The Savoy Variations: The Hanky Panky

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

The Hanky Panky

[p. 80]

I will admit to some embarrassment about this one. The Hanky Panky is not an obscure cocktail at all, but I am not a fan of the distinctive profile — if I may call it that — of Fernet Branca. And so I’ve never made it. It came up in my reading through the Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails in the H section — y’all should go look up hogo — and I decided to try the thing.


  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
  • 1/4 tsp Fernet Branca
  • orange peel
  • stirred, not shaken

It’s pretty amazing. I had two and neglected to get a photo either time. It got added to the bar book on the spot.


  • Savoy: 7
  • Dale: 2
  • Sink: 4

(It might appear that the Savoy is easily winning this game, but I will remind you that most of the recipes are so gross that I’m not wasting my booze on them just to declare victory. At least, that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.)

The Parable of the Mud

Once a man had a vision as he was meditating. He told his friends:

As you know, my practice is to meditate on the four elements — Fire, Water, Earth, Air — and express my gratitude to the spirit of each for what it has granted me in my life.

Last night, as I meditated, I gave thanks to Air for my breath, my mind, for inspiration. In return, Air gave me inspiration and creative breakthroughs.

I thanked Fire for my will, my blood, my passions. Fire gifted me courage and transformation.

With Water I was grateful for my emotions, my unconscious, even my aging and death. Water gave me love, hope, compassion, and dreams.

To Earth I gave thanks for my body and for the earth’s great riches.

But the spirit of Earth in return mocked me: “You presume to thank us, but your pride in your spirit is misplaced. Soon enough you will die and will be nothing more than mud.”


I sat quietly with this thought. I brought to mind the gifts of all four elements, Air, Fire, Water, even Earth — all part of me and the sum of me.

I spoke to Earth. “It is true that I will become mud. But I am not mud now, nor will I become mud until I am Earth again, when I am no longer One of Us.”

Earth was silent.

“And even then, O Earth, I shall be Earth and Air and Water and Fire — I shall be All of Us once again.”

Earth listened.

“And why do you scoff at my mortality, Earth, when you know that soon enough we will all combine again to become a new spirit, a new being, and we will once again be One of Us. You will be One with Us.”

Earth was still silent, but I knew the Earth had blessed me.

“Thank you for this blessing, Earth, for without your harsh truth I might not have found this comfort.”

And his friends marveled.

The Highlights Reel: Part 1

When you transition into the Hoarding Lifestyle — as we have been doing recently — you may uncover a great deal of flotsam.

Did I say ‘may’ uncover? Honey please. It is a dead certainty that you are going to end up with a whole room full of stuff that you have no memory of wanting to keep around.

Behold, Highlights for Children, April 1962. I’ll save you the mental math: that was 62 years ago. I was eight years old, or about to be.

I have no clue as to why I would have saved this particular issue.

I thumbed through it yesterday and was struck by a bunch of things, which I think I shall discuss over a few blog posts.

First of all, it is a product of its time, so occasionally you will find terminology that we would no longer use. (One story is about the main character bringing a baby rabbit to cheer up a “crippled” boy at the “Crippled Children’s Home”; the boy had had polio. Another includes the “fact” that Brazil was “discovered” by Pedro Alvarez Cabral.)

On the whole, however, it is astonishingly inclusive. There are stories/articles about:

  • A Burmese family farming rice
  • A Jewish family celebrating Passover
  • An American boy in a fishing contest
  • The Bible story of Gideon and his soldiers
  • A Iroquois legend about how Native Americans began to fletch their arrows, illustrated by the Chief of the Iroquois
  • The Couperin family of composers/musicians from the 17th century
  • Drawings by children of Tunisia

The texts range from “Preparation for Reading” through “Easy Reading” to “More Advanced Reading,” and there is a chart in the front, a Guide for Parents and Teachers, that lists every item in the issue and has check marks in those columns. (Other columns include “Manners, Conduct, Living with Others”; “Nature and Science”; “Stimulation to Think and Reason”; “Stimulation to Create,” et al.)

At the bottom of many pages is a black star — ★ — indicating a footnote for parents about the thrust of the item:

  • Learning to be kind to trees
  • For arousing kindly feelings towards a boy in Burma
  • For the child when he is ready to have phonics practice
  • Being a selfish or unselfish playmate (yes, this is Goofus and Gallant)

On the whole, I am rather impressed at the magazine’s organization and commitment to reading and learning. (Its founders were both well-known educators.)

And there’s more to discuss! Stay tuned.

The Savoy Variations: Doctor Cocktail

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

Doctor Cocktail


This one surprised me a bit, for two reasons: 1) with only two ingredients, this cocktail is far simpler than most in the Savoy; and 2) seeing Swedish Punsch as an ingredient — it’s a bit of a niche liqueur.

Easy enough: 1.5 oz of Kronan Swedish Punsch, .75 oz of lemon juice, et voilá:

It was delicious, hands-down: sweet and tart, very sippable. I made a scaled-down second one using lime juice — equally delicious. I added it to my bar book.


  • Savoy: 6
  • Dale: 2
  • Sink: 4

The Savoy Variations: Morning Cocktail

I’m bored, so I’m taking random cocktail recipes from The Savoy Cocktail Book (1930), giving them a try, and modifying/improving them if I think it’s necessary, and reporting my findings here.

The Mule’s Hind Leg Cocktail


I had bookmarked this cocktail some time ago and decided to tackle it, finally, last night.

Ugh. Way too sweet, cloyingly sweet. I tossed it.

I had interpreted the “1/5” to be 1/2 oz, so I revisited the proportions, bumping the gin up to a full ounce and reducing the Bénédictine, syrup, and apricot brandy to 1/4 oz (leaving the applejack at 1/2 oz).

It was still gross. Into the sink.


  • Savoy: 4
  • Dale: 2
  • Sink: 4

So I backed up a page.

Morning Cocktail

[p. 109]

Here I took “1/2” to mean 3/4 oz, and I actually measured the dashes. (One dash is 1/8 tsp, so the 2 dashes were 1/4 tsp — a lot easier than whacking the bitters bottle over the admixture and hoping for the best.)

I wasn’t expecting much from the drink, since I am not a big fan of dry vermouth, and absinthe is always a bully in a cocktail. (“Bully” is an actual cocktail term!)

But incredibly, this drink was very drinkable, with enough layers of flavor to keep it interesting. For once, the absinthe played nicely with its neighbors. I will give this drink another whirl.


  • Savoy: 5
  • Dale: 2
  • Sink: 4

How they do it, part #3,967

I was all geared up to deconstruct the vicious rhetorical fuppery used by the appallingly incompetent Katie Britt, an actual Senator from Alabama, in her official GOP response to President Biden’s State of the Union address last week, but Gary Legum did a great job over at the inestimable Wonkette, so I’m going to take a different tack.

For those who are not going to click over to Wonkette, Legum’s analysis of Britt’s Big Lie about the 12-year-old girl who was sex-trafficked is spot on: what Britt did was a) mention Biden, b) tell horrific story [that had nothing to do with Biden or his administration], c) punctuate the story by mentioning Biden again, thus tying him in the listener’s mind to this woman’s sex trafficking nightmare.

This is not an anomaly. It is the go-to rhetorical structure for almost all of right-wing discourse, as I’ve covered before here and here. That was brought home to me yesterday when yet another Imprimis[1] from Hillsdale College arrived in my mailbox. For those who are unaware, Hillsdale is a rightwing cesspit, dedicated to keeping the amygdala-based lifeforms fed with fear and anger.

These things come every now and then, addressed to my late mother. I don’t disabuse them of their mistake, because it’s costing them money to mail this thing to someone who skims the main essay, snorts, then throws the thing in the trash (disregarding the mail-in ‘give us your money’ envelope as part of the process), and I’m on board with that. Vive le résistance.

Because I’m in that kind of mood, I red-penciled the thing and flunked Todd Bensman. Let’s see what I found.

First of all, the thing is loaded with panic words, disgust words, and weasel words. Keep those categories in mind.

It is chock full of post hoc, propter hoc fallacies, i.e., putting factoid after another and allowing the reader to infer that the first is the cause of the second.

Finally, the rhetorical trick of elision is a constant issue.

The whole thing is a vector of ooga booga, designed to inject panic and fear directly into the veins of the reader. Check out the front page there: beyond imagining, tsunami, unfathomable, smashed every record, stair-stepping fashion. The rest of the pamphlet sustains that with phrases like public outrage, some may commit acts of terrorism, and the like. Its whole purpose is stir outrage.

To make it easier on both of us, let’s go with bullet points. I’ll quote the essay, then explain the issue with it.

  • “Of the over 7.6 million illegals encountered by the Border Patrol since 2021…” First of all, illegals is a disgust word, a trigger for the amygdala-based lifeforms. Elision: What, exactly, constitutes an “encounter”? Is it an arrest? What? Also, since 2021: that was three years ago. I know, they’re trying to pin it on the Biden administration. I should note here that there are no footnotes, no references, no sources cited.
  • “But with the percentage of those allowed to stay now approaching 100 percent, if current trends hold, the total allowed to remain in the U.S. under the Biden administration will reach ten million by next January.” Weasel words: “approaching” and “if the current trends hold.” This is their get-out-of-lying-free card.
  • At no point does the estimable Todd Bensman dare to explain why so many people are desperate to come to the U.S., probably because the U.S. helped cause the conditions in their homeland that makes them want to get the hell out of there. And you think he’s ever going to acknowledge climate-change as a cause, either now or in the future? Pfft.
  • He does ask “Who are these people?” at one point, but then just gives numbers, not details about who they actually are. Todd Bensman does not give a fupp about the humans whose lives he is so cavalier about.
  • “More than 330 as of November 2023 are on the FBI’s terrorist watch list.” Did you catch that? Elision: as of — in other words, in total, ever. Mr. Bensman wants you to think that at least 330 terrorists are admitted to the U.S. every year, when in fact that number is a total number (since when, he does not say) — and clearly, the total number of people on the terrorist watch list who were caught, not admitted.
  • “Many are murderers, rapists, kidnappers, and violent criminals.” Weasel words: “many.” How many, Todd? Are these the ones who are allowed into the country? How do you know?
  • “More than a million have been lawfully ordered deported by judges in the U.S. but remain in our country regardless.” Elision: Possibly because of due process? Also a bit of panic: “regardless” — THEY’RE STILL HERE, KENNETH!
  • “Never before have the Border Patrol’s 19,000 agents been ordered to abandon vast stretches of the border to conduct administrative intake duty. Elision: “administrative intake duty” = what the rest of us call “legal immigration process.” Also, Todd, check with your congressional team to see how they voted on the recent immigration bill, which would have increased funding for border security, exactly like you’ve been screaming for. Panic: “never before”!!!!!1!! KENNETH!
  • “And never has there been anything like the current conveyor-belt policy to distribute millions of illegals through the American interior.” Panic words: OMG, KENNETH, NOT THE AMERICAN INTERIOR!!!!1! (It’s also a lie.)
  • “One can only assume that the reason for this is partisan bias…” Weasel words: Any time you see the words “assume” or “probably” or “may,” the writer is going for plausible deniability of an untruth.
  • “It is probably not coincidental that hospital systems across the nation have fallen deep into the red since the great mass migration crisis began.” Yeah, it’s probably those filthy illegals who did that, not the red states’ refusal to expand Medicaid in their domains. And it couldn’t possibly be the grotesque for-profit healthcare system we continue to inflict on ourselves. It has to be the immigrants, right? Also, panic words: “great mass migration crisis.”
  • “…to care for the hundreds of thousands showing up with hands out.” Disgust words: “hands out,” because those filthy illegals are only coming here for the freebies, right?
  • “Some percentage will commit crimes…” Weasel words: “Some percentage.” What percentage, Todd? At this point in time, data shows that the crime rate for non-citizens in this country, “illegal” or not, is far below the crime rate of actual citizens. (See Alabama, to pick one state at almost random.)
  • “One prays not, but some may also commit acts of terrorism.” Panic words: Honey, please.
  • “…this great influx will increase joblessness and put immense downward pressure on wages for American workers.” We now await Mr. Bensman’s call to rigorously prosecute companies that illegally hire undocumented workers at less than minimum wage, resulting in stiff criminal and financial penalties.
  • In a paragraph about determining whether a political action will increase or decrease the chances of immigrants taking the risk to try to come here, we get “… in the ongoing standoff in Texas, placing razor wire at the border as the Texas Governor ordered done will clearly decrease the odds…” Since this is a family blog, I cannot transcribe what I scrawled over that, but suffice it to say that this one sentence encapsulates the rightwing’s attitude towards the lives of the less fortunate, and my reaction was righteous if obscene.
  • Finally, he lists five steps that we could take to reduce all this illegal immigration. None of them do anything to fund and improve the immigration process itself, but rather are all punitive and destructive, i.e., rightwing values.
  • He concludes with “Too many of our elected leaders have selfish reasons to let the border crisis continue…” Panic words: “selfish reasons” — If, as Todd is bluntly stating, we are faced with a tsunami of immigrants, most of whom are terrorists and rapists, what “reasons” could any politician have for wanting this to continue?? This is just a dog whistle to those who want to believe in conspiracy theories among the powerful.

That was a lot, and I haven’t begun to do any kind of deep dive on the actual problems with our immigration policy, which are many, and this post is already too long. I will just say that a major solution to the problem is to go big on actual immigration: make it clear, make it easy, make it fair. You want to keep terrorists and rapists out? Great! Show me how you would do that without just shutting the door and stringing razor wire across our back yard.

Here’s the deal: If the rightwing — Katie Britt, Todd Bensman, et al. — could construct a rigorously logical argument to support their ideas, they would. But they can’t. All they can do is scare the amygdala-based lifeforms into supporting their agenda with rhetorical fuppery. Stay alert and count the silver.


[1] Imprimis translates from the Latin as “first of all,” which is what rightwingers see their rightful place in society as.

I wish to make a complaint.

This morning I headed to Target to buy a shower mirror for our newly renovated shower. As I walked toward the store, this is what I saw:

Very new-looking Dodge, one of those vehicles I call “cockroach cars” because of their tendency to be zooming from lane to lane in speeds far in excess of me, who is already speeding. I am predisposed to dislike anyone who drives one, but I mean, WHAT THE HELL, ASSHOLE?

Let us assume for a moment that this car is incredibly precious to you. I can see where it might far exceed your normal income level to have bought it, and you are particularly anxious that it not be dinged by some negligent person parked next to you, and so you deliberately park directly on the line to provide that necessary space.

Fine. I get it. But here’s the deal, ASSHOLE: a decent person would have driven to the far end of the parking lot to pull that stunt and walked the extra dozen yards to the store. Your cockroach car would have been safe, and you would not have proclaimed yourself as an ASSHOLE to everyone around.

But you’re not a decent person, are you, ASSHOLE? You deliberately blocked a handicapped space merely to protect your cockroach car. To put it extremely simply, you have no sympathy for other human beings. You and your material possessions come before any other person’s needs or rights, isn’t that right? Screw any handicapped person who needs that space — your need to keep your cockroach car new and shiny, plus your desire to park as close as you can so as not to inconvenience yourself, trumps any other human’s needs. You’re basically a MAGA Republican, in spirit and deed if not in party alignment.

I made my purchase and was about to leave, but my conscience made me go back and report this to the cashier, who was as appalled as I and who called their security.

As I exited the store, however, there was the ASSHOLE driving her precious cockroach car away. I should have reported it when I went in.

By the way, ASSHOLE, I have done you an incredible favor of blurring out your license plate, although nothing would give me more vindictive pleasure than to publicly shame you. If you are in fact capable of shame.


3 Old Men, an update

Ten years ago I was ABORTIVE ATTEMPTING my way through designing/planning for my first burn — which I thought was going to be Burning Man but ended up being Alchemy. (The blog posts detailing that process are actually excellent philosophizing, if not outright rationalization.)

My theme camp, 3 Old Men, started out looking like this:

There were six of us then, four Old Men and two spouses.

Ten years later, my camp looks like this:

And like this:

We have the labyrinth and its thrice-daily ritual. We have the craft cocktail bar; Raymundo brings an absinthe bar. We are proud to partner with Wizard and his gong/bowl sound baths. We host Traffidor and his baroque music ensemble for a concert during the ritual. (No, really.) We spearhead the March from the Dark Side, led by Duff, who this most recent burn brought our very first art car, Grubby. We fart around with GET OFF MY LAWN, wherein we put a bowl of hard candies on a large piece of astroturf and then yell at any hippie who steps onto it. We have O•MAOR, the Organization for the Mutually Assured Oxytocin Release, i.e, free 20-second hugs. We have GALAXY, which Turff will bring back this fall, now with a silent disco soundtrack. If I can get my act together, we will have Rage Against the Night this fall, our first art burn.

We’ve grown.

When I came up with this whole concept of a multicursal labyrinth and 3 old men officiants offering a concluding experience to any participant, I had a hunch that we might become a burn institution, and lo! so it has come to pass. We are both a destination camp and a landmark. (One year there was a medical emergency in a bedroom camp across the way, and the radio message that went out to the medics was that the patient could be found across from 3 Old Men.) We get respectful placement, not only at Alchemy but at To The Moon, our other major regional.

More than that, though, is the impact it seems to have on those who walk the labyrinth, especially during the ritual. (After you reach the center, you choose if you want to exit at one of the three exits where an officiant stands. One will offer to bless you; one asks if you will bless him; and the third will offer you a “struggle,” which takes various forms.) Every single ritual, at least one of us will have a powerful encounter with a person who emerges at our station; this past fall, I ended up offering the blessing every time and I was astounded at the impact my simple words seemed to have on everyone.  We all have stories about those encounters.

And we’ve become known as a refuge kind of camp. People seek us out as a calm, comforting space. We’ve taken in random burners; we’ve attracted some of the smartest, kindest, most creative, and funniest people I’ve known. It’s an amazing group of people and I am awed by what they bring to 3 Old Men.

3 Old Men is one of my proudest accomplishments. I owe my eternal gratitude to all of the people who have made it a beautiful thing. If you’re reading this, you know who you are.

me at Alchemy 2023, feeling gratitude for 3 Old Men

Wouldja look at them amygalas!

I’ve been reading back through this blog, specifically my Liberal Rants, and 1) I write good; and b) it’s probably time for me to pick up my sword and once again do regular battle with the unfortunates who swarm our public discourse with their petrified, yappy-dog lack of understanding of the realities of life.

In checking my spam filter this morning, I was intrigued by this subject heading:

Elon Musk TERRIFIES Church Leaders!



What the hell are we talking about here?

The spam filter on this blog’s server out in California has an excellent option where I can go peek under the hood, so to speak, of an email without having to invite it into my inbox. What did I find under this particular hood?

Mercy. This is all so vague that I’m not at all sure what I’m supposed to be terrified about. Sure, AI is from hell and is going to drag us all back to the netherworld when it goes home, we all know that. But I have not seen any news or social media suggesting that it might target Xtians in some specific way.

Needless to say, I did not click on those links to the “short independent documentary,” even though it seems clear that The Great International Conspiracy to Be Evil is going to “take it down”… PERMANENTLY! So I guess we’ll never know just how dark and sinister this threat is until it engulfs us all, presumably starting with the Xtians.

Okay, so we can laugh at this feeble crap, but here’s the deal: the target audience for this is exactly this fearful. A lot of my other spam these days is from rightwing cesspools like BuildingOurMovement — and those emails are deliberate cluster-bombs of fear-inducing buzzwords to get the amygdala-based lifeforms riled up against, well, YOU KNOW.

Yes, you do know what they are getting riled up against: things they don’t understand and have no experience with — minorities, LGBQTIA, vaccines, SOCIALAMISM KENNETH — and they go and vote for the Big Strong Daddy who can SAVE THEM and MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. The fact that they are voting for people who will let the rich and the corporations do whatever the fupp they want while the amygdala-based lifeforms find themselves without healthcare, pensions, roads, schools, or jobs — that never filters back to their brains.

I do not have a solution for any of this. Once an amygdala-based lifeform is duped, they cannot be unduped. All we can do is gently point out to them that crime is actually at its lowest in decades, immigration reform is possible, taxing the rich is necessary and good, gay people are just people, and this great nation of ours is the only industrialized nation without universal healthcare.

Light a candle for me as the election continues to ramp up and I will be forced — forced, I tell you — to write more Liberal Rants as the fascists continue slouching towards Bethlehem.

Post-Dishevelment Update

Yesterday morning, I looked like this:

From the back:

By 10:30 a.m., I looked like this:

My Lovely First Wife said I look like a banker from the 80s. Nu?

So things are different now. For one thing, my hats don’t fit. I have a small skull anyway so I’m always having trouble finding hats that will not swallow my ears, but the hats I’ve bought over the last couple of years apparently needed my manbun/ponytail thing to keep my hats snug. Without that bulk, I could barely keep my hat on yesterday walking back from the stylist. (I’ve ordered hat tape, the foam strip that you put inside the sweatband to make it snugger.)

I find myself reaching up to run my fingers through my hair, but of course it’s not there anymore. I remember the first time I ran my fingers through and lifted my hair up like a common Brigitte Bardot — it was a thrill. Oh well. The joys of life come and go, ne-ç’est pas?

In that same vein, last night I found myself reaching to pull my hair through the elastic bands that hold my CPAP mask on, and laughing because I don’t have to do that anymore. I suspect I’ll be reaching for that hair for a while.

And of course, I’m not shedding like a Golden Retriever or having to pull an errant strand out of my mouth or beard or glasses.

So the hair goes into the mail today so that the Longhairs will get it in San Diego in time to count in the roundup. I’m not sure how helpful it will be; after all that time, it was a pitiful little strand that couldn’t weigh more than an ounce, but it’s the thought that counts, right?