Monday, October 24, 2016



The Curse of the Billy Goat was placed on the Chicago Cubs  in 1945 when Billy Goat Tavern owner Billy Sianis was asked to leave game 4 of the World Series against the Detroit Tigers at the Cubs' home ballpark of Wrigley Field because the odor of his pet goat (named Murphy) was bothering other fans. He was outraged and allegedly declared "Them Cubs, they ain't gonna win no more," which has been interpreted to mean that there would never be another World Series game won at Wrigley Field. The Cubs have not won a World Series championship since 1908 or played in the World Series since 1945

(To the tune of "Ding, Dong, the Witch Is Dead")

"Once thise was a wicked goat (and owner) in the lovely city of Chicago
And a wickeder, wickeder, wickeder goat there never, never was
He filled the folks in Chicagoland with terror and with dread
'Till one fine day from the lake came a breeze
That brought the wicked, wicked goat his doom
He was sitting on his stool at the Billy Goat, drinking beer, eating "chips, no fries"
And he fell off on his head and the coroner pronounced him dead
And thru the town the joyous news was spread

"Ding-dong, the goat is dead! Which old goat? The wicked goat
Ding-dong, the wicked goat is dead
Wake up, you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed
Wake up, the wicked goat is dead!
He's gone whise the goblins go below, below, below, yo ho
Let's open up and sing, and ring the bells out
Ding-dong! the merry-o sing it high, sing it low
Let them know the wicked goat is dead

"Ding-dong, the goat is dead! Which old goat? The wicked goat
Ding-dong, the wicked goat is dead
Wake up, you sleepy head, rub your eyes, get out of bed
Wake up, the wicked goat is dead!
He's gone whise the goblins go below, below, below, yo ho
Let's open up and sing, and ring the bells out
Ding-dong! the merry-o sing it high, sing it low
Let them know the wicked goat is dead."


P.S.  - I love animals of all kinds, and would never harm one...  except wicked magical goats!  Their owners made them that way!!!


Friday, May 2, 2014

"kk" means Königsberger Klopse

A dish you might want to try before you move your cooking outdoors for the summer is Königsberger Klopse: meatballs in gravy.  Savory meatballs, of course, date back to the Middle Ages, or further. Those known as Königsberger Klopse were invented in the city of Königsberg around 200 years ago.

Königsberg, once the capital of East Prussia, today is known as Kaliningrad, Russia.  It is not to be confused with the less famous Königsberg in Bavaria or with Königsberg in der Neumark (now known as Chojna in Poland).  Kaliningrad is a seaport city and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian "exclave" located between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea and geographically separated from the rest of Russia.  Unlike Königsberg, Kaliningrad does not have yummedy meatballs named after it.


3/4 lb. veal, ground
3/4 lb. beef chuck, ground
1/4 lb. pork, ground
2 small hard rolls
1/2 cup light cream
1 medium onion, chopped
6 Tbsp. butter
4 anchovy fillets (You can eyball fillets and use equivalent paste, but 
                         paste has added salt/vinegar, and maybe not 
                         as strong a flavor.  Fillets are about 1 1/2", 
                         so 1 1/2 to 2" paste should work.)
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
Lemon juice
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp. chopped parsley
1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
5 cups beef bouillon
1 cup dry white wine
4 tbsp. flour
1 tsp. dry mustard
2 small skinless/boneless sardines
1/3 cup drained capers

Have the beef, veal, and pork ground twice.

Break up the rolls and soak them in cream for 10 minutes.  Then press out the excess liquid.

Melt 1 tbsp. butter and saute onion, chopped fine, until lightly browned.

Combine meat, moistened rolls, sauteed onion, and anchovy in a blender.  Then add the eggs, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp. of lemon juice, the Worcestershire, 1 tbsp. of the parsley, and the marjoram.  Mix thoroughly and shape into 12 balls.

Heat the condensed beef bouillon and dry white wine in a deep skillet or pot.  When the liquid is just boiling, carefully drop the meatballs in, reduce to a simmer, and cook 15-20 minutes, covered.  Then remove the meatballs from the stock and keep them hot while you make the gravy.

Mix the dry mustard and flour, and cream with 4 tbsp. butter.  When the roux is smooth, add enough of the hot stock to make a thin paste free from lumps.  Turn up the heat under the stock and add the roux, stirring until smooth and boiling.  Mash the sardines with 1 tbsp. of butter and then stir into the gravy blending well.  Add the drained capers, 1 tbsp. of parsley, and the juice of 1/2 lemon. When all is blended, add the meatballs, reheat, and serve.

Most will serve this with boiled potatoes and pickled beets, but I recommend spätzle noodles with the beets or cole slaw.

*Adapted from Morrison Wood’s Cooking with Wine

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Year's Revolution

Dear Gudrun –

Help!  I can’t think of a single New Year’s resolution I haven’t already made and promptly broken.   How do I make a New Year’s resolution I can keep?  Should I keep trying the old ones or start new ones?  Do people who successfully keep their resolutions make a special kind of resolution???  Are there resolutions to avoid?  And what about my Second Life?

                        Promesa Esperanzado

Dear Promesa,

In developing New Year’s resolutions, there are lots of missteps you should take pains to avoid.  In our brave new world, it is easy to fall prey to TV (or other intrusive media) advertising.  For example, you may see a lovely looking person with Crohn’s disease.  It’s perfectly natural to want to be like her and have the disease as well.  However, be forewarned, this is an ad for a TREATMENT, not a disease.  You needn’t have the disease to be equally attractive.  Do NOT incorporate it into your to-do list.

You also do not want to be sucked into a resolution to do something like trying the other half of a Twix bar.  This will not help you in any way.  It will not improve your standing with other members of the human race.  Both bars in a Twix package are the same, whatever they say in the ads.

New Year’s celebrations began in pre-Christian times, beginning (in our own cultural milieu, at least) with the Babylonians.  They made promises to their gods at the start of their year (in March) that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.

The Romans, in turn, began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  Janus is the two-faced god who looks backward into the old year and forward into the new.  Janus was also the patron and protector of arches, gates, doors, doorways, and therefore endings and beginnings.  Frequently, images of Janus feature not only two faces, but a young face and an old face.

The Romans, of course, engaged in pagan revelry.  Nevertheless, the custom of setting “New Year's resolutions” with a moral flavor was also the norm in Rome, and mostly they were variations on being good to others.  But when Rome adopted Christianity as its state religion in the 4th century, the revelry became less pagan, and the resolutions more spiritual.  The revelry, of course did not disappear, cuz Christians, except for some sects, liked to party as much as anyone, pagan or otherwise.

In the Medieval era, at the end of the Christmas season each year, knights were required to place their hands on a roasted (and feather decorated) peacock and vow to continue living up to their pledge of chivalry.   Christians had adopted the peafowl as a symbol of immortality, and, of course, after the ceremony, the bird was eaten in a VERY festive setting.  (I think there were ladies/wenches also present.)

At Watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making resolutions.  Though it exists in many Christian traditions, the ritual was formalized by Methodists as a godly alternative to times of drunken revelry, such as Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve, indulged in by other sects.  Typically, resolutions were enumerated as commitments to better employing one's talents, treating one's neighbors with charity, and avoiding one's habitual sins.  For Catholics and others, Midnight Mass and the Eucharist may replicate the Watchnight and Lovefeast, but Catholics, at least, seek to maintain a tradition of pagan revelry as well.

In the Unites States, an example of such revelry is the Tournament of Roses, "a festival of flowers, music and equestrian and sports events unequaled anywhere in the world."  (At least for those of you who have recovered sufficiently by mid-morning or so.)

Of course, the New Year traditions have never been exclusively Christian.  During Judaism's New Year through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur, one is to reflect upon one's behavior over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness.  The concept is the same kind of reflection with an eye toward self-improvement in any creed.

Anyway, time to look at typical resolutions over the years.

At the end of the 19th century, a typical New Year’s resolution was focused on good works. People resolved to become less self-centered, more helpful, more diligent workers, and to improve internal character.  Body image, health, diet, and desired possessions were rarely mentioned.

At the end of the 20th century, typical resolutions were totally self-centered and often focused on good looks.  People wanted to improve their physique, hairstyle, makeup, and fashionability.  At the start of the 21st century, about 40 percent of Americans created even more superficial and self-centered resolutions.  A few popular New Year’s resolutions might include: lose weight, exercise more, drink less alcohol, eat healthier foods, drink more water, pay off one's credit cards, find a better job, or manage stress more efficiently.

The University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology reports the following popular resolutions:

1 - Lose Weight
2 - Get Organized
3 - Spend Less, Save More
4 - Enjoy Life to the Fullest
5 - Stay Fit and Healthy
6 - Learn Something Exciting
7 - Quit Smoking
8 - Help Others in Their Dreams
9 - Fall in Love
10 - Spend More Time with Family

Okay...  We all know you're not gonna get fit, drink less booze, spend less, get organized, be a nicer person, or be more tolerant of ppl who bug you.  Resolutions in Real Life are SERIOUS business, and I think I’ve made some realistic suggestions as to what they might be.  But here are some things that I guarantee you can do in Second Life, and you will prolly be able to stick with them if you make ANY effort at all:

1 – Stay calm.  Don't be bothered by silly things like griefers.  Staying calm spoils their fun.  They're looking for a reaction, so they get bored and lose interest if you just stay calm.  Don’t be needlessly aggressive in retaliation…  There are many tools at your disposal.
2 - "Semper ubi sub ubi!"  Always where under where.  (That's a pun...  Actual Latin would be "Semper gere interulae.")  But you know why you need undies in SL, I'm sure.  (If you don’t, contact Harry Bailey, who is a perfect gentleman, and will explain.)
3 - Reorganize your inventory...  Or at least dump some trash, and do it more than once in your multi-year history.
4 - Get yourself some nice mesh feetz.  The feetz you avatar came with are prolly worthless, so get some good ones.
5 - Make contact with someone in RL at least once a day.  (You can do this using electronic media.)
6 – Play Zyngo ‘til you run out of Lindens, and then STOP!
7 – Alternatively, buy more Lindens, and play your chosen Zyngo machines until you have either exhausted your credit or have become a Lindillionaire.  Hey, they’re gonna pay off sooner or later, right?  Your call, Dudette!
8 – Stop stalking your crushes and mind your own business.  Stalking is a silly behavior, unfortunately made extremely easy by the many spying mechanisms in SL.
9 - Alternatively, stalk your prey fully utilizing all of the technological marvels at your disposal: avatar trackers, spy cameras, etc.
10 – Check your “Received Items” occasionally...  You may be surprised at what you own.

Okay, you may think these suggestions are silly.  Feel free to make up your own resolutions for both RL and SL!!!!

N.B. -
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions - 45%
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year - 39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year - 14%


                         Good Luck,

* This item also appears in the January REZ Magazine

Monday, December 16, 2013

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus...

Dear Gudrun:

I am 28 years old.   Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.  Papa says, "If you see it in GUDRUN'S COLUMN, it is so."   Please tell me the truth:  Is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia Jejeune
119 West 192nd Street

Dear, Virginia:

If you are 28 and your friends are "little," they must be Munchkins or elves, or you are associating with a much, much younger age group.  And it's hard to believe that either Munchkins or elves would question the existence of Santa.  Be that as it may, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age.  They do not believe anything they cannot see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible to their little teensy weensy minds.

("Teensy weensy" reminds me of the "Teenie Weenies" by Wm. Donahey.  This was my fave comic strip when I myself was teensy.  It ran in the Chicago Tribune from 1914 until about 1964.  The characters in the strip were just two inches tall and lived under a rose bush. Their world consisted of things made from discarded real world sized items like hats, jars, and boxes, all of which were gigantic to them.  The "Lady of Fashion" was my favorite Teenie Weenie.  At first she seemed vain and interested only in clothes, much like myself.  Then, however, she became the village school-mistress, nurse, etiquette supervisor, and housekeeper, much like myself.  So, see?  But wait, you're only 28, doubtless a yuppie, so nm.)

All minds, Virginia, whether they be those of children or yuppies, are teensy. In this great universe of ours we are mere insects in intellect as measured by any intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.  Refer to your Shakespeare, Virginia.  As the Prince of Denmark said, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."   (Now, neither I nor my SL persona is Danish or a philosopher, but I get this.)

Yes, Virginia, there IS a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as death and taxes, and lives in Washington, DC.  No, Wait...  He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias (and it would be pretty darn dreary for you, if there were no Virginias). There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.  *Sigh*

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!  (????)  You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? (Probably it would prove that your papa should also have hired men to watch the men watching the chimneys.  And, btw Virginia…  Remember to lock your bedroom door!)

 Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

Now, if there are pretty red mushrooms with white spots in your lawn, you can probably make some "special" pickles or crispies and leave them out for Santa.    I guarantee that the men your papa hires will see Santa, and they will see flying reindeer and faeries on the lawn as well!  And so will you!

They look like this, and Christmas ornaments and marzipan candies are made in their image.  Tell me you haven't seen Amanita muscaria as a Christmas ornament.  As I said, you can make them into pickles or fry them up as crisps, but I take NO responsibility for anyone who does so.

Fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) mushrooms are considered deadly by some, and indeed, they are both attractive and deadly to cats and dogs.  But Russians eat them. So do Lithuanians, Finns, Italians, Japanese, and stateless hippies.

Most people eat only the caps or the very young buttons.  Siberians boil fly agarics and then drink the pot liquor to get plastered. They preserve the mushrooms for eating later.   After boiling, one can fry them like normal mushrooms (until crispy), pickle them, or preserve them in oil.  Italians do oil.  Japanese eat them as pickles, as do Lithuanians, Finns, and Russians.

Livestock in the boreal forests love this mushroom: in Siberia and Lapland we're not talking cows or sheep or whatever, but reindeer.  Reindeer will seek it out just for the high.   So it’s not too far a stretch to conjure up an image of a jolly, drunk, fat, bearded dude all dressed up for the North Pole — in a red suit with white trim — hitching up a bunch of flying reindeer.

Proofs of Santa:

The United States Post Office guarantees the delivery of mail to Santa, and has performed this service faithfully for nearly 200 years.  Is a letter to Santa ever "returned to sender"?  No, Virginia... unless, silly thing that you are, you addressed it to an ordinary person's home, and that person told the Post Office "Santa doesn't live here."

Rudolph, the ninth reindeer was not fictional (Santa really needed him that foggy night), and reindeer DO fly.  Apparently the reindeer in boreal forests (in Lapland, Siberia, etc.), eat those special red mushrooms.  Eat some, Virginia, and you will fly too. 

Apollo 8 reported seeing Santa Claus, though the sighting is buried deep in their logs.  (No idea whether or not they had any mushrooms along.)

The North American Aerospace Defense Command tracks Santa every year.

Rebuttals to naysayers:

Some say the being himself, and the reindeer could not possibly exist, or get around the world so fast, any more than Santa could be everyplace at once.  This is patently not true.  Look in any department store, in any mall, or on any street corner...  look ANYwhere… Santa will be there!

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus?  He lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.  (If you are smart, Virginia, you will buy stock in the distilling company of your choice.   I have both Beam and Diageo.  Or you can hunt mushrooms.)  The warmth and joy of the season will go on

*   This item also appears in R_E_Z Magazine.
**Our sincere apologies to Francis Pharcellus Church of the New York Sun, who wrote the famous response in 1897.  BTW, Virginia O’Hanlon, the actual sender of the letter, was the daughter of a Coroner’s assistant who obviously read the Sun, and who apparently had enough cash to hire guys to watch his chimneys.  I guess in the Golden Age of Capitalism, if you weren’t a servant, you had enough dough to hire one.    :-/

Merry Christmas,