Thursday, February 14, 2013

I'm in love!

Women come and go, but there are some things that stay with you through your entire life. (Okay, I'm a bit jaded at the moment when it comes to the ladies, but it's all in good fun.)

Today is Valentine's Day, and even if you're not in a relationship at the moment, if you look at your life you'll probably find a few things that you love. Granted, it's not the kind of love you get from another person, but they are things that make your life richer and more fulfilling. Here's a random list of the things I love.

Not pictured, hamburgers and prosciutto.
First, on the modeling front, I love my Iwata airbrush. My first airbrush was an inexpensive Testors airbrush acquired sometime around 1982, and five years later I upgraded to a Paasche VL. It met my needs for the next 20 years. Then about five years ago I invested (and at more than $200 invested is the right term) in an Iwata HP-CH when I received a 50 percent coupon from my local art shop. Gentlemen, I can tell you that this airbrush changed my life! Successful airbrushing is all about paint control, and the Iwata gives me much more control than I ever had with the Paasche. I'm far from being a ninja with it, but it has enhanced the quality of my models more than any other tool on my workbench.

There's a saying, "Pizza is like sex. Even bad pizza is pretty good." I feel the same way about hamburgers. Five Guys is my favorite, but I'll get a burger almost anyplace. I love 'em, I really do. There's nothing like sinking your teeth into a hot, juicy hamburger when you're hungry and need to satisfy your man-sized appetite. I'm a hamburger purist, which means no ketchup to cover the taste of the beef. In fact, I appreciate the simplicity of just the beef and bun, no condiments at all, but if condiments are your thing, that simple, two-piece assemblage can serve as the platform for any number of creative embellishments, such as peanut butter, fried eggs, and avocado. I think the chefs in fancy schmancy restaurants take some of these dishes too far, but it does show that few other foods can offer so much diversity.

Staying on the food theme, I have to talk about prosciutto. If you're Italian you know what it is, but having been raised in a German/Irish family I didn't discover this delicacy until my late twenties. Prosciutto is a cured ham from northern and central Italy that's typically served in extremely thin slices, usually with cheese and other antipasti. When I take a bite of prosciutto my eyes literally roll back in my head as I enjoy a moment of culinary ecstasy. Sex is better, but not by all that much. The best prosciutto is light, delicate, a bit salty, and flavorful. You want the real thing, from Parma, not the shabby, domestic substitutes from Boar's Head or Daniele.

From food I move to beverages, bourbon in particular. I've never been a big drinker, even in my college and Air Force days. Being half-Irish I'm embarrassed to admit that I can't hold my alcohol. I'm a lightweight. One drink and I get sleepy; two drinks I'm done for the night. That said, I've come to appreciate the complex and assertive flavors of bourbon. George Dickel No. 12 is my favorite at the moment; it's distinctive, nothing like any of the other bourbons I've tried. For a Manhattan, rye is my preferred base, and for that I reach for Bulleit Rye. All I need for the complete man-experience is a worn leather chair for enjoying my Manhattans.

And then there's music. It's always been a part of my life, and I can't imagine living without it. From my earliest years I remember my mother playing old 45 rpm records of Johny Mathis, Bobby Vinton, and Connie Francis, and as I got older I found my own, more contemporary, interests. In high school it was Huey Lewis and the News, the Cars, Mister Mister, pretty mainstream stuff. As a young adult I found a new interest in country, and most recently have broadened my horizons into literally every genre. My mood tends to guide what I listen to day by day, and nothing is too highbrow (Schubert), cheesy (Britney Spears), folksy (Foxygen), twangy (Josh Turner), authentic (Son House), or loud (Skinny Puppy).

Finally, I have to say that I love the scale modeling hobby. It grounds me. My fondest memories of building models goes back to summers spent with my grandfather, building kits from Revell's model-of-the-month club. My enthusiasm for the hobby deepened with a new interest in aviation, found upon joining the Civil Air Patrol, and was nurtured when I joined IPMS Ocala (Florida) soon after. It's been an enjoyable 30 years. Our hobby allows me to be an armchair historian and gives me the opportunity to be a craftsman. And I'm happy to say that many of my best friends I met through the hobby.

So there you have it. I guess I derive the most pleasure in life from plastic models, fatty foods, and alcohol. So be it. That explains the smile on my face.

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