Monday, September 1, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #51: Cuba Libre

When we drew this one from the deck, a faint nostalgic smile played on my lips.

Rum, without question, is my older sister's liquor of choice. Has been since she was in high school a few decades back. Rum and Coke (another appellation for this venerable cocktail) was her drink of choice until she discovered other applications for rum. In fact, she was no enamored of cuba libres she had "Rum'N'Coke" emblazoned on her powder puff jersey when she was a high school senior (I'm surprised to this day the school let her do that, actually).

Mrs. Wit and I had no small amount of trepidation when we saw the amount of lime juice called for in this recipe. Were we in for another pirate drink?

No. Surprisingly, the lime juice really offsets the sweetness of the rum and cola. It is an improvement!

Scoreboard.
Hits: 39
Misses: 18

Monday, August 25, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #50: White Russian

(To the tune of Jefferson Airplane's "White Rabbit")
Oh, Brezhnev liked his vodka
And Andropov, single malts
While Chernenko liked martinis
With a lemon twist really small
But at drinking games
Khrushchev could bury them all

Sorry. Couldn't help myself. [Smirk!]

It's funny, but I had always heard of White Russian cocktails growing up, but it seemed to me that a vodka drink containing a coffee liqueur such as Kahlua would be a Black Russian, but what do I know...

A lovely after dinner drink on a cool weekend evening. A bit heavy for the warmer weather we have been experiencing of late, however.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 38
Misses: 18

Monday, August 18, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #49: Zombie


I'm of the opinion it's the 151 proof rum that makes this drink so dangerous. Why? Because you could, in theory, run an internal combustion engine on the stuff.

Seriously: how many liquors are out there warning they are flammable?

It's tasty and it will f---- you up. Just remember to keep away from open flame while preparing the thing.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 37
Misses: 18

Monday, August 11, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #48: Whiskey Sour

Arrrr, matey!

If you be a scallywag pirate adrift at sea and suffering from the scurvy, this here be a drink fer you!

Otherwise, stick to mixing your whiskey with soda.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 36
Misses: 18

Monday, August 4, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #47: Rusty Nail


I've complained before about scotch-based cocktails, but the Rusty Nail is something different. If you are fond of Drambuie (and people either love it or hate it, it seems) then you will certainly enjoy a Rusty Nail using a decent blended scotch like Dewar's or Johnnie Walker Red.

If you have a good single malt, however, don't bother dusting off the liqueur bottle. Savor the liquor, instead.

I'll make this a hit, regardless; because when it's good, it's really really good.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 36
Misses: 17

Monday, July 28, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #46: Brandy Alexander


Growing up, I'd only been familiar with the ice cream version of this drink. That, and a now-retired porn star bearing the same name.


I actually prefer this half and half-based version over the ice cream one. But don't drink it on a hot summer day... it'll make you feel a little funny in the tummy (if you know what I mean).


Enjoy!


Scoreboard.
Hits: 35
Misses: 17

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #45: Bellini

Champagne drinks can be a fickle thing. If it's good champagne, it seems a waste to adulterate it with orange juice or liqueur.

Cheap champagne, on the other hand, is fertile ground for additives and mixers.

We expected good things of the Billini, and were not disappointed. We recommend enjoying this over a good Sunday brunch.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 34
Misses: 17

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #44: Pimm's Cup

I've already commented on my preferred cocktail, but after manhattans, Pimm's Cup is my favorite drink (third after beer, actually). Pimm's is a seasonal drink - while it's available year round, it tastes best on a hot summer day, especially if the weather is humid. This summer, with all the rain and flooding throughout the Midwest, the weather is more than perfect for Pimm's.

Just not this recipe.

A Pimm's Cup should only contain Pimm's No. 1, lemon-lime soda and a lemon wedge... although there are many variations on what one may use for a garnish. (One friend of ours practically builds a fruit salad into the darn thing.) The flavor should be light, refreshing, and startlingly complex. As one writer whose name escapes me once put it, a Pimm's Cup tastes like an English garden on a fine sunny afternoon.

But I ramble on.

The recipe in this deck calls for adding gin and club soda to Pimm's No. 1 in place of the lemon-lime soda! We found this concept of adding more alcohol to an otherwise perfectly balanced drink distressing, but in the interest of exploration we sallied forth and made the drink per the recipe on the card.

It sucked.

We're rating this one a miss, but we must implore you: buy a bottle of Pimm's No. 1 and follow the recipe on the bottle on a hot - preferably humid - summer's day. You will not be disappointed.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 33
Misses: 17

Friday, July 11, 2008

Whew! We're finally caught up!

We're all caught up, people.

You won't be subjected to near-daily update with cocktail assessments. Cocktail of the Week will now go back to being a Monday-only feature.

Enjoy, goodnight, and prepare for more infrequent posts.

ZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz...........

Cocktail of the Week #43: Mai Tai

The classic South Seas-themed rum cocktail.

We've had this several times already: as a cocktail on our honeymoon in Maui (eh) to several variations of the recipe we have found online and in various drink guides.

Overall, we prefer the "tart" recipes for this drink over their "sweet" variations.

This recipe took our notice, however, because is called for something called "orgeat," which I had the damnedest time finding. Three liquor stores and I only found the stuff... today!

Anyway, we made it, and while it was tasty it was still too sweet for our liking. While we enjoy the venerable mai tai, this particular incarnation did not suit our fancy; and so we declare it a "miss."

But Mrs. Wit and I are in agreement that we should certainly visit it again, one day.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 33
Misses: 16

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #42: Golden Cadillac

I simply was not expecting to enjoy the Golden Cadillac.

Think about it: cocoa and cream (good enough so far) and... licorice?

But it works! In spite of itself, it works remarkably well! As long as you like licorice.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 33
Misses: 15

Cocktail of the Week #41: Gin and Tonic


Somebody. Please. Tell me. How can you go wrong with this one?

Vodka and tonic is also in this category (which used to be my exclusive drink in my latter college years).

But I won't count it as two hits...

Scoreboard.
Hits: 32
Misses: 15

Cocktail of the Week #40: Long Island Iced Tea

I will forever associate this drink with Markie Post when she was in her prime on "Night Court" (and I mean bad Eighties hair and everything).

I've had them in my early twenties and was duly unimpressed. It seemed a needlessly complicated mix of liquors and... it didn't even taste like an iced tea! But it was deceptive in that it did not taste much of alchohol and could pack a punch. This is a another "get lucky" drink probably devised by frat boys desperate to get laid.

It's a miss because it's... well.. IMHO... stupid.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 31
Misses: 15

Cocktail of the Week #39: Depth Charge

Beer and whiskey! Whiskey and beer! A classic combination!

Growing up this was a standard bar combo known by suburbanites as a "shot and a beer" and native Chicagoans as a "boilermaker." The term "depth charge" for this drink was born out of World War II for reasons that should be obvious.

This drink can be drunk in two ways:
  1. Downing the shot and then quaffing the entire beer as a chaser (the "shot & a beer" but also known as a "boilermaker" because guzzling the beer makes one burp tremendously afterwards).
  2. Dropping the full shot - glass and all - into the beer before drinking it. The shot glass striking the bottom of the beer glass typically causes a great deal of carbonation to release, generating a huge head of foam... hence the names "boilermaker" and "depth charge."
Not surprisingly, Mrs. Wit showed no interest in this drink due to its whiskey content. I just smiled and had two - one for each of us.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 31
Misses: 14

Cocktail of the Week #38: B and B

I love Benedictine. It's like drinking a delicately herbed pastry, and it gives you a nice buzz to boot.

When combined with brandy, you get nothing but good things.

No need to wax eloquent or give anecdotes, this time. Just make one for yourself and enjoy.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 30
Misses: 14

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #37: Sloe Gin Fizz

I remember the sloe gin fizz as one of the few alcoholic things my mother would drink. And even then on great rare occasion (my mother does not like the taste of alcohol, nor is she all that fond of the effects it has on people). I also remember it being referred to snidely as a "kiddie drink." It is sweet in character, but to some it taste like cough syrup. That would be because sloe gin is not a flavored gin so much as it is a liqueur made from buckthorn plums.

I bought a bottle of sloe gin, once to make a sloe gin fizz as well as a cocktail called the "shriner." Using the fizz recipe o the bottle, the drink did not taste as good as I remember.  Mrs. Wit veritably gagged on it and claimed it tasted like Nyquil's black sheep cousin.

As for the shriner cocktail? The less said the better. Maybe for snits and giggles I'll make on for Cocktail of the Week once we finish working through the deck (which won't be long now, actually).

Mrs. Wit and I, scarred from our last bought with sloe gin, approached this drink with some trepidation. However, following the recipe on the card we found the drink this time around to be delicious! Mrs. Wit even had seconds!

To our surprise, a hit!

Scoreboard.
Hits: 29
Misses: 14

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #36: Cape Codder


Mrs. Wit has been drinking cranberry juice cocktail laced with vodka for years, so we already knew this was going to be a hit. So there's nothing much to report here.

Except for a quick anecdote! Mrs. Wit and I were always curious to try straight cranberry juice, just to see what it is like. Well, imagine our surprise when we found it was carried by Trader Joe's! We bought a bottle and anticipated opening it up when we got home.

Oops.

The stuff was so unbelievably tart we took to diluting it heavily with lemon-lime soda in order to be able to drink the stuff. It was that tart!

A hit nonetheless.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 28
Misses: 14

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Why Do You Hate God?"

I have not been asked this question, yet, but I am sure sooner or later it will be. I will grant it’s a perfectly natural assumption for True Believers to think that I must not not believe in God, but instead have some personal grievance with Him/Her/It that causes me to deny. I’m sure they must picture the typical atheist to be somewhat like a small child hearing from his or her peers for the first time that Santa Claus does not exist, and the only reaction possible is to clamp the hands over the ears and scream: “No! No! No! It’s not true! I don’t believe you!”

Sorry, folks: it’s just not that simple.

The only answer I, or any other atheist who arrived to the same conclusion I did through reason and careful thinking, can give is: I cannot hate that which does not exist.

I do not hate Santa Clause. Neither do I hate the Easter Bunny. I also harbor no ill will towards leprechauns, unicorns or David Icke’s Illuminati-based shapeshifting reptile overlords. I have no feelings of spite or anger for Zeus or Hercules. I do not plot any retribution towards Quetzalcoatl or the pantheon of Valhalla.

Just so, I do not hate God because the burden of evidence shows, as it does with all the mythical beings and creatures I mention above, such a being is simply not there.

Now, this is not to say I did not hate God at a certain point in my life. I did. Greatly. I had a rather difficult childhood (my wife would say I’m downplaying this a great deal), and while it was not safe for me while young to express my anger - and other feelings - towards those that made growing up such a traumatic experience for me and my sisters, there was one thing I could safely direct my ill feelings towards. Something my Catholic upbringing drummed into my head must exist and was ultimately the cause of all things: God.

But I was not an atheist then, either. Once I came to the realization that there is no Supreme Being, the anger and hatred left me. What it was replaced with was a burning desire to hold those who hurt me and my sisters accountable for their actions (and inactions).

You see, when there is no God, suddenly everyone is responsible for their own actions and the consequences of those actions. It is, frankly, liberating and unsettling all at once. It frees one from fear of divine retribution, but it also makes one realize it’s harder to justify horrible acts against others when there is no Judge Supreme dictating who is deserving of reward or punishment. One can no longer sit back and “just accept” one’s lot in life. One must take control while considering others. Under those circumstances, 9/11 was performed by a bunch of delusional modern-day kamikazes, Fred Phelps is an emotionally stunted old man screaming for attention like a tantrum-throwing toddler, and Barack Obama’s sudden promise to dump more money into faith-based programs is just an obvious ploy to get votes. (Don’t believe me on that one? Then watch this video of a speech he gave some years back… he’s maturing into a true politician, which is sad.)

So to any Christian reading this who is still wondering why I hate God, I’ll throw the same concept back at you: why do you hate Allah?

Yeah. Thought so.

Cocktail of the Week #35: Dry Martini

Hands down, this is my wife’s favorite cocktail. She’s particularly fond of stuffing blue cheese into the olives used to garnish this drink. It’s also a drink with more variations to it than any other - especially if you want to include “martinis” considered martinis only because they are served in the ubiquitous glass. I’m talking about the variations like the “lemon drop” the “chocolate martini” and even Mrs. Wit’s beloved “cosmopolitan.”

A simple recipe: some gin, some dry vermouth, and a garnish - typically an olive, but a twist of lemon is preferred by some (or the “Oliver Twist” incorporating both). There is also my favorite recipe for this drink in terms of humor value: the World’s Driest Martini.
  1. Add 1 & 2/3 oz. dry gin to shaker/glass.
  2. Pick up the bottle of dry vermouth.
  3. Put the bottle back down.
  4. Shake or stir with ice, pour into glass and garnish.
  5. Enjoy!

The truth is, I’ve always had a tempestuous relationships with martinis. A lot of it, I always suspected, had to do with the use of olives. I’m not overly fond of the fruit. I love cooking with the olive oil. I even enjoy drizzling it on bread at Italian, Greek or Middle Eastern restaurants. But the fruit itself? Ugh! I know, call me strange… I’ve tried using a twist of lemon, instead, but I did not find it improved things all that much for me.

Then we drew this card from the deck. It mentions adding a pickled onion as garnish in place of the olive makes this drink a “gibson” instead of a martini. Mrs. Wit tried the martini, I tried the gibson.

Verdict?

Much to my surprise, I loved it! The vinegar from the onion did something almost alchemical in nature to the gin and vermouth, for me. I even had another, that night, right after the first - not something I often do on our “Cocktail of the Week” night!

We’re counting this as two drinks, because the olive versus the onion in this classic mix make all the difference in the world in terms of overall flavor and character. These are truly two different drinks.

Two hits!

Scoreboard.
Hits: 27
Misses: 14

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #34: Sea Breeze

I did not look forward to drinking the Sea Breeze because of a stupid association I have with its name.

“Sea Breeze” is also the name of this nasty, high-alcohol astringent my mother insisted I use during the Eighties to combat the Heartbreak of Teenage Acne. While it certainly seemed to help in the pimple department, it also made my face feel tighter than Joan Rivers’ facelift. It also made me smell like I had been caught in an explosion in a Lysol factory for about half an hour after applying it. I guess the only side benefit was its tendency to clear out my sinuses better than a pea-sized nodule of wasabi paste. But as side benefits go, it was kind of like someone saying chemotherapy really helped with their weight-loss issues.

So you can understand, Dear Readers, why I approached this particular cocktail with apprehension. I was imagining it would taste the way the cleanser smelled (with light citrus overtones, that is).

I’m glad to write that I enjoyed it. In fact, I enjoyed it a great deal. This is a rocking hot summer drink!

Enjoy! And stick to alcohol-free face cleansers, if you can help it.

I wonder if any cocktails and exfoliants share a name in common…

Scoreboard.
Hits: 25
Misses: 14

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #33: Tom Collins

I was looking forward to this one. It’s another venerable cocktail of the lounge era, like the Harvey Wallbanger and the Singapore Sling. The results unfortunately were… disappointing.

Don’t get me wrong! It’s a decent enough cocktail in its own right, but it seemed to be missing something. The gin was not jibbing with the lemon juice and powdered sugar. The drink tasted familiar, but somehow lacking.

The answer was easy to find: the only difference between a Tom Collins and that tiki bar favorite of ours, the Singapore Sling, is (drumroll please) cherry brandy! That’s right; a little cherry brandy is all that is needed to elevate a Tom Collins from a rather pedestrian drink to one of yummy goodness. Unfortunately, it stops being a Tom Collins at that point.

C’est l’vie.

We’re charting this one as a miss, boys and girls. I may have to chuck this one up to the luck of the draw. I feel if we had drawn this drink before the Singapore Sling, we would have rated it a hit. Mrs. Wit, on the other hand, feels a venerable gin & tonic would have been a much better use of the liquor involved.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 24
Misses: 14

Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day: No Kings = No God in Government

Two hundred and thirty-two years ago, today, we declared ourselves independent of the British Empire. We further declared we, as a people, had no need for aristocracy and that we would govern ourselves.

Eleven years later, in Philadelphia, we recomposed our government in the form of the Constitution. This amazing document unified the states under a strong federal government and made two amazing laws (of many, many amazing laws):
  1. The First Amendment
  2. The "No Religious Test" Clause
It is no coincidence that we cut both church and king out of any involvement in our government. We cannot depose one without deposing the other.

And how is that?

The European model for governance (for several centuries) worked like this: the church of the nation (typically Catholic) would declare God's support for the king, granting him divine right over his subjects; in turn, the king would see to it a healthy chunk of change from his tax base would divert to the church's coffers.

A nice, symbiotic relationship, eh?

If you don't believe me, consider this: when Henry VIII of England didn't get his way when he wanted to divorce and remarry, he did not just cut ties with Rome... he established his own church. He needed divine legitimacy to keep his seat of power, otherwise, the Vatican would have started pressing other nations to replace him with someone more suitable (for their own pockets, that is). Kings need divine backing for their subjects to buy into their right to govern. Churches need Kings (or some other form of political figurehead) to keep the money flowing in... because sometimes passing the plate just isn't enough to "pay the bills."

And just look at what is happening today. We have a "man of God" in the White House, and he's making sure our tax money is funneled to religious organizations. And men like Dobson of Focus on the Family are given legitimacy by men like President Bush... and in turn, men like Dobson are treated like they have a right to be political pundits, picking and choosing who is more "suitable" to administrate the United State of America.

And next thing you know, too many people are claiming there is no such thing as "separation of church and state," despite the fact it is written as the first item on the Bill of Rights!

Everyone: if you love your country (as I do), read the Constitution. Read the Federalist Papers. Read the letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to the Danbury Baptists. Keeping religion out of government is more than about taxes and affiliations: it's about keeping dictatorship at bay.

As long as all human beings in this nation may believe (or not, in many cases) as they wish, then no one may persecute them for disagreeing. The atheist and the theist can co-exist, as long as each group is managed by a completely secular government; one devoid of interest in showing preferential treatment for one group over another.

And is that not the greatest thing of all?

Keep America's system of government great.

Keep it secular.

Cocktail of the Week #32: Irish Coffee

My wife hates whiskey. Or at least, she thought she did.

To her, all whiskeys seemed to taste of glue. Some faintly, others overpoweringly. And being the kind of husband I am, I regularly begged her to try different whiskeys, thinking sooner or later we would find one she likes.

We did: Irish whiskey. I little research lead me to discover the reason why... no corn. Whiskeys made with corn (that would be almost every American and Canadian variety) or aged in barrels previously used to age corn based whiskeys (a surprising number of scotches, believe it or not) would make my darling Mrs. Wit wrinkle her nose in disgust. But Irish whiskey, which is fairly wheat-and-barley only, is something she finds fairly pleasant. Once we discovered this fact, the tasting of the Irish Coffee for Cocktail of the Week changed for her from something to dread to something to anticipate.

This is a delightful winter night's drink. Or after a good meal, late at night, when you have dinner guests who plan on sleeping in the guest room, anyway.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 24
Misses: 13

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #31: Kir Royale

One of Mrs. Wit's favorite liqueurs is Chambord, a french raspberry concoction that performs absolute magic on medium and lower quality champagnes. A splash of the stuff in some Cook's absolutely transforms it into a treat beyond reckoning.

When we drew this one from the deck, we were pretty sure what to expect. But we were not prepared for having a difficult time finding creme de cassis: we tried searching for it at no less than three good liquor stores, with no success.

It turns out it's fairly easy to find supermarkets. Go figure.

Chambord is better, but creme de cassis is definitely cheaper.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 23
Misses: 13

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #30: Grasshopper

I have had this drink before, but only in its ice cream variation. It's quite delicious, and whenever I drink it, I feel a slight twinge of guilt.

Let's step into the WABAC machine to 2001 or thereabouts. One of my dearest friends was moving away to the West Coast, and I joined her and her wife for a farewell dinner at an Italian steakhouse. As we were entering, we all spied a bartender miserably working a blender to make a grasshopper. The blender was not cooperating, and she (the bartender) was clearly looking forward to being done with the task.

By the end of the evening, we were all feeling more than a little tipsy on Chianti and a wee bit mischievous.

Of the six of us present... five ordered grasshoppers. It was delicious, but I felt terrible for doing that to the bartender as I made the long drive home.

Despite the guilt, it's still a hit, even in this non-ice cream form.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 22
Misses: 13

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #29: Harvey Wallbanger


Wallbanger? I hardly even know her!

Sorry. I could not pass up making that joke.

If you like a screwdriver with a hint of licorice (thanks to the Galliano), go for it.

If you find licorice an unpleasant flavor, don't bother.

We, however, loved it.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 21
Misses: 13

Monday, June 23, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #28: Roy Rogers

This is really just a cherry coke made with grenadine. Perfect if you're the designated driver of the evening.

If you order it at a restaurant or bar, make sure the waitstaff or bartender knows what it is; the Roy Rogers is often confused with the Shirley Temple, and vice versa.

Wish I'd drawn this the last time I got ill.

Oh, yeah: if you're watching your sugar intake, this works quite well with Coca-Cola Zero (and not so well with standard diet colas).

Scoreboard.
Hits: 20
Misses: 13

Cocktail of the Week #27: Tequila Sunrise

Never tried this drink before. I always had an aversion to it because of associations of the name with overrated countrified rock and a terrible Mel Gibson film I was forced to take my little sister to see back in the eighties.

Actually, it always struck me as a "touristy" cocktail, like a rum runner or pina colada (turns out it was developed at a hotel in Arizona - go figure).

So we whipped up a couple and tried it and... quite tasty! But sweet. I mean sickly sweet, especially when you hit the collected granadine syrup and orange solids that the bottom of the glass (which is what makes it look like a sunrise, supposedly).

The Mrs. liked it better than I did. I felt like I was drinking kiddie punch with a dash of agave. Frat boys should keep this in reserve for their high school senior girlfriends. As for me and my house, we shall serve the margaritas.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 19
Misses: 13

Cocktail of the Week #26: Cosmopolitan

Mrs. Wit holds this one dear to her heart. She used to drink them all the time until Sex & the City made them all the rage. She still drinks them (preferably with frozen cranberries as a garnish), but not nearly as often as she used to.

The recipe given is so-so. Experiment to your liking. I'm neutral on them, but the Mrs. can't be wrong.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 19
Misses: 12

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Cocktail of the #25: Seven & Seven

Remember my entry about the presbyterian?

The 7 & 7 is what I was thinking of when I wrote about that favorite drink of mine in college. The presbyterian is, in fact, a watered-down version of the venerable 7 & 7. The name comes from the original ingredients: Seagram's 7 Crown Canadian whiskey and 7-Up. Any blended whiskey and lemon-lime soda will do (except scotch... unless it's really bad scotch...)

Try it today!

Scoreboard.
Hits: 18
Misses: 12

Cocktail of the Week #24: Gimlet

This drink is a favorite of one of my dearest friends. She always orders one when at a bar or restaurant.

As for us? We found it a variation on the daiquiri, really. We tried both gin and vodka gimlets, and found while they were nothing to shout out about, neither were they terrible.

A miss, since I never put in a score category of "neutral."

Scoreboard.
Hits: 17
Misses: 12

Cocktail of the Week #23: Manhattan

I had been looking forward to this one since we got the deck. While the martini is considered the Classic Cocktail and the sazarac is the Original Cocktail, the manhattan is considered the quintessential Old School Cocktail. The Drinker's Drink. The Dean Martin Elixir of Life, as it were. (Can you tell I'm partial to this particular drink?)

The deck calls for "blended" whiskey because, technically, the original recipe calls for rye whiskey or Canadian whiskey. Later, when bourbon came to replace rye as America's Premier Hard Liquor, that became the primary component of Manhattans.

Verdict? You really can't go wrong with this drink... if you like whiskey. I personally would only use a half ounce of sweet vermouth. Three quarters of an ounce makes it a bit too sweet, for my taste. And, depending on the whiskey and the brand of vermouth, I may throw a dash of bitters in, as well.

A hit! (Could it have been anything else?)

Trivia: the manhattan was created for Jennie Jerome, an American woman living in London, to help remind her of home. Jennie Jerome would later become the mother of Winston Churchill.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 16
Misses: 12

Cocktail of the Week #22: Kamikazi

This is really just a margarita made with vodka instead of tequila. Unlike the deck's maragarita recipe, this one calls for double the amount of triple sec. I suppose it's to accomodate the missing bite one would get from the liquor of the agave.

We remember this one being decent enough, but would actually reduce the amount of triple sec... that's right: this is one drink that would work better if it were a bit more like a Cure for Scurvy.

We decree it a hit, but only marginally so.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 15
Misses: 12

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #21: Singapore Sling

Just the name makes one think of tacky tiki bars.

It also makes me think of Hunter S. Thompson. He and his lawyer drink these while preparing for the assignment that kicks off “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.”

But who would imagine a tropical drink whose main component is… gin? Gin usually brings to mind images of Viceroy Era India or tales from Dickens, not South Seas Islands or hula-themed bars.

That being said: it is magnificent. Perhaps the best tropical drink out of this deck, thus far.

A hit, people! A truly magnificent hit!

Scoreboard.
Hits: 14
Misses: 12

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cocktail of the Week #20: Fuzzy Navel

The Fuzzy Navel is a drink of the same venerable lineage as the Margarita. Drinks of this particular Family were most likely designed for the sole intent of getting females drunk to the point they don’t remember much of what happened come morning. Indeed, more unintended pregnancies have resulted from cocktails of this variety than any other cause - with the probable exception of abstinence-only sex education courses.

Sweet, fruity, not much alcohol flavor. Mrs. Wit an I are split on this one.

To me, this is not a cocktail so much as kiddie punch for high schoolers wanting to get blitzed.

My wife, on the other hand, was pleasantly surprised. She always knew of it as “the ultimate chick drink” (her words, not mine!) but was expecting something like sickly-sweet Kool Aid. She loved it, and would gladly drink another, if the occasion seemed appropriate.

In deference to my better half, I’m rating this one a hit.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 13
Misses: 12

Happy Father's Day!

The power went out again, this morning, so I'm posting from my father-in-law's.

Share a beer with your dads, everyone, and keep your freezers closed until the power comes back on.

At least this time I don't have another fallen tree in my yard. Or house, for that matter.

Friday the 13th

Friday the Thirteenth is associated with bad luck (especially for triskaidekaphobics) and one of the longest running slasher film series of all time.

It’s origins have to do with a tragedy from the 12th Century. On Friday, October 13, 1307 King Phillip IV of France (also known as "the Fair") finally persuaded his Puppet Pope, Clement V, to order the Inquisition to arrest and "investigate" the Order of the Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and the Temple of Solomon, a.k.a. the Knights Templar. Phillip’s ambition was to acquire the Order’s voluminous assets to continue funding his court and his interminable wars with England. The fact that Phillip was deep in debt to the Order, who lent him a great deal of money over the years, was probably a considerable motivation, as well.

By papal decree the Order was disolved. The entire French chapter was systematically tortured and executed. The chapters in England and Scotland went into hiding. Other chapters abandoned affiliation with the Order and renamed themselves or affiliated themselves with another Order, the Knights Hospitallers, to save themselves.

Since that day, Friday the 13th has been associated with foreboding, woe, ill luck and all manner of Things That Go Bump In the Night.

This past Friday the 13th was right up there for me and Mrs. Wit. At the stroke of midnight we lost power thanks to the seemingly neverending storms afflicting the Midwest these last few weeks. We slept fitfully through the night and I hoped power would be restored come morning.

Nope.

That wasn’t so bad. I was still planning to go into the office until, around five in the morning, I saw someone from the power company wandering around our back yard with a flashlight. And he seemed way too interested in the electric pole in the back corner of our lot.

I threw on pants and shoes in a hurry and went out back. The power guy was gone, but I figured he would be back, based on what I saw.

Our section of town used to be a farm. It was converted into a housing development in the late Fifties/early Sixties (our own home was built in 1960). One of the things that drew us to this particular neighborhood was the trees: they have had several decades to grow, at this point, and they stand tall and proud over the rooftops, giving the streets a very comforting feel. It really reminds me of some of the North Side Chicago neighborhoods my wife and I played in as children (we both had our founding years in that fine city). We are especially fond of the two trees, a towering maple and an equally impressive oak, in our front yard. Of course, the downside has to do with household maintenance. Cleaning my gutters is a nightmare, particularly in Spring and Fall. I have already had to de-muck the front gutters twice, already, this Spring. And I had a clogged downspout that almost resulted in a flooded basement… but I digress.

In back of our property is an electrical pole right at the crosshairs of four lots. I nice tree that was behind it got snapped by the wind during the night and collapsed onto the power lines. Worse yet, the ground line had been broken completely meaning the outage was not confined to us. Chances are the whole street, if not more, was out.

Worse yet, the wind, still going strong, was rocking the twisted, broken tree, straining the wires. I assumed the severed ground line must have tripped something on the grid and killed power to the live lines, but I was not 100% sure.

"Oh, crap!" Was my reaction when I saw this.

I turned to go to the front of the house and start scouting the street to see if the street was indeed out. That’s when I saw another large chunk of tree partly in my yard, straddling the fence and extending into my neighbor’s yard, completely in my wife’s rose bushes.

"Damn it!" Was what I shouted when I saw that.

There was not a whole hell of a lot I could do, at the time, so I called in to the office, told them the situation and informed them I doubted I was going to make it in.

Again, if it had just been the power, I would have gone to work… but snapped power lines potentially falling into my yard? I think I need to be home for that… Besides, I needed to get to work on that tree in the rose bushes. My neighbor is a nice old widow who lives alone. It would not have been fair to leave that mess for her.

I waited for Mrs. Wit to get up so I could show her the damage. We placed a few calls in to the power company, over the hours, wondering when the heck they were going to show up and fix the damage. No notice. And the town we live in was sending out crews to collect Chunks of Damaged Tree. We were not the only victims of the storm (no surprise, there).

Mrs. Wit was just glad nothing took out our house. She has a point, there… (remember the dangling limb we once had by our power line? See the post previous to this.)

We were warned by one of the tree-and-brush collection crews to get our fallen trees out into our front yards for pick-up, or wait until next month for regular brush collection. I had to get to work, quickly. I confirmed the power was out in case wires came down around me and set to work with a saw and hatchet on the tree in the bushes. It was hard and heavy work, but I managed to get the thing into semi-manageable segments and into the front yard.

Then came the waiting.

Our power went out at midnight. We did not see the cutting crew for the tree in the power lines until 2:30 that afternoon. No complaints from us, but we were wondering if we would need to rescue our stocks of chicken and fish from the freezers.

An hour after the cutting crew left, some fine representatives from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers showed up and restrung the broken ground wire. They informed us there was another pole being repaired further down the chain, but we should have power back within the hour… baring unforeseen issues.

(Amusing side note: I happen to have a bright orange t-shirt I sometimes sleep in. It's comfortable and has the additional benefit of being easy to see in case I'm around hunters during deer season. I never bothered changing out of it until after the power came back on. The electrical workers were in gear the same bright orange as my shirt. They were amused.)

Power came back on, and I felt relieved. No electricity for almost sixteen hours reminded me how dependent we are as a society on power. I’m okay with that.

But I’ll probably have nightmares about the Monsters on Mulberry Street for weeks to come.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

McCain: clueless about American History and the Constitution

This is painful.

If McCain seriously thinks the Constitution is a "Judeo-Christian" document, he should read the damn thing. No mention of God, the Father, Yahweh, Jehovah, Jesus Christ, the Son, the Holy Spirit, etc. can be found anywhere in that document.

Why? Because we are a secular nation founded on a secular document.

And the Founding Fathers? Most of them were Deists, not Christians. And some, like Thomas Paine ("Give me liberty or give me death!") were outright atheists. They understood the divisive nature of religion - look at the very Christian nation of Ireland: those Catholics and Protestants get along so well, now, don't they? Because they understood this divisiveness the Founding Fathers made sure of the inclusion of the Establishment Clause and the clause concerning the illegality of requiring a religious test to hold office.

(But, then again, if even presidential candidates clearly are not reading the thing, what should I expect?)

Worse yet, the notion of "Judeo-Christian" is a neologist concept borne directly out of World War II. The average Christian colonist of the Revolutionary War era would have reacted violently to the notion of linking Christian and Jewish thought into a single continuum.

I can't continue. As Orac would say: the stupid! It burns! It burns! Can we really trust our nation to someone who does not understand the historical and conceptual underpinnings of our governmental system? I guess we can. Hell, if we can put up with incompetence for eight years, why not four more?

Please, people, let's try to elect someone who's on board the clue train.

Where are the Kennedys of the world when we need them most?

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Heartbreak of Broken YouTube Links

It would appear the winter in purgatory Dim Age DiaryTM was subjected to resulted from all the YouTube videos I inserted throughout the posts.

Oops.

All the videos are no longer working. I'll be working valiantly to repair them. Especially the one in the post about the death of my best friend. It's to a live rendition of "Last Stop: This Town" by Eels. Catch it if you can.

Cocktail of the week #19: Mint Julep

This is a drink I keep wanting to enjoy, but never find enjoyment.

The mint julep brings to mind hot days in the Antebellum South. Educated Southern Gentlement in their autumn years sitting on their front porches in clean white suits discussing politics and philosophy and savoring a tall, cold mint julep.

On the page, the recipe reads like something tasty. In application, I have yet to enjoy it. The bourbon tends to overpower the mint, leaving one with the impression of sweetened whiskey plus lawn clippings over crushed ice.

Maybe I need to find a better recipe. Or maybe I need to find someone who really knows how to whip up a batch. The fact remains, however, that this is not my first mint julep. I also doubt it will be my last… but this one is nonetheless a miss.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 12
Misses: 12

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Cocktail of the week #18: Bloody Mary

Ah, yes! The classic hangover drink!

Flavor to suit and you can't go wrong. Mix it up a little and make your own variation! It's like a salad in a glass... with vodka!

Scoreboard.
Hits: 12
Misses: 10

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cocktail of the week #17: Joker

Trite but true: sometimes you need to take it easy.

And yes, I had one.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 11
Misses: 10

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cocktail of the week #16: Shady Lady

So let's kick things off in terms of catching up.

We'll start with the "Shady Lady." For me, it invokes ultimate lounge images: bad suits, quirky music and ladies out and about lookin' for a good time!

I had high hopes for this drink because my wife likes tequila. She wasn't so sure, based on the deck's track record thus far. We were also a bit concerned we were faced with another potential cure for scurvy.

Verdict? A hit.

A lovely green color is what you get using this particular recipe. What's more, the use of melon liqueur balances the acidity of the grapefruit juice. The end result is sweet, slightly tart and distinctly yummy.

Mrs. Wit also feels this drink is best on a hot summer day, but is easily enjoyed any day of the year.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 10
Misses: 10

Friday, June 6, 2008

Burying a Best Friend

This past Tuesday I performed the difficult task of burying one of my best friends of the last 22 years. It's even more difficult because not only was she my age, she was exactly two weeks older than me. Exactly.

I met her my junior year of high school. We were both outsiders. I transferred in from another school (my third high school in two years) and she belonged to the punk crowd. We bonded quickly and remained very close throughout the years, remaining in constant contact through phone calls, e-mails and letters as she journeyed from throughout the midwest and the plains until finally landing for the last time in Madison, Wisconsin.

It still hurts to have lost her, especially after having lost my maternal grandfather this past Easter. Two such important people in my life gone in short order is a bit difficult for me to accept, and reaffirms my atheist convictions (something she always had issues with: she was a staunch Lutheran who started leaning towards Fundamentalism in her later years, but we kept that out of the mix whenever possible).

I miss her terribly, and I'm going to let one of my favorite bands express my feelings for me.

Back from the Dungeons!

Miss me?

I still don't have an answer as to why, but the good people at Blogger saw fit to shut down this blog temporarily for violation of terms of use.

I'm trying to think who could be behind this...

The manufacturers of the deck of cards used for Cocktail of the Week?

The Church of $cientology? Wouldn't surprise me.

Who knows? Who cares? All that matters is I am back in business.

There will be some changes, however. I'm no longer going to force myself to post daily. I will only post when I actually have something worth saying and (hopefully) worth reading. This is more or less to give me a break when the busy season hits at work or Mrs. Wit and I go on vacation.

I am keeping Cocktail of the Week... and boy, do I have a backlog of drinks to work through. You are going to see a lot of "catching up" posts to get up to our current point... you have been warned.

It's good to be back, everyone. I hope to have something interesting for you, soon. But not too soon. I have another post to make, and it will be somber in nature.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Wow! Blogger thinks I'm a spam blog!

Blogger's spam-prevention robots have locked the diary because of it's "repetitive nature" and "heavy linking."

Well... I tried to make an entry every day, and I admit they were not the best... but I did manage it every day!

If they let me back in to play with the other kids, once more, I'm probably going to stop the daily postings. And the constant pointing at YouTube. That's probably what set the robots off. Focus on quality, rather than quantity. Less talk, more rock. What have you.

We'll see if this gets posted.

'Night, all.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cocktail of the week #15: Screwdriver

The screwdriver: so simple it's a classic.

We enjoyed ours, last night, but we also agreed that while we would never turn one of these down we would certainly not seek it out.

It is a hit, nonetheless.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 9
Misses: 10

Sunday, January 13, 2008

If any man have ears to hear, let him hear.

That is from Mark 4:23.
Meet "Supply Side Jesus," created by Al Franken.

Either you will get this, or you won't. No shame, either way.

Bon appetit!

Saturday, January 12, 2008

I've finally seen "Idiocracy"

After being told by many friends and acquaintances over the last few months that I "must see" this movie, Mrs. Wit and I settled in and watched Mike Judge's Idiocracy for the first time.

And the verdict is: I may have to buy this movie. It's just that good. It's more than just good, it's scary. The general population of the future presented in this film is pretty much comprised of the sorts of people mocked intelligence and manners in high school and, well, the White House of today.

See this movie. It shows, in part, my vision of the Dim Age we are now entering.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Doubt comes to a muslim? Stay tuned...

I think My Pakistani BuddyTM is starting to have some doubts, but I'm sure I'm wrong.

Not quite a year ago (or was it longer than that?) he got his own place. I mean, his own place without having to share it with anyone. A home of his own. A group of us at the office put together a care package for him, and I decided to throw in a copy of the Q'ran because I knew he would appreciate it. That, and I intend to read the thing, myself, and thought it would be good for him to have a copy close by for discussion purposes. He was overwhelmed by my gift. Not, as you might think, because of its thoughtfulness, but rather because the copy I gave him was a side-by-side translation in English next to the traditional Arabic.

When I asked him why the English version was such a big deal, he described to me the extent of his "Sunday School" education in Islam, which was pretty typical for the average Pakistani: he did not read the Q'ran in his native Urdu, but rather learned the Arabic for specific passages by rote only!

That's right! He's never read the whole thing! He's never even read part of the thing in a language (by his own admission) he even understands!

Wow! I thought. This is worse than the average Sunday School experience of most Christians! No wonder some Muslims are persuaded to blow up others along with themselves! No wonder some Christians are talked into murder doctors willing to perform abortion procedures! These people are not encouraged to read the texts and interpret for themselves! They are discouraged from following avenues that may lead to critical thinking!

I found myself wondering if My Pakistani BuddyTM would find the Q'ran as discomfiting as I found the Bible to be, when I started reading the whole thing...

Fast forward to today.

He's back from Pakistan, after being too close to the Bhutto assassination event. He's engaged. And he's been a bit quiet, of late. At first I thought he was just shaken up from being next to a major world event and acquiring a fiance in short order... now I'm wondering.

He sent me a link to the following YouTube video. Before going to Pakistan, I am almost positive he would have found this offensive.


Is it possible that between reading the Q'ran and witnessing senseless violence in his birth land, he's starting to have doubts?

I'm having lunch with him, today. I introduced him to massaman curry and he's now a slave to the stuff. Maybe we'll talk about it, then... but I'll let him bring it up, out of politeness.

Time will tell.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

You've gotta love the Japanese

I got a little nostalgic, yesterday, and did a Dogpile video search for Andy Summers' song Love Is The Strangest Way.

Instead of finding the video, I got this really odd Japanese anime potty training video.

I'm trying really hard not to think about how the subject matter of this video relates to the song title.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Cocktail of the week #14: Rob Roy

(Note: I'm posting two cocktails of the week this week to make up for being sick last time.)

When you get right down to it, this week's cocktail is a waste of scotch.

Okay. Let's not be harsh. It's a waste of good scotch. It may not be a horrific use for bad scotch.

What we're looking at here is essentially a manhattan made with scotch instead of the usual bourbon or (preferably) rye. Minus the cherry and orange peel. Oh... and the bitters are optional.

I'm very fond of manhattans, but I am also fond of scotch. I new of this drink most of my adult life, but I was not prepared to try it.

And I finally did. In fact, I tried it three times. One without bitters, once with Peychaud's bitters, and once with Angostura.

Verdict.

It's a waste of good scotch. If you happen to have bad scotch, it's pretty good with the Angostura bitters... but why would one willingly choose to have bad scotch in their home in the first place?

Scoreboard.
Hits: 8
Misses: 10

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Resolution 888 = Rewriting American History!

Anyone with the cojones to rewrite American history, to deny the truth of our past, ultimately has no true love for this country. Instead, they scorn the very things that make this country great: the freedom to be who you want to be, even if others don't like it.

Read the attachment. Write your congressman. Call your congressman. Hell, show up at his or her doorstep and demand they put a stop to this!

If this lie becomes official truth, we're one step closer to having a mass migration of the intellectually honest to Canada. Seriously.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Cocktail of the week #13: Presbyterian

Ever had a Jack & Coke?

It was the rage of the late 90s and now it's a standard cocktail, but when I was an undergrad it was considered a vile drink. My drinking buddies and I often referred to the combination as "shoe polish."

If I were to mix whiskey, back then (especially Jack Daniels, which has a harsh bite and is over-rated, IMHO), it would be with a lemon-lime soda such as Sprite or 7-Up. Sometimes even ginger ale. I never thought there might be a name for this combination... and there still might be one, for all I know. I'm still found of this manner of drinking whiskey, today, and often keep diet ginger ale in the house for that purpose.

Last week's cocktail, brought to you today, appears to be a relative of this favored mix of mine. A presbyterian is essentially whiskey and ginger ale cut with club soda.

I have to say, I was really looking forward to it, especially after being on antibiotics for the past ten days. SO last night I mixed one and... it seemed watery(!).

This was a bit of a surprise to me because I happen to enjoy plain old whiskey and club soda a great deal; so I decided to make another one, tonight, before making a final judgement.

And the verdict?

The club soda watering down the ginger ale is what kills this drink for me.

Forget about the presbyterian: instead, make the unnamed version with uncut club soda or ginger ale with the whiskey, instead, for a fine cocktail experience.

Scoreboard.
Hits: 8
Misses: 9

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Notes on Mel Gibson's "Apocalypto"

I finally got around to watching “Apocalypto,” Mel ("I'm not a drunken anti-semite") Gibson’s follow-up to “The Passion of the Christ.” I was not sure what to expect, other than violence. But could the violence match the spectacle of “Passion,” a film I have on more than one occasion referred to as “The Greatest Snuff Film of All Time?”

Yes and no. Yes, “Apocalypto” matches in spectacle, but it is nowhere nearly as horrific in its violence. Instead, it goes for something different: an average action/adventure/chase story loaded with more subtext than the average Congressional bill has pork.

WARNING! The rest of this entry is loaded with spoilers. Proceed at your own risk.


Okay, now that we have that out of the way, I’m going to walk you through the movie and take you through my thoughts more or less as I had them.

“Apocalypto” opens with a bunch of Happy Pre-Columbian Jungle Dwelling Villagers engaged in a tapir hunt. When they finally kill the tapir, there is a gratuitous slow-motion shot of the trap going of that told my spider-sense that we were experiencing foreshadowing. (And was it ever, as we shall see.)

The Happy Pre-Clombian Jungle Dwelling Villager Hunting Party gather around that tapir and Our Hero, a hunter named Jaguar Paw, distributes pieces of the animal to others in the party. They all appear to be brothers hunting with their father (named Flint Sky), but this is never made absolutely clear. Three of the hunters are given the heart, the liver and the ears, but one hunter (named Blunted, for all too obvious reasons) is given the testicles. Blunted is disappointed and offended, and lets his brother Jaguar Paw know it while their father, Flint Sky, looks on.

Blunted is embarrassed because he has not been able to father a child. Jaguar Paw insists Blunted eat the tapir’s testes to give him virility an potency, claiming Flint Sky did the same thing to father all his children. Flint Sky nods solemnly, but in such a way as to tell the viewer it’s a setup… and Blunted is the Big Dumb Galoot of the village.

We are then entreated to an all too graphic scene of Blunted attempting to eat the testes, and almost barfing from it, to the amusement of the others. Eventually, Blunted starts laughing too, delighting in the joke.

Okay, I’m thinking, this must be more foreshadowing: Blunted is going to be instrumental in the plot and he’s going to get some form of vindication later on.

But it doesn’t stop there: his father, taking pity on him, gives him some special leaves to rub on his genitals the next time he performs his Marital Duties with his wife. Of course, I could already guess where this is heading.



By this point I’m thinking the director must have big plans for Blunted as a supporting character. Maybe use this social abuse as a means of working in a metaphor about brotherly love, christian forgiveness, etc. That, and by the end Blunted will probably knock up two or three women in one night, showing up his brothers and old man, right?

Sigh… sadly, that is not the case. But we’ll get there.

Before the “burning balls” scene, the hunting party encountered a bunch of other villagers on the run from unnamed pursuers. These same pursuers, of course, come to destroy the village, kill a bunch of people, and take the survivors (save for the children who are abandoned and never seen again for the rest of the film) to their city. Jaguar Paw also hides his very pregnant wife and their young son in a dry well, which succeeds in providing both a sub-plot (how the mother and child survive down there) and a motivation for Jaguar Paw to escape from his captors.

Some issues I had with the destruction of the village:

Problem 1 - Blunted’s wife is killed during this. Okay, maybe Blunted will find new love in the Mayan city to which they are being taken…

Problem 2 - Blunted appears to be mortally wounded, but on a slow decline. How is he going to survive the hole in his belly?

Problem 3 - The bad guys were painfully clearly Bad Guys. They sneer, laugh with evil joy, and are only lacking Snidely Whiplash mustaches to twirl, they are so damn evil! How boring. We are also given a “noble bad guy” named Zero Wolf. He leads the raiding party and becomes Jaguar Paw’s main nemesis. Zero Wolf starts out as a guy with a dirty assignment just doing his job. He later becomes driven by vendetta when Jaguar Paw kills Zero Wolf’s son during his escape from the Mayan City. At times I liked Zero Wolf better than Jaguar Paw; to the point that I was almost sorry to see Zero Wolf die, later in the film. Mel Gibson take note: it’s never good to have your villains more sympathetic than your heros. But I digress…

Anyway: so the bad guys come and destroy the village, kidnap the viable adults and walk them to a Mayan city (I won’t go into the historical inaccuracies portrayed there).

In the Mayan city there are plenty of gore-filled sacrifice scenes. In fact, the sacrifices were kind of Catholic in their pageantry, but I doubt that was Gibson’s intent. The now Not So Happy Villagers are brought up, one by one to have their hearts torn out and heads cut off.

When it’s Jaguar Paw’s turn, he is saved by a timely solar eclipse: the eclipse is the signal that the sun god is satisfied with the sacrifices. Jaguar Paw and the rest of the survivors are then to be disposed of via target practice. This is where three things take place:

  1. Jaguar Paw escapes, setting the rest of the film in motion.
  2. Jaguar Paw kills Zero Wolf’s son, giving the antagonist reason for his pursuit.
  3. Blunted is killed, making this viewer ask: “Why did his peers torture him, only to have him killed off? It doesn’t make storytelling sense!” (It did later, I realized.)
Once Jaguar Paw makes it into the jungle “Apocalypto” becomes a standard Rambo-like chase flick in which Our Hero picks off the pursuers one by one using only his wits and the resources of the environment. And, yes, that foreshadowing at the beginning of the film comes to pass. Zero Wolf is dispatched by the same hunting trap that killed the tapir.

In an interesting twist, there are still two bad guys left pursuing Jaguar Paw after Zero Wolf dies. I wondered why Gibson would do that… the answer? For the sake of the climax. Our Hero Jaguar Paw is saved by… the Catholic Church!

I am not making this up.

Jaguar Paw and his two pursuers reach the beach and stop dead in their tracks at the sight of sailing ships moored just off shore. A rowboat full of soldiers and priests, brandishing a very large, very visible cross, rose towards them. The two remaining bad guys forget about their quarry and walk, mesmerized, towards the rowboats.

Our Hero sees his chance and breaks for it. Jaguar Paw rescues his family from the well and they run off into the forest to hide - but not before his wife looks imploringly at the sailing ships and asks her husband if they should not go to them. Jaguar Paw, quite intelligently, says “no,” trusting no one after his brush with the Maya. His wife looks back with some regret and then they walk into the jungle… …roll credits.

Parts of this movie were just not making sense to me until I saw the ships at the beach. Then it all started coming together.

First, let’s talk about the opening scenes involving the hunters, village life, and the social maltreatment of Blunted, the local pariah. Ostensibly these are the scenes of the “idealistic simple happy life” the forest dwellers have before the bad guys came and destroyed everything. It left me uneasy, because the cruelty - outright cruelty - shown to the big guy was wrong. It departs from formula, here, because no lesson of tolerance is given. The abuse is accepted, even by Blunted, who finds it funny… but this is not about realism. It’s about subtext. It is actually a scorn shown by the filmmaker for his characters: they are, when you get down to it, dumb savages who enjoy torturing one another. The are so dumb they even enjoy being tortured by one another, to an extent. Clearly they need to be taught about Right Living and How to Play Nice With Others.

That’s why so many get to die. That’s why the children are abandoned and never heard from again. That’s why, at the end of the movie, all the women and men who are not killed during the raid are sold as slaves, sacrificed to the gods or used as target practice: they deserve it for being such cruel savages!

And the clearly dying urban Mayan culture we are entreated to are part of the film’s centerpiece? THey deserve their outbreaks of syphilis and leprosy, the failing corn crops, the civil unrest: they are just as much savages as the Now Not So Happy Forest Dwellers!
In the end, we learn, it is only Jesus that can save you. That’s what caused the two remaining pursuers to stop their chase of Jaguar Paw. Even Jaguar Paw’s wife realizes this as she reluctantly follows her husband into the jungle.

With “Passion” Mel Gibson was way too overt.

“Apocalypto” may be a little to subtle. Most viewers will see the Rambo flick, and not the tortured Christian message underlying the story.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Hitchens: God Is Not Great

I finished "God Is Not Great" by Christopher Hitchens (who was also one of the presenters at last October's Freedom From Religion Foundation convention).

Here's a good idea of what this man is all about (from Canada's "The Hour" news program). I agree with what he says, but I'm hesitant about his intolerance.


Friday, January 4, 2008

Sometimes I fear this is the truth...

Comedian Louis CK's take on the Catholic Church.

Watching the intro, it's pretty similar to my own story. And at times I feel I could have written this material. This guy is hilarious.


The sad truth is, this nonsense has been going on for a long time. My mother once told me a common joke she heard as a child went like this:

Q - How do you get a nun pregnant?
A - Dress her like an altar boy.

And as I have told many friends and family as my wedding day approached: "I don't need a self-professed celibate man in a dress telling me how to have a successful relationship and a fulfilling love life."

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Huckabee knows Jesus

I've already made comment on Mitt Romney.

Huckabee, his closest competitor, ain't much better.

Time to move on, people. Let's look at what the other parties have to offer for the Presidency.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Very well said!

This editorial is worth reading. It crystalizes the importance of protecting the First Amendment, a shining jewel in the crown that is the Constitution of the United States of America.

Anyone who says there is "no such thing in the Constitution" as separation of Church and State has never tried to understand the language used in the the Establishment Clause.

Look up the meaning of the word "establishment" as it was used at the time of the Constitution's authoring, and you'll see what I mean.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Update on My Pakistani Buddy!

He just let a bunch of us know he made it to Dubai.

He should be home in a little over 24 hours.

I let out a huge sigh of relief when I got the news.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Especially now.

Why I'm glad I didn't drink last night

Well, I got through a New Year's Eve without imbibing in the pleasures of Demon Rum.

I thought one guy got blitzed, but it turns out he's an asshole even when sober. Go figure.

And now, a song most of last night's revelers all around the world can relate to (for the most part):


Happy New Year, everyone. Let's have a safe 2008.