know a priest currently living with AIDS...Redesign indecision. I'm beginning to think that The Gumbo Pages needs a redesign, perhaps badly. The home page does, at least. Problem is, I'm not a web designer. I think it's easy to use, which is good, but it doesn't really look all that great (except for the logo). I'm proud of the content; does spiffy design matter? If a site is simple and easy to use, is that enough? Am I full of it here, and should I just quit whining about it? (Sigh.)
The AIDS-related deaths of hundreds of its priests force the Roman Catholic Church to acknowledge a reality that it has tried to avoid for centuries. A significant number of its clergy are gay...
As the Rev. Thom Savage's death illustrates, a priest with AIDS is still a matter so sensitive that it has yet to be fully addressed by the church, by priests' families -- or even by the priests themselves. Experts say that until the church starts encouraging a more healthy understanding of sexuality, priests will continue to die of AIDS...
In an earlier interview, Bishop Raymond J. Boland of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph said the AIDS deaths show that priests are human. "Much as we would regret it, it shows that human nature is human nature," Boland said. "And all of us are heirs to all of the misfortunes that can be foisted upon the human race."
Award! Award! Okay, so it's just a dopey little gif (and not a big check), but when one of those "here's an award to stick on your web site 'cause we like its content" comes from the editors of the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, I notice. (And I, wallowing in shameless ego-boo, fall for their ploy for a free ad on my site.) Thanks though, y'all. An tip of the hat for my site's content arriving while I'm whining about design is perhaps an omen to leave it alone.
Cripes. January's finished already.
Monday, January 31, 2000
"This Modern World", by Tom Tomorrow, is a winner this week.
Sunday, January 30, 2000
It's Super Bowl Sunday. ... *yawn*
I didn't even know who was in it until someone at work told me the other day. (Tennessee has a football team?)
Saturday, January 29, 2000
Doubleclick's collective butt hauled into court. A California woman is suing Doubleclick.net for invasion of privacy, for their odious tactic of matching unique ID cookies with their newly-acquired name/address database to find out exactly who you are and what you do on the web. The Slashdot folks report that someone from Doubleclick called them and insisted they remove their story on the suit with their link to the original USA Today story. Their reply, in so many words: Buzz off.
I, reformed coke addict. Um, I should probably say "reformed Coke addict"; we don't want anyone getting the wrong idea about me.
When I was in gradual school, I drank at least 3 or 4 cans of Coca-Cola a day. That was how I got my caffeine fix in those days. After my iced tea addiction became fixed, I swore off fizzy soft drinks -- most of 'em are too sweet anyway, and I despise diet soft drinks. These days I can't stand sodas at all, as they're sickeningly sweet to me. But I remember my Coke-addict days with a certain amount of fondness, except for three very dark months...
Cokelore, a site featuring true facts and false urban legends about Coca-Cola, includes a fascinating view of a tumultuous period in my life -- the 1985 decision (right in the middle of when I was working on my thesis project at its most intense level and needed my fix), to take my drug of choice away, and, to my complete and sputtering outrage, replace it with the vile "New Coke". Turns out it wasn't a clever marketing ploy, but a screw-up of Gargantuan proportions. (via PeterMe).
Friday, January 28, 2000
The ongoing struggle. I have now been caffeine-free for two weeks. (*weep*)
Actually, it hasn't been nearly as bad as I had expected. I had a fairly nasty (but not crippling) headache on the 15th, and milder ones the day before and after, but ramping down seemed to help.
Here are a few things I've learned:
1. Luzianne Decaffeinated Iced Tea rules!I'm on a new medication now, an ACE inhibitor called Zestril, and it seems to be having the most effect. My pressure is now down to a between 144/93 and 139/89, which is a hell of a lot better than 225/125. If I can keep it at that last number from the meds alone, I can get it down to well within normal levels with exercise and diet (although I'm still pigging out when I go to Jazzfest).
2. However, I find that while decaf iced tea (Luzianne's in particular, the only good one) is wholly satisfying, decaf hot tea is, for some reason, wholly unsatisfying.
3. The heart palpitations ("skipped beats") I had been noticing are caused by excess caffeine. Fortunately, they're common and relatively harmless, although it freaked me out when I first noticed.
4. Caffeine raises blood pressure only about 2-3mmHg in your systolic pressure, and 1mmHg in the diastolic, up to a maximum of 5mmHg systolic 15 minutes after drinking. In the grand scheme of things, that's not all that much, although regular consumption can cause sustained elevation. (My doctor did say I could have a cup or two of tea per day once we got my BP under control.)
5. Drinking tea is actually better for you than coffee. Tea contains antioxidants that coffee does not, and they offer reduction of risk of developing cancer and heart disease.
6. There's a lot you can do on your own to lower your blood pressure without medication.
7. There are a lot of really good web sites on the subject of high blood pressure.
8. If you haven't been to the doctor in a long time, go and get your BP checked. You can even stick your arm in one of those free testers you see at the drugstore. For almost everyone, high blood pressure is asymptomatic, and you have no idea you've got it -- hence the name "the silent killer".
I thought I was too young to have this sort of problem, but if I had let it go for much longer, I'd have been asking for kidney damage, congestive heart failure and/or stroke in another 10-15 years. Nasty. Go to the doctor at least once a year.
Oh my. We've got to get this boy to a really fine restaurant, in the company of people with nice table manners.
Not spam, but Spam. "I DON'T LIKE SPAM!!!"
January 2000 Looka! entries have been archived.
Thanks to regular Looka! contributors Wesly Moore, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Tom Krueger, Michael Pemberton and Steve Gardner.
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