Friday, June 14, 2019

A Window Above: You'll Be Back

Song: "You'll Be Back"
Composer and Lyricist: Lin-Manuel Miranda
Musical: Hamilton: An American Musical
Premier: January 20, 2015, New York

I don't really need to explain about Hamilton, do I?  The Broadway musical about the founding father, Alexander Hamilton, based on the biography by Ron Chernow?  It feels almost as silly as trying to summarize Hamlet a few months back (see here).  Crazy comparison?  I don't think so.  The broad cultural impact of Hamilton far exceeds that of anything to come out of the theater world in 30 years, maybe longer.  We're talking Beatles/Star Wars/Harry Potter-level. Will people still be talking about this show in 400 years?  Yes.

I first learned about Hamilton from my wife.  That alone is an indicator.  My drama teacher colleague going on about a Broadway show would not be noteworthy.  But my wife?  As a rule, she hates musicals.  Not only had she heard about it but she was listening to the cast album on near-endless repeat.  It was first shared with me on our road trip to Nova Scotia a few years ago (see here), by which time she and our daughter both knew the show by heart.

King George's big number, reprised twice (you get all three songs in the video above - you're welcome), is admittedly out of step with the rest of the show.  While most of the music is based on hip-hop, R&B and soul, "You'll Be Back" is based on Lin-Manuel Miranda's other great love: British Invasion rock.  Appropriate to the story, right?  Is it any wonder that the song I fell hardest for is the one closer to my beloved Beatles?  Besides, it's hilarious.

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

On the Coffee Table: Aya: Love in the City

Title: Aya: Love in the City
Author: Marguerite Abouet
Artist: Clément Oubrerie
Image result for aya love in yop city
via Amazon
I had my introduction to the Aya series four years ago (reflection here).  Aya: Love in the City collects the last three of six bande dessinée, originally published in French.  Aya is a young woman struggling along with her friends to figure out her place in late-'70s Ivory Coast.  Aya's academic career is jeopardized when she spurns the advances of a lecherous professor.  Her own story revolves around plotting her revenge against him.  In another thread, a friend tries to make his way as a gay African man in France.  We see the conflicts between city Africa and village Africa, between the European concept of Africa and reality. 

The book is enjoyable though the switches between one storyline and another are frequent and abrupt.  I was grateful for the diagram at the beginning of the book outlining the relationships between all of the characters.

I have now read books 1, 4, 5 and 6.  I definitely missed a few details in between so I may well seek out the others, collected with #1 in Aya: Life in Yop City.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Squid Mixes: Bronx Cocktail

A Bronx Cocktail combines gin, orange juice, dry vermouth and sweet vermouth.  I got my recipe from Eric Felten's How's Your Drink?  It might be better with fresh OJ but otherwise it's fine, though uninteresting.  It tastes like orange juice with some stuff in it.  The booze brings a little bitterness.  While I enjoy Felten's book immensely, he tends to leave the garnish out of the list of ingredients, in this case an orange slice.  I didn't have an orange so we went without.

I find my personal tastes are starting to take focus.  That's not to say I won't continue to experiment but at this point, I feel I have a pretty good handle on how the major players among both liquors and mixers function.  And I know what I like.  I'm a whiskey person, particularly rye, though scotch is certainly nice when drinking it straight.  I prefer gin as a mixer to vodka.  Tequila is intriguing.  I like lime and I like bitters.  Manhattan is still my favorite. 

More importantly, I can now look at a list of ingredients and have a pretty good idea of how the combination is going to taste.  As such, I feel I've reached a new stage in the hobby, one that might require an altered approach.  Stay tuned.

Friday, June 7, 2019

A Window Above: Babyface

Song: "Babyface"
Writers: U2
Original Release: July 5, 1993
Band: U2
Album: Zooropa

Given the lyrical content, I rather doubt that this song is about drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. though his nickname is, in fact, Babyface.  However, I do think it's appropriate that the unofficial video above is essentially a tribute to Mullen.  As I wrote in my last U2 post, I believe the drums are the secret of the band's success and this track, in particular, makes excellent use of percussion.

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Squid Mixes: Bullfrog

A bullfrog combines vodka, triple sec and limeade with a lime garnish.  I got my recipe from The New York Bartender's Guide.  Poke around the web and you'll see more bludgeoning cocktails of the same name, such as this one

The drink was nice and a good use of the limeade I made for last week's post.  The liquor doesn't add much flavor and what it does bring is rather... alcoholy.  It might have been fine with just the vodka, or maybe even just the triple sec. 

Friday, May 31, 2019

A Window Above: Come Sail Away

Title: "Come Sail Away"
Writer: Dennis DeYoung
Original Release: July 7, 1977
Band: Styx
Album: The Grand Illusion

Dennis DeYoung wrote "Come Sail Away" while depressed about the fact that Styx's previous two albums had sold below expectations.  This "song of hope" alludes to the book of Ezekiel 1:1-28 (read here).  To me, there's no question that it's the band's best song and one of the masterpieces of prog rock.  I have fond memories of air guitaring this one with middle school students. 

"Come Sail Away" has had several notable television cameos.  My favorites:

South Park - It's the sincerity that sells it:

Freaks and Geeks:

Want to hear all of the songs I have featured in a convenient playlist?

Enjoy: A Window Above

What are you listening to these days?

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Squid Mixes: Limeade

This is the exact same recipe as this one from Kester Thompson's Mocktails but with limes instead of lemons.  For those wondering, it took 6.5 limes to produce a cup of juice: my wife's exact guess.  The result is very satisfying.

There is something about a lime that feels like an extra special treat in comparison to a lemon.  Both are lovely but limes have an extra zing.  I especially appreciate the tartness of both and limes, with a lower sugar content, have just that little bit more.