Biannual roundup of what you are reading on this blog

You have done it again. No wonder I wander around flitting arbitrarily from subject to subject. My readers flit, too.

During the past year, you have remained as Alamobsessive as I, particularly focusing on the guns  Land Commissioner Jerry Patterson let be drawn in front of the Alamo. You joined me in remembering my father-in-law, George Spencer, and photographer Rick Hunter. You have demonstrated your interest in photography by two artists, Richard Nitschke and Sarah Brooke Lyons. You have let me take you traveling to San Miguel de Allende, and shown interest in the reign of Maximilian and Carlota in Mexico.

You refuse to let two old posts, one about David Sedaris’ “Nuit of the Living Dead” and one about Sandy Skoglund’s cheesy “Cocktail Party,” fade off of the top 12 list. It makes me particularly happy that you still show interest in the San Antonio Song and have given life to my true tale providing a ghost to inhabit Brackenridge Park.

The number in parentheses represents the rankings from six months ago:

  1. Please come and take them away from San Antonio, (1) 2013

    “They say Sam Maverick forged the bell for St. Mark’s from a cannon used during the Battle of the Alamo. If only the concept proved contagious….” Postcards from San Antonio – No. 12, “Peace be with you.”
  2. George Hutchings Spencer, 1923-2013 (3), 2013
  3. The State surrenders the Alamo; Run for Cover, (4) 2013
  4. Richard Nitschke: Seeing Agave in a Different Light, (8) 2013
  5. Please put this song on Tony’s pony, and make it ride away (10), 2010
  6. Sarah’s faces more than a thousand times better, (11) 2013
  7. The Madarasz Murder Mystery: Might Helen Haunt Brackenridge Park?, 2012
  8. “Nuit of the Living Dead” (9), 2010
  9. Postcard from San Miguel de Allende: Sun rises again at La Aurora, 2014
  10. The Tragic Rule of Maximilian and Carlota in Mexico, 2014
  11. Cheez Doodles as Art (12), 2011
  12. Rick Hunter lives here. And many other places., 2013

Thanks for hanging out here some and for giving me permission to keep on rambling on about whatever I’m currently pondering.

Cheez Doodles as Art

Blame the arrival of The McNay’s Impressions in the mail for making me veer off in this direction….  

Photograph of Morrie Yohai by Bill Davis of Newsday reproduced in The New York Times

Where was I the day Morrie Yohai died? 

I have no idea.  I completely missed his death in early August. 

Maybe it wasn’t big news in Texas.  San Antonio is Cheeto-land, staked out by Charles Elmer Doolin in 1948.   

But I’m originally from the East Coast.  We ate Cheez Doodles before the Frito-Lay invasion, and Yohai was the man credited with their invention.  Although I can’t locate a copy of the image online, his obituaries all repeat the claim he proudly kept a photo of Julia Child fondling Cheez Doodles on display.

Wonder what makes them such an artificially bright orange.  DADT.  Know I outgrew grabbing bags of these out of vending machines long ago, but the memory of attempting to keep control of the steering wheel with slimy, orange-encrusted fingers is still strong.  In a 2008 interview, artist Sandy Skoglund said: 

The manipulation of food in terms of shape, color, taste, and so on, has achieved highly unnatural results.

Au gratin bather: Doodle-lover from

An ounce of these baked puffs actually provides 15 percent of your daily calcium needs, but analysis beyond that definitely ruins the pleasure.  DADT.  According to doodle fun facts, that pleasure is significant enough for people ignoring the nutritional warnings to consume the equivalent of 36 Olympic-sized pools filled with Cheez Doodles each year, or the equivalent weight of 1,000 African elephants – 15-million pounds.  If you laid these Cheez Doodles end-to-end you could munch your way all the way from downtown San Antonio to the top of the steps of the Texas State Capitol.

Sandy Skoglund's "The Cocktail Party"

Have no idea how many Cheez Doodles Skoglund used to create “The Cocktail Party,” a cheesy (apologies)  installation recently acquired by the McNay Art Museum.  But I don’t think the writer for the McNay cares for Cheez Doodles much:

“The Cocktail Party” evokes decadence as Sandy Skoglund transforms reality into a garish dream world where mass-produced food products threaten to consume. 

Makes the Doodle people in Skoglund’s installation sound as though they are pod people from a horror film.  But Skoglund herself makes food seem a logical medium: 

…I used the subject of food to create a common language.  After all, everyone eats.

On PBS, Skoglund explained how art became her chosen path: 

…the interesting thing for me is the ultimate sanity of allowing yourself to behave insanely.  When I think back to why I became an artist, it was all about feeling I wasn’t normal….  Even before…I knew what an artist was, I was interested in creating my own worlds.

Before Skoglund gets too far into her lecture at the McNay on Sunday, January 30, I hope she will quickly provide the answers to the low-brow, trivial Cheez-Doodle questions that, left lingering, might distract some small-minded listeners from focusing on her meatier, more meaningful remarks.  Questions such as:

  • Do rodents or roaches ever crawl into museums to nibble away at the Cheez?  
  • You created this piece a number of years back, are these still the original Doodles?
  • When you were taking the photograph, how did the models walking on them keep from crushing Doodles?
  • And, if these are the original Doodles, are they one of the frightening foods that, left undisturbed, will never, ever disintegrate?

Okay.  If I promise not to ask any of these, can I get past the guards?

Update on March 3, 2011: Installing oodles of doodles is no easy task. Watch the time-lapsed video of the staging of “The Cocktail Party” at the McNay.