Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Santa’s Incubus Demon from Hell: The Krampus and the Possible Origin of the Term, Going to Hell in a Hand-basket

As we all know when we were growing up we were told that if we were good Santa will bring us toys as children.

We were told that if we were bad the worst thing that could happen is that we would be taken off the “nice” list and put on the “naughty” list resulting in not receiving any toys, but a lump of coal instead.

Turns out that in several of the Eastern European countries that something much worse would happen instead. If you were bad throughout the year, you would not be receiving a visit or much less gifts from Santa. You’d be receiving a visit from the incubus demon from hell, the Krampus.

The Krampus is essentially the Devil incarnate in form. Bipedal, horned, covered in fur and with cloven hooves the Christmas demon wanders about looking for children who have been deemed bad throughout the year. With him he carries two accouterments, a bundle of sticks or switches that he uses to beat children with and a wicker basket on his back to carry those children with him on the sleigh ride to hell.

A couple of months ago I discovered a book that had a collection of Krampus postcards from Christmas seasons over the years in Europe coming from Germany, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Hungary.

It turns out that the wrath of the Krampus was not limited to children but to young men and women as well. Young couples that were out and that were unchaperoned were particularly vulnerable to the fangs, teeth and beatings from the yuletide beast.

I once heard an evangelical minister say. “Heaven without hell is like the news, one with out the other and it’s just news. Just add hell and good news becomes really good news.” In comparison Santa is really a saint.

Even today during Christmas festivals in Europe the Krampus makes his appearance in holiday parades alongside the Father of Christmas to serve as a reminder that it more that just pays to be good, lest you end up going to hell, in a hand-basket.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

A Quick Sketch

Watercolor, ink & pencil on Moleskine paper

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Tastes Like Chicken

On my last night in Orlando while driving around looking for a place to eat, friend and coworker Larry Guinn got a call from one of his employees telling him that he had to try a restaurant that was very different from the normal chain.

After driving 45 minutes out of town past 8 toll booths and well out of the Orlando city limits we drove down several winding trails until we reached the Black Hammock Recreational Area. Once there we saw that there were two bars, one restaurant and an airboat tour company.

We sat down in the covered, screened in patio of the Black Hammock restaurant and ordered some of the local samplings. We ordered a half-pound of alligator tail in buffalo wing sauce. Larry ordered the Florida Sampler consisting of a whole fried catfish, alligator and several frog legs. I thought that the legs would be miniscule, but it turned out that they were the size of a small drumstick.

I ordered a half-pound of blackened alligator. The consistency was tender, the meat flavorful, but the first thing I noticed was that it tasted like chicken. Upon asking I found out that the restaurant procures their alligator two different ways. They either get it from local hunters and in that case the meat ends up tasting pretty gamey, like fish seeing as that is the larger part of the animals diet in the wild. The "free range" meat that I was eating was farm raised and was fed chicken hence the flavor.

Upon telling Jill what I had for dinner and what it tasted like, her response was, "why just not eat Chicken?"

Only in Phoenix

It is 109 degrees today and it's going to be over 105 for the next 7 days. This sign at the public pool caught my eye in that it bought up a couple of dichotomies:

1. It's so hot, that you have to be warned to seek shade like some sort of duck and cover warning.

2. There are not a lot of shade trees like that here in the desert, maybe they should have used an image of a saguaro cactus instead.

The Holy Grail

After years of searching, I have finally found it. It's been a good 20 years since I've had a decent cup a cappuccino. Seems like every time you ask for one you end up getting some oversize latte in a Jacuzzi size mug or some type of caffeine shake with whip cream and chocolate syrup. Turns out that just across the street from Joe's BBQ in Gilbert is the Market City Cafe (also owned by Joe) makes the best espresso in the greater Phoenix area. Now if I could just figure out how to get there and back in time for work in the morning.