Weirdest Summer Ever Heatwave Rum Punch

My nearly six month long quest to teach myself to bartend recreationally, (I’m not good enough at customer service to be a pro bartender. And I’m pretty good you guys.) is coming to a head in teaching myself to make stuff I can scale up.

Sure I probably won’t actually be entertaining for a while, but when I do, I want to be able to give my guests fun cocktails. If there’s more than ten people, which given the size of my social circle is possible, I want to be able to handle it.

Hence, realizing I need to learn a rum punch.

Here’s what, after a few test runs, I’ve come up with. The NJ/NY/CT tri-state area is currently in a serious heatwave, and if you can think of a better time to play around with rum than that, I can’t! (Maybe literally living on an island?)

Weirdest Summer Heatwave Ever Rum Punch

Ingredients

1 Shot Dark Rum
1 Shot Gold Rum
1 Shot Malibu
2 Shots Pineapple Juice
2 Shots Orange Juice
2 Shots Cranberry Juice
1 lime Juiced

For serving:

Pint Glasses Chilled
Ice

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, and add all ingredients and shake

Pour into a chilled Pint Glass over ice

Drink and pretend you’re at the beach. (Or be at the beach. I don’t know your life.)

Story Time!

The first thing I do when I look for a vacation spot is make sure the hotel has a bar, especially when I’m travelling alone. There’s something about spending the weird space between wrapping up your day of activities and dinner at a bar chatting with the bartender that I really love.

And, my mom taught me an excellent trick for starting that conversation. Ask, “Hey, do you have a rum punch?”

If there’s one on the menu it’s probably pre mixed, and well tested and delicious. If there isn’t, the bartender probably has one in their back pocket and will happily make it while chatting. Also, rum makes me friendly. (Sometimes too friendly as many men in Brooklyn bars ten years ago will likely tell you)

Some of my beloved people have them too, that are excellent for parties, as they make them in huge batches, enough to libate large groups of people at a house party. Juli, my cousin Suzie, and my brother Mike have my favorites, in that order. Though Juli and Mike would be offended at not using their preferred names of “Juli Buckets” and “Boat Drinks”. Juli Buckets go great with drinking games, and Boat Drinks will kill you. Suzie’s Rum Punch is more refined and belongs at the kind of yacht club party described in Taylor Swift’s “Starlight.”

But those big batch rum punches do me no good when I’m stuck by myself in my apartment and it’s 90 degrees out and I want to pretend I’m on vacation.

So, I started playing around, with the expressed purpose of creating a rum punch that I could both enjoy on my own and scale up when I’m around people.

The portions here are easily scaled up for a pitcher or larger, this recipe yields two pint glasses full.

Mostly though, I was glad to come up with my own rum punch. I’m looking forward to a dinner party next summer where I get to make a pitcher to go with like, fried rice and some grilled fish. Which I think this would go perfectly with.

Magical Movies Tour: Dinosaur

Wow, Dinosaur is boring.

The thing it has going for it, the photo realistic dinosaurs are kind of cool, but their appeal is exhausted after the first twenty minutes. After that there’s still like an hour and a half of movie.

The plot, such as it is, involves a baby dinosaur who is orphaned and raised by monkeys, who one day finds a heard of his own kind who are escaping a comet and moving to their nesting grounds. His monkey guardians are psyched about this, because they were very worried their adopted dino son was never going to meet a nice girl and mate. Luckily, there is a nice girl dino of his own species. She’s got a dickhead brother though who’s stubborn belief that he’s right is going to get them eaten by a Carnosaur.

Anyway, then they walk to the valley and our lead dino and dino girl have babies of their own.

Look, this movie is visually stunning and is definitely a technilogical marvel, but it is so dull. There’s just nothing exciting or interesting that happens. Even the few chases involving the Carnosaur are over quickly and don’t hold much suspense.

This did inspire a fricking TERRIFYING ride at Animal Kingdom that I have vowed to never ride again.

Anyway, next week, we’ll enter the hilarious cartoon world of The Emperor’s New Groove

Magical Movies Tour: Fantasia 2000

Watching Fantasia woke up something inside of me. I think it’s an incredibly special piece of art, interesting and idiosyncratic and unique. It was also a deep financial failure for Disney Studios and despite years of trying, Walt’s desire for a sequel never got off the ground. When Roy Disney took over, it became his dream to chase and, based on the reading I’ve done this year, really bugged the crap out of everyone else at the company.

The result of that war (besides Michael Eisner losing his job and Bob Iger becoming a thing) is Fantasia 2000, which is an interesting beast, and nowhere near as lovely as it’s predecessor. Choosing a slate of new pieces and remastering “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” the film is presented much more like a splashy symphonic event concert, complete with celebrity introductions and projection screens.

It is nowhere near as charming and the work on display feels a good deal less magical.

I liked a few of the pieces more than others. Interpreting “Rhapsody in Blue” as a bustling day in 1930s New York, drawn in the style of Al Hirschfeld is inspired and the resulting piece is a lot of fun to watch. “The Firebird” is interesting if imperfect and “Pomp And Circumstance” is a lovely little fable that features my good friend Donald.

At the bottom of the barrel is probably “The Pines of Rome” where several blue whales migrate and jump out of the water. While I’m sure this sequence seemed really cool on Imax screens in 2000, now the CGI looks dated and there’s no majesty on my home tv.

The celebrity narrators are well chosen and acquit themselves well, but still feel, off, I guess?

Next week, we’re talking about Dinosaur, which I genuinely cannot remember if I’ve ever watched before.

Anessa

WORLD BUILDING.

Also a first kiss.

The Marina Chronicle

It’s after dinner, which, I’ve learned is the best time to talk to Annalise. It’s about the only time she’s not trying to move. 

We’re working on embroidery, which neither of us excel at, but it’s bonding.

“So, tomorrow is market day,” Lisette says and looks at me. I nodded. “I have to go to market, I mean, I don’t have to, but I usually do, it’s the sort of thing that,”

“That the orphan ward of a Count would do,” I said. She nodded. “I don’t have a problem with it.” She glanced at Tristan. “He won’t either, just go while he’s running.” She laughed.

“Is there anything you want?” She asked. I raised my eyebrows. “To eat in the next week or so.”

“Oh, um, I like rabbit?” I tried. She cocked her head. “It’s silly, but when we were little we were at Resistance camp a lot…

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Book Review: If You Can Get It By Brendon Hodge

Disclosure: I was provided an early copy of If You Can Get It by the author. Also, his sister in law is my high school Youth Minister Gail, who is one of my top 10 favorite people I’ve ever known.

I have to admit I was both excited and nervous about reading If You Can Get It. It was the first time I was offered a preview read, and also, the book is published by Ignatian Press, which is a Catholic imprint. I have a pretty Unorthodox, if serious, relationship with Catholicism, and Catholic media tends to skew in a different expression of faith than what speaks to me.

What was fun about If You Can Get It, though, was that it felt more like a Hallmark romantic comedy than a faith based story. (That is a huge compliment. Those movies are deeply fun and comfortable in some seriously elemental ways. Our main character is Jen, a 35 year old woman who’s made a good career as a product manager in the tech sector. After a layoff and a catastrophic try out trip to China with a new job, she finds herself at a small family owned company in Illinois. Not to mention her somewhat lost younger sister Katie has moved in! They begin to rebuild their lives and Jen learns that maybe she was focusing on the wrong values.

There’s also a subplot about Katie and an ex seminary turned farmer/handyman (this is the Hallmark plot).

Hodge is a good writer, and I always appreciate when a male author manages to write two female leads who feel distinct from one another, and like real people. I’ve met both Jens and Katies, hell I was a Katie. I too was strained and lost after graduating college and managed to get myself together while imposing on patient relatives. There’s some very fun stuff about dealing with Chinese vendors, that rang pretty true as well, based on my limited experience.

It was definitely a fun read, and since I’m trying to take a breather from the fantasy for a minute, I was grateful for it.

If You Can Get It by Brandon Hodge is available for pre-order on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, link below.

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/if-you-can-get-it-brendan-hodge/1137116513?ean=9781642291278&fbclid=IwAR2L4ulc9Luc3avBNxhCh7wcMpxZHpce1pRkH07g8tnnJfxDz_R4GDsGx98

Magical Movies Tour: Tarzan

Tarzan has a weird distinction for me as a movie that I like perfectly fine but I know a ton about the production process of, even before I started tracking that sort of thing because it was released in the summer of 1999 and that was the first summer that my family had The Disney Channel.

The cable station had been around forever but that year our cable company shifted the package around so we finally had access to it. As life long Disney nuts, and you know, a ten and twelve year old girl, Mary and I were glued to it. Disney Channel was our default, “what do you want to watch?” choice. And because of that, we saw just about every “making of” clip available for Tarzan. We knew every song by heart before the movie came out, we knew that Phil Collins had the idea for “You’ll Be In My Heart” before he even started working on the movie, (He was writing about his daughter), and we knew that Tarzan’s movements were modeled after extreme athletes (skateboarders, snowboarders and surfers).

Outside of all that intimate knowledge was really loving the music. I think our transformation from pop loving giggling girls to prog rock teens is definitely marked here. (Obviously the Tarzan soundtrack is not actually Prog, but Phil Collins, as a former member of Genesis has that in his musical DNA). Also, we were in choir. If you were in choir from 1999 to 2010 you probably had to learn “Trashin’ The Camp” at some point. “You’ll Be In My Hear” got the Oscar, but I’ve always felt like “Son Of Man” is the really standout song of the pack. I’ve also always loved that they used the music as a soundtrack rather than a Broadway style cast album, (Except for “Trashin’ The Camp” which gives Rosie O’Donnell a stand out moment.) because it helps the episodic feel of the movie. It’s like a series of beautifully animated music videos, rather than a straight musical, kind of cool and creative.

My real affection for the music though, does not take away from the fact that Tarzan is pretty forgettable as a movie. It’s fun enough, the animation is clear and creative, but it’s just kind of there. It doesn’t do much of anything new with the Tarzan mythos, the characters aren’t particularly distinct (compare this to The Jungle Book, which is perhaps unfair, but you remember something about each animal Mowgli encounters.) and everyone feels like they’re just caught up in the story beats that they have go through in order to make a Tarzan movie. It actually made me think of the when I saw Spectre and Aless and I walked out going, “Well, that sure was a Bond movie, alright.” Nothing wrong with it, just nothing particularly right with it either.

I’m trying not to get to hyped about next week when we take on Fantasia 2000, because, I know it’s been a little while, but do you guys remember how fucking much I loved Fantasia? 

It’s Movie Season Shrimp Rolls & Moscow Mules

Movie season was one of my favorite traditions that I was happy to also say a complete goodbye to this year. It’s not that I didn’t love and don’t love going to the movies. I absolutely adore it, it was just the routine and way I was doing it for six summers was starting to feel stale.

Also it’s a pandemic and movie theaters are closed ya dope.

Anyway, last Thursday I settled in to watch The Old Guard and decided to make an approximation of what I’d have eaten before seeing the movie if it had been released in theaters and I’d met up with Kristi and Aless before.

That meant, basic sea food, fries and a simple vodka cocktails.

Shrimp Rolls

1/2 lb Easy Peal Shrimp

1 Cup Vegetable Broth

1 Tbl Mayonaise

1/4 Cup Cole Slaw Mix

Salt, Pepper & Old Bay to Taste

Brioche Hot Dog Roll

1 table spoon butter

Garlic Powder to Taste

Heat the broth to steam the shrimp, I use the instant pot steam setting for 3 minutes, but you can also boil the broth and steam for about 5.

Place the shrimp in the ice bucket to cool down and then peel.

Chop the shrimp into smaller pieces and combine with mayo, slaw mix and spices.

Melt the butter with the garlic and brush onto the roll, toast in toaster oven to medium.

Place shrimp salad on the toasted bun.

Enjoy!

Moscow Mule

1 Shot Vodka

Juice of 1 Lime

1 can or Bottle Ginger Beer

Take a large glass (or a copper mug if you’ve got one, I do not own one…oddly enough) and fill with ice.

Squeeze lime directly into the glass

Add Vodka

Add Ginger beer

The fries on this plate where frozen and baked in the toaster oven for 30 mintues.

Story Time

I mentioned back in Marvel and Margaritas that after we outgrew Lucy’s, Aless and I moved our movie night hangs to PJ Clark’s at Lincoln Center. When Kristi started joining us it made even more sense for us to stay there, Aless heading uptown, Kristi back to Connecticut and me to Jersey.

It shifted the way we ordered too. Seafood sandwiches, and steaks and vodka cocktails replaced the margaritas and tacos and tortas. I actually usually get a martini, and the Moscow Mule is Aless’s go to. But I wasn’t quite feeling up to the martini, which I’m still struggling with (I CANNOT get my vermouth balanced. I’m getting better.)

So on Thursday, I settled in to watch The Old Guard with this very nostalgic meal, and missed my friends but managed to feel normal for a little while, which was nice.

Magical Movies Tour: Mulan

I know last week I WENT OFF about how Hercules is my favorite of this run, but that was of course before I watched Mulan again which is as different from Hercules as could possibly be, and also might be my favorite?

Mulan is a really special movie for so many reasons. I do really love the “girl disguises herself to go to war” trope, which of course started likely with the Ballad of Hua Mulan, (though my Western Catholic example was always Jeanne D’Arc.) and Disney’s version of the tale is remarkable for a few reasons.

First of all, there are several truly incredible animation sequences. The battle with the Huns on the mountain side, and the final battle at the Imperial Palace have always been stand outs, but this time, I was really moved by the montage of Mulan getting ready to leave home.

It’s moody and epic and a little bit foreboding. The music helps that but the images in that sequence are just absolutely incredible. Mulan sitting on the Great Stone Dragon, seeing her parents in silhouette, and the lightning crashing as she makes her choice.  I was really moved by it.

I also was super moved by the ending when all of the city bows to Mulan after the emperor, but I think that’s just because I watched The Return Of The King the week before I watched it and had a bit of an emotional hangover.

There’s some of the Aladdin formula at work here as well, and it’s really the only one after that where it works. Eddie Murphy’s performance as Mushu is a delight of comic relief, the antics of the cricket are also fun, and the ancestors as a kind of comedic Greek chorus make for a nice bit of business too.

There’s still a steep drop off in quality this run from The Lion King, but it’s also not nearly as pronounced as I remembered. Pocahontas is a stinker, but everything after that is actually pretty good to great. (Mulan and Hercules)

Next time, that “pretty good” streak continues with the Tarzan. 

She’s Inside Of It, She Can’t See

Happy Movie Season 2020!

I’m kidding of course. There is no Movie Season 2020, something I decided last year, using Endgame and The Rise Of Skywalker as excellent signs that both big budget cinema and my particular obsession around it were moving on.

Plus I wanted to be more free and thoughtful with what I was reviewing and when. I still planned to go to the movies a whole lot.

Then you know, “The whole situation” (as my repressed preppy family calls it) occurred and I was suddenly really grateful I’d decided not to because it would have been another thing I needed to mourn and get all anxious over.

BUT, this past week, a new comic book movie, The Old Guard dropped on Netflix, so I decided to take Thursday night (my usual movie night), and recreate a home based Movie Season Evening. I made a shrimp roll (recipe will go up on Tuesday) and some moscow mules, and ate them while watching Cracked After Hours (to simulate the pop culture conversations of Aless, Kristi and I at PJ Clarke’s) while I waited for it do get dark outside enough to watch the movie theater style.

The Old Guard is really special. The idea is that some outside force, God maybe? has blessed a group of warriors across time with immortality. The are lead by Andromeda Schythia, played by Charlize Theron with the exact silent badassary she always applies to these roles. Throughout time they’ve fought as mercenaries against injustice.

When they find a new immortal, they also realize their lives are in danger by an evil medical corporation that wants to harness their power. It ends on an excellent sequel set up and I don’t want to spoil too much, because that’s part of the fun. The movie is quieter and more contemplative than I expected, which isn’t to say that the action is fabulous because it is, each set piece is perfect and brutal.

The cast is great, plenty diverse and it was just a whole lot of fun to tune in to a new movie for a change. I’ve been rewatching a lot, and not watching many movies. I miss the movies, but I was able to get something resembling it. I’ve also been doing Drive-In, with the family, which has been a whole different kind of fun. But something new.

Dedication

I’m a little obsessed with this chapter.

Aaron’s speech here is another thing I’ve been sitting on for almost 10 years. I’m happy to finally share it.

The Marina Chronicle

I was frustrated that The Viscount wanted to ride out with me. I don’t hate him anymore, now it’s more like a low humming annoyance. He’s still to flippant, and casual about Lisette, about the next step.

And I don’t like the way he flirts with me. But it’s his land and I couldn’t very well say he couldn’t come on this ride with me. We were rushing through the woods, when he stopped, I did too after a bit and tracked back to him.

“What’s wrong?” I asked.

“We shouldn’t go further,” he said and dismounted. I looked at him.

“Why?” I asked softly. “Are you going to tell me the woods are haunted, Viscount? That the tortured bride of one of your ancestors walks the woods?” He shook his head.

“Nothing that specific,” he said, “but we’re nearing where Brayton burned out the woods to find the King…

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