Chanukah, Christmas, food, Itchy Sweaters, music, Sweaters, Uncategorized, United States

Spinning the Seasonal Favorites. Renaissance 33’s & Medieval 78’s.

 

“Traditional holiday music” to me, means scratchy old records.

 

There’s strange-looking people on the covers, with lacquered or pomaded hair, and sweaters.

 

Golf sweaters, cardigans, turtlenecks, enormous cableknits,  cashmere, V-necks, crewnecks.

 

 

How the heck do they get the crewnecks on over that bouffant hair?

 

Or do they just always have the sweaters on, and the hair is shipped in, layered on, and sculpted afterward?  By the same crew that does the artificial snowdrifts.

 

Are Angora, Mohair, and Perry Como Hair all the same substance somehow?

 

These are the same people who engineered Stereophonic Recordings, the tailfins on the ’59 Cadillac Eldorado, and then the Apollo space mission, I guess they could do anything.

All of these inventions were adapted onto Santa’s sleigh.

 

 

I studied these record covers when I was a kid.

 

 

Sometimes the people seemed to have a lot of sideburns & weird sorts of pajamas on, like the crew of the old Star Trek, so I figured there was some connection.

We celebrate both Hannukah and Christmas in my house, and adding in Star Trek just compounded the confusion.

 

 

There seem to be more of these albums around the house every year.

The old folks don’t go to garage sales, so they must have discovered eBay.  Or it may be down to one particular aunt, who’s cleaning out her garage, by UPS’ing everything to my parents.

In the family room, High Fidelity Long-Play albums are gently hissing and crackling on the hifi , and there’s a little wisp of smoke, as if from a tiny Yule log.

But it’s coming from the amplifier – the tubes have really heated up, and are incinerating the dust bunnies.

All 6,327 recordings by the Robert Shaw Chorale

They’re mostly 33 1/3, and full of lovely singing, but I really recommend playing them at least 78 RPM, or you’ll be in an Induced-Eggnog-Zombie-like state until Valentine’s Day.

The Christmas Waltz  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OfmcEok4mkE

Dean Martin, well-oiled in hair and spirits, sliding over the artificial snowdrifts in his holiday louche, singing  “Baby It’s Cold Outside”.

It’s a heartwarming tale about getting his date liquored up?

The Scratch’n’Sniff sticker on his old album still works!  It says “Hey, what’s in this drink?” and smells like bourbon, Brylcreem & cigarettes.

A 4-disc set — Arthur Fiedler & The Massed Bagpipes of the Edinburgh Tattoo Presents  “Awa’ ‘n’ Boil Yer Head, Ya Dobber Elf & Other Seasonal Favorites

Impossibly high notes from the King’s College boy’s choir.  The album cover says:  “Festival of Nine Lessons.  And Carols.”

I always figured it was some oldtime singers, like Carol Burnett, Carol Channing, giving the choirboys a hand, but they aren’t listed on the liner notes.

The Nutcracker Suite is magical every time.

I searched for other pieces that use the celesta, that delicate, beautiful little chiming sound – – and ran across Louis Armstrong & his Hot Five!  It’s in the introduction to his 1928 “Basin Street Blues“!  Ok, so that’s holiday music now – – I can see the Sugar Plum Fairy sneaking out of the ballet, picking up Louis, knocking back a few and hitting the town.  You may have to cut & paste the link.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQBjD06a6l8

Digging farther back into the boxes of records, into the mists of time, the sweaters are now pinkish & woolly mammoth yarn.  Back to the parental units’ high school days, during the Late Middle Ages:  Steeleye Span sings Gaudete, Ex Maria virgine, gaudete Back from the days of Silver Bells, Chestnuts Roasting, Gregorian chants and stuff like that.  Some of the people on the record covers now have braided hair, leather jerkins & tights.  Ancient hippy minstrels wailin’ on wooden flutes, lutes, sackbuts, primitive electric guitars, & whatnot.

What do all these jumbled tunes have in common? They’ve become part & parcel of the jumble of family tradition.

I had to check the spelling of “miscellany” and look at all these lovely synonyms:

salamagundi, medley, hodgepodge, potpourri, mélange

Don’t all these words just look perfect for the holidays?

Our family feast will always have a crazy assortment of foods – – some sort of roast meat, sitting next to the panzanella (in case there’s vegetarian guests), Penna. Dutch pickled eggs & beets, Penna. Dutch pickled piccalilli, Penna. Dutch pickled everything, mulled cider, maybe some borscht (the good kind, not the kind that tastes like beets), maybe this year, some Thai-style shrimp, and then Mexican Wedding Cakes, Hamantaschen, English plum pudding, etc.

Most dishes are attributed to a particular person, many no longer with us.  It will never taste quite as good as when they made it, but we do our very best, to do it right.  This Alka Selzter advertisement of a meal represents all the folks who’ve joined the family over the years.  It’s not very Norman Rockwell-looking, but it’s very American, not the melting pot, but the mixing pot.  Different churches, different faiths, or none at all.  The religious break bread with the pagans.  And what is old & traditional to some, is new and confusing to others.

The music on the old records is a perfect counterpoint – – it’s a crazy mishmash!  Religious, profane, silly.

“Christmas” music encompasses hallowed hymns, ancient carols, Disney tunes, sentimental lounge acts, soul, singing chipmunks, mariachi remixes, etc.   Poems of beauty and spirituality set to music, mix with “fa la la’s” when the carolers forgot the words after a few bowls of wassail.

“White Christmas,” “The Christmas Song,” “A Holly Jolly Christmas,” “Let It Snow!” etc. all written by nice Jewish guys.

There are essential messages that come  “upon a midnight clear,” or with the Hanukkah Festival of Lights.  The messages are not confused.  They are absolutely clear and wonderful.

But we’re also allowed to celebrate and even cherish all this crazy confusion  — the old, sometimes cheesy music, the crazy meals,and the crazy relatives.  And different beliefs.

Up & Out of frozen ruts for the new year — try something new and random, mix it up.  There’s an old Royal Navy toast “To the Confusion of Our Enemies,”  but I wish a dash of confusion and mayhem, in the best possible way, for my friends.

We will not always have a perfect comprehension of everything.

We will not always understand everything, and everyone.

Pick out some people who’ve always confused us, and even if we don’t really understand them, be understanding.

We’re never going to understand everything and everyone, but we may just find something new and rewarding amidst the confusion.

I don’t know why people believe what they believe, or like the music they do, or eat beet soup, or wear ugly sweaters, or get religion, or lose faith, or fall in love.

So in the new year, I’m going to try to keep an open mind, even if it means sometimes living in a state of confusion.

I hope everybody is having a lovely merry & muddled ol’ time this holiday season!

 

 

Standard

 

You know when you’ve reached the point of post-Thanksgiving saturation.

Walking near a beaver pond, and seeing turkey noodle soup.

And what looks like one stray cranberry.

Autumn, Finger Lakes, FLX, food, hiking, Nature, NY, photography, Thanksgiving, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. Turkey Noodle Soup

Image

I’ve never seen the mushrooms achieve the size they have this summer. This looked like someone tossed in a big old bath sponge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

cap to show the size of these clumps

 

 

 

coexisting nicely

 

 

 

 

An archipelago of coral fungus

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finger Lakes, FLX, food, hiking, Ithaca, NY, Uncategorized, Upstate New York

Pictures of Upstate New York. September. An archipelago of coral fungus

Image
artisanal, brosse à dents, Dental, Dental Floss, Dentrifice, food, humor, Toothpaste, Uncategorized

“Tickle the Ivories” Dental Café

IMG_2766

“Tickle the Ivories – Artificers of Unique Dentrifice Compounds & Bespoke Brosse à Dents”

Toothbrush

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

IMG_2803
Toothbrush

I’m all smiles!  My favorite post-lunch dental café finally re-opened!

If you frequented the original incarnation, InΨsor, prepare yourself for change — the shop rebooted with a whole new look.

Now called Tickle the Ivories  — less clinical, much more warm and inviting.  If the idea of a dental café is new to you, this is the perfect introduction.

The stainless steel booths and vinyl exam chairs are gone, in favor of a pub-like setting, with reclaimed oak paneling, frosted glass, and leather banquette seating.

White lab coats have given way to scarlet hunting jackets with brass buttons.

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The mouthwash lab has transformed into an 19th c. apothecary’s shop — rows of colorful bottles, canisters, decanters, and vials, that wouldn’t look out of place on Diagon Alley.

The cleaning shrimp tank is gone (most customers could not hold their breath long enough for a thorough job), and in its place, there’s a warm coppery glow from the far corner, where floral distillates drip from a wood-fired, vintage still.

 

DSC00086-001

 

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Patrons are invited to fill their antique pewter tankards from a row of casks, flasks, kegs, firkins, and puncheons – – filled with various proprietary gargles, herbal rinses, and tinctures.

 

In keeping with the Victorian vibe, discretely-positioned spittoons are plentiful.

 

A mixologist is on hand, and we sampled her newest creation —  a mint, vodka, and anchovy decoction — a refreshing eye-opener, with a complex and smoky aftertaste.

 

DSC07656-001

An impressive selection of drinkable mouth refreshers. The picture is a bit grainy – – the shop’s activated charcoal grinder was in full swing!

 

Toothpaste selections are now totally a la carte — as always, many of the pastes & powders are fresh-ground, and custom-mixed right at your table, but for those of us in a rush, who’ve already spent two hours at lunch, and need to get back to work, an express counter is happy to blend premixed commercial brands.

My current favorite when you’re in a rush:  50/50 swirl blending Tim’s of Maine, with Colgrate Total Gel, and an Avon Springs chaser.  The slightly alkaline grittiness of Tim’s contrasts perfectly with the pervasive minty sweetness of the Colgrate.

 

A vintage steam-powered espresso toothpaste dispenser chugs away in the corner.

 

The selection of hand-crafted artisanal brushes has expanded, to include not just the usual shredded birch,  willow, and sarsaparilla root, but also boar-bristle (certified to be drawn from appropriate, hygenic parts of the boar).

 

DSC00076

The “Ben Franklin”

DSC00080

Artisan-crafted toothbrush of copper, brass, and recycled bamboo

 

Tongue loofahs and horsehair exfoliators can be flash-sterilized while you shop, so you can use them in the car on the way home.

I declined to try another popular tongue-scraper, a re-purposed leather & brass horse bit, but certainly an attractive accessory for a rustic powder room.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Shot glasses display the work of a local artist and blacksmith — handwrought steel toothpicks, modeled on lightning rods and finials found on local barns.

(And currently working on a fabulous line of retro-cast-iron orthodontics!)

 

Fans of InΨsor will be glad to hear the owners retained the “Bright, White, And Brown Room” combining UV with an infrared sauna, so patrons can tan, sweat, and bleach their teeth all in one go!

 

The staff is wonderful.  When flossing with one of their newest experiments, recycled sorghum stalk, proved to be a bit too challenging — but before we could even voice our disappointment, and indeed, before we were able to talk — an attentive server-clinician was instantly by our side to assist, with tweezers and a pick, and then placed a substitute tray of raw unbleached organic silk fiber in front of us, gratis.

 

DSC00068

 

If you’re in town this summer, and fond of traditional foods that are troublesome for smiles, like kale salad, barbeque, and corn-on-the-cob, Tickle the Ivories Café, and it’s gift shop, The Tongue-in-Cheek, are the perfect post-meal solutions.

 

DSC00626

In the woodland behind the shop, staff conduct “Learn to Trust Dental Floss” workshops.  Here I’m testing their proprietary Kevlar 8-ply.

 

(No relation)

 

 

 

Toothbrush

Standard
ancient grains, breakfast, eggs, food, humor, It's a teff life

True Grit vs Ancient Grains

Grain

The Dread Mask of Quinoa. “Scourge of the Incas & Bane of Lake TiticacaQuinoa, if you look into it, isn’t even a cereal – – it’s just a pseudo-cereal, and has been linked by scientists to the “Ancient Curse of Pitseed Goosefoot.” (Pitseed Goosefoot is a real thing, believe it or not.) (And extremely uncomfortable for ancient people wearing sandals.)

Some people in my household believe we need to eat “ancient grains” for breakfast, instead of starting your day like a civilized human being, with coffee, home fries, eggs, toast, and bacon.

I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, as a semi-pro historian, as I sit chewing.  And chewing.

And chewing.

Did you ever think, that the people who came up with these ancient grains, pretty much all ended up as mummies?

And their civilizations are in ruins.

Why?  Because they couldn’t hear their enemies coming, over all the crunching.

I mean, the Babylonians, Tlaxcaltecas, Chaldeans, Assyrians, etc. are all gone, daddy, gone.

There’s no coming back from a bad breakfast.

Bulgur attack. (Bulgar? Is that spelt right?)

They lost their birthright for a mess of pottage.

Does that even sound like a good idea?  I mean, I don’t even know what exactly that is, but who wants something called “a mess of pottage” first thing in the morning?

They could no longer communicate, too busy chewing, their molars worn down, and couldn’t shout warnings like Nebuchadnezzar, Ashur-etil-ilani, Cyaxerxes, take heed and  beware!  Vigorous tribesmen who’ve had a proper breakfast are storming the gates, whilst our dispirited guards still sit at table, chewing! ” 

Just try yelling that out, with a mouth full of pottage.

All they could do is mumble, and try to find the darned belt for their bathrobes, while they were overrun by tribes with chariots and bacon.

Nomadic tribesmen swept in from the steppes, because their horses were attracted by all the cereal, and their riders were highly caffeinated and restless.

And the bacon-eating nomads were immune to many of the era’s plagues, because mosquitoes and rats were repelled by their greasy appearance and nitrate-laden blood.

This is just a hypothesis, really.   The Tower of Babel?  Same deal.       C. B. C.  Cereal-Based Chaos.  And just overwhelmed by choices:  whole-grain, steel-cut, stone-ground, rolled, millet?

 

According to the caption in the art museum, this stylish farmer is sowing Millet, a type of birdseed apparently.

 

I’m going to keep working on this, tentatively entitled “Guns, Wheat Germs, and Steel” or alternatively, “Gums, Germs, and Steel-Cut Oats” something like that.

But first, I’m going back to bed, until it’s lunchtime.

 

Eat your cereal, Mikey.

Standard