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

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Sunset 012413
After the Rains: Sunset paints the sky on a January evening.

Yesterday was one of those classic Southern unwinterly winter days, starting out with the thermometer brushing against the 70°F mark.  You would not have been far off the mark to have observed that it was almost like springtime... and springtime in these parts is a double-edged sword, for along with warmer temperatures come violent storms.

While we had to endure a day with constant weather forecaster blather interspersed with thunderstorms, areas to our north were devastated by tornadoes.  It all boils down to the luck of the draw.

This morning dawned with clear skies and more seasonable temperatures... just above the freezing mark.  Yeah, welcome to Georgia - if you don’t like the weather, wait a minute and it’ll change.  Unless it blows you away first.

Thursday, January 24, 2013


Just when you think you’ve seen it all... more Techno-Stupidity.

There’s an old saying: Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day.  Teach a man to fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.  And then there are some people who, when you hand them the fishing pole, they will try to pick their nose with it.

It’s bad enough that smartphones - a world of information and communication in the palm of your hand! - have created an explosion of stupid behavior in the form of Texting While Driving.  (Texting, in this context, includes other smartphone-related activities such as looking at Facebook or Twitter, checking your e-mail, or doing pretty much anything that requires you to pay more attention to your phone than the road in front of you.)  Talking on the phone while driving is distracting enough; people who text while driving should just save everyone the trouble and take a long drive off a short pier.

But today, I saw something that ramped things up to a whole new level of moronicity.  The woman in the car next to me whipped out an iPad (!) and started banging away on it... while driving.

Being the discreet gentleman I am - Mr. Debonair, that’s me! - I refrained from giving her a One-Finger Salute... but only because she never would have seen it with her nose buried in that fancy-schmancy Retina display.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Once upon a time, I observed that the first thing I generally do upon checking into a hotel room is to take a crap.  Don’t have any idea why; it’s simply What Happens.

The last time She Who Must Be Obeyed and I stayed in a hotel, however, the tables were turned: The hotel tried to take a crap on us.

Oh, everything started off perfectly normally.  We checked in.  We unpacked our bags.  I crimped off a length.  And the loo gulped it right down... a detail that you may consider to be TMI, but trust me, it will be important later in our story.

Interstitial: SWMBO, for as long as I have known her, refuses to drink water that has come out of the bathroom tap.  Perhaps she thinks it picks up Doodie-Cooties as it courses its way through the plumbing; I don’t know.  But our hotel room had two bathroom sinks: one in the bathroom proper (where sat the Evil Toidy), another in a separate vanity area.  Was the water from the vanity sink tap acceptable?  Or was it subject to the same Bathroom Water Taboo despite its never having been in the Room Where the Poopy Goes?  Somehow, the Missus managed to avoid giving me a straight answer... because just as she was about to admit that the Vanity Sink water might be marginally acceptable, the toilet made a scary “glug” noise, almost as though it wanted to help her answer the question.  “Aha!” said she.

Though we did not know it at the time, that “glug” was the first indication of Impending Doom. But all systems appeared to be nominal, so we went about our business with no further concern.

Sometime in the Wee-Wee Hours - deep in the night when folks our age get up to pee - the toilet gave out another ominous-sounding “glug.”  This one lasted longer, but a visual inspection revealed nothing amiss.  Yet.

When we got up, the Missus took an uneventful shower.  Shortly after that, things started getting ugly.

The toilet once again started making its “glug” sounds.  But now the sounds were more insistent.  Glug.  Glug, glug.  Glug gluggity glug.  And the water in the toilet began to rise, finally stopping halfway up the bowl.  Yeef.

That was horrifying enough for us to put in a call to the front desk requesting that we be moved to a different room... a request to which the hotel promptly agreed.  “We’ll give you a new room as soon as Housekeeping can get one ready,” they said.  And so we began to repack our bags in anticipation of being relocated.

Said relocation developed a whole new sense of urgency when the bathtub now began to fill up.  With Poop-Water.  Stinky poop-water.

The Missus nearly had a hemorrhage when she saw that.  “Good Gawd,” quoth she, “if that had started while I was in the shower, I would have thrown up right on the spot!”  Of course, the first thing she did was to whip out her iPhone and take a picture of it.  (No, I will not post that photograph.  Feel free to thank me for that rare bit of discretion.)

It seemed like something out of The Amityville Horror.  No, wait!  It was... the Hilton Horror!

We got the hell out of that room as fast as we could.

The front desk peeps were apologetic.  Apparently, some youthful miscreant in the adjacent room had flushed something indigestible down the WC - a washcloth, or a toy, perhaps.  (No, I had nothing to do with it.  For once.)  Since both rooms shared a waste line, that created problems for both... problems that resulted in some 48 hours of power-snaking.  Feh.

By then we didn’t care, being ensconced in our new room.  And our vacation was off to a roaring - no, a glugging - start.   


Beetle Bailey 012213
Beetle Bailey, 22 January 2013. Copyright 2013 by King Features Syndicate, Inc. World rights reserved.

When I saw today’s Beetle Bailey strip, the second panel (featuring Killer astride a tank cannon) seemed to be naggingly familiar.  Where had I seen an image like that before?

Then I remembered:

Tanky Elisson
Elisson atop an IDF tank at the Israeli Armored Corps Museum in Latrun.

Art imitates life!  So what if it’s nothing but a Dick Joke in disguise?

Thursday, January 17, 2013


You can miss out on some wonderful Bits ’o Humor if you merely skim the blogposts and Facebook statuses on your routine passes through the Webz. Sometimes it pays to read ’em all the way through.

Submitted by way of an example is this Facebook status recently put up by our friend Debbie, who was in Chicago for a wedding last weekend while simultaneously celebrating another Trip Around the Sun. The first time I read it I merely scanned it... but a more thorough reading is much more amusing:

Thank you so much to all of my wonderful family and friends for your beautiful birthday wishes. Would have loved to spend my day with all of you, especially Sid, but am excited to be in Chicago with my Mom, Aurora and Peyton, my dearest family of my sidterinlesustrrinleies haft

This, as Debbie freely admits, is what happens when you try to update your Facebook status after ingesting a goodly bolus of Ambien... and it’s pretty obvious exactly when it took effect.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013


Lucien Gaudin
The Lucien Gaudin cocktail. En garde!

Today’s featured tipple is the Lucien Gaudin cocktail, a pre-Prohibition classic named for the French fencer who snagged Olympic gold in both 1924 and 1928.  Not exactly a household name, but, really, who gives a crap?  It’s a fine drink no matter what you call it.

The Lucien Gaudin resembles nothing quite so much as a Negroni.  It has the gin, the Campari, and the vermouth - but in lieu of sweet vermouth, the Lucien Gaudin plugs in dry vermouth and Cointreau.  The Cointreau provides extra sweetness to offset the dry vermouth, along with a distinct bitter orange pong.  After having tried one, I can say that it’s probably a little more user-friendly than the powerful, bittersweet Negroni... a good introduction to that particular style of drink for the novice Cocktail-Hound.

Lucien Gaudin

1½ ounces gin (I used Berkshire Mountain Distillers Greylock Gin)
½ ounce Campari
½ ounce Cointreau
½ ounce dry vermouth

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Stir well, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with orange peel.

Given Monsieur Gaudin’s route to fame, it is tempting to say that the eponymous cocktail is better than a pointy stick in the eye... which it most assuredly is. In fact, it is pretty damn good.


Stairtread Snooze
Levon takes his morning catnap on the stairs.

“Don’t Tread on Me” was the Patriot’s Cry
As he fought against England in bloody War.
But when Levon selects a Place to lie,
“‘It’s Me on Tread’ - now let me snore!”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013


From the funniest woman in Louisiana:

“If you lay one hand on me, Scooter, I’m going to kick you in the balls so hard you’ll taste your future grandchildren’s shit.”

Go read the whole thing.  And then start mining the archives, ’cause there’s lots more where that came from.

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Asterix and Friends
Asterix, Obelix, Muselix (AKA Getafix, AKA Panoramix), and a nameless Roman Soldier: PEZ dispensers produced in 1998.

If there’s anything worse than developing a minor fixation on limited edition PEZ dispensers featuring characters from various movies and television series, it’s getting fixated on characters nobody has ever heard of.

Meet Asterix and friends, a 50+ year old comic book creation of French artists René Goscinny and Albert Uderzo. Never heard of ’em? That’s not surprising, since despite their immense popularity - their 34 some-odd books have been translated into 100 languages and have sold over 325 million copies worldwide - their fan base is primarily a European one. The Franco-Belgian corner of the pop culture world, alas, does not always fit with the American mainstream.

Asterix Google Doodle
Well, you may not know him, but he was popular enough to merit a Google Doodle on his fiftieth birthday back in 2009.

That’s too bad, because Asterix the Gaul (Astérix le Gaulois in the French original) is quite the entertaining fellow.  He and his menhir-schlepping buddy Obelix reside in the one village in Gaul that has managed to resist the Roman conquest, owing to the super-strength-inducing properties of a potion concocted by the resident Druid, Muselix (AKA Getafix).  The humor contains elements of David versus Goliath (canny, outnumbered Gauls against the might of the Roman Empire) as well as Mutt and Jeff (little Asterix and big, not-so-bright Obelix), coupled with a lot of wordplay around the Gaulish and Roman character and place names.  It works well enough in English translation, but in the French original it’s positively brilliant.

There are a number of Asterix movies out there, both live-action and animated... alas, none of them have ever caught fire here in the States.  But no matter... because thanks to the brilliant character licensing experts at PEZ, I can at least have a set of completely useless - yet decorative - vintage 1998 Asterix PEZ dispensers occupying shelf space in my office.

If nothing else, these bad boys are conversation pieces... said conversations generally beginning with “Who the fuck are those things supposed to be?”  And now you know, Esteemed Reader!


Sausage-Shaped Levon

Levon looks strangely sausage-like in this photo.  I wonder whether there might be some Dachshund buried deep, deep in his ancestry.  Stranger things have happened, no?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I have made no secret of my peculiar fascination with that strangest of Pop Cultural Artifacts: the Collectible PEZ Dispenser Set.

The PEZ folks are the geniuses who figured out that their business model was the exact inverse of that of Gillette.  Gillette practically gives their razors away, the better to sell their razor blades; PEZ buyers, conversely, focus on the dispensers and (mostly) don’t give a rat’s ass about the little candies they poop out.  PEZ learned long ago that people will buy those little plastic dispensers by the metric buttload as long as they depict an identifiable licensed character.  Fred Flintstone, SpongeBob SquarePants, Mickey Mouse, Popeye, it matters little - they all sell like hotcakes.

What could be even better than a single character-based PEZ dispenser?  A whole raft of ’em in a single package!  Why settle for, say, Frodo Baggins when you can get Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas the Elf, and Gollum, too... all in the same shiny box?  And it’s not just Lord of the Rings: I’ve also seen collectors’s sets featuring characters from The Wizard of Oz and Snow White.  Gawd only knows how many films and/or television series have been immortalized in this manner.

I really have no idea why they even bother to include the candy in these collectors’ sets, since no PEZ-Head worth his or her salt would ever dare consider opening the package to use (and thus defile) its contents.

I used the term “peculiar fascination” above to differentiate my interest in these things from the kind of obsession to which collectors are vulnerable.  I’ve never bought any of ’em, mainly because I fear the slippery slope.  Buy one, and soon you are gibbering in the corner at some PEZ collectors’ convention, trying to figure how you’ll pay for the Cloud Atlas set - three figures for just the Tom Hanks characters alone! - and rattling on about your treasure trove with your fellow enthusiasts like an Asperger’s kid holding forth on vacuum cleaners or steam engines.

And yet, four years ago when my friend Donnie Joe received a Star Trek: Original Series set for Christmas, I almost - almost! - felt pangs of envy.

Last month we celebrated Chanukah with our traditional Momma d’Elisson Memorial Chinese Food and Potato Latke Dinner.  As part of the festivities, She Who Must Be Obeyed had set up a white elephant gift exchange... a sort of “Dirty Hanukkah Harry” affair in which people exchange gifts and then try to “steal” the (supposedly) most desirable gifts.  Unbeknownst to me, that selfsame Star Trek set was amongst the white elephants.  Ahhh, if I had only known.

But Laura Belle - the one who had originally given the set to Donnie Joe - saw the wistful glance I cast toward that package after its contents had been revealed.  And thus it was that I received a belated Chanukah present, a gift for my Inner Nerd:

Star Trek TNG PEZ
Star Trek: The Next Generation!

Wow!  I guess this means I’ve been inducted into the numberless legions of PEZ-Heads.  What’s next?  AsterixThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen? Blade Runner?

Friday, January 4, 2013


Real... or Memorex?
“Who the hell are you and what the f%$k are you doing on my bed?”

One of these sourpuss Persian cats is an impostor... can you tell which one?

Let’s take another look:

Never mind
“Oh, never mind. Obviously, you’ve been decapitated and thus cannot answer me.”

The cat on the left is not, thank Gawd, a decapitated Dwarf-Kitty. He is a needle-felted finger puppet, handcrafted by the Mistress of Sarcasm.  I love the way she captured the vaguely pissed-off look of the real Persian... right down to the eyebrows!

Thursday, January 3, 2013


Back when I was a young engineer in the employ of the Great Corporate Salt Mine, I learned about hydroblasting, a technique that was used to clean out pipes and pressure vessels.  Used properly, it would remove the most stubborn deposits of gunk and crud, leaving pristine, shiny metal surfaces.

When you had a runaway reaction that would fill a hundred-foot-tall reactor with a single, solid 90-ton chunk of polyethylene, you’d open ’er up, send in the guys with chainsaws to cut the mess up into manageable chunks, and then hydroblast that crap out.  When you had pipes that got plugged up with nasty, viscous goo, you would call in the hydroblasters.  They’d clean things right up.

In like manner, the nice folks down at my local ENT specialist - that’s Ear, Nose, and Throat - solved what had started as a minor annoyance that subsequently threatened to become a Major Issue: my progressively worsening hearing on the right side.

There’s no doubt that my auditory abilities are not what they used to be.  Not surprisingly for someone who has been marching around this blue marble for over six decades, I’m starting to get some falloff in my ability to perceive higher frequencies.  It’s not at the point where I need Electronic Assistance, but that is only a matter of time, I fear.

But in the past few weeks, my right ear has been downright dysfunctional.

At first it was reminiscent of a time about five years ago when I flew to and from Sweat City with a full-blown head cold.  It felt as though someone had stuffed my head with cotton wool: The combination of plugged-up Eustachian tubes and the cabin air pressure differentials stopped up my ears for a solid month.

This felt like that, but I had no cold... just that miserable plugged-up feeling.  But since it wasn’t responding to the usual remedies (antihistamines, gum chewing, et alia), She Who Must Be Obeyed suggested that it might be a good idea to actually go see the Ear-Croaker.  After all, who knew whether something more serious might be afoot?

Turns out it was nothing more serious than a good case of Cerumen in Extremis: I had been growing a veritabobble sweet potato farm in that right ear canal.  Fortunately, a short hydroblasting session (with a syringe that looked like it could have given a horse an enema) was sufficient to blow it right out.  Holy crap, I could hear again!

Good Gawd Awmighty, if that hunk of wax wasn’t half the size of my pinky finger... enough to shine a whole bowling alley, it seemed like.  The Missus forbade me to post a photograph of it, and I cannot say I blame her, for it looked every bit as if my ear had taken a dump.  Posting a photograph of that evil goo would have been nekulturny in the extreme.

But I shall leave you with this:

Earwax Boy
You’re gonna squirt what in where? Get that infernal device away from me!

Scary, ain’t it?

Funny.  Now, I feel a whole lot better.  But I’ll bet you’re feeling a whole lot worse.


Ringo RIP
Ringo.  Requies-cat in pace.

It saddens me to report the passing of Ringo, beloved kitty-companion of SWMBO’s brother Morris William and his family.

Ringo has the distinction of being (probably) the only cat a photograph of whose asshole has graced the New York Times science webpage.  (We should all be thankful that we live in an age in which the technology exists to make this possible.)

I like to imagine Ringo arriving on the far shore after crossing the Rainbow Bridge, there to rejoin his erstwhile companions Screech (whose name was an accurate description of his voice), Woobie, and Chester the Molester.  Perhaps he will meet Hakuna, Matata, and Neighbor there as well.

Ave atque vale, Ringo!  You will be sorely missed.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


She Who Must Be Obeyed and I rang in the New Year (and celebrated our thirty-seventh Meet-a-Versary) in memorable style at the Holiday Inn in Roanoke, Virginia.  It had been a long day driving down from the Mistress of Sarcasm’s crib in upstate New York, and our idea of a Big Evening to finish out the year was, necessarily, adapted to circumstances.

Dinner was a rather uncomplicated affair: for me, a club sandwich washed down with a brace of Tanqueray Martinis; for the Missus, a chicken quesadilla and a couple of Malibu Barbie Martinis, a concoction involving coconut rum, pineapple juice, and grenadine.  Nothing fancy.

Somehow, I managed to stay awake long enough to see the ball drop.

Our New Year’s Day involved less mileage, as we had planned to stop off to visit our favorite Tennessee Renaissance Man and his lovely bride.  We arrived mid-afternoon, and the drizzly, damp weather didn’t bother us a bit, for we were in the company of friends.
As always, Eric and Princess Fiona were congenial hosts.  We supplied the blackeyed peas and collard greens, two traditional foods that - at least in SWMBO’s family tradition - are eaten on New Year’s Day to bring luck and prosperity.  It’s a practice popular in many parts of the southern United States, but it evidently never penetrated to Eric’s neck of the woods, seeing as how he was completely unfamiliar with it.  (Good Gawd, the boy had never tasted of blackeyed peas until this very day!) 

We alternated between watching football games and zombie flicks on the teevee while Levon did his best to keep everyone entertained with his kittenish antics.  And as the evening progressed, Eric, for our benefit and amusement, trotted out several tomes from his Library o’ Single Malts.  One cannot but hold out the best of hopes for a New Year that begins with not one, but five (count ’em!) fine Scotch whiskies...

Glenfarclas 21
Glenfarclas 21... a whisky old enough to order itself in a public house.

Highland Park 12
Highland Park 12.  Smooth and straightforward.

Talisker 10
Talisker 10, a delightfully peaty dram from the Isle of Skye.

Macallan 18
Macallan 18.  Deep caramel notes, amazingly mellow.

Laphroaig 10
Laphroaig 10.  Smoke, peat, and iodine... not for the faint of heart. 

Should auld acquaintance be forgot?  I sure as hell hope not!