Sunday, March 27, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 411: Peep This!

Two recipes in a row. I'm getting in a rut. But then, ever since I was a kid, Easter for me has always been rut territory.

I'm done with Winter but it isn't done with me. Even if it's warming up in Canada, we're dealing with melting snow, mud and other things that curtail outdoor activities.

Used to be the local world went radio silent for Good Friday, took a quick gasp of breath on Saturday and then settled in for a long quiet Sunday of Lily pots and Ham at Grandma's house. When the high point is unearthing days old hard boiled eggs, it always made me long for school on Monday.

And even now, when I'm at an age where I could hide my own eggs, it still bores the ass off me.

What better excuse than to get drunk.

And with the help of Easter treats like Marshmallow Peeps you can do that in a way that would make the Easter Bunny proud.

I give you then, not one but two Easter Cocktail instruction videos as well as my own favorite cocktail of the season.

You'll be instantly sugared up and hammered. How could you not...

Enjoy your Sunday!

Peep This Amigo!

Sugar and salt mix
2.5 oz Tequila
1 oz Fresh lemon juice
2 dashes Bitters
1 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
8-10 Blueberries
1 Egg white
Yellow Peep
Glass: Cocktail
Rim a cocktail glass with a mix of 50-percent sugar and 50-percent salt and set aside. Add the rest of the ingredients to a shaker and muddle. Shake without ice. Add ice and shake again vigorously. Strain into the prepared cocktail glass and garnish with a yellow Peep.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 410: Spicy Peanut Butter Soup

It's officially Spring. But being that I'm in Canada, that means it's not quite warm and sunny just yet. Thus one more day where it's nice to have a hot bowl of soup for lunch.

Now, I could rummage for an old cookbook and try matching some soup ingredients to what I've got on hand. But who knows how long that would take -- and honestly, is there any reason to even own a cookbook anymore?

Seriously, ever time I go grocery shopping, I roll past the Jamie Oliver display and ask myself -- "Does nobody who shops here own a computer?".

Finding a recipe for virtually anything takes seconds. And seconds later you can usually find a video taking you through it step by step in case you're a complete idiot in the kitchen.

But if you're not one of those, where do you find a recipe video that will also entertain you while you go through the cooking process?

If you're me, you check out a Youtube Channel entitled "You Suck At Cooking".

There, you'll not only find quick and easy (and delicious) recipes but an upbeat and fun approach to the process.

This week I found (and tried) Spicy Peanut Butter Soup. The perfect thing for a day when Winter is still hanging on past its use by date.

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 409: The Dishwasher

Canada is a country without studios and broadcast networks striving to build a vibrant production industry. Virtually nothing gets made without handouts from governments who appear equally disinterested in doing more than is absolutely necessary to shore up the appearance that there's a real film industry here.

And most of that largess goes to producers with a long track record of failing to find audiences.

Hardly anybody truly steps up to give an untried writer or director with a vision a shot.

Oh, there's certainly a boom going on. Almost everybody's working as a result of a weak dollar and generous tax credits to anybody wanting to make a Lifetime, Syfy or Superhero movie North of the 49th.

Meanwhile, our own stories continue to languish. And our brightest story tellers seldom get the opportunity to even hint at what they can do.

But if you live in BC or Alberta, there's a ray of hope. It comes from Telus which, despite its cable footprint, is primarily a phone company.

Telus have called their initiative "Storyhive" -- a community funded program for emerging content creators. I'd call it the Canadian equivalent of Roger Corman, the Hollywood producer who launched more major careers than almost everybody else put together.

Storyhive just released it's winning short film. "The Dishwasher" by Vancouver writer-director Matthew Johnson.

It's a masterful creation, revealing a film-maker who truly gets how cinematic story-telling works. It hooks you from the first frame and doesn't let go of your emotions until well after the last.

If the industry were still run by Hollywood moguls, one of them would be telling his money guys, "This kid knows what he's doing. Just give him enough money and stay out of his way".

I give you "The Dishwasher".

Enjoy Your Sunday.

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Lazy Sunday # 408: Write This Down

Once upon a time, there were people known as Public Letter Writers. They sat in market places, had a storefront in frontier boom towns, operated out of the back booth of a coffee shop where their clients would not be embarrassed to meet with them.

Public letter writers provided a service to those who could not read or could not write allowing them to fill out government forms, conduct business or communicate with loved ones.

Many still exist today in third world countries where literacy levels are low. But they are coming back to the first world as well-- because our kids don't know how to write anymore.

Pushed by technological advances, the need to use the kind of Cursive handwriting we were all once taught in elementary school has become less necessary. When you can thumb a mobile keyboard or tap a screen, there's little need to know how to operate a pen or pencil anymore.

Email has replaced letters to friends and family. Students, journalists and executives in boardrooms take notes on tablets or laptops. You don't even have to endorse a check anymore. You just send a picture of it to your bank.

45 American states no longer include Cursive in the curriculum of their education systems and those that still too don't teach it all that much. Canadian educators are moving in the same direction.

Some may see that as an inevitable future.

Last week I met a student at a nearby University who is part of a writing group. She and her colleagues don't study writing or share short stories. They write letters for fellow students who no longer have such skills. University students. Many of whom don't even have a signature, opting for print or a symbolic scrawl instead.

I often get complimented on my handwriting. It's apparently incredibly legible. What few know is that I invented the "font" I use when I was 12 or 13. I'd just gotten a beautiful fountain pen as a birthday present and I loved using it. Problem was I went through ink by the bucket and it was beginning to impact my ability to afford licorice pipes and comic books.

The solution seemed clear. Rather than write less, get rid of all the Cursive curlicues I'd been taught to identify or connect the letters. What evolved was something sans serif, a phrase I wouldn't learn til years later. 

It may have been that invention process that first gave me an insight into something all writers know. It isn't just about putting words down on paper. The physical act connects you with so much more on so many other levels.

Many times, when plot or character aren't working the way I want them to, I'll still step away from the keyboard and pick up a pen and legal pad. Writing by hand requires a very different mental process, one involving parts of the mind closed by the ease of typing.

Sooner rather than later, what I've been trying to accomplish is back on track. Likewise, I never sit down to rewrite before the previous draft has been revised in pencil or red ink. Things just go better if I do the grunt work by hand.

I'll leave the explanation of just how all that works to Master Penman Jake Weidmann an artist and writer who knows just how much we are losing in our trade-off with technological advance.

It's not just the words on the page. It's a chunk of our humanity.

Enjoy Your Sunday.