I have many weekend adventures to tell you about, but no time. Piece due early in the morning, and it’s one of those topics where I made a suggestion, the boss liked it, and I filed it away, letting the idea ripen and age, certain it would be ready when I took it out. Well, I opened the door, and there’s a hard seed in there, all shriveled. No idea how to write this piece, but that has never stopped me before.
So the tale of the Oak Island Water Feature and the Arborvitea Nightmare will have to wait. Or I can write it up and run it next spring, when the details will matter not a whit.
It’s probably too early in the week for a Scotch review, unless you’re one of those people who thinks that Monday is absolutely perfect for a Scotch review, on account of it being Monday.
I understand. Not really, since I like Mondays, but I understand. The tradition of the post-work cocktail, handed to hubby as he comes in the door with his briefcase after a long commute, weary because the boss was on him about the Anderson Contract - those days are done, and perhaps only existed for a small sliver of people anyway. Also gone: the mid-afternoon midday cocktail culture. When I was a ten or eleven year old I read Mad Magazine, of course, and there was a series of parody ads, of course, about liquor ads. One of them used the phrase “As long as you’re up, get me a Grant’s.” I’ve no idea why it stuck with me. Two office guys, top men, probably nursing ulcers as a sign of success, one with his feet up on an Eames chair. The other guy was probably already getting a drink, because he was a borderline or functioning alcoholic, and the other, in an obvious nod to his slightly greater status, couched his request in the raiments of collegiality. Hey, as long as you’re hitting the sauce early, pour me one too.
Save that thought.
It would be decades before I had a Grant's. I’ve told the story - with Daughter and French Exchange Student in DC, having taken the train from NYC, waiting for the plane, exhausted: plane a bit late, so I went to the bar in the super-futuristic terminal where I used to go home when I lived in the District. I saw Grants on the menu, and thought, well, as long as I’m up. It was the best drink I’d ever had. Not because it was the best drink I’d ever had, but the mood, the exhaustion, the bittersweetness of the trip from Gotham to Trantor.
So. I bought some Grants when I got home, and while it’s not my go-to whiskey, mainly because I don’t have one, it’s my favorite completely acceptable whiskey. These days my Friday night whiskey has been Dickel 12, followed by a Bulliet or a Makers or Buffalo Trace, all of which are technically supposed to be better than the 12, and all of which are reasonably priced. Now and then I will put an Irish in the line-up, but I end the evening with a Grants.
However. If you’re going to go to the lower shelves, there are lots of venerable names. Some of them you recall from college, and wonder what they’re like: CC. Old Crow. Granddad. Cutty Sark, for heaven’s sake - these were the only brands available when I was coming up, I think. Oh, Crown Royal if you wanted to be classy, because it came in a fabric pouch.
That’s the second and bottom shelf, mixed with swill brands you can use as a mixer or a paint stripper. Sometimes I will google the venerable brands while I’m in the aisle, wondering if there’s some hidden gem that get short shrift because it’s industrial and old, and sometimes I’m surprised by the reviews: “did not induce blindness, oaky notes upon vomiting” or “disguishes itself from other similarly priced shellacs.”
For some reason I took a chance on Old Smuggler, thinking - what if it’s actually not bad? What if it’s a fine finishing scotch whose qualities perks up a palate well-paved by the previous libations?
My review: surprisingly not brackish; plays well with ice; tastes like scotch that would be happy to have company in form of coke or soda, but it’s fine on its own - and, most interesting, an absolutely dead finish. It’s like licking cardboard. This is not necessarily bad, since some of the lower-shelf libations really snap a wet towel on the way out, and it feels like an act of malice. This one just tunes out and floats off and leaves you with nothing.
Quite the accomplishment. It’s the 8th most popular scotch in the US, which I find astonishing, and the second most popular in Argentina, which I do not: brands take root for different reasons and are hard to uproot.
But it won’t replace Grants.
It has a story. It’s still family-owned. It’s the third-largest scotch brand in the world. But I feel like I’m being unusual when I order a Grants, as if I have no imagination yet have chosen something obscure.
Anyway, Old Smuggler, my review: “Our reviewer set out to talk about it, and while he wasn’t put off permanently by the distilled fluid in any way, he ended up talking about Grants again, which tells you something.”
I should start a regular feature here, and review all the bottom-shelf hooch. I’m dying to know whether Old Crow is, as I suspect, a scotch that doubles as a perfectly efficient depillatory.
Anyway. The Grants campaign, as you may have heard on one of those chum sites that shows you 16 Sexist Ads You Won't Believe, was amazingly sexist:
He's obviously ordering a woman around. Same below, except it's a young woman who is taking his English class at the University.
He's taking advantage of her star-struck youth.
There are others with guys of all kinds, looking over their shoulder, expecting their womenfolk to bring them a cocktail. Those 16 Sexist Ads sites are just dead-on right!
Well, that was probably a one-off -
It's like you can't trust those sites that tell you how bad everything was.
You might recall this name from last year. Remember the female reporter stories?
What were they called? C'mon, what am I doing this for? This is a lesson in the B-level culture of the past, a way of understanding the era through its lesser known products!
Don't worry, it's slipped my mind at the moment, too.
TORCHY BLANE. Barton was in the Torchy Blaneseries, until he wasn't. Right. Okay, so what's the show?
Yes, there was a TV version. The radio version, one of the best anthology shows in the medium, ran for 15 years; this one had one season on TV. Like a lot of the anthologies, it couldn't find its footing in the visual medium.
How's our irascible long-suffering fine B-movie character actor doing?
He's under pressure, and worried! Why? Because LIMITED FARM BILL FAVORED
So how do you make a TV show version of a radio show better? Camera angles that expand the story and take advantage of the medium. This is rather ingenious, but it suggests the room is about 40 feet tall.
I'm combining several eps here, because there's not too much of visual interest in the Barton ep. In another, though, we have someone who looks like she should have been one of the two prime actresses who populated the latter half of the show's run.
But it's neither Gerson nor Gregg.
She's Marie Windsor, who had a slew of noir roles. IMDB:
Often cast as an adulterous wife, slutty girlfriend, female gang leader or gun moll, she proved so convincing in those roles that she often received Bibles in the mail with passages underlined that covered the "sins" she had committed onscreen, warning her that she would go to hell if she didn't reform. Several of those types of letters dwelt so much on her "immorality" and "evil ways" that, unnerved, she turned them over to the police.
Other facts in her bio:
She was a lifelong member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In her later years, she suffered from arthritis.
Was a Republican.
Was a former Miss Utah.
Was a Girl Scout.
Once described as "looking like Loretta Young with touches of Edmond O'Brien"
Other stars-to-be make early appearances:
He knows noth-ink. In the same ep, the main villain has to impersonate someone to convince a pilot to land elsewhere. IMDB says the same actor did the impersonation, dubbed over the actor on camera, and the voice of the pilot.
You know who he is. One of the most famous voices of the era, perhaps speaking from beyond the grave at this very moment, in California and Florida.
Oh, one more face:
Sheila Bromley. Her credits include . . . Torchy Blane.
Oh, the show? It doesn't work. There's no reason it shouldn't, but it didn't translate. But now you know what they were trying in the early days of TV.
In short, everything.
That'll do; see you tomorrow. Wish me luck on the piece.