Tuesday, April 29, 2008

on THE TAPHANDLE + BONUS ROUND

Full Sail Imperial Stout, an Imperial Stout by Full Sail Brewing Company

22 ounce bottle. This stout is beautiful to gaze upon. It has a dark black body, with just the faintest ruby aura when tipped back for a drink. The head is light brown, creamy at the edges and frothy in the middle, and it stays around until the glass is finished. It leaves behind rich, complex lacing.

The nose is complex. It is dark chocolate, roasted malts, molasses, brown sugar, prune, alcohol, and hints of vanilla and pepper.

The flavor is not as complex, but really packs a chocolate punch! It is moderately sweet, yet dries ever so slightly as it finishes. Dark fruits and roasted malts linger throughout. The higher alcohol content is strong, but does not dominate the flavor.

I had this one with a thick medium rare steak that was rubbed in Montreal steak seasoning and dipped in A1 steak sauce. The stout helped to counter some of the saltiness, while drawing forth the flavor of the meat.

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Bonus round:

Tonight was a night that I needed comfort food. My day at work wasn't difficult, but my body was definitely not cooperating. I walked in and was greeted by the smell of cheese-filled hot dogs and Kraft macaroni and cheese. The wife apologized. I told her not to. This was perfect. A Mongoose IPA made it that much better.

Ah, the joy of processed meat and cheese products!

And, the child was pretty excited as well.

Monday, April 28, 2008

READING ROUNDUP

Reading, reading, and more reading...


Poetry, March 2008
Another strange poem by Jorie Graham, three by Heather McHugh, and many more.

Poetry, April 2008
The Translation Issue. Some of my favorite writing is that of foreign writers translated into English. I don't know any of the source languages. I just like the idea that I have access to the works of authors from different countries and/or time periods. And, I have to trust that the translators are doing their jobs.


Two books that I recently completed, with reviews coming soon.

Sharp Teeth by Toby Barlow
Werewolf gang warfare in present day Los Angeles. The novel is written in free verse. If you can handle Beowulf, you can handle this. This was a quick, compelling read that grabbed me by the carotid artery and didn't let go.

Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy of Ruby Ridge and the Randy Weaver Family by Jess Walter
An examination of what happens when two unflinching ideologies collide. Jess Walter was a reporter with a Spokane newspaper during the Ruby Ridge standoff. He delivers an evenhanded account of the tragedy, although the mistakes of government law enforcement agencies are rightfully exposed.


I am challenging myself somewhat with these two books. I am doing "close readings" of both—taking extensive notes, researching ideas surfaced during reading, reflecting on my own positions, and wandering off into books with similar themes and ideas during the readings.

The Architecture of Happiness by Alain de Botton
The poetry of place. Being open to seeing things anew. Being aware of our surroundings. Why do we live where we live? Why do we live how we live?

Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found by Suketu Mehta
The perspective of living in the city of Bombay, as an Indian in exile, both in major cities and in the country of one's birth. Stellar writing from a Pulitzer Prize finalist.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

DÍA DE LOS NIÑOS - DÍA DE LOS LIBROS


Members of Grupo Indomable


The child and I visited the Puyallup Public Library on Saturday 26 April for its Día de los Niños, Día de los Libros (Day of the Child, Day of the Books) celebration. It was "a free celebration for the whole family about children, books, and language" that was sponsored by the Friends of the Library.

Each child who attended was able to choose a free book, most of which were bilingual—Spanish and English. We chose the one book that was exclusively Spanish, Mi primer libro de palabras: mil palabras que los niños deben saber (My First Book of Words: One Thousand Words That Children Should Know), in order to familiarize ourselves with Spanish words. The child and I spent time in the afternoon looking through the book's pictures and its accompanying words and phrases. The child would point to a particular picture and say what it was in English and I would read the Spanish word(s).

In addition to the free book, it was an afternoon filled with readings of children's books in Spanish and English, crafts, cookies and juice, face painting, balloon animals, helium balloons, clowns, informational booths for parents, and the music of Grupo Indomable and friends. The Pierce County Library's Bookmobile also made a visit, focusing exclusively on Spanish language books and other Spanish language resources that were available for checkout.

Most of the families that were present were Latino—with quite a few from the ESL groups that meet at the Library—as well as a smattering of families from the various storytime groups, and people who just happened to wander in. This was one of the community events of which the leaders of Puyallup should be extremely proud. It encompassed everything that I love about life in this (relatively) small town of Puyallup—diversity, community, a focus on education, and a place to have fun.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


A River & Sound Review Hosts Live Show
at Puyallup Public Library


Live Revue Features Local Authors and Musicians,
As Well As Sketch Comedy

NEWS FACTS
  • Pennsylvania poet Philip Terman, author of three poetry collections—The House of Sages, Book of the Unbroken Days, and Rabbis of the Air—headlines the show.
  • Poulsbo author Elea Carey, a graduate student of the Rainier Writing Workshop, a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program at Pacific Lutheran University, will read from her work.
  • Local singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Patrick Bradshaw plays a selection of songs.
  • PLUS: Name That Book—This audience-participation trivia contest will challenge your ability to name the titles and authors of three different books with only a short clue about each book's history and a reading of the book's first sentence.
  • PLUS: As The Publishing World Turns—Follow the continuing saga of writers in crisis. Meet our hero Heathcliff Beed, his nemesis Eustace Faulkner, and the woman they both love, Ophelia Payne, and listen to them solve the mystery of the murdered Reader's Digest editor.
Puyallup, Washington — April 22, 2008 — A River & Sound Review, a literary entertainment program featuring the art of story in its myriad forms, will hold its next live production on Thursday, May 15, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. at the Puyallup Public Library. Featured artists include Pennsylvania poet Philip Terman, local author Elea Carey, and singer-songwriter Patrick Bradshaw.

A one-of-a-kind literary entertainment variety show, A River & Sound Review entertains audiences throughout the Northwest with readings and interviews with literary artists ranging from prize winning authors including novelist Ann Pancake and essayist and critic Judith Kitchen, as well as musical artists. The show is also designed for audience interaction via sketch comedy routines such as “Name That Book,” “The East Meets East Meets West Women’s Book Club,” and “Head to Head Shakespeare Trivia Challenge."

Also featured in the upcoming production is A River & Sound Review's trademark trivia game show, "Name That Book," as well as the latest installment of the literary soap opera drama, "As The Publishing World Turns."

Admission is free, but donations to support future productions will be accepted.

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About A River & Sound Review
Started in February, 2006, by Puyallup teacher and writer Jay Bates, A River & Sound Review is a one-of-a-kind, live literary arts entertainment program that features the work of writers and musicians from the Pacific Northwest. Also designed for audience interaction via sketch comedy routines such as “Name That Book,” “The East Meets East Meets West Women’s Book Club,” and “Head to Head Shakespeare Trivia Challenge,” A River & Sound Review makes the literary arts accessible to the general public. Visit www.riverandsoundreview.org to upload podcasts of past productions.

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Read more about the Thursday 15 May 2008 live production here.

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Listen to past live and studio show podcasts at A River & Sound Review's podcast page.

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In the interest of full disclosure, I need to let you know that I am now volunteering with A River & Sound Review, helping them out with publicity, because I wholeheartedly believe in what they are doing. If you know of anyone in the Puyallup, Washington area, or the South Puget Sound region, then please pass along the above information to them.

Thank you,

Troy's Work Table

Monday, April 21, 2008

on THE TAPHANDLE

Sapporo Premium Draft, a Pale Lager by Sapporo Breweries

12 ounce bottle.

What is the aesthetic import of "ethnic" cuisine upon the enjoyment of a particular beer? Do the background, country of origin, or lineage of the beer affect the food?

The excitation of senses—visual, nasal, and palatal—is influenced by the atmosphere and environment of Happy Teriyaki #11, as well as the Japanese associations of the restaurant, whether known or not, conscious or subconscious, wrong or right. What would be mediocre or banal in other circumstances, is here transformed, albeit minimally.

The slight spiciness of Sapporo is brought forth by teriyaki and tonkatsu. It is this minor hint of flavor that saves Sapporo, at least in this instance, from being just another run-of-the-mill pale lager. It is not spectacular, by any means, but it will suffice. And, it makes the meal complete.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

ONCE

These cinema verité wanderings through the day and night streets of Dublin are neither mine nor those of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. They are those of a guy (Glen Hansard) and a girl (Markéta Irglová). The dark red light of Dublin evening sings along with the girl; the afternoon and dusk blues are the chorus for the guy. The warm, soft, and yellow light of interiors, lit by candle and low-wattage lightbulbs—later to be washed in the bright light of morning sun—take us to another place, give us other music to "see," even as we listen.

True, this is not cinema verité. There is a director acting as overseer. But, the illusion is there.

True, the colors do not sing. They are atmosphere. But, once again, the illusion is there. This "modern day musical" is infused with song.

The traditional romance is subverted, turned upon its head. Once is fiction, although it feels documentary. It is intimate, without being obsessed with sex. There is the flesh, there is the lust and longing, but we do not see it. That is due to the intricacies and messiness of life, the loss that interferes and sculpts us.

Therefore, the consummation of the relationship, rather than involving "hanky panky," occurs with keyboard and guitar and voice. It is recorded, not only on film, but on master tapes in a music studio. This consummation is the culmination of passion lived out, in its best sense, in its meaning of suffering for that which you love.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

BOWL OF CHERRIES

"I needed stimulation, source material, reference works, and like a wretch in a famine intoxicated by the remembrance of a full pot simmering on the stove, so my nostrils inhaled the imaginary smell of books, that delicate and overpowering perfume nothing on earth could match, not fresh-mown hay, not automobile leather, not vulval musk."
—page 60, Bowl of Cherries by Millard Kaufman

Bowl of Cherries is a great wild ride, a coming of age novel with a cast of off-kilter characters. It is also tongue-in-cheek satire that skewers the military-industrial complex, scientific inquiry, religious belief, metaphysical ramblings, colonialism, imperialism, capitalism, the police state, authority, rampant individualism, community and its attendant "mob mentality," romance, and the pursuit of resources. It does all of this with a rich and chewy vocabulary that challenges and thrills. Unfortunately, the novel loses steam in its final pages as the climax of the book becomes predictable, improbable, and overly cinematic. But, even that cannot diminish the fun that this book provides its reader.

Imagery from the story kept creeping into my thoughts for days after I finished the book. Some images were fueled by words and phrases, old and new, that kept the pages filled with its refreshing and crisp language. Others were provoked by the overabundance of scatological humor of the setting and the hormonal urges of protagonist Judd Breslau, who is both child prodigy and academic über-slacker.

The other reason the story resonated for so long after the narrative itself ended was the examination of familial relationships, similar to that of An Arsonist's Guide to Writers' Homes in New England. What is the importance of father to child, mother to child, father to mother? Can others substitute for these relationships, if they have been damaged beyond repair? And, what happens if these relationships turn out to be other than previously believed or imagined? These are issues that both An Arsonist's Guide and Bowl of Cherries tackle with some objectivity. The relationships are laid bare and we are invited to struggle with what we see. We have to look at the lives of the characters and see pieces of our selves reflected back in the mirrors of their lives. The question is: Do we like what we see?

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Sunday, April 13, 2008

THE HOP STONE


I received this mosaic garden stone, that you make in the comfort of your own home, as a gift a few years ago. I decided to finally "make" it with the child. We sorted out the glass that came with the kit into its different colors and found bottle caps to match.

WHITE—Guinness
RED—New Belgium Brewing
ORANGE—Deschutes Brewing
YELLOW—Kona Brewing
GREEN—Longhammer IPA
BLUE—Alaska Brewing

When we were "making" it, the wife joined in, so it became a family project. We let it dry and cure for two weeks. Yesterday, the child and I took advantage of the 80° weather and gardened. The hop stone went into one of the corners to bring hop and barley goodness to all of our plants.

Friday, April 11, 2008

WANDERING IN OLYMPIA

Today was a day filled with all of my favorite things—books, art, beer, wandering, and "hanging" with the family.


The child and I headed to Olympia to visit Orca Books. I purchased Toby Barlow's Sharp Teeth after a recommendation from The Written Nerd. I also picked up a copy of Jess Walter's The Zero. Walter is the featured novelist at the next live show of A River & Sound Review. I am currently reading his book Every Knee Shall Bow: The Truth and Tragedy of Ruby Ridge and the Randy Weaver Family, which is very well written and highly recommended. The Zero was a recent fiction finalist for the National Book Award, so I figure that it should be a good read, especially since Every Knee Shall Bow is so engrossing. I am trying to get a couple of his books read before he does a live reading, especially since I am now volunteering for A River & Sound Review.

Then it was off to McMenamin's Spar Cafe for pub food and ale. The child and I split a bacon cheeseburger and fries. I had a pint of Hammerhead, an American Pale Ale by McMenamin's Pubs and Breweries. It arrived with a copper body and thin white head that maintained its presence throughout the meal. The aroma was of honey, caramel malts, and grassy hops. The flavors were sweet grass, light bitterness, and an undercurrent of freshly split wet logs. It was a good solid ale, but nothing spectacular.


Geocaching came next, which meant wandering around downtown Olympia. Our first cache find was near Olympia's famous artesian well. The child and I didn't drink any of the free-flowing water, but we watched plenty of people walk up and take a drink, let their dog take a drink, or drive up and fill container after container.


Our second cache find was near the original Capitol building. The child played with rocks and pine cones.


Our third cache find was in a wonderful city park, Yashiro Japanese Garden. It contained running water, plenty of large rocks, bamboo, various flowers, and half-naked sunbathers. There was also a shrine, although I was unable to determine whether it was Buddhist or Shinto. I believe the latter.


Our fourth and final cache find in Olympia was in the shadow of the Capitol building in Heritage Park. The child and I got a little dirty on this hunt, as we waded through ivy. The child played a wonderful lookout. After the find, the child went and threw rocks into Capitol Lake while I watched cormorants swim, play, and feed.


The wife didn't want to miss out on any geocaching action, so we picked up dinner and took it to a Puyallup park to eat. The child played on toys and we found one of three caches for which we were searching. We simply could not find another. And our final find went awry...


Troy's Work Table didn't read the part about boots being recommended for the terrain. While the wife and child stayed on terra firma, TWT headed off into the midst of fallen logs, ferns, stinging nettle, and skunk cabbage. There were two problems. First, the ground kept threatening to swallow me up, which I avoided rather well. Second, dusk was quickly stealing available light. I decided to give up. As I was heading back to the wife and child, who were calling to me to give a voice location for the trail, I got a "hit" on my GPS unit that was very close to the cache coordinates. I decided to give it one more try. I leaped over a small stream, or so I thought. I landed on the "bank," which turned into eighteen inches of mud. My left foot came back without a shoe. I grabbed an overhead tree branch and plunged my hand into the muck before it completely claimed my shoe, which it almost did. I walked back to the car with my shoe in hand while the wife and child tried "really hard" to stifle laughter. I will return to find the cache another day when I am better equipped—in other words, wearing boots!


The reward for a day of fun!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

on THE TAPHANDLE

Weltenburger Kloster Asam Bock, a Doppelbock by Klosterbrauerei Weltenburg.

16.9 ounce bottle. This was a new style for me, and a great introduction to it. The pour delivered a beautiful brick red body surrounded by an orange aura and capped with a light tan head. The body was clear and spots of light lacing clung to the glass.

The nose was an initial scent of toasted wheat bread. Other aromas were of alcohol, simmering meat, and prune, with an extremely faint bark presence, perhaps alder.

The flavors allowed this lager to really shine. It started with a light sweetness that became slightly drier as it sat in the mouth. This sweetness then dryness, accompanied by light but lively carbonation, really gave the tongue a full workout. There was an alcohol presence that was subtle rather than overpowering. The primary flavor was of stew meat, which, as the lager warmed in the glass, tended toward increasing nuttiness.

The wife made roast beef and potatoes. Asam Bock and the tender beef called forth additional meatiness from one another, increasing the pleasure derived from both.

Monday, April 07, 2008

on THE TAPHANDLE

Weltenburger Kloster Urtyp Hell, a Dortmunder/Helle by Klosterbrauerei Weltenburg.

16.9 ounce bottle. This is a very pale lager. The color reminds me of champagne, since it is such a pale yellow. The head is thick, frothy, and white. It doesn't stay for too long. The lacing is fair.

The aroma is of lightly toasted and buttered bread. Underneath lurks the faintest hint of white wine.

The flavor follows the aroma, and quickly shifts to dry, crisp, and clean. This doesn't last, and then it is almost as though I didn't have a drink. I want a beer to have a little more presence than this.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Thursday, April 03, 2008

on THE TAPHANDLE

Cinder Cone Red, an Amber Ale by Deschutes Brewery

12 ounce bottle. Seasonal ale.

This is my favorite beer. It is not the best beer that I have ever had, but it is my favorite. The distinction lies in that it is consistent, I can drink it with pretty much any food I pair it with, and that I never tire of drinking it. Some of the best beers that I have had only work in particular settings or with particular types of foods. Not Cinder Cone Red. It pleases all of the time.

The pour delivers a rich garnet body with a long-lasting ivory head. The body is clear with carbonation that is light, lively, and ever present. The lacing is excellent and intricate.

The aroma is complex. Caramel is the primary malt aroma. Light citrus, and a flourish of pine, on occasion, represent the hops. The other aromas are raisin, plum, cherry, and red wine.

The flavor "pulls back" ever so slightly from the aroma to concentrate on four primary tastes: caramel, cherry, plum, and a faint red wine. The focus in the midst of complexity is what really makes this ale shine! Yet, it is also an easily accessible beer. The initial flavor is sweet, matures into a light bitterness, and finishes with a combination of sweet and bitter that lingers. It is lightly oily on the tongue. Every so often, a hint of pine sneaks in to tease.

Cinder Cone Red is an ale for all occasions. I can imagine it with potato chips or roast duck. It works well during a nice meal or refreshes after mowing the lawn. I think I need one right now!

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

HOTEL MURANO


In front of Hotel Murano in Broadway Plaza:
glass sculpture by Costas Varotsos.

The wife, the child, and I did some more "urban spelunking" in Hotel Murano.



Clockwise from upper left:
*Street—Costas Varotsos
*Floor 14—Dante Marioni
*Floor 18—Bertil Vallien
*Floor 19—Preston Singletary



Clockwise from upper left:
*Floor 20—Masayo Odahashi
*Floor 21—Bruno Romanelli
*Floor 22—Peter Powning
*Floor 23—Hiroshi Yamano

[More Hotel Murano.]