Friday, February 7, 2014

My Old Fashioned Recipe (at the moment)

Let me state up front that this is how I make and enjoy my Old Fashioneds. It is what I have settled on after years of experimenting. It is relatively simple and straight forward, but it does require some basic ingredients. If you want to make this Old Fashioned, buy the ingredients. If you attempt to make this drink with assberry flavored bitters or Splenda instead of agave or even with rye instead of bourbon... I'm not responsible for the results.

You will need:
Decent bourbon (or whiskey... yes, you can use Jack Daniel's). I like a high proof bourbon myself (thanks, Chris Neseman), and since I'm a poor writer, I tend to use the Kirkland variety from Costco. Impossible to beat at twenty bucks per liter.
Bitters. Any brand will do, far as I know. I like to use both the traditional aromatic flavor and some orange. Both are common these days.
Agave nectar. I like it better than sugar because it dissolves easily and I like the taste. I also think it may be healthier, if you care about such things.
Maraschino cherries. I buy the cheap kind for Old Fashioneds. I do love the Luxardos, but I would save those for a recipe in which they won't get all smushed... a Manhattan, for example.
An orange. Not essential, but I like a little twist of orange peel as a garnish (aroma and appearance).
A nice cocktail glass. Seek out vintage glasses if possible. they're not hard to find and you deserve it.
Factory-made ice. Yes, it's important. Don't use those disgusting, opaque half moon things your freezer cranks out. Gross.
A spoon and a sharp knife.

Start by squirting a little agave nectar into the bottom of your glass. I don't like a lot... almost enough to cover the bottom.

Add a single maraschino cherry, with just a bit of the juice.

Smush the maraschino with the back of your spoon. No, I own a muddler. No, I do not muddle my Old Fashioneds. Frankly, I don't care for bits of smashed-up fruit at the bottom of my drink. I just crush the cherry to release the juice. Also, since I'm using agave instead of sugar, I don't have to worry so much about dissolving anything in the cherry juice.

Add the bitters. As I said above, I use both aromatic and orange. Four or five nice drops of each. Your tastes may vary.

Add the bourbon. I use two ounces... or so. I went a tad over this time, as you can see in the photo. So be it. Don't go crazy. If you want or need to drink four ounces of bourbon, have two drinks.

Stir. Stir well to mix the juice, bourbon, bitters and agave nectar.

Add enough ice to almost fill the glass. As I said above, use good ice! I do have molds to make giant cubes (balls, actually), but I actually like the mellowing effect of using good cubes in an Old Fashioned.

Cut a nice slice of peel from your orange, twist to release the juice, and garnish.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hollywood Rich

Hollywood Rich-

You make things. Hollywood shows interest in these things. Announcements happen. Things fall apart. More announcements. Every now and then some actual money shows up.
When the "big check" does come, you find that, if you add it to everything else you've made in the previous several years, you may just be living above the poverty line.

None of this is meant as complaining, of course. Last I checked, I still get to write stories for a living, as meager as said living may be. I get to work and occasionally hang out with some really cool people. And, every now and then, I get to sit at Chateau Marmont and look at Charlize Theron. Hollywood!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Perspective, Courtesy Orson Welles

I think about the moment at the 1:30 mark of this clip a lot. Whenever I have regrets about how I've managed my career or how hard I've worked or how many hours I've spent on a treadmill, I think of this clip.
In my case, the old man wouldn't say, "You always just used money to..." He would say, "What have you done with your life? You've used it just to..." And I would interrupt, "to enjoy it". "To surround myself with people I love and who love me and just... enjoy it."
Thanks for the comforting little piece of this scene that lives on in the back of my brain, Orson.
I did not post this video. Whoever did so has my thanks, particularly for the appropriate title.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Inking Made Easy

I published this on Twitter the other day. Figured I might as well place it here, too.
Here, in my semi-humble opinion, is what makes good comic book inking, in five not-so-easy steps:

1- Draw, don't trace. You don't have to be Frazetta, but you have to know what the forms are and how to contribute to them. Always.
2- Make confident lines. We don't want to see you tentatively feeling your way around. Make every line like you know it's the right line.
3- Vary line weights. If all your line weights are the same the work will be flat. Fat, bold lines next to razor thin lines makes stuff POP.
4- Texture. Develop & consistently apply visual shorthand for textures. Complex or simple, they must be convincing. Wood, steel, cloth, etc.
5- Saved the most important for last. Help tell the story! Spot blacks. Separate visual planes. Keep things clear. Story > pretty lines.

There. Now you can all go be brilliant inkers and take all the jobs. I don't care anymore. I'm a writer! #alleged

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My Happy Experiences with Dynamite and Nick Barrucci

I wrote this the other day for Clifford Meth, who was writing a piece about the recent Don McGregor/Dynamite thing. Since Cliff only used part of my message, I thought I'd share the whole thing here:

My experience as a freelancer at Dynamite has been very positive. At a time when I was looking to move from inking for a living to becoming a full-time writer, Nick gave me a chance to make that happen. The rates at Dynamite, in my experience, are not the best in the industry, but I feel I'm getting a fair deal, considering the amount of freedom I'm given. I've done work as a writer for the Big Two. In my experience, the size of the resulting headaches was not worth the higher rate. I want to produce work I'm proud of, with minimal editorial interference. Dynamite has allowed me to do so. I find this especially remarkable given the fact that I'm working on licensed properties.

Not everything has always been perfect. Nick and I have had a few misunderstandings and/or miscommunications. These have been handled directly, on both sides of the equation. If I'm upset, I talk to Nick about it. If he agrees that he screwed up, he apologizes and we find a way to fix it that pleases both parties. If I screw up or fail to deliver, we handle it the same way. I've always felt that I can call Nick and hash things out. I think he feels the same.

I am very happy with Joe Rybandt, the editor on my books. Joe juggles a lot of books, but he's always been there when I need him. As I referenced above, he is hands off. He hires me to do a good job. I try to do so. I get left alone, aside from an occasional note from the folks who actually own these properties. Those instances have been few and far between, and Joe has gone to bat for me more than once.

In my experience, Nick is honest and straight-forward. He will tell you he's got to watch his bottom line to keep his company going. He'll tell you what he can afford to pay. He'll tell you if a book is selling well. He'll tell you if it's doing poorly. He'll tell you what he wants and listen if your needs don't coincide with his.

Of course, I say all this as someone who is still getting paid by Dynamite on a monthly basis (as an aside, their voucher-processing and check-cutting system is as smooth as any I've ever dealt with). If I no longer worked for Dynamite as of tomorrow, I would offer the same assessment, but people will have to take my word on that. I understand that some may think I'm biased or wanting to court favor. My answer would be that my integrity is not for sale.

One final caveat- I have never worked for Dynamite in a situation where I was involved with rights. Everything I've done as been work-for-hire and page rate only. I would consider doing something creator-owned with Nick. That situation just hasn't come up yet.