A Well-Made Cocktail

 
Normally I’m a wine guy.  I shy away from distilled spirits because appalling incidents from my college days remain fresh in my memory.

But some nights, a cocktail sounds good.  Last night we visited the Society Lounge in Cleveland, which makes many fine cocktails and maintains a well-stocked bar.  When I learned that the barkeeps were locked in a Campari Cocktail Contest, with proceeds to benefit charity, I felt honor-bound to participate.  

Our bartender invented a drink called The Enemy Within, with gin, Campari, Cocchi, and blackberry, garnished with lemon peel.  It was excellent, looked good, and went down easy.  The fact that it was named after a Star Trek episode didn’t hurt, either.

Remember The Reason

 

 

This morning I bought a poppy — an artificial one, to be sure, but the sentiment was there nevertheless — from a vet wearing a VFW cap standing at the corner of Broad and Third.  The red poppies remind us that Memorial Day isn’t just about a three-day weekend and cookouts, it’s about a lot more.

This weekend, take a moment to remember, then thank a vet.

From Ex to X

In a few weeks filming will begin on six new episodes of The X-Files.  The mini-series of new adventures of Mulder and Scully will be broadcast on Fox starting next January.

We shouldn’t be surprised by this, really.  Any good TV series that goes off the air is capable of being reintroduced years — in the case of The X-Files, more than a decade — after the network run ended, so long as the actors who played the main characters haven’t kicked the bucket.  TV shows spawn movies, and movies spawn TV shows.   They are working on a Galaxy Quest TV show based on the classic 1999 movie, and planning another version of Celebrity Deathmatch.  Old ideas, characters, and settings get recycled, and the writers and producers hope they can connect with new viewers while not offending the diehard fans who want the new to stay true to the old.

The X-Files is a classic example of the challenges presented by this exercise in threading the needle.  The original show ran from 1993 to 2002 and was fresh, interesting, and delightfully creepy; it was one of the first adult shows we let Richard watch, and I always hoped he wouldn’t be permanently scarred or haunted by his exposure to people with black oil in their eyes or serially inbred families.  The early years of the team of by-the-book Dana Scully and true believer Fox Mulder and their encounters with the paranormal and sprawling governmental conspiracies were brilliant, distinctive and memorable.

But the show seemed to lose steam, and then there were X-Files movies, too.  Where did the plot line leave off?  I can’t remember — are Mulder and Scully married now?  Is The Lone Gunman still around?  What about Skinner?  I’m betting that I’m not alone in not remembering everything that happened in a series that ended 13 years ago and a movie that also sees like it came out long ago.  I need a refresher course.

I want to believe — just remind me what it is I’m supposed to believe, will you?

Waiting For Jeniday

IMG_5483Memorial Day marks the unofficial beginning of summer, but for many people in Columbus it really isn’t summer until they’ve had their first lick of Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream on a hot sunny day.  So far this spring that’s been impossible, because a listeria outbreak caused Jeni’s to shut down its operations.  But Jeni’s is getting ready to reopen and will begin selling its ice cream again at 7 p.m. on May 22.  Expect long lines at the German Village window on Mohawk Street!

The North Market apparently will be closed at 7 pm. on May 22 — because this sign at the Jeni’s counter there says that, for North Market patrons, Jeniday won’t come until May 23.

Ordinary Forgetfulness, Or Alzheimer’s?

The Neal side of our family, unfortunately, has a history of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease that has been growing lately.  Mom and Grandma Neal had dementia, Uncle Gilbert had Alzheimer’s, and my great-aunt, who another relative described as “crazy as a bedbug” when I was a kid, had mental problems so debilitating that she was put into a care facility at about the time she reached retirement age.

When you’ve got such a history in the family, and seen what these terrible degenerative brain diseases can do to bright, kind, loving people, you can’t help but wonder if there is a gene lurking somewhere in your DNA mix that will ultimately turn you down that same dark street.  And, you also pause at every instance of forgetfulness and ask yourself whether it is a sign that the dreaded downhill slide has begun.

It’s important to remember that an infallible memory is not part of the normal human condition.  With the richness of daily experience flooding our brains with new memories during every waking moment, it’s entirely normal to not remember every incident or person from the past with perfect clarity.  And the memory failure that most frequently causes people to question whether they’re losing it — the mental block that leaves you temporarily unable to recall a name, or a word — is commonplace in healthy, average humans.  Other normal issues include the tendency to forget facts or events over time, absent-mindedness, and having a memory influenced by bias, experiences or mood.

Fortunately, too, there are tests that can be taken that can help doctors distinguish between these ordinary conditions and the onset of dementia or Alzheimer’s.  The tests range from simple screening tests of cognitive functioning that can be given by a family doctor as part of an annual exam and completed in a few minutes to intense and extensive neuropsychological examinations that involve multiple days of evaluation.

The existence of such tests raises an interesting question.  Aging Americans are routinely poked, prodded, and scanned for heart disease, cancers and other bodily ailments.  Even though, for many of us, the prospect of being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s is as dreaded as any finding of a debilitating physical disease, there seems to be less of a focus on early detection and treatment of degenerative mental diseases.  With recent studies showing that significant percentages of older Americans are afflicted with dementia, shouldn’t that approach change?  Why shouldn’t a short cognitive screening test be as much a part of the annual physical as the rubber-gloved prostate probe?