Rusty Nail

Sunday Life: September 2016

Happy Father’s Day, and welcome spring!

Although we had a typically amazing Sydney winter with plenty of beautiful spring-like days, I’m still glad to see the back of it, and to be welcoming spring.

It’s still a little cool, wet, and windy though, so I’m going with another nice and warm comfort cocktail, the sweet, sticky, and hearty Rusty Nail. The one rusty nail you can safely expose yourself to, without needing a tetanus shot – unless you have one too many and fall on a rusty nail … so, don’t do that!

The Rusty Nail is a relatively ‘young’ cocktail, traced to the fabulous bartenders of Manhattan’s famed 21 Club in the 1960s, and the name officially sanctioned in 1963 by Gina MacKinnon, the head of the Drambuie Liqueur Company, in the The New York Times.

Rusty Nail

30ml Drambuie
60ml Scotch Whisky*

Method: Place a large ice-cube in an old-fashioned rocks glass, pour in the Drambuie and the Scotch Whisky and stir. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The ratio of this drink can be adjusted to your taste – for example, some prefer a sweeter, 50/50, ratio of Drambuie and whisky.

* I use Monkey Shoulder Batch 27 as my mixer for this cocktail. Monkey Shoulder is from William Grant & Sons, makers of Glenfiddich, Grants, The Balvenie, Hendricks, and … Drambuie. It is a blended triple malt Scotch whisky, made from 27 casks of single malt from the company’s neighbouring distilleries in Kininvie, Glenfiddich, and Balvenie. The three monkeys on the bottle represent the three distilleries, while the name ‘Monkey Shoulder’ is an irreverent reference to a painful ligament injury suffered in the past by distillery workers who were tasked with the back-breaking work of turning the malting barley with a shiel (a large wooden spade). Thankfully the job is done by machine these days. It’s a light and smooth drink, almost on the sweet side. Blended whiskies can be a treacherous territory, but this one is a pleasing drop. While it goes down nice and smooth neat, or on the rocks, it makes an excellent mixer for whisky-based cocktails, such as the Rusty Nail.

While you are enjoying your Rusty Nail, here are a few of my favourite tunes I am currently listening to …

‘Heathens’ by Twenty One Pilots

The duo of Tyler Joseph and Josh Dun originates from Columbus, Ohio. Their music spans a number of musical genres, but I would describe their style as indie pop rock.

While they are not considered a ‘Christian’ band, they are both Christians and their music alludes to Christian theology and contains implied messages about God, which I am willing to overlook for the quality of their music.

‘Heathens’ is a single release for the soundtrack for the film ‘Suicide Squad.’ I am not a fan of the movie, but the song is brilliant.

All my friends are heathens. Take it slow
Wait for them to ask you who you know
Please don’t make any sudden moves
You don’t know the half of the abuse

We don’t deal with outsiders very well
They say newcomers have a certain smell
You have trust issues, not to mention
They say they can smell your intentions

You’ll never know the freakshow sitting next to you
You’ll have some weird people sitting next to you
You’ll think, “How did I get here, sitting next to you?”
But after all I’ve said
Please don’t forget
(watch it, watch it)

The arrangement is appealing to the ear, with a slow, ballad like intro breaking into a guitar heavy crescendo which is powerful, yet melodic. But I’m drawn to this song mostly by the fascinating lyrics.

‘Pure Imagination’ by Gene Wilder

Some of my favourite movies star Gene Wilder: Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles.

His passing came as a particular shock because Saturday night, just before the news broke, we watched Young Frankenstein for the umpteenth time, and spent the evening laughing out loud, and re-enacting scenes from the movie:

Taffeta, darling.
Taffeta, sweetheart.
No, the dress is taffeta. It wrinkles so easily.

Wilder’s collaboration with Mel Brooks on Young Frankenstein, The Producers, and Blazing Saddles gave us some of the funniest, and craziest, cinematic moments of all time.

His work with Richard Pryor on Silver Streak in 1976 also created history, by putting a Jewish and an African-American actor on the big screen together in roles that were a seismic shift in accepted racial representations in Hollywood movies at the time.

Wilder was a mad pioneer, a crazy genius, and a man with unparalleled comic abilities.

While Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory does not feature in my all time favourite Wilder movies, ‘Pure Imagination’ is still a magical and quintessential Wilder moment.

Rest in peace Young Frankenstein …

‘Blonde’ by Frank Ocean

I hate to do this to you, but you will need an Apple Music subscription to listen to Frank Ocean’s ‘Blonde‘. Also, it’s not a song but an entire 17-track album so, if you so choose, you can settle in for a nice afternoon of music. But trust me, it’s worth it!

Frank Ocean is a revolutionary American singer, songwriter, R&B and hip-hop artist, and rapper who in 2012 spoke openly about his first love … a man.

Ocean continues to be a revolutionary force in his genre by openly referencing his sexuality, not a common theme in R&B, hip-hop, and rap:

It’s a good guy, he hooked it up
Said if I was in NY I should look you up
I, first time I done saw you
You text nothing like you look
Here’s to the gay bar you took me to
It’s when I realized you talk too much, more than I do
I, it’s highlights when I was convinced
That it isn’t much more it’s so not you
I know you don’t need me right now
And to you it’s just a late night out
Good Guy

Ocean burst onto the music scene in 2011 with the release of his mixtape, Nostalgia, Ultra, receiving critical acclaim. He followed up with a studio album, Channel Orange, in 2012 which, again, was both a commercial and critical success.

Then silence … until earlier this month when he released ‘Endless’ a so-called ‘visual album,’ which fulfilled his contract with his recording company Def Jam, and he followed up a day later with a self-released, and already more succesful, new studio album ‘Blonde’.

Recent reports indicate there may be a dispute brewing between Def Jam and Ocean over whether ‘Endless’ qualifies as an album, and whether it satisfies his contract with the recording company.

In any event ‘Blonde,’ another commercial success having debuted at No. 1 in the United States and the United Kingdom, is either a self-indulgent mess or another triumph, depending on which review you read.

To my ears, mind, and soul, it is a T.R.I.U.M.P.H.

It is political and social commentary wrapped in modern, urban poetry, reflecting on modern life, consumerism, racism, social ills, love, and hope.

RIP Trayvon, a nigga look just like me
Woo, fuckin’ buzzin’, woo!

Blonde is story telling at its best.

Ocean’s conversations and inner monologues are unique and engaging, and will take you on a lyrical and musical journey as you work your way through this spectacular record.

Overall, the album is haunting, dreamy, moody, retrospective, strangely mellow, and practically spiritual … and oh, that intoxicating voice – if that sweet and sticky Drambuie in your Rusty Nail was audible, it would be Ocean’s voice!

I thought that I was dreaming when you said you love me
It started from nothing
I had no chance to prepare
I couldn’t see you coming
And we started from nothing
I could hate you now
It’s alright to hate me now
When we both know that deep down
The feeling still deep down is good

If you are short on time for the full journey, my favourite songs from the album are ‘Solo,’ ‘Seigfried,’ and ‘Godspeeed.’

‘Thinkin Bout You,’ Channel Orange (A live performance from Ocean’s previous studio album)

‘A Brief History of Time’ by Stephen Hawking

A brief history

If you prefer a literary journey with your Rusty Nail, this month my choice is a scientific journey through ‘A Brief History of Time‘, by Stephen Hawking, the most significant theoretical physicist and cosmologist of our time, whose gift to humanity is immeasurable.

My 1988 copy of the book also comes with a brilliant and mind-opening introduction by non other than the incomparable Carl Sagan:

This is also a book about God … or perhaps about the absence of God. The word GOd fills these pages. Hawking embarks on a quest to answer Enstein’s famous question about whether God had any choice in creating the universe. Hawking is attempting, as he explicitly states, to understand the mind of God. And this makes all the more unexpected the conclusion of the effort, at least so far: the universe with no edge in space, no beginning or end in time, and nothing for a Creator to do.

‘A Brief History of Time’ is a groundbreaking book. At a time when scientific literacy is at a depressing low, this book had become one of the most successful scientific books of all time.

It achieved this by presenting complex science in non-technical language, making those scientific concepts accessible to non-scientists. Over 20 million of them to be exact since the book was first published in 1988.

The book traverses the beginning of our universe through the Big Bang theory, the fascinating physics of black holes, and the theories of those who came before Hawking, from Galilei, to Newton, Friedmann and Einstein.

We find ourselves in a bewildering world. We want to make sense of what we see around us and to ask: What is the nature of the universe? What is our place in it and where did it and we come from? Why is it the way it is?

This little book is a treasure, and your soul will thank you for the mind-blowing journey through space and time it will take you on …

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