McCready: 10 Weekend Thoughts, presented by Harry Alexander
This probably won’t be your traditional 10 Weekend Thoughts, as I’m not sure I could pull that off this week. As Don Henley once sang, “But my will gets weak, and my thoughts seem to scatter.” My thoughts these days definitely scatter.
That said, I woke up this morning to a beautiful day. I’ve found, after waking up at 2 a.m. and being unable to sleep for several nights in a row, a couple of Benadryl 30 minutes before bed do wonders. I woke up, brewed a cup of coffee, put two pork shoulders on the Big Green Egg and sat down here to start producing this piece of content.
I was going to spread pine straw today, too, but I couldn’t find any. I have found, throughout these past two-plus crazy weeks, being outside is a mood-enhancer. That said, briefly walking through Home Depot, I found I was scared of being near people. I felt like my throat was closing. Hours later, back at home, I felt fine. This thing, I believe, has changed some of us forever. So here goes…
1. I get asked a lot if I miss sports. Yes, I miss sports. I miss sports for what they’ve always been, the backdrop to my life. When I was a kid, I loved playing sports, even if I wasn’t particularly good (except for whiffleball; for whatever reason, I was an exceptional whiffleball player) and now, I love having sports in the background of my days.
In the past two weeks, I’ve rewatched the entire 2016 Cubs postseason, the 1988 NBA Finals, the 2012 Western Conference Finals and more. I’ve watched old McDonald’s All-American Games, for God’s sake. I've watched Game 7 of the 2016 World Series four times.
On Thursday afternoon, my Cubs were supposed to face the Brewers in Milwaukee. They didn't play. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but I felt loss. I mark time by Cubs seasons, and now they're not playing.
A very nice subscriber had given Carson and me tickets for this Friday's Mavericks-Grizzlies game in Memphis. He was so excited to see Luca Doncic and Ja Morant go at it. So yeah, I miss sports. I miss sports so much it hurts. I miss our conversations each morning when he'd tell me about the games from the night before and give me his thoughts on what's to come. He's 13. The athletes he admires are larger than life at this point. And now, they're absent. There's a hole there. He might not express it, but I can see it.
I wonder when sports will come back. I wonder what they’ll look like when they do. I know they’re gone for April and probably May and June too. I wonder if, after three months, I’ll like them the same way I did before they left so abruptly. Like I said, my thoughts seem to scatter.
2. I’ve grown weary of coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic. Two sides of people drive me nuts. The first is the national mainstream media, which almost seem to be cheering for coronavirus to kill as many as possible and to reduce the American economy to rubble. I don’t understand that sentiment. I find myself turning off the news, looking for anything else.
On the other hand, the people who continue to compare coronavirus to the flu reveal their lack of intelligence in the process. We have a vaccine for the flu. Tamiflu is expensive, but it works.
As is usually the case for me, I find myself in the middle. I know we can’t shut down through the summer and hope for the best; the economy can’t take it. I also know that in a battle of wits, I’ll always put my money on the scientists. They’re simply smarter, even if their intelligence sometimes lacks a real-world applicable perspective.
COVID-19 is real and it’s a viable threat to shut down our country’s medical system, which creates an entirely new set of potential disasters for all of us.
3. Earlier this week, Kirk Herbstreit said out loud what so many people in the sports industry (media, coaches, executives, etc.) have been saying to each other: He doesn’t think there will be a football season. Everyone, including Herbstreit, hopes he’s wrong. However, to think Herbstreit isn’t connected in football circles is ridiculous. He knows damn near everyone, and he didn’t come to that conclusion all by his lonesome. This pandemic is a very real threat to this football season.
Just look at the timing of it. Players have essentially been away from their programs since early March. If they don’t return until July, that means they will have been away from strength and conditioning programs for three months. And with summer school going online only all over the country — Ole Miss announced that plan Friday, and it won’t be the only school making that announcement in the coming weeks — a July reconvening date is likely a best-case scenario. Can schools test everyone in the program for coronavirus and get a health baseline all while ramping up conditioning programs to get players prepared for practices in the August heat? What happens when a player or coach or equipment manager tests positive for coronavirus in July or August? Does everyone have to be tested again? Is that realistic? Are there antibody tests that will be widely available by then?
Again, there’s a lot there. It’s a complicated process, one athletics departments are having to discuss and plan for. And unless you were around in 1918, there’s no real blueprint to follow. This is trial-and-error stuff, and a few errors could lead to the cancelation of the season.
Spoke with an AD today who is going to have his staff start modeling out what it means to the dept to have:— Ralph D. Russo (@ralphDrussoAP) March 26, 2020
10-game football season
Losing 1 home game
Losing 2 home games
No fans all season
No fans through Oct.
Along with other less optimistic scenarios.
4. A couple of goofy national writers floated a ridiculous idea on Friday night. They said some football people were talking about moving the schedule up and having a July-September season. How some of those guys landed national gigs is beyond me. How they kept them all these years is truly befuddling.
The idea is ludicrous. Again, everyone has to be tested. Players have to be conditioned. That takes time. So you want to speed the calendar up? Dear God, Dennis, think a little. The schedule being pushed back a few weeks is far more likely than the schedule being fast-tracked. And asking student-athletes to play football in the dead of the summer in the Deep South is insane.
5. Here’s the deal: We all have to accept the reality that we might not get a football season. I still lean towards the idea that we do, but that might just be wishful thinking. I do know this: To have it, people are going to have to be very smart.
In many ways, that’s what I look forward to the most. Smart coaches are going to rewarded. Meatheads are going to be exposed. It’s almost going to be impossible for any program to have a traditional fall camp. Players aren’t going to be in the same shape coaches have grown accustomed to.
And it’s going to take luck. If there’s a second “wave” of coronavirus that results in a bunch of positive tests in the college and pro football ranks, it’s over. Everyone wants football. If we’re going to get it, we’re going to have to be, as a nation, smart.
6. I’m not an economist. I don’t pretend to know the answers. On Saturday, Martin Palomo and I taped a Mind On My Money podcast. We had Dr. Alan Jones, the chief of emergency medicine at UMMC, as our guest. His comments were sobering. He thought there was no way we’d have football this fall. He felt, from a pure medicine standpoint, the country basically has to shut down until the end of the year to save as many lives as possible. He’s an intelligent man with a great heart, and I understood what he meant. I challenged him, wondering out loud about how we balance science versus society, a pandemic versus economic collapse.
Later Saturday, I spoke to my brother, who works for a Fortune 100 company. They had a conference call last week in which medical people told them they believed we could begin to get back to some semblance of normalcy around June 15. That makes sense, too, and in many ways jives with the relief package Congress passed late last week.
Another friend, with connections to the Centers for Disease Control, believes we get back to economic activity by July 1 with social distancing still in place. He said he’s not sure we can have large gatherings for the rest of the year. No conferences. No domestic flights. No sporting events.
7. What infuriates me, if I’m being honest, is the refusal of some to take social distancing seriously. At some point, it appears, the president is going to “open up” some portions of the country while keeping other parts “closed.” Until you’re in a part of the country that is “open,” I beg you to take this seriously. We all miss our lives. We’re all stressed out. In my family alone, I’ve already lost money and lost a tremendous amount of site momentum. Lane Kiffin’s first spring, combined with a strong Ole Miss baseball team vying for a berth in the College World Series, was going to be a bonanza for RebelGrove.com. Instead, I’m left to wonder what happens if there’s no season. What happens if there’s nothing to cover until November? Do subscribers hang on? Do they come back when things resume? Again, there’s no blueprint for this. I’m 50 years old. Where would I go from here?
Laura goes to her job at Oxford-University Bank every day. I worry for her health. She’s in her late 40s, and people that age are absolutely dying from this virus.
Campbell wants to go back to college this fall. What happens if she can’t? Caroline wants to have her senior year. She wants another year with the Chargerettes, another year at DKSD. She misses her friends and her routines. Carson will be an eighth-grader. He misses his friends, misses his soccer practices and games. He wants to try out for the basketball team again. What happens if all that goes by the wayside?
I worry about their mental health. Iff I’m honest, that’s what worries me the most. I’ll be fine. I’m 50. I’ve rebuilt my career once. If I have to, I’ll do it again. I’ve got a skill set to communicate that many don’t have. I’ll figure it out.
But I worry about my kids. I’m sure you all worry about yours. They seem fine today, but I wonder how long that holds up. They’re sleeping until noon on weekends. The days just flow together. Oxford is doing a great job with online school, as is the University of Arkansas, but it’s not the same. At night, the kids go to their rooms and talk to their friends. They laugh, and that gives me hope. I pour bourbon or tequila or wine into a glass and try to take my mind off things.
My parents live about 10 minutes from my house. I haven’t seen them in almost a month. They’re 77. I worry about them. I’m not willing to sacrifice them. I love them. I pray for their safety.
I’m willing to listen to the scientists. I’m tired of this virus being a political football. I see people I know, from Craddock Oil to Blue Delta Jeans to Cathead Distillery and beyond, doing great things to help people. I just believe we all have to do our very best to do our part for now, and when our leaders tell us we can go back to work, we go.
I’m listening to a podcast series called American Elections Wicked Game. It’s produced by Wondery, and it’s fantastic. Each week, it goes inside every presidential election, starting with George Washington’s unanimous election all the way through Donald Trump’s upset win over Hillary Clinton in 2016.
It’s an American history lesson on steroids. It’s simply incredible. It also points out that our politics have always been nasty. They’ve always been dirty and disgusting and not for the faint of heart.
It also serves as reminder that we live in the greatest country in the world. We’re a miracle. We’ve always overcome, from the American revolution to the Civil War to two world wars to the civil rights movement/JFK/MLK/Vietnam and to 9-11. We overcome. We’ll overcome this, too.
In November, we’ll go to the ballot box and we’ll either re-elect Trump or we’ll elect his successor. There will be a peaceful transfer of power. It’s what makes us special.
Until then — and yes, I know this is pie-in-the-sky fantasy — I just wish we could try to do more unifying and less dividing and get through this moment in our history together.
Our children and grandchildren will remember these days long after we’re gone. Countless books and movies are going to be made about these days. As 10,000 Maniacs once sang, “These are days you'll remember
Never before and never since
8. I need a drink. Here’s Jonathan Howard with the drink of the week:
For Week 2 of diving into the why of cocktails, let’s take a look at the most popular cocktail in the country, The Old Fashioned. For those of you that were not with us last week, I will keep the explanation of what makes a great cocktail for you to look over or review before getting old school.
The five ingredients of a cocktail are:
Physical Liquids & Solids, Dilution, Aeration, Balance, & Mouthfeel, Temperature.
Physical Liquids & Solids are the tangible items being used to create the cocktail. They of course start with spirits whether they are a full 80 proof or not, but can also include acid, sugar, herbs and spices.
Dilution is the amount of water added to the drink to bind it through the use of ice or chilled water. To get proper dilution into a cocktail:
Stirred Cocktails: 35 rotations.
Shaken Cocktails: Shake hard for 12 seconds
Thrown Cocktail: Toss 6 times.
Swizzled Cocktails: Swizzle for 12 Seconds
Aeration is the amount of oxygen forced into a cocktail by stirring, shaking, or throwing the beverage. Aeration adds a dry quality to the cocktail much like drinking sparkling water instead of still as an example.
Stirred Cocktails: This is for drinks consisting of all spirits and gives minimal aeration.
Thrown Cocktail: This is for drinks consisting of all spirits and gives medium aeration.
Shaken Cocktails: This is for drinks consisting of mixed ingredients and gives maximum aeration.
Swizzled Cocktails: This is for drinks consisting of mixed ingredients and served on crushed ice and gives medium aeration.
Balance is equaling out the ratio of spirit to acid to sugar. This is something a little more complex that we will get into drink by drink as it is in my opinion the hardest and most important ingredient we will deal with.
Temperature is the desired degree of heat or cold you wish for a cocktail to be. Drinks should be chilled between 28- 32 degrees Fahrenheit for most options however hot drinks like the toddy should be around 116 degrees Fahrenheit. The temperature is going to help with the mouth feel of the drink and how much of the alcohol shines through depending on what you get for balance.
Mouthfeel this is literally the way the liquid feels once it hits the mouth.
Now that we know a little more of the why let’s dive in with a basic recipe and break it down then put a simple twist on it.
THE OLD FASHIONED
Physical Liquids & Solids: Spirit of your choosing (Remember it is not strictly a whiskey drink), sugar, bitters.
Balance: A base old fashioned recipe of 2oz. 80+ proof spirit, ¼ oz of a sugar cut in half with water, and 2 dashes of cocktail bitters.
Aeration: Being that this is a spirit forward drink you want a very mild aeration so you will stir the drink either in a mixing glass or inside the glass with ice.
Dilution: Dilution here should be about 1 oz of added chilled liquid as a result of stirring 35-40 rotations. This binds the beverage and puts in into balance.
Temperature: 28 degrees is the you want it chilled if using a whiskey at 100 proof or more as colder temperatures subdue the amount of alcohol present in the beverage. With a whiskey under 100 proof anywhere between 29-32 degrees is the desired temperature.
TWISTING THE OLD FASHIONED
Physical Liquids & Solids: Spirit of your choosing, sugar, bitters. This is where you can really enhance the beverage, with over 100 types of cocktail bitters now in the market you can change the entire flavor by just switching out the industry standard Angostura for cherry, or vanilla. The sugar is where you are going to control the depth of the drink. Follow from left to right as this flow goes from the lightest option to the richest option.
White Granulated > Agave Nectar > Honey > Light Brown Sugar > Dark Brown Sugar > Demerara > Maple
You can also match sugars with raw materials such as Agave with Tequila or Mescal and Demerara with Rum. You can also find really lovely Gomme syrups online which sit closer to the rich side and impart great flavor or simply add weight while keeping the drink very clean.
Balance: In keeping with the same formula as the classic version this drink should be in perfect balance regardless of your sugar and bitters choices.
Aeration: Shouldn’t Change.
Dilution: Shouldn’t Change
Temperature: Shouldn’t Change
Recipe could look something like this:
Cherry Vanilla Old Fashioned
2 oz. Bulleit Rye
¼ oz. Brown Sugar (1:1)
1 Dash Vanilla Bitters
1 Dash Cherry Bitters
Pineapple Rum Old Fashioned
2 oz. Ron Zacapa 23yr Rum
¼ oz. Small Hand Foods Pineapple Gomme Syrup
2 Dash Tiki Bitters
Smokey Habanero Old Fashioned
1 oz. Don Julio Reposado
1 oz. Mescal
¼ Agave Nectar
2 Dash Habanero Bitters
So, play with that formula over the next week. Send me any questions via DM and we will tackle another drink next Sunday.
9. I guess we need to eat, though it feels like life revolves around dinner now more than it has in years. Anyway, here’s our resident Parisian chef, Burton Webb, with Taste of the Place, Lesson 29: Buttermilk Pancakes.
So yes, you are in quarantine I believe like I am and most of Europe. What can you do to make the best of your time that you do have? Cook with your significant other, your kids, or our family. There is nothing better than making homemade pancakes! If you know the ins and outs…its even better. So let’s get right into the tidibits.
Tidbit #1: When it comes to the pancake batter, it should never be runny and there should be lumps in the batter. Also, did you know it is best to put your batter into the fridge before you use it? Well it is.
Tidbit #2: You always separate your eggs into two separate bowls. With the whites, you will whisk them until the entire mixture is foamy. This is the thing that actually makes your pancakes fluffy.
Tidbit #3: You can melt your butter in a microwave safe bowl or on the stove top. Never let it burn though. Just melt it.
Tidbit #4(Last One): If you want a crispy crust on the outer edges of the pancake, put a little oil into the pan to “fry” the outside. Pan spray is your best bet.
Things you will need:
Blueberries, Strawberries, Mangos, or Chocolate Chips
25 Minutes Total to Goodness
Extra Maple Syrup and Extra Butter
1 Small Mixing Bowl
3 Medium Mixing Bowls
1 Small Metal Whisk
1 Large Spoon
Measuring Cups of 1 Cup, 1/2 Cup, 1 Tbsp, 1 Tsp, and 1/2 Tsp.
1 Large Skillet
1 Metal Spatula
1 Tsp Salt
1/2 Tsp Baking Soda
1 Tsp Baking Powder
2 Cups All Purpose Flour
4 Eggs Separated
1/2 Cup White Suaar
4 Tbsp Melted Butter
1.5 Tsp Vanilla Extract
1 3/4 Cups Buttermilk
Step 1: “Mis En Place” your ingredients. Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks into 2 of the medium bowls. Begin to melt your butter in your small mixing bowl in the microwave.
Step 2: In your last mixing bowl, put all of your dry ingredients into the bowl and mix with your metal whisk. Now it is time to whisk your egg whites until they are foamy. Set aside.
Step 2.1: In the bowl with the egg yolks, incorporate your vanilla extract and sugar. Whisk. Then, slowing drizzle your melted butter into that same bowl. Whisk.
Step 2.2: Incorporate the foamy egg whites into the egg yolks mixture with your spatula. After, pour this mixture into your dry ingredient bowl. Mix with your spatula.
Step 2.3: Now it is time to drizzle in your buttermilk to the mixing bowl while mixing with your spatula. When the mixture is combined and still lumpy. Place in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.
Step 3: While your batter is cooling down in the fridge. Put your sauté pan on the stove top and put it on medium-low heat.
Step 4 (Cooking): When you are ready to cook, then turn your stove top heat to medium heat. Scoop your batter into the sauté pan and form your pancakes. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side. Then enjoy with a little butter in between each pancake as you stake them.
Bonus Step: If you ever want to add fruits or chocolate chips to the pancakes, always add once you put the batter into the sauté pan. Pancakes are an easy thing to fix especially with little once. The experimentation is endless. I hope you are making the best of what this situation is at this moment in our lives. When life gives you lemons….make lemonade. From the Mississippian in Paris, Bon Appetite!
10. We’ll do something this week at RebelGrove.com. Until then, here are some links of interest to me _ and hopefully, to your _ for your reading pleasure: