Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


The blessèd Product of that noble Bean
That waketh me to do my daily Task
Doth so invigorate my feeble Brain
(A Boon exceeding all that one may ask)

It causeth Thoughts to run at rapid Pace,
Removing Dust from Consciousness’s Vault:
A Smile doth appear upon mine Face
I’m ready, now, to face the Day’s Assault.

We must remark upon its other Use
More precious than a Prince’s costly Jewel:
The dark Elixir stimulates one’s Juice,
Thus helping drop the Kids off at the Pool.

Of Benisons this Nectar may accrue,
Thine Counting must include the Number Two!

Friday, October 21, 2016


I’m not sure what made me think of John Jones, AKA J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. But think of him I did as we were dining a few nights ago in the hamlet of Rosendale, New York.

The Martian Manhunter, a Silver Age superhero who made his debut in 1955, was capable of numerous Weird Feats of the sort one would expect from a green-skinned alien humanoid. If my memory serves - no assurance, given that a looooong time has elapsed since I actually read any comics that featured the character - my recollection is that he was telepathic. And able to solve crimes. And green. That’s about it.

Oh, he also had a nifty outfit: tight shorts, boots, cape, and a bizarre set of crossed suspenders. Good Gawd. Given that outfit, his ability to disguise himself as a mid-1950’s Average White Dude should also be counted as one of his superpowers.

J’onn J’onzz begins his crimefighting career on Earth, in Detective Comics (Vol. 1) #225 (1955). [Image credit: iFanboy.]

But here’s the thing that confounds me unto this day: In John Jones/J’onn J’onzz, you had a superhero whose secret identity consisted mainly of spelling his name differently. Switching from normal whitebread orthography John Jones to urban rapper-style J’onn J’onzz was, apparently, all that was necessary for him to reveal his phat Martian Manhunterly skill set.

It baffles science!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


Between the dark and the daylight,
When the light is beginning to lower,
Comes a pause in the day’s occupations,
That is known as the Facebook Hour.

I hear in the chamber above me
The soft sound of gentle clicks
On a smartphone or maybe a keyboard,
A cacophony of ticky-ticks.

From my study I see in the lamplight,
Ensconced in a sofa or chair,
My children, with raptured attention,
Caressing their iPhones with care.

A grumbling and then a silence:
Thus I know that those merry eyes
Must be focused on some dopey videogame -
Well, color me unsurprised.

The Book now devours our attention
Until we can think of nought else
Than political memes that divide us
Until all Antarctica melts.

Do you think electronic graffiti
Inscribed on a pocket-sized wall,
Will keep us amused more than pills, dope, and booze
As we watch our society fall?

Alas, Facebook will be here forever,
Yes, forever and a day,
Till our civilization shall crumble to ruin,
And moulder in dust away!

[Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


A few nights ago, as Dee and I were turning in for the evening, Edith joined us. She nestled in comfortably between us, and allowed us to give her a few skritches and ear rubs.

Edith is a sweet kitty, but she can be a bit “tetchy” - a common character trait of young cats. The slightest unexpected noise can startle her. Just how easy it is to startle her was promptly demonstrated when I released, quite without warning, a dramatic fart. Edith jumped two feet straight up in the air and proceeded to scamper under our bed at lightning speed. (I’ve observed the same result merely from scratching the bedclothes: It isn’t only farts with me, just so you know.)

I saw a similar, if not identical, reaction, from one of my fellow congregants the other day as we socialized prior to commencing our Rosh Hashanah services.

Just to interject a bit of explanation, Rosh Hashanah - the Jewish New Year - is one of those rare days on which even the most casually observant Red Sea Pedestrians will appear in synagogue. There is generally a packed house, and people will show up well prior to the start of services in order to ensure that they get (1) a good seat, and (2) a decent parking space. The first ensures that one may enjoy the proceedings without needing binoculars; the second that one need not walk more than half a mile between car and synagogue. It is a local tradition that these early birds are provided with supplies of coffee and doughnuts, perhaps to help keep them awake through the lengthy sermon. As we drink our coffee, we exchange pleasantries with people who, in many cases, we may not have seen for a year.

Thus it was that, as I prepared to descend upon the coffee-urn, I received a New Year’s greeting from a fellow congregant who was, apparently, both happy and shocked to see me.

It seems that my name is unusually similar to that of a fellow congregant - so much so that we are frequently mistaken for one another by people who do not know us well. And, sad to report, my nomenclatural doppelgänger passed away a couple of weeks ago.

When my fellow congregant had seen the announcement of the death, he called a mutual friend immediately. What happened to Elisson? I never knew he was even sick!

Nope, was the response. That wasn’t Elisson. That was Ellisohn.

But it’s one thing to get reassurance over the phone, and quite another to get visual confirmation... which explains the surprised look I got.

To paraphrase an often misquoted line from Mark Twain, the reports of my death were not so much exaggerated as they were the result of confusion. And I - keyn ayin hara - am still here!

Now: off to go startle the cat. Where da beans at?

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


In 1969, Zager and Evans had a hit single: “In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus).” It was noteworthy mainly for being the only hit single Zager and Evans ever had. They managed the rare feat of dropping a chart-topping hit (it was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks that summer), after which they never again made the charts. Impressive.

I hated that song, partly because it was played to death in the summer of ’69 and partly on account of the jejune lyrics, but mostly because it spoke of a future that I would never live to see. The year 2525, after all, was a good ways off. It would be the year of my father’s six-hundredth birthday.

There were other songs, though... songs that hinted at a future that I would perhaps live to see. The most noteworthy (and popular) probably was the Beatles number from Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band: “When I’m Sixty-Four. ”

When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?


You’ll be older too
And if you say the word
I could stay with you


I could be handy, mending a fuse
When your lights have gone
You can knit a sweater by the fireside
Sunday mornings go for a ride
Doing the garden, digging the weeds
Who could ask for more?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?


Every summer we can rent a cottage in the Isle of Wight
If it’s not too dear
We shall scrimp and save
Grandchildren on your knee
Vera, Chuck, and Dave


Send me a postcard, drop me a line
Stating point of view
Indicate precisely what you mean to say
Yours sincerely, wasting away
Give me your answer, fill in a form
Mine for evermore
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four?

Paul McCartney had written the song as a youngster of sixteen, and it was frequently employed to fill time at The Cavern in Hamburg. It was the first track recorded for the Sergeant Pepper album. A music-hall style number, it paints a charming picture of a young man speculating about the possible life he and the lady he fancies might have after long years together. Will he still be useful? he wonders. Will he be loved? Tolerated? Good questions to be asked by anyone in a relationship of long standing.

Sergeant Pepper came out on June 1, 1967. I was fourteen at the time, a high-school freshman four months away from my fifteenth birthday. Actually being sixty-four was quite far from my mind, it being an event that, for me, would be some forty-nine years down the road. Damn near a half-century.

The Beatles envisioned as oldsters:
painting ­©1969 Michael Leonard.
But time flies when you’re having fun, they say - more accurately, it flies whether or not you’re having fun. And here we are, with my officially having attained Beatles Age as of the time and date of this posting. It saddens me that two of the Beatles never made it this far.

It is the second day of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, to boot. That’s fairly unusual, but who am I to argue with the vagaries of the lunisolar calendar?

Compared to my fourteen-year-old self, I have definitely lost some hair. Not all of it, thankfully. There’s no need for me to mend a fuse when the lights have gone, owing mainly to our having circuit breakers. I can, nevertheless, manage light electrical work, although plumbing is another matter.

I don’t do the garden or dig the weeds: I pay someone to do those tasks. And Dee doesn’t knit. But I hope I continue to stay on her good side. We have another Musical Milestone to which we aspire.

I want to get to Simon and Garfunkel Age, when it’s so terribly strange to be seventy. (“Old Friends,” from the 1968 Bookends album.) Hey, only six years to go!

Sunday, October 2, 2016


Yet more stuff that should be in the dictionary but isn’t.

Long-time readers of my previous site may recall the Blog d’Elisson Dictionary, installments of which may be found in that site’s Archives. For other entries in the Cheese Aisle Dictionary, simply click on the sidebar link for Cheese-Dic.

Our latest entry:

Möbius strip-tease [moeh-bi-us strip tiz] (n) - a joke that is somehow self-referential, oxymoronic, or that uses the self-abnegating structure of the Grandfather Paradox (which see). Named for the non-orientable geometric surface that has only one side and one boundary, a Möbius strip-tease is a form of Groucho Marxism (“I wouldn’t join a club that would have me as a member.”)

An example: “I’m a Scorpio... but Scorpios don’t believe in astrology.”

[A tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Barry Campbell for the example.]

Thursday, September 29, 2016


The Clancy Shelf... a small niche within the Elisson Library.

Back around the turn of the century, Tom Clancy came out with a novel titled The Bear and the Dragon. Now, sixteen years after having read it, I am a bit fuzzy on the specifics of the story except for remembering that it involved the intrepid Jack Ryan as well as Russia (the Bear) and China (the Dragon).

I haven’t given much thought to The Bear and the Dragon in all those years despite its occupying a prominent shelf in our den’s bookcase along with several of its Tom Clancy-penned brethren. And yet the Bear and the Dragon are on my mind all the time.

I’ve written about The Bear before... the mysterious lancinating pain that had become my all-too-frequent visitor over the past several months. I had figured out that The Bear was a manifestation of trigeminal neuralgia, and my neurologist agreed with my self-diagnosis. Happily, I have been successful at chasing The Bear away (or at least quieting him down) with the right kind of medication.

But now I have The Dragon to deal with, too.

Most people get the occasional floaters - spots in the field of vision caused by debris in the eye’s vitreous humor (the clear jelly that fills the part of the eyeball behind the lens capsule). Floaters are usually no big deal, unless they’re really huge... in which case more serious problems may be lurking. Yesterday I suddenly noticed a massive new floater in my right eye, one that bore a striking resemblance to - you guessed it - a dragon. Knowing that a floater that size can be accompanied by retinal detachment, I called my ophthalmologist first thing this morning. (Anything involving the retina is really scary business... nothing to screw around with.)

After my Op-Doc gave me a thorough lookover, I am happy to report that my retina is fine. So far. But I have a vitreous detachment, apparently a fairly common condition in people who are, ahhh, of mature years.

Well, fuck. I am now officially an Old Guy.

The Eyeball Croaker tells me that The Dragon will be a long-term companion: Vitreous detachments do not resolve themselves spontaneously. They tend to shrink and even vanish in time, but that is simply the result of the brain training itself to ignore them. Already I see hopeful signs, with Mr. Floaty looking less like a dragon and more like a tarantula... or a wad of hair, or a fly on my glasses, or a dark booger. I suppose I will have to learn to live with him.

I envision a Kim Stanley Robinson - Tom Clancy mash-up, one that will describe the remainder of my days on Earth: The Years of Bear and Dragon. Feh.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Still more stuff that should be in the dictionary but isn’t.

Long-time readers of my previous site may recall the Blog d’Elisson Dictionary, installments of which may be found in that site’s Archives. For other entries in the Cheese Aisle Dictionary, simply click on the sidebar link for Cheese-Dic.

For you delectation, may I suggest this useful coinage:

Panamanian wax [pa-na-mei-ni-an waks] (n) - a type of grooming technique in which hot wax is used to remove pubic hair from the female pelvic region, vulva, labia, perineum, and anus. Unlike the Brazilian wax, in which all hair is removed, the Panamanian wax leaves a strip of jungle on either side of the canal.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016


Yet more stuff that should be in the dictionary but isn’t.

Long-time readers of my previous site may recall the Blog d’Elisson Dictionary, installments of which may be found in that site’s Archives. For other entries in the Cheese Aisle Dictionary, simply click on the sidebar link for Cheese-Dic.

Here’s today’s entry:

grachitz [gra-khitz] (n) - any disgusting material of the sort that tends to accumulate in cracks and crevices and/or the necks of ketchup bottles. A faux-Yiddish coinage.

“I can’t stand to take a bath at Grandma’s house any more. The drain in her tub is half stopped up with fifty years worth of grachitz and hair. Feh.”

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


Dee uses the above phrase to refer to a cemetery. “It’s where the dead people live,” she’d say as we would drive past one. (That pun, I found out some time ago, only works in English.)

But we have several “bury patches” in our house: They’re the kitty litter boxes, and they illustrate the fact that cats, like humans, are very individualistic in their personal habits.

Edith in her former home.
Stella, for example, will leave a pee-muffin in the box (we use clumping litter) and make no attempt to cover it. On other occasions, she will deposit a fragrant load of Kitty-Dookie atop the bed of litter, whereupon she will scratch uselessly on the side of the box. It’s as if to say, “I know I’m supposed to be scratching something after I pinch a loaf, but I have no idea why.”

Edith, on the other hand, is quite fastidious. Her box is fitted with both a cover and a door for maximum privacy. And she buries her by-products as deep as the ancient Egyptians buried their Pharaohs. (One time, in Pharaonic fashion, she even brought a toy into the box as a sacrifice to the Afterworld of Cat-Poop.) Cleaning her box is not unlike a piratical treasure hunt.

Just call me Captain Jack Spoorow. Or Captain Kiddney... digging for buried doody booty. Arrrh!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016


The kids at Junior Einsteins Preschool were not your average rugrats.

The privileged and wealthy of New York endured a waitlist so lengthy, they would rush to apply for a slot before a fertilized ovum was fully implanted. That merely entitled you to submit an application. Acceptance of your special little Bitsy or Geoffrey was far from guaranteed.

And once your child was admitted, it wasn’t all finger paints, glue, and construction paper. That’s not how you trained future Captains of Industry.

The only problem was the homework. It was a bitch trying to help your kid with his Blockulus.

Monday, September 19, 2016


... thud ... thud ...thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ... thud ...

(Arrrh. This joke be stupid.)


Way out West, Deadwood was a rip-roaring lawless mess of a place. There was only one person who could stand up to Al Swearingen, the corrupt owner of the local hostelry.

It should be noted that “hostelry” included more than simply lodging: whores and alcohol were also freely available. Swearingen was an evil bastard, but he ran a straightforward business provided you didn’t get in his way. Bad things could befall you otherwise.

Whenever Al got too far out of line, Jane would pepper him with olive pits until he’d beg for mercy.

Of course you’ve heard of Calamata Jane.


As a child, Perry had grown up wanting to wield the peppermill in the local Italian restaurant.

It was no easy career choice. The Guild of Peppermillers insisted on lengthy study and a lengthier apprenticeship. You had to know everything about the many types of pepper and the various milling techniques to be employed to achieve the proper fineness. Perry nevertheless aced his exams, landing a job immediately.

Unfortunately, Perry hated it. Carpal tunnel syndrome drove him nuts.

“How’s the job?” friends asked.

“A real grind.”

Alas, the Parmesan cheese gig was just as bad. It grated... on his nerves.

Thursday, September 15, 2016


In the process of cleaning out our Basemental Archive of excess inventory, I try to keep in mind that old maxim: “One man’s detritus is another man’s delightus.”

It makes sense, in a certain way. After all, I can’t be the only one to amass huge collections of useless ephemera. Matchbooks. Hotel soap. Shoe mitts. Shoe horns. Airline first-class meal menus. Airline toiletry kits. Hotel stationery. Other people probably pack-rat this stuff too, although I cannot imagine a secondary market for it. Nevertheless, we humans like to collect stuff, a practice that distinguishes us from a handful of animals.

Most of this crap has been given the old heave-ho, but I still have a pile of old TV Guide magazines. I suspect eBay is the best route to get rid of these, but we shall see. For there are little treasures amongst the dross.

F’r instance, the TV Guide pictured in this post? I has it.

And there’s this one:

You’re looking at the TV Guide Fall Preview issue for the 1966-67 television season... an issue that is fifty years old this week. Back then, most shows would premiere in September and would run until May or June, when summer re-runs would take over until the next season began. The Fall Preview Issue was where you could learn about all the New Crap that was going to be on the tube (that’d be a cathode-ray tube, the kind of teevee we all had until flatscreens came along) that year. And the 1966-67 season was kinda sorta historic. Take a look at some of the shows that got their start that season:

Family Affair - with Brian Keith as the footloose bachelor saddled with three orphans, and Sebastian Cabot as the English manservant who actually does the heavy lifting.

The Monkees - Mike Nesmith, Peter Tork, David Jones, and Mickey Dolenz star in the adventures of the eponymous band, a half-assed knockoff of The Beatles that somehow manages to come up with some half-decent music.

Star Trek - Perhaps you may have heard of this one. Interestingly, the preview in TV Guide refers to Mr. Spock as a Vulcanian from the planet Vulcanis. At least they got the half-Earthling part right. Today, incidentally, is the fiftieth anniversary of the show’s official premiere: The episode broadcast on September 8, 1966 was a “sneak preview.”

The Jean Arthur Show - Cancelled after only four weeks.

Rat Patrol - based on the adventures of a pack of desert commandos during the WWII North Africa campaign.

Mission Impossible - Before it was a movie starring Tom Cruise, it was this.

It’s About Time - take two dopey astronauts and time-travel their asses to the Stone Age. Hilarity ensues. Starring Joe E. Ross (the “Ooh-ooh” guy from Car 54, Where Are You?) and Imogene Coca, from Your Show of Shows.

That Girl - with Marlo Thomas as an early incarnation of a character that would later resurface on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Ally McBeal years later.

The Green Hornet - a show that suffered from a lack of good buzz.

Time Tunnel - I had high hopes for this show, which featured a time-travel plot device. But the producer was Irwin Allen, thus guaranteeing suckage on an epic scale.

The Girl from U.N.C.L.E. - a poor knockoff of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., this time with (duh) a female lead.

The Pruitts of Southampton - with Phyllis Diller. Great show, provided you could tolerate more than five minutes of Phyllis Diller.

If you’re old enough to have heard of all these shows, then you’re pretty damned old. What surprises me is how many of them became enduringly embedded in our popular culture (some more enduringly than others). And looking at the listings, you could see all kinds of shows that were still in their first runs. The Munsters! Bonanza!

Now, in the age of 2,000 channels, streaming video, and play-on-demand, the notion of an actual weekly print magazine that told you everything you needed to know about the week’s programs seems rather quaint. If you wanted to watch a show then, you had to park your butt in front of the set when the show was being broadcast... no home recording. No whipping out your smartphone and telling your DVR to snag the latest episode of “Cute Cooks Wearing Cutoffs, Cooking Cookies in a Cookoff” from the Food Network.

Sometimes I miss those days.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016


In the process of deinventorying and cleaning out the Elisson Basemental Archive ’n’ Miscellaneous Debris Storage Facility, Dee came upon an item I had not seen for almost two decades. I knew it was somewhere, but the “where” had escaped me.

It was a Brumberger 3-D slide viewer, a little contraption that was designed for looking at 3-D transparencies. Made sometime in the early 1950’s, my parents had purchased it some 63-plus years ago.

In the box with the viewer were a handful of cardboard slide mounts, each one containing a matched set of two Kodachrome transparencies. You would stick a mount in the viewer, look through the binocular eyepiece, and push a button to illuminate the photo in all its three-dimensional glory.

Imagine the wonderful things you could see in realistic stereovision! The Matterhorn. The Eiffel Tower. The Empire State Building. Pike’s Peak. But no, my parents had bought the device for a much more prosaic application: to look at photos of their baby.

How they got the damned kid to sit still for the photographer, I have no idea. Probably they drugged him. There seem to be two different sets of photos, one earlier, the other taken some months later. In the first set, the kid clutches a blanket while parked on a bed fitted with white sheets.  He does not look happy in many of these pictures, unless you stretch the definition of “happy” to include “mildly bilious.” In the later session, clothed in a fashionable little set of plaid overalls, the little guy looks like he has put on a few ounces and displays a more positive demeanor. Possibly this is because of the various vinyl toys with which he is playing. A giraffe! A fish! A lamb! Look there, is that a smile? Or is he just squeezing out a deuce?

The viewer needed a little reconditioning. The D-size batteries that had once powered it had unleashed a flood of corrosion that had to be cleaned up. Happily, a little work with Mr. Dremel and a pair of needle-nosed pliers and the old Brumberger was right as rain.

As for the pictures, it had been a long time since I had been able to look at them... but there they were, with their familiar stereovision charm. They had held up pretty well for having been about sixty-three years old... better, perhaps, than their subject. And I cannot exactly describe the sensation of looking at little old me in three dimensions. It is a peculiar feeling.

Of course, you’ve already figured out that the photos were of Yours Truly... probably around the time you reached the word “bilious.”