Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oh, I'm SO Gonna Get Sued (Coffee Musings)

There's been some action over at my Facebook page ever since I posted links to my Impossible Xmas List, specifically regarding coffee wants and needs. Here's the most recent three-way (which may actually be a two-way since I strongly suspect DR and TZ to be a single life form):

DR: Thats an incredible Xmas list you have there, but for coffee may i suggest the exotic coffee beans that have passed through the digestive tract of a small mammal; it adds a certain flavor and expense to the coffee beans as it has to be collected by hand.

GW: At SML we shall now make coffee only from beans that have passed through the digestive tract of Scarlett Johansson! Beans ground by the crushing action of SJ's thighs!

TZ: Thats actually a very marketable idea...who wouldn't want coffee made from SJ's butt beans???

GW: That's what I'm sayin'! Hell, I'd settle for a bag o' beans held between her silken thighs for 30 sec., but then, I'm easy.

TZ: I'm tired of celebrity perfumes, lets have celebrity coffee, like maybe she just passes her hand over the coffee beans.

GW: TZ, we get this thing going and we'll make a fortune! Of course, securing SJ's cooperation might be tricky, but I'm guessing she'd rather do Celebrity Coffee than another tired Celebrity Scent.

DR: All we have to do is CUT OFF HER HAND and take it to our bean facility.

GW: ‎"Beans Blessed and Caressed by the Sacred Mummified Hand of Scarlett Johansson!"

And then I fired up

Let's see now... unattributed quotes used without permission, unlicensed use of a celebrity's likeness, implied threats of bodily harm, copyright violations, a non-existent product... I fearfully await the Stormtrooper knock of the local constabulary.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Your Saturday Evening WTF?

While waiting for Cliff at Crossroads Coffee I had a Close Encounter of the Disturbing Kind:

But I guess that's to be expected at a place with the motto, "Keeping the Oral Tradition Alive through Social Intercourse."

And a lampshade like this:

Friday, November 26, 2010

Once Again, Alone and Unsupervised...

In my previous post I mentioned The Black Blood of the Earth triple-cold-extracted supercoffee concentrate and then proceeded to generate a sales slogan for 'em based on a few anecdotes from their website:

When Subject 1′s cup of unadulterated was half empty, he grabbed his water bottle and poured the remainder into his clear glass coffee cup. He looks at it and then puts his hand up because He Needs An Adult. He said with concern, “I added water but it didn’t change color.” We all wandered over to peek into the dark heart of his mug. Even diluted to 50% of the original strength, it is still as black, oily, and potentially lethal as a tar pit.

While accurate, this can’t merely be called Scientific Coffee or even Weapons Grade Coffee. My brain went searching for terms that accurately described this creation. While the tar entity that killed Tasha Yar in ST:TNG came to mind, John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble In Little China” is what stuck. This coffee is the Black Blood Of The Earth (or BBotE for the sake of brevity).

No less an entity than Warren Ellis wrote:
The day {TBBotE} arrived, it went straight into the fridge, hissing slightly and frightening the other bottles. The next day, I had an early start, had to head into London — and found that I was out of energy drinks and was too fucked up to attempt making coffee because it involved operating machinery. So I dumped a big shot of The Black Blood into a glass, probably in the region of 100ml, mixed it with about 250ml of chilled almond milk and threw a bit of caramel syrup into it. (I like my coffee sweet, and keep a rack of Monin syrups handy.) I slung the glass back in the hope that it’d at least keep me going until I could get a Red Bull in London — which could have taken anything up to two hours.

Four hours later, I realised I hadn’t had or wanted a Red Bull.

That in itself is both magical and disturbing, given how much caffeine my system needs to tick over.

I’m fairly sure that more intensive doses could activate previously dormant areas of my brain, possibly giving me special mental powers.
--The Black Blood of the Earth: Early Results

And then later:
Sleep? Sleep is for YOU OTHER PEOPLE. You UNMODIFIED people. I will swap MY ENTIRE BLOOD VOLUME with the Black Blood, and develop POWERS.

Also yes probably also death BUT STILL.
--received goods 22nov10

And with those I became inspired.

Here's their current logo.
Here's my suggestion:

Why, yes, Bryan; I do have too much time on my hands!

If It's Black Friday, It Must Be Time For My Xmas List!

Dear Santa,

First, as I do every year, let me remind you of how incredibly good I've been (relatively speaking):

I've fixed no elections, fomented no revolutions, nor have I overthrown any governments this year, despite almost overwhelming temptation to do so. I haven't engaged in mass murder, no serial killings, no random acts of violence, no choke sex (hell, no sex at all!), no waylaying of strangers to harvest their body parts, and only minor, completely excusable corruptions of youth. I've refrained from kidnapping any heiresses, selling any government secrets, disrupting the ozone layer, or even holding the planet for ransom. I haven't tampered with things man was not meant to know... much... and that annoying human sacrifice thing is now in the dim, dark, distant past. I've limited my stalking activities to the online realm and I haven't propositioned any of my female associates to do that...thing...with the Shetland pony and the Waring blender in quite a while.

We'll conveniently ignore the fact that my being good wasn't entirely by choice; after all, at my age (and income level) the opportunities to be truly bad are few and far between. Still, we must judge people by their actions and not their motives, mustn't we?

Well, whatever. Here are a few suggestions:

For the more mundane stuff-- books, CDs, DVDs, minor household conveniences such as the Ka-Bar Black Kukri Machete-- I've set up a convenient Wishlist,  BUT... the big news is I now have a Kindle e-reader (like you didn't know that was coming) for which I have a separate Wishlist, since Amazon e-books finally can be given as gifts. Keep in mind that the more items you bring, the more I'm distracted from plotting World Domination-- a bored G. W. is a dangerous G. W., y'know-- and besides, I'm well-armed and I know where you live.

Speaking of well-armed, I need-- yes, need--  an Allied Armament X-91 50-round drum in .308 Winchester for my PTR-91KF carbine. Come the Zombie Apocalypse you'll be glad you brought me one since you violate Rule #1: Cardio. Make it so and I hereby promise to do my best to rescue you from the flesh-eating demon elves.

Recently I've been experimenting with caffeine delivery systems-- coffee makers-- and wouldn't mind a bi-weekly delivery of Blanchard's Dark As Dark and/or Mocha Java beans. They're just across the river and they're all trendy 'n' free trade 'n' stuff. Oh, and even though I have what I think of as a perfectly satisfactory Mr. Coffee electric grinder, the snobbier caffeineistas insist I need a burr grinder, perhaps a Hario "Mini Mill Slim". Too much trouble? Well, feel free to send me case after case of Funranium Labs Black Blood of the Earth superconcentrated coffee extract (their motto should be "Sleep and functioning kidneys are for the worthless and weak"). I'll even allow Mrs. Claus to watch me vibrate and twitch while you and Rudolph... uh... perhaps I've said too much..

Back-up headphones for my Sony Walkman MP3 player would be great; these Sennheiser CX 300s look like they'd fit the bill nicely and they've been reduced from $89.95 to $32.95. Hey, I'm all about saving you the bucks. Incidentally, for some reason I've noticed that the music on my computer is getting harder and harder to hear. Some people say it's an age thing, but I'm thinking it's poor CD QC and I'm thinking I need a Headroom Total BitHead headphone amp. After all, my Ziggy Stardust album says, "TO BE PLAYED AT MAXIMUM VOLUME"! WHAT? SPEAK UP! STOP MUMBLING!

Though by no stretch of the imagination am I Goth-- Crom knows I'm far too hefty to be a Goth Boi-- I still have Goth-y sensibilities which could best be expressed by a few items of decor, this fine Coffin Clock, for example, or even a nice coffin. transportation-wise, I suppose an Aston-Martin DB9 hearse in basic black with automatic transmission would be a bit out of the question, right? Does such a thing even exist? Oh, well; how 'bout something like Carthedral, the Mobile Gothic Wet Dream? And since the (non-Goth-y) cat has decided my computer chair is his own personal scratching post, maybe Giger's Harkonnen Chair would be spooky-ass enough to discourage him.

Speaking of computers and chairs, well, I talked about chairs here; any one of them would do nicely. Or all, or any combination; I'm not hard to please.

Well, that's about it for this year. As usual, I'll be leaving a little something for your efforts, only instead of milk, cookies, and Fentanyl I figured you might like a change of pace-- you'll be finding a couple of bottles of genuine (and now fully legal in the US!) absinthe on top of the television set: Kubler for you and Lucid for Mrs. Claus, so put on your best Bohemian garb, grab a sugar cube or two, drink up, get nekkid, and see the Green Fairy! Leave the cat alone; he's touchy and liable to rip out certain valuable portions of your anatomy.

Have a Merry Newtonmas!

(adapted from this)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Boris!

Well, as usual, I'm a day late (and more than a dollar short). Yesterday, November 23, was Boris Karloff's 123rd birthday.

I and my good friend JSaM waxed ecstatic about Boris in this post from last year so I'm going to try (try mind you; not necessarily succeed) not to repeat myself. Besides, there are better tributes all over the web if you care to search for 'em; here and here, for example (the latter being the lead-off for The Boris Karloff Blogathon of 2009).

But the Big Story is a New! Authorized!! (by daughter Sara Jane Karloff) 608 pp!!! biography, Boris Karloff: More Than A Monster, to be released March 14, 2011. From the blurb, "...this new biography dispels the often repeated myths associated with the star - many perpetuated by Karloff himself - and reveals a wealth of new information about {his} private and professional life. See the Boris Karloff Home Page for more.

I hate to use a tired cliché... well, no, I don't... but Boris? You may be gone but you're not forgotten!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Dreaming... Dreaming...

Why, yes, Lauran; I do sleep. Too much under normal circumstances, as it turns out, but this is National Novel Writing Month and I'm trying to generate 50,000 words in 30 days while maintaining some semblance of normalcy (ahem!). It's difficult and whenever brain burn begins to set in (as it often does) I do silly stuff on Facebook and here. Especially here.

But you broach an interesting subject. In that Alternate Universe where I have lots of money and a really nice house, I also have a really nice chair that does indeed act as a central command center. Maybe a modified Ball Chair-- somewhat larger and somewhat deeper and completely equipped with a vast array of electronic digital devices, a mini-fridge, and, yes, maybe a microwave as well.
Or, maybe something a bit more utilitarian, like a C-130 Navigator's Chair and a big-ass C-shaped table to hold all the computers and shortwave receivers and speaker systems and clandestine transmitters (plus that mini-fridge and microwave) I would need to run my Invisible Empire.
The padding would have to be black vinyl, though.

Wait! Not a problem! The solution is... The Emperor Workstation!

 (more here)

Svelte, compact, black, complete, self-contained, looking exactly like the command center of an alien spacecraft, and a steal at $40,000! Ah, yes; once the world is mine your deaths shall be swift and painless!

Sadly, these things are unlikely to happen, but they're fun to dream about.

Since we're on the subject of cool chairs and such-- and thanks, Lauran, for triggering the memory-- some years ago I ran across a web page advertising an electric reading chair for approx. $1000. Not a reading chair that's electric; we're talking an electric chair converted into a reading chair! Oh, the Spooky Coolness Factor was just a-oozin'! Unfortunately, I wasn't foresighted enough to bookmark the page nor did I copy the picture. I went searching for it, but the page seems to be long gone. Just use your imaginations-- the head electrode would be the reading lamp.

(Virginia's electric chair, by the way)

Now I just happen to have a  friend-- another high school classmate and Facebook friend-- who makes fine furniture. Really fine. Exquisite, in fact. About a year ago I half-jokingly suggested he get into the Kustom Koffin business. Hey, Gary! HERE'S ANOTHER BUSINESS OPPORTUNITY FOR YA!

This Isn't Goofing Off; This Is Research!

Here's how I know I'm getting old-- I can hear the edits in one of my favorite songs of the 'Sixties, "Crimson and Clover" by Tommy James and the Shondells ("the name 'sounded good'").

Here's the version we Old Fogies know and love, the one they played on every Top Forty radio station in the country (ahem!) over and over until we wanted to scream "ENOUGH!"

It's nice! Gettin' some old nostalgia going there, aren't we? Now wait for it... at 2:21, right after the guitar goes 'bom bom bom bom..." four times--tone change! I didn't think anything of it at the time; it sounded cool and that tremolo on Tommy James's voice was simply riveting (Hey! It was 1968! Gimme a break!). Now listen to the long version:

Right there at 0:52-- awkward edit!-- and at 1:58-- insert edit!-- and again at 2:29-- splice edit!-- and at 4:19, the same spot as the tone change on the short version at 2:21, the final edit (noticeable by a non-sound engineer)! You. Will. NEVER. Hear. This. Song. The. Same. Way.

Screw all this high-falutin' Post-Modern Literary Deconstruction nonsense! The fun's to be had dismantling the hits of the 'Sixties!

Friday, November 19, 2010

And the Procrastination Continues...


This ludicrousness brought to you courtesy of Blanchard's Coffee Co., lack of sleep, Google Image Search,, and the works of James Frey.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

NaNoWriMo Continues But I Took A Break

28,119 words so far, if you happen to be keeping count. Once again, it ain't quality, it's quantity. Sing along with me now: "We'll fix it in the edit, we'll fix it in the edit..."

But my plot and characters are starting to do whatever the hell they damn well please regardless of what I want them to do ("Go over there." "Screw you, I'm going over here!"), which is one of the stranger things that happens to me when I attempt to write fiction. This requires periodic resurfacings into The Real World (est. 4,500,400,000 B. C. E.), but even then things don't cooperate. I keep... seeing things. Weird things. Things that had to have been there all along but I didn't notice. This, for example (and why I always carry a camera):

Spotted this afternoon when I left
McDonald's with fish sandwich &
Diet Coke.

I knew the mural was there (it's on the side of the Helping Hands Veterinary Clinic which I walk by almost daily); I'd just never noticed this particular juxtaposition.

And then next door there's this:

How could I have possibly missed her?

Just one of those things, I suppose.

Oh! the artist is a local, Daniel Johnson, and he's got a time lapse video here.

The Sunday Morning Snicker

Last time, you may recall, I promised a picture as soon as I took a better one. As it turns out, I took two!

You'll probably need to embiggen this one.
It's lagniappe and purely fortuitous.

This, this is the one to which I was referring.
I so want to know the story behind it.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The NaNoMadness Continues...

...But you don't really care about all the details; it's just a continuing exercise in self-flagellation.

Writing buddy and long-time friend Bill G. and I met up today at Cartwheels & Coffee, "the playland designed with parents in mind," so his kids could play while we sucked down caffeine and pounded our keyboards (sometimes with our heads). It's a very cool place with slides and train sets and costumes and mirrors and giant padded doughnuts and a super-sized padded noodle-like thing; I wish they'd come up with something similar for adults!

Aiden enjoyed rolling Blade around in the Giant Padded Doughnut O' Doom.
Hapless bystanders and their parental units were not so sure about this activity.

Our barista was simply adorable and surprisingly tolerant of these
two creepy-looking men lugging laptops, cables, and hyperactive children.
"I hope your latte's okay; it's only my third day (now I'm going to
stand over here, near the door, well away from you weird-os)."

There was a DeLorean parked in front of the nearby Byrd Theatre for whatever reason, but I dunno; that's kind of cliché. I was much more intrigued by this little vignette I spotted at the corner of Cary and Nansemond (it's so very Richmond!):

We both managed to get some writing done; Bill hit 24,160 words and I'm not too far behind, craptastic though they may be.

Oh. I took one other picture but it came out lousy. I'll get a better shot tomorrow. Certain ones of you are gonna love it.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Horror... The Horror...

Unshaven and unshorn, bearded and bedraggled, emanating the distinctive funk of too much coffee, too many cigarettes, and too many skipped baths, mud-wrestling with a puerile plot and uncooperative characters.

I am not a pretty sight.

Awright, you! I heard that! Don't make me come over there! I'm on the edge, ya know! I have access to word processing software and I know how to use it! I will do things to you that will make your mother and the Baby Jeebus cry! With my words! In print! For maybe two or three people to read, you synaptically-challenged sack o' sleaze! See how you like that! And that!

Dear, sweet Crom and His Tenacious Terrifying Testicles, if this is November and I'm writing like this then it must be National Novel Writing Month and I, for some unspeakably insane reason, am a participant. What was I thinking? What am I thinking? Am I truly so masochistic to once again sip the soup of suck?

Oh, yes, I knew exactly what I was getting into when I took up the challenge of writing a 50,000 word/175 page novel in thirty days: five years ago I was every bit as sleep-deprived and bleary-eyed as I am right now, banging the keyboard to produce virtual page after virtual page of Squidboy Rising: A Lovecraftian Romp Through Time and Space.*

Which was really, really bad. Plot summary: an Industrial Noise band accidentally awakens one of the minor Great Old Ones slumbering beneath our planet's crust. Hijinks ensue. Blood, breasts, beasts. Heads roll. Bulldozer-fu. Gratuitous reference to the Chesapeake Bay impact crater. Lee-Bob sez, "Don't check it out."

This year? Notes of A Dialectical Derelict: A (Mostly Fictional) Memoir of Drunkenness (hypothetical cover here). It's... not good.**

So why do some 170,000 do this thing and generate gazillions of words of mostly ghastly prose? Bestselling author John Green says,

At this point, you've probably realized that it's nearly impossible to write a good book in a month. I've been at this a while and have yet to write a book in less than three years. All of us harbor secret hopes that a magnificent novel will tumble out of the sky and appear on our screens, but almost universally, writing is hard, slow, and totally unglamorous. So why finish what you've started? Because in two weeks, when you are done, you will be grateful for the experience. Also, you will have learned a lot about writing and humanness and the inestimable value of tilting at windmills.
And, believe it or not, when all is said and done, where the rubber meets the road and pigs fly, it's kinda fun.***

*Well, I'd just read Nick Mamatas' Move Under Ground, wherein the main characters, Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs (with a cameo by Allen Ginsberg), square off against the mighty forces of a recently-risen Cthulhu. It's funny as hell. And That Darn Squid God, also funny as hell, inspired the title.

*Well, okay; some of it was funny when I re-read it the other day.

***Oh, yeah; I should explain away the horrificness of some of these sentences--ya does whats ya gotta to get 50,000 words. And, yes, somehow or other I'll be incorporating this little vignette into my NaNoNovel to increase my word count, so it's NOT time wasted!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Locks O' Love?

A couple of weeks ago I ran across one of those unusual-but-not-quite-weird articles on reddit I so love: For decades now a custom has slowly been creeping across the world whereby loving, romantic, and sometimes superstitious couples have decided to write messages on padlocks and attach them to certain landmarks in specific areas.

"Well, that's kinda cool," I thought. "I wonder if that's caught on here?"

And then it struck me-- on one of my evening walks I was wandering across the Monument Avenue bridge over I-195 when I noticed a padlock hooked to the chain link fence:

I didn't think too much about it at the time; it was just one of those minor mysteries like gym shoes tossed across telephone lines you see every-damn-where, but after reading about these Love Padlocks I figured I'd check things out a little more carefully after the Countdown to Halloween madness had died down.

Last night that's exactly what I did and, sure enough, the padlock was still there, no initials or inscriptions, only now it had been joined by three others. And not just that; two of the padlocks were located near the top of the chain link, which meant someone had to cross to the middle of the bridge, climb the guard rail, and reach way, way high over his/her head to place it there.

Some reddit comments I found amusing here...

"Now that reddit finds out about them, there will be a surge of padlock sales and public padlocking abound. Considering most people in reddit have girlfriend. (virtual or otherwise)."

"Darling.. my love for you is like a padlock-- cold and mechanical. Let us rejoice!"

"It's all a Big Lock Industry ploy. They get you buying the locks, littering with the locks, and then lock contractors cut the locks off."
"It's a conspiracy, I tell you!"

I'll be watching with interest!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Coffee Musings

Jules: Mmmm! Goddamn, Jimmie! This is some serious gourmet shit! Me and Vincent would have been satisfied with some freeze-dried Taster's Choice, right? And he springs this serious gourmet shit on us! What flavor is this?
Jimmie: Knock it off, Julie.
Jules: [pause] What?
Jimmie: I don't need you to tell me how fucking good my coffee is, okay? I'm the one who buys it. I know how good it is. When Bonnie goes shopping she buys SHIT. I buy the gourmet expensive stuff because when I drink it I want to taste it. But you know what's on my mind right now? It AIN'T the coffee in my kitchen...
 --Pulp Fiction (from this scene on YouTube--Warning: racial epithet)

I have no idea what led my mind down this particular road except I've been experimenting with coffee-making for the past week--National Novel Writing Month, don'tcha know*--and you know me--one synaptic discharge leads to an explosion of synaptic discharges.

Up until I was about five, Dad was a traveling salesman for Goodyear (insert appropriate joke about possible half-siblings scattered across the country here) and whenever he made an overnight trip Mom and I had our Special Dad's Away Dinner: hot dogs; baked beans; lettuce, pineapple rings, crushed peanuts, and dollop of Miracle Whip for a salad; and, best of all, ice cream floats for dessert. In our household these came in two varieties: vanilla ice cream and ginger ale or chocolate ice cream and Coca-Cola. We never had any of these (except the hot dogs) at any other time; I'm guessing they weren't things Dad particularly enjoyed.

Ours was also a Coffee Household--coffee at every meal--and though I loved the smell, the few times I tasted it made me gag. Of course, I now realize Mom, being of the coffee-stunts-your-child's-growth generation, only allowed me sips of hers, which was black, no sugar, and of a now all-but-deceased brand loaded with chicory**. Bitter. As bitter as an unlaid Prom King.

Then I discovered (sound trumpets!) coffee ice cream. Not bitter! Sweet! Cold! Delectable, with a unique taste (well, unique to someone who'd only experienced chocolate, vanilla, and pistachio). I soon decided this stuff needed to go into a float and soon enough my favorite dessert was cic 'n' Coke.

For those of you who're grimacing at this point all I'm going to say is it's surprisingly good. Good enough that many years later the Coca-Cola people marketed Coca-Cola BlāK (circa 2006 and no, that macron over the "a" makes no sense to me, either), which was (duh!) coffee-flavored cola and, basically, a coffee ice cream float without the ice cream.
It wasn't bad at all, though dear sweet Lord you never wanted to drink it lukewarm (which may be why Anderson Cooper spit it out on Live With Regis and Kelly; see video***). Want to try it (it was discontinued in 2008)? I make it all the time. Here's the recipe:

1. Get a glass with at least 20 ounces of volume and fill it about one-third of the way to the top with ice.
2. Take a small amount (no more than half an ounce or about one tablespoon) of freshly brewed coffee and drizzle it over the ice.
3. Get a 12 ounce can of regular Coke (you can even use a generic store brand of cola if you really want to reduce the cost), open it, and pour it into the glass.
4. If desired, you can combine the flavors together more evenly by either swirling the glass around a little bit while you’re pouring in the Coke or by lightly stirring the beverage with a straw or spoon after you’re finished pouring in the Coke. However, be careful that you do not shake or stir the beverage too much because it can lose too much of the carbonation, which will make the drink taste “flat”.
5. Drink and enjoy! You can now feel like a “sophisticated” shopper without having to pay a sophisticated price.

As long as you do not use too much coffee****, I have found that the result tastes virtually identical to the retail version of Coca Cola Blak. Since the amount of coffee required is so small that its cost is practically negligible, it is now possible to make a homemade version of Coca Cola Blak for about the same cost as a regular Coke! Of course, you CAN put in more than 1/2 ounce of coffee, but I have found that if you do this, the stronger coffee taste will clash with the flavor of the Coke, leaving a rather bitter aftertaste that you may not find entirely pleasant. On the other hand, if you do use more coffee, you can add an extra jolt of caffeine to the beverage and experiment with different ratios of flavors and ingredients. But if you want to end up with something that actually tastes like the real Coca Cola Blak, I recommend that you stick to the 1/2 ounce amount or maybe a little less.

And speaking of coffee, I've finally... finally... learned to brew a decent cup for myself. My problems with almost all commercially available coffee-by-the-cup is twofold: the intense bitterness from sitting around too long (a little bitterness is fine; that's the nature of the coffee bean) and THAT DAMNED BURNED TASTE! Maybe people like it that way; I don't, and because I don't for years I drank coffee only when there were few to no other options. As it turns out, that particular flavor most often occurs with the (until recently) most frequent method of brewing coffee--the percolator. That, and beans roasted unto utter blackness.

The answer to all my at-home coffee needs has been the French press (aka the press pot or cafetiere); your mileage may differ (if you cannot abide the least little bit of sludge in your coffee this is not the route to go; that, and coffee preferences are highly individualistic, I've found)--simple, straightforward, surprisingly inexpensive thanks to Bodum and Target (though, as with most things, you can pay as much as you wish). I grind my own beans; fresh ground really does make a difference, but my taste buds can't tell the difference between an expensive burr grinder and an el cheapo Mr. Coffee blade grinder. That being said, I will point out that one's choice in beans is critical and, again, highly individualistic. I'm a fan of Blanchard's Coffee Co., a local business, and their House/Morning blend, for example; a friend of mine prefers the donkey kick of their Black As Black (which is good, just not something I'd drink day after day).

But here's where all the coffeenistas will get their hipster knickers in a twist--I drink mine with skim milk. Or (gasp!) Coffee-Mate. And Splenda. With fiber. Because at my age and with my cardiovascular condition I need all the fiber I can get.

Well, that's all the procrastination I dare indulge in this afternoon. Time for a cup of coffee...
*Motto For the Month: "Creativity (and drudgery) is (are) fueled by coffee!"

**Gill's Hotel Special
(when in the '80s Mom and Dad could no longer obtain the stuff locally they ordered it by the case from the manufacturer in Norfolk, VA.)

***Yes, I see the "ice" in their glasses. Dollars to doughnuts, under those hot studio lights they're using plastic ice cube simulacra.

****THIS IS CRITICAL!!! Too much coffee and, well, blecch!