Video Breakdown – ‘Til Tuesday, (Believed You Were) Lucky

Before I get into this crazy-ass video for what really is a great song, let me lament that there aren’t more Aimee Manns in the world. There was a time, not long ago, when female singer-songwriters covered the earth in thick herds visible form space. Shawn Colvin, Sarah McLachlan, Natalie Merchant and scores of others…there was Lilith Fair, there were the Indigo Girls on commercial radio…it was glorious. Now we have Taylor Swift. And Gods love her, she’s fine, but…she ain’t no Aimee Mann. Taylor’s simply not as talented. She’s not as deep. And no, she’s nowhere near as enthralling and sexy. Sigh. It’s true: I have harbored a crush on Aimee since the Voices Carry video, through her cameo on Rush’s Time Stand Still, continuing with I Should’ve Known and shit, even up to ’til now.

But let’s be honest, in this video…she’s a little wacky. But then, the whole thing is wacky. This track was co-written by Jules Shear, and fun trivia fact: he’s the “Jules” in ‘J’ for Jules, another brilliant song from this under-achieving album. Both ...Jules and our featured song for this Video Breakdown used to be part of a mixtape my old roommate Marcus would play in the room we shared in college. He’d packed it with soothing melodies to facilitate soundly sleeping, even if sometimes each of us would actually be quietly shagging our female companions in our respective twin beds. Hey, man…college.

So, let’s begin by watching the actual video, shall we? Open it in another tab if possible, because you may want to flip back and forth. Ready?  In the words of Fred Schneider,here it ’tis…

Away we go.

00:00 – Oh! Lindsey Buckingham?

00:09 – Surprise! It’s Debbie Harry! Or…wait…

00:16 – Is that a picture from The Haunted Mansion? A saw? A bow? A bow-saw? (Also, Aimee? Aimee! We’re over here!)

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Camera one, Aimee. Camera one. Camera ONE.

00:33 – And this was your father’s lightsaber…

00:49 – I think they could only afford greenscreen for the top third of this shot.

1:04 – Magic 8-Ball getting’ mighty preachy.

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The new ones just say “Reply hazy. Fuck you.”

1:08 – Robo-hand has sweet knuckle tats like Robert Mitchum or Jake Blues.

1:10 – ILLUMINATI CONFIRMED!

1:13 – “Crap, guys. I couldn’t find a clover or horseshoe graphic. Let’s just spell out ‘lucky’ if it’s all the same to you.”

1:20 – “Aimee, show ’em the thing!”

1:23 – Birds: We’re free! Free from 8-ball enslavement!

1:30 – Black hole sun.

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Are those…birds? Or did someone drop a bunch of Playtex gloves?

1:34 – Aimee? Hey! Over HERE!

1:40 – Wherein Aimee steps in a hole or something, and domino doors, because…um…

1:49 – WHAT’S IN THE BOX?!

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Memories. Memories were in the box, asshole. And what looks like a spider.

2:00 – Took me a minute to realize that the shadows were from the objects still falling, ostensibly, from the previously-mentioned box. Nice touch. I guess whoever was in charge of continuity earned their paycheck on this shoot.

2:08 – What is that shit? Ash?

2:10 – Oh! Bubbles! We’re underwater with goldfish. That is lucky! (But goldfish can’t read.)

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|AT LEAST IT’S NOT MONOPOLY! HAHA!| (Translated from goldfish.)

 

2:13 – “Say, I wonder what my fate holds?”

2:14 – “FUCK! That can’t be good! Aw, man…”

2:18 – So we’re doing this again? This ‘Twilight Zone’ crap?

2:23 – Zoom in on young Peyton Manning.

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He’s just patiently waiting for his chance to yell “OMAHA!”

2:30 – The Australian ‘Watership Down.’

2:40 – Finally! Dr. Who!

2:43 – Finally! The Doors!

2:45 – Aimee, open your eyes all creepy-like.

2:46 – Nice touch with that ‘Spock’ thing you’re doin’ there.

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Actually, it looks more like a Dr. Evil move…

2:48 – The ‘Infinity Ticker-Tape” thing never really took off.

2:52 – Kids, that is a nice transition. Seriously, good match-dissolve.

2:59 – “ARE YE READY, KIDS?” (Because life. Life. In a pineapple. It’s de bubbles. Under the sea.)

3:03 – Those have to be snooker balls or something. Stupid English people gotta make everything fancy.

3:07 – “Lucky” is a great white-trash baby name, FYI.

3:12 – Time-lapse rose to symbolize…patience? I guess?

3:16 – Aimee puts her band on a pedestal. (No, fuck YOU!) Except…she’s up there, too…and Peyton does’t have his damn drums! WHAT HAPPENED TO YOUR DRUMS, PEYTON?!

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CAMERA ONE! GODDAMMIT, AIMEE!

3:22 – It is ALWAYS camera one! ALWAYS!

3:31 – ILLUMINATI!

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Laugh all you want, and then tell me what other reason there could possibly be for this. Huh, smart guy?

 

AAAAAAAAND SCENE.

So, to recap: Aimee Mann is a very talented singer/songwriter, but has no idea which camera to look into. The drummer for ‘Til Tuesday would grow up to shill pizza for Papa John’s. And in the 80’s you absolutely HAD to have a video. For every song you released. Sometimes your director had just depleted his last ounce of creativity trying to get Whitesnake to go in a more creative direction and, failing to do so, had gone on a three-day coke and alcohol bender before showing up on the set screaming “EIGHTBALL! WE’RE DOING THE EIGHTBALL SHOT!” (Double-meaning totally implied.)

Thanks for reading, and check out “Everything’s Different Now” by ‘Til Tuesday if you ever get a chance. Good stuff.

 

 

The Captain, the Rookie, and the Mystic

 

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The Three Musketeers. The Holy Trinity. Geddy, Neil, and Alex.

It’s been a wonderfully exciting week or so. A direct message from Dewar’s on Twitter. Strange clues and exotic tomes containing single-malt whiskies. And in the dizzying array of items and splendid, gorgeous packaging and presentation, I ALMOST FORGOT TO REVIEW THE DAMNED THINGS! I mean, I tasted them…but I kept putting off really publishing my findings. Today, I rectify that oversight.

But not before I show off some of the stuff that came along with the three single-malt offerings. If you read my initial Whisky Mystery blog, you learned about the entertaining riddles and such that accompanied The Aultmore. Well, not to be outdone, the Royal Brackla packaging featured an actual wooden box with hinged lid. Inside were two hefty, etched glasses, along with a little tin of honey, some raisins, almonds, and apricots. It was an alcoholic pick-a-nick basket, eh Boo-Boo?

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Everything a growing boy needs!

And the Deveron featured some great nautical design, and…oh yeah…a friggin WATCH! Plus, the bottle of scotch itself was magnificent.

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I totally wanted the “D” in this particular case.

More on that in the actual reviews, which start right now.

 

 

The Deveron (Mystic, Wise, Spiritual Advisor and Best Friend of the Captain)

The earthiest nose of the lot. Not overwhelmingly so, but it’s there. Like wet leaves. Faint spices. A hint of the seaside in there, too, although that could be my imagination, what with the overwhelming nautical theme of the gift box and the incredibly beautiful frosted sea-glass bottle. (Seriously, somewhere right now some rum distiller is kicking themselves for not stealing all of the Deveron’s look prior to the mass-release of this fine single-malt.)

 

Warm vanilla. A dark fruit, like plums or dates. Not a lot of peat, but it’s lurking in the background for an opportunity, hanging out with the yummy malts and tobacco bite, waiting to spring out at the finish. Delightful and mysterious, this dram. It feels a bit heavier on the tongue than the other two. Sweet, but not cloyingly so. Good stuff. A great alternative to the regular old bottles you have in the cabinet. Pour some for a friend and ask them to guess what it is.

4 stars

 

 

 

Aultmore (The Brash Young Ensign)

Looks light, and smells the same. DON’T BE FOOLED! The nose is almost totally unassuming. It almost didn’t seem like scotch, until I concentrated. There was alcohol here (oh, was there ever! More on that later) and a fruitiness, like maybe pears. If chardonnay were a whisky, it would smell like this.

 

I didn’t see the first punch coming until it was too late. Let this be a warning to you: there is a substantial alcohol bite to this little guy. And frankly, I found it a bit overwhelming at first. I checked the bottle and saw that I was sampling a nice 92 Proof beverage. Well, now. But the good news is that just like the very high-alcohol Sailor Jerry rum, there were flavors to be had. The Aultmore is just a little too eager, a headstrong rookie. Be patient with it and you’ll find the good. There’s a lovely apple/citrus sort of tang to it. A bit of sherry and a tiny little taste of oak. It also feels very light on the tongue. In other words, you would almost expect this whisky to be a lightweight “starter” whisky. It isn’t. And once I poured it over some ice, it settled down and was delightful. I tried the 12-year-old variety and thought it was okay. I think that a bit more aging would help tremendously, so I can’t wait to try the older varieties and see if I’m right. One final note: if you’re a fan of peat in your single-malt, look elsewhere. That’s not bad or good, as peat, like malts or spices, can be very divisive. (I once opened a bottle of Laphroaig in front of my wife and she turned her nose up immediately, saying that it “smelled like band-aids.”) The Aultmore, by contrast, is virtually smoke-and-peat free. So maybe it is a good starter whisky after all…

3 stars, although I’ll go up to 3.5 on the rocks

 

 

Royal Brackla (The Steady Captain With a Zeal For Adventure)

Okay, let’s get this juvenile bit out of the way. It’s hard for me not to make fun of things. The name of this bottle was no exception, with my mind racing between Blackula and Scott Bakula. No matter, as the drink was the best of the three which I had the pleasure to taste. We’ll start with the nose: It smelled of scotch. And I mean that in the very best way possible. It was fragrant and wonderful and familiar. Some apricots, some flowers from a meadow, and a dash of black pepper. Yes. This was the one.

 

Oh, so buttery on my tongue. There’s that pepper again. And something else, some dates or raisins. A bit “darker” taste than the Aultmore, and even though they were both 12-year-olds, the Brackla just tasted more finished. More mature. A man’s drink. A hint of pipe tobacco on the finish balanced by mellow honey. A steady hand on the tiller. Oak and rich leather. Yes. My go-to single-malt whisky has long been Glenlivet 12. This one may supplant that bottle, as it claims some of the things I love about Glenlivet, but with a bit more complexity. Looks like Royal Brackla might be a tiny bit more expensive, but with rumors of Glenlivet running out of the 12-year-old vintage, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them end up at about the same price before long. Either way, I won’t mind spending a few extra bucks for this bottle. It’s the goods.

4.5 stars

 

In conclusion, I’d say that it’s all great news for whisky fans. These three single-malts will seem oddly familiar to Dewar’s White Label drinkers, but much more complex and interesting. Three great single-malts that will serve as a wonderful opportunity to transition from blends, but strong enough to stand on their own amongst the established pantheon of great whiskies. Of the three, The Royal Brackla is the clear winner. It’s the James T. Kirk of this lot, with the Deveron as Mr. Spock (or Guinan, actually…or Troi) and The Aultmore a cheerful Ensign Chekov. I’ve had the pleasure of rotating the three bottles and it’s been a grand week to say the least. Seek ’em out. Enjoy them. Savor them.

Sláinte!

The Whisky Mystery

I arrived home on a snowy, blustery Northern Indiana evening to discover a parcel on my front porch. I love a mystery, and absolutely adore a puzzle. Knowing what was probably inside the large box, I whisked it inside, threw some crap off my dining room table, cut open the cardboard, and dug out what appeared to be a huge, fairly weighty tome. The thing was 14” by 14” and about 4.5” thick. Woof! And emblazoned upon the ‘cover’ was the seal of ‘The Aultmore Distilling Co.’ I took that to be a really good sign.

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Like a Guggenheim Bible…dedicated to BOOZE!

Upon closer inspection, of course, it was obvious that this object was not a real book. I opened the apparently magnetic flap on the cover and saw the mysterious (downright spooky) interior artwork and cover page. And behind that…the real good stuff.

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See, usually I prefer to pee myself AFTER I drink, thank you very much.

There was a neat little mini-book, really not much more than a pamphlet. The cover was sharp, and the paper thick, with that sort of rough, pulpy feel. Good stock. ‘The Mystery of the Buckie Road’ was the title, printed in gold leaf.

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That door either leads to whisky or grandpa’s old killin’ cellar.

Along with that was a fun-looking little cylinder with numbers etched into revolving tumblers. It was sturdy, made out of some sort of brass alloy. I’d read enough Dan Brown to recognize it as a cryptex.

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Or the oldest bike lock ever discovered.

I also found what at first glance seemed like a simple laser pointer. And it was, in part. There were two little buttons. The first activated a standard red laser. Okay. The second one…a single click produced a clear LED mini-flashlight beam. But when I pressed that one a second time, it switched to a dimmer blue glow. Curioser and curioser. I had a hunch why, but that would have to wait, because by now I figured I knew for sure what the real goodies were going to look like. And I wasn’t wrong.

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My cats were substantially less excited about the ghastly blue setting.

Behind the faux-wooden door flap, I discovered a bottle of 12-Year-Old single-malt scotch the color of honey and wheat: The Aultmore. NOW we were getting somewhere. And behind the booklet, a wee snifter-shaped glass (technically, a Glencairn Glass). How convenient!

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Hello, gorgeous…

Full disclosure time. Those that know me well enough are aware that I love a good Scotch Whisky. I get bottles of the stuff for Christmas, and it’s always fun to try a new label. Usually, I prefer the single-malts, but they can be a crapshoot, quite frankly. I know I’m pissing off some scotch purists, but there it is. With bottles as expensive as they tend to be, most folks don’t have the luxury of trying everything on the shelf. That being the case, we all have our favorites. And I have no problem admitting that I’ve always fancied a glass of Dewar’s White Label over some of the fancy, higher-end single-malts.

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Pictured: a ‘glass’ of Dewar’s.

“WAIT!” you cry. “DEWAR’S IS A BLEND!” It certainly is, and a wonderful one. There are other bottles in the same price range, and I’ve tried many…The Famous Grouse and Grant’s standing out alongside dark-horse favorites like Old Smuggler (seriously, not too shabby. You almost forget it can be had from a plastic bottle.) But Dewar’s is on my go-to list every time.

Sorry. Getting distracted thinking about all this booze. I’ll get back to that in the next blog entry. I’ll simply say that I was expecting a sample from the Dewar’s folks…but nothing quite as elaborate as this.

So, this mystery tome. It seemed obvious what my next steps were. The booklet held the key to the cryptex…and the cryptex itself held some additional mystery. It was really fairly exciting, a lot more adventurous than I’d anticipated for a simple whisky tasting.

I read the booklet in its entirety. Didn’t take long. It’s a tale about a mysterious old fisherman/smuggler/bootlegger leading the unnamed protagonist to discover the secrets of the distillery and whatnot. Nicely written, but not really groundbreaking.

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A story I’ll read to my grandchildren one day.

I returned to the front page, and shone my laser-pointer at the page, nearly tearing a hole in space-time. Crap. Forgot. Wrong button. Crimson light blazed through the dining room, boring cleanly through a cat (one down, one to go!) and nearly blinding me as it shone off the white paper. I clicked the other button until the faint blue light bled forth onto the page. And there I saw it.

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‘Saw what? Just looks like a regular ol’ page to me…’

Like some Scooby-Doo cartoon, or even better, some deleted scene from a Harry Potter film, faint, glowing numbers materialized. It was awesome. I figured I’d find something like that, but it was so cool to have my suspicions confirmed.

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‘So what am I looking for, some sort–OH! Oh, that’s pretty bad-ass!’

I swept carefully through the booklet, making sure not to miss any clues. I finished with the necessary digits (all numbers, no letters or symbols.) Nervously, I picked up the heavier-than-expected cryptex, spinning the tumblers into place until I felt (rather than heard) a ‘click’. Carefully I pulled the end cap, extracting a central cylinder which…was actually a USB stick!!

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Crap. Should’ve said ‘SPOILER ALERT!’

Haha! Of course! The whole thing was basically an electronic press kit. I found a video that ran a nice two-and-a-half minutes, descriptions of the varieties of whisky available, the different ages and such, and some information on the distillery and its history. It was all so wonderful.

So, quickly, I’ll tell you this. Dewar’s, knowing of my love for their blended scotch, reached out to me on Twitter. They informed me that they were about to launch a few varieties of single-malt scotch. The neat part? These featured single-malts are essentially the whiskies that get blended to make Dewar’s White Label. And now, for the first time, the greater public would be able to enjoy them one at a time. I was asked if I’d be interested in trying some. “Abso-freakin’-LUTELY” was my paraphrased response.

But the fun manner in which this was all presented, the mystery, the charm, the enigma…that’s good stuff. It’s great marketing, quite frankly, and excellent showmanship. Not sure who handles their promotions and advertising, but they’re a top-notch firm, make no mistake. And reaching out to select Twitter followers? Brilliant use of social media. Much more effective than some stupid YouTube video or “repost this for a chance to win” Facebook contest.

Ah, and as for the scotch itself?

 

To be continued…