Aug 242013
 

Liquorature Gathering #037 – “Cleyshot Cliffs” (David John Watson)

Date:  February, 2012

Host:  Robert

Whisky:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Bruichladdich Manzanilla 12 y.o. WP Exclusive & ?

Rum:  ?

 

For the second time in two years we were afforded the opportunity to tackle a work by David John Watson, none other than the brother of Liquorature member, Robert.  You may recall our previous ‘go’ at David’s ‘Geonesis’, a book rich in originality and Crichton-esque scientific plausibility, but a little thin on technical writing chops.  While noted as not perfect, the Liquorature crew was so suitably impressed as to recommend the novel on further (indeed all our spouses read it) and to anxiously embrace the opportunity to read David’s follow-up novel.  No doubt about it, the guy has a voice and some damn cool ideas.

So….here’s the deal.  David is a gent in the UK who has wide-ranging interests (music, writing, golf, etc).  From what I understand, when he puts his mind to something…he follows through.  Tackling a second book shows not only a passion, but a love of the craft.  This time ’round David offered us a ‘sneak peek’ on the condition we provided constructive criticism back to him for use in the editing stages of the process.  We agreed and were presently sent on PDFs of David’s new novel, ‘Cleyshot Cliffs’.

While I went in with pen to hand, I quickly got lost in the tale and had to go back through to properly together my thoughts regarding edits and such.  Here we have a novel that unfolds in a manner quite similar to Scott Smith’s The Ruins.  The emotional unraveling taking place in an isolated locale may be the only similarity, however, as Watson injects some interesting science and, well…let’s just say you should read this one.  Keep checking Spinney Books for an official release.  To date, I still only have a printoff in duotangs, but anxiously look forward to the end product and a good re-read with a dram in hand.

If you’re curious as to style, think along the lines of a dash of Crichton, a splash of King, a pinch of Scott Smith and maybe even some of the isolation captured by Dafoe, Golding and others in their beach/shipwreck/island tales.

Not everything in the book works flawlessly, but it does more often than not.  I could certainly see this as a decent seller at any airport bookshop.

Anyway…this is not a book review.  That has already been done on the downlow (with all criticisms sent on to the author himself).  This is merely a sharing of impressions.  Put simply…I was suitably impressed enough to re-read.  I like the way this tale unfolds.  While maybe not as original as ‘Geonesis’ was, in terms of pure innovative ideas, this one is much more smoothly executed.  A quick and enjoyable read with a solid ending that pleased immensely.

Most of the evening’s conversation revolved around the actual technical writing aspects of the book, but we definitely found enough subject matter to have some poignant and topical conversations too.  Sex, youth, scares, family, etc.

Well done, David.  Look forward to a proper print copy of this one.  And more importantly…sincerely look forward to the next one you write.

Alright.  The event itself…

As always when Robert hosts, we found ourselves at the acreage in Millarville, bout 20 minutes outside the city of Calgary.  This is a great little piece of land, nicely hemmed in by trees, with a climbing driveway and a great sprawling back area complete with firepit and all.  These club gatherings always turn out to be over-nighters for at least some of us.  This is partially because it is the responsible thing to do (zero tolerance for drinking and driving), but also because it is a chance to forget about all responsibilities for the night.  A chance to pour that extra drink, eat that extra burger, stay up that extra hour, whatever.  As is usual out here in ‘neverland’, this was another great evening, under the watchful eye of the moon, doing our best top fight off sobriety.  I like to think we won.

Finally…apologies (and no offense intended to any), but  I can find neither my original notes nor photos from this night.  No idea what the others bevies were that were on offer.  Or even the food, for that matter.

Oh well.  Let it remain a pleasantly faded memory, meant only for those that were there.

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #028 – “Timeline” (Michael Crichton)

Date:  May, 2011

Host – Robert

Whisky:  Alberta Premium 25 y.o., Alberta Premium 30 y.o., Woodford Reserve, Bruichladdich 12 y.o. Manzanilla WP Exclusive

Rum:  El Dorado 15 y.o.

 

Each outing to the acreage is a tale unto itself.  If ever there was a time and place to enforce the first (and second) rule of book club (“You do *not* talk about book club”), this would be it.  Without spilling too much, this is a place where the guys get to be guys.  Drinks, cigars, fire, man-food, volume and shameless red-light conversation.  To cop a phrase from Gordie Johnson, ‘a heaven in Alberta’.

Generally we’d sit around the firepit outside, but sadly we were rained (not reined) in this time.  Oh well.

Typically these nights start off with a feast before we settle in to our glasses and pretentions, and this eve was no exception.  Phenomenal French Onion soup, followed by Caesar salad and flame-grilled burgers.  This was only the first grill session of the night, I should add.  The second was…hm…a wee bit later and much less sober.

For the second time, Mike joined us as Bob’s guest, adding another cane-swiller to the collective.  I’m starting to look at these guys as heroes and martyrs.  Drinking the rum so the rest of us can enjoy the whisky being somewhat akin to jumping on a grenade for your friends.  Well done, lads…well done.  Your selfless gesture has not gone unnoticed.

Speaking of bevies…Robert trotted out a couple of rare old 100% rye whiskies from Alberta Premium, the 25 and 30 year, both stunning and undervalued (by those setting the price point anyway…not by the hordes of consumers snapping it up at great deals).  These Canadian whiskies were complimented by a Woodford Reserve bourbon, muled back from Bob’s trip to the Master’s a few months back (much to his chagrin, as he found it readily available upon his return), and an old friend in the Willow Park Exclusive 12 year old Manzanilla Bruichladdich.  Neat change to have a night dominated primarily by North American fare.

Though I am not certain all of the gang weighed in, I believe the general consensus was that the AP25 was just a shade better than the AP30.  Sadly…the 25 is long gone now and the 30 is going the way of the dodo as we speak.  Hope all who wanted it stocked up while they could.  I know I did.  The years are long, and the friends are many.

Back to the cane juice.  Bob, in deference to Lance’s having missed it last time ‘round, re-introduced the El Dorado 15 year old.  Think this one is a favorite of a few.  A few vintages from this distillery have been presented for Liquorature gatherings.  More still gather dust on the shelves of Sage Surujbally.  Fear not, casual readers, one day we’ll woo him from the Dark Side and have him groveling before the mighty Islay malt.  One day…

On to the book.  “Timeline”, by the sadly deceased Michael Crichton.  While generally well-received, a few were of the opinion that it was not Crichton’s strongest work.  The book was a recommendation to Bob from a staffer down at Chapters, based on Bob knowing the author he wanted, but not which novel to choose.  Regardless…fun read.  I’ve read this one a couple of times now and enjoyed it each time.  A wee bit less this go ‘round, but it was still yards better than much out there.

Some criticism was reserved for the obligatory happy ending, wafer-thin (Monty Python, anyone?) characters and ‘convenience of character’ (as I have dubbed it).  Props for good adventure and a foray into historical fiction, a favorite genre of a few of us.

Conversation circled (inevitably) back to Schrödinger’s Cat, with some “how can you believe…?” ribbing from Ruminsky to Bob, aka Mr. “A is A”, as Lance refers to him.  Personally, I was surprised at such a widespread acceptance of the multiverse idea.  Not saying anything other than it was somewhat of a shock to see how readily most embraced this concept.

The whole ‘if you could go back in time, where/when would you go?’ question arose.  As did the ‘would you do it?’ one.  These ‘what if?’ scenarios are often my favorite parts of our discussion, as you are afforded glimpses into all of our personal make-ups.  Neato.

Aside from that…not a lot to discuss with this one.  A few times now we have run across a selection that, while an enjoyable read, elicited little conversation.  Occasionally the opposite is also true (“The Idiot”, anyone?).  Meh…can’t win ‘em all.

Finally, for those that watched, or watched a few minutes and turned off, the film…there was a near-unanimous disgust with this botched abortion.  We were all somewhat perplexed as to how anyone could f*ck up something so inherently visual and filmable.

After exhausting all worthy topics of discourse, we retired to the deck for a treat courtesy of our host extraordinaire.  Bob passed out some sexy-as-hell Romeo y Julietas for those of us who like a fine cigar.  Beautiful little distraction that was nicely complimented by that cask strength ‘Laddich.

From here the night belongs to the boys.  No more details for the masses.

As always…thanks for another great night, Bob…and thanks to all for making this what it is.  Time and again I sit back in awe of what we have forged.  For all you contribute to this…

Slainte!

 

The randoms:  “Suck it when I tell ya” (.com)…”Leonard and Sheldon?  No.  Wolowitz”…the smartest ******…a pair of old slippers…Mike’s reference to cougars as jailbait…a friendly wager on “The Stand”…midnight grilling…chatter of the group purchasing a cask…Romeo y Julietas…Mike’s sit-in.

 

AP30yrfirehdrAP30yrchckhdrAP25yrwdhdrbobhdr
bookandboozehdrcurtscotchhdrIMG_6634IMG_6638
 
IMG_6641IMG_6647IMG_6648IMG_6658
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IMG_6726"suck it when I tell you"see we eat vegetables!!IMG_6738
IMG_6743IMG_6747IMG_6748midnight burgers!
 
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– Curt
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #021 – “Honor Among Thieves” (Jeffrey Archer)

Date:  October, 2010

Host:  Bob

Whisky:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan, Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 21), Highwood Rye (Canadian), Springbank 10 y.o. 100 Proof

Rum:  Bacardi 8 y.o., El Dorado 15 y.o.

 

We have yet to have a night out at the acreage that is not a resounding success.  Until now.

Kidding.  This was an amazing outing.  Full of laughs, memories and mockery.  Most are, but this one will shine on long after the event itself fades a little.  There just seemed to be something magical about it.  I think the others would all say the same.  Thankfully the weather cooperated (this is late October, after all), though it wasn’t looking too promising earlier in the day.  At one point in the morning (nearing noon) I had ventured out for a Red Bull, and the frosted lawns intandem with my visible exhalations made me groan.  ‘Dear gawd…he doesn’t expect us to sit outside in this, does he?’  The temperature soared through the day though, and the evening turned out to be quite pleasant around the firepit.

Robert elected to do things a little differently with the bevvies this eve.  We arrived to 6 decanters on display, each labeled with a ‘W’ or an ‘R’ to denote whisky or rum, and a number to differentiate them.  Yep…Liquorature’s first blind tasting.  Robert’s concern about embarrassing anyone or making anyone uncomfortable was completely unfounded, as the whole gang thought it was a brilliant turn and had a blast with it.  The only challenge he made was to share which we liked the most.  Cockiness got the best of a couple of us though, and it soon became a contest to determine the drams themselves.

Here was the rundown:

  • W1:  Highwood Rye (from right here in Alberta)
  • W2:  Ardbeg Corryvreckan
  • W3:  Springbank 10 y.o. 100 Proof
  • W4:  Aberlour a’bunadh
  • R1:  Bacardi 8 y.o.
  • R2:  El Dorado 15 y.o.

I’ll leave the results a secret here, something only for those that attended.  Needless to say, it was a great time, and something I think we should do more often.  As the boys become more serious about their liquor and the palates evolve a little, this is a nifty little exercise.  Everyone is already seeing how much their appreciations and personal tastes have changed over the years.  Well done, Watson.

Though I initially gave our host credit for the wonderful chili (and the whole spread really), he finally conceded it was his better half who had put together our feast.  Hope you thanked her for us, though I’m sure some of the over-full groans and belches may have reached her ears over that 33km distance.

This was our last gathering of the old guard, as next month we welcome Chris and Jay to the newly conceived G8 (as christened by Surujbally).  So, though we were down Bauer tonight (and Lance couldn’t make it), Robert’s priviledge to invite a guest rewarded us all with an evening of socializing with Mike.  We all knew Mike from other circles, so it was a relaxed and easy fit.

We dove into the book after the rumblin’ tums were fed.  Everyone geared up and we headed outdoors to sit around the fire.  Robert shared why he picked this book, and Mike was able to relate.  Having spent time working in the Middle East, many of the travel experiences and stuff were easily-relatable.  Of course…he’s also a sucker for the political intrigue/action type story (as we know from his adoration of The Lion’s Game).  Robert…three books…three British authors.  Hmmmmm.

Consensus from all pretty much aligned with Surujbally’s review (http://www.liquorature.com/?page_id=648).  We enjoyed it for the story, but there wasn’t a lot of depth or chearacter development.  We all conceded however to enjoying and needing these books in our life.  We spoke about the Middle East, the portrayal of Hussein, the possibility of the implausible events (as Robert said…hey, why not…who would have believed 9/11 could have happened if told in advance?).

From there it became just a great guy’s night.  Funny as hell.  Extremely enjoyable.  One of my personal favorites to date.  A lot of bevvies consumed too.  Mike trotted out a bottle of Bacardi 1873, and I saw that by the end of the eve, Robert’s EH5 had made an appearance as well.  Damn rummies.

To close out the night we ventured in and settled around the basement to laugh our asses off to Napoleon Dynamite.  Good times.

Thanks, Robert.

The randoms:  Mike’s inclusion…the platypus is god playing lego…Clint Kool-aiding the glass door (unbelievable)…they rapin’ everybody…great Cuban cigars…the mediocre jock…Mike’s turn to grab firewood…Robert wretling with the deer…when the boss takes a sh*t next to you…’backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up, backin’ up…hacking up a lung to lose weight…condoms as PPE…the blind tasting and the bet not taken…Mike’s attempt at kindling a taste for Scotch…the aftermath of Mike’s attempt at kindling a taste for Scotch…great chili…so much more.