Monday, May 30, 2011

Sir-Mix-A-Lush -- The First Mojito

Here it is…Memorial Day! The official start to the Summer Tourist Season and the day we set aside to remember out fallen troops.  Almost, or perhaps more importantly (I jest), it is the day of The First Mojito.

Isn't she a beauty?
For those unaware, this is my "Most Favorite Cocktail on the Planet" (MFCP for short). I reserve it for strictly summer drinking. Something about sipping a Mojito in mid-January, just doesn't seem right to me. It's got to be hot outside. Right now it's 99 degrees. It also helps if there is a pool nearby, but this isn't a requirement.

The Mojito has a long history. It originated in Cuba and is the best reason I can think of for lifting that darn trade embargo. Then I could finally get the actual mint you are supposed to use to mix it. I do ok tho, The Hubby grows me 3 different varieties to play with in my Mojito mixing.

It is perfect in it's simplicity. Very little goes into a Mojito. There is the Rum, I use Bacardi Light or my wonderful Old New Orleans Rum. There is the mint and then the lime. These 3 flavors, mixed along with some sugar (I use Splenda to keep it carb free) and either soda or tonic water, combine to create a cocktail who's simplicity is the key to it's light and refreshing flavor.

You can find lots of variations of this drink today. Many restaurants and bars flavor their Mojitos with everything from pomegranate to mango. I am a purist. Adding anything to this delightful concoction serves only to ruin it's best intentions. That being said, I did discover one variation that I do enjoy from time to time. GINGER! Adding either a few cuttings of fresh Ginger Root or using Ginger Ale instead of soda or tonic creates a sophistication to the flavors in this cocktail that I myself was shocked to discover.

Be sure to enjoy one this summer. If you don't feel like making it yourself, drop by my house…I'll fix you one right up!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mine Mine Mine ALL MINE!

After 3 days of interminable waiting It's Mine! I picked up my new car today. The Scion xB in Sizzling Crimson! Could it sound any gayer? I think not. But that's ok, I'm gay, so it can sound as gay as it likes.

I know, it looks blackish, but in person it's crimson, sizzling in fact
Here it is right before I stepped into it to take ownership for the very first time. I felt I should commemorate the event with a photograph. It will never look this new again. Course, they had to go and give it those darn 1812 Maryland license plates, which I think look so ugly. Oh well, maybe I'll get custom plates for it at some point.

I drove over to Tod's first thing. I had to show it off to someone who would be excited. The Hubby couldn't even stop weeding long enough to come look at it when I got home. Not sure what the "damage" is there. He can discuss that with the therapist next week.

So far I have managed to set the time, which is remarkably easy and I have paired my iPhone through the Bluetooth so that I can talk hands-free. I have also demonstrated the auto-start to anyone who will pause long enough to watch. I've made it through the "quick start" guide so that I know the basics of it's operation. Now it's time to wade through the owners manual and learn all the details. Cool item - the case the owners manual comes in has a First Aid kit in it. How cool is that? I am now ready to assist the critically injured, or simply band-aid a cut that happens on the road…whichever it may be.

So, big shout out to Alex at Younger Toyota in Hagerstown. He was a delight to deal with and I never felt pressured to buy. So if you need a car, go see Alex and tell him Jim sent you. I doubt I get anything for it, but hey, it doesn't hurt to be a referrer. Oh, another cool thing -- I found a coupon on the Younger Toyota website today that gets me a $100 Gas Card! So of course I printed it out and gave it to Alex as soon as I got the dealership. One can never have too much free gas.

I imagine tomorrow at work will be an endless parade of tours. That's usually what happens when someone gets a new vehicle. I'm ok with that. After all this time it's nice that it'll be me giving the tours instead of being a participant in them. Line forms to the right!

Monday, May 23, 2011


Saturday night a whole group of us went down to Martinsburg's Apollo Theatre to see Tod in "1776" The Musical.

All in all, it was a delightful evening. Central air in the theatre would have been a nice touch tho. By the end of the show I was sweatin like a whore in church. (which is kind of funny when you consider that I live in a church) The temperature did make the show very real for the actors. It adds a whole new dimension to the lyrics, "Would somebody open a window!"

I mentioned in a previous post how 1776 is my least favorite musical EVER! Don't worry, it still is. "Salt Peter" is a lyric that should never be repeatedly used in any song. I also bemoan the fact that there isn't a single "hummable" tune in the entire libretto. A musical HAS to have at least one song you leave the theatre humming to yourself or it really hasn't done it's job.

All of that being said, the production was wonderful. The sets were well executed. Very often in a community theatre production there is typically one set piece or decoration that tends to ruin the entire feel of the location. You know…they couldn't find a Louis the 16th armoire, so they painted something up to approximate it. Not so the case here, the color choices were correct and I was really impressed that they went to the trouble to construct an operational voting board…very nice touch. I even saw a production once where the windows weren't operational, totally ruining the "Will somebody open a window" gag.

The lighting served the production well. When dealing with such a large cast who are on stage together most of the show it can be hard task for the audience to know what to look and when. The designers use of follow and stationary spot lighting really helped the audience place their focus where it needed to be at any given moment.

Even tho I hate the music, it's direction was well done. I have worked with Alison Shafer myself, many times in the past. I know the care she takes in preparing the cast and choosing musicians.

I think that brings me to the cast. Casting in community theatre can be the crux of any production. These people are volunteers, not professional actors in most cases. The cast of 1776 was truly it's brightest shining star. Their individual characterizations and the way in which they interacted as an ensemble had me transfixed throughout most of the production.

What kind of BFF would I be if I didn't single out Tod. His John Dickinson, typically thought of as the villain of the show, was not just a venom spitting viper, but someone who's desire to wring the last drop out of his current way of life, made me a little sad when PA wound up voting for independence. Ben Franklin, played by Mike Reed was a delight and his interactions with John Adams (David Keye) were truly some of the highlights of the show.

I think what makes this show enjoyable (and it certainly isn't the music) is that it's a "Behind The Scenes" look at what led up to the creation of our country. In a society today, so obsessed with reality television programming, this peep, however loosely fact based satisfies our "need to know". It's our episode of Big Brother from the past, The Real World: Philadelphia with all the sex, drinking and fighting we have come to expect. Right up to the end we know the resolution for independence will eventually pass, but we still wonder who will become the Head of Household.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Spring Has Sprung

Here it is, the first instance of Spring flowers inside our home. The Hubby keeps a beautiful garden throughout the warm months, and I love it when he starts to bring some of it indoors.

I don't know what any of them are called except for the Peony, I just know their beautiful.

…A Brand New Car!!!

Wow, it's been a heck of a weekend. Saturday Scott and I went to test drive the Scion xb. Well, now I own it.

There is is, sitting in front of my old car. It's a gorgeous color (Sizzling Crimson) which doesn't really show up in the photograph as fiery and iridescent as it does in person. It truly sizzles.

I pick it up Tuesday once they get the accessories I selected installed. I opted for the Bluetooth handsfree phone and the automatic start. It'll be nice on those chilly mornings to start my car from the warmth of my house.

Now I can start obsessing over it's care. The dealership offers free lifetime oil changes and when you bring it in for the change they also wash it for you! How cool is that! But, I am already fearing it's first scratch or ding. I've never owned a brand new car before and always considered my used cars disposable. So what if something happens to it…it's used. Now I will need to begin shining it, and waxing it and, most certainly, locking it!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A Bachelor Weekend

Well, the hubby is off this weekend to New York to meet up with someone he knows from his days as a German Exchange Student. So that leaves me here with the Molly Pup and a lot of time on my hands.

I've got Tod's show Saturday night. That ought to be fun. Apparently there is a large group of us going to it. I have to say that 1776 is my least favorite musical in the entire history of time, I am hoping that this production shows me something new. (No pressure Tod) I will be posting as objective a review as I possibly can at some point. We'll see how many cocktails it takes for me to be truly objective.

Tomorrow (Friday) is a trip to Ikea. I need to pick up some lighting. Here are the selections I am looking at.

I've got a lot of projects I could get into this weekend. Now that my contractor is done with all of his work, I can get the new vanity put together so The Hubby can stop complaining about having to use the tiny sink in the Water Closet.  This project is going to require some craftiness. I bought 2 shelving units a long time ago to be placed by, and on, the vanity. One will serve as the Bathroom Pantry and the other the functional shelf that will house the toiletries currently in use. The problem is that they are stark white, which really doesn't work with the dark color scheme I have going on back in the Bedroom/Bathroom/Laundry Room/Closet. So my plan is to cover the exterior of the units with the same copper paper that I used on the ceiling. My original plan was to tear the paper up and decoupage it onto the shelving units. Upon further reflection, I think that would take forever and be kind of messy. So instead, I think I will crumple the paper up in long sheets, smooth it back out like I did for the ceiling and then smooth it onto the shelving units using spray adhesive.

My other project is a raised garden. The Hubby, apparently, needs some more room to plant things. Oh well, it keeps him out of trouble. I have the timber already, I am just dreading the assembly. The plan is to make 3 raised beds, roughly 8x3 ft that will someday surround an, as of yet unapproved, water feature. The reason they are needed is that my backyard (which was once a parking lot) has only 3 inches of soil that was spread down over the original macadam. So it's not like he can dig down into anything except asphalt and last time I checked, asphalt wasn't really good for plants. So, I think it would be a great treat for him to come back from NY and find his beds completed.

The other thing I'd like to get to this weekend is some car test driving. My "Car Buddy" Scott is coming over and we are going to go test drive the new Scion.

I know, it'a box on wheels and I have often said I would never own one. But, I have sat in one and I like it. I like how I kind of sit "up" in my truck, and the Scion has the same feel to it. So we'll see how it drives. It's time for a new car. I mean, I'm 42 years old and I have never owned a new car…only ever used ones. It's time….REALLY time. The toughest decision is color…which of these 3 do you like?

Now that the Portico is back in place on it's new concrete slab, it needs painted. The painting job falls to my sister. I need to get it ready for her tho. So if I find the time this weekend, I should scrape it and wash it down.

Now that I've written all of this out, I'm feeling incredibly overwhelmed and very lazy. I'll let you know on Monday how much of it got done.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gone and Hopefully Forgotten…Or Not

It's been a big week in TV Land. All of the networks have announced which shows have been canceled, what's coming back and what's new on their schedules. It's looking like my fall TV viewing is going to be taking a definite downturn.


Ding Dong Brothers & Sisters is dead! I can't tell you how happy this makes me. Not only was I growing terribly tired of this show, but I also felt a twinge of guilt for not watching it's slow painful death.

It is a bit of a shame. I adore every single one of the actors attached to this show. I even loved the first season and part of the second. I totally blame the writers for this one. They took what was an fascinating family drama and turned it, character by character (bottle of wine by bottle of wine), into a Soap Opera.

I'm also not upset about ABC canceling V. I have an earlier post all about how they ruined that show. I am on the fence about No Ordinary Family. I think the show had great potential, but their writers too, kind of "dumified" it for the masses. Masses that then did not turn out to watch it. I'm very happy that all of my truly favorite shows are returning. Castle, Cougar Town, Modern Family, Happy Endings, Grey's and PP…they will more than make up for the void created by the above canceled shows. Yes, I know…I didn't mention Desperate Housewives. Mainly because I no longer watch it. I'll give it a chance to grab me next season, but this season fell flat for me.


This will be easy. I only watch one show on this network.

This show has replaced Brothers & Sisters as what I consider to be the best written drama on television. Not to mention that Christine Baranski, my favorite actress EVER!, has a very meaty supporting role.


I just realized that I have never watched a single episode of any of the shows canceled by this network, so this will probably be a quick one too.  I have become a fan of Chuck tho.

I poo-pooed this show for a long time…a very long time. This season when Linda Hamilton joined the cast as Chuck's mother, I could no longer resist. I know, you would have thought that when Scott Bakula turned up as his Dad that I would have been hooked. But no, back then I still considered the show too nerdy for me. What I discovered is that Chuck has something for everyone. Action, adventure, and a huge amount of references thrown in for the nerd set. I have to admit…I get a lot of those references even tho I am not a nerd.


Fox also didn't cancel anything I care about. Sorry about Human Target Tod. I know you enjoyed that show, but it just never grabbed me. I am very excited that Fox renewed Fringe.

What started out appearing to be an X-Files knock-off, very quickly proved to be one of the most tightly plotted and riveting shows I've watched in a long time. They have spanned 2 parallel universes and countless years without it ever being confusing or terribly difficult to figure out. Unlike the X-Files, they don't keep the payoff from you. You learn as the characters learn and are as shocked as they are about it. Riveting! And I don't use that term very often when talking about television.

I goes without saying that I am looking forward to a 3rd season of Glee. I mean, who isn't??? My only fear regarding Glee is that it's going to play itself out. I hope they have something new in store for season 3 that we haven't seen before. How many times can it be about the road to regionals or nationals???

The CW

I still don't even really consider this a network. They have canceled the only show I ever watched on it.

OK, maybe I am a nerd after all. I just couldn't get enough of this show! It was total pop culture popcorn.  I'm not even sure you can say that it was canceled. I feel like the producers had told their story and it was time to logically end. Unlike so many shows they didn't drag it 2 seasons past when it stopped being any good. I always liked that about the Star Trek series too. They planned for 7 seasons and at 7 seasons they ended it. Don't get me started on LOST, but I really appreciate the fact that the producers of that show set an end point. I wish more shows would do that. Really, how hard is it to figure out how many seasons it's going to take to tell you story and stick to it!

So that is what I'm excited about in terms of cancelations and renewals. Stay tuned for my post regarding the new shows I am excited about.

What are you sorry, and or happy to see removed, and or saved regarding the fall season. Let me hear it in the comments!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Big Easy…Not So Much!

Well, I wanted to post while I was in New Orleans, but my work schedule just didn't allow for it. I only  made it out and about 4 of the nights I was there. I do have some things to show you.

Here is The French Quarter at sunset from the roof of my hotel. It's easy to see how beautiful the city is from up here, while how vile it can be from street level. It almost looks like the rooftops of London.

Now I didn't make it through my entire food itinerary. I had lunch at The Corporation and I ate a lot of Krystal Burger dinners. I made it to The Clover Grill on more than one occasion. Here is my artsy photo from there.

Diner Chic! It's a little hole-in-the-wall, but the food is amazing. The coolest part is that they deep fry the bacon for my burger AND serve it with Tater-Tots! Heaven on a bun!!!

Here are a couple classic New Orleans shots. The St. Louis Cathedral is a pretty impressive building. More so at night than during the day. Don't get me wrong, it's nice during the day, but at night you get this view from behind it.

Another thing you see all over New Orleans are the horse drawn carriages. Here is one I happened across one evening.

I think it's cool that they have brake lights. This one was outside of New Orleans many saloons. No doubt dropping off revealers to continue their evenings revelry.

Now, lets talk about Barbie. What??? Yes, Barbie. I was at the American Institute of Architects conventions and apparently, a new Barbie came out. This one was part of the Career Collection and everyone was very excited about it. Here is a picture of Barbie littering the loading dock at the convention center

I am told that quite a few little girls, hopefully children of architects, were very upset when it was discovered that they had run out of Architect Barbie's for them. Something tells me it was a bunch of women in their late 40's who were really the upset ones.

To end this post, I have a picture of the lobby of my hotel. I was staying at the Omni Royal New Orleans.

Usually we wind up placed at the closest or least expensive hotel. It was a nice change of pace to be placed in one of the most fabulous hotels in the running. Every evening I got to choose my morning beverage that was then delivered to my door. I also got a really nice bowl of fresh fruit on my arrival. Omni ROCKS!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Itinerary is set

Not the itinerary you're thinking of. My Food Itinerary for my trip to New Orleans! I'm not too terribly impressed with New Orleans as a city. I mean, it's got some great architecture. But it's no Chicago. Usually when I am there it's rather hot, very humid, and everything kind of smells like the morning of a really bad hangover.

But the food, the food is amazing. So I always plan out my food itinerary before arriving. First stop will be The Acme Oyster House.

I am no fan of oysters. Looks like snot in a shell to me. They should call themselves the Acme Boo Fries House. Boo Fries, for those who don't know, are french fries that are fried really crisp, drenched in roast beef gravy and then covered in shredded cheddar cheese. In short, heaven on a plate! Eating an entire plate of them would probably send you to the hospital. Typically I get an order for the table and then supplement them with a Gumbo Poopa. "What is a Poopa?", you ask. A Poopa is french bread bowl. You can get it with either their seafood or chicken and sausage gumbo. What really makes this method of serving the gumbo so special is that once you done eating the gumbo, you are left with this bread bowl that is soaked with the gumbo juices. YUMMY!

Let's talk about lunch. Close to the convention center, where I will be working, is a "charming" hole-in-the-wall called The Corporation. (Sorry, no website for it)

I don't think there is room inside this place for more than 30 people. People don't go there to sit down and eat. I suppose they go there to drink. But I would be hard pressed to call this place safe at night. Lunch there is amazing! They have a full menu of Po Boys (subs) and then they have daily specials. All of it is real Cajun food. It's cooked by ladies, term loosely used, that just ooze cajun "sophistication". I really just hope they are washing their hands often. Kidding aside, the food here rocks. I typically order a Roast Beef Po Boy Dressed(with lettuce, tomato, and onion) & Smashed(kinda like a panini). What you get is a hot gooey roast beef sandwich just oozing all it's goodness into the bread. If you aren't seeing a pattern here, perhaps you have forgotten about my love of Sog. If it's hot and soggy, I'll eat it!

Another great place for lunch is Mother's. It's almost impossible to get a table here and often the wait line is around the block.

The real treat here is what they call Debris. Ya know how when you run roast beef through a slicer all those little bits fall off? Well for most places that's waste. Not at Mother's. They scoop that up and put it in a pot, let it simmer forever, and call it Debris. You can get it in a sandwich or as a side with Red Beans and Rice. It's my "Must Have" treat while in New Orleans.

Going a bit upscale…every now and then I do like to dine at places that use cloth napkins. The Gumbo Shop is at the top of my list. There are plenty of fancy places to eat in New Orleans, I mean come on…Emeril is from here! BAM!!!

The Gumbo Shop is what I like to call "Back Alley Dining". In all my travels, some of the best places to eat have been discovered off the beaten track. I was cutting across to Bourbon St. from the river when I stumbled upon this gem. Like I said, it's more of an upscale establishment. They don't take reservations, so on the weekend you are going to be standing in line in order to enjoy "The Best Gumbo I Have Ever Tasted!". They don't put it in a bread bowl like Acme, but I'm ok with that. This is a gumbo that is so flavorful and complex that I want to pick up the bowl at the end and drain it directly into my mouth. I don't want any bread getting in the way of that. Yeah, some people stare…but that's never bothered me.

This post wouldn't be complete unless I talked about my "New Orleans Guilty Pleasure", Krystal Burger.

I don't know who Krystal is, but she has got a way with the greasy burger. These little gems are akin to a White Castle Cheeseburger. About 3 inches square, fried in onions, topped with a pickle, and guaranteed to eventually kill you. They are the perfect cure at 3am for a night of a bit too much drinking. Four of these little burgers manage to coat your stomach and soak up all the alcohol so that by morning all you're doing is burping the onions. Or in my case, within an hour you're burping the onions.

Another option for late night dining is The Clover Grill. This is the closest you will come to true diner food in New Orleans.

They cook they'e delicious hamburgers under hub caps! I don't know why that is different than placing them under one of those little "Burger Dome" things…but it makes all the difference in the world. They also have a Create-Your-Own Omelette option that is more food than 2 people can eat. This is another place I've hit after a night of drinking in order to sober up.

So, what have we learned?

          •  New Orleans is about the food
          •  New Orleans is about the drinking
          •  New Orleans smells like a hangover

I can't wait to get there!

Monday, May 2, 2011

A Breath Away From...

Every now and then I look back at my life and I think of the numerous times I have found myself a breath away from death. There was that time in High School, riding in a buddies car, not wearing a seat belt (no one did back then). He took the curve a little fast and the next thing I know I am hanging out the car window with roadside grass hitting me in the face. There was that time in Tijuana when the local police picked up me and my coworkers and proceeded to threaten our lives in exchange for whatever maximum we could withdraw from our ATM cards. Even the blood clot incident makes me wonder sometimes just how close I've come to the "great beyond"?

This whole Bin Laden business has hit me a lot harder than I initially realized it would. Mainly because it forces me to think back to 9/11 and again, just how close I was to all of it. Now, I can't even begin to compare my grief to anyone who lost someone on that fateful day. But I was close…too darn close.

For those who haven't heard the story…

I was traveling for work that day. We were flying an early morning flight out of Dulles to Boston for a convention. Upon landing in Boston we heard the news on the radio regarding the first plane crashing into one of the Twin Towers. At that point it was almost laughable. The full horror of it all hadn't hit yet. We thought some little tiny two-seater airplane had gone off course. As the day progressed and the horror of it all unfolded we came to find out that the plane that hit the Pentagon left from the airport gate right next to us. Of course then we found out that one of the planes that hit the tower left from Boston. Even more disturbing was that while waiting in Boston to find out if the show we were there for was canceled (Duh!), a news truck pulled up outside the building and trained their camera on the Prudential Tower…assuming that would be the next target. The hotel we were staying in was searched from top to bottom, revealing the fact that terrorists who carried off the plan that day were, in fact staying there. Like I said…too close.

If I were a religious man…and I'm NOT, I might somehow talk myself into believing that the hand of God was at work. "He" was protecting me from these many close calls. It could have been my plane flying into the Pentagon, I was only one gate away. Boston could have been a target too. My hotel could have had an explosive device inside to cover the tracks of the perpetrators.

Apparently, I have Osama Bin Laden himself to thank for the fact that I narrowly avoided death once again. His plan excluded me while condemning thousands of others. I don't pretend to understand the complexities of the universe. But it makes me sad that he is dead. I know it's wrong to mourn the death of such a horrible person. But I have him to thank for being here today. Osama Bin Laden is the reason I am alive today, well perhaps one of them. So, I mourn the loss…not of a great man, but of a man who's plans, thankfully, excluded me.

Osama Obama

Amazing the difference one letter makes, but I digress. Apparently Osama Bin Laden is now dead and his body is in the hands of American authorities.

At least those are the reports that are coming in. I'm not sure what this changes about anything. 9/11 still happened. Do we now feel better that we have killed it's instigator? How will this stop future terror plots against the US? I mean, really…it's not like one man was behind all of this. We can't possibly think that by killing their leader that anything will change. Someone else will simply step into the position. I myself would be more concerned about the backlash this killing might enthuse. War on Terror over? I think not!