Friday, August 10, 2012



Proust Questionnaire

Emma Thompson

Having evidenced unrivaled range and revived Jane Austen for a modern audience, the two-time Oscar winner—and star of Brideshead Revisited, out this month—ponders her thighs, oenophilia, and weightier matters.

photograph by Chris Floyd July 2008

What is your idea of perfect happiness? 
Hot weather in Scotland.
What is your current state of mind?
What is your greatest fear?
Losing a child. Knives.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What is your greatest extravagance?
What do you consider the most overrated virtue?
What is it that you most dislike?
On what occasion do you lie?
To get out of going to things.
What do you dislike most about your appearance?
Dimply thighs.
What is the quality you most like in a man?
What is the quality you most like in a woman?
Ability to laugh in the face of disaster.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“I have to say … ”; “Is it time for a drink?”
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My family.
When and where were you happiest?
Just after giving birth without painkillers.
Which talent would you most like to have?
To play the piano exceptionally well.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Giving birth without painkillers.
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
Then who would I be?
If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what do you think it would be?
A human being. Again.
What is your most treasured possession?
My Finnish sauna.
What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?
Clinical depression. Exile.
What is your most marked characteristic? 
Enthusiasm. Lots of teeth.
What do you most value in your friends?
Who are your favorite writers?
Carver, George Eliot, Austen, Twain, Spike Milligan.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Sherlock Holmes.
Which historical figure do you most identify with?
[British socialist and early feminist] Annie Besant.
Who are your heroes in real life?
[Ugandan aids activist] Noerine Kaleeba and [British human-rights activist] Helen Bamber. My father, Eric Thompson. My husband, Greg Wise.
What are your favorite names?
Gaia, Tindy, Ernie, and Walter.
What is your greatest regret?
Not having been able to have more children.
How would you like to die?
By the river, in Scotland, clutching a good bottle of wine.

Winning Entry: Undying Love in ≤150 Characters Contest

It is dark
and when we kiss
my fingers find you
like candlelight

read the rest of the entries here

With Great Drunkenness Comes Great Responsibility

So I was going through a couple of drink-recipe websites and, on a whim, started looking to see if there were any superhero-themed cocktails. And yes, there are. However, the results are disappointing.
For example, the most common recipe for a Batman is grenadine and orange juice. Which, while cute (a nonalcholic cocktail for Batman, very “ginger ale pretending to be champagne”) fails the obvious test of getting drunk. Also, let’s be honest, Batman needs TWO drinks.
The Bruce Wayne: Should be a playboyish, manly cocktail, a la those drinks they keep making up for Bond films.
The Batman: Should be dark in colour and hit you like a freight train.
There are numerous drinks for “Superman,” most of which are shots and a few of which play off the red/blue colour scheme. This seems wrong. A Superman should be a down-homey old-school sort of mixed drink, like a screwdriver or Irish Coffee - something your granddad would drink when he wanted something mixed rather than just a beer or a tumbler of whiskey. But with a single exotic ingredient.
After that there are a paucity of drink options. There is nothing worth a damn called a “Spider-Man,” for example. No good “Iron Man.” (”Pick five bottles from the bar at random by pointing with your eyes closed. Pour half an ounce from each into a glass. Drink. Order six more.”) No “Hulk.” The only “Wolverine” sounds disgusting (two shots of Bacardi Limon dumped into a pint of lager).
There’s one “Green Lantern,” playing off the color with melon liquor, but it seems insufficient somehow. The only “Captain America” seems wrong (Southern Comfort, amaretto, cranberry juice and rum?). A “Wonder Woman” is… well, what you’d expect (a bunch of fruit juices and fruit liquors, seemingly selected at random). A “Joker” has a distinct lack of purple or green.
The only recipe for a Constantine has Zima in it, for fuck’s sake.
Occasionally you find one obviously not comic-inspired that works. A “Fire and Ice,” for example, is quite apropos (half and half of cinnamon schnapps and peppermint liqueur). The “Blue Devil” (Blue Caracao, obviously, with gin and lemon) works too. A “Black Widow” both looks and tastes appropriate (float Blavod black vodka on top of cranberry juice).
Note that not every superhero name works as a cocktail name. A “Donna Troy” would just be a sad, sad joke. In fact pretty much every character who’s ever been a Titan would be a sad, sad joke. If the superhero has “man,” “woman,” “boy,” or “girl” in their name, they’d better be goddamned iconic or nobody will ever order that drink because they will sound like an idiot. (So no Frog-man, Beast Boy or Saturn Girl, for starters.) Cocktail names should be memorable.
But come on, there should be drinks for all of the following, as they would sound right being said in a bar:
Phantom Stranger (far and away number one on the “should be a drink” list)
Doctor Strange
Black Bolt
Haunted Tank
Ghost Rider
Shining Knight
Ever-Lovin’ Blue-Eyed Thing
UPDATE: John, in comments, writes
the Dr. Strange should be just a dry martini (gin and not vodka, I think) with an unusual garnish (a la a Gibson).
This sounds almost exactly right to me, although there is an argument that the martini be a vodka one instead given that Strange, while urbane, is still American, and that’s always said “vodka” to me rather than “gin” (which has strong Brit connotations). Of course, taste should be the final definition, and if it is a vodka martini, the vodka should be really good vodka - I’d go with Chopin, but at a minimum Ketel One or Grey Goose, no Absolut or Stoli in a Dr. Strange, thank you very much.
As for the garnish? I’m going to say a thick slice of apple, which only gets used in appletinis (ugh). But I think it can complement a martini very nicely when there’s no sweet liqueur involved - a touch of sweetness and tartness to counterbalance the toughness and elegance of the martini is very Stephen Strange.
Also, calling vodka and Red Bull a “Deadpool” is brilliant. Keep it coming, folks.
UPDATE TWO: From email:
A Phantom Stranger needs to be a drink where one type of alcohol “ghosts” into the second - you know, seems to hang suspended within the first. But I don’t know how to do that.
Well, there’s two ways that I can think of to do that. The first way is to do the opposite of layering - for a layered shot or drink, you pour the heaviest component first, then the next heaviest, and so on. This prevents mixing. However, if you pour the lighter alcohol first and then pour in the heavier booze, it will plunge into the first. Ideally you want a second liquor only slightly heavier than your first, and a colored liquor being poured into a clear one.
The second way is to make a cloudy drink by taking something you don’t traditionally shake (such as a cream liqueur like Bailey’s or Amarula), making your recipe and shaking it. The cream liqueur will dissipate. However, this can just look gross rather than cool if you mix it wrong.
Both tricks require a reasonably experienced bartender, though. I can do the first, but not the second, so I am leaning towards the first method. Off to look at layering charts!
(suggested in email, and I’m pretty sure it works)
Phantom Stranger: Chilled cocktail glass. Pour 1 oz white Curacao into glass. Pour 1/2 oz white creme de cacao into the white Curacao, making sure not to smooth out the pour by bouncing it off the side of the glass or a demitasse spoon. Garnish with either an orange slice or a sliver of shaved chocolate. Serve immediately.

uh-huh. the glass is definitely that.