You leave this world and become a dream

Our dear friend Mary left us today, Mardi Gras, February 16, 2010.  She had fought with cancer for years, kicking its ass repeatedly, but in the end it was too much.  I suppose it’s part of the human condition, but I have lost too many friends.  Today I am numb and deeply weary.

Mary in Jennifer Aniston dress

Mary loved New Orleans.  She loved the city so much that she bought a house there.  In Frommer’s New Orleans, which she wrote passionately and updated faithfully, she said:

This is one of the few cities in America (if not the only one) where you do not feel as if you are in America.  It may sound cliched to call New Orleans magical and seductive, but it happens to be the truth.  Every one of your senses will be engaged from the moment you arrive here.  The city is a visual delight, from the lacy ironwork wrapped around the buildings of the French Quarter to the stately, gracious old homes of the Garden District to the giant oaks that stretch across Esplanade Avenue or drip with ghostly Spanish moss in City Park.  But to just call New Orleans picturesque is not doing it justice.  Music flows from every doorway or is played right in the street.  Jazz, Cajun, blues, whatever–you’ll find yourself moving to a rhythm and wondering if the streets really are dancing along with you.  There are delicious smells in the moist, honeyed air, which seems to carry a whiff of the Carribean while caressing your skin, almost as if it were alive.

New Orleans will always and forever be inseparable in my mind from her deep and abiding love for the place.


Mary loved to read.  For Christmas she gave me a copy of The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis.  I confessed that I had never heard of Lydia Davis, and she confessed that neither had she, but she had it on good authority that I as a lover of short stories must read these, as they were nothing short of the form’s perfection.  I have still read only just a handful of the stories, and I never had the chance to tell her that I find them oddly, weirdly brilliant, and that rather than sinking into me they seem to stick on my surface.  I’m sure she would have looked at me, sideways and penetrating, and said, “Hmmm,” by which she invariably meant, “That is fascinating, and I’m so very glad you told me.  You must tell me more.”

Mary in India

Mary loved to ponder and think.  She recently recommended to me and her friend Quinn another book, this one called Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives, by David Eagleman, a collection (as one might well surmise) of stories exploring forty different, intriguing, hypothetical afterlives.  She said in email, regarding the story after which the collection is named,

In [the afterlife described in] the first story, “all the moments [of your life] that share a quality are grouped together.”

This one is haunting me.  This is the problem with conventional views of the afterlife, why someone as saintly as John Cobb says he hopes his adventure as John Cobb will one day come to an end.  Otherwise, can you imagine the boredom and tedium?

Not when you two are there, of course.

I’m certain this contemplation sprang from, or was rooted in the same philosophical soil as, her passionate exploration of The Likelihood (or Unlikelihood) of Things Eternal.  On February 13, three days ago, she was granted her Master’s degree in Theology and Philosophy of Religion at a special ceremony in her home, surrounded by her professors and fellow students from what she loved to call God School.  Her husband Steve said,

…at the crux of her extemporaneous speech was that as she progressed through her studies people would ask, “So what’s your position on God?”  And she would reply, “I haven’t got one.”  And she stressed that she holds to that today.


Mary loved her dogs, her family and friends, and — first, foremost and always — Steve.  I can’t imagine what any of us will do without her.  The world is already a poorer place without her in it.

Mary, rest.


How to get me to brush more often

Even the son of a dentist needs more incentive.

Whiskey Tooth Paste!

(Via Boing Boing)

Now if they made rum dental floss we’d be set. In the meantime, this will have to do.


Thursday Drink Night: Trader Tiki’s Syrups

Another Thursday Drink Night is upon us, meaning that … it’s Thursday again. (These things happen.) Meet the CSOWG and various and sundry cocktail geeks at The Mixoloseum Bar (i.e., the cocktail-geekiest online chat venue) at 4pm PT / 7pm ET / 0h GMT for drink-making, insult-hurling and general verbal mayhem.

Tonight will be a fairly special one, however, as one of our own — Blair Reynolds, a.k.a. Trader Tiki — has burst upon the cocktail ingredients scene with his own line of flavoring syrups for tiki cocktails and beyond.

Trader Tiki's Syrups

Let’s taste.

I was very happy when the Tiki Fairy brought these earlier this week, because (among other reasons) I’d been wanting to make orgeat for ages but have been too frakking lazy. Blair’s orgeat is complex, with a rich almond flavor and a bit of tannin and bitterness, where I’m tasting the almond skins as well. Apricot kernels are included in the formula as well, providing that lovely bitter almond flavor in the background without any of the annoying hydrogen cyanide that bitter almonds bring to the table. This is much more complex than the cloudy white brands you see from Monin and the like, and the sweetness is kept in check. Blair favors the original French recipe, calling for rose and orange flower water in the mix. I can’t wait to try this in a Mai Tai, plus classic non-tropical cocktails like the Japanese, and one I found that fascinates me, called the Alligator (time to make some eau de melisse, looks like).

The cinnamon syrup is thick and sweet, flavored with two kinds of cinnamon — the spicy, sweet and strong cassia, and the slightly more mellow Ceylon cinnamon, with a complex, fruity, citrusy flavor (I love sprinkling Ceylon cinnamon on fruit). Perfect for some of the more famous tiki drinks (like a Jet Pilot, mmm) and whatever you can concoct.

The vanilla syrup is just as thick and sweet, with a lovely vanilla bean flavor and would be just as lovely on pancakes as it would in your drinks.

Perhaps the most fascinating flavor he’s released is Don’x Mix, named after Don the Beachcomber (aka Ernest Beaumont Gantt), who in Los Angeles in the 1930s invented the exotic tropical cocktail as we know it. “Don’s Mix” was one of his secret ingredients, mixed and bottled away from the bar and provided to the bartenders so that if one or more of them left to work for a competitor they wouldn’t be able to take his drink recipes with them. A recipe isn’t much use if one of the ingredients is listed as “Mix #6.”

In this case, though, we now know that Don’s Mix was 2 parts grapefruit juice and 1 part cinnamon syrup, used to flavor Donga Punch, Zombies and other tropical drinks. If you don’t want to make your own, this is the perfect solution. Lighter than the regular cinnamon syrup, less sweet and with a really nice tang of grapefruit, this is the one I want to get creative with. I’ve got a couple of ideas for TDN tonight and I’m going to focus on this one. Here’s hoping my drink tastes as good in the glass as it does in my head. (Then again, it might suck, but then we go back to the drawing board.)

So! Needless to say, order some syrup and get your tiki on!

Jeez, I got busy … Thursday Drink Night starts in five minutes!


Cocktail index finished – RSS onslaught over!

Okay, finally! The Looka! Cocktail Index is now complete. Well, caught up, that is. Every cocktail post from 10 years of manually coded weblog has been tediously and painstakingly imported into WordPress (with the exception of two or three really shitty recipes for boring vodka cocktails from the old old days, and if you want those you’re going to have to obsessively dig for them).

The running total so far: 315 cocktail recipes in the index, plus 49 51 more that are multiples within a single post. We haven’t yet figured how to get the AZIndex plugin to create two separate index entries that point to one post; Marleigh’s waiting to hear from the developer. When we do figure it out, that’ll bring the cocktail index up to 364 listed recipes. New cocktail recipe posts will be automatically added to the index.

Despite the tedium I really did enjoy going through all those old posts again, and there are some drinks I forgot about that we’ll now revisit — that’ll be fun. Enjoy randomly clicking through them, as there are tons of things you won’t find in cocktail guides, like original recipes by our bartender friends near and far. (Oh, and there’s one joke in there, but it’s pretty obvious.)

I truly apologize for the barrage in your RSS feeds. I thought that backdated posts wouldn’t show up in the feed as new, but of course, WordPress had to make me look like a jackass and feed them anyway. I’ve gotten some good feedback, that some of you enjoyed seeing them go by, at least. I hope it wasn’t too bad for the rest of you. Posting will now resume at its previous intermittent rate (i.e., when I feel like it and when Wesly finally gets around to another one).

Wow … I think this weblog transition is actually kinda almost done.


Our Heroes … Believe DAT!!!

We Are The Champions
The Saints Revolution!
Full of Win!

Last night I cheered until my throat was raw.

The New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl!!

I just want to keep saying that.

The New Orleans Saints have won the Super Bowl!!!!

A friend reported from home that the French Quarter was “one big screaming beery orgasm.” Yeah you rite!

“It meant so much more than football,” said Bruce Nolan in the Times-Picayune.

It meant victory for a recovering city that in some places still bears the dirty water lines of Hurricane Katrina. Victory for people who lived two years in trailers. Victory for new post-Katrina friends who fell in love with New Orleans rebuilding it. Victory for New Orleanians cheering in exile from Alaska to Miami. Victory on Facebook and on Twitter. Victory on Bourbon Street, on Caffin Avenue, in Chalmette, in Lakeview and St. Tammany.

Not only that, Mitch Landrieu won the New Orleans mayoral election on Saturday, in a landslide of 66%. The countdown begins to May 31, whereafter C. Ray Asshat is exiled to the Land of Nod forever.

Not only that, it’s the last full week of Carnival, and Mardi Gras is in nine days.

This will be a very good nine days.



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