the gumbo pages

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

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

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

Page last tweaked @ 12:53pm PDT, 2/28/2003

If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author.
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Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

January 2003

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

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

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Buy stuff!

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

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
pat and paul
roxi and merck
tracy and david

Talking furniture:

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

   Subscribe to the
   "Down Home" weekly
   playlist email service

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete shows!)
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Radio Free New Orleans
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Cocktail hour:

The Sazerac Cocktail

   (A work in progress;
   Martin Doudoroff &
   Ted Haigh)

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

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

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

Bar Asterie
   (Martin Doudoroff)

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

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

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

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails

Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

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

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

Click here for a new daily recipe from Chef Emeril!
In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine

Wally's Wine and Spirits

The Wine House

The Wine Spectator

Wine Today

Reading this month:

The Solace of Leaving Early, by Haven Kimmel.

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

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

The Wild Shore, by Kim Stanley Robinson.

Esquire Drinks, by David Wondrich.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

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

Miles of Music

No Depression


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project


Bloom County / Outland,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

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

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

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

Lookin' at da TV:

"Six Feet Under"
"The Sopranos"
"Malcolm In The Middle"
"Star Trek: Enterprise"
"Odyssey 5"
"The Simpsons"
"Iron Chef"
"Father Ted"
The Food Network

Weblogs I read:

The BradLands
Considered Harmful
Anil Dash
Ethel the Blog
Follow Me Here
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
The Leaky Cauldron
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
Q Daily News
This Modern World
Web Queeries
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

Must-reads: (progressive politics & news)
Borowitz Report (political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Deduct Box (Louisiana politics)
The Fray (your stories)
Izzle Pfaff! (my favorite webjournal)
Landover Baptist (better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (news, opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (news 'n laffs) (not the actual White House, but it should be)

The Final Frontier:

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


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple iBook 2001 running MacOS X 10.2 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

weblog and (almost) daily blather

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

  Friday, February 28, 2003
Antoine's, a fiery deathtrap? Surely not!   The venerable 163-year-old restaurant, New Orleans' oldest, is now being required by fire officials to hire off-duty firefighters to be on the premises at all times in order to remain open, due to "numerous fire code violations".

[A]fter Mardi Gras, the restaurant will have to close its second floor until the violations are corrected, [Mark] Jee [chief of the Fire Department's fire prevention bureau] said. The first floor may remain open so long as a fire official is present.

Amid stepped-up inspections across the city after catastrophic nightclub incidents in Chicago and Rhode Island, inspectors descended on Antoine's after receiving an anonymous complaint, complete with pictures of locked exits and alleging a multitude of safety violations.

The inspector didn't find the doors locked -- Jee said the photos appeared to have been taken after business hours -- but they found other violations, he said.

Among them, inspectors found that one of the two exits from a first-floor dining room is through the restaurant's kitchen, Jee said. Antoine's uses the first two floors of its three-story building as dining areas, he said. Jee didn't know why the violations weren't spotted in previous inspections.

Antoine's owners "are fully cooperating," Jee said.

Gee, I wonder if that's the same Mark Jee that was a couple of years ahead of me at school. He was a funny guy.

Breaking News: "Rumsfeld calls for preemptive strike on Louisiana."   by Diane E. Dees. (Man, dat ain't no fair. We can't have no undaground bomb sheltas, 'cause they flood! Just like in da tombs in da cemetery! What good is an above-ground bomb shelta?!)

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In a speech that surprised even such high-level Republican confidantes as Bill Frist, Tom Delay and Brit Hume, U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld today called on Congress to allow George W. Bush to proceed with plans for military action against the state of Louisiana.

"We do not have the luxury of time to debate our strategy," Rumsfeld told a group that included members of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, leaders of both houses of Congress, and selected members of the news media.

"Louisiana has demonstrated, time and time again, that it is not interested in peaceful coexistence with the United States," the secretary claimed. "The leadership there says one thing and does another. They tell the world that they have no desire to be aggressive, yet we have proof beyond a doubt that they are producing weapons of mass destruction, and that they would use them against us, especially if they had too much to drink."

"Louisianians are like that," he added.

When asked what types of weapons of mass destruction Louisiana had, Rumsfeld turned the podium over to Secretary of State Colin Powell, who produced a series of line drawings of Tabasco Sauce bottles and containers of cayenne pepper.

"They have capsaicin, a deadly crystalline alkaloid" said Powell. "And frankly, we have never before seen chemical weapons of this intensity. Each small bottle of Tabasco sauce contains 720 drops. A teaspoon of the stuff has 60 drops. Two to three drops of capsaicin at these levels can disable someone, and five to six drops can cause choking, heart palpitations, respiratory decompensation, and even death. Four drops if the person is from Minnesota."


Hmph. Some people are such unadventurous eaters.

Career U.S. diplomat resigns.   On a more serious note: John Brady Kiesling, a career diplomat who has served in American embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan, has resigned his post. His letter of resignation to Secretary of State Colin Powell was published in the New York Times (via Lyn; site userid/password annoying/annoying):

The policies we are now asked to advance are incompatible not only with American values but also with American interests. Our fervent pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson. We have begun to dismantle the largest and most effective web of international relationships the world has ever known. Our current course will bring instability and danger, not security.

The sacrifice of global interests to domestic politics and to bureaucratic self-interest is nothing new, and it is certainly not a uniquely American problem. Still, we have not seen such systematic distortion of intelligence, such systematic manipulation of American opinion, since the war in Vietnam. The September 11 tragedy left us stronger than before, rallying around us a vast international coalition to cooperate for the first time in a systematic way against the threat of terrorism. But rather than take credit for those successes and build on them, this Administration has chosen to make terrorism a domestic political tool, enlisting a scattered and largely defeated Al Qaeda as its bureaucratic ally.

We spread disproportionate terror and confusion in the public mind, arbitrarily linking the unrelated problems of terrorism and Iraq. The result, and perhaps the motive, is to justify a vast misallocation of shrinking public wealth to the military and to weaken the safeguards that protect American citizens from the heavy hand of government. September 11 did not do as much damage to the fabric of American society as we seem determined to so to ourselves.

Just what we need. More and bigger guns!   American handgun manufacturer Smith & Wesson, apparently reacting to a slump in sales, is now producing the biggest and most powerful handgun in history.

Mark Morford opines:

That's right, it's the new Smith & Wesson .50 caliber handgun, the biggest and deadliest the company has ever made, the most powerful production handgun in history, in fact, even bigger than the famous monster scum-killer .44 Magnum Clint carried in "Dirty Harry," because, you know, that's important to know.

Clearly, America needs this gun... Bullets from such a gun can pierce light armor, they can penetrate buildings, they can blow up tanker trucks, they can bring light aircraft out of the sky. If you can find a more ideal weapon for every home terrorist's do-it-yourself kit, buy it!

It's the Hummer of handguns, the Frankenstein of firearms, the biggest dumbest most entirely useless and pointless and adorably, blatantly, phallically compensatory handheld weapon available to the public today, excluding a Big Bertha golf club or the multi-function remote control or, say, J.Lo.

And along with the Hummer, it is the perfect poster child for the U.S.' preemptive kill-first, aggro-thug superpower policy. It represents exactly who we are right now -- or rather, who ShrubCo really, really wants us to be.

[Oh, and by the way...]

The new gun is for hunting, they say. Right. And the Hummer is for rescuing baby seals in Antarctica.

No really, it's for hunting. They swear. It's for those sportsmanlike times when you want to blow that goddamn elk into so many little bitty smithereerny chunks it will look like God's precious creature just met with the business end of a grain thresher. Screw the meat, let's go for splatter. What fun.


What an obscenity. God bless America.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, February 27, 2003
Who is killing the great chefs of Europe?   The critics, it seems.

Famed French chef Bernard Loiseau reportedly committed suicide on Monday, after losing two ratings points in the GaultMillau restaurant guide (his restaurant went from 19 to 17 on a 20-point scale.)

I can't wait for this "Wind" to break!   Last weekend Wes and I saw a trailer for the new film by Christopher Guest ("Waiting for Guffman", "Best in Show" as well as his "Spinal Tap" fame). "A Mighty Wind" is his take on the early 60s folk revival, featuring a group called The Folksmen, who've actually been making hilarious Kingston Trio piss-takes for years, and whose membership consists of Michael McKean, Harry Shearer and Guest himself. (These three gentlemen are also known as David St. Hubbins, Derek Smalls and Nigel Tufnel of The Tap.)

During the entire trailer we laughed and laughed; I'll be there opening day. Then we saw the feature, "The Pianist", and ... didn't laugh. That movie-watching day was a wee bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

(Part of) why Tom DeLay and the Republicans turn my stomach.   Both Wes and Steve K. sent this one in this morning, and all I could do was shake my head and gape. DeLay attacked Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean for a speech he made that was critical of the Bush administration and its war plans, calling the speech "outrageous" and going on to call Democratic opponents of war in Iraq "reckless" and the Democratic Party "the appeasement party". Read the linked article to its end, and you'll see that the words for which DeLay attacks Dean and the Democrats have certainly been heard before... about four years ago.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, February 25, 2003
Cocktail of the day.   An original from the fertile mind of Dr. Cocktail, who showed me this recipe over Sazeracs at Arnaud's Bar, Iberville Street, in the French Quarter.

Francis the Mule

2 ounces bourbon
1/2 ounce orgeat syrup
1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce cold coffee
2 dashes orange bitters

Shake with cracked ice and strain
into a cocktail glass. Garnish with
a lemon twist.

From The Onion   and why it's jest about my fav'rite newspaper.

Bacon Good For You, Reports Best Scientist Ever

ROCHESTER, MN -- Bacon, long believed to contribute to heart disease and obesity, possesses significant health benefits, according to a study released Monday by Dr. Albert Gruber, the best scientist ever. "My research has found that three strips of crispy, mouthwatering bacon every morning can actually reduce cholesterol and help slow the aging process," the awesome Gruber said. "What's more, the bacon's positive effects are enhanced when combined with milk shakes and/or marijuana." In 1997, Gruber, a Mayo Clinic cardiologist, was awarded nine Nobel Prizes in Medicine for discovering that frequent oral sex with models cures cancer.

You need only follow one simple rule when you're considering dining on Louisiana cuisine when outside Louisiana.

If there isn't a Louisianian in the kitchen (and one in charge of the menu),
with very few exceptions, you don't eat there.

It's not that Louisiana cuisine is impossible for non-Louisianians to make; not at all (man, lemme tell ya, Tante Zoë's Creole and Cajun Cuisine in Dublin, Ireland is wonderful). It's just that lots of non-Louisianians seem to want to make it to cash in on it without knowing what the hell they're doing.

Brennan leaps to action with caveats about the latest outrage to be perpetrated on Louisiana cuisine: apparently Applebee's has come up with a "Cajun Combos" menu, complete with a "Cajun glossary" that's ... well, insulting. Most of the dishes offered would probably be more or less unrecognizable to most Cajuns, and let's not get me started about Bourbon (Street) Chicken again. Brennan is channeling Fox Mulder and sees an evil conspiracy with regards to my recent injury; shades of a Looka!-reading Applebee's employee imagining me unleashing my inner Ignatius and shrieking, "What degenerate produced this abortion?!"

If you're inclined to eat at Applebee's (which I'm not; I dislike most chains, particularly ones that try to pass themselves off as "your neighborhood restaurant and bar"), stay away from their so-called "Cajun" menu. Otherwise, don't blame it on us.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, February 24, 2003
Quelle tragédie! Or, how my trip home to New Orleans ended up with a trip to Urgent Care.   Seeing as how air travel in the United States is an even bigger pain in the butt than it was before, I decided to eschew checked baggage this trip and take only my requisite two carry-ons. I packed them brilliantly, with a week's worth of stuff and even books and CDs that I'd never need but packed just in case. My main carry-on had so much stuff in it that it was the Tardis of baggage (except without the time travel).

Unfortunately, I didn't take into account the possibility of my wanting to bring things back with me.

Despite that, I managed to stuff even more stuff into my Samsonite Tardis -- more books, more CDs, gifts, and ... three precious bottles of liquor. One was a gorgeous 20-year-old tawny port that was a housewarming gift from some old friends; another was a Bourbon we'd been wanting to try: George T. Stagg 15-Year-Old "Rye Recipe" barrel strength, named "Whiskey of the Year 2002" by the Malt Advocate. Plus ... one more bottle of the very limited-edition Sazerac 18-Year-Old Rye Whiskey for the stash, 'cause when that stuff's gone, it's gone. (The prices on this stuff at Martin Wine Cellar and Dorignac's were $6-12 less than anywhere else, especially L.A., even if you could find the stuff there, which is difficult). I couldn't wait to get these babies home.

It's all the Transportation Security Agency's fault. I didn't have a boarding pass yet, since I hadn't checked any luggage and Louis Armstrong International Airport in New Orleans doesn't have those spiff e-ticket self-check-in stations that LAX has. The TSA lady told me I had to cough up my printed itinerary, and in order to do that I had to let go of the Tardis.

It instantly tipped backward, presumably in perfectly cinematic slow motion, and from behind me I heard a sickening thud/crack!

One sniff and I knew we had a casualty. Eighteen-year-old rye whiskey began to gush out from underneath my bag, like a pool of blood spreading from beneath the body of a gunshot victim. Thirty-five dollars worth of rye -- rye that'll be sold out soon, at that -- gone. I gaped. I nearly wept. For a moment, my evil brain showed me a picture of me down on my hands and knees, lapping up the puddle of spilled spirit like a dog, then sucking the rest out of my t-shirts and boxers. (Fortunately, that image didn't last long.) Being a "get up and do what needs to be done" kinda guy, I asked some of the airport personnel, mostly comprised of the thoroughly nonplussed TSA people, for some cleanup help.

"You have to get all that broken glass out of that bag before you can go through security!" said one of the intrepid TSA folk, thinking only of our safety and not of my emotionally distraught state. (My bairns! My poor bairns!) Grumbling, I looked at the crumpled, misshapen bottle, an eviscerated corpse of large, jagged shards and microscopic glass dust. Be careful, dammit, I thought, and reach into the bag slowly. Actually, what I did was to not be careful and I thrust my hand into the bag.

Bad idea. I learned a new word later that day. That word is "avulsion".

There was bleeding, but surprisingly little pain at first. That was because the bottle shard that got me was as sharp as a scalpel. What it had done (caution, squeamish people) was to carve a chunk of flesh out of the first joint of my left index finger, between the pad and the side, leaving an avulsed crater of exposed, raw meat about the size of an index fingernail and about 1/4 inch deep.

I immediately applied pressure, trying not to think about that really ugly wound, and was mostly pissed about my lost hooch and worried I'd miss my flight ($100 for any changes!). There hadn't been much action from any airport personnel with regards to actually helping me, so I strolled over to the highest-ranking-looking one, held up my left hand, and removed the pressure.

One horrified look and a lovely pattern of blood spots on the floor later and "MEDICAL EMERGENCY!" was being barked into walkie-talkies left and right. Okay, a little overkill, but it got their pokey butts in gear. As has been said in New Orleans many times, "Dey got two speeds in dis city -- slow, and stop!"

The Jefferson Parish paramedic on duty at MSY, a paragon of professionalism and bedside manner, winced and cringed and said, "Ooh!" when he saw my finger, which is not unlike your dentist saying "Oh shit!" when all you can see is that big light of his; i.e., nothing you ever want to hear. He did manage to contain his gorge long enough to put a pressure bandage on, give me some spares and make some nauseating comments about how I'd need to have the would cauterized if the bleeding didn't stop. Lovely, thank you.

Everyone from security and airline personnel to fellow passenger-screenees were very nice, and they let me jump to the head of the line. I made it to my gate with a minute to spare ... only to find that we were delayed for 40 minutes due to the ever-popular mechanical problems. Great, I'll just sit here with my throbbing finger and watch it gradually saturate the gauze. A perfectly splendid way to end one's vacation, wouldn't you say?

That was one long feckin' flight. Wes took me to Glendale Urgent Care as soon as I got home, and 3 hours later I was all X-rayed (looking for lodged broken glass, which I didn't think was radiopaque anyway), rinsed and debrided (Oh Jesus H. fucking CHRIST that hurts! Haven't you barbarians heard of anesthesia?!), Betadined, Neosporined and artfully bandaged.

I've had to shower with a plastig bag taped over my hand for the last two days. And it took a long time to type this. New Orleans food porn will have to wait a bit.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, February 20, 2003
The Cocktailian.   Today's article by Gary Regan tells us about "The genesis of two apple drinks" created at San Francisco's Chaya Brasserie -- and he learns that they can lead to matrimony.

I've been curious to try that Van Gogh "Wild Appel" vodka, although I'm much more hopeful about Citadelle's offering -- an apple infused vodka without "wild" in the name. I'm also skeptical about the second cocktail this week; it calls for that Pucker swill, and it seems to Cosmopolitan-y for my taste. I'll surely try the former, but ... my favorite apple cocktail so far is just homemade apple-infused vodka (1 bottle SKYY, 3 Granny Smiths and 1 Golden Delicious, cored and sliced, and three weeks in the fridge), with the tiniest hint of bitters. Yumm!!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, February 19, 2003  ::  New Orleans
Home again, home again, jiggity jig.   It was an awful, cramped flight (legroom on United stinks), but it got me home in time to make it to the Saenger to see Prof. Peter Schickele perform his own music as well as the music of P.D.Q. Bach (the 21st, and least, of Johann Sebastian Bach's 20 children). Since then, it's been nothing but eating. Oh yeah, visiting family and old friends, going to art galleries, shopping ... but really, it's been pretty much nothing but eating (and drinking). If I'm not careful, I'll be starring in a new 1950's horror film, "The Incredible Expanding Man."

Irene's Cuisine   Gorgeous, as usual. This time I had the added experience of 1) a truly (and surprisingly) lousy Sazerac, and 2) a waiter with whom I had gone to seventh grade and haven't seen in thirty years. He recognized me, and when I heard his name I remembered him instantly. "Oh yeah! That girl Linda had a huge crush on you, and when you transferred out of the school she sat in class and cried for a week, then carved your initials into her leg with a pencil eraser!" To which he kinda twitched and replied, "Uh ... huh?" Well, he had already gone by then, and didn't get to experience all that wailing and caterwauling.

The food, though ... fine as ever. I got that deceptively simple-sounding Pannéed Oysters with Grilled Shrimp -- perfectly crispy-fried oysters and smaller-than-I-expected shrimp (well, they're not in season yet), over a drizzle of beurre blanc, with a spinach and bacon salad in a raspberry vinaigrette that kinda trickles down and mingles with the beurre blanc, and some grapes and apple slices on the side. Gawd. Veal Sorrentino for the main, the thinly pounded slices of veal covered with prosciutto and mozzarella, with a mushroom gravy and red cabbage, shoestring fried carrots and green beans on the side. Hoo-boy.

The Camellia Grill; or, "You are such a great big huge feckin' oinker."   So after an all-day family gathering that included my mom's intensely rich and lovely pasta jambalaya (more like Mr. B's than mine) and an übermoist pineapple-banana cake with cream cheese frosting ... of course I get hungry around 10:30pm and head to the Camellia for an omelette.

In case you haven't heard me talk about the Camellia Grill's omelettes, they're about the size of a rolled-up newspaper, eggs whipped up to a frothy delight in a Hamilton Beach milkshake blender and poured out onto a well-greased grill ("Excuse me," said an unsuspecting Camellia newbie once, "what's that the cook just poured a big puddle of onto the grill?" "Grease!" replied the waiter. Yeah you right.) into a puddle about two or so feet across. If you've ordered stuff in your omelette, that goes into the grease first, and then the eggs are poured over all that. It's then flipped into thirds or fourths, plopped onto a huge oval plate, decorated with a pile of French fries ... and then the resultant work of art is placed in front of you. You can't help but let out a little moan (although whether it's one of anticipatory delight or mortal dread is entirely up to you).

Not only did I moan, but the couple next to me moaned too. "Oh my God," said the girl. "That looks astonishing." Oh yes, hon, it was, it was. I didn't just get a plain omelette (nor do I know anyone who has there). I didn't just get one of the suggested omelettes from the menu. I built my old time college special, then made it worse. The potato, onion and cheese omelette ... with bacon. I had never in my life added bacon to that omelette, but some evil little pork spirit materialized on my shoulder and whispered into my ear, "Mmmmmmm, baaaaaaacon."

God damn, it was good. I ate every single speck.

Um, and then one couldn't help ordering a slice of chocolate pecan pie, could one? Because one was at the Camellia, and that's what one does there.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, February 14, 2003
Happy Valentine's Day!   And a happy birthday to Mike Doucet of BeauSoleil.

Meat-eatin' chicks!   Wow! Neat! Keen! A web site for real girls!

Cool-2B-Real is about real girls like you! Whether you're in school, playing sports or just having fun, strive to be the best you can be! Real girls are "keepin' it real" by building strong bodies and strong minds... and they're feeling great about themselves!
Of course, what the site's all about is encapsulated in the little image in the lower left-hand corner of the front page. (It's what's for dinner!)

This time I'm walkin' to New Orleans ...   (That's a lie. Actually, I'll be flying.)

Home for a week -- my belated Christmas visit. There'll be lots of eating and drinking, and if I stay up late enough I'll write up a little food porn for everybody. Hmm, I wonder if I could put bigger pants on my Amazon wish list ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, February 12, 2003
The good, the bad and the ugly.   The continuing joys of home ownership:

The Good - The curtain rod is up over The World's Most Useless Picture Window, so as soon as we find decent and affordable curtains we'll no longer have a spectacular view of our next-door neighbor's ugly gray stucco house and the rotting, mildewed bare wood railing along their side/back steps. The three new phone jacks have been installed (at frightful cost), so now we have more than one working jack in the house. The DSL's active. The kitchen's getting gradually cleaner and more tidy, and the nifty antique wall-mounted bottle opener is now mounted on the outside of the cabinet next to the Dutch door. Hey, wanna beer? *fssssst!*

The Bad - Wes took a half-day off to wait for the appliance guys to come and install the dishwasher and garbage disposal, only to be told that we bought the wrong kind of garbage disposal that won't fit unless we get all the sink plumbing replaced, and that we have to have some additional plumbing work done before they can install the dishwasher. (Delightfully wasted day, that.) We can't use the DSL yet because we opted for the Windows XP software to run the DSL (since I have an iBook that leaves the house) and Wes' spiff new PC on which it'll be installed has been delayed for weeks now by the gross incompetence of the knuckle-walking Australopithecine morons at the company where he bought it. We have ants. Lots of ants. (I'm about to unleash the truly toxic chemicals, the Sarin of the insect world.)

The Ugly - That would be the caulking (exterior, paintable) we applied to the part of the clapboard outside the stairwell window where there'd been some water damage and which needed sealing, done on Saturday just in time for yesterday morning's torrential rain. It might be sealed and waterproof now, but it sure looks like it was done by two new homeowners who don't know what the hell they're doing.

I love my house.

"DiCaprio could kick Elvis' ass."   Food writing in Fortune magazine? Yep, and some hilarious stuff, too. In "We've Got to Stop Eating Like This", we meet a pithy New Orleanian chef named Bobo, a teacher at the French Culinary Institute who just got a great new gig ... cooking at a K-12 school.

Chef Bobo is receiving handmade cards from grateful students with variations on the theme "We love your food!"

"This is completely different from what they had before," says the chef, a New Orleans native with a big smile and a gold earring. "The first two months I would not allow any ketchup or mayonnaise in the lunchroom. Students constantly asked for it, but I would say, 'Sorry, I don't believe in ketchup.' Ketchup has more sugar than ice cream. I wanted them to taste what food really tastes like. Now they don't ask for it anymore."

In Chef Bobo's kitchen, vegetable stock is made every morning. Bread and muffins are freshly baked. Each day the kids are fed a soup, an animal entree, a vegetable, a starch, and fresh fruit. Ninety percent of what's served is vegetarian, organic whenever possible. At the start of the school year the students were consuming one case of vegetables a day. Now that's up to four cases, and a fifth may be needed.

[Says headmaster Steve Nelson,] "We have a cooking club now, so we have high school students who, instead of going to a rave party downtown and consuming large quantities of ecstasy, are having a dinner party and consuming large quantities of herb-crusted cod."

Bless you, Bobo. The rest of the article studies the fattening of America, and why it was hard to resist. My favorite comment was in this passage:

"As a civilization we've never had huge amounts of food before. Used to be, in the winter you had to eat dried salmon or figs or grandma," says futurist Bruce Sterling, author of the new book Tomorrow Now. "I don't think there's ever been a society that when presented with an endless stream of free cheeseburgers would have said, 'No, thanks, I'll go back to my gruel here.'"

Abundant food has benefits, Sterling points out. "People are fatter, but the people who are strong are also stronger. Actors and actresses are really buff now. You go look at an old Elvis movie, and he's supposedly this avatar of masculinity, and he's got baby fat all over his torso. I mean, even Leonardo DiCaprio, who is supposedly feminine, is in better shape than Elvis was. DiCaprio could kick Elvis's ass."

Quote of the day.   "My favorite infomercials are diet infomercials in which the male host cries."

-- FJ!! van Wingerde, as quoted in a .sig file on soc.motss.

Misplaced priorities, methinks.   Intelligence reports now indicate that North Korea possesses untested ballistic missiles that are capapble of hitting the United States, and our reaction is "Hey! You ... wacky North Koreans! You'd better stop making that plutonium or we'll start lobbing diplomacy at you!" Meanwhile, the primate that currently occupies the Oval Office is frothing at the mouth to attack Iraq, a country with a decimated military who have not threatened their neighbors in over ten years and who might have some unspecified and unproven "weapons of mass destruction"?

Yes, Saddam is a horrible person, a dictator and a bully and a thug and a murderer. But those motherfuckers in North Korea are crazy, and all of us here on the left coast are potential nuke targets. I worry a lot more about North Korea than I do about Iraq.

Back home we say "urnge".   Our current state of "terror alert" is orange.

Alert level urnge!

The status alert comes to you via the Wacky Neighbor.

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  Tuesday, February 11, 2003
Oscar noms.   For the industry it's all about more money and fabulous parties at Spago. For Wes 'n me it's all about the same money (not enough of it being made, and too much of it being spent on movies and DVDs) and a fabulous Oscar Night party at our house (my food isn't quite as good as Spago's, but it's damned good nonetheless). No big surprises this morning, although I had to say, "'Gangs of New York' got a best picture nomination?" Given that my reaction to that movie was "God, what a mess," I was hoping for "Far From Heaven" in that slot.

Of course, I want "The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers" to win, just like I wanted "Fellowship of the Ring" to win last year (and it should've). Despite that, I predict it'll be either "Chicago" (which I loved) or "The Hours" (which I haven't seen yet; yeah yeah, I know, but it's got that kind of buzz). I'm really glad Queen Latifah got nominated, too ... and I can't wait to see what she's gonna wear!

Duct and cover.   ShrubCo have issued detailed advice today on how we should all prepare ourselves for biological, chemical or nuclear attack by terrorists: stock up on duct tape. (NYT access: annoying/annoying)

The mostly common-sense guidelines urged families to prepare a "disaster supply kit" that included a three-day supply of water, one gallon per person per day; food; a battery-powered radio; a change of clothes; an extra set of car keys; and cash.

Other advice was not so obvious, including the recommendation that people keep a supply of duct tape and plastic sheeting in their homes to seal off windows in the event of a chemical or biological attack.

I'm presuming that chemical weapons attacks aren't generally announced in advance ("I do beg your pardon, old chap, but you might want to get up on your trusty old ladder and duct-tape some sheets of plastic over all your doors and windows, because we'll be spraying your neighborhood with Sarin in a few hours and you'll certainly want time to prepare, won't you, heh heh, there's a good lad, off you go."), and even if there were such an attack it wouldn't do a whole heck of a lot of good to tape plastic over your windows after it already happened.

To me this sounds very much like the absurd "duck and cover" films of the 1950s, in which the gubbamint (bristling with nuclear weapon-missiles) tried to make people believe that they could survive a nuclear blast by ducking under a desk and rolling up into a ball (when they would actually probably be vaporized in the first three-fifths of a second if they were close enough). To me this sounds very much like an administration hell-bent on war who are trying to scare the population into going along with them.

It's tinfoil hat time again.   I haven't noticed anything like this yet myself, but this morning I got this missive from my friend Rick:

As I was driving in to work today, stuck in the joy that is a rain-soaked L. A. street system, I noticed several military trucks -- Humvees primarily but also a larger troop transport type thingie. They are not caravaning, they are not taking the freeways for the most part. I saw one on Tujunga avenue in North Hollywood, one on the 101 through Studio City, two on Sepulveda Boulevard heading out of the valley, and another down here near the Federal Building where I work.

Now, I know that we're on heightened alert (Yosemite Sam Orange) and that security is supposedly tightened all over, but does this strike anyone else as odd?

The military on civilian streets? Um, yes, it does.

Les cochons sont dans le ciel!   A rain of swine?! Oh, I must have one of these.

Quote of the day.   Now, I've been a major proponent of praline bacon, that delectable breakfast treat first encountered at Elizabeth's down in the old neighborhood back home in New Orleans -- bacon dredged in a sweet dark praline sauce with ground pecans and a hint of cayenne, then baked until crisp --, but I'm not terribly sure about this ...

"Eggs, move over. Bacon has a new best friend: Fudge."

-- Homer Simpson
Fudge-covered bacon? Ohh, I dunno, Crowww ... (Then again, I did make bacon-pecan brittle last year.)

Jason Kottke: Super-genius.   (Move over, Wile E. Coyote.) I'm not talking about all that tired old web design/weblog celebrity stuff, either. I'm talking about his (and Meg's) real contributions to humanity:

Meg and I are tired of this technology and design crap, so we're going to start over and create a new line of scented candles based not on flower or spice smells, but on cooking smells. Here's what we have so far for scents:

Makin' Bacon
Baking Bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fresh Brewed Coffee
Thanksgiving Dinner
Cinnamon Rolls
Chocolate Cake

The way we figure it, the world doesn't need another stupid web application, it needs bacon-scented candles.

Bacon-scented candles? I'll take six dozen, please.

UPDATE - Casey says that there is already a bacon-scented candle product out there (striking terror into the hearts of vegetarians everywhere, no doubt), but it's made for hunters who want to attract bears. Hmm ... that kinda puts it into the Beggin' Strips category ("Bears don't know it's not bacon!"), so I'm holding out hope for a successful career change for Jason and Meg.

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  Monday, February 10, 2003
I don't know, dear, I've never kippled!   Our ardent cocktailian Gary Regan offers his latest biweekly article on the joys of mixology. This time he offers a drink to do Kipling proud, the venerable Pisco Sour, which is to a whiskey sour as a Jaguar is to a Chevy. Don't fear the egg white in this drink; it's there for texture and a creamy head, and the drink doesn't taste of egg. If you worry about salmonella, use a pasteurized egg white product from the refrigerated dairy section of your local market, such as All Whites.

Bartender! There are toroids in my Tia Maria!   The Q&A section of New Scientist offers explanations of what happens when you pour a thin layer of cream on top of Tia Maria coffee liqueur. (Via Teresa)


One of the recommended ways of drinking the liqueur Tia Maria is to sip it through a thin layer of cream. If the cream is poured onto the surface of the drink, to a depth of about 2 millimetres, and left to stand for about two minutes, the surface begins to break up into a number of toroidal cells. These cells develop a rapid circulation pattern which continues even if some of the Tia Maria is sipped through the cream. How and why do these cells develop and what is the energy source? (Geoffrey Sherlock, Amersham Buckinghamshire)


This is a truly astonishing effect for which not a single reader has produced an explanation. "Rapid circulation pattern" does not do justice to the series of eruptions that convulse the surface of the cream as the liqueur bursts through from beneath...

Sounds fascinating. Although the idea of performing scientific experiments with the contents of my bar does have some appeal, I must confess that Tia Maria and Cream is not one of my favorite drinks. I'd prefer a Sazerac (which I had last night), and a Martini with Old House Orange Bitters (which I had the night before).

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  Friday, February 7, 2003
Headline of the day.   Sent in by Steve, who says, "Reuters has outdone itself."

Rolling Stones Give Free Concert; No One Killed

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - With nary a Hells Angels member or flying pool cue in sight, the Rolling Stones played their first free concert in 33 years on Thursday, as a celebrity crowd headed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton looked on.

The event at the Staples Center was a considerably more sedate affair than their last free show, at the Altamont Speedway near San Francisco in 1969. Then, security was handled by the local Hells Angels chapter, who clubbed fans with pool cues while the band looked on helplessly. A teenager was stabbed to death as he appeared to point a gun at the stage.


Talk about the passion.   One of my favorite rock albums ever, which blew me away the first time I heard it, turns twenty. From Creative Loafing in Charlotte, North Carolina:

Twenty years ago, four young men decided to take a break from recording their first album at Charlotte's Reflection Studios. Bored and without a car, they ambled across Central Avenue to the Salvation Army thrift shop. The young quartet -- Bill Berry, Mike Mills, Peter Buck and Michael Stipe -- often spent their free time this way, but on this particular day they weren't having much luck scouring the used record bins or poking through the vintage clothes. In the end, all they settled on purchasing were a couple of colorful plastic dinosaurs.

Those four guys? They called their band R.E.M. The album they were recording at the time? Their debut, Murmur.

Twenty years later, it stands as one of the seminal rock & roll albums of the last quarter-century, having inspired bands like Pavement, Nirvana, and the Smashing Pumpkins, to name but a few. At the time, however, it just seemed like a good idea.

Oh, and those dinosaurs? They still grace the band's amplifiers every time they record, and sometimes they even find their way onstage. They've been there since the very beginning, and tend to remind the band why they're doing what they're doing in the first place.


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  Thursday, February 6, 2003
Recipe, shmecipe.   Here's a really nifty food site called A Muse for Cooks, described as "Bright ideas for cooks who don't use recipes. Here you'll find over 1500 brief 'recipes' that aren't recipes at all. Just quick sketches designed to inspire good cooks. The ancient Greeks had muses to guide painters, musicians, poets and astronomers. This MUSE is for you.

Wow. Check this one out, in the "stews" section, which I will try very soon.

BANANAS AND BEEF -- Make stew using garlic, onions, pepper, celery, ginger root, chili pepper, cilantro, cumin, salt, white pepper, burgundy wine, tomatoes, beef and beef stock. When meat is tender, add slices green bananas, sliced yellow plantain, diced sweet potato, cubed butternut squash, diced new potatoes, diced chayote, and white corn. Adjust stock and cook until vegetables are soft.
This will be great fun for people who know how to cook but who don't necessarily want to challenge themselves with the difficulty of cooking right out of Escoffier. I'll try that stew soon! I also love their gumbo recipe, which is beautifully simple (even though I'm not a tomatoes-in-gumbo person). When you consider that my gumbo recipe is two pages long (including specific instructions for making stock), theirs is less daunting. (That said, theirs assumes you don't have to be taught how to make stock and roux; mine is written for beginners. So don't be daunted by my recipe! It's worth it.)

GUMBO -- Make a rich, brown roux and in it sauté garlic, onions, celery and green pepper, cooking until vegetables are tender, then add chicken stock, chopped tomatoes, some tomato juice, chopped fish fillets and shrimp, crab meat, crawfish, plus sliced Andouille smoked sausage, fresh or frozen okra, cayenne and a few bay leaves. Simmer for another hour or so.
Sheer genius.   Kallisti over at the fabulous La Feé Verte site has collaborated on creating the ultimate drinking game. I can hear you saying now: "Dude, you're years out of college and in your (very very very) late thirties (thirty-eleven, in fact!). You're too old for drinking games." Ah, but you're never too old for the "I, Claudius" Drinking Game. (Thanks, Jonno!)

I'm already fairly well-equipped for this. I've got a fig tree in my backyard, a case of reasonably tasty and incredibly cheap red wine in my kitchen, and we always have good olives and cheese around. Now all I need is the DVD box set of the series (which I've wanted for ages), and we're ready to play! Hmm, might we want to install a vomitorium somewhere? Apparently the average player consumes approximates 2.67 bottles of red wine throughout (to be true to Roman history, it's red wine we're quaffing).

The rules, in brief.

1 quaff for: Banishments in General, Executions in General, Suicide in General, Adultery in General, Orgies.

2 quaffs for: Murders & Assassinations in General, Poisonings in Particular, Incest, Omens and Sibyls.

3 quaffs for: Assassinations/Poisoning of Emperors (with accompanying appropriate food if poisoned -- see below), Banishment of Julia. Starvation of Livilla, Livia Becoming a Goddess, The Winner of Messalina and Scylla's Contest.

Many quaffs (drain that goblet!) for: That --uh-- thing Caligula does at the end of Episode 9 "Zeus, By Jove" (we don't want to give it away if you've never seen the series before.), and ... "Not my head!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Eat a Fig for: Poisoning by Fig.

Eat a Mushroom for: Poisoning by Mushroom.

Optional: Hum "Let's Do the Time Warp Again" at the first appearance on screen of Livilla and of Nero (Agrippinilla's son -- don't be thrown off by the many other characters who have Nero tacked onto their name somewhere) You deserve ten gold stars for knowing why.

Yell "Make it so" at Sejanus at some point.

Brandish boiled asparagus for: You'll know.

I'll be home in New Orleans week after next. I think I'll have to head to the Shim Sham on Tuesday.

Obituary of the day.   My friend Deb sent this along, noting that the passing of this gentleman "makes the world just a bit more ordinary." From the Washington Post:

Sam Lewis, Armadillo Enthusiast

Sam Lewis, 80; a breeder, owner and racer of armadillos who also has been credited with inventing the jalapeño lollipop, died of cancer January 10 at his home in San Angelo, Texas. Mr. Lewis, who once claimed never to have worked on honest day in his life, was the head of both the World Armadillo Breeding and Racing Association and the International Armadillo Appreciation Society. He sold or rented armadillos to zoos, medical researchers, film producers and rock groups. His enthusiasm for the armored animal helped lead to Texas making it the state's official small mammal in 1995.

All this time I thought armadillos were just roadkill, and carrier's of Hansen's Disease. Who knew people raced them?! So long, Sam.

(Wan Wan Land?)   My folks were looking for a DVD/VCR combo box, and asked if I knew about a Sansui brand they'd seen at Sears. I wasn't too familiar with the brand at all and asked Wes (our resident Sound and Vision subscriber if he'd heard of it. A look for a Sansui corporate website turned up something ... else. Their disclaimer:

Thank you very much for your access.

Before you send your mail, please note that our company is not "Sansui" which is dealing audio equipments. Wan Wan Land (theme park of dogs) is what this home page is for. If you have chance to come to Japan, please visit us.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, February 5, 2003
Aiee!   Just when you thought the Hello Kitty Vibrator was weird, the Scourge of Sanrio attacks the culinary world, with both gadgets and (rather vile-looking) comestibles. Blurgh.

Poll: Only 40% would support Bush for reelection.   A Los Angeles Times poll has determined that less than half of the population would vote for George W. Bush in 2004, and currently 40% of those surveyed would consider a Democratic nominee.

I'll bet that Bush's numbers will continue to decrease, and there's plenty of time for them to do so. If we're lucky, all of ShrubCo will be out on its collective tuchas in less than two years.

Let's not offend the warmakers, shall we?   A reproduction of Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" that hangs at the entrance of the United Nations Security Council has been covered by a blue curtain. A diplomat stated that "it would not be an appropriate background if the ambassador of the United States at the U.N. John Negroponte, or [the U.S. Secretary of State Colin] Powell, talk about war surrounded with women, children and animals shouting with horror and showing the suffering of the bombings."

Apparently U.N. officials insisted no symbolism was intended in the decision to hide the tapestry. "The cover and flags were meant only to provide a strong visual clue to television cameras filming diplomats in the corridor", the officials said. Mmm hmm.

Yep, they were right -- irony's dead. That's because they're murdering it.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, February 4, 2003
He lives where?   According to a friend of mine who's in the biz, "in the music business it seems more people were surprised to learn that Phil Spector lived in Alhambra than that he might have shot someone..."

Demise of Columbia predicted ... in 1980.   Gregg Easterbrook, a columnist for the Washington Monthly and senior editor at The New Republic, wrote an article twenty-three years ago detailing the problems in getting Columbia off the ground (it was still a year away from its maiden voyage at the time), and how its inherent design was fraught with danger.

Some suspect the tile mounting is the least of Columbia's difficulties. "I don't think anybody appreciates the depths of the problems," Kapryan says. The tiles are the most important system NASA has ever designed as "safe life." That means there is no back-up for them. If they fail, the shuttle burns on reentry. If enough fall off, the shuttle may become unstable during landing, and thus un-pilotable. The worry runs deep enough that NASA investigated installing a crane assembly in Columbia so the crew could inspect and repair damaged tiles in space. (Verdict: Can't be done. You can hardly do it on the ground.)
In the aftermath of the Columbia disaster some people are already calling for a return to expendable rockets to launch payloads into space. Easterbrook's article made a good case for that in 1980 (pointing out that a Saturn V can launch four times the payload weight than a Space Shuttle, and into a far higher orbit as well). Will we see Saturn Vs being made again?

Technical problems are just that: technical. Much of what's wrong with the shuttle will someday be fixed. If money is no object, as it usually isn't in space launches, we can pay more for reusable shuttles than for throw-away rockets if we have to. But the question never answered is -- what will the shuttle do that rockets couldn't do?

It can't launch more than they can; sometimes, it can't launch as much. (Even the 65,000-pound target pales compared to the 250,000 pounds a Saturn V could hoist.) It can't bring back satellites. It can't keep a space station aloft even a fraction as long as Skylab stayed up there. It has no scientific value. It just has men in the front seats ... and an enormous amount of weight and equipment devoted to bringing them, and an empty cargo bay, back in one piece.

There is something noteworthy a rocket can do that the shuttle cannot. A rocket can be permitted to fail. What if a billion dollar spaceship wipes out on a "routine" mission "commuting" to space with some puny little satellite? Cooper fears it might drive a stake through the heart of the manned space program. Would the public stand to lose a quarter of the fleet in a single day? Would it fork over another billion dollars to build a replacement? Would it stand for spending millions to train astronauts to be truck drivers, only to lose truck and drivers both? The prospect makes the old rockets seem kind of nice. One of the old throw-away jobs could go haywire, and spiral down into the ocean off the Bahamas, and everybody would feel miserable and millions would be wasted and everybody would go back to work. Lost it, dammit -- but then nobody ever expected it back.

If we're going to continue with manned space flight (and I fervently hope we do), Congress needs to reconsider having scrapped the plans for a second-generation shuttle (with better thermal protection for reentry than those delicate tiles) that, we can only hope, is a lot safer than what we've got now. Yes, space flight is inherently risky, but Challenger was brought down by a failure in a two-dollar rubber O-ring, and it's possible that Columbia was brought down by tile damage resulting from a chunk of insulating foam.

Today, over two decades later, we're hearing echoes of Easterbrook's article in today's New York Times: "Even if flight controllers had known for certain that protective heat tiles on the underside of the space shuttle had sustained severe damage at launching, little or nothing could have been done to address the problem." One thing they need to address before the Shuttle goes up again is how to rescue the astronauts in case of predictable mission failure.

Earwig, the angry inch.   I swear, some of these fuckers are an inch long.

There haven't been quite as many earwigs around the house, but there are at least two are three showing up every night to bask in the light of the porch light. I'm hoping that when we head to Armstrong Garden Center to spend a housewarming gift card on a garden sprayer and a gallon of concentrated insecticide, it'll take care of the earwigs as well as the hordes of little Nazi ants that keep marching into the house in columns, singing the "Horst Wessel Lied".

Michael kindly provided lots of handy earwig-related links, as well as finally ending the wracking of my brain ("I have my answer! I'm walking on air!") as to where I saw that earwig-in-the-ear TV show. It wasn't "The Twilight Zone", it wasn't "Outer Limits" ... it was "Night Gallery"! (Of course!) The episode was entitled "The Caterpillar", was written by Rod Serling himself and starred Laurence Harvey (of "The Manchurian Candidate" fame).

A Minnesota-based forum provides some eradication tips while reassuring us that "the good news is that they don't crawl in your ear and bore into your brain. (That's a relief.)" Also, some tips on earwigs from Colorado's Master Gardener.

"I took a look at the earwig that came out. I killed it, as a matter of fact -- I squeezed it. It was a female, that earwig... and the female lays eggs." (AIIEEEEEEEE!)

Word of the day: butt.   I'll bet you didn't know that a butt was two hogsheads.

A traditional unit of volume used for wines and other alcoholic beverages. A butt is generally defined to be two hogsheads, but the size of hogsheads varies according to the contents. In the United States a hogshead is typically 63 gallons and a butt is 126 gallons: about 16.844 cubic feet or 476.96 liters. In Britain, a butt of beer is 108 imperial gallons: about 17.339 cubic feet or 490.98 liters. The word comes from the Roman buttis, a large cask for wine.

(From "A Dictionary of Units of Measurement", UNC Chapel Hill.)

Learn somethin' new every day, I'm tellin' ya ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, February 3, 2003
Bizarre.   Legendary rock producer Phil "Wall of Sound" Spector was reportedly arrested for murder this morning, having allegedly shot a woman at his house in Alhambra. Apparently he's hasn't been averse to waving guns around in the past; Dee Dee Ramone said that during the recording of the Ramones album "End of the Century" Spector pulled a gun on the band members.

In better Phil Spector-related news, it seems that The Beatles' final album Let It Be will be re-released this fall minus all the orchestration Spector added after the band's breakup (and without their approval). George approved of the new mix before he died, and Ringo said it sounds "really great". I'll buy it.

The Irish Catholic Church's slave labor camps.   ABC News reports from Cork, Ireland on the recent spate of revelations of over a century of appalling practices by the Church:

A sudden spate of TV exposés, docudramas and a major motion picture have brought to light one of the most shocking episodes in the history of the Catholic Church i n Ireland -- the existence of the now-notorious "Magdalene laundries," a sanctified form of slavery.

Operated by the Sisters of the Magdalene Order, the laundries were virtual slave labor camps for generations of young girls thought to be unfit to live in Irish society. Girls who had become pregnant, even from rape, girls who were illegitimate, or orphaned, or just plain simple-minded, girls who were too pretty and therefore in "moral danger" all ran the risk of being locked up and put to work, without pay, in profit-making, convent laundries, to "wash away their sins."

They were completely cut off from their families, and many lost touch with them forever.

Stripped of their identities, the girls were given numbers instead of names. They were forbidden to speak, except to pray. If they broke any rule or tried to escape, the nuns beat them over the head with heavy iron keys, put them into solitary confinement or shipped them off to a mental hospital.

Over a period of 150 years, an estimated 30,000 women were forced into this brutal penance, carried out in secret, behind high convent walls.


Good Lord. The "One True Church" indeed.

This afternoon's bit of fun and a few minutes of time-wasting, brought to you by the latest amusing page making the weblog rounds -- Which Poetry Form Are You? As for me ...

I'm terza rima, and I talk and smile.
Where others lock their rhymes and thoughts away
I let mine out, and chatter all the while.

I'm rarely on my own - a wasted day
Is any day that's spent without a friend,
With nothing much to do or hear or say.

I like to be with people, and depend
On company for being entertained;
Which seems a good solution, in the end.

Check out all the other samples of poetic forms; they're lots of fun.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, February 1, 2003
Let us now bow our heads.   Rick D. Husband. William C. McCool. Kalpana Chawla. David M. Brown. Laurel B. Clark. Michael P. Anderson. Ilan Ramon.

Columbia mission patch   Crew of the Columbia

Check for developing news here or here.

January Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

[ Link to today's entries ]

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Andy Senasac, Michael Yasui, Steve Gardner, Michael Pemberton, Steve Kelley, Barry Kelley, Eric Labow, Tom Krueger, Greg Beron, Sean Burke, Shari Minton and Barry Enderwick.
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