At last, the mojito recipe

July 30th, 2003 § 24 comments § permalink

After several mojito-making experiments that failed miserably—the Mojito Julius, mochajitos, mo-Fritos, and so on—I finally mixed some mojitos on Saturday night that were good enough to justify posting the recipe. The instructions are ridiculously detailed, so that you can benefit from all the mistakes I made.

(Incidentally, when I got on this mojito kick, I had no idea that it was the “it” drink of this summer. My housemate and I both liked them already, so we figured, hey, let’s make some mojitos. Does that put us ahead of the trend or smack in the middle of it?)

Anyhow. You will need:

  • Highball glasses (the tall, skinny ones)
  • Whole mint leaves
  • Superfine sugar
  • Club soda
  • Limes, cut in half
  • White rum
  • Ice cubes

To make a mojito, put a small handful of the mint leaves in a glass. The leaves should fill between a quarter and a third of the glass; more than that, and the drink becomes difficult to mix. Add a teaspoon of superfine sugar and a few splashes of club soda. Use a chopstick or the handle of a wooden spoon to muddle the mint leaves until they smell minty and the sugar has dissolved. (“Muddling” is just squishing the leaves against the bottom of the glass. Be careful not to muddle them so hard that the leaves tear, or you will wind up with bits of mint that float to the top of the glass and get in your mouth when you take a drink.)

Squeeze both halves of a lime into the glass, then add one of the lime halves. Add three one-ounce shots of rum. Add a few ice cubes—about four or five if you’re using the ones from those little freezer trays—then add club soda, not quite enough to fill the glass. Stir very gently a few times, pulling the mint leaves away from the side of the glass so that the sugar isn’t trapped at the bottom. Share and enjoy.

Or I could sell a kidney

July 29th, 2003 § One comment § permalink

UC Berkeley just gave me my financial aid offer for the year. I should have plenty of money, as long as I steal my textbooks from other students, make my own clothes from burlap sacks, entertain myself by sitting very still for long periods of time (so as not to wear out the burlap), and feed myself by eating my furniture.

Accredited by that guy, you know, with the hair

July 27th, 2003 § Comments off § permalink

I’m opening a prestigious new university in East Palo Alto. It’s called “Stanfard.”

Sure, the tuition at Stanfard is high, but you’ll be studying with all those Norbel laureates.

Let’s all go to the lobby

July 26th, 2003 § Comments off § permalink

Last night, I paid my first visit to the Pacific Film Archive, UC Berkeley’s motion picture collection. The archive screens classic films from around the world six nights a week. Many of them are too obscure for my taste—the archive devoted much of July to the work of Aki Kaurismäki, a Finnish director billed as the “dour master” of “the Helsinki-on-wheels road movie”—but Friday’s program of two restored American movies looked worthwhile.

Robert Gitt, the preservation officer at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, restored both films, and he was in Berkeley to introduce them. He was a bit apologetic about the first film, The Man on the Eiffel Tower, because the print was not up to his usual standards. It was hardly his fault. At the time it was made, most color films were shot on three-strip Technicolor—one strip for red, another for green, and another for blue—but The Man on the Eiffel Tower was shot on an experimental Ansco Color single-strip film stock. The results, apparently, were disappointing. The negatives were destroyed years ago, and only two color 35 mm prints survived, both of them heavily scratched and printed on deteriorating nitrate stock. With more time and money, he said, he and his team could clean up the film digitally. As it stands, it looks as though it were shot through a foot of mud.

Its technical heritage aside, The Man on the Eiffel Tower is a strange mess of a movie, rife with overacting and with plot twists that beggar belief. What kind of film finds it necessary to list “the city of Paris” as one of the actors but contains almost no written French, even less spoken French, and no actor who even tries to fake a French accent? And in what vanished Paris could one hail taxicabs—two of them—at five o’clock in the morning on a deserted street? Still, it’s almost worth seeing just for the chase scene on the Eiffel Tower, which really was shot on the tower and features the actors doing their own stunts, running across and dangling from the tower’s spans.

The second film, The Barefoot Contessa, was much better all around, especially the glorious Technicolor print. Humphrey Bogart looked especially cadaverous in this movie, which isn’t surprising when one considers that he died less than three years after it was released. My only complaint about The Barefoot Contessa is that it was 128 minutes long and had about 90 minutes worth of story to tell.

Robert Gitt answered questions from the audience after the first movie. I asked a dumb question about film restoration, which he answered very patiently. He is frightfully knowledgeable about film. After I walked away, I heard him mention to a friend of his that he wasn’t staying for The Barefoot Contessa, because although he loves it, he has seen it 40 times.

I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled

July 22nd, 2003 § Five comments § permalink

Today is my twenty-fifth birthday. I am old, old, old. A quarter of a century old. Man, that is old.

Now that I’m not in my early twenties any more, I need to find ways to preserve my rapidly-dwindling youthful vigor for as long as possible. My ideas so far:

  • Sleep in a vat of formaldehyde
  • Read fewer books about city planning and more issues of Teen People
  • Part my hair behind
  • Dare to eat a peach
  • Drink the blood of newborn babies carrot juice

Any other suggestions?

This afternoon in Sproul Plaza

July 18th, 2003 § One comment § permalink

Guy 1: He was not!
Guy 2: He was!
Guy 1: He was not a pothead!
Guy 2: He was!
Guy 1: He was not!
Guy 1: (mumble)
Guy 2: That’s how he composed after he went deaf.

Also, as I passed the nutjob who tables for Lyndon LaRouche, he said, “Everybody with special sunglasses working together to get Cheney impeached.” Hooray! My sunglasses are special!

Only 27 percent lies

July 12th, 2003 § Comments off § permalink

Some of the fruits available at the Berkeley Farmers’ Market:

  • Peaches
  • Nectarines
  • Apricots
  • Plums
  • Pluots
  • Plumcots
  • Apriums
  • Loquats
  • Apriplots
  • Plumpriapes
  • Apriplunectacots

It’s only Iraq ‘n roll (but I like it)

July 12th, 2003 § Three comments § permalink

Knight Ridder is reporting that the Pentagon had no plan whatsoever for maintaining order in Iraq after Baghdad fell (unless “fly in Ahmad Chalabi and wait for the accolades” counts as a plan). Don’t you hate it when your worst fears turn out to be true?

The small circle of senior civilians in the Defense Department who dominated planning for postwar Iraq failed to prepare for the setbacks that have erupted over the past two months.

The officials didn’t develop any real postwar plans because they believed that Iraqis would welcome U.S. troops with open arms and Washington could install a favored Iraqi exile leader as the country’s leader. The Pentagon civilians ignored CIA and State Department experts who disputed them, resisted White House pressure to back off from their favored exile leader and when their scenario collapsed amid increasing violence and disorder, they had no backup plan.

Today, American forces face instability in Iraq, where they are losing soldiers almost daily to escalating guerrilla attacks, the cost of occupation is exploding to almost $4 billion a month and withdrawal appears untold years away.

Most of the article’s sources are “senior government officials” and the like, so you never know; maybe some folks in the State Department just have axes to grind. Also, the article claims that “American planners plotted extraordinarily detailed blueprints for administering postwar Germany and Japan” before World War II ended, but I’m not sure that’s true—I don’t know about Japan, but the Marshall Plan for Europe wasn’t proposed until 1947.

Speaking of bad things and Iraq, since I posted earlier about the looting of the National Museum, I feel duty-bound to mention that the looting wasn’t quite as bad as people feared. Something like 6,000 items are missing, not 170,000. Still, that’s awful, and some of the items that have been returned are in miserable shape. Also, plenty of other sites were looted. Much of the looting could have been prevented if the Pentagon had bothered to develop a postwar plan.

I am going to try very hard to stop posting about Iraq.

I know what I did this summer

July 11th, 2003 § Four comments § permalink

I would write about all the interesting things I’ve been doing, but I’m too busy doing them. Here’s one recommendation, though: 826 Valencia in San Francisco is the city’s only independently owned and operated pirate supply store. Also, they offer free writing classes and tutoring for kids. It is a strange and wonderful place. Go there.

And for those of you who rely upon me for your amusement: If I ever open a fitness center with a religious theme, it will be called Pontius Pilates.


July 2nd, 2003 § Five comments § permalink

So you want a cephalopod for dinner, but the only thing in your fridge is a package of hot dogs. What are you going to do?

The answer is simple: You are going to buy an Octodog.

Just thinking about the name of this product makes me happy. Octodog octodog octodog octodog!

Where am I?

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