Thursday, January 30, 2014

Kitsch-en Kounter: Stadium Sliders & Football Potato Salad

The fact is I've never watched a Super Bowl game in my life (and Super Bowl XLVIII will be no exception).  I honestly don't know that I remember ever sitting through the entirety of any football game - the longest stretch being that panicky moment when I dropped the remote while channel surfing and got stuck on a channel devoted to the NFL.  "Why me," I pleaded aloud as my stubby fingers pawed the ground for the only thing standing between me and a very special "Tour of Southern California" episode of The Lawrence Welk Show.

Football?!!!  "PU!!!"
You ain't kidding ain't kidding.

I don't understand football and I certainly don't understand the love of football.  I was the kid in PE who loved not having the ball thrown to me (and recoiled in abject horror when it was).  I was the kid who begged to be picked last for a team - more time to day dream about the complexities of "Tico Tico."  I try to tell myself that the love of football is the same as my love for The Lawrence Welk Show or my passion for accordion music but for the life of me, I just can't seem to find the connection.  Why is the Super Bowl practically a national holiday when Myron Floren's birthday passes each year without so much as a mention on the evening news?  I only stress the point to illustrate what a super fan of the Super Bowl (and sports in general) I am not.  Then again, I don't drink.  One thing I can get behind is a good party; and the Super Bowl is as good an excuse for a party as any.  A party, however, is only as good as its food.

The other day my friend posted a link to a recipe for something called a "Taco Ring;" the photo piqued my interest but the name and the ingredients left me cold.  Poppin' Fresh crescent rolls have their fine points (that coronary-inducing, dynamite explosion of dough when nervously peeling away the label) but filling a wreath of them with seasoned taco meat didn't seem like the best allocation of resources.  I wondered how I could tweak the brilliant idea to suit my wacky tacky tastes and create something adequate enough to satiate hardcore sports fans and weird enough to distract me from the tedium of an organized sporting event - Stadium Sliders!!!

The letterman patches are apropos of nothing really except to prove that I
was a little bit sporty; I lettered three times - in Academic Decathlon.  To
accompany the Stadium Sliders, I made a mock-potato salad out of potato
gnocchi.  Just look at them; they're all the shape of little footballs.  My
recipe calls for crumbled bacon, furthering the meal's "pigskin" premise.
I even presented the salad in a football-shaped serving bowl - when I
commit to a theme, I commit!

I called my riff on the original recipe (easily adaptable to red-meat-free or veggie diets) "Stadium Sliders" because the ring, topped with frilled toothpicks was, to me at least, reminiscent of a football stadium.  To make them, I par-cooked twelve slider-size burgers (I wanted them to finish cooking in the oven).  I unrolled the dough and, with wide sides toward the center, created a crescent roll starburst.  I centered the patties over the wide part of each roll and after topping the burgers with cheese, folded the points over the meat and baked the whole thing at 375Âș for twelve minutes.  Once the sliders were cooked, I filled the center and exterior of the ring with shredded lettuce (kind of like the stadium turf) and grape tomatoes (kind of football and/or helmet shaped) and speared each slider with a pickle and an olive.  With the usual condiment suspects available for folks to dress their burgers as they wished, the Stadium Sliders were ready to slice and eat.

As any good Kitsch-en Kounter gourmand knows, crescent roll dough comes in a tube of eight.  Because I only needed twelve to make the sliders, I filled the remaining four rolls with chocolate chips and made a football-shaped dessert!

By default (the colors of frilled toothpicks which I had on hand were blue &
orange), I suppose that I'm rooting for the Denver Broncos.  Yes, I do know
who's playing; in fact, I always manage to shock family and friends with my
uncanny ability to sweep the "Sports Team by City" category on Jeopardy.
 Just because I don't like sports doesn't mean I shouldn't have a perfunctory
knowledge should a sports-related conversation arise.  GO BRONCOS!!!
Or something...

This counts as a Bronco, right???

Are you a football fan?  Do you watch the game or do you focus on the food?  Are your responsible for making any of the game day fare?  For whom are you rooting this year?  However you're spending February 2, we hope that your heart (and your belly) are full!


Mr. Tiny

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Happy 3rd Blog-O-Versary!!!

Today marks the third anniversary of wacky tacky [hold for applause].  In all honesty, I had no idea how to blog when I started and still feel like I haven't quite gotten the hang of it in terms of understanding technology, updating regularly, maintaining interest, building readership, etc.  At the inception of wacky tacky, when I spent a good deal of time looking for like-minded writers, I would come across authors who, tired of their own blogs, would publish posts full of farewells - fond and otherwise.  Perhaps my dour imagination was to blame, but it seemed to me that each one read as a virtual suicide note; "I have nothing left to say," "I just can't go on like this," or "It was nice knowing you," were common sentiments.  As a complete and utter novice, I couldn't for the life of me understand why anyone who started a blog would give up.  After all, blogging was supposed to be fun, right?  

Well, after three years and 320 posts under my belt, I'm not quite ready to announce my retirement but I am ready to admit that my perspective has broadened on the issue.  Like all writers, there are moments of defeat, distraction, and the dreaded writer's block.  Fortunately, those moments are far outweighed by the fun and friendship I find by maintaining occupancy in my kooky little corner of the internet.

Thanks for sticking with us as we stick one more candle on our wacky tacky cake!

Reflecting back upon the last three years, I couldn't help but consider the significance of the number three.  It is often said that bad things come in threes, especially where celebrity deaths are concerned.  It has been my experience that the opposite is quite true; good things come in threes too.  I mean, hello, 3 Musketeers!!!

I am definitely of the "Schoolhouse Rock!" school of thought; "Three is a magic number!"  There is such a balance and harmony to sets of three (see: The McGuire SistersThe Andrews Sisters, The Boswell Sisters, The Holy Trinity, et al).  By far, my favorite talented trio of all time is The Del Rubio Triplets!

Milly, Elena, and Eadie - better 
known as The Del Rubio Triplets

Even at the tender age of eight, I was provided with a definitive answer (in the affirmative) for the age-old question, "Can there be love at first sight?"  From the first moment I saw them on the "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" Christmas special, I had an immediate fascination with and abiding love for the The Del Rubio Triplets. 

"Winter Wonderland" - The Del Rubio 
Triplets on "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" (1988)

Their star power wasn't relegated to just "Pee-Wee's Playhouse;" Milly, Elena, and Eadie became a major part of the late 1980's-early 1990's television landscape, making appearances on "Married with Children," "Full House," "New Monkees," "Night Court," and "The Golden Girls."

Their career spanned five decades!

Based on their interesting intonations, I always harbored the suspicion that the Del Rubios were from outside the continental United States (if not from out of this world).  While technically a US territory (the Panama Canal Zone), they were indeed born on a foreign shore in 1921.  It could be said that their musicality is not exactly what propelled the sisters to stardom.  The novelty of identical, sexagenarian triplets (emphasis on sex-y) in hot pants and blonde bouffants playing guitar and warbling hits by Devo and The Pointer Sisters was certainly not lost on a public insatiable for a little mid-century-styled camp.  Nevertheless, in its own wacky tacky way and after many years, the music of The Del Rubio Triplets still holds up for me.

"Ding-Dong, The Witch is Dead" - The Del Rubio Triplets

"These Boots Are Made for Walkin'" - The Del Rubio Triplets

"I Will Survive" - The Del Rubio Triplets

"Light My Fire" - The Del Rubio Triplets

Sadly, all three sisters have gone on to their great reward but our loss is most assuredly Heaven's gain.  I can just imagine Milly, Elena, and Eadie encouraging St. Peter to "Crack that whip!"

I'm definitely hoping that the adage, "The third time's the charm," holds true for wacky tacky.  As we enter our fourth year, our Blog-O-Versary wish is that we find even more reasons to delight in the wide world of wacky tacky with all of you wacky tacky turkey necks!


Mr. Tiny

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crazy Crafty: Pixie the Pink Pet Poodle

Just when you think Christmas has left the building (I took the wreath off the front door just today - a consequence more of laziness/forgetfulness than lingering holiday cheer, I assure you), old Kris Kringle rears his bearded head and deposits a few holiday holdouts as a reminder of Christmas past.

This week I had the great fortune to be on the receiving end of some truly out-of-site gifts.  Believe me when I tell you that they could not have come at a more opportune time; instead of feeling renewed, refreshed, reinvigorated by the change of the calendar year, I was feeling sluggish, bored, and depressed.

Then came this!

Knowing how disappointed I was to walk away from an estate sale that was stuffed to the rafters with vintage plush animals (they were just too far gone to salvage), Mary found me this stuffed, pink poodle.  Imbued with the spirit of Annette Funicello's star turn in Pajama Party (a film I've mentioned at least one million times), I don't think there could be a more inspired gift for losing the winter blues than a "Stuffed Animal" - especially when it is a pink poodle!

Pastel Poodle Party!!!
(Source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)

As evidenced by the above photo of my new poodle, the ribbon around its neck has seen happier days.  Seeing how spectacularly-dressed a pink poodle ought to be (thanks for the unattainable diamond collars, Zsa Zsa, dah-ling), I knew that it was my job to find more appropriate adornment than simply a sloppy retying of that bedraggled bow.

Then came this!
Included in a belated Christmas gift from our dear friends (a veritable
treasure box full of incredible, vintage, Christmas goodies) was
The Pixie Bow Maker!

I love that the MSRP was marked as one dollar but
the price tag from The 88¢ Store was 98¢! 

The dead stock Pixie Bow Maker came with all of its original bow pins, the instruction book, and even a dozen peel-and-stick bow backers.  After semi-successfully making my first pixie bow with the silver, "ideal for home bow maker," Bow Master ribbon that was also part of the gift, I knew I was ready for the big leagues.  I also knew that my gift, in conjunction with the vintage button and baby-pink, rayon, Velvette ribbon that I had in my stash, was the perfect answer to my poodle's problem.  Thanks Pixie Bow Maker!

On a side note, I'm thinking that my next craft project will be that ribbon-rose
topiary as featured on the back of The Pixie Bow Maker - talk about CLASS!

It may seem odd for a thirty-something man to make a craft project out of a pink poodle and a roll of ribbon but as the unpaid child-laborer son of a 1980's, bow-making entrepreneuse, I can testify of the crafting credibility of home bow making.  Furthermore, if the craft seems weird, I guarantee you that it is even more odd for the same thirty-something man to name said poodle.  Frankly, I'm usually not one for naming inanimate objects but given the combination of post-Christmas, Christmas magic that has been swirling around me and the inspiration of a certain bow maker, I figured there was only one name for my pink pet poodle - "Pixie."

This isn't my bed but I couldn't think of a better setting
than a bright-pink, matelassé bedspread and cherry-
blossom mural (hand painted by Mr. Tiny) to give
the newly-outfitted Pixie her editorial debut.

Do you have any vintage stuffed animals?  Did you get any belated Christmas presents that changed your outlook and lifted your spirits?  I hope your new year is off to a great start!


Mr. Tiny

Monday, January 6, 2014

Signs of the Times: Kingman Club

Kingman Club- Kingman, AZ

Giving new meaning to "Dirty Martini," the sign for the shuttered Kingman Club (in Kingman, AZ of all places), had us once again sauntering down imaginary lane.  In its earliest days, did the club serve as an exclusive hot spot - "Where Kingman's elite meet?"  The glowing martini glasses and the neon script with its curlicued "b" had us believing that the club's origins were quite glamorous.  On the other hand, the flickering bulbs and addendum offering such plebeian pastimes as shuffleboard and darts had us rethinking our position.  Instead of Gimlets and Brandy Alexanders, "$1 Well Drinks" were the order of the day (and the morning, the afternoon, and the night for that matter).  With just a moment longer to reflect on the history of the sign, we were left with the feeling that the more-recent patrons of the Kingman Club (decidedly rougher than our romantic visions of Cary Grant and Constance Bennett as George and Marion Kerby) probably gave the stink-eye AND the middle finger to anyone uttering the words "Shaken, not stirred."  

Speaking of middle fingers...
The "Kingman Salute" is a reminder to all who
leave town that Kingman is number one!
(Finger Rock is between Kingman and Bullhead City on I-68)


Mr. Tiny

Thursday, January 2, 2014

wacky tacky tunes: Alvino Rey

Sometimes I have a hard time following my own train of thought because it makes quite the habit of jumping the tracks.  I was actually writing a blog post the other night and searching for the perfect musical accompaniment in the form of a youtube video; it wasn't long before I got distracted by listening to and singing along with Doris Day tunes.  Proud to say that I kept right up with her as she expertly maneuvered the trickiness of "Cuttin' Capers," I even made it through the tongue-twisting lyrics, "You'll never pick about or pick a quarrel with Mr. Krupa or with Frankie Carl; you'll never dig a list of bigger names a cuttin' capers with Harry James.  With Benny Goodman and his clarinet, and Tommy Dorsey's in it too.  Alvino Rey will star; a walkin', talkin' steel guitar..."  Hearing Rey's name, I couldn't help but forget Doris and remember the clip of "St. Louis Blues" as uploaded and shared by our pal, Deke.

"St. Louis Blues" - Alvino Rey & Stringy (the walkin', talkin' steel guitar)

After re-watching the above video, you can bet that even Casey Jones couldn't get my train of thought back on track; I had a first-class ticket on the Alvino Rey Express.

Heralded as "The King of Guitar," Rey was a pioneer in developing the technology necessary for electric instruments and modern sound equipment.  With his pedal-steel guitar, he forged new territory by incorporating electric instruments into the Big Band sound.  Rey's real magic, of course, was not just playing the pedal-steel guitar, but making it sing.    

"Mama Blues" - Alvino Rey & His Orchestra

"My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean" - Alvino Rey & His Orchestra

"Bloop Bleep" - Alvino Rey & His Orchestra

Having met The King Sisters while performing with Horace Heidt's band, it was clear that Rey appreciated real singing talent over and above even Stringy's vocal stylings; in 1937 Rey married his favorite King sister, making Luise King his queen.

Alvino Rey & The King Sisters
I believe that's Luise on the far right.

Upon their marriage, Rey converted to Mormonism (The King Sisters were natives of Utah); it comes as no surprise as one look at Rey's orchestra looks like a veritable casting call for The Book of Mormon musical.  Fortunately for Rey, The King Sisters came as a package deal (insert ploygamy joke here) and after leaving the Heidt band, Alvino Rey created his own orchestra with the sisters as the featured vocalists.

"Tiger Rag" - Alvino Rey & His Orchestra featuring The King Sisters

As if it couldn't get any more wacky tacky than a marionette guitar, a pedal-steel guitar wailing for its mama, and a group of four grown women singing, "Here kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty, kitty" at hyper-speed, we see Mr. Rey's appearance on The Lawrence Welk Show.  Nothing makes our figurative pedal-steels sing like two giants of wacky tacky joining forces!

"Hindustan" - Alvino Rey on The Lawrence Welk Show

As the Big Band era faded, Rey continued to be an innovator, translating his dynamic musicality into the realms of lounge, exotica, and spooky soundtracks.

"Night Train" - Alvino Rey & His Orchestra
A cool arrangement of one of my all-time favorite songs.

"The Bat" - Alvino Rey

Needless to say, the original blog post has all but been banished for life to the blog wasteland that is the "Draft" folder.  Here's hoping your 2014 pours out upon you like a real REY of sunshine (or at least a saucy game of double-paddle, blind-man's ping pong)!!!

It's all fun and games until somebody gets hurt...


Mr. Tiny