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Tag Archives: Scotch

A Useful (for moi) Outline

As I have noted previously, I am seriously considering working on a book, either of my memoirs (my whole life) or one about my activities in the Peace and Justice movement of the late sixties and early seventies. Most of that work was in protesting the war in Vietnam, but some of it was in protest of racism and inequality. If fact, I just found this document I authored about six years ago, which I called “20 things about me” and I can see it doesn’t say a word about my work with the Committee to Free Angela Davis. Clearly, I’ll be adding to this list, which I believe I will use to help me organize my thoughts about my life.


This is two views of one of the casts that were put on my left foot beginning 2 days after I was born. They must have put it on loose, because I kicked it off. My mother asked me to save it so, even though she’s been gone for about a decade, they’ll probably get cremated with me.

  1. I was born with club feet, one of which was corrected with casts, the other of which was corrected with surgery at 5 years old.
  2. When I enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1966, I failed my physical because of my foot, but argued successfully that you don’t march in the Navy. Big mistake; it’s about all you do in boot camp. Was subsequently discharged when they discovered I had arthritis in my ankle.
  3. My father, fearing I would become a bum, bought a small snack shop for me when I was 19 and a half. I was there during the Summer of Love (1967) and ended up having him sell it at a loss so I could go up to Haight-Ashbury and find out what the hell was going on.
  4. It took me 3.5 years to complete High School because I cut so many classes and just didn’t want to be there. I subsequently gained admission and graduated with a Juris Doctorate from an accredited Law School ten years later, without having attended undergraduate school.
  5. I provided armed security – as a bodyguard and with a team doing bomb searches, etc. – for numerous groups and individuals during the height of the anti-Vietnam War movement, including Jane Fonda, Arco Iris, Hortensia Bussi, and Vietnamese students in the U.S.
  6. I, along with my brother and my roommate, provided armed bodyguard services for Roger MacAfee and his family after they had put up their ranch for Angela Davis’s bail.
    They were guests of honor at a fundraiser called “In Concert For Angela,” which was held at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles. His family, and the three of us, were about the only white people there.
  7. I was a bartender at the Ash Grove in Hollywood, a venue distinguished by having been burned to the ground numerous times by anti-Castro Cubans (Gusanos).
  8. I spent two months in Cuba as a guest of the Cuban government and a member of the sixth contingent of the Venceremos Brigade.
  9. I taught myself Spanish for the trip.
  10. My first wife was Cuban (totally unrelated to my trip many years earlier) and my current (2nd) wife is Sansei (3rd generation Japanese-American).
  11. I’ve smoked pot since I was 19. I’m currently 66 (and my brain still functions pretty darn well).
  12. I love good single-malt Scotch.
  13. My last dog was a Rottweiler who was given to me as a gift from a girlfriend who couldn’t handle him. He loved to chase shadows and stomp ants.
  14. I have had at least a dozen cats throughout my life, including two right now – Zack and Weezy.
  15. I accidentally ended up working on the Space Shuttle Main Engine program beginning a year before the Shuttle’s return to flight after the Challenger disaster. I stayed there for 23 years.
  16. I accepted an early retirement package in 2010, as the Shuttle program was winding down and the space program was contracting.
  17. I earned a Masters degree in Knowledge Management from CSUN in 2009, at the age of 62.
  18. I became a first-time, adoptive father at the tender age of 55 and, in a stunning display of higher intelligence, did it again at 59. I feel responsible, but not guilty, for the part I have played in IA.
  19. I attempted to provide social media marketing services for small businesses after retiring, but soon discovered nobody could afford to hire me and most were abysmally ignorant of what was possible.
  20. At the end of last year I decided to offer my services as an editor and proofreader and my efforts are beginning to pay off.
  21. I just signed two contracts to write for a couple of organizations I have a great deal of respect for.
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OK – So I Gave Up On The Twist

This is the fourth post I’m bringing over from The Cranky Curmudgeon. When I’ve moved everything, I suppose I’ll shut that puppy down. No reason to have both my blogs up when I’m only updating this one. This post kind of proves even old farts can change. I’m not sure when it happened, but I finally just gave up on enjoying the little cocktail addition I’m lamenting about in this particular rant. I still, of course, enjoy Scotch, but I’ve taken to drinking it neat a lot more and when I do have it with water, I’m content to just have the two without the . . . see below.


Originally Posted 26 February 2006

TWIST AND SHOUT

“Hello! My name’s {enter favorite name here} and I’ll be your server tonight. May I get you something to drink?”

How many meals start off with these two innocuous lines? For me they are usually the prelude to the antithesis of what getting that drink is supposed to be, a short, appetite-stimulating moment of anticipatory relaxation prior to enjoying a calm, stress-free meal. I don’t know about you, but my week is normally far too hectic for most meals to be truly relaxing. I do the bulk of the cooking in our house, and I have no use (for the most part) for things like shake-and-bake. That means there’s prep work prior to, and cleaning during and after, the actual act of eating. Sometimes I eat half my meal while I’m cooking it.

Lemon Twist

Gone but not forgotten.

I am also a Scotch drinker; have been for a long time. Scotch is the only type of alcohol with which I can attain the proverbial “three sheets to the wind”, yet awaken the next day with no hangover. I have always attributed this to the fact that Scotch is usually (in my case always) imbibed either “neat” (all by its little lonesome) or with water in one form (on-the-rocks) or another (with, what else, water). There is nothing froo-froo about drinking Scotch. Nevertheless, while not necessary, adding a twist (for those of you who do not drink, a twist is a sliver of lemon peel, the twisting of which releases a spritz of essential oils; it is not a wedge of lemon or lime from which the juice gets squeezed into a drink) adds just the right amount of subtle citrus flavoring which, to my palate, goes well with the smoky earthiness of Scotch.

So, here’s the problem. Why is it April, or Jonathon, or Heather, or William can never, ever remember I asked for that little twist of lemon? Why am I always put in the position of accusing my server of not being able to do their job as well as I think I have the right to anticipate? Mind you, I’m a good tipper and I’m not really all that demanding. I grew up in and around the food business and have spent a fair amount of time putting up with demanding patrons at eating establishments. I know how difficult it can be and I appreciate someone who does it well. I frequently tip 20% of the total (including drinks and sales tax), even if they forget my twist.

But . . . why can’t servers remember this one simple, little thing? Why? Why must I frequently forego it just because it’s not really, really that important? Although I’m not usually at a loss for why I think things happen, I don’t have a good answer for this one. I’m stumped. I’m coming to accept it as a universal law, like – Hubble’s Constant. It’s a corollary to another law I’ve noticed in restaurants; servers will never notice, despite ample opportunity to do so, that I’m left-handed and will invariably place a new drink on my right side. But that’s another story.

P.S. – I realize this isn’t really that terrible a rant and probably not worthy of a true (and cranky) curmudgeon, but I have too much respect for working people, especially those at the bottom of the heap, to ever get too pissed at them. Call me a softie, but there’s plenty enough crap out there to get worked up about. This ain’t one of ’em.


Two Olives, Please. Medium Rare.

Smoky Martini

The Marvelously Complex and Delish Smoky Martini

Alchohol

One of my all-time favorite television series is M.A.S.H. I loved the movie as well and I think I read the book, but the TV series went on for 11 seasons (1972 – 1983) and continued in syndication . . . well, actually, I just checked my DirecTV listings and it’s still around. Now, while I think the show was incredibly important for the anti-war message it conveyed, I’m actually bringing this up because of something completely different.

I could not watch a M.A.S.H. episode, especially in the later years, without craving a Martini. Well, maybe not every time the show was on, but every time Hawkeye and Trapper (or Hunnicut) would repair to their tent for a libation. I was seldom able to actually pour myself one during the show, but the urge was always there. It was a kneejerk reaction I had little control over, especially after I discovered the Smoky Martini. I’ve been a Scotch drinker for decades, but there’s something about the immediacy of a Martini I really like. For a while (and it’s been quite a while since I’ve had one) I was prone to order one made with Absolut (I prefer Vodka) and a splash of The Glenlivet . . . with two olives. Three of those and I had dinner knocked!

Other Carbohydrates

Of course I’m much older now and have a rather young family to boot, so those kinds of shenanigans are no longer available to me. However, something similar (and entirely non-alcoholic) happened yesterday. Even better, I was able to scratch the itch fairly quickly. I don’t recall how I came about it, but I’m pretty sure it was from a link in Facebook. Probably from Mashable or Lifehacker. It was to a story listing 12 hamburgers you can enjoy in Los Angeles. Now, I don’t currently live in L.A., though I was born downtown and lived in its suburbs for most of my life. I do live nearby. Just not close enough to have a casual meal anywhere but the North San Fernando Valley, which is just over the hill from Simi Valley. However, this is the U.S. and burgers are ubiquitous, with many unheralded places that make a pretty mean burger, as well as some well-known ones that didn’t make it to the list. There’s a couple of both in town here, and I’ll get to that in a moment.

Interestingly, the story points out that National Geographic had just named the hamburger at The Apple Pan (in West L.A.) as the best burger in America. As a native, I have eaten at the Apple Pan . . . though I’ve had a Smoky Martini more recently than one of the Hickory Burgers they’re best known for. Meaning it’s been a long, long time. Of course, you can’t have a burger there without topping it off with a slice of Apple Pie. Still, it’s been a long time. Regardless, despite it being a very subjective thing, I’m inclined to think NG’s selection was a bit biased by history and nostalgia.

Bob's Big Boy Statue

Oh, Little Big Boy. How I Have Loved Thee!!

Final piece of this story. My wife has Shotokan Karate classes on Mondays and Wednesdays, leaving me and our daughters to our own devices for dinner. Normally, I’ll make something for the three of us, but last night it was In-N-Out Burger time. I just had to scratch that itch (Animal Style!). I shouldn’t even be eating the damn things because of type II Diabetes. Plus, I added fries and a chocolate shake. Horrors! The hamburger was excellent, but the fries were rather pedestrian. They did not taste fresh to me. Maybe I’m somewhat jaded, but we got a mandolin slicer recently and I made some french fries here and, even though I didn’t get it quite right, they were way tastier than what I had yesterday. Also, the shake wasn’t bad; nice and thick. Frankly, I prefer malteds.

I can’t end this without paying homage to the hamburger I would give my personal lifetime achievement award to . . . The Bob’s Big Boy. I’m pretty sure the Big Mac was designed to emulate it, which I don’t think it’s ever come close to doing. I recall getting a Big Boy burger, fries, and a Silver Goblet Chocolate Shake many times in my life. It’s one of those taste combinations I can still evoke in my mind and it’s heavenly! Sheesh. I’m getting hungry again. Time for a salad . . . or a Martini.


Chillaxin . . . sin Robaxin.

Takin' it easy

No Me Jodas, Chico!

This is one of those days when I really haven’t felt like doing much of anything. I did chop up and remove the Bougainvillea that’s been outside the Living Room window for 15 years and has finally outlived its usefulness. However, I enjoyed the company of my neighbor and close friend Marty while doing so, along with a couple of beers and at least two shots of Scotch. In fact, he lent me the big jaw clippers I used to chop up the thickest parts of that damn beautiful yet thorny vine!

I also translated the first “Social Menu” I’ve ever seen, which was in the form of a .jpg file and was in Danish – forcing me to actually type out the text in to Google Translate rather than merely copy and paste it and, I’ll admit, I spent some time on a very serious post I’ll publish soon. Sometimes it’s necessary to be thoroughly incorrigible . . . and today just happens to be that day. Maybe it was five beers and a few shots of Scotch. Who’s counting?

Photo Courtesy of ¿Se Escucha?


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