It's the most wonderful peaceful sexy stressful time of the year. Christmas means so many different things to so many different people, but some things we all can count on when it comes to the season of forgiveness, holly jolly sugar overload, eggnog induced tummy aches, and maxing out your credit cards. Here's a short and not very comprehensive list:
  1. The anxiety you feel when there's another little off-pink sticker on the front door, saying that you've yet again missed the mailman.
  2. The stress of trying to finish Christmas shopping in time to miss the mailman, who is just now leaving another little sticker on your front door.
  3. Running to the store on December 24th, because the package you've been waiting for, wasn't redelievered by the mailman, who just left a sticker on the front door while you were out trying to finish Christmas shopping in time to miss the mailman, who left a sticker... You see where this is going!
  4. A Christmas video featuring Mrs. Casual, aka Jae Parris on those sultry vocals, yours truly, Casual-T, on most everything else, with a special guest appearance by Butterfingers Slim on the slide whistle (we flew him in from Lapland, particularly for this incredible performance. Not a cheap endeavor, but well worth it, I'm sure you'll agree).
I'll leave it up to you to decide which of these is your favorite.

This year we present a fancy version of that old Bobby Helms Christmas classic "Jingle Bell Rock." Let the sultry vocals of that gorgeous lass, Jae Parris, and the productions and recording skills of that man, that myth, that pastry chef, Casual-T, rock your jingle bells like they've never been rocked (or jingled) before. Featuring a special guest performance by Butterfingers Slim on the slide whistle. We flew him in all the way from Lapland, for this particular performance. Not a cheap venture, but well worth it. His performance, I'm sure you'll agree, is nothing short of pretty good.

Click right > here < for some super sexy Christmas awesomeness.

And with that I'm wishing every single one of you a very merry Christmas, and a happy and successful new year. And to top it all off, here's a very special Christmas photo with yours truly moonlighting as Santa at the local mall. Gotta pay the bills somehow!!

Ho! Ho! Ho!

The Thanksgiving Tiger

And a very merry (albeit belated) gobble-gobble to one and all. Thanksgiving is one of those holidays I harbor somewhat conflicted emotions about, mainly because I never much cared for the dry and generally flavorless experience of eating turkey. Throughout the years, the thought of ingesting a bowl of freshly harvested bellybutton lint seemed more appealing to me, in terms of providing a rich array of intriguingly complex tastes and beguiling textures.

And so it was until, at last year's Thanksgiving shindig, Mrs. Casual decided to try something new and put that overgrown chicken in an oven bag. Lo and behold, Thanksgiving hasn't been the same tasteless, dry, and rather depressing affair, since that fateful decision was made. Flavor explosion is a phrase I never would have dared put in proximity to the word turkey. But here we are... Just another curve-ball the multiverse decided to throw my way.

So, to keep things in accordance with the occasion, I would like to mention that I am quite thankful for a number of things in my life, not least of which are oven bags. Anything which makes my life juicer, gets a thumbs-up from me.

And since we're on the topic of thumbs, I am also quite thankful for this blog, and for being able to share some of my ramblings with this small but ever so delectable community of readers (yes, that means you over there!). Many thanks to all involved—as well as oven bags. (How this relates to thumbs, I will leave for you to figure out. Please report back, should you find the answer.)

Now, you may be sitting there twiddling your thumbs (Aha!!), wondering what in the blazes the above picture of a tiger could possibly have to do with Thanksgiving. Well, here are a few ideas. Maybe the tiger identifies as a turkey. After all, it is the current year, and from what I’ve been witnessing as of late, nowadays one can claim to be whatever one wants to be. As long as you want it, it must be so... Or must it? (But I digress.)

On the other hand, the tiger’s connection to Thanksgiving may simply be that he just ate a turkey. Do tigers eat turkeys? I assume they do, simply because they can. If you were a tiger, wouldn't you?

Or, perhaps, the tiger is from Turkey… You see where I’m going with this.

But here's the simple truth of the matter. Mrs. Casual and I have a little Thanksgiving tradition, which is that, on Black Friday, when stores are overrun with deal-seekers, consume addicts, and those adventurous (or silly) enough to participate in the customary sales-bin stampede at the local mega-store (risking life and limb in the process), we grab the opportunity to take a leisurely walk in the other direction. We like to spend the day after Thanksgiving at the Bronx Zoo.

This year I figured it’d be a great opportunity to take the new camera for a spin. So, there I was, happily clicking away, minding my own business, capturing colorful images of tropical birds, perched on crooked branches looking like a witches index finger directing Hรคnsel and Gretel toward the oven; shy desert mice enjoying a nibble of fresh fruit, while hiding behind a rock looking like... a rock; when, suddenly, this fine fellow placed himself squarely in front of the lens, barely two feet away from where I stood.

The crazed look in his eyes belied his calm demeanor. I could tell he was hungry. Panic started setting in (me, not him!). Would I be able to get the shot before the monster decided to charge and rip my clothes off, so as to get to the succulent meat within? (My body has been seasoned with all manner of exotic spices and fermented marinades since before oven bags were a thing. I’m sure it would make for an exhilarating culinary experience for any tiger of class and distinction.)

Hungry tiger or not, a photographer is as a photographer does. And what a photographer does is press the shutter button. My trigger finger spasmed. The shutter crackled like a baby elephant stomping across a field of Rice Krispies. My focal point fixated on the eye of the tiger (it’s the thrill of the fight); cold nervousness running down my back. Seconds turned into lifetimes; lifetimes turned into eternities; eternities turned into whatever is longer than eternities.

Did he move? I thought I saw his shoulder jerk ever so slightly. Ready to pounce? The flame of my life mere seconds away from being extinguished. Alas, I knew he wouldn't dare kill me just yet. I hadn’t gotten that shot yet.

And then it happened. The moment in which all the pain and joy of my life, the successes and failures, doubts and convictions, tasty food and olives, culminated into one ultimate climax. "YES!" I shouted, triumphantly. “Yes, indeed!” The elephant took one more, heavy step, as I toppled backward, crumbling into a trembling heap of cold sweat and hot nerves. The perfect picture was mine. Finally.

As I lay there, I looked upon the majestic beast. His eyes became mine, and for the first time in my life I observed the world without fear. Come and feast upon my flesh, king of the jungle. I got the picture. You can kill me, but you cannot hurt me. The purpose of my existence is fulfilled. I am ready now!

I waited.

Eternities became seconds.

Without another word the tiger shrugged his shoulders, and leisurely walked away.

Confused but somewhat relieved about not having been enjoyed for lunch, I pulled myself up. Wobbly-kneed I realized that all this time there had been a 2-inch thick pane of glass separating myself from the tiger. This, I suspect, had been the main reason this Bengal royal hadn’t proposed to tear me to shreds.

And thus the story ends.

You're still sitting there? Still twiddling your thumbs? Ah… You’re probably still wondering what any of this has to do with Thanksgiving. Well, let me come straight to the point (after having spent about a thousand words of circumventing it). All this was simply to say that in addition to oven bags—which keep turkeys juicy and flavorful, and thusly a joy to eat—I'm also very thankful for glass panes of multi-inch thickness— which keep me uneaten (yet juicy and flavorful!).