Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Gubna, an Imperial/Double IPA by Oskar Blues Brewery.

12 ounce can, served in a snifter, $5.33 per pint.

Gubna Imperial IPA is like the brash yet intelligent older brother of Oskar Blues Brewery's Gordon IPA.

The pour is a lightly hazy orange with almost no head. Instead, there is a thin halo of white where ale meets glass. There is virtually no lacing and no carbonation.

The nose is of broth and beefiness, orange peel, pine resin, and nettles. I even sense a wee bit of huckleberry.

The initial flavors are caramel, a somewhat subtle orange peel, beef broth, pine resin, and stinging nettle. After a few moments in the mouth, a sweet biscuit flavor emerges.

Gubna is mild in the mouth, even though it fully engages all: tongue, gums, palate, throat. There is a sticky and heavy quality that isn't really present if you focus on it for too long.

Another interesting trick is the alcohol content. If "Alc. 10.0% by Vol." wasn't printed on the can, I wouldn't believe it from the smell and taste alone. The 10% doesn't kick in until later in the glass. Gubna entices you in and then gives you a good punch.

As it warms, the bitterness of both orange and resin increases.

This is an excellent ale. It is complex. It messes with you a bit. It's flavors are best about fifteen minutes out of the refrigerator.

Grab a can or three if you see them around. They are worth every penny spent.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


(1) Paintbrush (left).

(2) Avalanche lily.

(3) I am not sure what this is, but would love to know. (It almost appears to be some sort of low flowering pine shrub.)

(4) A field of avalanche lily.

(5) Arnica, paintbrush, and lupine.

(6) Lupine.



The wife, the child, and I decided to get outside and enjoy nature rather than sit in a sweltering house. We did a quick check on the Washington Trails Association website for nearby kid-friendly hikes and decided upon Summit Lake.

The wife packed our dinner, TWT printed up a couple of maps and grabbed gear, and we were on our way. We picked up our National Forest Day Pass in Burnett on the way there. After enduring six tortuous miles of rough forest service road (at least for a Honda Civic), we arrived at the trailhead.

(1) Shortly after setting out.

(2) Left to Summit Lake.

(3) Tahoma (Mount Rainier) peeks at us through a parting of the trees. Only ten more minutes to our destination.

(4) The trees open up and reveal a beautiful blue alpine lake.

(5) Gazing out at Mount Baker-Snoqualmie Forest near the edge of the lake.

(6) Looking down a few hundred feet at an island of pine and fir in the middle of a recently formed snow lake, itself an island in a sea of pine and fir.

(7) The spot where we waded in the cold mountain water and ate the dinner we packed in.

Summit Lake in the foreground, Tahoma in the background.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The child and I took advantage of the sunny and mid-80s (degrees Fahrenheit) weather by riding our bike (and its attached tandem bike trailer) along Puyallup's Riverwalk Trail to visit the Sumner library.

Riding in Sumner. (Photograph by The Child.)

The Sumner Public Library.

The "back yard" of the Sumner Library. We are sitting on a bench looking down a hill at large maple trees and the Puyallup River.

Tahoma, better known as Mount Rainier, as seen from the east end of the Puyallup Riverwalk Trail.

Troy's Work Table wades into the Puyallup River near its confluence with the White River. Ice. Cold. Mountain. Water. (Photograph by The Child.)

A shady spot along the trail, peeking at the Puyallup River through alder trees.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


I can now declare the zombie-novel craze of the past few years officially dead. The best zombie novel of summer 2010 has finally arrived: Imperial Bedrooms by Bret Easton Ellis. Characters Clay, Julian, Blair, Rip, and Trent of Less Than Zero have been dug up from the grave and set free to shuffle about the trendy hot spots of Los Angeles and environs once again.


Imperial Bedrooms doesn't have quite the same punch that predecessor Less than Zero did. The problem is that the characters of Less than Zero came alive. They didn't come to life in the 1987 movie of the same name. They have come back to life in Imperial Bedrooms. However, they came most to life in MTV-produced shows Laguna Beach and spinoff The Hills, which gave us the Spencer, Heidi, Brody, and Lauren television versions of literary characters Clay, Blair, Julian, and Rip.


The problem with the elaborately scripted and producer-influenced television shows, full of their heightened drama and meticulously planned cinematography and overacting, is that the vacuous characters are just that, and only that. The characters of Imperial Bedrooms may be vapid and vacuous, but there is something familiar about them, something I can relate to, that is absent in The Hills.


Imperial Bedrooms contains elements from previous Bret Easton Ellis novels Less than Zero, American Psycho, Glamorama, and Lunar Park. Familiar characters encounter a world filled with ghosts, brand names, surveillance, advertising, drugs and alcohol, unfulfilling sex, dinners, and party upon party. The hollowness of the past (Less than Zero) roars through the present (Imperial Bedrooms) such that the winds blow away the thin fabric of the characters and the few bits of flesh of their likewise empty lives.


Some have accused Clay, the narrator of Imperial Bedrooms, to be a moral monster. He may lack compassion for others. He may lack empathy for even his purported friends. He may finally rid himself of the untrustworthy Julian in an act of narcissistic self-preservation. His acts pale, however, when covered by the shadow of the plastic surgery disaster once known as Rip. Rip is Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (the 1974 Tobe Hooper original, not the 2003 remake) resurrected on the pages of BEE's newest novel. He also seems slightly possessed with the spirits of Patrick Bateman from American Psycho and Bobby Hughes from Glamorama.


I am probably too biased to give Imperial Bedrooms the fair assessment that it deserves. I love Bret Easton Ellis, considering him one of the great American moralists. This isn't a great novel, especially with its reliance on recycled characters and themes, but I still highly recommend it. Stare into the banality, the horror, and recognize yourself.

Sunday, July 04, 2010


Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 03, 2010

2010 or 1950?

Chuck Taylor All-Stars and Dairy Queen booths.

Cherry Dilly Bar.

Friday, July 02, 2010


Cat "diorama" by The Child.

Schrödinger's cat.

Cheshire cat.