Top Ten Dutch Grocery Store Items of 2008

10. "Vla." Vla is pudding you can drink, make no mistake about that. Another fine product from the folks at Stabilac. You'll want to go ahead and finish both liters.

9. "6 Hot Dogs American Style." Because jars of pickled "W├╝rstchen Vom Lande" are the biggest sellers at baseball stadiums and carnivals across the USA.

8. "Schmackos." Pictured are the Four Schmackos of the Apocalypse, coming to either smite or Rapture this dog. Let's hope for Rapturing because he looks like a good dog.

7. "Havermout." It makes Cream of Wheat look like oatmeal. Perfect for camping in grain fields.

6. "Rijstwafels met Zeezout." Kids here don't scream for ice cream. They scream for rice waffles with sea salt.

5. "Elmex." After all that grazing, you're gonna want to brush your teeth with Elmex ... if you're a monkey between the ages of 0 and 4, that is -- or between 0 and 5.

4. "American Style Big Pizza Texas Pepperoni - Salami." You can't go anywhere in Texas without stumbling over fluffy-based pepperoni-salami pizzas.

3. "Smac." What your lips do when you see it.

2. "Choco Choco's." Hold on, aren't dogs allergic to chocolate? Maybe not cartoon dogs.

1. "Nutrilon." Made from polar bear cubs and "Immunofortis" shields, Nutrilon doesn't sound like something you want to feed your baby. It sounds like something you want to feed an alien cyborg baby. ("And what about the Nutrilon tanks?" "19% and dropping, sir. Nearest resupply station appears to be ... Arcturus 14." "Set a course for Arcturus 14.")


60 Minutes: Obama's Road to the White house

This is for those like me, who didn't or couldn't watch it but want to at some point. I feel myself already taking it all for granted, and this is a reminder of how improbable it was. (Note "60 Minutes" is actually just over 43 minutes.)

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Happy holidays

I snapped this photo last night as Haarlem ushered in Hannukah, with the burgermeester introducing a rabbi who lit the shamash (thanks, Wikipedia!). I indicate the different layers of religious imagery in this single photo, spanning paganism/shamanism's World Tree that stretches back into pre-history, to Judaism's commemoration of the rededication of the Holy Temple in the 2nd century BC, to the St. Bavo's church which started life as a Catholic cathedral in 1559 but was seized and converted to a Protestant church 20 years later (by basically destroying stained glass and statues). Who says God is dead? Quite the contrary, He just seems to get more complicated, even here in secular Europe. When the Islamic Caliphate of Europe is established, I will grab a shot of the new big gold onion dome.


Elizabeth Alexander to compose, recite inaugural poem

Anyone know her work? She's professor of African-American Studies at Yale. I had been wondering who would be "Obama's poet." Here's a little background on her selection. She seems to have won plenty of prizes and honors, but after a quick scan of these poems on her Web site I'm a little underwhelmed. However, there's no accounting for taste, and she has to be a better choice than the one made for the invocation.

Robert Frost delivered the first inaugural poem in 1961, Miller Williams the last in 1997. Dubya, whose favorite poems are almost certainly limericks, dropped the idea -- one imagines him crinkling his nose and cracking frat-boy wise when the possibility was brought up in a meeting. For my money, this is the bar, set in 1993, that any inaugural poet needs to clear:


Anyone Watch Californication?

Supposedly, some of the students decided to start referring to me as Runkel, from the show, Californication.

In an effort to find out how much vengeance this requires, I searched around and found out the character is an agent, completely bald, and was fired for masturbating, but that's all I can come up with.

Since I have long, Fabio-like locks, I figure it can't be the bald thing, I have never been an agent -- so that leaves the masturbating, which I of course limit to public rest areas and the bathrooms of friends, so that can't be it either.

Any of you television junkies have some helpful insight? Should I be upset or amused?


136 years of Popular Science free online

Wow. Every issue, going back to 1872. The ads alone... the designs alone... This is why I love/hate the Internet. Like I need another perfect way to spend time on it? Click the pic here, then choose your decade, choose your issue, and click the mag cover that pops up top.


Filming Revolutionary Road

With Yates' masterpiece being released for the screen in two weeks, I thought it was time to revisit this little gem in Salon that delves into a bit of the history behind the film, which has been "trying" to be made for 37 years. Winslet and DiCaprio together again for the first time since Titanic ... and they choose this film, which surely is the very antithesis? Can it be done well for the screen? Thinking back to American Beauty makes me think: just maybe.

Workshop TV series

We may have lost Live from Prairie Lights, but this might prove almost as cool. From the EG sheriff's inbox:
"Conversations from the Iowa Writers' Workshop," a new series produced by the University of Iowa Center for Media Production, will debut on the Big Ten Network Thursday, Dec. 11, at 3 p.m. with additional cablecasts Monday, Dec. 15 at 3 a.m. and Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 9 a.m.
Hosted by Kecia Lynn -- up first: Curtis Sittenfeld. There's a preview clip on YouTube, and that link will also have online versions of the show as it develops. I'm adding the link permanently to the "Things to look at" area in the right sidebar.


Timothy Egan states the obvious

But does it matter?

Regarding Joe the Plumber's upcoming book and Sarah Palin's rumored advance:

"Publishers: with all the grim news of layoffs and staff cuts at the venerable houses of American letters, can we set some ground rules for these hard times? Anyone who abuses the English language on such a regular basis should not be paid to put words in print."


Your Neighborhood Bibliographer Wants to Know

What do you consider the best instructional texts in creative writing (particularly in poetry and creative non-fiction)?