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fortuitously, handles of Jim Beam are on sale

So, here's some of what was going down this last week.

I waxed the car yesterday. And it looks awesome, according to both some meathead in gold chains and a SUV, and a couple of 10 year-old-girls. But wouldn't you rather hear about something else?

Tomorrow, Albert's moving to NYC for grad school, about which I will probably always be jealous. At least until I do it too. But he had some AV hardware that he preferred to give away instead of sell on Craig's List. So I'm the new owner of a mammoth Sony TV, and a ReplayTV DVR, as well as a swank portable bbq and a new (to me) MiniDisc recorder.

Oh. And about 150 pieces of vinyl, collected and spun by DJ Albert Dang himself. Hottt Traxx. He offered me a chance to buy his turntables and PA and mixer and coffin...and...and...but I couldn't justify space:usage-frequency ratio, even at the crazy-low price he was asking. So I just stole his wax.

Now, the acquisition of the TV is kind of bittersweet. Picture- and sound-quality-wise, it's a huge improvement from my beloved (and also free, courtesy of my cross-country-moving roommate Robin a few years ago) Zenith System 3, with Computer Space Command. But that wood-grained retro-treasure was built in the late 1970s, and is modern in all respects--except for the appearance, the rounded corners of the screen (think 1950's sci-fi movie radar scope), the need for rabbit-ears, and the mono headphone jack. It has a keypad on the front, concealed behind a door. When that door is closed, the only controls or displays you can see is the green LED channel display.

In other words, it is the very embodiment of minimalism....

The Computer Space Command (we would say "remote control") is powered by a 9 volt battery. It has a "zoom" function, available only from the remote, which increases the magnification of the screen by maybe 10%. Invoking the zoom function on the Space Command results in the "clunk" of some machinery in the back of the TV, a simultaneous dimming of the lights (and probably some blown circuit breakers somewhere up in Ontario), and the unsteady wobbling of the picture as it enlarges. A satisfying pale orange light on the front panel of the console lights up, telling you the zoom function has been enabled (as if the fact that you can't see the tops of the heads of anyone on the screen wasn't enough of a clue). Actually, the orange light is meaningless, unless the door to the control panel on the set is closed. That door has a clear lens with the word "Zoom" silkscreened onto it, in action-packed, forward-leaning, future-seeking italic type. When the door is open, there's just a garishly large orange light. Actually, it's more of a lamp than a light. Bright. Awkward. Large.

In short, I love this old TV because it's more than a TV. But as a TV it's pretty bad. So I've definitely taken a step forward by getting this new one.

Except.

What to do about programming? As I have a habit of mentioning, I don't have cable TV. I did when I lived with Robin for those few months (and she had a pretty great TV that she kept for herself), and of course I reveled in the picture quality, programming choices and her TiVo. But that was all hers; it was there when I moved in. And when I moved out a few months later (taking some furniture *she* didn't want to move or sell, in addition to the System 3), I invested in a pair of rabbit ears ($2.99 from Radio Shack), a used VCR ($60) and a fairly good DVD player ($199 on closeout) and called it a day, in terms of building an "entertainment system." I've always preferred to spend my entertainment dollar on computers, music and gasoline.

But rabbit ears on a Replay and 27" TV seems pretty lame even by my standards. And I started thinking that something needed to be done. So I did a little research into what precisely one gets in return for giving up the moral high ground of not having cable TV (and specifically not being a Comcast customer). And I found that speed and The Daily Show are a pretty powerful combo.

The cable guy is coming on Tuesday morning to hook everything up.

What does this mean for you, gentle readers? (There's a strike tag around that funny "s".) It means that you'll no longer hear me remind people that "I'm the only person [they] know who doesn't have cable." it means you'll probably have to deal with me saying something like, "This Gilmore Girls show...are they kidding?" It means you'll probably have *me* telling you what to watch instead of the other way around.

Sounds awesome, doesn't it?

I really can't wait to have the Speed Channel (Rolex Series! World Rally Championship! Star Mazda Series! Touring Car Championship! All Sorts of Races Besides NASCAR and Formula 1! Dare I hope for.....Spec Miata??) ESPN will be useful too, of course, and it'd be sort of fun to watch some Tour de France on OLN (at least the all-accident highlight reels they put together). Of course The Daily Show will be great, and Yo! MTV Raps. (That's still on, right?) But I really feel dirty about having succumbed to the pressures and joined the masses, injecting culture through my eyeballs, one remote-click at a time.

And that's long before I get to investigating the PPV options at the upper end of the channel scale....

Later in the day on Tuesday, I'm going to get my eyes checked. Which is sure to be great, because I'll come home with my pupils all dilated, and not be able to watch Cribs, or Maury, or Xzibit....I'll only be able to take a nap. Not that that's such a bad alternative. But I'll set the Replay to grab the Star Mazda race in Montreal (which happened 2 weeks ago) showing on Speed Tuesday afternoon.

But enough about television.

Last week, for the first time in maybe 3 years, I made a batch of mint juleps. The way I do it is, of course, a bit complex. It involves an alchemical process of basting fresh mint (in this case, sourced in abundance from Lisa's garden) in a powerful syrup of fresh spring water and turbinado sugar.

By basting, I mean soaking, infusing and muddling. And being patient. Because all that infusing takes time.

So I had about 4 cups of syrup, and went in search of bourbon to cut it with. (I know that usually one cuts bourbon with a syrup of some kind, or a mixer, but this is really powerful syrup.) That found, I mixed up a couple of batches (*that* stage is kind of an exercise in unskillfulness; the way I do that part is kind of akin to taking a pour bath in whiskey), and still have 3ish cups of syrup remaining. It keeps forever, but at the rate I'm giving bottles of this mixed elixir away, not to mention enjoying it myself (with hand-cracked ice and a sprig of fresh mint as garnish), it won't be around long.

Those of you with summer birthdays now know what you're getting from me.

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Comments (4)

Inquiring minds want to know what kind of ratios you use for the syrup :)

2 parts sugar : 1 part water. For each cup of water you use, you need about a half-gallon of loose mint leaves.

No, I am not kidding.

Pour the hot syrup over the mint and steep it for 2 days. Again, I'm not kidding.

Mix the syrup with the bourbon to taste. For me, I usually pour out a cup of bourbon from a 1.75l bottle, and replace it with syrup.

Kate:

Um... what about November birthdays?

And dude, that is so totally awesome that you're getting cable. Now we can discuss The Hills (the Laguna Beach sequel) and My Super Sweet 16 and the Half-ton Man. Oh, and Gilmore Girls, of course.

Or perhaps I should keep that stuff to myself...?

Oh, Kate...you know it's a little gauche to drink mint juleps in the fall and winter. And, like me, you don't care. So, fine; November birthdays get some too. But probably not from this batch.

I really am not going to discuss anything called My Super Sweet 16 or (especially) Half-ton Man. The mere existance of these makes me feel incrementally better about the aborted attempt my hapless cable installers made to get me hooked up today. They failed, and I might scrap the whole plan.

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