Sangria Recipe

In honor of it being New Year’s Eve I have, once again, made Sangria as my official party drink. The last time I posted the recipe I was in Texas and writing on my Xanga. I find it annoying to troll through my archives to find it, and so I’ve decided to update the recipe. It should be noted that when I made Sangria in TX and AR, I used Mogen David Concord Grape Wine.  For some reason that wine is difficult to find here (probably because it is essentially alcoholic grape juice.) So here is my updated recipe:

Recipe for one pitcher is as follows:

————————————

You’ll Need:

1\2 a shot of Brandy – I use Napoleon Brandy.

2 Shots Triplesec

2 Apples

2 Lemons

1 orange

3 Limes

1 Pear

2 Bottles of $3 buck chuck from Trader Joes

*The following ingredients are optional. I normally

use one of the following per pitcher to make it taste

special:

*Grand Marnier

*Coconut Rum

*Midori

*Peach Schnapps

You can add a shot of any of the three liquors to the

batch for an extra kick of flavor. ONLY USE ONE!

OTHERWISE THE GUESTS WILL BE ON THE FLOOR!

======================================
What to do:

1. Start by pouring the shots of Brandy & Triplesec into

a pitcher

2. Cut up the apples & pear into thin slices (Sangria

normally  has fruit floating in cups which the guests

eat after finishing their drink.)and put them in the

pitcher.

3. Cut 1 lemon and one lime in 1\2 and try and get

just squeeze the juice into the pitcher. I always pick

out the seeds before they fall into the pitcher.

4. Slice the remaining lemons and lime very thinly

(Like a garnish for a drink) and add them to the

pitcher.

5. Juice 1\2 the orange into the pitcher and put the

other 1\2 of the orange slices into the pitcher.

6. If you are adding any of the additional shots this is the time to add them.

7. Pour the wine over all of it, and then stir with a plastic spoon. DO NOT USE A WOODEN SPOON!  If you use a wooden spoon the Sangria will take on a wood flavor, which is not appetizing!

9. Refrigerate for AT LEAST 8 hours. I normally just

make it the day before.

 

 

Recipe for one pitcher is as follows:

------------------------------------

You'll Need:

1\2 a shot of Brandy - I use Napoleon Brandy. 

2 Shots Triplesec

2 Apples

2 Lemons

1 orange

3 Limes

1 Pear

2 Bottles of $3 buck chuck from Trader Joes 

*The following ingredients are optional. I normally

use one of the following per pitcher to make it taste

special:

*Grand Marnier

*Coconut Rum

*Midori 

You can add a shot of any of the three liquors to the

batch for an extra kick of flavor. ONLY USE ONE!

OTHERWISE THE GUESTS WILL BE ON THE FLOOR! 
 

What to do:

1. Start by pouring the shots of Brandy & Triplesec into

a pitcher

2. Cut up the apples & pear into thin slices (Sangria

normally  has fruit floating in cups which the guests

eat after finishing their drink.)and put them in the

pitcher.

3. Cut 1 lemon and one lime in 1\2 and try and get

just squeeze the juice into the pitcher. I always pick

out the seeds before they fall into the pitcher. 

4. Slice the remaining lemons and lime very thinly

(Like a garnish for a drink) and add them to the

pitcher.

5. Juice 1\2 the orange into the pitcher and put the

other 1\2 of the orange slices into the pitcher.

6. If you are adding any of the additional shots this is the time to add them.

7. Pour the wine over all of it, and then stir with a plastic spoon. DO NOT USE A WOODEN SPOON!  If you use a wooden spoon the Sangria will take on a wood flavor, which is not appetizing! 

9. Refrigerate for AT LEAST 8 hours. I normally just

make it the day before. 

 

 

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A Little Night Music – Review

It occurs to me that I never wrote a review for “A Little Night Music.” I was kind of amazed by this, considering my love for the production, but am happy to give a review of my thoughts.

For starters, I was privileged enough to see both sets of stars. The first session starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury . The second starring Bernadette Peters and Elaine Stritch. As a result this review is lengthier than I like.

Both casts had serious wow factors, and I consider myself lucky to have seen both.

Catherine Zeta-Jones interpretation of the role Desiree was very professional. Zeta-Jones used what the fact that she is utterly stunning to her advantage, and all of the character remarks about how they wished her beauty had faded over time were easy to understand. Though Mrs. Zeta-Jones is 41, she still looks as beautiful as she did in “The Mask of Zorro” which was filmed in her late twenties. I don’t think that a woman being 41 and beautiful is difficult to believe, but the level of beauty that Mrs. Zeta-Jones possesses would be remarkable at half her age. Her looks aside, Mrs. Zeta-Jones did not seem to rely to heavily on the fact she has such a pretty face. Her vocal work was clearly enunciated, and well sung. At the time, I found her interpretation of “Send in the Clowns” moving, though I left thinking that the song is not as important as time would have us believe. In addition to being well spoken and well sung, Zeta-Jones was a true actors friend. Her scenes with the rest of the cast were beautifully conducted, and at no time was it apparent she was more famous than anyone else. I appreciated this humility, and it made the entire show feel much more like an ensemble, which is how the show should feel.

By contrast, Bernadette Peters performance was less constrained but equally refined. Peters is clearly aware that everyone who knows who she is, knows that she is an excellent vocalist, and therefore she chose to use her songs to demonstrate her idiosyncratic comedy skills. Being rather familiar with the score of the show, I did not find this departure to be jarring, but a woman in front of me constantly asked her husband what it Bernadette Peters had said. I rather enjoyed her interpretation, but wondered if I would love it if I was not so familiar with the actress herself. Mrs. Peters has a certain style when she does performs Sondheim, and, although I am a fan, it can be somewhat perplexing if you are not familiar with the show. That said, Peters made moments that were generally funny, utterly hilarious, and she found ways to add even more humor to the show than I even thought possible. Mrs. Peters is also quite lovely, and I am amazed that she looks as good today as she did 20 or 30 years ago. The allusions her character makes to proper maintenance of her appearance were easy to believe, and at their very mention I constantly wondered how it is she has remained so lovely.

Mrs. Peters waltzed through the fist act with such ease that I forgot that the role was difficult. In that way, she surpassed Zeta-Jones performance. The fact that Peters chose not to really sing her songs made it easier on her, whereas Zeta-Jones clearly knew that she needed to prove she would be able to handle “Send in the Clowns” to her audience. Mrs. Peters however turned that song into a true piece of art. I don’t think I really ever understood how important each line of that song was, nor how cutting the lyrics true meaning is, than I did when I saw Mrs. Peters perform it. Although it was not really enough to bring me to tears, I think it might have been had I not seen the show earlier that year. I am, however, happy to proclaim that it was the finest moment of acting a song I have ever seen to date. This, unfortunately, knocks Christiane Noll out of the top spot, for her stunning performance in Ragtime.

The other two stars are easier to compare.

Angela Lansbury is my clear winner for the best portrayal of Madame Armfeldt. Her performance was beautifully sung, tender, mischievous, humorous, and heartbreaking. Her performance of the song “Liasons”, which is perhaps the song in the show I liked least prior to seeing her perform it, was spell binding. Mrs. Lansbury does not quite have the voice she had in her youth, but she is still a very good singer. The particular technique she employs was once thought to be the norm, but is one I fear is dying out as belting becomes more popular in musical theatre. This is not to say that Mrs. Lansbury’s performance had not fight in it, rather she managed to being bitchy in a way that you knew was out of love and concern for her daughter and grandchild.

Elaine Stritch chose a much darker road than Mrs. Lansbury. While both are clearly available options, Stritch chose to make Madame Armfeldt more bitter and jaded than felt necessary. She also chose to ad-lib much of the script, and it was difficult to see the other actors help her find her place again when it was clear she forgot her lines. Despite the occasional line flub, Elaine Stritch played to her strengths. The short jibes she makes at the other characters, all of which are deserved, were so biting that one could not help but feel sorry for anyone who dared to speak to her. While it was fun to see the characters to beautifully put in their place, it tended to be so painful that pauses were inserted to allow the characters a chance to recover and resume their antics. This led to the show being much longer, and while I enjoyed seeing Mrs. Stritch demonstrate her perfect comedic, albeit bitchy, timing, it did not endear me to her character throughout the show. Mrs. Stritch also chose not to sing more than a few unsteady notes throughout the entire show. This meant she somewhat monologued her song, in a manner that I did not find particularly enjoyable, but I was fascinated by her ability to turn the lyrics into a soliloquy. This is not to say the performance was bad, and I think Stritch was needed to keep Bernadette Peters from chewing the scenery too much. Lansbury was a softer woman, which matched Zeta-Jones softness. Peters was brash and load, and Stritch’s harshness helped balance her out.

Both times I saw the production I had the same woman playing “Anne Egerman” the new wife who has managed to maintain her virginity despite being married for 11 months. This role is not easy to sing, and although her character is a bit spacey, she does need to be funny. I felt Ramona Mallory did a great job of reinterpreting the role, her use of multiple vocal registers to diversify her comedic timing was a welcome change to previous incarnations which seem to believe Anne is merely capable of making high pitched squealing noises when she is excited or distressed.

Erin Davie, who played Countess Charlotte Malcolm, really deserves a huge amount of credit. While the role is funny as written, Mrs. Davie’s interpretation is by far the best I’ve ever seen. She found humor throughout the script, but never betrayed who her character was.

Leigh Ann Larkin, who plays Petra, gets a special mention for her work during “The Miller’s Son.” This “eleven o’clock number” is not easy for most, but Mrs. Larkin’s performance is utterly captivating. Given the fact that we see so little of her character, the song is not an easy one to do. Larkin manages to use the song to reveal much about her character while effortlessly entertaining the audience. There are few women who have successfully pulled of the role of Petra, but Larkin’s performance is an absolute success. She is a clear rival of D Jamin-Bartlett, who originated the role. To give one an idea of the difficulty of this role, and Mrs. Larkin’s achievement, D. Jamin-Bartlett was hired for the original production solely because she could carry the song. She usurped an actress who lost the role due to her inability to sing and perform.

Hunter Ryan Herdlicka’s performance as Henrick is incredible. He sings the rather difficult high note in “Later” better than anyone else I’ve ever seen.

Finally, I believe it only fair to give Stephen R. Buntrock credit as Fredrick Egerman. His performance is beautifully sung, and he plays against the men and women in the cast with absolute grace. It takes an incredible actor to be able to play against two very different Desirees. Although he originated the role of Mr. Lindquist I had the pleasure of seeing him as an understudy with Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer continues

For those of whom missed my initial review of this series, I strongly encourage readers to do so.

Van Jensen and Dusty Higgins have put out the 2nd part of their Pinocchio the Vampire Slayer series, and again I was impressed.

The book started off with something that initially is something I would be inclined to hate. It being a sequel, we are immediately bombarded with new characters, in this case, new puppets. Not only are they new, but they are an entire acting troupe. For those of whom know my particular love affair with “Hamlet” the fact that they were an acting troupe certainly helped me love them, but the first few pages did have me questioning Van’s writing choices again. Much like last time, Van proved his decisions were good ones. The addition of these characters is quickly earned by the writer, and mid-way through the comic you (and some of the other characters) are almost wondering how the first comic left them out.

Other than that, the comic maintains the dark and sinister look, and is balanced by the entertaining humor that is sprinkled throughout the new tale. The characters we were introduced to in the first, begin to develop more fully in this one, as they learn to deal with new situations. In particular, Pinnochio’s new dilemma, which you’ll have to read to find out, allows us to get to know more about him. I appreciated this in the comic, and look forward to finding out what happens in the third installment.

I think buying both volumes would make a great gift this holiday season. Especially for those darn kids who are impossible to buy for.

Work

So my last post was a little negative. I thought I’d share that I found an outlet for my fiction and am currently working on it. Here is a snippet of what I am working on:

Chapter 4

“Mr. Boroughs, thank you for staying with us. Have you familiarized yourself with the material?” the goateed man asked.

“Yes, I have. It’s practically memorized.” I said trying to sound confident without being boastful.

“Excellent. Before we begin I’d like to talk to you for a few moments. For starters, I’m David Stein, I’m in charge of casting, and I’m a co-producer with our author, Colin Shapiro, who is this man to my right.” Stein says.

“A pleasure to meet you. I love what I’ve read so far.” I say to them as I smile and nod.

“And I am James Merchant, the director.” Declares the short bearded man on the left. The second I hear his name my heart skips a beat. James Merchant is one of the biggest directors in New York now. I’d seen his work, and even read about him, but I always assumed he would look different. Taller, and more…refined.

“It’s an honor sir. I saw your production of Much Ado about Nothing three times last year. It was incredible.” I gush sounding more like a fan boy than I mean to. The second the words leave my lips I regret them, and am trying to remember everything I said to him before I knew who he was.

“Did you now? That’s good to hear. However, Masque is a different animal despite the similarity in language.” He says.

“I understand. Is there anything I should know before we begin?” I ask hoping to a little direction.

“I’m sure there are a great number of things you should know, but right now I’m only interested in one thing. Chemistry. We’ve seen a lot of people for this role, seasoned professionals, even a celebrity, but they lacked the ability to connect to our leading man. The role requires an actor to not simply keep up with him, but to challenge him, and for some reason this has been difficult to find. So chemistry, Mr. Boroughs, is was I am looking for.” Says Merchant as he orbits me, evaluating every inch of me.

“He must be quite an actor.” Is all I can think of saying to reply.

“Well you would know wouldn’t you? I thought you two were friends.” Says Merchant extending his right hand toward Kevin, and placing his left at the small of my back. His hands are rough and cold, and my body spasms at the touch. Normally I would be so concerned with the fact that his fingers touched my bare flesh, meaning my vest has ridden up to exposing my holiday weight, but I am too confused to care.

“Kevin is the lead?” I ask for confirmation.

“Yes. Didn’t you know?” Asks Shapiro.

“He said he was the reader.” I reply.

“Well I am. It was the only way I could be part of the casting process without suspicion.” Kevin explains.

“I see someone is already getting into character. Practicing deception before we even begin rehearsals.” Shapiro says with a nod of approval.

“It would seem so Colin. Well that should make this somewhat interesting, so while the moment is still fresh, let us begin.” Says merchant returning his seat, and locking his eyes on me.

In this moment I am flooded with so many emotions. My brain feels foggy from the confusion of Kevin’s little e trick, I am nervous to have for a scene partner, especially with a director like James Merchant staring at me with such scrutiny. Chemistry. He wants chemistry. I’m not even sure what that means, and I feel myself shrinking in the room. This is why I play lackeys, my job is to make the lead look good. Challenge him. Challenge Kevin. The idea turns my stomach, as if to physically manifest a rejection of the very nature of the idea. I realize that time is going by, and that I’ve been staring at nothing for at least a minute. I have to snap out of it, so I tell myself to take another moment, to breathe, and then I force myself to look at Kevin and begin.

“Your Lordship has been most kind in inviting me to dine here, but soldiers are not used to supping on delicacies such as these. Surely you waste your finery on a man such as I.” I say to Kevin, my Count Ezio, and the line mirror my mind. I’m out of my class pretending to be Caleb.

“All men appreciate the pleasantries I provide. So worry not, my dear Caleb, what kind of man you are, not how refined a palate you may have. I devote my time to perfecting the guest list, your nutrition I leave to the masters of the kitchen.” Replies Kevin in a velvety tone locking his eyes on me and extending his hand toward mine.

My first impulse is to deliver my line as someone who ahs been bewitched by Kevin’s charms, but my brain keeps hearing James Merchant’s request to challenge him, and so I fight my lackey nature, and leave Kevin’s hand in the air.

“Yet I see your lordship has failed to invite anyone else tonight. Surely your judgment is something queer If I am your only guest.” I say demanding Kevin work harder if he wants to seduce this Caleb.

“Perhaps my judgment of you is somewhat affected. It was my thought that a private supper would be best for us. I am told soldiers prefer more intimate affairs.” Says Kevin redoubling his efforts to have Ezio ooze charm.

“Some do. Many find the constant company of their platoon tiresome.” I say with detached indifference.

“My thoughts exactly. Are you such a solder? Do you hold dear evening such as these, where one may relax behind closed doors?” Ken asks taking my hand in the same swift elegant gesture he had used this morning.

“Sometimes my lord. I have always felt that it depends on the company I keep. But I assure you that, as I’ve never dined with nobility before, this is a night I shall never forget.” I say, and although I once thought this was an indication of Caleb’s giving in to Ezio’s advance, my intonation is as intentionally evasive as the words Caleb speaks. I see now that Caleb is a mystery, and this is what causes Ezio to try so hard. Realizing this I drop Kevin’s hand, and walk toward the chair that Kevin sat in at the corner of the room.

“Oh, my little Caleb, think not of me as your lord tonight. Call me Ezio, I would like us to be friends. Will you embrace me as you do your fellow soldiers?” Asks Kevin, as he approaches me in my corner, leaving me nowhere to run.

“Ezio, I will gladly embrace you, but do not ask it as a comrade. If we are to be friends, I hope you never know the life of a soldier. The horrors there are not for a man as refined and fragile as yourself.” I say, and choose to give him a stiff hug instead of a tender one. I wait for Kevin to let go, but instead he pulls me forward into a tight embrace. My head rests on his chest, due to our height different, and I look up at him with a pleading look on my face, this causes him to smile ever so slightly, cup his hand to my jaw, and then kiss me ever so gently. For a brief moment I feel elated, Kevin’s soft full lips are so different from Eric’s that I feel compelled to linger to explore the sensation, but as my guard drops further, Kevin begins to press harder, and I jerk away from him once I feel his tongue attempt to invade my mouth. Furious that he would try this in the middle of an audition I shoot him a look of anger and betrayal. My mind goes blank, I cannot remember Caleb’s next line, and when I look down to find my place in the script I see that I must have dropped the pages during the kiss.

“Let’s stop there shall we?” Merchant says as I am about to bend over and collect the script.

“Sorry, I lost my place for a moment.” I say.

“Oh, don’t apologize Mr. Boroughs. I rather appreciated your interesting interpretation with those lines.” Says Merchant as he is looking at the papers on the table.

“Yes, well it would be hard not to lose your place when Mr. Connor’s decides to embellish the script. I don’t recall adding a kiss there James.” Says Shapiro.

“Sorry, it just felt right. I felt like I was running out of options.” Kevin apologizes.

“Yes, it surely seemed you were. Though I am not sure Ezio would be so brash. This play is all about seduction, it needs to be slow, to really rev up the tension. Though Colin, I think a kiss in that scene might help. We all know what sells.” Says Merchant to Shapiro who shakes his head in disapproval.

“Mr. Boroughs, thank you so much. I believe we’ve seen enough to make our decision.” Says Stein.

“Oh, alright. Well thank you. Thank you so much. It’s been an honor.” I say, and quickly make my exit before I have a chance to embarrass myself further.

“Hold up! I’ll walk with you.” Says Kevin as he chases after me.

“We are not through with you Mr. Connors. We still need to discuss some matters with you.” Stein says like a teacher telling a kid he cannot go out and play.

“ Oh…right. Well I’ll see you then.” Says Kevin with a short wave that feels so inconsequential compared to the intimacy of the scene that happened moments before. Taken aback by how quickly he returned to being so professional I simply nod to him and close the door.

The entire experience has left me light headed, and before I know it I’ve boarded the subway home. I don’t recall speaking to Jerry, and for a moment on the train I feel guilty for failing to say good-bye. The train is crowded, and though I wish I could sit down, I don’t get to do so until I flop down onto the couch inside the apartment. Before I know it, I close my eyes and fall asleep.