Songs, Stories, and Spirits: Stop and Smell the Rosé

Songs, Stories, and Spirits jams unwanted opinions on good music, good stories, and good booze down your ears, eyes, and throats on a drunkenly basis. We hope you enjoy. And if you don’t, there is a comment section below that we more than welcome you to ignore! Cheers!

By Stephanie Schaefer

Song: “Summertime,” by Ella Fitzgerald

Nothing complements the long, hot days of summer quite like smooth jazz. Originally composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera “Porgy and Bess,” “Summertime” was popularized by Ella Fitzgerald, and has also been recorded by the likes of Billie Holiday, Louis Armstrong, Janis Joplin, and more. While pop music and today’s “songs of summer” tend to fade with the September chill, this classic tune is immortal.

Story: Eligible by Curtis Sittenfeld

Curtis Sittenfeld’s modern retelling of one of my favorite novels, Pride and Prejudice, is an entertaining beach read. The book, which deals with similar themes as the original, focuses on a 21st century Bennet family, headed by a stubborn patriarch and money-hungry matriarch who hope to marry their five unwed daughters off to rich suitors. Sittenfeld successfully takes the traditional tale and weaves in present-day fads (think CrossFit, Paleo diets, and reality television). The sarcastic humor and over-the-top characters make for a page-turner even if some aspects of the plot seemed far-fetched. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a light-hearted read this summer.

Spirit: Romance and Rosé

This summer, see the world through rosé-colored glasses. I don’t know exactly when the light and refreshing wine became so trendy, but it doesn’t show any signs of stopping (I mean, there’s currently a 14,000-person waiting list for rosé-infused gummy bears and you can now buy the popular drink in a can, so move out of the way overly-sugary Lime-A-Ritas). I prefer a pale-colored Provence rosé because it’s crisp, dry, and pairs great with summer meals like lobster rolls and grilled chicken. 'Tis the season to relax, and there’s no better way to do so than with a glass of wine and a good beach read. Plus, why choose between red and white wine when you can have pink?

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Songs, Stories, and Spirits: Monsters

Welcome to Songs, Stories, and Spirits. We’ll be jamming unwanted opinions on good music, good stories, and good booze down your ears, eyes, and throats on a weekly basis. We hope you enjoy. And if you don’t, there is a comment section below that we more than welcome you to ignore! Cheers!

Song: “Monsters” by Electric President

Robert Masiello: Electric President fell off the radar rather abruptly in 2010, without much commotion. Their brief discography remains criminally underrated, despite an appearance on “The OC” soundtrack way back in the Paleozoic era. Sounding like a darker, dreamier version of The Postal Service, Electric President’s wistful brand of electronica found the perfect middle-ground between catchy and surreal. "Monsters," the opening track from their best album (2008's “Sleep Well”), weaves a haunting narrative that deftly balances darkness and light. Maybe it's a song about battling society's ills. Maybe it's about struggling with the monsters within ourselves. Perhaps it just describes a fever dream. Whatever the case, let Electric President's lush, spooky atmospherics wash over you this Friday the 13th.

Story: “Monsters” by Scott Cheshire

Photo credit: PB Elskamp

Photo credit: PB Elskamp

Daniel Ford: Author Scott Cheshire has mastered the art of dropping readers into an instantly recognizable world. His debut novel, High as the Horses’ Bridles, embeds you in places like Queens, N.Y., California, and even 19th century Kentucky so deeply it feels as if you’re smoking a cigarette on a street corner watching the plot unfold. If Cheshire only accomplished that, he’d be a fine writer, however, he does something else that makes him an intriguing scribe to follow. I heard him do a reading at Queens College at the beginning of the year and he said something that stayed with me. He mentioned that because of his upbringing (which you can read about in my interview with him), he came to the writing profession late and feels as if he’s missed out on the “normal” route an author might take. Cheshire said that he doesn’t have time to mess around with linear plots or paper-thin characters that might sell more books. He wants to grapple with “big questions” and use his talent to tell complex stories in the vein of Don DeLillo and Paul Auster. I didn’t know who the hell those guys were before becoming friends with Cheshire, but now that I’ve read them, I know they’re two tough fucking acts to live up to. However, a writer like Cheshire just might be up to the challenge.

While you wait for him to publish his next novel, read his haunting short story “Monsters,” recently published by Catapult. Then drop him a line and tell him to hurry the hell up with his second book!


Peyton walked into the dark hotel room, closed the door behind her, and set her briefcase on the floor. Standing in the shadows, by the bed, was her father.

He sat down and said, “How’s your mother?”

She didn’t like the question, because if he really wanted to know, he’d go visit and see for himself.

She noted the topography of the room. A large television sitting on a wooden desk. A chair. A mirror. The bed was neatly made, and she expected nothing less. Her bed back home was the same. She was a lot more like him than she cared to admit.

Read the rest on Catapult.

Spirit: The Drunken Cookie Monster

Daniel: Enough darkness! It’s Friday! By some miracle of Google, this video came up while I was searching for monster-related cocktails. I wouldn’t suggest actually making it because you’ll be drunk and develop diabetes instantly. Cheers!

Songs, Stories, and Spirits: Big City Blues

Welcome to Songs, Stories, and Spirits. We’ll be jamming unwanted opinions on good music, good stories, and good booze down your ears, eyes, and throats on a weekly basis. We hope you enjoy. And if you don’t, there is a comment section below that we more than welcome you to ignore! Cheers!

Song: “L.A. Looks” by Health

Robert Masiello: Health’s music is typically dark, noisy, powerful, and a little abrasive. This cut off the band’s recent LP is all of those things, but also happens to be catchy as hell. “L.A. Looks” charges out of the gate with screeching synths and a furious beat. It's easily the most "pop" moment in Health’s catalog, but also the most irresistible. The vocals might be a little Chester Bennington-y, but the chorus ("it's not love, but I still want you") is exactly the kind of salacious, no-fucks-given refrain your Friday afternoon needs.

Story: “Parliament Hill” by Alexander Brown

Daniel Ford: From Los Angles to Canada! Alexander Brown, managing editor of Tracer Publishing, published a short story with Writer’s Bone entitled “Toronto, October” in June, and has since become part of our merry band of literary luminaries.   

Brown recently published “Parliament Hill,” which is a “gonzo-ish dark comedy on the relative horrors of this Canadian election.” If anything deserves to be read with a drink in hand, it’s a story about Canadian politics.  

Enjoy the excerpt, published with permission from Brown, and then head over to Tracer to finish the tale.

“Parliament Hill”

The man in the mirror was looking back at him as he rehearsed the lines he knew so well. The practice was a mere formality. But this was his craft. He loved it; he was married to it. It had been predetermined, of course. His fate was never his own. But Jordan could still enjoy himself.

“So I call on you, the Middle Class. Keep rising up! Be heard! Take to the streets! This election is about you, and for too long, the Prime Minister has put himself and the interests of his party ahead of—”

The bus caught a pothole on the Highway of Heroes and he braced himself on the plastic counter of the bathroom. The air was thick with bleach and asparagus-scented urine. He steadied himself and straightened his purple tie. He couldn’t remember the last time he was allowed to wear another colour around his neck. His father had worn the same noose. His father had no choice either.

The man in the mirror was smiling now, studying every inch and curve of his handsome, middle-aged face. His eyes were dark and knowing, his lips forever creased into an empathetic half-smile. Atop his head rested a luscious crop of dark, wavy hair.

“Perfect,” he whispered to no one but the universe.

He adjusted the family noose and stepped back out into a sea of purple.

Read the rest of the story on Tracer Publishing

Spirit: In a Manhattan State of Mind

Daniel: When my grandmother on my father’s side was alive, she’d love to tell me stories about living in New York City during World War II. There’s the one when my grandfather’s father took her out one night while my grandfather was overseas, and then everyone assumed she had a sugar daddy on the side. One of her favorites was the time she told one of her employees that she couldn’t let her take time off to go see Frank Sinatra. The woman threatened to quit, at which point my grandmother begrudgingly acquiesced. I mean, you really can’t argue with Francis Albert Sinatra, right?

My grandmother and her friends also used to bar hop around the city. And it was far classier than the barhopping that I did in Manhattan. The hotels at that time were the best places to drink, so my grandmother and her friends would dress to the nines and dance across the island’s finest establishments.

Fifty years later, my grandmother tapped her foot to my high school jazz band performance of “String of Pearls” or “In the Mood” and reminisced about her New York youth. She’d end up telling all her old stories (despite giving my grandfather a hard time about regaling us with his war stories), and say, “I used to really enjoy a good Manhattan.” I asked my father about it recently and he said, “Yeah, she could knock them down pretty well.”  

Truth be told, I’ve never had a Manhattan. I’m assuming that a drink comprised entirely of whiskey and vermouth can’t be bad. Plus, in the spirit of promoting our neighbor’s to the north, it can also be made with Canadian whiskey (Ha! No, I’m just kidding. Use real American whiskey). This Friday, put on a Glenn Miller album, pour yourself a tall Manhattan, and toast to a more civilized era.