I find winter to be one long damn bummer day after another, the days bleeding into weeks leaching into months of little sunlight, too much snow, and impossible cold. It is, however, what it is and I, like most others, try to make the most of it. One icy cold, difficult to negotiate day at time, right?
This wintry mix lets us see things we always think of one way as something else altogether. Behold! Calder's Flamingo wearing a snow hat in the twilight-into-night of Federal Plaza.
People who know me well will tell you that I am not a drinker. In college I was more excited about being the designated driver than about missing out on booze. "Does anyone mind? I'll give you my keys right now." I snagged those puppies right up because I liked going out and socializing but drinking in excess wasn't as cool as being trusted with the car of another. Barring some isolated incidents of sensationally bad judgment in my past, I am mostly cold sober at the wheel. If there's delicious champagne, either I'm spending the night, there's another driver, or I'm going to be in a cab or on public transportation.
In spite of that, I've lately been thinking about mixed drinks during evenings at home. I like decent-to-fine champagne but a girl can't drink a whole bottle of bubbly without gross results, so I've taken to concocting drinks of my own taste. As a cook, I don't have the patience to follow a recipe. Same goes for alcoholic bevvies: I just don't wanna. And so I have my own creations, which I now share. If you need to follow a recipe, then mark these down.
4 ounces of carrot juice
4 ounces of orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best)
Vodka to taste
Veggies! Fruit! ALCOHOL! Ice is optional. Enjoy the rest of your day.
MY OWN TOOTSIE ROLL
6 ounces of orange juice (fresh-squeezed is best)
2 ounces of Patron XO Cafe (Coffee liquor made with tequila)
Wake up and smell the Patron. Knock off at night with Patron. If you are feeling super frisky, toss in some vodka. All times of the day are acceptable. Stay off the streets.
I'm from Detroit, a city on the border with Canada. I wanted to honor my hometown's spicy ginger ale and the whiskey that's distilled by our neighbors to the north (or, in the case of Detroit, our neighbors to the south) and I came up with this drink. The perfect name was harder than the drink itself. (Some rejects: The Detroit River, Bridge-N-Tunnel.)
THE AMBASSADOR BRIDGE
6 ounces of Vernor's Ginger Ale (diet or regular)
2 ounces of Canadian whiskey (any will do but I've been using Crown Royal)
1 Marischino cherry (because why the hell not?)
Pour into a glass over ice. Toss in the cherry. Drink up and think of Belle Isle, Jackson Park
in Windsor, and both the bridge and the tunnel. Sing an amalgam of O Canada and the
Star Spangled Banner (example: "O'er Canada and the home of the brave"). Try not to drunk dial Kwame Kilpatrick in prison. Eat the cherry and throw away the stem. I don't want to hear about your nasty tying-the-stem trick. Just enjoy an adult beverage.
Valentine's Day came and went and the best thing I saw was at Mariano's Fresh Foods. It was a big chunk of watermelon carved into a heart shape, shaved and rounded on the top and sides to make it look appetizing, amusing, and like it was true love's melon. They put berries -- rasp, blue, and straw -- around the edges and parked it on a lettuce leaves for color. It was hilarious, really. I'd never considered that particular fruit for VD but watermelon might be the thing that says "I Love You" to someone who's very health conscious or else someone like me who finds it refreshing and a fruit pick-me-up. The color, after all, is perfect.
I bought that watermelon heart for myself. I should have taken a picture of it but I instead cut it in half and ate half yesterday and half today. It was perfectly ripe seedless watermelon with just the right sweetness and texture. Happy VD to me, I say!
Maybe you think that Super Bowl XLVIII was the major darn blowout that it was and you are right. And maybe you don't think that; maybe you think it was simply a bloodbath and WTF? The game featured a small (5'11") Seattle QB and his team crushing -- really, all that remained was a bit of powder -- the Denver Broncos. (I am not going to say the name of the Denver QB as, wow, what the hell?) It started with a safety. A safety almost never happens. (When I first started with this blog someone mentioned a safety to me and I had to go look up what it was.) (And so can you. I still had to go back and reread what it is when the Seahawks got the two points this time and I think I get it but don't make me explain it.) It went downhill from there. After the halftime show, I watched "Downton Abbey," hoping things would turn around. I got back to the game in time to see the Seahawks score yet another touchdown. WTF indeed.
Here's the strangest thing of all: Everyone agreed -- I did My Personal Straw Poll -- that the star of Super Bowl XLVIII was Bruno Mars and his halftime show. A good 75% of those people said, "I wasn't a Bruno Mars fan and I wondered what the hell they were thinking getting him for the halftime show, but that was tremendous." He brought along the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Bruno's big show backed them up. (Does it look like the musicians are not playing? They're not. Flea of RHCP was told by the NFL in no uncertain terms that they can handle miking the singers (and Bruno's solo drums) but not much else. Flea -- the one in the red pants -- decided it was great to be a part of this spectacle and went with it all the way. See? He's not even playing for real and he still gives everything he has and without a shirt in 40º weather.) He ended with a 50-yard-line solo of his hit, "Just the Way You Are." Bruno puts it all out there; regular readers of this blog know that a musician putting it all out there is one of my favorite things. He can sell a slow song; he can put together a powerful big number with dancing horn players. The MVP was Bruno Mars.
In honor of the real MVP and in case you missed it, here's the Bruno Mars halftime show:
Regular readers of this blog (and my thanks to you both) will know that everything about me -- museum-going, opera-loving, international-traveling, theatre-loving, ethnic-cuisine-loving, foreign-film watching me -- screams that sports are verboten as a topic of discussion or even as a fleeting thought. Except, I like sports, especially football. I like sports enough to be pleased if a conversation turns in that direction. I can hold up my end of the discussion and I will probably enjoy it. That I know what I am talking about is confirmed when known sports fanatics at my workplace seek me out to talk about some sports thing or other (and thank you, coworkers, for this validation). I like football but not so much that I am in its thrall in all my spare time, but I do like it. Multiple concussions and the knowledge that one day it will be banned forever for being too dangerous be damned! I like it.
This brings us to Super Bowl XLVIII (48 for nonfans of Roman numerals) which is TONIGHT! So much about this game is freaking AMAZING and WRONG. So AMAZING and WRONG that I can barely type it all out!
WRONG because it's being held in a cold climate. Northern New Jersey in wintertime sucks, blows, bites, stinks, and is generally terrible and miserable. They get plentiful snowstorms with measurable precipitation. Who the hell talked so fast and furious that this happened? The players are OUTSIDE in the elements! The performers are OUTSIDE in the elements! It seems that the gods of the gridiron are smiling on Met Life Stadium; the weather at kickoff will moderate, a very balmy 48 degrees and it will be dry. Renee Fleming's amazing operatic talent -- opera and football TOGETHER? I may weep! -- will not be jeopardized by singing in extreme cold. Bruno Mars -- whom I enjoy so much -- and the Red Hot Chili Peppers won't be turned into blocks of ice during the halftime show. As for the players, sorry, pals, that's your job. You're paid obscene amounts of money to get your head bashed and move a ball ten yards in four moves and if it's -5º, I only feel for the fans in attendance but even they asked for it, paying good money for the privilege. (The Super Bowl belongs in a warm climate which affords the illusion that it's a magical time. It's WRONG but what do you want from an illiusion?)
WRONG for NJ governor Chris Christie because he thought this first-ever Super Bowl in New Jersey would be the perfect springboard to his bid to be president. HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Because of the Fort Lee-GW Bridge incident and his taking MONTHS to say he just found out about it (do you live under a rock in Trenton, sir?) and then adding a baffling amount of doucherie to this denial in just the last two days (because if Chris Christie thinks you're not on his side, you are dead to him and you should be dead to everyone else, too, personally, politically, and economically, and here's some more he has to say, and here's something he left out, and don't forget this). HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Wrong for him because at Super Bowl Boulevard a/k/a Times Square converted to the annual Super-Bowl-themed extravaganza, featuring a seven-story slide (which I'd totally do), getting your picture taken with large exciting Roman numbers (XLVIII and, again, I'd do it), getting your picture taken with the Lombardi trophy (OMG! GET OUT OF MY WAY SO I CAN SNUGGLE UP TO THE FREAKING LOMBARDI TROPHY!), Chris Christie and NY governor Andrew Cuomo came to do the ceremonial handoff of Super Bowl duties to Arizona governor Jan Brewer (phooey), and Christie was booed and jeered. Chris Christie loves to talk to a crowd but spoke for just 30 seconds, the Christie equivalent of being rendered mute. Top that off with the new haircut that makes him look like a Chicken McNuggethead and it's just WRONG for Governor CC of NJ.
AMAZING for Denver (and WRONG for Chicago)! In 2009, the Broncos and the Bears did a quarterback trade, with Kyle Orton (whom I liked and was pretty good) going to Denver and Jay Cutler (whom Denver really liked a lot; it's well documented what I think of Jay). Denver fans were pissed and didn't think Mr. Orton played as well as Jay (whereas I don't think Jay has ever played well, ever, ever, ever). (It's WRONG that so many women fans think Jay is a handsome man. Quarterbacks don't have to be handsome; they have to be able call plays and accurately throw the ball. Thinking otherwise is WRONG. And handsome is in the eye of the beholder and for me, he's just not; I look at him and think of a foot.) From the trade, Denver got our place in the draft picks the next year and got a very good player from that but ultimately when the Indiana Colts believed their QB, Peyton Manning, would not be able to be the prime piece of meat he'd been prior to the neck injury that had him out for much of the 2012-13 season and they should trade him (Colts: that was wrong, right?), Denver was able to secure Manning, one of the great NFL quarterbacks of all times, and now they are going to the Super Bowl. Denver, with Manning as the quarterback, was the sole NFL team to have home team advantage in the playoffs. AMAZING! Back in Chicago, the Bears haven't been in the playoffs in years -- YEARS -- but the Bears organization re-signed Jay Cutler for another seven years. AMAZING (mind-boggling might be a better description) AND WRONG for Bears fans like me who give a moderate crap. (They re-signed Robbie Gould for four years which is AMAZING and right on every level.)
I like visiting Seattle very much and their Seahawks logo is great even though I couldn't live in Seattle because of all the hills but I hope, hope, hope the Denver Broncos solidly cream their northwest corn. Peyton Manning is AMAZING and the thought of Denver losing is WRONG. Please note: I have been WRONG before and I will be WRONG again.
I am not offering what I think the point spread would be. That'd be not just wrong but amazingly stupid.
The 56th Annual Grammy Awards is a big ass show that features hugely rich and/or popular musicians. It's tonight on CBS and today I've been wondering why the hell I should care. The results, just like the results of the Golden Globes or the American Music Awards or even The Voice or Dancing With the Stars having exactly zero bearing on how I will live my life or what will happen to me tomorrow. The Grammy nominees have worked very hard in their jobs of bringing their music to the masses to enrich the lives of the masses, get fans who will continue to look for that music, and keep them from having to teach music or work in machine shops or be dance teachers or travel agents or administrative assistants. Their hard work and perserverance has paid off and their record companies probably appreciate it. (Macklemore and Ryan Lewis produced and distributed their own album which shows that it can be done if you're talented and one of you is a marketing genius.) Now they reward their own. And why the hell should I care?
I guess it's like the Super Bowl or the Stanley Cup finals or the Oscars. There isn't a reason in the world that I should care but I kind of do. I look forward to seeing what tricks are up the sleeves of the producers. I want to see Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney sing together. I like Pink, Pharrell Williams, the aforementioned Messrs. Macklemore and Lewis, Daft Punk, and Bruno Mars. I like them so much that I actually acquired their CDs -- buying one with my own money and not getting it as a gift or from the library. Justin Timberlake and Tony Bennett are some kind of wonderful. The notion of 82 categories boggles my mind. We've been whipped into a frenzy by the media and anticipation is high and I'm as frothed as the next person who also seems to care. To paraphrase Samuel Beckett, I refuse to care; I do care.
So today I pay homage to just one of the nominated categories, in this case Song of the Year. I feature Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and "Same Love." Love is love, y'all.
I am a huge fan of the New York Times. For the past two years I've managed to be vigilant enough to be just ahead of losing my fifty-percent-off subscription price and renewing at the discounted price. Sometimes it goes for three months, sometimes four, but the most recent renewal lasts six months. I can almost relax -- but not really because then I might forget. I have stickies on my calendar at work. This particular calendar -- I use three separate ones at work -- shows paydays, birthdays of peripheral work friends, my vacation days, and when the NY Times expires. (Calendar two is just a calendar that shows the whole year; calendar three is my social, medical, and serious birthday calendar.)
On December 25, 2012, the New York Times wrote an article about Pharrell Williams and the video of his song, "Happy." If you've not read your 10 free NY Times articles this month, you might enjoy it:
Pharrell Williams has made a video of his song, "Happy." It's 24 hours long. It has Pharrell himself singing the song on the hour -- yes, that is 24 times -- but the rest of the clock is filled with people lip-synching and dancing or just walking and grooving along with the song in various Los Angeles locations around the clock. Check it out:
Pharrell Williams had a very good 2013. He wrote "Happy" for the Disney blockbuster, "Despicable Me 2," and the song was nominated for an Oscar (as was the movie). He sang on the Robin Thicke megahit, "Blurred Lines." (Yes, the video totally objectifies women; yes, there is that whole lawsuit unpleasantness; it's still a great dancing song.) He was a guest coach on "The Voice." He sang on the Daft Punk disco homage album, "Random Access Memories," including the major hit, "Get Lucky." (Pharrell wears suit and tie on the video and looks very fine.) Pharrell Williams made a 24-hour-long video of "Happy" which can't be played on any smartphone. (I just got a smartphone and was pleased that it wouldn't let me watch it; a smartphone isn't enough of a venue for "24 Hours of Happy.")
Here in the Midwest it's cold and terrible. In my town we're already 40 inches over the average snowfall. Tuesday it won't be getting over 9 degrees. Maybe "24 Hours of Happy" will give you a warm feeling. If that doesn't work, try subscribing to the New York Times.
Except for the little I've seen about it on TV shows or read in some news piece or other, I know nothing of "Duck Dynasty." I don't have cable; I'm not getting cable; I will never have cable. Here is what I think I know: four guys make duck calls for a living; they are married to really very attractive women; it all seems quite the hoax as the wives don't seem the types to be attracted to the sorts of men they present themselves to be.
Yesterday, I had the good fortune of having a late breakfast with my friend, Mike. We've known each other a long while; we were coworkers who clicked and we became friends outside of work. He's moved on to another job in the same company but we're still good friends.
Mike explained to me about "Duck Dynasty" and the recent media kerfuffle about what one of the elder ducks said causing some controversy in the media. Mike is of the opinion that it was all calculated and timed to happen at Christmas when people are buying things including "Duck Dynasty" tie-in merchandise and also right before the start of their new season. It numbs the mind and his opinion makes good sense.
I have decided that some network or other should have a reality TV show based on Mike and me. It would go something like this:
Announcer's voice: It's 4:31 a.m. on the northwest side of Chicago, but Lena's alarm clock says 4:40 a.m. when it goes off. She hits snooze and then hits snooze another five times before she gets out of bed. She turns on the TV and stumbles to the bathroom, where she relieves herself and takes her thyroid medication and then sets the timer for 30 minutes. She can eat when it rings. She turns on the shower to get the water warm. While the water heats up, she checks her emails. This announcer wishes she might start wearing something other than just a t-shirt to bed. Meanwhile, on the far north side, Mike's asleep with his partner, Sean. (Show a dark bedroom with two figures under the covers.) Back on the northwest side, Lena has showered and washed her hair. She is applying men's-strength Minoxidil to her scalp, followed by Moroccan Oil to her hair. She uses a wide-toothed comb to style it. She puts on eye cream and some face cream, then a pinky-yellow hued eye pencil which she says makes her eyes pop, followed by mascara. She finishes by putting on her glasses. On the far north side, the two sleeping figures continue sleeping. Lena walks back into the bedroom of her northwest side apartment and gets dressed. She laid out her clothes the night before and doesn't rethink her choice of black pants, a black shirt, and black shoes. Yesterday she wore a similar outfit. Lena: And it will be the same thing tomorrow. Announcer: Meanwhile, the two sleeping figures continue sleeping in their bed on the far north side. One seems to snore; the other is not disturbed by it. After breakfast of instant low-sugar maple-and-brown-sugar oatmeal with 2% milk, banana slices, and walnuts, Lena dries her hair and gathers the lunch she made the night before and then leaves, double locking her front door. She walks three blocks to the catch the same bus she catches every day, run F463 of the 56 bus. The two sleeping people don't have to wake up until 7 a.m. Lena will be almost to work by then. We are not able to go into her job with her as she's still not gotten us a building pass. Lena: It's a secure place. I don't want to gum it up. See you at lunchtime. Announcer: At luncthime, she decides to eat in the office lunchroom with the coworker she's taken to calling her work Boo. We are left waiting in the building food court and are questioned by building security, the Chicago Police, Homeland Security, three homeless gentlemen, and suburban visitors to the city wanting to know what famous person we're there to tape. Between us we decide this is the worst assignment we've ever had. Over by the Chicago River, Mike is answering phones and taking reservations. His office is cramped and sunless yet overlit with fluorescent bulbs. We decide to ask about his friend's office. Mike: It's pretty nice over there. Fast elevators. The layout of that office is well thought out. There's a northbound view that will never be obstructed. It's just the skeeviest building you'll ever come across. Announcer: When we ask why, Mike's gaze gets distant and tears seems to form in his eyes. Mike: No reason.
Announcer: Mike quickly picks up the phone and calls an airline.
Yes, it's probably as dull as you think but if they want to toss many dollars at Mike and me, we can jazz up our lives so they're as interesting as people seem to think "Duck Dynasty" is. Mike's working on a beard that rivals anything those Ducks are offering and if I give up visiting a Benefit Brow Bar, I have will some reality TV eyebrows going in no time. We're perfectly able to make people love or hate us but I suspect they'd love Mike and hate me (which is right because he's a very lovable person and I make a concerted effort to be me). For the right amount of money, I'm down with that.