New drink recipes

I came across a few good drink recipes that I had never tried before. Two are actual recipes, and one is my own concoction. We’ll have to see what you think.

First is the whiskey & ginger ale. Of course I didn’t invent this; I actually got it from Raymond Chandler’s classic noir novel The Lady in the Lake. I was intrigued when I read private eye Philip Marlowe set out whiskey & ginger ales for the hotel staff he was pumping for information. (As a former hotel drone, I could very well picture myself coming up to Marlowe’s seedy sweatbox of a cheap hotel room and drinking several whiskey and ginger ales while he plied me with a few laconic questions. Sounds like an interesting shift.) I tried the whiskey and ginger ale with some economy-minded (read cheap) bourbon, and it was an instant smash hit. (The cheap stuff was Ancient Age, for those of you scoring at home. It tasted fine, especially for the price; a little rough edge to it though. And it turned my piss a deep orange shade. That was different.) Rye is my favorite type of whiskey, so that’s what I usually stock the cabinet with. (I like the strong flavor.) I’d been getting Jim Beam Rye regularly, but then I started branching out & that’s okay. Right now I’m on a bottle of Bulleit Rye, which is pretty good. It’s got good flavor, but it doesn’t have the heft of the Jim Beam. (I started with Jim Beam because they sponsored the Deftones’ tour one year, and that happened to be the year that their concert I caught at the Quest in the Cities saved my life, just about — pulled me out of a righteous funk. The things you remember from when you were younger, the redemptive power of music, love and crushingly loud volumes…I guess that’s part of why companies sponsor rock bands in the first place. It worked on me.)

Another drink I ran across: the Ward Eight. “Despite the perplexing connotations of its name [what might those be?], a splash of this sprightly drink will perk you up in no time!” K, whatever. It’s 2 parts bourbon, 1 part lemon juice, 1 part orange juice, dash of grenadine, and cracked ice. Shake with the cracked ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. It’s got an interesting flavor to it. This is the first drink recipe I ever tried out of a book. Its main virtue appeared to be that I already had all the ingredients on hand (as opposed to other cocktails in that same book.) I foresee it being a good drink for the summertime, because of the citrus flavor.

The last one is a drink I invented. I can’t help feeling it’s a little lame or silly, but I liked it well enough and the idea seemed clever. (I thought of it before I drank it, for the record.) It’s called a Zebrafish: Kraken black spiced rum and vanilla Coke. (Get it?) The premise is a little bit of a stretch but it was fun to come up with. Drink one and tell me what you think.


This is hilarious, and the kind of thing that kids should be taught in school — if history were approached with this kind of eye, to find the little stories, for example, more kids would be interested in it. Too late they find out that history isn’t just names, dates, places, battles, movements — it’s stories. If they ever find that out.


Today’s blog is a guest post from Thijs Porck, a lecturer in the Department of English Language and Culture, Universiteit Leiden.

This week Erik’s tweet on cat-paws in a fifteenth-century manuscript went viral across facebook and the twittersphere when it was shared and commented on by thousands. Follow @erik_kwakkel  today for more animal-themed tweets #manuscriptzoo

Everyone who has ever owned a cat will be familiar with their unmannerly feline habit of walking across your keyboard while you are typing. One of the manuscript pictures tweeted by @erik_kwakkel ( ) revealed that this is nothing new.

Although the medieval owner of this manuscript may have been quite annoyed with these paw marks on his otherwise neat manuscript, another fifteenth-century manuscript reveals that he got off lucky.  A Deventer scribe, writing around 1420, found his manuscript ruined by a urine stain left there by a cat the night before…

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Time Stands Grey

It was a grey day, grey like the wool of her coat. 

Small things make me trusting: red hair, 
humming along to an Al Green song. 

Time steps back with a smile as 
we wander woods under bare branches, 
squishing through mud for the experience of it; 
a carpet of leaves for our feet to kick. 

Or stretch out on them, staring up at the sky with shining brown eyes,
as I marvel at small things and the luck of a beautiful, grey day. 

Small things -- a coffee cup empty and warm, 
a comfy chair empty and warm, 
hearts full, and warm. 

Bind Me as a Seal upon Your Heart

Do the thews of our love still bind you to me 
                when we’re apart?
Do they snugly enwrap your heart
                or are they flapping in the wind
                drifting in the breeze

                eddying in currents of air unfeelingly serene?

How can I know?
When will you return to me?
My heart longs to haul you in,
                draw you closer to me
                until at last you’re in my arms –

But when will it be?
You are so far away,
and my heart cries in the night.

The slipping sound the last of the rope makes
as it slithers through the windlass

and I’m left staring at a cut, frayed end,
the end of all my hopes in you. 

Huzzah! I KNEW it! (or, another pro-coffee post)

I always knew, deep down, that my coffee habit was/is good for me. But now I have evidence to back it up, in the form of this article.

I need to go show this to my dear wife, who thinks I drink too much coffee. And I’m going to go make…a pot of coffee. Because the French pressed motor oil/jet fuel I had with breakfast just won’t hold me the entire day, not when I have this much to do. Salud!

Let’s do this.

Holing up…

Now I’m alone again. The wind howls outside, driving flurries of snow against the windows; the screens of my study flap fitfully in the wind, coated with fine snow. I’d watched the snow blow across the fields until it obscured the treeline, and then darkness began to steal in as it always does in winter, deepening into blue, then indigo, then blue-black the color of the ink in my fountain pen, then finally sank into full darkness, so that even the streetlights must struggle to shine fitfully in the face of the storm. A good night not to go anywhere, not that I have anywhere to go. Time to put my back to the wall and figure some stuff out. Congregation by the Afghan Whigs is the perfect album right now — my wound-tight, antsy brain instantly identifies with the jittery paranoia and scrabbling reaching for the truth, whatever it might be. Need to listen to the silence, decide where this is going; and to watch — always to watch. Eternal vigilance is the price of the fractured mind, but it repays everything it costs, and more. It’s hard to learn how to be alone with yourself, to listen to yourself and really hear and not have your essential voice drowned out by the senseless ephemera of everyday life…I knew the trick once, but it seems I’ve forgotten it, in the hurly-burly of what everyday life has become, and so it must be good for me to sit and listen in an empty house to the wind howling outside, waiting for — what? Need to decide, so that I can move forward. There’s almost a kind of wild joy in being so alone, a feeling that this has to be good because there’s no alternative — now I can finally clear away the cobwebs and really see… I’ll let you know what transpires.

Speakers push the air

I remember when my father would crank up Led Zeppelin’s II and make the windows flex. Those first few guttural notes out of Jimmy Page’s guitar in “Whole Lotta Love” were like a rhinoceros pawing the ground before it charges, then John Paul Jones’ bass drops in on the same groove, Robert Plant’s wail starts strafing over the top, and then your mind begins to melt. Awesome stuff. The way the band bears down again and pulls out of the long freakout/breakdown bridge is classic too. It made the most sense when cranked to 11. I could feel the speakers literally pushing the air.

Many times it happens that our music tastes tend to ossify after college or so, as we mature and lose interest and the drive to seek out new music and absorb it; but sometimes our forefathers’ high school-college-young man music can become ours, too. Then more is shared than just music. I wonder what music my children will take away from their time with me.