December 31, 2004

Happy New Year!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 8:18 pm

Champagne glasses.jpg

Tonight, a large gathering of the Usual Suspects will take place at a nearby VFW Post, where the folks there know how to throw a helluva New Year’s Eve Bash. We may even have a cocktail or two to ring in the new year.

I wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous new year. See you in 2005.

Her Own Digs!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:03 pm

jmflynny, who was a regular contributor at RedNeck Ramblings, now has her very own piece of turf in the Blogosphere. The site, which was set up with the help of ‘Neck of RedNeck Ramblings (Thanks, ‘Neck), is called Divine InnerBitchin’. Having become familiar with her writing at ‘Neck’s place and in various comments (including here), I intend to be a regular at Divine InnerBitchin’.

Besides, she has a pretty cool name. 😉

Ramsey Clark.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 3:38 am

I see that Ramsey Clark has joined Saddam’s defense team.

No lawyer has to take a case, unless ordered by a court to do so, which happens sometimes. No court has ordered Mr. Clark to represent Saddam, nor would it, given that Saddam already has a clutch of lawyers. I have to assume that Mr. Clark wants to undertake this representation.

I once pee’d next to Ramsey Clark in one of the men’s rooms in the federal courthouse in Philadelphia.

I wish I would have pissed on his shoes.

December 30, 2004

“Breakfast Syrup” Huh?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 4:43 pm

Maple syrup.jpgThis morning I had occasion to have breakfast in a local diner (There’s plenty of them in Jersey). The French toast (lousy name, I know) was accompanied by individual servings of Smucker’s “Breakfast Syrup.” With a name like Smucker’s, it may be good, but it sure as hell ain’t maple syrup. .Here are the ingredients listed on the “Breakfast Syrup” label:

Ingredients: corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, natural and artificial flavors, salt, caramel color

Notice anything missing in those ingredients? You betcha! There is no farookin’ MAPLE to be found anywhere on the label. Although it might have been one of the “natural flavors” indicated on the label, I doubt it, because I assume if there were real maple syrup in that stuff, it damned well would appear in the ingredients.

I do not mean to disparage the Smucker’s product, as it was fine, but the difference between it and real maple syrup is as obvious as the difference between a fine wine and “T-Bird.”

Compare the ingredients listed above with the ingredients of genuine maple syrup:

Ingredients: sap

That’s it. Maple syrup consists of the sap obtained from sugar maple trees in the springtime that is boiled until just about all the water is gone, leaving only genuine maple syrup. It takes approximately ten gallons of sap to make one quart of maple syrup.

Maple syrup doesn’t just taste better than “Breakfast Syrup,” but it’s actually good for you. Consider the following:

Unlike some things that purport to be “organic” and “natural,” maple syrup is both.
Maple syrup contains as much calcium as whole milk.
Maple syrup contains approximately 40 calories per tablespoon, compared to corn syrup, which contains approximately 60 calories.
Maple Syrup is rich in minerals e.g. calcium, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorus, and iron) and vitamins (e.g. B2, B5, B6, niacin, biotin, and folic acid).

While one often associates maple syrup being made in Vermont, it is also made in Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, Indiana, Minnesota, Michigan, and Canada. (If I left out certain states, I suspect that someone will correct me.)

As a result of eating today’s “Breakfast Syrup,” and writing this entry, I am particularly glad that I have an unopened bottle of Grade “A” Dark Amber New York Maple Syrup in the kitchen, which will be opened and savored tomorrow.

So, if you find yourself in a New Jersey diner ordering pancakes or French toast, and you want genuine maple syrup, I suggest that you bring your own.

December 29, 2004

End-of-Year Linkage.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 4:17 pm

links.gifIt’s time to make some major additions to Mr. Blogroll. The two Montanans, David of “Better Living Through Blogging” and “karbonkountymoos,” as well as Teresa of “Technicalities,” are long-time reads and are long overdue. The others are more recent discoveries, but I find myself repeatedly using my bookmarks to read them, so up they go.

Here are the new additions:

Better Living Through Blogging



The Boiling Point

Feisty Repartee

Fistful of Fortnights

Caught in the X Fire


Peoria Pundit
I am certainly not the first to observe that there are too many good blogs and too little time. I would like to read every single blog on Mr. Blogroll every day, but that would leave little time for writing, and after all, writing is at least half the fun.

I am thinking that one way to make the process more efficient is to add one of those features that tells me when a site has been updated. Any suggestions? I would prefer suggestions that even a cyber-doofus I can implement.

Ben Stein Gets It.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 2:24 am

Read Gratitude.

via doubleplusgood infotainment

He’s Baaaaaack!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 1:15 am

Velociman has returned to the blogosphere after a short stay at the Laughing Academy, where he was supplied with a clutch of “chill pills,” but happily not with an attitude adjustment.

How about a fanfare? No?

A drumroll? No?

OK then. May we have a beer belch, please?

December 28, 2004

Ass-kicking Beer, Toys, Tunes, and Amazing Magic.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 4:50 pm

We’re back from a most enjoyable visit to the Casa Stardust Shrink. His huge, outrageously beautiful plain house near Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, turned out to be a veritable treasure trove of art, antiques, and most decidedly offbeat decorative doodads.

For example, the dining room contains a magnificent marble bust of Michelangelo’s David that is sculpted from marble taken from the same quarry that was the source of the marble Michelangelo used to sculpt the original David. It must weigh 500-600 pounds. Hanging on the wall over the bust is a pair of old jeans, which, by the location of the large tear in the front, looked as if they might have been worn by a person who had the misfortune of having had an exploding sharona. I didn’t ask what the deal was with the jeans on the wall. Some things are better left shrouded in mystery.

We also got to meet the Stardust Daughter, a gracious, well-mannered, friendly, and attractive teen-ager, who served as the hostess, and who knew all the words to a bunch of Beatle songs and other songs of that vintage. I liked that.

Of course, we again assaulted hell out of our livers enjoyed a few drinks. The drink of choice for a few of us yesterday was beer, as yesterday The Usual Suspects’ signature Traveling Bar included a case of Anchor Steam Beer. If you are a Coors Lite drinker, you might not like Anchor Steam Beer, because you probably have become accustomed to drinking that watery stuff that is only good for a quick electrolyte replacement while mowing the lawn on a hot summer day. Anchor Steam is genuine beer.

Speaking of beer, one of Stardust’s friends, John the Beer Guy, was there, and while quaffing Anchor Steam together, he asked if I had ever tried Russian Imperial Stout, manufactured by the Stone Brewing Company in California. I confessed that I had not, so he promptly took a ride to his nearby house to fetch a bottle or two. The stuff is as black as dirty motor oil, and it is most excellent. We drank it at cellar temperature from large snifters. We definitely liked John the Beer Guy.

Knowing that the Usual Suspects are often easily amused, Stardust bestowed some Christmas gifties on us: an old-fashioned gyroscope, a 60th anniversary edition Slinky (a metal one), and a farookin’ ant farm! Of course, we immediately got to spinning hell out of the gyroscope and even managed to get it to spin on a piece of tautly held string. (An explanation of how gyroscopes work can be found here.) That was followed by a group trip to the stairs to watch the Slinky walk down the steps, something I haven’t seen in decades. (A brief history of the Slinky, a Pennsylvania product, can be found here.) As for the ant farm, it turns out that the company that sells the ant farm will mail you the ants as part of the purchase price of the ant farm. So far, we have not identified anyone who is anxious to have ants mailed to their home. However, we’ll continue to canvass the Usual Suspects to see if there might be a closet entomologist among us.

We transitioned from vintage toys to the modern variety when Stardust (definitely a toy guy himself) demonstrated a radio remote-controlled disc, with a propeller affixed to the bottom, that lights up, spins and zips around like a flying saucer. He and I ended up the evening outside in the freezing cold, without jackets, of course, for a bit of outdoor, night flying. (We were shitfaced fairly mellow by this time.) The damned thing soared to about a hundred feet, leading us to prematurely celebrate the joy of flight and thereby lose control of the widget, causing it to get stuck in a large pine tree, about fifty feet off the ground, where it currently remains. So much for celebrating the joy of flight.

Possibly the high point of the evening came when Stardust absolutely stupefied us with “close-up” magic. It turns out that he is a serious magician, who is a member of the Society of Magicians (I assume he knows the secret handshake), and who has read countless books on the subject and practices regularly. I sat eighteen inches from him as he did the following trick:

He placed a small wooden box (approximately the size of an ice cube) in front of him (we all verified that it was a small, empty box) and placed a piece of paper and a pen on top of the small box. He then asked Mrs. Parkway to sign her name to a playing card and give it to him. A bit of magician’s razzle-dazzle later he opened up the small box, and the card that she had signed was folded in quarters and was inside the box. Amazing!! I swore I never took my eyes off the box, but obviously I must have. Like all good magicians, he is a master at misdirection.

Of course, we did some tunes, which is always fun, and I even managed to remain vertical for the duration.

It was a great time.

Here’s the thing about the Stardust Shrink. He works hard, and he plays harder.

I like that.

December 27, 2004

Have Guitar and Bar Will Travel.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 10:20 am

Having completed a 24-hour dry out, we are heading west for an overnight at the home of the of the Stardust Shrink, nestled somewhere in the woods of Pennsylvania (not to be confused with his beautiful oceanfront plain house in Cape May) for a bit of revelry with Stardust and some of his friends. We will be accompanied by my bodyguard Ken, the Anal Cruise Director, and Mrs. Ken, the Deckmistress.

We’ll only need a change of clothes, so we can pack light. Besides, we’ll need the room in the car for the Usual Suspects’ signature shitload of booze, wine and beer Traveling Bar. We don’t leave home without it.

Oh, and did I mention that the Stardust Shrink is also a guitar player? Therefore, I will also be bringing along my beloved Gibson dreadnaught, and we’ll be doing some tunes. Based on my experience in having done a couple duets with this infamous Jawja guitar picker armed with his Martin, Stardust’s Martin guitar and my Gibson should sound pretty farookin’ good together.

As long as there is no homemade Georgia moonshine wine on the premises, I should be able to go the distance.

December 26, 2004

The Aftermath.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Jim @ 12:38 pm

The Christmas Bash was a rousing success. It must have been, because the place looks like the Hessian Headquarters in Trenton must have looked the day after Washington caught those Teutonic mercenaries all beer’d up on Christmas Day in 1776 and gave them an Arsch-kicking, except that I have yet to run across any dead Germans.

We had enough food for Washington’s Army and enough booze, wine, and beer to get both sides in that conflict blitzed. I (along with my bodyguard Ken, the Anal Cruise Director) spent the better part of the day making drinks in the kitchen and doing scullery work. Apple martinis were again the drink of choice for most, even though I was ready for anything, as long as it wasn’t blue shit. As a result, neither of us got to sit all day. Hell, we even ate standing up.

This morning I treated the nascent hangover with a hot grease-bomb (ham, eggs, cheese, toast, lots of butter) and hot coffee. Since then, I have been managing to swallow my own spit and to help clean up the rubble a couple feet at a time.

To those who attended who may be reading this, thank you for coming. And to those who read this but who were not here, I wish you could have been. It was a great shindig, indeed putting the Battle of Trenton to shame.

I hope you all had a great Christmas. We certainly did.

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