Sips and Sounds: a Retrospective

NOTE: This was first published August 21st 2016.



NOTE: This was first published you-know-where August 21st 2016.

Last week I posted number five in my “Friday Night Sips and Sounds” series. The idea came to me because of the arbitrary association that I have between the song Bell Bottom  Blues and Tom Collinses.  There is also another blog that long paired belts and booze, which proved to be an inspiration, although I am a suspenders-man myself.   

I learned a few things from the experience.

First I learned that the series didn’t meet a pressing need in anyone. Pairing cocktails with old poems or songs seemed quite natural to me, the way pairing cocktails with cheese might be for someone else. The issue may be that I am quite picky with art and love cheese rather uncritically, and the opposite impulse is far commoner. And, whatever the case, nobody told me that their life had been transformed by the pairings, which might be for the best.

Second I learned that I had a lot of thoughts on these things already and I had unconsciously associated them in my mind long before I wrote them down.

Third I affirmed what I said in the first installment about bringing people together. I made each of the drinks for friends before I wrote about them and I tend to make them a little over-strong, and sometimes people would get a little tipsy, or maybe ever tiddly, but never so far as forschnookered. It may be that we are getting old. It may be that people don’t trust me to hold their hair. I suspect, however, that it has more to do with the social and indeed the ritual that comes along with these things. After all there are many elderly pukey-haired people out there, but they didn’t come my way.



A Drink and a Poem (The Mudslide and The Emperor of Ice Cream)

NOTE: This was first published on my old blog July 15th, 2016.

NOTE: This was first published on my old blog July 15th, 2016.
The Emperor of Ice Cream
Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month’s newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.
–Wallace Stevens, 1922
I read somewhere that the true use of literature is to help us understand why we do what we do, to uncover our true motives.
And here are the motivations uncovered — ice cream.
It’s hardly a surprise that lofty ideas sometimes lead to disappointment, and, in truth, our appetites can lead us to strange situations, not necessarily bad ones. They may lead us to do the right thing. They probably won’t, but they might. Even a small act of kindness — attending a funeral one doesn’t want to attend — can have good results.
Stevens and I are both New Englanders and we all have an extravagant taste for ice cream. We eat a lot of it. One might think that Hawai’i would eat more but that isn’t really the case. Where we come from, ice cream is for all occasions — dolorous ones included.
This poem is likely set in some place where people roll cigars, since there is a cigar roller (also Stevens used to vacation in a place with palm trees)  but I understand his impulse, because the impulse to ice cream belongs to the north.
It is in this fine ice cream eating tradition that we drink the mudslide. In other places mudslides are a kind of gross cocktail with a cool name, because most people don’t know how to make them. The proper Mudslide (or Frozen Mudslide as it is sometimes called) is made in a blender with ice cream.
Stevens — although he likely never had a mudslide in the prohibition-era stage in his  writing career  — would surly understand the overabundance and decadence of the mixed ice cream and booze.  It isn’t a way to stave off death, or forget one’s sorrows,  but a way to get all of one’s desires in a single glass, and to take it all in at once  — to be buried, perhaps smothered, by desire.
Repent. Repent. Repent.
* People who roll cigars are not called ‘rollists’ although they should be.
* Some simple drinks — like the first two discussed in the series — had been around since Victorian times.
* This is when complex mixed drinks were first coming into vogue so I guess the possibility that he had a mudslide is still there, but it seems unlikely.
* As far as lofty ideas go, I assume that for most of you ice cream in this case is a disappointment but what do I know?
* I really don’t like the word ‘decadence’ the way contemporary people use it. I may give into my appetites, but those appetites don’t involve anything decaying.
* The notes in this series don’t follow any particular order but nobody seems to have noticed.
* So you are wondering how it is made? a blender full of  vanilla ice cream, and a couple shots each of coffee liquor and vodka. I suggest some home made whipped cream for the top.
* This blog does not endorse doing the right thing for the wrong reasons on moral grounds.

An Apology

Some of you may have noticed that my last entry wasn’t very good, but that isn’t quite true. The truth is it wasn’t even written.

Over the summer I sketched out a series of blog entries to get me through the fall and winter in an effort to force myself to keep writing.  That, however, isn’t quite how it worked. I just kept rescheduling the posts until one week they caught up to me and the piece on Auden was published and then the next week I forgot the Amy Winehouse article was next — even though they are numbered. I’m not sure exactly how I made the same mistake twice in a row, but I did. I also found that my view on the matter changed between the time I initially wrote it and the moment of its premature publication — so it needed more than polishing — it needed to be rewritten.

So there you have it.  if you have any faith in this blog left, tune in next week for Amy Winehouse reconsidered. If not feel free to use me as a warning to your children about the dangers of planning for the future.

It’s Not You It’s Me…or Maybe I’ll Blame my Job

I’ve had a few inquiries of late about why I haven’t been blogging.  The answer is simple and probably nonsensical: I’ve been working, and attending to some personal matters and, when I fall behind on something I deem essential, I feel guilty doing anything I deem non-essential.  If I am at a ‘bus stop I can write a blog, but cannot file my taxes.  But the later prevents me from doing the former.  If I had downtime at my day-job could I catch up on my correspondences? I certainly could — if it weren’t for the laundry.

Guilt my be a great motivator but for me at least it’s terrible for general efficiency.

Not That Anybody Else Was Looking

I was going to to revise and republish a few posts from my old blog, but it seems that I have unwittingly delted them permently.  The moral is either 1) read your user agreement carefully, or 2) it’s better having your trash hauled away than cluttering your blog.

Either one suits me fine.  I had better just find another means of procrastination.

On Tags: a Metadiscussion

I recently found out that WordPress didn’t publicize most of my old blog’s posts because I had in excess of fifteen tags on many of them. Their reasons were good: they were trying to keep people from abusing the tag-system to get more hits.  When I signed up I likely saw that rule and ignored it.  I doubt very many people have searches set for ‘Disparate Liquids Bottled Together,’ or ‘This Entry is a Rejected Magazine Article,’ and that isn’t why I used them.  I used them for internal searches and a way to tease out the queer little themes, and serendipitous coincidences, that keep popping up.

I am less of an SEO-hit-type of guy than I probably should be; moreover, I like the idea of lots tags as a guide linking totally heterogeneous materials. Although this is a blog about my writing, it has (or it will have) all kinds of other things in it as well.  I liked the idea of someone clicking on the ‘In My Snot-Nosed Youth’ and coming up with a bunch of things with nothing in common, except an odd reference to the time between 1978 and 1990.

So I have decided that from now on I will only put a handful of tags on the official list and add the other tags to the bottom of the page, to be added later, if I get around to it.

Indexing is a strange art, and categories have always made me uncomfortable, and this is one of the few ways I have to impose chaos on the world.