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  • Michael Krakovskiy 1:42 am on July 29, 2009 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , army psychologist, , Fish, Gefilte fish, Jewish cuisine, , Jews and Judaism in Europe, , , ,   

    Treyf 

    I find Jewish humor to be one of the best ways to explain certain situations in programming. Here are two that I find particularly funny and useful.

    The first is a true story told me by a friend. I use it when I’m told that good web developers don’t use tables. It goes like this: My friend’s aunt met her religious relatives for the first time after coming to America from the Soviet Union. Horrified at being served pork sausage, they told her: “But auntie, Jews don’t eat pork!”. She replied — “Nonsense, I eat it all the time.”

    The second is an old and racist Soviet-era joke. A Chukcha serves in the Soviet Army, and is an exemplary soldier in border patrol. There’s only one problem — he tends to eat patrol dogs, considering them a delicacy (this untrue ethnic detail must have been created to make the joke setup work). An army psychologist offers to correct this. He sits the soldier down, takes out his watch, and hypnotizes him with the words “you are not a Chukcha, you are a Jew. You don’t like to eat dogs, you like to eat gefilte fish.” The patrol dogs continue to vanish even after the hypnosis seems to have worked. Authorities send another soldier to follow the hypnotized Chukcha around. This soldier reports that the Chukcha sits the dogs down, takes out his watch and hypnotizes them with the words “You are not a dog, you are gefilte fish.” I tend to tell it when I’m told that the act of turning a hack into a Drupal module somehow makes it “gefilte fish.”

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 5:29 am on July 28, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cartilaginous fish, Fish, , , Predators, Sharks   

    Subway Sharks 

    I thought it was only crocodiles, but apparently sharks are a part of NYC Subway ecosystem.

     
  • Michael Krakovskiy 3:39 am on June 1, 2008 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Andy Kelp, Arnie Albright, Black Bellamy, Caper story, , , , Daniel Defoe, , , Fish, , football, getaway driver, , , John Dortmunder, , , Osmeridae, Pirates!, Roe, , Smelt, Stan Murch, The Pirates! in an Adventure with Napoleon, thuggery specialist   

    Bread and Circuses 3: Smelts and Westlake; Uni and Defoe 

    This is a third, and likely last article in which I pair up food with books. The previous two did not generate a single comment, but I still want to finish the series.

    My third favorite cuisine is Japanese. The best Japanese cooking is about the ingredients. Think about it: sashimi is basically sliced up raw fish. It’s an ingredient with the least preparation possible. Yet it’s one of the tastiest things ever, if the fish is good and the chef sliced it well. Simplicity and lightness, that’s what I like about Japanese food. I’ve picked two of my favorite dishes, a fried fish and sea cucumber roe, and paired it up with two simple light reading book series.

    My father grew up on Sakhalin island, a place where salmon and even sturgeon roe were dirt cheap and widely available. Kids would thumb their noses at their caviar and smoked fish, my dad said. But there was one fish still highly prized. A humble smelt. Easily caught, it was usually full of delicious roe. Fried – the tastiest thing ever. While fresh, interestingly enough, smelts smell like fresh cucumbers. I first tasted a fried smelt in a Japanese restaurant Yakitori East, one of the few places in New York that serves them. They are also available in Japanese and Korean supermarkets, I’ve bought and fried them at home many times.

    Fried smelts are just as addictive as books from the Dortmunder series by Donalde E. Westlake. These are masterpieces of a particular subset of subset of crime fiction genre: a comical caper story. You get too root for a band of bumbling crooks led by John Archibald Dortmunder, a very competent, but extremely unlucky master thief with a beer-inspired last name.

    You know how the two Alice stories have a chess game and a card game theme? Well, Dortmunder stories can be thought of as games of American football. The characters are highly specialized, just like football players, they face constant fumbles and setbacks, but from time to time they get to score. In fact, if I remember correctly, one of Dortmunder books even has chapters based on football: “First down”, and so on to more downs than there are in game rules.

    Dortmunder’s core crew includes an all-purpose crook Andy Kelp, a thuggery specialist Tiny Bulcher, a getaway driver obsessed with New York City traffic patterns Stan Murch. Kelp and Dortmunder can pick locks, but when the job calls for it experts are called in. So are extra drivers, computer experts, and other colorful characters. Everybody except Stan Murch has long time girlfriends who take part in criminal acts from time to time. Stan’s cab-driving Mom known as “Murch’s mom” is a frequent cast member.

    The now-canceled Firefly tv series is definitely inspired by the Dortmunder stories: as a nod, Joss Whedon named one of the big Alliance ships IAV Dortmunder.

    There’s something amazingly likable about a competent, but unlucky master thief with a hang-dog look about him. I, for some reason deeply identify with Dortmunder. On the other hand, in real life I’m probably more of Arnie Albright, the friendless and obnoxious (and aware of it) fence. Arnie’s so obnoxious that nobody willingly deals with him (unless they have to). Dortmunder would much prefer dealing with another fence, Stoon who’s unreliable and pays much less.

    I’ve read every single Dortmunder book there is. Westlake is currently working on the next installment in which the gang participates in a reality show.

    ***

    Uni is a simple dish. Well, it’s not much of a dish. It’s sea urchin’s roe. You just dunk it in soy sauce and eat it. Uni had amazing taste: creamy, briny,sweet, custardy. If you watched Iron Chef at all, you probably spent hours listening to the judges rave about uni.

    What would go great with uni? Gideon Defoe’s Pirates! books. What are they about? Well, they are about oh, only the most important things in the world. Ham. Piracy. Marine mammals. Science, Philosophy, Love. Sea shanties. Ham.

    The nameless Pirate Captain leads a large group of child-like pirates and Cutlass Liz through most amazing adventures. His evil rival Black Bellamy constantly defeats an humiliates him and his crew, but the Pirate Captain does not like to dwell on that.

    If I were to trust what I’ve read on the Internet, Pirates! was written to impress a girl to leave her boyfriend (which she didn’t). Defoe also is somehow related to Daniel Defoe.

    There are three books out:

    [amazon cover 0375423214]
    [amazon title 0375423214]

    [amazon cover 0375423850]
    [amazon title 0375423850]

    [amazon cover 0375423974]
    [amazon title 0375423974]

    According to Gideon’s livejournal, The Pirates! In An Adventure With Napoleon is already out. Also he’s working with Aardman on a Pirates! cartoon.

     
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