July 2006 Archives
I haven't done one of these for a couple of months now, but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading. I've been doing pretty well, a normal reading schedule - finish a few, make a dent in a few, return most. Nothing has really reached out and grabbed me, but there have been a few enjoyable moments since the last posting in May.
- Daggerspell by Katharine Kerr. A solid entry into the fantasy epic sweepstakes. I lost some of the backwards references, as the book revolves around some kind of reincarnation, and a main character who has to live (and relive) life until he rights a wrong he did. But once it started getting into battles, and spells, and the main storyline and stopped jumping around in time, it really jelled, and I'm looking forward to reading the followup, Darkspell.
- River of Gods by Ian McDonald. I was doing really well with this 600 page behemoth. I was about 300 pages into it and was finding it interesting reading. Set in the near future in a fractured India, it described an advanced cyber-society, and a war of some kind raging. But then I was sitting in bed with my daughter reading it while she read her book (I think it was Jenny and the Cat Club by Esther Averill, as mentioned in Laura's post) when she asked me what my book was about. And, after reading nearly 300 pages, I couldn't give her a synopsis at all, that either of us would understand! So I gave up. What a wimp.
- Pennant Race by Jim Brosnan. In the end, I don't think this book on the 1961 Reds pennant race was as good as his first, The Long Season. It felt more forced, with more long conversations recorded, rather than the personal impressions of its predecessor. And it ended before the World Series started, which I thought very odd. Maybe it was too painful to write about, as they lost to the Yankees in 5 games. There were still some laugh out loud moments though.
- I returned both The Raj Quartet and Dreaming the Eagle, making no start at all on the former and practically none on the latter. I started reading Dreaming, but, I guess not surprisingly, it had plenty of dream sequences and, as I've mentioned before, I just don't like reading about dreams. It just too easy a cop out for the author.
- Rereadings edited by Anne Fadiman. Reprints of essays found in The American Scholar where authors comment on rereading a favorite book from long ago. It was moderately interesting, although many of the writers were unknown to me, as were many of the books (and one album - David Michaels wrote about Sgt. Peppers Lonely Heart Club Band) being written about.
- The untied states of America : polarization, fracturing, and our future by Juan Enriquez. Interesting book about today's political and cultural atmosphere, wondering if we as a country are on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Written in a graphical style, with bold, italic and normal typefaces and strange formatting, which both works and repels. Interesting book nonetheless.
- Night Fall by Nelson DeMille. My mother-in-law is a huge fan of today's turgid thriller, whereby men (almost always) of strong will, dashing looks and witty repartee stave off certain demise of either the world or our country. She's always fobbing the latest paperback bestseller off on me. So I try to read it for a little bit, only to get put off by the bad writing, stereotypical characters and laughable premise. But this one hooked me, perhaps because I was wondering just how he was going to get himself out of the jam he created. This book posits a terrorist connection in the downing of TWA Flight 800 off of Long Island in 1996. And it is a real problem when you try to novelize a true historical action. Like Day of The Jackal (about a proposed De Gaul assassination), the audience knows how it will end, so you need to do some good writing to make it worthwhile. So, I admit it, I read it pretty much constantly for about 3 days, to see what John Corey, ex-NYPD man of steel and his anti-terrorist FBI agent wife, Kate Mayfield, would find out. My mother-in-law said the ending was stunner and kept her up at nights. Well, I have to agree with that, but only because it was stunningly inept and cheating! If you're reading this book, you should stop now. If you haven't started it, I say don't bother and I'll tell you why. And it's funny, because in the afterword he even says:
I'd like to thank my son, Alex... It was Alex who came up with the perfect ending to this book, helping me out of the corner into which I'd painted myself.Yeah, I'd say it was a corner alright. And to kill off everyone involved except the main characters in the World Trade Center attack is the ultimate cop-out. And to not even offer up a single answer to any of the questions you pose throughout the book is just plain wrong. Don't bother with this one! I used to read a lot of these potboilers, but that was a long time ago, and now I know why. Speaking of rereadings, I should go back and read The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum. I was a huge fan of Ludlum, especially this book, until I read few more of them and realized they were all the same, and started to get tired of the straining prose and italics. I wonder if I would still like this book today?
Update from May
- Smartbomb : the quest for art, entertainment, and big bucks in the video game revolution by Heather Chaplin & Aaron Ruby. I write sporadically for a video game review site, The Game Chair and I like to include the occasional book review. I wrote up a short review on the book Game Over (about Nintendo), and so I'm reading this one with an eye towards another short review. So far, it's the typically smarmy mainstream coverage of the game industry, with this wry "aren't they cute and geeky?" tone to it.
- Two books on absinthe, because I've become fascinated by both its colorful and checkered past, as well as the emerald (usually) liquor itself. In fact, a friend and I have started an absinthe blog called In Absinthia, where we write about our absinthe discoveries. The two books are Hideous Absinthe : a history of the devil in a bottle by Jad Adams and Absinthe: History in a bottle by Barnaby Conrad. The former is a pretty solid overview of absinthe in the 19th century, albeit with a condescending tone, while the latter is more of a picture book of absinthe and its lurid past.
- The miracle of Castel di Sangro by Joe McGinniss. Bill Harris, writer of one of my favorite blogs, Dubious Quality, has been raving about this book since the Soccer World Cup started. It's the true story of a small Italian town and its soccer team, which made the miraculous leap to the top division of Italian soccer.
- The devil's picnic : around the world in pursuit of forbidden fruit by Taras Grescoe. Continuing my absinthe obsession, this is a book by a veteran travel writer who tries out various "forbidden fruits" like unpasteurized cheese, bull testicles and, yes, absinthe.
- I got my Feast for Crows and Gardens Of The Moon books back from my sister, so I'll have to read those. I still think I'll hold off on Feast until the next one comes out. Maybe I'll reread the last one in the previous trilogy first.
In The Queue
In the next installment of my dive into the CD cabinet, this one is only semi-random, as I grabbed a few in specific. And it takes me more than a week to go through my stack of ten. But here it is, on Friday even!
- Goanna - "Solid Rock" (Spirit of Place ) : Hey, it's a diggeridoo, so it must be Australian! These Aussie political rockers made a splash with this debut album and this classic 80s alt-rock hit. Lots of good songs on here, but they went on to release only one more CD (Oceana) and then folded when Shane Howard, the band's founder, bolted. Ah well, they left a great legacy of sound anyway.
- JJ Cale - "Call Me The Breeze" (Anyway The Wind Blows (Disc 1) ) : Boogie rock pioneer Cale has some great songs and this 2 CD set is a pretty full collection of his "hits". Another Rhapsody Radio discovery, I'd keep hearing these little boogie woogie rock 'n' roll songs pop up and every time I'd check, it would be another Cale song. Two discs might be a little too much, as there isn't much variety, but still some good stuff here. This disc includes songs covered by other artists, most notably "Cocaine" by Eric Clapton.
- JJ Cale - "Wish I Had Me A Dollar" (Anyway The Wind Blows (Disc 2) ) : Cale live, with a typically low key boogie woogie song. This disc has more favorites of mine, including "People Lie", "Devil in Disguise" and "Change Your Mind".
- The Go-Betweens - "Karen" (That Striped Sunlight Sound ) : I've been able to listen a lot more to this great release of a 2005 live show in Brisbane done by the newly reconstituted Go-Betweens. It features original songwriters Robert Forster and the late, lamented, Grant McLennan in fine form. Even better, it is a double disc, with the second disc a DVD featuring a video of the very same show, as well as a very nice "songwriter's session" video featuring just Forster and McLennan playing guitar and talking about the Go-Betweens, songwriting and life. This song is a nice long concert ending 7+ minute rocker. While the group doesn't have the same lineup as 16 Lovers Lane, it's still a great CD as well as two spectacular videos. Grant, you'll be missed.
- Nick Drake - "Road" (Pink Moon ) : The late, great Nick Drake came to recent attention when Volkswagen used the title track of this song in a wonderful commercial, but this is my favorite Nick Drake song. This is the only Drake CD I have and it is a haunting, acoustic album, and turned out to be his last. It is a dark, inward looking album, with lots of wistful and depressing songs, as he would soon die of an overdoes of pills. To this day, it isn't clear whether it was accidental or suicidal.
- Run On - "Road" (No Way ) : Okay, I cheated here. After hearing the original, I had to go and get this CD from the case, as I actually heard this version first. It's an amazing cover from a wildly flexible band, which sadly folded after this CD, its second. Very Yo La Tengo-ish, with plenty of distortion, but the CD successfully careens all over the map, and this cover is evocative and sensitive. I can listen to this short masterpiece over and over and over again - under 2 minutes of sheer delight. I need to get their other CD.
You can say the sun is shining if you really want to
I can see the moon and it seems so clear
You can take the road that takes you to the stars now
I can take a road that'll see me through
I can take a road that'll see me through. You can take a road that takes you to the stars now
I can take a road that'll see me through
I can take a road that'll see me through
I can take a road that'll see me through.
- The The - "The Beat(en) Generation" (Mind Bomb ) : My last The The CD. I really enjoyed their (well, his - Matt Johnson) first (Soul Mining), liked their second (Infected) and wasn't real crazy about this one, so I stopped.
- Laurie Anderson - "Baby Doll" (Strange Angels ) : Very funny and funky CD. I love Laurie Anderson, and I'm disappointed we missed her when she was performing here last fall. Next time, fer sure. This is a funny song:
I don't know about your brain-
but mine is really bossy
I come home from a day on the golf course
and I find all these messages
scribbled on wrinkled up scraps of paper
And they say thing like:
Why don't you get a real job?
Or: You and what army?
Or: Get a horse.
And then I hear this voice
comin from the back of my head Uh huh
(Whoa-ho) Yep! It's my brain again
And when my brain talks to me, he says: Take me out to the ballgame
Take me out to the park
Take me to the movies
Cause I love to sit in the dark
Take me to Tahiti
Cause I love to be hot
And take me out on the town tonight
Cause I know the new hot spot. He says: Babydoll! Ooo oo oo Babydoll Ooo He says:
Babydoll! I love it when you come when I call
Babydoll! You don't have to talk I know it all
Babydoll! Ooo oo oo Babydoll Ooo
- The Jeff Healy Band - "Confidence Man" (See The Light ) : Some rocking rhythm and blues by the blind Canadian Jeff Healy, who plays his guitar flat on his lap. This is a great John Hiatt song and really perks things up on this hot Friday afternoon. I'm a roots blues and boogie woogie kinda guy, and there's a couple good ones here, including the instrumental "Nice Problem To Have", which really rocks.
- Richard Thompson - "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" (Rumor & Sigh ) : Quite possibly my favorite story told in song. I quoted it in my Motorcycle entry, and it still remains a favorite. There's a couple of other good songs on here too, but it's weird that this song isn't on the three disc Thompson compilation I have, "Watching The Dark".
Unicorn Golf Course
A very inconsistent day at the links yesterday. It was highlighted by both of us looking at makeable birdie putts on the par 5 sixth hole. We both then proceeded to three putt to go from a birdie to a bogey in the blink of an eye - sigh... I've started using my driver off the tee for every hole (well, save the par threes, of course) and I've started making some pretty good shots. The best drive of the year could very well have been my last one - a beautiful long drive, right down the middle of the fairway, sitting pretty about 150 yards from the hole. I proceeded to horrible muck up the next few shots, including one that Michael said had the greatest swing to divot ratio he's ever seen! A nice easy 9 iron resulted in a huge, 10" divot - yech. And I proceeded to get a triple bogey on the hole. Stupid game...
I went up to my friend Mark's house to play some boardgames on Saturday night. Unbeknownst to me, right around midnight Saturday night, my machine that is co-located at his ISP (MV.com), croaked. I was within ten minutes of it, but instead I blithely drove home after watching Casablanca yet again, sending me an hour in the wrong direction. On Sunday morning, I get an email from someone trying to use one of the servers I host on the box and, uh uh, it was down. Of course, it had to be on a busy Sunday, so I couldn't do anything about it. But MV sent someone in and tried to reboot it. But the box was dead Jim.
So Mark brought the box home with him on Monday and I drove on up there for an emergency power supply-pendectomy. I picked up a cheap US$30 250 watt power supply (gee, I wonder why my boxes keep dying...) at CompUSA and did my first power supply transplant operation on Mark's table. Plugged everything back in, turned the power on, it rebooted, all is good, right?
Wrong. We paid the price for being confident and when the box was actually plugged in at MV and turned on, massive numbers disk errors showed up. So many, in fact, that even fsck -y couldn't fix them. Now what...
Some Googling around found others complaining of the same error, but no help was forthcoming. The Mark wrote a little utility that performed some disk magic, re-ran fsck and I'm back in business. Well, it took a few more tweaks, of course, and I'm still not sure exactly how bad the collateral damage is, but its good to be back up and running.
I've been reading "Hideous Absinthe" by Jad Adams. I've become a bit of an absinthe fanatic and this is one of the best books on absinthe and its lurid history. Now, I say one of the best, but I'm not really saying it is a great book. Adams doesn't have much sympathy for absinthe and treats it more like a scurge he's glad has been (almost) erased, but still he does a pretty good job of covering the basic story.
- Foxit Reader : Are you as tired as I am with the bloated Acrobat Reader from Adobe? Well, fear no more, as a the free Foxit Reader comes to your rescue. A lightweight, easy to use program that does just what it is supposed to do - accurately display the ubiquitous PDF files.
- WeatherMole : A great mashup which combines a Google Map with NOAA forecasts.
- Snap : As they say, "The other way to Search.". Using lots of fancy Web 2.0 technology, you get prompts, samples and snapshots of what you are searching for.
- Computer Languages History : A genealogy chart of computer languages
- Horsename-O-Matic : Exactly what the name promises - an easy way to generate horse names like "Hustling Overblood" and "Minimalistic Moonlight Kentucky". Other suggested uses include Boybands, Cruiseships and Snowboarding Tricks.
- The Lotus Esprit Fact File : If you're looking to buy me the car of my dreams, here's a hint - make it a Lotus Esprit Turbo. I'll accept any color. I've been in love with this wedge-shaped car ever since I first saw it, and it starred in many James Bond movies (Roger Moore era). When they blew up the beautiful white one in Spy Who Loved Me, it broke my heart.
- Paper Crafts | YAMAHA MOTOR : Way neat paper models that you can print out and fold at home. Not for the faint of heart, though.
- Thanks. No. : A simple page with a simple purpose - reply with this link when you get the "boy needs a postcard" hoax for the umpteenth time. I get these forwarded messages all the time. One hint - if it has more than one level of forwarding, I almost certainly don't want it.
- Motivator: Inspire! Motivate! Mock! : Using your own picture and text, you too can create one of the motivational posters. Or you could mock instead. Up to you!
- TheOpenCD : A simgle, burnable ISO file to let you enjoy a full range of Open Source software on on CD.
- Sphere : Although I sincerely doubt the hyperbole on the first page ("Add this to your browser and change your life!"), this is another one of the community surfing things, where you can share interesting blog tidbits. I have a bunch of these on my toolbar, but I never use them. This also includes Stumble and Furl. Maybe some day I'll figure out how to best utilize these.
- In search of the One True Layout: This one is for you CSS geeks out there, where she talks about how to best use CSS to get a flexible, portable layout. Nice tutorial on CSS too.
- Guess Which Movie : Shows you a still from a movie and, yup, you have to guess which movie it is from. A whole series of games.
- Why Bush Won the Election : A whole series of side by side images which show Bush vs. Kerry. Pretty funny stuff, like these:
- Relate-a-zon: The Related Products on Amazon Game : Another mashup but this time as a game - try to work your way through the "Related Products" on Amazon.com from the starting item to the destination item. Pretty fun!
- REAL TIME SATELLITE TRACKING : One of the coolest mashups I've found, this shows, in real time, the location of satellites drawn over a Google Map. Pick your satellite and see where it is. This includes the International Space Station too.
- wikiHow - The How-To Manual That Anyone Can Write or Edit : A bunch of user contributions on how to do a whole range of interesting things, from useful ("Save Money on Auto Insurance") to the arcane ("How To Squeeze An Egg Without Breaking It").
Unicorn Golf Course
A very nice day on the links Tuesday morning. It's been infernally hot here in the Boston area the past few days, finally cooling down yesterday to merely uncomfortable, rather than searing. But as we get out on the links by 6am, it is still reasonable out there even as we wrap up our nine holes by around 8:15. Michael struggled with his drives off the tee, after a beauty to start the day. I stuck with my driver, resisting the urge to go back to the three wood. If I take it slow, I can do alright with the driver. I hit a beaut at the par 5 sixth hole, and it even led to a par there for the first time in recent memory. Still haven't been putting all that well, though.
Welcome to Mixology Monday 5, where we have lots and lots of lemon goodness. You know the old saying - "When life hands you a lemon, it must be time to make a cocktail." (or something like that anyway). The Wikipedia has, as usual, plenty of lemon information, which you can find here. As I've said in a couple of my previous cocktail entries, I highly recommend trying to track down some Meyer Lemons, which have a special lemon goodness all their own. My Mom got me a box for my birthday, which is in February and is a very good month to get them (you can check out Melissa's for more info). Anyway, thanks for the great turnout - we have quite the international showing this time around, with entries spanning the globe, which is great to see. So let the show begin!
We live in a world where lemonade is made from artificial flavoring and furniture polish is made from real lemons
Alfred E. Neuman
Macky, from Macky's Garden in the Philippines, entices us with A Night in Old Mandalay, which mixes rums, juices and ginger in a tall highball glass.
Next, a stop in Sydney, Australia, where Anna of Morsels and Musings fame, takes us on a trip to northern Italy and whips us up a batch of sgroppino, an ice cold drink using lemon gelato, citron vodka, limoncello and more lemons.
Alicat of Something So Clever, located in Montana, US (one of the few places where it is even hotter than here in Boston!), invites us over with recipe that takes you from parched to refreshed in no time flat, a homemade hard lemonade, as well as an ice-cube laden Amaretto Squeeze, which combines Amaretto and lemon juice for that frangipane taste.
Marleigh, whose Sloshed is making a MixMo debut, whips up some frozen goodness with a Lemon Sorbet, by using citrus vodka, limoncello (not surprisingly, a real favorite for this MixMo!), peach schnapps, lemonade and cream to create a frothy refresher.
At my lemonade stand I used to give the first glass away free and charge five dollars for the second glass. The refill contained the antidote.
The blogger we like to blame for MixMo, Paul from The Cocktail Chronicles and Seattle Washington, invites us to try a special South American brandy, pisco, in a Pisco Sour.
Meeta jets in from Germany while writing for What's For Lunch Honey?, and shows us how to make an easy summer refresher for the entire neighborhood, with a delicious Limoncello Cooler.
Another visit from Down Under, this time from the beautiful city of Melbourne, where Haalo writes Cook (almost) Anything at least once. She finds two different bottles of lemon spirits in the cabinet, so she shakes us up a Lemon Vanilla Fizz using the Limoncello, mixing it with soda water, vanilla pods and lemon leaves, and uses the citron vodka to good effect in a simple yet elegant Lemon-tini.
Jen, the Californian who writes cocktail jen, points us to some limoncello recipes, unveils her own homemade limoncello for us, and encourages us to "try this at home".
Jimmy, a Californian who writes Jimmy's Cocktail Hour and hosted the previous MixMo on Apéritifs, goes on a quest in the priceless CocktailDB for the perfect lemon drink. After a short side trip to the land of the Whiskey Sour, he settles on an enduring classic and a true favorite of mine, the Sidecar.
Barbie, who writes barbie2be from the US west coast, entices us with a lemon twist on another classic, creating the Limoncello Cosmopolitan.
Darcy's Art of Drink creates a new cocktail for our carnival by combining the ever-popular limoncello, pear liqueur, vermouth, soda and bitters while walking us through the creative process, where he ends up with a Lemon & Pear Cocktail.
When life hands you a lemon, say 'Yeah, I like lemons. What else ya got?'
Michael, who writes a dash of bitters, visits us from a full freezer in Brooklyn, New York and takes us slowly through the limoncello creation process, and honors us by uncorking it for the first time. He then offers up two new cocktails, the Lemon Cart (a Sidecar twist using limoncello, cognac and lime juice) as well as a simple and refreshing Lemon Cooler.
Rick, the Kaiser Penguin of Pennsylvania and host of Mint MixMo III, brings us the Rum Keg, so break out those honkin' big hurricane glasses and fill it up with this yummy sounding mixture of juices, syrups, rum and ice.
And here at Jiggle The Handle, I got to unveil a new Dr. Cocktail recipe, and try both limoncello and yellow Chartreuse for the first time, with a Lemony Snicket cocktail. Also, be sure to try out the classic Lemon Drop as well.
So that wraps up another edition of Mixology Monday. Again, I want to thank everyone for showing up and giving us plenty to try out in the coming dog days of summer (at least here in the northern hemisphere). If you didn't get in here, don't give up - send me along the link or post it in the comments and I'll add your link. And be sure to check out MixMo VI, which will focus on the grape and is being hosted by Rick over at Saving the world, one drink at a time (an admirable philosophy).
Dogbert: "Well you know what they say, when life gives you lemon, make lemonade."
Dilbert: "But I'm allergic to citrus."
Dogbert: "Well you know what they say, when life gives you lemons, swell up and die."
Scott Adams (1957 - )
For you puzzle fiends out there, here's a web puzzle for you. I needed a hint to get started even, and I didn't get too far.Web Puzzle
So the place was busy this past weekend! On Saturday we hosted our daughter's seventh birthday party, which meant the joint was packed with family, friends, and relatives. As I was busy at the grill for most of the day, I couldn't get very creative at the bar. The usual Bombay Sapphire martinis and gibsons for the in-laws, but other than that everyone had to make do with the beer (Sam Adams Summer Brew and Light, Otter Creek Porter and Budweiser) and hard lemonade cooler. But I did think of MixMoV, of course, so I made a small batch of a long time favorite cooling cocktail, the Lemon Drop:
- 2.5 oz citron vodka (Citrus Three Olives)
- 3/4oz freshly squeezed lemon juice (alas, no more Meyer Lemons...)
- 1tsp superfine (bar) sugar
Put all the ingredients into a cracked ice filled shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
Of course, as the vodka comes from the freezer, it makes for a cocktail shaker that is very hard to shake! It took me a bit to loosen up the ice cubes to get a good mixing action going, which is very important as you need to get the sugar mixed in. I suppose it would work pretty well with a healthy dollop of sugar syrup too, and make for an easier mixing. I rimmed the cocktail glasses with a nice coating of Lemon Drop rimmer, which works very very well too. I didn't have time to partake in this myself, but the guests were very pleased.
But yesterday was a recovery day, so we were able to take it pretty easy. Good thing too, as the weather has been stifling here, so a day puttering about and splashing in the pool was just what the doctor ordered. And speaking of doctors, the good Dr. Cocktail was kind enough to forward me along a new recipe he's been working on for the MMV Lemon carnival, so I figured this would be the perfect day to try it out.
- 2.5 oz gin (Bombay Sapphire, of course, pulled from the freezer)
- 1/2 oz Limoncello (Pallini, again out of the freezer)
- 1/2 oz yellow Chartreuse
- 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
Put all the ingredients in a cracked ice filled cocktail shaker, shake vigorously and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with stemless cherry.
What a wonderfully complex yet refreshing cocktail! It was so good, I just had to have a second. You can really taste the various kinds of lemon in there, but all shaded with the distinctive herbs of the Chartreuse. I suppose you could make it with a vodka instead, for those gin-hating infidels, but it would certainly lose some of its complexity.
I was looking for an excuse to buy both the yellow Chartreuse and the Limoncello, and this fit the bill perfectly. The Chartreuse proved to be a very expensive addition to my liquor cabinet (over US$40 here in Massachusetts), but I figure it will last and I've been coming across a few recipes that called for it. I've had a bottle of the green Chartreuse for ages. I use it mostly in the Emerald Martini, which works very nicely, but I've never tried the yellow Chartreuse (and no, that isn't an oxymoron:-), which is a sweeter version of the green one. I should have tried it straight but I did not, but the smell definitely marked it as a sweeter Chartreuse.
As for the limoncello, I didn't know which one to try. There were, I think, three different brands on the store shelf, all priced about the same (US$20 a bottle). So I grabbed the Pallini, for no particular reason. I love a good lemon cocktail, and this looks like a great addition to the liquor freezer, even if the bottle is too tall fit standing up on any of the shelves. A favorite "simple" summer drink for me is raspberry (I'm a raspberry nut) vodka splashed into lemonade, and I'll bet a splash of limoncello would make a refreshing lemonade mixer too. Although I'm not a soda or seltzer fan, I imagine it would work very nicely with a plain version of one of those sparkling waters too.
So this is my entry for Mixology Monday 5, which I'll be hosting here. You have a few more hours to get me your lemon tasting cocktails over to me. Check back here tomorrow, Tuesday July 18, for the completely listing of all the entries. It's looking like a great turnout again, so thanks to all that have come over already and here's looking for the rest of you!
Entries are beginning to trickle in for the Mixology Monday I'll be hosting here this coming Monday. So join in the party and send along your lemon-y cocktails and drinks.
Unicorn Golf Course
Another ugly morning on the golf course. It started off so well for both of us, with nice long drives off the first tee. And we each followed that with a pretty nice second shot. Downhill from there though, culminating in an ugly pair of scores for the par 5. We have been talking about bringing a digital camera with us, so if we have a nice shot, we could take a picture of the landing, but that was not a worry today. Although I guess it went okay on the second par 3, the 8th hole. We both landed our tee shots on the green, but Michael was pretty close and damn near made a beautiful big bending putt for birdie. I haven't been putting well and after my birdie putt fell far short, I missed the follow up shot for a 3 putt bogey :-( Maybe we'll have to go again this Friday to get back into the swing of things, as we didn't play last week on the Fourth of July.
A long list of pretty good cartoons just came over the email transom, but this one was the one that made me chuckle the most. Humor is such an odd thing, isn't it?
I'm excited to be hosting the next edition of Mixology Monday, the blog carnival featuring cocktails. The next show will be unveiled on Monday, July 17th. I've chosen lemons as the "theme" for it, and I'm looking forward to seeing what everyone does with this classic cocktail fruit. Something cool and lemon-y should go well on a hot summer's night.
Lemons are, I think, my favorite cocktail mixer. I've written about the Sidecar before and it remains one of my all-time favorite cocktails. And getting to use Meyer Lemons, both fresh and even from a bottle, was a special treat this year, and I'm disappointed I don't have any more to use. I really thought they brought out the best in a cocktail, and I'm already looking forward to when they are back in season.
I'll have to roll out a new recipe for Mixology Monday, 5th edition. But I'm also looking forward to what others make using this wonderfully tart fruit. So get your entries in, either by emailing me or filling out the form on the Blogcarnival.com page by Sunday, July 16.
You can find last month's Mixology Monday on Jimmy's Cocktail Hour. Its theme was aperitifs and I added a taste of absinthe to it. Absinthe was highly regarded as an appetite enhancer, so it made the perfect aperitif if you could afford dinner, which many of the Paris Bohemians couldn't.
I got in my first bike riding exercise today. I'm blessed to be living within walking distance of one of the world's finest urban parks, the Middlesex Fells. The Fells is over 2,000 acres of park land, with quite a bit of it located here in Medford. There's a wide variety of things to do in the park, including hiking and biking. The biking trails are varied and interesting, as you can go on any of the old fire roads that criss-cross the park.
The park is, unfortunately, bisected by Route 93, which makes getting across the whole park problematic, especially for me here on the eastern side of things. Luckily, there is one road that takes me underneath Rte. 93, so I don't have to risk life and limb trying to get around the Roosevelt Rotary that goes over 93.
So I like to take a ride during lunch. I have a Schwinn Sierra GS, which is a nice, easy to ride, hybrid. My wife and I each bought one for a wedding present to ourselves, and it has worked well. It is, however, probably time for me to get a new one, and when I bring it in for the annual tuneup, I might look around and see where I can go from here.
So I take a ride up the road and then turn off onto one of the many fire roads that link up to the pavement. I wasn't looking for a challenging ride today, this being my first time out. So I took the first one and headed off into the woods. I did try a short detour down a marked for bikes trail but it soon petered out, and I was left carrying my bike along a pretty narrow trail. Not sure what they were thinking! But I got out and made it back after a pretty good 30 minute workout.
One thing that is sadly lacking in the Fells is any legal swimming holes. There's a few ponds on the grounds, but none of them have swimming allowed, as they are all emergency water supplies. But luckily for Medford residents, there is Wright's Pond, which is a park area nestled in the Fells, with some pretty good swimming, and even lap markers laid out. So I'll often end my bike riding there, and swim a few laps, which makes for an excellent workout. But today, as I got started late, I decided to just come home and float in our new pool. As it is only 15 feet round and 42 inches deep, I'm not going to get much of a workout in it. But the water was cool and refreshing, so I'm not complaining!
2006 Tales of the Cocktail
This tasting was actually done on June 21. I haven't been real good about keeping up with the postings! I've also cross-posted this on our new web site InAbsinthia.com, where we will keep you up to date on the latest and greatest in the world of absinthe.
Another evening of the "devil in a bottle". This time, we tried a clear, Swiss-style absinthe called Blanchette. In general, absinthes can be either green or clear. Absinthe gets its natural green color because of a combination of the herbs used to make it and the very high (65% or more) alcohol content. Because of the high alcohol percentage, the green chlorophyll bits actually remain suspended in the elixir, only to be released when you add the water and sugar, a process known as "louching". A clear absinthe, which has a milky white louche, is often a Swiss La Bleue absinthe. These are usually of a slightly lower alcohol level (55-60%) than a traditional French absinthe, which may account for its clear color, or perhaps a different recipe.
In any case, T.A. Breaux, the New Orleans chemist mastermind behind Jade Liquors, has helped out Combier to produce Blanchette. It is the first clear absinthe we have tried and we were looking forward to it, wondering what kind of spell a clear absinthe would cast.
Upon twisting off the cork, a strong aroma of anise (licorice) assails the nose, loud and clear. Blanchette does not have the hard wax sealed corked bottle Nouvelle-Orleans, but rather the plastic topped cork stopper as found on lower end port bottles. But the nose is definitely that of absinthe!
We poured about 1.5 oz into each glass, put the absinthe spoon on top with two sugar cubes on it and began gently pouring in filtered, ice cold water. I shake it in my cocktail shaker filled with cracked ice, getting it nice and cold. Then I decant the water into a small glass pourer and we pour the water over the sugar cubes, trying to be as slow as possible. Someday, we'll have to get one of the fancy absinthe glasses with the little reservoir at the bottom, and the holder for the ice cubes at the top. But for now, we'll make due with fancy goblets and trying to be careful while pouring the water over the cubes.
The louching action was pretty good, but subtle. It really just gradually clouded over, rather than the water showing up as droplets. The final result was a nice, cloudy drink, but without any pearly touches. Still with a powerful anise smell, though.
The first sips were pretty good as well with, once again, a nearly overpowering taste of anise. There was really no room left for tasting too much else, which made the Blanchette very much a one trick pony. There weren't nearly as many interesting flavors as we found in Nouvelle-Orleans, just a full-bodied anise (licorice) taste. Which isn't necessarily a bad thing, and certainly not unexpected, given the aromas.
So it was an enjoyable blanche absinthe, but lacking the subtleties of Nouvelle-Orleans. A nice twist on the original verte absinthe, and one that we will visit again in the future, I'm sure.
We followed up the Blanchette by making the only real cocktail that features absinthe. The Sazerac, called "America's First Cocktail", dates back to the 1830s, as discussed on Sazerac.com. Sure, there are other cocktails recipes that use absinthe. Heck you could even write a book about them if you were so inclined. But they are mostly silly concoctions that don't add anything to the La Fée Verte experience. The Sazerac, though, is the real thing.
- .5 tsp Absinthe (we used the aforementioned Blanchette)
- 2oz whiskey or bourbon (we used Maker's Mark bourbon)
- dash Peychaud's bitters
Shake well in a cocktail shaker full of cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
This particular recipe wasn't anything to write home about, really. All we could taste was the bourbon, which meant it was a waste of some good absinthe. We actually used (gasp!) Angostura bitters, and not the real Peychaud's. I should order some online, just for the authentic taste. A more interesting sounding recipe comes from the Wikipedia, which uses the method more often specified of swirling the absinthe around in a glass. It still doesn't sound like there would be enough absinthe to really show up in a cocktail glassful of bourbon, though. Maybe we should also try a more subtle taste, like Dewar's whiskey.
We then played a few more levels of Serious Sam 2 and we only have two more levels to go (yay!). And then we finished up season three of The Sopranos. The season finale was surprisingly low key - no cliff hangers, with no long storylines (like last season's FBI arc) to be wrapped up. It felt very much like another episode. But all in all, I'd say the third season has been the best so far. The show definitely has yet to jump the shark.