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, public radio, 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 @ 5:02pm PST, 10/31/2003

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

September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003

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

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

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

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

Regime change for America, 2004.

Dean for America

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The Alchemist
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Alcohol (and how to mix it)
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DrinkBoy and the
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La Fée Verte
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Vintage Cocktails
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Let's eat!

New Orleans Menu Daily

Food-related weblogs:
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Sauté Wednesday
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à la carte
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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 Man Who Ate Everything, by Jeffrey Steingarten.
Blind Lake, by Robert Charles Wilson.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

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

Miles of Music

No Depression


New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

San Francisco Celtic Music & Arts Festival

Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA


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

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

The Mirror Project


Bloom County / Outland,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

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

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow Xquzyphyr & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak

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
The Carpetbagger Report
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
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Ted Rall
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 Daily Mis-lead
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, October 31, 2003   ::   Hallowe'en
I so wish I had a digital camera, but I don't, because the money I was going to spend on a digital camera this week got spent on a new set of brakes instead. (Feck.) If I did have one, I'd be able to show you the beautiful puking pumpkin I carved last night, far better than the one on Extreme Pumpkins. Mine looks truly ill and unhappy, and I drew on a few college experiences to get the nuances of the pumpkin's facial expressions just right (for those who've known me for a long time, I'll say this: The Kamikaze Party and the liter of sake I drank the night before on Crawfish-Sea Urchin Night).

Wes wins the award for Quote of the Day yesterday -- I was saving my pumpkin entrails for use in the puking pumpkin installation for tonight, and as bedtime approached he said, "Don't forget to put your puke in the refrigerator."

"Wait ... there's movement ..."   Brrrrrr, spooky scary ... this weekend we'll be seeing the newly restored Director's Cut of Ridley Scott's Alien, and I can't wait. It scared the crap out of me when I first saw it at age 17; I remember that one kid I worked with at the time was so scared he practically had to be taken out of the theatre on a stretcher. Even though I've seen it many times since then, I'm sure it'll scare the crap out of me again.

I'm very curious to see how the cut scenes (e.g., Dallas and Brett in the nest) that I've only seen as DVD extras will be integrated into the film without adversely affecting the pace, which is why Scott cut them out in the first place.

Spooky spirits and creepy cocktails.   "Beans" from the eGullet Cocktail Forum has a fun page of Hallowe'en cocktails which is also the only case of embedded web page MIDI that hasn't irritated me to the point of uttering curses. Don't forget the Professor's Pumpkin Martini (even though it's a cocktail, not a martini ... sorry Gary, I'm a hardhead), and if you want a real, proper gin Martini tonight, add a drop of red food coloring. You can be drinking a sophisticated cocktail while pretending to drink blood, and it'll leave your lips properly smeared with red. "I never drink ... wine."

You wanna see something really scary?   (Via Teresa's Making Light) Now the administration is considering requiring ID to send outgoing mail from a post office. I receive this news with slack-jawed astonishment. I don't suppose you can think of any other free, civilized country that requires one to show one's papers before sending mail, can you? Even if you can ... that ain't America.

I'd like to quote some of Teresa's commentary on the matter, because I couldn't say it any better:

This is supposedly a response to the anthrax scare. It isn't. The government's investigation of that scare has been -- "less than thorough", would be one way to put it. It doesn't seem to hold their interest.

Ever since the attack on the ballot count in Florida, I've been assuming that Bush and his fellow brigands don't expect they're ever going to go out of power.

You don't attack a ballot recount at a federal office building, using "rioters" who are actually known political staffers and campaign workers who've come in from out of state, having planned and conspired to do so in advance, and having had their expenses paid out of moneys traceable to the core Republican organization, if you think there's any chance you're ever going to be called to account for it. There are just too many potential criminal charges that arise from it. But that's what they did; and there was no great effort made to cover up the money trail.

So. I think they're planning to systematically rig the coming election. As we saw during the last presidential election, you don't have to rig an election well enough for it to pass muster during later investigations. You just have to rig it long enough for the general public to perceive that the election is now over. The citizenry doesn't know what to do at that point.

I think that after the election, they'll really start tightening the thumbscrews.

I'm not an excitable conspiracy theorist, or a wild-eyed lefty radical. I'm a despairing centrist who had a solid conservative upbringing. And I can't believe how many supposed conservatives out there are willing to sell their birthright for a mess of nonsensical tough talk. When you're old, you won't be proud of having listened to Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter.

For more on this subject, see Tom Tomorrow's newest cartoon ("Like my Halloween costume? Something truly terrifying. I'll give you a hint ... I'm prone to technical glitches, I have huge security flaws, and I leave absolutely no paper trail -- and the companies that make me are owned and operated by intensely partisan Republicans!"). Also, don't miss Lyn's recent tale, to wit ... a young Republican in D.C., ironically waiting in line to view the Constitution, looked at her Dean T-shirt and said, "Dean doesn't matter. We control all the voting machines." What are they teaching at those Republican Youth conventions?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 30, 2003
Some ideas for tomorrow night.   We've got some pumpkins to carve tonight, and I've been looking for ideas. I like the one that says, "With a pumpkin like this, you won't have to give out any candy on Halloween because no kids will come to your house." I like the puking one, too.

Oh, tartar sauce!   SpongeBob Squarepants (AKA Tom Kenny) and his son go shopping for Hallowe'en costumes, fake blood and brains and heads on sticks, in a charming article for Hallowe'en in today's L.A. Times.

Dude! Radical!   Gotta love physics geeks. Some of them at Cornell made a nanoguitar, 10 microns long, that "plays" at 17 octaves higher than a normal guitar. I can think of some metal bands that'd want one of these right away ...

I (heart) Margaret Cho.   'Cause she's funny. 'Cause she's smart. 'Cause she's pretty much right on the money. And 'cause she's hot, too.

As well as betraying her gender, as a notoriously anti-feminist woman hater, [Ann Coulter] is also racist, homophobic, without compassion, inhumane, arrogant, dishonest, contradictory, not funny, has an arguing technique that compares closely to "I know you are, but what am I?", wears red leather miniskirts and is just plain fucking wrong. I cannot even quote her because everything she says is too awful for me to write.

All this and she isn't even hot. If you are going to be wrong, at least be hot. I am guilty of some of the biases that Ann is, but in reverse. My prejudice and hatred of the establishment, the judicial system, anti- abortionists, racism, misogyny, the integration of church and state - can spiral downwards out of control, and maybe my facts could be discounted and I could be called a liar as well. But I don't give a shit, because at least I am hot.

That you are, honey. We're getting tickets for your Long Beach show, and we can't wait.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 29, 2003
More biscuits!   I further stir the roiling cauldron of the Great Biscuit Controversy of Looka! by adding this fabulous recipe, which my friend Mary says is her favorite biscuit recipe ever and never fails to cause people to leap for joy and beg for the recipe. It's also easy-peasy.

Cream Sage Biscuits

2 cups self-rising flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whipping cream
1 tablespoon chopped sage

Combine in a bowl and stir with a fork until flour is just moistened.

Turn dough out onto floured surface and light knead 5 to 6 times, just until dough holds together. Gently roll out (I always pat out, better with biscuits, of course) to 1/2 inch thickness (the thicker the dough, the higher and fluffier these biscuits get) and cut with a 2 inch biscuit cutter.

Bake on ungreased baking sheet at 425°F until golden, 10 - 12 minutes.

Notes for Britons and other Europeans: By "whipping cream" we mean what they call "single cream" in the U.K., and whatever you would use to make whipped cream (hence the name, "whipping cream," which seems to confuse a rather large number of people for some reason). If you don't have self-rising flour, use regular all-purpose flour and add 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon of salt per cup of flour, which for this recipe would mean 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt (i.e., a 10ml and 5ml measuring spoonful).

How annoying, all these silly conversions. If God had meant us to use the metric system, he'd have given us ten fingers! (Um, wait ...)

Only in New Orleans ...   Da headline writers at da Times-Picayune musta had a ball wit' dis one ... (Thanks, Steve!)

Saints Fan Busted With Caps In Bra, Police Say
Tue Oct 28, 5:55 PM ET

Two Bogalusa women were arrested Monday night after police said they tried to steal more than $200 in Saints merchandise from a Northshore Wal-Mart, allegedly stuffing caps and other items in their clothing.

"Say, bra!"   "Awrite, cap!"   (Okay, it's a New Orleans thing, you wouldn't understand ...)

Trouser conflagration.   George W. Bush claims that the staged media event aboard the aircraft carrier a while back, featuring a big "MISSION ACCOMPLISHED" banner, had nothing to do with him or the White House. Later, the White House changed its story, saying that they "helped" with the banner, but it was all the ship's idea. (More from The Daily Mis-Lead.)

As Tom Tomorrow commented, "I hope you're intelligent enough to understand that the Liar-in-Chief doesn't friggin' sneeze without Karl Rove focus-grouping it... actually, "focus grouping" isn't quite right. It's more about their obsessive attention to stagecraft. I mean, these people turned the aircraft carrier around in order to get the best light for Bush's speech. If you believe they just let the sailors hang up some banner without vetting it ten ways from Sunday, well, it brings us back to the proverbial bridge for sale."

Here's a bit on how very unaccomplished the mission is, from Today in Iraq:

War News for October 29, 2003

Bring 'em on: Two US soldiers killed, one wounded in bomb ambush near Balad.

Bring 'em on: Seven Ukrainian soldiers wounded in ambush near As Suwayrah

Bring 'em on: Mortar attack on Baghdad bridge, RPGs fired at Baghdad University building.

Bring 'em on: Police station in Mosul under RPG attack. Three civilians killed.

Bring 'em on: Central Baghdad mortared.

Bring 'em on: US soldier killed, six wounded in Baghdad RPG ambush.

Bring 'em on: Katyusha rockets fired at US position near Kirkuk.

Bring 'em on: Iraqi newspaper editor assassinated in Mosul.

Bring 'em on: Two attacks on US troops reported near Samarra.

Bring 'em on: Five US soldiers wounded in mine attack.

Bring 'em on: Update. No link, but I just heard a report on NPR that there have been over 200 attacks on American troops in the last 7 days. I don't know if that number includes attacks on other coalition forces, Iraqi police and Iraqis working for the CPA. In any case, the US media has screwed the pooch covering this war despite Bush's snivelling about media bias.

This is not to mention the great number of civilian casualties every day, and how Baghdad's morgues are so overwhelmed by the bodies pouring in every day that they can't keep up. The hubris of BushCo has gotten them in way over their heads.

Quote of the day.   This was well after the speech he made in May aboard the aircraft carrier while standing under the banner he now disavows:

"Our actions sent along a clear message that our nation is strong and our nation is compassionate. America sent you on a mission and that mission has been accomplished."

-- George W. Bush, to U.S. troops, Qatar, June 5, 2003.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 28, 2003
Mmmmm, biscuits.   That's good ol' southern American biscuits, to any confused Europeans who think I'm talking about cookies (which are good too). I don't know what you'd call these, 'cause they're not exactly scones, and actually I don't think you have anything quite like this over there. More's the pity. Why not make some now? Metric conversions are here. You can also add a Chuck touch by using bacon fat to grease the baking sheet. (Thanks to Haven for putting this in this morning's email.)


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Cut in:
5 tablespoons chilled butter

3/4 cup buttermilk

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board. Knead it gently for thirty seconds or so. Put the dough to a 1/4 inch thickness. Cut with biscuit cutter (3 inch diameter). Bake 10-12 minutes at 450°F.

Sooo good.

Obituary of the day.   This lady is a total stranger to me, but I love her anyway; may she rest in peace. Published in the New Orleans Times-Picayune on October 2, 2003, and the last line is the clincher (thanks, Dave!):

Gertrude M. Jones

Word has been received that Gertrude M. Jones, 81, passed away on August 25, 2003, under the loving care of the nursing aides of Heritage Manor of Mandeville, Louisiana. She was a native of Lebanon, KY. She was a retired Vice President of Georgia International Life Insurance Company of Atlanta, GA. Her husband, Warren K. Jones predeceased her. Two daughters survive her: Dawn Hunt and her live-in boyfriend, Roland, of Mandeville, LA; and Melba Kovalak and her husband, Drew Kovalak, of Woodbury, MN. Three sisters, four grandchildren and three great grandchildren, also survive her. Funeral services were held in Louisville, KY. Memorial gifts may be made to any organization that seeks the removal of President George Bush from office.

Why not make a gift in Gertrude's name?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 27, 2003
Nucular (sic) vaporware.   The Washington Post reports that months of work by search teams in Iraq have found no evidence of any nuclear program or threat, despite statements by George W. Bush that Iraq's purported nuclear weapons constituted "a grave and gathering danger" "and at least four times in the fall of 2002 invoking the spectre of a 'mushroom cloud.'"

According to records made available to The Washington Post and interviews with arms investigators from the United States, Britain and Australia, it did not require a comprehensive survey to find the central assertions of the Bush administration's prewar nuclear case to be insubstantial or untrue. Although Hussein did not relinquish his nuclear ambitions or technical records, investigators said, it is now clear he had no active program to build a weapon, produce its key materials or obtain the technology he needed for either.

Among the closely held internal judgments of the Iraq Survey Group, overseen by David Kay as special representative of CIA Director George J. Tenet, are that Iraq's nuclear weapons scientists did no significant arms-related work after 1991, that facilities with suspicious new construction proved benign, and that equipment of potential use to a nuclear program remained under seal or in civilian industrial use.

Most notably, investigators have judged the aluminum tubes [equipment, and Iraq's effort to buy more of it overseas, central to the Bush administration's charge that President Saddam Hussein had resumed long-dormant efforts to build a nuclear weapon] to be "innocuous," according to Australian Brig. Gen. Stephen D. Meekin, who commands the Joint Captured Enemy Materiel Exploitation Center, the largest of a half-dozen units that report to Kay. That finding is pivotal, because the Bush administration built its case on the proposition that Iraq aimed to use those tubes as centrifuge rotors to enrich uranium for the core of a nuclear warhead.

Meekin said he no longer knows the whereabouts of the tubes once stacked at Nasr. "They weren't our highest priority," he said. "The thing's innocuous." Unguarded, the tubes "could be in arms plants, scattered around, being grabbed by looters, perhaps in scrap metal yards."

Scavengers, he said, most likely have "sold them as drain pipe."

I see the danger. Someone could have been severely beaten with a piece of that pipe. (If not, someone should be.)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 24, 2003
Woohoo, money!   No, I didn't win that $100 million Lotto jackpot (if I had, I sure as hell wouldn't be doing this right now). However, several lovely KCSN listeners came through last night, and the final tally for "Down Home" (including company matching grants) was exactly $1000! We'll be able to burst into our general manager's office and throw the still-smoking pledge forms down on his desk and say "Hah! Look!" to which he'll respond ... "Whoa. Cool!"

Thanks to everyone who called in.

Good feckin' luck, lads.   The Republic of Ireland has passed a law that will outlaw smoking in all pubs as of January 26.

Jaaaaaaaysis. Prepare to feel the tremors. (Not that I don't think it's a good thing -- it is -- but I really don't think it'll go over well.)

Butter Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope   For years, European-style butter (like Plugrà) with less water and more butterfat, ruled the roost. Now some lovely American butters are fighting back.

Just say no to Mmmm ... mmmmm ... marrr ... m*rg*r*n*... that "M" stuff. (No, not Margaritas, don't worry!)

Lovely risotto, mate.   Jamie Oliver makes a pumpkin, sage, bacon and chestnut risotto (blimey).

Jamie was in town on Monday to do a cooking demo and a plug for his new line of cookware (!), right down the street from my office. And I missed it. Feck.

Cocktail of the day.   I don't think we've done this one before, and it's a longtime favorite around the house. Our favorite reaction when serving this cocktail has been from our friend Doug, who had never had anything like it when we served him one at a cocktail party a couple of years ago. "This is an incredibly elegant drink," he said. He's right.


2 ounces gin.
1/2 ounce maraschino liqueur.
1/4 ounce fresh lemon juice.

Shake with ice (10-15 seconds) and strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a cherry.

You can find maraschino liqueur (essential for a true cocktailian bar) locally in the L.A. area at Wally's in Westwood, The Wine House in West L.A., Beverage Warehouse in Marina del Rey, Wine and Spirits Depot in Van Nuys, Topline Wine and Spirits in Glendale, Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa or online via Beverages and More. Luxardo is good; Maraska, our favorite, is cheaper, drier and better.

Hating Dubya.   William Rivers Pitt, in this editorial, doesn't mince words. (Thanks, Wes!)

From the mouths of those who advocate for the current administration, we find this feigned outrage directed at those who criticize George W. Bush. The critics, we are told, have no substance to them. They just hate Bush for the sake of simple hatred...

The thing is, the conservative White House defenders are spot-on correct about one thing. I despise George W. Bush. I despise his Vice President, his Senior Political Advisor, his Chief of Staff, his Defense Secretary, his Assistant Defense Secretary, his Attorney General, his National Security Advisor, and his chosen Ambassador to the United Nations. Those names, in case you are confused, are Cheney, Rove, Card, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft, Rice and Negroponte.

I despise his Congressional allies, who have shredded their constitutional duties by refusing to investigate a variety of incredible crimes. For the record, these crimes include the fabrication of Iraq war evidence, the outing of a WMD-hunting CIA agent in an act of political revenge, and the serious questions about how four commercial aircraft fooled the entire domestic defense shield and the entire intelligence community long enough to kill three thousand people.

I despise any and all of his people who fanned out two years ago to pound into the American consciousness the idea that criticizing Bush is treason. If you think that is over, take a gander at the first paragraph of an editorial entitled 'Kennedy, Other Critics, Are Traitors' that appeared today in a local Philadelphia paper called the Daily Local. The author, one Harlan "Buck" Ross, does an admirable job of describing the attitude the Bush administration has about its critics:

According to my dictionary a "traitor" is a person who behaves disloyally; one who betrays his country. What I hear from U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., is nothing short of traitorous. The nine (10?) would-be candidates for the presidency in 2004 are but a short distance behind him with their ranting and raving and irresponsible blaspheming of the president of the United States."

Call me old-fashioned, but I could have sworn that one can only blaspheme against God. When criticism of this President, or any President, is rhetorically raised to the level of blasphemy, we the people have an enormous problem on our hands.

Yeah, I hate them all. Do I hate for the simple sake of hatred? Do I hate Bush because he is a Republican, a Texan, a white male, a meat-eater? Certainly not. I hate George W. Bush and all of his people because they have done an incredible amount of damage to this nation I hold so dear. I hate them because they are professional liars, thieves, brigands without conscience. I hate them, fully and completely, on the record.

It gets better.

Quote of the day.   This quote has been posted before, but I think it bears repeating.

"To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public."

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

Teddy Roosevelt, remember him? That guy whose face is carved into Mount Rushmore along with George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson.

Y'know, sometimes ... I don't know how I manage to keep myself from throwing up.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 23, 2003
KCSN Pledge Drive!   It's on, and I'm raising money for the station tonight during my shift on "Down Home", from 7:00 to 9:00pm Pacific Time.

If you're a listener to the station, whether to our broadcast signal or the stream from our web site, it's time to step up to the plate and help us out. Basic membership'll run ya $50 per year (although we'd love to have you as an Active Member for $70, a Supporter for $88.50 or an Associate for $120), and you can thank yourself for your pledge with a lot of free stuff! Here are the CD premia I've chosen as our thanks for your gift of support:

The Red Stick Ramblers, Bring It On Down
Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys, Bon rêve
The Iguanas, Plastic Silver 9 Volt Heart
Sean Watkins, 26 Miles
Moïse & Alida Viator with Eh, Lá-Bas!, Mermaids of the Canary Islands
Thad Cockrell, Warmth and Beauty
We need your help now more than ever, as our new Westside booster transmitter is on the verge of reality, after several long years of waiting. All the red tape is gone, all the FCC approvals are in place; all we need is the rest of the money to finish construction (total cost, about $100,000). The new transmitter is atop a building on Pico Boulevard and will cover the entire Westside, West Hollywood and Hollywood, Downtown, Silverlake and, we hope, up the arroyo into Pasadena. Our listener base will increase by almost half a million potential listeners, and this is without a doubt the biggest thing that's happened to KCSN in its 40-year history. We can't do it without you. Pitch in and pledge! Even better, call (818) 677-3636 or pledge online during my shift tonight, so's I get the brownie points. Barring that, anytime will do. The drive ends on Monday, so time's a-wastin'!

The Cocktailian.   Today Gary Regan's fortnightly column has the Professor making, believe it or not, Pumpkin Martinis for Hallowe'en. (I think "The Great Pumpkin" would have been a better name...)

Among the many wonderful things he does, Gary offers an intensive two-day course in the cocktailian arts called Cocktails in the Country at his local tavern in Cornwall-on-Hudson, a lovely little town merely 55 miles from Manhattan. This is something Wes and I both really want to do In the meantime we'll live vicariously through folks like Laura Goldberg, one of his former students, who wrote up a tale of her experiences there.

Whoppers, big and bigger.   Salon features an excerpt from Michael Moore's new book Dude, Where's My Country? (you have to sit through a commercial to get the whole thing, unfortunately; sorry).

What is the worst lie a president can tell?

"I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky."

Or ...

"He has weapons of mass destruction -- the world's deadliest weapons -- which pose a direct threat to the United States, our citizens and our friends and allies."

One of those lies got a president impeached. The other lie not only got the liar who told it the war he wanted, but also resulted in huge business deals for his friends and virtually assures him a landslide victory in the next election.

I don't know about that landslide victory...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 22, 2002
"I cannot tell a lie. I drank all the whiskey."   Well, actually ... I don't know how much he drank, but he sure made a lot. George Washington, Father of Our Country, used to make hooch. Quite a lot of it, in fact, enough for him to make a very comfortable living after he left politics. Master distillers from the Maker's Mark distillery have recreated his old rye whiskey recipe, which will age in barrels for a couple of years and then be auctioned off. Hm. If I have to ask, I'm sure I can't afford it ...

Q&A with the King of Cocktails.   The excellent eGullet site (a recent discovery of mine) in its also excellent Cocktails Forum, featured a Q&A session with Dale DeGroff, master mixologist and author of The Craft of the Cocktail. If you have a question about cocktails, it was probably asked here. If it wasn't ... well, feel free to play Stump the Weblogger.

Spam of the day.   Some of this is sheer poetry. URL of the site they're spamming is obscured, because we don't want to promote spammers' wares, plus I've zapped the naughty bit, 'cause I don't want to get strange referrals.

From: "Imogene Frey"
Subject: nupidity szackle
Date: Mon, 06 Oct 03 15:27:27 GMT
X-Priority: 3
X-MSMail-Priority: Normal
Content-Type: text/html;

plug crewel levitate piraeus

Finding a f*** buddy online just got a whole lot easier.

Women who want sex. A giant adult site, complementary, for your pleasure.
What more could you ask for? We're the best.

Just go to here:

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The most eye-catching subject line, ever:  "Nupidity szackle." Nupidity szackle. That's my new favorite phrase. Or maybe it could be a pseudonym. "Hi. Nupidity Szackle. Delighted to make your acquaintance. Please call me 'Nupe.'"

"Plug crewel, levitage Piraeus / Paternal dramatic ostrich paso." (e.e. cummings, eat your heart out.) As much as I'd love to see spammers drawn and quartered, or broken on the wheel, I think I'll let this one live.

Interesting things we have learned from Republicans lately.   From a cartoon by Tom Tomorrow:

1. Careful semantic parsing isn't such a big deal after all.
The President did not mislead Americans about the imminent threat posed by Iraq -- because he never specifically used the word "imminent"!

2. Sexual misconduct isn't such a big deal after all.
So what if Arnold used to get a little frisky sometimes? You know how rowdy those movie sets can be!

3. Drug abuse isn't such a big deal after all.
Drug addicts deserve our compassion and support ... at least when the are also conservative talk radio hosts!

4. National security isn't such a big deal after all.
Even if the White House did expose the identity of that CIA operative -- where's the scandal? It's not like the President was having sex with an intern or something!

5. Intellectual consistency isn't such a big deal after all.
Nonsense! We consistently condemn the moral shortcomings of liberals ... while consistently excusing the same behavior in conservatives! So you see, we're perfectly consistent!

Oh, that Tom ...

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 21, 2003
Eat out like a pro.   Chicago Tribune restaurant critic Phil Vettel tells how to make the most of a meal out.

The right kind of terrorist.   From David Neiwert, via Tom Tomorrow:

Imagine the following scenario:

Federal agents arrest a Muslim man, a member of a radical sect, living in Michigan on gun and drug charges. When they search his home, they discover a bunker containing a cache of weapons and explosives worthy of an army: an anti-aircraft gun capable of firing 550 rounds per minute up to four miles away, machine guns, explosives, thousands of rounds of ammunition, and booby traps. Investigators also find pictures of President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld with scope cross-hairs drawn over them.
How do you suppose the media would handle that story?

My guess that if it didn't lead the evening news, it would be reported on it. It would at least be above the fold in many newspapers, and almost certainly would be a hot topic of conversation among the nation's radio talk-show hosts. Michael Savage would have a field day.

But what happens when, instead, the circumstances are identical, and the suspect is a white man associated with a militia unit?

It gets buried in the Grand Rapids Press. And that's about it.

I've been reading David Neiwert's weblog Orcinus since I found that link, and I really like it. From the blurb, "David Neiwert is a freelance journalist based in Seattle. His reportage for on domestic terrorism won the National Press Club Award for Distinguished Online Journalism in 2000... His freelance work can be found at, the Washington Post, MSNBC and various other publications." Check him out.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 20, 2003
A conservative's revelation.   (Via Teresa:) Becky Miller, an Oregon conservative, writes a review of Al Franken's book Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them.

I must say that only once before in my life have I ever felt as utterly shocked as I am at this moment. The time before was when I first realized that my boss at the time, Bill Sizemore, was greedy and dishonest. The foundations of my universe shook. What has utterly shocked me today is Al Franken's latest book, Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them: A Fair and Balanced Look at the Right.

I read the book in one sitting. It is an amazing book, and -- if you're a decent, honest, hard-working, patriotic, true-blue conservative who listens to Rush Limbaugh and Bill O'Reilly and watches Fox News -- an earth-shattering book.

I believe Franken is telling the truth in his book because it meshes perfectly with what I personally have observed. And I think every decent, honest, hard-working, patriotic, true-blue conservative owes it to himself to read it. Hold your nose if you must -- Franken is as foul-mouthed and crass as his reputation would lead you to believe (and quite mistakenly believes Christians love Israel because it is the center of prophecies that include the fiery deaths of all Jews) -- but read it anyway.

The other day on talk radio, I heard a guy tell an incredulous Lars Larson that he wouldn't believe Rush Limbaugh was a drug addict involved in a drug ring even if Limbaugh himself admitted it. If you're that guy, don't bother reading Franken's book. You will really just drive yourself even more crazy.

The leaders we conservatives have trusted have taken advantage of our trust to line the pockets of the wealthy and powerful, and it's time we rose up and drove out these greedy liars. They've hijacked and distorted our belief system for their own gain, and in doing so are destroying our credibility.

It's been one of my favorite books of the year, and I highly recommend it to everybody. I even liked the foul-mouthed parts, 'cause they were funny -- and this book really, really needed the funny parts, since the rest of it makes you want to tear your hair out.

Email of the day.   I'm intensely curious to know why she thought I'd know this (although not curious enough to strike up an email correspondence), seeing that I have never set foot in Nashville:

From: Greta <*>
Date: 19 Sep 2003 03:40:42 -0000
Subject: Where is Ken

Hello there, lived next door to Ken in Nashville and wondered if you have his e mail if not give him mine Scottish lady nieghbor says big Hello Ken. and are you still drumming.

Uh ... umm ... I dunno. I dinna ken Ken. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Food porn both fine and scary.   Five great writers, five great restaurants: the Observer sent the former to the latter for the meal of a lifetime. Rachel Cook (who apparently doesn't like cherries dipped in pork fat, nor 90% of the rest of her 27-course meal) went to El Bulli in Spain, Howard Jacobson went to Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, two others seem missing in action (I couldn't find the articles), but my favorite was, of course, the one I could relate to personally. Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh dined at The French Laundry in the Napa Valley town of Yountville, California. I know how he felt during and after that meal (except for the overload, as I only had six courses and he had nineteen), although not being a Scot I might not have come up with this particular evocation (at least the musical bit):

The little touches were excellent; our oyster dish was eaten using a mother-of-pearl spoon. I salivate now as I think of the Truffle-pickled Hen Eggs with 'its creamy yellow' and Chopped Black Truffles. God, that was amazing, and my girlfriend evidently thought so too. Our eyes met across the table in one of those glances which evoke making love on a bearskin rug in front of a roaring fire in an elevator rising up the Eiffel Tower while a (blindfolded) string quartet plays 'Sunshine on Leith'.
(I am a huge Proclaimers fan, though.)

Spam, spam, spam, spam ... Horrid spam, vomitous spam!   I am on record as stating by belief that spammers should be caught, publicly flogged, then spend a month in a public pillory before being sent into lifelong solitary confinement, after which they should be confined individually to their own private oven to roast in Dante's Hell for all eternity. (I hate spammers.)

If you're interested in the hows and whys of spam, the Center for Democracy and Technology did a six-month study to see how spammers obtain their addresses and how they go about spewing their effluvia into everyone's email boxes; here are the results. Unsurprisingly, the people who get the most spam are the ones who post their addresses on web pages and in USENET newsgroups.

I believe that spammers will ultimately lose the war; I just hope it happens during my lifetime. Spammers should beware, though -- there are those who wish worse things upon them, including death by impalement. You spammers think you don't care that you piss people off so much, but you should. (I've always wondered what would happen if Tony Soprano found himself getting hundreds of spams a day. I wouldn't be surprised if all the publicly unrepentent spammers ended up with a visit from Furio Giunta ...)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 17, 2003
We're published! (Ego-boo alert!)   The long-awaited release of Ardent Spirit and renowned cocktailian Gary Regan's new book, The Joy of Mixology: The Consummate Guide to the Bartender's Craft, illustated by Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh, is out and available for purchase!

We finally got our copy last night, and so far it looks wonderful. I particularly like the sections in which Gary tells you what you really need to have/know/be to be a bartender (and it's not just mixing drinks well), plus his method of dividing drinks into distinct categories of related drinks (I never thought of a Kamikaze as a vodka Margarita, but more or less, it is).

It also feels very cozy, since it contains original cocktails by people we know, either in person or via email and the DrinkBoy forum: Dr. Cocktail, Robert "DrinkBoy" Hess himself, not to mention a couple of others ...

I'll have a full review later, but in the meantime ... turn to page 256 for the first-ever publication of Wes' original creation, the Footloose Cocktail (and make sure you put two healthy dashes of Peychaud's). Then flip a few pages later to see my version of New Orleans' famous Hurricane, made this time with fresh juices instead of a bottled/powdered mix.

I promise, I'll only preen for a little while.

Uh, there are Graham crackers in my cocktail.   From the Wall Street Journal (of all places), an article on some of the strange directions some bars are going with their cocktails: Graham crackers, fish, flowers, and pieces of ham. A little two weird for me, perhaps, but ...

I must confess that I love blue cheese-stuffed olives in a Martini. And I must also confess a fascination with the tale my friend Michael told me of garnishing an ice-cold Beefeater Martini with a piece of bacon. He said it stayed pretty crisp, oddly enough, and lent a wonderful smoky flavor to the drink. You know how I feel about bacon, so I'm willing to try anything bacon-wrapped at least once, even if it's a drink.

The Cocktailian.   Speaking of Gary, somehow I managed to miss his column last week. We have a new rum, a wonderful new orange liqueur, and as usual, the Professor wants to see how well they all work together. He does indeed, and we end up with the Double Shot.

Cocktail of the day.   Speaking of Robert, the other night we tried a DrinkBoy Hess original, and my, what a lovely drink it was.

Robert built a bar into his new house a few years ago, and decided that it needed a personal cocktail that would be a signature drink. He decided that the cocktail should reflect the French design elements of the house by containing ingredients that are French in origin. It's quite elegant, with a beautiful balance, et très délicieux.

Black Feather

2 ounces Cognac or good brandy.
1 ounce dry (French) vermouth.
1/2 ounce Cointreau.
1 dash bitters.

Stir with ice for no less than 30 seconds, until the shaker is frosty.
Strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a lemon peel.

I had had a really crappy day at work on Wednesday, compounded by a 75-minute drive home thanks to the transit strike, and this drink made me feel a lot better once I got home. Thanks, Robert!

That's entertainment!   You know, I really do have to express my appreciation when the Bush Administration takes a break from outraging me to amusing me:

Concerned about the appearance of disarray and feuding within his administration as well as growing resistance to his policies in Iraq, President Bush -- living up to his recent declaration that he's in charge -- told his top officials to "stop the leaks" to the media, or else.

News of Bush's order leaked almost immediately.

Bush told his senior aides on Tuesday that he "didn't want to see any stories" quoting unnamed administration officials in the media anymore, and if he did, there would be consequences, a senior administration official who asked that his name not be used told Knight Ridder.

Hee, hee hee, hee hee hee hee hee! You guys.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 16, 2003
Bush's new guardian of our Precious Bodily Fluids.   General William "Jerry" Boykin, the new deputy undersecretary of defense in charge of a secretive Pentagon unit charged with among other things hunting down bin Laden, Saddam and other high-profile targets, is a Christian fundamentalist with bizarre views who's also got a history of uttering some rather memorable quotes.

"Why is this man in the White House? The majority of Americans did not vote for him. Why is he there? And I tell you this morning that he's in the White House because God put him there for a time such as this."
Oh, so it was God who rigged the election! Well, that explains everything.

During a January church speech in Daytona, Fla., Boykin recalled a Muslim fighter in Somalia who bragged on television the Americans would never get him because his God, Allah, would protect him: "Well, you know what I knew, that my God was bigger than his. I knew that my God was a real God, and his was an idol."
That's an interesting new bit of theology, wherein my God can beat up your God. It's sure to be studied in seminaries across America.

In June 2003, Boykin spoke to a church group over a slide show: "Well, is he [bin Laden] the enemy? Next slide. Or is this man [Saddam] the enemy? The enemy is none of these people I have showed you here. The enemy is a spiritual enemy. He's called the principality of darkness. The enemy is a guy called Satan."
In other words, he's the Church Lady. "Could it beeeee ... Sa-TAN?!"

Boykin tells NBC News that, given his new assignment, he is curtailing such speeches in the future. He says, 'I don't want ... to be misconstrued. I don't want to come across as a right-wing radical."
A right-wing radical? Where could anyone possibly get that idea?

In all seriousness, I don't begrudge anyone their private religious views. But given that this fellow's publicly declared personal, extremist and fundamentalist views are seriously threatening to negatively influence this nation's foreign and military policy, and that this person seems to think he's fighting Satan rather than protecting this country and that he sounds like a major wingnut who seems one step away from declaring that the terrorists are engaged in a conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids ... perhaps he needs to be reassigned.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 15, 2003
Weird crunchy fried noodles, red sauce and cream cheese?   Bay Area Chinese-American artist Indigo Som has begun collecting Chinese restaurant menus from every Chinese restaurant in the country. It demonstrates both the pervasiveness of Chinese culinary culture throughout this country, as well as the fact that most of this food bears little resemblance to actual Chinese food.

"Mostly you had these buffets filled with deep-fried everything, with heavy, sludgy sauces," Som said. "Totally different from what I grew up eating. I think of steamed fish with black bean sauce. That's comfort food. But there you have what people think is Chinese food. It's a vicious cycle because restaurants adapt to local tastes. They see people really like that, so that's what they serve. Then people think that's what Chinese food is. So there are all these layers of weird perceptions and misperceptions that are fascinating.

"I never heard of these things until I started working on the project. I googled it and came up with these scary recipes. They all involve cream cheese -- you know, that quintessential Chinese ingredient -- and fake crab meat and some onions. They serve it with a scary red sauce. It's everywhere. People out there love it. It's, like, mandatory.

"I think it's an evil alien plot."

I'm spoiled living so close to some of the best Asian restaurants anywhere, in Alhambra, Monterey Park and San Gabriel. That's the real stuff, and it's incomparably good. That said, I still have a fondness for (and greatly miss) the venerable old House of Lee in Pacific Palisades. It remained almost completely unchanged since it opened in 1950, and closed a couple of years ago. Some friends and I frequented the place primarily for its excellent tropical drinks -- Fog Cutter, Navy Grog (my drink of choice at the HoL), Scorpion -- expertly mixed by their bartender Tommy and served by Albert, the World's Greatest Expressionless Waiter. Oddly enough, the place made great cheeseburgers, char-broiled and served with perfectly cooked Ore-Ida style crinkle-cut fries, but also made the whole spate of "American" Chinese restaurant dishes, including rumaki, egg foo young, moo goo guy pan, etc. I favored their rather good kung pao shrimp, myself; probably a little more authentic than crab rangoon.

R.I.P., House of Lee. We miss ya!

Zagat often fails to score.   David Shaw writes in the Los Angeles Times Food Section that the wildly popular Zagat guides, overly reliant on the votes of average Joes, wildly overinflates the ratings of restaurants, particularly in Los Angeles.

Until my Handspring Visor died, I kept a copy of the excellent (and now discontinued) Zagat Guide for Palm OS, using it mostly as a database of restaurants, numbers, addresses, etc. It was a handy guide in case we wanted to look up a certain type of cuisine in a certain part of town, etc. I rarely paid attention to the ratings, though, so I never got burned. What about you? Have you ever gone to a highly-Zagat-rated place and found it lacking?

Supremes to hear Pledge case.   Michael Newdow's lawsuit to remove the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance (which were added in 1954 as an upraised middle finger against "Godless Communists") will be heard by the Supreme Court. Interestingly, Antonin Scalia has recused himself from the case, as he has been quoted as making biased and critical comments regarding this issue (funny, his biases never seemed to bother him before). Wonder what happens if there's a tie?

Furthermore, you can bet that this relatively insignificant case will be entirely blown out of proportion during the 2004 presidential race. Get ready for the resultant thrills and joys of that.

I'm not a fan of making children (or anyone else) recite loyalty oaths, but if we're going to have one anyway, I think the Pledge has needed work for a long time. Why pledge allegiance to a flag, which is merely a symbol, and to a government, which can change every two, four, eight years? I certainly have no devotion or loyalty to the current government; in fact, I'm devoting time and money to removing it from office (via purely democratic means, of course, by writing, contributing money and supporting opposing candidates). If the pledge is going to mention government, it should specify our system of government, which in theory is a very good idea. Here's a rewriting of the Pledge of Allegiance that I think works much better, given that this country was not founded on a flag, but upon a very special document:

I pledge allegiance to the Constitution of the United States of America, to the republic which was founded upon it, and to its people: one nation, indivisble, with liberty and justice for all.
Yep, works for me.

That's the way the cookie crumbles.   No, really. It is.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 13, 2003
Gee, glad I bought my jacket last year.   From the San Francisco Chronicle: Lower-end clothing retailers are aping the high-end practice of limited runs and wait lists for things like $5,000 handbags, just to create buzz for things like a lousy $198 pea coat.

For its part, Banana Republic says it orchestrated its own campaign for that $198 jacket Ms. Neuman wanted. Hoping to make the item "a fashion moment," the company featured it heavily in its fall-advertising campaign and promoted it with fashion glossies. Then it limited its shipments -- to just 5,000 jackets, no more than half the normal run for such a product. The result: a flurry of wait lists, which didn't move the company to reorder. "When we sell out, we sell out," says Deborah Lloyd, Banana Republic's executive vice president for product design and development. "It adds to the allure."
Y'know, you dumbbells, $198 is still a lot of money to lots of people (like me), and if you're going to tell me that I have to wait three weeks for your jacket when I need/want one because of some stupid wait list, I'll happily go buy one somewhere else.

Many "soldiers," same letter.   Several newspapers around the U.S. received identical letters to the editor purportedly from different soldiers stationed in Iraq, which appear to be part of a campaign to present a positive picture of the U.S. occupation. In some cases the letters were distributed by platoon sergeants, who asked for signatures on the letters and the addresses of soldiers' hometown newspapers. In other cases, the soldiers who had purportedly written and signed the letters had never even seen them before; they just got sent anyway.

Why? "A recent poll suggests that Americans are increasingly skeptical of America's prolonged involvement in Iraq. A USA Today-CNN-Gallup Poll released Sept. 23 found 50 percent believe that the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over, down from 73 percent in April." Nice try, but not all of us are gullible enough to buy the war propaganda.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, October 10, 2003
That was fast, wasn't it?   Two days after being elected governor and at least four to six weeks before he even takes office, Arnold Schwarzenegger breaks his first campaign promise, to wit: "I will hire an outside independent auditor, free of political influence...". He has, in fact, hired Donna Arduin, Jeb Bush's budget director, who is "on loan" from Florida. (Via MetaFilter).

Arduin has been criticized by economists and even prominent Florida republicans for "surreal," misleading, unrealistic, and risky accounting procedures.

During her stint as Budget Director, Ms. Arduin oversaw numerous tax cuts aimed at the wealthiest Floridians, while most Floridians saw no significant decrease in taxes. Infact, today Florida has the second most regressive taxes in the nation.The effects of these tax cuts? Unprecidented shortfalls in state tax revenues, with massive budget cuts for public schools, universities, child welfare, vision services for uninsured children, etc.

Ah, the old Florida connection, working for the brother of George W. Bush. That hardly qualifies as an "independent auditor, free of political influence," doesn't it? In response to this question asked by a MeFi poster -- "Could you provide some sources for your assertion that she is neither an independent auditor nor free of political influence?" -- poster Mark Kraft (Super Genius) provides the following:

Here are some clues, provided, appropriately enough, in Jeff Foxworthy format.

If you are a lobbyist whose mailing address is the Florida capital building... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you find yourself buying 14 autographed copies of Katherine Harris' book because "they make good Christmas presents"... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you are appointed by a Republican governor to personally represent George Pataki and vote on the Public Authorities board... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you are listed as the Chief Policy Advisor for the president's brother... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you tell committee members that "we need to consider the limitations on your authority", just before you raid their trust funds... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you're required by federal law to allow medicare patients to be prescribed viagra, but you're trying to find a way to prevent its use by gay males... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you devise questionable new accounting methods in order to make it look like the state government is smaller and more efficient than it really is... you may be a Republican party insider.

If the state legislature, the Department of Revenue, and you all create official budget estimates -- and yours are the rosiest... you may be a Republican party insider.

If you donate a thousand dollars to George, and another $800 to the Florida Republican Party... you may be a Republican party insider. If you eat paella with Jeb Bush while wearing a knee-length mink coat -- one of several furs that you own... you may be a Republican party insider.

Got a clue yet?!

It begins.

Thou shalt not bear false witness.   Mindboggling story of the day: Spreading deliberate disinformation in AIDS-stricken countries, the Vatican is telling people that condoms do not work, and that HIV can pass through them, despite widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the AIDS virus.

The church is making the claims across four continents despite a widespread scientific consensus that condoms are impermeable to the HIV virus. A senior Vatican spokesman backs the claims about permeable condoms, despite assurances by the World Health Organisation that they are untrue.

The church's claims are revealed in a BBC1 Panorama programme, "Sex and the Holy City", to be broadcast on Sunday. The president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, told the programme: "The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the 'net' that is formed by the condom."

Um ... I'm speechless.

To paraphrase August, this is the modern-day equivalent of Carrie White's momma telling her that menstrual blood is the work of Satan, except more dangerous.

Speaking of August, This post is worth repeating in its entirety, because I can't say it better than he already has:

Just in case you thought the President wasn't the most horrible monster alive

By Presidential Proclamation, October 12 through 18 will be Marriage Protection Week, which "provides an opportunity to focus our efforts on preserving the sanctity of marriage." October 12 is also the anniversary of the murder of Matthew Shepard.

Just as President Bush gave a speech condemning Affirmative Action on Martin Luther King Day and declared the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision "National Sanctity of Life Day," this is, of course, a complete coincidence.

You know, when we heard Saddam was throwing babies out of incubators it was a fantastic relief to hear that it was a fabricated story. So when you hear that the Leader of the Free World just announced a week of celebrating the forbidding of gay people from expressing their love on the anniversary of the day a teenager was beaten to death for wanting to express his love to other men, you get a slightly different feeling when it's confirmed on the President's own goddamned web site.

One slight correction: Matthew Shepard was 21 when he was murdered, although he certainly looked a teenager.

Funny thing -- there isn't a single married couple I know whose marriage is in need of protection from gay people. If Bush were truly concerned about the "sanctity" of marriage, he'd be speaking out against divorce, drive-through Elvis wedding chapels and "Who Wants To Marry A Millionaire?".

I wonder how long it'll be before I am completely paralyzed by outrage overload.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, October 9, 2003
Dictionary definition of "jumping the gun."   (Via Follow Me Here):

"Back when he was among the Republican leaders hot on the scent of Bill Clinton's adultery, Orrin Hatch, the Utah Senator and writer of gospel music, said Clinton's only way out was a public confession. The President should apologize and ask forgiveness -- from Congress, and from the American people. Only by coming clean in detail could he be fit to stay in office, Hatch said. Fast-forward a few years, and what do we have? Senator Hatch goes before the National Press Club and, as paraphrased by The Salt Lake Tribune, says 'Arnold Schwarzenegger should not be judged on past improper advances towards women but as the devoted husband he is today.' (Gee, why didn't Clinton think of this brilliant 'devoted husband I am today' defense?) Moreover, Hatch already feels strongly enough that Schwarzenegger is of United States presidential caliber that he cites him as an argument for amending the Constitution, so that foreign-born American citizens can run for the Oval Office."

-- Matt Bivens, The Nation

Keep your pants on, Orrin.

"I hate it when that happens."   (Via BoingBoing): From the editor of the sf magazine Infinite Matrix, comments from several science fiction authors on the recent gubernatorial election in California:

William Gibson: I forget whether, in the Virtual Light books, Arnold is president of the US or merely Governor of SoCal, but, hey, it looks like I've gone and been prescient again. I hate it when that happens.

Harlan Ellison: To all the other 49 states -- with the exception of Minnesota, whose election of a mountebank transcends even ours -- the coronation of Ahnuld seems phantasmagoric. But not to us. We've done it at least twice before: George Murphy to the Senate, and Reagan to the White House. So, been there, seen that, done that. I thought, early on, that it was a great slate with Gary Coleman and Schwarzenegger both running: remember in Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, the behemoth called "Master Blaster" -- this seven-foot-tall brain-damaged, muscle-bound giant, with the midget strapped to his shoulders? Wow, what a terrific Governor we'd have if we just cranked Gary Coleman down onto Ahnuld's shoulders!! As long as nobody blew a high-pitched dog whistle, we'd be in sweet milk an' honey. So what do I actually think about all this foofaraw? To quote Thomas Jefferson, who was rewording Joseph de Maistre: "People get pretty much the kind of government they deserve."

Rudy Rucker: I liked "Terminator" (1) so much that I can't really feel too bad about this development. I love the scene when he's in a cheap motel and his flesh covering is rotting off, and the clerk starts banging on his door, saying, "Smells like you got a dead cat in there!" and we get an Arnold's-eye view of the situation, complete with a dialog box containing possible answers, and he selects, "Fuck you, asshole." That's the guy I want talking to Enron next time they try and take us down for umpty billion. Not that I voted for him, mind you, but since he's in, I'm ready to enjoy the entertainment and hope for the best. I love that part in "Pumping Iron" where he's smoking pot -- so weird how actors are utterly exempt from the rules for other candidates. Or maybe that's just Republican actors? Too bad Clint didn't run.

Funny thing ... Arnold already met with Enron, back in May of 2001, and I don't think he said "Fuck you, asshole."

Great idea for solving White House cover-blowing felony.   A good one from "President Bush told the press on Tuesday that he doesn't 'have any idea' whether the senior administration officials who blew a CIA operative's cover will ever be found. But if he just asked his staff to sign a legally binding affidavit confirming that they weren't involved, and referred anyone who wouldn't to the FBI, it's possible he could flush out the perpetrators in a day. To date, the President hasn't even discussed this matter with his staff.

"We've already done the President's homework for him by writing the affidavit. Now let's show him how easy it is for innocent people to legally declare their innocence. You can sign the affidavit and send it to the President in under a minute by going to this page."


1. I, CHUCK TAGGART, do hereby attest that on or about the dates of June 1, 2003, through July 14, 2003, I did not contact, whether by telephone, facsimile, e-mail, in person, or by any other means, any reporter, correspondent, journalist, or any other member of the media, with the intent to or purpose of naming former Ambassador Joseph Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, as an operative for the Central Intelligence Agency.

2. I, CHUCK TAGGART, further attest that on or about the dates of June 1, 2003, through July 30, 2003, I did not have any conversation, whether by telephone, e-mail, in person, or by any other means, with any reporter, correspondent, journalist, or any other member of the media, during which the employment of Valerie Plame was discussed in any way.

I declare, under penalty of perjury, that the foregoing is true and correct.


Date: 10/09/03 11:18AM PST

I signed mine. (Hey, I didn't tell anybody anything.) Wanna sign yours?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 8, 2003
You wanted him?   You got him, California. Call me a year from now and let me know if you think you made the right choice.

Even though 44.6% of the state's participating voters voted against the recall, in the long run I don't think anybody's going to be sad to see Gray Davis go (he fucked up big-time, and continued to do so until almost the end [e.g., drivers licenses to illegal immigrants]). However, I find it maddening that not a single Schwarzenegger voter I could talk to could articulate his positions on anything, except to say things like, "He's going to clean house!" As for The Governator himself ... well heckola, we still don't have much of a real idea of what he's planning, do we (except for a repeal of the hated car tax, which will not be a panacea)?

The governor-elect also needs to remember that he was elected to do the job he promised he'd do, and that's what need to be done (and after all this hoo-hah, he'd better do a damned good job). What he most certainly should not do is become a puppet of the Bushies, and attempt to move the state rightward on social issues.

I'm doin' all right, gettin' good grades / The future's so bright ... I gotta wear night vision goggles.

(Oh, and one last "feck off" to the Democratic Party for not coming up with onyone better than Cruz Bustamente. You kind of asked for it, didn't you, and now look what we've got. I can hear the lamentations of your women...)

Cocktail of the day.   Created by bartender Tom Buttery at the Berkshire Hotel, London in 1930, this was the winner of an international cocktail competition that year. (Today, I'll take two, please.)

Golden Dawn

1/2 ounce gin.
3/4 ounce applejack or Calvados.
3/4 ounce Apry or good apricot brandy
      (avoid that "apricot-flavored brandy" stuff).
3/4 ounce fresh squeezed orange juice.
2 dashes Angostura bitters.
1 dash grenadine.

Combine all ingredients except the grenadine in a shaker with cracked ice.
Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass, then
add the dash of grenadine, which will sink to the bottom and give the
drink its "golden dawn" appearance. Garnish with an orange half-slice.

Quote of the day.   (Via Kevin):

"I don't know if we're going to find out the senior administration official. I don't have any idea. I'd like to. I want to know the truth." But, Bush said, "This is a large administration and there's a lot of senior officials."
Independent counsel. Now, if you please.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, October 7, 2003  ::  Election Day
California, don't shoot yourselves in the foot. Vote NO.   This morning, they said that the race was now too close to call. At my precinct, I had to wait behind thirty people, which is the longest wait I've had at a polling place since I moved to California. I can only hope that that's a good sign.

I fervently hope that the people of this state are not really going to put an unqualified action movie star into the governorship of the fifth-largest economy on this planet. California's political scene has never been more surreal, more hair-tearingly frustrating, more potentially scary.

The editorial in this morning's Los Angeles Times put it very well:

There were no reasonable standards used in calling for a new election. A successor could be elected with far fewer votes than Davis got when he was reelected last year. Just as important, the alternatives are not superior to Davis and are potentially worse.
Congressman and scumbag Darrell Issa said that this recall wasn't about partisan politics, it was about removing a bad governor (albeit one who had been reelected a handful of months prior). Then he bought himself a recall campaign. Then, when it was looking like a Democrat might actually win, said he'd vote no on the recall and urge people to do the same, if a Republican wasn't going to get in. This, I think, pretty much sums up what this recall has been all about all along. I don't like Gray Davis either, but this is bullshit. Say no.

50 Reasons Why You Shouldn't Vote For Arnold Schwarzenegger for Governor.   Even if you think you're going to vote for him, read these reasons, and think about them. He has no idea what to do with this state, and treats this entire race as a rich movie star's toy, another movie role for him to play for two months and then move on to something else.

Many more of these reasons are good ones, but I only really need a few:  He is wholly unqualified to be governor. Do you really want the long-despised Pete Wilson to be back as shadow governor, running this state with his hand up Schwarenegger's figurehead ass, once he's done running Schwarzenegger's campaign? Worst of all, if he's elected, we may well end up handing California to Bush in 2004.

Don't vote for him just because you hate the car tax. I hate the car tax too. Look at the bigger picture. Think, think, think.

Cocktail of the day.   After I sent him the recipe for the Hoskins, Doc pointed out that it was a cousin of the Fin de Siècle cocktail, which indeed looked to me to be a sibling of the Hearst cocktail. If you throw in the Brooklyn, we've got ourselves quite a lovely little family, most with one gene in common -- Amer Picon (or at least its American version, Torani Amer).

I'm really gettin' to like that Amer, and will start to play with it a lot more. Oddly enough, the drink I first got it for, and the national drink of the Basques -- Picon Punch -- didn't really do all that much for me when I first tried it. Maybe I'll try it again, but in the meantime ... let's mix:

Fin de Siècle Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces English gin.
3/4 ounces sweet vermouth.
1/4 ounce Amer Picon.
1 dash orange bitters.

Stir with ice in a mixing glass for no less than thirty seconds.
Strain into a cocktail glass; no garnish.

I hope I don't find myself wanting to drink ten of these tonight.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, October 6, 2003
Cocktail of the day.   For the first time in quite a while, I offer you an original.

Our friends John and Fiona, whom we haven't seen in a few years, were visiting from England this past weekend. They're honorary Louisianians, being veterans of several Jazzfests (which is where we met them), and in honor of the long-overdue visit another of our friends challenged Wes and me to come up with an original cocktail in honor of their visit. I'd been running some ideas through my head, thinking of some flavor combinations from some of the the Mother-in-Law Cocktail ingredients that might work in different arrangements and quantities, and with a different base spirit.

Given John and Fiona's native land, I decided to start with that most English of spirits, good ol' Plymouth gin. In went the other ingredients, giving it a delightfully bitter and slightly nutty flavor balanced by sweetness and a touch of citrus. It's orange-based, but not "orangey" or overly citrusy. I think I hit it on the second try, with me mixing and Wes tasting and providing feedback, quality control and suggestions regarding ingredient quantities. We think it's mighty tasty, and named it in honor of our friends.

The Hoskins Cocktail

2 ounces Plymouth gin.
3/4 ounce Torani Amer.
1/2 ounce Maraschino liqueur.
1/4 ounce Cointreau.
1 dash orange bitters.

Combine in a mixing glass with cracked ice. Stir for no less than
thirty seconds. Strain into a cocktail glass, then flame an orange
peel over the drink and garnish with the peel.

(To flame an orange peel, cut an oval-shaped piece of orange rind,
approximately 1 by 1-1/2 inches, leaving a ring of about 1/4" of zest
around the circumference of the peel, with the white pith in the middle.
Light a match; hold the peel gently by the edges, hold the match between
the peel and the drink, slightly closer to the peel. In one motion
squeeze the peel so that a spray of orange oil cascades over the lit
match and ignites, while moving the peel slightly closer to the flame.
You should see a little slick of caramelized orange oil on the surface
of the drink, which makes it extra yummy.)

Torani Amer is the American version of the bitter orange aperitif Amer Picon, and is available from Vintage Wines and Spirits as well as Beverages & More. Oh, and of course, given how difficult it is to find Torani Amer and orange bitters in the States, much less in the U. K., we got John and Fiona a supply of both.

Speaking of orange bitters, I've been eagerly awaiting the release of the new Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6, hoping they'd be out by now or at least by the end of the year. Here's an update (as of last Saturday) from Ardent Spirit Gary Regan:

Just to keep everyone updated on Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6, the Sazerac Company is having to reformulate the product because the FDA deems the current formula to be too "drinkable."

Non-potable alcohol products such as Angostura and Peychaud's are taxed at a far lower rate than are spirits such as gin and vodka, but they must be deemed non-potable by the FDA first.

The Sazerac Company assures me that they can sort this out, and they've brought a specialist out of retirement to deal with the problem. I'll keep everyone informed as soon as I know more.

Watch this space for more details as they develop. In the meantime, I've still got plenty of Fee's Orange Bitters, as well as a homemade batch of Regans' Orange Bitters No. 4!

Piggy in the middle!   The first centerpiece in our dual-centerpiece weekend with the Fat Pack and the Hoskinses was a long-planned trip to the legendary Ocean Star Seafood in Monterey Park. There, for a $100 deposit on your credit card, you can pre-order an entire roast suckling pig, which feeds up to 12 people. There were only 10 of us, so hey, we all got some extra pig!

It looked as if one of the managers was going to be taking care of us, and the first thing he did was sweep away the pile of menus on the table. "Only for Chinese anyway," he said. I assumed he meant that they were all in Chinese only, but the last thing I wanted was for him to bring something like "non-scary menu for white people." Wes reminded me to show my Chowhound Passport, which I did immediately. You can tell your waiter in a variety of languages (Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Arabic, Korean and Tagalog) that you're not kidding around. The supplied English phrase is "Please bring me the serious, authentic food ... not the tourist stuff!" The Chinese translation, however, went more like, "We may have foreign faces, but we have Chinese stomachs!" Our server laughed and said, "O-KAY!" We were in business.

The first dish he brought out looked like plain ol' boiled shrimp (or "berled", as they'd say back home). A closer look revealed that they were rather large shrimp, shells and heads on and, as it turned out, packed with reddish roe. They probably hadn't been out of the boiling pot more than thirty seconds and were almost too hot to touch, but the combination of those hugely meaty shrimp, the roe and the tasty soy and scallion dipping sauce was perfect.

Next came a fabulous dish that seemed more Szechuan than Cantonese -- battered fried squid with fried garlic and red chiles. This was great, and reminded us of the fabulous fried sole with garlic at Pasadena's legendary Szechuan restaurant Fu Shing (home of the "hot and peppery soupy beef," one of the hottest -- and best -- Chinese dishes I've ever had anywhere). "Okay now," said our server, "ready for pig?" Boy, were we ready for pig.

Somehow we had all imagined an entire intact pig, still on the spit, and he'd carve it for us at the table. Not so. That had already taken place in the kitchen -- the pig was completely deboned, and all the lovely bite-size pieces were spread around on the patter behind the split pig head, in the shape of ... well, the pig! Trotters were laid out where they'd have gone when the pig was in one piece, and it was immediately ready for us to reach in with our chopsticks and start eating. Each roughly one-by-two-inch piece of pork was incredibly tender and delicious, with a little layer of fat underneath a topping of crispy skin ... heavenly, just heavenly. Porcine paradise. It came along with some little pancakes and hoisin sauce for dipping, and piggy Nirvana was at hand. Diana's favorite line of the evening was when I nudged Mary and gestured toward the pig's noggin: "I'll fight you for that jowl meat."

The jowls and cheek meat were even better, incredibly tender and luscious (that's where the Italians get guanciale from), and regarding the skin Wes said, "That's the fattiest thing I've ever eaten." He was just sayin', though. I didn't hear him complaining.

While we were still working on the pig, that wonderful man who kept directing the show and sending food to our table sent over a platter of the biggest scallops I'd ever seen in my life, the size of a small fist, lightly battered and fried, and served with a garlic ginger sauce. The flavor was terrific, but this was the only dish that was a bit of a disappointment. The scallops were a little more cooked than I like, and I found them to be a little chewy. I like my scallops medium to medium rare on the inside. Still, I wasn't going to complain.

The next dish offered was lobster, and we were a little hesitant due to the potential expense (it's $130 just for the pig). Dungeness crab was suggested, and that idea was greeted with applause and enthusiasm. A massive platter of Dungeness crabs in black bean and chile sauce arrived, along with a half-dozen crab crackers; there was much slurping and finger-licking. This was a perfect dish, not too spicy but spicy enough, interesting flavors every which way, and the crabs were huge, with massive amounts of crabmeat inside. It would have been hard to top this.

Fortunately, we didn't try. While we might have tried another pork dish or maybe some duck, it was probably best to not overdo it (given the turkey fry we were planning the very next day). They ramped us down with vegetables -- stir-fried asparagus and snow pea leaves with garlic and oyster sauce, which was just the right way to end the meal. Some sliced oranges were all we needed for dessert. (Um, well, until we rushed to Fosselman's Ice Cream in Alhambra, making it in the door seconds before they turned the key.)

This feast, this banquet (which took place in a room next to where they were having an actual Chinese wedding banquet, complete with karaoke, conjurers and shirtless, silver-spray-painted torso stilt-walkers) only set us back $38 each, including tip. Cantonese food doesn't get much better than this, so if all you know is beef with broccoli delivery and you're within a reasonable drive of the San Gabriel Valley, hie thee to Monterey Park, go to Ocean Star and let the nice man feed you.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, October 1, 2003
Yesterday was what an old friend of mine would have called a "miserable dogshit day."

My usual 35-45 minute commute to work took 1 hour and 10 minutes, thanks to street construction, an accident, and the unbelievably moronic decision of the Beverly Hills authorities to grind Santa Monica Boulevard traffic to halt with some kind of disaster drill (well, they sure created a disaster, all right). Then I had an equipment problem at work, necessitating an emergency service call and therefore, no lunch. After work I went down to the parking garage and was greeted by a flat tire. A 30-minute struggle to change that damned thing (and did you know that Volkswagen's tiny little jacks are specifically designed to give you huge blisters on the palms of your hands?), only to find ... the spare was about 90% flat as well, after 4 years and 7 months nestled in the trunk. Hobbling to the nearest gas station with about 1/2" of air between rubber and rim, I managed to get it inflated, and by that time it was almost 7pm, making me so grievously late for my pledge drive meeting at KCSN that I didn't even go, as there wasn't much point in showing up for the last five minutes. I got home, to be greeted by about seventeen million ants in the kitchen, all of whom had come in from the floor furnace to get ... a crumb. We got them all and cleaned up the mess, but the kitchen still stinks of bug spray. *sigh*

One Manhattan and a plate of fried pork later ... and I felt much better. Ah, the power of food and drink.

Cocktails of the day: The "Mother-in-Law" it is! (And a Brooklyn for good measure.)   Remember back a month ago, when I received an email about a "mysterious New Orleans cocktail"? Thanks to the family history of Brooks Baldwin, the incredible scholarship of Dr. Cocktail and my own humble job as the guy who got the email and sent it to the right people (then mixed it, tasted it, got excited and served it to more of the right people), we have resurrected a lost, pre-Prohibition classic and bestowed upon it a new name. First, some history ... re-read the first part of the story at the above link, and then we'll continue with some research from Doc, who believes he has identified Brooks' grandmother's cocktail, or at least what it's related to.

Now, I haven't found the exact recipe, but there were two versions given and here are the ingredients in the first one: Amer Picon, Peychaud's and orange bitters, whiskey, sugar. Get this: Glass coated with absinthe. OK, now here are the ingredients in the 2nd one: sweet vermouth, Angostura, Amer Picon, Curaçao, rye whiskey, glass coated with absinthe.

Boom. It looks like Granny's recipe is an amalgam of the two. It's name?

Y'know, I've seen other recipes for this drink now that I've pinpointed it. It seems like one of those drinks for which no two recipes match. If I'm right... it's a Zazarac.

Interesting! I had always assumed that that cocktail name, when I've seen it listed in old books, was simply a misspelling or a phonetic spelling. Doc surmised that it might have been some people's way to get around what was apparently the Sazerac Coffee House's "infamous tendency in the past" to litigate over the Sazerac name. It might also have been "someone's guess as to the contents of the then possibly still secret recipe of the Sazerac... iffy, but possible." More:

Now, the versions of the Zazarac I've encountered are persuasively close but not right on the money. It should also be noted that the long-lost sister cocktail to the Manhattan and the Bronx (The Brooklyn) bears an unmistakable resemblance as well, and it is the only of the recipes to match the use of maraschino. Here is the Brooklyn cocktail recipe:

Brooklyn Cocktail

1-1/2 oz rye or Bourbon
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1/4 oz Amer Picon
1/4 oz maraschino liqueur

Stir in mixing glass with ice & strain into a cocktail glass.

Again, there are other variations of the Zaz which are so dissimilar as to not have previously raised a red flag, which is why it hadn't occurred to me sooner, and the Brooklyn was just so thoroughly uncommon. Point is, ALL cocktail recipes are essentially variations of one another anyway AND unrelated cocktails CAN end up being remarkably similar due to a finite set of cocktail ingredients. Therefore especially since (a) the recipes don't match exactly and manipulations to MAKE them match requires both combining and omitting and even them we must add in that which neither contained, and (b) Granny's recipe was untitled, we have ample argument for giving her drink its own name.
Our speculation -- Brooks' grandmother's mother-in-law had seen and tried recipes for the Zazarac, didn't quite care for them, and started tinkering. We think the recipe is quite probably her own.

Brooks ran the naming choices by various members of his family, and the consensus was, since it was Gran's drink that she got from her mother-in-law ... the Mother-in-Law Cocktail it is! Let's reprise that recipe.

The Mother-In-Law Cocktail
A pre-prohibition lost New Orleans classic, now found

2-1/2 teaspoons Peychaud's Bitters
2-1/2 teaspoons Angostura Bitters
2-1/2 teaspoons Torani Amer
1-1/2 ounces Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo or Maraska)
1-1/2 ounces Cointreau or high-quality orange Curaçao
1-1/2 ounces simple syrup
One 750ml bottle Maker's Mark Bourbon (or your favorite Bourbon)

Combine ingredients thoroughly and pour into a clean one-quart bottle.
To serve, pour three ounces into a cocktail shaker with cracked ice.
Stir for no less than thirty seconds, then strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with a stemless cherry.

We prefer the Maraska maraschino from Croatia, as it's drier. We also prefer Cointreau to cheap triple sec or curaçao, but I'm told that Marie Brizard makes an excellent orange curaçao and is worth seeking out (I'm on my way to Vendome Liquors, whom I understand stock more Marie Brizard product, to look for some.)

It really is worth keeping a bottle of this concoction around -- you don't have to mix, just pour! Easy peasy! However, if you don't want a whole quart of it and would like to mix just one, I've worked out a single-cocktail version. The proportions aren't exact, but they're fairly close; it won't be exactly like the full-batch Mother-in-Law, though.

The Mother-in-Law Cocktail
Single-cocktail version

2-1/2 ounces Bourbon whiskey
1 teaspoon Cointreau or high-quality orange Curaçao
1 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur (Luxardo or Maraska)
1 teaspoon simple syrup
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes Torani Amer or Amer Picon

Combine with cracked ice and stir for no less than thirty seconds.
Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a stemless cherry.

Tomorrow or the next day, we'll dig up the exact proportions so you can try a version or two of the Zazarac.

The Cocktailian.   Surely you haven't had your fill of cocktailiana today (and don't call me Shirley!), so we bring you the latest edition of Gary Regan's fortnightly column. Today, in keeping with our reducing large-batch cocktails down to single-serving versions, the Professor reduces a whole big bowl of Fish House Punch to his newly-created Fish House Cocktail.

Le gourmandise n'est pas un péché.   A group of French chefs led by the legendary Paul Bocuse have petitioned the Pope to reclassify the deadly sin of gluttony.

The chefs "argue that the French word for the sin of gluttony -- gourmandise -- has changed its meaning over the years and is now used to denote a gourmet, someone who truly appreciates good food and wine, rather than a glutton." They suggest that the word be changed to something that suggests greed, which in my book is pretty bad.

I wish the chefs luck, but since the current pope only got around to pardoning Galileo about ten years ago, I wouldn't recommend that they hold their collective breath.

September Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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