Office Pranks for April Fool's Day

Yes, the favorite holiday of Practical Jokers everywhere is just around the corner. I've been compiling these favorites from email spam, over the years, and the time is ripe to share. If any of you use these wonderful little pranks in your office, please be kind enough to come back here to MTMD and comment on how they turned out!

Flip Screen


John wrote, "If your office-mate has a Dell computer with Intel Extreme Graphics 2 video card, then do this when he or she is away from the computer: Hit Ctrl - Alt - down arrow all at once. His screen image will invert 180 degrees. One poor fellow this was done to didn't know how to fix it, so he turned his flat screen upside-down!"

Toothpaste Filling

Stephanie wrote, "I work in the outpatient offices of a mental health hospital, so we are all used to silliness. Me and the two other girls in our office scraped out the cream on Oreo cookies and replaced it with toothpaste (and we colored it orange for Halloween). We arranged it all on a plate really nicely, with other candy, and took it down to the other depts. They laughed but told us they would be on the lookout next year!"

Cup o' Holes

Vicki wrote, "I was working as a secretary, and one of the bosses was yelling at me saying: 'We're out of coffee.' I don't drink coffee and could care less, but realized he expected me to make it... So, I decided to take a small pin and poked holes in the first couple of coffee Styrofoam cups and let him get one of those cups... Sure enough, he came right back, poured a cup and then I heard him yell "SH_T"! The coffee was leaking onto his suit that he said he just had dry-cleaned! It was all I could do not to laugh my butt off."

Cat Food Sandwich

Chuck wrote, "I had a co-worker back in the early '80s that insisted on eating my lunch from the fridge in our lunchroom. This would happen two or three times a week and we worked in a remote area with nothing around for miles, so I would have to go hungry for the day. I had warned him on many occasions but he would laugh it off or deny it. I had my wife buy a can of tuna cat food and mix it up as she would real tuna, and sure enough he took the 'bait.' He $hit himself at work later that afternoon and went home. He returned to work two days later and never mentioned a word about it. I just had to ask him, 'Did you like those tuna sandwiches? All the cats around our apartment do, feel free to grab a sandwich from my lunch pail if you wish.' Needless to say, problem solved!"

Faux Machine

Eleanor wrote, "I recorded the sound of a phone ringing on one of those 60-second memo minders and stuck in my pocket. I went with my co-worker over to the cubicle of a particularly bitchy co-worker who had the fax machine in her area. I stood by the fax machine and pressed the play button on my memo-minder. She started to get pissed when no incoming fax showed up. I did this a couple more times for effect. She was getting madder by the second. I could barely contain my laughter welling up inside!"

Fake-Out Lotto

Alex wrote, "I would read the newspaper in the break room and one of the guys asked me to read the winning Lotto numbers published in the paper. I had a clear view of his ticket so I read those numbers instead. He wrote down the numbers as I read them, then he compared them to his ticket. I could not be mean so I only gave him 5 out of 6 of the 'winning' numbers. His reaction was priceless as he thought he won a big jackpot, but he probably would have had a heart attack if he thought he won the Lotto."

Ketchup Coke

Andrew wrote, "When someone is drinking soda or something out of a cup with a straw, when they're not looking, open a ketchup packet vertically stick it on straw then put it back into the cup and watch. They will suck up ketchup rather than their drink."

Sex Report

Gscott wrote, "I once bought a small book that had the words 'SEX REPORT' on the cover, about the size of a Post-it note. (It was the kind you rigged with caps.) I laid it on my supervisor's desk and turned my back, went back to work along side my co-worker. We watched him from the side glance at the book, flip it over, and look around to see if anyone was watching then... POW!!!! My co-worker and I were in stitches, and our supervisor's face was beet red. We still laugh about that one."

The Fake Bathroom Occupants

R Hall wrote, "We had a newbie co-worker fire-watching (so he couldn't leave his post) and he asked for a toilet break. We told him we'd send a relief man and went to work. There was only one three-stall bathroom. We went in and placed work boots and pants in front of each toilet, locked the doors and climbed over the sides. We got the kid a break, let him come in and sat back and watched. After 15 minutes of going in and out the bathroom he was literally sweating. We were telling him those guys in the john are hiding and napping and he needed to run them out. Also the relief man was dogging him out on the radio! This kid was such a nice guy, but after about 30 minutes we couldn't hold it any more and didn't think he could either!"

Sponge Cake

Jane wrote, "We had a co-worker who always ate the food in the place but never offered to bring any. One day we got a car-wash sponge and covered it in frosting from the can. It looked like a nice frosted cake! Needless to say she took a knife to it to 'cut a slice.' Hmmm...we laughed about it for hours!"

Thanks for reading!

The Story Behind Michigan and Florida

I subscribe to a number of our politicians email newsletters. I like to stay informed, and while I understand a lot of what I receive is politics as usual, every once in a while my elected officials surprise me with real analysis and understanding and a different perspective on issues that face us all. Such is the email I received recently from Senator Carl Levin's office.


While the above political cartoon pretty much reflects the current mindset of Michigan and Florida voters, I had understood this issue to be sour grapes on the part of the Clinton Campaign. Afterall, Michigan and Florida had violated the DNC rules, right? They moved their primaries up early without permission of the DNC, and so their delegates weren't supposed to count.

Now while I don't believe any constituency should be disenfranchised, and while I sympathized with the voters of Florida and Michigan as the Democratic primaries in those states were moved up because the Republican controlled legislatures set those dates to accommodate the Republican Primaries in those states, waht I din't know is that New Hampshire moved their primary up as well.

However, as the Op-Ed piece from Senator Carl Levin and DNC Committee Woman Debbie Dingell explains, New Hampshire got a waiver while Howard Dean refused to grant one for Michigan and Florida.

Please read this eye-opening piece published in the March 19, 2008 New York Times:

New York Times Op-Ed on Why Michigan Is Fighting: 03/19/08
By Senator Carl Levin and DNC Member Debbie Dingell

POLITICAL leaders in Michigan and elsewhere have long questioned the stranglehold Iowa and New Hampshire have on the presidential nominating process. In most election years, the candidates seem to spend more time in those two states than in all the others put together. The early states usually pick the party nominees, leaving the large majority of states with little influence in this critical national decision.

This year looks different: we’re seeing one of the most inclusive nominating contests ever, with voters in every state having a real say in the outcome. But 2008 is the exception that proves the rule: the system remains deeply flawed. The story behind the Democratic National Committee’s decision not to seat the Michigan and Florida delegates shows why.

Back in 2004, Michigan Democrats considered taking the Iowa-New Hampshire issue to the party’s national convention, but we agreed instead to the creation of the Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling to examine the process. After a year of study and public hearings, the commission expressed “serious concerns that Iowa and New Hampshire are not fully reflective of the Democratic electorate or the national electorate generally — and therefore do not place Democratic candidates before a representative range of voters in the critical early weeks of the process.”

A crucial change was recommended: that additional states join Iowa and New Hampshire in holding early primaries and caucuses, and that New Hampshire’s primary be the third or fourth contest.

In 2006, the Democratic National Committee adopted a rule providing that four states — Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire and South Carolina — could hold their presidential primary or caucus in January, with the rest of the states following. The rule dictated that the early states hold their contests in a specific order — with New Hampshire coming third — and no earlier than designated dates between Jan. 14 and Jan. 29.

While Michigan Democrats were disappointed that our state was not selected for one of the four early contests, we appreciated the new rule for adding a bit of much-needed diversity to the early nominating process, and as a first step toward breaking the Iowa-New Hampshire lock. We announced that we would abide by the new calendar provided that other states did the same.

But last August, the New Hampshire secretary of state indicated he was going to schedule his state’s primary before the date specified, clearly defying the sequence and timing the party had set. Michigan Democratic leaders repeatedly asked the Democratic National Committee if it intended to penalize New Hampshire for this violation, but the committee refused to act.

Rather than allow this broken system to persist, we challenged it by deciding to apportion our delegates according to the results of a primary scheduled by the Michigan Legislature for Jan. 15.

The Democratic National Committee proceeded to selectively enforce its calendar rule. It gave New Hampshire a waiver to move from third to second place in the sequence. But Michigan and Florida, which had also moved up the date of its primary, were denied waivers. When Howard Dean, the party chairman, says that states should not be allowed to violate the rules, he ignores the fact that when the committee itself decided not to follow the rules and granted a waiver to New Hampshire, it set the stage for the present impasse.

Under pressure from New Hampshire and the other early states, the Democratic presidential candidates did not campaign in Michigan or Florida. Senator Barack Obama and three other candidates withdrew their names from the Michigan primary ballot. Senator Hillary Clinton and three others did not. The committee has so far refused to seat the Michigan and Florida delegations to the national convention.

Together with other Michigan Democrats, we are working to make sure our state’s voters are not disenfranchised by unfair enforcement of the rules. We are looking for a practical, secure and fair way to redo our primary vote. It is in everyone’s interest that the Michigan and Florida delegates be seated without a convention floor fight. But we are ready to take our strong case to the convention if need be.

We have not endorsed any presidential candidate; we only want to ensure that the Michigan delegates are seated at the convention and that the nominating process is reformed for future elections. Fairness and rationality in our nominating process are far too important to sweep under the rug for yet another election cycle.

Pretty amazing, isn't it? NOW it's clear that this controversy is not about sour grapes on the part of the Clinton campaign. It's a clear disenfranchisement of Michigan and Florida voters. I agree with Senator Levin. Michigan and Florida have a very strong case to seat their delegates at the Democratic National Convention. And at this point in time, as the Michigan legislature as voted against a do-over on June 3, this issue seems well on the track for a legal solution. So don't be surprised if once again the US Supreme Court is called to action to decide this matter. And guess what? There are at least two justices on the Supreme Court appointed by President Bill Clinton.

It turns out that the wild ride that is the 2008 Election Cycle is far from over.

Thanks for reading.

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Dear Readers,

I'm embroiled in a membership contest on FohBoh, which is the online social network for all Food-Related Industries. If you love food, drink, recipes, photos, good humor and news about food, I would really appreciate it if you would click on the links on this post and join the site. IMPORTANT: If you view my page from Battle of the Blogs or Blog Explosion; Please Close Frame 1st Before clicking on the link. The BE advertising window at the top can't be there or I won't get the credit when you join FohBoh.

Membership is completely free and gives you great info, photos, recipes, and even fodder for your own blogs. More than that, it will help me win a prize. For all of you that take just 2 minutes and join the site by clicking on the links in this post and comment back right here that you've done so, I'll transfer 25 Blog Explosion Credits into your account. If you join today, I'll transfer 50 Blog Explosion Credits into your account.

Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it! JOIN FOHBOH HERE

US Death Toll in Iraq War Hits 4,000

While all of us have been distracted celebrating the Easter Holiday weekend, playing in March Madness Office Pools, and watching Charlie Brown specials and the annual broadcast of The Ten Commandments, the war in Iraq reached a grim milestone over the weekend: 4,000 Americans have now died in the Iraq War.

Whatever our politics are, whatever our interests are, whatever our economic situation is; as a nation, we have to find a way to end this war and get out of Iraq. Please be a watch dog. As a reader of this blog, as a blogger yourself, and as a citizen of the world I implore you to use your voice and contact your governmental leaders and the media by sending emails, writing letters, calling congressional offices and urging an end to the Iraq War. Beyond the tremendous economic cost, the cost of the lives lost is just too high.

If we all use our voices together, we can achieve an end to the war. We have voices. We have circles of influence. We need to use them. It has never mattered more.

The AP Report of the US Death Toll in Iraq is reprinted below. Thanks for reading.

BAGHDAD (March 24) - A roadside bomb killed four U.S. soldiers in Baghdad on Sunday, the military said, pushing the overall American death toll in the five-year war to at least 4,000.

The grim milestone came on the same day that rockets and mortars pounded the U.S.-protected Green Zone, underscoring the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups despite an overall lull in violence.

A Multi-National Division — Baghdad soldier also was wounded in the roadside bombing, which struck the soldiers' patrol vehicle about 10 p.m. in southern Baghdad, according to a statement.

Identities of those killed were withheld pending notification of relatives.

The 4,000 figure is according to an Associated Press count that includes eight civilians who worked for the Department of Defense.

Last year, the U.S. military deaths spiked along with the Pentagon's "surge" — the arrival of more than 30,000 extra troops trying to regain control of Baghdad and surrounding areas. The mission was generally considered a success, but the cost was evident as soldiers pushed into Sunni insurgent strongholds and challenged Shiite militias.

Military deaths rose above 100 for three consecutive months for the first time during the war: April 2007, 104; May, 126 and June at 101.

The death toll has seesawed since, with 2007 ending as the deadliest year for American troops at 901 deaths. That was 51 more deaths than 2004, the second deadliest year for U.S. soldiers.

The milestones for each 1,000 deaths — while an arbitrary marker — serve to rivet attention on the war and have come during a range of pivotal moments.

When the 1,000th American died in September 2004, the insurgency was gaining steam. The 2,000-death mark came in October 2005 as Iraq voted on a new constitution. The Pentagon announced its 3,000th loss on the last day of 2006 — a day after Saddam Hussein was hanged and closing a year marked by rampant sectarian violence.

The deaths taken by U.S. soldiers in Iraq, however, are far less than in other modern American wars. In Vietnam, the U.S. lost on average about 4,850 soldiers a year from 1963-75. In the Korean war, from 1950-53, the U.S. lost about 12,300 soldiers a year.

But a hallmark of the Iraq war is the high wounded-to-killed ratio, partly because of advances in battlefield medicine, enhanced protective gear worn by soldiers and reinforced armored vehicles.

There have been about 15 soldiers wounded for every fatality in Iraq, compared with 2.6 per death in Vietnam and 2.8 in Korea.

The deadliest month for American troops was November 2004, with 137 deaths. April 2004 was the next with 135 U.S. military deaths. May 2007 saw the third-highest toll.

Last December was the lowest monthly death toll, when 23 soldiers were killed — one less than February 2004.

Two factors have helped bring down violence in recent months: a self-imposed cease-fire by a main Shiite militia and a grass-roots Sunni revolt against extremists.

But commanders often say there is no guarantee the trends will continue. Among the concerns: the strength of breakaway Shiite factions believed armed by Iran and whether Sunni fighters will remain U.S. allies or again turn their guns on American troops instead of al-Qaida.

Civil strife also could flare again.

Shiite militias are vying for control of Iraq's oil-rich south. In the north, the contest for the oil-rich city of Kirkuk could spark new bloodshed and should be the focus of intense "U.S. diplomatic and economic leverage to make sure it doesn't happen," said retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey at a speech in New York in March to mark the fifth anniversary of the U.S.-led invasion.

There is also the question of Iraq's security forces and the slow pace of their training.

American commanders would like to see the Iraqis take more of a front-line role in the fighting, but their ability to operate without American support could still be years away.

"We are always quick to note that the progress is tenuous and that it is reversible," said the top U.S. commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, "and that there are innumerable challenges out there."

Happy Easter Chocolate Video Series

To all those who are celebrating, I wish you a Happy Easter! I hope you're all going to have a wonderful holiday weekend!

In honor of the holiday, I have just posted 10 Chocolate Videos, comprising my Chocolate Video Series on the Food Industry Site FohBoh. That's right, Volumes I through X are now available, right on FohBoh, free of charge for your edification, entertainment, and laugh-out-loud pleasure. There is music, there are commercials, there are cartoons, there are skits, and a documentary, all on one of my favorite subjects: chocolate.

You can find the videos on my main page, or by browsing the most recent videos added on the video page of the site.

So that you can plan your viewing, here's the run down of the Chocolate Video Series:

1. I Love Chocolate. A girl, holding 2 candy bars, is interviewed as to why she loves chocolate. Think, Leno man on the street interview.

2. Kylie Minogue performs her song "Chocolate." It's a good song, using the metaphor of chocolate for love. It's sexy, it's smooth, it's hot--like a cup of hot chocolate!

3. Chocolate Skittles Commercial. I don't think this ever made the air in the US, but it's freakin hilarious.

4. Chocolate Fudge Brownies Recipe--a how to video to make one of our favorite treats.

5. The Simpson introduce their new video game, the Land of Chocolate. Homer is funny and there's a white chocolate bunny. Does white chocolate cut it? Watch this video to find out.

6. Chocolate Speed Painting with spoons. There's a lot of creativity out there. This artist actually paints with chocolate syrup, and his brush is a spoon. This video is fun and entertaining to watch and the artist is very talented. I might consider buying one of his chocolate artworks, except that they're probably bound to attract chocolate ants...which wouldn't be so good.

7. The Story of Chocolate. A 15 minute documentary on how chocolate is produced from start to finish, beginning with the cocoa bean. Fascinating and highly recommended if you have the time.

8. Chocolate Jesus. In honor of Easter, Tom Waits performs his own adult-oriented composition on the David Letterman Show.

9. I Love Lucy Classic. In one of the most familiar and greatest episodes of I Love Lucy, Lucy and Ethel try their best to wrap chocolate candies on the line. One of the funniest comedy skits of all time. Modern comedy can't touch this.

And finally, we have:

10. Chocolate Creme Suicide. I can't stop watching this. It's like watching a whole season of Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live in one minute and thirty seconds. In skit after skit after skit, a cadbury creme egg commits suicide in highly original ways. Check it out now, because the Cadbury Eggs are here today, but goo tomorrow. (This video is posted below here on MTMD, as it was my post from yesterday, so just scroll down if you only want a small taste of chocolate.)

I hope you enjoy the videos. Please take time to rate them and comment on them after you watch them. Rating them and commenting give me great feedback, and it gives you beaucoup FohBoh points!

My sincere wishes for an awesome holiday!

Thanks for reading!

Chocolate Creme Suicide

I can't stop watching this. It's like watching a whole season of Mr. Bill from Saturday Night Live in one minute and thirty seconds. In skit after skit after skit, a cadbury creme egg commits suicide in highly original ways. Check this 1:18 video out now becuase as they say, the Cadbury Eggs are here today, but goo tomorrow.

Thanks for reading!

What a Dish!


I think the picture pretty much clucks for itself! This finger-lickin' good chicken dish was actually created at a SYSCO Food Show held out west, along with some other amazing creations highlighting how creative some warped minds can truly be with food.

To find other pictures like this one, as well as some absolutely amazing cappucino crema art and pastry chef masterpieces as well from New York competitions, check out the photo gallery on the Food Industry Network Site: FohBoh!

Thanks for reading.

Red Alert! Saturn's Rings Are Vanishing!


Saturn: jewel of the solar system, taker of breaths, ringed beauty. Even veteran astronomers can't help but gasp when they see her through a small telescope.

Red Alert: Saturn's rings are vanishing.

Around the world, amateur astronomers have noticed the change; Saturn's wide open rings are rapidly narrowing into a thin line. "The rings have narrowed considerably in the last year," Efrain Morales Rivera from Puerto Rico reports. "The Cassini division (a dark gap in the rings) is getting hard to see."

Four hundred years ago, the same phenomenon puzzled Galileo. Peering through a primitive spy glass, he discovered Saturn's rings in 1610 and immediately wrote to his Medici patrons: "I found another very strange wonder, which I should like to make known to their Highnesses...." He was dumbfounded, however, when the rings winked out little more than a year later.


The same thing that's happening now: we're experiencing a "ring plane crossing." As Saturn goes around the sun, it periodically turns its rings edge-on to Earth — once every 14-to-15 years. Because the rings are so thin, they can actually disappear when viewed through a small telescope.


In the months ahead, Saturn's rings will become thinner and thinner until, on Sept. 4, 2009, they vanish. When this happened to Galileo in 1612, he briefly abandoned his study of the planet. Big mistake: ring plane crossings are good times to discover new Saturnian moons and faint outer rings.

It's also a good time to behold Saturn's curiously blue north pole. In 2005 the Cassini spacecraft flew over Saturn's northern hemisphere and found the skies there as azure as Earth itself. Saturn is a planet of golden clouds, but for some reason clouds at high northern latitudes have cleared, revealing a dome of surprising blue.

For years, only Cassini has enjoyed this view because from Earth, the blue top of Saturn was hidden behind the rings. No more: "Now that Saturn's rings are only open 8 degrees, we can finally view its northern hemisphere's beautiful teal blue colored belts and zones, which really did look blue through my 10-inch telescope," reports Dan Petersen of Racine, Wisconsin.

Galileo never understood the true nature of Saturn's rings. He didn't know that they were a disk-shaped swarm of orbiting moonlets ranging in size from microscopic dust to tumbling houses. (Scientists still aren't sure, but they may be debris from a shattered moon.) He didn't even know the rings were rings. Through his 17th-century telescope, they looked more like ears or planetary lobes of some kind.

Yet, somehow, his intuition guided him to make a correct prediction: "they'll be back," or Italian words to that effect. And he was right. Saturn's rings opened up again and scientists resumed their study. In 1659, Christaan Huygens correctly explained the periodic disappearances as ring plane crossings. In 1660, Jean Chapelain argued that Saturn's rings were not solid, but made instead of many small particles independently orbiting Saturn. His correct suggestion was not widely accepted for nearly two hundred years.

Almost 27 ring plane crossings later, we still marvel at Saturn. Even with rings diminished, she is still a breathtaking sight through the meanest of telescopes. Indeed, this is a good week to look. On Tuesday, March 18th and Wednesday, March 19th the nearly-full Moon and Saturn will be lined up in the same part of the evening sky. That makes Saturn unusually easy to find: Go outside after sunset and look around for the Moon; Saturn is the bright golden "star" nearby.

Point your telescope and, well, just try not to gasp.


Looking Ahead: If you miss the March 18-19 encounter, try again on April 14-15. The Moon and Saturn will be close together and the rings even narrower. Mark your calendar!

Thanks for reading.

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Feeling Humble...The General

Every once in a while, most of us need a reminder of our place in the general order of things. I recently came across a picture that was taken seven years ago of myself standing in front of the General Sherman Giant Sequoia Tree, which is the world's largest and living thing, and one of the oldest. I remember feeling rather small and insignificant next to that tree. It's not that people are small and insignificant. But every once in a while, we need a subtle reminder to keep it all in perspective.


Thanks for reading.

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Clinton Found Dead!

It's true! Clinton has been found dead, but I'll get back to that in a moment. Yesterday, the Headlines Around the World Read: "ABBA Member Found Dead," and for the fans of the 1970s Super Group, panic started to spread until everyone started reading the article and found out that the member found dead was long-time drummer, Ola Brunkert. No less tragic and sad, but many fans found that they had to reconcile their feelings of relief that the death was not one of the Fab Four.

Headlines have long been used to sell newspapers and to grab attention, but in this case, have the headline writers gone too far? At what point does a news agency need to balance an attention-getting headline with fact and integrity to avoid misleading the public? Certainly, this headline was written for its shock value and to imply that one of the four members of ABBA had been found dead. While this headline related to pop culture, it's not a stretch to extrapolate this headline from these others:

1. Super Bowl Champion Found Dead. Wouldn't you think of Peyton Manning? Even if the deceased had been an obscure tight end from the 1980 Super Bowl winning team?

2. Clinton Found Dead. Wouldn't you immediately think of Hillary? Even if the Clinton was a 94 year old man from Omaha?

So when does a headline go too far and where does journalistic integrity begin? It's a fair question, especially in this year with all the misdirection surrounding the 2008 Presidential Race here in the U.S. And by the way, Evelyn Clinton, 69, of Dallas, TX was found dead last Friday. God bless her soul.

Below is the account of the death of ABBA Drummer, Ola Brunkert:


MADRID, Spain - A former drummer for the Swedish pop band ABBA was found dead with cuts to his neck in the garden of his house on the Spanish island of Mallorca. Police said Monday an autopsy showed it was an accident.

A neighbor found the body of 62-year-old Ola Brunkert on Sunday evening at his house in a coastal area outside the eastern town of Arta, a Civil Guard spokesman told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

He said an autopsy was carried out and confirmed initial investigations. "It was an accident," he said.

The spokesman said Brunkert hit his head against a glass door in his dining room, shattering the glass and cutting himself in the neck. He managed to wrap a towel around his neck and left the house to seek help, but collapsed in the garden.

Brunkert lived in the coastal apartment complex of Betlem in the municipality of Arta, in the eastern part of Mallorca.

Brunkert had lived in Arta for around 20 years. His wife, Inger. died less than a year ago, an Arta municipal official told the AP. She spoke on condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to discuss the case.


ABBA band member Benny Anderson told Swedish daily Expressen he was sad to hear of the drummer's death. "It is tragic," he said.

Band member Bjorn Ulvaeus added that Brunkert had been "one of the best."

"I remember him as a good friend when we worked together in the mid-1970s. He was a very creative musician who contributed a lot when we toured together and worked in the studio," Ulvaeus told Expressen.

According to ABBA's official Web site, Brunkert and bass player Rutger Gunnarsson were the only musicians to appear on all ABBA albums.

Brunkert first played with ABBA on the group's first single, "People Need Love," and toured with the band in 1977, 1979 and 1980.

He had been a jazz drummer and a member of the blues band Slim's Blues Gang, before joining pop group Science Poption in the mid-1960s.

ABBA, with the four regular members Agnetha Faltskog, Anni-Frid Lyngstad, Ulvaeus and Andersson, was one of the world's most successful bands, with album sales of more than 370 million. The group has not performed together since 1982, but continues to sell nearly 3 million records a year.

Thanks for reading.

Slainte! The Complete History of St. Patrick's Day

St. Patrick's Day – Celebrating the Green


St. Patrick is believed to have driven the snakes from Ireland. Once a pagan himself, St. Patrick is one of Christianity's most widely known figures.

The modern secular holiday is based on the original Christian saint's feast day also thought to be the date of the saint's death. In 1737, Irish immigrants to the United States began observing the holiday publicly in Boston and held the first St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City in 1766.

Today, the tradition continues with people from all walks and heritages by wearing green, eating Irish food, and attending parades. St. Patrick's Day is bursting with folklore; from the shamrock to the leprechaun and to pinching those that are not wearing green.

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated on March 17, his religious feast day and the anniversary of his death in the fifth century. The Irish have observed this day as a religious holiday for thousands of years.

On St. Patrick's Day, which falls during the Christian season of Lent, Irish families would traditionally attend church in the morning and celebrate in the afternoon. Lenten prohibitions against the consumption of meat were waived and people would dance, drink, and feast—on the traditional meal of Irish bacon and cabbage.

The first St. Patrick's Day parade took place not in Ireland, but in the United States. Irish soldiers serving in the English military marched through New York City on March 17, 1762. Along with their music, the parade helped the soldiers to reconnect with their Irish roots, as well as fellow Irishmen serving in the English army.

Over the next thirty-five years, Irish patriotism among American immigrants flourished, prompting the rise of so-called "Irish Aid" societies, like the Friendly Sons of Saint Patrick and the Hibernian Society. Each group would hold annual parades featuring bagpipes (which actually first became popular in the Scottish and British armies) and drums.

Up until the mid-nineteenth century, most Irish immigrants in America were members of the Protestant middle class. When the Great Potato Famine hit Ireland in 1845, close to a million poor, uneducated, Catholic Irish began to pour into America to escape starvation. Despised for their religious beliefs and funny accents by the American Protestant majority, the immigrants had trouble finding even menial jobs. When Irish Americans in the country's cities took to the streets on St. Patrick's Day to celebrate their heritage, newspapers portrayed them in cartoons as drunk, violent monkeys.

However, the Irish soon began to realize that their great numbers endowed them with a political power that had yet to be exploited. They started to organize, and their voting block, known as the "green machine," became an important swing vote for political hopefuls. Suddenly, annual St. Patrick's Day parades became a show of strength for Irish Americans, as well as a must-attend event for a slew of political candidates. In 1948, President Truman attended New York City 's St. Patrick's Day parade, a proud moment for the many Irish whose ancestors had to fight stereotypes and racial prejudice to find acceptance in America.

Today, St. Patrick's Day is celebrated by people of all backgrounds in the United States, Canada, and Australia. Although North America is home to the largest productions, St. Patrick's Day has been celebrated in other locations far from Ireland, including Japan, Singapore, and Russia.

In modern-day Ireland, St. Patrick's Day has traditionally been a religious occasion. In fact, up until the 1970s, Irish laws mandated that pubs be closed on March 17. Beginning in 1995, however, the Irish government began a national campaign to use St. Patrick's Day as an opportunity to drive tourism and showcase Ireland to the rest of the world. Last year, close to one million people took part in Ireland 's St. Patrick's Festival in Dublin, a multi-day celebration featuring parades, concerts, outdoor theater productions, and fireworks shows.


Chicago is also famous for a somewhat peculiar annual event: dyeing the Chicago River green. The tradition started in 1962, when city pollution-control workers used dyes to trace illegal sewage discharges and realized that the green dye might provide a unique way to celebrate the holiday. That year, they released 100 pounds of green vegetable dye into the river—enough to keep it green for a week!

Today, in order to minimize environmental damage, only forty pounds of dye are used, making the river green for only several hours. Although Chicago historians claim their city 's idea for a river of green was original, some Savannah natives believe the idea originated in their town.

They point out that 1961, Savannah mayor Tom Woolley had plans for a green river, but due to rough water on March 17, the experiment didn 't work and Savannah never attempted to dye its river again.

In fact the first written mention of this story did not appear until nearly a thousand years after Patrick's death.

The shamrock, which was also called the "seamroy" by the Celts, was a sacred plant in ancient Ireland because it symbolized the rebirth of spring. By the seventeenth century, the shamrock had become a symbol of emerging Irish nationalism. As the English began to seize Irish land and make laws against the use of the Irish language and the practice of Catholicism, many Irish began to wear the shamrock as a symbol of their pride in their heritage and their displeasure with English rule.

Music is often associated with St. Patrick's Day—and Irish culture in general. From ancient days of the Celts, music has always been an important part of Irish life. The Celts had an oral culture, where religion, legend, and history were passed from one generation to the next by way of stories and songs.

After being conquered by the English, and forbidden to speak their own language, the Irish, like other oppressed peoples, turned to music to help them remember important events and hold on to their heritage and history. As it often stirred emotion and helped to galvanize people, music was outlawed by the English. During her reign,Queen Elizabeth I even decreed that all artists and pipers were to be arrested and hanged on the spot.

Today, traditional Irish bands like The Chieftains, the Clancy Brothers, and Tommy Makem are gaining worldwide popularity. Their music is produced with instruments that have been used for centuries, including the fiddle, the uilleann pipes (a sort of elaborate bagpipe), the tin whistle (a sort of flute that is actually made of nickel-silver, brass, or aluminum), and the bodhran (an ancient type of framedrum that was traditionally used in warfare rather than music).

It has long been recounted that, during his mission in Ireland, St. Patrick once stood on a hilltop (which is now called Croagh Patrick), and with only a wooden staff by his side, banished all the snakes from Ireland.

In fact, the island nation was never home to any snakes. The "banishing of the snakes" was really a metaphor for the eradication of pagan ideology from Ireland and the triumph of Christianity. Within two hundred years of Patrick's arrival, Ireland was completely Christianized.

Everyone is a little bit Irish on St. Patrick's Day!

You can eat like an Irishman too! Try these recipes for some mouthwatering cuisine.


Nonstick vegetable oil spray
2 cups all purpose flour
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3 tablespoons butter, chilled, cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
2/3 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 8-inch-diameter cake pan with nonstick spray. Whisk flour, 4 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in large bowl to blend. Add butter. Using fingertips, rub in until coarse meal forms. Make well in center of flour mixture. Add buttermilk. Gradually stir dry ingredients into milk to blend. Mix in raisins.
Using floured hands, shape dough into ball. Transfer to prepared pan and flatten slightly (dough will not come to edges of pan). Sprinkle dough with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar.

Bake bread until brown and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Cool bread in pan 10 minutes. Transfer to rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.


2 cups whole-wheat flour
2 cups all-purpose flour plus additional for kneading
1/2 cup toasted wheat germ
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 stick (1/2 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 400°F. Butter a 9- by 2-inch round cake pan.
Whisk together flours, wheat germ, salt, sugar, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a large bowl until combined well. Blend in butter with a pastry blender or your fingertips until mixture resembles coarse meal. Make a well in center and add buttermilk, stirring until a dough forms. Gently knead on a floured surface, adding just enough more flour to keep dough from sticking, until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Transfer dough to cake pan and flatten to fill pan. With a sharp knife, cut an X (1/2 inch deep) across top of dough (5 inches long). Bake until loaf is lightly browned and sounds hollow when bottom is tapped, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then turn out onto rack and cool, right side up, about 1 hour.
Cooks' notes:
" Bread can be served the day it is made, but it slices more easily if kept, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature 1 day.
" Leftover bread keeps, wrapped in plastic wrap, at room temperature 4 days.


5 pounds corned brisket of beef
6 peppercorns, or packaged pickling spices
3 carrots, peeled and quartered
3 onions, peeled and quartered
1 medium-sized green cabbage, quartered or cut in wedges
Melted butter (about 4 tablespoons)

Place the corned beef in water to cover with the peppercorns or mixed pickling spices (in supermarkets, these often come packaged with the corned beef). Cover the pot or kettle, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 5 hours or until tender, skimming occasionally. During the last hour, add the carrots and onions and cover again. During the last 15 minutes, add the cabbage. Transfer meat and vegetables to a platter and brush the vegetables with the melted butter. Serve with boiled parsley potatoes, cooked separately. (The stock can be saved to add to a pot roast or stew instead of other liquid.)

2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter

Cook potatoes in pot of boiling salted water until very tender, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring cream and butter to simmer in heavy small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Mix in green onions. Remove from heat. Cover and let steep while potatoes cook.
Drain potatoes thoroughly. Return potatoes to same pot and mash. Add cream mixture and stir until blended. Season to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be prepared 2 hours ahead. Cover; let stand at room temperature. Rewarm over low heat, stirring often.)
1 bunch green onions, sliced (about 1 1/3 cups)


2 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons drained brined green peppercorns, coarsely chopped
2 fresh thyme sprigs
Rough puff pastry dough
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 tablespoon water
Special equipment: 4 (14-oz) deep bowls or ramekins (4 to 5 inches wide; see Shopping List, page 301) or similar-capacity ovenproof dishes

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F.
Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate. Heat oil in a wide 5- to 6-quart ovenproof heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.
Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, peppercorns, and thyme and bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to oven. Braise until beef is very tender and sauce is thickened, about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours. Discard thyme and cool stew completely, uncovered, about 30 minutes. (If stew is warm while assembling pies, it will melt uncooked pastry top.)
Put a shallow baking pan on middle rack of oven and increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Divide cooled stew among bowls (they won't be completely full). Roll out pastry dough on a lightly floured surface with a lightly floured rolling pin into a 13-inch square, about 1/8 inch thick. Trim edges and cut dough into quarters. Stir together egg and water and brush a 1-inch border of egg wash around each square. Invert 1 square over each bowl and drape, pressing sides lightly to help adhere. Brush pastry tops with some of remaining egg wash and freeze 15 minutes to thoroughly chill dough.
Bake pies in preheated shallow baking pan until pastry is puffed and golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 400°F and bake 5 minutes more to fully cook dough.
Cooks' note: Stew (without pastry) can be made 2 days ahead, cooled completely, and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature before using.


This rich chocolate mousse cake was created by Geri Gilliland, the Belfast-born chef-owner of Gilliland's, a cafe with an Irish accent in Santa Monica, California. On the inside of the dessert, chocolate mousse spiked with Irish cream liqueur is layered with espresso sponge cake that has been soaked in an Irish whiskey syrup. On the outside, the chocolate bands and a mound of chocolate curls give this treat a straight-from-the-bakery look, which we show you how to achieve at home. If it sounds too perfect, there is one drawback: This grand finale is certain to overshadow any corned beef and cabbage main course.


4 large eggs
1/3 cup sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups chilled whipping cream
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
Whisk eggs and sugar in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) and whisk constantly until candy thermometer registers 60°F, about 5 minutes.
Remove bowl from over water. Using electric mixer, beat egg mixture until cool and very thick, about 10 minutes.
Place chocolate in top of another bowl over simmering water; stir until melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water. Cool to lukewarm.
Combine cream and Irish cream liqueur in medium bowl; beat to stiff peaks. Pour lukewarm melted chocolate over egg mixture and fold together. Fold in cream mixture. Cover and chill until set, at least 4 hours or overnight.

6 large eggs
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder or coffee powder
Pinch of salt
1 cup all purpose flour
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter springform pan with 2 3/4-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment paper. Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, espresso powder and salt in large bowl until mixture thickens and slowly dissolving ribbon forms when beaters are lifted, about 8 minutes. Sift 1/3 of flour over and gently fold into egg mixture. Repeat 2 more times (do not overmix or batter may deflate).
Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on rack.
Run small sharp knife around pan sides to loosen cake. Release pan sides. Turn out cake. Remove pan bottom. Peel off parchment. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Wrap cake in plastic and chill.)

2/3 cup sugar
5 tablespoons water
5 tablespoons Irish whiskey
Combine sugar and water in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and bring to boil. Remove from heat. Mix in whiskey. Cool. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)

Using serrated knife, cut cake horizontally into 3 layers. Place bottom cake layer on platter. Brush with 3 tablespoons syrup. Spread 2 cups mousse over. Top with second cake layer. Brush with 3 tablespoons syrup. Spread 2 cups mousse over. Top with third cake layer, cut side down. Brush with 3 tablespoons syrup. Spread remaining mousse over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate cake while preparing chocolate bands.

Chocolate Bands
2 14 1/2 x 3-inch waxed paper strips
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon solid vegetable shortening
Line large basket sheet with foil and set aside. Place another large sheet of foil on work surface; top with waxed paper strips, spacing apart. Stir chopped semisweet chocolate and vegetable shortening in heavy, small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Pour half of melted chocolate down center of each waxed paper strip.
Using metal icing spatula, spread chocolate to cover strips evenly and completely, allowing some chocolate to extend beyond edges of paper strips. Using fingertips, lift strips and place on clean foil-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate just until chocolate begins to set but is still very flexible, about 2 minutes.
Remove chocolate bands from refrigerator. Using fingertips, lift 1 band from foil. With chocolate side next to cake, place band around side of cake; press gently to adhere (band will be taller than cake). Repeat with second chocolate band, pressing onto uncovered side of cake so that ends of chocolate bands just meet (if ends overlap, use scissors to trim any excess paper and chocolate). Refrigerate until chocolate sets, about 5 minutes. Gently peel off paper. Refrigerate cake.

Chocolate Curls
12 1-ounce squares semisweet baking chocolate
Powdered sugar
Line baking sheet with foil. Unwrap 1 square of chocolate. Place chocolate on its paper wrapper in microwave. Cook on High just until chocolate begins to soften slightly, about 1 minute (time will vary depending on power of microwave). Turn chocolate square onto 1 side and hold in hand. Working over foil-lined sheet, pull vegetable peeler along sides of chocolate, allowing chocolate curls to fall gently onto foil. Form as many curls as possible. Repeat process with remaining chocolate squares. Place curls decoratively atop cake, mounding slightly. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Refrigerate cake.) Sift powdered sugar over chocolate curls before serving cake.



Be prepared to toast on St. Patrick's Day!

For all those who were wondering what to say on March 17th, when they raise their glasses, here are a few phrases to remember:

May God bring good health to your enemies enemies

May you live to be a hundred years, with one extra year to repent.

May you be in heaven one half hour before the devil knows you're dead.

As you slide down the banisters of life may the splinters never point the wrong way.

There are many good reasons for drinking,
One has just entered my head,
If a man doesn't drink when he's living,
How the hell can he drink when he's dead?

May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.

May you get all your wishes but one,
So you always have something to strive for.

Here's to you,
here's to me,
the best of friends we'll always be.
But if we ever disagree,
forget you here's to ME!!

Here's to your coffin...
May it be built of 100 year old oaks which I will plant tomorrow.

Here's to you as good as you are,
Here's to me as bad as I am,
As good as you are,
And as bad as I am,
I'm as good as you are,
As bad as I am.

May the sons of your daughters smile up in your face.

Health, and long life to you
Land without rent to you
The partner of your heart to you
and when you die, may your bones rest in Ireland!

May your blessings outnumber
The shamrocks that grow,
And may trouble avoid you
Wherever you go.

May your neighbors respect you,
Troubles neglect you,
The angels protect you,
And Heaven accept you.

An old Irish recipe for longevity:
Leave the table hungry.
Leave the bed sleepy.
Leave the bar thirsty.

I've drunk to your health in the pubs ,
I've drunk to your health in my home ,
I've drunk to your health so many times ,
That I've almost ruined my own.

May you never forget what is worth remembering,
Or remember what is best forgotten.

May you have the hindsight to know where you've been,
The insight to know where you are,
and the foresight to know when you've gone too far.

May you have warm words on a cold evening,
A full moon on a dark night,
And the road downhill all the way to your door.

May you never make an enemy
When you could make a friend
Unless you meet a fox among your chickens.

May your fire be as warm as the weather is cold.

The Leprechaun

The original Irish name for these figures of folklore is "lobaircin," meaning "small-bodied fellow."

Belief in leprechauns probably stems from Celtic belief in fairies, tiny men and women who could use their magical powers to serve good or evil. In Celtic folktales, leprechauns were cranky souls, responsible for mending the shoes of the other fairies. Though only minor figures in Celtic folklore, leprechauns were known for their trickery, which they often used to protect their much-fabled treasure.

Leprechauns had nothing to do with St. Patrick or the celebration of St. Patrick's Day, a Catholic holy day. In 1959, Walt Disney released a film called Darby O'Gill & the Little People, which introduced America to a very different sort of leprechaun than the cantankerous little man of Irish folklore. This cheerful, friendly leprechaun is a purely American invention, but has quickly evolved into an easily recognizable symbol of both St. Patrick's Day and Ireland in general.

For More on St. Patrick's Day, please visit FohBoh for recipes, drink specials, and for events at restaurants, bars, and clubs near you!

Thanks for reading!

If you love food....


Hello, everyone! Yes, I've been away for a while. Thanks for all the emails during the past year and a half. Now that I'm back, however, I think you'll find that I'll be back in spades. There's much to discuss this year: the 2008 Presidential Election Cycle, the Olympic Games in Beijing with all of its ramifications--did you see how China banned YouTube today? And of course, the upcoming release of Mamma Mia! The Movie, starring Meryl Streep; plus the usual dose of whitewater and river-related posts.

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