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Dozens Brawl Over Frozen Daiquiris in Queens

Dozens Brawl Over Frozen Daiquiris in Queens

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Three were arrested for fighting over daiquiris

Wikimedia/Corey Taratuta

Chairs were thrown and property was damaged because customers got fed up with long lines for frozen daiquiris.

The Fat Tuesday frozen daiquiri bar at the Resorts World Casino in Queens planned to bring refreshing island treats to customers and put some smiles on faces when it opened on Friday, but instead it set off a brawl that caused thousands of dollars in damage and saw at least three customers arrested.

According to the New York Post, the frozen daiquiri bar underestimated just how much casino patrons would want frozen daiquiris. 300 people reportedly swarmed the little daiquiri bar, and lines got unmanageably long. With wait times of up to 90 minutes and more just to get a frozen daiquiri, tensions started running high, and finally an enormous fight broke out.

“Two girls started this whole thing,” a witness said. “They came in with their groups. Before you know it, they started looking at each other, they started bumping into each other and then all hell let loose.”

Chairs were thrown, property was damaged, and in the end three people were arrested.

Cocktail #50: Daiquiri

They say that sometimes the simplest drinks are the most difficult to master. Look at the martini. With just three ingredients, it's one of, if not the, most "famous" and well known cocktail in the world, and yet people still keep trying to master it. I suspect the daiquiri is in the same league, in a way. Three simple ingredients, dozens of versions over the decades, and yet with small tweaks it can be endlessly improved. I couldn't let 52 exotic cocktails go by and not give this classic a shot.

There is much written about the daiquiri and its origins. There are daiquiri recipes in the books I have by Jeff Berry, and in Martin and Rebecca Cate's Smuggler's Cove. At the end of the day, I decided to go with a version of Jeff Berry's recipe I found online, which sounded like the real deal. I made one modification with the rum I used - instead of Berry's recommended Cana Brava or Bacardi 1909, I used the white rum I had on hand, Plantation 3 Stars. Obviously, the rum you use here can make or break this drink. Personally, I feel like the Plantation 3 Stars worked very well - the drink was immensely enjoyable - but then again, I am not a daiquiri connoisseur. Sure, I've had a few here and there, but they were usually frozen, probably made with a mix, and not memorable.

Berry worked on this recipe for over a year, and the main thing to keep in mind is his use of a sugar blend of white and Demerara or turbinado sugars, in place of what has become the standard simple syrup, to cut down on dilution.

Here's his version of the daiquiri, from Punch:

2 level teaspoons sugar blend*
1.00 oz. ounce lime juice
2.00 oz. white rum, preferably Caña Brava or Bacardi 1909 Superior Limited Edition
Garnish: lime wheel

* To make the sugar blend, combine 4 parts organic white cane sugar to 1 part turbinado or demerara sugar.

Combine the sugar blend and lime juice in a mixing tin. Stir until the sugar has fully dissolved into the lime juice. Add the rum to the sugar and lime mixture, along with large cubes of ice, cracked with a bar spoon. Quickly shake and strain the drink into a coupe.

This is not going to be news to anyone who regularly enjoys daiquiris, but this was absolutely lovely. Sweeter than I expected (2 teaspoons!), the sweetness cut the tart citrus of the lime. And the Demerara component of the sugar complements the white rum with a very slight but noticeable hint of molasses. As someone who does his best to avoid added sugar except for a half-teaspoon in coffee, this was slightly too sweet for my taste, so if I made it again, I might cut the sugar back by a half-teaspoon. I'll be interested to try this with different white rums, including Berry's recommended Cana Brava, to see the differences. And I will say that *this* is the perfect drink to offer guests at cocktail parties - tiki themed or not. So simple, easy to make, and so enjoyable - this is a real winner. It doesn't have the over-the-top kitsch and garnish of many of the other tiki drinks I've tried over the last 49, but sometimes that's ok!

Mix one up today, sit back, and enjoy the simplicity. Cheers!

Given the daiquiri's Cuban origins, I'll leave you with some interesting 1950s/pre-Castro Cuba footage.

The Goombay Smash (Bahamas)

Born in the humble Blue Bee Bar on Great Turtle Cay in the Out Islands of the Bahamas, this potent libation contains four kinds of rum. Created by Blue Bee Bar founder Miss Emily, the Goombay Smash -- not the Bahama Mama -- is the national drink of the Bahamas. It's named after the traditional form of drum-oriented Bahamian music, similar to calypso.

Alison Cook looks back at 1997: The Year That Bit

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To bite or be bitten: The classic Darwinian drama raged throughout our fair city in 1997, a year in which strange eating behaviors -- just ask Evander Holyfield -- made for an entertaining (if slightly indigestible) feast. Even our beloved new boom underscored the point, as humongous malls threatened to eat Katy, Landry's King Tilman Fertitta gobbled up Kemah and Godzilla-sized multicinemas tried to swallow us all. The Rockets -- and their many, many co-dependents -- dined on humble pie. The Astros, having finally made the playoffs, just plain ate it. And the Incredible Shrinking Convention Center Hotel Deal (please, Lord, send us a 1998 in which we don't have to think about this anymore) came down with a bad case of anorexia.

We should have known to assume fight-or-flight posture way back in January, when a cosmic "heads up!" message in the form of countless tiny ice bomblets unleashed itself from every tree limb and overhang. A parade of nasty little twisters visited our suburban shores, and incessant rain turned the landscape into one immense, sodden sponge. Our floods would have taxed Noah. Our ozone counts made it dangerous to breathe. The entire city sprang leak after noxious leak: flammable petroleum gas here, a quarter-million gallons of smelly crude there, a geyser of gas and water over yonder. Toxic-chemical clouds swam through the air -- hydrofluoric acid, nickel carbonyl, Diketene, nitrous dioxide, chlorine. Pity our poor neighbors between Alvin and Santa Fe, whose very garden hoses spewed water you could light with a match -- and pray it's not a metaphor.

What wasn't leaking was exploding, from a vinegar-plant alcohol tank to a quartet of Liberty County oil tanks to Shell Chemical's Deer Park plant, which went boom with a window-shattering blast. Two tanker trucks burst like bombs on two different freeways. Indeed, the transportation gods had it in for us. Dump trucks and school buses and Metro buses ran amuck at every turn, trains insisted on derailing or colliding and (naturally) exploding, not to mention the 225-ton rolling construction crane that mysteriously chose to self-combust. Two different Continental crews managed to land at two wrong airports. Norwegian Cruise Lines' Thanksgiving-week voyage turned into the un-air-conditioned Cruise from Hell, as waiters sweated onto the entrees and passengers hauled mattresses out to sleep on deck. Travel by ambulance proved to be even less pleasant than we thought -- an occasion on which the unsuspecting Houstonian might be molested by a paramedic or have his or her confidential data sold to predatory law firms. Can we just stay home in '98?

Not that there weren't things to feel good about amid the mayhem. Taramania, Deep Gulf drilling fever, a shiny new consumer temple in the form of Saks -- even last year's dreaded Pierce Elevated rehab had a happy, on-target ending. The WNBA Comets and MVP Cynthia Cooper ruled. We had the best fall color ever. The heart swelled with pride at all the Houston connections to world-class events, from the Heaven's Gate apocalypse to the demise of Biggie Smalls to the attempted Republican coup against Gingrich in the U.S. House with our own Tom DeLay playing (choose one) Larry, Moe or Curly. For every stinky golf deal, there was a silver lining: another Charles Barkley outburst to paste into our memory books, another mesmerizing episode in the bizarre spectacle of Lloyd Kelley self-destructing, another weird facet of the Expect the Unexpected image campaign. Hovering over all of it is the lingering image burned onto our retinas by the Power of Houston extravaganza, one of those epic civic feel-good events we feel obliged to stage for ourselves now and again, can-do pep rallies writ very, very large. No surprise that the 1997 version culminated in a hyperbolic fireworks-and-laser battle that made it seem as though all of downtown Houston was -- what else? -- exploding. Just as our skies will this week, with the now-traditional barrage of New Year's gunfire. Put on your Kevlar vests, whip up a few Chupacabra cocktails and toast the year that was.

To be followed by a festive Jonestown Tea and Last Brunch at Waco
The Omni Houston Hotel's new chef, Denis Meurgue, re-created the "Last Dinner on the Titanic," following the first-class menu and music from the night the great ship went down.

Rob Johnson was busy that night
Channel 2 reporter Jeannie Ohm appeared on camera with one of those ravening Cabbage Patch Snack Time Kids attached to her tresses, whereupon colleague Susan Lennon produced scissors and cut the little monster off.

Thus making the Snack Time Kid look minor-league
Mike Tyson took two infamous bites out of Houstonian Evander Holyfield's ear during their heavyweight championship bout in Las Vegas -- the second a "wolflike" chomp that carved out a one-inch chunk of cartilage recovered by an MGM Grand employee, who said it looked like a piece of sausage.

It really ruined that ethereal wheatgrass flavor
Whole Foods Market settled a suit in which a Houston customer claimed a shift manager had spiked his wheatgrass smoothie with Visine as a practical joke.

Marvin Zindler chose not to attend
Alligators at the Houston Zoo broke their long wintertime fast with a public feast of raw chicken and dead rats.

Mike Tyson loves them
The Mr. Raspada Refresqueria offered the Chupacabra, a $3 fresh-fruit ice cone named after the legendary flying beast that sucks goats' blood.

It was his version of a "Two-for-One" special
Samir Hannoush, proprietor of Renata's Restaurant, was accused of giving his customers' credit-card account numbers to counterfeiters in exchange for wine, beer and food.

Why Houston trial lawyers make Tyson look like an amateur
The Chronicle's Maxine Mesinger reported that bigtime Houston trial lawyer Earle Lilly was "the first person I've ever watched devour a five-pound lobster all by himself. It was awesome. "

Earle Lilly ordered a dozen
Russian chef Boris Bugerenko turned out burger-shaped birthday cakes layered with fake tomato, cheese and lettuce in the downtown-tunnel Kolache Shoppe.

They tried Visine, but it didn't have that je ne sais quoi
The Houston-based Minute Maid Co. recalled 6,500 cases of its Berry Punch because there might have been a cleaning product in the drink.

Jeez, George Bush was right
Coupon ads in the Chronicle touted "Mann's Broccamole, a great-tasting, fat-free dip or spread."

And you should try her pumpernickel
Continental Airlines sued a pilot's ex-wife for spiking her homemade rye bread with marijuana, which caused the pilot to fail a random drug test.

Tony Vallone is taking a wait-and-see attitude
Brown & Root signed an exclusive agreement to engineer, manufacture, install, operate and maintain equipment designed to tenderize beef by blowing it up in a dynamite-like explosion.

But they were really, really big French fries
Two Aeros hockey players -- indicted for assaulting police in a drunken bar brawl in which food, food baskets and chairs were alleged to have sailed through the air -- griped that only a few French fries had been thrown.

It made pretty good Chupacabras, too
Four NASA volunteers in a Clear Lake City test chamber shared 30 gallons of water a day, recycling every drop -- including their own urine -- into showers, drinking water and clothes-washing water.

We were with you until the broccoli cole slaw
Chronicle columnist Ken Hoffman ran the following recipe for "Aunt Joycie's Doggie Birthday Cake": Mix together 2 large cans of dog food, 2 cups of cooked rice and one-half cup of oatmeal. Place mixture in a springform pan placed directly on a serving tray. Chill in refrigerator 2 to 3 hours. To decorate the top of the cake: Place one fried egg in the center. Use one can of sardines and 4 ounces of cheese, cut into matchsticks, to form spokes radiating from the egg. Place 5 hot dogs, sliced into coins, to fill the spaces between the spokes. Finally, use one package of broccoli cole slaw to garnish around the platter. Keep chilled. Serves 8 to 10 dogs.

It's not nice to fool Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa's lawyer asked perennial candidate Sam "Texas" Fayad to stop implying that she endorsed him by running her photo in his campaign flier under the headline "Good People Think This Man Should Be Your City Councilman."

Sam "Texas" Fayad only wished he'd thought of it
City Council candidate Herschel Smith distributed 50,000 "prayer rocks" along with his campaign fliers.

Not to mention brutishly uncomprehending
At a Chinese New Year festival celebrating the Year of the Ox, Harris County Republicans distributed pamphlets asserting that "Republicans have a strong connection to the ox, which symbolizes perseverance and hard work in all endeavors in the field. Like an ox, Republicans have a great sense of responsibility, are likely to be thrifty and tend to be stubborn."

That's exactly what scares us, Jerry
Declaring himself a candidate for land commissioner, state Senator Jerry Patterson suggested his authorship of the state's concealed handgun law made him a front-runner, saying, "I suspect that of 145,000 concealed handgun licenses, most of them are voters in the Republican primary."

When faced with an ignorant Yankee, I rely on: A) my shotgun B) the closest jug of moonshine C) the self-esteem bestowed by claiming a proud ethnic heritage

After a Yankee Senate aide referred to backers of a Tom DeLay plan to overhaul federal highway funding as "hillbillies," the majority whip from Sugar Land proudly urged colleagues to take a "hillbilly test" to see if their states had reached "hillbilly-hood."

Hillbillies vs. Cheeseheads
During congressional debate over finance reform, Tom DeLay and Democratic Representative David Obey of Wisconsin cursed and shoved each other, appearing ready to trade blows until an aide stepped in to separate them.

Don't worry, we will
City Council candidate Dave Wilson's web site contained a link to the web page he had previously set up to fight affirmative action, because, he explained, "I want people to identify me as that same yahoo."

Et tu, Lupe?
In April, at Rob Mosbacher's mayoral kickoff, civic activist Lupe Fraga introduced him as "the next mayor . my friend and compadre" but several months later he switched his endorsement to Lee Brown, saying, "I really didn't know who was running."

It was Lupe Fraga's idea
Rob Mosbacher invited City Council members to his campaign kickoff in Sam Houston Park, just across the street from their City Hall offices, and offered them free transportation.

Memo to Joe: Think Hugh Grant
After state Senator Drew Nixon of Carthage was arrested for soliciting sex from an undercover cop, Houston state Representative Joe Nixon worked the floor of the House telling folks it was that other guy, lamenting, "It would be terrible if people thought I did it."

Gee, she would have fit right in
City Council candidate Karen Kay Christopher, a nonlawyer who represented herself on charges of refusing to return a rental car, was repeatedly held in contempt of court for making improper statements before being convicted, ordered to jail for six months, slapped with another 380 days for contempt, fined $250 for filing frivolous lawsuits against prosecutors and police, then hit with another 30 days for contempt at a sanctions hearing.

There's a reason the story broke on April 1
Channel 13 TV news anchor Bob Boudreaux announced he is thinking about running against County Commissioner Steve Radack in 2000.

Well, at least he got his adjectives right
City Council members complained that John P. Trotter, creator of an Internet site opposing the city's new restrictions on sexually oriented businesses, had misrepresented their voting records while posting their home phone numbers and describing them variously as "silly Gracie Saenz," "wicked Martha Wong," "ridiculous Judson Robinson" and "catatonic John Kelley."

You can take the boy out of the Washburn Tunnel, but.
Robert Lee Nichols, the former small-town mayor who was nominated by Governor Bush to the Texas Transportation Commission, defended his knowledge of urban traffic issues by citing the first ten years of his life spent living near the Washburn Tunnel in Pasadena, plus the semesters he once spent in Texas City and South Houston for an engineering program.

Surprise, surprise
When bribery and conspiracy indictments in last year's City Hall sting finally came down, secret FBI tapes showed pivotal figure Ben Reyes, the former councilman and state representative, bragging to two cash-flashing undercover feds, "We're going to go and purchase us some leaders, 'cause that's what it takes, I mean, I never did it for nothing."

Is this what they mean by "the banality of evil"?
Those indictments asserted that Reyes passed $1,500 in sting cash to Councilman Michael Yarbrough in the men's room at Carrabba's, and $2,500 to former councilman John Peavy in the urinal of the restaurant at the Wyndham Warwick.

He was all out of toilet paper
After City Councilman Rob Todd sneaked into the Council chamber and wrapped Mayor Lanier's chair with yellow "Free Kingwood" banners left over from an anti-annexation rally, Lanier staffers canceled Todd's electronic access card to City Hall.

It takes a hot dog to know one
The ever-verbose and obstreperous Rob Todd, during one Council meeting, displayed on the rail in front of his seat a tiny replica of the Oscar Meyer Wienermobile.

City Council members, two of whom are under indictment and who, as a body, gave city workers a 3 percent pay raise this year, said they would accept an automatically calculated 8.4 percent pay raise for themselves.

Somewhere, Lurleen Wallace and Ma Ferguson are smiling
At the very last minute, Olympics-obsessed Councilman John Kelley withdrew as a candidate, leaving a clear field for his totally inexperienced wife, Jean, an art teacher, to run for his seat.

Somewhere, Machiavelli is smiling
After John Kelley's son Shaun failed a drug test while imprisoned on cocaine charges -- having violated his deferred adjudication by accumulating misdemeanor charges of failure to stop and render aid, marijuana possession and fleeing the scene of an accident -- the following occurred: His dad hired Racehorse Haynes as his attorney his dad had an aide fetch the campaign-finance report of the presiding judge the judge sent him to a lock-down drug treatment facility instead of prison his dad queried a Fort Bend County judge about the misdemeanor charges that judge spoke to the judge who was supposed to hear the case and -- that judge took himself off the case.

Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who's the thinnest-skinned of all?
When conservative activist Steve Hotze threatened to sue a Republican women's club if they mocked him in a musical skit, the women jettisoned the lyrics they had written to be sung to "It's My Party (And I'll Cry If I Want To)," instead just humming along while a trio of dancers hid their faces behind signs bearing question marks.

Get along, little jurors
Justice of the Peace Mark Fury, short of jurors to try a minor speeding case one evening, sent constables to a nearby Kroger parking lot to rope 19 unsuspecting grocery shoppers into service.

He's a close friend of Wicked Martha Wong and Catatonic John Kelley
Judge Mark Davidson, ticked over an appellate court decision, fired off an e-mail to several fellow judges in which he referred to Appeals Judge Maurice Amidei as "Alzeimer's [sic] Amidei."

A little Darwin is a dangerous thing
Presiding over the lawsuit in which a group of black Kennedy Heights homeowners claim Chevron is responsible for pollution-related health problems, Judge Kenneth Hoyt, who is black, pooh-poohed a medical pamphlet "because white people wrote it," and opined thusly on race and ethnicity: "Why do you think Chinese people are short? Because there's so much damn wind over there, they need to be short. Why are they so tall in Africa? Because they need to be tall. It's environmental. I mean, you don't jump up and get a banana off the tree if you're only four feet. If you're seven foot tall and you're standing in China, then you're going to get blown away when that Siberian wind comes through."

What a friend we have in the Commission on Judicial Conduct
Judge William Bell resigned after he got in hot water over 45 charges of ethical misconduct, including telling an outside attorney that the defendant in a high-profile case of his "has a friend in me," and perjuring himself when he denied the comment -- which the lawyer had taped -- before the Commission on Judicial Conduct.

After which he dropped to the floor and did the alligator
Judge Jim Barr faced suspension for, among other things, engaging in a tug-of-war over a prisoner with a deputy and making crude remarks and gestures to the three female prosecutors he called his "all-babe" court, including curling his index finger to summon one, then joking, "I wanted to see if I could make you come with one finger."

Diamond cut diamond
Talking to a New Yorker writer about the "Jewels of the Romanovs" exhibit, Lynn Wyatt said, "Peter the Great would fit right in here in Texas. He's my kind of man. In fact, he's just like my husband [oilman Oscar Wyatt]: He could do anything."

Plus an itty-bitty piece of cakeJudith Leiber, designer of $5,000 jeweled evening bags much loved by Houston socialites, told a local audience that their itty-bitty size was sufficient for a lady's basic necessities -- a hankie, a compact, lipstick and a $100 bill.

There goes her shot at the Chronicle's Best-Dressed List
Socialite and major clotheshorse Margaret Williams, whose luggage was lost for four days on a jaunt to Russia, told columnist Maxine Mesinger, "Well, it wasn't too bad, because we were in St. Petersburg, and we didn't know anyone there. So it was okay to wear the same suit for four days."

So was Hernando Cortes
During the mayoral runoff, a Rob Mosbacher Spanish-language radio commercial concluded with the line, "Mosbacher is our friend -- and he's so handsome!"

And the Sigmund Freud Memorial Award goes to.
The Wall Street Journal's right-wing editorialists referred to Houston affirmative-action critic Elizabeth Spates, who is black, as "Elizabeth Spades."

He'd just been reading his Wall Street Journal
When a student locked her keys in her car, Dickinson High band director Greg Goodman turned to a Hispanic colleague and asked, "Can you break into her car and get her keys out? You know, with your heritage and all."

Yeah, and inane politicians, too
On the topic of a smoking ban in Houston restaurants, City Councilman Rob Todd huffed, "The task of going after every carcinogen and every bit of poison in the air -- what are we going to do, ban mold spores?"

And if that doesn't work, we're turning him over to Charles Barkley
After a jury hit Robert Coulson with $25.6 million in damages for killing his family for insurance money, estate attorney Larry Doherty said, "We are ecstatic. He's going to die broke and in the box. We're going to get his DNA out of the gene pool and have him thrown from the face of the Earth forever."

But telemarketing looked attractive, too
Houston-born movie star Randy Quaid told David Letterman that as a high schooler, hearing that John Wayne was in town shooting Hellfighters, "I called the hotel where he was staying. I said, 'This is John Wayne. Got any messages for me?' And they gave me his messages. That gave me a lot of confidence, and I started performing."

Judge Jim Barr sent a sympathy card
State Representative Al Edwards filed suit against a fired employee who had complained to the EEOC that he suggested she wear shorter skirts and called her "an ignorant heifer."

Al Edwards sent a sympathy card
Ardith Jackson charged that she was fired from a constable's office for calling a hearing-impaired colleague "a deaf bitch."

Richard Jewell has retained Joe Jamail and is suing for libel
Houston radio news anchor Chuck Shramek, linked by news wires to the Heaven's Gate cult suicides after he posted an Internet photo of a "Saturn-like thing" following the Hale-Bopp Comet, complained that "I can identify with how Richard Jewell felt."

Hook 'em, Ron
Urging Texas universities to set the same admission standards for athletes as for other students, state Representative Ron Wilson said, "I'm more concerned about educating students than I am about seeing folks with pompons and eating popcorn and throwing up all over themselves because they are drunk in a stadium."

To arms, Surfside!
Congressman Ron Paul told C-SPAN that he lived in fear of being "bombed by the federal government in another Waco."

Give me topless bars or give me death
During the battle over Houston's tightened ordinance for sexually oriented businesses, David Wasserman, a Florida lawyer for adult bookstores, opined that a "national cultural war is about to be fought in Houston, paid for by the citizens of Houston."

And as a prelude to any sexually oriented cultural wars, too
Due to a typo, January's referendum ballot said that City Council must hold "pubic hearings" before elections on certain tax matters.

And herself as "our resident bimbo"
During a bit of morning-news happy talk, Channel 2 anchor Dominique Sachse, who is white, referred to black weathercaster Orelon Sidney as "our resident monkey."

No, but it got some great shots of those little green men
On a subcommittee trip to California, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee asked a NASA scientist if the Pathfinder probe had managed to photograph the flag that astronaut Neil Armstrong had left behind.

He's planning to call Sheila Jackson Lee as a witness
Bill Kaysing, author of the 1976 book We Never Went to the Moon, sued astronaut James Lovell for calling his moon theory "wacky."

But first he has to brief Sheila Jackson Lee
Bruce Willis came to the Johnson Space Center to shoot the movie Armageddon, in which he plays a space pilot who must destroy an asteroid before it can hit Earth.

Lee Brown is thinking of offering him the convention center hotel contract
For a show at Rice University's art gallery, minimalist Sol LeWitt had masons mortar together an eight-foot-high, 4,400-pound tower of cinder blocks.

Billy Burge was just too damn hard
At a Rockets vs. Portland game in the (then) Summit, Rich Little sang "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the voices of George Bush, Ross Perot, Jack Nicholson and John Wayne.

Bring me the head of David Gockley
The Houston Grand Opera's multimedia production of Salome featured a "Dance of the Seven Veils" in which a screen of silk fabric split and fell apart, a scene in which Salome contemplated a severed head inside a large glass salad bowl, and an audience rush for the exits.

We're holding out for Anna Nicole Smith's breasts
For $1,750, interested parties could buy one of 75 signed and numbered bronze "life impressions" of heart surgeon Denton Cooley's hands, forceps and scalpel at-the-ready, made by Houston-based Bronze Memories Co.

Next show: the West Texas earthworks of Ted Kaczynski
The Hyde Park Gallery in Montrose mounted a one-man show of paintings by color-blind prisoner Elmer Wayne Henley, mass murderer Dean Corll's accomplice.

Thank god everyone was over at the Elmer Wayne Henley show
Denton's Good/Bad Art Collective failed to levitate an occupied lawn chair above a Montrose gallery using 30-plus helium balloons, thus ruining plans for a rooftop camera to beam images of the sitter's tennis shoes into the gallery, where Jimmy Buffett's "blew out my flip-flop, stepped on a pop top" looped endlessly.

She looks so cute when she's throwing up
Favorite son Kenny Rogers, the singer and naughty phone caller, proposed to his girlfriend with a poem that included the lines, "I wondered when I'd do this / I wondered what you'd say / I thought at first the perfect time / Might be on Christmas Day. / With lots of friends and family / to help us celebrate. / I slowly watched you catch the flu / then knew I'd have to wait."

He owes it all to the Kenny Rogers Poetry Workshop
Texas Democratic Chairman Bill White of Houston wrote an ode to Land Commissioner Garry Mauro, the gubernatorial candidate, that went in part: "Who's that young man walking toward us? / Along that beach with kids? / He gets closer and closer to our sight / Though he's always been in reach. / Closer still I see the man / Garry Mauro is his name. / He's served this state in ideals well. / Texas will never be the same."

She was inspired by this year's mayoral race
Choreographer Nia Love staged a Buffalo Bayou Park performance in which dancers rolled in the mud while others unrolled mannequins from plastic wrap and simulated mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

After which Ben Stevenson had to be given mouth-to-mouth resuscitation
The Fly Guys, a troupe of 60-foot-tall inflatable Gumby-like figures, "danced" to the Houston Symphony's performance at the much-hyped Power of Houston festival.

Plus The Collected Works of Bill White
At the sandcastle contest sponsored by the Houston chapter of the American Institute of Architects, entries included "The Bill Clinton Presidential Library" -- a large toilet bowl accessorized with a six-foot-long Playboy magazine and books titled Whitewater Rafting and Bedroom Flowers.

There's a reason for that, Doug
Channel 51 owner Doug Johnson announced that he'd dump his all-news format in favor of such old, off-network shows as Kojak, Quincy, Airwolf and Simon & Simon, saying, "It's stuff you can't get on cable."

Proving that pond water seeks its own level
Houston's D'Eva and Eric Redding, who got Anna Nicole Smith into Playboy and then wrote about it in Great Big Beautiful Doll, planned a book on topless clubs with Allen Starkie, the British genius behind Fergie: Her Secret Life.

Now George Strait is in therapy
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was reported to be talking to Jerry Seinfeld about performing there next year.

Our Distinguished Visitors

Sheila Jackson Lee is sorry, too
At the Juneteenth Blues Festival, R&B singer Bobby "Blue" Bland lamented the Rockets' failure to reach the Super Bowl this year.

Let's see, red for China, black for Bosnia.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright liked Stelzig's Stetson hats so much that she bought three -- in red, brown and black.

He had reservations at the Redwood Grill
Actor Woody Harrelson, in town to demonstrate against Maxxam's razing old-growth forests, spent two hours in the Houston jail "on principle" when he was nabbed for not wearing a seat belt, then ponied up his fine "so I could have a Friday night."

Having already cornered the market in bullshit
Former Rhodesian prime minister Ian Smith, whose opposition to black voting rights led to a decade-long civil war, complained during a Houston visit to purchase bull semen that he has been unfairly characterized as a racist.

That's what we mean by "zero tolerance," Yankee!
The Allen House apartment rented by New York actor Tim Williams during a stint at the Alley was raided by the HPD, who discovered a spirited game of musical chairs in progress.

But they were really disappointed when he sang "Horse with No Name"
Channel 13 staffers excitedly donned Hawaiian shirts to commemorate a visit by Don Ho, but were crestfallen when the balladeer showed up in a dark blue blazer and turtleneck.

At least they hadn't worn their Hawaiian shirts
Goldie Hawn, shooting a TV movie in League City, disappointed a houseful of invited guests at Solero, downtown's trendiest of the trendy, when she failed to show for her dinner reservation.

Where the flavor du jour was Frozen Nut Brittle
Over 1,200 nudists descended on the Live Oak Resort northwest of Houston for a convention that included an ice-skating party and a trip to the Blue Bell ice cream factory.

Sorta like Houston City Council
Mexico's former attorney general, Mario Ruiz Massieu, left town $7.9 million poorer after a Houston jury decided the U.S. government could confiscate most of the $9 million he kept in a Houston bank -- although Massieu claimed the money came from political payoffs, not drug payoffs, saying "Mexico has a very unique system."

Those Inventive Houstonians

He thinks he can he thinks he can't.
Woodlands-based Zonagen's shares leaped 40 percent in value after the biotech company released tests showing its Vasomax product was effective in treating male impotence -- then tumbled after a short-seller predicted it would never gain federal approval.

If Eckhard Pfeiffer answers, hang up
After Aerial Communications, a wireless phone company, bought naming rights to the new concert venue at Bayou Place, they planned to install mobile phones hanging from the ceiling in place of the usual pay phones.

Coming next year: a giant Aerial wireless phone
Houstonians Ginny Galtney and Diane Marks appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show modeling their respective coiffures from the Hair Ball -- a six-foot-wide replica of the Astrodome and a four-foot-high Prince's Hamburgers sign.

Just get me past Joe Jamail
An enterprising attorney and accountant launched a concierge service at the downtown court complex -- offering valet parking, office space and services, mediation, escorts for befuddled or intimidated clients and witnesses, plus catered meals and entertainment.

Fine, but can we use them along White Oak Bayou?
Two Rice University archaeologists placed giant, concrete-hard termite mounds built of saliva-soaked particles around a West African dig site threatened by torrential rains and flooding.

The Elmer Wayne Henley model is forthcoming
Houston fashion design student Vanessa Meades won a scholarship for her ecru shantung ball gown featuring zippered, roll-down panels of old master paintings reproduced on cotton Lycra stretch fabric.

And "Proud Mary" looping endlessly on the sound system
Houston artist Dean Ruck announced plans for a Sesquicentennial Park project that will regale visitors with steamboat whistles, thrashing paddle-wheel effects and a big bubble in the bayou that will release large volumes of compressed air, simulating riverboat turbulence.

Their Dean Ruck special effects were really convincing
During the Houston mayoral race, it was revealed that Rob Mosbacher's barge company, Hollywood Marine, once avoided city property taxes by claiming the landlocked west Texas town of Ozona as its home port.

But they nixed Aerial as the official state telephone
A Texas House committee named buckminsterfullerene, the so-called "buckyballs" discovered by Rice University's Nobel prizewinners, the official state molecule.

They left out a "chip-your-own Chupacabra party"
A Chronicle story on "101 Things to Do When It Hits 101 Degrees" suggested keeping your underwear in the freezer floating flowers frozen in ice cubes in your bath water wearing only diamonds or jewelry in white, pale blue and frosted tones and having a huge block of ice delivered to your home, then inviting neighbors in for a chip-your-own daiquiri party.

Out, damned spot
Metro came up with a flashy fare card covered in designer leopard spots -- which obscured two crucial white spaces, preventing the fare box from reading the magnetic code.

Who says the gods don't have a sense of humor?
Longtime morals activist Geneva Kirk Brooks proposed that the city create a red light district.

Begging the question, superior to what?
After mayoral chief of staff Jimmie Schindewolf had a brainstorm while at the supermarket, his Public Works Department floated a plan to bottle Houston city water and market it nationally under the name "Superior Water."

Along with a microcassette eulogy by Sheila Jackson Lee
The ashes of LSD guru Timothy Leary and Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry were shot into space aboard a Pegasus rocket on the "founder's flight" of a commercial funeral service offered by Houston-based Celestis Inc.

Well, possession is nine-tenths of the law
When a cop asked Kerri V. Goode, who had been stopped for speeding just after a holdup at Texas Commerce Gulfgate, what the big envelope stuffed with cash was doing on her front seat, she replied, "It's mine. I just robbed a bank."

Kerri V. Goode taught him everything he knew
A man who robbed Resource One Federal Credit Union walked across the street, in full view of a teller, and proceeded to have lunch at Ryan's Steak House, where he was arrested.

At Kerri V. Goode's suggestion
An unemployed carnival worker fleeing Maryland assault charges was nabbed in Brookshire after he went to a police station to borrow gas money.

They think Kerri V. Goode may have been involved
When two armed robbers jumped an armored car guard picking up money at the Atrium 10 Tower, officers from Harris County's Organized Crime Task Force poured from their same-floor classroom, exchanged shots with the pair and arrested one of them as the other fled.

When you've got to go, you've got to go
After a brief chase, police arrested a trio of teenagers who had been spotted along a freeway feeder as one boy relieved himself beside a stolen gray Ford Taurus.

But he nailed them for embezzling the take from the Christmas bake sale
Six years after discrepancies were discovered in the bingo books of VFW Post 2427, two elderly ladies finally were acquitted by a judge of stealing $10,000 from the Ladies' Auxiliary bingo proceeds.

Four men who robbed a flower shop and shot the owner, wounding her, stopped on their way out to pick up four white Valentine's Day teddy bears.

Don't fire until you see the whites of their toenails
Wayne Bateman, 76, a retired Houston cop, told a jury that when he shot his 35-year-old girlfriend in the hip -- after ramming her with his motorized wheelchair -- he was only aiming for her big toe.

Gimme that hard-time religion
Rocky Bert Cozzens escaped from the Liberty County Jail by scaling a fence after hiding under a water tank used for prison-yard baptism services.

He had run out of his special homemade jerky
James Hand, a skilled outdoorsman who had been jailed for butchering a 1,500-pound buffalo and slaughtering a prize breeding bull, escaped from a Brazoria County prison and hid out in nearby woods for two days, blackening his face and clothes with shoe polish and subsisting on peanut-butter crackers.

Then he gave him an enema
A Houston pharmacist thwarted a would-be robber by sitting on him and wrapping him up with medical tape.

The law west of Dow Chemical
Lake Jackson bank president Buddy Baker -- who last year followed a bank robber to her mobile home, where she was arrested -- tackled this year's robber and wrestled him to the floor while the suspect's wife and three children waited in the getaway car.

That's exactly how we feel about our HMO
David Jefferson Jennings, disgruntled over Social Security benefits and bad teeth, was arrested in an alleged plot to take hostages from a dental office and plant bombs in daycare centers, after which eight homemade pipe bombs were recovered from his Baytown mobile home and his pickup.

Mr. Jennings just wanted to know his goddamn balance
Police called to an automatic teller machine in southwest Houston found it had been damaged by an explosive device.

And you thought junior high was bad
Port Lavaca resident Betty Louise Marek, 55, wired money from Houston to an undercover FBI agent she thought was a hit man, hoping he would off her 70-year-old ex-boyfriend and his new 66-year-old girlfriend.

Even Jenny Jones nixed him as a guest
A Tanglewood man sentenced to jail for indecency with children would persuade boys to wear diapers by taking them to a La Porte bay house and telling them a tall tale about a man decapitated during a boating accident, whose headless body swam in search of his son and would kill anyone who got in his way -- except for kids dressed as infants.

Yeah, the well-known Dracula phase
When Stephen James, who slept in a coffin and posed as a vampire, was tried for having sex with an underage girlfriend, he bragged in a taped phone call about sucking women's blood and complained that paying for an abortion would deprive him of Christmas money. His mother testified that he had gone through a phase.

Works every time
Male teacher's aide Paulino Martinez got probation for tricking a 15-year-old boy into having sex with him dozens of times by persuading him to don a blindfold, then posing as a pregnant college cheerleader named Martha.

She claimed Martha did it
Teenager Joynetta Blaine was charged with trying to cut off her 34-year-old boyfriend's penis while they were having sex.

At least he didn't tell her his name was Martha
Faith healer Raul "Brujo" Castillo was arrested on charges of convincing a 16-year-old girl that she could escape a curse on her spirit by having sex with him.

All in the family
Rap musician Bushwick Bill of the Geto Boys, whose girlfriend once shot him in the eye at his request, was indicted in Fort Bend County on charges he tried to shoot his brother.

He had always considered Bushwick Bill a role model
Houston rap artist Shawn Adams, known as "Black Capone," was sentenced to six life sentences for taking part in a Pearland home invasion in which a woman was shot in the face.

Now Clarence Brandley won't get to do that special guest spot
Ricardo Aldape Guerra, released from death row after his conviction for slaying a Houston cop was overturned, returned to his native Mexico and signed a contract to act in a soap opera -- then was killed in a car wreck.

But he's got a real future as a Houston City Councilman
Seventeen-year-old Brandon Sample, described by prosecutors as "a shopping fool," was charged with theft for opening four accounts at two banks, then writing checks from one account to another to bankroll a Corvette, a BMW and a three-month tour of Ireland.

Just call them information highwaymen
Gunmen in The Woodlands hijacked an 18-wheeler loaded with Compaq laptop computers.

What they didn't know: That was just her daytime stuff
When Elyse Lanier was robbed of her carry-on bag at the Newark Airport, the New York Times reported that it contained jewelry worth $590,000.

And the growers had planned such a nice harvest festival
In a year in which marijuana seizures tripled, authorities uprooted 2,400 pot plants growing in a wooded area adjacent to Bear Creek Park.

This cell's for you
After ramming his pickup head-on into an oncoming car and killing two people, Todd Arland Mitchell, whose blood alcohol tested more than three times the legal limit, walked over to a third car, got a can of beer and began drinking it.

He put the "urban" in "urban scouting"
Freddie Lee Oliver, the district executive for urban scouting for the Boy Scouts of America, was charged with pointing a gun at his ex-girlfriend's new boyfriend on Valentine's Day, then hitting him twice in the mouth, all in the parking lot of the daycare center where the erstwhile couple's child was tended.

Randy Quaid has set up a legal defense fund
David Wayne Fletcher, arrested for posing as a Houston cop to get free rent -- he actually had a friend pretend to be a burglar so he could handcuff him in front of apartment employees -- was stopped for speeding the very next week and claimed to be an officer again to avoid a citation. When a woman recognized him on TV, he was once more arrested (this time for aggravated robbery) as he attended law-enforcement classes.

Contrary to rumor, Ben Reyes was not among them
Houston police mounted a sting to nab more than 20 infant-formula thieves, who stole the pricey powder from local supermarkets for resale on the black market.

Timothy McVeigh sez: Just add 2,000 pounds of fertilizer and ignite
A bomb scare near the Israeli consulate at Greenway Plaza ended when police bomb experts used fiber optics to look inside a car's suspiciously sagging trunk, where they found bags of potting soil.

Buy us some peanuts and Cracker Jack
At the gala groundbreaking for the new ballpark, the Sports Authority gave out free peanuts and popcorn but charged a buck for soft drinks and hot dogs to discourage homeless people from crashing the party.

We don't care if we ever get back
County Commissioners Jerry Eversole and Steve Radack boycotted the ballpark party after Astros owner Drayton McLane threatened not to attend unless his lease deal was finalized in advance.

Plus ragged vagrants sleeping on strategically placed grates
The Thyroid Society gala, dubbed "A Saturday Night with Joe Piscopo," boasted Manhattan-style decor of "street people," in-line skaters, pretzel vendors and panhandlers.

Don't try substituting Astroturf!
The Chronicle's ever-entertaining "Entertaining" section featured a festive headband and muff fashioned of moss.

If only they had remembered their moss muffs
At a very chilly Hard Hat & Tails gala outside the under-construction Bayou Place, Lyn Robertson wore a bronzed and jeweled hardhat that matched her full-length gown and sable wrap, while her friend Grace Milligan wore a yellow hardhat studded with real turquoise and yellow feathers, along with a shawl trailing 50 black foxtails.

The bloodied field mice looked so colorful, littered on the lawn
The Nature Conservancy of Texas outdoor benefit, staged in a River Oaks garden, featured a special "birds of prey" cocktail-hour presentation in which live falcons, owls and an eagle were displayed and their hunting abilities demonstrated.

The world's first Jean-Paul Sartre twirling routine
At socialite Patsy Fourticq's birthday party, Maxine reported, "Myra Wil-son did her famous baton dance. The baton was in her car, so she faked the twirling part."

Honoring the late French existentialist
The Friends of Hermann Park held their annual Picnic in the Park luncheon benefit inside an air-conditioned tent.

Organizers cried fowl
At a birthday party, socialite Hershey Grace presented the honoree with a live Thanksgiving turkey, which proceeded to run amuck through the Colombe d'Or's French-paneled ballroom.

At the S&L Corner, guests could flip property and get an unsecured loan
At the grand opening of the new Saks Fifth Avenue, each floor of the store was designed to reflect a decade of Saks's history in Houston: disco '70s, go-go '80s and contemporary '90s.

Gidget was home with a headache
The annual "Kappa Weekend" beach party organized by alumni of a black fraternity plunged Galveston into gridlock and shocked townsfolk with drunken, lewd behavior -- including public urination and women stripping off their clothes.

Your next assignment, should you choose to accept it: Neutralize Drayton McLane

Heart surgeon Michael DeBakey interceded with the Kremlin to help liberate the Romanov jewels -- held hostage in a van hemmed in by Russian diplomatic vehicles -- in time for an MFA exhibit.

Dear Lee: Feeling a little homesick.
HPD alumnus Tom Koby did not exactly distinguish himself as Boulder police chief, thanks to the bungled investigation of Jon Benet Ramsey's murder, still unsolved after more than a year.

Tom Koby offered her a shoulder to cry on
Nude video artiste Farrah Fawcett posed for Playboy wearing bubble wrap turned 50 broke up with longtime housemate Ryan O'Neal, who had taken up with a 24-year-old was accused of destroying another actress's clothes in a squabble over a new man made a bizarrely addled appearance on David Letterman and was reported to have created a disturbance on a cross-country airplane flight.

The one on her butt read "Free Kingwood"
Jennifer Miriam of Kingwood made history by becoming the first Playboy centerfold to sport three tattoos.

Calling all unemployed special projects coordinators
Alex Kanakis resigned as special projects coordinator for the Harris County Attorney's office shortly after his nude photo was published in a Playgirl pictorial titled "Calling All Real Men."

Hey, good idea!
After a judge briefly granted a mistrial in the marathon New Orleans breast-implant case, citing a Houston attorney's courtroom eyeball-rolling and gestures of exasperation and disbelief, John O'Quinn defended his colleague by saying that to prevent such common conduct, "you'd have to practically put everybody in a straitjacket."

John O'Quinn on the line for Ms. Smith
Houston's favorite widow was the subject of tabloid headlines that screamed "Anna Nicole's Boobs Explode -- Again!"

Please do
Unemployed store clerk Roy Eugene Porter told the Sally Jessy Raphael show he'd use his $10 million Texas lottery jackpot to help a troubled Canadian boy he had seen on the show -- then, when his claim proved false, Porter said, "I found Sally Jessy Raphael to be a snob. I'm switching back to Oprah."

We're shocked, shocked!
Houston IRS agent Jennifer Long caused a national furor when she testified before a Senate committee that she knew of five cases in which people being investigated by the IRS had committed suicide that she had been directed to meet collections quotas even if it meant fabricating evidence and that low-income people -- some too poor to afford air conditioning -- were targeted for audits.

Drayton McLane & Bud Adams know the feeling
Rockets owner Les Alexander expressed puzzlement over the firestorm of hostility that erupted over his ill-fated plan to buy the Edmonton Oilers hockey team, saying, "I've never walked into a meeting where I felt people hated me who haven't even met me yet."

Our money is not on those poor elks
In a campaign to extend his cattle operation onto Utah state land where environmentalists would prefer elks to graze, oilman Oscar Wyatt accused the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, the Nature Conservancy, the Utah Department of Natural Resources and the Bureau of Land Management of "nefarious activity" and "conspiracy," and urged supporters to help "put a few in jail."

Chupacabras would have been better
Marshall Herff Applewhite, onetime University of St. Thomas music teacher, persuaded 39 followers of his Heaven's Gate cult to down a lethal cocktail of barbiturates and vodka in the belief that they would be whisked to a higher plane by a UFO arriving in the wake of the Hale-Bopp Comet.

He was angling for Rob Johnson's job
Channel 11 reporter Jeff McShan wound up in a body brace during a Lake Tahoe skiing trip -- when he broke his neck sliding down a hill on a garbage-can lid.

But can we slide down it on garbage-can lids?
A proposed landfill in Beach City would create a 15-story mountain of industrial waste, making it the highest point in Chambers County.

And if that doesn't work out, we'll consider a 15-story mountain of industrial waste

Noting that numerous pro basketballers already live in Fort Bend County, Missouri City offered the Houston Rockets a 300-acre site on which to build a new arena.

Maybe the kids could just leave town entirely
The Splendora City Council, which previously imposed a nighttime curfew on minors under 16, added a daytime curfew as well.

Penny wise, pow! foolish
Conroe convenience-store owner Attique "Ed" Ahmad got a year in federal prison for pumping 4,690 gallons of bad gasoline into the city's sewer system, thus saving $5,000 -- and creating the equivalent of an eight-mile pipe bomb.

And you can't even slide down it on garbage-can lids
Residents of the Brazoria County town of Guy had to give up barbecuing and other outdoor activities because of a stench from biosolid municipal waste -- otherwise known as sludge from human excrement -- that was spread on nearby fields by a Hockley company.

Instead she'll take over the Houston Image Campaign sweepstakes
A Cut and Shoot woman gave up her scheme to award her school-supply stores to the winner of an essay contest, because only 150 people paid the $100 entry fee.

Bob Lanier sez: Why the hell not?
Mayor Ollie Burdett of Patton Village said she quit her post, along with the court clerk, the deputy court clerk and the city secretary, because "We couldn't go on working with City Council members who'd tell you one minute they wanted one thing and then turn right around and say they'd wanted something different or they meant something different. You can't work like that."

It was either that or have Houston's Superior Water delivered door to door
Surfside Beach finally arranged to provide its residents with tap water that wasn't yellow, salty and grainy-textured from sand -- but to get it, they have to bring their water jugs to a faucet outside City Hall.

Oh, okay
Galveston port manager Ernest Connor admitted grabbing a female employee's leg in the Holiday Inn bar and a VFW club, and kissing her uninvited, but he said he was high on 12 vodka drinks and diet pills the night it happened.

World o' Lawsuits
Rob Todd served as celebrity judge
A woman sued Peter's Wildlife on the Richmond strip, claiming she almost choked to death during the club's hot-dog-eating contest.

"T" for two
Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich sued Rudy Teichman of Galveston -- a former city councilman known to his friends as Rudy T -- to get him to take the "T" out of his new Rudy T. & Paco's restaurant.

Good thing Ann didn't mention Rudy T.
Houston's Bed-Wetting Revolution, a nonprofit that fights bed-wetting, was sued by Tulsa's American Enuresis Foundation -- which claimed it had rights to the Bed-Wetting Revolution name, and that it deserved a cut of fees from new clients generated when Ann Landers ran a letter from the Houston group's president.

She wanted Coke, not Pepsi
Ramesh L. Sheladia Patel sued Gujarati Samaj, the Hindu group of which he had been treasurer, claiming its leaders had slandered and libeled him and removed him from office after he got involved in a club picnic dispute between his wife and a volunteer dispensing soft drinks.

But they got the go-ahead to drill in the City Hall reflecting pool
An appeals court rejected a suit by Wilson Oil Co., which wanted to overturn a longtime ban on drilling in Lake Houston.

Shirley MacLaine complained it gave her bad vibes
Attorney John Tavormina, who now owns the River Oaks house featured in Terms of Endearment, sued the makers of the Evening Star sequel when instead of using his home for exterior shots, they constructed an exact replica in Houston.

The fur flew
Two former partners in a pet-grooming business spent a total of $25,000 suing each other for custody of the shop's mascot, a four-year-old Persian cat named Oscar.

Yeah, but the insulation was terrific
A group of 244 homeowners sued HL&P and Kimball Hill Homes, claiming their energy-efficient "Good Cents Homes," certified and inspected by the Light Company, were afflicted with chronic leaks, sagging roofs, bad foundations and faulty brick exteriors.

So where was she when Time ran that Expect the Unexpected sweepstakes?
A Houston woman sued the Texas lottery, among others, claiming that her life and banking career were ruined when she was accused of tampering with a scratch-off ticket to make herself appear to be a $10,000 winner.

Reading, Writing and Rain-forest Algebra

What's the matter, he never heard of chili pie are squared?
State Board of Education member David Bradley, from down the road in Beaumont, ripped the cover off a textbook when other members refused to reject the so-called "rain-forest algebra" text -- which mixed math with chili recipes, photos of Bill Clinton and Maya Angelou and discussions of the environment and the Vietnam War.

But in rain-forest algebra terms, that's a good response
The Houston Image Group's scheme to bring attention to Houston by running a sweepstakes ad in Time magazine, offering 33 prizes such as tea with Charles Barkley or a conducting class from Christoph Eschenbach, drew one lonely instant scratch-off winner from the mag's 4.8 million subscribers.

Picky, pickyMetro officials admitted that -- contrary to previous boasting -- their buses were not really punctual 96 percent of the time (try 80), nor did they average 9,000 miles between breakdowns (more like 6,700).

A tape measure is a driver's best friend
When Metro's new minibuses arrived, union drivers discovered they were seven and a half inches longer than the 30-foot length specified in their contracts. So to avoid paying the steeper wage that drivers of full-size buses earn, Metro (before a truce was called) removed the front and rear bumper guards to produce a 29-foot, 11 1/2 inch bus.

Le Chronk, c'est moi
Chronicle publisher Richard J.V. Johnson reportedly overruled his 13-member editorial board's vote to endorse George Greanias in the mayoral race (the pre-Dick tally was 5 Greanias, 4 Brown, 4 Mosbacher), throwing the paper's support to Mosbacher.

After which he wrestled his entire editorial board to the ground
At the Houston Chronicle's Book & Author Dinner, upon a challenge from literary personage "Body by Jake" Steinfeld, the paper's publisher, Richard J.V. Johnson, dropped to the floor and did five pushups.

First step: Purge all projects that allude to "world-class"
Rice University and the University of Houston announced they would mount a joint study to identify what Houston must do to be a world-class city in the 21st century.

Fast times at Cougar High
U of H grad students charged that the school routinely required them to pay for sham "dummy classes" -- a stratagem to secure more tax dollars -- in order to keep their jobs as teaching assistants.

Aw, it was just a "Tribes of the Amazon" social studies project
An eighth-grader in Cleveland was expelled for shooting a middle-school principal with a needle-sharp dart he had made.

Somewhere, Janis is smiling
Students at Port Arthur's Thomas Jefferson High School -- alma mater of Janis Joplin -- celebrated the next-to-last day of school with a cafeteria food fight in which they overturned tables and chairs, smashed windows, tore down ceiling tiles and sent buns and red-colored drinks whizzing through the air.

Sheila Jackson Lee went down in milliseconds
Deep Blue Junior, a smaller version of the famous IBM chess-playing computer that vanquished Garry Kasparov, defeated Rice University chess champ Nathan Doughty in less than an hour.

Deep Blue doesn't understand it, either
Mayor Bob "I love numbers" Lanier floated an argument purporting to demonstrate that a revised Fourth Ward housing plan by which Houston Renaissance would subsidize 150 affordable units, instead of the 350 originally promised, actually worked out to more units, since added to the 250 units planned separately by the city, the total would be 400, 50 more than the 350 figure, even though both projects together would have added 600 units, and . oh, forget it.

They've heard he's offered her that Princess Di part
The tabloids have offered a fat bounty to anyone who can produce a photograph of recently divorced movie star (and noted philanderer) Kevin Costner together with the recently divorced Laura Sakowitz, Bobby's glamorous blond ex.

So that's why she never dates Democrats!
Bob Mosbacher's about-to-be ex, Georgette, was spotted with disgraced Republican political consultant Ed Rollins out and about in New York City, although Rollins pleaded "just friends," saying, "Georgette likes billionaires, and I'm just a thousandaire."

But only after she outfitted all their phones with star 69 and caller ID
Singer Kenny Rogers, who was divorced by his last wife after three women accused him of having phone sex with them, took wife number five, the 29-years-younger Wanda Miller.

My Christmas present or your life
Vicky Renee Menard stalked Tim Chapman and shot him at a north Houston service station in an attempt to get back a coat he had given her for Christmas.

She was inspired by Marv Albert
Jacqueline Boykin was charged with attempted capital murder after she bit her husband, Charles, a Kountze alderman, and then claimed she had AIDS.

No, money walks and something else talks
Olympics-obsessed Councilman John Kelley kept right on feuding with Jim "Mattress Mac" McIngvale over who was best qualified to snag the games for Houston, a tussle in which Kelley called Mac "a furniture salesman" and Mac said of Kelley, "Money talks and something else walks."

Little Bo Peep has hired Rudy T's lawyer to sue for trademark infringement
In the wake of the Heaven's Gate cult suicides, reports showed that onetime Houstonian Marshall Herff Applewhite had taken his mystical turn after meeting astrology-obsessed Houston nurse Bonnie Lu Trousdale Nettles -- after which the couple, known to their followers as "The Two" or "Bo and Peep," spread the gospel that they were aliens in human bodies awaiting retrieval by a spaceship.

They're worried about the ozone levels
Experts reported that as killer bees make their way north in Texas, for some reason they turn left just shy of Houston.

Just a colder version of Channelview
A new species of pink, frilly-legged worms was discovered living in mounds of methane-rich ice on the Gulf of Mexico's floor -- a hostile environment with no light, little oxygen and a constant presence of sulfides, gas and concentrated brine.

No, he mistook his reflection for Lloyd Kelley
Police responding to a burglary call at a Stafford store found the front door smashed and a billy goat ramming the window. Said one cop: "He probably thought he was butting another male goat."

Does Ken Hoffman have an alibi?
After the first black bear in a generation was spotted in Montgomery County, local ranchers blamed it for devouring calves and leaving just the rib cages.

First the mayor's race, now this
One of the worst infestations of forest tent caterpillars in years sent a thick rain of caterpillar excrement onto the decks, patios, sidewalks and lawns of Missouri City.

With some nice forest tent caterpillars for dessert
Rice University administrators, staff, maintenance workers and students lured a three-foot iguana down from a campus tree by laying out a vegetable buffet.

With practice, they hoped to become Houston voters
A flock of wayward Muscovy ducks kept loitering on the Southwest Freeway in Sugar Land, resisting attempts to relocate them to a safer home, even after a motorist mowed down ten of them.

Now the manager knows what "deep shit" means
The Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission investigated Rowdy's nightclub on I-45 near Spring after a customer reported that she had discovered a video camera -- which was connected to a monitor in the manager's office -- hidden behind an air-conditioning vent over the women's toilet.

The manager of Rowdy's wanted a copy
Former HISD teacher Michael Madison filed suit claiming he was fired after a videotape he made at Attucks Middle School -- which showed one student urinating on a row of lockers and others fighting and racing down hallways -- was shown on a local news broadcast and later on CNN.

The good news: Guatemala, China and Peru have ordered copies
After a training video shot during a disturbance at the Brazoria County Detention Center showed prostrate, unresisting inmates being kicked in the groin, prodded with stun guns and struck with batons by guards and sheriff's deputies -- not to mention bitten by German shepherds -- the state of Missouri withdrew the 415 prisoners it was paying to house there.

Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson made their nude video for similar reasons
Houston product Farrah Fawcett made a pay-per-view video in which she writhed nude across a screen, using her paint-splattered body as a brush, explaining, "I wanted to combine my art and stay true to my artistic conviction. This reminded me how much I love art."

Now Ben Reyes wants one, too
After Channel 13 aired video of Controller Lloyd Kelley cavorting at an amusement park and gardening at home during work hours, he tried unsuccessfully to get the station to sign what he called a "fair reporting agreement."

Disregarding Satan's advice to use a pitchfork
Retired Coast Guard lieutenant Joseph Sybille got a year's probation for beating his neighbor 11 times with a shovel -- an attack graphically recorded by a surveillance camera the victim had installed during the pair's long-simmering feud over a fence.

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Saloon owner Carl Ramos added egg white and orange blossom water to a traditional fizz. Those additions, and vigorous long-term shaking, gives this cocktail its signature silky texture. It was so popular in Ramos’s New Orleans pre-prohibition bars, especially during Mardi Gras, that he hired employees just to shake the cocktails — they would pass to the next man when they got tired. We think it’s delicious even shaken for just a few minutes, but it makes for a fun party game to pass it on!

Pimm's No. 1 is a gin-based aperitif that was invented in the 1820s in England by oyster-bar owner James Pimm. Its secret formula is a refreshing combination of dry gin, fruit juices and spices. There are other numbered Pimm's aperitifs, each with a different base liquor.

Cocktail #50: Daiquiri

They say that sometimes the simplest drinks are the most difficult to master. Look at the martini. With just three ingredients, it's one of, if not the, most "famous" and well known cocktail in the world, and yet people still keep trying to master it. I suspect the daiquiri is in the same league, in a way. Three simple ingredients, dozens of versions over the decades, and yet with small tweaks it can be endlessly improved. I couldn't let 52 exotic cocktails go by and not give this classic a shot.

There is much written about the daiquiri and its origins. There are daiquiri recipes in the books I have by Jeff Berry, and in Martin and Rebecca Cate's Smuggler's Cove. At the end of the day, I decided to go with a version of Jeff Berry's recipe I found online, which sounded like the real deal. I made one modification with the rum I used - instead of Berry's recommended Cana Brava or Bacardi 1909, I used the white rum I had on hand, Plantation 3 Stars. Obviously, the rum you use here can make or break this drink. Personally, I feel like the Plantation 3 Stars worked very well - the drink was immensely enjoyable - but then again, I am not a daiquiri connoisseur. Sure, I've had a few here and there, but they were usually frozen, probably made with a mix, and not memorable.

Berry worked on this recipe for over a year, and the main thing to keep in mind is his use of a sugar blend of white and Demerara or turbinado sugars, in place of what has become the standard simple syrup, to cut down on dilution.

Here's his version of the daiquiri, from Punch:

2 level teaspoons sugar blend*
1.00 oz. ounce lime juice
2.00 oz. white rum, preferably Caña Brava or Bacardi 1909 Superior Limited Edition
Garnish: lime wheel

* To make the sugar blend, combine 4 parts organic white cane sugar to 1 part turbinado or demerara sugar.

Combine the sugar blend and lime juice in a mixing tin. Stir until the sugar has fully dissolved into the lime juice. Add the rum to the sugar and lime mixture, along with large cubes of ice, cracked with a bar spoon. Quickly shake and strain the drink into a coupe.

This is not going to be news to anyone who regularly enjoys daiquiris, but this was absolutely lovely. Sweeter than I expected (2 teaspoons!), the sweetness cut the tart citrus of the lime. And the Demerara component of the sugar complements the white rum with a very slight but noticeable hint of molasses. As someone who does his best to avoid added sugar except for a half-teaspoon in coffee, this was slightly too sweet for my taste, so if I made it again, I might cut the sugar back by a half-teaspoon. I'll be interested to try this with different white rums, including Berry's recommended Cana Brava, to see the differences. And I will say that *this* is the perfect drink to offer guests at cocktail parties - tiki themed or not. So simple, easy to make, and so enjoyable - this is a real winner. It doesn't have the over-the-top kitsch and garnish of many of the other tiki drinks I've tried over the last 49, but sometimes that's ok!

Mix one up today, sit back, and enjoy the simplicity. Cheers!

Given the daiquiri's Cuban origins, I'll leave you with some interesting 1950s/pre-Castro Cuba footage.

The Falcon and The Winter Soldier’s MCU Origins Explained

Every great hero has a sidekick—and Captain America has two.

Marvel Studios’ six-episode series The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, premiering exclusively on Disney+ March 19, will see the titular duo navigating a world without Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), whose charisma and heroism brought them together in the first place. Who are they without their leader-cum-mentor? And, in a post-Avengers: Endgame world, do Sam Wilson/The Falcon (Anthony Mackie) and Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) even need each other? It’s something they both question… but that becomes irrelevant once they realize the world still needs them.

To understand where they’re going, it’s important to remember where they’ve been. So, before the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier begins streaming next Friday, we’re taking a deep dive into the dynamic duo’s Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) origins.

Bucky’s MCU debut is in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. As a scrappy, scrawny Steve gets into another alleyway brawl—and first utters the iconic line, “I could do this all day”—Bucky shows up to save the day. He then informs Steve that the next morning, he will be joining the 107th Infantry in England to fight in World War II. On the eve of his deployment, Bucky says he wants to take to take his BFF to “the future”—aka the World Exposition of Tomorrow. Upon their arrival, Steve spots another opportunity to enlist in the Army, despite being turned down several times before. As he and Bucky debate whether it’s the right move, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) eavesdrops on their conversation. Ultimately, Bucky lets Steve make his own decision. “Don’t do anything stupid until I get back,” he says, to which Steve responds, “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.”

After completing a series of mental and physical tests, Steve is given the Super Soldier Serum. According to Dr. Erskine, “The serum amplifies everything that is inside. So, good becomes great bad becomes worse.” It makes Steve a formidable fighter—and after being trotted out like a show pony, that comes in handy when he travels to Italy to perform for active servicemen. It’s there that General Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones) reveals Bucky’s unit was lost in a battle with HYDRA, an organization hellbent on world domination. Steve refuses to believe Bucky is dead. With no rescue mission planned—Bucky’s unit is 30 miles behind enemy lines—Steve goes rogue. Aided by Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper), he infiltrates the HYDRA base and rescues the Howling Commandos—which include Dum Dum Dugan (Neal McDonough), Jim Morita (Kenneth Choi), and Jacques Dernier (Bruno Ricci)—and sets off to find Bucky in an isolation facility. HYDRA’s leader, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving), sets a self-destruct timer to destroy the base and everyone in it. When Steve finally finds Bucky, he says, “I thought you were dead.” Confused but still alert, Bucky says, “I thought you were smaller.”

As they make their escape, Bucky peppers Steve with questions about his transformation: “What happened to you? Did it hurt? Is this permanent?” Once they reach the bridge, they come face-to-face with Johann, who removes his mask to reveal he is now the Red Skull. Horrified, but still clever as ever, Bucky asks Steve, “You don’t have one of those… do you?”

Red Skull manages to escape, as do Bucky and Steve. As they lead the rest of the Howling Commandos back to their base, they’re met with applause and awe. A proud Bucky shouts, “Hey! Let’s hear it for Captain America!” Later, in London, Steve buys the Howling Commandos a round of beer and asks them to continue hunting down HYDRA. To his surprise, they’re all in. “See! Told you! They’re all idiots,” Bucky jokes with Steve during a private moment. Steve asks, “How about you? You ready to follow Captain America into the jaws of death?” Bucky replies, “Hell, no. That little guy from Brooklyn who was too dumb not to run away from a fight? I’m following him… But you’re keeping the outfit, right?” Just then, Peggy shows up. She locks eyes with Steve, barely glancing in Bucky’s direction—a foreign scenario for both men. “I’m invisible. I’m turning into you,” Bucky tells Steve. “It’s like a horrible dream!” Smiling, Steve says, “Don’t take it so hard. Maybe she’s got a friend.”

And so, Steve leads Bucky and the Howling Commandos into countless battles, knocking out one HYDRA base after the other. The team assaults a train carrying Arnim Zola (Toby Jones), HYDRA’s top scientist… but it doesn’t go as planned. Amid heavy gunfire, Steve deflects a blast with his shield, blowing open the side of their train car. Bucky picks up Steve’s shield and fires his pistol twice, only to be shot out of the car. He manages to grab hold of metal rod, but his grip is weak and the train is moving fast. “Bucky! Hang on!” Steve yells, trying to save him. “Grab my hand!” But Bucky loses his hold… and, seemingly, his life.

Later, as Steve tries to drown his sorrows in a bar, Peggy comes to console him. “Dr. Erskine said that the serum wouldn’t just affect my muscles it would affect my cells,” he says. “Create a protective system of regeneration and healing. Which means… I can’t get drunk.” Peggy tenderly reminds him that Bucky’s death wasn’t his fault, which Steve struggles to accept. She remains undeterred in her efforts. “You did everything you could. Did you believe in your friend? Did you respect him? Then stop blaming yourself,” she says. “Allow Barnes the dignity of his choice… He damn well must’ve thought you were worth it.”

Sam, meanwhile, makes his soaring MCU debut in 2014’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where he becomes Steve’s literal wingman. They meet during a morning jog in Washington, D.C., and despite Steve repeatedly lapping Sam (“On your left!”), the two become fast friends. Sam reveals he is a former United States Air Force pararescue who now works in Veterans Affairs, and they bond over their shared service. “Must’ve freaked you out coming home after the whole defrosting thing,” Sam tells Steve, who admits it was an adjustment. “It’s your bed, right? Your bed is too soft,” Sam continues. “When I was over there, I’d sleep on the ground, use rocks for pillows—like a caveman. Now I’m home, lying in my bed, and it’s like…” Realizing Sam can relate to the experience, Steve finishes his sentence, saying it’s like “lying on a marshmallow.” Steve then lets it slip he’s making a list of historical events and pop culture milestones to brush up on, so Sam suggests he listen to Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man soundtrack: “[It’s] everything you missed jammed into one album.” Sam then extends an open invitation to Steve: “Anytime you want to stop by the VA and make me look awesome in front of the girl at the front desk, just let me know.”

After Steve views a Captain America exhibit the Smithsonian—and gets wistful thinking about Bucky—he decides to take Sam up on his offer. He catches the tail end of a meeting Sam is leading for veterans who are coping with PTSD. “Some stuff you leave there. Other stuff you bring back. It’s our job to figure out how to carry it,” Sam says, offering some words of wisdom. “Is it going to be in a big suitcase or in a little man-purse? It’s up to you.”

Speaking to Steve after the meeting, Sam reveals he lost his partner on a night mission. It was a “standard PJ rescue op,” he explains. “Nothing we hadn’t done 1,000 times before… until an RPG knocked Riley’s dumb ass out of the sky.” Because he lost his partner so unexpectedly, Sam admits, “I had a really hard time finding a reason for being over there.”

Elsewhere in Washington, D.C., S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is ambushed by assassins masquerading as policemen. He manages to evade them, until a masked man launches a grenade in his direction, flipping over his SUV. Fury escapes, however, and seeks refuge in Steve’s apartment. When Steve returns home, Fury warns him not to trust anyone. Before Fury can say anything else, a sniper takes him out, and Steve pursues the mystery assailant. He then throws his shield at the sniper… but it doesn’t work. Instead, the sniper catches it with his metal arm, throws it back, and vanishes into the night.

In the hospital, Fury seemingly dies on the operating table. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is suspicious—and after Steve is ambushed at S.H.I.E.L.D. HQ, she’s not the only one. So, Natasha lays her cards on the table and shares her theory with her fellow Avenger. “I know who killed Fury,” she tells him. “Most of the intelligence community doesn’t believe he exists. The ones that do call him The Winter Soldier. He’s credited with over two dozen assassinations in the last 50 years… Five years ago I was escorting a nuclear engineer out of Iran. Somebody shot out my tires near Odessa. We lost control, went straight over a cliff, I pulled us out. But The Winter Soldier was there. I was covering my engineer, so he shot him straight through me. Soviet slug, no rifling. Bye-bye, bikinis… Going after him is a dead end, I know. I’ve tried. Like you said, he’s a ghost story.”

Steve and Natasha go on the run, uncovering more secrets about S.H.I.E.L.D., and eventually discovering that HYDRA has infiltrated their organization. Meanwhile, the traitorous Secretary Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) hosts a private meeting with The Winter Soldier. “The timetable has moved. Our window is limited,” Pierce says. “Two targets, level six… I want confirmed death in 10 hours.” With nowhere else to go, Steve and Natasha show up on Sam’s doorstep. “I’m sorry about this,” Steve says. “We need a place to lay low.” Eventually, they realize kidnapping and questioning S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernández)—a known HYDRA agent—is the best course of action. “The question is: How do the two most wanted people in Washington kidnap a S.H.I.E.L.D. officer in broad daylight?” Steve asks. Handing over his résumé, Sam replies, “The answer is: You don’t.” Natasha reviews his file, and she’s impressed with how he handled a notable rescue mission in Afghanistan. Confused, Steve says, “I thought you said you were a pilot…”

“I never said pilot,” Sam says, as Steve realizes he’d used the EXO-7 Falcon during his tours of duty. “I can’t ask you to do this, Sam,” Steve says. “You got out for a good reason.” Sam responds, “Dude, Captain America needs my help! There’s no better reason to get back in.”

After stealing the EXO-7 Falcon so Sam can literally and figuratively spread his wings, the trio apprehends Jasper and takes him to a roof to question him in private. He initially refuses to comply, so Natasha kicks him off. He doesn’t die, of course, because Sam picks him up, showing just how adept he is at flying under pressure. That stunt is all it takes for Jasper to spill the beans about Zola’s algorithm and HYDRA’s master plan. While en route to a new location, the four of them are attacked by The Winter Soldier, who smashes through their car window and plucks Jasper out. Sam slams on his breaks, sending The Winter Soldier flying. The Winter Soldier then rips the steering wheel clean off, thrusting the heroes into a high-speed tailspin. They manage to escape, but not before The Winter Soldier fires off an RPG that results in Steve crashing into a bus under the highway. The gunfire continues until Natasha shoots at The Winter Soldier’s mask, splintering his goggles and forcing him to remove them. The fighting continues, and it nearly turns deadly. Before The Winter Soldier shoots Natasha, Steve show up to shield her—and himself—from the blast. The Winter Soldier steals his shield and casts it aside, then uses a knife to attack Steve, who artfully dodges his every move. Reclaiming his shield, Steve uses it to flip him over and knock off his mask… and that’s when he sees his old friend! “Bucky?” he asks.

“Who the hell is Bucky?” The Winter Soldier replies.

Sam flies down and knocks The Winter Soldier over. The Winter Soldier looks nervously at Steve, then fires in his direction before Natasha fires an explosion of her own, inadvertently giving him cover to escape. The S.H.I.E.L.D. outlaws are taken into custody, where Steve tells Natasha and Sam what he saw. “It was him. He looked right at me. He didn’t even know me…” he says. “Bucky’s whole unit was captured in ’43. Zola experimented on him. Whatever he did helped Bucky survive the fall. They must have found him and…” Echoing what Peggy once said, Natasha interrupts him and notes, “None of that’s your fault, Steve.”

“Even when I had nothing,” Steve reminds them, “I had Bucky.”

With the help of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), the trio escapes custody and are soon reunited with Fury, who reveals he faked his own death until he could determine who could be trusted. Meanwhile, HYDRA works on repairing The Winter Soldier’s arm. He has flashbacks of the train mission where he fell to his death, as well as the experiments Zola conducted on him after rescuing him from the ravine. “The procedure is already started,” Zola said. “You are to be the new fist of HYDRA.” Snapped back into reality, Pierce asks him for a mission report, but The Winter Soldier is more concerned about finding out who “the man on the bridge” is. Coolly, Pierce says, “You met him earlier this week on another assignment.” But The Winter Soldier knows better. “Your work has been a gift to mankind. You shaped the century, and I need you to do it one more time. Society’s at a tipping point between order and chaos,” Pierce says. “Tomorrow morning, we’re going to give it a push. But, if you don’t do your part, I can’t do mine, and HYDRA can’t give the world the freedom it deserves.” Bucky won’t let up, so Pierce orders the scientists to “wipe him and start over.”

Later, Steve argues both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA need to go. Fury disagrees and looks to the others for backup, but Sam tells him, “Don’t look at me. I do what he does, just slower.” Steve then has a flashback to when Bucky comforted him after his mother died and offered him a place to stay. “We can put the couch cushions on the floor, like when we were kids. It’ll be fun,” Bucky said. “All you gotta do is shine my shoes, maybe take out the trash. Come on.” Steve thanked him but said he could get by on my own. Looking Steve in the eye, Bucky replied, “The thing is, you don’t have to. I’m with you to the end of the line, pal.”

Steve doesn’t share the memory with the group, but it’s obvious to everyone that he also plans to rescue Bucky. “Look, whoever he used to be, and the guy he is now, I don’t think he’s the kind you save,” Sam warns Steve. “He’s the kind you stop.” He then reminds him that The Winter Soldier doesn’t know him. But Steve’s faith in Bucky is resolute: “He will.”

The team breaks into S.H.I.EL.D. headquarters and seizes control of the communication systems. Steve announces HYDRA has infiltrated the organization, under Pierce’s orders, and asks them to prevent the launch of three Helicarriers that will connect to Project Insight satellites at 3,000 feet in the air and neutralize enemy hostile targets. The Falcon manages to shut down one of them with relative ease, but The Winter Soldier blows up the “only air support” Captain America has. He then hijacks a plane and flies up to another Helicarrier. Captain America jumps from one ship and The Falcon picks him up midair. “You know, you’re a lot heavier than you look,” Sam jokes. The Winter Soldier then attacks Captain America and grabs Sam by the wing, throwing him down. He pulls him out of the air again, and in one fell swoop, knocks off one of his wings. Sam is grounded, leaving The Winter Soldier and Captain America alone. Meanwhile, Maria sends Sam to find Brock Rumlow (Frank Grillo), another HYDRA agent. Aboard the helicopter, Captain America confronts his brainwashed friend. “People are gonna die, Buck. I can’t let that happen,” he says. “Please don’t make me do this.” The Winter Soldier is programmed to fight, of course, and that’s just what he does. With little time to spare until Project Insight launches, Captain America manages to save the day. But it’s too late for him, so he orders Maria to blow up the Helicarrier while he’s still onboard. He notices The Winter Soldier is pinned underneath a fallen beam, and as he lifts it, he says, “You know me.” Bucky shouts, “No, I don’t!” As Steve reminds him that they’ve known each other forever, Bucky only grows more agitated. Finally, Steve says, “I’m not going to fight you.” He drops his shield, which falls into the Potomac River. “You’re my friend,” Steve says. Bucky pushes him and says, “You’re my mission.” He knocks him to the ground and repeatedly hits Steve’s face. Steve never puts up a fight. Instead, Steve tells him to “finish it, because I’m with you to the end of the line.”

Falling debris knocks Steve into the river below as The Winter Soldier watches and does nothing. However, Bucky decides to pull Steve out of the water and leave him on the sand. A little later, Steve awakens in a hospital room, where Sam is playing the Trouble Man soundtrack. He smiles at the sight of his new ally. With a smirk, Steve says, “On your left.”

Fury fakes his death—once again—and meets up with Steve and Sam at a cemetery. There, he asks them to join him on a mission in Europe, which they each decline. (Says Sam, “I’m more of a soldier than a spy.”) Moments later, Natasha arrives with a dossier on The Winter Soldier. “Be careful, Steve,” she warns him. “You might not want to pull on that thread.” Steve reminds Sam he doesn’t have to join him. “I know,” Sam replies. “When do we start?”

A post-credits scene shows The Winter Soldier, clad in civilian clothes, revisiting his past via the Smithsonian’s Captain America exhibit. Maybe Steve was right about him after all…

Sam returns briefly in 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron for a celebration at Avengers Tower after the team retrieved a scepter from a HYDRA base. “Sounds like a hell of a fight. Sorry I missed it,” Sam says. “I’m not actually sorry. I’m just trying to sound tough. I’m very happy chasing cold leads on our missing persons cases. Avenging is your world. Your world is crazy.” It isn’t until after the Avengers defeat Ultron (James Spader) that Sam returns, this time at the new Avengers facility in upstate New York. “We’re not the ’27 Yankees,” Steve tells Natasha, who thinks they’ve “got some hitters.” Says Steve, “They’re good. They’re not a team.” Maybe not yet, but The Falcon, Vision (Paul Bettany), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle) are well on their way.

In 2015’s Ant-Man, The Falcon gets into a brief battle with new kid on the block Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd). Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) wants Scott to retrieve a signal decoy prototype—a device he invented during his S.H.I.E.L.D. days. The Falcon flies onto the roof to investigate, but he doesn’t see anything. He then spots a shrunken Scott, who nervously admits he’s a “big fan” and is merely hoping to “grab a piece of technology” so he can save the world: “You know how that is.” The Falcon says he knows “exactly how that is,” but he still has to bring him in. Naturally, a fight ensues—and it only ends after Ant-Man traps him in the warehouse, sneaks inside The Falcon’s jetpack, then dismantles it. “Sorry!” he says. “You seem like a really great guy!” After his defeat, Sam speaks into his comms device and admits, “It’s really important to me that Cap never finds out about this.”

Captain America: Civil War, released in 2016, opens with HYDRA reviving The Winter Soldier from a cryogenic state. All it takes is a few seemingly random words, said in the correct order, to turn him into a living weapon: “Longing. Rusted. Seventeen. Daybreak. Furnace. Nine. Benign. Homecoming. One. Freight car.” Once activated, he is no longer Bucky—and’s ready to comply. His mission: Tail a car, derail it, then kill the passengers.

Cut to present day Lagos. The Falcon is perched on a rooftop looking for Rumlow, now known as Crossbones. He sends a combat and reconnaissance drone, named Redwing, to scope out a suspicious garbage truck that’s headed for the Institute for Infectious Diseases. He takes out one hostile after another, all while Redwing scans the building and locates the enemy. The Falcon uses his wings to shield Wanda as she moves infectious gas emanating from the building into the atmosphere, then uses missiles to take out two more hostiles. He then takes to the streets after some of hostiles split up, in an attempt to escape with a biological weapon. He takes out another bad guy, who he discovers doesn’t have the stolen vial. Black Widow takes out two more, and one of them has the weapon in his possession. Redwing shoots him and Black Widow grabs the container before it shatters. “Payload’s secure,” she says. “Thanks, Sam.” But Redwing deserves the praise. “I’m not thanking that thing,” Black Widow says, to which The Falcon jokes, “Go ahead! Pet him!”

Meanwhile, Captain America has his hands full with Crossbones. “You know he knew you? Your pal, your buddy, your Bucky!” Crossbones says, taunting him. “He remembered you. I was there. He got all weepy about it… ’til they put his brain back in a blender.” He then detonates a bomb, and Wanda redirects the blast—and in doing so, accidentally blows up a building, killing innocent people. Sam calls fire and rescue, but the damage is done. Later, at an Avengers facility in upstate New York, Sam debates Sokovia Accords with Rhodey. Essentially, they would give the United Nations total control over the Avengers. “So, let’s say we agree to this thing. How long is it gonna be before they LoJack us like a bunch of common criminals?” Sam argues. “How long are you going to play both sides?”

The meeting comes to an abrupt halt when Steve learns that Peggy has died in her sleep. He travels to London, where Sam joins him at her funeral—and they’re shocked to discover that former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent-turned-C.I.A. operative Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp) is Peggy’s niece. Later, as Steve and Sharon get reacquainted, Sam interrupts to tell them that there has been a bombing at the Vienna International Centre where the Sokovia Accords were getting signed—and the suspect has been identified as The Winter Soldier.

Natasha, who survived the blast, calls Steve to reason with him. “I know much Barnes means to you. I really do,” she says. “Stay home. You’ll only make this worse. For all of us.” But Steve can’t turn his back on his oldest and dearest friend. “If he’s this far gone, Nat, I should be the one to bring him in,” he says, adding that he alone is “the one least likely to die trying.” Steve then turns to Sam, who says, “I just want to make sure we consider all our options. The people that shoot at you usually wind up shooting at me.” Sharon slips them a tip, hoping to give them a head start. Cut to Bucky, who is buying plums at a market in Bucharest. He’s shocked to see himself on the front page of the local newspaper, framed for a crime he didn’t commit. He returns to his apartment, where Steve then confronts him:

Steve: “Do you know me?”
Bucky: “You’re Steve. I read about you in a museum.”
Steve: “I know you’re nervous, and you have plenty of reason to be. But you’re lying.”
Bucky: “I wasn’t in Vienna. I don’t do that anymore.”
Steve: “Well, the people who think you did are coming here now—and they’re not planning on taking you alive.”
Bucky: “That’s smart. Good strategy.”
Steve: “This doesn’t have to end in a fight, Buck.”
Bucky: “It always ends in a fight.”
Steve: “You pulled me from the river! Why?”
Bucky: “I don’t know.”
Steve: “Yes, you do.”
Steve: “Do you know me?”
Bucky: “You’re Steve. I read about you in a museum.”
Steve: “I know you’re nervous, and you have plenty of reason to be. But you’re lying.”
Bucky: “I wasn’t in Vienna. I don’t do that anymore.”
Steve: “Well, the people who think you did are coming here now—and they’re not planning on taking you alive.”
Bucky: “That’s smart. Good strategy.”
Steve: “This doesn’t have to end in a fight, Buck.”
Bucky: “It always ends in a fight.”
Steve: “You pulled me from the river! Why?”
Bucky: “I don’t know.”
Steve: “Yes, you do.”

Just then, the authorities descend upon the building. “Buck, stop!” Steve pleads. “You’re going to kill someone!” Bucky grabs a getaway bag and says, “I’m not going to kill anyone.”

Bucky escapes, only to be trailed by T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). Captain America and The Falcon do their best to help their friend evade capture, but eventually, they are taken into custody, with Bucky transported in a special holding cell. Once there, the government seizes their gear. “I better not look out the window and see anybody flying around in that,” Sam says. As Sharon brings Sam a receipt for his wings, they watch a closed circuit feed of Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl), who has infiltrated the base, as he interrogates Bucky. “Tell me, Bucky: You’ve seen a great deal, haven’t you? You fear that if you open your mouth, the horrors might never stop. Don’t worry. We only have to talk about one.” Just then, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) goes off, leaving Bucky and Zemo unmonitored. “Why don’t we discuss your home? Not Romania. Certainly not Brooklyn. No. I mean… your real home,” Zemo says. He then reads the code words as Bucky protests. Zemo then asks for a mission report from December 16, 1991. By the time Steve and Sam arrive on the scene, Zemo feigns being injured. Bucky first attacks Sam, then Steve, throwing him down an elevator shaft. Sam watches Zemo walk away and chases him down. Bucky takes on Tony Stark/Iron Man (Disney Legend Robert Downey Jr.), followed by Sharon, Black Widow, and Black Panther—but no one can stop him. Meanwhile, Sam loses Zemo in the crowd outside. Bucky tries to steal a helicopter, but Steve grounds him. Bucky then chokes him and they fall into the water below. Steve drags him to a secure location where Sam awaits.

When Bucky awakens, Steve asks, “Which Bucky am I talking to?”

“Your mom’s name was Sarah,” Bucky says. “You used to wear newspapers in your shoes.”

Impressed, Steve replies, “Can’t read that in a museum.”

Sam, however, has his doubts. “Just like that, we’re supposed to be cool?” he asks. But Sam trusts Steve’s judgment, and they fill Bucky in on everything that’s happened. “Everything HYDRA put inside me is still there. All he had to do was say the goddamn words,” Bucky explains, revealing that Zemo had also asked him exactly where he’d been experimented on in Siberia—“because I’m not the only Winter Soldier.” According to Bucky, the other soldiers are “the most elite death squad” with “more kills than anyone in HYDRA history—and that was before the serum.” Zemo said he wants to see an empire fall, and with them, “he could do it. They speak 30 languages, can hide in plain sight, infiltrate, assassinate, destabilize. They can take a whole country down in one night you’d never see ’em coming.”

Later, after Sharon returns their gear, the outlaws meet Ant-Man, Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and Wanda at the Leipzig-Halle Airport. Upon seeing Ant-Man, Sam jokingly says, “What’s up, Tic Tac?” When Ant-Man tries to apologize for their last encounter, Sam stops him sand says, “It was a great audition… but it’ll never happen again.”

They aren’t the only ones at the airport, of course. Iron Man, Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, and a kid from Queens—Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland)—intend to stop them, even if that means fighting their friends. Captain America had predicted this, and his team meets the challenge head on. Redwing finds a Quinjet in Hangar 5, which The Falcon and The Winter Soldier head toward as Spider-Man pursues them. Watching him swing, Sam complains, “Everyone’s got a gimmick now!” Spider-Man then webs up The Falcon, rendering his wings useless. “I don’t know if you’ve been in a fight before,” Sam tells him, “but there’s usually not this much talking.” After Spider-Man knocks down The Winter Soldier and webs up his arm, Redwing takes out the webslinger.

“You couldn’t have done that earlier?” The Winter Soldier asks.

Groaning, The Falcon tells him, “I hate you.”

When The Winter Soldier faces the Black Panther next, he maintains his innocence in the Vienna bombing, which killed T’Challa’s father. Meanwhile, Sam continues to survey the situation and makes an executive decision. “You get to the jet. Both of you!” he tells Captain America and The Winter Soldier over their comms devices. “The rest of us aren’t getting out of here… This isn’t the real fight, Steve… We need a diversion—something big.”

Enter Ant-Man, who grows to giant proportions, providing a perfect distraction. Seeing things from a new perspective, Black Widow switches sides and lets Captain America and Bucky steal the Quinjet. Iron Man and War Machine go after them, but The Falcon is on their tail. After The Falcon fires a missile, Vision fires a laser beam in his direction. The Falcon ducks, and it inadvertently hits War Machine, and the fall paralyzes him. Once they’re far away, Bucky says, “I don’t know if I’m worth all this.” Though Steve reminds him that he “didn’t have a choice,” Bucky still feels responsible. “I know,” he says. “But I did it.”

Later, Tony discovers Zemo had framed Bucky—and as much as he wants to know why, he also wants to help his friends. So, he visits the Raft, an underwater prison created to detain and incarcerate enhanced individuals. “You’re the good cop now?” Sam asks. Tony then disables the audio feed, admits he made the wrong call, and pleads with Sam to tell him where the others are. “Look, I’ll tell you,” Sam says, deciding to trust him despite their differences. “But you have to go alone—and as a friend.”

Soon after Steve and Bucky arrive in Siberia, Tony joins them and reiterates his intention to help—provided they don’t tell anyone he’s involved in unofficial Avengers business, that is. Imagine their surprise when they discover the other cryogenically frozen soldiers have been murdered. “If it’s any comfort, they died in their sleep,” Zemo informs them, speaking safely from a fortified room. “Did you really think I wanted more of you? I’m grateful to them, though. They brought you here.” After a bit of grandstanding, he prefaces his next move by saying, “An empire toppled by its enemies can rise again. But one which crumbles from within? That’s dead. Forever.” He then plays the tape, which shows The Winter Soldier murdering Tony’s parents (Hope Davis and John Slattery). Anger running through his veins, Tony asks Steve, “Did you know?” Shamefully, Steve lies and says, “I didn’t know it was him.” Pressed harder, he admits he did, in fact, know who was responsible for their deaths.

Feeling betrayed, Iron Man unleashes a wave of fury on Captain America and The Winter Soldier. “It wasn’t him, Tony!” Steve yells. “HYDRA had control of his mind. It wasn’t him!” As the fighting continues, Iron Man asks The Winter Soldier, “Do you even remember them?” Honestly and somberly, The Winter Soldier responds, “I remember all of them.”

As the Avengers duke it out, The Winter Soldier hits Iron Man with Captain America’s shield, delivering a mighty blow. While trying to crush Iron Man’s arc reactor, The Winter Soldier’s robotic arm gets blasted to bits. “He’s my friend,” Captain America says, to which Iron Man replies, “So was I.” Iron Man won’t give up, and Captain America reminds him, “I could do this all day.” After effectively downing Iron Man, Captain America helps Bucky up and begins to walk away. “That shield doesn’t belong to you. You don’t deserve it!” Iron Man shouts, increasingly desperate and vengeful. “My father made that shield!” Captain America gives it up, as he knows a shield isn’t what makes him a hero it’s his convictions.

Later, Captain America frees his allies from the raft. In a mid-credits scene, Bucky is in Wakanda, to be treated by the most brilliant scientific minds in the world. “I can’t trust my own mind,” he explains to Steve. “So, until they figure out how to get this stuff out of my head, I think going back under is the best thing—for everybody.” Steve thanks T’Challa for helping his friend, who wisely notes, “Your friend and my father? They were both victims.”

Bucky is next seen in a post-credits scene for 2018’s Black Panther, where a group of young boys are watching over the sleeping soldier. They run out and tell Shuri (Letitia Wright), who had deprogrammed him. “Are you playing around with that man again? You’re teasing him again?” she asks the boys, who call him The White Wolf. “Don’t wake him. He must rest.” Bucky then thanks her for her help. “Come,” Shuri says. “Much more for you to learn.”

Since the events of Captain America: Civil War, those who were on Captain America’s side have been on the lam. They resurface in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War after Wanda and Vision are attacked by Corvus Glaive (Michael Shaw) and Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon), who are trying to steal the Mind Stone for Thanos (Josh Brolin). After Captain America, Black Widow, and The Falcon leave them licking their wounds, the team heads “home” for the first time in years: Avengers HQ. There, they reunite with Rhodey, who tells them, “Wow, you guys really look like crap. Must’ve been a rough couple of years.” Sam jokes, “Yeah, well, the hotels weren’t exactly five-star.” As they formulate a plan, T’Challa and Okoye (Danai Gurira) bring Bucky a new arm. Bracing himself, he asks, “Where’s the fight?” After the team arrives in Wakanda, T’Challa promises his full support… which includes Bucky, who jokingly refers to himself as “a semi-stable, 100-year-old man.” Smiling, Steve asks, “How you been, Buck?” Bucky jokingly replies, “Uh, not bad, for the end of the world.”

Shuri gets to work on Vision, trying to reprogram his synapses so she can remove the Mind Stone from his body and destroy it before Thanos arrives. Meanwhile, The Falcon notices Thanos’ Outriders are fast approaching. The impenetrable forcefield may not hold, and so the heroes decide to open it up and control it where they can. The Falcon fires at them from the perimeter, while the others engage in hand-to-hand combat on the battlefield. Soon, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) arrives with Groot (voice of Vin Diesel) and Rocket (voice of Bradley Cooper), giving the heroes a much-needed boon. Bucky later lifts up Rocket, who inquires how much his gun—and his arm—are worth. Vows Rocket, “Oh, I’ll get that arm!”

Moments later, The Falcon spots Vision being attacked. Then, Thanos arrives, and one by one, the Mad Titan takes the heroes down. Despite everyone’s best efforts—including a stunning sacrifice from Wanda and Vision—Thanos acquires the Mind Stone, completing his galactic smash-and-grab and allowing him to “snap” half the universe out of existence. Bucky is the first to vanish. Walking toward his friend as he turns to dust, Bucky frantically calls out for Steve. Meanwhile, Rhodey searches for Sam, who disappears just as suddenly.

As more heroes fade away, Rhodey asks, “What is this? What the hell is happening?”

Cut to 2019’s Avengers: Endgame. It’s been five years since the event known as The Blip eliminated half of all life, and no one is more determined to make things right than Steve and Natasha. With a little help from Ant-Man, Smart Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Iron Man, they conceive a “time heist” that will allow them to pluck the Infinity Stones from various timelines and effectively undo what Thanos did. Their plan works… but a Thanos from an earlier timeline sees it coming and brings the battle to Avengers headquarters. After a knock-down-drag-out battle royale, all hope seems lost. Captain America is the last man standing, ready to face Thanos and his large army all by himself. But then, he hears Sam’s voice on his comms: “Hey, Cap. You read me? Cap, it’s Sam. Can you hear me? On your left.” Steve turns and Okoye, T’Challa, and Shuri appear, with Sam flying overhead. More portals open, and soon Bucky walks through with Groot. Captain America is not alone after all. With his faith restored, he then leads the team into battle, saying, “Avengers assemble!”

Thanos eventually gets ahold of the Infinity Stones. Iron Man attempts to disarm him, seemingly to no avail. Thanos then snaps his fingers… but nothing happens. To his horror, he realizes the Infinity Stones are missing, and he realizes Iron Man used his nanotech to steal them. Iron Man forms a new gauntlet around them and snaps his fingers, erasing Thanos and his army from the universe. Unfortunately, as a result, Iron Man is mortally wounded, and he leaves behind a family, a legacy, and a team who will honor his sacrifice.

After Tony’s funeral, Smart Hulk agrees to help Steve travel back in time so he can return the Infinity Stones to the exact time and place where they belong. “You know,” Sam says, “if you want, I could come with you.” Steve replies, “You’re a good man, Sam. This one’s on me, though.” Steve then turns to Bucky and repeats a phrase from their early days: “Don’t do anything stupid ‘til I get back.” With a knowing smile, Bucky replies, “How can I? You’re taking all the stupid with you.” Steve’s absence shouldn’t last longer than five seconds, but he doesn’t return. Sam panics, while Bucky laughs to himself. Then, he notices an old man sitting on a bench in the distance. “Go ahead,” he tells Sam, who approaches him carefully.

Sam: “Cap?”
Cap: “Hi, Sam.”
Sam: “So, did something go wrong, or did something go right?”
Cap: “Well, after I put the Stones back, I thought, ‘Maybe I’ll try some of that life Tony was telling me to get.’”
Sam: “How’d that work out for ya?”
Cap: “It was beautiful.”
Sam: “Good. I’m happy for you. Truly… Only thing bumming me out is the fact I have to live in a world without Captain America.”
Steve: “Oh. That reminds me… Try it on.”

Sam looks at Bucky, who nods with approval and pride.

Steve: “How does it feel?”
Sam: “Like it’s someone else’s.”
Steve: “It isn’t.”
Sam: “Thank you. I’ll do my best.”
Steve: “That’s why it’s yours.”

But will Sam actually get to wield the shield in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier? Fans will find out after the series debuts March 19 on Disney+. Before then, the streaming service is also rolling out four new episodes of Marvel Studios: Legends, which will focus on Bucky, Sam, Sharon, and Zemo’s backstories, giving fans an even deeper look at their MCU origins.

Review: Superior Seafood

Superior Seafood is the latest venture from the group behind Superior Grill. Maybe I’m alone in my thinking, but when I think of Superior, I think of drinks. Specifically, drinks that get you shit faced. The food is always an afterthought. Am I right?

That said, the menu at Superior Seafood is a beast. Fresh catch specials, sandwiches, hot apps, cold apps, soups, salads, steaks, it seems to never end. With a menu of this size, it would take months to sample everything so I’m sticking to what I’ve had.

By far, my favorite thing I’ve had is the frozen pomegranate mojito. The team behind the famous margaritas may have one upped themselves with this new frozen concoction. To make things better, the mojitos (pomegranate and plain) are 2 for 1 during the happy hour (4-6 p.m.). Getting wasted on a budget — always a plus.

Drinks aside, the best food item I’ve had is the Marinated Crab Claws. The claws are served cold in a marinade that has a subtle kick — I’m pretty sure it’s horseradish. Whatever it is, it works. I might have to stop in for these regularly.

Next, I moved on to the Oysters Superior platter, a sampling of Chargrilled Oysters, Oysters Bienville (shrimp stuffing with bacon and cheese) and Oysters Rockefeller (spinach and Herbsaint). All three of the oyster variation were very good, but just short of excellent. I didn’t get enough of the oyster taste I was expecting.

I did get the oyster taste I was hoping for with the raw oysters. Superior Seafood sources them locally so you know they’re worth shucking and slurping.

The Tuna Tartar was decent, but I’ve definitely had better. The toast overwhelms the subtlety of the tuna, but the wasabi and avocado due add to the tuna itself. I would highly recommend ignoring the toast that accompanies the rest of the dish.

A dish that fell completely flat for me was the Shrimp and Grits. I will commend Superior Seafood for using milk or cream as the grits based versus water (lots of restaurants make that amateur mistake). I can also forgive the fact that one of my shrimp wasn’t fully shelled (it happens). What I can’t forgive is serving peeled shrimp that haven’t been deveined.

To me, that’s a little lazy and would have helped the dish out some. The tasso cream sauce accompanying the Shrimp and Grits was also very watery, almost soupy, and just didn’t add anything.

All things considered, I’m sure I’ll be back for dinner, but I’m not in a rush. I would rush back for happy hour to drink and nibble on some of the apps. Either way, Superior Seafood is a welcome addition to St. Charles and Napoleon for a spot that had been empty since Katrina.

Superior Seafood is located at 4338 St. Charles Ave. and is open daily at 11 a.m.

Posted by poboylivinrich on February 15, 2012 in Eatin'

At TOTC’s national bar battle, Dallas’ Bar Smyth showed it could pack a good punch (and a few good cocktails besides)

The Bar Smyth crew — sharing space with Chicago’s Barrel House Flat — was one of eight bars facing off against a deluge of humanity.

You can’t say Dallas’ Bar Smyth didn’t try. Did any of the other half-dozen establishments facing off at Tales of the Cocktail’s Bare-Knuckle Bar Fight sport a derby-hatted fire eater? Could any of them claim to wield as original a punch as mobile cocktail service poured out of a backpack keg?

That was Bar Smyth, going big and gloves-off in its debut at the nation’s largest cocktail conference in New Orleans. Friday night’s annual showdown-slash-party pitted bar crew against bar crew for yearlong bragging rights, measuring bars on the quality of their beverages, sense of atmosphere and ability to churn out cocktails for the great, buzzing tides of humanity thirsting for drink. It was a madhouse. It was supposed to be.

Smyth’s record-album covers evoked the Dallas speakeasy’s 70’s-esque decor, part of the judging criteria.

The chaotic hordes began forming outside the Jackson Brewery’s microscopic entryway well ahead of the event’s 10 p.m. start time and before long resembled a ravenous weasel trying to poke its nose into some tiny field mouse’s hiding hole. Once inside, the senses were dazzled by a raging tumult, tables piled with pasta trays, a spunky rockabilly band and monitors spilling footage of Muhammad Ali.

The event was sponsored by The 86 Co., a new spirit line that includes Tequila Cabeza. The drink lineup from New York City’s The Daily included a chamomile Negroni and a watermelon-shiso Collins.

But people were here for the drinks, and of those there was plenty: Eight bars in all, plucked from around the country by The 86 Co., the just-launched spirit line that sponsored this year’s event. The company’s aim was to showcase notable up-and-coming bars rather than the established stalwarts of years past: There was Miami’s Broken Shaker, with its Santeria vibe and a killer banana-mint daiquiri Queens’ Sweet Leaf with its Jose Camel, a tequila-mezcal pachanga laced with coffee liqueur and Punt e Mes the two were my favorite sips of the night.

The atmosphere at Miami’s Broken Shaker recalled a botanica store.

Los Angeles’ Old Lightning threw down with a mezcal Negroni. New York City’s The Daily had a popcorn machine and an air of uniformed aplomb amid the fray. Chicago’s Barrel House Flat poured shots from a bottle labeled “Encyclopedia Brown” – a tantalizing formula of Rittenhouse Rye, Punt e Mes, Amaro Montenegro, Cynar, Angostura bitters and salt.

I failed to find San Diego’s Polite Provisions in the maelstrom, but Boston’s Citizen Public House and Oyster Bar was remarkably hospitable considering its three-deep crowd and the fact that it was bartender Sabrina Kershaw’s birthday the bar’s red-velvety Negroni variation, called The New Black, was as delicious as it was alluring.

Sweet Leaf, of Queens, served up one of my favorite drinks of the night, with tequila, mezcal and coffee liqueur.

Dallas’ Bar Smyth made the most of its prime real estate on the brewery’s second floor. Smyth barmen Mike Martensen, Omar Yeefoon, Josh Hendrix, Julian Pagan and, inexplicably, Standard Pour’s Brian McCullough slung drinks as fast as they could muster. The crew donned Lone Star aprons, and bar host Ryan Sumner stirred up the crowd, occasionally from atop the bar counter – whooping and hollering, ringing a bell, kick-starting choruses of “Deep In The Heart of Texas.”

And despite a superior Cuba Libre anchoring its drink lineup, it was what Smyth had conjured beyond the bar that set it apart: Bar-back Charlie Ferrin blazed a trail through the darkness, wowing anyone within eyeshot with his fire-eating prowess. (“You only see the bartender side of me,” the longtime circus performer explained.) And bartender Mate Hartai waded through the crowd with a handmade backpack keg and a Texas-stamped helmet, pouring shots of Smyth’s Mexican Monk, a habanero-watermelon spin on a Tom Collins.

Smyth’s Mate Hartai poured drinks from his handmade backpack keg. Hartai’s boozy contraption.

Texas represented well: There was Austin star barman Bill Norris The 86 Co.’s Jason Kosmas, the bartender extraordinaire recently relocated to Austin from Dallas Emily Perkins of Dallas’ Victor Tango Bonnie Wilson of The Ranch at Las Colinas Kevin Gray of and Hypeworthy’s Nico Martini.

When it was all over, Boston’s Public House had taken People’s Choice honors, no doubt aided by its giveaway signature cozies and fans (brilliant in light of the unspeakable humidity) and a machine dispensing frozen Julep Slushies. Then it was time for the judges’ decision: “We got to try drinks tonight from some of the best bars in the world,” one of them announced. “Those of you who tend bar know what it takes. Not just cocktail creativity, but teamwork, speed and execution. We know what it takes to make people happy not just this one night, but every night of the year.” And with that it was declared that The Daily of New York City had taken top prize.

Ah, Dallas. There’s always next year.

Lone Star pride: Smyth’s Ryan Sumner works up the crowd. The fired-up champion bartenders of New York’s The Daily.

Jack Gleeson in Game of Thrones

There are plenty of loathsome villains in the history of television, but very few have been quite as young and quite as twisted as King Joffrey on Game of Thrones. Even among a cast full of violent monsters, the young king stood out as a repugnant character. Actor Jack Gleeson seems to be as kind-hearted as his character is not, since he's gone on record as feeling very conflicted over the violent acts committed in the show.

As Gleeson said in an interview with Rolling Stone, "You tend to abstract yourself from the creepiness of it when you're playing it, but when you see it on television, it sends shivers down my spine. I would like to try and defend him, but I would have a pretty hard job doing it." Gleeson even retired from acting after his time on the show ended, which was probably for the best, considering the kind of retirement his character faced.

D100 unique drinks found in a tavern

Your party goes to a tavern and orders the usual ale. But they see someone who is clearly a regular walk up to the bar and ask for a drink they've never heard of.

Effects of these drinks do not stack. If you drink while still under the effect of another, the new effect takes place and the previous effect ends.

Wild Whiskey - Brewed by the local wild magic sorcerer, this whiskey can have wild consequences. Served in a shot glass. Roll on the Wild Magic Surge table.

Whipped Blaze - This drink is served in a highball glass and ignited. It tastes like champagne mixed with charcoal. It gives resistance against fire damage for 10 minutes, but vulnerability to cold.

Peanut Paralyser - Served in a cocktail glass, this peanut flavoured drink has the texture of syrup. Roll a constitution save, DC15. On a fail you become paralysed and your fingers glow a deep shade of yellow for 1d4 minutes.

Sherry Wink - Served in a wine glass, this drink has a cinnamon taste. It gives advantage on persuasion checks for the next hour, but disadvantage on intimidation.

Honest Enigma - Served in a beer mug, this drink tastes like cheese but has the texture of honey. For 10 minutes after drinking this you cannot tell a lie, but all answers are given in riddles.

Tomato Joke - Served in a highball glass, this drink tastes like tomato and has the texture of a fine wine. The top layer swirls around like smoke and tells random jokes.

Lucky Grog - Served in a beer mug, this drink tastes like coffee with the texture of chicken soup. The drinker gains 1 luck point which lasts for 8 hours or until used.

Rude Lagoon - Served on the rocks, this drink tastes like strawberry. It hurls insults at everyone until drank.

The Third Eye: A relatively ghoulish concoction whose recipe is known only to a select few. A veritable trade secret among many a brewery. When drunk it makes the drinker mildly psychic enabling them to see beyond the veil (helps them spot the odd ghostie lurking about) In some cases, it even grants them brief bouts of psychometry or telepathy. Rumour has it, although it has never been confirmed that each drink is topped with a sprinkling of someone’s ashes. - u/Sobek6

‘A Drink and a Show’: A seemingly ordinary tankard of beer topped with froth. When the tankard is touched by the drinker, the froth will begin to become animate taking on the various shapes of animals who will then perform various tricks. - u/Sobek6

Dragon Spit - Strong whiskey mixed with strong hot pepper flakes. If it doesn't knock you out, you get firebreathing for 1 minute. - u/Sethor

Kirin Piss - High proof and extremely hot, and not in the spicy way. It remains hot for days, and tastes like a strong mixture of coffee and scotch. Its color is golden, with a very appealing froth at the top. The inventor of this drink (a blue dragonborn in Bryn Shander) swears it's just named that way. Upon drinking a constitution save of DC 14 must be passed or become immediately drunk. If succeeded, you gain fire resistance for 2 hours. - u/Dunthyon

Nob Ruob. The opposite of bourbon - you remain completely sober, while everyone in a 30 foot radius gets drunker. - u/WhiskeyPixie24

TPK- a mix of many hard liquors and fruit juices looks sweet. Even the biggest of Goliath can’t handle a stein of this delicious concoction - u/chandlerwithaz

Penguin Pop: a white yoghurt drink with swirls of black licorice liqour and a bit of sugar. Served in a tall glass with optional straw. Gives the drinker bad breath for 10 minutes enhancing breath attacks by 1d6 - u/TheWoodcarveree

Gorouxwater: Regarded as a crude pick-me-up or hangover cure, this vile drink was coined by Goroux, a well-known bartender. It looks just like water, but it's been mixed with a dried spicy-pepper powder and vinegar, occasionally riffed on according to region or barkeep's taste. "Hey can I have a sip of your water?" "Sure but careful it's spicy." - u/Parxival_

Blackstone Water - this thick black liquor is produced by sitting some namesake blackstone with a mixture that is 1 part ground cactus root, and half measure of grounded charcoal and saltpeter each. with an equivalent mix of water with it all and some tabasco as bitters. It goes down like gravel and tastes like ashe fermented in Bullette Guts. But it makes EVERYTHING you eat for the next 4 hours taste like heaven. Whether that is by comparison or some property of the drink is still up for discussion. - u/Kondrias

Aloe Beer-ah: Start with a mug of beer, toss aloe in it. If you've got a sunburn, it'll make you feel better. - u/im_back

Deadly Nightcap: 199% proof alcohol. You might go mad, you might not survive, or you might have a night you'll never remember, but your friends will never forget. - u/im_back

Chatta-hooch-ee: Vodka and rice water. Three of these and you're talking to everyone. - u/im_back

Open-Sauce-a-me: secret ingredients that'll open you up to new experiences. - u/im_back

Rambooze: fermented goat's milk. Who drinks this? “Old men start it, young men fight it, nobody wins, everybody in the middle dies, and nobody tells the truth!” - u/im_back

The Throat of God: a subtly sparkling, burgundy cocktail with thick curls of smoke (like incense) rising from the surface. Tastes like mead poured through a mountain stream, with notes of melon and woodsmoke. Drinking it makes you sing all your words in a deep Gregorian monk intonation for an hour afterwards, no matter what your voice sounded like before. - u/wilhelmlfink

The Black Goat (from my own campaign): Named after the tavern, this is a lively drink served in a glass that is fastened to the bar top to prevent it from frolicking around. You have to successfully grapple the cup to be able to drink it, though its strength depends on who made the drink. If you manage this, you’ll notice it tastes distinctly of black peppercorns, maple syrup, and sage, and leaves you feeling exceptionally giddy from the first sip. It’s a black to orange-ombré drink that fizzes the entire time you have it, and has the amusing effect of making the drinker crave unconventional snacks and bleat loudly once finished. May cause fright fainting in less intrepid folk or those with a low Constitution. - u/wilhelmlfink

Ghost Nut - A bubble full of alcoholic vapor that is consumed by being burst and inhaled. 1d10 chance of becoming haunted, 1d100 chance of becoming pregnant with a ghost baby. - u/CharismaChecke

Extra dry Chardonnay - Raisins served in a wine glass. - u/CharismaChecke

Jungle grog - A concoction made from the remnants of last night’s unfinished drinks. Make a DC 10 con save or be poisoned. Served with a cigarette butt garnish. - u/CharismaChecke

Fairy juice - Dandelion wine with tiny flowers floating inside. The taste reminds the drinker of the Feywild. - u/CharismaChecke

Chaos Malt - This drink looks like a rainbow slurry and tastes both salty and sweet. Drinking it will cause your skin to take on a colorful hue for a few minutes. - u/kenderbard

Sweet Mourning - A concrete-grey drink, to be poured into a shot glass and downed in one. The drinker will be reduced to tears for 6d10 minutes, as they remember everything precious that they’ve lost over the years. For 24 hours after the tears subside, the drinker has advantage on Wisdom saving throws, and any magical or medical effects that damage memory- such as dementia, or the Modify Memory spell- are suppressed. These second two effects only work once a year: any further shots of Sweet Mourning will only make you cry. and progressively more drunk. - u/viceVersailes

“Surprise Me” - A clear liquid served in a beer mug, the taste, texture, and alcohol content are not determined until it is consumed and are completely random every time. Also known as The Schrödinger. - u/RedactedFractal

cactus juice - it's the quenchiest - u/The_Void_Alchemist

Dwarven Rock Ale - A speciality of the mountain dwelling race, this ale is aged in stone until it is strong enough to eat through it. A non-Dwarf consuming the beverage must succeed at a DC 14 constitution save to down the first gulp, and a DC 16 Constitution save to avoid passing out after finishing the mug. Every mug after has the same checks with the DC increased by 1 each time. - u/Derrath

Piña skullada - piña colada served in a skull mug - u/frvwfr2

Statue's blood. A rare drink created by distilling the blood of a humanoid that is currently being turned into stone by a basilisk or medusa. When drunk the drinker gains the benefits of the stoneskin spell unless they fail the save then they are turned to stone for 1 hour - u/cammopanda

The Green Dragon - Finally perfected after the death of the three Halfling proprietors of the tavern of the same name this liquor uses actual dragon bile in the fermentation process. There's a 5% chance upon imbibing a shot of your eye to begin glowing green. (you gain one charge similar to a Green Dragonborn's breath attack.) - u/HWGA_Gallifrey

The Red Dragon - The lakeside survivors of an ancient dragon attack harvested the dragon bile for this rare drink, but many argue it's worth the price. There's a 5% chance upon imbibing a shot of your eye to begin glowing red. (you gain one charge similar to a Red Dragonborn's breath attack.) - u/HWGA_Gallifrey

Fermented Chiquitolina Root - The ultimate sign of trust between a bartender and their patrons it shrinks a humanoid down to one eighth their normal size for about four hours. - u/HWGA_Gallifrey

Hard water -- a colourless, odourless, tasteless liquid that has a 50% chance of increasing the drunkenness of the drinker. - u/SaturnMoth

The Honeywood: brewed in the same giant barrel (barrel also named 'honeywood') on this location for generations, its a sweet and tempting liquor served as a shot. Starting at a DC5 CON check (increasing by 5 with each subsequent shot) on failure the drinker feels overwhelming love for everyone as though under the effects of a Charm Person spell until they sober up. Strangers appear as friends, friends as family and family as glowing angels. Legend has it a bottle sent to a king prevented an ancient war. - u/NewToSociety

The Stormy Sea- a briny cocktail served in a large bowl. When agitated, slow-moving, white-capped ripples wash back and forth across the surface of the drink, looking like the ocean. Count the number of times the waves cross your bowl! The house record is 9 times! - u/NewToSociety

Alchemist's Mug- A take-home mug costing 199 gold pieces. Advertised as any liquid poured into the mug magically becomes the drinkers' favorite brew (It's actually just Guiness no matter who holds the mug, but who is going to argue?) - u/NewToSociety

Ghosts' Glass- An ever-steaming greenish liquor. When poured, a perfectly measured shot leaves the bottle and forms a bubble floating in midair, no glassware required. - u/NewToSociety

Cold Steel: tall thin glass resembling the handle and hilt of a blade. The magically chilled drink is poured in creating a column of white smoke forming a misty “blade”. The smoke quickly dissipates, toast with an “en garde!”, and knock it back. Insert whatever flavor you like, but the sensation is akin to drinking cold water after eating a peppermint. - u/tiddybandit

Bear Brew - when consumed, turns you into a bear for 1 hour - u/MoonRks

Skull spliter, fortified beer in the northmen style. +1 to melee damage when raging. - u/Git777

Belch fog, a smooth vodka with a lemon flavor. Each glass drank causes the drinker to burp up 1 5ft cube of fog that heavily obscures that space. - u/Git777

St Morten's glow. A fruity sugary beverage that makes the dinker's urine glow blue in the dark. Sheds 10ft of dim light. - u/Git777

Dex on the Beach - An orange cocktail served with a small umbrella. Grants the drinker a +1 to Dexterity based ability checks & saving throws in desert terrain for 1d4 days. - u/Aidennn92

Toe whiskey - whiskey that has a toe floating in the bottom. Story goes that it is the toe is from Drerk Shinglson the legendary drunk. - u/dennymagic

Delayed Blast Fireball - A Dwarven amber ale with a shot of Karrnathi rye whisky dropped in (similar to a boiler maker) Gets you drunk, but it's a creeper. - u/VendettaVega

Karrnathi Dragon's Breath - (the aforementioned whiskey) a well-aged rye whiskey with very thin flakes of dragon shards floating within (similar to goldschläger) for aesthetic reasons. It has a peppery bite and burns like hell going down. - u/VendettaVega

Volt - Pours like lightning from the keg, once stirred turns one of various colors and spits small sparks out the top. Roll a d20 to determine what color it turns (see list below). Upon drinking you must pass a constitution check or take 1d4-1 of the associated damage type and get drunk. Warforged are exempt from the damage, but can still get drunk. Passing the check grants resistance to that type of damage for 4 hours unless you get the healing one which instead confers 1d4+5 temporary hitpoints (scaled to level at DM's discretion). Starting DC is 10, increasing for each subsequent drink by 5, capped at 25 . Damage types are: Necrotic - Tar Black (roll a 1)Poison - Emerald Green (roll a 2-5)Acid - Lime Green (roll a 6)Cold - Frost White (roll a 7)Fire - Bright Orange (roll an 8)Psychic - Bubblegum Pink (roll a 9)Radiant - Sunshine Yellow (roll a 10)Lightning - Electric Blue (roll an 11-16)Force - Silver (roll a 17)Thunder - Clear (roll an 18)Health - Gold (roll a 19)Random - Chromatic (roll a 20) (basically roll again behind the screen) The drink was invented and is favored by the warforged. The drink is also stiffly alcoholic, for the benefit of non-warforged. - u/Lhomme_Baguette

Numb Tongue - This green beverage effervesces lightly, giving off an herbal aroma. When consumed, it feels like fire flowing down your throat, but spreads into a pleasant warming sensation. This provides advantage on saves against the adverse effects of cold weather for 1d4 hours. However, the brew has a side effect: for the same amount of time your tongue is rendered entirely numb, any checks that involve speaking are made at disadvantage and spells with verbal components are impossible to cast. - u/Derrath

The Half-Elven - A shot of hard liquor (usually whiskey) dropped into a glass of fine Elven wine. Though mixes vary, this usually results in the refined fruity notes of the wine being complemented by the hearty smokey tones of the liquor. - u/Derrath

The Half-Elven Bastard - As the Half-Elven, but the Elven wine has been replaced with whatever cheap wine the bartender could scrounge up. Though mixes vary, it is often a good way to hide the taste of bad whiskey. - u/Derrath

Beholder Brew - This inky black drink swirls and moves under the surface of it's own accord. When the mug is first consumed, the drink begins to change colour to match the random effect that it causes. Regardless of the effect, the drinker is also subject to incredibly vivid dreams the next time they rest. Roll a d10 to determine the effect, DC 16 Constitution check to resist: 1 - The drink turns pink and imbues the drinker with a charming aura. They make persuasion checks at advantage for 1 hour. They also become more gullible, taking disadvantage on insight checks for the same period 2 - The drink turns red, and the drinker feels no pain for 1 hour. They still take hit point damage. 3 - The drink turns yellow and the drinker becomes immune to fear effects for 1 hour. They also become rather brash, often getting into situations that they shouldn't. 4 - The drink turns a deep blue, and the drinker begins to move slowly as per the spell Slow for one minute. 5 - The drink turns grey, and the drinker gains resistance to necrotic damage for 1 hour. They take 1d6 necrotic damage after that hour is up. 6 - The drink turns an emerald green, and the drinker gains use of the Mage Hand cantrip for one hour. After this hour they take 1d4 psychic damage. 7 - The drink turns purple and the drinker falls asleep for 1d4 hours. 8 - The drink turns brown and the drinker is partially petrified for one hour. This gives disadvantage on Dexterity saves, but advantage on Constitution saves. 9 - The drink turns clear and the drinker appears to disintegrate. They are affected by the gaseous form spell for 1 hour, but they cannot end the effect willingly. 10 - The drink remains black and the drinker must roll on this table twice to determine the result. The resulting colours swirl within the black drink. In addition, they will take 1d6 necrotic damage at the end of this effect. If the re-rolls result in a 10, then the damage increases by 1d6 and they must roll twice more. - u/Derrath

Phoenix Tears - This layered shot’s recipe is a well kept secret. The bulk of the shot is red, then topped with three thin layers of orange, yellow, and white in ascending order. The shot is often used in tests of machismo as it is very spicy. A failed constitution save means the imbiber takes 1D4 +1 fire damage. - u/ravi95035

Giant’s Wrath - a fortified wine with a sharp, tart tang. Often sent to a dwarf as an insult which always starts a brawl. - u/ravi95035

Elven Kiss - Served in coupe glass, this nearly ephemeral cocktail is bright, with notes of citrus and mint. Those with no elven heritage who quaff this sparkling lavender beverage gain advantage on saving throws against being charmed for 1 hour. - u/ravi95035

The Lusty Dragonborn maid - Absinthe topped with a fresh dollop of whipped cream, garnish with two grapes and a lime wedge for the ɼhest' and head. Grants a minor +2 bonus to charisma checks to flirt with a dragonborn, or any humanoid that has scales. - u/Flaredragoon1

Old Greg's Fishwhiskey: That is not a cute turn of phrase. This inexplicable rotgut is made of fermented offal. If you're not the sort of wizened old salt that grew prematurely old on the stuff, it is not likely to be palatable. CON Save DC 17 or become violently ill. u/Flutterwander

Mosswall Mambo: Named for the Tavern where it was conceived, this silky blend of dark beer, mulling spices and amaretto drinks easy and strong. Allows Proficiency to CHA checks. (Or double if already proficient) - u/Flutterwander

Truesight'r: A strong and herbaceous bitter spirit that cuts through the glamour. Adds proficiency to WIS checks (Or Double if already proficient.) - u/Flutterwander

Dwarven Spirits: these ale bottles contain a golden brew and a trapped ghost of a dwarf. When opened the ghost usually goes on to the next life (10% chance of hostility) and the drink makes your eyes glow with an eerie light, your breath fog like fleeing ghosts, and you are able to see and talk to invisible entities and spirits who are hidden from prime material viewers for 1d4 hours. - u/FirstChAoS

Ettin's Pint: Traditionally served in a pair of frothing mugs, this dwarven brew is stout like it's two headed namesake. The flavors compliment each other. Sharing an Ettin's Pint with a companion allows the drinkers to see with thier left eye through the left eye of their friend for the next 1d4 hours. This often causes disorientation, exchanged perception, and frequent arguments. - u/DinoTuesday

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