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The Best Music You’ve Never Heard #5: Wanda Jackson

Shakin’ ALL over!

wandaLong before Miss Tina explained “we never, evah do nothing nissse, and easy. We  always do it nice. And rough…”  a fringe-shaking firecracker from Maud, Oklahoma by the name of Wanda Lavonne Jackson was rocking it nice and rough from one end of the USA to the other. Now, I’m not a true rockabilly aficionado; that’s really Mr. Slattern’s bailiwick. Truth be told, in many ways I prefer Camelot Elvis to the Sun Studios version. I know it’s wrong, but some things are so wrong they’re just right. Still, no matter which way your musical tastes run, I guarantee that after about thirty seconds of Fujiyama Mama, you’ll be up off the sofa and shaking your groove thing for all it’s worth.

Anywho, at the age of 75 Miss Jackson is still tearing it up, these days with the likes of Jack White and Loretta Lynn. Give her a listen, and ask yourself, would we have had Chrissy, or Patti or Amy without her? Maybe, maybe not.

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Looking for more slatternly musical recommendations? If you can stand it, I certainly can.

The Best Music You’ve Never Heard #4: Rhonda Vincent

The Best Music You’ve Never Heard #3: Support your local bar band

The Best Music You’ve Never Heard #2: Chris Thile

The Best Music You’ve Never Heard #1: Mark Geary

Spring Party Mix

Lobster Mac and Cheese: The end of civilization as we know it? I think so.

…the combination diminishes the components. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts.

I’m not necessarily opposed to gilding the lily. In truth I enjoy a gold covered stamen as much as the next slattern. Neither am I in any way against indulging in a little wretched excess from time to time. A third round of Singapore Slings before dinner? Serve ’em up! Deep fat fried cheesecake? I’m game if y’all are, Paula. Pepperoni AND sausage on that double cheese pie? Why the hell not? As long as I’ve got a full six pack in the fridge it’s all good.

Courtesy the Food Network. Ewww.

Courtesy the Food Network. Ewww.

No, I’m no stranger to overindulgence, even gluttony, but even so one has to draw the line somewhere, and for me it’s the addition of lobster to macaroni and cheese or mac and cheese to lobster, depending on your point of view. It’s just too much of a good thing, and though I tend to regard moderation as the province of Gwyneth Paltrow, sissies, milquetoasts and Proust scholars, in this I’m with the mung beaners. Lobster simply has no place in the all-American favorite.

Here’s why: With macaroni and cheese you always run the risk of leaving the table with a stodge ball lodged uncomfortably amidships. Because the dish is delicious in the extreme, more often than not the temptation is to overindulge. It doesn’t matter how much steamed asparagus, undressed green salad or ratatouille comes with it, you will almost certainly waddle away from the table, then collapse on the nearest horizontal surface only to awake two hours later, sweaty, parched and numb from the waist down because the waistband of your pants has cut off all circulation to the lower extremities. The same holds true for meals involving the noble crustacean. So mind bogglingly delicious is the flesh of the bottom feeder, especially when dipped in melted butter, it is only the labor involved in extracting it and the enormous expense of ordering up a second one that keep the delirious diner from taxing the digestive system beyond its limits. When the two are combined, no good can come of it.

"Here's mine. Your LobMacChee is out back in the trough." Via

“Here’s mine. Your LobMacChee is out back in the trough.”

That LobMacChee is much of a muchness is not sufficient for condemnation, of course. Many things are excessive and still manage to stay on my menu — hot fudge brownie sundaes, double bacon bleu cheeseburgers, champagne cocktails and PopTarts for breakfast, to name but a few. No, the reason I object to this new taste sensation is that the combination diminishes the components. The whole is actually less than the sum of its parts. The cheese overpowers the lobster, the lobster distracts from the mac and cheese, and neither shines. And that, quite simply, is why I view the dish as a crime against the palate.

Lobster mac and cheese occasionally turns up among restaurant offerings in the metropolis; however, in the eateries of Downeast Maine it is now apparently de rigeur, as common as muffin tops, missing teeth and limp cole slaw. In fact, it appeared on every menu I perused on my recent trip north to open up the Slattern family summer palace on scenic Chum Bucket Lane. I can only assume the plague is spreading, so consider yourselves warned.

Still not convinced? Well, different streaks, as the saying goes. If you must, here’s a recipe for lobster macaroni and cheese from none other than Her Bang-cellency, the one and only Ina Garten. What else makes sense?

Pat Robertson Calls Out Slatternly Women

Says men are under no obligation to pay attention to slatternly wives, let alone do them. Millions of  beleaguered husbands heave a collective sigh of relief, scratch their guts and go back to watching the wrestling.

So last night, Stephen Colbert pointed a satirical finger at Pat Robertson’s use of the term “slatternly” in a recent installment of that must-see cable juggernaut The 700 Club. Now assuming both Pat and Stephen are among my regular readers — they’re most likely in that group of guys wearing sunglasses and trying to look inconspicuous over in the corner — they would be quite familiar with the way of the slattern.

The 700 Club, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this regular exercise in sanctimonious buffoonery, is, well, a regular exercise in sanctimonious buffoonery. Since we’ve all got our 19th Century dictionaries out anyway, those of you not familiar with the term buffoonery can look it up. As an added bonus, you’ll find that the entry also contains a photo of the self-righteous old twaddle slinger, Pat (né Marion) Robertson, himself. With a prénom like that, I think it’s safe to conclude his parents went all 19th Century on his ass from day one.

Though I could go on at some length about the many merits of frolicking with an uppity slattern and why it is a vastly superior experience to rolling around with a desiccated old bag of kitchen-scrubbing, scripture-spouting bones, I think all of you are smart enough to figure it out. If I’ve offended anyone by this point, well, what the frack are you doing here anyway? So let’s just push old Pat (né Marion) and his mindless monkey chatter aside for the moment and focus on something intelligent, namely antiquated vocabulary. Specifically, having resuscitated the term slattern, I have several more previous-century words I’d like to bring back.

Cross verging on ugly.Masterfile via

Cross verging on ugly.
Masterfile via

(Adj, ill-tempered)
These are both descriptors I heard quite often as a child, generally from my grandmothers. More often than not, one or the other was used in a cautionary way, as in, “Don’t you DARE sneak another cookie before supper or I’ll be very cross with you.” I love this word. It conveys the exact tight-lipped, rage-swallowing self-control that pervades interactions among residents of the colder climes.

Ugly, I believe, is more of a regional term, and I suspect it’s peculiar to Maine, where, as I may have mentioned, I grew up. Rather than the conventional meaning, physically unattractive in the extreme, there it is used to indicate an aggressively bad mood, wherein the subject is not to be trifled with. For example, “Jesus H. Christ, Myrtle, don’t bite my head off. How was I s’poseta’ know you was savin’ them beers and little smokies for your craftin’ club meetin’? Why’re you so friggin’ ugly anyway?” If cross is a warning shot, ugly is a full frontal attack complete with drawn bayonets, mounted cavalry and tanks. You’d need a nuke to stop it, and if you don’t have one, you’d best run for cover.

You thought I was making this up, didn't you?

You thought I was making this up, didn’t you?

(Noun, pubic wig)
Back in the days when life was everywhere nasty, brutish and short, what with annual baths, barber-based medicine and universal oppression, people at all levels of society were far filthier than they are now. As such, head and body lice were pretty much de rigueur for everyone, which is why pates and privates were often shaved and wigs donned. Born of necessity, they became quite fashionable. Think George Washington, Louis XV and Madame Pompadour.

Apparently, however, the craze for denuded genitalia hadn’t yet caught fire, as it were. Hence the need for merkins, especially among the era’s sex workers who were, of course, several rungs lower on the social ladder than their merely slatternly sisters.

In these days of the Brazilian and the sphinx, when even men are eliminating any trace of secondary sexual development, it seems to me the revival of the merkin is all but assured. Eventually fashion, being what it is, will cause huge swaths of the population to rethink all that laser hair removal as trends swing in another, more hirsute direction. Merkin demand will doubtless shoot up and the money that was invested in hair replacement will return tenfold or more. You heard it here first, folks.

(Noun, naughty behavior, wickedness)
Again, I often encountered this word in my childhood, when for example I filled in the little white roses on my bedroom wallpaper with red nail polish or scarfed the entire box of Pop Tarts at breakfast before my sister could have even one. To my delight, deviltry is something you get up to, much like slatternly behavior. And so the pattern emerges.

Swank around
(Verb, to act or move in a markedly self-important or pretentious manner)
Bertie Wooster famously described the aspiring dictator Spode and his brown shorts-clad followers as “…swanking around town in brown shorts and footer boots.” Though it can be used as a simple verb (to swank is to brag or act in an overconfident manner), I much prefer the phrasal form, swank around. There’s something almost onomatopoeic about it; just the sound conveys a particular kind of motion. Among all the parts of speech, I have a marked preference for verbs, and this is among my all time favorites.

I might say, for example, “The sight of Pat (né Marion) Robertson swanking around the set of The 700 Club and yammering on about female grooming standards makes me so ugly I could really get up to some deviltry and knock his sorry ass into next week.”

* * * * * * *

Many thanks to my favorite slattern, Miss Snarky Pants, aka Cristy Carrington Lewis, for the heads up on Colbert.

Interested in learning more about the slattern’s credo? Think you can stomach it? Well, here you go, but don’t say I didn’t warn you:

Slattern in the City
The Slattern Rants: “Oh no, I don’t cook.”
My other kitchen is a hotel

No. Box. Brownies. EVER!!

I feel about brownies from a mix much the same as Joan Crawford, at least as rendered by Faye Dunaway, did about cheap closet accessories. I loathe them. Ok, OK, I hear you. You’re scratching your head, your brow is furrowed and you say to yourself in a perplexed way, “But I thought she said use a mix for pie crust.”

“It’s HARDER to bake from scratch,” you whine. “What’s up with this crazy bitch anyway? Why can’t she make up her mind?”

It’s all about cost/benefit. Pie crust is hard to make and can easily go wrong, way way wrong. I have found one mix that almost never fails and tastes pretty good, so I use it.

Brownies, however, are a different story. Why? It is ridiculously easy to make de-licious, fudgy brownies if you use my recipe. They always, ALWAYS come out right and they taste infinitely better than that crap in a box, and I don’t care if it’s made with fancy Italian chocolate. Still gross.

I found this recipe in an issue of Ladies Home Journal at Grammie Sue’s house about 25 years ago, and it has never failed me. By happy coincidence, it comes from the queen of all movie stars, and my all time favorite actress, Katharine Hepburn. The magazine featured an interview with her, which explains why I picked it up in the first place, as I was really more of a Spy magazine girl at the time. Oh shit, who am I kidding, on the odd occasions I could get my ass off a barstool, all I ever bothered to read was National Lampoon at that point in my life. Spy was too highbrow. Anyways, what the LHJ interview lacked in dirt on Kate and Spenc-ah, it more than made up for with this fabulous recipe. Hundreds of satisfied dinner guests and half a dozen voluntary sugar comas can’t be wrong!

Hepburn’s Brownies

Melt over low heat:

  • 1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup)
  • 2 squares (or 2 ounces) unsweetened chocolate, best you can find, though Baker’s brand is fine

In a bowl, whisk:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract (pure, not that nasty imitation stuff – might as well use a mix if that’s all you’ve got. For variety, you can substitute pure almond extract for the vanilla. Party on!)

Once the butter and chocolate are melted, slowly add the mixture to the egg mixture, whisking all the time. DO NOT just dump the hot chocolate in all at once, no matter how much you want to. You could end up with scrambled eggs.

After that’s mixed, add:

  • ¼ cup flour (no more!)
  • ¼ tsp salt (do not omit this! Sweetness unbalanced by salt is not worth the calories.)

Stir it until it’s blended, then dump the batter into a greased and floured, square baking dish (8” x  8” or so). Scrape the leftover batter into the pan or into your mouth. At this point do I have to tell you which I’d choose?

Bake at 325 degrees for 30-40 minutes depending on your oven. Mine runs a little hot and I dislike overcooked baked goods, so I do about 30 minutes.

And listen, Christina, if you invite me over for dessert and serve these brownies with walnuts, I can’t be held responsible for my actions. I have been known travel with an axe from time to time. It won’t be you I’m mad at, of course, it’ll be the nuts.

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