Happy Holidays From The Emptywheel Blog: A Year To Remember, A Year To Forget And An Open Forum For Cooking, Trash And Other Talk

What a long strange trip 2021 has been. January 6 is still less than a year ago. Joe Biden’s Presidency is only eleven months old. The DOJ and 1/6 Committee are working away nicely on an unprecedented case that is multitudes more complicated and difficult than most all seem to comprehend (although we have been warning of that here from the start). So, as we reach this tumultuous Christmas and New Years’ season, amid the sudden (but quite predictable in spite of anything Biden and Harris say) emergence of Omicron, let’s chill a bit and take stock of it all.

First off, and I used to do this yearly on or about Christmas Eve, a remembrance of our dearly departed friend and colleague, Mary. Mary Perdue was not just a colleague, but a friend to both me, Marcy and most all of our contributors here. Mary left us on Christmas Eve 2011. Our long time regulars know this story, but there are a lot of new people here that should know, because this is the epitome of who we are at Emptywheel and what we have done and stood for from our beginning. I used to copy and repost the entire in memoriam, but will just link today for brevity. If you are new here, check it out.

Okay, on to the food! Because Mrs. bmaz is Italian at root, we always have, like at Thanksgiving, ridiculously awesome homemade spaghetti, meatballs, sausage and sauce instead of the traditional turkey and fixings. We will again. As much as I hate pumpkin pie, our daughter simply loves it, so there will be that too. That will be Christmas Day though, for Christmas Eve, probably steak, or homemade pizza, in the Ooni pizza oven. So, what are all of you eating, from where, and how? Marcy taught me long ago to seek out local and fresh ingredients, whether meat, vegetables or other, and we try to do that. Holiday food is fun!

And, now, for a bit of Trash Talk. Last night the Titans beat the 49ers and all but clinched a playoff spot and division title. Niners are still alive, but a little wounded. The Saturday game of Colts at Cardinals has all kinds of playoff implications. Both would likely still make the playoffs, but the seeding is absolutely critical. The other Christmas Day game of Cleveland at Green Bay is kind of a throwaway, hard to see the banged up and sinking Brownies going the Pack a game at Lambeau. There are too many permutations after the Sunday slate is played to go through here, but ESPN has a nice synopsis.

There is so much more going on, and let’s talk about it. In closing, I’d just like to say thank you for being part of this community, it means everything to all of us here. So, to all of you and yours, have the happiest of holidays and New Year.

This year’s holiday music is “Don’t Shoot Me Santa Claus” by the incomparable Killers. It is really a great tune. I do suggest you click on the full screen button to embiggen it.

And for Eureka, Scribe and all our Pennsylvania friends:

179 replies
  1. VinnieGambone says:

    Touching. Thank You.
    Lucky to have you as Morale Officer.
    Quite a gang here.
    Good will and cheer to all.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        Heavens, yes. I can’t find the David Wayne version (available somewhere on Kinescope), and there’s been nothing since worth watching. I did notice that the, “More salt, Cookie,” scene, where Pulver mistakes the dishwater for soup, was a gag Ford stole from his earlier, “They Were Expendable.” In that case, it was delivered less artfully and more credibly by Marshall Thompson. But I bet you look more like Lemon than Wayne.

        • bmaz says:

          There is a scene in PT-109, both the book by Donovan and the movie with Cliff Robertson, where after having rebuilt PT 109 from a hulk and scrap parts, they are getting inspected before going out on sea duty. The inspector asks cookie “Do you serve hot food”? To which cookie uprightly answers “YES SIR!” While going topside JFK looks back and quizzically says “Hot food??” Cookie responds “Spam on toast sir”.

  2. Pete T says:

    Happy Festivus for the Rest of Us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HX55AzGku5Y

    Oh – and there’s just a week left for Jim to complete his bathroom and live stream breaking in the porcelain throne.
    (kind of a Twitter thread).

    Just celebrated our 48th (so I was told) wedding anniversary two nights ago. And I am not telling.

    Merry Christmas.

    • bmaz says:

      Several of us have given Jim White options for temporary functionality in the meantime since he is clearly “way” off schedule. He threatened to whack me in the head with one such option (actually two I think). I was aghast! That Gaspirilla Bowl was something though.

  3. Peterr says:

    Peace and joy to you all!

    Kind of a busy day for me, and I won’t be done until around 11pm or midnight, so tomorrow is my day for kicking back and relaxing. Last night I made a shrimp quiche, which paired nicely with a tasty vignoles from a local winery, and tomorrow Mrs. Dr. Peterr’s duck gumbo (a favorite of The Kid’s) will be at the center of our dinnertable.

  4. phred says:

    My dear bmaz, I “embiggened” and uh, let’s just say I’ll need a double dose of Sleigh Ride to recover ; )

    Speaking of Sleigh Ride, we got a dusting of snow this morning : ) Now it feels like Christmas : ) Veggie stuffing, sweet potatoes, green beans w/almonds, brie w/fig bread… Last minute change of travel plans to protect vulnerable loved ones, but we’ll do our best to conjure up a healthy dose of merry and bright nonetheless…

    I don’t comment often these days but I remain an ardent lurker ; ) Thanks for the annual homage to Mary, she was a treasure. Can’t believe she has been gone for 10 years when she was such a vibrant part of EW’s merry band for years before that. Where does the time go and why does it never feel linear?

    Wishing you, EW, and all the denizens past and present a happy holiday season!

      • KP says:

        Yesterday it was 73F when we were at the dog park halfway to Wichita from the KC metro.
        For today, we have two nice baked dog bones for the furbabies, and I’ll scrounge something to eat sometime during the day.
        hmmmmmm … lemme think, the Jayhawks are on winter break for the time being, so ‘Go Chiefs, rah rah rah.’
        Be safe, enjoy and cherish every moment with your families and friends.

  5. Chetnolian says:

    Compliments of the Season from across the Pond to all my friends here, those I know (next year bmaz?!) and those I just think I know.

        • emptywheel says:

          Actually “mince” is what they call “ground” meat. I went into the pork butcher to get mince pork and they walked next door to their beef butcher side and gave me that.

          • earlofhuntingdon says:

            But now that you’re in Limerick, a little ways from the cement factory, I hope, you have your own charcuterie as well as the traditional butcher and baker.

        • P J Evans says:

          This is what older cookbooks are good for. (Mock mincemeat uses green (unripe but full-sized) tomatoes. Tastes the same.)

        • vvv says:

          Hoping my moms makes her annual mincemeat pie, me.

          Merry Xmas, all.

          BTW, new fave Xmas record, edging out the Joey Ramone ep, is Lucinda Williams’ new one – highly reco’d. After that, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’, then Billy Idol’s, then Bob Dylan’s.

          • puzzled scottish person says:

            Am I too late to say that I once (about 10 or 15 years ago) saw Lucinda in Birmingham’s Symphony Hall

            She was amazing but seemed as puzzled by the experience as the rest of us.

            Still it was wonderful :-)

  6. P J Evans says:

    Merry Christmas (or whatever you celebrate) to all!
    Stay warm and dry, too!
    (Bmaz, my area of L.A. got more than an inch and a half of rain yesterday, ending with flood warnings.)

  7. mass interest says:

    Happy holidays to all, both hosts and commenters. And thanks to all for the invaluable info and analysis.

  8. Bay State Librul says:

    Thanks Bmaz and all the gang at Emptywheel Central.
    Yeah, we live in a dysfunctional world.
    Yeah, it’s been a disastrous year
    Yeah, it’s been most painful.
    Yeah, the term “sucks for sure” resonates on so many occasions.
    Yet, as one writer says, “Arguments may form our opinions, but stories form our loves,”
    The story here is one of opportunity and hope, the engine where all the parables of life take center stage.
    Enjoy the holidays with family and friends.
    Appreciate all you do.

  9. Molly Pitcher says:

    So grateful for everyone here. The Bay Area had a split with Tennessee last night. The Niners frittered away a perfectly good win, but cling to a playoff spot (with 5 Pro-Bowlers !) by their finger nails. However, the Warriors battled a very good Memphis Grizzly team to a win at the exact same time ! We spent the night flipping back and forth between the games in a roller coaster of emotion.

    Tonight we have seared tuna steaks and lobster ravioli for an abbreviated feast of fishes for the Italian heritaged Mr Pitcher, followed by the traditional peppermint ice cream with fudge sauce.

    Tomorrow we decided to attempt homemade Beef Wellington ! We are cheating with store bought puff pastry, but since there are no little ones to play with, we decided to play with our food. Dessert will be a real Buche de Noel from a terrific bakery in San Francisco. We are eating our feelings this year since our pregnant daughter, grand daughter and son-in-law can’t travel.

    Thank you for the intelligent contrast to all the crazy that is life right now. I am counting on everyone here to provide the ballast in the rough seas ahead. Have a Merry, Peaceful time.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Decided on prime rib for tonight, seafood tomorrow. Marinading the beef in salt, pepper, and beer. Plus, roast potatoes and Yorkshire pudding, to make up for the salad and celery since Thanksgiving. Small dinner, so the leftovers will last for some time.

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        I am interested in the beer marinade for beef, I have done that with ham along with a generous spreading of whole grain mustard. I look forward to hearing how your prime rib turns out. Love Yorkshire puddings. My Connecticut Grandmother was a master at making them, you bring back happy memories.

        • earlofhuntingdon says:

          Glad to hear it. Yorkshire’s done, turned out well. I use ale and the dried mustard you mentioned. I’ll let you know if it passes mustard. Bing and Danny are on in the background. Clooney’s voice was lovely, as was Vera-Ellen’s dancing. Midnight is for Die Hard. In between, I’m sure I’ll visit Bedford Falls one more time. Off to the soup kitchen tomorrow lunchtime.

  10. rosalind says:

    merry, merry all!

    cracked crab for dinner today, something more traditional-ish tomorrow, then carefully honing a stake with which to plunge through the heart of a most miserable and challenging year.


    • Peterr says:

      I have been stunned by the price of crab this year. It’s always been higher here than in the SF Bay Area (where I lived for 11 years), but it seems out of control this year. Are things the same with you, or is that a midwest thing?

      • Molly Pitcher says:

        The whales have been hanging around off the coast and they have taken a beating from all of the increased shipping traffic. To help minimize the whale fatalities, they held off the start date for commercial crabbing in the Bay Area until just recently. They get tangled in the crab pot lines.

        My husband just got back from the store, and Dungeness is $17.99 a pound in the shell and…$65.99 picked !!!

        • Peterr says:

          Not just us, then. Damn.

          When I first moved from KC to SF Bay area, on my first visit to the grocery store I noted to friends back in KC that the fish counter had both dungeness crab and catfish, and the catfish was more expensive. They were gobsmacked, and I was delighted. That led to crab being the center of holiday feasting for our family, even when we came back to KC — until this year.

          • Molly Pitcher says:

            We have a traditional crab dip that requires cream cheese (along with sauterne and lots of other deliciousness) but between the crab price and the cream cheese shortage, it might not make it to the table until New Years Day. It is kind of like trying to time the stock market, hoping that the crab price comes down a bit by then.

            • Peterr says:

              I just got home, and read these crab comments to Mrs Dr Peterr and The Kid. The Kid’s reply: “That’s just Wrong.” (And yes, you could hear the capital W in his voice.)

            • vvv says:

              I’ve never tried it but I read where one can mix 1/2 heavy cream and 1/2 whole milk, a little salt and some lemon, shake it up and when it starts to curdle hang it in a cheese cloth for about 8 hours – makes cream cheese.

              Supposedly, if you only use whole milk, makes ricotta.

          • emptywheel says:

            We don’t eat crab (Mr. EW doesn’t do shellfish). But I don’t think it’s that expensive here. So it may be your side of the pond.

  11. 90’s Country says:

    After seventy-one Christmases (Christmasi?) with seventy-one obligatory trees we’re taking this year off to celebrate my step-daughter’s wedding last night at the House of Broel in New Orleans. Both the city and Ms. Broel have added a quirky relief to a holiday that has haunted me since my senior year of high school (I’m the youngest of five), when my dad showed up on Christmas Eve, after a three-day drunk, with a tree. Fuck the halls with boughs of fuckdom. Six weeks later we kicked him out, lost our apartment, and temporarily disbanded the family as we all went to live with others till school ended in June.

    I like this No Christmas.

    And I’ve enjoyed my tangential membership in the extended Emptywheel family this year. Merry Merry to all, and to all a good night.

    • Leoghann says:

      I’ve celebrated No Christmas ever since I got away from the drunk and the crazy woman, which was the week after I graduated from high school. My wife and I did celebrate Christmas while the girls were still at home. This year I even managed to avoid Christmas Muzak, except for a necessary trip to Lowe’s yesterday evening. So happy family nuptials!

    • Fran of the North says:

      D2 and Bro-in-Law have a holiday tradition of a special cocktail. This year was home made egg nog with the required 6 hr rest. Cointreau and Cognac, perfect mix of rich and taste. Salut!

  12. John McManus says:

    Here in Nova Scotia it’s cold , windy and sunny but that’s OK ,Emtywheel has helped me get through the year . Thanks and Happy Holidays.

    We just have appetisers Christmas Eve, Smoked salmon, blue cheese, scallops, salami, pate ,homemade sausage rolls and tortier with crackers, tarts, cookies etc.

      • puzzled scottish person says:

        ‘I’d love to hear what a full meal is.’

        I’ve no idea but I’m guessing you put aside a whole week to eat it ;-)

        Happy Christmas/Holidays/Saturnalia to everybody.

  13. Francine Fein says:

    Happy Holidays and best wishes to all for a healthy and saner New Year. I so appreciate this Blog and all its Commenters. Thank you all!

  14. Dan_S says:

    Happy holidays, Emptywheel community!

    You’ve been a beacon of hope and reason over the last few dark and crazy-making years, with 2021 being a real doozey.

    Thanks for your rigor, focus, and integrity.

  15. Vinnie Gambone says:

    While true God did send the three wisemen to Jerusalem in search of Jesus he also put christmas star in the sky to guide them because he knew they’d never stop and ask for directions.

  16. Savage Librarian says:

    The only snow I remember at Xmas here was a light dusting in 1989, the same year I left DOD to begin working for the public library. All the bridges were closed and I was stuck across the river to seek refuge away from home.

    Last December was exceptionally wet and dreary, at least in my memory. But this one, in 2021, has been quite variable with some very cold days and some welcome warm ones. Today is sunny and will reach the low 70’s (F).

    A week or so ago it reached 80. And it inspired this:


    I just saw a butterfly
    who took the time to flutter by,
    But it would be an utter lie
    to say I caught it with a shutter eye.

    Nor did I ponder what her sigh
    might sound like to the gutter guy,
    cleaning leaves of clutter by
    the roof’s edge while I mutter, “Why

    is her life so brief?,” but her shy
    self proceeded to scutter by,
    and continuing to putter, I
    was simply glad I saw this butterfly.

    I am equally grateful for the entire emptywheel community where bridges and butterflies are in abundance. Thanks for all the gifts. Wishing you well in the new year.

  17. I Never Lie and am Always Right says:

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to All!

    Some of you may have heard the story of how, in England, long ago, “Christmas” was originally spelled “Christmals”. Some Church official eventually decided that the spelling should be changed to “Christmas.” The French, being the wags that they are, decided to poke some fun at the British by coming up with a song saluting the change in spelling. The title of the song was, of course: “No L, No L.”

  18. emptywheel says:

    Folks may or may not have noticed that I moved from the Galway area to Limerick, which has an old style Farmer’s Market called the Milk Market. The charcutier there, Olivier Beaujouan, just got called the best charcutier in Ireland.


    We’ll be eating one of his smoked hams tonight.

    • Chetnolian says:

      Ah I was puzzled about the Limerick reference halving recognised the first Galway picture clue. Do’t know Limerick but I have heard good things about the place. Enjoy.

    • rosalind says:

      There once was a Yank new to Limerick
      Who worked hard to conquer local Dialect
      Then she bolloxed her mince, causing the Mister to wince
      And spread amusement throughout the Charcuterie

  19. observiter says:

    Chocolate and lots of rain in SF Bay Area.

    Can’t help myself…silence from the world of cyrus vance?

    I’m appreciative and grateful to you all. Peace, friendship and light above the darkness. And pumpkin pie.

  20. Tippi’s G says:

    Now seems like a good time to make my first comment here. I have spent three years gleaning detailed knowledge from Marcy, Rayne and bmaz and certain other commenters so I thought it best to keep quiet while I tried to catch up to the level of discourse. Then at some point bmaz mentioned F1 and that’s something I know a little bit about.

    I started reading here during the end of the Mueller investigation and it’s aftermath and I think many here were very frustrated, as was I, about the initial subversion of the report by Barr and by discovering the lack of meaningful charges resulting from the report. At first I was taken aback by how bmaz would swoop in and clobber anyone spreading their unsubstantiated bs, but soon I realized that was only because I was used to comments sections where anyone could pop off ignorantly about anything and suffer only the slings and arrows of their fellow shit-spewers.

    So very quickly I progressed from wincing when bmaz dropped the hammer to recognizing the commenters’ bullshit myself and scrolling down excitedly to see how hard bmaz—or Marcy or Rayne—was going to swing the 2×4 (can you tell that carpentry was my first and enduring trade?)

    I am constantly amazed at the level of effort it must take to produce this probing and detailed blog. I studied journalism in college and still hold to those idealistic beliefs about this craft learned over 40 years ago. And so does emptywheel. My deepest thanks to all here, for this blog provides me with such detailed knowledge and brilliant analysis—which I often struggle to keep up with—that only one family member with opposing views ever utters a word that could result in a debate with me. Emptywheel gives me the offense that serves as my defense to having to listen to so much misrepresented information or downright untruths.

    And now to the F1 trash talk. Go Max! When Hamilton cut the corner on the first lap in Abu Dhabi and was allowed to keep the place, a ruling which I felt would have been given to no other driver on the grid, I was spitting mad and assumed the fix was in. So fast forwarding to the end, after Latifi’s shunt into the wall and subsequent safety car gave me some hope after 53 laps of choking down the inevitability of a Hamilton race win and another championship. I realize Hamilton’s fans are upset because race director Michael Masi allowed only some of the lapped cars—the relevant ones—to unlap themselves before the final lap. I think F1 knew that a race ending under the safety car to end this of all seasons wasn’t going to sit well with many fans so they found a way to end it racing. My thought is, if there had been two laps left instead of one then all the lapped cars would have been given time to unlap like normal and the final lap would have begun as it did anyway, with Verstappen on Hamilton’s right flank and poised to strike. The only difference might have been that Lewis’ old hard tires would have been one slow lap older.

    I appreciate Hamilton’s top level talent as maybe the best F1 driver ever, based on many performance metrics, and also realize how fortunate he was to land with the Mercedes team that excelled at solving the myriad technical challenges presented by the conversion to turbocharged hybrid power units in 2014. But earlier this year in Silverstone, Max and Lewis came together at Copse Corner (not pointing fingers but I have my opinion!), sending Max into the barrier at high speed and then to the hospital and resulting in a 10-second time penalty for Lewis which he overcame to win the race. When Lewis chose to climb the barrier after the race and frolic with his home fans, while Max was still at the hospital, Lewis kind of lost me there. (Puts on crash helmet in case bmaz is a Hamilton fan.)

    Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all here and please enjoy it, because by next Christmas we will know if we are climbing out of the Trump hole as a nation, or we’re fucked.

    • bmaz says:

      Hi Tippi’s G, and welcome. Please join in more often!

      As to Max, I have less of a problem with him winning than I do the completely corrupt way his “win” was engineered by Masi. Masi violated both the letter and the spirit of FIA regs that he, himself, interpreted almost 180 degrees different previously. Verstappen did not win the Championship, Masi handed it to him on a silver platter. If Masi and FIA wanted a sprint race for the crown, they should have red flagged the race and allowed more than a faked up, fraudulent, lap. And without lying to the field about what they were doing in the process. An unmitigated fraud.

      • John McManus says:

        I hate to disagree with you, it doesn’t happen often, but Massi’s job is to run races not parades.He also has ‘discretion in his mandate. At first it seemed that the track could not be cleared in time, but the marshalls did their job and enabled a the race to continue. At that point the rule comes into play. It says any cars not all cars.Maybe a red flag could have been better but I have no problems with the decision.

        • bmaz says:

          What a load of crap. Masi’s job was to apply the fucking rules, not improvise to suit his own tastes after LYING out of his ass to all the teams . Max’s “championship” is a complete fraud.

    • Peterr says:

      Thanks for de-lurking, Tippi’s G!

      One of the things that makes this blog great, IMHO, is that in addition to all her other gifts for close reading of texts, reading between the lines, and seeing the larger pictures of things, is that she is also humble enough to know that others may have gifts and insights that she doesn’t, and she’s more than happy to learn from others.

      And that includes especially the commenters. Not all of them, not just the ones who gush over her, but the ones who take the subject at hand as seriously as she does and who often bring something new to the table. Maybe it’s a correction to something, or a new insight, or seeing a new piece of the puzzle that Marcy hadn’t yet seen.

      So having de-lurked, don’t be shy about commenting again! You never know when you might have the “aha!” insight we all are looking for.

    • CroFandango says:

      The F 1 season was so close between Max and Lewis that I would have been happy with any outcome to the final race, or so I thought. What a botch.

      The reluctance of the stewards to enforce clean racing has led to the current situation, where driving wide is now an accepted tactic.

      If the situation of a particular race leads to finishing under the yellow, I fail to see why that is any worse than any other outcome, certainly not bad enough to warrant improvisation on the rules.

        • Tippi’s G says:

          Oh dear, my first comment ever and I’ve elicited a reaction. I didn’t need the crash helmet though.

          I would have been fine with a safety car finish or a red flag and restart, IF Lewis had been given the same penalty that Max was given in Saudi Arabia for an incident almost identical to Lewis’ aforementioned corner-cutting on Lap1 in Abu Dhabi. Which was that Max was told to give the place back and later given a 5-second time penalty. In Abu Dhabi Lewis was allowed to keep the position and given no time penalty.

          I agree with you that the rules need to be consistently enforced but they often are not.

          So in the spirit of peace and sportsmanship, sir, I invite you to Austin—I live about 90 miles from COTA—to attend a future race with me where I like to sit at Turn 15. My treat. Which is me sticking my neck out because in 2019 a 3-day race pass on the secondary market was about $600, whereas this year it was closer to $1200. And with this year’s title coming down to the last lap of the last race, and after seeing this year’s 3-day Austin GP attendance reaching 400K, I expect next year to be bumping $2000.

          Now that would probably burn up my annual entertainment budget, since I am but a humble owner of a small landscape construction business, but it would be worth it for the opportunity to spend hours picking your brain about all the things you are so knowledgeable about and about which I know very little. I was fortunate to attend the first race of the turbo-hybrid era, Melbourne 2014, which rekindled my interest in F1. And the first thing I noticed there was that it’s possible to hold a conversation with F1 cars whizzing by.

          Merry Christmas to all and please avoid the omicron if you can. From my recent reading, I am seeing a fourth shot on the horizon.

          • bmaz says:

            Heh, that is very nice of you, and I have not yet been to COTA. Was going to go to the initial race there, but had a trial I could not get out of. Honestly, I have been to many GPs, and never paid to attend once, although I did obviously pay for travel and lodging (except in Long Beach where I just drove over and twice got comped rooms on the Queen Mary, and third time stayed with a friend who lived nearby). But the people who gave me the passes and badges are gone now, so, sadly, there will not be anymore free freight I am afraid. I might come over for that, and also might try the supposed Miami thing, although the proposed Miami circuit looks like complete garbage to my eye.

            My view is that both Max and Lewis committed infractions that probably should have resulted in 5 second penalties, so that is kind of a wash. It is the end of the race that kills me. You either red flag with 3-5 laps left and make it a fair playing field, or if it finishes under the safety car, so be it. But what Masi did was ludicrously improper.

            And your comments absolutely fine, new don’t call it Trash Talk for nuthin you know!

            • Tippi’s G says:

              I attended the 1979 Long Beach GP, when I went with who turned out to be one of my life long friends—and his demented buddy—on an epic drive to California and back. My friend and I still share laughs over the crazy things that happened on that trip. And then my next GP was the inaugural Austin 2012, which was the day after my daughter’s wedding and which I attended having had five total hours of sleep in the previous two nights.

              And then, as I mentioned, Melbourne 2014, where I had the liberating experience of walking through the worst part of that city with virtually no chance of getting shot (21 shootings in the previous 35 years—egads!)

              I may comment on things other than F1 in the future, but mostly I will just listen and learn.

  21. Judy says:

    Holiday greetings to all from rainy So. California. Thank you to all for your reporting/commentary on January 6th. Today my optimist is winning out so I am looking forward to 2022.
    Due to Omicron and age there will be no family gathering with the traditional turkey etc. I will be having salmon, horseradish potatoes and broccoli. I have been looking for peppermint ice cream but no luck so far.
    I hadn’t found this blog until this year, so didn’t know Mary, but Bmaz’s tribute and your comments made me wish I had found this space sooner and that she was still here.
    All the best to you

  22. Tobias says:

    Wishing Emptywheelers a peaceful and productive 2022. This site helps keep the world sane. You all are a treasure!

    • Kevin Bullough says:

      I concur…this site keeps the world sane, and is my daily respite from the idiocy. My heartfelt appreciation to Marcy, Rayne, bmaz, and all the contributors. It’s snowing lightly here in Vancouver B.C., though the weather folk say it will get far more voluminous over the next few days (completely shocking the residents of Canada’s Wet Coast) and there’s ham, turkey, and roast beast on the menu over the next three days. My mighty Seahawks have petered out so now I don’t care who wins any game, but will be watching nonetheless.
      Peace on Earth to all.

  23. dimmsdale says:

    Wasn’t feeling particularly Christmas-y until I got here today & started reading this thread. Everyone’s preparations sound wonderful. Everyone’s expressions of gratitude for this bastion of sanity and humanity sound good to me too, and I echo them. This blog has become my True North on so many levels, much as Firedog Lake used to be; and the intelligences contributing here, mods and bloggers and commenters too, are absolutely precious among the tumult of cheap social-media commentary I wade thru everyday. (just as a side note, I too have gotten used to reading legalistic-sounding comments for a few lines, then scrolling down to see if EW, bmaz or Rayne have anything to say about them, just to be sure if the comments are worth my time. Maybe that’s cheating, but IANAL.)

    So my deepest thanks and warmest holiday wishes to everyone here. I am heartened to be looking at 2022 in such elevated and extraordinary company.

    • John Lehman says:

      “(just as a side note, I too have gotten used to reading legalistic-sounding comments for a few lines, then scrolling down to see if EW, bmaz or Rayne have anything to say about them, just to be sure if the comments are worth my time. Maybe that’s cheating, but IANAL.)”

      You’re not the only one, the methods in this neighborhood are similar and betting a lot of other posters here have their own “Cliff Note-sh” methods.

      We’re lucky to have such guides (EW, bmaz and Rayne)

      Merry Christmas to all and Happy New Year….may all your days become as special.

  24. Badger Robert says:

    Though I am tempted to swear on Ms. Wheeler’s excellent blog, and have bmaz as a swearing muse,
    intead I’ll just type: The heck with this Covid stuff. We went to see Denver Ballet perform the Nutcracker ballet. And the crowd was as entertaining as the live performers. (And male ballet dancers can jump.) Merry Christmas.

      • matt fischer says:

        I’ll gladly take your pumpkin pie, and you can have my rhubarb pie. Rhubarb is like celery gone o so wrong!

            • P J Evans says:

              If I could get away with it, and if the stuff didn’t bolt the instant there was a stalk worth harvesting, I’d plant a couple under the apt dryer vent. They love the humidity!

          • emptywheel says:

            No pie for me this year. I pretty much forgot about dessert, because I didn’t want to go to the local supermarket (“Not your mother’s Dunne’s,” we call it) bc of the crowds.

            As it happens I can make an orange cake.

            I’m hoping to go to an apple farm in Tipperary over the break to find some worth making a pie with tho.

        • Peterr says:

          If rhubarb is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

          A sign of Mrs Dr Peterr’s inexplicable devotion to me is that while she shares your impression of rhubarb, she bakes me a rhubarb pie once or twice a year.

      • Kevin Bullough says:

        My father, who is still alive and kicking at eighty-eight and who was born and raised in England (Blackpool) has always hated pumpkin pie and wonders why North Americans would bother to eat something “made from a weed”. Thank you for the smile your comment gave me.

        • matt fischer says:

          Given the chance I might point out to your father an important distinction: there’s bad weed and there’s good weed. Anyway, pumpkin pie is a bit of a misnomer as most pies with that name are not made with “true” pumpkin. Years ago I made the mistake of using a field pumpkin to make a pie. That will not happen again.

          • Kevin Bullough says:

            My Dad is very aware of the good weed/bad weed difference…three of his four children imbibed, his rule being “never in my house”…so we always stepped into the carport. Most of the time it was fine, but Canadian winters being what they are, one finds out who the truly hearty people are.

  25. BobCon says:

    Merry Christmas, happy Kwanzaa, happy new year and all the rest. Community building, truth, and integrity is critical and I enjoy all that I see here.

  26. DrFunguy says:

    Food first then trash. We’re having my traditional (passed on from mom) oyster stew tonight, fresh Salish Sea oysters acquired from the farm yesterday (sure glad I made it to town, ’cause, see below). Tomorrow I’m making porcini crusted scallops. I picked and dried the mushrooms myself and they’ve been ageing a couple of years. For those not in the know, commercially available dried wild mushrooms tend to suffer for poor quality control at best and ‘porcini’ tend to include a hodgepodge of inferior species; don’t get me started on commercially dried morels (shudder).
    I know, I know it’s a waste of time but I’m having a hate on this snow. Another 20+cm last night. The power went out at 0400 so I had to get up and start the generator in the greenhouse– its inflated double-walled poly so its necessary to get the fan running to keep up structural integrity and insulation. Just finished 5 hours of removing snow from the greenhouse roof, working on a ladder. The romance of farming life!
    But enough about me, wishing you all the best for the holidays with respect and appreciation.
    In spiritum symbioticum.

    • BobCon says:

      Fresh oysters — so lucky. I got the last bag of fresh clams today at the store and I’ll have to stretch them out with frozen, but they’ll still be a treat.

      • DrFunguy says:

        Yes, I give thanks for living in the bounteous unceded traditional territory of the K’omoks First Nation. We still have abundant seafood despite last summers shellfish cooking heat dome and the various colonizer activities (excessive clearcut logging, open net fish farming of exotic salmon, poorly regulated shipping of oil and other cargo) that put it all at risk. The oysters bought yesterday were about $Can1 each, shucked, packed in water.
        The river by which we live is being restored from the impacts of upstream mining; last falls pink salmon run was the best in memory, though its still closed to fishing. Hopefully the November floods didn’t do too much damage to the eggs.
        I also give thanks for my wonderful neighbors who love to fish, but are tired of eating salmon. Fresh and smoked fillets in the freezer!

    • P J Evans says:

      My mother sometime made scalloped oysters, starting with a pint jar of shucked, and a box of saltines. Butter and milk, too. (When I was a kid, I didn’t appreciate oysters.)

      • DrFunguy says:

        I too was unappreciative of oyster stew as a child but have come to the realization that fresh, well-prepared oysters in season are among life’s great pleasures. I have a fond memory of a warm New Year’s Day a few years back when we shucked a few and slurped them out of the shell on a beach near Nanaimo.

  27. joel fisher says:

    “The DOJ and 1/6 Committee are working away nicely on an unprecedented case that is multitudes more complicated and difficult than most all seem to comprehend (although we have been warning of that here from the start”
    Okay, not fast enough to suit me, but that’s not the argument I want to have. My complaint with the DOJ and Congress–not the 1/6 Committee–is that there appears to be nothing going on on the Trump Felony front for stuff he did before and right after the 11/20 election. Russia, obstruction, emoluments, Ukraine, obstruction, pardon bribery, non-1/6 election interference…the list goes on. I don’t want to be seen as going out on a long legal limb here but I don’t believe committing a subsequent felony is a defense to a prior felony. But to an ordinary guy, it sure looks like it.

  28. mospeck says:

    And beer and beer and beer…and a Happy Christmas, Chanoukah, Kwanza and Festivus for everyone :) “Have a holly jolly Christmas, it’s the best time of the year..” and yea, it could be .. But also if by happenstance we manage to lose to Buffalo Sunday, then fortunately there’s a 90 foot cliff in the back yard and right off into the Black. Like I told my shrink, I built my 1st altar to Parcells way back in 93, after the good old Sullivan bros. were finally gone. And then after my kids were born I would regular light the 3 candles for Belichick, but then (in retrospect expect it was because of all the swearing) wife and kids would just go off to the library and say, “hey, see ya.” To each his own. The kids would just laugh and laugh and say, “oh pop, you are insane.” Yea right, I’m 6 rings certifiable (but now thinking that maybe the altars to Bill combined with the Lakota Sioux rain dance is in fact working) . But now I’m already nervous since this Bills team is tough and already 2 days out I need for the Tums and Pepto bismol. Could be a 5 candle job on Sunday

  29. punaise says:

    bmaz, that song and video were … intriguing. As a (very) amateur musician I can appreciate how effortlessly they glide between 3/4 waltz/ballad >> 4/4 rock and back. Your thoughts, vvv?

    Fois gras and champagne followed by cioppino tonight (with a decent Sancerre). Monterey Fish Market randomly tripled our fish order, good problem to have I guess. Tomorrow night features duck confit and some fine Bordeaux from my late father-in-law’s cellar.

    Adult kids and their partners have converged at our place form points afar – everyone is on edge about covid, as their contact -tracing periphery is flashing alarmingly even though boostered. So far all negative tests here, but socializing outside of our bubble is cancelled.

    Valley Girl, if you are watching, Joyeux Noel!

    • bmaz says:

      Eh, was, shall we say, an unconventional Christmas song. I’ve done most of the easy ones over all the years, including Springsteen, so opted for something different. But the Killers are killer. If you have never seen them, you really must. An absolutely fantastic band, and a spectacular live show.

          • punaise says:

            Much obliged, thanks. I will check it out.

            BTW/OT: the person in question passed the bar exam and got sworn in recently in camera (?) by the judge for whom she is clerking.

                • earlofhuntingdon says:

                  Here’s to the Biden Admin. doing the right thing on student loan write-downs. It is the season of miracles.

                  • punaise says:

                    Yes, good move.
                    What not to say to a newly minted lawyer or doctor: “Oh, you’ll be fine with your earning power”. True in the big picture, but major grad school debt can drive professionals to the higher earning positions that don’t necessarily align with their values. (Think white shoe partner-track corporate law vs. Public interest or nonprofit practice; public health vs. highly specialized medicine).
                    Speaking from experience…

                    • scribe says:

                      Or they can do document review or work for public interest firms and get paid less, hourly, than people doing pick-and-pack in grocery warehouses. That, with the added bonus of that project-based work being the very definition of unsteady. I was discussing this in a closed FB group of attorneys, some of whom said people should send those help wanted ads (for higher-paying warehouse jobs) to the staffers who staff those projects. All that would accomplish is to get the sender not hired for the next couple projects.

                      Fact: The substantial majority of attorneys not in government service make less than 100k annually.

                      So, the combination of having to pay student loan debt and the norm among attorneys of honesty and carrying out your obligations – they tend, at least when they’re young, to not walk away from debts and obligations – militates in favor of working, even when the pay is shit. Only the favored few get those corporate gigs.
                      And working for shit money carries on until such time as one has had enough of it and walks into another profession or, at least, line of work.

                    • punaise says:

                      @ scribe above (no reply button): That sounds like rough sledding. I don’t know how job opportunities vary in the law field, but I would expect that Berkeley Law grads have better options than working at Amazon warehouses.

            • bmaz says:

              The norm is in a state bar ceremony. But certainly a judge could do it. “in camera” basically just means in the judge’s chambers. And given the current times, kind of makes sense.

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          I know I’m late to the party, but I was thinking since it’s Xmas, the Killers really sleigh! ; ^ )

      • Peterr says:

        Monterrey Fish Market is a blessing on anyone who enters, as is the Monterrey Produce Market. My folks came out to visit us, and we swung by so I could pick up a few things for dinner after a long day out. Dad’s knee was hurting, so he said he’d stay in the car while Mom and I went in. She took two steps inside the door, looked at the enormous mushroom aisle, then turned around to get me Dad, a real ‘shroom lover. “I know your knee hurts, but you GOTTA see this.” He did, and was not disappointed.

        (Why yes, I miss certain things of the Bay Area, Why do you ask?)

        • punaise says:

          Probably too late to chime in to let folks know that Monterey Fish Market is located in Berkeley (as is Tokyo Fish), not in Monterey.

          Monterey Market (the non-fish one) is indeed a thing to behold with is array of produce, even more impressive than Berkeley Bowl – where shopping carts are basically used as demolition derby vehicles.

          cheers, Molly, Peterr, and vvv!

          • Peterr says:


            Je suis désolé. [With thanks to Google Translate]

            And yes, the Berkeley Bowl cannot hold a candle to the Monterey Market.

    • vvv says:

      That change-up reminds me of the Beatles, doin’, “Oh-oh darlin’, please believe me … ”

      I so want a *bajo sexto*.

      Brandon Flowers kinda annoys me, tho’; his vocals seem so affected and the ‘stache is just too weird (Al) …

  30. rosalind says:

    Joni Mitchell has released a video for her song “River”, in conjunction with her receiving a Kennedy Center honor. Her note on the video:

    “‘River’ expresses regret at the end of a relationship…but it’s also about being lonely at Christmas time… A Christmas song for people who are lonely at Christmas! We need a song like that.” – Joni Mitchell


    • orvillej says:

      That was a beautiful video. I love Joni Mitchell. Did you see Brandi Carlisle’s version at the Kennedy Center shindig? She sang it well. One odd thing I noticed, tho, was that she sang an incorrect word. In the refrain she sang “Wish I had a river so wide” when it is, in the original version, “…river so long”. The first time she did it I thought maybe she just made a mistake (it happens) but then she did it again when it came back around. Minor nerd thing on my part probably, but did anyone else notice that?
      This is my first comment here after a long time lurking and I’d just like to thank Marcy and the entire crew for the cogent analysis and intelligent commentary that helps me better understand a lot of the legal in and outs of the very important subjects that get covered here. Have a great holiday and please keep up the good work!…oj

      • rosalind says:

        yes, after seeing the video i realized i never watched the awards show. just now watched, and enjoyed Brandi, but honestly i’m still reeling at how frail Paul Simon’s voice was during the Lorne Michael’s section. don’t know if he was having an off night, or age has taken a toll.

        and welcome!!

        • AndTheSlithyToves says:

          Well, he is 76, not that there’s anything wrong with that! ; ^ )
          Although not a huge fan of Joni Mitchell (I did deign to purchase a couple of her albums back in the day), she encapsulated the KC Honors perfectly: https://youtu.be/B_9jvRxo1Lw

    • Savage Librarian says:

      Once upon a time I used to occasionally drive from Ohio to Morgantown, West Virginia (home of West Virginia University) to visit an artist friend there. She claimed that her brother had dated Joni Mitchell. I never met him, but I’ve always loved the song, “Morning Morgantown.”

      I see that Joe Manchin, an alumnus of WVU, also attended those Kennedy Center Honors. It’s ironic that her song about Morgantown is an expression of love while Manchin shows nothing but contempt for the people of his state.

  31. Legonaut says:

    Anxiously awaiting the delivery of take-out Chinese food this evening. We hosted Thanksgiving & family Christmas was last weekend, so we’re keeping it simple now.

    Happy Holidays and many, many thanks to everyone here. You’re a beacon in the wilderness — may the lights never go out!

  32. Robin Harper says:

    Merry Christmas to all here at emptywheel!

    I have come to rely on this website to help me make sense of all that is going on in our crazy world. Thank you all so very much for your expertise and your willingness to share it, as well as making rather complex issues a little more ‘understandable’ for a simple old woman like me!

  33. Leoghann says:

    Wishing the merriest of holiday seasons to all. As I mentioned to 90’s Country, I don’t do Christmas, except to avoid all the X-travaganza insanity as much as possible. Wednesday was Yule, and I was able to have my traditional roaring fire in the backyard fire pit that night. Looks like that will be our last nice night for awhile; it started raining last night, and has continued. It’s like I went to bed in the Arizona mountains and woke up this morning in Enumclaw, Washington.

    One way I stay busy during the holiday season is cooking. Tonight I finished off a batch of red beans and rice that I made Monday, complete with 2½ pounds of Andouille made by my friend who manages Kartchner’s Meats in the Atchafalaya Basin of Louisiana. He sends me a nice freezer box of Cajun goodies a few times a year, so I can keep my cravings sharp. I’ll be returning to the scene of the family Thanksgiving superspreader event tomorrow afternoon, where we enjoy a big holiday meal, good company and humor, with no presents or expectations, except that the food be good. I’ll be frying a turkey that I’ve been brining for a couple of days, weather permitting. I’m also taking my grandmother’s Cajun-style, rice based dressing as well as my Balti seasoned sweet potato pie, which is in the oven as we speak.

    There’s a new tenant moving into the small house on the property. She was supposed to be moving in at the new year, so I had all next week to get things ready. I needed that because I have replumbed and rewired the place in the 3 months it’s been vacant. Her landlady told her yesterday morning that she needed to be out by today, so she could “deep clean” the apartment. So I spent two hours at Lowe’s last night, buying a few final things I needed to hook the water and electricity back up. And had to do said hooking up in the cold wet today, while she moved her stuff in the deluge. Fun Christmas eve. These cooking chores and an evening full of good music are making it better.

    I’m grateful for the whole crew here–Marcy, bmaz, Rayne, Jim, Ed, the other commenters, and the occasional stubborn bullshitter. I’m reminded just how grateful every time I read a comment thread on Twitter.

    And do y’all remember how, almost a year ago, everyone was sooo glad that 2020 was finally over, and how could there ever be such a shitstorm of a year? Yeah. Little did we know.

  34. Ed Walker says:

    Christmas dinner with family will be smoked turkey breast from our favorite butcher/smokehouse: Paulina Market, with traditional sides. They used the pandemic slowdown to build a great big smokehouse, so we get ham, bacon and smoked brats, but also smoked goose, smoked duck and more.

    The younger grandchild is the perfect age for Christmas; it’s such a pleasure. And I have a couple of fun things for the older.

    Merry merry to all!

  35. JamesJoyce says:

    Empathy Folks…

    A child’s birth enlightened a world with a novel concept replacing the animal’s instinct.

    Impositions, revenge and punitive death rejected for a better understanding for the conditions of other’s opposed to myopic concern about your next piece of red meat 🥩 ?

    EW, recharges the basics for critical reasoning skills while the critical collapse in “reason” has decimated America leading scarcities always which take down societies while the monopolies are maintained via crucifixion, to solve a non existent problem, except to the “handlers,” who create the scarcities and impositions to control as would any money changer in Temple, threatened by child’s words engaged in unbridled intervention a Temple? Big presents come in small packages..

    Never ever forget the 3 wise men, Herod..

    Merry Christmas!

    Can’t wait for Donald to get his present 🎁,

    Just like the rest of the despots…

    Never have the innocent and credulous been so forsaken.

  36. Eureka says:

    # Grittmas

    This year more freshly revives Christmas as a season of losses: deaths, innocence, safety, security, self-determination. Grateful doesn’t begin to convey my awe at the grace, for example, that by a few decisions my beloved wasn’t murdered in a violent crime some years ago. His friend was not so lucky. Some news items are bringing it back (the stupid life-altering/snuffing shit done by teenagers with guns and horrible ideas) and I feel sympathy for today’s victims and remembrance of old.

    But the newer sense of loss comes by way of his work in healthcare.

    Everyone in his and my positions says how they can’t explain how bad things are, how they wish they could.

    This year America’s other sicknesses broke him, our family, radiant spokes of society. For the first time in forever he didn’t put on the giant Festivus spread. And the point is coming where when the great misfortunes of life befall you — there is a traumatic accident; your baby is blue; maybe you’re having a stroke, or can’t breathe — he with his decades of expertise won’t be there. Not sure how we’ll make our lives. And so it goes for many others.

    So what are we having? Well I wasn’t thinking, was on the autopilot of having Festivus leftovers or something special picked up with those fixings. So while he toils I had the Pennsylvania specialty of leftover Wawa breakfast (it was gross; and yeah yeah Sheetz I know). May the cupboards bring something tastier tomorrow.

    I do love a fluffy Gritty (delicious pairing w/The Killers), thank you bmaz, and season’s best wishes to everyone.

  37. paulpfixion says:

    Happy holidays to the best bloggers and blog community on this round watery ball! Thanks for all of the work you do. Go Packers!

  38. Chetnolian says:

    Christmas morning here. Just finished traditional (for us) scrambled eggs and salmon washed down with surprisingly good English”champagne” .

  39. posaune says:

    Happy Christmas to all here at this unique place: the source of sanity and thinking.
    Twelve years ago on Christmas Eve we brought our son home from Colorado foster care — so hard to believe that now is a HS senior! It’s been a long road of many therapies, but he is doing so well (while complaining bitterly about biochemistry).

    At any rate, for the first time, we’re trying takeout Chinese for Christmas — something I never did in all my years in NYC.

  40. RLHall says:

    Yes, Thanks to all of you, even when I’m not sure I agree.
    This is the only political blog I read, much less dare to comment!
    God, I wish the general sanity here was just ordinary and normal.
    Let’s hope for a good new year.

  41. Leoghann says:

    Thanks, bmaz, for the video. It’s delightful. And upon my second watching, I realized it’s more than appropriate for you to have posted it. Of course there’s the Mojave setting. Besides that, though, for a criminal defense attorney, the mass child-murderer going free at the end is perfect.

  42. mospeck says:

    sry bmaz, hope and figure that here at the western world we will all for the most part have a wondrous great new year.

    But am still spooked by that red fox that ran straight west in front of my old truck last week. Kept thinking that maybe he’s a harbinger since I haven’t seen one of those in good long while. Stepped on the brakes and he made it – he was so lightning fast across all 4 lanes and he looked like an NFL slot receiver :) Good for him. So, part of me thinks I’m just being paranoid. However


    Up here forest creatures sit in the electric blue-white snow in the early dark with their ears all perked up like there’s something’s coming in the wood between the worlds. And maybe it is fire and ice since there’s a thing in a tower to the east that seeks the one ring

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