They say that when life gives you lemons, you should make lemonade. They clearly have no clue what else is in the pantry. Maybe you have water and sugar, maybe you don’t. Some folks have butter, sugar and eggs, but you don’t see anyone telling them to make Lemon Curd. I tend to lean more toward the Cave Johnson school of gifted lemon management, but that can be less than practical. No one gave me any lemons today, but I was sent a recipe, so I went all bootstrappy and bought my own lemons, in order to make a drink for you. So in the spirit of dealing with unsolicited lemons, which I assure you is way less of an issue than the adage would imply, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make, the Lemon Bar.
Some days you just want something simple. No muss, no fuss, as they say. Asked what he wanted in life, a friend of my father’s once said, “What every man wants, a peaceful existence.” That sounds pretty good today. I checked the news and things seem nice and boring. Well not quite boring, there are some possibly earth-shattering things going on in the market as a bunch of folks use reddit to turn the tables on hedge fund managers, showing just how ridiculous it is that “short selling” is even legal while also exposing just how much more equal some animals are than others in the eye of US finance law. If there was ever a house of cards that could use a burning down, well they may have found it. Me, I’m feeling like a coffee, maybe some acoustic music from a band only the cool kids have heard of, enjoyed on an old overstuffed sofa, with good friends and maybe a little poetry. So, won’t you please join me for a quiet evening as we stand and make the Coffee House.
It was a clear day, we were on the playground, playing handball or lounging under the shelter. We had the option of watching in Mrs. Cerniglia’s room, but a bunch of us would rather be outside, besides you could always see the smoke trail going up, which was cooler than watching on TV anyway. The launches had become fairly mundane, the only reason this one was being played in a classroom was because our teacher had been involved in the program, and had a vested interest. Not us though, we were outside in our Guess jeans and Swatches, listening to Mr. Mister cassettes on the Walkman. Looking off to the north we saw the smoke trailing into the sky and then it stopped, expanded, almost like a bloom opening, at that distance. We did not get it, and went back to gossiping about who liked who and whether Dave and Maddie were finally gonna do it. A bell rang and the loudspeaker instructed us to make our way to the cafetornasium, for a special assembly, where we learned that the bloom we had seen, was the Space Shuttle Challenger being lost. In the spirit of those who went before us, won’t you please join me, as we stand and make the Explorer Martini.
Once upon a time, that’s how you are supposed to begin a tale, right? I am pretty sure so many stories start with that one sentence because just staring at the black page is one of the hardest parts of writing. The getting started is daunting. In some ways it is even worse in the computer age, instead of a patient piece of paper waiting for ink, you have a little cursor winking on and off, sort of tapping its imaginary foot as you try to figure out how to begin. It reminds me of the old side scroller game “Captain Goodnight” whose title character would take out a yo-you and stand there in all his 8-bit glory playing if you weren’t giving input. I want to talk about a terrifying evening in college but it is really more than we should get into tin the intro and I have already taken up a good bit of space talking about how it is hard to start, which means, we have in effect, already started, so I’ll get to the opening catchphrase and pick up the storytelling after the break. That is, if you will please join me as we stand and make, the Red Light.
I haven’t been properly drunk in a while. Which is a shame. I should be drunk or otherwise lubricated to write this missive, but I am not and I am not inclined to fix that. It’s gonna make it hard to really dig into the stream of way too conscious ramblings, but I going to try, for America and other interested parties. Though I make a drink everyday to share, I rarely drink it all. The wife and I split it and go on with our evening. Proper drinking is a thing to be done in crowds, shared with friends, even if you just met them. In this year without contact, I just haven’t had much impetus to drink more than a couple of sips at a time. I need for people to come along, for me to really enjoy the ride. And today is all about the ride, so I need to be out there looking for the edge, but I am doing it sober and it is hard to get there on your own, well, hard to get there on your own without a handful of pills or other chemical assistance. The thing is, I never really liked drugs. Maybe I just did the wrong ones. If I’d have had some sort of shaman or spirit guide to lead me along that particular path of enlightenment, may be I would feel differently. But I didn’t, so I don’t. Sure I experimented with the light stuff, but I never found a really good fit, so, beyond social stuff other people offered, I left them alone and never got to experience the truly mind-altering things. Drinking was different, that one was easy for me. It was accessible and I am open minded. It worked for both of us. But you don’t really get those mind and consciousness expanding revelations from a bottle. You get a penchant for story telling, laughing too loudly and embarrassing your more sedate friends with your antics, but if there are any true and deep lessons to be learned they mostly get lost somewhere between the hangover and that first cup of coffee. So, in the spirt of a certain laissez-faire attitude toward the truth and self aggrandizement, let us gather at the river as we stand and make the Gonzo.
How much poetry do you get in your daily life? Seriously. Do you get the chance to read much poetry these days? Do you thrill to the imagined sound of the words flowing from the page when you see those rhyming couplets inset from the text or do you just sort of naturally gloss over those passages to get back to the meat of the narrative? I claim to enjoy poetry and will often take a few moments to read a bit, not everyday, but a couple of times a week. Not as much as I probably should, but I figure fewer than some and more than most. I can’t take too much at one sitting though. Not sure why. I can read non-fiction or novels for hours on end, but a quarter hour of poetry and I am mostly done in. Tonight is Robert Burn’s Night, a celebration of the National Bard of Scotland, so with him in mind, won’t you join me as we stan’ and ma’e, the Bobby Burns.
It looks like Bernie Sanders mittens are all the rage this week. I get it and I don’t. Sure, it appeared to be a little unusual for him to show up dressed sensibly for the event, but I am not sure why folks are surprised by that. His whole hook is sort of doing his own thing with a certain yankee practicality that suffers no fools. Sure it was adorable and all, but a heavy coat and warm mittens made a lot more sense for the near freezing day than what most folks were wearing and it’s not like the fashion columnists were all waiting on the red carpet to see what the Senator from Vermont was gong to wear anyway. So, in the spirit of practicality, won’t you please join me now as we stand and make the Old Vermont Cocktail.
Today we are casting fear aside and making a classic drink, that I have been avoiding for quite some time. The sun is shining and the day is fun of promise, so I am going to give this intimidating brunch classic a shot. Let the chips fall where they may and devil take the hindmost we are going for it. So, won’t you please join me now as we stand and shake the Ramos Gin Fizz.
One of the things I have learned being a parent is just how much of our communication is based in shared experiences and references. This is why it is so easy to chat with folks you have known a long time and why meeting new people from different cultures often has a stumbling period as you learn how to better understand one another. Last year, I instituted a Film History 101 course for the kid to help fill in an empty space in his daily virtual school schedule. Obviously, my intent was to help keep him occupied, but I also wanted to give the boy a better understanding of how films are made and why all those small details from the screenplay to the set design to the editing and more, all really matter. Just how much work it takes from so many people to tell a story well. Being able to choose the curriculum has also helped me to fill in some of the gaps in his popular culture education. I am happy to report that he now, not only understands what the filmmaker is trying to say when they choose a low camera angle or high contrast film or choppy editing, but he also understands why dad says “bright light” whenever the curtains are opened unexpectedly, why sleds are Rosebuds in our household and why anytime he claims to not be afraid, I respond with “you will be”. So many times in the middle of a screening he will stop me to ask if he just got a reference or not. It has been gratifying. So in the spirit of shared experiences, please join me now as we stand and make the Queen’s Park Swizzle.
Yesterday I quoted the inimitable Maya Angelou who said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Just to show I am not just writing stuff to hear myself type and to prove that on some level I buy into my own bullshit, I have to rectify an error, really more of an omission, that I made, or in the case of the omission, did not make. I was doing my best, but I did not know any better. Now, I have learned better, so I am going to try to do better. So, in that spirit won’t you join me now as we stand and make the classic Stinger.