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

Thursday, September 30, 2010


The Elisson Bookshelf

Continuing a theme I began at the Old Place, here’s another installment in the ongoing series entitled “What I’ve Been Reading Lately.”

My last Booky List Update was immediately after the New Year, so this one is probably overdue. Anyway, here goes:

  • Garlic and Sapphires - Ruth Reichl

    Before moving on to become the editor-in-chief of Gourmet, Ruth Reichl landed a gig as the New York Times food critic, one of the most powerful positions on the planet in terms of its influence on the restaurant world. I would kill to have that job, but I suspect the job would end up killing me...

  • Blackout - Connie Wills

    Time travelers deal with the unexpected when they go back to WWII-era England to study the Blitz.

  • Up, Up, and Oy Vey!: How Jewish History, Culture, and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero - Simcha Weinstein

    Once you realize how massive the Jewish influence has been in the world of superheroes - hell, they invented the genre and most of the important characters - you might ask yourself why Superman doesn’t flat out speak in Yiddish.

  • Last Night in Twisted River - John Irving

    Yet another inimitable John Irving novel. I’ve been reading his books since the late 1970’s and have never been disappointed.

  • Lincoln’s Dreams - Connie Wills

    A woman seems to be seeing the world through the dreams of Robert E. Lee.

  • Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea - Chelsea Handler

    Where has this sweet young thing been all my life?

  • Twelve Diseases That Changed Our World - Irwin W. Sherman

    Can you name all twelve? (Hint: At least one of ’em does not affect humans.)

  • My Horizontal Life - Chelsea Handler

    Piss-yourself funny.

  • A Nuclear Family Vacation: Travels in the World of Atomic Weaponry - Nathan Hodge

    An up-close-and-personal look at nuclear weapons and the places they come from.

  • Pygmy - Chuck Palahniuk

    Palahniuk’s latest outrage, this one written from the point of view of a revolutionary agent infiltrator who is part of a plot to destroy America. Darkly humorous, as you’d expect from Palahniuk, and written entirely in pidgin English to boot.

  • Keeper of Dreams - Orson Scott Card

    A collection of Card’s more recent short fiction; a companion to his earlier anthology Maps in a Mirror.

  • Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free - David P. Pierce

    You won’t know whether to laugh or cry at this book, the title of which tells you pretty much everything you need to know.

  • Star Island - Carl Hiaasen

    A comic tale by one of the masters of the Funny-Shit-Happens-in-Florida genre. Hiaasen is kinda sorta like Dave Barry, except he can write a novel, while Barry is best in essay-size doses.

  • Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook - Anthony Bourdain

    Ya gotta love Bourdain, who seasons his Food Writing with a liberal dose of fuck-bombs.

  • The Rembrandt Affair - Daniel Silva

    The latest installment in the Gabriel Allon series.

  • After America - John Birmingham

    The sequel to Birmingham’s Without Warning, a thought experiment that asked the hypothetical question, “What if a mysterious energy field, a deus ex machina of the first water, descended upon North America and wiped out all human life wherever it touched?” Soldiers of fortune and an army of jihadis fight the renascent American government over control of New York in this taut, exciting novel. Birmingham writes war-tech better than Tom Clancy ever did.

  • Zeitoun - David Eggers

    The aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, as seen through the eyes of a Syrian-American living in New Orleans.

  • The Wave: In Pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean - Susan Casey

    I’ve always been fascinated with huge waves, and this book has huge waves aplenty. There are some worrisome developments, says Casey, for the biggest waves have become even bigger in recent years.

  • Fresh Lies - James Lileks

    A collection of humorous essays from the genius behind The Gallery of Regrettable Food. I enjoy Lileks and appreciate his sense of humor, which is why it was a surprise to me that I did not enjoy this book more. Too much “I’m trying really hard to be funny” material in one place, I suppose. Maybe the best way to read this book is one essay at a time, whilst dropping the kids off at the pool.

So: What have you been reading lately?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


Phil, R.I.P.
Uncle Phil, 23 January 1922 - 21 September 2010.

Barukh dayan emet: Blessed is the True Judge.

We Jews say these words when someone we love has passed on to Olam ha-Ba, the World to Come. But as we say them, in our heart of hearts, we wish there were a Court of Appeals...

Here, let words yield to pictures, and let the pictures tell the (highly abridged) story of a loving, wonderful, sweet man. Ave atque vale!

Young Phil
This mid-1931 photo shows Phil at age 9 with his mother and sister Bernice, the Momma d’Elisson.

Army Phil
Phil served in the European Theatre of Operations in World War II. He had all kinds of Army stories... but there were some especially harrowing ones that he kept close to the vest.

Phil’s Gang
Eighty years old, and you’d never know it. Phil celebrates with son Andy, wife Marge, and daughter Diane. Photo from January 2002.

Reunion Phil
With Aunt Marge at our family reunion, May 2007.

A Conversation with Phil
Talking with Elder Daughter, July 2010.

Sabrina Meets Phil
Sabrina visits Uncle Phil’s hobby shop. From Sabrina the Teen-Age Witch, issue 76, November 1982. ©1982 Archie Music Corp.


The Sommelier Guild of Atlanta celebrates the wines of Mendocino County, California this evening with a dinner at Rosebud. Here’s the Foody-and-Winey Itinerary:

Speaker’s Wines
Scharffenberger Brut (Mendocino County)
Roederer Estate Brut*** (Anderson Valley, Mendocino)

First Flight
2007 Saracina Sauvignon Blanc (Mendocino County)
2008 Bonterra Chardonnay** (Mendocino County)
2008 Handley Pinot Gris (Anderson Valley)

Peekytoe Crab Salad, Fried Capers, Vanilla & Sage Apple “Sauce,” and Carrot Chips

Second Flight
2007 Saint Gregory Pinot Meunier (Mendocino)
2007 Drew Pinot Noir “Monument Tree”** (Anderson Valley)
2007 Barnett Pinot Noir “Savoy” (Anderson Valley)

Smoked Chicken Risotto, Local Braising Greens, Dried Apricots, Midnight Moon Cheese & Hamhock Red Wine Jus

Third Flight
2003 Graziano “Coro”**** (Mendocino)
2005 Steele Zinfandel “DuPratt”** (Mendocino Ridge)
2006 Parducci Petite Syrah “True Grit” (Mendocino)
2002 Eagle Point Ranch “Coro”** (Mendocino)

Coffee Braised Beef Brisket, Garlicky Local Grits & Late Harvest Tomato-Leek Stew

2006 Graziano Late Harvest Chenin Blanc “Sweet Alexandra Norgard” (Mendocino County)

Apple Crunch Turnover, Sorghum Thyme Caramel

I’m especially interested in this event - not only is the restaurant one that I’ve visited (and enjoyed) several times, but the wines all hail from Mendocino County, a place that I have actually visited. (Never mind that it was thirty-six years ago.)

With a full dozen wines on the list, I’m gonna need a Plan B. Good thing the Mistress of Sarcasm lives just a little ways down the street from Rosebud...

Update: My favorites noted with asterisks, as usual. Alas, neither Denny nor Houston Steve was in attendance. Perhaps next time, when we have a meaty Wine Event at Abattoir.

Friday, September 24, 2010


It’s September, which means that it’s time for the semi-annual Love Bug Flight here in central Florida. And I am not referring to Disney-fied Volkswagens.

If you’ve ever spent any time around the Gulf Coast or in the Sunshine State, you are all too familiar with these critters. Great clouds of them cover the land twice a year: once in spring, the second in late summer. Drive any distance on an interstate highway during their migrations and your windshield and radiator grille will become heavily bespattered with their remains. Feh.

Love bugs - really, a kind of march fly - get their popular name from the fact that they invariably are seen conjoined, couple by couple, in a sort of flying flagrante delicto formation. They do not sting or bite; as far as we humans are concerned, they’re pretty harmless.

Which is not to say that it’s fun having them around. It’s difficult to enjoy a poolside morning amidst clouds of fuckflies. Get a room!

Gotta keep that in mind next time we plan a trip down here. Yeef.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


The Missus and I typically watch the local NBC affiliate, WXIA-TV, for our daily dose of Tee-Vee News... They style themselves “11 Alive,” but lately, I’ve started to wonder whether the hamster is dead. That’s as in the expression, “the wheel is turning, but the hamster is dead.”

They have this thing called the Weather Information Zone, you see. Nothing wrong with that. And there’s also nothing wrong with their cute little system by which they rate each day’s weather on a scale from 1 to 11, 1 being “sucky” and 11 being “dead solid perfect.”

Only problem is, they call their rating system...

(wait for it)

...the Wizometer. Really.

I don’t know about you, but when I hear some news announcer say, “Looks like today is gonna be a 9 on the Wizometer,” I’m thinking that it’s very likely that I will be taking a leak.

Is it just me? Is my mind in the gutter (or toilet)? Or is that what you first think of when you hear the word “Wizometer”?

Maybe the good folks at 11 Alive should be thinking of a new name for their weather rating system... before a lot of people get all pissy about it.


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.

And now for today’s word...

capsicolon [kap-si-ko-lun] (n) - a digestive condition generally experienced approximately 24 hours after having eaten food containing large quantities of chile peppers. See also: scovillosis, ringburn, kim-cheeks.

“Having that lamb vindaloo Tuesday night was a Big Mistake - I’ve had a massive case of capsicolon for the last two days. Yow!”

Monday, September 20, 2010


A few weeks ago, as She Who Must Be Obeyed was celebrating her birthday, we ended up making a trip to the hospital. It was a harrowing experience.

Elder Daughter had flown in from Washington for the occasion; we had spent the day with her and the Mistress of Sarcasm, gallivanting about North Georgia. We had wandered the faux-Alpine streets of Helen, taking our luncheon by the banks of the languid Chattahoochee River and contending with a battalion of flies who wished to share our chicken wings. The girls had never been there, and it was the first time SWMBO and I had visited without being surrounded by a mob of inebriated Online Journalists. We had a fine time anyway.

Helen, Georgia - the finest faux-Alpine Resort in the Southland.
But on the way home, we had to go to the hospital. There was no way to avoid it.

No, it wasn’t a sudden bout of food poisoning or sunstroke. No palpitations, flatulence, catarrh, chilblains, or scrofula. Because this was not just any hospital. This was BabyLand General Hospital in Cleveland, Georgia... home of the Cabbage Patch Kids.

BabyLand General sits in the midst of a full square mile of open land, reminding one not so much of a hospital as of an antebellum plantation house. The facility is immense - fully 70,000 square feet - the lobby alone being the size of your average Knights of Columbus hall.

The lobby at BabyLand General.

It’s widely known that BabyLand General is the brainchild of one Xavier Roberts, a former art student who wandered off the reservation, so to speak, becoming enmeshed in the dark world of genetic manipulation. His twisted experiments in reproductive biology - experiments that gave rise to the Little People, progenitors of the Cabbage Patch Kids - violated every miscegenation law from the Jim Crow days in ways never previously imagined.

As one of the nurses at BabyLand General explained it, Bunnybees (a bizarre insectoid-mammalian hybrid) scatter “magical crystals” (Bunnybee spooge) over the cabbage patch, resulting in an even more bizarre genetic mashup of Bunnybee and cabbage. Amazingly, this interspecies fuckfest Love-Orgy results in a creature that can only be described as a wizened, wide-eyed homunculus born, not of man and woman, but of cabbage-head. It baffles science!

In the lobby of BabyLand General one can view display cases containing some of Xavier Roberts’s earliest experimental results. Some are, apparently, stuffed and mounted; others reside in banks of formaldehyde-filled jars, floating like so many medical school fetal cadavers.

A stuffed and mounted Little Person.

Proceed past the lobby and there are more rooms: incubators, nurseries, recovery rooms. There’s a classroom where, presumably, little Cabbage Patch Kids are taught the sinister secrets of their personal biology. And there is even a catering hall and restaurant, where fans of the Little People can host weddings, first communion celebrations, quinceañeras, and bar mitzvahs. Cabbage dishes - borscht, stuffed cabbage, cole slaw, and the like - are prominently featured on the menu.

What the hell are they feeding these kids, anyway?
The Main Attraction, though, is Mother Cabbage, who appears to have grown around the base of the Magic Crystal Tree like some sort of fungoid mycelium and from whom the little Cabbage Patch Kids are pooched out at regular intervals with the friendly assistance of one of the nurses... a process that the girls and I watched in slack-jawed horror. (“We’re about ready...Mother Cabbage is dilated to ten leaves!”) Thank Gawd my presence in the delivery room when She Who Must Be Obeyed gave birth to Elder Daughter and the Mistress hardened me to the experience, else I might have swooned dead away.

I noticed that the nurse-midwife had adequate provisions of hot water at her side during the birthing procedure. When I asked her about it later, she assured me that it was only there “to make cabbage soup.” Gaaaah.

Mother Cabbage, of course, is physically unsuited to care for her numerous offspring - more, even, than the Octomom! - given that she is incapable of locomotion. And thus the little Cabbage Patch Kids must be given up for adoption as soon as is practicable. It’s a regrettable situation, but one that has enriched Xavier Roberts immensely, for he collects a considerable fee for handling each adoption. When the Kids were at the peak of their popularity back in 1983, Roberts’s income was higher than the GDP of one (and possibly two) of the G7 countries.

“Pick me!  Pick me!”  After a few years at BabyLand General, the Haitian sugar cane fields start to look like an attractive alternative.
As for the Cabbage Patch Kids themselves, this adoption business is a real crapshoot... for the sole standard appears to be the presence of sufficient “cabbage” in the prospective adoptive parents’ bank accounts. There was an unpleasant little affair back in the late 1980’s when it was revealed that numerous Cabbage Patch Kids were effectively being sold into indentured servitude, working sugar cane plantations in Haiti and guano mines on the islands off the Peruvian coast. (Rumors that some Kids had been found in a Romanian brothel turned out, fortunately, to be solely the fabrications of a disgruntled nurse-midwife who had been fired for cause by BabyLand General.) But the imposition of somewhat stricter screening criteria, coupled with a few discreet payoffs, eventually quieted the baying of the News-Hounds... and some of the Kids said that they actually preferred chopping sugar cane in 110° heat to life at “The B.L.G.”

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust, cabbage to cabbage: the Cabbage Patch Kids cemetery.
Of course, like all living things - no matter how mashed up their DNA - Cabbage Patch Kids do not, alas, remain kids forever. Eventually they grow to Cabbage Patch adulthood... and eventually they, too, succumb to the ravages of Time. It is then that BabyLand General rises to what is perhaps its greatest task: attending to (former) Cabbage Patch Kids who have gone back to the great Cabbage Garden in the Sky. The wizened little Cabbage Patch Corpses are brought back under the loving branches of the Magic Crystal Tree and buried in the earth standing up, with only their heads above ground, there to return their precious nutrients to the bosom of Mother Cabbage.

It must be confessed that both Elder Daughter and the Mistress of Sarcasm thoroughly enjoyed their visit to BabyLand General. Seeing the Cabbage Patch Kids (and those Bunnybees) in their native habitat was a wonderful exercise in nostalgia. I am sure they will treasure the memories of that day forever.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


Yes, indeedy: It’s International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

I am so glad that Yom Kippur and ITLaPD did not overlap. Think of what a hot mess that would’ve been. Thousands of Jews, standing together in worship on the holiest, most solemn day of the year, chanting the Birkot ha-Shacharrrh, followed by the Barukh she-Amarrrh, the Amidarrrh, and the Arrrhleinu. And then there’s the liturgy that is special to the day: the U’netarrrh-neh Tokef and the Arrrhshamnu.

The special acrostic prayers that are a key feature of the Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur holidays would have to be modified appropriately. Piyyutim for Piratim.

It’d go on all day. Ma’arrrh-iv, Shacharrrhit, Mincharrrh, Ne’ilarrrh.

Thank Gawd that ITLaPD is today and not yesterday: it won’t be until 2018 that the two days coincide, giving us a Yom Kipparrrh in the Jewish year 5779. But meanwhile, time’s arrrh-wastin’! Get with the program and start talking like a pirate right now! Arrrh else!

Friday, September 17, 2010


Today is not just any Friday - as the sun sets, the Day of Atonement begins. Many hours of synagogue time to be logged... and at least twenty-six hours without food or drink of any kind.

At this point in my life, the fasting, as difficult as it can sometimes be, is not the tough part. The tough part is facing the reality of my own fallibility and failings... the knowledge that, at the age of fifty-seven, I am still very much a Work in Progress. There are many sins for which I must atone, and I know which ones bedevil me the most.

The good thing? Misery loves company, and being a Sinful Human - falling short of the mark, as the Sages would put it - puts me in the middle of plenty of company.

Enough pissing and moaning. The holiday is not yet upon us, and there’s music on the box! So I will wish my Red Sea Pedestrian brethren (and sistren) an easy and meaningful fast, and a g’mar chatima tovah - to have the Book of Life sealed with a favorable decree for the coming year - while we give a listen:
  1. Turn Around - They Might Be Giants

  2. Step It Pon The Rastaman Scene - Ranking Joe

  3. Your Latest Trick - Dire Straits

    All the late night bargains have been struck
    Between the satin beaus and their belles
    And prehistoric garbage trucks
    Have the city to themselves
    Echoes roars dinosaurs
    They’re all doing the monster mash
    And most of the taxis and the whores
    Are only taking calls for cash

    I don’t know how it happened
    It all took place so quick
    But all I can do is hand it to you
    And your latest trick

    My door was standing open
    Security was laid back and lax
    But it was only my heart got broken
    You must have had a passkey made out of wax
    You played robbery with insolence
    And I played the blues in twelve bars down Lover’s Lane
    And you never did have the intelligence to use
    The twelve keys hanging off my chain

    I don’t know how it happened
    It all took place so quick
    But all I can do is hand it to you
    And your latest trick

    Now it’s past last call for alcohol
    Past recall has been here and gone
    The landlord finally paid us all
    The satin jazzmen have put away their horns
    And we’re standing outside of this wonderland
    Looking so bereaved and so bereft
    Like a Bowery bum when he finally understands
    The bottle’s empty and there’s nothing left

    I don’t know how it happened
    It was faster than the eye could flick
    But all I can do is hand it to you
    And your latest trick

  4. Cat’s in the Kettle - Weird Al Yankovic

  5. Help! - The Beatles

  6. Horn - Phish

  7. Kid A - Radiohead

  8. It’s Hard To Be A Saint In The City - Bruce Springsteen

  9. The Spirit of Man - Jeff Wayne

  10. Between The Bars - Madeleine Peyroux

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?


Our synagogue and a Lutheran church sit on adjoining parcels of land. Church and shul get along pretty well these days... a good thing, considering that our parking lots overlap.

The church has been gracious enough to extend holiday greetings to us, their Abrahamic brethren, in these days of the Yomim Noraim, the Days of Awe. Lookit:

Happy Yom Kippur

This made me laugh out loud.

While we appreciate the kind sentiment - really! - it should be noted that Yom Kippur is a day of solemnity, of fasting and beating the breast as we confess our sins and pray for absolution. The happiest part of the day is when it’s over... when we go home from the synagogue knowing that we’ve wiped the metaphorical Sin-Slate clean for another year... and when we can eat and drink again.

Ahhh, our Lutheran friends. They meant well, and that’s what really counts.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


Don’t be unkind to Grandpa
If he should let one rip.
Forgive him: he has phony teeth,
An artificial hip.

His eyes have plastic lenses,
The cataracts to cure;
His gait’s a little wobbly -
On stairs he’s not too sure.

But still, he hath intestines
That function very well,
So, please to cut the guy a break -
Old Farts may sometimes smell.


Right now, thanks to the combined effects of the Mistress of Sarcasm’s work travel schedule and the High Holidays, we have a most special houseguest:


Bernadette Stretch

Bern loves a little attention, especially the kind that involves Belly-Skritching. Or head skritching, for that matter...

Bernadette Head-Skritch

Meanwhile, Hakuna is completely oblivious to Bern’s presence... mainly because we keep our visitor securely closed up in the comfort of the Mistress’s room. (One room it may be, but it’s a big one.)

Curled-Up ’Kuna

“What? I’m just curled up like a Cat-Fetus with my fake mousie toys. Nothing to see here... just move along.”

Update: Friday Ark #312 is afloat over at the Modulator. More kitty-related links to come this Sunday when Carnival of the Cats #340 will be posted at When Cats Attack!

Update 2: CotC #340 is up.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


I don’t spend a lot of time on Twitter (“Blogging for People with ADHD™”), but maybe I ought to check in at my account more often. Some asshole spammer hacked my account and, in the space of half an hour, put up about two or three dozen Spam-Tweets.

The good folks at Twitter must get this kind of thing all the time, because they managed to suspend my account fairly promptly. Now all I have to do is get it reinstated and get everything secured... and the shit scraped off my walls.

I would be perfectly happy if there were a mandatory death penalty for spammers and hackers. Failing that, I’d like to have a straight razor, some gasoline, and one of these sumbitches tied to a chair. Cue up the Stealer’s Wheel: Reservoir Dogs, anyone?

Meanwhile, if you happen by my Twitter page and see anything that looks like it was written by a spambot, it was. Set phasers on “Ignore” until further notice!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”

- William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)

“A rose by any other name would smell as sweet... but if you call a rose a turdblossom, I won’t be sniffing it anytime soon.”
- Elisson

“I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it.”
- E. B. White

The English language is a most adaptable construct, especially when it falls into the hands of people with an agenda. Selling an idea is easier when you can tailor words that enhance its appeal, and our tongue is nothing if not eminently tailorable.

Witness the recent attempt by the Prune Industry to give their product more sex appeal. Since many people (apparently) associate prunes with Old People - so the thinking goes - let’s call ’em something else. Let’s call ’em... Dried Plums!

It’s not dishonest, this nomenclatural hitchy-switchy. A prune is a dried plum, after all. And marketing-driven rebranding is nothing new. Once upon a time, people talked about garbage collectors and used cars; that was before “sanitation engineers” and “pre-owned vehicles” came along. (Is there any expression more pretentious than “pre-owned vehicle”?)

When people want to sell you something that isn’t really good for you, though - that’s when the serious rebranding guns are trotted out. Sugary cereals like Sugar Smacks and Sugar Pops get renamed: they’re now Honey Smacks and Corn Pops. Same shit, healthier-sounding names. Why call ’em Sugar Frosted Flakes when Frosted Flakes gets the point across - we know what the fuck they’re frosted with, just don’t rub it in, OK? These are the geniuses who would happily label a sack of sugar “A Low-Fat Food” if they could get away with it. Sure, it’s technically true, but still...

Enter the Corn Refiners Association, who announced today that they have petitioned the FDA to be allowed to call high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) “corn sugar” on food labels.

“Corn sugar” sounds a whole lot more innocuous than the scary, chemical-sounding high fructose corn syrup... not to mention the fact that it’s practically a homophone for ”cane sugar.” And innocuous is the impression the corn refiner boys want to leave you with.

It seems that HFCS has taken a bit of a beating lately, having been associated by some researchers with the mushrooming rate of obesity in the United States. The wholesale introduction of HFCS into the American food supply in the late 1970’s - a result of Nixon Administration changes to the federal corn subsidy program, coupled with tariffs on imported sugar that gave HFCS a significant cost advantage over non-corn-based sweeteners - coincides suspiciously with the onset of that selfsame obesity epidemic.

HFCS has roughly the same caloric value as sucrose - slightly less, in fact, if you factor in its moisture content. It’s a mixture of glucose and fructose, two simple sugars, with fructose accounting for 42% or 55% of the total. Sucrose (table sugar) consists of equal amounts of glucose and fructose; unlike in HFCS, however, the two simple sugars are linked together by a glycosidic bond.

Are sucrose and HFCS metabolized differently? The corn refiner cabal will deny it all day long, and the research on the matter is sketchy... but a recent Princeton University study showed that in rats, a diet that included HFCS resulted in significantly higher weight gain, even at the same level of caloric intake. There are many possible causes of this phenomenon, including differences in both eating behavior and metabolism as it relates to the two types of sweeteners, but metabolic chemistry may play a prominent role:
“The rats in the Princeton study became obese by drinking high-fructose corn syrup, but not by drinking sucrose. The critical differences in appetite, metabolism and gene expression that underlie this phenomenon are yet to be discovered, but may relate to the fact that excess fructose is being metabolized to produce fat, while glucose is largely being processed for energy or stored as a carbohydrate, called glycogen, in the liver and muscles.”
The jury is still out, but I’ve seen enough evidence to convince me that HFCS is something to be avoided.

That’s problematic, of course, since processed foods in America pretty much all contain HFCS these days. Sugary soft drinks are not an issue; we don’t drink ’em here at Chez Elisson (or anywhere else)... but HFCS is in bread, ketchup, salad dressings, crackers, you name it. We have taken to reading ingredient labels carefully, and eliminating as much HFCS as possible from the fridge and pantry. Precisely what the Corn Boys don’t like.

“High fructose corn syrup is made from corn — a natural grain product. High fructose corn syrup contains no artificial or synthetic ingredients or color additives,” they say.

I’m no Mr. Natural, but when you take corn, mill it to make cornstarch, digest that starch to make glucose, and then enzymatically isomerize that glucose to make a blend of glucose and fructose, you’ve taken a natural product and, using an unnatural sequence of natural processes, created a product not seen in nature. Not that there’s anything wrong with that - I have no problem with Better Living Through Chemistry - but just don’t bullshit me. Look: Natural don’t mean squat. Shit and cancer are natural. But, Corn Boys, your trying to be disingenuous just pisses me off.

“Call it ‘corn sugar’ and everything will be OK,” they say.

Corn Sugar, my ass. I say it’s high fructose corn syrup... and I say the hell with it.


Rossl Borscht
A chilled bowl of old-school rossl borscht with traditional garnishes of scallion, dill, and sour cream.

Back in my Snot-Nose Days, our table would occasionally be graced by oddball soups, relics of our Eastern European heritage. Foremost among these were borscht and schav.

Borscht is a sort of catch-all term for several kinds of soup. There are versions that are served hot, others cold. Most use beets as a base, but many rely instead on cabbage, tomatoes, et alia. Some are vegetarian, others (typically hot varieties) contain meat. Given its down-to-earth nature - it is the quintessential Peasant Food, made using inexpensive ingredients - borscht is synonymous with frugality. “Cheap as borscht” is an Ashkenazic descriptor interchangeable with “a dime a dozen.”

The borscht I was familiar with as a child was beet borscht. Most of the time, we’d use the store-bought, bottled kind... but our Grandma Shirley (z’’l) would sometimes make hers from scratch. You could always tell her borscht by the chunks of meat floating in it; the bottled stuff had, at the most, a few shreds of beet in clear liquid.

Ah, that bottled stuff. It was sweet, with a mildly tart undertone... perfect served cold with a dollop of sour cream and, occasionally, with a boiled potato sitting in it like a fat man in a bathtub. One day my mother discovered that you could throw some cold beet borscht in the blender with a golf ball-sized lump of sour cream; the result was a bright magenta Borscht Milkshake - a fine apéritif for a summer meal.

Weird as that Pepto Bismol-colored concoction looked, though, it was relatively accessible. Easy to like. Hell, I was a kid, and I liked it enough. But there were other mysterious Eastern European decoctions that were a little more sinister. Like, for example, schav - a great favorite of Eli, hizzownself.

Schav, a cold soup of sorrel leaves, is a dull green - a sharp contrast to the deep red of beet borscht. And while borscht is mildly sweet with a subtle acidic undertone, schav is assertively sour... an acquired taste. Back in the day, I thought of it as borscht’s Evil Twin.

Eli, the schav connoisseur, would enjoy a bowl with a spoonful of sour cream or a boiled potato... the same garnishes we’d use for borscht... and sometimes he’d throw in a hard-boiled egg. Mom’s blender trick worked as well for schav as it did for borscht, creating a bright green, foamy Schav-Shake that looked downright horrifying in a tall, frosty glass. But, as my taste buds matured, I learned to appreciate the astringent qualities of this unusual soup.

When I moved to Texas and became acquainted with SWMBO’s family, I learned about the glories of hot cabbage borscht. With nary a beet to be found in it, it didn’t mesh with my idea of borscht - but borscht it was, nonetheless. A hearty, satisfying brew of cabbage, tomatoes, and beef flanken, it had a sweet-and-sour tanginess that was altogether different from that of beet borscht. SWMBO’s Nanny (z’’l) made a cabbage borscht that could make the angels weep with pleasure... and SWMBO still makes it to this very day. It is very much a “taste and adjust” sort of dish, and never has she written down anything but the sketchiest outline of a recipe.

When I visited Brighton Beach - “Little Odessa” - recently, I had cold green borscht that was made with spinach. Instead of the puckery overtones of schav, it had a springlike, vegetal flavor that was enhanced with a sprig of dill and a few sliced scallions. Perfect Luncheon-Food on a day that was hotter than the hubs of hell outside the shaded confines of our boardwalk restaurant.

There’s a jar of commercial borscht sitting in the back of the fridge, but I haven’t done much more than look at it from time to time. It did, however, provide inspiration: Just for shits ’n’ grins, I decided to make my own beet borscht.

Simply boiling up a mess of beetroots just wouldn’t do. No, this was going to be an attempt to replicate the old-school recipe for the Real Thing. The Shiznit. I was going to make rossl.

Rossl is nothing more, nothing less, than fermented beets. Ashkenazic Jewish housewives would set aside a crock of sliced-up beets submerged in water that had been boiled, then cooled. They’d cover it with a clean dishtowel and just let it sit there on the kitchen counter and ferment. Every day or so, they would remove the whitish membrane that would appear on the surface of the liquid and stir the contents of the crock. After a month, they would have a pungent, deep red brew with an assertive, acidic pong. This was rossl.

Fermentational filigree: the delicate whitish membrane, or “veil,” that forms on rossl as it ripens. [Click to embiggen.]

To make old-school beet borscht, you simply take the necessary amount of rossl from the crock, along with some of those fermented beets. Stick it all in a pot with half an onion and simmer it for fifteen minutes - then, remove the onion. Season with salt, pepper, lemon juice (if desired), and enough sugar to take the acid edge off... then serve ice-cold with garnishes of a liberal spoonful of sour cream, a scallion, perhaps a sprig of fresh dill, and - if you like - a boiled new potato.

Rossl borscht is as far removed from store-bought, bottled borscht as Mario Batali’s culinary creations are from a can of Chef Boy-Ar-Dee. It has a depth of flavor that is really hard to describe... and even if I could describe it, I’m not sure I would. Some things are meant to be experienced, not simply talked about.

Have you been washed in the blood of the Beet-Root?

Monday, September 13, 2010


The one-l lama,
He’s a priest.
The two-l llama,
He’s a beast.
And I will bet
A silk pajama
There isn’t any
Three-l lllama.
  - Ogden Nash

I eat all this weird crap so you don’t have to.
  - Elisson

Tibetan thangka, an iconographic wall hanging.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I enjoy living in east Cobb County, an area vaguely north-northwest of Atlanta proper, but no place is perfect. When, in 1968, the various metro area counties held referenda to decide whether they would participate in the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, Cobb County voters soundly rejected any participation. Some people will try to tell you that it was a tax issue and that Cobb County residents wished to avoid the 1% sales tax that MARTA would necessitate, but that’s a load of crap. Simply put, the good people of Cobb wanted no part of a transit system that would make it easy for Atlanta city residents - translated loosely as “people of color” - to travel to their county.

Some forty-odd years later, the unintended consequence of this decision is a relative dearth of high-end restaurants in Cobb County. Oh, there are plenty of eateries, make no mistake... but the really good ones all seem to be in neighborhoods closer in to town. My suspicion is that the lower-paid service workers that are essential to a successful restaurant are thin on the ground in our part of Cobb, owing to the cost of real estate and the lack of cheap, easy transportation. If you’re a dishwasher, busboy, or line cook, you can’t afford to live here... and if you don’t have a car, it’s a pain in the ass to get here.

Lately, though, there have been plenty of Chinese and Mexican restaurants opening up hereabouts. It’s not obvious what sort of common ground the Chinese and Mexican culinary traditions share - aside from a love of rice - but it has got to be only a matter of time before they join forces and start selling Chinamex, a sort of joint-venture cuisine that involves soybeans and black beans, stir-fried enchiladas, and huevos foo young.

It seems like every new Chinese place is calling itself a “bistro.” Since almost none of them qualifies as a small place serving simple, inexpensive meals in a modest setting, it seems an odd choice of descriptor... but strange things can happen when East and West collide.

One of these new places - the Shangrila Bistro - is certainly small enough. It’s right behind a local Shell station in a spot formerly occupied by a schpritz-it-yourself car wash and adjacent to the emissions testing shop... probably the last place on the planet you’d think to look for an Asian restaurant. The small dining room, coupled with a dearth of parking, are clues that the main focus of Shangrila is on their take-out business. There’s no beer or wine - an unbistrolike omission - but one that I am prepared to forgive after having tried the food.

The name is a clue that this is not your garden variety Chinese place. It is - of all things - Tibetan. Which means that when your excessively punnophilic Better Half says, “Lhasa go out to dinner,” you now have a place to go.

The manager greeted us warmly when we arrived - the place just opened three days ago - and presented us with traditional Tibetan khatas, long silk scarves traditionally given to guests that appeared to be a Himalayan twist on our familiar tallit.

Tibetan cuisine draws on the traditions of both China and India; lamb dishes were prominently featured on the menu. But my eye was immediately drawn to another meat, one that is intimately associated with things Tibetan. Yak!

Yaksha Shaptak... the other Red Meat.
Yak meat is not easy to come by in the good old U. S. of A., but these boys have found a source. I figured it would be beefy enough, given that a yak is nothing so much as an extremely hirsute buffalo... and I was not disappointed. My Yaksha Shaptak - slices of yak meat stir-fried with potato, onion, bell peppers, tomato, garlic, and cilantro - was superb. The yak itself had a pleasantly substantial texture (tenderloin it ain’t) and an assertive, meaty flavor without a hint of gaminess, altogether reminiscent of bison or grass-fed beef. SWMBO even essayed a bite and pronounced it good.

Whoever thought that I could eat yak - the other Red Meat - right here in the heart of cornbread and collard country? What a world!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


Dawn Sky

This morning, as I headed out the door on my way to morning minyan, the not-quite-risen sun had painted the eastern sky with gorgeous swaths of pink against the deep blue dawn sky. As I usually do, I briefly contemplated running back into the house for my camera before proceeding on my way.

This is the time of year in which sunrise takes place at roughly 7:15 a.m., which means it’s prime time for my catching those glorious painted skies. (Maybe I just should keep the camera in the car.) The mornings are cooler - in the low 60’s instead of the upper 70’s - and the first flashes of color are beginning to appear in the local foliage.

As I drive to the synagogue, I pass the neighborhood tennis court where a gaggle of elementary school children and their mothers have gathered to await the school bus. There’s something sweet about this neighborly gathering, the mothers (and the occasional dad) conversing while their kids find other distractions. None of those children, it occurs to me, was walking the planet when She Who Must Be Obeyed and I moved here twelve years ago... and the days when we would send our own daughters off to elementary school are long since gone.

It’s the last day of the year 5770. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, begins at sundown, and just as with the civil calendar’s New Year, it’s a time when it is natural to think about the passage of time. Years are like miles: given that Time is simply another dimension, there’s not a whole lot of difference between traveling along a road in the physical world and traveling along the Time-Axis that takes us from cradle to grave. And the odometer - the Jewish one, anyway - is about to turn over, registering the completion of yet another trip around the Sun, another spin of the Wheel of Life.

As the noted rabbinic scholar John Fogerty once observed, “Big wheel keep on turnin’.” No doubt he was using a riverboat’s paddlewheel as a metaphor for that selfsame Wheel of Life, the wheel that lifts up its blades on one side and dashes them under water on the other... just as we (quoth our seasonal liturgy) are raised up or brought low.

We all ride that cosmic carousel, hanging on for dear life as it spins away the seasons. We use milestones like New Years to keep track of how far we’ve come. How far we have yet to go, none of us knows... and I prefer it that way.

Ave atque vale, 5770 - and welcome 5771. To all of my Esteemed Readers, Jewish or not, may the coming year be sweet and full of all the good things life has to offer. And may we all be here together to offer the same greeting next year.

Monday, September 6, 2010


There is a law in the United States that mandates the preparation of grilled foods on Labor Day - look it up if you don’t believe me.

Most folks opt for the easy stuff: hamburgers and hot dogs. It’s what we do to celebrate most long holiday weekends here at Chez Elisson, too... but not this time. For that, you can thank the geniuses at Publix who decided to run a weekend-long sale on honkin’ big ribeye steaks. Presented for your delectation, our Labor Day Menu...

Insalata Caprese
Grilled bone-in ribeye steaks
Fregola, toasted pine nuts and cacao nibs
Cilantro salad, pickled red onions and Fresno peppers
Broccolini, piment d’espelette
Sautéed wild mushrooms, smoked paprika
J. Lohr Pasa Robles merlot, 2006

A beautiful end to a beautiful weekend. Hope yours was fun!


“Do you herd sheep?” old gramma sighed.
My grampa leapt in fright.
“That grammar’s wrong!” to me he cried,
Have you heard sheep? is right!”
- Walt Kelly, “How Low Is the Lowing Herd”

There are some grammatical errors that make me cringe...

How many punctuation fuckups can you spot?

...and there are others that crack me up.

I really don’t give a rat’s ass whether it’s organic, or whether it’s dairy-, gluten-, or soy-free. It’s caca, fercryinoutloud!

Okay, the second one really isn’t a grammatical error per se. It’s a typo, the result of the last letter in the word “cacao” being cut off. But if you’re in the business of selling food, shouldn’t you try to avoid situations in which your shelf labels appear to be advertising shit?


The Lord is my light and my salvation; Whom shall I fear?

The Lord is my life’s strength; Whom shall I dread?

When evildoers draw near to devour my flesh, it is my tormentors and enemies who stumble and fall.

Though armies be arrayed against me, I will have no fear in my heart.

Though wars threaten, I remain steadfast in my faith.

One thing I ask of the Lord, for this I yearn:
To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold His beauty, to pray in His sanctuary.

Truly He will hide me in His shelter, safe from peril.
He will conceal me in His tent; He will lift me up upon a rock.

Now is my head raised high above my enemies surrounding me;
And I will bring Him offerings in His tent with shouts of joy,
singing, chanting praise to the Lord.

Lord, hear my voice when I call; be gracious to me, and answer me.

It is You that I seek, says my heart.
It is Your presence that I seek, O Lord.

Hide not Your face from me; reject not Your servant in anger.

You have always been my help; do not abandon me, forsake me not, O God of my deliverance.

Though my father and my mother leave me, the Lord will gather me in.

Teach me Your way, O Lord;
Guide me on the right path, to confound my watchful oppressors.

Abandon me not to the will of my foes, for there have arisen false witnesses against me, people who breathe violence.

Mine is the faith that I surely shall see the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living.

Hope in the Lord and be strong.
Take courage, hope in the Lord.

- Psalm 27

Beginning one month before Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, observant Jews recite Psalm 27 daily as they prepare for the approach of the Days of Awe.

There are several lines in this psalm that resonate with me, that catch in my throat as I recite them. But the one that gets to me every time is “Though my father and my mother leave me, the Lord will gather me in.” It’s a reminder that, as the wheel of Time turns, one generation replaces another... and as our parents’ generation ages and passes away, we end up standing at the front of the line, waiting our turn at the edge of the abyss.

I try not to look into that abyss too much. It was Friedrich Nietzsche (“Philosophy’s Peachy!”) who said that “if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.” That’s an exercise best left to those occasional moments of sleeplessness and agita that strike deep in the heart of the night... for it is inevitably at Oh-Dark-Thirty that I find myself trying to imagine the unimaginable. And then, like pretty much all of us, I shove those thoughts back into the recesses in the Crawl-Space of the Mind, there to be taken out and examined another dark night.

But right now, my mind is occupied with other matters. September is upon us; the Days of Awe approach; the morning air is cool and crisp, heralding the onrush of autumn. (In New England, the grass at sunrise is already bedecked with frost; here, the temperature drops below 70 degrees.) And I will celebrate the goodness I have found in the land of the living.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Rolls Royce
Vintage Rolls-Royce.

The first Sunday morning of every month, the open-air shopping center that adjoins our neighborhood becomes a frenetic focus of automotive activity. Well before any of the stores open for business, car fanciers from miles around congregate in the empty parking lot to show off their proud possessions. Some are there to buy, others to sell... but, I suspect, the real joy for most of them is simply having the chance to display their cherished classic cars to an appreciative crowd.

They’re bright and shiny, many of these Antique Autos. Restored to their original condition - in some cases better than their original condition - they are mechanically flawless, in perfect running order. I look at them and I think, “Wouldn’t it be great to own one of these babies?”

Caddy LaSalle dashboard

No, it wouldn’t. Let’s be practical for a moment. Vintage autos, with their equally vintage systems, look great but take a lot of care. Finding authentic spare parts is a major undertaking. They have carburetors and inner tubes, fercryinoutloud! Oil changes every twenty minutes! Putting water in the battery! Cleaning and gapping the spark plugs! Who needs it? And let’s not forget... no seat belts, air bags, or collapsible steering columns. Death traps, I tells ya!

But still... there’s a mysterious attraction those older cars have on us... and it’s more than the fact that these are (in some cases) the cars we grew up with.

We’re antiques, too, after all.

I’ve been walking the planet for close to fifty-eight years. When I was a young Snot-Nose, people in their late fifties were old. Pruned up to a fare-thee-well. Crotchety, scary, and wrinkly to boot.

But when I look in the mirror each morning to scrape those (increasingly grey) whiskers off my face, I don’t see an Old Guy staring back at me.

I see me.

The same me who, at my fortieth birthday, asked whether I had to start acting like a grownup. That birthday itself is now old enough to drive one of those Old Cars, but I don’t feel any different. In fact, I feel better.

My kids are grown women, adults whose company I enjoy as adults. My wife and I are fitter than we have been in years. We have a full, active social and community life. I can schlep a fifty-pound rucksack up a mountain in the snow... and cook a killer coq au vin. Being an antique is fun!

Yeah, maintenance can be a bit tricky (and expensive) on us antiques... and not all of us make it to Classic status, alas. That’s life. Some of us are Edsels, and some are Rolls-Royces. Both have their own virtues, and both have their legions of fans. Some of us age like fine wine, becoming rich and mellow, while others of us age like cheese, becoming blue-veined and stinky.

They say “Sixty is the new forty,” but that’s a load of crap. Sixty is sixty. But sixty in 2011 is not what sixty was in 1951 or 1971. Look at Keith Richards. (On second thought, don’t look at Keith Richards. Instead, look at Bruce Springsteen, recent AARP cover boy. He still has his chops, and, with his E-Street buddies, still puts on a show that puts far younger bands to shame.) And you can’t overlook the best thing about getting old(er). It beats the alternative.

I’m happy to be an antique. Just be careful when you kick the tires, though... OK?

I’m trying to blog my way to the AARP Orlando@50 conference. This blog post is an entry in their competition to find the official blogger to travel to and cover the event. Find out more about the conference here.

Thursday, September 2, 2010


Fiddler On The Roof notwithstanding, we Jews are not the only people who believe in Tradition... for any time a new technology comes in and sweeps away the old, there will always be those who cling to the Time-Honored Ways.

It’s a little too soon for digital devices like the Kindle to have completely displaced ink-and-paper books, but assuming they eventually succeed in doing so, there will still be people who will cling to the printed page. (Me, for one.)

Plenty of folks still use snail mail for their banking and correspondence, despite the inroads being made by e-mail and electronic banking. I am a big fan of the Banca Electronica... it’s amazing how much time I no longer spend writing checks, addressing envelopes, and licking (ecch!) stamps. And yet, I still have my checkboook.

My Little White Choon-Box currently holds almost 3,500 songs, with room for lots more. Unlike the several hundred LP’s in my collection, however, I can stick the Choon-Box in a shirt pocket. And the electronic revolution has changed the business of music distribution in a whole host of ways. When was the last time you bought an actual CD?

And then there is photography, where technological change has been a part of the art since its very inception. I wonder how the daguerreotypists felt when wet-plate glass negatives started taking over. “Aw, them new-fangled paper photographs are crap! They’ll never replace my beautiful silver plates.”

That’s pretty much how I felt when the cheap (but easy-to-use) Instamatic cameras and film came out in 1964. No longer did you have to thread film onto a take-up reel or worry about replacing flashbulbs after each shot. You just dropped in a film cartridge and snapped on a flashcube and you were good to go... for four flash photos at a time, anyway. But I cared not for this Johnny-come-lately junk. No, for me it was 120 film, and later, 35mm. I was, after all, serious.

All of that old Film Business has been swept away by the digital revolution.

Digital cameras, once expensive curiosities, are now the norm... and they’re getting better and less costly by the day. The venerable Kodachrome, workhorse transparency film beloved of magazine photographers, now belongs to the ages. (The very last roll was given to photographer-journalist Steve McCurry; its contents will be the subject of a National Geographic documentary.)

Anyone remember Polaroid? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? Pictures in a minute? Yes, the idea of getting a finished photograph in just one minute was, once upon a time, a Big Fucking Deal. Now, not so much... ’cause with digital, it’s instantaneous, and a whole lot cheaper.

Film photography was a highly refined technology, but digital imagery beats it like a red-headed stepchild. Instead of shooting rolls of film and never knowing whether the images were any good until they were processed, now I see my results instantly. I can shoot as many photos as I want; instead of 24 or 36 shots on a roll of film, I can put over a thousand on a single tiny card. Wet, messy chemical development has been replaced by a few mouse clicks in Photoshop... and I can do things with my digital images that would be impossible (or difficult at best) with film.

Flowery HDR
Tonemapped High Dynamic Range color image... next-to-impossible to replicate with film, easy with digital.

Leave it to those clever marketers, though, to find a sales pitch that appeals to the Luddites who just can’t quite cross over that Digital Divide. Presenting... the Film Camera - as seen on TV! (Well, Grandpa thinks those “computers” and “megabytes” ’n’ such are all a mess o’ eyewash, anyways.)

What’s next? Buggy-whips?

(Tip o’ th’ Elisson fedora to Houston Steve for the link.)


Get Fuzzy 082210
“Get Fuzzy,” 22 August 2010. ©2008 Darby Conley. [Click to embiggen.]

Is it my imagination, or is this the first recorded use of the term “whacks off” in a nationally syndicated comic strip?

Darby Conley - sneaky, cheeky monkey! - has pulled this sort of stuff before. Good to know that United Features Syndicate is paying attention.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


...or I’ll shoot you.

Based on initial reports, it appears that James Lee, the man who waltzed into Discovery Communications headquarters in Silver Spring, Maryland and took “an unconfirmed number of people” hostage at gunpoint, is a Man on a Mission. Or more correctly, an Activist Asshole with an Agenda.

Armed with a revolver and with two dangerous-looking tanks strapped to his back, Lee is, in his own quiet way, calling Discovery to task for not doing enough to help the planet.

Makes perfect sense to me. I mean, how can all that environmentally conscious programming on Discovery possibly help the planet? Now, QVC or the Home Shopping Network... those guys are waaaay more green, am I right?

It looks like Lee’s biggest beef with Discovery is that they are not doing enough to stop human overpopulation. Quoth Lee: “All programs on Discovery Health-TLC must stop encouraging the birth of any more parasitic human infants... In those programs’ places, programs encouraging human sterilization and infertility must be pushed. All former pro-birth programs must now push in the direction of stopping human birth, not encouraging it.”

So what he wants, I suppose, is a sort of Birth Control Channel, the better to allow the planet to be taken over by non-humans. This is what comes from reading too much Al Gore. Wonder if he’s a member of PETA?

At this point, I’ll give the guy props for one thing: He didn’t go into that building with guns blazing, blowing away Discovery employees willy-nilly. And with any luck, this incident will (Gawd willing) end without violence... a reasonable assumption if the guy is just looking for a Bully Media Pulpit for his bizarro-world views. But you just never know. Clearly, his priorities don’t lie with his fellow human beings, in front of whose faces he is happy to wave a pistol.

But me, I’d like a baseball bat and a few minutes of Alone Time with this jackass. Because he chose to conduct his antics at Elder Daughter’s workplace... and that just flat pisses me off. (She’s fine, in case you’re wondering - but semi-incommunicado, since when she was evacuated from the building, she left her cellphone in her office.)

Ain‘t life exciting?

Update: From MSNBC.com comes the following: “Police shot and killed a gunman who held three hostages for several hours Wednesday at the Discovery Communications building in Silver Spring, Maryland, authorities said. They said the hostages were safe.”

Not the happiest of endings, but the way I look at it is, nobody was hurt or killed except the asshole who started it all. I can live with that. My condolences to his family, assuming he has one.

“Nothing is more important than saving... the Lions, Tigers, Giraffes, Elephants, Froggies, Turtles, Apes, Raccoons, Beetles, Ants, Sharks, Bears, and, of course, the Squirrels. The humans? The planet does not need humans.”

Well, not exactly. The planet apparently does not need you, Mr. Lee... and now we’ll just have to soldier on without you.


Chattahoochee River Rocks HDR
The Chattahoochee River flows along, gradually polishing the rocks of the riverbed. You can almost imagine seeing a few gold nuggets...