Natal Anniversaries

FroebelNot to turn this blog into a personal message board, but today marks a seminal date in history—the birthday of Friedrich August Froebel (1782-1852), the founder of kindergarten, which turned out to be a transformative innovation that changed our world in profound ways. And for the better. April 21 is, then, is an unofficial holiday here at the blog as we celebrate Froebel and other beautiful educators who also were born on this very special day.


That Accent!

goat.w.RED.beretScientists have determined that goats have accents. That’s right, accents. Goats develop different and distinct vocalizations based on their local environment, which may explain why French goats are easier to talk with than other ruminants. I am a sucker for certain accents, such as Elis Regina‘s, who is considered by many the greatest Brazilian singer of all time. Elis is the perfect choice to accompany our Sunday morning cheese brunch.  Enjoy.


Saturday Morning Cartoon


Notice what type of music gets this little sheep in trouble. I’m just sayin’.

By the way, there’s no way a goat falls for the ol’ “Irresistible Music” trick, which suggests that goats are either amusical or possess a superior intelligence among ruminants. 

Mighty Mouse is there to Save the Day, of course, something he has done for 50+ years now. A known enabler, Mighty Mouse would often rescue mice whose cheese habits got them into trouble. Today, however, he is rescuing sheep who are suckers for a catchy tune. MM’s gallantry was forever memorialized in 1975 by this great American:


Grilled Cheese Gurus

grilled.cheese.w.buttonWhile my unprecedented literary research prevents me from participating, I would be remiss if I didn’t remind loyal readers that there’s only 1 week left to register for the Wisconsin Grilled Cheese Championship, which takes place Sunday, April 27, 2014 in Dodgeville, Wisconsin, which is located in Iowa County, which is confusing because Iowa is the next state over. Less than 20 miles away is the Yellowstone Wildlife Area, which only adds to the confusion. But this Yellowstone is in Wisconsin, as is the Grilled Cheese Championships.  Head to the Ley Pavilion at Harris Park in Dodgeville.  

Admission is free, though VIP tickets are available for purchase, and presumably come with perks. Registration is required if you intend to compete, and that deadline is April 24.  This is the 3rd annual, but the first time the event will be held in Dodgeville as previous competitions took place in Mineral Springs, which is practically next door to Yellowstone.

Kyle Cherek, host of Wisconsin Foodie, is MC’ing the competition. If you’re in the area, you’d be crazy not to attend. It’s free. And it’s cheese. 

Happy 3,192 Anniversary

Odysseus.w.buttonFurther proof that our mad rush toward an “all digital” lifestyle will some day prove fatal: Yesterday’s crash prevented an historic post, for April 16th marks the anniversary of Odysseus’s return to Ithaca after 10 years of wandering. 

Odysseus-AnniversaryLet’s see, he arrived home in 1178 BC and it’s 2014 AD. Happy 3,192 Anniversary, you old cheese thief! And as you may remember, Odysseus spoke the only word he could after a decade away from all he knows and loves.

Good Kind of Crazy

Tolkien.letterDespite technical difficulties, Chasing Chesterton was the recipient of several warm and wonderful letters and e-mails today, all from noted lovers of literature and cheese, one of whom sent a promising lead regarding cheese poetry circa 1580, while another wants to talk cheese and Melville, while still another letter came from a literary giant who, understandably, asked to remain anonymous, but went on to share encouraging thoughts of the blog.

And finally, one more dear friend wrote to say she missed those “crazy days of old” before I got fired for leading the campus-wide protest over serial commas. She then confessed to feeling under the weather, and since she is especially worthy of good cheer and a return to health, we pause our unprecedented research into the “Neglect of Cheese in European Literature” to send this musical tribute her way.

Digital Sabotage?

computer.crashChasing Chesterton was mysteriously silenced this morning by what appears to be sinister forces. Yes, the blog was “down,” as they say in internet parlance. Unfortunately, I overslept and didn’t realize the damage until nearly 10:30 EST when I received the following message:

I’ve never touched a database in my life, so I knew something was amiss. As a serious scholar I am not inclined toward mechanical problems, analogue or digital, so this service disruption was frightening. Who knows how many disillusioned readers turned elsewhere for their literary cheese news? However, the good people at heard my cries and pounced on the problem, signaling all clear by 11:15 a.m., and here I am now, only minutes later, relaying the news to you. Au courant! I must commend the “tech support” of Bluehost, as the hold time is never long and the technicians surprisingly cheery and helpful.

Continue reading Digital Sabotage?

Tree Hugging

SweetGumBallsThey don’t teach this at the Harvard Business School:

Kudos to Mozzarella Company’s Paula Lambert who has stepped up to save a sweet gum tree out in front of her small, east Dallas cheese factory. (Leave it to a cheese person to do the right thing.) Lambert planted the tree herself 32 years ago and watched it grow slowly but surely along with her business.  For those who don’t know sweet gums, they produce provocative round seed balls that look like they were specifically made for medieval catapults. They are definitely suitable for throwing at annoying siblings or literary critics.

While duty to my unprecedented literary project prevents me from personally joining Ms. Lambert—and trust me, chaining my sizable girth to that sweet gum would  garner public attention!—I can offer the following testimonial:  the Mozzarella Company makes exquisite cheeses, and I’ve personally experienced eye-rolling ecstasy, followed by involuntary moaning, while sampling their goat cheese offerings, which, of course, are always best in spring. And they do mail order.

Poets & Cheese


The Chicago Tribune’s John Kass kindly reminds us that April is “National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Month” and then opines intelligently on what constitutes a proper example of such. While honorable, Mr. Kass forgets that April is also National Poetry Month, bringing together two of mankind’s finest creations, poetry and cheese.

April, you are the cruelest, indeed!

While Poets may have, at times, been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese, my unprecedented research into cheese and the arts is proving otherwise. The antiquities alone held cheese in such high regard that . . . Continue reading Poets & Cheese

Tupac is Greek

TupacOur unprecedented research into Ancient Greek Literature and Cheese has turned up the following tidbit:

The Artotyrites were a sect branched from the ancient Montanists, who first appears in the 2nd century, and spread throughout Galatia. They used bread and cheese as their Eucharist. Their reason was that the first men offered to God, not only fruits of the earth, but their flocks too. Hence, according to St. Augustine, came their name, which is Greek, being composed of ἀρτος, ‘bread’ and τυρος, ‘cheese’.

That’s right, Tupoc is Greek for Cheese.  If the Artotryites were around today is there any doubt that Tupac would be their go-to guy? Seeing as it’s Sunday, a Cheese sacrament is in order, as well as a little gospel music.

Saturday Cheese Cartoon

jerry-&-cheeseMany a time have I felt the call for a midnight morsel of cheese….

From 1941 by Hanna & Barbera, nearly two decades before their Yogi Bear/Flintstone/Jetson days. Note the lovely drawings and details inside that refrigerator. Midnight Snack was the second Tom & Jerry ever made, and the first to identify the stars by their names, Tom and Jerry. (In episode 1, they were Jinx & Jasper.) Also, note the lovely inks and shadings that no digital animation can match. I heartily recommend enjoying a few choice slices of Emmenthal as you watch this.

Archilochus & Cheese

homer.archilochusA shameful week of no posts, which I blame on those selfish interns who put their financial lust ahead of truth. Yes, I have confronted the 8-hour-work-day and found it lacking. Unpleasant, even. Without the unpaid interns to track down my every hunch (and fetch my chai lattes), I’ve been forced to do my own legwork, leaving little time for poetic thoughts, which is how I view these humble posts.

And while the Library is my second home, one still has to physically find the actual books, which can be exhausting. It doesn’t help that neither Dewey nor the Library of Congress had the foresight to include Cheese in their categorial structures, leaving me to walk endlessly between the SFs (animal husbandry) and the sacred PNs, which are never located on the same floor. Then, one has to read the damn books, which is even more exhausting than the walking. Continue reading Archilochus & Cheese

No Tomfoolery


FondueEver since National Public Radio aired an April Fool’s segment on the rapidly disappearing “cheese hot springs” in Wisconsin, I have viewed April 1st with significant skepticism. Yes, I did drive to Wisconsin back in 1983 to see the natural occurring Fondue with my own eyes, only to be met with derisive laughter. How did I get fooled? Fondue, as you know, is a delicacy which can cloud a man’s judgment, and it didn’t help that in my haste to see this miraculous hot springs I mistook an advertisement for the Melting Pot restaurant as the spring’s location. (Be assured, there is no fondue hot springs in Appleton, Wisc.)  Hence, the blog will be all business today and readers can take comfort in knowing that what they read here is truthful. To better understand the hurt caused by April Fool pranks, here is a list of other cruel hoaxes designed to embarrass serious, hardworking people. 

Speaking of serious, I can report that the labor negotiations with the unpaid interns… Continue reading No Tomfoolery

Lolling in Bed Until Noon

O cheeses of victory, cheeses wise in defeat, cheeses
fat as a cushion, lolling in bed until noon.  —Donald Hall

Nothing more enjoyable after a long week of literary research and labor negotiations than to spend Sunday morning ‘lolling in bed until noon,’ listening to my favorite radio show, Cheese By Hand, which features the smooth cheese stylings of Mike Claypool and Sasha Davies who spent a couple of years interviewing artisan cheese makers in a celebration of craftsmanship and life. The show concluded a few years back, but iTunes still offers Cheese By Hand podcasts absolutely free.

Today’s feature is an interview with Westfield Farm owners Bob & Debbie Stetson who share the serendipitous path they took to goat cheese, offering some life lessons along the way, something they did for your humble scribe years ago when I was just a neophyte in the world of cheese and literature.

Bob & Debbie Stetson of Westfield Farms
Bob & Debbie Stetson of Westfield Farms

World Cheese Championship Redux

Click the t.v. to watch the World Cheese Championship

If you missed the Live broadcast, you can still catch all the excitement from the recent World Cheese Championships, as the Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association has kept a recording of the event up on the Web.  The show is 2 hours long, so if you’re crunched for time, drag the slider bar to the 1hr. 42 min mark, which is when the big announcements start to happen.

Note the distinguished looking judges in white coats. Can you imagine a better occupation for yours truly? (A proper cheese judge, by the way, dons a porkpie hat and not a baseball cap.)

The video opens with a static shot of the contest logo, so don’t be afraid to move the slider bar.  You can tune in by clicking here.  Or on the TV above. For a 2 min refresher on the 2012 World Championship, click the cheese judge below.


500 Years Later

The Visitation, Jacopo Carucci, 1528
The Visitation, Jacopo Carucci, 1528

While my unprecedented research primarily focuses on the appearance of cheese in various works of art, readers should know that I do not overlook the practical applications of fermented mother’s milk. And neither did 16th century painter Jacopo Carucci Pontormo, who used cheese  to hold together the 5 wood panels that make up his 16th century masterpiece, The Visitation. Restoration experts discovered that Carucci, a student of da Vinci, used “cheese glue” to hold together his wood panels while conducting recent restoration work on the painting.  The cheese glue, like the painting it holds together, is still amazingly strong . . . 500 years later.

Frank & Barry

Obama+Pope+cheesePresident Obama meets with Pope Francis today, and I’ll be watching closely for any mention of G.K. Chesterton’s canonization. Media will surely focus on politics, but Chesterton’s canonization seems to me the most pressing topic. Adding a literary man to the pantheon of Saints would be a great step forward for mankind, not to mention what it will do for this blog. President Obama is on record as being a big fan of Pope Francis, and often quotes him in his homilies, er, speeches.

“Given his great moral authority, when the Pope speaks it carries enormous weight,” Obama continued. “That’s why I quoted him in my speech on income inequality.”

Obama quotes the Pope. The Pope quotes Chesterton.  How long before Obama quotes Chesterton? When he does, let’s hope he starts with Chesterton’s most famous line:

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”

"Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese."