Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

Random notes: January 16, 2015.

Friday, January 16th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Al Martinez and the “get the boy his peaches” story.

Recently, some questions were raised about the story over at Romenesko’s site. I didn’t post about this at the time because it didn’t seem link worthy: more “can anybody help me track down the original story” than “it never happened”.

Well, the amazing Larry Harnisch took up the gauntlet and managed to – more or less – track down the original story. Part of the problem seems to be that Al Martinez was working from memory, and apparently combined two stories into one: the dying boy and the peaches did take place, but not at Christmas. But there was another dying boy who craved watermelons at Christmas.

I can say from personal experience that after writing thousands of posts about Los Angeles crime that it’s impossible to remember them all and that the details can erode — which is why newspapers have clip files and why reporters ought to refer to them before writing anything.

Quel fromage!

A Brooklyn man who claimed the police manufactured gun-possession charges against him had his case dismissed on Thursday, amid two investigations into the practices of a group of police officers in the 67th Precinct in East Flatbush.

And all the bells on Earth did ring…

Thursday, December 25th, 2014

Merry Christmas, everyone.

Christmas thoughts.

Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

Before I went to sleep last night, I spent some time with an old friend: Robert Ruark.

He wrote memorably and well about Christmas. I like something he said, in one of the “Old Man and the Boy” essays, about the smell of Christmas:

The old-fashioned Christmas smell was predominantly that of crushed evergreens against the constant resiny scent of a snapping fire. One was a cool, smell, the other hot, but both joined forces in delightful companionship. This aromatic back drop was overlaid by the heady odors that drifted from the kitchen, the sage which went into the turkey stuffing predominating.
The whole was tinctured with spices and by alcohol, because brandies and wines were lavishly used in the preparation of sauces and in building the fruit cakes. There was, as well, an infusion of tropical scent, as the infrequent Christmas citrus fruits the opulent golden oranges added an oily sharpness to the mixture. This was counterbalanced by the clean, cidery bite of the hard, white-fleshed, scarlet apples. Bright Christmas candies the clover-shaped and heart-shaped sugary ones you never saw at any other time of the year and the striped hard ones with the soft centers helped the greasy Brazil nuts along, as did the winy aroma of the great clusters of raisins, sugary-sticky to the touch. The spices that went into the eggnog or the hot Tom and Jerrys stood off the warm friendship of the rum that gave character to the cream.

It’s almost like being there. Ruark had been dead for several years when I was a boy, but I remember similar Christmas smells; maybe not as many, or as strong, but I do remember them from my childhood. I never really got the taste for raisins, but we always had the Christmas Hershey’s Kisses; somehow, I remember them tasting better than they do now.

These days, people buy chemicals in a bottle and call that the smell of Christmas.

Maybe it isn’t all bad: today, the Old Man probably would have lived another ten or twenty years. I wonder if the Old Man would have thought it was worth the trade, though.

(The quote above is from a not-terribly-well OCRed version of The Old Man’s Boy Grows Older at Here’s another one for you, if you’ll hold still for it, though it doesn’t have much to do with Christmas:

Perhaps I am not very clear here, but what I am getting at is that my teen-age group possessed, legally, all the death-dealing, injury-wielding weapons that are now owned clandestinely by the “bad” kids. There was a certain pride in being trusted. My cousins and friends and I used to go off on a Saturday picnic into the local wilds with enough armament to conquer the county rifles, shotguns, knives, scout axes and were not regarded as a serious menace to the community. Or to each other.


Like an oncoming train.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas is coming. But you don’t have a lot of time to shop and get physical objects delivered.

What to do? What. To. Do.

Well, if the object of gift giving has a Kindle or something like it, ebooks make fine gifts. And they can be delivered, even on Christmas morning.

I just finished, and enthusiastically recommend, Brian Krebs’ Spam Nation: The Inside Story of Organized Cybercrime-from Global Epidemic to Your Front Door. It isn’t quite the general book about spam I was expecting. His Krebsness is mostly writing about the Russian pharmacy spam gangs and their internecine warfare. There’s a lot of good stuff in Spam Nation; I’d recommend it for anyone in your life who has a interest in computers, computer security, or spam.

Another book that I really enjoyed this year is Amy Alkon’s Good Manners for Nice People Who Sometimes Say F*ck, an etiquette guide for the modern age. Much of her advice is based on the latest developments in cognitive science, too, so it isn’t just a list of arbitrary rules. Also enthusiastically recommended, for just about everyone. (With the possible exception of very small children. But if you have a late pre-teen or teenager on your list, I think they could get a lot out of this.)

Merry Christmas to me! (Part 2)

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

I like Joe R. Lansdale.

I like free stuff.

Joe’s Bullets and Fire is available for free on the Kindle.

(Hattip: Mike the Musicologist. Stuff from Joel’s Classical Shop makes swell gifts this time of year. And remember, the Twelve Days of Christmas begin on December 25th, and don’t end until January 6th. So you’ve got plenty of shopping days left!)

Random notes: December 22, 2014.

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The Krampus Comeback!

“For the next 12 months I will live as if there is no God,” he typed. “I will not pray, read the Bible for inspiration, refer to God as the cause of things or hope that God might intervene and change my own or someone else’s circumstances. (I trust that if there really is a God that God will not be too flummoxed by my foolish experiment and allow others to suffer as a result).”

I don’t (and won’t) talk about my religion here. But I will say: I have a lot of respect for Ryan Bell, and would love to sit down and talk with him at some point.

Save the Lada!

The company’s market share diminished steadily after the Soviet Union collapsed, dropping to 17 percent from 70 percent.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year (part 2)

Monday, December 22nd, 2014

The “First Annual Very Nicest Awards” from Very Nice Website (aka John Moltz, one of the four authentic geniuses the Internet has produced).

Won’t you consider murdering and eating a duck this holiday season?

The Incomparable takes on “The Star Wars Holiday Special”.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Friday, December 12th, 2014

Carolyn Hax 2014 Hootenanny of Holiday Horrors. (The good stuff starts about halfway down.)

My brother turned to me and said in a rather flat tone, “No standards today. If they are alive at the end of it, we win.”

The Dissolve’s “Worst films of 2014″.

Thank you, folks!

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

I made a few pennies off of Amazon referrals this month, so thank you, my readers, for making purchases and helping fight off entropy for a little while longer.

I hope the person who ordered Young Men and Fire likes it as much as I did. And whoever ordered the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic 2 Inch PVC Figure Mystery Pack, good for you.

What am I going to buy with my Amazon earnings? Well, I already spent most of them on FloFost. I want to assure you, however, that one thing I will not be purchasing is this:

That does remind me, however: with the holiday season coming up, I need to dig out that Harlequin NASCAR Christmas romance collection and do a “Quaint and Curious” entry on it.

I’ve seen tax-fattened hyenas on fire off the shoulder of Bell…

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Teresa Jacobo, former city council person for the notoriously corrupt California city of Bell, was sentenced today. As you may recall, Ms. Jacobo was convicted earlier this year of misappropriating public funds, and struck a plea deal on additional charges.

And what do we have behind door #3 for Ms. Jacobo?

Two years in prison and “more than $242,000″ in restitution payments.

The prosecution had requested four years; it seems like they’ve been requesting four years for all the council members.

TMQ Watch: February 4, 2014.

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

And thus we slog to the end of another NFL season, and the end of another TMQ season. Surprisingly (at least to us) TMQ avoids any discussion of unrealistic television shows, but there’s a lot of discussion of books. Speaking of which, did you know TMQ had a new book out?

After the jump, the last TMQ for the 2013 NFL season


Bread blogging: experiment #1

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

This requires some background.

One of my Christmas presents was a box of smoked meat from Goode Company Barbecue in Houston. The meat itself has been very good so far. But included with the meat was a loaf of Goode Company’s Jalepeno Cheddar bread.

I was warned in advance: “This stuff is addictive. You’ll find yourself eating the whole loaf in one sitting.” Well, I wasn’t quite that bad (it took two sittings to finish the loaf), but it is very very good bread. I wouldn’t put it at the “crack cocaine” level; that’s reserved for Caramel deLites (or Samoas, depending on which part of the country you’re in). It is even better if you toast it and spread some of Trader Joe’s Pub Cheese on the toast, but that’s a digression.

(And by the way, Girl Scout cookie season is upon us again.)

Anyway, after I finished the loaf, I found myself saying the following: “Hey! I have a bread machine! How hard could it be to replicate their bread?”