Cecil the Cursing Cat, 10/22/14

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Cecil the Cursing Cat, 10/20/14

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Recipe for Lean Times

Image: Wikimedia Commons

 What is wolf stew?

“It’s a hamburger dish we ate when money was tight. We had it about once a week when I was a kid, in the 1940s. Beef was a treat during the war. We had more pork, because we lived on a farm and we had pigs, but we didn’t have beef too often. Wolf stew could feed a whole family with a few potatoes and one pound of hamburger. My grandmother made it. Everyone in the family called it wolf stew. When I asked my dad why we called it that, he told me that during the Depression they were very poor, there was no money, no food, and they heard a noise at the door. It was a wolf. So they shot the wolf and they had wolf stew. I believed him. I was a young kid. We all believed it. Everything was rationed during the war; you couldn’t get meat, so we believed it was wolf. We thought that where they stored the meat, the pork, they just went there and got wolf. When I got married in the 1950s, I started making it for my kids and they called it wolf stew. We had it about once a week. It’s always been one of my favorite dinners.”

How do you make it?

“You just get three or four onions, cut them up, and fry them in a little oil in a large pan on medium heat until they’re golden. Then add a pound of hamburger into the pan, all crumbled up. Cook the meat thoroughly while stirring. After the meat is cooked through, stir in two cups of water, and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring on medium heat until it’s all well blended and you have a nice gravy. Then mix about a tablespoon of flour in a half cup of water and add it to the stew to thicken it. Let it simmer about ten minutes or until it’s as thick as you like it. Serve it with mashed potatoes.”

— Joan Geraci, age 80, Bellmawr, New Jersey


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Introducing 1905 Reporter

1905reporter2No Quorum on Rubber Costume 

Preparations for All Hallow’s Eve are said to be seeing discord among persons who judge the anticipated course of some revel-ers to adopt the costume of a man in rubber sheeting from head to knee, anchored in ducking waders, as ill-considered. It is thought that this costume seeks to represent a man of medicine or science who tends to patients gravely sickened by a feared contagious disease that is now on the loose in the United States.

The death and misery wrought by the particular infectious affliction, which has traveled from its quarantine on the African continent, is the reason for the offense. The complaining citizens insist such a costume will mock carnage and despair. Persons familiar with Autumn Halloween traditions will note that innumerable varieties of disguises are used for parlor get-togethers and society balls to effect a grotesque or whimsical appearance, with liberality generally unquestioned. Therefore rumors of discomfort among some quarter is alleged to be news-worthy and fit to serve as a “break-in story” for a newspaper man who stiffened spines in Tammany Hall.  Read More »

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An Open Letter to Derek Jeter


Thanks for being a pro athlete that might not kill my 10-year old son

By Pete Miller, West Orange, NJ


Dear Derek,

Emotions are exploding inside of me as your immortal run in Yankee pinstripes comes to an end. They’re making me realize exactly what you’ve meant to me for the better part of 20 years. To me, you weren’t just The Captain. You weren’t just a “class act.” You were a hero. The kind of hero I and legions of other fans will probably never see again.

You are a multimillionaire professional athlete that I would actually consider letting my 10-year-old son be alone with for maybe 30 seconds or so.

I bet you don’t realize how rare that is. Read More »

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The Summer of Forgotten Kids

hot sun3_Every few years, media attention cycles back to parents accidentally leaving their children in hot cars to die. This pediatric version of Shark Week surfaces each summer in hot states like Arizona, Florida and Texas, but it’s clinging to the spotlight with a vengeance this year.

The current go-around started in mid-June after a Georgia man let his 22-month-old son die of heat stroke in a closed car amid suspicious behavior, like sexting six women as his child lay dying. It made his “forgetting” stink of murder.

So we had yet another mystery involving a dead child.1

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70th Anniversary of D-Day: Interview in Normandy with Veteran Ernie Corvese

DDay photo B&W

I’m badgering an 88-year-old man to remember a few minutes that happened 70 years ago. The memory is, arguably, of historical importance. And he’ll likely be gone relatively soon, to put it bluntly. It’s the reality that gives every word he says gravity. So maybe my questions carry the gentle authority of seeking details for posterity, for the historical record. As if the record needed it.

So at 6:50 pm on June 4, 2014, in a hotel lounge in the small town of Bayeux, France, a twenty-minute drive from where he landed on Omaha Beach on the morning of June 6, 1944, I make an 88-year-old man uncomfortable.

The man’s name is Ernie Corvese. He’s a retired newspaper photoengraver from Providence, Rhode Island. He’s traveled to Normandy with his wife of 62 years, Dolores, for the 70th anniversary of D-Day. As one of the ever-fewer surviving veterans still able to talk about his war experience, Corvese has been interviewed several times in the last few years, telling and retelling the story of his glimpse of hell during that rainy day back in ‘44. Read More »

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A Kiss Worthy of Cinema History

lifeboatpic2I recently had the opportunity to see Hitchcock’s Lifeboat on the big screen again.

The 1944 film follows nine people in a small boat in the north Atlantic after their Allied ship is torpedoed by a German submarine during World War II. The British and American survivors have all the diversity convenient to brew conflict and unlikely alliances—they span from a bejeweled woman to crewmen to a business tycoon. But the presence of the German U-boat commander, rescued from the sea after his sub is destroyed, creates the central tension in the film.

I’ve seen Lifeboat perhaps four times, but only twice in a theater.1 A lot has been written about it, as with any Hitchcock film, though much justifiably centers on Tallulah Bankhead not wearing underwear on the set.2 You’ll also find mentions of John Steinbeck’s anger over the dumbing down of his black character3 and a few musings on the damaging controversy that gutted the film’s box office performance. Regarding the latter, several critics and other influential voices in ’44 felt that the German U-boat captain (Walter Slezak) was portrayed as too competent, too gentle-faced and too appealing in every regard to represent a hated enemy.4 This reportedly spurred Twentieth Century Fox to cut promotion efforts and the $1.5 million film did poorly in theaters.

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The Death of Quirky

monkey“She wasn’t quirky. She was crazy.”

This was my friend’s assessment of a woman I had met on OKCupid. She had ended our pleasant test drive after two months when I showed ambivalence about naked time, which sometimes happens when I realize I’m not in it for the long haul but still enjoy the dinner conversation. Sort of like an actor in a play that’s closing. Even if the backstage mood sucks, you might still like getting dressed and going on.

My friend’s comment wasn’t empty. She was psychologically troubled. It didn’t take a medical degree to see that. Bits of her past trickled out in the first two weeks and then dropped in large chunks. An abusive parent, pill addiction, years of crippling depression, weight swings, promiscuous eras. On “medication.” The drugs were heavy-duty mood stabilizers, not like the ones in the commercial with the frowny ball. Ads for these pills could use Amanda Bynes.

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Do Not Say “Welcome to Middle Age”

father-knows-best. Jim Anderson
Where’s the cancer?

I don’t want cancer. Unless that’s going to be in the cards soon anyway. I want my body to stop irritating me with a series of annoyances that cause me to see some doctor, take pills, bitch and lose productive time.

A variety of bizarre, premature shit has cropped up solely to piss me off in the last few years. Arrhythmia. A temporarily half-paralyzed face. A Dupuytren’s whatever-the-frig in my left hand. Gout. Pneumonia.

Pneumonia. The old man’s friend. I’m not yet 45.

Meanwhile I’m healthy. “Healthy.” When people say “Thank God for good health,” they specifically mean me. No brain tumor. No lung cancer. No lupus. No diabetes. No Lyme disease. No Lou Gehrig’s disease. No artificial limbs. Nothing that qualifies me as bad off in the slightest.

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