Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Word of the Day

Potemkin Village \puh-TEM(P)-kin\, noun:

An impressive facade or display that hides an undesirable fact or state; a false front.

When will the West have the guts to call Russia what it really is: a semi-totalitarian state with Potemkin village-style democratic institutions and a fascist-capitalist economy?
-- "Western Investors Defend a Potemkin Village", Moscow Times, January 9, 2004
The route of this term came from fake villages which were set up in Russia to please Catherine II. Read more about this here.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

The Annual Quintessential Mint Julep Post

With the 134th running of the Kentucky Derby today, I feel that it is my absolute duty as author of The Mint Julep, to write a post concerning that lovely libation that is the essence of Kentucky in May. Of course, I am talking about the Mint Julep.

Just as I did on this day, one year ago, and just as I did on this day two years ago, so too today will I include a letter, written from a Lieutenant in World War II, to a fellow comrade. The description of how to create this fine beverage is nothing less than awe-inspiring, and worth reading in whole. Please enjoy.

March 30, 1937

My dear General Connor,

Your letter requesting my formula for mixing mint juleps leaves me in the same position in which Captain Barber found himself when asked how he was able to carve the image of an elephant from a block of wood. He replied that it was a simple process consisting merely of whittling off the part that didn't look like an elephant.

The preparation of the quintessence of gentlemanly beverages can be described only in like terms. A mint julep is not the product of a FORMULA. It is a CEREMONY and must be performed by a gentleman possessing a true sense of the artistic, a deep reverence for the ingredients and a proper appreciation of the occasion. It is a rite that must not be entrusted to a novice, a statistician, nor a Yankee. It is a heritage of the old South, an emblem of hospitality and a vehicle in which noble minds can travel together upon the flower-strewn paths of happy and congenial thought.

So far as the mere mechanics of the operation are concerned, the procedure, stripped of its ceremonial embellishments, can be described as follows:

Go to a spring where cool, crystal-clear water bubbles from under a bank of dew-washed ferns. In a consecrated vessel, dip up a little water at the source. Follow the stream through its banks of green moss and wildflowers until it broadens and trickles through beds of mint growing in aromatic profusion and waving softly in the summer breezes. Gather the sweetest and most tender shoots and gently carry them home. Go to the sideboard and select a decanter of Kentucky Bourbon, distilled by a master hand, mellowed with age yet still vigorous and inspiring. An ancestral sugar bowl, a row of silver goblets, some spoons and some ice and you are ready to start.

In a canvas bag, pound twice as much ice as you think you will need. Make it fine as snow, keep it dry and do not allow it to degenerate into slush.

In each goblet, put a slightly heaping teaspoonful of granulated sugar, barely cover this with spring water and slightly bruise one mint leaf into this, leaving the spoon in the goblet. Then pour elixir from the decanter until the goblets are about one-fourth full. Fill the goblets with snowy ice, sprinkling in a small amount of sugar as you fill. Wipe the outsides of the goblets dry and embellish copiously with mint.

Then comes the important and delicate operation of frosting. By proper manipulation of the spoon, the ingredients are circulated and blended until Nature, wishing to take a further hand and add another of its beautiful phenomena, encrusts the whole in a glittering coat of white frost. Thus harmoniously blended by the deft touches of a skilled hand, you have a beverage eminently appropriate for honorable men and beautiful women.

When all is ready, assemble your guests on the porch or in the garden, where the aroma of the juleps will rise Heavenward and make the birds sing. Propose a worthy toast, raise the goblet to your lips, bury your nose in the mint, inhale a deep breath of its fragrance and sip the nectar of the gods.

Being overcome by thirst, I can write no further.

S.B. Buckner, Jr.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Larry Bird

Like the Michael Jordan video I put up several months ago, this montage of Bird highlights is also from NBA Superstars. Gotta love Bird - and those passes he used to make...Unbelievable.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Final Jeopardy

This website posts a video of each day's Final Jeopardy question.