Archive for August, 2006

A Mere Trifle

3

The
quid pro quo for having a herd of friendly foreign in-laws in exotic
climes from Flushing, Queens to Jipijapa are long, unfortunately timed
visits from selfsame in-laws, particularly the traditionally gnarly mother-in-law.

So it was with some trepidation that we have been anticipating
the arrival today of Norma Yvonne’s outlandish aunt Delfina, morbidly
obese
brother Gualberto and her wizened, widowed mother, Annie. Our dear mom-in-law
is here for the better part of a month, the others just came along from
New York to drop her off. This is a cultural trait of Latinos, we have
noted. When any family member is leaving on a trip, or coming back from
one, the entire troupe of 27 troupe down to the airport in a rolling bon
voyage, or welcome home, as the case may be.

At any rate, due to our only partially undeserved reputation
with our in-laws as an accomplished chef, we were expected to produce
an exotic
epicurean repast for tonight despite our current crushing schedule down
at the academic salt mines.

Within the constraints of time, budget and ingredients,
we kept it simple: Matza ball soup (for that exotic, ethnic Yid touch)
Pollo a
la Brasa (Broasted Chicken), Arroz a la Jardinero, fresh local sweet
corn,
and
tomato,
cuke
and onion slice salad.

But the tour de force, by popular request, was trifle.
Trifle. is a category of dessert, rather than a single dish. The version
we learned
from our mother combines a base of pound cake, layers of fresh fruit,
Bird (British) dessert pudding, marmalade, canned cling peaches in heavy
syrup and whipped cream.

The cool thing about Trifle. is that it is kind of
the smorgasbord of fancy desserts. You can throw in whatever marmalades
or preserves you
have in the refrigerator, and whatever fresh fruits are available and
in season. In this version we used fresh strawberries, mandarin orange
slices, and a banana.

The other adjustment we made in this version was in
the pudding layer. Usually we use two envelopes of Bird’s, a quaint
and traditional British
pudding which brings to mind Brigadier Pudding and treacle and is oddly
available in most major American markets, but today we found ourself down
to the very last packet. At the local Star market, we searched in vain
for the magic powder, which when mixed with two cups of milk and a bit
of sugar turns into a pasty pudding that holds the whole Trifle. together
like tapioca holds together whatever those little white globules are.

They had already made, ready-to-eat Bird’s Pudding,
a new format we had never seen, at $5.99 for a small packet, but as
it was unrefrigerated
and who-knows-how-long stored and shipped from the mother country we
passed. They had a Bird Trifle. Preparation Kit, at $7.99, which included
mixes for the cake, the pudding, a sort of translucent gelatin layer
unlike anything in Mom’s version, and a white, whipped cream-like "topping".
We recoiled and retreated.

In lieu of a Bird’s refill, we noted that the directions
on a package of Jello Flan were EXACTLY the same as for a packet of
Birds – mix with
two cups of milk and a bit of sugar, heat to a full boil, stirring constantly,
and then chill. We were cooking for a Latin audience, so maybe the Flan
substitution would fly. Should we just go with the single packet of
Birds, prepare a packet of each and apply them as separate layers, or
throw them in together and how for a fortuitous blending of tastes and
consistencies? We threw caution to the wind, and threw them both into
a pot with 4 cups of milk, and crossed our fingers.

Seems to have worked find for tonight, but we can’t
hide behind trifles for the better part of a month…

for a full photo review of the process, SEE HERE

Mel Admits Problem With Juice

4

from "I Hate Juice"

Astronomers Pray Romans Wrong on Afterlife

2

maicomix

Totally Nude Legal Teen Webcam

22

LONDON (Reuters) – An American helped
foil a burglary in northern England whilst watching a Beatles-related
webcam over the Internet, police said Friday.

The man from Dallas was using a live camera link to look at Mathew Street,
an area of Liverpool synonymous with the Beatles and home to the Cavern
Club where the band regularly played.

He saw intruders apparently breaking into a sports store and alerted
local police.

"We did get a call from someone in Dallas who was watching on a
webcam that looks into the tourist areas, of which Mathew Street is one
because
of all the Beatles stuff," a Merseyside Police spokeswoman said.

"He called directly through to police here." Officers were
sent to the scene and three suspects were arrested.

from Reuters

BRATTLEBORO — Here on the
banks of the Connecticut River, in the busiest parking area of a
downtown peppered
with bookstores and coffee shops, more is meeting the eye than
some people want.

A politely rebellious collection of teenagers passing time in the
Harmony Parking Lot this summer has taken to disrobing. Seemingly
on a whim, they shed clothes
and soak up the sun, nude.

What began as a lark or an ode to youthful exuberance has now turned into
a municipal quandary, because public nudity is permissible in Brattleboro.

from the Boston Globe

Putting
two and two together, we see a grand opportunity in the Green Mountain
State. With the proper promotion, a Live Brattleboro
Legal Nude Webcam could be the hottest site on the web for a week or
two, which is an eternity in Internet Time. Remember the Naked News?
Interested advertisers, contact the Dowbrigade…
.

Charletans and Shamen

1

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) – Peru’s government
warned people to be wary of fake medicine men offering cure-all miracle
herb potions on Tuesday, after a bogus brew killed a man hoping to
shake off a spell of bad luck.

Alternative medicine is popular throughout the Andean nation, where newspapers
are full of colorful ads from self-proclaimed "shamans" offering
to improve anything from customers’ luck to their ability to attract
a mate.

"Avoid consuming brews made with herbs of questionable origin or
hallucinogenic plants prepared by so-called Shamans," the country’s
Health Ministry said in a statement.

The Dowbrigade spent over ten years in Peru pursuing brews
made with herbs of questionable origin or hallucinogenic plants prepared
by so-called Shamans. One of the reasons we have always loved
Peru is that the entire country from the Selva, over the Andes and
down to the Pacific, is rife with Shamen, curanderos, herbalists, charming
charlatans, blind hueseros, faith healers and magicians. Sprinkled
amongst the tricksters, drunks and fakes are a few real repositories
of arcane powers and wielders of secret knowledge.

The ministry said that genuine Shamans from the country’s north sometimes
consumed natural hallucinogens such as the San Pedro cactus in their
rituals, but did not administer them to patients.

from Reuters

This we know to be untrue. We have seen San Pedro
administered as a diagnostic as well as a treatment, orally and nasally.

Still, San Pedro (one old San Pedro cactus can contain as much
mescaline as several hundred
peyote buttons) and
other
serious
psychedelics
should not be consumed from a cart on a street-corner like some psychedelic
smoothie. It requires cleansing, preparation and trust in the Shaman
involved.

Ah, but when it’s done right, it is the closest thing to walking with
the gods available in a reliable round-trip.

Charletans and Shamen

3

LIMA, Peru (Reuters) – Peru’s government
warned people to be wary of fake medicine men offering cure-all miracle
herb potions on Tuesday, after a bogus brew killed a man hoping to
shake off a spell of bad luck.

Alternative medicine is popular throughout the Andean nation, where newspapers
are full of colorful ads from self-proclaimed "shamans" offering
to improve anything from customers’ luck to their ability to attract
a mate.

"Avoid consuming brews made with herbs of questionable origin or
hallucinogenic plants prepared by so-called Shamans," the country’s
Health Ministry said in a statement.

The Dowbrigade spent over ten years in Peru pursuing brews
made with herbs of questionable origin or hallucinogenic plants prepared
by so-called Shamans. One of the reasons we have always loved
Peru is that the entire country from the Selva, over the Andes and
down to the Pacific, is rife with Shamen, curanderos, herbalists, charming
charlatans, blind hueseros, faith healers and magicians. Sprinkled
amongst the tricksters, drunks and fakes are a few real repositories
of arcane powers and wielders of secret knowledge.

The ministry said that genuine Shamans from the country’s north sometimes
consumed natural hallucinogens such as the San Pedro cactus in their
rituals, but did not administer them to patients.

from Reuters

This we know to be untrue. We have seen San Pedro
administered as a diagnostic as well as a treatment, orally and nasally.

Still, San Pedro (one old San Pedro cactus can contain as much
mescaline as several hundred
peyote buttons) and
other
serious
psychedelics
should not be consumed from a cart on a street-corner like some psychedelic
smoothie. It requires cleansing, preparation and trust in the Shaman
involved.

But when it’s done right, it is the closest thing to walking with
the gods available in a reliable round-trip.

Our Growing Family of Planets

ø


The solar system has 12 planets.

That is the conclusion, to be announced today, of an international panel formed
to devise a scientific definition of a planet and settle an increasingly intense
dispute over whether Pluto qualifies. The panel suggests retaining Pluto and
immediately adding three new planets to the nine that are familiar to any schoolchild:
Ceres, currently considered a large asteroid; Charon, now considered a moon of
Pluto; and Xena, a recently discovered object that is larger than Pluto.

from the
Boston Globe

It’s about time! For the past thirty years we have
been regularly reading reports of a repeatedly rediscovered tenth
planet
,
to the point that our unofficial count was up to about 16 planets in
all. A nice round dozen sounds fair to us.

AOL After Neo-Nazi Gold

ø

America
Online is prepared to take a backhoe to a Medfield couple’s yard in
a search for as much as $500,000
in hidden gold and platinum bars it believes may have been buried there
by their neo-Nazi son who made millions off of Internet spam scams.

AOL, the giant Internet provider, said it’s only trying to collect ill-gotten
assets from Davis Wolfgang Hawke, a former Westwood High School graduate-turned-neo-Nazi
cyber con artist.

AOL is determined to recover a $13 million settlement that it was awarded last
year by a federal court in a civil lawsuit against Hawke and his spammer cohorts.
AOL said it believes there may be gold and platinum bars on Hawkes’ parents’
Medfield property or on his grandparents’ property in Westwood.

"We have reason to believe (gold) is hidden" in Massachusetts, said
AOL spokesman Nicholas Graham, emphasizing AOL plans to give recovered
assets back to its scammed subscribers.

Hawke, 28, has disappeared since a federal court last year in Virginia
awarded AOL a $13 settlement against Hawke and his spam partner, Braden
M. Bourneval, a 21-year-old New Hampshire chess champion who settled
with AOL.

Published reports have said Hawke may have purchased as much as $500,000 in gold
bars from the millions he raised. AOL wouldn’t confirm that number, but Graham
said it does have receipts proving Hawke routinely purchased gold and platinum.

from the Boston Herald

Imagine that – two bloggable stories in one day
from the Herald. This one has it all – AOL, Spam scams, gold bullion,
buried treasure and neo-Nazis – almost.  All that’s missing
is  a sex angle.  Maybe we’ll find him holed up in a Bangkok
brothel…

Careful What You Wish For

ø

Thought wacky, nuke-hyping, Israel-threatening
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad wasn[t annoying enough? Well,
now he has a blog.

State-run TV announced the blog’s launch Sunday, but www.ahmadinejad.ir – which
is written in Persian, but translated into English, French and Arabic – almost
immediately crashed due to a huge volume of traffic.

In his first entry, Ahmadinejad wrote about his childhood, the country’s Islamic
revolution and the Iran-Iraq war, Aljazeera.net reported.

And like all good blogs, Ahmadinejad’s asks readers to participate in a scientific,
objective online poll: "Do you think the United States and Israel are pulling
the trigger for another world war?"

The entry was 2,000 words long, but Ahmadinejad apparently has learned the lesson
all good bloggers must: At the end he wrote, "From now onwards, I will try to
make it shorter and simpler."

Ironically, Iranian authorities currently are stepping up arrests
and pressure
on popular bloggers.

from the Boston Herald

Those of us trying to push a blogger into the White
House should take note, although there is a world of difference between
a blogger who gets elected to office and an office-holder who starts
a blog. On the other hand, Bush wouldn’t be seen within a light-year
of a blog, or a blogger…

Airing our Undies

ø

In the past we have written of Zapatos,
the funky warehouse shoe and clothing store, featuring seconds, overstock
and, we suspect, the contents of an occasional mysteriously missing
big rig. Name brands at a faction of list price, almost perfect Nikes
and Bass for twenty bucks, hooded sweatshirts with slightly smudged
logos
for
$3,
bins of sneakers sorted only by size.

Owned by a crusty archtype named Eric Schapero, Zapatos
serves mostly Boston’s active Latino population and the homeless-looking
denziens who haunt the projects and alleys around the sprawling Boston
Medical Center. Yesterday, for some reason, we found ourself with our
unmentionables at a stulyfying presentation on an Ugandan Refugee Camp
in a computer lab on the Medical Campus in between the hospital and
the shoe store.

We know that what is happening in Africa at this very
moment is the most tragic affront to human dignity and and the sanctity
of life on the face of this sorry  planet, but we have to confess
to an inability to concentrate on it for more than 45 minutes without
becoming dangerously depressed.

After the presentation ended, we huddled our group
in the grassy green lawn outside the building. Students, professors,
doctors and interns came and went in mufti and scrubs, sandals and
sneakers.  It was a gorgeous day.

We felt the need to shake off the aura of death and
disease that still hung in our minds from the horrifying slide show
we had just seen. "Hey," we offered, "Who wants to go shoe shopping?"
They are, after all, Business Professionals. Don’t ask why we took
a bunch of Business Professionals to the Medical School for a presentation on NGO’s in Ugandan refugee camps.

Their reactions to the Schapero business operation
were mixed. The Europeans, accustomed to shopping for high fashion
in Paris
and
Rome, were almost as horrified by Zapatos as they had been by the refugee
camp. The Asians dove right in, digging for bargains.

We had explained to them that the selection was always
changing, and if you were looking for a specific thing, it was pure
chance whether you would find it. We were looking for a new pair of
Topsiders, for example, but this week they had nary a pair. On the
other hand, when we enter with an open mind, we always find something
we need.

However, on this trip we discovered a new danger in
going the discount route. We ended up buying some new underwear, three
pair for one low price, a major American brand, labeled "Slightly Imperfect"
(see photo). When we got them home, we realized they were straight
out of the Goldilocks catalogue
– one pair was for Papa Bear, one for Mama Bear and one for Baby Bear.
At least, Norma Yvonne says she’ll wear the small ones…..

Rippedly’s Believe It or Not

ø

A mountain in China looks like a giant
pair of breasts.

The mountain, located 12km north of Zhenfeng town in the Guizhou province,
is known locally as dual breast mountain.

The mountain is used as a place of worship by the community.

Locals come to the foot of the mountain during weddings believing it
will bring them goodness and fortune.

from Ananova

But They’re OUR Mercenaries…

ø

While the Bush Administration calls for the immediate disbanding of what it has labeled “private” and “illegal” militias in Lebanon and Iraq, it is pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into its own global private mercenary army tasked with protecting US officials and institutions overseas.

from The Nation