Books for Everyone!

Oktoberfest 2021

Sultans of Swing

The other day, I read this satirical take on the foppish Prime Minister of Canada. Ever since, I’ve been unable to get the song, “Sultans of Swing”, out of my head!

I, too, lay claim to my own Sovereign Sultan of California, although I think the hair-gel gov is more of a swami, about to drown in the Mojave Desert of debt and medieval diseases.

But why be picky about your preferred title for the cash-cow celebrity known as Elected Leader? Just go with it. You might be prophetic in your satirical sobriquet.

I must confess that my knowledge, or even awareness, of Dire Straits, did not pre-date my dates with Dear Boyfriend, whose fate became Dear Husband. Our shared musical tastes did not draw us together. The fact of the matter and the truth to the marital tale is that I’d had an enormous, an embarrassingly big, crush on the actor who played Matt Houston. Dear Boyfriend/Hubby still refers to this thespian hunk as Lee Horsey.

My hankering for Mr. Horsley was so immense that I confided to a work associate and dear friend: “I’m gonna get me one of them.”

And I did!

She giggle-laughed at The Wedding that the hilarious aspect to my vow is that I made it come true. Which is how any serious vow ought to be taken. In the case of the future star of “Paradise”, his Ethan Cord was a more sinewy version of My Real-Life Dreamboat. When that “Western” was renamed “Guns of Paradise”, I knew the show was in deep trouble.

You know, “guns” and that ignorant non-rural tv audience.

And, so, that CBS show suffered a quick demise; but, by then, I was hip-deep in parenting duties. The on-screen allure of Mr. Horsley had faded into the lustrous past of my bachelorette-hood. Every now and then, I get to relive it, while doing research, or just hearing about the latest intended tasteless insult to real Americans. In this instance, Dear Husband said, with some tears in his eyes:

“I feel sorry for the horse.”

“Mr. Horsey” is also quite an equestrian, and so I feel only justified in calling attention to the much-maligned he-men of history, and of today. Those he-men are truly men, red-blooded, two-fisted, stout-hearted, gallant, and self-reliant. They’re not at all like the milk sops shoved at us, hourly, in the public arena. These Sultans of Swing are purportedly the Desired Dudes of Destiny, but they’re chicken-hearted wusses who pathetically try to prove their In-Like-Flynn-ness by bleating some b-words, or swaggering in their designer duds.

Consequently, I can only contemplate the intriguing vocal delivery (you certainly could not call it “singing”) of so many songs by Mr. Knopfler: Private Investigations, Industrial Disease, Once Upon a Time in the West.

“Dire”, as this musical band is called in my household, wasn’t a sound I’d heard until the mid-1980s. By that time, their best commercial songs were behind them. “Walk of Life” was, as I recall, the first composition I’d heard from Mark and his merry musicians. My reaction was:

“Well, of course, it’s the walk of life. What else — the walk of death?”

That logical conclusion is where the Sultans of Swing have arrived. It’s also the dire straits of the phases of life in which the rest of us unwittingly find ourselves — that is, unless we have our wits about us and intend to proceed to better places in our lives. Mr. Knopfler has also moved on to other phases of his life. He has reputedly stated that he does not like fame, but, methinks he certainly chased after it with enough swift and vibrating intensity!

Is that what the real-life Sultans of Swing not-too-secretly long to be: rock stars on the global world stage? They sure do get money for nothing, and their chicks for free!

Knopfler perhaps couldn’t sing, but he can play guitar. Even Mr. Guitar, Chet Atkins, deemed this Brit worth pressing a collaborative album with, in 1990. Neck & Neck must have been extremely artistically satisfying for those master musicians because this album only reached #127 on the Billboard 200 and #27 on Billboard’s Top Country albums. This record was hardly a smash hit, but was instead a serious contender for those impressive performances committed to auditory history by musical artists.

Since 1990, musical talent and “fame” have diverged so much that, were Mr. Knopfler to start out today with his harmonic band of brothers, he likely would not achieve that fame that he’d come to resent and disdain. He found his dire straits without intentionally looking for them.

We patriots, in the majestic and non-majestic use of the pronoun, have also unintentionally discovered dire straits in this USA. This abominable and execrable handwriting on the wall can be succinctly epitomized by the state of soft drinks on store shelves. Me, I have always tried to drink those 8+ glasses of H20 daily, but the stuff is completely flavorless, unless you’re swilling hard water; and then the likelihood of ingesting glasses of the pure and natural, but metallically boring to the taste-buds fluid, becomes very minimal. The unpalatable sensation is what the Brita filter was made to sieve away! I usually mix 1/2 water with 1/2 fruit juice in a wholesome attempt at a more healthful watering hole.

That watering hole during the dry, dusty end of summer here in the Sierra Nevada foothills starts to fill up fast with those non-nutritious soft drinks. I’ve thus steadfastly maintained, over the course of decades, that only certain types of soda may enter into The Frig — in the Diet Version — during the monstrous heat of any California summer, and especially at its bone-dry culmination:

Canada Dry Ginger Ale


Stewart’s Root Beer, Cream, Orange 'n Cream

During this past summer, Stewart, whoever “he” is, has bit the dust in the diet version, as have Canada Dry, along with what has truly been a fluid crisis in my domestic domain:

Diet Vitamin Water in the Punch Flavor.

In fact, the word DIET has become banned. The thought, or mere implication, that a person has packed on the pounds, particularly during the Walk of COVID-Death, shall not be tolerated on any grocery shelf!

And just to prove the degree to which certain persons, Millennials most of all, were so un-used to, and incapable of Life In The Home that they stuffed their depressed faces, I offer the website of Nordicware.

Don’t want the full Bundt cake?

No problem!!! We’ve got 1/2 Bundt cake pans, 1/4 Bundt cake pans, The Haunted Big Skull Head cakelet pans, The Little Skull Head cakelet pans. The mini-skulls are those bite-sized morsels that can’t possibly add up to big calories!

There is, nevertheless, No Diet Anything.

The Sanctioned-Word of PC-Advertising Choice is: Zero.

Yes, the Sultans of Swing at are again! Those Big Zeroes in Office do not wish to feel alone in their zero-ness. The soft-brain world has descended upon the soft-drink nomenclature.

There are dark forces at work here.

Dear Hubby brought home this week an attempt at a fizzed-up fluid. The Ginger Beer. Which is really a beverage! Not just whatever had been sold, long ago, in my antique ginger beer bottles.

I took one sip of the stuff and nearly gagged. The manufacturer is in Australia, so I think we Americans might be imbibing concoctions the Aussies cannot — in their current state of germ-phobic imprisonment. And The Ginger Beer from the Land Down Under is Craft-Brewed Over 3 Days!

The plenitude of nutritious potables brings to mind, not the Sultans of Swing, but the pre-Cancel Culture advertisement for Adobe Creative Cloud entitled Keep Up With Hovering Art Directors — something I have never been forced to do since I am my own art director!

The 2017 product plug portrays employees at an ad agency, trying to come up with the perfectly demo-graphed sales pitch for Ginger Beer. Every item and aspect, even the music, to this ad are spot-on perfect. The commercial’s an instant classic. My favorite “characters” are the beleaguered graphic arts designer, with the headphones; he’s the hardest-working and lowest-paid employee in the office. And the nasally-voiced, air-head Millennial PR gal, with the ubiquitous ruffled sleeve on the inescapable polyester top of that era.

This imaginative and comical merchandising campaign to present to potential customers the image bank service called Adobe Stock proves that parody must be based in truth to be at all successful. This irrefutable fact of life, of writing, of art, of humor is why honest people can manage somehow to laugh at their own dire straits, while the colorless hissy-fit clowns, above all, those at the top of the organizational pyramid pile, are utterly lacking in humor, in morality, even in decency. They are pests even to themselves. Under their tetchy turbans, the Sultans of Swing fester itchy microbes just waiting to be unleashed on their worlds of phony fiats and cutthroat edicts and morbid self-righteous mandates.

They are, in sum, a plague upon the planet.

Today, the Exterminator Guy arrived at the newly-constructed domicile. The pests at my house have become irksome and cumbersome, just like a Newsom! I’ve instructed Mr. Caesar to spray only the exterior of the house, not the inside. I still want paint on the baseboards. I still want baseboards!

I have given up the notion of using for real spider-webs, not Made Over There, for Halloween decorating. But, by the end of this month, the diaphanous webs might be back! October in northern northern California can be the spider’s most productive and prolific month.

If only Mr. Caesar could do a job on exterminating the political pests in this state, in this nation. Alas! That’s a job for Roto-Rooter to conduct on those Swamp Creatures.

The end of summer, with parched throats and dusty dry air in my neck of the Tahoe National Forest, would not be complete without the annual baking of the Walnut Pear Sour Cream Cake. The recipe is from Better Homes and Gardens, October 1999. I bought the magazine just for this recipe that was on the front cover.

That magazine has seen better days, as in a printed version in a grocery-store aisle! And I purchased a brand-new yellow Cuisinart mixer that year, Made in the USA, expressly for the purpose of making this cake.

The procedure is very-bowl intensive (4-5 are needed), and the requisite pears can be hard to find in the optimal ripeness (soft but not mushy or bruised).

This year, however, I have achieved the harvest state of nirvana in my new home! There’s more than adequate counter space to support all of those bowls and the electric mixer.

The ingredients and instructions for this culinary delight are as follows, with the dividing line to indicate where a new bowl must be provided for the successive components:

Walnut-Pear Sour Cream Cake

1 cup broken walnuts

1/3 cup packed brown sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon


1/4 cup butter

1/3 cup all-purpose flour


2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and sliced (about 2 cups)

2 tsp lemon juice


1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs

8-oz carton dairy sour cream

1/2 cup broken walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan. Combine the 1 cup nuts, brown sugar, and cinnamon. For topping, cut the 1/4 cup butter into 1/3 cup flour to make coarse crumbs. Stir in 3/4 cup of the nut mixture. Set nut mixture and topping aside.

Toss pears with lemon juice, set aside. In a medium bowl combine the 1-3/4 cups flour, baking powder, soda, and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl beat 1/2 cup butter with electric mixer 30 seconds. Beat in granulated sugar and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Add flour mixture and sour cream alternately to batter. Beat on low speed after each addition until combined.

Spread two-thirds batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with reserved nut mixture. Layer pears over top. Gently spread remaining batter over pears. Sprinkle with reserved toppings. Bake 10 minutes. For a chunky top, sprinkle with 1/2 cup more nuts. Bake 45 to 50 minutes more or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes. Remove side of springform pan.

Cool at least 1 hour. Serve warm with whipped cream, if desired. Serves 12.

I serve this luscious and dense cake without the whipped cream; and I allow it to cool for much more than 1 hour. I let it set over-night, and I serve the delectable treat the next day for afternoon tea.