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The Quest for Corn Liquor

My lovely wife, the Irish Woman, has a taste for top shelf bourbon. She’s of 100% Irish ancestry, you see, and a proud native of the Bluegrass. The sweet smokiness of bourbon is the scent of her childhood, it’s taste as sweet as mother’s milk.

So, she knows her whiskey. White label Jim Beam or Wild Turkey 101 is cooking bourbon. Many a dish in our home has been flavored with them, from Boston butt in the crock pot to the pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving. Maker’s Mark is the minimum for sipping or mixing with Coca-Cola. Woodford Reserve, Maker’s 46 or 101, and Knob Creek are good enough for company.

Our liquor cabinet groans under its load of bottles. The daily stalwarts lie among their more esoteric brethren. Friends and family know that bourbon always makes a good present or thank you gift. Bottles of every size, weight, and shape nestle themselves on the shelves, waiting to be opened and poured out a few drams at a time.

But Wild Turkey Rare Breed, now that’s the tipple that brings a twinkle to her green eyes. She discovered it one hot summer afternoon when we visited the distillery. We were returning to Louisville from a weekend at the lake, and decided to stop off for a tour of the distillery and a tasting at the visitor’s center.

At the visitor’s center, we met an older gentleman named Jimmy. He was perched on his red and white scooter, chatting with the tourists and being 100% the Kentucky gentleman. He noticed Irish Woman’s accent and asked where we were from.

“Kentucky,” I replied. “We’re from Louisville.”

He quirked a half smile, looked me in the eye, and said, “Son, there’s no Louisville in Kentucky.”

This brought a grin and an “I told you so” from Irish Woman. Truly, this was a true son of the Commonwealth. He bleeds blue, has a dry sense of humor, and knows bourbon like the back of his hand.

Jimmy and Irish Woman talked while I wandered the racks of tee shirts, crystal glasses, and coffee mugs. Imagine my surprise when I had picked out and paid for a few doodads, then found my lovely wife waiting for me with a brown paper bag in her hand.

Jimmy had suggested a bottle of Wild Turkey’s top shelf bourbon, Rare Breed. It’s smooth as a baby’s behind, with a sweet, rich flavor. It comes in a special, ornate bottle that stands out against a background of its plainer neighbors.

It quickly became Irish Woman’s favorite. She doesn’t drink every day, but one or two drinks of Rare Breed on a Friday or Saturday evening make Irish eyes smile. It’s rather expensive, but it’s her favorite and she makes a bottle last for months, so it’s an indulgence that’s worth every penny.

So, you can imagine her surprise when she could not replace the bottle she finished over Christmas. No matter which liquor store she went to, be it a huge market stocked full of every variety of booze you can imagine, or the smallest of mom-and-pop operations with a couple shelves of top-shelf behind the counter, she could not find the object of her desire.

Friends and family have helped by checking their own nooks and crannies, but alas, no Rare Breed is to be found. Yes, we could pay most of a house payment for a bottle on the secondary market, and a few places online have it. But I prefer to pay for the roof over our heads rather than the booze in our glasses, and Kentucky has some rather…. interesting laws when it comes to buying alcohol from out of state.

So, what did my beautiful wife do, you ask? Did she find another obsession, I mean, appropriate substitute? Did she lower her expectations for the flavor and strength of evening nip?

No, gentle reader, she went to the source. She called Wild Turkey and left a voice mail asking where all the Rare Breed has gone. I imagine a plaintive, tear stained plea for the makers of high-proof hooch to release just enough of this truly rare bourbon that Irish Woman could stock up for the coming booze apocalypse.

Amazingly enough, she got a reply. Gotta hand it to Wild Turkey, you don’t see representatives of a large corporation calling a lonely customer back that often these days.

The nice young man explained to She Who Shall Not Be Denied that Wild Turkey did, indeed, have enough whiskey to last out the dark times ahead. No, the issue they have had with getting more of the blessed Breed out was the glass in which it is sold.

Supply chain issues have kept Wild Turkey from getting the special bottles Rare Breed uses. Rather than put their bourbon in a different, possibly inferior bottle, they just haven’t sold any of it.

I imagine a Wild Turkey branded cargo ship, stranded somewhere off Long Beach, its hull bursting with the crystalline vessels needed to satisfy the appetites of bourbon connoisseurs the world ‘round. Patrol craft encircle it, keeping the pirates of Southern California away and ensuring that the bottles will eventually reach their destination.

Rest assured, the purveyors of the brownest of brown liquors are striving to source their special bottles. This will be a trying time for those who cannot see surviving without their 90 proof, single-barrel reason to live, but it is temporary.

And anyway, the longer it takes to get the bottles, the longer the whiskey sits in the barrels. I’m told that a long life in the barrel leads to a better whiskey, but I don’t appreciate fine bourbons as much as someone who grew up close enough to bourbon country that she could smell the distilleries on a windy day.

So, as we go through a period of mourning and expectation of the return of the Rare Breed, please raise a glass to the Irish Woman. She shall spend this time in quiet contemplation of which of the myriad of whiskeys available to her will be a good substitute for her favorite.

As for me, as the weather turns warm, I shall go back to the heresy that is gin and tonic, or perhaps even have a nice glass of scotch on occasion. And if I feel like a bourbon, I will do as I always do: randomly pick one out of the liquor cabinet, pour a few fingers worth into a glass, and sip at it for a few hours.

Has it only been 24 hours?

Went to bed at about 9 o’clock last night. It was one of those “I don’t really remember going to bed” kind of nights. It’s been a heck of a week.

Got woken up around 11 when the lights got flipped on and my wife was yelling something about a tornado warning.

Years of being woken up with no notice by screeching sergeants, privates who have done something stupid, crying babies, and alarms telling me the baby isn’t breathing kicked in, as did my adrenal gland.

A quick reference of the weather map on the Pad of Many Eyes showed that a tornado warning was,indeed, in effect. One detail my loving wife did not include was that said storm was two, count them, two counties away and would not even ruffle the cover on her pool for at least an hour.

Since I was up anyway, I rolled out of bed and ventured out into the living room. I heard the sound of my youngest son running up the basement steps. Further inspection showed that he had already taken a load or two of his favorite things to the basement.

This category, apparently, did not include his school books, nor did it include any of his clothes. There was a small pile of electronic doodads and books in front of the couch. A quick inspection of said sprog showed him to be clothed in an old tee shirt and a pair of boxer shorts.

A short conversation later, which ended with me utilizing the Big Voice, had him going to his bedroom to change into pants and to retrieve his school things. Another short conversation later convinced him that I meant jeans or something like that. Planning for worst case scenarios did not include him surviving the tornadopocalypse wearing Scooby Doo sleep pants.

I changed my own clothes and then made sure that the emergency radio had batteries and that the basement television was tuned to our favorite local news channel. Said channel had gone over to breathless explanations of where the storm was and where it would be in the next few minutes.

A couple minutes of listening to that led me to a couple of conclusions –

1. We still had at least 30 minutes before the still air outside would start to stir.

2. While there were indeed some rather stiff straight line winds headed our way, there was little data to support the reports of a tornado, and no evidence whatsoever that anything, tornado, alien rocket ship, or errant wide body jet, had touched down.

Since my lady love survived one of those rare moments where the Lord cared enough about Kentucky to reach down and smite it in her youth, I humored her by making a cup of Berry Zinger tea, transporting a few things of importance to the basement, then resting on the couch and sipping tea while watching the security camera over her pool to see when the breeze picked up.

And pick up it did. After about 20 minutes, rain started to patter down, then started to patter sideways. It did this for about 10 minutes, then it fell vertically, the way it ought to.

Eventually, I found myself alone in the basement, as the rest of the family had gone back to bed.

I fell back to sleep, secure in the knowledge that I will never perish from the weather while unconscious. Irish Woman really should have been a meteorologist, but she would have based her prognostication upon how her bones felt, the level of panic rising up her spine, and what the bones say when thrown properly.

Anyway, woke up late this morning just a tad on the grouchy side. For some reason, coffee just didn’t sound good, so I abstained. Instead, I made another cup of herbal tea.

That may have been a mistake.

Irish Woman, being a charter member of Our Lady of Eternal Home Improvement, was moving everything in the laundry room so that she could hang yet another rank of cabinets. You see, the only limiting factor I hold when it comes to controlling the amount of stuff we own is storage. She had the brilliant idea to add 150% to the carrying capacity of our laundry room, thereby making room for more stuff.

Did I mention that I didn’t have coffee this morning? Just as the little caffeine gnome in my cerebellum started pounding on the walls of my cranium, my wife started banging on the walls of my house.

Just at that moment, I noticed that Moonshine, our Labrador Retriever, was leaving a rather dense cloud of fibrous material behind him as he walked across the living room. It’s spring, when a dog’s soul is full of warmth, sunshine, and mud, while his coat is gone with the wind.

So, after finishing my tea, I bundled Moonshine into the truck, and trundled the two of us off to the pet store for a bath. Yes, I have a bathtub, but this isn’t my first rodeo. I would rather pay to use someone else’s tub than spend weeks fishing clumps of fur out of my plumbing.

After parting with $12 of my hard earned money in exchange for a receipt and four towels, I took the hound into the Chamber of Wet Dog Hair. Said chamber is basically a fenced in concrete block shower stall with gallon bottles of shampoo and conditioner.

Being a water dog, Moonshine detests baths. Not “I’ll put up with this, but will shake.” It’s more of a “I will do everything in my power to avoid this, and will actively try to drown you while it’s in progress.” The pet store provides a nylon apron, but they really ought to provide bunker gear. I was going to get at least as wet as he was.

I thought about this as I placed my phones and wallet upon the table usually used to groom dogs that aren’t the size of small ponies. I then remembered that it was 30 degrees cooler outside than it had been yesterday and looked forward to getting from the door to the truck.

Moonshine was as cooperative as ever as I led him into the shower and connected his leash to an eye bolt embedded in the concrete. This had the same effect on my dog as a cowboy opening the gate does on a bull in a rodeo. I am glad to report that I was able to hold one for more than the prescribed seven seconds, during which I sprayed him, me, the shower, the ceiling, him again, then my own boots just for style points.

Hair started to come off of him immediately. First, it fell off in bits, then in clumps. The soapy scrubbing and scratching included in a bath caused my hands to resemble those of Lon Cheney, Jr., during a full moon. Eventually, a soapy felt built up on the shower floor, which did nothing to improve the acoustics.

Did I mention that that Moonshine doesn’t like baths? All this work was accompanied by him singing the aria from The Exorcist, which was noticed by the nice family using the stall next to us to groom their small, poofy, well behaved pooch.

After a thorough rinse, which was punctuated by several fits of shaking that got the very last dry bit of me wet, it was time to towel my canine off and attempt to use the blow dryer. As much fun as the bath was, using the hair dryer was an adventure all by itself.

10 minutes of kung fu and canine opera later, he was dry enough he wasn’t dripping anymore. I declared victory and prepared to go home.

I quickly raked up the fur that I could get to, rinsed everything off, and plunked down $10 for the poor kid who was going to have to clean all this up, and off we went. Negotiations for a treat started immediately, as the bulk containers of biscuits were just a few feet outside the bath area. I ended up giving the store an extra $5 to recompense them for what Moonshine was able to slurp down before I dragged his head out of one of the bins.

Why are things like that left at dog head level in the first place.

I was shivering by the time I had the hound strapped down in the truck and scooted around to my own door. After a round of ‘you’re cute, but not cute enough to lock me out of my own truck”, I re-unlocked the driver’s door and turned on the heater.

Moonshine continued to sing the song of his people as I headed out to the highway. Seeing that the Commonwealth has decided to rip up the interstate, again, I decided to take country roads back to Casa de Oso.

Did y’all know that if you take a wrong turn on Kentucky back roads, it’s hard to realize your mistake for at least 15 miles? I mean, every curve looks like every other curve, and the next thing you know, you’re crossing the Ohio river.

So, there I was, 30 miles from home and getting further away with every moment. The hound was singing along to the latest Dan Carlin podcast and dropping an excessive amount of fuzz on my upholstery. There wasn’t a drive-through coffee in any of the itty bitty places we passed through, so I couldn’t even slake my thirst with a little hot bean juice.

I realized my navigational mistake when I came to a T intersection. The helpful sign, or what I could make out of it after mentally filling in all of the bullet holes, was that if I went left, I was going to Cincinnati. If I went right, I was going to Lexington.

Not being entirely gormless, I chose to stay in Kentucky and took a right. After another half hour of driving over hill and dale, I eventually found a road I recognized. 45 minutes later, we returned to our neighborhood, which allowed Moonshine to vocally greet every other canine that he recognized.

After walking through the rain to bring Moonie inside, I got my own shower, changed into comfortable clothes, and tried to remember how I, a cat person, ended up being the one to take the dog for a shower.

I eyed the coffee maker longingly, but decided against using it. Irish Woman returned home with lunch, and I partook of it at 2:57 PM.

With a warm belly full of Thai food and no caffeine, I started feeling rather droopy. It was at that moment that I got a reminder that I have to work tonight at 1 AM, so off for a ‘short nap’ I went.

Four and a half hours later, I awoke to the intoxicating scent of Italian sausages cooking with onions and peppers. Dinner conversation was boiled down to ‘Did you sleep well?” answered by grunts.

So, now I’m comfortably full, yawning, and doing math on how much more sleep I can get before having to get up in the middle of the night to work.

How was your day?

Rumblings

  • I wonder how long it will be before we’re forced back on the 55 MPH national speed limit, told to put on a second and third sweater instead of bumping up the thermostat a skosh, and excoriated for lighting our homes with more than one light bulb at a time.
  • I’m fortunate that my employer still allows me to work from home for the most part. When that changes, my budget for fuel is going to climb and my current state of ‘Yeah, this sucks’ will turn into ‘Yeah, SYS$PoliticalPartyInPower sucks.” Well, more than it is now.
  • I’ll know the energy crisis is real when I see wealthy people carpooling in their Gulf Streams to green energy conferences while wearing sweaters.
  • Idea for a sociological study – Someone ought to look for upward trends of YouTube traffic on videos that show how to make food from the Great Depression. We’ll know when we’re in trouble when a lot of people start looking for ways to cook like Great-Grandma did when all she had was two old carrots, a couple cups of macaroni, and a squirrel to feed a family of 8.
  • Question – What is going to be the impact of food aid to the average middle-class American when it comes in the form of uncooked rice, cooking oil, and dried vegetables and the only thing made in an lot of American kitchens is reservations and mixed drinks?
    • In a land of defunct InstaPots, banned microwaves, and pizza delivery that comes with a $25 fuel surcharge, the new rulers will be those who know how to actually use their pots, ovens, and Brillo pads.
  • I’ll know the Ukraine crisis is a big deal to the U.S.Government when we start hearing comments about how we only oppose the Russian government, not the hard working, honest Russian people.
    • We’ll really know it’s a crisis when we see the sons and daughters of wealthy people and politicians going to Canada and Switzerland for a few semesters of study abroad while their parents start visiting rural and inner city schools to expound on the benefits of serving the nation.
  • Am I the only one that thinks a lot of what Putin is saying isn’t meant for you,me, or even the current occupier of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue? He’s trying to sound tough, resolute, and righteous to Russians, and he’s doing a good job of making sure that his voice is the only one they hear.

Musings

  • It cost more to fill up my wife’s hatchback on Saturday as it did to fill up my full-size truck a year ago.  At this rate, it might soon be cheaper to just hire a couple of big guys to carry my family around on their backs.
  • My belief that all things I own should be made out of basalt or stainless steel was validated recently when we awoke to find the corner of our glass cooktop shattered and a crack starting to work its way across the surface.
    • No idea how it happened.  Nobody had cooked using that side of the stove in a while, and there wasn’t anything on the counter that could have been dropped on it.
    • Wouldn’t you know it, but that particular model is no longer made, and the glass part needed to fix it is not available on the market.
    • The ‘on-sale’ price for a new range was within striking range of making an extra house payment.
    • Hey, it’s only money.  Right?
  • Two days after having new carpet installed in the basement, made necessary by the Great Laundry Room Flood of ’21, Louisville got between 3 and 5 inches of rain.
    • There’s nothing more chilling than hearing your wife raving at the gods when she goes downstairs and discovers a 6-inch wide strip of wet carpet running along one entire side of the basement.
    • Luckily, we caught it in time, dried the carpet, and had the pad replaced.  Hey, it’s only money.
  • I’m not sure if this indicates anything, but the coffee I like is no longer available in one pound bags.  I have to either order a 12 ounce bag like Walmart sells at the price a 16 ounce bag used to go for, or I have to order a 32 ounce bag at a little more than double what a pound was going for a while back.
  •  The difference between me and Irish Woman – When the country ham she likes to get at the butcher shop hit $14 a pound, she complained about the cost while making a sandwich.  When the roast beef I like hit $8 a pound, I quit buying roast beef.
    • At those prices, it’s worth investing in a boar spear and telling the boy to go chase a pig out of the woods in my direction.
    • Fortunately, my bologna has a first name, although its price tag is also ridiculous for what you get.
  • Attempts to make home-made soda pop have been mixed.
    • The root beer Boo and I made was quite tasty.
    • The ginger beer, not so much.  It’s OK and worth playing with the recipe to just make syrup to mix with club soda, but trying to make fermented ginger beer was an abject failure.
    • We are, however, going to plant some ginger to see how well it grows around here.
  • I was able to acquire an affordable, convenient room for LibertyCon in June.  It’ll be good to see my tribe again.

Musings

Everybody wants to be in charge until it’s time to do leadership. Well, they still want to be in charge, they just don’t want the whole personal responsibility and self-sacrifice thing. That’s icky.

Dune is based on the premise that a mystical apex predator that burrows under the sand caused the human colonists of its world to modify their behavior so as to not be eaten, and eventually they’re regarded as godlike. My understanding of what happens to the apex predators and most native wildlife when humans enter an ecosystem is that the hairless apes get very creative when it comes to domestication and eradication. After a few thousand years, a smaller, less violent breed of worm would have been farmed to manufacture spice, or some smart person would have figured out how to synthesize it in a factory.

It’s still one heck of a good yarn.

The art of electing symbols has been perfected. The underlying content is no longer relevant, so long as how someone looks and sounds outshines their opponent. I guess it’s always been this way to some extent, but the widening gulf between what people want their candidates to be and what they actually are is frightening to behold these days.

What the war in Ukraine has told me is that if you have the means to protect yourself, you should never give it up. I expect that no country that currently has nuclear weapons will never willingly give them up, and more than a few countries that have thought about them are currently in at least the beginning stage of acquiring them.

I do, however, wonder how quickly the ordinary folks, who will likely continue to fight the Russians after the Red Army has chewed its way across Ukraine, will go from ‘heroic freedom fighters’ to ‘bandits who should just give up and go home so we can all get back to normal’. It looks good right now to be 300 miles away from the fighting and report on it, but eventually those reporters will want to go back to the land of soft beds and good food, and the politicians will stop seeing Ukraine as an opportunity to acquire money, power, and spotlight time.

What is the difference between hoarding, panic buying, and doing research on what the prices of your favorite commodities are expected to reach in the next year and laying in enough coffee that you won’t have to go through caffeine withdrawal until next Christmas?

Today’s Earworm

Happy New Year to everyone. Cross your fingers, knock wood, and hope things start getting better.

Today’s Earworm

Merry Christmas to you and yours. May the light of the season shine into your life and make your burdens lighter.

Today’s Earworm

20 Years On

At 8:46 AM, on September 11, 2001, the world changed.  By the end of the day, thousands of innocent people would be dead.  Our allies and friends around the world stood with us and pledged to protect and help the United States after the attacks.  Most of all, Americans closed ranks and became more than what we were before.

Americans of all walks of life and beliefs stood together, arm in arm, to mourn the dead and hold each other up.  We saw politicians of all stripes stand on the Capitol steps and sing “God Bless America”.  For one, brief, shining moment, we were one Nation with a common thought.

In the 20 years since that terrible day, we have lost that, squandered it.  To me, that is the true tragedy of 9/11.  We showed that we are capable of finding common cause, of being Americans.  But somehow, we lost that.  We are more divided now than we were on September 10.  Where once we tried to do as much for each other as we could, now we step over each other’s bodies in a quest to be ‘right’.

Today, I look back and I mourn.  I mourn not only the lives lost that day, but also the loss of our sense of belonging, of duty, and of love for one another.

I hope, in my lifetime, for something approaching that moment when we all stood together, to return.  I only pray that it doesn’t take another tragedy to cause it.

Movie Review – Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings

Alternate title – Crouching Panther, Hidden Avenger.

Marvel’s newest contribution to its already huge collection of popcorn movies, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, is a fun, engrossing ride that holds on and doesn’t let go.  If you enjoyed the Avengers, you’ll love this one.

I won’t give a plot synopsis other than to say that the film includes one of the most romantic ass-kickings I’ve ever seen.  It is studded with martial-arts sequences and just enough comedy to remind you that it’s a comic-book movie.  If well-done martial arts movies set in either a classical or modern Chinese setting are your thing, this one is definitely up your alley.

The acting in the movie is superb.  Simu Liu stars as Shang-Chi. His ability to work both the emotional and physical side of his character make Shang-Chi real from the first scene.  He is supported by a strong cast of notable actors, including Michelle Yeoh and Tony Leung Chiu Wai.  A surprisingly strong performance by Awkwafina as Katy, his friend/love interest, filled out the cast and added some light-hearted levity to what could easily have become a much heavier and darker story.

The movie runs at over two hours, but it didn’t feel like it.  The plot moves quickly, pausing only a few times to expand on one point or another.  The characters are thrown down a rabbit hole and keep running until the very end.

Like all Marvel movies, Shang-Chi is targeted at younger people, but older folks who enjoyed the rest of the MCU should also enjoy it.  A good portion of the movie is in Chinese with subtitles, so if you’re watching with younger children who can’t read quickly, you may have to provide some help so they can keep up with the dialogue.  Other than a bit of mild cursing, though, Shang-Chi is appropriate for youngsters who can handle The Avengers or Spiderman movies.  That’s right, Shang-Chi is for the children.

So, if you’re in need of a couple of hours where you can just absorb a fast-paced action movie with outstanding acting, amazing visuals, and great characters, you really ought to check out Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings.

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