April 2010 Archives


So here we go again. The Ol' Bloviator must once more preface his remarks with one of his by now familiar apologies for neglecting his long-suffering followers. Once again he pleads for forgiveness, pointing to a spate of speechifying. (It would be helpful at this point if those few of you who have not yet been cornered and forced to listen to an OB oration would simply come in and register. Perhaps we can arrange a mass indoctrination that would save us all a little time, though, in your case, not much suffering.) There have also been humongous dissertations to read and a steady procession of grad students to examine. (Note: These exams  typically do not require rubber gloves, although the examinees might well think they should.)

                At any rate, ever since he stole a few minutes to read a few pages of the New York Times a while back, the OB has been keen to comment on the way totally bizarre and frequently disgusting things can become delicacies or actually made to convey a certain status or identity on those who consume them. Growing up on a farm, where we raised our own meat, from his tiniest tykehood, the OB loved nothing better than "hog killing" day, which typically coincided with the first day likely to remain cold enough to keep the meat from spoiling while it was being "worked up." Being frugal people of austere means, we country folk were loath to waste any part of the hog, and that included the small intestines, known formally  as "chitterlings," although "chitlin's" suited us just fine. Since the intestines do, after all, have a rather dirty job to do while ol' Porky is alive and rootin' around, preparing them for cooking was a pretty dirty job itself, requiring that they be cut into strips before the, ahem, contents were flushed by repeatedly pouring hot water through them.

cleaningchit20060402acchitterlings4_230.jpg Suffice it to say, this was not a particularly coveted task, but you definitely hoped that the person responsible did a good, thorough job. Otherwise, it was E. coli city for those who would soon be feasting on them.

I am often--make that occasionally--asked how chitlins' taste. I have never felt happy with any reply I could muster beyond "better than they smell," especially when they're cooking.  I remember when my poor mama began boiling or stewing chitlin's, every fly in the house found something really critical to do outside. I never ate chitlin's any other way than battered, fried, and swimming in ketchup with a dash of Tabasco. For me the purpose of the condiments was not to counteract the taste of chitlin's so much as to compensate for the lack thereof. Still, one thing was certain: If cooking chitlin's was women's work, eating  them was entirely up to the men. Big "chitlin' suppers" were essentially a masculine ritual, sometimes supplemented by a game of Rook, with or without a sip or two of corn squeezin's.

In some ways, I guess chitlins' filled the same ritualistic role in southern cuisine as "Rocky Mountain oysters" played in the West. What could be more masculine after all than wolfing down the testicles of bull calves, excised (Ouch!), pounded flat (Ouch, again!), battered, and fried (We're well beyond "Ouch!" at this point.)rocky mountain119083080_d96b9e0999.jpg This particular delicacy has eluded me thus far, but I do notice that every time I see a plate of R.M.O.s, there's always plenty of ketchup on hand.

                You may not find the idea of consuming chitlin's or Rocky Mountain oysters very appealing, but the thing is, eating either one is supposed to signify that you are one rough and ready dude. That's why I was plumb near white-eyed by this story in the New York Times about the effete, elevated-pinky types who fancy coffee brewed from beans that have already--the Ol' Bloviator ain't kiddin' now--been eaten, partially digested, and pooped out by some trashy cat-looking-thing called a civet. civet-Q.jpg

 Civets, it seems, prowl around in Southeast Asia looking for "the tastiest, ripest coffee cherries" to ingest and then later divest as coffee beans said to yield a brew  that is  "smooth, chocolaty, and devoid of any bitter aftertaste." (Yeah! Right!) Get this now, self-styled "connoisseurs" who can't get enough of this "preprocessed" coffee have put such a premium on civet poop that the woods are full of folks stalking the ugly creatures until they get a call from nature, so to speak and Voila!


Others have decided to give nature a helping hand by separating the beans from the cherries and mixing them into a "banana mash," which is then fed to the civets.  In the case of one owner, this technique has jacked the poop payoff from his hyper caffeinated civets up from roughly 5 ounces to 6.6 pounds per day. As is so common when first-world stupidity meets third-world poverty, there is now a flourishing trade in phony civet plop consisting of regular old coffee beans "glued to unidentified dung." There is also a heated debate over whether the "stress" on force-fed civets actually degrades the flavor of the beans compared to those ingested by "free-range" civets who, left to their own devices,  supposedly opt only for the choicest of the coffee cherries. Scoffing at this notion, big-time civet owner Mega Kurniawan insisted there was no distinction between the beans yielded by civets in captivity and those found deposited in the wild, suggesting that the world's coffee snobs may prefer the latter, harder-to-come-by beans simply because of "the prestige."

Prestige is perhaps the ultimate commodity, and it seldom comes cheap. In this case, the price tag--hold on to your decaf, skinny latte with a shot of pomegranate liqueur, folks--is $227 per pound. Understandably, all this is fairly puzzling to locals who formerly prized civets primarily because they supposedly tasted mighty fine after their meat was dried and "prepared adobo-style." (After getting a look at one of these ugly little boogers, I think I'll pass on this "delicacy" too,  along with anything brewed from something that has passed through their guts. Thanks very much, though.) But then, as Lambert Pat-og, the son of a local school principal pointed out, "We are ignorant."  If so, you're my kind of ignorant, Lambert, old buddy, but in this case, as in many others, we are probably missing a bet. It's only a matter of time before someone offers a new line of civet-sized "Depends," for example, and I'm told the people at Goldman Sachs are already marketing civet-poop futures "on the down low."

Whatever else the Ol' Bloviator's multitude of detractors can truthfully say about him--and there's a'plenty, he admits--he has never been much of one to toot his own horn. In fact, on this site and elsewhere, he has gone in precisely the opposite direction by making himself the butt of all manner of jokes, and any number of his more or less truthful accounts wind up positioning him as the object of laughter or even ridicule. (Witness the last post, from which, by the way, his latest driver's license photo has been expunged, after reports of several women going into labor prematurely after viewing it, not to mention several coeds who (OMG!), like, took their Face Book pages down lest the hideous image should, like, pop up there sometimes. OMG!)  Seeing himself as an unlikely candidate for admiration, O.B. was naturally shocked, though immensely pleased,  to learn that his employer (and alma mammy) has seen fit to honor him for his modest accomplishments as a researcher.

            Research universities typically don't do nearly enough to stress the importance of . . . well, research. Instead, when it's time to play politics with higher education and the legislative machete squad gets all lathered up, it's the research component of the University's mission that is all too frequently left to fend for itself. Active, effective researchers are readily presumed to be indifferent teachers because they do so much research when, as the O.B. has complained here before, the researchers are the only people who come to class with something new and original to say. This makes the O.B. doubly proud to be part of an effort to give researchers their due at this hallowed institution. In his case, as you can surmise by mashing right here,  they gave the O.B. way more than his due to the point of rendering him damn near unrecognizable to himself much less those who know him personally.

            Then there's the video.  Although the O.B. confesses he is a little disappointed that they cut the part where he was telling 'em about all the great advice he's given Bill Gates or revealing for the first time that he regularly rode shot gun with  Richard Petty and really taught him how to make that old Plymouth stand up and go. Ditto Nolan Ryan and the fastball and Herschel and the toss sweep. It's also a little bit of a bummer that they couldn't find room for my explanation of why magenta is my favorite color and my deeply self-revelatory discourse on why it's boxers over briefs for this information-gathering beast on  those long, hot days in the archives. Still, I give 'em due credit. For nearly two minutes, they managed to make me seem almost credible professionally and not nearly so loathsome personally as most would have you believe. Not bad for just six days worth of interviewing.


Even though he thinks the video spinmeisters did an incredible job (given what they had to work with) in making him look at least functional, the ol' Bloviator knows that, at heart, these things are relative. Therefore, it never hurts to juxtapose your performance with that of someone who comes across as a total fool. Normally, 

the OB's  first resort would be simply to download the latest video of good old Paul Broun, member of Congress from right here in Georgia's Tenth district. As luck would have it, however, another Georgia congressman, this one from the other side of the aisle, has temporarily taken the heat off ol'still-dumber-than-a-post Paul.  Representative Hank Johnson, who unseated that nut-case Cynthia McKinney infor Georgia' Fourth district Congressional seat in 2006 (Too bad  McKinney and Broun were never in office at the same time, Georgia could have claimed the biggest whack-jobs at both the far right and far left congressional spectrum.) recently engaged  in an insufferably tedious exchange  with an admiral over the question of transferring a large detachment of U.S. Marines to Guam. After going way overboard in establishing that Guam ain't exactly a great big ol' place and struggling for words in much the same distracted way that cousin Buster used to when WKLY got to coming in good and loud on that steel plate in his head, Johnson expressed his concern that an overloaded Guam might tip over and spill a bunch of Guamians  into the ocean.

            Having heard stuff way dumber than this on his way up the ranks, the  unflustered admiral eventually broke a stunned general  silence by reassuring the congressman that such an outcome is not anticipated. (My friend Jimbo observed that ol' Hank should be more concerned about the prospect of such a catastrophe closer to home every fall when University of Georgia fans overrun St. Simons Island for the Georgia-Florida game.) I suppose we should be thankful that the good admiral didn't suggest that we could get Halliburton to outfit Guam with pontoons if that would make the congressman rest easier.  

            Dumb as he looked and sounded, Johnson's insistence that he was simply trying to make a joke rings true to me. However, that explanation did bring immediately to mind the old story about the visitor to a prison who was puzzled to hear inmates singing out "2" or "4" and eliciting successive gales of laughter of laughter in response. This continued until finally a slightly squeaky voice gave out with "9" only to be met with deafening silence. Intrigued, the visitor asked what was going on only to have a grizzled old lifer explain that the crew had told each other the same jokes so much that in order to save time they had simply assigned a number to each tale. Why, then, the visitor wanted to know, had nobody laughed at "9"? "Well," said the inmate, "some folks just don't know how to tell a joke." Hankster, they were talking about you, son. If they ever catch you with your hand in the till and ship you off to Graybarville, in addition to the soap, I'd keep a tight grip on that wacky sense of humor as well.


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