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

Sunday, July 31, 2016


D’oh - a word that Homer says
Ray - a blind musician guy
Me - A T and you’ve got meat
Fa - some European soap
So - another word for “thus”
La - a part of “tra-la-la”
Tee - a little wooden peg
That will bring us back to D’oh...

[apologies, albeit insincere, to Rodgers and Hammerstein]

Monday, July 25, 2016


A few weeks ago, I made note of my having had my head examined - specifically, an MRI imaging of the Elissonian Noggin, in order to uncover the source of certain mysterious, ahh, discomfort that I call The Bear. (Discomfort being a nice way of describing the sensation of suddenly having a hot ice pick shoved into your jaw.)

Well, there’s always a Good News/Bad News aspect of this sort of Voyage of Discovery. The good news is that my problem is not structural - no weird malformations, no tumors, nothing that isn’t where it’s supposed to be. The bad news is, it’s almost certainly a condition that I will have to live with, since it’s One Of Those Things That Never Fucking Goes Away Permanently. But there is more good news, and that is that there are medications to treat it that usually work. Hooray for me!

Looking at your Skull-Innards, though... that’s an experience that encapsulates both good news and bad news all within itself. On the one hand, it’s nice to know that there actually is a brain stuffed into my often seemingly empty noggin: I always envision the neurologist shining a penlight into one ear and having the beam pass right through to the other. On the other hand, there’s something weirdly recursive about looking at your own Thinky-Meat. It’s like seeing your True Essence in a mirror, a view most of us are not quite prepared for.

An MRI, for those who haven’t had the pleasure, is an imaging technology that allows you to look at thin sections of your body without the inconvenience and discomfort of strapping you to a deli meat slicer. As we looked at the computer screen in the neurologist’s office - look, there’s the base of your spinal cord! - there’s your cerebellum! - I wondered whether I had lived down South long enough to have grown an antebellum. And I was pleased to hear the doctor say, “Your brain looks really good for someone your age.” That is, of course, a left-handed compliment, yet I was happy to hear it despite thinking, “It may look good, but it works like a chunk of Emmenthal’s finest.” Her comment reminded me of an old cartoon I had seen years ago, from the Princeton Tiger, our campus humor magazine:

So for those who can stand to look, I present below the Brainpan d’Elisson for your delectation... a peek under the hood, if you will.

Why, it’s either Elisson’s brain or a Rorschach ink-blot card!
The resemblance between this image and a slice of headcheese is more than just a little disconcerting, innit?

Friday, July 8, 2016


Pogo. ©1971 Walt Kelly.

This strip was Walt Kelly’s famous salute to Earth Day on its first anniversary. It seems to be more appropriate than ever in these fractious times.

Monday, July 4, 2016


I speak, of course, of Cracker Barrel Restaurant, a chain that has grown into a roadside standby from its humble origins in Lebanon, Tennessee back in 1969. There are over six hundred of them now, scattered across forty-two states; but in our little corner of the world they are especially thick on the ground.

I always call it “Crapper Barrel.” Or sometimes “Cracker Beebish,” for no discernible reason except to amuse myself. Fact is, we will inevitably stop there at least once on any given Road Trip... for while we never eat at any of its numerous local outlets, we find it to be a pleasant enough alternative to the typical roadside fast-food selections. 

Several weeks ago, as we worked our way northward to visit the Mistress of Sarcasm in her new digs, we stopped for lunch at a Cracker Barrel near Roanoke, Virginia. 

A quick inspection of the dining room revealed why “Cracker Barrel” is such a well selected name for the place: The clientele could very well be described as a Barrel o’ Crackers. Elderly white folks were thick on the ground... many of them thick in the middle as well. It put me in mind of a cafeteria dining room at The Villages, packed with hungry Q-Tips.

As with all CB’s the walls were festooned with miscellaneous memorabilia. Old Timey Shit. Cracked, stained photographs of people long dead, washboards, superannuated advertising posters shilling for defunct products. I had a passing vision of the Cracker Barrel of the Future, decorated with old X-Boxes, iPad cases, framed photos of Steve Jobs and Bono, and microwave oven doors. Hello Kitty could even make an appearance, right alongside Darth Vader. 

With difficulty, I resisted the temptation to play with the dopey Golf Tee game while we waited for our luncheon selection to arrive. You know the one I’m talking about: you start out with fourteen golf tees arranged in a triangular pattern in a block with fifteen holes. By jumping one tee over the other (it must have an empty hole to land in) and removing the tee you jumped over, the skilled player (“Sweet Genius”) can finish with but a single tee remaining. I usually end up with a forest of tees still standing, which puts me somewhere between “Shit-for-Brains” and “Spent Too Much Time Chewing on the Stupid Loaf.”

Chicken fried chicken, a somewhat redundantly named menu offering.

Our entrées arrived, and I salted mine with a flourish. Mmmmm... chicken livers, dipped in batter and fried until they are the consistency of bluestone gravel. Dee, meanwhile, had ordered the pepper trout - always a good choice - and she munched merrily away.

On the way out, we ignored the massive display of knick-knacks and Semi-Obsolete Confections as I paid. The tariff was reasonable as usual, a little north of what you’d pay at a fast-food outlet but not excessive given the table service. Appetites comfortably sated, we eased ourselves into the car to continue our trek.