A Toast to Tom

Earlier this month, my housemate Cecilia requested of all and sundry that someone bring Tom Hiddleston to her.  Since none of us have made his acquaintance (and since honor demands that another friend meet him first, should it ever depend on me), the best thing I could offer was a Hiddleston-inspired cocktail.

So we set to work.  The first item of business was asking “If Tom Hiddleston were a drink, what would he be?”  Our Facebook friends were delightfully forthcoming:
            Something proper and classic, but also playful.
            Obviously mead given his asgardian roots.
            It would have to involve gin.
            Something that makes you raise your eyebrows and go ‘daaang’.
            a gin and tonic with extra lime for that dazzle that gives little playful dollop to a classic beverage.
            Something tall and delicious.

The two of us also brainstormed a fair bit: we wanted something classy and elegant, appropriately British, sweet, strong, a little fruity or perhaps a little nutty.  Then Cecilia said “Fun, but with an edge; a little bit crazy,” and I wondered if we were still talking about Tom or if we’d conflated him with his various roles.

Bottles and bottlesand bottles some more

In the end, we decided that the best thing to do was to create a drink based on Tom himself, then a few others based on our favorite characters he’s played.  I hauled bottle after bottle up from the basement, consulting Cecilia on the smell of each spirit and liqueur we proposed to combine.  Here’s what we came up with:

Tom Hiddleston
1.5 oz gin (Beefeater)The Tom Hiddleston
.75 oz St-Germain
.75 oz Pama
Dash orange bitters
Champagne to top in a wineglass (4-5 oz)

Verdict: appropriately sparkling; good and all, but more formal; not quite a pajama party or anything.
We tried adding ½ a tablespoon of Fee’s grenadine.  Adding some sweetness was a good idea, but it turned out to be too much; this whole recipe needs some work.


Loki #1
3 oz champagne
1 oz green crème de menthe
Serve in champagne flute; garnish with mint sprig

Verdict: This was mostly an excuse to use up some champagne as well as the incredibly green crème de menthe.  It’s powerfully minty, which makes it seem boozier than it really is.  It’s not that crazy, but the mint sprig adds the touch of slipping into the drinker’s face, as if to holler “LOKI’D!”

Loki #2
.75 oz green Chartreuse
.5 oz lime juice
.25 oz Maraschino liqueur
.25 oz simple syrup
¼ tsp absinthe
Stir gently and strain into cocktail glass.

Verdict: This is a paler green, but comes much closer to the “crazier than a bag of cats” taste we were going for.  It’s very similar to a Last Word, but removes the gin and adds the anise taste of absinthe.  I was well satisfied.

Coriolanus

Coriolanus
1.5 oz vodka
.25 oz Campari
.25 oz Amaretto
.25 oz Cherry Heering
.25 oz syrup
Stir in a martial fashion and strain into cocktail glass.  Sip while looking down your nose at the rabble.

Verdict:  It was quite as red as we hoped for; the strength of the vodka, bitterness of the Campari, and some visual allusion to all the blood covering Coriolanus were our chief goals.  In addition, since we were surprised by how sympathetic all the characters were in the Donmar Warehouse production, we added the syrup and liqueurs to make it go down a bit more easily.

Henry V
2 oz Laird’s Old Apple Brandy
1 oz complex syrup*
.7 oz lemon juice 
1 dash old fashioned bitters
Shake, strain, and garnish with a sage leaf.
*Boil a cup or so of sugar and water with sage, thyme, and rosemary for remembrance; strain and cool before use.

Verdict: This is something of a modified Sidecar, made with ingredients that evoked a much more rural England of centuries past.  Cecilia declared that it was “more Kenneth than Tom because of the sourness/bitterness.”  I declared that we had had enough to drink.

005

…then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words – Harry the king, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester – Be in their flowing cups freshly remember’d.

The Egotist’s Club Turns Three!

We are ancient. At least in blog years. But it has been a good three years. We have laughed, we have cried, we have rhapsodized, and we have slacked off. Unfortunately, the pressure of being an adult in an adult world seems to sap our cognitive and scribbling strength. But we have been doing better lately, haven’t we?

It was an eccentric, but delightful partnership between Thalia and myself that began this blog. (The story is related here.) It was in part as a challenge to practice writing (haha) and in part as an outlet for snark and craziness. We have matured and grown in wisdom since then, moving onto grander flights of fancy and deeper plunges into melancholy than ever before. Sometimes we chose to share these with you, and sometimes we did not. Consider that to be both a blessing and a curse.

And as we approach middle-age-blogdom, it is time to reflect on all the changes that have happened in our lifespan. So, it the last three years:

Continue reading

Mein Kleine Liebster

Howdy, y’all!  David hath given the call, and here I am at last to give answer: the all-singing, all-dancing procrastinatrix of the blog.

It also turns out that Lady Blue Whimsy gave the call to the muses back in June, before David did.  Which, I suppose, means that we are ALL procrastinatrices.  Eek.  Right, so, ONWARD.

If you could choose one fictional creature to be your pet/animal companion, which would you choose and why?
Were I to follow in my sister muses’ stead and select a flying pet/animal companion, I’d probably opt for Strawberry Fledge, since he would revel in flight as much as I would.  Orrrr maybe Fawkes the Phoenix, because of his loyalty and the way he turns into a ball of flame to be reborn from the ashes.  Bonus: he can apparently carry 4 or 5 times as many people as Fledge with no problem!

Name a favorite moment of yours from any movie released in the 1980s and explain why.
Turns out I am bad at distinguishing 80s and early 90s movies without assistance.  Imagine that.  It also turns out that I’ve seen very few of the candidates: Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, Princess Bride, and Rain Man.

Although I agree with Melpomene that “As you wish” is always heartwarming, I think I get a more visceral thrill from the words “Drop.  your.  sword.”

If you had to be chased by some hostile fictional creature or character, through a fictional landscape, which ones would you choose and why?
First off, I would prefer not to have a chase scene through any location, natural or constructed, which could suffer irreparable (or insurance-raising) collateral damage, because I don’t want the threat of a calamacringe to hold me back when fleeing pursuers.  So that’s the palace of Asgard, Manhattan, Arch Rock, Miners Castle, any given library/monastery/cathedral/museum/etc. right out.

Also, because there has been a distinct lack of time lords taking my hand and telling me to run, I’m not quite at my speediest.  So I think I’d want the dinosaur from Meet the Robinsons to chase me through the Fire Swamp.  Imagine how charming that would be! I imagine he'd get stuck before long, but could perhaps chow down on an ROUS or two.

I imagine he’d get stuck before long, but could perhaps chow down on an ROUS or two.

 In-N-Out, Five Guys, or Chik-Fil-A?  Five Guys is the only one I’ve had and thus wins by default.  Or perhaps it would win by virtue of the Coca-Cola Freestyle machine, which is bad for those of us who are indecisive, but brilliant for catering to the deeply-seated urge to press buttons.

Coke Freestyle

“How niche do you like your Coca-Cola?” “I like it with both zero sugar and vanilla flavor.” “It’s got all the things! It’s Coke with all the things!”

Name a song you really like from a musical genre you don’t generally like and explain why this one works for you.
I made the mistake of looking at Wikipedia’s list of popular music genres and panicked at the prospect of accidentally filing a song in the wrong category.

So.  It’s not really a genre, but: I generally dislike songs that repeat the same line over and over.*  It’s why I don’t care for some of the most popular pop or country songs out there.  But I recently heard, and have since enjoyed, this song by BNL:

It’s a cheery little bit of exhortation not to be a worrywart, and sometimes I need that.  The repetition contributes to the calming effect, and enables all the people that can’t keep up with rapid-fire lyrics to sing along on first listen.  It’s joined my rotation of Happy Songs for Sad Days.

*At some point, someone (possibly me) is going to call me out by citing a bunch of songs I love that do this, and I am going to be forced to hold up my hand and say “Bah!”

What is, in your opinion, the best portrayal(s) of the Elves/Fair Folk/Faeries in film? Multiple choices are permitted, but you must say why you think your choices are so good.
I plead the fifth on this.  I don’t think I’ve ever seen the Fair Folk portrayed in film in a way that captures the power, mischievousness, legalistic approach to oaths, or ethereal beauty that have marked them in story and song.

What was the last black-and-white film you saw, and what did you think of it?
After some amount of wracking my brains, I remembered that oh yeah!  Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing was black and white.  And I loved it.  Clark Gregg was a most delightful Leonato; I really enjoyed how the lines of the play remained unchanged while the scenery was brought up-to-date; and I cried over the second half of Act IV, Scene 1.

Much Ado Act 4

What did you think of the new trailer for The Desolation of Smaug?
All my impatience with the random elf-chick, the open barrels, and all the other incorrect things gets smothered by squealing over Martin, fangirling over Benedict’s voice, and mentally superimposing party shades on Thranduil because of the internet.

If you are unfamiliar with Party Dad Thranduil, you'd better hie yourself over to Gingerhaze.tumblr.com

If you are unfamiliar with Party Dad Thranduil, you’d better hie yourself over to Gingerhaze.tumblr.com

Further Nominations:
Like Urania, I think Melpomene did a good job tagging…but it would be a shame not to mention EmSpeaks, where my dear friend holds forth on stories, personality types, CS Lewis, history, and other things from life.  Go and behold her, for she is delightfully singular!

Belated Acceptance Speech

It has come to our attention that We Have Been Nominated For An Award. Back in June. I humbly beg pardon for focussing on life in the real world for a while.

It is the “prestigiously obscure” Liebster Award, and we have been tagged by David at the Warden’s Walk. Thank you David! Apparently this award serves to raise awareness for the under-read but most deserving of blogs. Specifically, blogs that have under 200 followers and their own brand of awesomeness.

The criteria for fulfilling this nomination (and passing into the final round? receiving the award? who judges this?) are as follows:

  • Talk about ourselves
  • Answer the questions provided by the nominator
  • Nominate and provide questions for other candidates

On behalf of all the egotistical muses here, I appoint myself as the representative.  If my sister muses object, they will have to answer, nominate and query for themselves. Continue reading

In Which There is Guising

My workplace is quite spirited at present!

From the look of things, we were really concerned about the possibility of being bothered by the Aos Sí at work today.  Or perhaps we wanted to placate some demon or other such that it would not disrupt the harvest?

No idea.  If that last one was the idea behind dressing up at work today, it has backfired tremendously: we were a good two hours into the work day before anyone besides Paul did any work.

Zorro Zorro and Garth Paul Bunyan
Zorro, Garth from Wayne’s World, and Paul Bunyan: keeping evil at bay with sword, drumsticks, and axe

Mephistopheles Greg the Stormtrooper
Then I suppose we have the contingent of those who would imitate the wicked!!  Insert attorney jokes here.Group shotPaul is the Green Monster, which is sort of along the lines of metaphorical costumery.  Sort of like that time when Melpomene dressed as “the wine-dark seas” and her friend “the rosy-fingered dawn,” but less epic.Bigger group shotLet’s see…Zorro, Clone trooper, Garth, a witch, Midshipman Millington, baseball player who has tragically left her gloves at home, Trinity from The Matrix, the ghost of Halloweens past, two of Los Tres Amigos, Paul Bunyan, Mephistopheles, and another witch.

It may not protect us from fraudulent invoices, mistaken mailings, and silly phone calls, but who can say what vexations these guises have kept at bay?

In any case, I feel that we’ve been suitably primed for our new firm picture.

Calling Captain Obvious

Sometimes I amaze myself with my inability to recognize the obvious.

Last week I walked to the library, keeping a steady pace for the two and a half miles there.  Sure, I hadn’t changed shoes for the outing, but shoes are made for walking, right?  Curious, then, that my heels should hurt so badly. Must have developed a blister, I thought, which turned out to be true enough.  In fact the blisters were so thoroughly developed that they reached the peak of blister civilization before a most dramatic and painful decline, which is to say that I arrived home and peeled off my socks to find them bloodied.  Ah.  Guess that explains why reading Cavafy the whole way home wasn’t enough to distract me from my feet hurting.  Good job, genius.

Then there was the afternoon I ate a bowl of French onion soup and was surprised on finishing it that I felt so warm all of a sudden.

Or the day when I set up one of the three floor lamps I bought a couple years back and was surprised and delighted by the fact that my room was suddenly better-lit, as though I had not once already grown impatient with a dim living space and acquired a remedy.  Somehow I let a year pass without realizing that it was in my power to make the day seem longer and the room warmer and my very self more lively.

The worse by far was my weeks and weeks of failure to recognize that cutting oneself off from the Creator of all beauty was not a very effective way to find anything beautiful or worthwhile – not in myself, nor in anything or anyone else.

Moments like this make my mom sing "She's a SCHULTZ MAN" to the tune of "Soul Man"Has anyone else had this sort of moment?  What is it that wakes us to recognize the thing right in front of our face?

An Experiment in Art Criticism

A couple weeks ago (gosh, is it already that far past?), Thalia and the Brilliant Scrupulously Exact Physicist came to visit.  Having but limited time together, and the Scrupulously Exact Physicist having nixed the suggestion that we go busking with a plaid hat and a repertoire of hymns, we took ourselves down to the museum in town.

You know the one.  The one with a weird bit of iron out in front, and a weird bit of carved wood out back, and oddness in between.

We determined that it would be diverting to level our most withering wit at the works within, provided we were suitably fortified; Thalia had the further brainwave that we might tell the truth slant – in fact, not merely slant, but actually perpendicular to our normal mode of discourse.  All of which is to say that we gathered up our pens, notebooks, and a flask of bourbon, and rhapsodized in the blankest verse we could muster.

(Dear sweet teetotalers: surely even you understand the importance of fortification against the utter lack of metanarrative in postpostmodern art?  Have you not read your Walker Percy? Do you not know that “post-painterly abstraction” is an honest term used by an art critic to distinguish from earlier abstract expressionism?  Read this whole page  and tell me you don’t want a drink by the end of it.)

(N.B. that we were, at least, covert in our potation.  The Scrupulously Exact Physicist whose pockets guarded the flask ended up quaffing the lion’s share, which is to say, maybe an ounce or two more than the rest of us.)

So without further ado, here are the fruits of our labors.

First, the piece the Scrupulously Exact Physicist wrote on:  Smoke Rings, by Donald Sultan

Smoke Rings

“Thunderstorm in Purple No. 6”*

Spirit,
inspiration drawn,
flames of unity,
darkness spills through it.

A phoenix is promised to ignite from the ashes
its crimson mane flowing,
as the firefox turns
and peace is dislodged

How many times?
will an elder rise or fall?
a leaf
falling Adonis
Cut from the top
in a swirl of cloud.

I wrote on something by Richard Diebenkorn.  It might not have looked exactly like this, but it was…similar:

ocean-park-no-131

Re: un tarde de Julio…

an envelope not yet trimmed or folded
into
usefulness.
rain has worn down the lines
of division,
jagged door opening
revealing naught but beige beyond.
Three figures sit at the bottom of it,
soon to be cropped out
by demands of time,
the folds pulling upward and away.
That bleeding paper
(such it might be)
bled not from any meaningful word,
any knife of truth.
All is quiet

All is empty.
~~~~~
something wrong:
assayed beauty via truth
as assured by Keats of unity
and believing truth
simple to see
simple to sign

a veil drawn over drawn truths
or a wash over half-depicted figures

not sad empty hopeless being,
nor vacant past plains:
a slightly yellowed page
awaiting drawing of the future.

Lastly, Thalia peered up at Helen Frankenthaler’s Sunset Corner, wrote a while, then carefully removed a number of connecting words and threw a brick at her punctuation.  Seems apt. Sunset Corner

Venetian Earthquake by Candlelight*

Lofty Depth.
Sundered plain
(Cower, blood – Dry)
murk, jagged; lurk, snagged -
Possess, weigh, measure, despair
——-
Ache,  bile, blotch
Central – corrosive
Control, Knot, Vomit.
——-
Void,
Promising.
A template ?
Abrupt, the hope
(Absurd)
Hence therefore; hell.

*Credit must be given to our friend, the Doctrix M. Harrison, for pointing out that such poetic assays must be titled appropriately, and for her endeavor to find something appropriate.

Requiem for an Automobile

Yesterday morning I was in the kitchen making breakfast, when I heard a dull thud from the street. “That sounds almost like a small accident,” thought I. “Wouldn’t it be funny if that was someone running into my car?” Secure in the knowledge that such event was unlikely, I went back to my yoghurt.

I am currently living with a friend in Texas while I desperately assiduously job search. It is a residential neighborhood where many people park in the street. As driveway space is limited, I parked in the street as well.

Before I swallowed even one spoonful of yoghurt, my curiosity and slight anxiety started pricking. Well, more like nagging and poking. Incessantly. So I looked out the front window.

I should have seen my sweet little car sitting quietly directly in front if the house.

What I saw was a mangled bumper gently rocking on the sidewalk.

Through a slight haze, I managed to notice the neighbor’s yard had a new lawn ornament: my car. My faithful, lovely ride was straddling the sidewalk, rear end crumpled.

EbyCarWreck

For seven years and two cross-country trips, this car has served me faithfully and resolutely, and I killed her. Right after I replaced all the breaks, too! Why did I not remember that Texans can’t drive? Why did I park on the street?

But strange things started to happen. After the sadly-born call to the police and insurance, the trauma and drama did marvelous things for the community. Three runners stopped to watch and chat. (To be fair, the car was blocking their path.) Four city utility vehicles (two water inspection officers, one “community patrol” guy, and one fire truck cruising the route,) pulled over to “check on the crash”. Human curiosity is a fascinating thing. Five neighbors came to stand and watch. One, the lady whose lawn my car now adorned, fluttered over to ask for the whole story, and pat my arm sympathetically. Tragedies bring people together in the most exciting and human way.

So, farewell, my hard-working automobile! Even in death you continue to help people gather together. Go to the Happy Car-Crushing Ground!