How to make proper iced tea

When I was a young boy, I played the silver – erm.

Actually – when I was young we’d make iced tea in large glass jars, left outside for a day to fend against the sun. I remember my juvenile pallette finding the taste delicious if sort of odd, but years of crappy canned Iced Tea had put a fairly thorough wedge between me and the gentleperson’s beverage. Oh, over the years there was the occasional fling, Arizona Iced Tea briefly held my attention, although a few bad run ins with tinny cans, (I should have known to stick to the bottles!), and the affair was over.

Then, without really intending too, I fell in love all over again. On a trip to North Carolina I was suddenly immersed in The Great Brown. I’ve little experience of the American South in general, but I can say that Charlotte seemed to run on iced tea in the way that I might imagine Seattle to run on coffee. Worst of all, the stuff was delicious. After returning home I immediately began experimenting in an attempt to recreate what I’d just witnessed, and so began a long trail of not-quite-rights. I moved from heat brewing, to sun brewing and back again.

Finally, synthesizing two different techniques I’d encountered on the internet, I arrived at my goal:

Iced Tea

  • Get a small pot, something you might cook a single can of soup in, and fill it with water.
  • Toss in 5 tea bags of Orange Pekoe. (Lipton is good, sort of creamy. Tetley is also good, although drier. I have yet to try the fabled Luzianne.)
  • Put the pot on a burner turned to high.
  • When the water begins to boil, turn off the heat and scoop the tea bags.
  • Transfer the tea concentrate into a jug already containing at least an equal amount of room temperature water. I actually tend to make this cool water, as I like to get to my tea sooner, but it can make your tea cloudy.
  • Put it in the fridge.

All right, fine, but if you drink that it will be fairly disgusting. There are still two more critical components to go:

Sugar Syrup

  • Using a 2:1 ratio of sugar:water, obtain the pan of your choice.
  • Combine (2 cups of sugar for 1 cup of water may seem lopsided, but trust me.) over high heat.
  • Stir. Stir. Stir.
  • Prepare yourself to experience the wonder you usually can’t get from anything short of an 8th grade science experiment:  Stir until it’s clear. (You’ll know it when it happens).
  • Transfer to dispensing device. (Honestly, I tend to use measuring cups.)
  • Store in fridge.

At this point some people dump their syrup straight into their mix, but I feel the amount of sugar in your iced tea is a deeply personal decision. You’ll also want to have lemon, wedges if you’re fancy, squirt bottle if you’re a realist. When you go to prep your cup just lay out a glass of ice, give it two quick squirts of juice, a dollop of sugar syrup and cover in tea. Give it a bit of a stir and if it doesn’t taste quite right, add some more sugar. If it tastes too sugary give it another half squirt of lemon.

Spook House

In an effort to sort of guesstimate how much I actually read for pleasure in a year, I’ve decided to post up a mini-review when I finish something. This may actually convince me to read more by shaming me with how little I manage, but will hopefully give me a quick reference for how many books I’ve gotten through by the end of 2009.

Spook House is a fantastic book made up of short ‘horror’ stories set and written a century ago. The prose style mixes some of Ambrose Bierce’s journalistic background with sharp pacing, Bierce’s wording must have sounded sharp and short to many of his contemporaries. You won’t find many, if any, of these stories translatable to film, the stories are just too short, but Bierce has a way of presenting the tale so it seems more believable in its indescrepancies – there are almost always some secondary questions about each story that go unanswered, but its in these untied threads that the effect of the stories truly lingers in.

You can find quite a lot of Bierce’s work at The Literature Network, including one of my favourites, Chickamauga.

Rubberband Man

For a Friday afternoon, an excellent musical selection by an excellent wife.

[youtube=http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=ce8nfWyX7P4]

Stay with it till the 3 minute mark if you want to see some proper old school showmanship.

RSL-(D. Poets Soc.)>E. Hawke-(R. Bites)>Keith David-(Novocaine)>Bacon

[youtube=http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=wsx_uxISjM0]

A brief history, and then a song, sung quite arrestingly by Robert Sean Leonard. Does the history part seem Burns-ian? It’s because its from a series by Ken’s brother Ric. Maybe more interestingly, does the singing voice seem familiar? That’s because it’s Robert Sean Leonard, these days largely known as Wilson. You know, Wilson:

[youtube=http://ca.youtube.com/watch?v=61ELa7MiePk]

Webcomics Weekly

Webcomics Weekly Guys

It’s one of those days where I’d rather be napping through old episodes of Good Eats than trying to muster some brain juice.

More specifically, I’ve recently come up with a brilliant (says I) methodology for reworking a project that I’d previously left for dead. The problem is that when the moment is inappropriate – usually while my brain is trying to escape work – I’m full of creative momentum, and by the time the necessaries are out of the way, my brain is flat.

I have a small bag of tricks for days like today, and one of my favourites* is a podcast called Webcomics Weekly. Featuring four webcomic guys (Scott Kurtz, Kris Straub, Dave Kellet and Brad Guigar), the format is supposed to revolve around the mechanics of making a webcomic (and a profit for your labour if you should get that far), but even a non-webcomic fellow such as myself finds a lot to enjoy in the patter and broad approach to creative topics.

Like bacon cooking in a nearby room, the fumes of their creativity are often enough to get me up and about looking for my own meal.

Partially as a favour to myself, and partially for the good of anyone who stumbles across this post, I should also mention that many of the people involved in WW have also been involved in previous podcasts that are just as entertaining, and compile those links as follows:

Webcomics Weekly actually has a longer archive than what is provided on their libsyn page, and the rest of the episodes can be found on their old talkshoe page.

Kris sometimes does a show with his girlfriend Erica, known as The Program.

Before they did Webcomics Weekly, Scott and Kris had a two man show known as The Daily Affirmation, which has a wider range of topics, and a large pile of funny. Old episodes can be found on odeo, but it seems like new episodes will be available on libsyn.

Before they did The Daily Affirmation, Scott and Kris did a show called The Power Hour, which was sort of Daily Affirmation-y, but more of a ‘radio talk show’ influence. You can find that on Odeo too.

Before teaming up with Scott to do the power hour, Kris actually did another podcast with Dave Kellett, The Blanklabel Podcast.

Finally, occasionally both Scott and Kris post items to their youtube channels.

I may have missed other projects by the WW guys – especially possibly Brad Guigar who has a radio-ready voice, but whom I apparently have no audio history for.

The sheer number of hours of quality content on hand is actually a little surprising now that I’ve lined up a few years of listening into a single post. My only regret is that the WW fellows haven’t found a better way to better turn a bit of profit from their podcasts, as I think they might stick to a more regular schedule if they did.

Or feasibly they just need to find their own WW to get things going.

(*Another is to pull an informational blog post from my brain’s back burner,  just to get the gears greased.)

Hot Patootie

MTV is doing the time warp on a remake of 1975 cult classic “The Rocky Horror Picture Show.”

Lou Adler, exec producer of the original film, is partnering with BermanBraun and Fox Television Studios on the new rendition.

Two-hour remake will use the original screenplay by Jim Sharman and Richard O’Brien but may also include music not featured in the original. – more

Frankie
The news has been floating around for a while now apparently, the fact that I’ve just now heard about it probably indicates the enthusiasm for an MTV style Rocky Horror.

Whatever happened to Saturday Night
When you dressed up sharp and you felt alright

raven != writing desk

I’m not sure how I feel about this “Alice In Wonderland Day” that I’ve seen gaining steam in odd corners.

A few months ago, I had a dream in which LiveJournal and everyone on it went completely nuts for a day. The entire world had turned upside-down and inside-out and nobody was their normal self anymore. And it was such a good read, that I think it should happen for real.

January 27th is the birthday of Lewis Carrol, author of ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND. Alice fell down a rabbit hole into a place where everything had changed and none of the rules could be counted on to apply anymore. I say, let’s do the same: January 27th, 2005 should be the First Annual LiveJournal Rabbit Hole Day. When you post on that Thursday, instead of the normal daily life and work and news and politics, write about the strange new world you have found yourself in for the day, with its strange new life and work and news and politics. Are your pets talking back at you now? Has your child suddenly grown to full adulthood? Does everyone at work think you’re someone else now? Did Bush step down from the White House to become a pro-circuit tap-dancer? Did Zoroastrian missionaries show up on your doorstep with literature in 3-D? Have you been placed under house arrest by bizarre insectoid women wielding clubs made of lunchmeat?

Let’s have a day where nobody’s life makes sense anymore, where any random LJ you click on will bring you some strange new tale. Let’s all fall down the Rabbit Hole for 24 hours and see what’s there. It will be beautiful.

Oh, in theory it’s a fantastic little burst of internet creativity meeting internet time wasting, but all I can see in my mind’s eye are the jackasses. I realize this isn’t supposed to be super wacky fan fiction day, but I recall a similar experiment meeting a short end after Boing Boing Gadgets attempted to do a week of pretending to be blogging from an authoritarian future. Worse still, I recall the launching of h2g2, Douglas Adams’ pre-wikipedia wikipedia, and I still wonder if it wouldn’t have had a better go of things if 80% of the user base hadn’t attempted to adopt the same jaunty-ridiculous tone as Adams’ prose, and failed.

Look, all I’m saying is your going to end up with 30% of the day’s content being fan fic involving the blog’s gothy owner meeting the mad hatter and 40% will sound like choose your adventure mash ups.

(A buffer of 30% may seem like a lot for ‘reasonable content’, but you’ve also got to factor in a certain amount of cushion for plain old ‘wtf?’)

In the end though I’m betting the only winner in this little contest will be apathy.