It All Comes Down To The Music

Rock group

The son commented the other day that he was doing some research about The Drowning Pool.

“Oh, I liked that book. I read several of Ross MacDonald’s books when I was young. They were gritty, like Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. I also liked the 1975 movie with Paul Newman, and his wife/actress, Joanne Woodward….”

No, no, he says! I’m talking about a rock group.

Well, of course you are! It all comes down to names for musical groups. (I’d write ‘rock groups’, but there hasn’t been any real ROCK, since about ’85.) Names for groups are like internet domain names. There’s more looking for them, than are available. To get one, especially the one you want, can be difficult – and expensive.

That may explain groups like Finger Eleven, (Is that the one you use to communicate with other drivers?) and Maroon Five. (I can still hear Bugs Bunny cackling, “What a maroon.”, and here’s five of them)

Once upon a time, there was a band called Bush. They went nowhere fast, then quietly disbanded. Many years later, another group of musical young men who had never heard of the original Bush, named their band that. Soon they got a cease and desist order. For over a year they had to operate as Bush-X, till somebody’s palm got greased, or their ego salved.

I suspect the same type of thing is happening with a band named X-Ambassadors, whose tune ‘Renegade’, is being used by Chrysler Motors to promote their Jeep. The band may have to pay Chrysler for promotional consideration, because the commercial has made them nationally famous, and their song is all over every radio station.

Bands are named just about everything you can imagine – and, I imagine, things you can’t imagine. Whenever I check a tag on my WordPress Reader, to ‘see what others are writing’, every one of my usual tags leads to a band. There’s a band called Knives. There’s a band called Sword. There’s also a small city in Ireland called Sword. There’s a band called Handguns. There’s a band called Archon. There’s a band called Kings.

When I was a teenager, there was a group of five young men from the next town over. They had all been friends since before kindergarten. They were all children of merchants, lawyers and real estate agents who could afford to pay for music lessons and new, decent-quality instruments. They studied music, and they practiced, first alone, then together. They garage band-ed for almost ten years.

They would never have made the big time back then, although, nowadays, Justin Bieber proves that anything’s possible. They were good enough to play Thursday nights during the high school summers, at a dance hall on the waterfront in Sauble Beach. They also played Friday and Saturday nights at a smaller dance hall on the Port Elgin beach. It didn’t hurt that the rhythm guitar player’s dad owned it.

Five of my known associates decided that, if the other guys could do it, they could too. Three of them had never taken a lesson. Two of them had never picked up an instrument. Lead guitar, rhythm guitar, trumpet (?), violin (?) and drums – this was before ELO or Chicago. The only song they performed that sounded barely acceptable, was Surfin’ Bird. Check out the original on YouTube.

They practiced/jammed a couple of hours a week for six months. The town paid them ten bucks a head to perform at a summer teen dance in the arena – and they never got another paying gig.

When visions of sugarplums were still dancing through their heads, it was realized that the group would need a name. None of them was creative enough, or egotistical enough to come up with one, so groupies like me were asked for suggestions.

I asked my father, who was just barely into the entertainment industry. Having come through the Big Band Era, he suggested The Kingsmen, or The Coachmen. These weren’t sufficiently ‘with it’ for the swingin’ early ‘60s. The next-town band called themselves “The Comets”, bright, brilliant, showy, unusual, memorable.

Plagiarizing the scientific theme, I never did ask which one of ‘my’ group of geniuses decided to name the band “The Atoms”, tiny, invisible, insignificant, and more common than grass. We’re all lucky that they put their thick glasses, repaired with tape, back on, oiled up their slide rules, and were never heard again.

What are some of the groups, ‘unusually’ named or not, that you    listen(ed) to?

Xmas Cookies (Memories of Christmas Past)

Good morning Peter.  This post is for you, and any others interested in food in general, and our Christmas cookies in particular.  You can’t pull them off the screen, so get your own breakfast before we begin.

I apologise for blurry photos.  This post is a learning experience in publishing pictures.  It runs down a long way.  I wanted large pictures for detail, but there’s not much text.

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Cookie Nests 2These are cookie nests – chocolate drops pushed into balls of dough.  Our chiropractor and his family prefer milk chocolate, while we like the darker.  I took the picture below first, before I realized we had one light one left.  We also made a batch with mint chocolate drops, but apparently the last of them followed the daughter home.

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Cookie NestsMore dark chocolate cookie nests.  Even with a fast digital camera, I manage to get fuzzy photos.

3Maple Sugar Shortbreads

These are the Maple Sugar flavored shortbreads.  The wife found a correctly-sized maple leaf cookie cutter, and I used a small steel cookie spatula to lightly carve in fake veining.

 

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Meringues

These are some of the hard meringues, two of each flavor.  Grated dark chocolate and hazelnut ones on the bottom left, almonds and Skor Bits at the top, and chopped cherry and coconut at bottom right.

 

 

5Oat Delights

These are the Oat Delights.  No-bake cookies, they’re easy to make and yummy.  Put grated chocolate in a glass bowl in a pot with a bit of boiling water in the bottom, to melt the chocolate.  Mix in the other ingredients, dollop out in spoonfuls on waxed paper, and let set.  These, and the meringues above, are the no-flour cookies the grandson can have without allergy problems.

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ShortbreadsTrue Scottish shortbreads, just like Grandma used to make.  After much practice, Granma Ladybug makes them just as good.  Five different basic shapes – winter mitt, holly leaf, Christmas tree, star and plain circle.  The pictures don’t show as much detail as I’d hoped.  Again, I used the cookie spatula to cut in a cuff line on the mitts, a center vein on the holly, a Chrysler star out to the vertices of the star, and just an X on the discs.  It makes them easy to break into four mouth-sized pieces.  I used the end of a chop-stick to indent small holes in the Christmas trees, to simulate decorative balls.

 

7Spritz

These are some of the spritz cookie shapes I pushed out of the cookie press.  You may notice that some of them were from the first batch, and got a little too brown.  They’re not burnt, but are not cosmetically acceptable as gifts, so we get to keep and enjoy them.  As you can see, different sized and colored decorative balls (dragees), mini M&M candy, as well as slivers of red and green glazed cherries are used to brighten them up.

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Sugar Cookies 1

A few of the shapes of iced and decorated sugar cookies we made.  Making and baking is quick and easy.  The icing and decorating takes far longer, but we use the time for some family togetherness, silliness and stress relief.  Note the results my steady hands produce on the candy canes.  The wife sprinkled a little of the Maple Sugar on the reindeer to produce a fur effect.

9Sugar Cookies 2

Some more of the iced sugar cookie shapes.  I can slather red, green or white on wreaths or snowflakes.  The son helps his mom dress up the wreaths, bells and Christmas trees after she’s done with reindeer.  She puts names on all the stockings.  The dressing of the boy- and girl-cookies falls mostly to LadyRyl.  These are just the extra ones we bake in case one of the ones intended for gifts might break, so these are the plain ones.  If I’m still around next Christmas, perhaps I could slip a couple of pictures of the more ornate ones in with a post about motorcycles or sewage disposal.

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Thumbprints

These are called thumbprint cookies, glazed cherry halves pushed down into walnut coated dough balls.  Of all the cookies we make, by a narrow margin, these are my favorite.  I could, but don’t, eat these by the dozen.  There is absolutely no taste difference between red and green cherries, and my mouth can’t see….but I like the red ones. Granma Ladybug is partial to the green ones.

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Yule Logs

Last, but not least, we have what we call Yule Logs.  The dough is similar to the spritz, cookie nests and thumbprint.  (They are all shortbread types.) Form small cylinders and bake, next day, someone with a steadier hand than mine (see The Wife, above) dips them in more melted chocolate, and puts them aside to cool and set.

 

Granma Ladybug said that my contribution to this industry is my ability to put the cookies in the oven, take them out to cool and then pack them into the containers.  Wife says without this assistance, she would be very hard pressed to do this.

We feel we can do this for at least one more year, and hopefully beyond.  Friends and family enjoy these, but our caring Chiropractor and his family receive the single largest donation.  They are overly generous in return.  Half a fruitcake goes along to ride shotgun.  No photos were available because it’s shy and wishes to remain anonymous.