Year: 2022

Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

Vengeance, Comedy, and Suspense

By Miriam R. Kramer Unfortunately we are seeing another round of shutdowns with the advent of this new Omicron variant, so many are canceling plans to travel or go out for entertainment. Razorblade Tears, by S.A. Cosby; All About Me!: My Remarkable Life in Show Business by Mel Brooks; and The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz will take you away from home, but in quite different psychological directions. S.A. Cosby has made a mark for himself with his provocative Southern noir prose. The latest, Razorblade Tears, is a fast-paced tale of guilt and vengeance in which an unlikely duo of two fathers and former felons, one Black and one white, join up to find out who killed their two sons, who are married to one another. Ike Randolph and Buddy Lee’s relationships with their sons are fraught with tension and distance, since both are homophobes who have come close to disowning their children for the perceived crime of being gay. As both reckon with their individual pain and grief, they start examining their own discomfort with people who are “other,” whether they be gay, Black, or white. They begin to try clumsily to cross a color divide and use each other’s strengths to pursue the murderers. Cosby creates a lively, modern twist to the classic theme of polar opposites who cross boundaries to value and bond with one another. He vividly brings to life these two men who have tried to put away the violent or murderous impulses that landed them in prison in order to create a life on the outside, only to find that they are forced to use these tools to punish their sons’ killers. If I have a quibble, it is that Ike Randolph’s speech as a Black man seems more authentic than that of Buddy…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

What To Do With Poinsettias After Holidays!

By Nikki Tilley What To Do With Poinsettias After Holidays! So you’ve received a poinsettia plant over the holiday season, but what on earth are you to do next, now that the holidays are over? Read on to find tips on how to care for a poinsettia after Christmas in this article so you can, hopefully, enjoy your plant year round. With their brightly colored bracts swaddling the plants during the drearier days of late fall and winter, and just in time for Christmas, who doesn’t love the poinsettia? That being said, once the holidays are over, many of us are left with questions about what to do next. Do we keep the plant or toss it? After all, won’t there be another one available next year, like the ever abundant chrysanthemums lining storefronts and nurseries each fall. Well, the good news is that caring for poinsettia plants after the holidays is possible BUT keep in mind that your poinsettias will require specific attention. After Christmas poinsettia care begins with suitable growing conditions. If you’ve taken care to keep your poinsettia in a nice, warm sunny window (free of drafts) thus far, you’re halfway there. It should receive at least 6 hours of bright, indirect sunlight each day. For continual bloom of your poinsettia care following Christmas, the plant also needs day temps between 65 and 70 degrees F. (18 and 21 C.) and slightly cooler at night, though keep it above 60 F. (15 C.) to avoid leaf drop. Continue your normal watering routine until spring (or first of April), then allow it to dry gradually. Around the middle of April or May, or if your plant becomes leggy, cut the stems back to about 4 inches (10 cm.) above the soil and repot in a larger container with…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Take A Road Trip Down Memory Lane in 2021

By Bob Tagert Take A Road Trip Down Memory Lane in 2021 In keeping with tradition, I like to recap the Road Trips that we took the previous year in this space. With February being Valentine’s month, we took a drive over the mountain at Thornton Gap to visit Shadow Mountain Escape, the dream of Karen and Ralph Riddle (really great people). You will find Shadow Mountain about three miles on the Luray side of the Thornton Gap entrance to Skyline Drive on Jewell Hollow Road. In an attempt to provide an environment conducive to happiness and fulfillment, they focused on exposing the beauty and spirit of the natural landscape and the remarkable life that flourishes there. The use of Timber Frame construction in all of the buildings adds to that theme. Ralph wanted to create the “Old World” charm that comes from his German heritage. There are four cabins on the fifteen acre property. In celebration of the abundant wild life, all of the cabins were given indigenous “bug” names. The SME Bear Dance Lodge was the first rental built on the property and the two cabins were named the Dragon Fly and Bumble Bee. The Butterfly loft opened in 2003 and the final rental, the Ladybug, was completed in 2011. Our March issue took us to Ellicott City, Maryland. Ellicott City sits in a Maryland valley and the Patapsco River runs through it. The historic town is subject to flooding when heavy rain visits the area. There were devastating storms in 2016 and 2018. In spite of this rare occasion the town is thriving and is a great destination. Ellicott City was founded in 1772 and is located 10 miles west of Baltimore. Walking is the best form of transportation as street parking is minimal but the town…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publisher’s Notes

By Bob Tagert Publisher’s Notes This month begins another milestone for us. We begin our 35th year of producing the Old Town Crier. With this issue that makes 409 issues. Back in January 1988 our Old Town friends never thought we would complete 9 – issues that is. We are proud of the service that we have provided to not only Alexandria but also the connection of the Bay to the Blue Ridge. It always was our intention to make Old Town and Alexandria the centerpiece of the magazine while including the Chesapeake Bay area around southern Maryland and the Blue Ridge mountains, the Shenandoah Valley and the Virginia wineries. We have accomplished that while others have tried to copy our plan. When we started, the heart of Old Town was only eight blocks long with a few shops on Cameron Street. Now Old Town stretches from the Potomac River to the Metro station and more shops and restaurants have filled the side streets. Reaching this milestone would not have been possible without a number of folks who have made our trip easier. I will not attempt to name them for fear of leaving out someone, but you know who you are! In addition to those who gave a helping hand, we also could not have done it without those who supported us with their advertising dollars…and you know who you are! Please take a look through this issue and make it a purpose of the New Year to patronize those businesses in this publication. They are truly our partners. We started the publication when I was 40 years old. I turn 75 this year. I have seen a lot, but nothing like January 6th of last year. Say a prayer for our country or better yet, get active. I…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Patience is Truly a Virtue and a Gift – Introducing a New Pet to Your Home

By Lisa Velenovsky Patience is Truly a Virtue and a Gift – Introducing a New Pet to Your Home It’s 2022, and you’re determined that this year will be better than ever! Perhaps your personal happiness plan includes adding a new pet to your family. Whether you’re a first-time pet owner or a seasoned pet parent adding another furry (or not-so-furry) friend to the household, the road to success begins well before a pet crosses your threshold. What’s Your Perfect Pet? Of course, step #1 is deciding what type. It’s important to be realistic about your lifestyle and what’s required to responsibly care for a specific pet. Longing for a puppy, but no time for training, regular exercise, and dealing with a high-energy ball of fur? Maybe a mature, independent cat is a better fit. Or perhaps it’s really a goldfish you need. If you’re not sure, head to Chewy’s “What Pet Should I Get” quiz – https://be.chewy.com/what-pet-should-i-get-take-our-quiz-and-find-out/ – or check out Best Friends Animal Society’s list of questions to ask yourself when choosing a pet – https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/choosing-pet. Whatever you decide, everyone who will be living with the pet, including children and other pets, should be part of the selection process whenever possible. And while you may be tempted to surprise someone with a new pet as a gift, consider giving a gift certificate for the pet instead, allowing the recipient to be part of the selection process since a pet is a lifetime commitment. Next, you need to prepare for their arrival into your home and life. Patience is key, especially if your new pet is a cat or dog, which the overwhelming majority are. Even if you’re an old hand at this, every pet will have different requirements. Have a safe room or space already set up with…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, Take Photos Leave Footprints

“Over-Touristed” Destinations: What are your Alternatives?

By Scott Dicken All Photos by Scott Dicken  “Over-Touristed” Destinations: What are your Alternatives? It happens to the best of us: you spend months researching holiday destinations and tourist attractions. You sit online fawning over photos of picture-perfect vistas and iconic sights devoid of crowds. You spend thousands of dollars on flights and hotels hoping for the perfect vacation. And then you arrive. That iconic sight you had your heart set on is teeming with droves of tourists all clambering for the perfect photo opportunity. Ticket lines stretch for miles. Hawkers and unlicensed tour guides are crawling all over you trying to offload everything from cheap trinkets to “the best tour in town”. With this in mind, and based on an assumption that you don’t want to spend a two-week vacation fighting off other tourists for the best photo spots, what are your options? In this article I look at some of the worst-offending destinations and alternatives that, whilst mirroring the charm or grandeur of their more famous counterparts, benefit from the absence of the tourist hordes. The Pyramids of Giza, Egypt The pyramids have long been known to be challenging when it comes to the sheer numbers of tourists that visit, keeping control of those tourists, and the borderline harassment exerted by hawkers and guides. Online images inferring that the site is hundreds of miles from civilization also bely the fact that you can take pictures of them from inside a nearby KFC! None of this is to say you should never visit the Pyramids – they truly are one of the most awe-inspiring sites a traveler can behold. But what if you’re looking to witness something akin to the Pyramids of Giza but without the nearby KFC? The Overrated Tourist Attraction Alternative: The Nubian Pyramids of Meroe, Sudan…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month January 2022

Pets of the Month January 2022 Chunky 2-year-old Chunky thinks he is in great shape, and we agree that this terrier mix is pretty close to perfect!  Chunky is an active fellow who would love an adventurous, outgoing adult household where he could show off his skills and maybe even learn a few more.  Visit AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt to learn more about Chunky. Tessie Startling tortoiseshell Tessie hasn’t let her beauty go to her head!  She’s been spending her time in foster care learning all the best games (she’s nearly caught the laser beam) and even a few new tricks, like how to High Five.  Tessie is currently in the care of one of the AWLA’s amazing fosters, but you can schedule time to meet her by emailing Adopt@AlexandriaAnimals.org or calling 703.746.4774 x2. Addison & Carol What’s better than one black-and-white polka dot rabbit?  A pair of nearly identical bonded bunnies, and Addison and Carol have you covered.  These 7-month-old siblings are the best of friends, but they can’t wait to welcome you to the Bun Club.  Their adoption fees have been pre-paid by a generous donor, so schedule time to meet them today at AlexandriaAnimals.org/Adopt-By-Appointment.

Personality Profile

Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane with Marc Miller

By Bob Tagert Taking a Trip Down Memory Lane with Marc Miller As you are probably aware by now, this issue of the Old Town Crier marks the beginning of our 35th year. It seems like a long time ago that we printed our first issue, but sometimes you run into some people that makes it seem like it was yesterday. That is the case with Marc Miller. One afternoon last month we were at our usual spot for an early evening libation…the bar at Landini Brothers restaurant, and as we were engaged in casual conversation, a young man a few seats down from me asked, “Hey, didn’t you tend bar at the Fish Market restaurant a while ago?” I said that I did and was reintroduced to a customer from 35 years ago. “I thought you looked familiar,” he proclaimed. This is how I met Marc Miller and relived my past for a few moments. I met Marc a week or so later at the Fish Market to interview him for this article. As we both noted, the restaurant has changed a bit since those early days in Old Town. The Anchor Bar is now the only bar downstairs at the Fish Market. Back when I met Marc there were four bars on the lower floor and the restaurant consisted of three buildings extending all the way to Union Street. I worked the Sunquest Bar which is now a dining room on the first floor. Those were the days when the big schooner of beer was king and probably comprised 85 percent of alcohol sales back then. Although the schooner is still served at the Fish Market, most beers are of the pint sized and the back bar has way many more choices than 35 years ago. Naturally we…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Well, Hellooooo 2022

By Lori Welch Brown Well, Hellooooo 2022 Gosh—it’s so good to see you. Come, come. Take your coat off.  Have a seat. What can I get for you?  Hot toddy?  BMW 3 Series? Court-side Lakers’ tickets? Gas under $3/gallon? Whatever makes you  happy.  We need you to be happy, unlike your predecessor. Hey, man. He tried. I get it.  It was a tough start. Talk about guys who got the wrong end of the stick.  I mean, hello.   He got handed the baton from COVID Guy.  He couldn’t even touch it without gloves and sanitizer for God’s sake. What was he supposed to do with that? Don’t even get me started about COVID Guy.  Someone needs to go back to Interviewing 101.  Seriously though.  Did anyone lose their jobs for bringing that guy on board? Anyhow, at least 2021 got us vaccines and opened some joints back up.  I love my home and family and all that, but there’s only so much Netflix a girl can take.  Thank God we could finally dine out—like really out, outside in fact. Then those crazies stormed the Capitol, and we were reminded why maybe it’s best if some of us stay home.  While I’d like to give you credit for getting Señor Crazy out of the oval office, I’m afraid that was 2020’s doing. Anyhow, politics is soooo 2021 so let’s not date ourselves. So—dare I ask what you have in mind for the coming 365 days?  Maybe a little break from making world headlines, i.e., perhaps no pandemics, tsunamis, earthquakes, or alien invasions?  That would be cool.  Maybe just hang a bit and do some low key stuff.  Maybe give Will Smith a call.  He’s got a chill vibe going these days.  Maybe you guys could toss around a few cool sunrises…

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