Booze Reviews: Parrot Bay Frozen Strawberry Daquiri

I’m starting to see more of these pre-mixed, freeze-your-own, single-serving drink concoctions in the marketplace. I may previously have mentioned the Shark Attack frozen margarita pops – I know I did on Facebook. I can’t say I much cared for that one; they apparently used a fairly cheap tequila and the flavor was a bit on the nasty side. It *did* work well as “ice” for a properly-made margarita, when I squeezed it out into a glass and added my own ingredients.

(While you’re reading this, to get you in the mood, try my song “Margarita Monday.” If you like it, consider buying the album. End of commercial plug.πŸ™‚ )

On a recent trip to BevMo, I noticed some packages by a company called Parrot Bay. They had several options – pina colada, mango daquiri, strawberry daquiri. I decided to sample the strawberry daquiri, as it’s the flavor I was most likely to enjoy from that list.

It comes at room temperature as liquid in a sealed pouch:

picture of Parrot Bay strawberry daquiri package.

It says to freeze for six hours and then consume. Well, I left it in the freezer for a couple of days before I got around to trying it.Β  Even after squishing it up in the package, it still came out with the consistency of semi-solid sherbet rather than a frozen drink:

Picture of the Parrot Bay daquiri in a glass

As you can see, it was pretty chunky. Not one to be daunted by this, I got a spoon and figured I’d eat it like sherbet, at least until it melted partway. Which it did, over the course of consuming it. In small bites, to avoid the dreaded Brain Freeze.

My opinion: It was flavorful, but not excitingly so. It definitely had a strawberry flavor, but not a fresh strawberry flavor. You would never mistake it for the type where you blended your own frozen strawberries with rum.

The package said it was 5% alcohol – about the same as beer – and a “malt beverage.” Which kind of makes it like the frozen version of something like Bacardi Silver. If it had been a bit less frozen, I might have tried adding a bit of real rum to it, just to see what the result was.

On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it a 7. Sort of like kissing your sister, if your sister was okay-looking, treated you well, and didn’t have bad breath. You’re still better off making your own if you can, but if you’re going out on a picnic and don’t have room for the gas-powered blender, this isn’t a horrible option.

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Self-Worth and the Internet Marketplace

What makes something worth X dollars and not Y? And how do we determine our own self-worth, in this age of free downloads, crowdfunding, and instant everything?

In this article, Doug Shineman talks about YouTube’s business model for embedding advertising. In it, he builds his case by talking about retail vs. auction methods of sales and valuation.

In the retail model, stores sell a widget for, say, $10. At an auction, the widget will sell for the highest bid. That might be $1 one day and $25 the next, depending on the crowd and how many people want it how badly. Same widget – different prices.

If you the reader have been following me at all, you’ll know that at the moment I’m running a Kickstarter campaign to help fund my newest CD, Of All the Rum Joints. As that campaign has developed, I’ve been learning some interesting things about my own self-worth and how I determine it.

It’s been eye-opening. I expect I’ll learn even more about myself by the time it wraps up next week.

You see, I don’t always have the strongest self-image in the world. This may surprise you, because I’m pretty good at “faking it ’til I make it.” And I’m not good at asking for stuff for myself like this, because I occasionally doubt I’m “worth it,” and like most folks I hate rejection.πŸ™‚ But what determines that worth?

In the case of this project, it’s apparently the number of people willing to put their money behind me and my music, and how much they’re willing to pledge. I had a “panic moment” of “what happens if nobody signs up,” and how embarassing that would feel to me. But I went ahead and did it anyway, figuring I really had nothing to lose but a bit of time and perhaps a bit of face.

I’m fighting a lot of old programming to get to this place. My Mom, bless her soul, left me a number of interesting mental “tapes,” including “don’t make a fool of yourself,” “what will people think,” and “be prepared for disappointment.” She meant well…but these are exactly the wrong tapes to support me in doing what I’m doing as an artist. And I’ve had to put a lot of work into resolving those tapes and creating new ones that serve me better.

Well, so far I’m doing almost as well as I hoped on Kickstarter, and maybe better than I expected. I’m over 2/3 of the way to making my goal, and at this point even if I don’t make it, I’ll feel like I’ve given it my best and gotten a good response. And that my music really *is* “worth it,” at least to enough people for me to feel validated.

And for better or worse, that helps me to feel better about myself, doing what I’m doing.

Which I think might make Mom happy, even if she *was* a bit overprotective along the way.

If you haven’t already checked out my Kickstarter project, I recommend it. It’s good reading and you get videos of three new songs, whether you pledge anything or not.

But I hope you will. After all, I’m worth it.πŸ™‚ And what I’m offering is well worth your support.

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Product Review: iKlip by IK Multimedia

I’ve had my iPad for a month or so now. I’ve been finding it increasingly useful, and when I go to Florida in a week and a couple of days, I’ll take it and not take my old Mac laptop. Even if I don’t have the remote access thing for my desktop totally debugged by then, I think I can manage for about a week without an actual computer.

One of the functions I’m trying out that I like is that of using my iPad to store and play instrumental “backing tracks” during my shows. I’d been doing this with my old iPod, but that’s not as useful, and the “click click click” every time you change songs or volume levels is really distracting during a show.

Enter the iKlip. It’s one of many devices designed to attach an iPad to a mic stand. After looking over a few online, I bought an iKlip. Overall, I’m satisfied with it, but there are a few things I wish it did better.

Pluses: It does exactly what they say it will. It attaches to my mic stands. It gives my iPad a place to live. It apparently handles all three generations of iPad, with the included adapter clips.

Minuses:

  • In order to install it on a mic stand, you have to remove anything else at the end of the mic stand. As I use boom mikes, I have to remove the boom and the little star-shaped nut before I can slide the mount down onto the mic stand. So moving it from stand to stand (which I do, as I’ve got a duplicate rig set up at home for rehearsals) is a pain.
  • It is not only possible, but way too easy to install the stand part of the mount upside down. I discovered this last night after getting to my gig and installing it. I made it mostly work, but the bracket piece doesn’t lock into position when it’s installed that way. It’s hard to describe in English.
  • I only just ten minutes ago figured out how to install the iPad 2/3 adapter clips, after trying to puzzle it out for the last couple of weeks. Yes, the diagram shows you where they go, IKEA-style. But they don’t tell you how to push the clips into place until they lock. I’d been trying to fit them every which-way, without success.
  • When installed, one of the top clips is so close to the volume rocker on the iPad that it’s hard to turn the volume down using that rocker. During a show, when I’m adjusting the volume of tracks, that’s an issue because I have to do this fairly quickly. I guess I’ll get used to it.

Overall, I have to say it’s worth the approximately $35 I paid for it. But I’m going to have to buy another one in order to have the functionality I want – being able to mount my iPad on two different mic stands at different times – without having to repeatedly disassemble and reassemble the mic stands.

As I need another adapter, I may see what else is on the market rather than buying a second iKlip. Stay tuned.

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Taking it on the Road

I’m going to be a bit busy with travel the next few months. Well, actually with travel *and* working on my upcoming album *and* the 97 other things that make up a Life.πŸ™‚ But I’m really excited today about my upcoming trips.

May 17-20: Phins to the West, Laughlin NV

This just in: I’m performing on the Horizon stage (at Registration) on Friday 5/18 at 2:30 PM. If you’re out at PTTW, I hope you’ll stop by. It’s a short set, so it’ll be all-originals, and I’m thinking of weighing it a bit heavily on new material.

PTTW is one of the big West Coast Phlockings that happens every year. It attracts some extremely talented musicians and a whole lot of fun people. It’s at the AVI Casino and resort, right on the Colorado River at the pointy end of Nevada. I’m looking forward to a good time.

June 13-18: Meet Me in the Keys mini-tour, Key Largo to Key West

This is part of what I love about my weekend job. I get to go to the Florida Keys twice a year on business.

The Coconut Castaways, Howard Livingston’s fan club, has an annual weekend-long party in Key West. This year, they’ve invited me to join them and make some music. Being no fool, I accepted. I’ll be playing for them on Wednesday night, and then wandering around town doing my usual two-songs-here, three there thing the rest of the time if I can find friends who’ll share their stage. I’m still hoping for a house concert or some such in the Upper Keys on Sunday; if you want to help make that happen, give me a call.

This will be the first time I’ll be in Key West with some actual time to kick back. If you’re going to be there, let’s get together and have drinks somewhere.

July 4-8: Upstate NY – Trop Starz & Tiki Barz mini-tour

The third trip of my summer touring trifecta comes to my old stomping grounds of upstate NY on the Fourth of July. Anchoring this trip will be my appearance at Trop Starz & Tiki Barz, a Phlocking in Binghamton, NY. This will be another fun, fine event with lots of excellent live music. I’m still available for other shows on July 5 and July 8, anywhere within a couple of hours of Binghamton and preferably not more than a half-dozen hours out of my likely flight hub of Buffalo.

Three trips, time spent with friends and fun people listening to excellent music, and making a bit of it myself. All of it coming up in the next couple of months!

I hope to see you somewhere on the road!

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Exploring a New Place

In my secret life Day Job, they recently moved us to downtown San Jose, CA. We’ve been here a couple of weeks now, and I’m starting to get out and explore in different directions on my afternoon walks.

At our old building, I had a nice creek trail that I could walk for about as far as I could walk, either upstream or down. And we were close enough to the Bay that we got to see tides in the creek. We were a bit short on manmade amenities though.

Now I’m right next to the San Jose Convention Center, which means I’m near lots of restaurants, hotels, and major corporate offices. It’s a big change.

I’m learning, or rediscovering, some things about my fellow humans in the process of learning my way around.

Today I went north along the Guadalupe River, which involved crossing the river twice and choosing from a network of trails – no more “just walk along the levee as far as you can go.” All of the signage talks about how proud they are of having maintained some of the “natural” state of the river. If you consider concrete webwork on the river bottom “natural,” anyway. They say that animals and fish can still use it, at any rate. Nature adapts, and so do people.

I came back on surface streets, just for something different. I passed a huge condo skyscraper, which boasted of selling “a lifestyle.” I’m not sure what they were selling, but it’s obviously a lifestyle that allows people to exist for long periods of time without interacting with the rest of the world, if they so choose, in a huge, sterile-looking building with parking garage, exercise room, and I have no clue what else. I didn’t bother going in to check.

Coming back, everything was traffic signals and walk lights, making the flow work for cars and interrupting it for humans. Once out of the river corridor, the only greenery was manicured lawns and street trees.

And of course there were those who’ve fallen off the economic ladder, some with their sleeping bags and everything they own in a shopping cart, hoping for a quiet place to crash and a few bucks for food. There but for the grace of God(dess) go all of us – I know quite a few people who are no more than a few paychecks away from the street. And it’s not a great time to be looking for work, no matter how experienced you are. I’m thankful for the Day Job, even as I write songs to poke fun at that life.

Is it any wonder people either go crazy or feel a need to escape? It might be a “lifestyle,” but it sure doesn’t feel like a life.

On the plus side, while I haven’t used them yet there are at least two bars within a block of here. Some night when the commute traffic between here and home looks hopeless, I expect I’ll hunker down for a round or two.

And it *is* a pretty creek in a lot of places, and a beautiful day to be out walking along it.

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Gardening – My Other Escape

Ah, springtime! When mens’ fancies turn to…digging in the dirt? Growing food?

Well, mine do, anyway. With my various other projects – rebuilding the edge of my deck, working on songs for the new album, dialing for gigs – I’ve been a bit delayed and distracted from my usual spring planting.

It looks like this will be the weekend when that changes for me. I was out first (or second) thing this morning, to collect my semi-annual three bags of compost from our municipal waste folks. Our arrangement is that I give them all the greenwaste that I don’t compost myself every week, and several times a year, they give me shit right back.πŸ™‚ Three bags of it, all ready to help little things to grow.πŸ™‚

After that, I got back in the car and headed down to Orchard Supply (OSH), to see what they had by way of vegetables. They must have seen me coming – they had a mini-garden center set up in the parking lot:

They were ready for me!

Of course, my hands were full of vegies and a roll of weed mat before I went into the store!

By the time all was said and done, I’d accumulated the following goodies:

  • Orchid food, for the free orchid I got back after the holidays at work
  • A six-pack of bush beans
  • Three different heirloom tomatoes – Mortgage Lifter, which I’ve been hearing about for years, Russian Orange (new to me), and Sweet 100 (because I like cherry tomatoes)
  • Three full-grown strawberry plants in a pot – to fill in around my fruit trees where I have spaces
  • An Ancho Poblano pepper, so I can do salsa later in the summer
  • A pair of Mud gloves. These are like kitchen gloves on steroids – hardy enough to stand up to digging in the dirt, but hopefully sensitive enough for those planting and weeding tasks I’d previously been doing bare-handed, because the leather work gloves I already have are way too coarse, and I can’t feel a thing through them.

So now I have all these plants, that I need to find homes for and take care of. It’s sort of like puppies in that way – I can’t just let them sit around the house until they die of neglect. As it’s now noonish, I’ll leave them where they are until around 4 and plant them then – it’s better not to expose them to the harsh noonday sun right when you transplant.

Several of them are in a new biodegradable type of pot, similar to peat. The roots are growing right through the walls. I figure I’ll just slash the sides of the pots and put them in whole; that way the roots will have more ways out and I won’t have to disturb the roots on those plants to put them in.

And then I get to figure out what I can do with them when they grow up.

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New Album Update – “Of All the Rum Joints…”

Cover for "Of All the Rum Joints..." - new albumI’ve been working hard with producer Kevin Johnston and with artists Dave Daily and Albert Hinojosa, and some of the early bits of this new album are starting to fall into place.

The title, as you may have heard, will be “Of All the Rum Joints…” It’s my fifth album, and the second on which I’ve used a song lyric for the title.

Albert is responsible for the new Cafe Tropicale logo, visible in a slightly altered form in the album cover graphic. Dave took that logo and some other bits of guidance from me and created this way-cool cover concept. They’ve both done excellent work so far. Dave is also working on a couple of T-shirt ideas for me right now.

Another bit of trivia: Partly by design and partly by happenstance, I do album covers that alternate having and not having my picture on them. So albums 1, 3, 1nd 5 (this one) have my picture on the front; 2 and 4 do not. So the odds are good that the eventual album six won’t either. But as I haven’t even finished this album yet, I’m not making too many plans that far ahead.πŸ™‚

Meanwhile, Kevin and I have approximately finalized the song list for this one. There will be eleven original songs and two covers. The covers will be a reggae version of John Denver’s classic “Sunshine on my Shoulders” and my own interpretation of an old Doors tune, “Moonlight Drive.”

Here’s a list of the other songs on the album. The links, where provided, are to “snapshot in time” and “homebrew” versions; the songs have continued to evolve, and will likely be different on the album. But still worth listening to.

  • Green Flash” – upbeat and using an alternate guitar tuning, this is a song about watching sunsets for that elusive and rare atmospheric phenomenon known as a “green flash.” And it’s about the journey being as important as the destination. Stuff like that.
  • Looking at You” – A few months back, I realized that the song “Margaritaville” and the movie Casablanca pretty much had the same premise – boy meets girl, girl dumps boy, boy goes someplace with palm trees to drink it off. Which may be powerful, but isn’t very empowering. So I wrote this song, which is really “Margaritaville” meets “How Do You Like Me Now?” It provides the album title and theme.
  • “Voodoo Lounge” – I’ve written earlier about this song, which has undergone some revision since the earlier version I posted about. We’ll be going musically to some of the less savory corners of New Orleans to flesh this one out.
  • Fly Away” – This was inspired by a couple of other songs, that I won’t name here. It’s upbeat and lively and hopeful, because I think we all need that to look forward to every now and then.
  • “One More Rum” – This song took shape one day as I was contemplating one of the Greatest Lies in the World – “C’mon, man, we’re only going to have one more round and then we can go home.” Never happens. It’s becoming the signature “last song of the night” when I play, and will be the last song on the album.
  • “Pontiac Motel” – This song has no beaches, no boat drinks, and no bars in it. I’ve had the title kicking around in my “hook book” for at least five years. It’s really a counterpoint in some ways to everything else I write – we fantasize about walking away from our jobs now and then, but there’s an entire class of people who don’t have jobs – the homeless – who probably fantasize about having lives like the ones we fantasize about escaping from. And if your employer were bought out tomorrow, or went out of business, or just decided, “hey, let’s let a bunch of people go,” how many paychecks are *any* of us away from living on the streets?
  • Island Moonlight” – Everyone loves being in love…right? But even the best romance has its bad days, and sometimes you question whether it’s all going to work out. In this song it does, thanks to the magic of island moonlight.
  • “Way Out” – In addition to an interesting play on words in chorus, this song is going to put the “rock” in “trop rock.” Really. I was stretching my writing skills in a particular direction, and this is what emerged.
  • “Somewhere, Someday” – One man’s dream of Paradise.
  • “Tropical Therapy” – Because I’d been trying hard *not* to write Yet Another Margaritaville Near-Clone for many years, and realized that I’d succeeded. So, having proved I could write nearly everything else, I proved I could write this too.
  • Living Key West” – One of my friends is musician Howard Livingston, who posts about his carefree, happy life in the Florida Keys. A lot. Some might even say to excess. I say it’s easy to live on Key West Time when you’re in the keys; it’s a bit more of a challenge for those of us in the “upper 48.” But it can be done, and this song is about how I do it. Any resemblance between my song and Howie’s is out of love, done with his blessing, and as far as I can tell, doesn’t cross any legally bad lines anyway.
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