Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Chocolate Amethyst

I often enter the world of creativity when it comes to alcohol. Mr. Man prefers his tried-and-true rum and diet Coke, time and again. (Well, sometimes he switches to diet Dr. Pepper, and if he wants to sin, he'll indulge in the real stuff. But rarely.) But I'll try all sorts of different concoctions. No mixologist, I, however. More often than not, my drinks are valiant attempts, and that's as far as they go.

A year ago, almost exactly, inspiration struck like it will from time to time. But this time, the attempt was a hit. So here's the recipe:

Chocolate Amethyst

2 shots vanilla vodka
1 shot vodka
1 shot white creme de cacao
1/2 shot Chambord

Shake together with ice in a martini shaker, and serve in a cocktail glass.

Simple, right? So, more blogging to regale ya:

It turns out a pretty light lavender. (Usually lighter than it appears in this picture.) I originally tried it with dark creme de cacao. From a taste perspective, sure, it's the same. But to really evoke the name "Amethyst," you have to use white creme de cacao.

Mr. Man thought it would be especially decadent with Godiva liqueur. I didn't think it would make that much of a difference. So one night, because it's fun to drink these, we did a blind taste test, and found the taste about 99.9% the same. I liked the creme de cacao just the slightest bit more, and Mr. Man thought Godiva won out, but just by a sliver. But again, the color is part of the drink, so out went the Godiva.

The first sip may taste a bit cough syrupy. That's, unfortunately, what happens quite often when you use Chambord. But get past that first sip, and the rest is divine.

Mr. Man, well-connected social whore that he is, broadcast news of the Amethyst far and wide soon after its discovery. By far and wide, I mean to friends in places like India, Brazil, Australia, and the Netherlands. And, of course, stateside. Funny how the world wide webiverse works like that, ain't?

A few iterations followed, with varying degrees of success.
  • Substitute creme de banana for the Chambord, and you have a wonderful banana split-flavored concoction. Especially good with cream added in.
  • Substitute 1/4 shot of creme de menthe for the Chambord, and there's a good chocolate mint drink. Do NOT go overboard with the creme de menthe, lest you end up with vanilla-flavored Scope.
  • Limoncello instead of Chambord results in Generic Sweet Martini #248A.

One last fun fact: the word "amethyst" is derived from a Greek word that means "not intoxicating" or "not intoxicated." Apparently the gem amethyst was rumored to prevent intoxication. Amusing, right?

So there's your drink for the new year. Happy 2011!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Serve. Ask. Tell. And celebrate.

I'm a bit late on this, but huzzah! DADT is repealed! It marks, in a very significant, official way, that homophobia will officially no longer be tolerated, just as President Truman's executive order back in the 1940s effectively ended official tolerance of racism.

I just saw President Obama sign the repeal of DADT into law this morning. Of course, he thanked the soldiers present today, saying that with little doubt, gay soldiers fought during the conflicts through our country's history...blasting the British in our fight for independence, marching along the front lines at Gettysburg, storming the beaches at Iwo Jima, dying and being consecrated forever for service in Vietnam, and currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Military service is frequently ugly, and the policies that back it up are often questionable and sometimes reprehensible, but seriously, this repeal is major cause for celebration.

I remember watching some CNN or MSNBC show recently when the House passed the DADT repeal (before the Senate acted like morons). Rep. Barney Frank was interviewed about what it means, and how he felt about it. His first response? "I feel safer." I was first jarred by this response. Wasn't this all about LGBT rights? Then on further thought, the cynic in me thought that he was just saying something particularly politically savvy. Well, he was, but man, he's right: Eliminating DADT is just as much an issue of national security as it is LGBT rights. And for the majority of Americans, that's really the main issue.

A political promise made to our nation, and to gay men and lesbians across this nation, has been kept. And with such a huge, visible, nationwide discriminatory policy struck down, a huge step in LGBT civil rights has been taken. The positive ramifications of this action should reverberate for decades to come.

Thank you, Senators Lieberman and Collins, for fighting to keep this issue alive. And well done, President Obama. Thank you for keeping your promise.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Of fools and kings...

...and I think we "fools" in this case might be smarter than the kings.

(Or: rants about the inability of our fucking government to repeal a stupid, stupid law, despite all evidence showing that it should.)

Now, I ain't no politico. (Imagine me as an armchair warrior, saying that with a good Southern drawl, slow and deliberate.) I seldom get riled up over politics. I usually keep my head down, and don't talk about things over which, aside from voting in this (har-de-har-har) democratic nation, I basically have very little control. But this is a fucking travesty.

As one of my friends put it, only in America can a 17-vote majority not pass legislation. I'm talking, of course, about Don't Ask Don't Tell. (There's a seldom-mentioned third part to that: Don't Pursue, but meh...niggling details, right?) Didn't pass today by a vote of 57-40. (Needed 60 to pass.) Gadamighty, but I am so disillusioned by our gummint. Indulge me in some no-solution spleen-venting, m'kay?

I have no desire to be in the military, nor have I ever. But I do have a great deal of respect for the men and women who live and work in service to our country in one of the most honorable ways I know. Soldiers put themselves in harm's way regularly. They do what they can to protect our country and preserve the stability thereof that helps to ensure a pretty damned productive society. I like the statement, overblown though it may be in some cases, that soldiers write a blank check to the nation for the total up to and including their lives. Quite true.

Not gonna go that much into the extra sacrifice that gay men and lesbians make. We all know it. Under DADT, they can't tell the truth about who they are and what, at a very core level, defines them. They live a lie so they can serve their country. Being honest about who they are places them at risk of being discharged. It also places them at significant risk of being harassed, physically and otherwise, although that's decreasing day by day as we're becoming more visible and more accepted.

But here's what really galls me. Despite such overwhelming evidence that out gay men and lesbians do not pose a risk to a unit's morale and ability to function; despite a recommendation by the motherfucking PENTAGON, for crying out loud, that DADT should be repealed; despite a majority of servicemen and servicewomen who believe that DADT should be repealed; despite a majority of Americans who believe that DADT should be repealed, it remains intact due to the asshattery of Congress.

If I ever met John McCain (thanks to Sarah Silverman, I know his name rhymes with "shit stain"), I'd spit in his face. Hypocrite that he is, he originally stated that he would go with whatever recommendation the Pentagon handed down regarding DADT. I'm sure he did that figuring that such a conservative, old-guard entity would never recommend anything other than maintaining the status quo. Well, oops. Now with this recommendation, he's been making flippy floppy and leading the charge to keep DADT intact. He's stated that more research needs to be done, more thought needs to be put in, and it shouldn't be repealed. He's even gone so far as to say that the recommendation is that DADT can be repealed, but the recommendation doesn't say it should. Good God. Get me a battleaxe.

With this position, McCain is saying that we should continue to accept convicted felons into the military to serve our nation, however warped they might be. But out gay men and lesbians, regardless of how morally upright they might be, or how powerful, or intelligent, or diplomatic, or dedicated, or self-sacrificing, or honorable they might be, should not hold a position in our military, and if found out, should be discharged. In essence, gay men and lesbians (assuming they are not felons themselves) hold a lower status in the military than felons.

He's also saying that the priority should be placed on discharging out gay men and lesbians, regardless of the position they hold, or of the scarcity of their talents. Witness the soldier whose fluency in a number of Middle Eastern languages, and subsequent value as an intelligence expert, was trumped by who he's attracted to. Never mind that there was no one nearly as qualified as he was to do his job. Never mind that his expertise - which I'm sure came in pretty handy about 5 years ago - was judged inconsequential when placed beside his orientation. And especially never mind that the end result of this could have contributed to a breach of security in our country, no matter how small. (He and over 13,000 other soldiers were discharged because of DADT. How's about THAT for a loss of valuable men and women who would otherwise protect our country?) McCain and his fellow blithering idiots believe that we should just plain get rid of the queers.

Other stupid-asses who have made it into holding public office believe that gay men are, across the board, wispy little fairies with limp wrists and who can't hold their own physically. Or at least that's what they say publicly. (Pandering to their constituents?) I'd love to invite them to some of the gay bars I frequent and show them the guys there - physically daunting, huge in some cases, who are awfully muscle-bound and know how to use their muscles. I'd love to introduce them to the gay men I know who are - right now - serving our country faithfully and loyally (one of them out, no less), and whose compatriots consider them tremendous assets. I'd love to show them gay men who don't know the first thing about flaming, and wouldn't know how to flip their wrists convincingly if their lives depended on it. But they could certainly handle an M-16 if given the proper training.

Oh, and of course, there's the argument that gay men are all ravenous sex machines who would try to come on to straight men if they were placed in close quarters together. Please. Soldiers - regardless of orientation - are there to do a job, and they know it. Straight men have largely proven that they can function in the field with women without disrupting morale. If a straight man is that insecure about a gay man potentially coming on to him, he needs to address why he's so insecure. (To be fair, if a gay man ends up coming on to a straight man and it does interfere with morale, then disciplinary action should be taken.) (Another non-sequitur: one of my favorite ways to totally deflate straight guys who think I'm checking them out: "Don't flatter yourself." Catches 'em off-guard every time.)

I'm done.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Powder blue and fuchsia...I'm thinking wedding colors now.

If you want to raise my hackles at the post office and make me wish silent death by repeated 30-gauge needle pricks, here's what you do:

- In December, wear a tennis skirt.
- Make it as bright and obnoxious a fuchsia as you can. The better to set off your unusually tan legs for this time of year, right?
- As a top, wear a '70s powder blue quilted jacket.
- Roll the sleeves back juuust enough to show the plaid pattern that brands it a Burberry.
- Do your hair back like a tennis player. Scrunchies are really fashionable.
- But don't worry about any other pretenses about being a tennis player. After all, it's December. *facepalm*
- Carry a Louis Vuitton bag.
- Check your Blackberry about that baby shower that Ashley and Kimberly are throwing for Madison.
- Look as entitled as you know you are. Blasé works as well.
- Don't even glance back at the 15-person line that's been forming behind you.
- And most of all, lug five or six packages - unpacked, unsealed, and not in envelopes - just for the poor unsuspecting postal worker to deal with for the next 15 minutes.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Why I hated 8th grade, part 529.

Omphaloskepsis: excessive introspection, self absorption, or concentration on a single issue.

Interesting dream this morning. While visiting a friend in San Francisco, I began reliving unfun times at my 8th-grade yuppie training facility. Some background: Back in the day, I decided rather stupidly to jump ship from a middle school I rather liked into a richie-rich prep school with a three paragraph-long dress code. (The parents thought that I had exhausted the curriculum at the former school, and they really wanted to say their son was going to one of the most prestigious schools in town.) Bad enough that being 13 or so is already tumultuous. Add on the fact that the kids at this school were snobs who had already formed their cliques. They were not going to be interested in having a nerd with braces, large square-rimmed glasses, an unflattering buzz cut, and more-than-lacking social skills soil them with his uncool ways. So I gritted my teeth and endured 8th grade with no lack of Sturm und Drang.

So, back to my dream. Recounted to my friend how much I hated that place. He then produced a letter out of thin air and told me to read it. It was from a guy who was among the quieter, nerdier types who, despite this, was still in one of the cool cliques (due to his longer tenure there). His letter was actually really complimentary. He said he wished we could have been better friends, and in the end, he wished me well. Whoda thunk?

Enter Facebook, for better or worse. I found...well, not this guy. Not immediately, at least. I first found another guy I had known in this former life of mine, who had well over 600 friends. And amongst them, I found quite a few names from said former life. It was wild to see how many people I had known in the past, and how many people I had turned my back on. And not necessarily for the worse, either. There were lots of kids I just plain didn't get along with. The pictures I saw were pretty telling, too. These people are now living, in part, the life I wanted to avoid as much as possible. Yuppie families, consisting of real estate agents, architects, self-employed people, and the like. All showing off their happy babies and young kids. Beautiful people smiling over fancy dinners, functions, benefits, and charity gatherings. (Never mind that I'm actually kind of a guppie myself, and self-employed too.)

Back in the day, I hated these kids more than I can say. They were my ultimate nemesis. I saw a lot of what I did not want my life to be like. I saw a lot of who I did not want to be friends with. Unfortunately, what I did not see was a good view of how I wanted my life to be like.

One thing I've learned while being self-employed is that if you are to be successful, you have to have a razor-sharp clear vision of what that success looks like. And that has been incredibly difficult for me to envision. I've always known the opposite. It's awfully tough to look at things that are traditionally associated with success, and not reject them out of hand. When I was younger, my view of "success" involved a lot of business casual, a lot of snifters and highballs in the den while discussing business, a lot of easy-listening crap from the 1970s, and not a whole lot of iconoclastic fun. And the kids of these so-called successful grown-ups seemed entitled, spoiled, and either pranksterish frat boys in the making or holier-than-thou princesses. I was usually the target of these kids. Again, this wasn't how I wanted to live my life. The problem was, I couldn't find exactly how I wanted to live my life for a long, long time.

Even now, I have a hard time sometimes talking about things I love in my life, things for which I have a great passion or a great desire to see/do. Music is up there, as is writing...

Okay. This is getting even too solipsistic and What Color is your Parachute-ish even for me. I'll spare you the details.

Oh, and that dream? I'm certain there's a big lesson in there for me about how I should give these people who I grew up with a second chance. Or something.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Yeah, a few days late for World AIDS Day, but oh well.

The current scene regarding AIDS and HIV is one of apathy and complacency. One of my friends (in the army, no less) frightens me...young, attractive, sweet guy, who's negative, but who nonetheless is regularly putting himself in the crosshairs, sexually speaking. Like so many guys like him, he has the feeling he's invincible. (Didn't we all when we were young?)

I hear stories about "bug chasers," guys with an apparent death wish, who actually WANT to contract HIV, so they just get the supposed-inevitable done and over with. I simply cannot imagine.

On the upside, the drugs being used nowadays are indisputable lifesavers. I know a few guys who contracted HIV in the 1980s, and somehow lived through it. They're still alive and in relatively good health today. It's now more common for PWAs to actually die of something else other than AIDS. Unfortunately, death from side effects of the drugs (usually liver failure) is one of the more common scenarios nowadays.

Apathy and complacency is frightening against a disease of this sort. Which is why I find it really important, on a regular basis, to take out either the movie or (preferably) the book version of And the Band Played On. It's a compelling documentary about how AIDS was spread, the research that was hamstrung by homophobia everywhere from the federal and local government to the gay men who fell victim to it, and the pissing contest between the Americans and the French who only wanted to claim the title of the first country to discover HIV.

Another great, essential movie is Longtime Companion, which was the euphemistic title given to those surviving partners of AIDS victims. The New York Times couldn't say "his boyfriend" or "his partner" in the obituaries, again, due to internal and external homophobia. This one is more of a story of how HIV ended up slaughtering a community of friends in New York and Fire Island, and the emotional fallout from it. A certain tearjerker, with the memorable line, "What do you think happens when we die?" "We get to have sex again."

Those happy, hedonistic days of the 1970s ended up being the dreadful conduit through which HIV could flourish. A virus that could be spread so easily, enable a victim to live symptom-free for up to 6 years, then begin wreaking havoc on the immune system is just frightening. It's a perfect recipe for an epidemic, especially knowing how wild gay men lived back in the day. How many potential partners could you sleep with in six years? Some guys couldn't count the number of partners they had in just one year...upwards of 300 in some cases? The mind boggles.

If I had my druthers, I'd sit my friend down and have him watch both movies back-to-back, just so he can see what the generation before him had to endure. Living with AIDS is a lot easier now than it was 30 years ago...hell, living with AIDS is actually possible. But it doesn't diminish the import of trying to fight it and (hopefully) coming up with a cure of some sort.