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looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "to look"; in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans, it is usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something.  

2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog, hand-made and updated (almost) daily, focusing on food and drink, cocktails as cuisine, music (especially of the roots variety), New Orleans and Louisiana culture, news of the reality-based community ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, liberal and progressive politics, humor and amusements, reviews, complaints, the author's life and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the author's fancy.

Please feel free to contribute a link if you think I'll find it interesting.   If you don't want to read my opinions, feel free to go elsewhere.

Page last tweaked @ 11:52am PST, 2/24/2009

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If you like, you are welcome to send e-mail to the author. Your comments on each post are also welcome; however, right-wing trolls are about as welcome as a boil on my arse.
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Buy my New Orleans music box set!

Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens

"Doctors, Professors, Kings and Queens: The Big Ol' Box of New Orleans" is a 4-CD box set celebrating the joy and diversity of the New Orleans music scene, from R&B to jazz to funk to Latin to blues to zydeco to klezmer (!) and more, including a full-size, 80-page book.

Produced, compiled and annotated by Chuck Taggart (hey, that's me!), liner notes by Mary Herczog (author of Frommer's New Orleans) and myself. Now for sale at your favorite independent record stores (such as the Louisiana Music Factory, because you should be supporting local New Orleans retailers) or via Amazon if you insist.

The box set was the subject of a 15-minute profile on National Public Radio's "Weekend Edition" on Feb. 6, 2005, and a segment on Wisconsin Public Radio's "To The Best of Our Knowledge" on Apr. 3, 2005. Here are some nice blurbs from the reviews (a tad immodest, I know; I'm not generally one to toot my own horn, but let's face it, I wanna sell some records here.)

*      *      *

"More successfully than any previous compilation, Doctors... captures the sprawling eclecticism, freewheeling fun and constant interplay of tradition and innovation that is at the heart of Crescent City music." -- Keith Spera, New Orleans Times-Picayune.

"... if you DO know someone who's unfortunate enough to have never heard these cuts, press this monumentally adventurous box and its attendant booklet upon them. It's never too late to learn" -- Robert Fontenot, OffBeat magazine, New Orleans

"... the best collection yet of Louisiana music." -- Scott Jordan, The Independent, Lafayette, Louisiana.

"[T]he year's single most awesome package" -- Buddy Blue, San Diego Union-Tribune

"This four-CD box set doesn't miss a Crescent City beat ... For anyone who has enjoyed the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, this is Jazz Fest in a box. ***1/2" -- Dave Hoekstra, Chicago Sun-Times

"... excellently compiled, wonderfully annotated ... New Orleans fans will know much of this by heart, though they may not remember it sounding so good; those who don't know what it's like to miss New Orleans will quickly understand." -- Terry Lawson, Detroit Free Press.

"... a perfect storm when it comes to reissues. This box set is musically exciting, a complete representation of its subject matter, and just plain fun to listen." -- Charlie B. Dahan,

"... one of the best impressions of a city's musical blueprint that you're likely to ever find." -- Zeth Lundy,

"... an unacademic, uncategorized album that suits the city's time-warped party spirit." -- Jon Pareles, The New York Times

How to donate to this site:

Your donations help keep this site going. PayPal's the best way -- just click the button below, and thanks!

You can also donate via the Honor System, if you wish (but they deduct a larger fee from your donation and I keep less).

(Also, here's a shameless link to my Amazon Wish List.)

Buy stuff!

You can get Gumbo Pages designs on T-shirts, mugs and mousepads at The Gumbo Pages Swag Shop!

Looka! Archive
(99 and 44/100% link rot)

2009:   Jan.

2008:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2007:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2006:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2005:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2004:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2003:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2002:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2001:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

2000:   Jan, Feb, Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

1999:   Jul, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec.

My Photos on Flickr
My Darlin' New Orleans...

The Flag of The City of New Orleans

Shop New Orleans! Visit the stores linked here to do your virtual online shopping in New Orleans. The city needs your money!

Greater N.O. Community Data Center
New Orleans Wiki

Gambit Weekly & The Times-Picayune
Scat Magazine
WDSU-TV (Channel 6, NBC)
WGNO-TV (Channel 26, ABC)
WNOL-TV (Channel 38, WB)
WTUL-FM (91.5, Progressive radio)
WVUE-TV (Channel 8, FOX)
WWL-TV (Channel 4, CBS)
WWNO-FM (89.9, classical, jazz, NPR)
WWOZ-FM (90.7, Best Radio Station in the Universe)
WYES-TV (Channel 12, PBS)


New Orleans ...
proud to blog it home.

2 Millionth Weblog
A Frolic of My Own
Ashley Morris (in memoriam)
Blogging New Orleans
Dispatches from Tanganyika
Home of the Groove
Humid City
Library Chronicles
Mellytawn Dreams
Metroblogging N.O.
People Get Ready
Da Po'Blog
Suspect Device Blog
The Third Battle of New Orleans
World Class New Orleans
The Yat Pundit
Your Right Hand Thief
Cocktail hour.

"We are still heartily of the opinion that decent libation supports as many million lives as it threatens; donates pleasure and sparkle to more lives than it shadows; inspires more brilliance in the world of art, music, letters, and common ordinary intelligent conversation, than it dims." -- Charles H. Baker, Jr.

   The Internet's most comprehensive
   and indispensible database of
   authenticated cocktail recipes,
   ingredients, reseearch and more.
   By Martin Doudoroff & Ted Haigh)

Museum of the American Cocktail
   Founded by Dale DeGroff and many
   other passionate spirits in Jan. 2005.
   Celebrating a true American cultural
   icon: the American Cocktail.
   (Their weblog.)

Blogging Tales of the Cocktail

*     *     *

The Sazerac Cocktail
   (The sine qua non of cocktails,
   and the quintessential New Orleans
   cocktail. Learn to make it.)

The Footloose Cocktail
   (An original by Wes;
   "Wonderful!" - Gary Regan.
   "Very elegant, supremely
   sophisticated" - Daniel Reichert.)

The Hoskins Cocktail
   (An original by Chuck;
   "It's nothing short of a
   masterpiece." - Gary Regan)

*     *     *

Chuck & Wes' Liquor Cabinet
   (Frighteningly large, and would
   never fit in a cabinet)

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Book Collection
   (Constantly growing)

Chuck & Wes' Cocktail Menu
   (A few things we like to
   drink at home, plus a couple
   we don't, just for fun.)

*     *     *

Peychaud's Bitters
   (Indispensible for Sazeracs
   and many other cocktails.
   Order them here.)

Angostura Bitters
   (The gold standard of bitters,
   fortunately available everywhere
   worldwide. Insist on it.)

Regans' Orange Bitters No. 6
   (Complex and spicy orange
   bitters for your Martinis,
   Old Fashioneds and many more.
   Order them here.)

Fee Brothers' Bitters
   (Classic orange bitters,
   peach bitters and a cinnamony
   "Old Fashion" aromatic bitters,
   plus new lemon & grapefruit bitters!)

The Bitter Truth
   (A new brand of bitters
   from Germany: orange, lemon,
   aromatic bitters and more!)

Bittermens Bitters
   (Fantastic new small-batch
   bitters company with forth-
   coming products including
   Xocolatl Mole Bitters,
   grapefruit, "tiki" spice,
   and sweet chocolate bitters, wow!    Due to launch 6/09)

*     *     *

   (Camper English)

Ardent Spirits
   (Gary & Mardee Regan)

The Art of Drink:
   An exploration of Spirits & Mixology.
   (Darcy O'Neil)

Bar Mix Master
   (Brad Ellis, New Orleans)

Beachbum Berry:
   (Jeff Berry, world-class expert
   on tropical drinks)

   (Seamus Harris, N.Z. & China)

The Chanticleer Society
   (A worldwide organization of
   cocktail enthusiasts.)

Charming Cocktails
   (Cheryl Charming)

The Cocktail Chronicles
   (Paul Clarke's weblog)
   (Group drinks blog by Vidiot,
   Mr. Bali Hai, Kosmonaut,
   Chico and me).

The Cocktail Circuit
   (Joseph Mailander)

Cocktail Nerd
   (Gabriel Szaszko)

Colonel Tiki's Drinks
   (Craig Hermann, Portland OR)

A Dash of Bitters
   (Michael Dietsch)

Dr. Bamboo
   (Craig Mrusek, bring art and
   alcohol together for a
   better tomorrow!)

Drink A Week
   (Alex and Ed)
   (Lauren Clark)

   (Robert Hess)

Drink Dogma
   (Bobby Heugel, Anvil Bar & Refuge,
   Houston, TX)

Drink Trader
   (Online magazine for the
   drink trade)

Esquire's Drinks Database
   (Dave Wondrich and
   his forbears)

Fine Spirits & Cocktails
   (eGullet's forum)

Happy Hours
   (Beverage industry
   news & insider info)

Imbibe Magazine
   (Celebrating the world in a glass.    All-new site with recipes and back issues!)

In the Land of Cocktails
   (Ti Adelaide Martin & Lally Brennan,
   "The Cocktail Chicks," of Café Adelaide
   & Commander's Palace, New Orleans)

Jeff Morgenthaler
   (Bartender & mixologist, Portland, OR)

Jimmy's Cocktail Hour
   (Jimmy Patrick)

Kaiser Penguin
    (Rick Stutz, bringing us cocktails
    and great photographs)

King Cocktail
   (Dale DeGroff)

La Fée Verte
   (All about absinthe
   from Kallisti et al.)

Liquid Architecture
   (Kim Haasarud)
   (Ladies United for the
   Preservation of
   Endangered Cocktails)

The Ministry of Rum
   (Everything you always wanted to know)

Le Mixeur
   (The Munat Bros. host
   cocktail gatherings in
   Seattle, and write about them
   here. I'm jealous that I can't go.)

The Mixoloseum
   (Blog, cocktail chat online
   & Thursday Drink Night!)

The Modern Mixologist
   (Tony Abou-Ganim)

Moving at the Speed of Life
   (Keith Waldbauer, Barrio, Seattle WA)

Mr. Lucky's Cocktails
   (Sando, LaDove,
   Swanky et al.)

Mr. Mixer
   (Hundreds of cocktail recipes ...
   in Hungarian. Well, why not?
   Sajnos, nem beszélek magyarul.)

The Munat Bros.
   (Seattle-based brothers and
   ardent proponents of fine drinking.)

Off the Presses
   (Robert Simonson)

Oh, Gosh!
   (Jay Hepburn, London)

Rowley's Whiskey Forge
   (Matt Rowley)
   (Matt Robold, The Rum Dood)

Save the Drinkers
   (Kevin Kelpe, Boise, Idaho!)

Scofflaw's Den
   (SeanMike Whipkey & Marshall Fawley)

   (Marleigh Riggins & Dan Miller)

Spirit Journal
   (F. Paul Pacult)

Spirits and Cocktails
   (Jamie Boudreau)

Spirits Review
   (Chris Carlsson)
   (Beverage Tasting
   Institute journal)

Thinking of Drinking
   (Sonja Kassebaum, Chicago)

Trader Tiki's Booze Blog
   (Blair Reynolds, Portland OR)

Two at the Most
   (Stevi Deter, Seattle)

The Wormwood Society
   (Dedicated to promoting accurate,
   current information about absinthe)

*     *     *

The Tiki-licious Luau Spirited Dinner, July 17, 2008
   (Eleven dishes of wonder by Chef
   Chris DeBarr, with fabulous
   tropical cocktails by Jeff "Beachbum"
   Berry and Wayne Curtis. Full review
   of the 11-dish, 4-course meal, with
   photos and recipes for all 5 drinks.)

Let's eat!

New Orleans:
Culinary Concierge (N.O. food & wine magazine)
Mr. Lake's Non-Pompous New Orleans Food Forum
The New Orleans Menu
Notes from a New Orleans Foodie

Food-related weblogs:
Chocolate and Zucchini
Honest Cuisine
Il Forno
KIPlog's FOODblog
Mise en Place
Sauté Wednesday
Simmer Stock
Tasting Menu
Waiter Rant

More food!
à la carte
Chef Talk Café
Chowhound (L.A.)
Food Network
The Global Gourmet
The Hungry Passport site and weblog)
A Muse for Cooks
The Online Chef
Practically Edible
Pasta, Risotto & You
Slow Food Int'l. Movement
Southern Food & Beverages Museum
Southern Foodways Alliance
So. Calif. Farmer's Markets
Zagat Guide

In vino veritas.

The Oxford Companion to Wine
Wine Enthsiast
The Wine Spectator
Wine Today
Zinfandel Advocates & Producers

Wine/spirits shops in our 'hood:
Colorado Wine Co., Eagle Rock
Mission Liquors, Pasadena
Silverlake Wine, Silverlake
Chronicle Wine Cellar, Pasadena

Other wine/spirits shops we visit:
Beverage Warehouse, Mar Vista
Wally's Wine & Spirits, Westwood
The Wine House, West L.A.


Reading this month:

Lisey's Story, by Stephen King.

The Ghost Brigades, by John Scalzi.

In Defense of Food, by Michael Pollan.

Listen to music!

Chuck's current album recommendations

Luka Bloom
La Bottine Souriante
Billy Bragg
Cordelia's Dad
Jay Farrar
The Frames
Sonny Landreth
Los Lobos
Christy Moore
Nickel Creek
The Old 97s
Anders Osborne
The Proclaimers
Professor Longhair
Red Meat
The Red Stick Ramblers
The Reivers
Zachary Richard
Paul Sanchez
Marc Savoy
Son Volt
Richard Thompson
Toasted Heretic
Uncle Tupelo

Tom Morgan's Jazz Roots

Miles of Music

New Orleans

New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival

No Depression


Appalachian String Band Music Festival - Clifftop, WV

Long Beach Bayou Festival

Strawberry Music Festival - Yosemite, CA

Talking furniture:

WWOZ (New Orleans)
   Broadcast schedule
   Live audio stream

Bob Walker's New Orleans Radio Shrine
   (A rich history of N.O. radio)
   (Comprehensive listings)

Air America Radio
   (Talk radio for the
   rest of us)
Joe Frank
Grateful Dead Radio
   (Streaming complete
KPIG, 107 Oink 5
   (Freedom, CA)
KRVS Radio Acadie
   (Lafayette, LA)
Mike Hodel's "Hour 25"
   (Science fiction radio)
Raidió Idirlíon
   (Irish language & music)
Raidió na Gaeltachta
   (Irish language)
RootsWorld's Rootsradio
RTÉ Radio Ceolnet
   (Irish trad. music)
WXDU (Durham, NC)

Films seen this year:
(with ratings):

In the cinema:
Frost/Nixon (****)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: The Director's Cut (****)
Hellraiser: Bloodline (**)
Serenity (*****)
Third Man Out (***)

Lookin' at da TV:

"Battlestar Galactica"
"One Tree Hill"
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy"
"The Simpsons"
"Top Chef"
"Father Ted"


A Gallery for Fine Photography, New Orleans (Joshua Mann Pailet)
American Museum of Photography
California Museum of Photography, Riverside
International Center of Photography

Ansel Adams
Jonathan Fish
Noah Grey
Greg Guirard
Paul F. R. Hamilton
Clarence John Laughlin
Herman Leonard
Howard Roffman
J. T. Seaton
Jerry Uelsmann
Gareth Watkins
Brett Weston

The Mirror Project
(My pics therein: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.)

My photographs at Flickr


The Abominable Charles Christopher
by Karl Kerschl

The Amazing Adventures of Bill,
by Bill Roundy

Bloom County / Outland / Opus,
by Berkeley Breathed

Bob the Angry Flower,
by Stephen Notley

The Boondocks,
by Aaron McGruder

Calvin and Hobbes,
by Bill Watterson

by Garry B. Trudeau

Electric Sheep Comix
by Patrick Farley

Get Your War On
by David Rees

by Jonathan Rosenberg

L. A. Cucaracha
by Lalo Alcaraz

by Peter Blegvad

Lil' Abner,
by Al Capp

Lulu Eightball,
by Emily Flake

The Mostly Unfabulous Social Life of Ethan Green,
by Eric Orner

by Walt Kelly

Suspect Device,
by Greg Peters

Ted Rall,
by Ted Rall

This Modern World,
by Tom Tomorrow

XQUZYPHYR & Overboard,
by August J. Pollak


Polly Ticks: (Progressive politics & news)
Daily Kos (My favorite political weblog)
Eschaton (The Mighty Atrios)
Hullaballoo (The Mighty Digby)
Media Matters for America (Debunking right-wing media lies)
Orcinus (David Neiwert)
PostSecret (Secrets sent in via postcards; astonishingly beautiful, funny and sad.)
Talking Points Memo (Josh Marshall)
TAPPED (The American Prospect Online)
Think Progress
TruthOut (William Rivers Pitt & Co.)

Borowitz Report
(Political satire)
The Complete Bushisms (quotationable!)
The Fray (Your stories)
Landover Baptist (Better Christians than YOU!)
Maledicta (The International Journal of Verbal Aggression)
The Morning Fix from SF Gate (Opinions, extreme irreverence)
The New York Review of Science Fiction
The Onion (Scarily funny news/satire)
"Rush, Newspeak and Fascism: An exegesis", by David Neiwert. (Read this.) (Not the actual White House, but it should be)

Weblogs I read:

American Leftist
The BradLands
The Carpetbagger Report
Franklin Avenue
Ghost in the Machine
Hit or Miss
Jesus' General
Making Light
Neil Gaiman's Journal
Not Right About Anything
August J. Pollak
Sadly, No!
This Modern World
Your Right Hand Thief

L.A. Blogs

Friends with pages:

mary & rick
mary katherine
michael p.

The Final Frontier:

Astronomy Pic of the Day
ISS Alpha News
NASA Human Spaceflight
Spaceflight Now


Locus Magazine Online
SF Site

Made with Macintosh

Hosted by pair Networks

Déanta:  This page is coded by hand, with BBEdit 4.0.1 on an Apple iMac 24" and a G4 15" PowerBook running MacOS X 10.5 if I'm at home; occasionally with telnet and Pico on a FreeBSD Unix host running tcsh if I'm updating from work. (I never could get used to all those weblogging tools.)

LOOKA! Bia agus deoch, ceol agus craic.

Hot Sausage Seven Widow's Kisses Pete Fountain Tuba Fats' Jazz Funeral

 "Eating, drinking and carrying on..."  -- Adelaide Brennan

  Fat Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Mardi Gras!!!   My ass might be stuck in my office in Los Angeles, but my head and my heart are screaming for beads and da-BLOOOOOOONS! (CUP! CUP!)

Me Big Chief, me feelin' good ...

And the Big Chief, he don't bow, he don't kneel ...

Goodbye Miss Antoinette.   I have sad news, though ... Miss Antoinette K-Doe, the wife of Ernie K-Doe, Emperor of the Universe (currently ruling the Cosmos from the Cosmos), passed away in her sleep early this morning at the age of 66. She now rules the Universe with him as Empress, by his side.

Antoinette K-Doe, 1942-2009

This is the only halfway decent picture I had of her, taken during a cooking demonstration at Jazzfest where she made us gumbo. Man, it was good.

Head on over to the Mother-In-Law Lounge today if you can -- it's open.

So long, Snooks.   Man, what a bummer of a week ... I had gotten behind enough on posting over the last couple of weeks, and in case you hadn't already heard, Snooks Eaglin, monumentally great and influential blues, R&B and you-name-it New Orleans guitarist, passed away last Wednesday at the age of 72.

Porter Jr. with Snooks Eaglin - Photo by Jef Jaisun
Photo by Jef Jaisun -

I wish I had seen him more often -- he blew me away every time I did. Amazing, amazing guitarist, and a man they called "The Human Jukebox," with a repertoire of over 2,500 songs in his memory. My friend Michael reminisced in email: "Maybe some of you players out there can describe his style, I just know it was deeply funky and stingin' and I was always hypnotized just watching his hands. Also a true character, his shows sometimes broke down musically but he was always entertaining."

Da Papuh said:

The digits on Mr. Eaglin's right hand flailed at seemingly impossible angles as he finger-picked and strummed a guitar's strings. A set by the so-called "Human Jukebox" could range from Beethoven's "Fur Elise" to Bad Company's "Ready for Love."

He thrived on feedback from onlookers, gleefully took requests and challenged his musicians to keep up. Utterly unselfconscious, he would render fellow guitarists slack-jawed with a blistering run, then announce from the stage that he needed to use the bathroom.

Michael also told us about a gig I wish I had been to:

I'll never forget the first time I saw him, at a benefit for John Sinclair (yeah, the MC5 / White Panther dude) after John's house burned. I was new to town and had been to see a few local bands, but this was my first real exposure the old-school New Orleans music scene in all its glory. Snooks Eaglin, Ernie K-Doe (complete with girl background singers and full entourage), Eddie Bo, Chief Bo Dollis and the Wild Magnolias, Deacon John, the Treme Brass Band (my first exposure to Uncle Lionel Batiste who floors me to this day), Coco Robicheaux, etc etc. Plus the next generation like Kermit Ruffins, James Andrews, and Jon Cleary. Michelle Shocked was still in town and she sat in with a few people. Cumulatively it was mind boggling, this was truly the land where the legends walk amongst us, and where they came together to take care of their own.

Snooks made a bunch of records, which is great, but he could have made 250 more and we still wouldn't have gotten all the music he had in him.

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Monday, February 23, 2009

Oh Oscar, Oscar, Oscar ...   Yeah, the annual snooze-fest was as snoozy as ever, despite their trumpeted plans to make it more hip and star-studded. Mary and Steve's annual Oscar party is always more fun than the show, with everyone bringing food and/or drink that ties in to the title, theme, setting or any horrid pun involving one of the nominated films. Me, I just took the easy and tasty way out -- Benjamin Button surely enjoyed red beans 'n rice (and were Queenie's red beans better than mine? Well, almost surely, but only hers), and we know he and his father drank Sazeracs together ("Whiskey, not brandy.")

(Oh, speaking of which, stay tuned for some Sazerac Bar-related posts going up in the next couple of days.)

Besides my red beans and Sazeracs, the food was pretty good (thanks to Steve for the rundown, and to LeeAnn for the pictures):

* Rick did a sausage "bar" with a replica old fashioned hot dog cooker with sausages and toppings playing off each of the five best movie nominees: Mango-chicken with chutneys for "Slumdog," bratwurst and sauerkraut for "The Reader," Andouille with a VERY spicy chunky tomato-and-onion topping cooked with Louisiana hot sauce he made for "Button," "Half-smoked" sausages for "Frost/Nixon" (they're a Washington DC specialty) and a 5-cheese dog for "Milk."

* Steve M. did a remarkable concept construction that was, in essence mature chicken in an egg ... he filled emptied egg shells with a chicken stew, "hatching" full grown (and fully cooked) a la poor Benjamin B. Yummy, but I think some people were afraid to eat it. He had a gizmo for cutting the ends off the eggs, and said it wasn't nearly as much work as it looked.

* LeeAnn brought a "Sour Cherry Upside DOUBT Cake" and yummy chocolate cookies each with a Rolo chocolate caramel candy baked inside. Sure, it was for "Rock n Rolla," which wasn't nominated for anything. But they were really tasty, so who cares?

Benjamin Button Cookies

* A Curious Case of Butter Button Cookies, in a small old-style suitcase. I think this one gets the award for best presentation.

* Kung Pao Panda (i.e., kung pao chicken from Panda Express, with accompanying poster art).

* Twinkies and "Milk".

* Indian food, of course -- bhartha and tandoori chicken and some yummy Indian sweets with gold leaf on top.

* Paella and empanadas for "Vicky Cristina Barcelona".

* A chocolate cake with "Congratulations Rachel and Sidney" written on top.

* A roasted beet and spinach salad so you could be an IRON (rich) MAN (or woman).

Peeps on Wire!

* Peeps on Wire! (Genius, but I wouldn't eat Peeps to save my life. Well, not unless I was really stoned.)

And perhaps my favorite of the night ...

Frosted Nixons

* "Frosted Nixons." Not only were they mighty tasty chocolate and vanilla cupcakes, but I can't tell you how much fun it was to bite Richard Nixon's head in half.

See? Much more fun than the show. (I was thrilled that Dustin Lance Black and Sean Penn won, though!)

Free screen cleaner! As seen on TV!   Okay, not really -- this is a web-only offer, but it's fun to say "As seen on TV!" You know how grimy your monitor gets, and it's a pain to clean it. But as you see, it never really gets it completely clean -- it gets dirty on the inside, too. I'm pleased to offer you an absolutely free screen cleaner that works from the inside, with no effort on your part, at this link. (Thanks, Wes!)

[ Link to today's entries ]

  Saturday, February 21, 2009

Los Angeles Downtown Sub-District Cocktail Competition: Da Winnahs!   It took a while -- our esteemed judge, Dr. Cocktail, was mixing all the entries himself and tasting them at the site of his current gig in Albuquerque (poor thing ... and I knew I shoulda taken dat left toin at Albakoiky). The results are in, and the idea is for these recipes to be spread around to cocktailian Los Angeles bars (especially those downtown) so that they can be made all over the city.

I'm tickled as a Pink Squirrel to find out that my entry was selected as the offical Toy District Cocktail (yay!), and I'm thrilled to be in such august company -- man, what a great bunch of bartenders!

Now, if y'all are going to make any of these at home (and you should, 'cause they look great), you'd better get busy -- you've got a lot of drinking to do.

Historic Core Cocktail
(by John Coltharp, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar)

1-1/2 ounces Bonded Rye
1/2 ounce Bonded Applejack
1/2 ounce Green Chartreuse
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth (Carpano Antica)
Dash Angostura Bitters

Stir & strain.
Lemon Peel - Cocktail Glass

Spring Street District Cocktail
(by Marcos Tello, The Edison)

1 ounce Cachaça (Sagatiba)
1 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Peach Liqueur (Mathilde Peach)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters (preferably a 50/50 blend of Fee Bros. Orange Bitters & Regan's No. 6)

Stir & strain.
Flamed Orange Peel (Discard) - Cocktail Glass

The Little Tokyo Cocktail
(by Jonathan Stout, Enthusiast)

2 ounces Rye Whiskey (Rittenhouse 100 if possible)
1/2 ounce Orgeat
2 dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir & strain.
Orange Peel & Grated Cinnamon - Cocktail Glass

The Bunker Hill Cocktail
(by Ted "Dr. Cocktail" Haigh, Museum of the American Cocktail)

2 ounces Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon (1998)
1 ounce Calvados Prestige
1 ounce Sandeman's 20 year Tawny Port
2 Drops Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
2 Dashes Angostura Bitters

Stir & strain.
Orange Peel - Cocktail Glass

Arts District Cocktail
(by Leo Rivas, Seven Grand Whiskey Bar)

2 ounces Rye whiskey
1/2 ounce Cynar
1/4 ounce Bénédictine

Stir & strain.
Grapefruit Peel - Cocktail Glass

The Toy District Cocktail
(by Chuck Taggart, Enthusiast)

1 ounce Greek Brandy (Metaxa 7 Star)
1 ounce Rye Whiskey (Rittehouse 100)
3/4 ounce Amaro Ramazotti
1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc
2 Slices of Fresh Ginger

Muddle, Stir & Fine Strain
Ginger Slice & Orange Peel - Rocks optional - Old-Fashioned Glass

(Torani Amer may be substituted for the Ramazzotti if unavailable. The new reformulation of Torani Amer loses the vegetal notes of the previous version and is very forward with bitter orange and spice, which also works well in this drink.)

The Skid Row Cocktail
(by Eric Alperin, The Varnish)

2 ounces Genever (Bols)
1/2 ounce Apricot Liqueur (I prefer Orchard Apricot by Rothman & Winter, but Marie Brizard will work too.)
1/2 ounce Ramazotti
Dash of Orange Bitters (Fee Bros.)

Stir & strain.
Flamed Orange Peel - Cocktail Coupe

Old Bank Cocktail
(by Chris Ojeda, The Edison)

2 ounces Extra Añejo Rum (Brugal)
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum (John D. Taylor's)
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica
Dash Angostura Bitters

Stir & strain.
Lemon Peel - Cocktail Glass

Civic Center Cocktail
(by Joseph Brooke, The Edison / Copa D'Oro)

2 ounces Bonded Applejack
3/4 ounce Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
1/2 ounce Tawny Port
2 Dashes Orange Bitters (preferably a 50/50 blend of Fee Bros. Orange Bitters & Regan's No. 6)

Stir & strain.
Flamed Orange Peel - Cocktail Glass

Fashion District Cocktail
(by Eric Tecosky, Jones)

2-1/2 ounces Cognac
1/2 ounce Orange Curaçao
1/4 ounce Honey Syrup (50/50 mix)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Stir & strain.
2 Luxardo Amarena Cherries - Aperol-rinsed Cocktail Glass

Broadway Theater District Cocktail
(by Daniel Eun, PDT, New York)

2 ounces Tequila Añejo (El Tesoro)
3/4 ounce Bianco Vermouth (Dolan)
1/4 ounce Bénédictine
Dash Grapefruit Bitters (Bitterman's or Fee's)
Dash Mole Bitters (Bitterman's)

Stir & strain.
Flamed Orange Peel - St. George Absinthe-rinsed Champagne Coupe

Flower District Cocktail
(by Edwin Cruz, Tlapazola Grill)

2 ounces Añejo Tequila (Partida)
3/4 ounce Agavero
1/2 ounce Velvet Falernum
2 Dashes of Fee Bros. Old Fashioned Aromatic Bitters

Stir & strain.
Flamed Orange Peel - Cocktail Glass

Chinatown Cocktail
(by Jinjur Van Vogelpoel, The Edison)

1-1/2 ounces Laird's Applejack
3/4 ounce Ginger Liqueur (Canton)
1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth
2 Dashes Orange Bitters

Stir & strain.
Thin Apple Wheel Floating on Top - Cocktail Glass

Central City West Cocktail
(by Andrew Smith, The Edison)

2 ounces New Western-style Gin
1/2 ounce Aperol
1/2 ounce Cointreau
2 Dashes Orange Bitters (preferably a 50/50 blend of Fee Bros. Orange Bitters & Regan's No. 6)

Stir & strain.
Lemon Peel - Cocktail Glass

Gallery Row Cocktail
(by Juan Sevilla, The Edison)

2 ounces Genever (Genevieve)
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth (Noilly Prat)
1/2 ounce Bénédictine
Dash of Orange Bitters (preferably a 50/50 blend of Fee Bros. Orange Bitters & Regan's No. 6)

Stir & strain.
Orange Peel - Cocktail Glass

South Park Cocktail
(by Matt Blackhart, Enthusiast)

1-3/4 ounces Bourbon
3/4 ounce Dry Vermouth
1/4 ounce Coffee Liqueur
Dash Orange Bitters
Dash Peychaud's Bitters

Stir & strain.
Lemon Peel - Cocktail Glass

Jewelry District Cocktail
(by Rhachel Shaw, Malo Taqueria)

3/4 ounce Bourbon (Bulleit)
3/4 ounce Applejack
1/2 ounce Sweet Vermouth (preferably Vya)
1/2 ounce Honey Liqueur (Barenjäger)
2 Dashes Orange Bitters
2 Dashes Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters (Fee Bros.)

Stir & strain.
Flamed Orange Peel - Cocktail Glass


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  Monday, February 16, 2009

Mixology Monday XXXVI: Hard Drinks for Hard Times.   Matt Rowley is hosting MxMo this month, and his chosen theme reflects our economic hard times as well as heis own -- he got laid off recently (eep!). Liquor, as we know, isn't cheap (not the good stuff, at least), and Matt wrote a wonderful post on taking stock of your liquor cabinet and making do with what you have on hand. This is good advice in general, not just for hard times.

I should probably do what he suggests. I have a general idea of where everything is, kinda sorta how much of it, but we've got an insanely big bar -- hundreds of bottles -- that it can get away from me. A regular dusting and once-over is a terrific idea (organizing all our stuff wouldn't be bad, either).

Wesly and I have been lucky -- neither of us has been laid off, and we're pretty safe at our respective jobs (it helps to be considered indispensible; it gets annoying when they give you a hard time about taking time off -- Old Grand-Dad "Whatever shall we do without you?!" -- but that translates into job security). We haven't had to take a hard look at doing anything like not-buying liquor, but that doesn't mean that we can't be frugal.

Matt found a great bargain in Bulleit Bourbon, one that I like a lot as well, a mere $19.99 at Trader Joe's. You can get a decent Bourbon for even less than that, and for that we turn to our old friend and relative ... Old Grand-Dad.

I can hear some of you now. "Bottom shelf!" is one cry from the back benches. Well, true, it does have a bottom shelf price -- we get it at Beverage Warehouse for a whopping $9.95. Don't be fooled by the low price, though. While it's not exactly one I'd choose for sipping straight (although that's certainly doable), it mixes very well, especially in one particular favorite that doesn't get as much attention as it deserves. More on that in a bit.

Old Grand-Dad is a venerable brand, dating back to 1882 and was initially made by the Wathen family distillery (who also owned The American Medicinal Spirits Company, who produced some very much-needed medicine during Prohibition).

I'd read a number of reports that Old Grand-Dad was significantly better when it was made by National Distillers before 1987. Using the Google revealed a number of comments along the lines of, "My grandparents used to drink this stuff." In '87 the brand was sold to Jim Beam, and many folks have said it's not what it once was. I can't say, as I don't recall having tasted it straight prior to the change in ownership, nor was my childhood palate able to discern much of anything. The word is, though, that if you come across a vintage bottle you should snap it up. (Odd bit of trivia: the portrait of the grand-dad on the label is Basil Hayden, a renowned distiller in the 18th and 19th Centurues whose picture doesn't appear on the label of the Beam-made small batch whiskey that's actually named after him.) "Bottom shelf" is more of a reflection of its price, but flavor-wise, at least for mixing, it's better than that. There's also a bonded version (100 proof by law) that's even better, but with a higher price, and I've seen a 114 proof version but haven't tried that one as yet.

As my sipping Bourbons tend toward the higher-end stuff, I realized I had never actually tasted Old Grand-Dad neat. I decided to pour a shot of the regular 86 proof product into our lovely Riedel Bourbon glasses to give the straight stuff a sniff and a sip, and see what we're up to here.

Old Grand-Dad in the glass

Nice color, with caramel, oak and a little vanilla on the nose, plus a touch of spice from the rye content in the mash. More caramel and vanilla and oak on the palate, and a significant amount of alcohol heat but not too bad, long finish. Not my first choice for a sipping whiskey by any means, but certainly sippable, especially on the rocks. Best of all, for $9.95 per 750ml bottle it's a significant bargain if Buffalo Trace, Maker's Mark or Bulleit (all bargains themselves) are still stretching the budget too far.

All that to say, while it's drinkable straight it's far better when mixed, and Wes and I tended to keep it around primarily for one drink of which we're rather fond -- the venerable Whiskey Sour.

Along with the Old Fashioned, this was one of the main drinks I grew up around and was one of my dad's favorites (along with what the family called a "Highball," consisting of Seagram's V.O. and 7UP). It was the one I tended to get sips of most often, and is underrated by a lot of cocktail folks, I think. Very refreshing, very tasty, a classic. And Old Grand-Dad makes mighty fine Whiskey Sours. You don't really need a high-end Bourbon for these, although you certainly could if you wanted and if you can afford it. But in keeping with tough times, this $9.95 whiskey is really all you need.

Simple syrup for your cocktails is cheap to make too, just a cup of sugar to a cup of water, and shake the hell out of it until it's dissolved (and a splash of vodka as a preservative). I wanted something a bit more complex than a regular sour, though, so given the Carnival season in full swing I decided to pull this drink out again. I've posted it before (and to my chagrin I note that I posted it only four months ago ... I really do have no proper sense of the passage of time), but it's a good example of cocktail frugality, if not quite as frugal as the Whiskey Sour. In case you missed it the last time I posted it, here's the Falernum recipe I use:

Falernum No. 10
(by Paul Clarke)

6 ounces Wray & Nephew Overproof White Rum (63% abv).
Zest of 9 limes, preferably organic.
50 cloves, toasted.
2 tablespoons blanched slivered almonds, toasted.
1/2 tsp almond extract.
1-1/2 ounces fresh ginger, peeled and julienned.
14 ounces rich (2:1) simple syrup, cold preparation.

Zest the limes carefully with a microplane grater, zester or vegetable peeler, making sure to leave all the white pith behind. Toast the cloves in a dry skillet over medium heat, shaking frequently, just until they begin to become aromatic, then remove from heat. Toast the almonds, shaking frequently, until they begin to turn light brown, then remove from heat. Add the lime zest, cloves, almonds and ginger to the rum in a pint-sized jar and allow to infuse for 24 hours, shaking occasionally. Strain the infusion through moistened cheesecloth, and squeeze to get every drop of liquid out. Filter if necessary.

To make the simple syrup, add 2 cups sugar and 1 cup cold water to a large jar. Seal the lid and shake like hell until the sugar is completely dissolved. (C'mon, you need the workout.) Measure 14 ounces of syrup (you'll have a little extra); add the rum infusion to the syrup and shake to combine. Store in refrigerator.

I did finally remember where I got this recipe -- a site called Mr. Lucky, which has a small cocktail section (which doesn't seem to have been updated in ages). They came up with the idea of replacing the simple syrup in a Whiskey Sour with falernum, giving the drink a more complex and brighter flavor profile and a nice dose of the Caribbean (New Orleans being the northernmost Caribbean port, as some say). I did a Lemons from our tree little tweaking of the original recipe and added the egg white for the nicer body and frothy head you get in a proper sour.

The final bit of frugality for this drink was picking a free lemon off the tree in our front yard (which is bearing beautifully even in mid-February; I love fruit trees that bear all year long). It astonishes me to go into a big chain supermarket like Ralph's and see lemons selling for anywhere from 79¢ to 99¢ APIECE. What absurd price-gouging. At the smaller Latino markets in Highland Park near where we live, or even at the Super A supermarket, lemons tend to go for 99¢ a pound or less; limes are often selling for 3 pounds for 99¢. Do your best to find small produce markets in your neighborhood -- this is a good idea for most of your produce, not just for the citrus. We find fantastic quality stuff for a fraction of what you pay at the supermarket. Local farmer's markets are also a great value. Even better ... I'd strongly urge any cocktail fans to plant one lemon and one lime tree if they have room for it. A regular supply of free citrus for your drinks is a very good thing. And if you're actually paying nearly a buck PER lemon, the tree will pay for itself very quickly.

So, apologies if you feel this is a rerun, but you really should try it if you haven't already.

Mardi Gras Sour

Mardi Gras Sour
(Adapted from Mr. Lucky's Cocktails)

2 ounces Old Grand-Dad Bourbon whiskey.
1 ounce fresh lemon juice.
3/4 ounce Falernum No. 10.
1 teaspoon egg white.

Combine with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake like hell until the shaker's so cold it hurts. Strain into a sour glass or some kind of pretty stemmed glass (about 5 oz.), and garnish with a proper brandied (or preferably whiskied) cherry.

The cost of the whiskey in this drink? About 79¢. The cost of the falernum ... um, too much math, but I'm guessing about 40¢. The lemon? FREE! (My favorite price! Free food from your yard, yay!) Enjoy this drink for about $1.19.

It's nice to serve these in a pretty sour glass, but I could really go for a double-size one of these on the rocks in a go-cup on a parade route. Speaking of which, if you're sipping one of these and missing Mardi Gras and the parade season leading up to it, you can get the next best thing to being there. Fix yourself a Mardi Gras Sour, order a King Cake from Randazzo's, put on some great New Orleans music and ... um, throw some beads up in the air and catch them. (Extra points if you stomp on your own hand or knock over one of your own children to get them.)

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  Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The green torment (and their stupid frakkin' spammers).   I have to apologize for being in the middle of an extreme lazy-bastard period for the last couple of weeks. It happens periodically, then I usually get over it and move on. When one of my friends said last night, as we were tippling Black Feather cocktails, "Come ON! I'm so bored at work!" ... well, I knew I had to get my ass in gear.

In the meantime, let me engage in the (for me) rather unusual act of the public shaming of an alcoholic beverage.

Several days ago a comment appeared in the "Battlestar Galactica" props auction topic extolling the alleged virtues of a new product called Le Tourment Vert, which describes itself as an absinthe; a recipe was also provided, which looked like the Chambord signature corporate recipe called the "French Martini" -- vodka, Chambord and pineapple juice -- except with the addition of Tourment Vert.

When two other comments, both in inappropriate topics, arrived within 30 minutes, all from the same IP address, I just thought "Idiot spammers," and banned them. Turns out there was more to it than that, but my lazy-bastard period precluded any further investivation. More on that in a bit.

'Le Tourment Vert,' 
being marketed as an absinthe but is in fact a mouthwash-flavored liqueur that is one of the worst on the market

Rarely, if ever, has a spirit been so appropriately named as Le Tourment Vert -- it translates from French as "The Green Torment." It's an apt description of what this stuff does to you. It's made in France, 100 proof and has a color ... not found in nature. (The appearance of the ingredeints FD&C Blue Lake and Yellow dyes on the label are a fairly obvious clue that the color doesn't come from its botanicals.) I tried a 50ml taster a while back and it was one of only two spirits I've ever poured down the drain (the execrable Absolut Kurant, that classic Robitussin-flavored vodka, being the other).

Let's clear one thing up very quickly -- Le Tourment Vert is not absinthe, certainly not in the way we've come to understand and appreciate what absinthe is over the last 150 or so years (i.e., an anise-forward herbal spirit which includes grand wormwood, or artemisia absinthium among its botanicals, along with green anise and fennel). Although there are many variations and unique characteristics among the many brands of contemporary absinthe now available, when you sip it you still know you're drinking absinthe. This is not unlike the fact that there are perhaps millions of gumbo recipes, all different, each unique to the gumbo cook, but when you take that first spoonful you know you're eating gumbo.

When you take that first sip of Tourment Vert, your first instinct is to swish, rinse and spit. Or perhaps gargle. The flavor profile of this spirit is more along the lines of Scope, and/or Listerine, with, as Marleigh put it, the fresh, delicate touch of Aqua-Velva.

It does have one thing going for it, though -- a very pretty bottle. (With all respect and admiration toward my friend Brooks' grandmother, "It's a pretty bottle, so hush" doesn't cut it in this case.) The best, and most generous, description of Le Tourment Vert is as a mint-flavored herbal liqueur, and it is most certainly not a proper absinthe. If you like that sort of thing, go right ahead and drink it. I have to warn you, though, it's really terrible stuff.

Besides making a mouthwash/aftershave-flavored product and marketing it as an absinthe, perhaps the next worst decision made by the makers and distributors of this product is to hire a public relations agency who thought it would be a good idea to spam the comments section of cocktail weblogs, especially those in which they were discussing other absinthes, with plugs for this stuff. As I haven't been discussing absinthe lately, apparently they felt the Battlestar Galactica topic would suffice.

As I mentioned earlier, I got slimed last week. I contemplated a post to a drink writers' mailing list to which I belong, but as I was still overcome by the tidal wave of laziness I didn't do it. Over the last week lots of my friends' blogs have been getting the same treatment, far more so than here, to wit: Marleigh, Paul, Darcy, Blair, Gabriel (whose post title was my favorite: "Spam this, bitches"), Stevi and a whole bunch more, no doubt.

So! If there are any P.R. interns or beginners or even longtime professionals, take a lesson from this. Comment spamming to promote your sad, pathetic product is bad, and in this case it has backfired quite spectacularly. This is insulting to the world of many good people who are doing good work to promote good products. I've had some great communication with P.R. people who know how to approach the cocktail blogging community, and the ones who take us seriously and treat us with respect are the ones who will reap the rewards ... as long as their product is good. I'm happy to sample anything you want to send me, as long as you're willing to accept my honest opinion of it. In many cases my approach tends to be that if I don't like it I won't write about it, unless it's truly egregiously offensive in some way. (In the cast of the green torment, it's in multiple ways -- a bad product, badly marketed.)

Here's what you've wrought:

Le Tourment Vert? Frak off. (Their product is nasty. Don't buy it.)

Cashmere Agency? Frak off. Did you really think we were that stupid?

If there's anyone in my readership who'd like a bit of advice about starting on the path of appreciation of true, well-made absinthe, I have a few recommendations, but I'll save that post for when I open the brand-new bottle of Absinthe Marteau I just received ... I'm very excited!

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  Friday, February 6, 2009

Squiffy, Zozzled, or just plain drunk?   Thanks to my friend Louise, who was kind enough to type this in and send it to me, I'm able to share with you a brief essay by Edmund Wilson called "The Lexicon of Prohibition," written in 1927 and later compiled in a book called American Earthquake. It offers dozens of descriptive terms for drunknenness, in increasing order of drunkenness, and they're a hoot.

Lexicon of Prohibition (1927)

The following is a partial list of words denoting drunkenness now in common use in the United States. They have been arranged, as far as possible, in order of the degrees of intensity of the conditions which they represent, beginning with the mildest stages and progressing to the more disastrous.

Lit, squiffy, oiled, lubricated, owled, edged, jingled, piffed, piped, sloppy, woozy, happy, half-screwed, half-cocked, half-shot, half seas over, fried, stewed, boiled, zozzled, sprung, scrooched, jazzed, jagged, pie-eyed, cock-eyed, wall-eyed, glassy-eyed, bleary-eyed, hoary-eyed, over the Bay, four sheets in the wind, crocked, loaded, leaping, screeching, lathered, plastered, soused, bloated, polluted, saturated, full as a tick, loaded for bear, loaded to the muzzle, loaded to the plimsoll mark, wapsed down, paralyzed, ossified, out like a light, passed out cold, embalmed, buried, blotto, canned, corked, corned, potted, hooted, slopped, tanked, stinko, blind, stiff, under the table, tight, full, wet, high, horseback, liquored, pickled, ginned, schicker (Yiddish), splifficated, primed, organized, featured, lit up like the sky, lit up like the Commonwealth, lit up like a Christmas tree, lit up like a store window, lit up like a church, fried to the hat, slopped to the ears, stewed to the gills, boiled as an owl, to have a bun on, to have a slant on, to have a skate on, to have a snootful, to have a skinful, to draw a blank, to pull a shut-eye, to pull a Daniel Boone, to have a rubber drink, to have a hangover, to have a head, to have the jumps, to have the shakes, to have the zings, to have the heeby-jeebies, to have the screaming-meemies, to have the whoops and jingles, to burn with a low blue flame.

Some of these, such as loaded and full, are a little old-fashioned now; but they are still understood. Others, such as cock-eyed and oiled, which are included in the Drinker's Dictionary compiled by Benjamin Franklin (and containing two and hundred and twenty-eight terms) seem to be enjoying new popularity. It is interesting to note that one hears nowadays less often of people going on sprees, toots, tears, jags, bats, brannigans or benders. All these terms suggest, not merely extreme drunkenness, but also an exceptional occurrence, a breaking away by the drinker from the conditions of his normal life. It is possible that their partial disappearance is mainly to be accounted for by the fact that this kind of fierce protracted drinking has now become universal, an accepted feature of social life instead of a disreputable escapade.

On the other hand, the vocabulary of social drinking, as exemplified by this list, seems to have become especially rich: one gets the impression that more nuances are nowadays discriminated than was the case before Prohibition. Thus, fried, stewed and boiled all convey distinctly different ideas; and cock-eyed, plastered, owled, embalmed and ossified evoke quite different images. Wapsed down is a rural expression originally applied to crops that have been laid low by a storm; featured is a theatrical word, which here refers to a stage at which the social drinker is inspired to believe strongly in his ability to sing a song, to tell a funny story or to execute a dance; organized is properly applied to a condition of thorough preparation for a more or less formidable evening; and blotto, of English origin, denotes a state of blank bedazement.

I think I have been describable by most of those adjectives at one time or another, although I've never heard myself referred to as "featured" or "organized."

I'm rather fond of many of the euphemisms I've picked up in Ireland -- bolloxed, banjaxed, langered, trousered, gargled and elephants.

I've definitely been elephants.

Everything is better with bacon, as we know ... even websites!

Why I drink.   And how. (And how!) Our friend Paul Clarke blogs in today's New York Times about his approach to drinking, and makes many great points. I especially like the one from G. K. Chesterton: "The dipsomaniac and the abstainer are not only both mistaken, but they both make the same mistake. They both regard wine as a drug and not as a drink."

I also strongly agree with the idea he discusses of exposing your kids to sensible enjoyment of alcoholic beverages during childhood, both by example and with occasional participation (kids getting a bit of wine with dinner, for instance). Paul raises the excellent example: "it was not lost on me during my secular Bible Belt upbringing that some of my hardest-drinking friends -- whose relationships with booze were often of the vomit-in-the-shrubbery, loss-of-all-personal-control variety -- were from religious homes in which alcohol was seldom if ever served."

Felix, Felix, Felix ... sigh.   (CAUTION! "Battlestar Galactica" spoilers ahead, if you're behind!)

There are many people who are shocked with the turn of events on the Galactica last week, with much vitriol being spewed on various blogs and boards about sensible, cuddly yet sweet-no-more Felix Gaeta. He's been through a lot, and in light of the last four years of his history plus his sincere belief that an alliance with the beings that annihilated the human race is treason you really do understand why he's doing what he's doing, even though you know it's wrong. There's a good analysis on about how and why he went bad. As they pointed out, whenever Felix "challenges the Man," thinking he's doing the right thing, even on legitimate moral grounds, it always makes things worse.

We'll find out how it all goes tonight. I fear Felix won't survive the episode.

January Looka! entries have been permanently archived.

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