I can’t tell you when I heard this song for the first time – it’s literally been decades. But today I happened to use the phrase “it’s a penny to a quid” (similar to the US expression “it’s dimes to dollars”), and every time I hear or use that phrase, this song pops into my mind. And thanks to the miracle of the Internet, which is busy recording for posterity almost everything that can be salvaged – what a great historical tool it is, too – I can share it with you.


Lonnie Donovan was a British skiffle musician (Americans, think Jug Band) popular in the 1960’s.


by Lonnie Donegan

Now, “lively” is a funny word
It means a lot of things
But to the burglar people
An urgent call it brings

Cause’ when they breakin’ open safes
Or nailin’ up mail vans
Lively! just means “Scarper boys”
To all the different gangs

Lively, lively, the night is going fast
Lively, lively, we both got murky pasts
Lively, lively, don’t leave that bloke untied
Cause’ if you did it’s a penny to a quid that we both end up inside!

Solo 1

We broke into a spinster’s house
While she was knelt in prayer
She was praying for a man
what sort she didn’t care

We had to dive beneath the bed
The dust fair made us sneeze
“Cor, that was quick!” the old girl cried
And jumped up off her knees!

Repeat Chorus

Solo 2

Now we rehearsed for days and days
A smash an’ grab to do
“You throw the brick” one bloke said
“And I’ll leave the grab to you”

The brick went through the window
“Now grab! – they cried – “And quick!”
It wasn’t till we got away I found I’d grabbed our brick!

Oh lively, lively…
I sung this song once at a policemen’s dance
But I was only singing for coppers
Oooo what a gagster

Whilst on the run once from the law I rushed into a church
I mixed with lots of people just to confuse the search
I’ve found meself right up the front, the best place I could hide
I had a fright when some bloke said “Got the ring? Here comes the bride!”


Solo 3

The shop steward of our union was up before the judge
Who sentenced him to 18 months, our steward lodged a grudge
The maximum is twelve M’lud[1], the judge replied “What rot!”
You always wanted time and half and that’s just what you’ve got!”

Lively, lively, the night is going fast
Lively, lively, we both got murky pasts
Lively, lively, don’t leave that bloke untied
Or if you did it’s a penny to a quid
Oh Gawd Blimey, here comes Hymie
La, La, twopence[2] on your jar
(Different Voice) Rosin on the bow and here we go!
(yet another voice) Good luck then snapper, here comes the coppers!
(Lonnie again) I’ve had some beer, if we run in here…
We both end up insiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiide!

[1] M’lud = “My Lord”
[2] *twopence (pronounced “tuppence”) – The price you would get for taking clean Glass Jam Jars back to the shop, along with most types of glass bottles.

Here’s another example of Donovan’s work – Grand Coulee Dam

Lastly, a more modern example of Donegan’s work (he passed away in 2002), in the framework of an appearance on Michael Barrymore’s show (a British “Tonight Show” sort of thing.) Ignore Barrymore, he sort of mucks up the performance, but it shows Donegan toward the end of his life, still “lively!”.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Old Phishing Hole

Got this in my email the other day:



This is one of the most convincing fake messages I’ve seen. Most of these attempts are the epitome of crudeness, filled with bad grammar, bad spelling, and unusual phrasing. However:

  1. I’ve had my account with PayPal for years
  2. Financial institutions and companies will never ask you to verify private financial information by phone or email
  3. The link provided is deceptive, in other words, when you click on it you will be taken to another address (not PayPal.) Always watch the address bar on your browser to see where you are if you have any questions. If you end up at a page like, it’s not PayPal.

Invariably you will be asked to log in (thus providing your UserID and password; the more brazen will then go on to ask you for bank account info, credit card info (including PIN numbers), address, birthday, Social Security Number, and anything else you’re fool enough to provide.

NEVER provide financial information online unless you are at a secure site that you know for a fact is trustworthy. Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Kel-Bowl Pac: Good ideas never die.

Kel-Bowl-Pac 2

In a previous post, I used this clever innovation to springboard an exploration of my earliest stirrings as a prescriptive grammarian – an affliction I am pleased to say I was able to shake off over time. It was a good idea, especially for its time; and even though the patent on the name has expired, and nothing is said about it any longer, the idea persists.

Friday we were coming out of a showing of “Now You See Me” – phenomenal show, by the way, I recommend it highly – and they were giving out sample packs of “Krave,” a new cereal that would rival Calvin’s “Chocolate Frosted Sugar Bombs” for unhealth:



But as I happened to examine the back, the light was just right and there they were… the Kel-Bowl-Pac perforations. I would be curious to know if anyone ever uses these little boxes the way they were designed, or if it’s just one of those manufacturing holdovers that no one ever thought to do away with. Whatever the case, it gave me a smile.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Infuriating Fraud

Mom’s been gone now almost two years – it hardly seems possible. But the scammers of the world still have her name on their lists. Yesterday we received a piece of mail addressed to her, from one of the most infuriating, amoral, and soulless scumbags out there: Joseph Rockfiller, the “Grand Treasurer of the Order of Saint Expedit.”

The entire communication is below.



Rockfiller is without doubt a pseudonym, and the photo on the letter assuredly a model.

Almost everyone knows about the Nigerian Advance Fee Fraud, also called the “419” scam, but letters like the one above, mailed out to hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people, are often more likely to attract victims, because they target the elderly and the infirm, those who are least educated, and more likely to believe the camel ejecta they are filled with.

I have mentioned this kind of fraud before, on the Sweepstakes Fraud Factsheet website, specifically mentions a scammer operating under the name of “Mathias,” and the letter that arrived yesterday is exactly the same kind of exasperating nonsense. “Mathias” only wanted $30.00 to start, but this Rockfiller operation is going for the brass ring, requesting “contributions” between $50.00 and $150.00, with commensurate “rewards” awaiting the faithful who swallow this excrement.

The address where victims send their money is 423 Brookline Avenue, #314, Boston, MA 02215:


The address is a UPS store; scammers of this nature invariably use maildrops or post office boxes to try to cover their trails. One of the things about scams like this is that although they violate all sorts of laws, the Post Office doesn’t give a rat’s south-40. I’ve taken many scummy mailings of this sort to my post office, and all I get is a blank stare or a “we can’t do anything about it” answer. Seriously irritating. Whether this outfit is operating from Boston or not is uncertain – On page 2, in tiny print, are the words “Human capital SA – MH 96960 Majuro.” If you failed geography, Majuro is a small atoll in the Marshall Islands, but that business name and address appears to be a dead end, or perhaps a red herring.

Just some of the mind-boggling horse-crap contained in this letter:

  • Secret prayers (“This prayer, that will be revealed as soon as you have become a full-fledged member of our Order…”)
  • Hollow promises – (“$450,000 have been put aside for you!”; By making a $150.00 offering to Saint Expedit and reciting his prayer: Will bring you $500.00 in a months time, $5,000 in two months time or $150,000 over a three month period.”)
  • Flattering weasel words (“A successor of the 1st circle cannont be just anyone! He or she must possess within themselves the stigmata of St. Expedit” … You are one of us … You are the missing piece of the equation.”)
  • General bullshit (“During the middle ages it was our mystical cognition which allowed our brother alchemists to transform lead into gold.”)
  • Screaming contradictions (“NATURALLY ALL OF THIS IS TOTALLY FREE! All that is asked of you is to choose the sum you wish to offer to the Order of Saint Expedit as noted in his mystical works, a minimum of $50.00 and a maximum of $150.00”).

The rest you can read for yourself, if you have the stomach for it.

The point of this exercise is simply to get the word out. If you have vulnerable loved ones, please monitor their mail. If they get on a “sucker list,” they will get hundreds of these solicitations and similar ones, and they stand to lose their money, their identity, and their dignity.


Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The Illusion of Choice



The above graphic (click on it for a larger version) shows how many brands and products are controlled by just nine food conglomerates. The chains go so deep that unless you have a roadmap, it’s almost impossible to know if a product you’re buying comes from an independent producer or one of the giants. Moreover, a number of these large entities have been in trouble with environmentalists and regulators for various advertising violations, health issues, or environmentally-unfriendly practices. If you’re trying to be a responsible consumer, it becomes a lot harder when there’s so much misdirection.

The good news is, the Internet has so much information available that with patience and diligence, almost any question can be answered. Just don’t trust sources like or Yahoo! Answers, which are tantamount to the stupid leading the blind.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


Government Job Offer – Seems Legit

From: “Abranco” <>
To: <recipient list>
Subject: Government Job Offer

Dear Sir or Madam

Would you like to work for the Government organization and participate in the development of the United States? Perhaps it is your talent the country needs at this moment.

Requirements – U.S. citizenship and minimum age 21

We invite you to work closely, anyone who does not care about the life of the state.

If you are a student, military, businessman, retired – we’ll be happy to listen to the opinions of everyone and take help from you.

Please send a brief summary to the human resource assistant on the and you will be assigned to interview.

Yupyup, gotta get me some of that action.

Just in case you’re not sure about emails like this? They’re total frauds. Government bureaucrats may not be the brightest candles on the cake, but most of them know how to speak English; the writers of emails like this always leave behind telltale signatures: poor grammar, odd constructions, and mis-spelled words.

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Sara Lee All-butter Brownies


Some time ago I posted about vintage candies and treats that have gone to their reward. In that article, I mentioned my love for Sara Lee All-Butter Brownies, which came in a little tin about the size of a piece of printer paper, and which were sold frozen. As I said elsewhere, they came in a tin; you took the cardboard lid off, and there was a little paper cutting guide, which I routinely ignored, cutting myself massive slabs straight from the freezer. I would kill to have these in the stores again.

The image above, from the late 50’s or early 60’s from the looks of it, features a billboard in the background advertising these little bits of heaven. I can’t stop thinking about them. Just recently I stumbled across this recipe, which my wife made for me the other day:


1 stick butter
1 cup water
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup oil
2 lg eggs
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 tsp baking soda


Combine first four ingredients in saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour over combined flour, sugar, and salt.
Add remaining ingredients and mix well.
Pour into 13 x 9 inch pan.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes (or 350 for 30 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.


1 stick butter
1/4 cup cocoa
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 lb box powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Combine first three ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Pour over warm brownies and chill well.

The flavor was almost exactly as I remembered them, but the consistency was different – these brownies are more like cake, and the frosting was pretty runny. But they were wonderful just the same.

Today I encountered this recipe for Pinot Noir brownies, and the picture at the website looks pretty much the way Sara Lee’s did:



    • 2 eggs
    • 3/4 cup sugar
    • 1tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup butter, melted
    • 2 Tbsp Handcraft Pinot Noir
    • 3/4 cup Ghirardelli sweet ground cocoa
    • 2/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
    • 1/4 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
For the Pinot Noir Icing:
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 oz unsweetened chocolate
  • 4 1/2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp HandCraft Pinot Noir


To Make the Brownies:
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Combine eggs with sugar and vanilla; add butter and wine. Stir cocoa with flour, baking powder and salt. Combine with egg mixture; add nuts. Spread into greased 8 x 8-inch pan.
  3. Bake 25 to 30 minutes.
To Make the Chocolate Glaze:
  1. Melt butter over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and add chocolate, sugar and wine. Continue heating over low heat stirring often, until mixture is smooth – don’t let it boil.
  2. Spoon hot icing over fresh brownies and let stand for a minimum of an hour; 12 hours is best.


I tested my brownies at 25 minutes and that was it for me. I like mine ‘just’ done and not dry so while the toothpick did not have any dough clinging to it, it was just slightly damp with chocolate…and perfectly moist. This is a very rich and dense dough…over-baking would not be good!

Sara Lee Frozen Brownie Cover

A Canadian box cover recently spotted by my wife. Yup, that’s them.

Edit: this website claims to offer Sara Lee frozen brownies in bulk, but per a comment below, they are sadly not the real thing but rather an oil-based knockoff.

At this point I need to compare both recipes and see if the best of both possible worlds can be combined. I feel as though we’re getting close. But if Sara Lee would get their act together and reintroduce these, I wouldn’t have to go through all this back-bending.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Snake Oil: Only $67.00


A comment recently appeared at this post, which read as follows:

It’s appropriate time to have the plans for future years and it’s time for you to be happy. We have read this article and if I really could I want to propose you number of interesting points or ideas. Maybe you can easily write next articles referring to this article. I wish to read more things about it!
kidney dialysis

OK, as you wish. I’ll write my next article about what douchebags you are.

First of all, I’ve written before about blog spam – it’s probably one of the scummiest, most unethical ways of promoting a business, product, or service. So that’s red flag number one. Any business that needs to advertise or boost its page rankings by seeding other people’s blogs with random, idiotic comments and embedded links is a business or product or service or opportunity that sensible people will stay far, far away from.

Second of all, this particular link leads to a commercial offer from “Duncan Capicchiano, ND, fully Qualified Naturopath, Nutritionist, Herbalist, Medical Researcher and Author.” How loud can you scream “bullshit”? I like the way you screamed that. The touted system, available for only $67.00, trumpets

“You’re about to find out that it’s possible to reverse impaired kidney function and avoid dialysis and/or kidney transplant surgery.”

The (probably fake) testimonials included at his web page say things like:

“As soon as I had downloaded it (which was a piece of cake) I rushed out and bought bottles of Nutrient Name, Vitamin, and Herb Name (I already had most of the other recommended ingredients) and started the course.”

DrudgeSirenSmall People: This is DANGEROUS. If you have impaired kidney function, no herbal remedy is going to help you. If you’re already needing dialysis, do not put your faith in phony systems or nostrums or remedies. For the love of all that you consider holy, stay away from patent medicine or herbal scams of this nature. Just stay away. DrudgeSirenSmall

I’m not saying vitamins or herbs are bad. Some of them have overall systemic benefits. But there’s a reason the FDA makes nutritional products include the disclaimer,

“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”

Herbal or nutritional supplements are not regulated, and their effects are largely anecdotal; some people may see results that others don’t. If a program like this were truly effective, you would see a whole raft of peer-reviewed research about it in medical journals like JAMA or Lancet, but this bottom-feeder is operating out of Australia, so he doesn’t have to comply with FDA regulations – he can promise you the moon, add a bunch of important-sounding qualifications after his name, and rake in the money. If, as he advertises, 1,694 people have bought his system, he’s already banked about $113,000 – and he hasn’t delivered a single physical product – just a bunch of PDF files.

People like this are scummy, immoral, unethical, and harmful. They make me angry, especially when their shills post crap at my blog site. Do yourself a favor, and never give them a penny.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants (2013)

In 2010 I posted this over at Livejournal, but the The San Pellegrino list of the top 50 restaurants for 2013 is now available, so I thought it was worth posting here as well, with the appropriate update.

And hqiz, I still haven’t eaten at a single one of them. And probably couldn’t afford to.

The List

On the other hand, I have my own list of favorites. Decidedly less highbrow (with perhaps the exception of No. 12), but good, good eating. Note that with the exception of No. 1, there is no rank or hierarchy.

1. Piccolo Angolo, 621 Jane Street, New York City, NY

The best Italian food in New York, bar none.

2. Tommy’s Joynt, San Francisco, CA

Great buffalo barbecue, and beers from all over the world (not that I would know anything about that.)

3. Sabella & La Torre, San Francisco, CA

Wonderful seafood. I try to stop in every time I’m on the waterfront.

4. Phil’s BBQ, San Diego, CA

Barbecue to die for.

5. Settebello, Salt Lake City, UT

One of the few “Verace Pizza Napoletana” restaurants in Utah.

6. Eleven 11 Grille, Fishkill, NY

Run by some members of the family, great food in a nice atmosphere. Worth a visit any time.

7. The No Name Restaurant, Boston, MA

Good vittles at a reasonable price. I got scrod there.[1]

8. The Dish Cafe, Parkes, NSW, Australia

When I had their beef and burgundy meat pie, I died and went to heaven. You can see pictures here.

9. Antojito’s, Westley, CA

A nondescript hole in the wall off a nondescript freeway exit. Awesome mexican cuisine.

10. The refectory of Assumption Abbey, Richardton, ND

Dined here via the good graces of  a friend. A few more details and a recipe here.

11. Cha Non Thai Cafe, Salt Lake City, UT

Really good Thai food.

12. The Joshua Wilton House, Harrisonburg, VA

Very upscale. Until I cross-post here, you can read about my experience over at Livejournal.

In Memoriam

Restaurants that are no longer with us, but worthy of profound reverence for one reason or another:

1. Xochitl, New York City, NY

Xochitl Mexican Restaurant New York

This restaurant had authentic Mexican food and 7-alarm hot sauce before the bhut jolokia pepper had ever been bred.

2. La Fonda Del Sol, New York City, NY


Tapas. That means a little food for a lot of money, but it was great fun, with flamboyant decoration.

La Fonda del Sol, 1960, Getty Images, Yale Joel
Interior of La Fonda Del Sol, Getty Images, Yale Joel
Interior of La Fonda Del Sol, New York City, 1960

3. Mama Leone’s, New York City, NY

Mamma leones2

Famous for 7-course meals of relatively average food, but in absolutely brobdingnagian quantities, the best analogy I’ve found today is Buca di Beppo – but even they don’t place these gargantuan wedges of cheese on your table and let you take them home. The restaurant was taken over by a large gastronomic conglomerate and promptly destroyed by the bean counters. Tragic.

4. The Proof of the Pudding, New York City, NY

This was Frank Valenza’s first 7-table restaurant of this name. I remember their duck à l’orange and the wall of bricks that you could sponsor.

5. Dër Ratskeller Pizza Shoppe, Salt Lake City, UT

Ratskeller Sign Large

You can read a full-blown post on this place. The best American style pizza I’ve ever had.

Edit: Done. You can read it here.

6. Ristorante Della Fontana, Salt Lake City, UT

Great Italian food, one of the more upscale Italian places in the city. Now a Japanese sushi joint.

7. Snelgrove’s Ice Cream Parlor, Salt Lake City, UT


Short of buying Håæœøgen Daðþz, or however they spell it nowadays, you couldn’t find better ice cream. Nothing beat a banana split with caramel cashew ice cream. The building is now just offices of some sort, but the sign is still there, tormenting those who remember it with great fondness.

8. The Tip Toe Inn, New York City, NY

Amazing potato pancakes (or latkes). I loved these with applesauce. 75¢, according to the menu:

9. Horn and Hardart Automats, New York City, NY


I’ve mentioned these here. Also, in the same article, Prexy’s.

10. The Waverly Inn, Cheshire, CT

This was a restaurant de grand luxe in Cheshire – my mother used to take me here to eat during her annual visits to campus. There was also a burger joint and soda place called the Farm Shoppe – while it was not extraordinarily memorable, I recall it fondly because it was one of the few places off campus that we could go as seniors.

11. Schrafft’s, New York, NY

An upscale chain restaurant, mentioned in James Thurber’s “The Catbird Seat.” I remember eating there any number of times.

Eateries, some still here and some fondly remembered.

The Old Wolf is now hungry.

[1] That’s not the third-person pluperfect subjunctive, but rather the fish – which can refer to a specific type of fish, or whatever happened to be on special yesterday.