11:26 AM, Jul 17, 2014 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
Our affable colleague, senior editor Victorino Matus, is famous for his big head, big heart, big appetite—and encyclopedic knowledge of food, drink, the consumption of same, contemporary German politics, and the sociology of his native New Jersey. Vic’s attention to detail, and mastery of English prose, has served us well since the earliest days of The Weekly Standard; now, in happy combination with his other varied interests, he’s produced what The Scrapbook believes is not just the ideal book for summer reading, but the ideal book for any hungry/thirsty reader in any season of the year: Vodka: How a Colorless, Odorless, Flavorless Spirit Conquered America (Lyons Press, 272 pages, $26.95).
It’s a fascinating story, told in rich (and need we add amusing?) detail: How, in the land that invented bourbon whiskey, moonshine, and bathtub gin, did a rotgut medicine from -medieval Russia become the biggest-selling alcoholic beverage in America? One-third of all cocktails contain it; it’s marketed to movie stars and Average Joes alike. We spend something like $5.6 billion every year for vodka, and in true American fashion, we’re now producing it in mass quantities, in quaint craft distilleries, and throwing in ingredients Ivan the Terrible never dreamed of.
The Scrapbook is emphatic: You need only be a reader, not a drinker, to savor Vodka—and like the stuff itself, it goes well with anything, appeals to all tastes, and is fun to consume. Put another way: Which book will you give your best friend this season? Hillary Clinton’s Hard Choices or Vic Matus’s Vodka? The question answers itself.
The mad cow scare might be over, but is it too late to save the chopped steak from extinction?11:00 PM, Feb 22, 2004 • By VICTORINO MATUS
EVERY SO OFTEN, an item on a menu that has been a constant for years will suddenly vanish. You might still be able to order it by special request, but sooner or later you will ask yourself, Whatever happened to the Waldorf salad? What happened is it became extinct. In "Kitchen Confidential," chef Anthony Bourdain remembers such dishes from his days in the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) circa 1975, including "cauliflower in Mornay sauce, saddle of veal Orloff, lobster thermidor . . .
Sixty years later, Germans are still asking: So what did your grandfather do in the war?11:00 PM, Feb 5, 2004 • By VICTORINO MATUS
SAY THIS about John Kerry: At least his grandfather wasn't a Nazi. For all the oppo research that will be done on him, having a Fascist relative is something that probably won't come up. Which is not the case for some politicians in Germany, where 60 years later, questions about a family's past still linger. Take the plight of Friedrich Merz.
How should the United States approach the terrorist problem in the Philippines?11:00 PM, Nov 9, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
LITTLE MENTIONED in recent reports on the war on terror were the arrests last September of two men linked to al Qaeda. What makes these arrests particularly interesting is that they happened in Mindanao, an island in the southern Philippines. Jasem Alhasan, a Kuwaiti, was detained along with a known Abu Sayyaf rebel, Ustadz Sanday. (Abu Sayyaf is the terrorist group that held Americans Martin and Gracia Burnham hostage for more than a year and beheaded another American, Guillermo Sobero.) Alhasan was later deported back to Kuwait on October 8.
HBO's documentary on the Moscow theater hostage crisis is disturbing, wrenching, and definitely worth watching.7:30 AM, Oct 23, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
"WE'VE COME TO RUSSIA'S CAPITAL CITY to stop the war or die here for Allah. . . . I swear to Allah, we desire death more than you want life." These words, spoken by Chechen terrorist Movsar Barayev, open "Terror in Moscow," a grim and stomach-churning look at the Moscow theater hostage crisis of October 2002. Producer/director Dan Reed was able to obtain (for the right price) videos from the FSB (formerly KGB), footage recorded by the terrorists themselves, and broadcasts from Radio Ekho Moskvy.
A new poll exposes the true extent of the transatlantic problem, though one German may have just the solution.12:00 AM, Oct 20, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
NEITHER SNOW NOR RAIN nor heat nor gloom of a hurricane can keep me away from a press breakfast at the Ritz-Carlton. And so it was, on the morning of the day Hurricane Isabel was poised to strike our nation's capital, that I found myself alone in an oak-paneled room waiting to meet Wolfgang Schäuble, the deputy chairman of Germany's Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union parliamentary group (he isn't nearly as boring as his title sounds).
In the 1980s, Schäuble served as chief of staff for Helmut Kohl.
A year after North Korea admitted to kidnapping more than a dozen Japanese, many of the victims have yet to be returned--dead or alive.12:00 AM, Sep 25, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
IT WAS A YEAR AGO this month that North Korea, in the midst of normalization talks with Japan, dropped a major bombshell: During the late 1970s, North Korean agents infiltrated Japan's west coast and abducted 11 men and women--though Kim Jong Il claims he knew nothing about it at the time. "I guarantee that those involved will be punished, and we will prevent any future occurrence," vowed the Maximum Leader.
Transatlantic relations are put to the test when the Germans come face to face with America's most infamous sheriff.12:00 AM, Sep 9, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
"Queer Eye for the Straight Guy," Gary Coleman, why Saddam's innocent, and more.12:00 AM, Aug 18, 2003 • By
THE DAILY STANDARD welcomes letters to the editor. Letters will be edited for length and clarity and must include the writer's name, city, and state.
While I agree with David Skinner's Queer Like Us, there is one thing worth adding. If we straight guys are so barbaric and clueless, how come I can cook, decorate, entertain, and occasionally impress a nice female?
A trip to Atlantic City and more tales from the tables.11:30 AM, Aug 6, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
IT'S BEEN OVER A YEAR since my last trip to Sin City, which featured high-stakes blackjack, Wayne Newton, and a bachelor party for a friend who later broke off his engagement (what a deal for him!). But it's been an even longer spell since my last visit to that shining city by the sea known as Atlantic City. Not that it's far--from Washington, DC, it is only a three-and-a-half hour drive.
Reflections on Uday, Qusay, and il Duce.12:00 AM, Jul 31, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
GIVE THE UNITED STATES military some credit. After wiping out Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, with a barrage of small-arms fire and TOW missiles, they not only put their bodies on display--they made them look presentable (after those initial photos that could have appeared in Fangoria). No, it's nothing like Lenin, Mao, or even Ferdinand Marcos. But then again, they didn't have much to work with. Qusay took bullets straight to the head while his brother suffered blunt trauma (also to the head). In the end, both men looked like props from Madame Tussaud's latest exhibit.
How one company is creating guns that fire a million rounds per minute and revolutionizing the way we think about weapons.12:00 AM, Jul 16, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
A FEW WEEKS AGO, in between segments about a robot that helps dig through rubble and a mosquito-zapper made by a high schooler at a science fair, CNN's Fredricka Whitfield had this tidbit to offer:
"An Australian inventor has come up with a gun that fires a million rounds per minute. It's called Metal Storm and it uses electronics to control the blast of projectiles, which can shred a target or throw up a defensive wall against an incoming missile."
That tantalizing tease was pretty much the extent of CNN's reporting on Metal Storm, and who can blame them?
A meeting between Americans and Europeans brings an end to the rift. Sort of.12:00 AM, Jun 18, 2003 • By VICTORINO MATUS
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT, last week was "Transatlantic Week," in which several conferences devoted to U.S.-European relations occurred simultaneously. The Washington Post's David Ignatius covered one in Berlin where the presence of Richard Perle, aka The Prince of Darkness, probably led some to believe a full-scale war might break out.