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

Saturday, June 30, 2012


As I was in the Pet Supplies Emporium purchasing the giant Economy Size sack of cat food for Hakuna, it occurred to me that buying that humongous sack for a seventeen-year-old cat is a little like a centenarian buying green bananas: It implies a certain (possibly unjustified) confidence in the future.

Sometimes the smaller bag is the way to go. It does not carry so much of the stink of hubris.


Mistress and Momma
The Mistress of Sarcasm and her lovely Momma at the falls (where else?) in Falls Village, Connecticut.

It’s one of those “Sunrise, Sunset” moments when a child hits a major Age-Milestone. And that’s what we are having right now, for our baby girl - the Mistress of Sarcasm - celebrates her thirtieth birthday today.


Without getting all maudlin about all that Passage of Time business, I can honestly say that it’s a little hard to believe. Not because the Mistress hasn’t grown into a wonderful, (mostly) fully realized, talented young woman, because she has done that and more... but because it means that I am nearly sixty years old myself. And that’s passing strange!

Years - nay, decades ago, I wrote the following in the Mistress’s baby book: “I can’t predict the future - who can? But I have a pretty good idea of what you’ll grow to be like. You’re assertive, bright, exuberant, winsome, obstinate, and affectionate... and you’ve got a daddy who has loved you from the very first second of your life.” The first part has come true, and the second is still true.

Alas, we won’t be with her to celebrate the day, but we had a chance to do that two weeks ago. A sort of Birthday Preview, if you will. Nevertheless, her big sister, our Elder Daughter, is there in our place, along with a multitudinous multiplicity of friends new and old.  There will be celebration a-plenty, an all-day event featuring a talent show, movies, a bonfire, camping, and - who knows? - perhaps a walk-on appearance by one of the neighborhood bears.

Enjoy this special day, my love - and may the coming years bring you ever more health and happiness, without limit to any good thing!

Friday, June 29, 2012


Keep Calm

 A perfectly appropriate sentiment, given that blogging appears to be dead meat.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Sharon Twin Oaks
The famous Sharon Twin Oaks, Sharon, Connecticut... this time, in full leaf.

Not pathetic.  Peripatetic.

Summertime, when She Who Must Be Obeyed is enjoying her annual respite from Teachy Business, is when we put on our Traveling Shoes.  And so far, we have logged a few miles.

A few weeks back, while I was busy hacking up the golf courses in coastal South Carolina, SWMBO used the opportunity to visit her clan in Texas.  Then, mid-month, we jumped in the car for an extensive road trip up the East Coast, with stops in New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, and Washington, D.C.  When your offspring - and other members of the extended family - are scattered all over the country, that’s what you gotta do if you want to see ’em all.

There are several routes that will get you from Atlanta to the Northeast.  Interstate 85 will carry you all the way to Petersburg, Virginia, where you pick up I-95.  That gets you as far as New York, and then it’s just a question of what route you want to take into Connecticut.  It's not an especially scenic drive, you have to deal with the traffic crapfest that is Washington, D.C., and there’s an assload of tolls beginning around Baltimore.  So we took the inland route, heading up through Tennessee to grab lunch with Eric at the Straight White Compound, then proceeding through Knoxville and Bristol, thence up through the Shenandoah Valley on I-81.

SWMBO and Zelda
SWMBO and my irrepressible Auntie Zelda.

On the way, we stopped off for a visit with my Aunt Zelda - yes, Zelda - in the wilds of central New Jersey.  Zel met us at the door wearing a Cyndi Lauper T-shirt, which tells you something about her personality.  She’s the human embodiment of Champagne - effervescent, sparkly, and intoxicating.

From there, it was a straight shot up the legendary Garden State Parkway into New York, then across the Hudson on the Tappan Zee Bridge, finally crossing into the hyperbucolic northwest corner of Connecticut that is the home of the Mistress of Sarcasm.

It’s a beautiful corner of the world, serving as a weekend getaway destination for wealthy New Yorkers as well as a magnet for people who are into the Arts Scene.  There are little boutiques that sell little $450 jackets stitched together from raggedy Indian schmattas, fancy riding stables to accommodate the Horsey Set, expensive prep schools, and fine restaurants... all in an unprepossessing rural setting with its thin native population of Connecticut Yankees.  The Mistress, in roughly nine months of residence, has already established a wonderful circle of friends there and feels very much at home.

We stayed there four nights, one of which was spent at a fine B&B in what passes for downtown in Falls Village, the second-smallest community in the state.  The other three were at a three-bedroom house rented for the occasion - the kind of place where we would have been perfectly happy to stay the entire summer.  That, alas, was not in the cards, but we were there long enough to through a nice pre-birthday birthday party for the Mistress and some of her local buddies... a sort of warm-up for the Big Event at the end of the month.

A panoramic view of our digs in Salisbury.

Alfresco Dinner
The Mistress’s roomie Heather and parents Kent and Gail host a delightful alfresco dinner.

Bidding a reluctant good-bye to Connecticut mid-day Tuesday, we headed south to New York, there to spend a few days bunking in with my brother (The Other Elisson) and visiting  Eli (hizzownself) and Toni.  He’s eighty-seven now, Eli is, but he still retains his encyclopedic knowledge of filthy limericks.  Am I my father’s son?  You tell me.

Throgs Neck Bridge - North Tower
The Throgs Neck Bridge, gateway to Lawn Guyland.

Thursday, we departed Long Island and made our way southward to Washington, D.C. where we hung out with Elder Daughter.  This also gave us a chance to spend some quality time with Wendy, a daughter of Friends of Long Standing, and her fiancé Brian, with whom we had a delightful evening listening to jazz at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden, followed by a serious sushi-eating and alcohol-drinking session at the Kushi Izakaya.  The rest of our time was divided between downtown D.C. and the pedestrian-friendly streets of Georgetown.

We Three in Dee Cee
Me, the Missus, and Elder Daughter.

Sunday came all too soon, and with it the need to turn southward once again, pounding down the highway for the eleven-hour return trip home.  That night, Hakuna was either happy or pissed-off to see us, we couldn’t tell which: All we knew is that she spent the next 36 hours yowling, as if to say, “Where the fuck have you been all this time?”  (It’s not as though we left her alone for twelve days.  We had a house-sitter keeping an eye on her and performing food bowl and litter box maintenance.)

Can’t wait to see how noisy she is after our next trip.  ’Cause there is one.  We’re peripatetic, ya know!

(More pics below the fold.)

Sunday, June 24, 2012


This year’s Sommelier Guild Banquet - the much-anticipated June event - will be held this evening at the Chops Lobster Bar in Buckhead.

Alas, Denny, the Curmudgeonly Superannuated Paraplegic, will not be in attendance. Nor will his political Opposite Number, Houston Steve. Their combined absence will make for less scintillating political repartee, but that’s a price I’d normally be willing to pay... except I won’t be there either, being that the Missus and I will be just returned from a lengthy road trip. Exhaustion plus wine equals numbnitude.

The annual Guild Banquet is where the best wines of the year are trotted out to be paired with the finest food.  I’m already salivating from having taken a peek at the menu - look upon it, Esteemed Readers, and despair along with me!

Speaker’s Wine:
NV Ferrari Brut Trento, Italy

First Flight:
2001 Domaine de Chevalier Blanc Grand Cru Pessac-Léognan - Bordeaux, France
2004 Dirler Riesling Grand Cru “Kessler” (Cuvée Cécile) - Alsace, France 
2007 Kistler Chardonnay Carneros “Hudson” - California

Oyster Rockefeller: Chesapeake Bay Oysters, Pernod, Spinach, Hollandaise Maine Lobster Bisque 

Second Flight:
2001 Il Macchione Vino Nobile di Montepulciano - Tuscany, Italy
2000 Alessandro e Gian Natale Fantino Barolo “Vigna Dei Dardi” - Piedmont, Italy
2000 Eraldo Viberti Barolo Riserva - Piedmont, Italy

Dino’s Pan Roasted Chicken Vesuvio: Thin Green Beans, Whipped Potatoes, Sweet Onions and Jus  

Third Flight:
2005 Château Cos Labory Grand Cru Classé St. Estèphe-  Bordeaux, France
2005 Clark-Claudon Cabernet Sauvignon - Napa Valley, California
2005 Karl Lawrence Cabernet Sauvignon “Herb Lamb”- Napa Valley, California

Filet Pepper Steak: Cracked Pepper Crust, Brandy Peppercorn Sauce, Broccoli, Mushrooms, Port 
Braised Shallot

1997 Taylor Fladgate Vintage Porto Portugal

Chocolate Toffee Crunch Pie: Morrelli’s Handmade Coffee Ice Cream

My usual practice would be to report back after the event with my jaded, bilious commentary. Instead, silence - and envy - will reign.

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Vieux Carré Cocktail
The Vieux Carré... a pre-Prohibition classic.

A few weeks ago, we discovered yet another Tasty Beverage.

She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were dining at Seed, one of the new places that has enriched the local dining scene since opening several months ago.  In addition to a well-executed menu featuring local ingredients - I avoid the use of the term “artisanal” because it’s so fucking trendy - the bartender there is a master of the craft.  His Carte des Boozes features a goodly number of vintage - i.e., pre-Prohibition - cocktails made with high-quality alcohols, and every so often I will indulge myself.

His Sazerac cocktail certainly qualifies as a classic, given that it is claimed by some to be the oldest American cocktail - but I didn’t order one of those.  Instead, I opted for the Vieux Carré, which is of considerably more recent vintage but with a name that recalls its origins in that selfsame French Quarter in N’Awlins whence comes the Sazerac.

Ahhh, the Vieux Carré.  Here’s how you can make your own:

1 ounce rye whiskey (mine used High West Double Rye - yum)
1 ounce Cognac
1 ounce sweet vermouth (mine was made with Punt e Mes)
½ teaspoon Bénédictine
2 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters

Stir all ingredients with ice, then strain into an ice-filled Old Fashioned glass or a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon or orange.

At Seed, my drink came in a glass with a single, huge, round ball of ice and a substantial orange twist.  It was superb.  Even the Missus tasted it and pronounced it excellent - surprising, since she is not normally a fan of the Brown Goods.

Happily, I have all of the necessary ingredients right here at home in my Lacquer Liquor Locker.  Perhaps a little further experimentation is in order...  

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


It’s time to make love, douse the glim;
The fireflies twinkle and dim;
The stars lean together
Like birds of a feather,
And the loin lies down with the limb.
                                                            - Conrad Aiken

The first thing you notice is that there’s so little to notice.

At night, there is absolutely no sound.  Wait.  Wait.  Wait for your city-scarred eardrums to settle down, and you’ll hear the faint, whispery sound of flowing river water, an almost silent susurrance.

On these moonless nights, the dark is almost absolute, except for the star-spangled sky with its faint, glowing galactic band of nebulitic mist.  And except for the fireflies.  They flash and blink in stuttering staccato, a mysterious visual Morse code.

Nights here in Northwestern Connecticut have a magic all their own.  We can see why the Mistress of Sarcasm loves it so, living in this far-stretched neck of the woods.

It’s not without its hazards, of course.  Bears roam these parts; the Mistress has spotted at least one in her back yard.  And, of course, wherever you find bears, you will inevitably find bedraggled, shit-stained rabbits, mumbling quiet imprecations against the bears.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012


SWMBO - 2012 Edition
My ever-loving, ever-patient Missus: She Who Must Be Obeyed, my helpmate of thirty-five years.

She walks in beauty, like the night 
Doo dah, doo dah 
She walks in beauty, like the night 
Oh, doo dah day

As the above ditty - it’s been running through my head the past couple of days - would seem to say, my innermost self is an admixture of the sublime and the ridiculous, proportioned out in a manner at once carefully measured yet completely unpredictable.  And yet, it has a few constants - the stars by which I make my dead reckoning as I navigate the Waters of Life.

The most constant of those constants, of course, is She Who Must Be Obeyed, who, as of today, has also been The Missus for thirty-five years.  She has, somehow, managed to put up with me for all of that time, not to mention the not-quite-eighteen months immediately preceding our nuptials.

She is a woman of infinite patience, clearly.  How else to explain it?

Elisson and SWMBO in 1977
Elisson and SWMBO, thirty-five years ago today - getting ready to start the honeymoon.

Look at her, the wide-eyed innocent in the photo above, taken just before we departed the Wedding Premises.  Innocent... and yet there is a mischievous sparkle in her smile.  Meanwhile, the Man-Clod next to her wears the same dopey, shit-eating grin with which he has plastered his face for the entire duration of the wedding.  It’s the Elisson Wedding-Face.  Hell, I can’t blame myself even unto this day - you’d’ve been grinning too, were you in my position.

Thirty-five years later, I’m still grinning.  Still very like a teenager in love.

And we can still get into those nutty T-shirts.


Golfy Boyz 2012
The Magnificent Seven - this year’s gang of Golfy Boyz hits the links on the southern end of South Carolina’s Golden Strand.  From left to right: Marty, Bartimus Magnificus, Job Johnny, Elisson, Lee “Mister Hole-in-One” Bee, Gary, and Rocky Rhodes.

Late Spring brings with it our annual Golfy Boyz Weekend, wherein a squad of eight of my Golf-Buddies and I head off for a four-day weekend to do nothing but play golf and drink ourselves silly.   (I exaggerate somewhat with respect to the drinking. We’re already quite silly enough without additional assistance.)

This year our group was somewhat diminished in numbers, Houston Steve having other duties and responsibilities... namely, helping his Loving Helpmeet celebrate her birthday. I cannot argue with his priorities, but it meant that only seven of us made the trek to the South Carolina coast.

In previous years, we had had numerous outings on the Robert Trent Jones Golf Trail in Alabama.  Plenty of fine courses, most of them within a few hours drive... but last year we decided to check out the options in Myrtle Beach, and we were far from disappointed.  It’s a longer trek to get there, sure, but once you’re there, a myriad of courses await, all within a few minutes drive of one another.  Owing to the proximity of the Atlantic Ocean, temperatures also tend to be a bit more moderate near the Grand Strand.

We stayed (and mostly played) in Pawleys Island, a place notable for both golf and woven rope hammocks (yes, hammocks!)  The last time I had trod this particular slice of the South Carolina coastline had been fifty-one years ago, when we stopped over at the Litchfield Inn on our way back home from Miami - my first lengthy Road Trip.  Needless to say, both Pawleys Island and I have changed in the intervening half-century.

This year’s course selections were all superb - challenging without being ridiculous, beautifully maintained, and easy on the eye.  The course we played Saturday - the Caledonia Golf and Fish Club - was easily the most scenic course I’ve played outside of Arizona: eighteen holes of low-country loveliness with an approach road to rival Magnolia Lane, o’erarched with Spanish moss-draped oaks.  I even managed to log one semi-respectable scorecard during the outing.

As is our custom, we mostly dined out in the evenings, with Job Johnny, Bartimus Magnificus and I preparing a home-cooked steak dinner at our condo Friday evening.  Inch-thick ribeyes... Campari tomatoes... baked sweet potatoes... a nice red Cabernet... a few drams of Laphroaig... mmmmm, good.

From a golf standpoint, the highlight of the trip had to be our friend Lee Bee’s hole-in-one on Caledonia’s sixth hole, a tee shot that landed on the green and proceeded to roll, taking a gently curving left-to-right path, right into the cup.  We celebrated with the obligatory round of drinks in the clubhouse, and since it was World Gin Day, I ordered an extra dry Martini.  (Gin and tonic came later, over a leisurely dinner.)

After our return to Atlanta Sunday, Gary and I agreed that this might have been our best golf weekend ever... despite our missing buddy Houston Steve.   Absentibus amicis.

More pics below the fold.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Ray Bradbury in 2011
“Something wicked this way comes.” Could it be... the Unexpected Visitor?
Ray Bradbury, SF writer extraordinaire, passed away June 5.

Years ago - my age was still in the single digits - I read a novel about humans traveling to Mars.

It was a peculiar book, not so much a proper novel as a collection of episodic stories, each complete in itself, that combined to create a narrative structure of sorts.  Later I found out that that was indeed the case: it had been constructed of short stories that had been published over the span of several years and subsequently woven together with interstitial segments.  Its author would later describe it as “a book of stories pretending to be a novel.”

It was poetic, packed with imagery.  It was nostalgic.  It was elegiac.  It was marvelous.

It was The Martian Chronicles, and it was my first introduction to the magic pen of Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury, alas, has passed on.  He died yesterday evening at the age of 91, having lived well into the future that he had so eloquently written about.  Of course, it was nothing like he had imagined... at least as set forth in The Martian Chronicles.

Never content to be classified as merely a science fiction writer, Bradbury’s cultural footprint covered books (Fahrenheit 451, The Illustrated Man, Something Wicked This Way Comes, etc., etc.), comics (Al Feldstein adapted many of his stories for EC Comics in their pre-Mad Magazine days), movies (The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was one of my favorites back in my Snot-Nose Days... and I later found that Bradbury wrote the screenplay for the 1956 version of Moby-Dick), and television (including Twilight Zone, for which he adapted his short story “I Sing the Body Electric”).

Men like Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, and Asimov were the giants of SF, and now they belong to the ages.   Others have come and taken their place on the shelves, in the anthologies, in the list of screen credits, and that is as it should be.   But I will never forget the piercing sadness - the utter loneliness - of the final chapters of The Martian Chronicles... and neither will I forget Bradbury, who showed me how a book could elicit such powerful emotions, instilling in me a love of imaginative fiction that continues unto this day.

Ave atque vale, Ray!  Perhaps now that you are Way in the Middle of the Air, you can see what Mars is really like.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


Kesar mango sorbet with lime and dark rum.

My friend Gary and I have got sorbet-making down to a science.

Gary’s been at it for a while and his repertoire continues to grow by leaps and bounds just as the people who eat his sorbet grow by leaps and pounds.  Bittersweet chocolate, tangerine-chocolate, cherry, raspberry, pear, pineapple - he’s done ’em all.  And they’re all ridiculously good.

It’s not complicated, really.  You take fruit, cook it down, purée it, strain it, and add simple sugar syrup and any optional flavorings.  Then you chill the mixture - preferably overnight - and freeze it in an ice cream freezer.  Bingo: sorbet.

But now I’ve found one that’s even easier to make.  I call it the Lazy Man’s Sorbet, because no cooking, puréeing, or straining is involved.  I speak, of course, of mango sorbet.

Peeling and extracting the flesh from mangoes would be a royal pain in the arse, even if no cooking were necessary.  But that’s the beauty of this sorbet - none of that worky-work is required.  All you do is score a can of mango pulp at the local Indian or Middle Eastern grocery and you’re good to go.  Not only is it puréed and strained, it’s also already sweetened; you don’t even need to waste time making simple syrup.

I used a 30-ounce can of kesar mango pulp, which has a wonderful orange-yellow hue and sweet ripe mango flavor.  (Other varietals such as alphonso mango are also available as well.)  To prepare it for the freezer, all I did was add the juice of half a lime and a couple of tablespoons of dark rum before chilling the purée.  That’s it!  And it freezes beautifully.

Betcha this stuff would be great blended with a little yogurt to make an ice-cold mango lassi.

Got an ice cream freezer?  Feeling lazy?  Go on - you know what to do.


Venus, our planetary buddy and frequent evening and/or morning “star,” is in the news these days.

Venus de Milo
Venus de Milo. Photo: Wikipedia.

No, wait.  This ain’t it.

False Color Venus Surface
False color radar image of the surface of the planet Venus. Photo: JPL/NASA.

Getting warmer.

Transit of Venus 2004
There’s a little black spot on the Sun today. - The Police, “King of Pain” (1983)
Transit of Venus as seen from New Delhi, 2004. Photo: Postnoon.

Ahhh, here we are. The Transit of Venus, one of the rarest predictable astronomical phenomena.

It’s a twice-in-a-lifetime event at best, when the planet Venus is seen to march across the blazing disc of the Sun.  The last one was in June 2004... but the one before that was back in December 1882, back when Chester Alan Arthur was in the White House.

The next one will be in December 2117, and it’s a pretty safe bet that nobody I know will be around to see it.  Meanwhile, I’m hoping that the clouds around our little corner of the world will cooperate and allow us to get a glimpse.  Now, where did I put that #14 welder’s glass?

Update: No welder’s glass, but by using binoculars to project an image of the Sun onto a white background, I was able to catch a fleeting glimpse of Venus in transit before thickening clouds closed in and obscured the solar disc.

Monday, June 4, 2012


The Last Word
The Last Word - one serious Adult Beverage.

Today’s cocktail is The Last Word, courtesy of Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined, by Jason Kosmas and Dushan Zaric. (If you are an aficionado of the mixed Adult Beverage, this book is an indispensable guide to all sorts of tony tipples.)

It’s easy enough to make.  In a cocktail shaker, combine one ounce each of gin (I used Hendrick’s), Luxardo maraschino liqueur, green Chartreuse, and freshly squeezed lime juice, add ice and shake vigorously.  Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.  Presto: The Last Word.

It is powerful, this Word.  Powerful and complicated.  Drink at your own risk.  I had one late Saturday evening - one! - and spent the entire night wrestling with bizarre, almost hallucinogenic dreams.  A second round could very well send you completely over the edge.

Of course, that might be just the thing you’re looking for.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


There is a wrinkled sorcerer
In deepest Pilpulpan,
His face all lined with creases
And skin a deep dark tan. 
Now if you wish to charm someone,
Just ask this magic man
To chant a few enchantments,
And if by chance you can
Drop off some loose dinero
Into his waiting hand,
He’ll work his witchy wonders
Within an hour’s span.

But should someone ever ask you
If somehow you might know
Of this wrinkly crinkly warlock
From mysterious Mexico,
Pretend that you are ignorant
Or at best a little slow -
Don’t be a rat and tip your hat,
Don’t let your knowledge show.
You must keep his powers secret
Or you’ll feel his anger flow -
By all means don’t provoke the wrath
Of Bruce, the rugose brujo.

Friday, June 1, 2012


The Hills of Challah

The climber carefully inched his way toward the summit, a task made especially difficult by the smooth, almost glassy surface of the rounded hills, their slopes far more treacherous than they had appeared from a distance.

There was, he noted thankfully, no snow or ice to impede his progress. But snow, at least, would have been cold, refreshing. This stuff was hot to the touch, almost as though it had just emerged from a gigantic oven. Sweat poured from his forehead; he paused briefly to wipe it off.

Littered with blue-black boulders, the path ahead beckoned to Sir Edmund Challary.


The iPod d’Elisson
The old-school iPod d’Elisson. Amusing, innit, to use the term “old-school” when referring to a piece of 21st century technology?

Good Gawd - is it June already? Why, so it is. Five twelfths of the year Twenty-Twelve have found their way down the Great Celestial Toidy-Tube... and we’re still here.

We can celebrate by drinking ourselves silly, but why not play a few pleasant tunes while we do so? Let’s see what the iPod d’Elisson is spewing forth today...
  1. Stairway to Heaven - Dave Matthews Band

  2. Dying Sun - Moonraker

  3. Mountains o’ Mourne - Don McLean

  4. Shrimp (Dubplate) - Mr. Scruff

  5. Eve - Boukman Eksperyans

  6. It Ain’t You - Squirrel Nut Zippers

  7. Stereotype - The Specials

  8. Changes - David Bowie

  9. Advance Romance - Frank Zappa

  10. So What - Miles Davis

It’s Friday. What are you listening to?