Sunday, October 31, 2010

ALL HALLOWS EVEN


Traditional jack-o'-lantern (left), designed by The Child and carved by TWT; and mummy jack-o'-lantern (right) designed and created by The Wife and The Child.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

BRAINS


Zombie cupcakes adorn the storefront window of Capitol Hill's Cupcake Royale.

DIA DE MUERTOS



The Child and I headed up to Seattle to join in the Dia de Muertos 2010 celebration hosted by Taller Mexicano para la Cultura y las Artes (TMCA) at Seattle Center's Center House. The Mexican festival honoring the departed was rich in imagery and culture and family and tradition. Especially beautiful were the various altars built for the deceased. They were filled with flowers and fruit and pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and candles and sugar skulls and artistic renderings of skulls and skeletons. Many of the altars also had items that the dead person or persons would have enjoyed in life—a bottle of beer, a bottle of tequila, a cigar, a stick of gum—that were temporary experiences, the emphasis primarily on temporary and experience.


There was also a large sand painting in the center of the Center House floor, as well as many pictures, sketches, linocuts, woodcuts, lithographs, and paintings depicting skulls, skeletons, and death. It was a nice reminder of how temporary we are, I am.

To highlight that point, The Child became ill, apparently from one of the various viruses drifting through the classrooms of the new school year. That cut our time short and sent us scurrying for the safety and comfort of home, for rest and stillness and hibernation.

Friday, October 29, 2010

READING W. H. AUDEN


Photograph by The Child.

W. H. AUDEN


I visited King's Books and Tacoma Book Center this afternoon, foraging the stacks, writing down possible gift ideas for Christmas. I didn't intend to purchase anything.

Then, the book pictured above made its way into my hands at Tacoma Book Center. I thumbed through W. H. Auden: A Tribute edited by Stephen Spender. I initially picked it up because I was looking to see if any of the books by or about Auden included his 1939 poem "Herman Melville" or any of his criticism of Melville's works.

I read this line from "A brother's viewpoint," a tribute by his older brother Dr. John Auden:
"As a brother of Wystan, older by just over three years, but lacking the craggy landscape of his face, and far removed from the catholic compass and depth of his intellect, to write of our youth brings back ancient friendships and jealousies."
Right then and there, I knew that this book was now mine.

Who writes like that nowadays? Nobody. And those lines are par for the course. These collected tributes from family, friends, artists, and literary luminaries were written in 1974 and 1975, shortly after W. H. Auden's death in 1973. They sing. They fawn. They speak truth. They are literature in their own right.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

THE LAST DAHLIA


The last dahlia saved before the autumn storms arrived.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

MOBY DICK RETOLD


"Moby Dick is considered by many academics to be the greatest work of prose fiction ever written. It was only because of Melville's refusal to simplify or condense his books to please his audience that he was able to produce this classic."
—pages 159-160, Moby Dick: Retold from the Story by Herman Melville by Henry Brook (Usborne Classics Retold)

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Ah, the irony. The above quote is from a book that simplified and condensed Melville's book, I assume, to please a modern audience.

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Moby-Dick (note the hyphen in the title, which is missing in the "retold" version) has existed in more than one version since the beginning of its publication. It was published in a censored British edition in October 1851 and an "original" American edition in November 1851. The British version removes anything that would be considered offensive to a standard British Victorian reader. Therefore, many references to sexuality, atheism, agnosticism, and anti-British sentiment were expurgated or reworked.

Moby-Dick has also been issued in many abridgments, condensations, and adaptations over the course of its more than one-hundred-and-fifty years of existence. In fact, it was a special issue of The Review of Contemporary Fiction (Summer 2009, volume XXIX) that once again sent me on a journey into the pages of Moby-Dick from which I may never return. ; or The Whale, edited by Damion Searls, was a direct response to Moby-Dick in Half the Time by Orion Books. ; or The Whale contained all of the words and passages that had been left out of Moby-Dick in Half the Time. It is a fascinating read that stops and starts. It is the novel equivalent of the cinematic jump cut.

This Usborne Classics Retold edition of Moby Dick continues both traditions. It is an adaptation rewritten and reworked for the "9 years and up" crowd. It combines and redivides the extracts, 135 chapters, and epilogue of the original into nineteen sections with titles such as "My Pagan Friend," "Ahab's Rage," and "Four Prophecies." It also "modernizes" much of the stylized language of the original, substituting simple English for the Shakespearean diatribes and King James Bible poetic ramblings that tumble from Captain Ahab's mouth.

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In the June 2010 (volume 12, number 2) issue of Leviathan: A Journal of Melville Studies, William Hansen, in his article "So far as what there may be of a narrative": Abridgment and Moby-Dick, writes that
"These abridgments function, consciously or not, as an indoctrination on how to read. Since a majority of them were targeted towards children and young adults, an abridgment's explicit and implicit instructions on the value of reading can have a lasting impact on the reader." (page 32)
I hope to read Moby Dick, this retelling, this adaptation, in order to better understand how I read, and, more specifically, how I read Moby-Dick, with all of its bulk and digressions and over-the-top language intact and complete.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

WHITE RIVER DISC GOLF COURSE

I played my second-best round of disc golf, scoring a 59 (+5) at White River Disc Golf Course of Auburn, Washington on Saturday morning. Highlights included the following:

*Playing the first five holes in torrential downpour.

*"Losing" a white-colored driver in an open field of grass on a bad throw. A white disc in a field of green that I couldn't find after ten minutes of searching! Someone behind me found the disc and called me.

*The someone turned out to be the guy I played my first round of disc golf ever with: Larry.

*Even with taking the penalty for losing the disc and playing from where I think it landed, I threw a four for the hole, one over par.

*My back nine was the best back nine I have ever played, and it felt like it. 28 (+1).

*On many of my second throws on holes, I was hitting metal—the pole, the side of the basket, the chains, or the top of the basket.

*I almost had a hole-in-one on the final basket. The drive was perfect and landed one foot from the basket. I am glad I had witnesses. I didn't quite believe it myself.

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Hole 1 - 3
Hole 2 - 4
Hole 3 - 3
Hole 4 - 4
Hole 5 - 4
Hole 6 - 4
Hole 7 - 3
Hole 8 - 3
Hole 9 - 3
Front nine - 31 (+4)

Hole 10 - 3
Hole 11 - 3
Hole 12 - 3
Hole 13 - 3
Hole 14 - 3
Hole 15 - 3
Hole 16 - 4
Hole 17 - 4
Hole 18 - 2
Back nine - 28 (+1)

Total - 59 (+5)

Friday, October 22, 2010

STREET BOTANY


The promotional postcard for Maria Jost's Street Botany exhibit at Fulcrum Gallery (left) alongside a TWT exclusive diagram of the north wall hanging of the same show (right).

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Fulcrum Gallery presented what I believe to be their best exhibit to date. The "drawing prints" of plants and clouds by Maria Jost are absolutely stunning. I also realized that The Child and I missed part of the Street Botany exhibit by focusing solely on the prints.*

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Maria Jost exhibited many drawing prints that consisted of India ink, pen, and collage on drawing paper and framed in minimalist black frames. These pieces combine Jost's scientific and artistic backgrounds in the perfect mixture. The images are fanciful and playful, yet organic and meticulously drawn.

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What stands out for me out of the entire evening, however, was the way that the north wall of the front gallery space was curated. It consisted of ten pieces hung on the wall such that two larger pictures "framed" eight smaller sketches (as diagrammed above).

The left piece, Figure 8: Taraxicum officinale, was a drawing print of the common dandelion. It felt simultaneously familiar and alien. It seemed as though the seeds would take flight at the slightest provocation, the gentlest wind. The right piece, Figure 5: Various unidentified mosses, was a drawing print of clouds composed of mosses. They were as though islands adrift on a sea of white parchment. One of the most intriguing things about these two larger pieces was the text written at the bottom of each poster. The text gave (a) scientific information about the subject of the drawing; (b) extraneous information that was somewhat fantastical or magical in nature, but that felt like it was vital and necessary; and (c) things to ponder or look up when the viewer left the show.

These two larger pieces acted as bookends to eight smaller sketches of various types of clouds, the Cloud Cards: (A) Cumulonimbus; (B) Altocumulus; (C) Cirrostratus; (D) Nimbostratus; (E) Stratus; (F) Cirrus; (G) Fog; and (H) Cumulus. Each cloud card had (a) the name of the cloud printed out; (b) a small representation of its accompanying cloud; and (c) one line that acted as definition for the cloud. Fog was my favorite, with it feeling the "most grounded" just as its namesake cloud.

The reason this north wall of pictures resonated with me was because of how well each piece worked with the other nine on the wall. They each were able to stand alone, as well as part of the collective. The "airiness" of Figure 8 and Figure 5 was echoed in the Cloud Cards. I could have stood there for hours, focusing on the simple yet detailed lines, if it hadn't been a school night for The Child.

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I will be visiting again. The show runs through Saturday 13 November 2010.

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*The Child kept asking me what the tent in the back room of the gallery was. I told The Child I didn't know, but that we weren't going to go back there because it wasn't part of the exhibit. It turns out that the fabric geodesic dome (the "tent") housed many of the plants that were depicted in the drawing prints. Or so I've been told. I'll have to make sure to take a peek next time.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

THIRD THURSDAY ARTWALK


The Child and I visited Tacoma Art Museum as part of Tacoma's Third Thursday ArtWalk, where the museums are free to the public for a few hours and many of the downtown art galleries and local shops are open later.

I was eager to once again visit The Movement of Impressionism: Europe, America, and the Northwest exhibit. Highlights included two bronze sculptures by Edgar Degas, paintings and a lithograph by Pierre Auguste Renoir, and paintings by Camille Pissarro (pictured above), Eugène Louis Boudin, and Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida.


We next visited the opening of the Mighty Tacoma exhibit, which is a "snapshot" of both the City of Tacoma and the state of digital photography as art in 2010. My favorite artists were Terry Rishel and Kevin Lidtka, primarily due to the richly saturated colors in their photographs.

Terry Rishel's ink jet print Tideflats (2010) made me gasp. The "canvas" was orange and yellow, with a spot of red that was something (sawdust? grain?) piled in front of large silos. I could almost feel the heat emanating from the "flames" of the photograph. The steam from the various smokestacks felt more like smoke. I could imagine myself trying to catch my breath.

I was also struck by the geometric compositions in Morgain Bailey's untitled ink jet prints from Excerpts from the Tacoma Series.

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After Tacoma Art Museum, we headed off to buy some small and inexpensive art from Tacoma's Art-o-mat Machine, located inside BKB & Company.

Then, it was off to the opening of Maria Jost's Street Botany show at Fulcrum Gallery, but that is a story in itself.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

CORN MAZE

The wife, the child, and TWT headed off to Spooner Farms for some corn maze fun. This year's theme was Alice in Wonderland. Spooner Farms did a great job with this literary corn maze.


The Wonderland card. "Alice is lost and wants to go home. Help her find the six impossible things."


The Wonderland maze map.


Through the rabbit hole and into the corn maze of Wonderland.


A floating picture frame. "Read the directions and directly you will be directed in the right direction." —Door Knob


A tiny door. "I'm late! I'm late!" —Rabbit


2.1 miles of corn maze.


A mailbox for one of the impossible things. "Cats that disappear."


TWT hangs out with his new best friend, the five of hearts, at the Queen's castle.


Another mailbox for another impossible thing. "I can capture the Jabberwocky!"

Friday, October 15, 2010

DESCHUTES BREWERY, PDX


During our recent trip to Portland, The Child and I ended up at Deschutes Brewery & Public House for dinner. I ordered a sampler tray of six beers of my choosing. I know that they will bring the samples to you in the order that you write them down. With that in mind, I made an effort to move from least to most bitter, as well as from lightest to darkest beer. It worked, for the most part.

I also favored beers that (a) I can't get in a store; (b) would be greater on tap than in a bottle; and/or (c) I haven't had before. All in all, it was a great sampler tray.

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Summer's Gone Saison
4 ounce taster, on tap.
IBUs: 18 Alcohol content: 6.5%

"This traditional farmhouse ale has been brewed with 5 different malts and a plethora of spices. The peppery, herbal and fruity aromas and flavors are the dominant character of this ale, highlighted by a clean, crisp refreshing finish."

Hazy, golden yellow body. White head.

Yeast. Spices. Herb presence, stronger than I expected, but in a good way.

This feels a bit weak and watery on the palate, but that is a minor complaint. Good.

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Amber Dawn
4 ounce taster, on tap.
IBUs: 45 Alcohol content: 4.9%

"A malty offering for the late summer cool nights, brewed with all organic malts and Sterling hops, this amber has a mellow finish, with a slight hoppy aroma. A perfect beer for kicking back and enjoying the late summer fun."

Crystal clear copper-orange body is capped with a brilliant white head.

The nose is primarily lemon zest with an undertone of butterscotch candies.

The flavor is lemon and lemongrass on the front, a phantom nuttiness in the middle, and a light and peppery finish. There is also a hint of orange on the finish.I like this more than I think I probably should, but I cannot quite explain what makes this "sing" for me. Great.

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Yam-a-Lam-a
4 ounce taster, on tap.
IBUs: 50 Alcohol content: 5.0%

"The Bend Pub's first fresh hop beer of the season utilizes the same hop that is in the Hop Trip, but also a whole heck of a lot of sweet potatoes for a mild twist on our NorthWest pale ale style."

Clear orange with a ring of white. This is slightly lighter in color than Amber Dawn.

On the nose I catch orange, alcohol, and candied yams. Perhaps, I am imagining the yams, but I don't think so.

The palate is light orange in flavor, sweet, and a bit watery to begin. Then, it transforms on the finish into a strange, plastic, light orange mouthwash. It's okay, but I'll pass if I have another chance to try it.

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Jubelale 2010
4 ounce taster, on tap.
IBUs: 60 Alcohol content: 6.7%

"Perfect for a cozy winter gathering, Jubelale is a festive ale characterized by a large malt body balanced with hop bitterness derived from a variety of American and European hops."

Clear, deep red-orange in color with an off-white head.

The nose is difficult to grasp. Apple? Wooden table?

The flavor, however, is not. Alcohol. Dark chocolate. Spring leaves with young buds and blossoms. The faintest hint of smoky wood bark.

This Jubelale is subtler, yet bolder than I remember in years past. This is a stellar offering. If you find it, buy it and try it.

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Nitro Obsidian Stout
4 ounce taster, on tap.
IBUs: 55 Alcohol content: 6.4%

"As black as the nearby volcanic flow from which it gets its name, Obsidian Stout provides a deep and satisfying experience, with distinct notes of chocolate, espresso, roasted malt and black barley. It is robust and full, with a big roasted finish."

It looks like a Guinness with a tan head rather than grey-beige.

Dark chocolate and wood bark nose!

Chocolate, wood bark, smokiness, espresso, more wood bark. Maybe even a hint of raisin lurking about. Wood bark finish.

This nitrous tap version is much better than the bottled version, which is good in its own right. I like this a lot. Excellent.

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Black Butte Porter XXII
4 ounce taster, on tap.
IBUs: 65 Alcohol content: 11%

"This year's imperial Black Butte is full of subtle flavors from cocoa nibs and dark chocolate from Theo's Chocolates in Seattle; to intensify your experience, we added fresh Seville orange zest and pasilla negra chili peppers for a flavor sensation."

It looks like Obsidian Stout, but with a less foamy head.

Alcohol-soaked dark fruits and alcohol-soaked wood bark are the primary aromas.

Dark chocolate leads the flavors, with alcohol-soaked dark fruits and alcohol-soaked wood bark in hot pursuit. The middle and finish are nutty and buttery, with an additional chocolate cream that lingers.

It's a wee bit watery, but otherwise highly recommended. Excellent.

BASEMENT BREWS


A new batch of pale-something-or-other spent four weeks in the Mr. Beer fermenter. Today, priming sugar was added to sanitized, recycled bottles, along with the beer, whereupon capping commenced. The bottles made their way to the finishing (furnace) room. In two weeks, another basement brew should be gracing the kitchen table.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

READING FRENZY & IPRC


In the shadow of Powell's City of Books there sits a very small yet vital and thriving independent literary organization and a vibrant independent bookstore.

Reading Frenzy is the bookstore, or, as it calls itself, an "independent press emporium." Reading Frenzy stocks alternative and small press books, journals, and zines. It has a section of children's picture books. It carries cards and posters and buttons. It was great to see copies of Cometbus near cutouts and calendars by Nikki McClure, as well as Johnny Boo books and local zines. I ended up purchasing a copy of Yeti #9.


The Independent Publishing Resource Center is the literary organization. Its mission is "to facilitate creative expression, identity and community by providing individual access to tools and resources for creating independently published media and artwork." One of the volunteers on site that day gave The Child and I a tour of IPRC. We visited the Yeti Research Center, the letterpress room, the conference room, and the zine library. We learned about the various programs and opportunities for members and non-members.

It was great to see people in action while we were there. People were designing publications on computer workstations. Cards were being printed on one of the letterpresses. Books were being bound in the conference room.


After the tour, we peeked and poked through the zine library for a while before donating two of our own for the collection: a copy of TWT's My Two Melvilles chapbook and a copy of Les Sar'Zine #2 (which contains poems of TWT and seven other members of the Les sardines writing group).

Monday, October 11, 2010

PUBLICATION STUDIO



The Child and I headed to Portland, Oregon for a "two-day vacation" that was mostly oriented around books. We visited independent bookstores, independent publishers, an independent library, and Wordstock, a festival that celebrated the small and independent of the book world.

Our first stop was Publication Studio, an independent publisher that binds their books on site and on demand. We chatted with the two people who were binding books for an upcoming event, dropped off a copy of Les Sar'zine #2 (in which TWT is published) for their reading pleasure, ended up getting to bind a couple of books, and bought a book from their store.

It was everything that we could have hoped for—easy, organic, and carefree.


TWT bought a copy of Berlin Childhood Circa 1900 by Walter Benjamin, translated and with commentary and afterword by Carl Skoggard. One of the workers wrapped it up and stamped it and handed it to me with well-wishes. We wandered off into the warmth and sunshine of an early autumn Portland afternoon.


Berlin Childhood is going to be a fun read. Walter Benjamin's The Arcades Project is one of my "go to" books when I just want to read a few snippets that will ignite and inspire thoughts about our modern (or postmodern (or post-postmodern)) predicament. A quick glance through the pages of Berlin Childhood reveal a book of longer passages that almost have a dreamlike quality. I'm looking forward to entering the dream.

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Matthew Stadler, one of the founders/owners of Publication Studio, has been in the independent publishing business before, as one of the founders/owners of Clear Cut Press (before it ceased operation).

Visit the Publication Studio website.

Read about Clear Cut Press.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

WORDSTOCK DREAMS


Wordstock 2010. Portland, Oregon.


The icon.


The lampshade reads: "America was saved by a wildfire." The floor mat reads: "What happened? Come see Timothy Egan at Powell's Book Stage, Sunday, 12 pm."

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Crazy things were happening with this year's slogan ("What happened?") and the festival icon (the red chair) and the design elements (red and white, typeface) in various locations throughout Wordstock. Things would suddenly shift and then just as quickly return to "normal." The festival organizers were definitely keeping everyone on their toes. It was intriguing and dreamlike. It was beautiful.

Friday, October 08, 2010

IN THE PEARL DISTRICT OF THE ROSE CITY...

...with posts soon to follow.

Publication Studio, Independent Publishing Resource Center, Reading Frenzy, North Blocks Park, Deschutes Brewery, Powell's City of Books.

Tomorrow: Wordstock!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

WHAT REMAINS...


What remains: this (pictured above) and a hole.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

CHOWDER


"...I thought I would try a little experiment. Stepping to the kitchen door, I uttered the word "cod" with great emphasis, and resumed my seat. In a few moments the savory steam came forth again, but with a different flavor, and in good time a fine cod-chowder was placed before us."
—from chapter 15, "Chowder" of Moby-Dick by Herman Melville

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I have come down with a cold. I am managing fine, but I am tired and my body aches. I arrive home to a bowl of New England Fish Chowder Casserole.

"Awesome, chowder!" I exclaim.

"Actually, its a chowder casserole," The Wife corrects.

"Don't break the spell. It's chowder," I imagine I answer, although I don't. I acquiesce and eat.

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Although any "semi-firm white fish" is allowed in the recipe, cod is recommended. The chowder before me is made with fillets of wild caught cod. It sings. It swims well.

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I am reading Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food by Paul Greenberg. I have completed the first two chapters—"Salmon: The Selection of a King" and "Sea Bass: The Holiday Fish Goes to Work." Tonight, I am to begin "Cod: The Return of the Commoner." I sense an omen in my meal.

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Greenberg's book is well-written and he is wrestling with major questions. What are we doing to our oceans? Is it possible to domesticate fish? If so, should we? If we do, have we chosen the best fish to domesticate? Which makes the least environmental impact: overfishing of wild fish or the effect that escaped farmed fish have on the remaining wild fish? How have we already altered wild stocks of fish? Does it matter what type of seafood is on my dinner plate? Is sustainable aquaculture feasible?

He asks and answers these questions while presenting the history of salmon, sea bass, cod, and tuna. He explores our relationship to these four fish and what it means for their future.

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On the whole, I am not a fan of seafood. I don't like crab or lobster. I don't like clams or mussels or oysters, although I do like clam chowder, as long as the pieces of clam aren't too big. I will eat shrimp or prawns, although not in large quantities. I prefer darker-fleshed fish, such as salmon. I will eat white fish, although I prefer it deep fried or in fish stick form. I like canned tuna. I have never had sushi, nor can I imagine myself eating sea urchin or squid or sea cucumber or shark. That is all a way of saying that I haven't been overly sensitive to how we treat our oceans because I'm not usually eating what comes from its shallows and depths.

In that sense, Greenberg is opening my eyes to items that have made the headlines of the news here and there, but I may have missed because they didn't impact me. Or, rather, I didn't realize how they impacted me, because I have discovered and realized that they do.

This is partly due to my reading and reflecting upon Moby-Dick: (1) with its critique of the hunger for whale oil and the evils of rampant over-consumption, which I can now translate into other areas of our oceans' water columns and food chains; and (2) in pointing me toward intelligent ocean-related books such as Four Fish.

This is also partly due to the simple style of presentation that Greenberg places before me as a reader. He doesn't beat me over the head. Instead, he conveys his passion and concern for fish populations as someone who loves to fish for sport and loves to eat fish.

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Another chapter of Four Fish awaits me this evening. Another bowl of cod chowder awaits me at lunch tomorrow.

Sunday, October 03, 2010

OKTOBERFEST

Troy's Work Table celebrated the end of Oktoberfest this evening with a local take on Bavarian cuisine. The wife, the child, and I headed out to the Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery.

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Oktoberfest Lager, an Oktoberfest/Märzen by Powerhouse Restaurant & Brewery.

Served in a pint glass.

This is the Oktoberfest lager for which I have been searching. The bar board listed it at 7.2% alcohol by volume, which seemed somewhat high. They weren't kidding.

The pint that was delivered to my table consisted of a brown body and a tan ring of a diminished head. It smelled of beef broth and damp soil. Those aromas were also present as flavors, but were pleasantly eclipsed by the taste of tobacco leaf, which delivered a subtle sweetness that slowly transformed into a drying finish. As it warmed, a nuttiness began to creep in to join the other flavors.

With an alcohol warmth on the palate, along with its bold tobacco foreground, I think this is a new favorite Oktoberfest/Märzen.

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As a soup, I had the Powerhouse goulash from their Oktoberfest menu. The goulash was bits of chunkiness in the midst of somewhat smooth. Beef and potato began the bite, which then ended in a prominent combination of turnip and anise. The licorice flavor of the anise lingered for a while, strong but pleasing. It worked very well with the Oktoberfest Lager.

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My entree of bratwurst and sauerkraut also worked well with the beer. The tender bratwursts, with their subtle smokiness, were excellent with a generous helping of sauerkraut and Dijon mustard. I was expecting a spicy brown mustard, but think the Dijon was a wiser choice on the part of the Powerhouse. Crisp fried potatoes, lightly coated in black pepper and sea salt, rounded out dinner.

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One word as Oktoberfest 2010 comes to a close: Prost!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

TACOMA CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL



A friend (M.), who happens to be a beer and wine distributor in the "real world," had an extra pair of tickets to the second annual Tacoma Craft Beer Festival. He dropped them by and TWT headed out with one of his pastors as his beer buddy for the night. (Hey, we're Lutheran, so it's all good.)

TASTING NOTES

All pours were five ounces into the Tacoma Craft Beer Festival souvenir tasting glass (pictured above).

Beer name.
Style.
Brewery.

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Firkin British Pale Ale.
Cask-conditioned Pale Ale.
7 Seas Brewing of Gig Harbor, Washington.

This is a great pale ale that is canned locally. This firkin version was different, yet wonderfully so. Orange peel and cloves lead the way. This feels much heavier on the tongue than it should. It feels unfinished, slightly flat, and on the verge of cloying, yet I keep sipping it. What nectar of the gods is this?

It appears a good omen for the rest of the night.

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Firkin Fresh-Hopped Imperial Red.
Cask-conditioned Imperial Red Ale.
Iron Horse Brewery of Ellensburg, Washington.

Another tapped firkin, another great ale. I asked the server if this was a firkin version of Iron Horse's Loco Imperial Red. He assured me that "all resemblances to persons living or dead is coincidental." Okay, he didn't, but it makes for a good story. He actually told me no.

However, this really was a super-crazy, hopped-up version of Loco Imperial Red. This ale was hops fireworks exploding in glorious bines, cones, and flowers. It was leafy. It was brown sugar. It was more finished than the firkin offering of 7 Seas, which in this case worked well. (Not that they could really be compared, but my mind was trying to grab for whatever familiar landmarks and landscapes it recall. These firkin ales were great and novel and, now, haunting.)

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Old Ruffian Barley Wine.
Barleywine.
Great Divide Brewing of Denver, Colorado.

I love barleywines. I love the offerings of Great Divide. I love Old Ruffian.

Intense. Alcohol bite. Brown sugar. (More) hops (than I ever remember in any other barleywine I've ever had). Figs. Over-the-top slap in the face.

This was a little too intense. I imagine this smoothing out after a couple of years in the old beer cellar. I imagine it being stellar. I imagine it served with pot roast and potatoes and carrots.

This was the first barleywine for the pastor. He seemed to enjoy it, which holds out promise for him. (He said he liked flavorful beers. He got some tonight.)

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Dark O' The Moon Pumpkin Stout.
Pumpkin Stout.
Elysian Brewing Company of Seattle, Washington.

Bitter dark chocolate. Whipped cream. Cinnamon and nutmeg. Pumpkin. Heaven.

Imagine a pumpkin pie with a thin layer of dark chocolate lying upon the body of the pie. Now imagine eating it. Now imagine drinking it. Bingo!

Or, better yet, imagine drinking bottled dark chocolate pumpkin cheesecake...

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Firkin Walking Man Homo Erectus Imperial IPA.
Cask-conditioned, dry-hopped Imperial IPA.
Walking Man Brewing of Stevenson, Washington.

This is crazy. Hops galore. IBU (international bitterness units) of 100+ which is more than evident. The pine resin flavor is almost too much. It is tempered with buttery apple and caramel squares. It is a punch in the face that approaches Pliny the Elder in complexity and as Platonic ideal of an Imperial IPA. It was good we had this later in the evening or I may have gotten "stuck" at this tap.

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Black Cherry Stout.
Stout.
Walking Man Brewing of Stevenson, Washington.

This was my final beer for the evening and my least favorite. That is somewhat unfair because it followed some spectacular beers. If I had it at the beginning, I would have liked it much better.

First, the cherry aroma is off the charts. Second, the palate is a wee bit thin, watery.

The flavor isn't as bold and confident as the aroma, but it still delivers. Hints of campfire and wood bark are noticeable amongst the primary notes of chocolate and dark cherries.

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Credit for finding many of the above gems goes to M., who directed us to some of the "must have" beers for the evening. Thank you for the tickets, M. Thank you for the great beers, brewing gods.

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P.S. If you ever have the opportunity to attend Firkin Friday at TCBF in the future, then do so. Do not hesitate. (The same holds true for a cask festival.)

Friday, October 01, 2010

BANNED BOOKS WEEK READ OUT!


Photograph by The Child.

Last night, Troy's Work Table joined other members of the community at the Puyallup Public Library to read challenged or banned books as part of the Banned Books Week Read Out! TWT read chapter four ("The Counterpane") of Moby-Dick as Herman Melville. Some of the teen members of the audience loved the chapter and now want to read the novel.

The books and the readings were varied, but each was obviously chosen by someone with a love and a passion for reading. Adults and teens read, as well as a nine-year-old girl who read a hilarious chapter book. Three of the five members of the library board read, a library employee read, citizens of Puyallup read, and a gentleman from Tukwila who "loves your small gem of a city" read.

It was a true celebration of reading and the freedom to read.

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A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess.

Deerskin by Robin McKinley.

The Tortilla Curtain by T. Coraghessan Boyle.

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway.

1984 by George Orwell.

Captain Underpants and the Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants by Dav Pilkey.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Excerpts from two Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

A Separate Peace by John Knowles.

Moby-Dick by Herman Melville.