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

Monday, October 31, 2016


In studying the works of Alexander Hamilton recently, I found the most remarkable document:

It is clear from the above that this particular Founding Father was fully acquainted with the value of the Tapered Doody. I propose, therefore, that the Tapered Doody be given the cognomen “Hamilton.”

A properly executed Hamilton is a rare accomplishment of which one may take considerable pride... which explains my exceptionally happy - dare I say proud? - state of mind today.


October has wound down to its final hours, and in keeping with the American passion for Ridiculous Seasonal Obsessions, it’s time to celebrate Hallowe’en.

I used to love Hallowe’en as a kid. What was not to like? You walked around the neighborhood, collecting sugarrific swag. Then you went home, dumped out the contents of your sack, made a cursory check for hidden razor blades, and ate until you retched. Not to mention those great costumes...

I recall that there was one house at which children were invited inside for hot apple cider and donuts. An elderly couple lived there, a couple who evidently had not gotten the memo. Donuts? Cider? Pfaugh! Where the hell are the Zagnut bars?

Nowadays, anyone who invited kids into their home on Hallowe’en for cider and donuts would most likely be arrested. Or sued. Possibly murdered. Or all three. But as an adult, I miss those simpler times when that kind of hospitality wasn’t flat-out creepy.

Now, I look forward to Hallowe’en like most people look forward to a high colonic. [I mean normal people. I’m aware that there are plenty of people who enjoy that sort of thing. Perverts.] This is mainly because we live in a neighborhood that has plenty of little kids. And that means getting up and answering the Gawd-damned doorbell every 3.2 seconds. Gets in the way of my TV watching and general ass-sitting activities.

OK, some of the little rug-rats are cute, I’ll give ’em that much. But once they’re over (say) six years old, they shouldn’t need prodding as to the Basic Elements of the Ritual:

1. Ring doorbell.
2. Say “Trick or treat!” This part - the Announcement of Purpose - is important. Gratuitous comments about smelling one’s feet and/or giving one something good to eat are permissible but not required.
3. Hold out sack or other container.
4. Receive candy.
5. Say “Thank you.” This part is also important, lest you grow up to be a Big Honkin’ Ass-Hole™.

It ain’t complicated, folks.

Oh, yeah. One other rule at Chez Elisson: Do not ask for UNICEF money. A formerly worthy organization, UNICEF is part and parcel of The International Alliance of Thieving Whores ’n’ Hypocrites the UN, so I no longer give them my money. Ask for UNICEF money and I will tell you to peddle your papers elsewhere, and I may just shove that collection box up your snoot.

And after you turn thirteen, it’s time to knock off the trick-or-treating activities. Hordes of teenagers wandering the ’hood on Hallowe’en night make me a little nervous. That’s because I was once a teenager, and I remember the kind of hell we used to raise. Once your voice changes and you start to grow hair on your face (guys, this means you, too), you can go bag groceries at the local Publix to earn your candy.

With all this said, there’s really only one thing I miss about the H-days of old. Having grown up in the Northeast, I like the fall weather. Cold. Crisp. Leaves turning their fall colors. And Hallowe’en is just not the same down South when it’s like as not over 70 degrees. Here in Georgia, the evenings this time of the year usually are cool, but the blast-furnace summer of 2016 puts me in mind of Houston - Sweat City - our home in the 1990’s, where it conceivably could be over 80 degrees on Hallowe’en. To me, the combination of Hallowe’en and the Texas heat never really worked... and that’s what inspired me to write this poem, which I trot out like clockwork this time of year:
Hallowe’en in Houston
Yes, Climate Does Make a Difference

It’s Hallowe’en in Houston: the sweat is on the pumpkin
And children dress as monsters in the heat.
They stalk the stifling streets and visit every city bumpkin
Ringing doorbells, shouting “Trick or treat!”

The torrid Texas towns are filled with tiny ghouls and ghosts
With Fahrenheit approaching 93 -
They look much less like children, and more like little roasts
Extorting molten Hershey bars from me.

I remember in New England, where the temperatures were frigid,
A chilly Hallowe’en would mark the season.
You’d go collecting candy and come home all icy rigid -
It just ain’t spooky if you aren’t freezin’!
[Adapted from a post originally published in October 2004.]

Wednesday, October 26, 2016


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

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

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

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

Friday, October 21, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

It baffles science!

Saturday, October 8, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Wednesday, October 5, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 4, 2016


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

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

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

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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 2, 2016


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

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

Our latest entry:

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

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

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