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).

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.

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.

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!

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."

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.


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.


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.

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!

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.

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.

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.