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Dramatic Holiday Feasts

    [Logistics note: I'm doing a chat today at 1 p.m. on this site, about the Avian Flu story. Here's the link. Please send questions about the flu, or about any symptoms you might be experiencing. Please stipulate whether you have live poultry in your home and, if so, whether the poultry has been acting out of sorts. If you have a persistent  hacking cough, send a thorough verbal description. Include the phone number of your pharmacy. In the meantime, here is the latest Rough Draft column, coincidentally also about birds.]

    Big Bird

   For Thanksgiving dinner this year, we gave everyone an acetylene blowtorch and a welder's helmet, and passed around hunks of raw meat. It was thrilling! We had the traditional turkey, of course, plus goat, bobcat and some pigeon that I thought tasted exactly like squirrel. Some of the guests never quite mastered their torches, and at one point the curtains caught fire, but it was all enchantingly dramatic.

    That's everyone's goal when designing a holiday meal these days: Drama. Excitement. The wow factor. It's not a meal -- it's a performance. You don't have dinner guests, you have witnesses. Everyone who leaves the table at the end of the feast must be not only satiated, but also emotionally spent. You want your holiday dinner guests to say, "I can't remember when I've had such an intense, weird and utterly harrowing meal."

    Simply roasting a large turkey in the oven and serving 150 or 200 side dishes isn't going to cut it in today's highly competitive culinary culture. We're past the point where repulsive gluttony by itself will make a holiday meal memorable. You need an actual sense of danger. This is the appeal of those turkey deep-fryers. Why roast a turkey in a conventional oven when you can lower it into a giant spattering vat of extremely hazardous billion-degree oil and have your own near-Chernobyl experience?

   It's hard to believe how much holiday meals have changed since the 1960s and 1970s, when everyone served the same few things: turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, gravy, maybe some sweet potatoes and green beans, and definitely some jellied cranberry sauce from a can. An experimental, risk-taking chef would switch to whole-berry cranberry sauce from a can. Only two things mattered: People had to be able to eat themselves into a coma, and the white meat had to be moist.

   The baseline against which "moist" was measured was basically cardboard. This period in history is known as the Dry Meat Era. Turkeys didn't have such large breasts back then, and it took a lot of cooking savvy and intercessory prayer to keep them from drying out. This caused chronic anxiety among mothers, who in those days were led to think that their entire value to society depended upon retaining moisture in the white meat of a turkey.

   [Click here to read the entire column. Or you can read the recent column about futuristic foods, or the column on manfood, or the one about buying giant hunks of meat and so forth at Costco. Rough Draft is basically a weekly food column.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  December 12, 2005; 7:31 AM ET
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Giant Bird Flu Story Sighted
Next: Boodle Getting Famous


Yes, Joel, it's a food column. But at least it's manfood, which makes it unique...

Posted by: slyness | December 12, 2005 8:06 AM | Report abuse

Jeez, I partake of an actual weekend and lookit all ths stuff I missed...

(preparing particularly pithy comments for the p.m. party)

P.S. Cordova, I'm just a packet of information, like everyone else.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 12, 2005 8:35 AM | Report abuse

I have only mentioned that the turkey breast was dry once during my marriage (yes I am still married). My wife looked at me coldy and said "that's why there is gravy." I think my response was "please pass the gravy."

Posted by: LB | December 12, 2005 9:22 AM | Report abuse

I'm still curious about the Washington Post's fried squirrel recipe from a few weeks ago... if the economy ever really tanks, I might give it a try! BTW, do you think pigeon is actually edible? I mean, like, would eating a pigeon kill you? Is it risky? Might THAT be how bird flu becomes a pandemic? Those things are disease-bags, right? I know they were brought over here originally as food, but the idea of eating them now is just wrong. This could be a column in itself: why don't we eat pigeons? Inquiring minds want to know.

Posted by: Huntsman | December 12, 2005 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Try having your turkey dinner in an exotic location--like Zenia, Calif. Most memorable Thanksgiving Day feast I ever had was when my Humboldt State P.E. locker partner Kathy Knight invited me to join her clan my freshman year in college, since I had nowhere to go.

Zenia, you say? Just find your way to Garberville along Highway 101 and swing east about as far as the road takes you into the Trinity Forest.

Kathy's grandmother had a dozen kids and they all show up for Thanksgiving, with their kids and grandkids. Everyone brings food. I think there were 30 different pies and 14 cakes for Thanksgiving Day dinner. Regardless of the true number, they filled an entire, long table that day. Of course, also served that day on the Thanksgiving Day table along with the turkey was bear meat, taken from a nearby bear, and trout, taken from a nearby stream.

In the mornings, Granny pulled out a bowl of sourdough starter for sourdough pancakes that she had brought with with her after turn of the (last) century when her husband brought her to those hills as a child bride.

The memories: On the drive in, Kathy said, "Watch your surroundings as we drive this road. We have two warring clans here who have been fighting for years, much like the Hatfields and McCoys." Shooting a shotgun for the first time. Showering in the primitive outdoor shower stalls.

The clan being so big that one night they held their own squaredance. And stealing away from the squaredance with one of Kathy's cousins to go neck in the hills in the moonlight, and having a horse stick his head into the cab of the pick-up while we were locking lips.

They didn't make Thanksgivings like these, at least where I came from. My most memorable Thanksgiving--ever.

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Jeffery Taubenberger

Taubenberger = the mountain where doves or pigeons gather. No wonder he's on the hunt for bird flu...the name says it all?

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Giant Bird Column Sighted!

["Your mom, agonized, would say, 'Is the white meat . . . overdone?' Finally, heroically, you'd manage to utter a single, barely audible word: 'Powder.'"


What I want to know is, is Joel going to go out and get his turkey sandwich *before* the chat, or *after*? Before could be too early, after could be too late. I don't envy him that dilemma at all.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 9:50 AM | Report abuse

There are people in my immediate family ( a husband and three sons) who have their own near-Chernobyl experience every time I get near a stove.

If I have a persistent hacking cough, should I worry?

Posted by: dr | December 12, 2005 10:01 AM | Report abuse

Joel: Excellent, Excellent column. You didn't mention the carving ritual, which I've found to be another Holiday Meal event that can be a memorable experience if one is creative. For example, holding the turkey up vertically and slashing bits of meat in a frenzied manner while screaming, "Turkey, turkey, turkey, come and get some!" Or carefully removing first the turkeys legs and wings while wearing a surgical mask and having an assistant hand you things like sissors. Occasionally, exclaim, "Oops, looks like a bleeder."

Of course, I just dream of doing such things. The second I take the knife and approach the turkey, I am aware of the withering stare of my wife. She will brook no levity when dinner is to be served.

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 10:01 AM | Report abuse

With regards to carving, here's a comment for the ages:

In this corner sits a fully-cooked bird. In that corner, I stand with a motorized knife.

Eventually, I will win.

Separately, for some reason my male siblings and I have been reluctant to take up the "family carver" mantle from my dad. Most likely because he cleverly hides the knife, a family heirloom. And separately, my favorite holiday feast memory is of our family's longtime dog, Boston, patiently staring at the bird as he sat in the chair at the head of the dining room table. He never mentioned what he thought of the moisture level.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 12, 2005 10:13 AM | Report abuse

There may be one or two people on earth who have not seen the results of Purdue prof George Goble's IgNoble Prize winning experiment with speed grilling. For those few, I present this-

Just keep scrollin' til you see what I'm talking about.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 12, 2005 10:14 AM | Report abuse

I make a particularly spectacularly good turkey, which I am no longer permitted to make as one of my offspring has become a strident vegetarian. Pursuing the parental right to make whatever I darned well please is a Pyrrhic victory, at best, since half the persons who would be eating it won't do so.

Anyway, there are three secrets: (1) apple cider for basting, re-injecting the spilled apple cider and turkey juices under the breast skin evey hour or so. (2) high-temperature roasting, say at 425 or so, cuts a lot of time off the nominal roasting time and doesn't give it time to dry out. (3) leave the bird hollow. Stuffing takes a long time to heat up.

Posted by: Tim | December 12, 2005 10:28 AM | Report abuse

If you're talking manfood, right up there with the fried turkey would be a smoked one. Hey, you get to play with fire for seven or eight hours!

And Mrs. Self makes delicious enchiladas with the leftovers. Why is it that you never hear of smoked turkey enchiladas?

Posted by: Bayou Self | December 12, 2005 10:38 AM | Report abuse

From one of my favorite Holiday Turkey stories, Clive Barker's "The Yattering and Jack". The Yattering is a Demon, sent from Hell to break the reserve of gherkin importer Jack Polo.

"In the lounge, Jack was laughing with Gina about something.

Then, a noise. A rattling at first, followed by the beating of somebody's fists against a door. Amanda dropped the knife into the bowl of sprouts and turned from the sink, following the sound. It was getting louder all the time. Like something locked in one of the cupboards, desperate to escape. A cat caught in the box, or a -


It was coming from the oven..."

"...A wave of steam and blistering heat rolled out of the oven, smelling of succulent turkey-fat. But the bird inside apparently had no intentions of being eaten. It was flinging itself from side to side on the roasting tray, tossing gouts of gravy in all directions. Its crisp wings pitifully flailed and flapped, its legs beat a tattoo on the roof of the oven.

Then it seemed to sense the open door. Its wings stretched themselves out to either side of its stuffed bulk and it half-hopped, half-fell on to the oven door, in a mockery of its living self. Headless, oozing stuffing and onions, it flopped around as though nobody had told the damn thing it was dead, while the fat still bubbled on its bacon-strewn back.

Amanda screamed.

Jack dived for the door as the bird lurched into the air, blind but vengeful."


PS: Joel, I've tried that last turkey recipe but cooked it a little longer, ending up with a diamond. We didn't eat that well that Christmas, but I was well covered for the next Valentine's Day.

Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Ha ha. bc, THAT's when having your own blowtourch would be handy.

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 10:43 AM | Report abuse

The turkey trend seems to be hotter and faster. Anne Tyler's The Accidental Tourist has a great bit with the turkey being cooked at very low temperatures nearly forever.

My dad is a salmonella-phobiac and will not eat turkey that does not immediately turn to dust when stabbed.

Posted by: yellojkt | December 12, 2005 10:55 AM | Report abuse

Tim, you used the term "strident vegetarian". I believe that is a redundancy.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 12, 2005 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Squab under glass= young pigeon.

Apparently pigeon gets really tough past the baby pigeon stage, so it has to be marinated and prayed over. Youngish pigeons can be marinated 12-24 hours. The geezers may need 2 days in the fridge.

Pigeon will tolerate strong sauces. In other words, pigeon cacciatore might be perfect.

I wonder what the recipe for eating crow is? (They're after all supposed to be inedible, although pigeon is starting to sound a close second.).
Aha! I HAD to ask...

Check the FAQs on how crows taste.

Moral: never accept "chicken" anything from anybody who owns a gun and a hunting license.

Posted by: Wilbrod | December 12, 2005 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Yellojki, you're correct on the faster/hotter trend. Oh wait, we're talking about turkey ...

Just kidding. I saw a recipe the other day for a two-hour turkey.

Posted by: Bayou Self | December 12, 2005 11:11 AM | Report abuse

Talking about eating pigeons and crows reminded me of my father, a C/Msgt in the Air Force. He told me about a survival training he went through in the 60's which included eating all things great and small. While he had an iron stomach and the constitution of an ox, there was only one item on that menu that his throat refused to swallow. It was salty, stringy, gamey, greasy, and was seen, back then, primarily at the dump. He just could not swallow sea gull.
I wonder if he tried to smoke it...

Posted by: mh | December 12, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

Some years ago, the proud mantle of He Who Carves the Turkey was passed to me (it's an honor no one wants, but never mind). As the patriarch of my clan (another job I never asked for) I find that I not only carve the turkeys cooked in our own house, but at my oldest daughter's house (where we are invited for T-Day ever year). Her husband, an otherwise fine fellow, good father, and excellent provider, runs like a bandit when this chore arises. (This same fellow is a hunter, and will do things to a dead 10-point buck I hesitate to describe in a mixed boodle.)

Overlooked in Joel's column and the boodle posting heretofor is the single most disgusting aspect of the entire ritual we men face (I say "men" with no disrespect meant to women turkey carvers among you, but it has been my experience that women view the role of carving the turkey as "a man's job." God knows why, but that just seems to be the way things are): spooning out gobs of stuffing from the turkey's gaping nether orifice. The womenfolk of my clan historically have had no problem whatsoever inserting said stuffing in said orifice, and have done so nobly, with flair and panache over the decades, and "Splendidly done," say I. But post-roasting extraction: no, that's apparently linked to the Y chromosome.

(The irony, of course, is that it seems to me to be infiinitely more disgusting to stick one's hand with wads of cold, damp, raw stuffing into the bird than it does to scoop the dried, cooked stuffing out with a spoon. But I digress.)

I am frankly surprised that any fellow boodlers have trouble with the question, "Is this turkey too dry?" This is one of those questions that approaches, "Does this dress make me look fat?" in simplicity and ease of response. Any answer other than, "No dear, it's fine" (to either question) means you are a total moron. There's an entire chapter early in the "Handbook for Men" that teaches this, and any male who hasn't read it and committed it to memory is just asking, nay, begging, for trouble. (The chapter following deals with the answer to a very similar question, "Do you ever think about other women," another no-brainer with one and only one "correct" answer.)


On a related note, the REAL problem I have with Thanksgiving occurs not in my own house, but on television: Who is the moron who decided that (pardon me if I violate boodle protocal for a moment and switch to all-caps and high dudgeon) THE TWO NFL GAMES MUST FEATURE THE *&^%*$#@*^$#% DALLAS COWBOYS AND THE DETROIT LIONS? This bizarre selection year after year after year virtually guarantees that I spend the ENTIRE DAY in the bosom of my family, instead of glued to the TV for at least part of the day. What a rotten thing to do to a guy. Sheesh.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 12, 2005 11:29 AM | Report abuse

I make the stuffing removal process a game, if I can. I enjoy using my Igor (the Evil Idiot Lab Assistant) voice and proclaiming, "Huhhh. Hmmmm. Turkey dead now," while spooning the dressing into a bowl. Until, of course, I'm moved to silence by my wife's withering stare.

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Mudge, I don't know where the Detroit game started, but in the mid 60's, then-commish Pete Rozelle asked NFL GMs and owners for a volunteer to host an afternoon game as a prime time compliment. Nobody wanted to do it because it meant a short week and no holiday, but Tex Schramm, GM of Dallas finally said they'd do it. Once they got into the tradition, the Cowboys realized what a good thing it was to have the entire country watching your team every year. This, along with hiring professional cheerleaders and winning a lot more than they lost, went a long way toward building the "America's Team" era.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 12, 2005 11:53 AM | Report abuse

When my dad was stationed for six months with ARCO at a remote oil drilling site in Alaska, at Cape Yakataga, he used to roam around the site a lot during his spare time. He brought back incredible wilderness photos, went out strawberry picking with a native woman and brought back several jars of astounding strawberry jam, and would fish from rivers and streams so thick with salmon you could practically walk across the water on their backs, he would say.

My dad also hung out with an old codger/trapper who lived in extremely primitive quarters near the beach. My dad even took pictures of the shack's interior. The old codger frequently killed seagulls for his evening repast, and once invited my father to share his avian feast. My dad never complained that his gull dinner was salty, stringy, gamey, or greasy, as you have, mh.

My first time eating squab ties into my RFK assassination story, so I'd better getting around to telling the tale one of these days.

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Mudge writes:
(The chapter following deals with the answer to a very similar question, "Do you ever think about other women," another no-brainer with one and only one "correct" answer.)

And does a man ever think about his wife thinking about another man or other men?

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 12:01 PM | Report abuse

'mudge buddy, the Lions have been playing at home on Thanksgivng since 1934 (barring Roosevelt's moving Thanksgiving in 1939 and '40, and WWII, of course), and the Cowboys at home since 1966 (with the exceptions of 1975 and '77, for some reason) (and I'm ignoring the Dallas Texans' appearance in 1960).

Fact: the Cowboys and Lions have never played each other on T-giving.

To the best of my knowledge the Lions are 35-28 over that duration, the Cowboys are 24-13.

bc's favorite Thanksgiving NFL memory: 1980, when the Bears defeated the Lions in OT. The OT kickoff was returned for a TD to win, not a single OT snap from scrimmage required. I wish I could remember who ran that kick back...

Tradition, 'mudge. Tradition!


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse


Thanksgiving with the Cowboys only means something to my family on the years they play the Redskins. That usually means a very somber dinner if we eat after the game (anyone remember Clint Longley?).

Posted by: TBG | December 12, 2005 12:05 PM | Report abuse

I should add that the various Detroit pro football teams (the Hearalds and the Panthers) played on T-giving in 1920 and 1925, respectively.

Though only the Panthers were at home...


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 12:08 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "Heralds".

That's an illegal procedure penalty on me.


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 12:12 PM | Report abuse

I still say "dressing" sometimes, and other times "stuffing." Can it be "stuffing" if it's not actually stuffed into a bird? Last night I made Stove Top Stuffing, which seems oxymoronic. Or just moronic. But of course I doctored it -- sauteed onions and mushrooms with smoked andouille sausage and, instead of water, a cup and a half of homemade chicken stock.

I hope people send in lots of questions to the chat. I've had some chats with hardly any questions, and few experiences are so humbling, indeed humiliating -- you end up having a conversation with yourself, in public; or just saying, "Hello? Anyone out there?" You become grateful even for verbal abuse. At least abuse is a form of attention.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 12, 2005 12:14 PM | Report abuse

Joel... anything in particular you want us to ask? Not that I condone seeding the chat or anything.

Posted by: TBG | December 12, 2005 12:17 PM | Report abuse

bc - David Williams. Shortest OT in football history, I believe.

Posted by: Bayou Self | December 12, 2005 12:30 PM | Report abuse

I can't wait for the Q&A so I can rant about "Achenbach's OBVIOUS LIBERAL BIAS."

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 12:31 PM | Report abuse

Joel -- If need be, you can always fill time with some of the crack material in the cattle buyer jokes Kaboodle.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 12, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the Achenfest.

Posted by: That was some good writing. | December 12, 2005 12:35 PM | Report abuse

And CowTown, don't forget to say, "Your article is absurd!" and "ACHENBLOG IS AN IDIOT!"

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 12:37 PM | Report abuse

I'm gonna ask if Fearless Leader had to wear one of those M*A*S*H-style surgical masks during the interview...

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 12, 2005 12:37 PM | Report abuse

Alas, fellahs, I'm aware Detroit and Dallas have been playing on T-Day (and not against each other; if they played each other, that would reduce my misery index by half) since the dawn of time (i.e. the invention of TV)--that's precisely my objection.

Even when Dallas plays the Redskins (I'm a fan too) I still get upset if it's on T-Day. T-Day is supposed to be a pleasant day. Even when we beat Dallas, it's an angst-filled event. My point is, I'd like to watch a pretty good game where I am not emotionally invested.

Nothing brings out my hatred of the Cowboys faster than a reference to them as "America's Team." That's good for an instant 20-point boost to my blood pressure.

Sure, Loomis, men think about that. But it's not what men (or women) "really" think about--the question is, how does one answer otherwise unanswerable questions if one hopes to remain happily married?

(Along the lines of your question: For me, the one truly unanswerable question I have for women is, "what on earth do you see attractive about a guy with a three-day beard?" Beards/mustaches, fine. Clean-shaven: fine. Grunge clothes: not my cup of tea, but to each his own. But the Richard Nixon look? The sweaty, dirty, I-really-need-a-shave-and-a-shower look? I just don't get it, and probably never will.)

(Fortunately, it's not an issue.)

Hmmmm. Somwhere there's a column waiting to be written: Questions to your spouse you should never ask ("Do you ever think about..."), and Questions from your spouse you should never answer.

Speaking of questions, gotta go think of some for Joel's chat.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 12, 2005 12:46 PM | Report abuse

I've already submitted one, Joel.

I'll try to think of a contingency question, Joel.

I believe that the Jets' Chad Morton returned an OT kickoff for a TD in 2002, though I don't know how long it took him...


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 12:52 PM | Report abuse

Ah so, Curmudgeon-san. Don't like the Dallas Cowboys, eh? Well, you're in luck. They're coming here next Sunday to play the ill-named Washington football team, and if the locals win, and win every meeting with Dallas for the next ten years, the series will be, um, tied.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 12, 2005 12:52 PM | Report abuse

SCC: Please to remove extraneous "Joel" above.

As if there could be such a thing...


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 12:58 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of Texas turkeys or Texas cowboys or rogue Texas political cowboy-turkeys...this just in from the NYT:

The Supreme Court said Monday it would consider the constitutionality of a Texas congressional map engineered by Rep. Tom DeLay that helped Republicans gain seats in Congress.

The 2003 boundaries helped Republicans win 21 of the state's 32 seats in Congress in the last election-- up from 15. They were approved amid a nasty battle between Republican leaders and Democrats and minority groups in Texas.

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 1:00 PM | Report abuse

I can't let the day go by without at least a mention of the passing of Senator Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota. Gene McCarthy entered into the New Hampshire Democratic primary in 1968 to oppose an incumbent president of his own party, Lyndon Johnson, on a single issue, the Viet Nam war. LBJ won the vote 49% to 42% for McCarthy, but the closeness of the result convulsed the party and legitimized the antiwar movement. Thousands of college students (I was a precinct captain and I couldn't even vote!) campaigned tirelessly for McCarthy. Eventually Johnson withdrew and left the race open. McCarthy didn't have a chance against the traditional party machine backing Hubert Humphrey or the charismatic Robert Kennedy, but unlike them he had gone into the campaign as a matter of principle, as a somewhat quixotic figure, and emerged as someone who changed the course of history.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 12, 2005 1:20 PM | Report abuse

K-man, you really know how to hurt a guy.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 12, 2005 1:27 PM | Report abuse

Preceding post refers to Dallas Cowboys remarks, not McCarthy remarks. Boodling out of order again.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 12, 2005 1:28 PM | Report abuse

I was a McCarthy supporter,too, kguy. And I was way too young to vote. What an awful year, eh? Started out with such hope, then MLK gone, RFK gone, Democratic party gone...And the war raged on...

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 12, 2005 1:31 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of rotten things to do to a guy, I think that the NFL, the Washington Franchise, and the Arizona Cardinals should offer a refund to anyone who watched the first half of yesterday's game in person or on TV.

I wonder how many people plucked their eyes out after the first 15 minutes of regulation, just to avoid watching the second quarter.


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Joel's Post Magazine chat was awesome. The guy is definitely an alfa nerd. And I mean that in a good way.

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 2:05 PM | Report abuse

For anyone interested in 1968, I recommend the film "Medium Cool" by Haskell Wexler. Wexler took his cast and crew to Chicago during the Democratic convention to make a drama about the TV news business, but the storyline changed as the events in the streets and parks of the city spun out of control. There is one memorable moment when the fictional film crew is shooting a demonstration and the Chicago cops arrive. A tear gas canister comes flying into the frame and pops right in front of the camera. A voice off camera yells "Look out Haskell, that one's real!"

I remember watching the Chicago convention on TV and noting the extraordinary variety of reactions among my friends and family. Most adults felt that if people were beaten by the police, they must have committed some crime to deserve it. Young people generally felt the police were out of control. Inside the convention hall, the folks in their funny hats and badges acted like nothing was happening until Senator Ribicoff of Connecticut got up to speak and tore into Mayor Richard Daly and the Chicago police. The convention and the party dissolved into chaos and we got,,,Nixon.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 12, 2005 2:06 PM | Report abuse

Good chat, Joel. I think the people taking part were even nerdier than this group. That's assuming they weren't all part of this group.

Posted by: TBG | December 12, 2005 2:09 PM | Report abuse

Yep, there were obviously some from here - unless there really is a Boodleville, MD!

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 12, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

I recognized several individuals from this group in there. Me, I was so nerdy I didn't even get my comment posted! Well, OK, I didn't submit the comment 'til 1:55, so it's my own fault. And it wasn't much of a comment; it was just Boodle Filler. Still, I feel like such a reject. Obviously I'm going to have to burn down the building.

Posted by: Tom fan | December 12, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

kguy, the Chicago Convention was what finally convinced my Dad (WWII veteran, American Legion/VFW regular) that the anti-war folks had a point. My older brother had been actively anti-war since going to college (and facing the draft) and I was too - but it was seeing young women getting cracked on the head with billy clubs that changed his mind. I'm afraid my parents may have voted for Nixon, though - he had a secret peace plan, remember?

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 12, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

Tom fan, I submitted 3 questions and only 1 got posted - talk about rejection! (OK, I think they must have been scared by "Boodle Boodle, WA", but it was a straight question!)

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 12, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, mostlylurking -- now that you mention it, they might have been scared off by "Porchville, U.S.A.," too. See, this is why the Boodle is so much better than Live Online chats. If you have something to say -- as TBG says -- "Just Click 'Post'!"

Posted by: Tom fan | December 12, 2005 2:30 PM | Report abuse

SCC - 2 of my questions in the Live Chat were answered...

And I've killed the boodle (again). A thousand apologies.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 12, 2005 2:30 PM | Report abuse


sorry for the delay!!!!!

gotta catch up on the kits and boodles!

Posted by: mo | December 12, 2005 2:34 PM | Report abuse

Thanks mo!!!!

Those pictures of omnigoof make me SNORT!
("Get ready for your close-up, Mr. Achenbach!")

(I hope Joel won't be mortified.)

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Mo, you are the best. Period. Thanks. And, again, I must say that Boodlers must be a handsome bunch, judging from this sample.

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 2:43 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, mo! I was going to ask, but I didn't want to pressure you. Great pics and captions.

How much liquor was consumed? (I've only seen half the pictures so far, and I estimate a lot.)

bc, the autographed books were a great idea.

Posted by: mostlylurking | December 12, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse

bc, JA calls on you in the chat, and you get great pictures too! You are beyond cool and all the way to chilly...

Posted by: slyness | December 12, 2005 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Glad I left the BPH before the close-ups! But so sorry the 'boodle missed seeing my fabulous red shoes. Great pictures Mo--I'm glad you finally got a good shot of the Achenfish!

And how'd you get the waitress to finally smile?

Posted by: TBG | December 12, 2005 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Yes, that Achenfish is very photogenic.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 2:56 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHA - MUCH alchohol was consumed - as the pics of omnigoof can attest to! the waitress smiled every once in a while - you gotta be quick to catch it - besides, we DO tip good so... omnigoof makes me snort period - goofy pics or not! *smiley emoticon*

Posted by: mo | December 12, 2005 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Wonderful BPH photos! The next BPH is definitely on my "must-do" list!

And I'm so crushed... Not a SINGLE question accepted for the AchenDiscussion!!!

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 12, 2005 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Lightbulb Momement: From now on, I will refer to Joel Achenbach as "The Science Humorist." If that isn't unique I don't know what is.

Posted by: CowTown | December 12, 2005 3:13 PM | Report abuse

Thanks for the pics, mo.
We really heart you!

And yes, the BPH is a lot of fun.

The only time I remember seeing the Official Waitress of the BPH (TM) smile is when her shift ended and she didn't have to deal with us anymore.


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 3:26 PM | Report abuse

maybe that's when i snapped the picture... we aren't THAT bad are we? i mean i know we camp out but...

Posted by: mo | December 12, 2005 3:34 PM | Report abuse

I think the only thing the waitress -- er, I mean server -- might consider "bad" about us is the fact that we're a relatively large group, each of us coming and going at different times and ordering food and drinks at different times. It's a lot to keep track of. But I must say, she does a great job. You never have to flag her down to order another drink -- she always appears at just the right time. She's no Achenditz. I don't really mind if she doesn't smile, as long as she's not rude -- and I she doesn't seem to be.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 3:40 PM | Report abuse

I got a question in, but of course it was the dumbest (but least flippant) of the ones I submitted.

Posted by: jw | December 12, 2005 3:46 PM | Report abuse

You do such a great job with pictures at the BPH. Makes me wish I lived closer. And your close-ups are fantastic, really puts flesh and bones on the handles of the Boodlers.

Is pj a quiet guy? He doesn't Boodle much anymore?

Why is it in all the pictures I've seen that you shot of jw, mo, he always looks like he's fallen into the rouge pot, as my grandmother used to say, or is that just a healthy case of Coast Guard windburn?

As for bc, some *anonymous* poster once likened bc's looks to Gary Sinise. What with that great, finely sculpted nose, he reminds me a great deal of the handsome actor who plays the sheriff/EBE (extraterrestial biological entity) on ABC's new "Invasion" series. (Don't know the actor's name. And, no bc, I'm in no way, shape or form saying that you yourself are an EBE, or look like an EBE. If anything, I'm saying you're a cutie! Thanks for sending me my Achenbook today, by the way.)

And, mo, that previous close-up of you against an entirely black backdrop was exquisite.

Achenfan-"Queen of the Boodle"...way to go!

Thanks for all the work you do, mo.

But I suppose the picture that made me laugh the hardest was the one of the Achenfish...well, maybe a tie/toss-up with omnigoof smooching up Joel. How much alcohol did you say you guys consumed?

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 3:53 PM | Report abuse

Joel - This live discussion started at 1pm, right? But when I checked in around 3:30, you had already folded up the tent. Don't you WaPo guys believe in an 8 hour workday???

Just giving you a hard time ... and bummed I missed the live event. Kind of like a modern rock concert. Oh wait, they still have rock concerts. Umm, kind of like a modern stoning, maybe?

OK, so here's the serious question(s). What happens when we meet aliens re: disease? I just saw WAR OF THE WORLDS, and of course germs play a deus ex machina role there. But is that really likely? My understanding is that viruses co-evolve and specialize to their hosts. So the risks humans face from species-jumping viruses (and bacteria) are higher when the species are similar to us. Or is that completely off? Dogs are mammals and we co-habitate with them, yet I've never heard of dog-flu. Or even dog-sniffles, for that matter. So is the likeliehood of a super-killer Martian bug higher? Or what if we landed on a planet filled with life, but no intelligent life? Would the microroganisms make it uninhabitable?

You may have addressed this in your books, or even in a blog. But I have such a shabby memory, and besides, there's millions of new, young readers on this blog everyday ...

Cool photos, mo! Great to see what some of our gang looks like, though I am probably too shy to ever join one of these gigs.

Posted by: Kane | December 12, 2005 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I am trying to bite my tongue here, but is there any significance to the fact that Porching Hour attendees all have red eyes?

My query has nothing to do with the fact that excessive flashing of Achenbooks has led to severe jealousy or anything.

Posted by: dr | December 12, 2005 3:56 PM | Report abuse

I agree, A-fan, the OWotBPH (TM) is a good, er, server. And definitely not rude.

I guess I'm a 'smile' person.
Harrumph. Whodathinkit?


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Aw, the bph photos always make me wish i lived closer. Or traveled more, or had money to travel. Anyway, good job with the photos mo.

Posted by: LP | December 12, 2005 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Great Pics!

I will have to make the next meetup as I am pretty close (blocks)...

Schedule backup, just like on the beltway, prevented attendance.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | December 12, 2005 4:08 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry:
"And she doesn't seem to be," not "And I she doesn't seem to be."

[And I haven't even been drinking -- this time.]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 4:14 PM | Report abuse

I thought that it was a bit of Betty Davis in you, Achenfan.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | December 12, 2005 4:16 PM | Report abuse

Hahahaha..."fell into the rouge pot!"

My cheeks are always red. Sometimes more than others. Might have something to do with a commonly consumed capillary dialator.

Posted by: jw | December 12, 2005 4:20 PM | Report abuse

Ha! Actually, I've had people tell me that before, Dolphin Michael -- I'll take it as a compliment. Thank you.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 4:22 PM | Report abuse

I she... that's all I meant ... Just a joke. Davis always had a reason to refer to herself in the third person in a movie, if not the second person.

We, I would like to thank you for your good nature, Achenfan!!!

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | December 12, 2005 4:25 PM | Report abuse

My cheeks are always red too, jw, although it's not quite as bad now as it was when I was younger. It's worse when I've been drinking (even the smallest amounts of alcohol -- which are the only amounts I ever drink, of course). Oh, and when I'm embarrassed, too -- no surprise there. Sometimes I'll get embarrassed about being red, which only makes me go redder.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 4:26 PM | Report abuse

Ha ha, Dolphin Michael! Now I'm *really* embarrassed . . . getting redder by the second.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 12, 2005 4:29 PM | Report abuse


pj is a quiet guy within the context of the BPH, which is a moderate roar punctuated by peaks of laughter. I've learned to listen closely to him, because when he speaks it's usually something much more intelligent, thoughtful, and witty than the verbal (and physical) slapstick I can usually conjure.

"Cutie"? Good heavens! Linda, I like to tell people that I have a Roman nose; it's Roamin' all over my face!
I suppose I should check out the poor chap on "Invasion", maybe we could start a support group. BTW, the *book* is in the mail, you should see it towards the end of this week, or early next, holiday mail/shipping being what it is.

I think jw was flushed with excitment, success, and Yuengling (the Official Beers of the BPH (TM)), not necessarily in that order.

Kane, if you haven't read or seen "The Andromeda Strain", I suggest it by far over Spielberg's bilious WotW. I think that there might be something interesting in the works related to "biomolecular homochirality" somewhere (hint: see last Wednesday's "Snowball" 'boodle).

Enow from me now.


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 4:33 PM | Report abuse

Ah, yes. The "Irish Tan." I get that too.

Posted by: LP | December 12, 2005 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Wow. I'm not sure what's more mortifying, the smooch from omnigoof or the fact that he has one of those ridiculous looking Captured By Aliens paperbacks that make it appear to be a book with actual aliens in it.

Kane wrote:
What happens when we meet aliens re: disease? I just saw WAR OF THE WORLDS, and of course germs play a deus ex machina role there. But is that really likely? My understanding is that viruses co-evolve and specialize to their hosts...." etc.

Dear Kane: I don't know. The reason that H.G. Wells is considered the inventor of science fiction is that he put real science into his narratives -- not just fanciful stuff. But in 1898 when his novel came out, scientists had never even isolated a human virus yet, and had only recently begun to make the link between bacteria and human disease. My guess is that if the aliens were completely different from us biologically then even bacteria couldn't thrive in the aliens sufficiently to kill them -- but gosh, I don't know, and it's a very good question! Maybe someone out there knows and will tell us.

One last thing: I posted most of the questions I got, but didn't get around to about 20 of them before my hour ran out. Sorry!

Posted by: Achenbach | December 12, 2005 5:03 PM | Report abuse

SCC in my previous post:
Extraterrestrial, not extraterrestial.


The actor's name, I learned afer doing a Google search moments ago, is William Fichtner. Fichtner--with a BS in poly sci from SUNY...becomes Hollywood actor.

Excuse me for saying so, bc, but I think you have more resemblance to Fichtner than Sinise, and *truth be told,* I thought you, bc, resembled Fichtner the first time I laid eyes on mo's first set of Boodle pics. Even kinda through the ears.

Also nice to see TBG at her first BPH!

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 5:04 PM | Report abuse

But you were ready, were you not, to pull out hats and canes and fill time if you had to, Joel?

Posted by: Bayou Self | December 12, 2005 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Where I go for Thanksgiving, the hostess drenches the turkey inside and out (before stuffing it) in brandy. After the bird is stuffed, it is drenched again in brandy. A whole bottle is used. And this is good stuff, too. Amaaaaazzzzzzzingly tender -- falls off the bone with a smile, as do we all.

Now I'm hungry. Not planning as good a dinner as that which I just described.


Posted by: firsttimeblogger | December 12, 2005 5:07 PM | Report abuse

You're here! I have one cider question. I don't know that I've ever had hard cider, but I've had lots of pressed fresh/or refrigerated apple ciders from lots and lots of West Coast locations/apple growers. Is hard cider alcoholic and if so, what is the alcohol content usually? Can you taste the alcoholic part of hard cider? Does it, hard cider, have the fermentation smell of wine? Are there any Cider House rules for brewing good cider among you princes of Maine?

And if you're brewing Merlots up in Maine, wherever do you come by the grapes?

Posted by: Loomis | December 12, 2005 5:12 PM | Report abuse

Yes, Linda, hard cider is alcoholic. My mother, the lab technician, used to tell the story of the Christmas her boss took cider that had fermented and put it through the lab water distiller. The resulting apple brandy was fabulous, she said...and this in the local Health Department lab! Well, it was a very long time ago...

Posted by: Slyness | December 12, 2005 6:03 PM | Report abuse

thanks for all the thanks! cowtown was my muse at this bph - the first two sets of pics seemed so tame in comparison to the actual hilarity that ensues at the bph. kane - we were all achenshy to begin with but now we have a great time!
scottynuke - i thought you lived in nh?
and loomis - you are right! bc does look like that actor!
and as a teaser - i am in the process of compiling an achenfaq to orient those to our achenspeak - submissions greatly appreciated... (btw kguy - what does widdershins mean?)

Posted by: mo | December 12, 2005 6:11 PM | Report abuse

Concur: the first quarter of the Skins/Cards game had more turnovers than Pepperidge Farms. (Rimshot)

Gee, wonder who was the San Antonio resident who submitted all those questions to Joel's chat? Enquiring minds here in Boodleville, Maryland, want to know.

Speaking of Loomis, when I was a freshman in college my roommates made some hard cider in our dorm room, by mixing sugar, raisins, and yeast in regular ol' apple cider, and leaving it sit out on the roof for a week or two. To answer your questions, Loomis, yes, you can taste the "hard" in hard cider. Of course, the stuff we made didn't taste very good (though I do seem to recollect a splitting headache), and worst of all, it had all the usual laxative effects of regular cider, multiplied by a facotr of about three. I'm guessing that hard cider made by people who know what they're doing might taste pretty good, but the stuff we made was awful (not that that fact stopped us from drinking it).

Excellent achenphotos from porching hour.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 12, 2005 7:48 PM | Report abuse

I guess I do look like that actor, Linda.

Excellent point, mo. These pics *do* capture the flavor of the BPH.

And remind me to contribute to the Achen-ary, though I think Tomfan should have a better grasp of the Achenetymology than I.

Gotta go, I've got a 5 year old and a puppy that need attention.


Posted by: bc | December 12, 2005 8:46 PM | Report abuse

Great pics, mo! Thanks for posting them. I think you caught the evening and us all quite well.

bc, thanks for the nice words! You are very kind. I marvel at the quality of the comments that the boodle come up with and usually feel like I'm a step or two behind.

omnigood got our server to smile by catching her by surprise with his timing in a comment (completely clean) he made. It was sweet to see. She did a great job in kinda tricky conditions.

There's something else I want to say, but can't remember what it is. I'm having a 'blorph' moment, so I'll retire for the evening.

Posted by: pj | December 12, 2005 9:45 PM | Report abuse

Great pictures, Mo. Liked the Achenfish.

Best turkey stuffing I ever had included port wine and dried cherries as well as usual stuff.


Posted by: boondocklurker | December 13, 2005 2:16 AM | Report abuse

Kurosawaguy - way back (you vaguely remember, I'm sure!) before it become trendy, several of the least strident folks that I knew were vegetarians. They even understood my need, as a child of recently desegregated Georgia, to partake of well-smoked porcine flesh from time to time. (Don't you love how I managed to make that both racial & political, even though it wasn't really either?)

Posted by: Bob S. | December 13, 2005 3:33 AM | Report abuse


My apologies for the slow response -- laundry day chaos yesterday. I'm from NH, yes, but I work and live just outside the Beltway. I miss having actual winters.

Posted by: Scottynuke | December 13, 2005 8:09 AM | Report abuse

Seen on a bumper sticker over the weekend-
George W. Bush, We will be forever in his debt.

Wish I had one.

Posted by: kurosawaguy | December 13, 2005 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Going into OfficeMax to do some copying this past year, I saw the following bumpersticker on a car:

Somewhere in Texas, a village is missing its idiot.

Posted by: Loomis | December 13, 2005 9:53 AM | Report abuse

Sorry I missed you yesterday, I had to dash out of work early. The hard cider, as curmudgeon says, is indeed alcoholic and you can taste it. It can either be carbonated or not, depending on how you store it. All you need is some regular cider WITHOUT the preservatives - (vit C and the like) added. Preservatives are there to prevent yeast from fermenting. Add some sugar & bread yeast and you've got hard cidar. Basically you can think of it as an apple wine. You do need to "rack" the cidar - meaning to siphon the juice off of what's called "lees" that falls to the bottom, which is basically dead yeast. I imagine the lack of racking would have caused curmudgeon's aforementioned headaches. My father used to actually make a great cidar from just raisins and juice. You can make the hard cidar more carbonated during bottling - if you add just a dash of sugar to the bottle the remaining yeast in the cidar will feed off of it, and cause the fizzy to happen under pressure.

And I don't make merlot up here - My family makes wine on Long Island, NY, where grapes are very hardy.

Posted by: LP | December 13, 2005 10:01 AM | Report abuse

oh, and just to clarify, that would be "princesses of Maine." just to clarify.

Posted by: LP | December 13, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Anybody catch the news about the attacks in Australia on those of Middle Eastern decent?

Just another example of why we need to control ourselves when it comes to vailed hate-mongering.

So sad.

from MSNBC

"I won't allow Sydney's reputation as a tolerant, vibrant international city to be tarnished by these ratbags and criminals who want to engage in the sort of behavior we've seen in the last 48 hours," Iemma said.(New South Wales premier)

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | December 13, 2005 10:20 AM | Report abuse

To be clear, there is violence going both ways. This on heels of the French violence.

Posted by: Dolphin Michael | December 13, 2005 10:22 AM | Report abuse

OK, just my luck Joel is probably posting a new Kit right now...

I asked my husband (more of an expert of this sort of thing than I am (LOTS more)) about Joel's statement that viruses are not "alive" and this is what he had to say about that:

I think you have to say viruses are alive, if by alive you mean members of the group "living things" and not "things that are currently working pretty good and are not yet 'dead.'"

The two definitions get mixed up because we don't have different names for them. Viruses are "living things" in all respects. The big criterion is that they have a genome made of nucleic acids (although viruses like the flu virus are unusual in that the nucleic acid is RNA and not DNA). The fact that viruses can't live apart from a host cell and need the stuff in a host cell to replicate is bogus evidence that they are not "living things." It is like saying people are not living things because they cannot exist without eating food (mmmm, food).

Richard Dawkins suggests that the term "living" might be applicable to any self-replicating thing. There could be critters (a technical term) on other planets that have genomes of some exotic stuff we don't even know about. He suggested ideas (memes he called them) were living things. Certainly by this definition computer viruses are living things.

If you want to say viruses are not living because they are "dead" in some way (the second definition), you need to come up with some way of distinguishing "dead" from "alive." For people we have some criteria for dead vs alive--heart not beating, EEG flat, lack of interest in everyday things. But these criteria are hard to apply to organisms that don't have hearts or brains and are bored by the things we find fascinating, organisms like bacteria, nematodes, etc. not to mention seeds and sperm cells and stuff like that.

(Actually I did mention, "seeds and sperm cells," so scratch the part about "not to mention.")

Posted by: TBG | December 13, 2005 10:23 AM | Report abuse

TBG: What about crystals?

(Joel used this example in his Aliens book, and now, every time I think about viruses, I think about crystals.)

Posted by: Reader | December 13, 2005 10:50 AM | Report abuse

Columnist E.J. Dionne channels Joel today:

"After this week's elections in Iraq, will our national debate be about what the United States should do to salvage the best outcome it can from a war policy that has been riddled with errors and miscalculations? Or will we mostly discuss how politicians should position themselves on the war?

"Here's a bet on the triumph of spin. Politicians, especially Democrats, will be discouraged from saying what they really believe about Iraq for fear of offending "swing voters." Slogans about "victory" and "defeatism" will be thrown around promiscuously."

I can't help but notice how often Joel uses the adverb "promiscuously." He uses it often in his Kits; he used it in his piece about genetics and avian flu; and yes, he uses it in his book about George Washington, "The Grand Idea." In fact, I'm beginning to love catching Joel use the adverb "promiscuously"...well, promiscuously.

Posted by: Loomis | December 13, 2005 10:57 AM | Report abuse

where do mitochondria fit in on the scale of living things?

genomes? self-replicating? ... yup, yup

mine are certainly alert and perky, but they never wander far

i'm reluctant to grant them peer status, but maybe that's how they feel about me

Posted by: kp | December 13, 2005 10:59 AM | Report abuse

Tshirt I saw somewhere:

"I may look like I'm not doing anything, but on a cellular level, I'm quite active."

My daughter saw this shirt while she was shopping with a friend and the friend said, oh, I need to get that shirt! I'm always on my cellphone!

Posted by: Reader | December 13, 2005 11:09 AM | Report abuse

Anyone up to writing a love song to one's mitochondria? Curmudgeon? Linda?

Posted by: CowTown | December 13, 2005 11:19 AM | Report abuse

going back to an earlier subject - i was APPALLED about the article of the student getting suspended for speaking spanish! of course it was in kansas! (no offence to any kansasanians (?) boodlers) not only was it NOT in a class, it was as a response to someone who asked him a question in spanish - it's a sign of respect to answer back in spanish (unless your spanish isn't that good and it's accepted betwixt the two ppl that one answers back in another language - my aunts and my mother don't mind if i reply back in english b/c my spanish is muy malo)

Posted by: mo | December 13, 2005 11:52 AM | Report abuse

[The Boodle is not dead; it is merely dormant.]

Posted by: Achenfan | December 13, 2005 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Boodled out of order again! (Nothing like a "dead boodle" comment to get the boodle going again -- the "umbrella rule" of the Universe.)

Posted by: Achenfan | December 13, 2005 11:54 AM | Report abuse

there is this:


Raise your hands and sing it with me
Sometimes the strongest and most wonderful things are those we cannot see
Sing a song, sing a song
About how things seem more important at night

So sing apples, sing drumkits
Sing moonlight, sing lungfish
And sing a song mitochondria
whoa whoa whoa whoa

Raise your hands and sing it with me
Sometimes the strongest and most wonderful things are those we cannot see
Sing apples, sing drumkits
Sing moonlight, sing lungfish

-The Triangles

Posted by: omnigood | December 13, 2005 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I have this to say about the avian flu article:

My word counter tallies 7225 total words. 2276 of them are unique.

I forget which KB AJ talked about having too many words and needing to edit the thing down to some other number.

Posted by: omnigood | December 13, 2005 11:59 AM | Report abuse

SCC: that should be KaB. And the first period in the second sentence should be a comma (I think).

Posted by: omnigood | December 13, 2005 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, omni!

[Sound of clapping]

[Sound of one hand clapping]

"Sometimes the strongest and most wonderful things are those we cannot see"


"Things seem more important at night"


Posted by: Dreamer | December 13, 2005 12:02 PM | Report abuse

I am such a dunce: Kit and Kaboodle is not abbreviated KaB. I'm going to leave you all alone now and hopefully I'll come to my senses before I ever post again.

Posted by: omnigood | December 13, 2005 12:03 PM | Report abuse

But omni, you're so much fun when you're senseless.

Posted by: Achenfan | December 13, 2005 12:07 PM | Report abuse

yeah, right.

Posted by: FachenA | December 13, 2005 12:15 PM | Report abuse

'loper alert! FachenA - why so snarky??

Posted by: mo | December 13, 2005 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Amoeba Hop
Words and Music by Christine Lavin

...from her album (that I own), "Beau Woes and Other Problems of Modern Life." Her website says this song is now in children's book format. Best I can do since this morning I'm working on the annual kitschy Christmas letter. Tree up early, cards out late--go figure.

Just a little puddle of muddy water
Left there after the rain
I got down on my knees
I looked close
I saw things I couldn't explain
There was all those itty bitty
Teeny weeny little tiny creatures
Swimmin' and sloshin' about
I put my ear down to that puddle
I could hear one of them shout

We're goin' to the Amoeba Hop
Everybody's gonna be there
Got my eye on a cute paramecium
You know the one with the wavy hair
Rockin' and rollin' shakin' our cells
and flappin' our flagella all over
Well the good times don't never gonna stop
When you go to the Amoeba Hop

(That's what I heard... I mean it! I mean it!)

Then I spied a shy protozoan
Swingin' all by hisself
He was lookin' for a partner to shake a leg with
But everyone was dancin' with everybody else
So he was so lonely till Mother Nature
Showed him what to do
He boogied down he did a little binary fission
Split his-cellf in two (and now he's got a partner)

For the Amoeba Hop
Everybody gonna be there
My, oh my, of nucleoli
Have you ever seen such a perfect pair?
Rockin' and rollin' shakin' their cells
Slappin' their cilia all over
Well, the good times don't never gonna stop
When you go to the Amoeba Hop
Good times don't never gonna stop
When you go to the Amoeba Hop

Some folks that one-celled animals
Don't know how to swing
People who say that... are wrong
'Cause I saw a band of algae
Get up there and sing:
"When the red red robin comes
bob-bob-bobbin' along"
But to them it's a monster song!

Oooh the puddle was jumpin'
So was I
I guess I lost my head
In my excitement I splashed it dry
Oh my god I thought they was dead!
But no! They just come splashin' down
Right here into my hand
And sure enough I could still hear
That swingin' algae band Sayin'

We're going to the Amoeba Hop,
Everybody gonna be there,
Got my eye on a cute paramecium,
Look at the hair girls! Look at the hair!
Rockin' and rollin' shakin' our cells
Slappin' pseudopodia all over
Well the good times don't never gonna stop
When you go to the Amoeba Hop
Good times don't never gonna stop
When you go to the Amoeba Hop-hop hop bada
Good times don't never gonna stop

Posted by: Loomis | December 13, 2005 12:20 PM | Report abuse

OK, CowTown, you requested it, so this one's goin' out to you.

(And it goes a little somethin' like this:)

Come to me, mitochondria gametes
Cuddle up and don't be flu
All your fears are foolish fancies, maybe
You know, doctor, I'm in hock to you

Every cloud must have a silver lining
Just wait until the bird germs transmute
Smile, my HMO provider, while I kiss away each fear
Or else I shall be mitochondria too

Smile, my HMO provider, while I kiss away each fear
Or else I shall be worm food too

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 12:21 PM | Report abuse

Thank yew, thank yew ver' mulch.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 12:22 PM | Report abuse

Ah, Ha Ha Ha! Thank you Linda and Curmudgeon. Excellent! This is proof that Boodlers can turn on a dime!

Posted by: CowTown | December 13, 2005 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Egads! Did I kill it? Is it...dead?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 1:11 PM | Report abuse

I think it's just out to lunch.

Posted by: omnigoof | December 13, 2005 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Brush with fame: I have a copy of the children's book of Amoeba Hop because I was recruited to turn the pages of the book on stage while Christine Lavin sang the song, in a shameless marketing ploy. Since I know the song well, I did a rather spectacular job of page-turning, anticipating each verse as it approached. Man, I was good! So, I got that copy autographed for my kids, and bought another for the child of some friends and she autographed that one, too.

Posted by: Tim | December 13, 2005 1:37 PM | Report abuse

That was indeed a pretty shameless ploy, Tim.

By the way, I'm offering personally autographed copies of "Come to me, mitochondria gametes" for five bucks. Copies of "Singing in the Methane" (excerpted by Joel for his blog update) are $19.95, plus shipping and handling.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 1:46 PM | Report abuse

Wow, the six degrees or less of separation on this Boodle are amazing. Science Tim was on stage with Christine Lavin, turning the pages for the lyrics of Lavin's song that I posted.

I sent the lyrics of this on to P.J. when ABC News did a story on what else--amoeba! Don't know if he ever saw my "gift" of Lavin's lyrics, though. If he did, I hope he laughed.

Posted by: Loomis | December 13, 2005 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Since things are a little slow over here, I was browsing the NYTimes Magazine and found this bad news for the cattle joke industry:

Posted by: Reader | December 13, 2005 1:56 PM | Report abuse

The Boodle is the Nexus of the Universe.

Posted by: Dreamer | December 13, 2005 1:56 PM | Report abuse

Just stopping by to say hi. Once I catch up I'll say something relevant.

And Reader, you quoted something a couple of days ago about jw and me and how we're marrying other people...haha! Who said that? Or were you quoting yourself?

Posted by: Sara | December 13, 2005 1:59 PM | Report abuse

"I'm at 1st and 1st. Wait a minute -- how can the same street intersect with itself? I must be at the Nexus of the Universe!"

-- Kramer

Posted by: Achenfan | December 13, 2005 1:59 PM | Report abuse

From that NYT beef article:

"The process works by taking stem cells from a biopsy of a live animal (or a piece of flesh from a slaughtered animal) and putting them in a three-dimensional growth medium - a sort of scaffolding made of proteins. Bathed in a nutritional mix of glucose, amino acids and minerals, the stem cells multiply and differentiate into muscle cells, which eventually form muscle fibers. Those fibers are then harvested for a minced-meat product.

"Scientists at NASA [NASA? don't they have enough to do, what with siphoning all the methane off of Titan? Jeez]and at several Dutch universities have been developing the technology since 2001, and in a few years' time there may be a lab-grown meat ready to market as sausages or patties. In 20 years, the scientists predict, they may be able to grow a whole beef or pork loin. A tissue engineer at the Medical University of South Carolina has even proposed a countertop device similar to a bread maker that would produce meat overnight in your kitchen."

So ...what would you call such a food substance? Pre-Veal? Embryonic flank steak?
Chateaubryonic for two?

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 2:04 PM | Report abuse

LindaLoo, I was just wanting to post and see if you got my response to my query (better late than never?)at 10:01 am.

Posted by: LP | December 13, 2005 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, isn't that gross??! How could you sleep with meat growing on your kitchen counter??


Sara, That was a native witticism--I get one off once in a while.

Posted by: Reader | December 13, 2005 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Wow, biomeat. It sounds even better than Spam!

Posted by: CowTown | December 13, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Hell's bells, Reader, I'm put off just knowing there's apparently such a thing as a "tissue engineer."

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 2:15 PM | Report abuse

Eww. Lab grown meat? Why? Cows aren't exactly an endangered species. If we eat lab grown meat we'll be overrun by cows.

Reader, I figured it was something of your own creation.

Posted by: Sara | December 13, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

Well, Curmudgeon, I'd worry the most about the taste. Could it possibly be good? Yuck, just thinking about it!

Posted by: slyness | December 13, 2005 2:17 PM | Report abuse

that meat thing is just about the grossest thing ever. Better to be a vegetarian.

Although, I suppose, test-tube carrots are almost as disturbing. Not quite, but almost.

Posted by: LP | December 13, 2005 2:18 PM | Report abuse

I'm not too worried about the taste--you forget, I'm a guy. Just dowse it with some A-1, ketchup, BBQ sauce, cook it in beer...whatever. It'll be fine.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 2:21 PM | Report abuse

Kung pow lab meat.

I just had to say that, let it roll off my tongue.


Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 2:23 PM | Report abuse

I'm with ya, Curmudgeon. Any culture that can eat tripe, Spam, blood sausage, or even those little cocktail weiners will surely find a place in their larder for biomeat.

"Biomeat: Fresh, because you make it yourself"(R)

Posted by: CowTown | December 13, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Or moo-less goo guy pan.

Posted by: Curmudgeon | December 13, 2005 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Cocktail weiners are big in Minnesota. We had an office "holiday feast" today and everyone brought something. Three people brought a crock pot of those in bbq sauce.

Posted by: Sara | December 13, 2005 2:29 PM | Report abuse

Or this news story this morning out of San Diego...

"Doctors have transplanted pig valves into human hearts for years, and scientists have injected human cells into lab animals for even longer. But the brain poses an additional level of concern because some envision nightmare scenarios in which a human mind might be trapped in an animal head."

Scientists inject human cells into mice
Scientific first adds to ethical concerns about research

Associated Press

I read your 10:01 a.m. post--you princess of Maine. I've got to try hard cider...just don't know where to buy it? A liquor store? I've had plenty of sparkling cider with holiday meals, Martinelli's, the kind you can buy at Costco. And I would never try Mudge's dorm-concocted cider in a million years...Suggestions?

I've tried meade at Buellton, Calif.--and it was an interesting flavor. And some of the best Johannisberg Riesling up in the heart of Napa, Sonoma, and Mendicino. Great dessert wine, but I prefer wines on the dry side.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 13, 2005 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Haggis, only for those "brave of heart," if you get the joke...

1 sheep's lung (illegal in the U.S.; may be omitted if not available)
1 sheep's stomach
1 sheep heart
1 sheep liver
1/2 lb fresh suet (kidney leaf fat is preferred)
3/4 cup oatmeal (the ground type, NOT the Quaker Oats type!)
3 onions, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
3/4 cup stock

Posted by: Loomis | December 13, 2005 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Brave of Heart! Ha!

Posted by: Achenfan | December 13, 2005 2:45 PM | Report abuse

I had problems posting comments earlier -- weird TypePad software stuff. But fyi, I posted a new Kit just now, very self-referentially about the Boodle.

TBG's husband writes:

I think you have to say viruses are alive, if by alive you mean members of the group "living things" and not "things that are currently working pretty good and are not yet 'dead.'"
The two definitions get mixed up because we don't have different names for them. Viruses are "living things" in all respects. The big criterion is that they have a genome made of nucleic acids (although viruses like the flu virus are unusual in that the nucleic acid is RNA and not DNA). The fact that viruses can't live apart from a host cell and need the stuff in a host cell to replicate is bogus evidence that they are not "living things." It is like saying people are not living things because they cannot exist without eating food (mmmm, food).

Dear TBG Spousal Unit: A few months back, Scientific American ran a big cover story with the question, "Are Viruses Alive?", and of course the answer is, "Kinda depends on what your definition of 'alive' is." I'm not sure anyone would say that a prion is alive, because it's just a weird folded protein, but it's infectious, and replicates (I believe). I actually agree with you that a virus seems to more like a living thing than not; it has a genetic code, after all. It can evolve in the right circumstances. I think the NASA definition of life is "a self-sustaining chemical process capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution" or something like that. A virus doesn't do well on the self-sustaining front. The problem with just picking "replication" as a definition of life is that there are things like crystals that can replicate, exactly -- but not evolve. And I believe fire has certain properties of life, but it has no information molecule and doesn't evolve.

Posted by: Achenbach | December 13, 2005 2:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't know what Texas has for liquor stores, but up here anywhere with a decent beer selection will have it. Usually it is packaged the same way as beer - the best ciders I have had are Irish, they tend to be drier, which I prefer. You can also find apple wines, which are basically the same thing only not fizzy, and those are usually found wherever has a good wine selection.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 13, 2005 3:37 PM | Report abuse

that was me....3:37:39 - and I'm going to copy that to the new kit, cuz I'm a little confused.

Posted by: LP | December 13, 2005 3:44 PM | Report abuse

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