You may (or may not) have noticed that a couple of things look a bit different around here.
Specifically, a complete redesign for the front page and recipe page for the first time in many years. Long overdue, I might add.
The idea and 90% of the implementation came from the amazing and wonderful Marleigh Miller, who has many dinners coming her way for this. The other 10% was me stumbling around with learning CSS and figuring out how to tweak things by trial and error, and somehow I managed not to break everything she gave me. (Actually, I did break them — several times — but figured out how to fix them without too much weeping and hair-tearing.)
“It’s Web 2.0!” she says. And how. Actual pictures, sliding from one to the next to actually give you something nice to look at, plus all the words are still there. I’m inordinately proud of the fact that the site still looks fine on a UNIX terminal text-based browser like Lynx.
Gradually I’ll be going through the entire site and spiffing things up, adding CSS to the individual pages and photos where I can, trying to hunt down broken links (because any site dating back to the early 1990s that still has lists of links is now 99-44/100% link rot) and doing other gradual improvements. I’ll add to and change the over photos periodically as well.
There are a few other things. I know that the use of the term “page” and “pages” is kinda Web 1.0, but since this site has been called “The Gumbo Pages” for almost 20 years I’m kinda stuck with it. I did activate my personal email domain for the web too, so you can now also access the site via this link:
I’d also like to keep up with updates to the site, but that old (and hideously ugly) “What’s New” page is going away. I decided that the best way to deal with updates about what’s happening with the site without cluttering up Looka! with them and without having to go through the trouble to start a separate WordPress page (a pain in the arse in its own right) I just started a Tumblr. It was really easy to set up and will be easy to maintain, and will only involve what’s new with the site in general — what’s been updated or redesigned or added or whatever. That will be available from the “Updates” link in the title/logo bar, and the direct URL is:
Yeah, I’m alive, and nary a single alien probe, either.
I haven’t touched this weblog in eight months. That’s a long time. I’d be surprised if anyone was still out there, but just in case …
There was a bit of a loss of mojo. That, in combination with a massive house renovation project took seven months to plan and prep for, then four months of construction and two months of cleanup (actually, we’re still cleaning up), including gutting our only bathroom down to the studs and subfloor. Not the most clever thing we’ve ever done, tearing out our only bathroom. Nothing says class like Andy Gump in your front yard for three months. (The bathroom is fabulous now, though.)
I really didn’t have a lot of time for this website, unfortunately. Also, with me just sitting here and minding my own business, WordPress broke a lot of stuff, plugins went awry, all my weblog categories disappeared, my archives disappeared, most of the blogroll disappeared, the cocktail index (!) disappeared. All this stuff just spontaneously breaking makes me think that there was a lot to be said for the time when I hand-coded the whole damned thing myself.
I’ve been working to put that back together, thanks to amazing and intrepid repair work by my dear friend and Looka! co-admin Marleigh Miller. The cocktail index and archives are back. The blogroll is back. But wait, there’s more!
I stepped back and took a look at the whole site in general, and … it really looks like shit. I’ve never been a web designer, and what passed for my “design” was anchored right in the middle of 1995, and some of the worst-looking web pages this side of MySpace. Looking like that for years and years … I should have been ashamed.
The good news is that a MAJOR redesign of the entire site is in progress, and I’m hoping to roll out the new, 21st Century Web 2.0 front page in a week or so. Stay tuned!
I’m also getting the itch to start writing again. Not every day, but more regularly, so dust off whatever RSS reader you may be using now that Google Reader has bitten the dust, and make sure my feed’s still in there. Wesly might be getting the itch too, and I’d love for there to be more posts from him because he’s such a wonderful writer.
I have been waiting for this for a very long time. Ten webisodes starting today, 2-hour movie (and, I hope, official series pilot to then be picked up) in February 2013. Read more here. Now watch it. I’m going to wait until I get home so I can see it on the largest screen possible.
We are not going to have a Supreme Court that will overturn Roe versus Wade. There will be no more Antonin Scalias and Samuel Alitos added to this court.
We’re not going to repeal health reform. Nobody is going to kill Medicare and make old people in this generation or any other generation fight it out on the open market to try to get themselves health insurance. We are not going to do that.
We are not going to give a 20 percent tax cut to millionaires and billionaires and expect programs like food stamps and kids’ health insurance to cover the cost of that tax cut.
We’re not make you clear it with your boss if you want to get birth control under the insurance plan that you’re on.
We are not going to redefine rape.
We are not going to amend the United States Constitution to stop gay people from getting married.
We are not going to double Guantanamo.
We are not eliminating the Department of Energy or the Department of Education or housing at the federal level.
We are not going to spend $2 trillion on the military that the military does not want. We are not scaling back on student loans because the country’s new plan is that you should borrow money from your parents.
We are not vetoing the DREAM Act. We are not self-deporting. We are not letting Detroit go bankrupt.
We are not starting a trade war with China on Inauguration Day in January. We are not going to have, as a president, a man who once led a mob of friends to run down a scared gay kid, to hold him down and forcibly cut his hair off with a pair of scissors while that kid cried and screamed for help and there was no apology, not ever.
We are not going to have a Secretary of State John Bolton. We are not bringing Dick Cheney back. We are not going to have a foreign policy shop stocked with architects of the Iraq war. We are not going to do it.
We had the choice to do that if we wanted to do that, as a country. And we said no, last night, loudly.
The Reagan Era is over. The myth that this is a “center-right” country is dead. This is a center-left country. The growing majority in this country believe more in the social contract than in I-got-mine-buddy-get-yours selfishness and non-altruistic individualism. This country believes more in the liberal fashion of letting people live their lives for who they are, they way they want to, rather than the conservative fashion of “we’re going to make you live your lives the way we want you to live your lives.” It’s concern for your fellow humans and citizens over concern for nothing other than your wallet, and I don’t believe there’s any turning back.
It is easy to close oneself off inside a conservative echo chamber. And right-leaning outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh’s show are far more intellectually closed than CNN or public radio. If you’re a rank-and-file conservative, you’re probably ready to acknowledge that ideologically friendly media didn’t accurately inform you about Election 2012. Some pundits engaged in wishful thinking; others feigned confidence in hopes that it would be a self-fulfilling prophecy; still others decided it was smart to keep telling right-leaning audiences what they wanted to hear. [...]
Conservatives were at a disadvantage because Romney supporters like Jennifer Rubin and Hugh Hewitt saw it as their duty to spin constantly for their favored candidate rather than being frank about his strengths and weaknesses. What conservative Washington Post readers got, when they traded in Dave Weigel for Rubin, was a lot more hackery and a lot less informed about the presidential election.
Conservatives were at an information disadvantage because so many right-leaning outlets wasted time on stories the rest of America dismissed as nonsense. WorldNetDaily brought you birtherism. Forbes brought you Kenyan anti-colonialism. National Review obsessed about an imaginary rejection of American exceptionalism, misrepresenting an Obama quote in the process, and Andy McCarthy was interviewed widely about his theory that Obama, aka the Drone Warrior in Chief, allied himself with our Islamist enemies in a “Grand Jihad” against America. Seriously?
Conservatives were at a disadvantage because their information elites pandered in the most cynical, self-defeating ways, treating would-be candidates like Sarah Palin and Herman Cain as if they were plausible presidents rather than national jokes who’d lose worse than George McGovern.
How many months were wasted on them?
How many hours of Glenn Beck conspiracy theories did Fox News broadcast to its viewers? How many hours of transparently mindless Sean Hannity content is still broadcast daily? Why don’t Americans trust Republicans on foreign policy as they once did? In part because conservatism hasn’t grappled with the foreign-policy failures of George W. Bush. A conspiracy of silence surrounds the subject. Romney could neither run on the man’s record nor repudiate it. The most damaging Romney gaffe of the campaign, where he talked about how the 47 percent of Americans who pay no income taxes are a lost cause for Republicans? Either he was unaware that many of those people are Republican voters, or was pandering to GOP donors who are misinformed. Either way, bad information within the conservative movement was to blame.
In conservative fantasy-land, Richard Nixon was a champion of ideological conservatism, tax cuts are the only way to raise revenue, adding neoconservatives to a foreign-policy team reassures American voters, Benghazi was a winning campaign issue, Clint Eastwood’s convention speech was a brilliant triumph, and Obama’s America is a place where black kids can beat up white kids with impunity. Most conservative pundits know better than this nonsense — not that they speak up against it. They see criticizing their own side as a sign of disloyalty. I see a coalition that has lost all perspective, partly because there’s no cost to broadcasting or publishing inane bullshit. In fact, it’s often very profitable. A lot of cynical people have gotten rich broadcasting and publishing red meat for movement conservative consumption.
This is a come-to-Jesus moment, conservatives. Can we please just blow up Bullshit Mountain? If you have feasible, workable ideas for the future of this country, we want to hear them. But the voters have demonstrated that this country is tired of all the bullshit, hysteria, negativity and outright lies. Back to Rachel:
Ohio really did go to President Obama last night. And he really did win. And he really was born in Hawaii. And he really is legitimately president of the United States, again.
And the Bureau of Labor Statistics did not make up a fake unemployment rate last month. And the Congressional Research Service really can find no evidence that cutting taxes on rich people grows the economy. And the polls were not skewed to oversample Democrats. And Nate Silver was not making up fake projections about the election to make conservatives feel bad. Nate Silver was doing math.
And climate change is real. And rape really does cause pregnancy sometimes. And evolution is a thing.
And Benghazi was an attack on us, it was not a scandal by us. And nobody is taking away anyone`s guns. And taxes have not gone up. And the deficit is dropping, actually.
And Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction. And the moon landing was real. And FEMA is not building concentration camps. And U.N. election observers are not taking over Texas. And moderate reforms of the regulations on the insurance industry and the financial services industry in this country are not the same thing as communism. [...]
Last night the Republicans got shellacked, and they had no idea it was coming. And we saw them in real time, in real humiliating time, not believe it, even as it was happening to them.
And unless they are going to is secede, they are going to have to pop the factual bubble they have been so happy living inside if they do not want to get shellacked again. And that will be a painful process for them, but it will be good for the whole country, left, right, and center. You guys, we’re counting on you. Wake up.
There are real problems in the world. There are real, knowable facts in the world. Let’s accept those and talk about how we might approach our problems differently. Let’s move on from there.
If the Republican Party and the conservative movement and conservative media are forced to do that by the humiliation they were dealt last night, we will all be better off as a nation.
We’re also tired of the obstructionism (and we’re keenly aware of the fact that the ONLY reason the Republicans held on to the House was the Republican-skewed gerrymandering that happened during the redistricting of 2012). It’s time to start cooperating and working together instead of being the Party of No. Conservatives, if you refuse it truly is the death of your party. From now on, the words “tea party” should only refer to a gathering of people who consume a hot brewed beverage.
Is Obama a perfect leader? By no means. He’s achieved amazing things (despite the Republicans’ destructive goal of attempting to block everything he wanted to do), achieved actual health care reform for the first time (as flawed as it is) but kept and even escalated some egregious elements of the Bush administration. There are four more years to correct that path now.
And what did the American people achieve last night?
There are now more women serving in Congress than any time in history.
We have the first openly gay senator, and the first Asian-American female senator (who’s also Buddhist; as someone amusingly put it, “There go your religious rights, conservatives!” … not).
Marriage equality passed by initiative in three states and a fourth refused to constitutionally ban it. That barn door can never be closed now.
It’s time for America to move forward. Live long and prosper.
You may remember the Golden Dahlia. If you do, I both commend and thank you. Commend, because your memory may be tenacious as the proverbial better mousetrap. Thank, because that’s a drink I’m still quite proud of, and one that I think is simple in all the good, even the best ways. What has this got to do with anything? Read on.
I like Kraken. Hell, I have a certain fondness for Captain Morgan’s, as long as it’s in a Cable Car (which I first tasted and enjoyed, believe it or not, at the beautiful Petrossian Bar at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas). But yeah, I like Kraken, I think it’s a fine product, and I’ve wanted for the longest time to do something interesting with it. But what, O what would that be?
That was indeed the question. You could arguably call me lazy, but I was quite happy to fall back on a formula I had previously established as successful, at least as a start. On various evenings, I tried two or perhaps three slightly different variations on the Golden Dahlia theme (rum + amaro modifier) with Kraken as the base spirit and various amari as modifier. Despite my mental conjurations and resultant high expectations, none were successful. (I can be a harsh and demanding but realistic judge of my own efforts.) I found myself feeling frustrated and thwarted. Deep down, I knew this should work. Why did it not?
Weeks went by.
I mean, seriously. I’m not joking. Weeks went by. I pondered, but did not know what to do. And then…the magic happened. As it has done before, but still. I said something along the lines of, “I’m happy with this as far as it goes, but I want it to be, you know, punchier somehow.” And yet I didn’t know quite what to do to punch it up. Fortunately, Chuck had a thought: “I know what will give it some oomph.” The moving finger writes, and having writ, etc.
And so: Kraken, because I like it. (I have a superawesome long-sleeve promo t-shirt! Which, yes, I do wear!) Ramazzotti, because I do so love a good amaro, especially as a rum modifier. Lemon Hart 151 Demerara Rum, for the oomph. Luxardo Fernet, because it reminds me of NYC (where I first tasted it, at Babbo), and for its clean yet complex flavor that for me is like unto Fernet Branca, but with clear black pepper rather than menthol. Orange bitters, for their brightness.
Considering her dark hue and kinship with her lighter, golden sibling, and meaning and intending no disrespect of poor Elizabeth Short, I have called this concoction:
Black Dahlia created by Wesly Moore and Chuck Taggart
2 oz. Kraken Black Spiced Rum
3/4 oz. Ramazzotti
1/4 Lemon Hart 151
Barspoon Luxardo Fernet
3-4 dashes orange bitters (your preference; I like Miracle Mile, Regan’s No. 6, and Angostura)
Stir over ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist, if you feel extravagant; it is quite fine without.
looka, <lʊ´-kə> dialect, v.
1. The imperative form of the verb "look," in the spoken vernacular of New Orleans. It is usually employed when the speaker wishes to call one's attention to something, or to what one is about to say.
2. --n. Chuck Taggart's weblog¹, est. 1999, with contributions by Wesly Moore, updated (almost) daily (except when it's not), focusing on cocktails and spirits, food and other drink, music, New Orleans and Louisiana culture ... and occasionally movies, books, sf, public radio, media and culture, travel, Macs, humor and amusements, reviews, news of the reality-based community, wry observations, complaints, the authors' lives and opinions, witty and/or smart-arsed comments and whatever else tickles the authors' fancy.
This weblog is part of The Gumbo Pages, by the way. It's big and unwieldy and full of all kinds of fun food, drink and New Orleans stuff. Check it out.
"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. Click here to read more about it!