Until someone starts that Liberal radio network everybody's been wondering about, try listening to Democracy Now! daily and Harry Shearer's Le Show weekly.



A few weeks back, we went to Todoroff's just to try something different. I tried a single coney dog combo, small drink and medium fries, for $3.75. Judging by the description, it sounds a little overpriced, but their small drink was exactly the same size as a Wendy's medium. (Melinda had been eating hot dogs at home all week, so she wasn't interested in Todoroff's specialty. She got a burger and I smuggled my plain brown bag into Wendy's so we could eat together.)

At most places, coney dogs are sold in groups like White Castle sliders: less than three hardly constitutes a complete meal. At Todoroff's, their idea of chili is basically seasoned ground beef, and they packed about a burger's worth on top of the hot dog, so you definitely get your money's worth. I would classify it as a little spicier than "mild," but I'm not real fond of spicy foods. A diagram on their website describes the chili as having "no beans or drippy gravy," which would probably turn off some traditional chili afficianados, but it seemed fine by me. (Is there any such thing as a "traditional chili afficianado"? Yes, actually I met some in Texas. The kind who use sirloin and venison sausage, not ground beef.)

The decor inside matches the outside, giant beams dominating the walls and gleaming ductwork left visible overhead. The tables are all stainless steel. Besides coney dogs and fries and onion rings and chili, a sign on the wall reminds you to try their rice pudding.

And don't you dare forget the franchise opportunities! How many fast food joints have you been to lately with stacks of business cards on the counter? Next to that were half page flyers detailing who you'd contact to start your own Todoroff's franchise, and why.

For some reason there are a lot of coney islands around Jackson. I thought I had read an article that said a lot of immigrants to this area passed through New York on their way, and they just dragged the popular food from Coney Island to Jackson. This article claims that George Todoroff actually started selling chili in Coney Island in 1914, and later used his chili on top of hot dogs when those were popularized, at or about the same time that frankfurters became known as "hot dogs." But I can't tell if he came from Jackson to NY and then back, or if he settled in Jackson after New York, or what the real deal was.

Either way, when you talk about a coney dog, you're talking about the basic combination that this guy put together about 90 years ago. To get the authentic experience, you have to come to Jackson, Michigan and get served at a restaurant run by descendants of the master.


I haven't read this article, but the title is a punchline in itself: Saddam's capture and how it relates to Tulsa's holiday shopping season.
[from KOTV in Oklahoma]
Half Inch A Month!
It goes without saying that the capture of Saddam Hussein is a good thing, and that it doesn't mean the war is over. What needs to be said is: I AM SO JEALOUS OF HIS RATE OF BEARD GROWTH. It looked like 2.5 or 3 inches of beard in the footage of his lice and dental inspection. If he started growing the beard as soon as the war started, mid-March 2003, he was able to grow that in only 9 months.

I haven't shaved in a couple years, and I only have about 2 inches. A few freakish hairs grow much longer (see earlier announcement that I can bend over and stretch beard hairs to my belly button), but on the average, they languish at around 2 inches. Saddam's beard grows at least 3 or 4 times faster than mine.

Heavy sigh.
Maybe my period is synching with Melinda's and all the gals in the department I work with (ha ha), but I got misty-eyed this morning reading an excerpt of Langston Hughes getting grilled McCarthy-style. Then on the way to work, listening to a dude talking about the life of Johnny Mercer and how painful "One More For the Road" is really meant to be. They played Sinatra singing that, who usually doesn't do a lot for me (except when he's advising Doris Day's mother to stop being hard-boiled), but the song choked me up. Can't think of any events in recent months that should make me feel that way.

The excerpt from Langston Hughes was in the December 2003 Harper's. I was going to post some of that here, and then I ran across another article I wanted to post, and then more and more. So you'll have to dig up that issue for yourself. Too much for me to copy here. I almost made myself late for work reading a short story in that issue, "What We Cannot Speak About We Must Pass Over In Silence" by John Edgar Wideman.


Susan Davis: Avast, Me Hearties! (Review of Pirates of the Caribbean)
"Pirates could be, should be about the return of the repressed, as all pirate, ghost, gangster and horror stories really are. Like terrorists, pirates are marginals and out-casts who rage at the power of the state that has screwed them over. A really good pirate story should give us the eerie feeling that the people we are supposed to be afraid of are trying to tell us something. Something important."