Oct 062014
 

Liquorature #064 – “Star Maker” (Olaf Stapledon)Star Maker

Date:  September 26th, 2014

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Glenlivet Nadurra (Batch 0712U), Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 47), Bowmore Laimrig 15 y.o. (Batch 3), Laphroaig Cairdeas 2014, Ardbeg Uigeadail

 

Damn, it feels good to be back in the saddle again. Laying Liquorature to rest was like putting down a much loved dog. Unfortunately, it had to be done. The details of what transpired leading up to both the demise and subsequent Lazarus act of the club are sort of an ‘internal-to-club-members-only’ type of discussion, but suffice it to say that we are better off for it.  From the ashes, the phoenix, and all that.  This new incarnation of the club is a little different in make-up and, already, approach.  I can only say I’m happy and relieved to have things back to what we’d initially aimed for.

Part of the mandate of the new Liquorature is to be open to the idea of guest sit-ins.  These occasional (but hopefully frequent) visitors are still subject to all of the Liquorature protocols, of course (i.e. reading the book, paying in dues, coming prepared to talk, drinking from the skull, etc).  For “Star Maker” I had asked a mate of mine, Dan, from one of my other ventures (The Dram Initiative Whisky Club) to join us.  He was kind enough to oblige.  Thanks, Dan!

While some things have changed, others have been held to tradition.  These nights generally start with a wee monologue by the host, who is responsible for sharing some insight as to the drams on hand, the rationale for book selection and a few thoughts to lead in the conversation.  Without spilling club secrets, that’s exactly what happened on this eve.

And the overall reception to the book? Hmmm…lukewarm, I guess. The ideas within its pages were beyond scale and light years ahead of their time, but the literary merits were something contentious, to say the least. Put simply, this was an utterly exhausting read. The irony is that C.S. Lewis, a contemporary of Stapledon, at one point referred to him as a ‘corking good writer’. Having said that, if you’ve ever read Lewis’s “Mere Christianity” (and recognized it for the absolute load of monkey shit that it is), you’ll realize that that isn’t much of a compliment after all. There were a few early comparisons made by members to Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward” too, but those parallels were more in relation to the dry nature of the writing style and not to the content itself. I should also take a moment to note that “Looking Backward” was at least as much monkey shit as “Mere Christianity”.

“Star Maker” is a book lacking in any sort of true character voice or development.  It is paper-thin in terms of actual ‘plot’.  And it is utterly utilitarian, I’d argue, when it comes to analysis of prose and poetics. Somehow though, for all of these apparent ‘failings’, it still ‘works’. There was a slow build leading to a decent climax wherein the narrator does indeed encounter the titular ‘star maker’.  This scene, and many others, were quite well-received, but it seemded to be the creativity of alien worlds and hitoric parralels that incited the most discussion.  In the end, several of us came away with a fairly positive spin we could associate with this one.

A book as metaphysically massive and all encompassing as ‘Star Maker’ deserves a range of whiskies just as big, no? A series of cask strength monoliths towered over the event and served as social lubricant. We revisited some old favorites, albeit in more contemporary iterations, and test drove a rather sexy Laphroaig Cairdeas. ‘Cairdeas’ is Gaelic for ‘friendship’, so what better audience and occasion to open such a bottle than with the Liquorature brethren? And finally, in a loose tie to the thematic elements of the novel, it just made sense to finish the ‘tasting’ side of things with a dram of the teeth shatteringly explosive Ardbeg Supernova. We walked through these malts in the order listed in the header above, but after that, as with all Liquorature gatherings, it was just sort of free-for-all run on the open bottles (and whatever else was around).

In other chat…sigh…there were far too many Roddenbury references and mentions of Star Trek blech.  Those that know me, know that I detest Star Trek like nothing else.  I’ve given the guys a two month pass however, seeing as how we’re firmy entrenched in sci-fi Trekkie country with our first two selections since returning from hiatus. After this grace period ends, however, punishment by way of forced consumption of Johnnie Walker Red will be levied on any members who make reference to Star Trek, professional wrestling or Mandingo’s…ummm…gift. Said bottle of JW Red will travel with me from meeting to meeting starting in November.

Sincere thanks to all members in attendance for making this another one to remember, and again to Dan for coming out.  I look forward to many more years of making memories with all.

Until next…

 

– Curt

Sep 252014
 

Liquorature Selection #064Star Maker
26-Sept-2014

After a decent number of days slogging through this book, we’re finally on the eve of discussion.

This book was a corker in terms of content but a motherfucking nightmare to make it through.  And even still I am speaking prematurely.  We’re meeting in about 30 hours and I have about 15 pages left to finish.  Only once has a book so small (page count) given me such a struggle.  You may recall that particular piece of tripe was Edward Bellamy’s “Looking Backward”.

Don’t get me wrong, lest you think I’m saying this is a bad book.  Far from it.  It does need to be said, though, that this 1937 opus is an absolute black hole.  It sucks all of my concentration and leaves me as empty as a vacuum by the time I set it down after a few pages.

The content is as vast as one would imagine, however, so I think there will ultimately be redemption in the discussion.  If not…well…there will be plenty of good single malt in hand.

Hopefully we can sucker a few folks into discussing this one below.  Share your thoughts.

– C

 

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #031 – “The Gods Themselves” (Isaac Asimov)

Date:  August, 2011

Host:  Jay

Whisky:  Bruichladdich 16s – Pomerol, Amrut Intermediate Sherry, Balblair 2000

Rum:  n/a …absent rummie, so…just a few random partial bottles of cane juice

 

Jay’s first go-round as host saw the core of the club sadly reduced in numbers, as three of eight had to take a miss for various reasons.  Fortunately Bauer was through town and, in typical Bauer fashion, managed to plow through the book in a day and a bit and join us for an eve of laughter and bad wordplay.  Without spilling too many details, there is a glimmer of hope that the mad-hatter may be wending his way back to Cowtown in a more permanent form in the coming days.  We’ll cross fingers and wait for word.

Jay’s initial idea for beverage layout fell though, though I won’t spill the beans here in case it comes to fruition later, so instead he ventured down to Willow Park for a tete-a-tete with Resident whisky guy, David Michiels.  In the end he came away with a good selection to please the varying palate.  Though the Balblair didn’t sit well with yours truly, a couple others enjoyed it.  Having said that…the ‘Laddie was tasty and the Amrut an overwhelming knockout.  Damn…I love this distillery.

Sadly, Lance was one of the gang unable to attend this eve, so…with no true need for a new rum, Jay hauled out a couple misc rums for anyone needing a dose of sugar, but elected to blow the budget on malts instead.  Aw shucks, right?

On to the tale, cause let’s face it (no matter what the doubters believe), that is the reason we gather each month…

Jay went old school sci-fi on us this time ’round:  Isaac Asimov’s ‘The Gods Themselves’, a book subdivided into three distinct sections that sort of tie together an overarcing tale of triumph (how we get there was lauded by some and scoffed at by others).

This was a hard one for a couple of us to really get behind.  There was an appreciation, but also a tough time actually embracing it.  Sort of a similar situation to that we had with Bellamy’s ‘Looking Backward’ (rotten piece of dogsh*t that it was…grrrrrrrr), where it elicited some good conversation, but the reading for the month was much less than enjoyable.  Interesting to note that different members of the collective found different sections of the book appealing while often holding a hefty disdain for other parts.  One person’s favorite was another’s least favorite.  These kind of discussions are what really make it worth while, as you really see the character of each other.

Many of our (much) better halves have their own book club.  Each December we gather as a mixed crew and each sex gets to assign one of their past selections to the other group.  Tonight we decided that our pick for the ladies this year would be Tom Robbins’ ‘Another Roadside Attraction”.  Not sure if the proponents of this selection (primarily Jay and Clint) simply can’t get enough Tom Robbins, or they just want to knock the socks off the gals with one waaaaaay outside the realm of what they normally tackle.  We’ll see, I suppose.

As the night rolled on and the heat in the room finally won out over the A/C, we ventured out to Jay’s deck to enjoy an amazing evening, all the while proceeding to bang the hell out of the whisky.

Another night of good friends and good chat.  Cheers, all.

 

The randoms:  “The YMCA…not everyone wants to stay there”…moon poon…sacrilicious!…Splooge-proof the caves… “these were some cold aliens”…”How are you gonna one-up the guy saved reality?” “I’ma get my own band”…Moondingo…The Incredibles: ‘an Objectivist handbook for kids’…It’s not gay if it’s in a three way…Bauer being back for another one…

 

– Curt

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #016 – “Looking Backward: 2000-1887” (Edward Bellamy)

Date:  May, 2010

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Rocks, Bruichladdich Peat, Bruichladdich Waves, Bruichladdich Links 16

Rum:  Newfoundland Screech, English Harbour 5, English Harbor 25 (courtesy of Sir Ruminsky)

 

Helluva night, lads.  This was a perfect example of how I had initially seen this club working out.  A fine mix of food, friends, drinks and books.  Dynamic and sprawling conversations that drew out both fact and opinion from us.

On arrival, we were met with a spread of bevvies like we had yet to see.  Bauer, in his attempts at wooing the bigwigs at Bruichladdich I believe, has been slowly running through these Islay malts each eve he hosts our motley collective.  This particular night he tabled four different ‘Laddichs, two rums and a to-kill-ya.  Senor Surujbally blew the dust off one of his unopened gems to allow the boys a sip of the infamous EH25.  I had to take a pass, myself, as I had tried it on a previous occasion.  In good conscious I could not rob the misguided West Indi boy of his grail.  I did however, finally sample the EH5.  Verdict…meh.  Hey…that’s just me.  Pass the malt, please.

So…Bauer knocked us all for a loop here with this book selection.  I am still unclear as to the exact path he took to find it, but I know he was looking into other books, and one thing led to another.  Regardless of the journey though, the destination delivered.

Let me veer off a little here.  We in Liquorature have a tough time defining our exact goal with this club.  Obviously the central tenet is enjoyment, but how do we define what constitutes that?  It could be that a) we have a book that we enjoy reading while we read it and therefore earn our just rewards;  b) we have a book that pays off in spades when it comes to gathering night, through great conversation and stimulated discussion;  or ideally c) we have a book that does both.

We have now had a few books (Blood Meridian, Atlantis, Looking Backward) that have left a couple of us…underwhelmed in terms of literary enjoyment, yet have led to brilliant nights of hanging out.  On the flipside, the one book which should have had us talking the sun up (Atlas Shrugged), didn’t create half the ripples I’d hoped for intellectually, but was met with overwhelming acclaim.   Being biased as to Ayn Rand’s school of thought, I like to think that the Liquorature guys are just so logical and bright that there was nothing to bother questioning about her uber-manifesto.  ;)

At the end of the day, each of these books pays off dividends to some of us more than others, but ultimately reward the club as a whole.

It was fairly unanimous that Looking Backward was a hellish read.  To quote Robert, this was my ‘godforsook book’.  A mix of dry literary stylings and Victorian language left us all slack-jawed and glazing.  More than a couple of us were 11th hour finishers here.  It was evident early however, that this book would net a fair amount of criticism, which of course, is good discussion.  I leave the rest to Lance (or whoever writes up the book’s review) to flesh out for you.  Trust me…I said my piece this evening.  The last thing I want to do is rehash THAT.

So…the rest of the evening…

Lots of laughs.  Great to see everyone speaking out.  As mentioned last time ’round, everyone seems to be opening up more and more each time.  Pat, suffering from back troubles, was a trooper just for coming out.  Hope you’re feeling a bit better, amigo.  The mood was light, even when into politics and world religions for a bit.  This was a great night.  Stayed on topic for about two hours all told.  Not bad for a novel no bigger than an Archie Double Digest

Thanks, Liquorature guys, for making this what it has become.

Bauer…well done.

Highlights…

Bruichladdich Links…Eh25…Bob “I just snorted Coke”…reconciling revolutionary communism and objectivism…mmmm…shrimp…devolution into a bit of Atlas chat…Pat’s painkiller cocktail (share next time, wouldja?)…John Wayne in leotards…laughs at my expense as the boys inevitably touched the two taboo subjects (I’ll never tell)…and Bauer’s attempts at unnerving me with a playlist chock full of his bad music.

Until Kerouac, boys…

Slainte!

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– Curt

 

 
Mar 022010
 

Okay, gents…Here’s your lineup:

April

Scott’s Choice:  “Wizard’s First Rule” (Terry Goodkind)

$9.49

Our first foray into fantasy.  I’m quite excited about this.

May

Bauer’s Choice:  “Looking Backward 2000 – 1887” (Edward Bellamy)

$6.18

Dystopian novel written in 1888!!

June

Curt’s Choice:  “On The Road” (Jack Kerouac)

$12.54 Original Classic

$12.64 Scroll Version

Classic novel of the beat generation.  I have read this about 10 times.

Regarding “On The Road”:  This is considered a fiction novel, though based on real people.  Kerouac was forced to edit the early manuscript to change all names from those of real people to fictional identities.  He was also forced to clean it up and remove some of the more…objectionable content (keep in mind, this was the 40s).  A couple of years back the “Scroll Edition” was released.  It is uncut and has all names restored.

Two points of view here:

1)  Read the classic.  It is considered a classic for a reason.  Many feel that the “Scroll Edition” is mostly a novelty item for Kerouac fans.  By ordering this one, you are getting the novel as it has been reviewed and revered for 50+ years.

2)  Read the scroll version to see how Kerouac originally wrote it.  Will be a bit more racy, I imagine.  A little longer and a bit more raw.

It will be neat if we have a mix of people having read different versions.  Kinda cool to compare experiences.  I have the original and will order the “Scroll Edition”…and will have read both by June.

If you want me to order your books…let me know version one you want.

Looking forward to these!!