Month: December 2016

Social Media Message

What to Watch Tonight!

What to Watch Tonight? By Ashley Schultz Social Media has not only become an outlet where political views are expressed or where baby pictures and cat videos can be posted; it has also become a way for people to share their favorite T.V. shows or movies. When I am done with a series on a streaming service, I often post, “ Suggestions? What is a good series or movie to watch?” Often I am given some of the same popular shows; I usually watch one or more of them, and then are able to have in depth discussions with others on the plot of the show. There have been several shows this year that have caused uproar on social media! Here we will overview the biggest shows that were talked about online in 2016.   Stranger Things: Netflix got this recipe right! The show appealed to the “Goonies” crowd by casting actors that were relatable and genuine. 80’s vibe helped as well. Moreover, sheds a light on the children that are out casted for their imaginations. Meanwhile, gives a rollercoaster ride of emotions of family angst and passion for those you love. Meanwhile, dealing with a “Demogorgon.”   The Walking Dead: We lost some of our favorite characters this season. We lost them in a very brutal manner. How will we cope? Facebook and Twitter were in an uproar when the seasoned opened. If you didn’t see the season premiere, social media sure let you know.   Black Mirror: Black Mirror was another one of many British shows that was commissioned by Netflix because of its dark and satirical feel. According to the creator Charlie Booker, “each episode has a different cast, a different setting, even a different reality. But they’re all about the way we live now – and…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

A Melting Pot of Comedy

A Melting Pot of Comedy   By Miriam R. Kramer     January is generally anticlimactic and dreary after the holidays, and the beginning of this year may feel particularly dreary in comparison with the ebullient atmosphere prevalent eight years ago. Yet it’s also a symbolic start. If we learn anything through reading about comedians’ lives, it’s that we can survive almost anything with a great sense of humor and drive. The United States is a rich stew of comedic traditions that continues to attract those driven to innovate and break boundaries through this most elusively mastered art form, one that requires the freedom of speech and ideas offered here. Joan Rivers, a second-generation Jewish immigrant, proved herself a master of re-invention and a trailblazer for female comics everywhere. Leslie Bennetts’ biography Last Girl Before Freeway is a timely look at one of the most fascinating, tireless, and driven women in show business. In his memoir American on Purpose, the charming Scottish comedian Craig Ferguson looks back at a life conquering demons and how he saw America as his beacon, creating a new career through stand-up, a stint on The Drew Carey Show, and as a late-night TV host, becoming an American citizen in the process. Martin Short’s autobiography I Must Say is not only a very funny read, but also reveals his own recipe for survival while taking a warm-hearted look back at his group of brilliant Canadian comedians who landed on their feet in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s, making movies and creating cutting-edge comedy through work on groundbreaking programs like Saturday Night Live and SCTV in particular.   Having read Joan Rivers’ autobiographies Enter Talking and Still Talking, along with watching the compelling 2010 documentary about her, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work, I…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes

By Bob Tagert   In this New Year we will begin the 30th year of bringing the Old Town Crier to our readers. Our first issue debuted in January of 1988. A lot has changed since that first issue. Over the years we have expanded our distribution to other Old Towns in our region but have kept Old Town Alexandria as our centerpiece. I would like to thank all of our readers for picking us up, and all of our advertisers who make it possible for us to go to the printer each month. If you can’t always find a hard copy, you can always go to or find us on Facebook at Old Town Crier Regional Magazine.   This month’s Road Trip is a sampling from the road trips that I took in 2016. Each one is brief, but you can read the entire article by going to our online version and checking the archives. For those of you in my age group and from this area, the Personality Profile is a walk down memory lane with Ray “Deak” Deakins, a man of many talents and dreams. He and I share a love of motorcycles so I thought it fitting that I drag out a photo of my young self with my first bike, a 500cc Triumph.   Figuring that there may be quite a few of you out there who did a bit of over indulging during the holidays we tried to choose healthy options for a good bit of this month’s editorial. Between the Business Profile, Grateful Juice Co., the Fitness and From the Trainer columns to Dining Out, The Sushi Bar in Del Ray, we are trying to get you all back on the road to good health. All of these are worth the read….

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

The Sushi Bar

By Bob Tagert   The Sushi Bar Now that the holidays are over and you have probably done your fair share of overindulging, we thought that we would take you to a place that serves “healthy” fare. We are shining the spot light on The Sushi Bar in Del Ray. When Mike Anderson opened his restaurant he had a vision in mind that is much appreciated this time of year. No one under the age of 18 is allowed! Although the idea brought its own controversy, after months of kids and crowds, it is nice to have dinner away from all the commotion. The Sushi Bar is located in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria and provides a cozy lounge-like escape. There is a large bar with perhaps 20 seats as well as a 6-seat sushi bar. The dining area consists of square tables that seat two or three persons. In the lounge area of the dining room the seats and tables are shorter than normal which actually give you a feeling that you are sitting closer to the floor. Prepared by chef Saran “Peter” Kannasute, their sushi and sashimi offerings are served on small “tapas-style” plates, which encourage guests to sample multiple dishes and to create their own perfect sushi experience. This bar is literally a “sushi bar”. There is no kitchen and everything is prepared out in the open. Our starters included the spicy miso soup, which is a Japanese soup consisting of a stock called “dashi” into which softened miso paste is mixed. This is a very tasty soup as well as good for you. We also had Edamame, a preparation of immature soybeans in the pod. The pods are boiled or steamed and served with salt. They are crisp and delicious. Other starter offerings include scallop…

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Behind the Bar, Wining & Dining

Behind the Bar: Alexis Von Schoening

Alexis is behind the bar Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings.     Alexis Von Schoening Don Taco Tequila Bar 808 King Street Old Town Alexandria 703-988-3144   How did you get started in the business?   The completely practical and simple answer to this question is the 2008 financial crisis. I helped support myself through college and my adventuring years after college by waiting tables. In 2008 after seeing so many families struggle, I decided to learn to bartend. Now, no matter where I go, no matter what I am doing, I have a skill the weathers economic uncertainty. People, it seems, tend to visit bars more when the economy is bad for a little comradery and community.   What is your biggest bartender pet peeve?   People interrupting me while I’m serving another customer at the bar and that general lack of consideration for your fellow bar guests. Everyone is at the bar to have a nice time. And it’s never appreciated when one person or group insists that they have the right to have a better time than everyone else at the bar.   What is the cleverest line anyone has ever used to get you to give them a free drink?   Ah….getting marriage proposals are always funny. I give you alcohol and food and apparently this makes me marriage material. I have been proposed to with flowers, multiple kinds of food, and even a ring pop.   What is the best/worst pickup line you have overheard at the bar?   I had a customer who was sitting in a lounge section outside the bar. He seemed to feel bad that I kept leaving the bar to come check on him and mentioned “he would come to the bar if he needed anything”. However, as…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

The MGM Casino and Resort – It’s Grand!

By Lani Gering The MGM Casino and Resort – It’s Grand! The much anticipated opening of the latest addition to the National Harbor side of the Potomac River has come and gone! Traffic wasn’t half of the nightmare that was predicted – not to say that it didn’t impact late night commuters on opening night but it was not at a stand-still for hours as predicted. And… hasn’t impacted the normal rush hour at all for those of us who commute between the Harbor and Virginia. After all, this isn’t the Vegas Strip where casinos are lined up like dominos – it is one beautiful structure on the hill and casino people aren’t driving there in hoards during the normal commuter traffic hours. They tend to hit the slots and tables a little later in the evening! Will be interesting to see what impact the upcoming shows in the “Theater” will have. Having only 3000 seats, it shouldn’t make a major difference. We will have gone to press with this issue before the Bruno Mars concert on December 27th but that will definitely be a test of the traffic. Opening night had its fair share of maladies as one would expect when there are tens of thousands of warm bodies consuming adult beverages and gambling. But that is behind us and we are moving on. I’ve got to admit that I spent my fair share of time in Las Vegas, Reno and several other small Nevada towns in the mid ‘80’s. My job took me to these places on a regular basis. And….I do like to play a bit of Black Jack and some video poker so I have been particularly excited for a “real” casino to open up in the area. I know many of you are going to…

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Personality Profile

Ray “Deak” Deakins

By Bob Tagert   Ray “Deak” Deakins An American Highlander   One of the fun things about owning this publication is all of the cool people that I have met and interviewed over the years. This month is no exception. When I attended the Christmas Parade in Little Washington, Virginia the beginning of December, I was introduced to Deak at Tula’s Restaurant. After conversing for the better part of the morning, I knew that there was a good story behind that beard and long hair. I was right. Although he bought some land along the Thornton River in Rappahannock County in 1984, he maintains his residence and business in Alexandria. I had the chance to meet him for breakfast at the Royal Restaurant for this interview. I learned a lot about this “larger than life” guy, but one of the things that impressed me the most was when he bowed his head and prayed to his God before breaking bread. I made a comment and he told me he is very proud of his Christian faith and that God is his life! How could it get any better than this? Deak and I have traveled a parallel course our whole lives. At 70 years old, he is 5 months older; he grew up in southeast Washington, D.C. and I grew up in Oxon Hill, Maryland. This is his story. Deak grew up in a very close-knit family consisting of two brothers and two sisters. “The poker player that dad was, he always said he had a full house,” he tells me. I guess that he meant that in more ways than one. “We were a good Catholic family,” he says. “The three most important men in our lives were my father, the Parrish Priest and the cop who walked our…

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Business Profile

Drink Something Magical Everyday- Grateful Juice Co.

By Lani Gering Drink Something Magical Everyday – Grateful Juice Co. Grateful Juice Co. is the brain child of Alexandrian, Kimberly Sickman Landini. Some of you may remember her from a profile that we did on her first business venture – Zweet Sport Athleisure Clothing Collection. She partnered with long-time friend and fellow athlete, Marja Toan, in designing clothing suited primarily for yoga with a concentration on “hot” yoga. They have since expanded their business to the Zweet Sport Hot Yoga Studio and more recently opening Zweet Sport Total Fitness Studio. Their focus in all of these projects is to promote healthy living and igniting self-transformation through yoga and total fitness. We will leave those fun businesses for another profile down the road. When I asked Kim what prompted her to go into the “juice” business, she tells me, “I’m passionate about the health benefits that come from drinking fresh juice daily. My goal was to be able to bring fresh juice to my yoga students after class, instead of them reaching for something that won’t provide any real type of nutrient or benefit to their body. Instead, my wish was that they consume a nutrient dense green juice, or maybe a blue/green algae juice (for example) to replace electrolytes, reduce inflammation, and increase mental clarity. It now goes beyond just my yoga students, but that is where the idea originated from. Additionally, my mother has always influenced my food decisions, and she embodied a lot of what I’m now trying to share. My mom had us shopping at health food stores before they were mainstream… before Whole Foods existed. She’s been a vegetarian all her life, so we followed that in our house as well. I grew up eating lots of fresh food, and learning about the importance of…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, To the Blue Ridge

Resolutions & Participation Trophies

By Julie Reardon Resolutions & Participation Trophies Every year, the Publisher asks us for our New Year’s resolutions. Since I don’t normally make them, I thought it might be fun to make just one for 2017. So this year, I think I’ll find someone or something to blame for every bad thing that happens in my life. I might even take up the rallying cry of white trash everywhere when something goes wrong and shriek, “I’ll sue you!” And I’ll be expecting a trophy for any sport or competition I enter, along with praises and honors for non-participation. I don’t think I’d be the only one that would benefit from the new culture of participation trophies. It has some enticing possibilities for country living, especially out here where people brandish money like it’s a trophy. It might even serve to bring down the prices of big showy mansions with manicured acreage if everyone just left things au naturel. And imagine how exciting our spring steeplechase season will be when horses line up and walk to the finish line. Jumping the obstacles could be optional. Horse shows, too, might benefit from a kinder, gentler approach to awarding ribbons. Why bother to be the best if mediocre will get you a ribbon? You could save all kinds of money on instruction, show clothing and tack and all kinds of time spent practicing, not to mention the elbow grease and labor spent on cleaning and braiding your horse to look nice. And year end awards? Pffft, who needs those? Dog shows and performance events would be well served with participation trophies for anything canine with a pulse. The growing sport of dogs jumping off docks should reward all who give it a try instead of the ones that leap the furthest. As for…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

How the South’s “Pirate” Helped Establish the U.S. Virgin Islands

By Jeff McCord   How the South’s “Pirate” Helped Establish the U.S. Virgin Islands   With the United States mainland more politically divided than at any time in recent memory, it’s interesting to look back at the impact of a real Civil War on the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most importantly, the adventures of Confederate naval hero, Captain Raphael Semmes who became a world famous blockade runner, helped convince President Lincoln’s Secretary of State William Seward of the need to purchase the then Danish West Indies to establish a U.S. naval base.   With no exaggeration, Captain Semmes noted in his memoirs, “the very mention of my name had the same effect upon the Yankee Government as shaking a red flag before the blood-shot eyes of an infuriated bull.”   There’s ample evidence that Raphael Semmes prowled Virgin Island and nearby waters — first in his converted merchant vessel, the C.S.S. Sumter, and later in his notorious warship C.S.S. Alabama, a fully rigged sailing and steam ship that could out-run virtually every naval vessel of her era. Both ships required coal and provisions and Danish St. Thomas and other neutral European owned Caribbean islands offered everything needed, including ports in which captured Union merchandise could be sold. The C.S.S. Alabama, alone, captured and burned at sea fifty-five Union merchant ships valued in the many millions of dollars. She also sank the U.S.S. Hatteras in a revealing battle off Galveston, her first combat action. Semmes won the engagement through subterfuge. When the Hatteras spotted the Alabama and came close to investigate, hailing her for identification, Semmes shouted back through the speaking trumpet that she was the neutral HMS Spitfire and then fired a broadside into the hapless Union ship.   Semmes followed this same strategy in most hostile encounters, earning a reputation as…

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