Saturday, May 23, 2015

Then My Friend You're in a Carolina Day

I'm always reminded that someone close to me would always say "the skies are full of Carolina blue today," on a day such as today.  My friend is a UNC Tarheel fan thankfully, I'd hate to see a day full of Duke Blue Devil blue; that would be rather melancholy, don't you think.  Of course that slogan is of no value if you are a fan of the Wolf Pack, Demon Deacons, Pirates, Mountaineers, or even the Blue Hose or Camels!  But I suppose anyone from NC is a Tarheel on some level.

Livingston Taylor wrote a song called Carolina Day about a day just like today.  And yes that is James Taylor's brother.  JT and LT were born in Boston but grew up outside of that Carolina blue town of Chapel Hill.  LT later went back to Boston to attend prep school and eventually became a faculty member at Berklee College of Music.  I believe the song talks about happily traveling back to Carolina from Boston ("on a plane out of Logan") to enjoy one of those Carolina blue days with family.  The song also mentions his brother's (JT) fame but more importantly reflects the gentle tranquility one feels when you are floating through one of those Carolina blue days.

I walked past JT once back stage, I didn't notice him until I was past.  I looked back and realized who he was and said "hi."  Up close and even at a distance he looked like just another dowdy looking faculty member (I guess like his brother).  But he seemed like a really nice guy and he did give a great show.  He sang his Carolina song that night, not his brother's, but both are beautiful.

As is this time of year under Carolina blue skies, "breathing that clean fine southern air."

Last week we saw a lot of Carolina blue around here.  Sandee and I spent an entire day playing hooky from life under those Carolina blue skies along the banks of the Maryland side of the Potomac.  I suppose it didn't really matter where our feet were, our minds were in fact in those Carolina blue skies.

I've driven past Point of Rocks, MD several times and I knew it was just the type of quaint place Sandee and I would enjoy.  And even more importantly it is a great place to shove off in a kayak with a gentle current and a lot of interesting topography to enjoy.  We got to the river just before noon and shoved off from the banks, just below Rt. 15.  The currents were rather strong on this day so we labored up river first enjoying the warm air.  We came across an old lock-keepers house along the canal and got out and walked  up.  It is available for rent and Sandee said how nice it would be to spend a weekend there.  The house seemed somewhat primitive but the thought of spending a thought-free weekend with Sandee under primitive conditions seemed delightful.  We stopped on some rocks out in the river and sunned ourselves and talked much about nothing in particular.  The float back down river was much easier.  We went just past our start and paddled over to Heater Island in the middle of
the river.

Once there we explored the primitive foot worn trails.  Several vines hung from tall trees.  I jokingly swung on one and Sandee gleefully joined in, she is so child-like and joyful.  We talked about swinging from tree to tree in loin-clothes.  The thought got me to thinking how nice it would be to see Sandee in a loin-cloth.  We were alone on the island but on the southern side we felt completely detached from the world.  Under a tree and overlooking the river and the banks on the Virginia side I wrapped my arms around her from behind, kissed her neck, and breathed in the floral scent of her hair.  My hand moved down below her wait and into her yoga pants.  She sighed in her sweet, soft, feminine voice.  We retreated a few paces inland and found a sturdy fallen tree trunk.  I sat down and pulled Sandee's hips to me and ran my hands inside her pants and down the length of her legs.  She bent over and did likewise with me.  Half-naked she then straddled me.  Kissing her, feeling her chest to mine, and her hips moving across mine, it did not take long for us to orgasm together.  I remained in her for some time looking into her eyes and intermittently kissing, not saying much just taking in the moment.

We paddled back to the mainland and loaded up the kayaks.  I was hungry and their was a little restaurant close by.  However, pulling out of the parking lot I saw a sign for a local creamery.  We drove just a little East and came across Rock Point Creamery, a wonderful little shop with delicious homemade ice cream.  Kids were now coming in, obviously just out of school and onto their afternoon snack I suppose.  The ordinariness of the moment was tranquil and fulfilling.

From Point of Rocks we crossed the river again, this time by car.  I'm sure Sandee thought I was just going home but I had another destination in mind.   We drove down several country roads and then emerged by one of my favorite Loudoun County vineyards.  This is a special place for us, the first place I kissed Sandee beside the little pond adjacent to the tasting room.  We sat again at that same place and enjoyed the now late afternoon sun.

Even though we were not in Carolina, it was truly a lovely Carolina day.

Thinking now of the day I am reminded of another wonderful late-May day 21 years ago under Carolina blue skies.

Shannon and I had recently watched the Last of the Mohicans.
The movie is set in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  But good tax breaks in North Carolina obviously convinced the movie makers to film down south.  The ending scenes of the movie were filmed at Chimney Rock, a gorgeous outcropping of granite overlooking Lake Lure that also features the dramatic 400 foot Hickory Nut Falls.  Shannon and I played hooky from life one day and drove across the state to Chimney Rock and enjoyed the beautiful late May day.  The only thing as wonderful as the sweet mountain air in my lungs was the feel of Shannon in my arms, kissing her a few paces off the trail along a glittering swift mountain stream.

Back then she was so laid back and in the moment.  At the time I knew I would be transferred soon with my company.  I knew I liked her, I was not sure I loved her.  Shannon was considering graduate school and surely didn't want to pass on life just to be with me.  But for now none of that mattered, just that we were there together under Carolina blue skies.

JT and LT
As the day got late we left and found a beautiful bed and breakfast with a vacancy and we decided to stay the night.  We were hot and tired and the deep, warm bath in the quaint country room was delightful.  We got out of the tub and didn't even bother drying off just flopping on the bed and falling into one another.  Our wet bodies glided over one another.

This was one of our first days together and probably the first time I saw myself spending a life with her.  Surely if one day could be so perfect, a life together would be more than wonderful.  If everyday life could just be so sweet?

I guess what's important to know is that,

"while taking care of business I found my Carolina day,
didn't let me down."

Monday, May 18, 2015

I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing

"I've never written more than 250 words, not even in high school."
       - Don Draper

I suppose it's fairly shameless to offer up my little interpretation of Mad Men just a day after the last episode.  What could I possibly offer to the analysis?

Critics are offering many interpretations of the last scene.  Most seems to feel it was a pretty good ending to a fabulous show, perhaps better than average; certainly better than Seinfeld.  I thought it was absolutely spot on.

In midst of his final (of many) existential crisis of the series, Don comes to grips with himself on a cliff above Big Sur in the middle of meditation class.  And what conclusions does he come to regarding the universe and how he fits into the grand scheme of things???

That Coke should come up with a jingle to catch ahold of the global consciousness and hippie movement of the late 60's in a very Partridge Family'esque easily digestible form for middle America that drives brand loyalty through a brand promise that links the audience with aspirations and a product that delivers happiness without threatening core American values.

But, but..... the final episode must have meaning and purpose; Don must become some Jedi master or maybe in a darker ending pay for his sins!!!

Why is he allowed to devolve back into corporate greed at the moment in which he develops consciousness?

Why?  Because that is who he is; he is an Ad man.  He has an unquenching thirst to provide happiness to the masses.  Well, that and a unique knack for being able to connect with people and to get them to open up that which they desire and thus the desires of a common society.  As Don has said many times in the show "I sell products, not ads."  But really what he means is that he sells aspirations.  Perhaps he searches for the happiness that was never part of his growing up or the happiness he wishes to find in his next lady conquest. What does it matter, Don is an Ad man and that is what he found meditating on the hill.  That's all it is.

Of course in reality, the real Coke ad was in fact created by the very real McCann Erickson Agency.  Specifically, a mid-40's Draper'esque Ad Man, Bill Buckner, conceived of the imagery and theme while his plane was delayed in Shannon, Ireland.  In disgust over a delayed plane, passengers passed the time sharing stories and drinking Coca Cola.  And thus an iconic ad was created out of just trying to kill some time in an airport.

I didn't really start watching Mad Men until about season 4.  From there I was quickly hooked.  As an affection-ado of marketing, it's affects, and how it can be perfected; I easily started tagging along.  I binge-watched to catch up.  I enjoyed the aura of Don but more importantly the aura we placed on Don.  Don is in fact an advertising campaign, selling us what we want out of a man through imagery all in easily digestible sizes.

"people tell you who they are but we ignore it, because we want them to be what we want them to be."
    - Don Draper

In thinking about my day and last night's episode and my next blog post I realized that Advertising can be art.  Perhaps not the 4/5 word tag lines of a brand or those 250 words Don writes.  But the culmination of imagery in and around Advertising in a modern world represents the aspirations of a society just as much as the Sistine Chapel in some ways.  It represents who and what we want to be and what we desire.  It defines what makes us happy, what motivates us.  To work, it must inspire us to act.  And thus the culmination of those 250 words represents an art and thus worthy of our consciousness.

Likewise, I find blogging to then be an art.  Surely, not a single post about if it's proper to look a women's butts in a gym, how searching for college is like searching for women on Ashley Madison, and certainly not about hooking up with married women.  But the culmination of all those 250+ word essays on life to me represent aspiration and inspiration.

Oh Jesus Ryan, saying blogging is art just because you do it is rather pompous, isn't it!  Just because you think doesn't make you Descartes, it just makes you a person who thinks about a lot of goofy stuff.

But then again, isn't that why we like Don Draper; because he is who he is?  Because he is there to sell us that product that we want to be sold?  He actually believes in who we are and helps us see how who he is is in fact what we desire.

I think I lost my meaning but I think the point I was trying to make is that the culmination of blogging (like Don's ads) is worth something not only to us but to those around us that might be moved by whatever we are communicating.  Blogging feels good because we don't really know one another so we don't have to be fake.  We tell each other exactly who we are and that truth can be as inspirational as anything else we come across in life.  And I suppose I could also drop some sort of meaning and strategy around Ashley Madison.  As I said before, success on AM is all about brand identity.  Create and fill a need, find in yourself that which will inspire others to act.  On that virtual tabula rasa create truth by being who you are and letting others be who they are.  Yet, in doing so, make who you are that which is desired by another.  And well, if you can do that on AM, on blogging, or on an AMC movie classic maybe you can do that in all life ventures.  Or to many it's just that ego boost that allows you to say, I just passed 300,000 hits (which I just recently did).  Who knows?

As for me, I'm a guy who likes to rip off lyrics, movie quotes, and rom-dram themes to illustrate a point, often not so well and wrapped in too many layers and certainly for more than 250 words.

But that's who I am.

Btw, I think the meaning in this episode is that guys have an insatiable need to be needed; or maybe we are just pompous jerks!

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Chumps, Chops, Chill, Chug

Happy Cinco de Mayo and welcome to this most Mexican of American holidays!  Or rather, is it the most American of Mexican holidays???  Oh well, let's just say it's a great day for us folks north of the border to celebrate the Independence of all you folks south of the border.  Except that somebody told me once that Cinco de Mayo is not actually Mexico's Independence Day; us American's just decided to make it so because we were in need of a festive holiday between Easter and Memorial Day!  Who knows?

Just in case you didn't know, in Spanish the 5th of May is called Cinco de Mayo.  More specifically the festivities celebrate the Mexican Army's victory at the Battle of Pueblo over the French occupational army in 1862.  It is not however Mexico's Independence Day which is actually Dieciseis de Septembre and took place about cuatro anos after Cinco de Mayo (or the Battle of Pueblo).

But who am I kidding I don't habla espanol!  To me Cinco de Mayo is just a great day to feature Mexican food on a blog de sexo that rarely hablas about sexo!   :)

So in keeping with my theme of not writing about sex on Cinco de Mayo, here is a wonderfully easy and tasty Southwestern appetizer for this most festive day!

Some few weeks ago I found my way to Sedona, Arizona.  Now Sedona is my kind of place, very eclectic, outdoorsy, and laid back; very much like my hometown except with a sprinkle of chili peppers and Red Rocks out the window rather than Blue Ridges!  While in Sedona we found our way to one of those true "bucket list" restaurants that will now be on my top line of best all time places along with other diners, drive-ins, and dives such as Dreamland and Mary Mahoney's.  If you look up the Elote Cafe (pronounced Eh-oh-tey) and click on Yelp, TripAdvisor, or Urban Spoon you will find 1,000's of basically awesome reviews about a truly unique and special restaurant.   Heck, even the Boston Glove did an article about the restaurant!  The website describes the restaurant as "cuisine inspired by the markets of Mexico."  But really, as I found throughout the state, cuisine in Arizona is very much a fusion of Mexican/Southwestern, Native American, and Cowboy.  The chef owner of the restaurant takes some very creative spins and interpretations off of traditional Mexican dishes.  Be a little wary though, as an expert once told me you can spot a real Mexican restaurant by the lack of Cheddar-Jack cheese.  The entrees are truly authentic which means they are not Goditas smothered with cheese, rather dishes piled with peppers with sides of exquisite mole that to an untrained American taste might just come across as slightly bitter.  But give this place a try if you are ever in Central Arizona, the site lines of the red rocked mountains are enough to make it worth while (at least after one of Elote's craft tequila flights)!

Prickly Pear Margarita and Elote Dip!
Now if you go, go early and plan on waiting.  The restaurant is only open for dinner and the line starts forming an hour before opening (at 5 pm).  While you are in line make sure you take advantage of the walk up bar and try (as Shannon did) one of their special Prickly Pear Margaritas or just a Sierra Nevada (as your's truly did).

Once you do find your way to the table make sure you try the restaurants signature menu item and namesake, Elote Dip.

Now, if that sounds yummy, try it for yourself - it's easy peasy!  :)

Elote Dip


6            Ears of corn (in husk)
1            Cupo de Mayo (that's mayonnaise not a cup of the month of May)
1 Tbs     Cholula Hot Sauce (nothing else ONLY Cholula!  Hopefully my Cali friends will get that)
2 Tbs     Fresh Lime Juice
1 tsp      Kosher Salt
1 tsp      Fresh Ground Pepper
1 tsp      Raw Sugar
1/4 Cup Chicken Stock
1/4 Cup Cotija Cheese
2 tsp      Cilantro (best if from Ryan's private herb garden but you can't substitute Wegman's if needed)
Pinch     Pure Ground Chili Pepper
As Needed - Tortilla Chips


*     Over medium-high grill, roast corn until the husks are well charred (about 10 minutes).  Turn occasionally so charred evenly across husk.
*     Set the roasted ears aside to cool, then shuck when possible.
*     Cut the kernels off the cob.
*     Mix mayo, hot sauce, lime juice, pepper, salt, and chicken stock in saute pan over medium heat. Stir until liquid incorporated into mayo and forms sauce.  Do not heat too quickly or bring to a boil (lest you breco de Mayo sauce!)  :(
*     Once sauce is warm add cut kernels of corn and stir until evenly warm and incorporated into sauce.
*     Pour into bowl, straining out excess liquid.
*     Add chili pepper, cilantro, and cheese on top for garnish.
*     Serve with tortilla chips (and a Dos Equis!)
*     Eat with Ryan, the Most Interesting Man in the Sex/Food Bloggosphere!  :)

And then chop, chill, and chug along with Calexico; a very eclectic Southwesterny pop band!