Writers Workshop: That’s OK…

One of the prompts for today is "What band or TV show would you like to see reunite?" That’s not an easy question to answer, because it would be practically impossible for it ever to happen. Face it, it would involve bringing people back from the dead in either case.

Many of the bands I remember from my younger days have either disbanded, and many of the members have passed on. Take The Beatles, for example: only Paul and Ringo are still living, John having been murdered in 1980 and George having died in 2001. The closest they got to a reunion was in 1994, when Yoko Ono found a cassette of John playing the piano with three songs he had been working on, and the remaining members of the band got together and turned two of them into Beatles songs, "Free As A Bird" (released on Anthology 1) and "Real Love" (released on Anthology 2). But that’s as far as it went: there was no tour, no full album, and there’s been nothing since.

Or take the band Chicago: three of the original members are no longer with the band, guitarist Terry Kath (died in a firearms accident the week we got married), bassist Pete Cetera (left the band and evidently wants nothing to do with them), and drummer Danny Seraphine (was fired). A fourth, saxophonist Walt Parazaider, has had to retire for health reasons. Frankly, if I want to hear Chicago, I’d just as soon listen to Leonid & Friends, from Russia and Ukraine, who made a name for themselves by doing dead-nuts-on arrangements of Chicago songs and have expanded their repertoire.

As far as TV is concerned, most of the shows whose reunions I would like to see were made back in the ’60’s, and in most cases the actors have passed on. Ron Howard is the only remaining cast member from The Andy Griffith Show, Robert Clary and Kenneth Washington the only ones left from Hogan’s Heroes, Dick Van Dyke and possibly Larry Matthews from The Dick Van Dyke Show, etc. Even if they were to re-cast any of those shows, I and all the other fans of the original shows would be subconsciously comparing the replacement actors to the originals, and the new scripts to the old ones, and finding them wanting.

It occurs to me that we still have the original shows from TV and the music from the original bands. Who needs reunions?

Writer’s Workshop: Mom’s Favorite Cocktail

Image by Catalin Stefan from Pixabay

Mom loved Manhattans, one of those traditional cocktails that’s falling out of fashion as drinkers get younger. Although, my brother Pat (who’s close to 20 years younger than I) goes out on his parents’ birthdays (Mom’s and his father’s, my stepfather) and maybe their anniversary and has a Manhattan in their honor. I think that’s a very nice tradition.

When I turned 13, Mom taught me how to make the drink. She preferred them on-the-rocks as opposed to in a cocktail glass. The two main ingredients are whiskey and sweet vermouth. Rye whiskey is traditional, but Mom preferred Canadian and others prefer bourbon. Using dry vermouth makes it a dry Manhattan; using both dry and sweet vermouth makes it a perfect Manhattan. The optional ingredient is bitters. Mom always preferred Angostura bitters, but you might prefer Peychaud or some other formulation.

The garnish is a Maraschino cherry (or two), though with dry vermouth some prefer a twist of lemon.

The recipe:

  • 2 oz. (60 ml) whiskey (rye, Canadian, or bourbon) (I always made them with 3 oz. (90 ml) of whiskey until I got yelled at…)
  • 1 oz. (30 ml) vermouth (sweet, dry, or half-sweet/half dry)
  • Dash (1 ml) bitters

Stir ingredients with ice and strain into a cocktail glass. (Or, pour the ingredients into an "on-the-rocks" glass filled with ice.) Garnish with a cherry or a twist of lemon.

If you use Scotch whiskey, it’s called a Rob Roy. Slainte!

Writers Workshop: Six Of One, A Half-Dozen Of The Other

A dozen, as we all know, is 12 of an item. A lot of things come in dozens, including eggs and donuts. A baker’s dozen is 13, which is one more, probably stemming from the fact that bakers, when selling rolls, cookies, or donuts, will give you one extra to enjoy on the way home.

Which reminds me of an old joke: a guy goes into a bar and tells the bartender he wants a 13. The bartender says "what’s a 13?" The guy says "A 7 & 7."

The 7 & 7 was traditionally a highball made with Seagram’s 7 Crown blended whiskey and 7up, but it’s called that whether the person uses the traditional ingredients or they do some substitution, like replacing the 7up with Sprite or some other type of lemon-lime soda or using a different blended whiskey instead of 7 Crown. Most people can’t tell the difference, especially after three or four of them.

My mother’s aunt would come to our house for dinner on occasion, usually on a Sunday. Her favorite drink, the only thing I ever saw her drink, was a short bourbon and ginger ale with a twist of lemon. More often than not, it was noon (i.e. 12:00) before Mom would realize that we didn’t have ginger ale and/or a lemon and would send me out in search of them. Remember, this was in the ’60’s when stores either didn’t open on Sunday or were only open in the morning, and I’d end up running all over the North Side of Chicago looking for a bottle of ginger ale and a lemon. On foot. By the time I found both and got home, the aunt had been at our house for over an hour and she’d be sitting on the couch, happily sipping a bourbon and water, sans lemon.

The thing that really got me? Mom had sent me to the store (which had both lemons and ginger ale) the day before, and never asked me to buy lemon and ginger ale. The next time this aunt came to our house for Sunday dinner, I bought lemon and ginger ale on Saturday without being asked, and Mom asked me why…

Okay, we’ve gotten a little far afield, I realize. Anyway, carbonated drinks and mixers come in cans, available in boxes of 12 12-ounce cans, or in large bottles. Typically, so does beer. Sometimes the beer comes in larger cans, like 16-ounce or, in the case of Foster’s Lager, 25.4 ounce cans (I think it works out to 750 ml).

It’s been a while since I did any stream-of-consciousness writing for WW. It feels good, you know?

Writer’s Workshop: Five Favorite Desserts

Time to talk about one of my favorite topics: food. More specifically, dessert food. One of the prompts this week is to "list your top 5 favorite desserts." Frankly, I can go for just about anything sweet, and it shows…

Source: Delish.com

Klondike Bars. Given half a chance, I could binge on Klondike bars. It’s like an ice cream bar without the stick. They come in lots of flavors, but my favorite is the Original, a square of vanilla ice cream covered with a double layer of chocolate. Second would probably be the Mint Chocolate Chip, a square of mint chocolate chip ice cream covered with dark chocolate. But really, they’re all great.

Fresh fruit. Mary buys fresh fruit whenever she goes to the store. Berries are a particular favorite, especially blueberries (lots of antioxidants) and raspberries, and lately she’s been buying bananas. She also buys cut fruit, like cantaloupe, melon, and the ever-popular pineapple. She likes peaches, which I don’t, so she brings grapes home when there are good ones. Sometimes she picks up apples and pears, though not so often. When I was more mobile and we had a blender, I would make smoothies, with whey powder, water, a banana, and a couple of frozen strawberries, maybe an ice cube or two. Mmmm….

Image by Pam Carter from Pixabay

Pie. I really like pie, especially pie a la mode. Wednesdays at O’Charley’s are "free pie days," where you get a free slice of pie with an entree. We’ve started ordering meals from there and having them delivered, and on Wednesday they offer a whole pie with a family-style meal (two entrees, two family-sized sides). We can get at least two meals out of the family-sized meal, and that includes pie. The pies are made by Baker’s Square, which was a favorite of ours when we lived in Chicago. On Thanksgiving and Christmas, we buy a couple of pies, usually a pumpkin for her and a banana (or coconut) cream pie for me. Of course, Mary helps me polish those off….

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

Cake. It was Mary’s birthday on Tuesday, and she picked up a small cake at the grocery store that we split. A real good one, too, with fresh fruit. Lately she’s been making pound cakes every couple of weeks, sometimes with fresh fruit, sometimes just a plain one. She makes it in a bundt pan, so we have it for a few days. Very tasty. She’s a good baker…

Image by Joseph V M from Pixabay

Milk Shakes. I was going to say "ice cream," but I’ve already talked about Klondike bars and pie a la mode, so I figured I’d talk about milk shakes, even though I usually have one with a meal, rather than as dessert. Of the fast food shakes, my favorite are the Jamocha shakes from Arby’s. Zaxby’s, which specializes in chicken sandwiches and tenders and is generally in the South, used to have a couple of shakes on their menu, but they decided it took too much time to make them and got rid of them. Before the coronavirus, Mary and I would go to Chick-Fil-A and get ice cream in the afternoon, and I’d have one of their shakes, or sometimes go to Wendy’s and I’d have a Frosty.

Of course, anything else (cookies, ├ęclairs, donuts, etc.) fit in there somewhere.

In the near future, Mary and I plan to give all of this up and try to lose weight. It won’t be easy, and Covid-19 has been a good excuse not to, but really, it’s time. I can always indulge in my vices in my dreams, I guess, if I can quit smoking in them…

Writer’s Workshop: Things I Learned Recently…

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay
  1. If you’re going to drink coffee (or something else) near your laptop, having a mug with a lid (like a travel mug) is a great idea.

  2. Make sure you leave the lid closed when you’re not drinking out of the travel mug.

  3. If for some reason you get coffee on your keyboard:

    • Unplug your laptop and disconnect everything attached to it.
    • Turn the laptop off.
    • Remove the battery if you can.
    • Leave the laptop open at an acute angle (under 90┬░) and turn it upside down onto a towel (or paper towels).
    • Don’t touch it for 48-72 hours (the longer the better).
    • Reattach the battery (if necessary) and turn it on. If it turns on and works fine, great! If not, take it to be repaired.
  4. Buying a silicone keyboard protector is probably a good idea.

I learned this the hard way…