You know the drill: you’re on vacation, you go to a bar or club or something, and the owners stick a performer out there on a guitar with instructions to “keep ’em happy so they’ll keep buyin’.” Usually the musicians in question are fairly forgettable, but once in a while you come across the exception.

Carole and I took a seven-day, six-night cruise around the Hawaiian Islands last week aboard the Norwegian Cruise Lines’ ship “Pride of America”. Along the way, we encountered Marissa Hollenback performing in “Pink’s Champagne Bar” (seriously).

She definitely stood out. Marissa could cover virtually anything in her soulful, rocking style (I thought briefly about asking her to cover “Jesus Built My Hot Rod” by Ministry, but thought better of it) and had clearly rolled a natural 100 on her Audience Banter and Repartee skill. The only thing I saw all week that fazed her was when I looked up her album on (she had stacks for sale right there on the ship as well) and requested one of her songs. She recovered brilliantly, told us the story of how the song came to be, and rocked the place.

I doubt you’re going to rush off and buy her CD solely on the strength of my recommendation, but at least give her a listen on YouTube:

And if you would like to buy some of her music:

Theo agrees!

Posted in Jay | Tagged , , , | Comments Off on Awooooo!


As of tonight, when we arrived in Honolulu and checked in to a hotel on Waikiki Beach, I have now been to all 50 U.S. states.  I don’t count “changed planes in an airport” visits; I’ve stayed overnight in almost all states and the ones I haven’t, I’ve driven around in, had a meal in, etcetera.

My 49th was Alaska, back in 2007.  Took ten years to cross off number 50, but I made it at last.

Posted in Jay | Tagged , | Comments Off on 50


Posted in Jay | Tagged | Comments Off on Bob

Dora Furr’s “Russian Tea” aka Tang Tea

  • 2 cups Tang orange instant drink powder
  • 1 cup sweetened lemonade powder
  • 1/2 cup instant tea powder
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg

Mix well.

Use 2 heaping teaspoons to one cup boiling water.

Posted in Carole | Tagged | Comments Off on Dora Furr’s “Russian Tea” aka Tang Tea

Depression-Era Values

Mom was a child of the Depression. She was born two months before the market crashed and she grew up one of eight kids in a rural Florida family where the father was frequently unemployed and the mother was frequently in mental hospitals. A large percentage of what they ate, they grew or raised themselves. One simply didn’t waste food.

Even after she put herself through college at Florida State, went off to grad school at the University of Michigan and then at Duke, and then wound up living a prosperous middle-class college town life, she hated to waste food.

She would make jam and jelly from the raspberries and blackberries whose bushes grew in profusion around our house in the mountains of Virginia and she’d seal the jars with canning wax. The seals didn’t always hold well and we’d find thick layers of mold on top of the jam, but Mom wouldn’t hear of throwing it out; she’d scrape the mold off and insist that we eat the jam anyway. More often than not, it’d gone to sugar and was grainy and unpleasant, but again — waste not, want not.

When I was in middle school, she was diagnosed with high blood pressure and told to avoid salt as much as possible. So, the next time she canned tomatoes and made tomato sauce, she used “No-Salt” instead of regular table salt. “No-Salt”, in case you’ve never had the misfortune of tasting it, is a vile salt alternative that, I swear to God, tastes more or less exactly like plutonium. It’s a nasty, bitter, metallic-tasting abomination from the pits of Hell, and Mom had a bumper crop of tomatoes that year. A decade later we were still unearthing jars of that that year’s sauce and staring at each other across the dinner table, afraid of pointing out that we’d rather go chew broken glass than eat any. Mom would not have been amused.

In the end, though, the memory of Mom and food gone wrong (but eaten anyway) that I treasure the most is the time she had couples from Dad’s department at Virginia Tech over for dinner. She had purchased a couple of large tubs of sour cream and some Lipton dried onion soup mix to make what the people of that era called “California Dip” or “French onion dip”.

Only… she’d grabbed the wrong box of dried soup mix off the shelf at Radford Brothers’. When she went to open it, she found she’d wound up with Lipton … chicken noodle soup mix.

She used it anyway. Little tiny noodles and all. It wasn’t the worst thing any of us had ever eaten, and I had to admit that the little tiny noodles gave the dip an interesting crunch, but still, the look on her guests’ faces when they dipped a potato chip and took a taste was something to behold. Expecting onion, they got … poultry.

In her defense, Mom never let her refrigerator get packed with spoiled or ancient food — she made sure things got eaten well before they’d evolve sentience. And she was a very good cook. It’s just that, like anyone, she made mistakes… and we all got to experience them right along with her.

Miss ya, Mom.1)RIP Dora Ann Mondon Furr, 1929-2011

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. RIP Dora Ann Mondon Furr, 1929-2011
Posted in Jay | Tagged , | Comments Off on Depression-Era Values

Regarding Trump: Words fail me

As far as I can tell, I’m the only person (or close to it) in my Facebook circle of friends who isn’t venting spleen about Trump and his deranged, totalitarian antics.

It’s not that I’m not disgusted and/or worried sick. I am.

It’s just that my brain literally can’t make sense of how so many people still support Trump. He’s going to do to the USA exactly what Chavez did to Venezuela, and even then, there are going to be tons of jingoistic fools, racists, and reactionaries who will support him. I can no more think of rational things to say about that than I can explain quantum chromodynamics. From where I stand, both are literally incomprehensible.

Words fail me.

Posted in Jay | Tagged | 1 Comment


Seen (and enthusiastically applauded) today on Home Avenue in Burlington, Vermont:

Posted in Jay | Tagged , | Comments Off on THIS