Saturday, December 31, 2005

Cocktails Y & Z:
Yellow Snow Cocktail &
Zero Cocktail

The last week of the year, and the last cocktails in this project: Y and Z. There were scant cocktails beginning with those letters, as you can imagine. Plenty of the Y cocktails started with the word "yellow": Yellow Bird, Yellow Parrot, Yellow Fever and Yellowjacket. Z's weren't much better. I decided to invent two of my own: the Yellow Snow Cocktail and the Zero Cocktail.

The Yellow Snow Cocktail is nothing more than a pina colada, using more shaved ice and adding a lemon liqueur, in this case Limoncello. The Zero Cocktail is this. Water. In a chilled martini glass. I took two lemon peels, snapped off the ends of toothpicks (hidden) and joined the peels to form a "zero" floating in the center of the drink.

The Yellow Snow Cocktail

Frank Zappa of The Mothers of Invention sang a warning about eating yellow snow, but he didn't say anything against drinking it. As for the Zero Cocktail. Drink up. Knock them back all night and still drive safely.

The Zero Cocktail

In the meantime, my brother found this thematic piece to amuse (perhaps disgust) you as we count out 2005. YELLOW SNOW FROM PANLOGIC

Happy New Year 2006!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Adeste Flaccidelis

I couldn't help but notice that the Christmas spirit is already on it's way out of town. We've gone from "Santa Claus is Coming," to "Santa Has Left the Building" in one week. "How Still We See Thee Lie" has taken on a whole new meaning:

~~"One scotch, one bourbon, one beer..." ~~

"Ayo, I juss blazed a bigggggg headddd manz is gone off high da lalala"

"Don't Worry, Honey, It Happens To Everyone Once In A While"

Santa Blowed Up Real Good

Can Things Get Any More Dead Since Jerry Died?

"Frosty is Dead, Billy. Don't Pick At It."

Monday, December 26, 2005

For My Next Witness,
I'd Like To Call Santa Claus

Every Christmas can't bring snow. What we had was rain and fog. I had to drive to get my brother, then we went to Baltimore for an early dinner
at McCormick & Schmick's.

The restaurant, from the water

The meal was luxe, and we had the best table in the house: at the windows, looking out at the Seven Foot Knolls Lighthouse and the water.

Seven Foot Knolls Lighthouse,
Baltimore Harbor. Built in 1855.

On the ride up, I was talking to my brother about last week's Redskins game against the Giants and what the Redskins' chances were in this upcomi
ng game against the Philadelphia Eagles on New Year's Day. My brother was chuckling and said under his breath, "listen to her." I bristled and said, "What? You think girls can't talk about football? I love the Redskins...and they look so cute in those colors." We went by the Ravens stadium on our way to dinner and we debated whether or not they were playing a home game that night (they were, and won), and we saw a bad car accident right by the stadium.

The ride back into D.C. was equally long and tiring, bad visiblility was holding forth, and I was thinking sometimes it would be nice to stay at home on Christmas Day, be in your fuzzies and do nothing but watch back to back episodes of Law and Order while hearing those yuletid
e phrases of "blunt force trauma" and "exit wound" while curled before the glow of the transmitting hearth.

Number Three? Step to the front and say "Ho, ho, ho."

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Merry Christmas to the
Washington, D.C. Blogging Community

Thursday, December 22, 2005

Miracle Whip On West 34th Street,
Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland

O Little Town In Baltimore...
Yet in thy dark streets shineth, the everlasting light...

There is a street in Baltimore that has been over-the-top for several years now: hubcap christmas trees, crab reindeer sleighs, pink flamingos and a lot of Grinches. The community of Hampden calls it "Miracle on 34th Street," and it draws quite a crowd every Christmas season. Located in the 700 block of West 34th Street in Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland, there is a website available to give you all the facts:

CHRISTMASSTREET.COM - Hampden, Baltimore, Maryland - The Miracle On 34th Street - The Miracle Of Lights - MERRY XMAS!

Yesterday, I drove up Route 95 to take in the gaudy glory of it again. I took about 83 photographs, but I won't subject you to all of them. You can click on any image to see it in a larger format. After you've seen about twenty of these houses, your eye grows jaded with the splendor of it all:

Welcome to Baltimore

This is Cafe Hon located on Main Street in Hampden. It has an old-timey feel with home cooking on the menu. "Hon" is a word adopted by Baltimore by the nature of it's speech. John Waters, director of Pink Flamingos and other notable movies (and a native of Baltimore) once wrote an article about the waitresses in his town who called everyone "Hon," as in "Honey." In truth, everyone says "Hon" in Baltimore. It became a cult word and now there is even a "Hon Fest" held every year in Baltimore, sponsored by Cafe Hon: HonFest 2005!!

Cafe Hon's menu

A trio of Hon's. Hon's have evolved into women with huge beehived hairdo's, cat eye sunglasses, glitter, hot pink feathered boas and leopard print anything.

Including the bathroom at Cafe Hon:

As I walked the few blocks down Main Street toward the light festival, I started shooting store front windows. There seemed to be something "unique" in every one of them:

I loved this pizza shop. The neon pizza slice had this light blue steam in neon that would rise up at each interval. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to catch it on film. Hey! It was cold out there! I love the drawing of the pizza underneath it with red circles and green squiggles. Green cheese?

I wish I had tried to shoot this without the flash. It looked like a turd Christmas tree. When I stepped back a few steps to see the name of the shop above me, it looked like it said "Eat Elvis." When I stepped back even further, I could see the shop is named "Fat Elvis." I don't know which is worse. I think I prefer "Eat Elvis," myself.

Festive? No?

This was fascinating. A crab window display. For those not in this area, Baltimore and the Chesapeake Bay area is know for it's natural resources of crabs. The little red lights around the window are crabs that were blinking. The crab in the center of the window photographed "solid," when it truth it was a neon piece, completely reflective in orange.

Welcome to the 700 block of West 34th Street

Baltimore does not grasp that old adage about always removing one extra piece of jewelry before you leave the house.

When I saw those inflatable Santa appear this August, I told myself, "I just know someone in Hampden is going to have that on display this year." There were many. I even saw miniature versions of them. There were some teenagers discussing this item while I was standing there. One rocket scientist offered up his opinion that the inflatable dropping "snow" down worked on the principle of "static electricity."

...and our first Grinch house. I don't know why the Grinch is so popular with these people. This is the only one I am showing you, but the inflatable showed up again and again. One house had a Grinch manger...well...several did. Note the white angel made out of bicycle wheels.

You are going to have to enlarge this one and really study it. I tried photographing it from several angles. It didn't have a good side. What you are seeing is a crab sleigh pulled by crab reindeer, also hauling Old Bay cans. For those not familiar with Old Bay, it is a spice made in Maryland and used on seafood dishes, but particularly when you are steaming crabs. I was very disappointed as this house used to always have a crab and Old Bay christmas tree and that wasn't up this year.

A side view of all of the inflatables, gee gaws and clutter that make up this spectacle.

Probably the most popular thing to see: The Hubcab Christmas Tree.

There was also a crab tree in this yard with wrenches for claws, and if you really study the can at the bottom? It's a Natty Boh (National Bohemian) beer can cut in the shape of an angel. National Bohemian. Baltimore's beer. Also, the ever present Old Bay cans.

I don't care if it rains or freezes, as long as I have my electric Jesus.

You can't see this from the angle it was shot, but the figures have these big plugs coming out of their backs. I loved the decorated palm trees next to the manger. It's Christmas? Let's get lit.

I think this was supposed to be "Teddy Bear's Picnic." The little children loved this one the best. It was in front of this display that a father told me all his little son could say was "Lights. Lights."

I hedged on putting this one in, but this woman had the most amazing hair. It was real Baltimore hair. She had this marcelled waved white strip right down the center of her head, as you can see. Later, when I was viewing this picture in editing, I realized her hair matched her coat. She actually walked into the shot and kept apologizing to me for the slip up. I told her it wasn't a problem and that any woman wearing fur was "ok" in my book.

How much can you cram into a small space? A lot, apparently, including a windmill. This was the entrance to the steps that lead up to a suspended train track that runs above your head, and a porch full of trees and toys and Santas and maybe even Jimmy Hoffa's body...I don't know. It was all there.

This one had Taz, the Tasmanian Devil on the roof.
Do not ask me. I do not know.

I threw this one in, because I was fascinated by all of the glitz combined with a chain link fence. To top off the je ne sais quoi of it all, a man hired as a butler opened the door, checking for guests, and he waved at me. This, when just a few doors down, the neighbors were having pizza delivered. Green cheese?

"Remember when I let that escaped lunatic in the house, because he was dressed like Santa Claus?" ~~ Homer Simpson. D'oh. Great house: Santa Homer, a manger, a Santa Claus, the America flag, probably some pizza in there somewhere...

Another one you might have to enlarge to "get." It had a movable Grinch that had fallen, but was actually set up to be popping out of a disproportionate manger scene, which is buried under the Grinch. Oh yeah..more Santa's, snowmen, reindeer, pizza...

You've got me. I stared at this thing for a LONG time. It was like Ma nagged at Pa to keep up with the Jones' so he ripped apart the old furnace sitting out in the back yard and got his creative juices flowing. There was a lot of stuff on the porch. I looked for a refrigerator, but didn't see one. Oh yeah...this was the only decoration in the yard.

And so you cross the road at West 34th Street to walk back to your car, and you immediately see this:

I believe! Don't you?

Cocktail of the Week: The Letter "X"
For Xavier Cugat... Or
Let's Put The "X" Back In X-Mas

Have A Cuchi Cuchi Christmas

The cocktail project continues to wind down. Next week will finish the alphabet. My bartender who has been so totally supportive in making up these unfamiliar drinks and playing along with glass selections, garnishes, even lighting, has been wonderful. I made sure Santa paid them an early visit.

This week we made a cocktail starting with the letter "X," and you'll have to trust me when I say there isn't much to work with under that hatch mark. I did find one called the Xavier Cugat, named after the most popular Latin band leader of the 1940's. He was considered the "Rhumba King" of his day. I wonder what would happen if you went into a dance club today and asked someone to rhumba? Desi Arnaz (Lucille Ball's husband) joined Cugat's band in 1934 before going on to his own fame.


Cuga had four wives: wife number four was Charo who is still around doing her "cuchi cuchi's" in Vegas that she is famous for. Both of them were born in Spain, but Charo was his junior by many years.

For a while, Cugat was even employed at a cartoonist at the Los Angeles Times. After a time he decided to forego photographs of himself in favor of his cariactures.

Xavier Cugat "Say hello to my little friend"

A real Renaissance kind
a guy. There is a very good website devoted to his life and work:

Xavier Cugat is the featured musician from Come visit Xavier, this wonderful big band leader.

Charo (on the right) judging a Charo contest
at the Trannyshack in San Franciso this year

Xavier Cugat Cocktail

3/4 ounce triple sec

3/4 ounce Kahlua coffee liqueur
1/2 ounce Amaretto almond
1 ounce whipping cream

Shake briefly with a glass full of crushed ice
and serve in a double cocktail glass

Postscript: Thanks again to my brother for his Photoshopping talents. There is an album called Cugi's Cocktails (Cuigi being Cugat's nickname). The perfect listening accompaniment to drinking a Cugi cocktail.

** Don't forget. There is a wonderful blog called DC Drinks that has everything you want to know about booze presented in an interesting and educated way so that you will learn as you follow. DC Drinks

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