the gumbo pages

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

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

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

Page last tweaked @ 3:46pm PDT, 11/30/2006

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New Orleans music for disaster relief

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

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

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores, or order directly from Shout! Factory Records, where all profits will be donated to New Orleans disaster relief through the end of March 2006.

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

*      *      *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A new book featuring the best of food weblogs.

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

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

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

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

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

Buy stuff!

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

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

October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

My Photos on Flickr
My Darlin' New Orleans...

The Flag of The City of New Orleans

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

Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki

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


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

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

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

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

*     *     *

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

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

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

*     *     *

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

*     *     *

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

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

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

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

*     *     *

The Alchemist
   (Paul Harrington)

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

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

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

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

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)

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

A Dash of Bitters
   (Michael Dietsch)

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

DrinkBoy's Cocktail Weblog

Drink Trader
   (Online magazine for the
   drink trade)

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

Imbibe Magazine
   (Celebrating the world in a glass)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

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

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

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

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

Nat Decants
   (Natalie MacLean)

Spirit Journal
   (F. Paul Pacult)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Vintage Cocktails
   (Daniel Reichert)

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

Let's eat!

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

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

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

In vino veritas.

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

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

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

Reading this month:

The Humours of Planxty, by Leagues O'Toole.

In Search of the Craic: One Man's Pub Crawl Through Irish Music, by Colin Irwin.

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

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

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

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA

Talking furniture:

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

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

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

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

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

In the cinema:
Syriana (****)
Match Point (****)
Underworld Evolution (**)
Munich (****)
Transamerica (****)
The New World (****)
V for Vendetta (****)
The Frighteners (***1/2)
Eating Out (**)
Dead and Buried (***)
Heavenly Creatures (****)
Minority Report (****)
Tarnation (***)
Crash (**)
The Constant Gardener (***-1/2)

Lookin' at da TV:

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


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

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

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

My photographs at Flickr


The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

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

by Walt Kelly

Suspect Device,
by Greg Peters

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak


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

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

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Considered Harmful
Creek Running North
Ethel the Blog
Un Fils d'un État Rouge
Follow Me Here
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
The Hoopla 500
Jesus' General
Mark A. R. Kleiman
The Leaky Cauldron
Letting Loose With the Leptard
Little. Yellow. Different.
Making Light
Martini Republic
Mister Pants
More Like This
Mr. Barrett
Neil Gaiman's Journal
News of the Dead
No More Mr. Nice Guy!
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
Q Daily News
Real Live Preacher
Respectful of Otters
Roger "Not That One" Ailes
Ted Rall
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Whiskey Bar
What's In Rebecca's Pocket?
Your Right Hand Thief

Matthew's GLB blog portal

L.A. Blogs

Friends with pages:

mary katherine
michael p.
michael y.
tracy and david

The Final Frontier:

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


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site


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

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

"There ought to be limits to freedom."

-- George W. Bush, May 21, 1999

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

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

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

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

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

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

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.3 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

LOOKA!Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

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

  Thursday, November 30, 2006

Drink! Drink!   Calm yourself, Father Jack ... it's just the Drinks Special in this week's New York Times Dining section. (Thanks, Vidiot!)

Read about one of my favorite topics, the resurgence of rye whiskey with a tasting as well; the sad lot of the bartender who invents new drinks that nobody wants to try, and then brave the waters of the Pernod and pomegranate "Cosmopolitan", renamed as The Stray Dog (hmm), The Love Unit (I dunno, Crow...) and the Horseradish Pomegranate Margarita (eww); then move on to sipping high-end tequilas by the snifter; then have a look at the idea of going overboard with the "no drinking during pregnancy" thing (and there's apparently no proof at all that an occasional glass of wine while preggers causes any harm).

Drink up!

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Budino di pane saporito con guanciale, formaggio Taleggio e funghi porcini.   Or, if I got the Italian right ... Savory Bread Pudding with guanciale, Taleggio cheese and porcini mushrooms.

You're gonna wanna make this.

Savory Bread Pudding with guanciale, Taleggio and porcini
(Budino di pane saporito)

  • One 12 ounce (340g) loaf of Italian bread or baguette
  • 1/2 pound (about 250g) frozen or fresh porcini mushrooms
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1-1/2 cups (350ml) very hot water
  • 12 ounces guanciale or pancetta, sliced thin
  • 12 ounces Taleggio cheese, thinly sliced as best as you can
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium sweet onion, sliced
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 12 large eggs
  • 3-1/2 cups (28 fluid ounces, or 825ml) half-and-half
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Bunch of fresh basil
  • Few sprigs rosemary
  • Few dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • Several dashes hot sauce (Crystal, Tabasco, Cajun Chef, Texas Pete, whatever you like)
Slice the bread into 1/2" slices and let dry out overnight. You may also dry them in a 200°F (95°C) oven for about 30-40 minutes until they're completely dried; make sure you don't brown them.

Soak the dried porcini in the hot water for 30 minutes until reconstituted. Filter the mushroom water through a coffee filter and reserve. Rinse the reconstituted mushrooms and reserve. Slice the frozen porcini and reserve any water that's squeezed out of them (you might want to give each 'shroom a gentle squeeze). Slice about 1/4" thick and gently sauté until most of the excess moisture has come out of the mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms and reserve; deglaze the pan with the dried mushroom water and reduce by about half, reserve.

Spread the slices of guanciale (or pancetta if you can't get guanciale) on two large baking sheets (or as many as needed) and cook in a 350°F (175°C) oven until browned. Remove with a slotted spatula and drain on paper towels; reserve all the fat.

Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter with the olive oil in a skillet and sauté the onion and garlic over low to medium-low heat for 15 minutes or so, until slightly caramelized. Reserve.

Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl until thoroughly combined, then add the half-and-half and 2 tablespoons guanciale fat (save the rest for cooking); whisk to combine thoroughly. Add the oregano, basil, Worcestershire, hot sauce, the reduced mushroom liquid, about 2 teaspoons of salt, plenty of fresh ground black pepper and Creole seasoning to taste.

Butter the bottom and sides of the baking dish with the remaining tablespoon of butter (use more if you need it), then make one layer of dried bread slices on the bottom. Use little broken-off pieces if you need to fill any little spaces. Cover the bread layer evenly with 1/2 of the custard mixture, giving it a whisk just before pouring to distribute the seasoning, then start adding layers -- spread both batches of reserved mushrooms, then the Taleggio, then spread out several whole leaves of basil. Remove the leaves from the couple of rosemary sprigs, roughly chop and sprinkle those evenly as well. Then evenly spread the onion-garlic mixture, and top with the guanciale or pancetta. Season with a bit more salt and pepper, then place a second layer of bread over that middle layer, filling the holes with broken pieces as needed.

Give the custard a final mix with the whisk and pour evenly over the entire surface of the bread, making sure you wet everything. Season the top with more black pepper and a sprinkling of salt, then wrap the pudding thoroughly in plastic wrap and weight the top down. You can use a couple of boxes of brown sugar or something like that, but I found that a couple of telephone books worked perfectly. This helps compress the layers of the pudding so that the custard will soak all the way through and so that it'll cook more evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

When you're ready to get going, take the pudding out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature for about a half an hour. Cover with foil then bake in a preheated oven at 350?F for about 15 minutes, then remove the foil and sprinkle the top with the grated Parmigiano. Continue to bake until golden brown on top and the edges and center are puffed up. Let the pudding cool for about 5 minutes, then slice and serve.

This is the best savory bread pudding I've ever made.

Well, he's right, of COURSE.   Via Tom Tomorrow, who said that "[a]nyone who's spent any time reading right-wing blogs already understood this to be true":

[Christopher] Lohse, a social work masters student at Southern Connecticut State University, says he has proven what many progressives have probably suspected for years: a direct link between mental illness and support for President Bush.

Lohse says his study is no joke. The thesis draws on a survey of 69 psychiatric outpatients in three Connecticut locations during the 2004 presidential election. Lohses study, backed by SCSU Psychology professor Jaak Rakfeldt and statistician Misty Ginacola, found a correlation between the severity of a persons psychosis and their preferences for president: The more psychotic the voter, the more likely they were to vote for Bush.

But before you go thinking all your conservative friends are psychotic, listen to Lohses explanation.

"Our study shows that psychotic patients prefer an authoritative leader," Lohse says. "If your world is very mixed up, theres something very comforting about someone telling you, 'This is how its going to be.'"

The study was an advocacy project of sorts, designed to register mentally ill voters and encourage them to go to the polls, Lohse explains. The Bush trend was revealed later on.

The study used Modified General Assessment Functioning, or MGAF, a 100-point scale that measures the functioning of disabled patients. A second scale, developed by Rakfeldt, was also used. Knowledge of current issues, government and politics were assessed on a 12-item scale devised by the study authors.

Bush supporters had significantly less knowledge about current issues, government and politics than those who supported Kerry, the study says.

That last bit especially is no big surprise.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I'm fat.   Well, I hope this is a temporary situation, but we've had a very filling weekend. It's rabbit food for me for the next few weeks.

We did our (in)famous Second Thanksgiving on Sunday, in which we have friends over and let it all hang out, foodwise. I contributed an old-fashioned Kentucky country ham from Col. Bill Newsom and family, topped with the famous New Orleans root beer glaze, as well as a couple of side dishes. I did Dubliner Mac 'n Cheese again (third time in a week!), and instead of a dressing I made a savory bread pudding with frozen/fresh and dried porcini mushrooms, Taleggio cheese and guanciale. It was a new, experimental recipe of mine, and it was staggeringly good, if I do say so myself.

There was also a tray of Wesly's famous Bacon-wrapped dates stuffed with Parmigiano Reggiano, a recipe he got from A.O.C. restaurant in West Hollywood and for which our guests clamor (the bacon from Neuske's, and some of the best anywhere), Opelousas Yam Crunch, roasted Brussels sprouts (which were fabulous), cream sage biscuits (which are amazing, and just three ingredients -- flour, cream and sage), a tray of various salumi (including pepperoni, Genoa salame, sopressata and cappacola) with insalata Caprese and a pesto sauce, cranberry-orange relish ... and a bunch of desserts too. Banana cheesecake with fudge topping, Rocky Road cake, chocolate marshmallows, a panettone, and fortuantely we didn't get to our idea of dipping little Snickers bars in batter and dropping them into my new deep-fryer.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving(s).

(*urp*) ... excuse me.

They're not that hungry, really.   After the above description I feel embarrassed to post this, but I will because it makes me angry enough. Is this a joke, or a travesty? (Given this awful, awful administration it's the latter, and just one of many.)

Some Americans Lack Food, but USDA Won't Call Them Hungry

The U.S. government has vowed that Americans will never be hungry again. But they may experience "very low food security."

Every year, the Agriculture Department issues a report that measures Americans' access to food, and it has consistently used the word "hunger" to describe those who can least afford to put food on the table. But not this year.

Mark Nord, the lead author of the report, said "hungry" is "not a scientifically accurate term for the specific phenomenon being measured in the food security survey." Nord, a USDA sociologist, said, "We don't have a measure of that condition."

The USDA said that 12 percent of Americans -- 35 million people -- could not put food on the table at least part of last year. Eleven million of them reported going hungry at times. Beginning this year, the USDA has determined "very low food security" to be a more scientifically palatable description for that group.

Yeah, it'll be news to the 35 million people who go to bed hungry that our government no longer considers them actually hungry, perhaps because they're tired of being compared to third world countries and repressive dictatorships in areas like hunger, press freedom (where we rank at #53, with countries such as Botswana, Croatia and Tonga) and number of executions, including execution of minors (where we rank alongside Iran, Saudi Arabia and China).

I truly despise these people.

"If this isn't civil war, I don't know what is."   The President and the National Security Advisor still say Iraq is not in a state of civil war. The people who are actually there beg to differ.

Michael Ware, reporting from Baghdad, outside the Green Zone:

Ware again, on how the president, the ambassador to Iraq and the generals are "divorced from reality":

Ware: "The debate about whether or not this is a civil war is fueled either by the luxury of distance -- those who aren't here living on the ground -- or by the spin of those with a political agenda to deny its existence."

We did this.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, November 23, 2006  :: Thanksgiving Day :: 

"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."   Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope today is not a day full of family arguments joy, horrendously annoying travel delays quality time spent with family and friends, and bloated, distended bellies to the point of physical discomfort and gastrointestinal distress lots of great food.

Here's a little bit of Thanksgiving cheer, the (in)famous episode of "WKRP in Cincinnati" featuring Mr. Carlson's legendary WKRP promotional turkey giveaway, in three parts.

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

Oh, the humanity!

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  Tuesday, November 21, 2006

The long goodbye.   Goddammit ... I'm really tired of my heroes leaving us this week. One of the world's great filmmakers, one of America's greatest artists and one of my own top two or three favorite film directors since I first became aware of cinema as art -- Robert Altman has died at the age of 81.

Robert Altman, 1925-2006

One of the great, lost, lamented movie theatres for me was the Gentilly Orleans, on Gentilly Boulevard in New Orleans. By the time I got to it it had become an art and repertory house, and that's where I received my Altman education, along with the Prytania Theatre uptown. That's where I saw what was then his newest film, 3 Women, and it absolutely mesmerized me. I devoured everything of his I saw, and I even appreciated films of his that received critical drubbings. (I felt empowered, however, by the then-film critic of the Times-Picayune, whose Top Ten Films of the Year list was always topped with whatever Altman film came out that year; I think her name was Laura Vincent, but I don't quite recall.) I even liked Quintet, and a few friends and myself may have been the only ones; I even built a Quintet board and we played the game! (It's a pretty good game, too, without the murders, that is.) I've had some friends who've worked for him, and I'm insanely jealous. From everything I heard, he ran a great set, and was wonderful to work with.

Bob Altman gave me many wonderful gifts over the years, including some of my all-time favorite films. Here's everything of his I saw, and the list makes me boggle.

That Cold Day In The Park. M*A*S*H. Brewster McCloud. McCabe and Mrs. Miller. Images. The Long Goodbye. Thieves Like Us. California Split. Nashville. Buffalo Bill and the Indians, or Sitting Bull's History Lesson. 3 Women. A Wedding. Quintet. A Perfect Couple. Popeye. Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean. Streamers. Secret Honor. Tanner '88. Vincent and Theo. The Player. Short Cuts. Kansas City. Cookie's Fortune. Gosford Park. A Prairie Home Companion.

Pretty friggin' amazing. I've got some holes to fill, and I'll fill them soon.

Thanks for everything, Bob. I think we'll be watching some of your movies this weekend.

Mícheál Ó Domhnaill tribute.   I'm not sure if any of yis will be near your radios or computers on Thanksgiving evening, but I'm preparing a musical tribute to Mícheál on "Down Home," which I hope you'll tune in to as you're digesting your turkey, before your tryptophan comas kick in.

It'll feature some extremely rare material from the Celtic Folkweave album Mícheál recorded with Mick Hanly in 1973 after Skara Brae and before The Bothy Band which was never released on CD and is very hard to find on LP these days. I'll also play some Bothy Band material, some of his duet work with Kevin Burke, some Relativity tracks and maybe even a Nightnoise track or two.

The program will also feature a set of rare recordings by Planxty as well, so if you're a fan of Irish music tune in this Thursday, Thanksgiving evening, from 7:00 to 9:00pm Pacific Time (9pm Central, 10pm Eastern, 0300 GMT) locally at 88.5 FM, and on the web at

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  Monday, November 20, 2006

Oh no.   I read some shocking and sad news over the weekend, and it made me feel even worse in that it happened four months ago, and for some reason I didn't hear about it at the time.

Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, 1952-2006)

Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, one of Ireland's best and most preeminent traditional musicians, formerly of Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, Relativity, Puck Fair and Nightnoise, died in a fall at his Dublin home on Saturday, 8 July, 2006. He was only 53.

If there was one other band that would be the equal or near-equal of Planxty in its influence on Irish music in the latter part of the 20th Century, it would be the Bothy Band. Their unbelievable energy, drive and ferocity set them a bit apart from Planxty but they had no less respect and devotion for the tradition, while bringing it to a younger audience, setting it in marvelous arrangements and playing the old music the excitement and modernity of a rock band. The band consisted of Mícheál (whose name is pronounced MEE-hall O'Donnell) and his sister Tríona Ní Dhomhnaill (TREE-na nee GHunn-ull), Dónal Lunny (who had recently departed Planxty), Paddy Keenan, Matt Molloy (currently with The Chieftains for the last 27 years) and Kevin Burke (preceded by Tommy Peoples and briefly, Paddy Glackin). They were legendary for the energy they brought to their performances and the even greater energy they brought to their on-the-road lifestyle of revelry. The group unfortunately burned itself out after a few years, but left behind five astonishing records, three studio and two live.

An obiturary in the U.K. Herald notes quite accurately that Mícheál has left behind "a priceless legacy of traditional music."

As a crucial part of legendary 1970s group The Bothy Band's rhythm section, Ó Domhnaill created the blueprint for guitar accompaniment in Irish music.

Along with his sister, Triona, he introduced new audiences, attracted by the group's instrumental virtuosity, to the wonders of Gaelic song. He also named the group. On a trip to Scotland, he'd spotted a photo of Irish farm labourers taken in the 1890s outside their hovel, captioned The Bothy Band.

The Ó Domhnaill family grew up in Kells, County Meath, but spent their summers in the Donegal Gaeltacht, where their aunt Néilí would share a store of songs that they later took out on to the international stage.

Mícheál, Tríona and sister Maighread formed their first group, Skara Brae, with guitarist Dáithí Sproule, in 1970. Their only album, while considered too adventurous when released in 1971, was hailed as a landmark on its CD reissue in 1998.

Mícheál and Maighread joined Tríona in Seachtar [Irish for "seven people"], which became The Bothy Band. He collected many songs in Donegal for University College, Dublin, and "Calum Sgaire" and "Tiocfaidh an Samhradh," sung in his quiet, rich-in-the-tradition style, became Bothy Band showstoppers alongside their rumbling mouth music tour de force, "Fionnghuala."

After five years, The Bothy Band split in 1979. Mícheál and Tríona settled in America, where they worked together in the long-running group Nightnoise.

In 2001, The Bothy Band re-convened for a Celtic Connections concert that was an affirmation of the magical quality that siblings singing together can create. Later that year, Micheal and another ex-Bothy Band fiddler, Paddy Glackin, released Reprise, an album which, with Micheal's gorgeous reading of Loch Lomond and his inventive, apposite accompaniments to his friend's fiddle mastery, forms a fitting if far too premature epitaph to a great musician.

More from the Irish Times:

It was Mícheál, along with Dáithí Sproule, who introduced the DADGAD guitar tuning to Irish music, having been influenced by John Renbourn and Bert Jansch of Pentangle. (This tuning enabled countless musicians to unpick the harmonies and underscore the melodies in traditional and folk music with a finesse previously unknown.)

The group set the bar high with this early recording, aided in no small way by their deep appreciation that to sing a song well, one had to understand its provenance. It was here that Aodh Ó Domhnaill's long summers of music collection bore fruit.

Mícheál inherited his father's passion for delving deep beneath the skin of the tradition, and he spent well over a year in the company of his blind aunt, Néilí Ní Dhomhnaill, in Rann na Féirste [Rannafast, Co. Donegal].

Her unique and formidable store of songs fuelled a lifelong love of forensic musicianship in Mícheál, a passion he later pursued by collecting songs in the Hebrides and western isles of Scotland. This attention to detail was also repeatedly evident in his magnificently detailed arrangements of songs and tunes on two albums with Relativity and seven album recordings with Nightnoise, not to mention his superbly innovative recordings with Kevin Burke, Portland and Promenade.

Ó Domhnaill was a musician who had a deep appreciation of the space between the notes as much as he did the notes themselves. He had an equal facility with songs in both Irish and English.

In that he united disparate audiences, with his arrangement of the Scots Gaelic song, "Fionnghula," becoming a keystone of The Bothy Band's repertoire; while his interpretation of "Lord Franklin," a seminal English seafaring song, has yet to be matched, in terms of both the sensitivity of his arrangement and the subtlety of his vocal delivery. His more recent forays into the recording studio resulted in the excellent collaboration with Paddy Glackin on 2001's Athchuairt/Reprise.

At his funeral, the remaining members of The Bothy Band convened, along with piper Liam Ó Floinn, accordion player Tony MacMahon and Máiréad Ní Mhaonaigh, an apt farewell to a musician whose talent remains peerless.

I'd only ever seen Mícheál perform live one time, at a performance by his jazz/trad Irish group Puck Fair with flutist Brian Dunning, which later morphed into the Celtic-jazz-chamber music ensemble Nightnoise. After seeing Planxty, it was one of my life's musical ambitions to see Mícheál play with a reunited Bothy Band, and I'm terribly sad that not only will I never see this, and more so that Mícheál is gone and none of us will hear him play again.

There was a tribute to Mícheál on RTÉ radio's "Rattlebag" that's worth listening to.

I'd recommend, if you haven't done so already, that you get all of the Bothy Band albums you can lay your hands on; they're all still in print. For an example of Mícheál's wonderful guitar playing and gorgeous voice, have a listen to The Bothy Band's performance of "The Death of Queen Jane", one of Mícheál's most beautiful vocal performances ever (and thanks to Richard Silverstein for hosting this).

Here are a couple of wonderful video clips I found on YouTube. The first is recent, from a TG4 (the Irish-language TV network) tribute to Prionsías Ó Maonaigh (Francie Mooney, the father of Altan's singer/fiddler Mairéad Ní Mhaoniagh) who also passed away this year. Fiddler Paddy Glackin and Mícheál, who accompanies on guitarplay three reels: "John Kelly's", "The Merry Sisters" and "The Silver Spear." (Following is more chat as Gaeilge, and some more tunes from Francie along with daughter Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh and grandson Ciarán Ó Maonaigh.)

Next is a rare clip of a Bothy Band performance from 1976. Mícheál is unfortunately mostly in the background on this clip, but it's wonderful nonetheless. His sister Tríona is on lead vocals for a song called "Pretty Peg," followed by a tune called "Craig's Pipes."

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dilis.

Decency prevails.   In the wake of nationwide outrage and the growing list of FOX Television Network affiliates who were refusing to air it, News Corp. have cancelled their upcoming O.J. Simpson media presentations, both the 2-part TV interview and the subsequent publication of his book. Rupert Murdoch himself apologized for the affair, and for "any pain this has caused."

There may be some hope for this country yet.

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  Friday, November 17, 2006

Thanks!   Well, I don't know how many folks who read this humble webblawwwg kicked in (there was one I know of, at least!), but in any case, thanks to everyone who helped support KCSN and "Down Home" during the pledge drive last night, to the tune of $1,544!! That'll go up once matching grants kick in, so there'll be a nice big wheelbarrow full of money to dump on our general manager's desk (clear some space, Freddie!).

Pimming!   No, that's not something dirty.

In fact, I was perusing recent back issues of the San Francisco Chronicle and came across an article about Pimm's, the English gin-based "semi-sweet fruity" liqueur. Apparently the Pimm's Cup cocktail is making a comeback and is popping up on bar menus all over the Bay Area.

Except for some of us, though ... the Pimm's Cup can't make a comeback because it's never been away. It's the house cocktail at New Orleans' legendary Napoleon House, the world's most civilized bar, and has been for decades. N.O. food writer Pableaux Johnson notes the irony in such a beverage being the signature drink of a bar named for (and a building originally bought for) the deposed Emperor of France: "In 1821, then-owner and former New Orleans mayor Nicolas Girod offered the building to Napoleon as a base of New World operations while the ex-emperor was imprisoned on St. Helena. After a storied career fighting British forces for Euro-domination, would the "Little Corporal" approve such an Anglified beverage?" Probably not, but it'd be fun to see the look on his face if he were offered one.

The Pimm's Cup cocktail is perfect for sweltering summer days (and long nights) in New Orleans, due to its relatively low alcohol content and its nearly endless ability to provide refreshment. Napoleon House uses a fairly simple recipe: a shot of Pimm's No. 1 Cup, two shots of lemonade, fill with 7up and add a cucumber slice. The Chronicle offers a variation that I find intriguing, though ...

Pimm's Cup Cocktail, updated

2 ounces Pimm's No. 1.
1 ounce gin (Plymouth or Tanqueray, I'd say).
Ginger ale.
Soda water.
Cucumber slice.

Add the gin and Pimm's to a highball glass full of ice. Fill the remainder of the glass with a 2:1 ratio of ginger ale to soda water. Stir and place the cucumber slice in the drink (rather than as a garnish).

Ginger ale or ginger beer is the way they're made in England, and I like the idea of cutting it with soda to take out some of the sweetness. I'm gonna try this next time it gets hot. Hell, I might just try it tonight anyway, and just crank up the heater.

The Cocktailian.   I missed this column from last Friday, but at the time, the Professor, our cocktailian bartender, serves up a cocktail from San Francisco's Nopa Restaurant. It's called the Washhouse, and consists of fresh basil, lime juice and simple syrup muddled together then shaken with Square One, an American-made organic rye vodka. (Vodka again, oy ... I might try this, but I might also have to try this with gin so we'll get some flavor from the spirit.)

That horrid, horrid woman.   Judith Regan, who's publishing *. J. S*mps*n's vile book and conducting the unspeakable TV interview with him next week, has released an eight-page apologia supposedly telling why she did it: "[B]ecause she was a victim of domestic violence and thought the proceeds would go to Simpson's children."

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Yeah lady, his children really want to hear how he "theoretically" killed their mother and stepmother, on TV and in bookstores ... and that's only for starters.

"I didn't know what to expect when I got the call that the killer wanted to confess," Regan said in the statement titled "Why I Did It." "But I knew one thing. I wanted the confession for my own selfish reasons and for the symbolism of that act. For me, it was personal."

Although Regan has acknowledged that Simpson does not directly say he killed the pair, she said she considers the book to be his confession.

[...] Regan said the book was a way to undo the "criminal injustice system" that let her own abuser go free.

She said she was abused while in her 20s by a man "who could charm anyone" and with whom she had a child. "And then he knocked me out, with a blow to my head and sent me to the hospital," she said. She said police initially didn't believe her story.

"I made the decision to publish this book, and to sit face to face with the killer, because I wanted him, and the men who broke my heart and your hearts, to tell the truth, to confess their sins, to do penance and to amend their lives," she said.

When Wes and I read this article this morning at our respective jobs, unsurprisingly the first word that popped into both our heads was this one: Bullshit.

He and I were pretty much of the same mind on this one, but I'll relay his words:

My mind is a-whirl with responses.

1. Bullshit.

2. It took her eight pages to issue a non-apology apology? She needs a better editor. Surely she has one sitting around somewhere.

3. She really thought he would confess? That the money would go to the children? So, she's not saying "I'm sorry," she's saying "I'm the stupidest person ever in the history of stupid people on this planet full of stupid people."

4. She made a professional publishing decision for personal reasons? That makes me feel so much better.

5. Wonderful, the Hitler defense. We all know what that means.

6. Oh, and did I say BULLSHIT?

And horseshit. And chickenshit. And all the nuances of meaning of the aforementioned scatological slang terms.

Regarding the final quote from the above article, Steve said in email this morning, "O.J. didn't confess, he'll do his 'penance' on the golf course and the only thing I can imagine that's been amended is his checking account. So does this mean that she's going to pay off every guy who ever dumped her? Should Bernard Kerik expect a check in his mail?"

Awful, awful, awful.

Interesting side note: Bill O'Blather-- er, Bill O'Reilly joins me and almost everyone else in outrage over the impending broadcast, and adds this disclaimer: "Shamefully, the Fox Broadcasting Unit is set to carry the program, which is simply indefensible, and a low point in American culture. For the record, Fox Broadcasting has nothing to do with the Fox News Channel."

Sadly, no.

O' really? That last part must have come as shocking news to O'Reilly's boss, Fox News Channel chief Roger Ailes, who also chairs Fox Television Stations, the group behind the forthcoming "low point in American culture." The shared "Fox" moniker is no coincidence, either. Fox Broadcasting and the Fox News Channel are both owned by Australian overlord and News Corp. founder and chief Rupert Murdoch. And the Fox Broadcasting Corporation -- the people who program prime time for the Fox network -- regularly air Fox News-produced programming, from coverage of presidential speeches to O'Reilly's special "documentaries" about people who hate children and Jesus.

In other words, Fox News Channel was conceived, launched, and continues to be run by the man who is responsible for running the selfsame stations that will, shamefully, broadcast Simpson's fantasy about killing "those two Americans" to millions of other Americans.

[...] Surely, Judith Regan, who will be conducting the interview with O.J. and whose imprint at HarperCollins is publishing the Simpson book, has nothing to do with Fox News Channel, though. Just ask Fox News bloviator Sean Hannity, whose books Regan publishes. Or Roger Ailes himself, who once gave Regan a show -- Judith Regan Tonight -- on the Fox News Channel.

Sorry, Billy me boy. You're all the same slime coming out of the same cesspool.

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  Thursday, November 16, 2006

Pledge drive!   Yep folks, it's that time o' year again, time to support your favorite public radio station! In this case I hope that your favorite or favorites include good ol' KCSN, where Your Humble Narrator has been spinning discs for over eight years now (my, how time flies).

Find out why Los Angeles magazine named KCSN "The Best University-Sponsored Radio Station" in Los Angeles! (Funnily enough, there was no mention of that Santa Monica station.) Broadcasting with digital HD Radio technology and streaming worldwide via the web, KCSN is truly eclectic when other radio stations only say they are. If you already know how good the station is, please consider becoming a supporting member. I especially wouldn't mind if you became a supporting member tonight during my "Down Home" shift, so call (800) 795-5276 ... that's 1-800-795-KCSN (easy to remember), or else you can pledge securely via the web.

A basic membership is $50 (and take a KCSN license plate frame, CD wallet or baseball cap as our gift to you), supporting $88.50 (and take home a KCSN t-shirt or sweatshirt), but we particularly like pledges of $120, for which I've got a little something extra for you.

I've got a nice little goodie bag of CDs put together ...

JOHNNY ADAMS: "The Great Johnny Adams R&B Album"
A new compilation of some of the legendary New Orleans singer's greatest R&B tracks from the latter part of his career.

A superb, song-for-song remake of Marvin Gaye's classic, socially- and politically-charged 1971 album, released on the anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and "recontextualized," redirected Marvin's anger and bewilderment over the times of 35 years ago with the horrendous aftermath of Katrina and the flood, and the human inaction that's caused the city to remain so broken a year later. Brilliant.

Linda's marvelous collaboration with Cajun singer Ann Savoy, who worked together on a few tracks on Ann's previous Cajun and Creole/zydeco tribute albums for Vanguard. They harmonize so beautifully together it's actually astonishing, and makes you wish they'd been at this for a lot longer. From bluegrass to Cajun to Richard Thompson and an amazing cover of The Left Banke's 1966 hit "Walk Away Renee", and with instrumental backing from the likes of Sam Bush, Sam Broussard and members of Balfa Toujours and the Red Stick Ramblers, Linda and Ann knock this one out of the park.

SOLAS: "Reunion: A Decade of Solas"
The legendary Irish supergroup regroups with every single former member of the band for a massive stageful of talent and a journey through ten years of amazing Irish music, recorded live. This is a 2-disc set, with a CD and a DVD as well.

CHRIS THILE: "How To Grow A Woman From The Ground"
The latest solo album from the astonishingly talented mandolinist and singer from the band Nickel Creek. Original tunes and songs, a couple of traditional numbers and covers of songs from Jimmie Rodgers, Jack White, Gillian Welch and more.

Not bad, eh? You can take home one of those CDs for a pledge of $65, but the better deal for you AND us is to take all five of 'em home for less than double that. Such a deal!

Help great radio keep being great! Pledge to KCSN!

The poor Martini.   It's gin and vermouth, people. How hard can it be?

Very, apparently, particularly once the word "martini" with a small m got co-opted to mean any kind of alcoholic drink that's served up, with an eye-popping array of often ghastly ingredients. This sad and nasty-tasting side to the otherwise excellent cocktail revival has finally pushed New York Post writer Brian Niemietz over the edge:

That looks nasty.

There it is, sitting behind the bar of the East Village's Double Down Saloon - an unlabeled vodka bottle in which three bloated strips of bacon stand at attention looking like a med-school project gone awry. Ladies and gentlemen, introducing a binge too far, the final olive-covered straw, the drink that leaves us shaken, anger stirred: the Bacon Martini.

Considering that the world's most famous martini drinker hits movie theaters this week, perhaps it's time to take a look at how perverted the drink has become. And the Bacon Martini, unappetizing and unkosher, may be the best place to start.

"Nowadays if you pour straight liquor into a martini glass, it's called a martini," admits Double Down owner P. Moss, whose bacon creation is made by marinating three strips of fine-cured Tennessee bacon in vodka for 24 hours, then straining it through shaken ice. It's served in martini glass, with a piece of bacon on the bottom like a tequila worm.

The problem, of course, is that none of these drinks - not the saketini, not the tequilatini, not the Pumpkin Dream martini made with Bacardi - are actually martinis.

Yes, thank you Uncle Jesus.

I know, it's bacon. How could anything bacony be bad? But just look at that picture. It looks vile. It makes the vodka (vodka, ugh) look like formaldehyde. I think they may have gone too far even for me.

But this is just the beginning ... look at the list of drinks proffered later in the article, and said list perfectly illustrates what's wrong with most cocktails today. A few of them look okay, but mostly it's the typical overly-sweet, candy-like crapola or truly bizarre combinations. (Vodka, black pepper and Tabasco in a salt-rimmed glass? Feck!)

Now, if you want to try a more reasonable bacon Martini, our friend Michael has had moderate success by making a standard, proper Beefeater Martini, shaken until you can practically skate across the surface on the flotilla of ice chips that form, and garnish it not with an olive but with a half-strip of perfectly crisp bacon. It manages to impart a nie, subtle, smoky bacony flavor to the drink and remained surprisingly crisp until the drink was gone, unlike the soggy, bloated-looking preserved pig carcass part that's seen in that picture. Gick.

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  Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I quite literally could not believe what I was reading.   This morning Steve sent around an email item that I thought at first was from The Onion, and then I thought, "Okay, The Onion has crossed a line here ... not only is this not funny -- at all -- but it's completely offensive as well. If it were merely offensive and still funny, that wouldn't be so bad." It turns out that it was not in fact from The Onion, but is in fact true.

O. J. Simpson to discuss killings

Fox plans to broadcast an interview with O.J. Simpson in which the former football star discusses "how he would have committed" the slayings of his ex-wife and her friend, for which he was acquitted, the network said.


Simpson has agreed to an "unrestricted" interview with book publisher Judith Regan, Fox said.

"O.J. Simpson, in his own words, tells for the first time how he would have committed the murders if he were the one responsible for the crimes," the network said in a statement. "In the two-part event, Simpson describes how he would have carried out the murders he has vehemently denied committing for over a decade."

This ... does not compute.

The interview will air days before Simpson's new book, "If I Did It," goes on sale Nov. 30. The book, published by Regan, "hypothetically describes how the murders would have been committed."

In a video clip on the network's Web site, an off-screen interviewer says to Simpson, "You wrote 'I have never seen so much blood in my life.'"

"I don't think any two people could be murdered without everybody being covered in blood," Simpson responds.

I don't know where to start. I am speechless.

I did it, but because I'm broke now because I was sued by the father of one of my victims and I need money, I'm going to make a beyond-sensationalist TV program and write a book and describe just how I did it, except I'm going to say it's how I would have done it if I had done it. Wink wink, nudge nudge. A public confession, essentially ... not because his conscience is bothering him, but because he needs/wants the money. And of course, due to the double jeopardy laws, he can't be prosecuted again even if he leaves out the "if."

The man is scum. The publisher, Judith Regan, is scum. The Fox Network are scum for running it (and I hope they come to their senses before it actually airs); it's a new low even for them. It'll also be a symptom of the deep sickness of our society if anyone tolerates this, so don't. Don't let them make a penny off this.

Don't watch this travesty. And for God's sake, do not buy his book. I wish that man could be exiled to a faraway island, forever. This is one instance in which I wish The Phantom Zone was real.

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  Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Recoverin'.   'Twas a nice, relaxing birthday weekend, with lots of lying around being a lazy bastard, a fair bit of drinking, a fabulous meal at Sona (with food porn to come later), and (God help us) a deep fryer. My first batch of crappy French fries tells me I need a lot more practice deep-frying (except I have to be careful I don't end up looking like a guy who's getting a lot of practice deep-fat frying ...)

Andy Irvine's "O'Donoghue's".   Andy's got a relatively new song (he's only been doing it for a couple of years, I think) which he did at some of the more recent Planxty shows as well. It's a fantastic reminiscence of his entry into the early folk music scene in Dublin in the early 1960s, based around gatherings at the legendary O'Donoghue's Pub. It was from sessions at that pub that groups like The Dubliners formed, and where so many great Irish musicians sat and listened and learned and drank and reveled in the craic.

I've been reading a bit about that in the fantastic new biography of Planxty by Leagues O'Toole, The Humours of Planxty, and I managed to hear the song via an audience recording of a Planxty show in London last year. The song's brilliant, and lo and behold, there's a video on YouTube of Andy playing it at Whelan's in Dublin. It's a crap video with crap sound in two parts, but at least it'll give you an idea of how good the song is, and it makes a decent enough music post for today.

This is an absolutely brilliant song, and Andy is at the top of his form. It's beyond a ballad, beyond just a story told ... it's the whole history, essence, spirit, feeling and music of a certain time and place, captured perfectly. It makes me want to pick up an instrument, hop in the Wayback Machine and spend the next six years at that pub.

Andy and Leagues were kind enough to include the words in the book, and I'll provide those for you, with a few annotations, so you can sing along ...


It was August 1962
When I first set foot in O'Donoghue's,
A world of music, friends and booze
Hastening towards me.
I never could have guessed as I walked through the door
Just what the future had in store;
A crossroads for my life I saw
Lying there to taunt me.

I was an actor, I played straight
I played at the Gaiety, played at the Gate,
My mother in 1928
Trod those boards before me.
I was getting tired of the company,
An actor's life was not for me,
I said goodbye you'll never see
Me back here in Neary's.

Johnny Moynihan in his fusty coat
Was the first to play there in Merrion Row,
And he brought the bouzouki to Ireland, you know,
'Way storm along, John!
Paddy and Maureen O'Donoghue,
Ciarán Bourke, Luke Kelly, Ronnie Drew,
Barney McKenna and me and you
In the early 1960s.

Paddy and Maureen, very very sound
Though she liked to camp on the moral high ground;
If you had long hair you were outward bound,
Go down you blood red roses.
Ronnie Drew in his suit of blue
And a voice like gravel that would cut you in two.
We thought he was Dublin through and through
But he blew in from Dún Laoghaire.

Joe Ryan and John Kelly in the front bar,
Their fiddles are from the County Clare.
Joe Heaney sings in the cold night air
In the laneway after closing.
Our sea shanties in perfect tune,
And Séamus Ennis in the afternoon.
It was all over much too soon,
Days of wine and roses.

Banjo Barney calling the tune,
Mary Jordan's a whiz on the spoons,
Up the Swannee and Down the Broom,
Barney's rising to it.
They carry him bodily out to the jacks,
He empties his bladder and they carry him back.
He swallows his pint and he's right back on track,
How the fuck does he do it?

In the afternoon you might find there
Luke Kelly and his banjo and his red hair.
Oh what a time, what an atmosphere,
What more could a young man wish for?
How I'd spend my time was never in doubt,
This is what life was all about.
A bowl of soup an a pint of stout,
Agus fágimíd siúd mar atá sé.

Dave Smythe, never short of a witty phrase,
Sonny Brogan, love the way he plays,
Ted McKenna, God bless the days
Of Italian mandolinos.
At closing time we didn't go far,
Just down the road to the Pike Coffee Bar,
Ah! The usual suspects, there you are,
Have yez no homes to go to?!

Putting up a note on the message board,
Sweeney's Men have a gig, oh Lord!
We have to meet at 12 o'clock
For the journey down to Galway.
But the Sweeney van broke down at the door
And we didn't get going till a quarter past four
To the merry tune of the Dolan snore,
Haul away, me Rosie!

It all came to an end in '68;
The rest of the world was lying in wait.
And I started out for a new landscape,
Set sail for the Pirin Mountains.
From the old North Wall I sailed away,
And all my friends were there on the quay,
I won't be back for many's the day
But it was bloody great while it lasted!

It was August 1962
When I first set foot in O'Donoghue's
A world of music, friends and booze
Hastening towards me.
I never could have guessed as I walked through the door
Just what the future had in store,
A blueprint for my life I saw
Lying there before me.

I hope he records it soon! (Ahem, if anyone's interested I could probably part with an MP3 of that song from Planxty in London ...)

And while we're singing ...   Let's have a singalong!

C'mon, yis all know this one. The tune, at least -- this is a new set of parody lyrics by M. Spaff Sumsion, sung to the tune of the immortal "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," and dedicated to our favorite anti-gay preacher who bought drugs he didn't take from a male prostitute he didn't shag ... Ted Haggard. Here's the first verse and chorus to get you started ...


I used to be a master of the anti-gay crusade
Until a butch disaster blew my pastor masquerade
But if it's true I'm pounding more than pulpits, don't blame me
It's 'cause I caught my hooker-tweaker-stud's infirmity

It's supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis
Worse than plague and bird flu crossed with osteoporosis
We were playing doctor and he gave this diagnosis:
Supertelevangelistic sex-and-drugs psychosis!

Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye
Umm Haggard Bakker Swaggart umm Tammy Faye...

You can take it from there. I expect to hear tales of this being robustly sung around the Thanksgiving table next week.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, November 10, 2006

Fair play to ya, Mr. Bond.   The new James Bond movie "Casino Royale" finally gets it right.

Agent 007 orders his signature drink, which was named "The Vesper" after his love interest in the story but is often just called "The James Bond Martini", and finally orders it properly, with the recipe word-for-word from Ian Fleming's original novel.

"Three measures of Gordon's (gin), one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet, shake it over ice then add a thin slice of lemon peel," Bond asks a waiter as he duels with his adversary in a high-stakes game of Texas Hold 'em poker.

[...] Later, 007 orders another tipple to steady his nerves after matters have taken a turn for the worse. But when the bartender asks if he wants his cocktail shaken or stirred, Bond replies, "Do I look like I give a damn?"

Good on ya! None of this "bruising the gin" bullshit.

There's only one slight problem ... the final ingredient hasn't been called "Kina Lillet" for many years now, it's just Lillet now. It is possible to be a little too authentic ...

Quote of the day.   Via Tom Tomorrow:

"I'm not feeling giddy as much as greatly relieved. OK, maybe a little giddy."

-- Paul Krugman

Tom continues himself:

That about sums it up for me. It's as if the biopsy results just came back and you dont have cancer after all. You're not giddy, exactly, but you can finally take a deep breath and maybe let some of the tension drain out of your shoulders. The future remains uncertain but you can begin to imagine it as something other than relentlessly bleak.

As a general rule, I don't have much faith in Democrats, not having fallen off any turnip trucks within recent memory, but I also think that we're suddenly in an entirely new ball game. At the very least, I believe they will serve as a necessary bulwark against whatever residual craziness the Bushies may be harboring. They won't be rubber-stamping any plans to invade Iran this time around. And maybe theyll even step up to the plate and hit one out of the park.

They're newly emboldened, and this is their moment. They no longer have to worry about appeasing the sort of people who believe that criticism of the president is an act of treason. Those people have been shunted aside. They've been put back in perspective. They were never anything more than marginal cranks, but for awhile there they managed to create their own reality, to create the illusion that they represented some sort of majority consensus in this country. Well, sorry, freaks. You can go back to typing your little manifestos and wanking over your war porn, and yelling at your mom to bring more Cheetos down to the basement for you -- but the country has seen you for the pathetic creatures you are, and moved on.

It's time to have grownup conversations now. It goes without saying that the Democrats will to disappoint us, one way or another. So what? The test results came back, and it's not terminal. We got a little breathing room, and isn't that all you can really ever hope for in life?

Fingers crossed.

Chafee to block Bolton nomination.   "Payback is a bitch," says Chris at AmericaBlog, as he linked to CNN's report that outgoing Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-RI), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, will block the renomination of John Bolton as Ambassador to the United Nations, which Bush was unable to get through even his GOP-dominated, rubber-stamp Congress and whom he subsequently installed with a recess appointment. Bush's bullshit about wanting to work with Democrats pretty much went out the window right away, as he apparently intends to ram Bolton and some other odious issues through the congressional rubber-stamp while he still holds the puppet strings. Don't miss the bold bits at the beginning of this excerpt, either ...

Along with Bolton's nomination, Bush said he would like to move forward on legislation to retroactively authorize the National Security Agency's domestic surveillance program.

Bush said he would like to see action on both issues before year's end. The Democratic-controlled Congress begins its term in January.

But Republican Sen. Lincoln Chafee, who was defeated in this week's election, said he would block Bolton's nomination.

Chafee, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters that he did not believe Bolton's nomination would move forward without his support.

"The American people have spoken out against the president's agenda on a number of fronts, and presumably one of those is on foreign policy," the Rhode Island moderate told The Associated Press.

"And at this late stage in my term, I'm not going to endorse something the American people have spoke out against."

Good for you, Linc.

Chafee, probably the most liberal of Republicans in Congress, is actually a pretty decent guy. As Billmon pointed out, Chafee was well-liked by his constituency, and "if [he] had quit the GOP when Jeffords did, he could have stayed in the Senate for the rest of his life if that's what he wanted. I don't know whether to admire him for refusing to let the Rovians run him out of his own party, or ridicule him as a fool and a tool for not switching."

I heard Chafee interviewed on NPR the other day, telling about how he'd go to restuarants and other public places in his home state, and person after person came up to him, shook his hand, told him how much they liked him, but that they weren't voting for him, because he was a Republican and they're fed up with the Republicans. Billlmon goes on, "On the one hand, Chafee didn't seem to have any questions of conscience about accepting the GOP's money and help when he was locked in a tough primary race this summer. On the other hand, Chafee voted against Shrub's folly. (Given how many there have been, I should be clearer: I'm talking about the Iraq invasion folly). That showed a hell of a lot more courage than many Democratic Senators I could name (*cough*Kerry*cough*). So I'm inclined to give Linc a pass. His self esteem clearly has been damaged enough."

So much so that it's doubtful he'll remain a Republican:

Two days after losing a bid for a second term in an election seen as a referendum on President Bush and the Republican Party, Sen. Lincoln Chafee said he was unsure whether he'd remain a Republican... When asked if his comments meant he thought he might not belong in the Republican Party, he replied: "That's fair."

When asked whether he felt that his loss may have helped the country by switching control of power in Congress, he replied: "To be honest, yes."


In his first interview since losing the Republican U.S. Senate seat that has been in his family for three decades, Lincoln D. Chafee yesterday said a lot of people had been coming up to him "and saying, 'We're sorry you lost, but glad the Congress switched'" from GOP to Democratic Party control.

Asked if deep down, despite his personal disappointment about the outcome of Tuesday's election, he felt the same way, Chafee looked into the TV cameras and said: "To be honest, yes."

"When you enact a divisive agenda, don't talk to the other side, I don't think thats good for the country," Chafee said. "At least now, I think the president is going to have to talk to the Democrats. I think that is going to be good for America."

Yes, because the Republicans no longer get to rule. They now have to participate in government, a government OF the people, BY the people and FOR the people, all the people, not just their looney base and the rest of the hair-thin majority who were frightened into voting for them (and the ones who didn't but who were disenfranchised anyway).

If you've been a Republican, are perhaps fiscally conservative and strong on national security, but are socially progressive and, as Jim Webb said, "concerned about issues of economic fairness and social justice," then get your ass out of the not-so-Grand Old Party and go blue.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, November 9, 2006

Brother Ed is gone.   CBS news correspondent and "60 Minutes" reporter Ed Bradley died today of leukemia in New York, aged 65.

Ed was a tremendous fan of and friend to the City of New Orleans, was a fixture at just about every single Jazzfest, often introducing acts from the stages, and will very much be missed.

I think they should give him a jazz funeral.

Mehlman out.   CNN is reporting that RNC Chairman Ken Mehlman will step down as head of the Republican Party at the end of the year. I suppose this has more to do with his being an utter failure to his party and his lies and prevarications about the horribly dirty tricks the desperate GOP pulled toward the end of the election, and not his having been outed by Bill Maher on "Larry King Live" the other night. (More on that here and here)

You'll have to forgive me, but ... this is so much fun, watching all these heads roll. I'm so giddy that if it keeps up, as it inevitably will, I might just explode.

My giddiness primarily stems from the fact that it's fun and exhilirating to win for a change, to see some of the baddies go down, and to see this country finally start to come to its senses with a wide-ranging rejection of Republicanism and neoconservatism. As we discussed in one of the comments threads, I think we'll finally get a goverment that represents the true diversity of this country.

And the few good people who are left in the GOP, who can perhaps convince the rest of their party to help govern as gentlemen and not as the thugs they've been, deserve better than that mewling shit Mehlman.

It's official - a Democratic senate.   Burns conceded this morning, and George Allen conceded about 10 minutes ago.

As I understand it, Sanders will be counted as a Democrat for committee assignments (and will undoubtedly with them anyway), and even though Lieberman ran as an independent he's still a registered Democrat, will be seated as such and will retain his seniority for committees. How much we can trust his votes is perhaps even more uncertain than before, but still ...

That's fifty-one, baby.

More electronic voting disasters.   One such massive voting irregularity in Florida (which currently has the Republican up by 368 votes) is very, very fishy.

Can we not scrap these goddamn things already? It's the Cone of Silence of the American electoral process ... "But Max, that thing NEVER works!"

Spreading Santorum.   Dan Savage, the columnist who's done more to ruin the name of Rick Santorum other than, of course, Rick Santorum himself, looks back at the defeat of the man who thinks that "the pursuit of happiness is harming America".

He axed for it, he got it. He spread his obsessed hatred of a significant portion of his fellow Americans, and it bit him in the ass. If there as anybody who had it coming on November 7, it was Santorum.

The Onion: "Republicans Blame Losses on Democrats."   Hee hee.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Republican officials are blaming tonight's GOP losses on Democrats, who they claim have engaged in a wide variety of "aggressive, premeditated, anti-Republican campaigns" over the past six-to-18 months. "We have evidence of a well-organized, well-funded series of operations designed specifically to undermine our message, depict our past performance in a negative light, and drive Republicans out of office," said Republican National Committee chairman Ken Mehlman, who accused an organization called the Democratic National Committee of spearheading the nationwide effort. "There are reports of television spots, print ads, even volunteers going door-to-door encouraging citizens to vote against us." Acknowledging that the "damage has already been done," Mehlman is seeking a promise from Democrats to never again engage in similar practices.

As Atrios points out, this almost isn't satire; he's heard wingnuts actually say stuff like this.


WASHINGTON, DC-- After nearly six years of much-publicized service as Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld announced his resignation Wednesday afternoon, saying that he had "proudly accomplished everything [he'd] set out to bungle." "Years ago, I decided to bog this great nation down in an extended, grueling foreign occupation, and I'm happy to say that's exactly what I've done," said Rumsfeld in a farewell address at the White House, during which he urged Americans to continue waging the ill-conceived, mismanaged, and evidently unwelcome fight for democracy in the Middle East. "Each of my actionsfrom undersupplying troops with body armor to focusing on capturing Saddam Hussein while Osama bin Laden remained freehas led America inexorably toward our current state of extreme crisis. Well, anyway, goodbye!" President Bush expressed confidence that Robert Gates, his new nominee for Secretary of Defense, will be able to "fuck everything up the rest of the way."

NPR provides some of Rummy's greatest hits.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, November 8, 2006

THIS is what I call a mandate.   The Democratic Party has retaken the House of Representatives, easily, by a margin of at least 27 seats, and will probably double the Republicans' former lead in seats by the time the final 13 races are decided (the Dems are ahead in at least five of those races). Not a single incumbent Democrat who ran for re-election for the House, Senate or a governor's office was defeated. There were massive Republican losses nationwide.

When the Democrats take control of the House in January, the Speaker of the House, two heartbeats away from the presidency, will quite probably be a woman, for the first time in American history.

Control of the Senate still hangs in the balance, as we probably won't know that outcome for at least a month, but Democratic candidates Webb in Virginia and Tester in Montana are both ahead, and those two seats if won will give the Democrats a Cheney-proof majority in the Senate (if you count Lieberman and Jeffords Sanders, and I'm not sure of the former). Still ...

Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum is out of the Senate, defeated by 18 points in a landslide.

The odious Ken Blackwell was trounced in his attempt to take the governorship of Ohio, in a 23-point landslide. Ohio, the state that threw the last Presidential election to Bush and solidly Republican, elected Democrats to the state house, several to the U.S. House, and to the Senate; they also voted to raise the minimum wage.

Democrats now hold the majority of state houses and governor's mansions as well. Democratic and progressive candidates swept the ballot in conservative Arizona, which became the first state to defeat an amendment to ban same-sex marriage. A state that couldn't be much more conservative, South Dakota, handily defeated the anti-choice extremists' attempt to institute the nation's most Draconian anti-abortion law, by a double-digit margin. Missouri handily approved a measure backing stem-cell research.

George Bush, Karl Rove and mewling Ken Mehlman lost.

There were some setbacks ... most of the anti-gay marriage resolutions passed, although by much narrower margins, and a plurality of voters seem to be in favor of civil rights for gay and lesbian Americans and same-sex couples. Californians re-elected Ahnold (but Angelides was such an unappealing slug that that was unsurprising), bowed to the oil and tobacco companies, nixed public campaign financing. But you can't have everything. Yet.

Will Bush and the Republicans, faced with a true mandate unlike the one they claimed in 2004, extend the olive branch and cooperate with the Democrats on a bipartisan basis to heal and renew this wounded nation? Fat fucking chance.

White House allies suggest there is little reason to think Bush and the Democrats will work together. Bush has tied himself closely to conservative movement leaders who bitterly disagree with Democrats for their opposition to tax cuts and to privatizing Social Security -- two of the administration's top goals.

"When we want to go up and they want to go down, we want to go right and they want to go left, there's no compromise," said anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, a close advisor to the White House.

Norquist said the Republicans' primary goal for the next two years should be making the case for GOP control -- not bipartisanship.

"Nancy Pelosi will do for the Republicans what [Bill] Clinton did for the Republicans -- become the lightning rod to explain that their congressman who they thought was a reasonable guy was really a left-wing wacko," he said.

On the issues that have been most important to Bush, he has given little hint of a willingness to compromise. He has made it clear that he would much prefer to work with his partisan brethren than to cut deals with Democrats on such issues as extending tax cuts that are due to expire and privatizing Social Security.

Once again, the Republicans, unwilling to accept a defeat that is clearly the will of the people, demonstrate that they don't want to govern, they want to rule. If that's what they want to do, then let's make sure they get a fight, not a rollover.

Let the governing begin. And let the investigations begin, too. Wonderful things, them subpeeneys.

Bye bye, Denny.   Although he was reelected to his House seat, outgoing Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert will step down from Republican party leadership in the House and will not seek the position of minority leader or any other such position when the Democrats take the House in January.

So far, at least. I don't think he's done with the Foley coverup just yet.

Bye bye, Rummy.   Donald Rumsfeld has resigned.

One Evil One is out. Cheney needs to be next.

Oh, and wanna know who Bush nominated to replace him? A Texan and longtime Bush family friend, of course (why wreck his consistent cronyism?), with an unsurprising pedigree:

Robert M. Gates was the Central Intelligence Agency's deputy director for intelligence (DDI) from 1982 to 1986. He was confirmed as the CIA's deputy director of central intelligence (DDCI) in April of 1986 and became acting director of central intelligence in December of that same year. Owing to his senior status in the CIA, Gates was close to many figures who played significant roles in the Iran/contra affair and was in a position to have known of their activities.

Yep, this is your new Secretary of Defense. Typical.

Cocktail of the day.   Wes and I will be celebrating with this one tonight. It's been a favorite of ours for a while now, since we learned of it last year. It's usually called the "Jamaica Farewell", but I don't think Daniel will mind if we temporarily rename it ...

The Rummy Farewell Cocktail
(temporarily renamed from the Jamaica Farewell Cocktail,
created by Daniel Reichert)

2 ounces Jamaican rum (such as Appleton Estate).
3/4 ounce apricot brandy (such as Apry).
3/4 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice.
2 dashes Angostura Bitters.
1 teaspoon pimento dram (Jamaican allspice liqueur), optional.

Combine with cracked ice in a cocktail shaker. Shake for 10-12 seconds.
Strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wedge.

I'm glad to say he's on his way
Won't be back for many a day
Then in a while we'll have a smile
When we see him there with Cheney at his war crimes trial.

(Ah, wishful thinking, but I'll drink to that.)

"Time to prove Dick Cheney right for the first time in his life."   Jonathan Schwartz, writing at This Modern World: "Let's remember this section from Bob Woodward's book State of Denial:"

[Andrew] Card kept pushing, at one point raising the possibility of change at the Pentagon with Vice President Cheney.

No, Cheney said, he was predisposed to recommend that the president keep Rumsfeld right where he was. Card was not surprised.

In private conversations with Bush, Cheney said Rumsfelds departure, no matter how it might be spun, would be seen only as an expression of doubt and hesitation on the war. It would give the war critics great heart and momentum, he confided to an aide, and soon they would be after him and then the president. He virtually insisted that Rumsfeld stay.


Lies, lies, lies, yeaah.   Via AmericaBlog, which is liveblogging Bush's press conference. "Bush just admitted he lied to the media last week when he said that Rumsfeld was staying for 2 years"; apparently he knew full well Rumsfeld was going to resign. "And get this, Bush claims he didn't mention Rumsfeld leaving last week because he didn't want to influence the election. Huh? Why wouldn't Bush try to influence the election? That's what he just spent the last several weeks doing? So he's lying again, about lying." Every single word out of that motherfucker's mouth is a lie, including "the," "and" and "is."

More from John: "Bush is still defending Iraq. He says we're going to stay. Oh boy, he's in serious trouble. The next two years are going to be all about the disaster in Iraq. If you thought the Republicans paid a price last night for Bush and Iraq, just wait for the next elections, congressional and presidential. It's going to be a disaster for the Republicans."

"Bush says Iraq is not having a civil war. Oh, keep it up.">

And now, the pièce de resistance ... "Bush just said that the Republicans lost because the American people just didn't understand the importance of the issues."

I can't wait to see his next approval rating.

UPDATE: Here's video of Bush admitting he lied about Rumsfeld last week. But, as Atrios said, "no blowjobs were involved, so it's OK."

We just got the Senate.   The AP calls Montana for Democratic senate candidate Jon Tester. That leaves Virginia, and Webb is pulling further ahead as the last votes trickle in. It's now just a wait for the formality of the state-mandated recount. Webb's gonna win. We're in.

Quote of the day.   I hadn't heard this one before. Thanks, Audrey!

"I think I'd just commit suicide."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), quoted by Radio Iowa, on what he would do if Democrats take control of the U.S. Senate, October 18, 2006.

Can we hold him to that?

And can someone tell me why they jump all over Kerry for a flubbed joke directed at Bush, but don't jump on McCain for grievously offending the families of suicide victims with a joke he didn't flub? Just wondering.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Tuesday, November 7, 2006  ::  Election Day

You know what to do.   Go to the polls, now, if you haven't done so already. Avoid the lines.

Vote Democratic.
Get the Republicans out.

If you're normally inclined to vote for a third party, please consider that in today's election your vote will have more weight and efficacy if you give it to the Democrat this time, as perhaps it might have helped in the Presidential election last time, and the time before that.

Molly Ivins offers up a few more reasons to vote Democratic today:

Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, unprecedented presidential powers, unmatched incompetence, unparalleled corruption, unwarranted eavesdropping, Katrina, Enron, Halliburton, global warming, Cheney's secret energy task force, record oil company profits, $3 gasoline, FEMA, the Supreme Court, Diebold, Florida in 2000, Ohio in 2004, Terri Schiavo, stem cell research, golden parachutes, shrunken pensions, unavailable and expensive health care, habeas corpus, no weapons of mass destruction, sacrificed soldiers and Iraqi civilians, wasted billions, Taliban resurgence, expiration of the assault weapons ban, North Korea, Iran, intelligent design, swift boat hit squads, and on and on.

Add to that Osama still at large, a president who signs bills and then says he'll ignore the law he just signed at his own pleasure, and the fact that unless someone stops it, you may not be able to leave the country without permission from DHS ...

That's more than enough.

Today's election stories.   One caller to Stephanie Miller's radio show (I forget from which state) reported that she and several others in her area got telephone calls from Republicans offering helpful reminders of where their polling place is ... and it was, of course, not their polling place. The put together a suit trying to get a temporary restraining order yesterday, but despite six people testifying they had received these calls the ... wait for it ... Republican judge refused to grant one. He did, however, scold the Republican lawyer. (Ooh, that'll help.)

The governor of South Carolina was turned away from the polling place because he forgot to bring his voter registration card.

Via Josh Marshall:

From the GOP Handbook of Maryland Politics:

(1) Recruit homeless men in Philadelphia;
(2) Bus them into Maryland;
(3) Arrange for the Republican governor's wife to greet them upon their arrival;
(4) Outfit them in hats and T-shirts for the governor's re-election campaign;
(5) Have them pass out flyers in heavily Democratic areas that erroneously identify the GOP candidates for governor and U.S. senator as "Democrats."

The complete primer here; a first-hand account here.

Yes folks, you read that right ... the Republican Party are busing in homeless people to distribute fake sample ballots in Maryland. And this is only one example. (By the way, in case I hadn't mentioned it before, the Republican Party is evil and despicable.)

When poll workers attack: a Kentucky poll worker assaulted a voter, choking him and pushing him out the door.

Voter intimidation in heavily Democratic areas in Virginia.

From Missouri, via Audrey: One man reports, "My wife just came home from voting here in Webster Groves MO. She used the electronic touch-screen voting system... She touched Claire McCaskill's picture and the machine recorded a vote for Jim Talent. She then called one of the people running the polling center who helped her correct the problem. My wife then had to call the person over another time after it recorded her vote a Republican again. In her frustration she asked the person who was responsible for the design of this system. The polling person leaned in very close to my wife and whispered, 'We're fucked.'"

Today one TPM reader said, "When I woke up this morning, the first thing I did was to check whether there was any kind of last-minute election-altering surprise.

"No Osama.

"No bombing of Iran.

"No military strike against North Korea.

"The best Rove came up with was Saddam's death sentence, and with Iraq weighing Republicans down like concrete shoes the additional focus that story brought to Iraq was a mixed blessing."

Yep, the best they could come up with besides that was leaping on Kerry's flubbed joke (which didn't work), robocalls, and other chickenshit lies and dirty tricks. They know they have nothing, so they think the only way to get elected is to lie and cheat. You're all better than that, so don't fall for it. Vote today, and get rid of them.

Laura Ingraham needs to go to jail.   The aforementioned right-wing radio talk show host spent today encouraging her listeners to obstruct efforts to protect voting rights by jamming a voter protection hotline.

Think Progress has the transcript and audio at the above link.

She tries to shut down voter protection hotlines on election day. This is now the right-wing thinks ... intimidate voters, keep them from the polls, and keep them from seeking help if there have been voter irregularities. This might be just shy of actual vote fraud, but she needs to lose her job, at the very least. As I understand FCC rules, every station that ran this is subject to huge fines.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, November 4, 2006

Our brilliant president and his followers, keeping us safe.   George W. Bush, ignoring the advice of people who thought, correctly, that this would be a really bad idea, and under pressure from Congressional Republicans and others on the right, in March ordered the premature release of a huge cache of documents captured in Iraq after the invasion. They hoped to "leverage the Internet" (i.e., get the frothing right-wing bloggers to help them) to find the real, true, actual, smoking-gun evidence that Saddam had the WMDs that they were never able to find. What they did was end up releasing the plans for Saddam's pre-1991 nuclear ambitions, which included a primer, written in Arabic, on how to build an atomic bomb.

Congressional Republicans like Rick Santorum (who'll be out of work by next Tuesday) seemed gleeful about this release back in March, proudly taking credit for it, and saying he's not at all concerned that any of the information might be sensitive, even though he admitted that he had "no idea" what was contained in the documents.

Digby writes:

This isn't just another instance of "the buck stops here" accountability. This is an instance of direct, personal intervention by the president who countermanded the advice of his experts and ordered something to be done that resulted in nuclear secrets, written in Arabic, landing on the internet.

He did this because he listened to the crew of childlike idiots, both in the congress and on the radio and internet, who comprise the heart of his political movement. It illustrates something I don't think I've ever fully understood before. Bush listens to the 101st Keyboarders and believes their delusionary drivel. In essence, the nation is being led by Limbaugh, Powerline and Michele Malkin.

If that doesn't scare the hell out of you, I don't know what will.

Just remember this on Election Day: The Republicans and their rabid-right followers released nuclear secrets on the Internet in yet another attempt to prove themselves right about Iraq and WMDs, as recently as March of this year, when we've known since right after the invasion that they were wrong, and there weren't any. These are the fearmongers who say that only they can keep us safe, and that if you elect the other guys we'll all be blown up.

Vote Democratic.

We don't need any stinkin' oversight.   The military reauthorization bill recently passed into law contained a last-minute provision that, allegedly, nobody noticed, which shut down the only government agency that was conducting oversight in Iraq. That provision was authored by Republicans.

Investigations led by a Republican lawyer named Stuart W. Bowen Jr. in Iraq have sent American occupation officials to jail on bribery and conspiracy charges, exposed disastrously poor construction work by well-connected companies like Halliburton and Parsons, and discovered that the military did not properly track hundreds of thousands of weapons it shipped to Iraqi security forces.

And tucked away in a huge military authorization bill that President Bush signed two weeks ago is what some of Mr. Bowen's supporters believe is his reward for repeatedly embarrassing the administration: a pink slip.

The order comes in the form of an obscure provision that terminates his federal oversight agency, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, on Oct. 1, 2007. The clause was inserted by the Republican side of the House Armed Services Committee over the objections of Democratic counterparts during a closed-door conference, and it has generated surprise and some outrage among lawmakers who say they had no idea it was in the final legislation.

Does anyone need any further evidence that the government of this country -- George Bush and the Republican Party -- are evil, corrupt and power-mad?

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Friday, November 3, 2006

George wins!   The Guardian newspaper in the U.K. reports an international survey of public opinion that reveals people in Britain, Canada, Mexico and Israel believe that George W. Bush is more dangerous than Kim Jong-Il -- "America is now seen as a threat to world peace by its closest neighbours and allies ... [the survey] reveals just how far the country's reputation has fallen among former supporters since the invasion of Iraq." Sure, how many countries has Kim invaded lately?

Aren't you proud?

I scream, I dream, we all scream for ...   Well, you know.

After being a lifetime ice cream fanatic, I kinda had to knock it on the head for a while, what with the desire to lost weight and all. Unfortunately for my willpower, I've come across two ice cream parlors (and apparently I'm very late to the game) that have driven me absolutely mad.

The first is Pazzo Gelato, at Sunset Junction in Silverlake. Velvety, intensely flavored gelati and sorbetti lie in wait for me there, ready to pounce. So far I've been gleefully pounced upon by such flavors as Chocolate Martini, a deeply intense chocolate gelato spiked with Grey Goose à l'Orange vodka; Grapefruit Sorbetto with Gin (which is mad genius, and makes perfect sense); Strawberry with Basil and a savory Goat Cheese and Caramelized Peach. This gelateria is dangerously close to home -- I can't walk there, but it's less than a 10-minute drive -- and I fear it may threaten my waistline.

If this wasn't bad enough, Mary and Steve have been exhorting us to try another place, on Heliotrope just north of Melrose, called Scoops. Scoops is a one-man operation run by owner Tai Kim, who is ... well, an artist, a mad genius, you name it. He's a whirlwind of frozen-custard creativity, that's for sure, and with a couple of exceptions he apparently never makes the same flavor twice. After the Dia de los Muertos Festival last weekend, as Wes and I were munching on our now-traditional post-festival bacon-wrapped hot dog, Mary called and breathlessly recited a list of flavors currently to be had at Scoops. We rushed over.

We decided we'd try four and split the whole thing, and went with these: Lemon Garlic, which was surprising ... a chiffon-like, perfumey rather than acidic lemon flavor and a gentle, roasted garlic flavor that didn't overpower as the highly-overrated Garlic Festival-style garlic ice cream does, and was lovely; Chocolate Cayenne, which I thought was fantastic -- deeply chocolatey with a real bite from the pepper, chocolate and chile being a natural combination ... Mary didn't care for it, as the burn was too much going down her throat, but I loved it, and I hope he does it with ancho chile next time; Grapefruit and Lavender, which was subtler than you'd expect anything made from grapefruit to be, again a perfume of it rather than an assault, and it complemented rather than overpowered the lavender, which itselfe can be pretty overpowering; and the pièce de resistence ... Maple and Black Truffle. It was astonishing. 'Nuff said.

Don't fall too badly in love with any of the flavors, as they're not likely to be there the next time you go. More likely there'll be a similar one, or one that's along another trail that was blazed by the last one you liked. It's always an adventure coming here, and reallly, really frakkin' good.

All this prompted a really weird dream I had last night. I was lost in some city that was near to yet far from my house, kinda like San Francisco crossed with El Monte, trying to get somewhere on my bike while both kinda knowing yet not really knowing where I was going. (I don't have a bike.) I ended up in a dank back alley, stumbled through a few weird little shops until I found myself in a small but nice little ice cream parlor where the guy had made several savory ice cream flavors. The one that immediately got my attention was Guanciale and Red Onion Ice Cream. "You've got to be kidding me," I said. "You put guanciale in ice cream?" "You, of all people," the guy said, "should find that interesting." (Well, he sure knows me, whoever he is.) "The trick," he said, "is to get just enough guanciale fat in there for flavor, but not so much that it's fatty and greasy ... it's really tricky." (This was a very vivid dream.)

The dream ice cream tasted amazing, although I have no idea if it would in real life.

I'm sorely tempted to try this. However, I must face the question ... this thing came to me in a dream, so do I make it and triumphantly declare that this genius idea came to me in a dream? Or do I treat it as I should treat other dream ideas that might not be such a good idea in the waking world, such as trying to fly unassisted?

I'll let you know.

Alan Richman = idiot.   I've never been terribly impressed with the "lauded" food writer Alan Richman, especially since his appearances on the Food Network. I found him to be an arrogant blowhard, and with his latest failed attempt at food "journalism" he proves that in spades.

Richman has written an article in the current issue of GQ that is essentially a poisoned arrow aimed and fired at New Orleans, mercilessly, and like a bully he trashes the city, its food, its culture and its people in the aftermath of their darkest hour. The article is not available online; I'd decline to link to it except for the fact that I want to you to read it, so that you can see how much of an asshole Richman is. Don't spend money on the magazine, as GQ deserves admonishment for publishing it; head to the drugstore or newsstand and read it there, then buy something else from the newsstand guy to make up for it.

If you do read this swill, you'll find that Richman seems to be the kind of man who'll come across some lying on the street, someone who's been attacked and beaten ... only to chuckle and kick the guy in the face just for grins and giggles. Fortunately, Richman (whose status as "arguably the most decorated food writer working today" is astonishing based on the poor research, amateurism and outright wrongness of much of what he says here) did such a shoddy job in his own attempts at satire and putdown that New Orleans should be able to shake this off fairly easily.

Our own local food writer in New Orleans, Brett Anderson, wrote a scathing rebuttal and indictment of Richman as a writer and self-proclaimed "journalist", one that is richly deserved. Here's Brett:

The November issue of GQ magazine contains a lengthy story wrapped around this scoop: Not only have New Orleans restaurants sucked for decades, but a full year after Hurricane Katrina, the problem has yet to be remedied.

This tells us a couple of things right off the bat -- New Orleans restaurants as a whole have not sucked for decades, which demonstrates that Richman was already presdisposed to hate New Orleans, but since Katrina and the flood many New Orleans restaurants have been better than they've ever been before. He'd have known this if he had bothered to eat in any of them, and if he indeed had a palate.

The author is Alan Richman, arguably the most decorated food writer working today and, as GQ's globe-trotting gourmand for the past 20 years, easily among the most privileged. He's prolific and, in recent years, has come to wear many hats. Besides writing for glossy magazines, Richman is a restaurant critic for Bloomberg News, dean of food journalism at the French Culinary Institute and a blogger.

Perhaps it's time for some of those privileges to be revoked. Not that he'll ever set foot in New Orleans again, but if he does, I think most N.O. restaurants should make sure his name's in their POS system, so that when he calls for a reservation ... "I'm so sorry sir, but there are no tables available. Ever."

Outrage harnessed as both a critical and comedic tool is a Richman calling card; its appearance in the New Orleans piece is an early signal of the amateurism on display. He likens the French Quarter to Tijuana, dismisses New Orleanians as lazy, overweight drunkards ("I believe their morning exercise regimen consists of stumbling out of bars") and wonders if Creoles are a myth, "faery folk, like leprechauns," on the basis of having "never met one."

Leah Chase, the most famous Creole chef on the planet, whom Richman quotes extensively, apparently doesn't count.

He wonders if Creoles are a myth ... what an idiot. Imagine going to New York and wondering if Jews or Italians are a myth because you've never met one. If anyone was as stupid and insulting as to say something like this it would, among many other things, demonstrate that such a person had not spent any substantial time in New York, seeing what its people are really like.

The barbs sink deeper plucked from their context than they do in their original printed form. The wisecracks, facts and inaccuracies are blended so thoroughly as to dilute any poison that might sting, and Richman is writing about a population accustomed to being painted in broad, clumsy strokes. Characterizing New Orleans, as Richman does, as a city of "crooks and cooks" is akin to describing Richman as a neurotic East Coast narcissist whose idea of hardship is flying coach. Both are caricatures based on some known facts but no formal research.

Like much of Richman's work, his New Orleans story flirts with satire while serving up occasional kernels of truth. (The Quarter is kind of like Tijuana, or at least Bourbon Street is.) But the piece is not what its length -- several thousand words spread over eight glossy pages -- and much of its tone imply: serious journalism.

The problem lies not in the harsh eye Richman casts on his New Orleans meals. His lunch at Bayona sounds truly bad, and I too found Herbsaint's fried frogs' legs to be batter-heavy during recent visits.

Then again, every lunch I've had at Bayona, including the last one, have been superb. Also, if he's condemning Herbsaint based on one dish, he's being an irresponsible food writer. Sounds like that's par for the course, though ... I despise food writers (and music and film writers as well) who want to spend more time showing off their own self-absorbed "writing prowess" by coming up with more and more clever barbs and witticisms while putting things down.

It's also difficult to argue with Richman's earth-shattering observation that New Orleans is home to an overabundance of mediocre tourist restaurants.

Can we say, Court of Two Sisters?

Richman, a student of the tell-don't-show school of writing, is stingy with the details that might give readers a better understanding of how he arrived at his many firmly held conclusions, some of which neatly discredit themselves.

He was displeased, for instance, with his trout amandine meunière at Galatoire's because "it looked and tasted fried." Although the traditional French preparation of meunière calls for the fish to be sautéed, it is still a little like dissing tuna sashimi for being raw, as Galatoire's has been serving trout amandine meunière fried for better than a century.

And yes, I know this is a logical fallacy technically ... but let's just say that the James Beard Foundation must have disagreed with Richman's assessment when they awarded Galatoire's with their honor for America's outstanding restaurant last year.

Richman climbs on a high horse to imply that a glitch in the wine service -- they brought him the right wine, but the wrong vintage -- at Restaurant August ("I tried not to be too distressed") is somehow relevant to the "tough decision" to spend "Iraq-magnitude money" rebuilding New Orleans. I'm not making this up. Has Richman's self-involvement morphed into brain damage? Did it spread to his editors? That is like saying Americans need to consider the soured sautéed skate I was served at Balthazar before supporting the redevelopment of the World Trade Center site.

A minor waiter's mistake is somehow relevant to the "tough decision" to spend "Iraq-magnitude money" rebuilding New Orleans? Jesus Christ, what a spectaculr fucking asshole.

More egregious is the writer's calculation that he could execute his premise without sincere journalistic inquiry.

Members of the media who've filed credible work from the region over the past year have learned how difficult it is to do justice to a story of Katrina-Rita's magnitude. Recognizing New Orleans as the victim of something more than a patch of bad weather and, as Richman would have it, too much hollandaise, requires an immersion in the topic.

Dan Baum's writing in The New Yorker and Charles C. Mann's in Fortune are excellent examples of how magazines can add flesh to a story most media don't have the time, resources or space to capture adequately. Their articles are the result of deep reporting, inveterate curiosity, a whole lot of space to write and an understanding that conclusions can't be drawn until the work has neared completion.

Richman has proven himself capable of handling complicated stories about weighty topics that just happen to use food and/or wine as their prism; he is the first food writer to receive a National Magazine Award, the glossy world's answer to a Pulitzer. But in New Orleans, he didn't apply himself enough even to grasp the assignment's challenges. Instead he mucks around in exhausted clichés with the pride of someone who has uncovered hidden truths.

I admit that I've read almost nothing of Richman's actual writing (having found his television appearances so off-putting), and he certainly may have had more of a distinguished past. Now, however, the arrogance which was so plainly on display on television seems to have taken over his writing, given this example, to the point of laziness and mere condescension.

For example, Richman seems genuinely convinced that discovering schmaltz in a tourist-heavy culture amounts to breaking news. And he devotes endless ink to the Cajun vs. Creole thing, a topic he has mastered roughly as well as Rush Limbaugh has Parkinson's. (According to Richman, Cajun food was "brought down from Canada.")

Ignorant fool. To be so wrong about the cuisine is one thing, but the offhanded dismissal also dismisses an entire people, their culture and their food. Anderson continues:

Richman's story is a weakling's idea of what it means to be tough. Presumably, he conned his editors into believing it's an exercise in tough love. But knowing that Richman cultivated his ignorance as if it had journalistic value is even more astonishing.

Richman and I are friendly professional acquaintances. When I saw him less than two months ago in Seattle, he mentioned that he'd recently traveled to New Orleans. I bring this up not because Richman didn't contact me during his journey south. It's why he didn't call. He said it was because he didn't think I'd like what he was going to write.

It can be difficult presenting an opinion to a party who is likely to challenge it, and that Richman actively avoided just such a conversation suggests how completely his journalistic instincts failed him. People in the news business have a word for refining their viewpoint through discussion: It's called reporting.

On the French Culinary Institute's Web site, Richman is quoted as saying, "Whenever I'm asked what I do for a living, I don't say I'm a writer, a reporter, an editor or, heaven help me, a foodie. I say I'm a journalist. I'd love to see more people take up that cause."

If Richman had bothered to take up his own cause in New Orleans, he would have spared himself the embarrassment attached to his byline in GQ. Deaf to his own sermon, he indeed wrote a story about failure: his own.

Kenny G became persona non grata in New Orleans for daring to overdub his circular breathed, horrendous squonk of an assault on an undeserving soprano saxophone over the genius of Louis Armstrong. From the local reaction, I got the impression that if Mr. Gorelick were to set foot in the Crescent City again, he'd end up covered in tar and feathers ... and all he did was defile the music of our Number One Citizen and global cultural ambassador. After kicking New Orleans repeatedly in the face via this article, as pathetic and weak as it is, I'd say that it would probably behoove Richman not to set foot in our fair city again. I predict New Orleans' renowned hospitality might desert us in his case.

Again, I have little knowledge of what he's written before. However, this article puts him squarely in the Full-Of-Shit category. Rather than any traditional tar, feathers and riding-out-on-a-rail, I think the best punishment for Richman will be for us all to ignore him from now on, and forever.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Thursday, November 2, 2006

Ardent Spirits.   Gary and Mardee have been busy lately, cranking out tons of newsletters and cocktail recipes, and I've hardly been able to keep up!

The latest newsletter features a bar crawl through Manhattan looking for the best Manhattan (which sounds like great fun, and reminds me of when Wes and I crawled through New Orleans seeking the best Sazerac). There's a link to Gary's Wine Enthusiast piece on the hot cocktails of 2006, and more.

And in the latest edition of his fortnightly column The Professor, our cocktailian bartender, puts a spell on you with a drink called The Voodoo Priestess, based on VooDoo spiced Caribbean rum (vanilla, cinnamon and cloves), orange, lime and lemon juices, brandy, orange bitters and a spiced sugar syrup.

Drink up!

Chaplin, Pickford, Fairbanks, Griffith ... Cruise?   Watch those seismographs, folks ... there are four Hollywood legends oscililating in their graves today. (Thanks, Steve!)

Horrific irony.   Wonkette reports that "Homeland Security head Michael Chertoff is the proud recipient of this year's 'prestigious Henry Petersen award.' The award is traditionally given to Department of Justice criminal division careerists who did their jobs well for a long time. Chertoff's honor hasn't garnered a lot of attention, but one guy who did notice was Miles W. Swanson, grandson of Henry Petersen himself." Swanson writes:

Today with horror I read in the Washington Post that Michael Chertoff is receiving the Department of Justice Criminal Divisions Henry Petersen Award, the most prestigious award for the DoJs Criminal Division. Besides being my grandfather, Henry Petersen was the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Criminal Division, chief prosecutor for Watergate, and career employee at the DOJ. What makes this situation so horrible, besides the fact that Mr. Chertoff is a political appointee, an ass, not a career employee at the DOJ, and probably the exact opposite of my grandfather.

I moved to New Orleans from D.C. a couple months after Katrina to do volunteer legal work. I staff a free legal clinic in the 9th Ward with the Common Ground Legal Collective as well as several bankruptcy/debtor relief clinics in and around New Orleans as part of The Pro Bono Project. As you can imagine, I deal with Mr. Chertoff's mess on a daily basis. Normally, I go out to lunch with all the heads and award recipient and to the award ceremony (being held [today] at the DOJ) every year with my grandmother and mother to present the award. It's probably best that I dont go as they would have a tough time holding me back.

It descends into the offensively surreal when these people start giving each other awards for the shit they've perpetrated on this nation and the world. Miles Swanson, my new Favorite Person, wrote this letter directly to Chertoff:

Dear Mr. Chertoff,

My grandfather was Henry Petersen, the man whose award you are receiving tomorrow. Sadly, I am not able to attend the ceremony tomorrow in the Great Hall. You see, I am an attorney working in New Orleans... I moved to New Orleans from D.C. a couple months after Hurricane Katrina to provide volunteer legal assistance. I staff a free legal clinic in the 9th Ward as part of the Common Ground Legal Collective. Furthermore, I founded and run bankruptcy and debtor relief clinics in several locations in and around New Orleans.

As I have said, it is sad that I will not be able to attend; sad on many different levels. It is sad that you are receiving the award. You, Mr. Chertoff, do not deserve anything bearing the name of Henry Petersen, let alone an award. My grandfather was the source of inspiration in my decision to attend law school and devote my life to law in the spirit of the public interest. You are the antithesis of everything he stood for in life and in memory. You must realize that I struggle with the effects of your leadership of FEMA on a daily basis (and if you still cannot hear the sarcasm in my voice, just insert inept before leadership). You have done nothing to deserve this award. In fact, you deserve no place as part of the Department of Justice. Justice played no role in your authorship of the PATRIOT Act, your unforgivable response to Hurricane Katrina or your notion of what constitutes torture. Perhaps in the warped Orwellian minds of this administration or in the dark halls of the Department of Homeland Security, the concept of justice is flipped so it revolves around violations of the U.S. Constitution and intrinsic human rights?

It is sad that the Henry Petersen Award is being used so blatantly as a political reward. It is sad that a person's memory can be so twisted that it fits into your image. I liken it to forcing the square block into the space made for the triangle. In fact, I will be surprised if your hands will be able to clutch the award tomorrow; your hands should be repelled by the aura of justice emanating from the text of my grandfather's name inscribed on the plaque.

Yes, it is sad. It is sad that I will not physically be at the ceremony in the Great Hall when you get the award (this one is only sad for me). It is sad for the attendees of the award ceremony that they have to sit through your stupid little speech. It is sad for the person who photographs your lifeless body, complete with contrived smile, receiving the award. It is sad for the people of New Orleans and of all the Gulf Coast. It is sad for every citizen of this nation. Yes it is sad, ad nauseam.

In closing (because I have taken enough time out of my day to pay you any heed), I want you to remember every single time your eyes peer at the Henry Petersen Award in whatever job you happen to be mucking up, that you do not deserve it.

Miles W. Swanson, Esq.

Heck of a job, Cherty.

Worst political ad ever.   Vernon Robinson, an astonishingly mean, truly deranged, stark raving madman and Republican who's running for Congress in North Carolina, has been running this ad (I refuse to sully this site with an embedded image), among many others of its ilk (some of which local stations have refused to carry). From what I've been reading its only served to have a negative effect on him, but demonstrates the depths to which the Republican party has sunk (I think Honest Abe is oscillating in his grave as well). How anyone can take such an ad seriously without being deranged themselves is beyond me.

Vernon Robinson shames this country. I hope the heirs of Rod Serling and everyone associated with "Leave It To Beaver" sue this bastard, too.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Wednesday, November 1, 2006

And so it begins ...   The Miami Herald is reporting that voting machines in south Florida are logging Republican votes when Democratic candidates are chosen in early voting.

There really is no excuse for not making a physical mark on a piece of paper and counting them, other than it's less easy to rig.

UPDATE: more of the same, this time in Beaumont, TX:

Early voting runs through Friday, November 3rd.

KFDM continues to get complaints from Jefferson County voters who say the electronic voting machines are not registering their votes correctly.

Friday night, KFDM reported about people who had cast straight Democratic ticket ballots, but the touch-screen machines indicated they had voted a straight Republican ticket.

Some of those voters including Lamar University professor, Dr. Bruce Drury, believe the problem is a programming error.

Saturday, KFDM spoke to another voter who says it's not just happening with straight ticket voting, he says it's happening on individual races as well, Jerry Stopher told us when he voted for a Democrat, the Republican's name was highlighted.

And it's always in favor of the Republicans. How odd.

[ Link to today's entries ]

October Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

Several of my friends and loved ones (and a few kind strangers) contribute regularly to this weblog, providing links, comments and sometimes lots more. Thanks to Wesly Moore, Mike Luquet, Mary Herczog, Steve Hochman, Dave Schmerler, Nettie DeAugustine, Diana Schwam, 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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