E Pluribus Mores

Archive for December, 2008|Monthly archive page

Who this person, Hannah Montana, you speak of?

In celebrity fashion on December 29, 2008 at 10:16 am

Hannah Montana

Who is this Hannah Montana, you speak of ?   I have no idea.  I know, you are saying, “that’s what you said in your previous column about the Lady With the Big Lips.  But throughout the column it was clear that for years you had been reading the supermarket checkout headlines.”  Well, that may be true, but in this case I really have no idea who she is. My overwhelming inclination is to detest her.  Her name alone calls forth the P.S. Mueller cartoon of the dog who in one panel vomits, and in the other panel eats it.  The original caption reads:  “nostalgia.”  That could be fixed.  But the truth is I don’t know.  Should she not gain the least benefit of my lack of certainty?  It is like the philosopher’s cat who was placed into a box with a radioactive material, a Geiger counter, and a flask filled with cyanide gas.  The experiment is constructed so that if the Geiger counter detects the radioactive material it will trigger a switch, which will break the flask, and the cat will die.  But because in the time allotted to the experiment the radioactive material has an equal chance of emitting a particle, we can’t know for certain whether the cat is alive or dead.  So that in the instant before we open the box all possibilities exist in equal measure.  This is a very special place, this box.  In this universe of possibility, when the vice-president says, “we only water boarded three prisoners,” he means three in the sense of one, two, three, or in the sense that “I authorized nothing worse in those secret CIA prisons than institutional food and a stern reprimand,” and not in the sense that “I am a lying sack of a donkey’s last breakfast, and you can’t do anything about it.”  In this special place Hannah Montana isn’t cross marketed.  She isn’t a golem created in a white-board brainstorming session by the cubicled minions of a cave-bred corporate ghoul who hates the sun.  In this special world she could be anything, from the surreal to the macabre, from improvisational theater to a Ghastly Crumb Tiny.  Heck, for all I know, she could be quality children’s programming.  I could research.  I could view clips of her programs, attend one of her concerts, or read news reports of which ex-Olympic figure skater will play her in Disney on Ice.  But then I would know.  The box would open, the cat would escape, and all I’d be left with is whatever the cat had deposited in the litter.


Quote of the Week

In Quote of the Week on December 28, 2008 at 10:11 am

You can put kittens in the oven; it don’t make ’em biscuits.

–Old Vermont Saying

That one guy from Top Gun

In celebrity fashion, celebrity question of the week on December 22, 2008 at 2:09 pm

What’s up with dude from Top Gun.  Is it just me, or does he look exactly the same as he did in 1986.





If this were English 101 we would find a painting hanging in his attic that would reveal his true self after all these years.  Whose portrait would it be?

What do you think?



Slow Cooking in the Knucklehole

In slow cooking on December 20, 2008 at 10:39 am

Magic Broth

2-3 onions
1/4 cup olive oil
one head of garlic
1 sweet potato
1 carrot
a fresh tomato
1 tablespoon tamarind paste
1  lemon
salt and pepper to taste
1 bottle of white wine

Welcome back to Slow Cooking in the Knucklehole. Today we will be making the Magic Broth (cooking time 2-4 hours, depending on the dish). Not magic in the Macbethian sense–what with the price of brinded cat and hedge-pig–but magic in the sense that it turns into almost any dish, and that it takes so long it seems a miracle when dinner is ready.

I find that the best broth begins with a major in the humanities. This results in the inevitable low-paying academic staff position, but plenty of time in the aftern0on. My major was the classics. You might say that tonight’s dinner took 2000 years to make–now that’s slow cooking!

For the broth you will need 2-3 onions, olive oil, one head of garlic, a sweet potato, a carrot, a fresh tomato, tamarind paste, a thin slice of lemon, salt, pepper, and a bottle of white wine. I pretty much always use the same wine–an Italian white from San Vincenzo. But any wine with a castle on it should work fine.

Cut the onions in large chunks. Pour a generous portion of olive oil in a large pot and cook the onions on high heat until they begin to burn. Meanwhile peel the sweet potato and garlic. Cut the sweet potato and carrots into large chunks. When the onions are browned/blackened, mix in the remaining ingredients. Let this cook for 2-3 minutes, then pour 1/2 of the bottle of white wine into the broth, retaining the remainder for after 5:00 or when guests arrive, whichever comes sooner. Cook for about 5 minutes, then pour in 4 quarts of water. Cook without a lid on medium heat until the broth is reduced by roughly half–about two hours–or until magic occurs. While this is cooking, I might suggest catching up on your research or checking if your blog has broken the three-views barrier yet today. When you are sure the magic has happened, strain the broth (reserve the veggies to use in dishes such as sweet potato flan or sweet potato cashew dip) and return to the stove on low heat.

Optimally the broth should be pretty much ready to go by 4:30. This allows you to plan dinner and go shopping. If you intend to use the broth for a reduction sauce, you should allow at least another hour and put cream and the high fat European butter on the shopping list. Magic broth transforms itself into:

soups (e.g. white bean, sweet potato, tomato, spicy Spanish, french onion, chowder), vegetarian stuffing, potatoes au gratin, goat cheese gnocchi with tamarind reduction sauce, sweet potato gnocchi, mashed potatoes, paella, risotto, gravy, sweet potato flan (again, with the reduction sauce), carrot cashew dip, potato knishes, and broth for invalids and the infirm. The list goes on.

That wraps it up for this episode. Just remember, as Julia Child says, “butter makes it good.”

That one lady from Friends

In celebrity fashion, celebrity question of the week on December 19, 2008 at 4:46 pm


The other day Kelly patiently explained to me that the lady with the big lips’ celebrity had something to do with that one lady from friends. Her argument, at least prima facie, made sense. But this leads to the question: why is the lady from Friends a celebrity?

What do you think?

A. She has exhibited at any a time a capacity to act.

B. She was the least offensive cast member of a show that appealed to a coveted advertising demographic.

C. The same reason that Woodman’s includes Shake n’ Bake and Hamburger Helper in the ethnic foods aisle.

Etiology comes to the Knucklehole

In The Classics on December 18, 2008 at 10:56 am

etiology 1: CAUSE, ORIGIN; specif: all of the causes of a disease or abnormal condition, 2: a branch of knowledge dealing with causes.

–Webster’s Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary

My reader(s?) often asks me, what is the etymology of the term Knucklehole? Many believe that ‘knucklehole’ was coined by Olivia in reference to Dave and Lesly’s unfinished downstairs bathroom. But some suggest the name goes back much further to a term for an alcove in the lower levels of a Roman Townhouse located off the storage room and above the cloaca maxima. For centuries the room was only known by oblique references from graffiti and innuendo. But Roman archeologists have recently unearthed a fragment from a first century mime comedy entitled, The Knukelarium. The fragment, translating roughly to “Livia, honey, you forgot to buy sponges, again,” has sent shockwaves throughout the classical world. While many have taken the fragment to be authentic, there have been skeptics. At a recent panel of experts one scholar suggested to the archeologist that “perhaps ‘Odysseus’ should lay off the lotus for a while.” The archeologist responded that he would go “Catullus XVI on his ass,” if he cast doubts on the veracity of the discovery. The scholar retorted, “You show me your sparrow, and I’ll show you mine.” The archeologist shot back, “quis custodiet custodies.” The scholar then stated that the reference made no sense whatsoever, and “besides, there Wilamovitz, it’s ‘custodes.’” It was then witnesses say all Vesuvius broke loose. The archeologist suggested that the gentleman could stuff the fragment up his domus aureus, to which the scholar responded, “Whatever collapses your boat, Neee-ro.” At that, the archeologist showed him some figs and stomped out. Other experts on the panel agreed that archeologists weren’t really classicists, anyway, and that parts of the exchange had been juvenal.

Other Quote of the Week

In Quote of the Week on December 17, 2008 at 9:46 am

That’s funny.  He didn’t look Shoe-ish. 

–Secret Service

Other Other Quote of the Week

In Quote of the Week on December 17, 2008 at 9:26 am

Play another song, boys.  This one has grown old and bitter.

–Leonard Cohen


Nobody’s listening to me.  I feel just like Leonard Cohen.


Quote of the Week

In Quote of the Week on December 17, 2008 at 9:16 am

Don’t give me that. I don’t believe in fate. And I won’t say it.
All right, you win. You win. I give. I’ll say it. I’ll say it. I’ll say it. DEST-I-NY! DEST-I-NY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME! DEST-I-NY! DEST-I-NY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME!

–Caroline Kennedy

The mighty Hag of the lake, man in shape, but hideous in size

In celebrity fashion on December 1, 2008 at 9:10 am

Ok, I heard from my readers that parts of the last column were unfair. Specifically, the picture of the lady with the big lips may (may!) have been the victim of post-production performance enhancers. Readers stated that childhood photos prove that the iconic protuberances in question derive from natural processes.

The offending celebrity
The offending celebrity


This innocent lapse highlights a problem with celebrity reporting: I don’t know the celebrity. In fact I have never seen the celebrity in question or know someone who has seen her. I have never seen one of her movies or Broadway musicals, have never completed a magazine column featuring her, never knowingly brought a magazine containing her image into my house. I don’t know which products she endorses, who she is currently dating, or even why I keep seeing her face in line at the shopping center. My ignorance on the matter is total and complete.

Well, this week I am going to remedy this by dedicating the column to the lady with the big lips. I once heard that she gained prominence in the celebrity/fashion world by going to a party with the guy who plays a homosexual mountain man along side Iggy Pop in Jarmusch’s Dead Man. More recently Dave said she played Grendel’s mother in the movie, Beowulf (not to be confused with the 2005 Hringur Ingvarsson/Stellan Skarsgård vehicle, Beowulf and Grendel, directed by Sturla Gunnarsson).

The Offending Monster

The Offending Monster

The ninth century anglo-norse epic is a splendid tale of heroism and bloodshed that stands guard at entrance to English literature. It blends neo-Homeric epic with references to historical personages. For example, there is a reference to the house of king Knut of Denmark, who took the English throne from Aethelred the Unready, who was succeeded briefly by Harold Godwinson, who fought at the battle of

The Offending King

The Offending King

Stanford Bridge, only days before he rushed south attempting to defend his crown against William the Bastard of Normandy in the battle of Hastings.

To research the movie I talked to Dave, who saw the movie at the Imax, having been faced with impossible dilemma of either seeing Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium with his kids or spending two hours breathing carbon monoxide in a running car. In this oedipian adaptation of the epic she plays “the mighty Hag of the lake,” “man in shape, but hideous in size.” In a gripping account of the movie highlights, Dave indicated that she spends her scenes dressed pretty much in gold spray paint and ivy. Understandably, given that the Imax is two stories high, Dave described her as “large.”

Well that about wraps it up for this issue.

The Offending Movie Bill

The Offending Movie Bill

Parts of this collumn were first published in the Family Night Times