Friday, November 30, 2007

MERE ANARCHY

Mere Anarchy by Woody Allen

I try hard to love Woody Allen. I really do. I love quite a few of his films, especially Deconstructing Harry. So, I decided to give his latest collection of short stories a try. I did.

This collection of short stories appears to aim at satire of the New York elite—upper middle class and up. And that could be funny except that this is the class that Woody Allen falls into. So, it rings a little false coming from him. Sure, he should know the comings and goings of this group of people, but his attempt to distance himself from "them" just further points out how close he really is.

Another piece that doesn't allow me to fully enjoy these stories is some of the language. I had to read with a dictionary close at hand, which is not a bad thing. But, it becomes tiresome when some of the same words and phrases are used in one story after another. The most egregious violators were, in no particular order: lagniappe, boychick, momser, myrmidon, porcine, profiteroles, sacher torte, marbelized meats, and Planck (as in Planck's length and Planck's constant). Most of these words are not part of anyone's everyday language and so their use in more than one character's dialogue is just too much to ask of a reader.

I had higher hopes for these short stories, and I believe they probably worked much better in The New Yorker, where many of them first appeared. In this collection, for me, however, they fail. The saving grace was that they were short, as was the overall collection, which meant that the damage done to me was only minimal.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

on THE [WINTER] TAPHANDLE

Samuel Adams Winter Lager, a Weizenbock by Boston Beer Company

12 ounce bottle. Samuel Adams Boston Lager for dinner one night followed by Samuel Adams Winter Lager for dinner the next evening. The pour delivers a beautiful copper-orange lager with a large tan head that leaves a fair amount of lacing. The aroma is malty, concentrating on molasses. There are also floral and grass notes, with a hint of orange and spices. The flavor also has a hint of orange, as well as a light honey flavor. These both complement the molasses and malt. There is also a spice that I find difficult to place. The bottle claims that it is cinnamon.

So, it was off to the spice cupboard, which the wife keeps in meticulous order. I went to the "C" spices, grabbed the small jar of cinnamon sticks, unscrewed the lid, and indulged in the scent that wafted forth. Then I poked my nose back into the glass. Sure enough, the aroma of spices I noticed earlier is that of cinnamon, as is the spice of the flavor. It is subtle, yet present. A wonderful discovery—both the cinnamon in the lager, through the use of the spice cupboard, and the Samuel Adams Winter Lager itself.

Monday, November 26, 2007

on THE TAPHANDLE

Samuel Adams Boston Lager, a Premium Lager by Boston Beer Company

12 ounce bottle. I am not a fan of lagers, most likely due to my youthful days of drinking. There, I tended to drink three different types of pale lager—Miller Genuine Draft, Corona Extra, or Budweiser. The goal, of course, was to become intoxicated. Therefore, I have been somewhat reluctant to return to the world of lagers. I will have one if it is the only thing around—Heineken or Alfa, for example—but have on occasion just decided to drink a soda or water rather than subject myself to another lager that is virtually interchangeable with the rest.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager was a good reintroduction to the world of lagers. While not a stellar beer, neither was it a disappointment. In fact, it was more complex in both aroma and flavor than I expected. And, the pour was spectacular. The head was large, off-white, and fizzy, leaving behind a fair amount of lacing. The color was a rich apple-juice yellow, full of lively carbonation. The aroma was malty, focusing on faint caramel notes. Also present were the smells of straw, flowers, grass, and freshly broken white bread. The flavor followed suit.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

SUMNER BRIDGE LIGHTING


Friday 23 November 2007, 4:59 p.m.


Friday 23 November 2007, 5:01 p.m.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

THANKSGIVING


"I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds."
—Psalm 9:1

I awake to the low rumble of the furnace as it heats the house. I wander in the dawn darkness as the wife and child slumber. The outside thermometer reads 25.2° F. The ground is laced in white frost. The birdbath is frozen solid, chickadees trying to drink after they have taken black sunflower seeds from the feeder. I put my shoes on, go outside, and fill the birdbath with hot water. It steams. I am thankful for my family, for food and good beer, for shelter and warmth, for relatively good health, recent events notwithstanding.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

on THE [WINTER] TAPHANDLE

2° Below Winter Ale, an ESB by New Belgium Brewing Company

On tap at Fritz European Fry House, Bremerton, Washington. An ale is brought to me. It is a brilliant copper-orange with a thick white head. The head mostly stays and leaves intricate lacing in its wake. The aroma is of freshly torn orange peel, graham cracker, spices, pepper, cloves, light caramel, and a faint floral background. The flavor follows suit—orange peel, graham cracker, and cloves most prominent—with the briskness of newly fallen snow on the pallet and a light hint of alcohol on the finish. Wonderful.

---

If there is ever an excuse to have some Belgian fries with a good ale, then I will find it. The wife, the child, and I join the brother and the sister-in-law at Fritz European Fry House for deep fried foods—chicken fritters, beer battered cod, and handcut Belgian fries—and good beer. It really doesn't get much better.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

OCTOBER

"death cannot harm me / more than you have harmed me, / my beloved life."
—page 12, October by Louise Glück

Season and light and song. Life and lament and loss. The paradox of October is mine in November. There is a looking back toward summer and a looking forward toward winter. There is a rootedness in autumn that is unexpected. This is the middle of life. "This is the present, an allegory of waste." At times it is stark in its delivery. At times the light changes. Dims. Casts shadow upon shadow in a kaleidoscope of darkness.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

on THE [WINTER] TAPHANDLE

Jolly Roger Christmas Ale, an English Strong Ale by Maritime Pacific Brewing Company

12 ounce bottle. Shiver me timbers, but this is a good hearty holiday brew. It pours the color of a newly minted penny, clear and sparkling, with soft carbonation. The head is a light tan, although it mostly dissipates, leaving just a small remnant and some light lacing behind.

The smell is like that of a small cabin in the woods of the Pacific Northwest, stumbled upon after a walk in the rain, the fireplace heating the room and the logs—light grains, caramel, light dough of baking bread, the scented woodiness of cedar. The flavor follows suit, with a strong woody cedar flavor wrapped around a nutty, caramel base. There is the flavor of lightly baked bread thrown in for good measure, which balances nicely against the malt and hops.

I had this with dark chocolate after dinner and the slight smoky flavor of the chocolate helped to draw out the cedar of Jolly Roger, for a great pairing of dessert and ale. This could be a new Christmas tradition in the making.

Friday, November 16, 2007

AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE

"Pilate asked Jesus, 'What is truth?'"
—John 18:38

"If you tell the truth, you will start crying and never stop, and what good will that do you, or anyone else for that matter? Besides, would anyone want to read a true story that made you start crying and never stop? Would you want to read such a story? Would you read it because it was true, or because it made you cry? Or would it make you cry because you thought it was true? And what would you do, what would you feel, who would you blame, if you found out it wasn't?"
—page 296, An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brock Clarke

The truth makes a mess of Sam Pulsifer's life. Or, perhaps, as he states on a few occasions, it finally makes him a "grown-ass man." Either way, the truth sends Sam's life, along with the lives of many people around him—his wife Anne Marie, his daughter Katherine, his son Christian, his mother, his father—into directions that he could have never predicted.

He tries so hard not to be a bumbler, which comes naturally to him. He tries to be a detective and figure out just what is going on with his life. He bumbles that line of work, just as he has bumbled everything else in his life. He pays for the bumbling, in ways that he could not imagine. His bumbling is made even more egregious by the blunders of others.

This comedy of errors makes for a book that entices even as it wallows in the sufferings, ennui, and loneliness of one man. I shouldn't look, but I do. I shouldn't read, but I do. I recognize myself in Sam, in his father, in his mother. The truth is ugly. I look anyway. Then I put all the façades and masks back into place to pretend once again that everything is just fine. Just fine.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

VANITAS


Still Life, 2007 by Troy's Work Table


Big Vase, 2007 by The Child

The child and I spent a good portion of our time at the Tacoma Art Museum in their Open Art Studio, creating our own art. We chose one of the "still life" boxes. The child chose the pieces to use for our drawings. We had a silver wine glass, a branch of plastic and fabric roses, a styrofoam skull, and an old leatherbound book. Troy's Work Table incorporated all four objects, while the child drew the "vase" of flowers.

It was another opportunity to reflect upon death and mortality in a "safe" environment, and while utilizing pencil and oil pastels.

Friday, November 09, 2007

PROTEST


The child and I visited the Tacoma Art Museum on Friday afternoon. A protest against a planned detention center in the Tacoma tideflats was in progress. The protest appeared to be peaceful, although that didn't stop the Tacoma police department from setting up their battle lines.


There were officers in patrol cars, on motorcycles, on bicycles, on foot, and in riot gear. It seemed that the number of officers may have dwarfed that of the protesters.


The protest grew in size, however, and began to move from its initial location in the park next to the Tacoma Convention Center. Soon, the protestors had partially succeeded in their goal of "shutting down" the city. They effectively blocked the Tacoma Link light rail from running, whereupon the "city" shut down its operation for the day's foreseeable future. The child and I were able to grab the last Link back to where we had parked across town before it was sent "out of service." They—and the police officers in an attempt to confine the protestors to an area under police control and surveillance—also succeeded in shutting down a number of streets, which snarled traffic in the downtown core.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

DISSECTION OF A DAY—REFRAIN



The child and I visited Susie J. Lee's Refrain exhibit at Lawrimore Project and Patricia Piccinini's Hug exhibit at Frye Art Museum.

Refrain is a mixture of acrylic forms—a sculptural pillow, a rectilinear tank of water, a cylindrical tank of water, a "stained" shelf, quilt batting—and light and sound.

Rain Shower (Sonagi), 2007
We encountered the first piece as soon as we entered the large metal doors of Lawrimore Project. The large main warehouse space was exceptionally dark, and a couple of temporary walls were erected and painted black to heighten the darkness. Suddenly, a large rumbling began that could be felt in the intestines. The child stated the child's desire to "go home right now!" We didn't. Overhead LEDs began to "rain" down light, increasing in frequency, peaking, and then diminishing. The motion detector sensed our movement as we tried to exit into the space near the office and another "shower" began.

Caesura, 2006
A black shelf gains an instant black, brown, and white "stain" due to projected light. Some of the stain begins to disappear as though running back into hidden channels, or time running backward, such that we see a spill in reverse.

Frequency Map, 2007
The Lawrimore "White Room" appears empty. Usually it contains a piece that needs extra lighting or a more "traditional" setting for display. The room, however, is the artwork. False walls have been erected and a lone motion detector is perched over the entryway. Initially, the room didn't do anything. Scott Lawrimore, the gallery owner, came in and knocked on the walls, trying to get the room to "respond." He recommended we look at some of the other installation pieces, and perhaps the room would "whistle us back at some point." It did. As soon as we left, the room whistled to us. We returned and then it sounded as though someone was climbing around the outside of the walls, knocking upon them. There was also the faint ringing of windchimes.

Fugue State, 2007
The child especially liked this piece. An image of shadow hands is projected onto an acrylic "pillow." The shadow hands begin to "dance" around one another and caress one another. The child though it interesting for us to place our hands in the "stream" of light, whereupon our shadow hands were also "projected" onto the pillow.

Conjugal, 2006
This was another pillow receiving projected light, although it was made from quilt batting hung upon the wall. The image projected upon it was of a wool-like surface that occasionally "breathed" and had small shadow "figures" move through it. An accompanying soundtrack on headphones provided a breathily-delivered poem.

Noli Me Tangere, 2006
A third "pillow" seemed to be a hernia of the wall. The wall "space" was back-lit and a small dark object kept "approaching" us.

Rings of St. Genevieve, 2007
A strange, ephemeral sculpture was contained in an acrylic cylinder. Water filled the cylinder and light was projected from above. It appeared that water was dripping into the cylinder, although I couldn't tell if it was real or not. The drop and its subsequent ripples may have been projected onto the surface of the water, or actual ripples may have been highlighted by the projected light. The vibrations of our movements around the sculpture were also "disturbing" the piece, adding to the mystery of what was actually happening. An ethereal soundtrack was playing.

Wachet Auf Ruft Uns Die Stimme, 2007
This piece was a rectilinear acrylic tank filled with water. Above it hung a concave rectilinear acrylic lens. Light was projected through the lens and into the tank. White liquid appeared to be squirted into the tank, similar to a squid's ink cloud, although this was indeed looped video that accompanied audio of someone playing a piano. This was my favoite piece. Therefore, the child and I kept wandering between this piece and Fugue State.

Susie J. Lee is definitely an artist to keep an eye on. Her work reminded me of that of Jim Campbell. The work of both artists examines similar themes of time and mortality in the realm of manipulated images and light.
---

Patricia Piccinini's hyperreal sculptures were the antithesis of Susie J. Lee's "spiritual" pieces. The small vaguely human mole-like and meerkat-like creatures were too real. The child was intrigued by many of them, but I was unsettled, maybe because I could imagine these things really running around. I might have to kill them if they were real and "bothered" me, and that is where the true nature of the discomfort emanates. They weren't "cute" or "cuddly," and it was difficult to tell if they were "friendly" or "threatening," which was part of the point. And, perhaps, that says more about me than I am willing to acknowledge, because the child seemed to have an easier time of "accepting" them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

DISSECTION OF A DAY—AN ARSONIST'S GUIDE

"All of this made me feel better about myself, and I was grateful to the books for teaching me—without my even having to read them—that there are people in the world more desperate, more self-absorbed, more boring than I was."
—page 88, An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England by Brooke Clarke

Sam Pulsifer is a convicted felon. He "accidentally" burned down the Emily Dickinson House in his hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts as a teenager. The prosecution considered his act deliberate. Sam blames his mom for telling him all kinds of stories centered in the Emily Dickinson House. It is alluded that mom blames her husband because she started telling the stories when he left the family for three years, before returning to his wife and son.

Now, ten years after Sam's release from serving ten years in prison, and after he has constructed a new life with a wife, two children, a job as a packaging specialist with Pioneer Packaging, and a home in the Camelot housing development, Thomas Coleman has shown up on his doorstep. Thomas's parents were in the Emily Dickinson House as it burned. He expects an apology from Sam—which he gets—but is unsatisfied with Sam's sincerity. That is because Sam states that he is truly sorry, but he seems to be lacking many social graces. He longs to be "normal," although he cannot quite grasp what that means, due to his distance from "normalcy."

So, Thomas tells a story that "destroys" the new life that Sam has built.

The story is intriguing because Sam—more properly, author Brooke Clarke, and, therefore, Sam—is questioning the nature of story and narrative. What direct effect can a story, does a story, have on the world? What if that world has no soul—a life that feels hollow in a community that feels shallow with its seemingly happy families and cookie-cutter Camelot housing developments with cookie-cutter houses and superstore Book Warehouses? I hope to soon discover Sam's (and Brooke's) answer to these questions.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

DISSECTION OF A DAY—BODYSNATCHERS


Graffiti mural discovered at the corner of Pike and Summit, Seattle.

"I have no idea what I am talking about.
I'm trapped in this body and can't get out."
—from "Bodysnatchers" by Radiohead, In Rainbows

The second track of Radiohead's In Rainbows album, "Bodysnatchers," is wedged between the rapid-fire percussion and guitar noodling of "15 Step" and strange off-kilter soft jazz of "Nude." It is like neither of the songs that bookend it.

It begins with what could easily pass for either a late-Mark I or early-Mark III Wire song. Thom Yorke's voice then declares that this does indeed belong to Radiohead. The music shifts slightly toward garage rock somewhat akin to the Sonics and then a combination of guitar fuzz, chanting, and moaning that could have easily been included on the Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf. The next reference is the psychedelic shoegazing of either Sky Cries Mary or Jesus and Mary Chain. A Beatles-esque guitar riff signals the final shift, whereupon the song ends with guttural mumbling from Thom ("mah-mah-mah-mah-mah-mah-mah") and a crescendo of voice, guitar, bass, and feedback that is gone as quickly as it began.

If it sounds less than cohesive, then that is the brilliance of the track, because it holds together rather well. It threatens to spin apart from the centrifugal force it generates, but never does. The tension is what intrigues. I feel like I am experiencing the paranoia and claustrophobia of the lyrics and music as I listen.

I imagine that this is what birth might be like—the rhythmic comfort of "15 Step" as those final moments in the womb, the contained chaos and turmoil of "Bodysnatchers" as entering the world, and the restored calm of "Nude" as the newly naked body in the world, slightly tired from all of the previous "work." And, then seven more quality tracks of various tempo and tone and instrumentation follow, just like in life.

Monday, November 05, 2007

DISSECTION OF A DAY—on THE TAPHANDLE


Dubbels, Tripels & Trappists with Stu Stuart, Belgian Beer Me!
A 99 Bottles tasting.

THREE DUBBELS

Grimbergen Dubbel, an Abbey Dubbel by Brasserie Union
2 ounce sample. White head. Good lacing. Clear, sparkling body. Dark brown color. Major aromas and flavors include black pepper, caramel, hay, light citrus. Primary flavor is the pepper. Sweet-to-dry finish that has a long duration. Good.

Maredsous 8 Dubbel, a Belgian Strong Ale (Dubbel) by Brouwerij Moortgat
2 ounce sample. White head. Good lacing. Slightly cloudy body. Dark brown color. Major aromas and flavors include nuts, black pepper, raisin, dark fruits. Primary flavor is the nut. Fairly dry finish that has a long duration. Good.

Westmalle Dubbel, a Trappist Dubbel by Brouwerij der Trappisten van Westmalle
2 ounce sample. Off-white head. Good lacing. Lightly cloudy body. Dark orange-brown color. Major aromas and flavors include caramel, coffee, grass, raisin, plum, coriander. Primary flavor is caramel-infused coffee. Sweet-to-dry finish that has a long duration. Excellent. The most complex and satisfying of three great dubbels.

THREE TRIPELS

St. Bernardus Tripel, an Abbey Tripel by St. Bernard Brouwerij
2 ounce sample. White head. Little lacing. Lightly cloudy body. Melted butter color. Major aromas and flavors include flowers, lemon, straw, black pepper. Primary flavor is lemony-peppery-floral. Sweetness that dries as it goes. Okay.

Chimay Cinq Cents Tripel (Chimay Blanche), a Trappist Tripel by Chimay
2 ounce sample. White head. Little lacing. Lightly cloudy body. Melted butter color. Major aromas and flavors include light nuttiness, slight mustiness, hint of lemon, leather, spices. Primary flavor is lemony-mustiness. Fairly dry and slightly bitter finish. Somewhat oily mouthfeel. Good. Reminds me of old books, which is a wonderful thing.

St. Feuillien Tripel, an Abbey Tripel by Brasserie St. Feuillien
2 ounce sample. White head. Little lacing. Mostly clear body. Melted butter color. Major aromas and flavors include lemon, pear, grape, cloves, other spices. Primary flavor is grape-pear with hint of lemon. Less dry, more sweet, than the other two tripels. Great. My favorite of the three tripels, although I would have to favor the dubbels overall.

Stu Stuart, who obviously loves beer, especially Belgian ales, acted as conductor of the tasting. He explained the difference between dubbels, tripels, and quadrupels—alcohol content. Monks would brew a "house ale" for their own consumption that consisted of approximatley 3% alcohol by volume. Dubbels are double (6%), tripels are triple (8-9%), and quadrupels are quadruple (10% and above).

He also explained the difference between Trappist and Abbey ales. There are only seven Trappist breweries in the world—six in Belgium and one in the Netherlands. There are three qualifications for an authentic Trappist brewery—(1) the ale must be brewed at the monastery, (2) the monks must be involved in the brewing process, and (3) the money raised in the sale of the ales must go to a good cause or charity. Otherwise, the ale is classified as an Abbey ale.

Stu also gave a bunch of great suggestions for other Belgian and Belgian-style ales, and encouraged the crowd to shout out their own favorite ales and breweries. This was definitely my favorite beer tasting so far.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

DISSECTION OF A DAY—AN OVERVIEW

Yesterday was one of those almost perfect days, where nothing overly spectacular happens yet the sum of the whole is greater than its parts.

*The child and I visited Susie J. Lee's Refrain exhibit at Lawrimore Project.

*The child and I had pizza with the friend D. at Amante Pizza and Pasta.

*The child and I visited the Frye Art Museum and were able to view Patricia Piccinini's Hug exhibit.

*I listened once again to Radiohead's In Rainbows album, especially enjoying "Bodysnatchers."

*I started Brock Clarke's An Arsonist's Guide to the Homes of New England Writers.

*I went to a beer tasting at 99 Bottles, which focused on dubbels, tripels, and trappist ales, led by Stu Stuart of Belgian Beer Me!

*I came home to the smell of cooking steak instead of the expected chicken.

*The wife and I played some Oxford Dilemma Dice, which I won, and some Master Boggle, which I did not.

*I gained an extra hour of sleep.

All in all, as close to paradise on earth as I can imagine. I was able to live BOOKS. ART. BEER. with some of my favorite people.

Friday, November 02, 2007

SPOOK COUNTRY

"He looked up at a 1992 calendar, level with his eyes, and about ten inches away. Someone had quit pulling the months off in August. It advertised a commercial real estate firm, and was decorated with a drastically color-saturated daytime photograph of the New York Skyline, complete with the black towers of the World Trade Center. These were so intensely peculiar-looking, in retrospect, so monolithically sci-fi blank, unreal, that they now seemed to Milgrim to have been Photoshopped into every image he encountered them in.
—pages 96-97, Spook Country by William Gibson

This novel is a collision of people of different backgrounds, different worlds, each trying to navigate the complexities of a post-9/11 landscape. There is Hollis Henry, former lead singer of the band Curfew, now turned journalist. She is freelancing for the perhaps nonexistent Node magazine, based in London, but operating under the guise of the Blue Ant company, owned by the Belgian Hubertus Bigend. Bigend throws his money, influence, and power around to obtain information. There is Tito, of Cuban-Chinese descent, who is fluent in Russian, is a minor player in a crime family whose members may or may not be related, and relies upon Voudon gods to help him out of tight spots. There is Milgrim, a Rize addict, infatuated by early Christian heretics, who has been abducted by Brown. Brown needs Milgrim to translate Volpuk, a pidgin-Russian used by Tito's "family" when text-messaging one another. Brown is in search of a particular shipping container. There is Bobby, who knows the location of that container, as well as being the technical brains behind a movement of virtual, hypertagged, locative art.

All of their paths eventually converge in Vancouver, British Columbia. This novel, which is taut in pacing for most of the narrative, suddenly unravels during the climax, which is really more of an anticlimax. It also plays as false and unreal. And, that, I believe, is what is so brilliant about the book. The anticlimactic, cinematic, untruthful event upon which the story collapses is probably Gibson's point—it cannot sustain itself. The implosion of storyline and the overhyped non-event event seems to be pointing back at 9/11—which is mentioned or alluded to many times throughout the various narrative threads.

---

"If he wasn't lying, he'd been paying people to tell him about secret government programs. The war on terror. Were they still calling it that? She'd caught some, she decided: terror. Right here in her hand, in Starbucks, afraid to trust her own phone and the net stretching out from it, strung through those creepy fake trees you saw from highways here, the cellular towers disguised with grotesque faux foliage, Cubist fronds, Art Deco conifers, a thin forest supporting an invisible grid, not unlike the one spread on Bobby's factory floor in flour, chalk, anthrax, baby laxative, whatever it was. The trees Bobby triangulated on. The net of telephony, all digitized, and all, she had to suppose, listened to."
—pages 157-158, Spook Country by William Gibson

Gibson's favorite toys are present—computer technology, the Internet, cellular telephony, virtual reality. They are wrapped up within some of his favorite themes—the real versus the unreal versus the virtual, privacy and paranoia, the individual versus the collective, the realm of the "gods" leaking into the world of humans. Spook Country is not as brilliant or effective as some of Gibson's best work, such as Neuromancer and Idoru, but still one of his best efforts.

The novel strongly resonates because it is prescient and timely, as all of Gibson's work. Some of the narrative threads are believable enough that they could have been stolen from the front page stories of the New York Times. Others are just crazy enough that you know they have to contain some element of truth. And, the constant surveillance of characters by other characters, amplified through the use of current technology—the classic stakeout, the everpresent sidekick/toadie of one's boss, GPS tracking units, cell phone scramblers, electronic "bugs"—makes one question one's own security and privacy, especially in a nation with The Patriot Act in place.

---

Spook Country hints at a culture that trusts in celebrities because of their place of prominent media exposure. It hints at the grandiosity of events that are so unreal and ridiculous that they cannot, they will not, be taken seriously; they are merely games to be played, distractions to be embraced. It hints at a world where our very lives are constantly exposed and examined, where there are no secrets. That kind of place scares me. Oh, wait. We already live there.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

on THE TAPHANDLE

He'brew Origin Pomegranate Ale, a Fruit Beer by Shmaltz Brewing Company

22 ounce bottle. The bottle declares this to be an "Imperial Amber Ale brewed with luscious pomegranate juice." I declare this to be good.

The pour is beautiful. A thin white head floats on a golden-orange body that has a faint pink glow. The carbonation is lively and there is minor lacing. The aroma hints of graham cracker, berries, and raisins.

The taste is mostly dry and tart, with a hint of sweet honey or caramel. The tartness, I assume, is from the pomegranate juice. There is a slight bite when the ale touches the tongue, although not the alcohol flavor I expected. Perhaps it is tempered somewhat by the pomegranate. The carbonation dances over the tongue and palate.

This is really good stuff. The wife made a green salad of romaine lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and radish in a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, and oven poached salmon in a dill, Vidalia onion, and cucumber relish for dinner. The Origin Pomegranate played nicely against the tartness of both the salad and the salmon. The only drawback was the Vidalia onion, which tried to overpower the rest of the meal.