Zoe Recommends: Old-Fashioned Whiskey Sours

I am all kinds of excited for today’s post! Due to some adult content, if you will, I have a few things I need to mention before getting to the meat of things:

  • This is a post about alcohol. Please use common sense when consuming adult beverages, especially whiskey.
  • This recipe uses raw egg white. If you are allergic to eggs or have a severe phobia of consuming raw egg, you can choose to omit the egg white but you will lose out on a huge part of what makes this recipe so delicious.
  • This cocktail will change your life.
  • Kthxbai

One of the very first cocktails I ever got into was the whiskey sour. My grandfather on my dad’s side was known for making the best ones, even though I was never old enough to be able to have one and fully appreciate it when he was alive. Even though I never knew the taste of his whiskey sours, I did know that what most bartenders nowadays consider a whiskey sour – isn’t one.

Because I was dying to find a REAL source for old-fashioned whiskey sours, I scoured the corners of the interwebs, since I couldn’t ask my grandfather. (Who, by the way, was born in 1905, so when I say old-fashioned, I mean old-fashioned.)

I came upon this article from Seattle Weekly and knew immediately after reading it that I would be doing a post on making this woman’s recipe. Favorite line? “Lazy bartenders…sullied the drink’s reputation by doing nothing more than pouring a shot of cheap whiskey and topping it with a squirt of some neon piss out of a gun or a plastic bottle.”

Spot on!

I personally can’t stand the pre-made, neon green sour mix of present day and was thrilled to find out what actually constitutes a sour is a blend of simple ingredients like lemon juice and simple syrup.

And, because I planned ahead, I already did a blog post on how to make your own simple syrup. So check that out before proceeding.

Another reason for my being excited to present this cocktail recipe to you is that I not only made it and liked it but I took photos. We all love a good story told by photos, don’t we? I’ll post the cocktail instructions at the end, though I’m just copying it directly from the article I referenced above.

You will need the following:

You’ll also need something to put all of these ingredients in – preferably a cocktail shaker. If you do not have one, any tightly lidded container will do. I used a Mason jar.

I don’t have a photo of me pouring a shot of whiskey into my jar but that is what I did. Pretty easy to do and to imagine.

Next up: squeeze half a lemon!


The recipe calls for a “dollop” the size of a quarter of the first runny clear egg white that comes out of the shell. Because I was taking photos, I decided to use my handy dandy egg white separator. It looks like this:


I cracked the egg into the little plastic holder so I could catch the white below:


I took a tablespoon of the egg white and added it to my Mason jar. I then added “half an ounce” (I admit it, I eyeballed that) of simple syrup to my Mason jar. That’s about one tablespoon.

Now we’re ready to shake! REALLY shake it – it’s going to give you this creamy, delicious froth from the egg white that makes your whiskey sour all velvety.


You’ll have a mixture that looks like this:

Almost ready
If you have a little strainer, get that out. You definitely don’t want chunks of pulp in your whiskey sour (unless that’s how you roll) but I like mine smooth as silk.

Strain! I had shaken mine with two cubes of ice to get it REALLY cold before pouring it over more ice but you don’t have to do that. If you have a formal cocktail shaker, you’ll be able to get more of the egg white foam on top of your drink.


Mmmmmmm…….


Some people put a cherry in or a garnish of an orange or lemon wedge. I really just wanted to enjoy the drink as-is and it’s still very attractive and yummy looking, if I do say so myself.

Serve and enjoy! And just for fun, a couple more ooo and aaahh shots:



By far, making my own has given me the supreme gratification of saying that I now make the BEST old-fashioned whiskey sours. I have made these a couple of times now (actually, Kevin made the first batch) and didn’t get sick from consuming raw egg. Just be sure to use FRESH eggs and keep these babies cold.

Have I inspired you to try making these? I really hope so. I’d love to hear back if you do! Recipe below. Cheers!

————-

For two whiskey sours, shake:

Juice from one lemon
Two shots of whiskey (more if you like your drinks strong)
1oz. of simple syrup, which amounts to two tablespoons (adjust to taste, of course)
2T. of egg white, though you can add more if you want more froth

Strain and pour over ice, if that’s your thing.

Garnish if you wish and then ENJOY. These are seriously kickass. Zoe Recommends!

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Home-icide

I live in a (rental) house that is one hundred years old. Well, really, it’s 98 but in 2013 it will be 100. This is not one of those well kept up homes that has been lovingly preserved and cared for, passed down through generations. I think any show from HGTV that came to do a makeover would run screaming from this place. There’s just too much that can be done.

It appears that after the first couple of generations vacated the home, it was passed down into the hands of owners who were determined to “keep up with the times,” so we have wood paneling in one bedroom (70s), “popcorn ceilings” in both bedrooms (80s) and up until we moved in, scarred and scratched up hardwood floors in the main areas of the house and carpet in the bedrooms (90s). Thank God the last tenants soiled the carpets to the point where they were completely useless and we had the option of having the original floors re-sanded and finished.

Oh, and if you’re keeping tabs, the basement is from the 1910s. It is unchanged since the house was built. More on that in a bit.

Some of the bare bones have been preserved. All of of the original woodwork around the door frames and even the pocket doors are all still here and in working condition. They’ve been a bit marred over the decades, as people have hung curtains and stockings and the like. And no matter how much WD-40 we spray on the track of the pocket door to the guest room, it releases a piercing squeal which dogs within a five mile radius can hear. Even the other day when I was on the phone, I tried to quietly open the door and despite my efforts, the door screamed and it stopped the other person on the phone dead in his tracks while he was talking.

What’s good about the house is it’s in an area not too far from the law school where a certain Kevin attends but it’s not so close that we’re constantly dealing with parties and drunk students. Though one time, a very drunk girl did decide to pee in the street where we normally park our car. It was an incredibly New York-esque moment.

Sorry for that mental image.

Our landlords are not the best at keeping up on maintenance for the home. They have been generous in replacing a couple of very old appliances that were in dire need of going to the junkyard but when it comes to taking care of anything that requires actual fixing or repair? Ehhhhhhhhhh not their strong suit.

"Would you like me to explain?"

The foundation wall in the basement is crumbling, the windows are original to the house, the insulation is almost non-existent, the air ducts need a lot of work, it invites all sorts of critters into its nooks and crannies (spiders, ants, squirrels), the list goes on. I wish they would take the time to repair some of these things either in between tenants or one project per year, but they just let things be until it becomes dire and then they usually opt to just put a band-aid on it.

The scariest part of the home, in my opinion, is the basement. It’s not a typical basement. It could easily be one where a serial killer would store things (things being bodies). It has a dirt floor everywhere except for the concrete pad where the washer and dryer are. I had never seen a dirt floor in a basement before.

Insects of all kinds love to find their way in and set up shop because no one in his right mind would want to go down there. Since we have to for laundry purposes, poor Kevin goes down there a few times a week. He took one for the team and banned me from the basement after one too many times of hearing me shriek going downstairs and then complaining about how nasty it is. (I’m sorry, but when I’m standing at the washer and dryer, I don’t want to keep glancing over my shoulder and looking above me to make sure a wasp or tarantula from hell isn’t going to crawl on me.)

Plus, both ways of getting down there are treacherous. One is a rickety, steep set of stairs that has barely a railing to hold on to and you wonder if you’re going to face plant into the dirt when you head down there, and the other is a set of steps that goes down to the basement from the backyard, entering through a disgusting back door with bugs all over it down some crumbling, railing-less concrete steps. It was like Sophie’s Choice figuring out which was the “optimum” set of steps to use when we moved in.

We had to have a furnace repairman come out last year and I could tell he was creeped out having to go down into this veritable dungeon to get to the furnace. I didn’t blame him. I showed him the way and scooted back upstairs before I started having walking nightmares. Did I mention the smell? Yeah, it smells like musty basement x 50. When we run the air conditioning or heating, there’s always a faint basement smell that is released with the circulated air throughout the house. Jealous?

Which brings me to the true story here. One afternoon not too long ago, I walked into the house and was immediately affronted by a strong, moldy smell that had apparently sprouted in a single day. Kevin was already home and I began saying, “What is that SMELL? Don’t you SMELL that?”

Let me also point out that I have the olfactory senses of a bloodhound so things that aren’t really strong, Kevin won’t notice but I will and then I won’t rest until I find the source. And then of course things that are pungent drive me absolutely insane. This smell was more than pungent – it was thick and overpowering, like a chemical leak of some kind.

For me, this was a Smell Emergency but Kevin was able to remain calm and stoic. He thought perhaps it was the trash but it became clear that that wasn’t the source of this heinous, moldy, ammonia odor permeating our house. It was so bad that I thought we might have trouble breathing if we didn’t get rid of it and soon.

It only took me a few minutes of overreacting to state unequivocally that I would not be living in this house any longer if this is what we were going to have to put up with for two more years. After sniffing and sniffing and sniffing, we determined that the smell was strongest in the front area(s) of the house. Because it reeked so badly, I asked Kevin if he could go downstairs and see if there was anything unusual going on in the basement.

Obligingly, he went down to check it out and came running back up a minute later.

“It’s definitely the basement!” he panted. “There’s some kind of moldy crumbling stuff on the wall and floor across from the washer and dryer.”

At this point, I was officially freaking out and I declared that our house was trying to kill us. I mean, why else would we randomly have some moldy substance that had accumulated to the point where the SMELL was overpowering and emitting some chemical that could suffocate us in our sleep? I felt like we were being immersed into a smaller version of The Shining.

I became very demanding and told Kevin that if we couldn’t clean it up and the landlord didn’t take our request for its removal seriously, we were going to have to move. Since that is on Kevin’s Top Five Things He Hates Doing, he was very motivated to do what he could to remove the offender. He asked me to stay upstairs while he went back down with a shovel and some bleach.

A few minutes later he came running up the steps, gagging, trash bag in his hand, and said, “This is definitely what is causing the smell. Don’t come any closer unless you want to vomit.” Since I didn’t feel like barfing at the moment, I stayed away. He tied up the bag tightly and threw it out into our garbage bin. He informed me that he bleached the hell out of the area and that we should soon notice a decrease of Murderous Toxic Fumes.

In the meantime, we aired out the house but good and gave a test run of our air conditioning a little while later. Sure enough, though there were some faint fumes of bleach coming through, the moldy whatever-that-smell-was had gone.

I dubbed the incident as a home-icide attempt because I honestly believe our house wanted us dead. Or it was trying to say, “Hey douchebags, you have to MAINTAIN a home. See this? That just happened.” WE know we have to do preventative maintenance but our landlords do not give a fig for that. We ended up not telling them about the incident because I am certain they would not have done a thing, or at least in a timely manner. They are not uncaring people but when it comes to their rental properties, it’s mostly live and let live.

So we survived to tell the tale. This time. But considering we would like to avoid moving while Kev is in law school, it remains to be seen what else might happen. And if I know my basement, it’s probably got a few more tricks up its revolting sleeves.

The End

Simple Syrup is Simple

I know it’s been over a week since I’ve had anything to say, which is unusual for me (at least this past year). I had a bout of writer’s block and am hoping to be more inspired this week.

I have a post up my sleeve for later this week (a Zoe Recommends, if you must know). However, it takes some forethought and planning–is that redundant?–and this is the first step. In order to avoid inundating you with way too many photos for a simple blog post, I decided to do this one first. And hey, since simple syrup can be used for so many recipes, I thought I’d share this illustration of it with you. Aren’t I so helpful?

I am not a “cook.” I praise the Lord every day that my man not only cooks and grills skillfully (and sort of bakes, though I am the better baker) but loves to do so. So even the quickest thing that requires me to pull out pots and pans and like, “do stuff” on the stove, makes me kind of:Therefore, I surprised myself with the fact that I was able to make this “recipe” all by myself AND take photographs of it at the same time without totally screwing it up. Whee!

Simple syrup is most easily made with a 1:1 ratio of water to sugar. When it’s all said and done, you use it to make any preferred sweetened beverage. I know that sugar is blacklisted in many homes but it’s not like you’re going to drink this stuff straight from the jar. Or at least, you shouldn’t.

Because I didn’t need to end up with two cups of the stuff, I opted to use only one cup of water and one cup of sugar, but it’s totally your prerogative. Let’s get our syrup on!

Step 1: place one cup cold tap water into pot. Easy enough.

Step 2: boil said water. My little pot here came with a handy lid so I popped that on so the water would boil about ten times faster.

Step 3: when the water has begun to rapidly boil, add sugar:

Step 4: turn the heat down to low and stir the mixture constantly. You want to make sure the sugar is dissolving into the hot water or you’ll just end up with crunchy water. No good. Just keep stirring, just keep stirring. Then, when you’ve stirred a whole bunch more, test it with a metal spoon. Scoop from the bottom and bring the spoon up close for inspection.

Slowly dribble the water back into the pot, looking for granules of sugar. I probably did this ten times or so, because I was paranoid I was doing this wrong. The liquid in the spoon looked nice and clear so after giving it one more quick stir, I turned off the heat completely and let it cool to room temperature.

Eventually, you’ll have this stuff, which looks almost no different than when you started, except it’s a bit thicker:

After it cools to room temp, pour your simple syrup into a jar and store in the refrigerator. And voilà!

Not too terribly hard, right? I even had a jar to store it in, which was highly convenient. I gave a quick taste test and yep, it tasted like a clear, sweet syrup with no crunchy bits in it.

It will NOT be super thick but it will be sticky as all get-out, so make sure you have a good spoon rest and wash your pot and spoon(s) right away.

I’m excited to present the next installment of what I’ll be using this for later this week! Here’s hoping you enjoyed what was a lovely first weekend of autumn.

For more information or to know where I got my instructions from, go here.

Ghettoprise and Other Disappointments

This week has gone by rather quickly but has been kind of a doozy. It’s been marked by several incidents/occurrences but since not a single one would merit a blog post on its own, I decided to scrunch them all together.

Commence bitchfest.

1.     I had to rent a car for a day on Tuesday. We had a voucher for a free rental from Enterprise because they were douchewads last year when we had a long-term rental from them when our car was in the shop after an accident. The voucher was for a free Full Size rental for one day, which was perfect for my needs. Unfortunately, when I got there, the only cars the guy could give me were a Chevy Suburban, a minivan, or some little red compact car, which I later learned was a Chevy Aveo.

If you’re wondering what an Aveo looks like, it is this:

With the exception of the tint, that is what I drove. I chose not to go for the minivan because I loathe them entirely and I didn’t need such a roomy car. The Suburban was way too intimidating and I didn’t want to put a ton of gas into it just for a quick two-hour drive and back.

I was forced to go with the Aveo, which had nothing automatic in it except for the transmission. It had air conditioning, so there was that. I don’t remember the last time I drove a car with manual windows and locks – maybe when I was 16? It was really strange. Nice, cheap interior and though there was a CD player in it, it did not function. I was crushed because I’d made sure to bring my CD wallet with me. Luckily, Kevin is a genius and remembered the AUX cord so I was actually able to plug in my iPod for the trip, which was a real lifesaver. I had to crank up the tunes on the crappy speakers because the car made an absolute ton of noise going 70mph down the highway. It really made me appreciate the comfort of my own car (a Hyundai Sonata, if you care to know).

The entire experience of renting a car with Enterprise sucked all over again, including the too-salesy guy at the counter. He seemed to think Enterprise wouldn’t do something like data mining when he asked for my employer’s name and tried to upsell me on my insurance options. Kevin saved me the trouble of having to say no by asking, “What’s free?” Then I had to “waive” my right to the options by initialing everywhere.

It was an uneventful trip with the car but it totally reinforced my thought that Chevy is not a worthwhile investment. (Well…I should modify that – I’m not a fan of American cars in general.)

Enterprise (now fully dubbed Ghettoprise), I will never rent from you again as long as I can help it. They’re right up there with Super Shuttle, who crossed me in 2005 during the transit strike in NYC. Never again.

2.     Facebook recently changed their privacy options when it comes to status updates, links, etc. I obligingly went through their little “tutorial” on how to post a status update, as if I hadn’t had Facebook since 2004, and promptly forgot about it. This morning, I went to go post something and noticed that the default setting for my status updates was Public.

PUBLIC!

I’m sorry but when did Facebook suddenly turn into Google+? And with G+, you always know when you’re putting something out to the public. I did not appreciate this shady move by M. Zuckerberg. I had to go through about eight prior links and status messages, changing them back to what I previously had my settings on in the first place. Hopefully, since Facebook is copying off of G+’s paper, the settings will stick since they were my last used ones.

I understand programs need to roll with the times but it doesn’t instill confidence that the people running Facebook thought their product was just fine. It screams that they were honestly worried that G+ was suddenly going to steal all 800 million of its users in a single bound.

So honestly, I was rather ticked at this latest maneuver. There is a reason I have a Limited Profile list, number one. Number two is that while it may seem ironic of me to say this, there ARE things I want kept private or at least limited to a certain group of people on the interwebs. I know it’s the World Wide Web and that so many people think it just means it’s a free-for-all on any information published, but if I wanted Naomi Strawn in Utah to know my business, I’d friend her. That’s all I’m saying.

3.      I had Part I of a two-part root canal done on Thursday. It wasn’t fun. Apparently I was so anxious and tense about having my mouth shot up with needles, that the doctor suggested I take a prescription medication before the next appointment which will totally relax me. I will need a driver and that person to stay for the whole appointment because “sometimes” the medication can cause “amnesia” in certain patients.

What??

The root canal was actually a redo from one I got in 2008. It became infected and lo and behold, during Part I, the doctor found a whole root that the dentist had missed. Terrific. I go back in November for Part II of Scary Dental Times.

For now, I’m in enough pain that I can’t fully chew on that side of my jaw where the procedure was done. My snacks are all the kind that babies can eat. Except for cookies dunked in coffee, I’m pretty sure babies don’t eat that.

4.     I have been waiting a while for the movie Something Borrowed to come out on DVD so I could finally see what the fuss is all about, and it was sold out at Red Box.

I blame Netflix.

If they hadn’t jacked up their prices, causing me to choose between streaming and DVDs, I wouldn’t have had to wait and wait for it to hit a Red Box station, only to find out that it was sold out.

Jerks.

Not everything about this week was bad, and in fact there was one very bright spot to it. But that will have to be a story for another time. Today, it was all about 99 Problems…

Pilot Reviews: ‘Ringer,’ ‘Up All Night,’ ‘Free Agents’

Note: do not read this if you have these shows on DVR and don’t want to read about plot lines!

I normally don’t opine on entertainment, especially pilots for a new fall lineup. However, because I didn’t want to have to create yet another log-in to comment with my thoughts on the new NBC shows and Googling “free agents” doesn’t really get you anywhere, I decided to go ahead and create one long comment right here on the blog.

That’s what this thing is for, right?

First up, I’ll talk about Ringer with Sarah Michelle Gellar. I think Buffy fans everywhere have been ever so patiently waiting for SMG to return to television and have another smash hit show. I know I have. She’s even on The WB again! Except now it’s called The CW and it’s harder to remember. SMG is still as pretty as ever, though her voice sounds a little huskier. I think romance novel writers would describe it as a “whiskey voice.”

The premise of the show is that SMG will be playing twin sisters, one of whom is a recovering addict, seems down-to-earth, a little tired, and oh by the way, she witnessed a murder. She lives in Wyoming. This is the Bridget character. The other twin lives in NYC, lives the life of a spoiled, hardened “Real Housewife,” and has no personal relations with anyone. She is married with a stepdaughter, whom she apparently loathes, sleeps with her best friend’s husband, and is all evil and conniving. Her character’s name is Siobhan. The way you can tell the two apart is that Bridget wears her hair down and loose, while Siobhan prefers to wear her hair up in a nice, coiled bun (and has fancy pants designer clothing).

Bridget and Siobhan have been estranged for years but have agreed to meet in New York.  At their reunion meeting, Bridget tries to bring up the incident that occurred with her and her nephew, Siobhan’s son, but Siobhan dismisses the apology. We know there’s more to this but will have to wait for future episodes. The kid isn’t around, that’s for sure, and I suppose we can surmise that the incident is what is to blame for Siobhan’s hardened heart.

Fast forward to when Bridget thinks Siobhan is dead (supposedly suicide) and assumes her life, thinking it’d be easy peasy. We can all groan at this decision but of course, as she plays her sister for all of a few days, we come to find out the kind of life Siobhan leads, namely with lots of lies and fake smiles.

The pilot definitely sets the tone for lots of soap opera-ish drama, as we now have to try and figure out who Bridget is at any given moment – is she playing herself or playing her sister? People are after Bridget, who witnessed a murder, and people are after Siobhan because she screws people over. Plus, the people in Siobhan’s life who enjoy her cold character start questioning what’s up with her when she’s nice or even smiles at people. (Her husband and her boyfriend, to name two. It remains to be seen what the best friend sees in her.)

I adore SMG and I think if anyone can make this show interesting, it’s her. My only issue with the show, and it promises to have a new twist every week, is how long can it tug at this one plot line? It’s Good Twin vs. Evil Twin and it’s the inevitable waiting game to see who discovers the truth and when, and it wouldn’t be a good show if the characters didn’t cross any boundaries. For example, will Bridget acting as Siobhan fall in love with Siobhan’s husband? Will Siobhan come back into the picture or will she continue to try to destroy her twin from afar? (We learn at the end of the pilot that, of course, Siobhan isn’t really dead.)

I want the show to be a success if for no other reason than I love watching SMG in action; I just hope the plot threads won’t jump the shark too early on. (We love you, Sarah!)

Next, we have Up All Night, a new comedy (sans laugh track) with Christina Applegate and Will Arnett, who star as new parents to their sweet baby Amy. I couldn’t have been more excited about this new show because I have loved seeing Ms. Applegate in primetime but she hadn’t found anything that was making it long-term. Mr. Arnett’s appeal is obvious, especially for Arrested Development fans. I honestly think his voice and comedic delivery are what make him stand out so well. I wonder if he and Amy Poehler are just constantly laughing at their house, because the two of them are just so damn hilarious.

Maya Rudolph also stars in the show as Applegate’s boss at a production company. She’s the inconsiderate Friend Boss. More on her in a sec. Applegate’s Reagan goes to work while Arnett’s Chris (an attorney prior to baby) stays at home.

I loved and still love the preview for the pilot, which aired last evening. The laugh out loud moments are still there for me. The full episode is linked below. I’ll continue after the link.

http://www.nbc.com/up-all-night/

Welcome back. You laughed, right?

So for me, the funniest moments of the pilot were in the previews. There, I said it. There was one other side development going on in the pilot, and that was with Chris, where he’s developing a relationship over his gaming console with another stay-at-home dad and they talk through their headsets. I don’t know why this really tickled the funny bone but I hope they show more of that. That is definitely “keeping it real,” speaking as a woman who has an ex who played tons of video games.

I think the chemistry between Applegate and Arnett is really there and I love that the focus isn’t all about the baby. It’s about adapting to being parents and not necessarily leaving behind everything from their former lifestyle. The scene where they’re hungover and dealing with just-woken-up Amy was hysterical and probably my favorite bit.

Maya Rudolph’s character seems a bit shallow at this point. I didn’t laugh at anything she said or did, which flies in the face of most of the reviews I’ve read. I just wasn’t on board. I was just bored.

I like her a lot and she is a very talented comedic actress, but I felt like her boss character was just an amalgam of some of her SNL characters, so she came off as more goofball and annoying. I’d love to see more depth with the character and I hope the writers give her some good lines to deliver from her perspective of someone who doesn’t have children. As someone who doesn’t have children, I can relate to that. There is so much potential there for her to just “not get” what all goes into being a new parent. So writers, if you’re reading this, more of that please!

I really believe this show has the potential to be a big hit. One thing I want them to nix immediately is the cheesy instrumental music underlying a few of the scenes. Both Kevin and I noticed it and it really detracted from taking the show more seriously. It was way too Full House.

I’d probably give the pilot a grade of a B+ but it could easily move up to a solid A or A+ with more character develop and zingers. Zoe Recommends watching this show!

Last but not least, we have Free Agents, starring Hank Azaria as Alex and Kathryn Hahn as Helen, who have a working-sleep-together relationship as coworkers at a PR firm. They’re each getting over a previous relationship – one by divorce and one by death. I had the preview listed below but naturally, NBC yanked it shortly after, so you’ll have to watch an episode from the link:

http://www.nbc.com/free-agents/

In my opinion, the pilot was funny throughout and it expanded on the released preview. Though I was ready to see the familiar jokes in the pilot, having been watching the promos in anticipation for a few weeks, they still made me (and Kevin) laugh.

Three standout moments for me: the safe word, the Executive Assistant character Emma Parker (portrayed by Natasha Leggero), who has sass coming out of her pores, delivering her line of, “You do get EXECUTIVE Assistant, right? Not personal, not for your personal problems” with biting panache, and Azaria’s line, “Because I have no plans to DJ at an Armenian gangster’s acquittal party.” If the writers and actors keep that up, they will have a loyal fan until the end of this show.

The fact that Anthony Stewart Head (who played Giles on Buffy!) plays the boss adds an even stronger likelihood that this show can stick out the first few ordered episodes. When in doubt, add an experienced British actor to your program.

From what I was reading, a lot of people didn’t find this show funny but if I’m being honest, I thought Free Agents‘ pilot was funnier than the Up All Night pilot. I believe they do well being placed back to back, at least in the beginning. I am sure the execs over at NBC will move one or both when they develop.

Azaria’s character Alex has some growing to do but he plays up the self-deprecation bit really well. Hahn’s Helen brings some excellent line delivery and she’s not as acerbic as I thought she’d be, as someone who is grieving over a deceased fiance and sleeping with an always-crying Alex. The bit about her excessive wine consumption was very good; I just hope the writers will give her more to do than that when we see her doing scenes alone.

So can I recommend watching this one? I surely can. It gets the Zoe Recommends stamp of approval. If I were to grade it, I’d also give it a B+. I will continue to record the episodes for sure.

Like with anything, I think we as the viewers need to familiarize ourselves with the developing characters and let things simmer a bit. There is plenty of room for development in both sitcoms (or are they dramadies?) and even Ringer. If you think it has to be a hit right out of the box, just go back and watch the pilot of Friends. That is one of my all-time favorite shows but the characters we grew to love like family were definitely not present in the very first episode.

Did you watch any of these shows? If not, do you think you will now?

Update: October 18, 2011 I have learned that Free Agents was cancelled after a mere four episodes aired. I was actually really upset because I found it to be really hilarious and wanted to see where it would go. I’m also hoping that the actress who played Emma, the snarky Exec Assistant, will find herself another similar role so we can witness more of that. Ugh, it’s seriously depressing.

Is email the new telegram?

I love email. Whoever invented it – kudos to you, good sir or good woman. The only downside to email, as I see it, is it takes away some of the charm and personalization from sending letters and cards, which we know I love doing.

Add in the ability to attach any old document, and it finally made faxing obsolete, much to the relief of Administrative Assistants everywhere. (And yet….people still use facsimiles. Can someone explain?)

The speed of owl – pre email.

I have several email accounts programmed on my phone so I can check them immediately. I don’t like having emails sitting in my inbox. I like being up to date on keeping it cleared out and having received whatever news or information someone has passed on to me.

I still find the follow-up question, “Did you get my email?” really funny. Yes, of course I got it, it was sent at the speed of light, practically.

But here is where I’m getting hung up with email. Unless a person is anal retentive like myself, there is no guarantee that sending an urgent email message – especially a personal one – will reach the intended recipient in a timely manner. There is no controlling when someone is going to actually open, read, and process your message.

For that reason, I find Read Receipts to be useless, not to mention annoying. Just putting that out there for any Read Receipt freaks. I have a habit of declining to send one when prompted unless I feel it’s absolutely necessary. I’ll read the email and respond because I’m a responsible person – it’s none of your business when I open the email.

I know this seems counterintuitive but getting an email back saying, “John has read your email” doesn’t let me know that he’s available to talk about it, so if anything, it just adds to my anxiety.

So what tops the angry red flagged email? (Or if you’re Microsoft Outlook, you place a bar at the top that says, “This message was sent with High Importance.”)

Because urgent emails don’t always reach a person immediately, this is why the telephone remains in the top spot for efficiency. I was always in awe when, in old movies, a person would have a telephone call from someone in the middle of dinner at a restaurant. That’s some good communication right there, if someone knows to reach you mid-meal. In my pre cell phone years, I didn’t tell any one person where I was going to be at all times. I even liked being unreachable sometimes.

But with cell phones came……text messages!

Tada!

When texting first came out, I thought, “How is this going to revolutionize a thing?” This was back when IMing was still kinda neat, so IMing by phone seemed weird. I’m glad I came around. Text messaging is your friend. I know I’m BFF with it.

If you are a normal person who carries your phone everywhere with you and receives (if not sends) text messages, then this, to me, is the best way to reach someone if s/he can’t pick up the phone.

However. It’s all contingent on actually remembering to bring your phone with you. I have forgotten my cell phone once or twice in my life. I felt naked and ill at ease the entire day. But someone like my boyfriend, whose cell phone is an afterthought, forgets his with ease. This wouldn’t bother me so much except that as is the case with Murphy’s Law, it will be the same day that I need to reach him post haste. It never fails.

When that happens, I’m forced to resort to the angry, all caps subject line and send him an email with something like: PLEASE OPEN AND READ IMMEDIATELY!!!!

And then I have to sit and pray – pray that the email servers don’t delay, pray that his email box is open, pray that he SEES it, assesses that it’s an actual emergency, and then responds. There’s just entirely too much praying going on. You have to sit – or pace – and with bated breath, hope that you can rely on this other person to take your electronic note seriously enough to respond quickly. Otherwise, you’re stuck, and then it’s Plan B time.

I’m not a fan of Plan B.

Whether we like it or not, email is slowly becoming the equivalent of what used to be the telegram. It still has its place and is chock full of merit but I think with our reduced attention spans and desire to be freed from the inbox, it is still a silent scream amongst the other avenues we have available to us to get someone’s attention.

All this having been said, perhaps what we really need is to get this whole WUPHF thing going. If I got a text message, fax, phone call, IM, email, Facebook notification and tweet all at the same time? I’d definitely be annoyed enough to respond.

Macabre Meets Practicality

I have a morbid fear that if something bad were to happen to me, no one in my circle of friends and family would find out for days – or weeks – at a time. Mind you, this is all under the presumption that my cell phone would still be on my person or found in my home. I have my doubts that my phone would be accessible but since this is my macabre fantasy, let’s just go with the idea that something has happened to me and the police or a hospital worker has to look through my cell.

If all of the names in my phone are nicknames or signifiers which only mean something to me and me only, it’s not exactly going to help narrow down who to call. (And it’s not Ghostbusters.)

For example, I don’t assign names to people in the following manner:

  • Dirty Money
  • Drunkface
  • Jerkwad
  • Silly Rabbit Trix Are For Kids
  • Homeboy 1
  • Homegirl 4
  • Slick
  • Lovebunny
  • Dude Whose Name I Never Remember
  • Psycho

I am a strict First Name, Last Name sensible inputter of Contacts. The following in my phone are exceptions, which is why someone with common sense would know to call any one of these people in an emergency:

Simple, right? They’re not only my favorite people but they are related to me in some way, shape or form, and the simple lack of last names lets us know they must be Very Important Peeps in my life.

First and last names make it easier in an emergency but I also have the added benefit of always knowing how to spell my friends’ names. (You’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to spell a friend’s name…..or know their birthday, which baffles me. I think that’s more of a guy thing, though.) I hate not knowing how to spell someone’s name or worse yet, forgetting what someone’s last name actually is.

In essence, this is another way I celebrate practicality but also help the imaginary people who would be assisting my family in some kind of Zoe-related emergency. Aren’t I ever so helpful?

Now that you’re getting a better sense of how deep this rabbit hole is, tell me: how do you label people in your phone? Do you get really wacky or are you no-nonsense like me?

Ice cream as natural disasters

At some point, advertisers and marketers alike decided that ice cream needed to be more exciting and enticing than it already is, and set out to come up with trademarked names for ice cream vendors’ concoctions.

The basic premise for most ice cream shoppes is to have something with a base of ice cream with some kind of topping, candy or “mix-in” thrown in to give you a delicious “new” frozen treat. (Note: Snickers turns into hardened chunks which you will NOT be able to remove from your fillings.)

Take Dairy Queen. Their signature ice cream mixture is the Blizzard. It makes sense – it’s something frozen and it’s all a “whirl” of tasty deliciousness.

The local place near me, Custard Cup, calls theirs a Snowstorm.

As a woman whose hometown is St. Louis (that’s in the state of Missouri; I have actually been asked that before), I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up Ted Drewes. What’s Ted Drewes, you ask? Only the best frozen custard in all the land.

What’s frozen custard?

Surprisingly, this is not a frozen treat everyone is familiar with. And it is NOT frozen yogurt or Pinkberry or anything like that.

By definition, frozen custard is the following:

Frozen custard is a cold dessert similar to ice cream, made with eggs in addition to cream and sugar.

In the United States the Food and Drug Administration requires products marketed as frozen custard to contain at least 10 percent milk fat and 1.4 percent egg yolk solids. If it has fewer egg yolk solids, it is considered ice cream.

If you have any kind of discerning palate, you will taste the difference, though I fear you won’t fare very well if you prefer diet or light ice cream. I prefer the purity of Häagen-Daz if I’m going to go for ice cream. Coffee, Chocolate Peanut Butter, and Chocolate are my favorite flavors and they all have about five ingredients, none of them resembling monoglycerinsulfatecresthydrogenelixircarbonate.

Anyway, if you go to Ted Drewes in St. Louis, you will want to order yourself a Concrete. This is what I grew up calling any kind of natural-disaster-ice-cream-dish. They are awesome and the frozen custard can’t be beat, at least in my opinion. Here’s a photo of what all cashiers do when they serve you your concrete:

See that? She’s holding it upside down to show you that it really is frozen and it’s not going to slide out of the cup just because it’s been mixed together. It’s not a milkshake. Nostalgia does strange things to people because now I want to go back and have someone turn upside down my ice cream treat (concrete). Oh and Kevin always makes fun of me for calling anything that is ice cream + candy a concrete. We’re dorks like that.

McDonald’s dubbed theirs a Flurry. Just a slight chance of some kind of snow-related weather activity – in a cup.

Another local place here called Junior’s Burgers & Custard called their ice cream + candy thingy a Tornado. No need to post a photo. I wonder if a cyclonic image makes people shiver and think, “I want ice cream!” And you know somewhere out there, someplace calls theirs a Cyclone.

Sonic calls theirs a Blast. A blast of what?

Lastly, as we circle back around to Dairy Queen once more, they also came up with something called an Oreo Brownie Earthquake Sundae.


At this point, I have to wonder if the name really does help sell the thing. If it’s not something akin to snow, it’s ice cream as it relates to a natural disaster. Missing are Typhoon, Wildfire, Hailstorm, Volcanic Eruption, Mudslide, Sinkhole, Tsunami, Hurricane, and Flooding. I can see it now: “Can I have a sinkhole with marshmallow, walnuts, cranberries, and Andes mints in it?” I just grossed myself out typing all of that.

Did I leave anything out? What do you think, do you like the fun gimmicky names or do you prefer we just call it as it is? I think if I owned an ice cream shoppe I might pull a Dwight Schrute and all my menu items would be listed as such:

  • It is Custard With One Mix-In. $3.50
  • It is Two Scoops of Ice Cream With Hot Fudge On Top. Nuts Are Optional. $4.50
  • It is Like a Concrete But it is Really Just Ice Cream With Candy In It. $4.00