On My Mind: August 2019

Monday Author: Susanne Skinner

On My MindWelcome to the dog days of summer and a hot list of what’s been on my mind this August 2019. There is no reprieve from heat, mass shootings, hate speech and political rhetoric.

The Internet is always on.

Political Rants on Facebook

The news is full of volatile political issues and we all have opinions about what everyone else needs to do. Including me. I have very specific thoughts about politics and religion.

Your views may differ, and we aren’t going to change each other’s minds. It is not my duty to inform you how you must think or act, and I am weary of others attempting this on Facebook. What happened to the cat videos?

Nobody is going to experience an epiphany reading Facebook posts. People steadfast in their beliefs are not going to alter those beliefs after they read what you’ve written.

Major exception: Randy Rainbow, taking political satire to new heights with a Broadway tune. Keep singing Randy!

A Change is Not Gonna Come

People of Facebook, I would seriously prefer that you not try to convince me or anyone else to believe in what you believe in. Limit your Facebook posts to personal updates, funny photos, interesting articles and a good meme now and then. No politics, no religion.

No matter how long we’ve known each other or how much I love you I don’t want to keep seeing your political posts—find another outlet and fight the good fight. When it comes to FB posts the I’s have it: Inquire, Inspire and Impact—in a positive way.

Full disclosure, I get high on Twitter’s political posts and the shade thrown by responders. There’s humor in brevity and 144 characters brings out the best and the worst.

Currently controlling the conversation and owning Twitter:  Monica Lewinsky

Vice President Mike Pence: “Christians need to spend more time on their knees than the Internet.”
Journalist Lauren Duca: “OK, who’s going to tell him?”
Monica Lewinski: “def not me.”

Lewinski for the win.

In the Kitchen with Suze

Vintage KitchenChristopher Kimball’s Milk Street Kitchen is my new favorite cookbook.  I was on the fence about this because his exit from America’s Test Kitchen, which he founded, came with ugly allegations. I kinda sorta thought they were true and wasn’t feeling the love.

But—the man knows his way around a kitchen and these recipes are genius. This is the companion to the television series and there’s not a bad recipe in the book. Moving on.

All Things Ginger

My current baking fascination—ginger cookies—and the gold standard is Dorie Greenspan’s Princeton Gingersnaps. Of course, you must like ginger, and these cookies offer the Full Monty:  lots of powdered, freshly grated and crystalized ginger. Thin, crispy and full of flavor. Ain’t nothing like the real thing!

Last month I was looking for something to do with surplus ginger beer I bought for Moscow Mules when  I came across the Dirty Shirley—the adult version of a Shirley  Temple.

It calls for grenadine syrup, and I immediately thought of maraschino cherry juice, which it is not. A little research led me to the idea of making my own infusion and therein I learned grenadine is actually pomegranate syrup. Who Knew?  I made some and it’s totally worth it. Move over Mules.

Read – Watch – Listen

Watch

Read Watch Listen, Susanne Skinner, On My Mind, December 2017In the desert of mainstream summer television there is Netflix. It’s a small price to pay for compelling drama from across the pond. If better television programming exists, I haven’t found it.

Two British programs worth watching offer imperfect characters with a good backstory; broken, human and real. The shows, filmed on location in London and Galway, bear the names of their lead characters, John River and Jack Taylor.

  • John River sees dead people. He’s a detective haunted by ghosts of victims and criminals that died on his watch, including his partner. River is aging and painfully introverted; jaded and withdrawn from the human side of work and life. You feel his pain.
  • Jack Taylor, aka Ser Jorah Mormont from Game of Thrones, is a jaded and self-destructive former officer of the Irish Garda. He drinks and smokes incessantly, working as a detective or “finder of lost things” after being fired. The reality is he’s looking to find himself, and along the way solves mysteries and makes us want him to be a better man.  The beauty of Galway and Connemara sets the mood of the story.

Read

I love a good spy novel and found them in Mark Greaney’s The Gray Man series. Court Gentry is a former CIA operative targeted for elimination by the government that trained him. It’s intense.

The Gray Man, Mark GreaneyGentry reminds me of the 1994 movie True Lies, specifically when Jaimie Lee Curtis learns her husband, played by Arnold Schwarzeneger, is a secret agent. She asks if he’s killed anyone and he replies, “Yeah, but they were all bad.”

Court Gentry is a good bad guy, he’s got a moral code that makes you wonder (yet again) about government sanctions and cover-ups. It’s good summer reading and worth noting Greaney is Tom Clancy’s co-author, continuing his Jack Ryan series after Clancy died.

Listen

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame R&B icon Mavis Staples celebrated her 80th birthday still singing strong. She collaborated on her 12th studio album with Ben Harper, recording this foot tapping rendition of We Get By. Magic.

Harmony resonates when The Sweeplings sing. A folksy duo, they write and perform original music with voices that are also instruments. Cami Bradley is a finalist from America’s Got Talent, joining forces with Bradley Dean who heard her sing on the show.  Carry Me Home is an acoustic requiem.

Some Like it Hot

I hope you are keeping cool, enjoying the gift of summer downtime.  There is an old saying, “if the first week of August be warm, the winter will be white and long.  If that’s true, you people up north are in for it.

This entry was posted in Books, Food and Cooking, Lifestyle & Culture, Susanne Skinner, Television and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , by Aline Kaplan. Bookmark the permalink.

About Aline Kaplan

Aline Kaplan is a published author, a blogger, and a tour guide in Boston. She formerly had a career as a high-tech marketing and communications director. Aline writes and edits The Next Phase Blog, a social commentary blog that appears multiple times a week at aknextphase.com. She has published over 1,000 posts on a variety of subjects, from Boston history to science fiction movies, astronomical events to art museums. Under the name Aline Boucher Kaplan, she has had two science fiction novels (Khyren and World Spirits) published by Baen Books. Her short stories have appeared in anthologies published in the United States, Ireland, and Australia. Aline’s articles have also appeared on the Atlas Obscura website. She has been an active member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America since 1988 and is a long-term member of the Spacecrafts science/fantasy writers’ group. As a tour guide, Aline leads architectural and historical walking tours of the city for Boston By Foot, ghost tours for Haunted Boston and historical bus tours of the city. She lectures on Boston history and has appeared in the Boston Globe, as well as on TV for Chronicle, an award-winning television program that broadcasts stories of New England. As a lecturer, Aline has spoken at Brandeis and Tufts universities for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She has also addressed as service organizations and local meetings. She is a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston and lives in Hudson, MA.

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