Aug 262013
 

Liquorature Gathering #043 – “Ways Of Sunlight” (Samuel Selvon)ways of sunlight

Date:  August, 2012

Host:  Lance

Whisky:  Crown Royal Black

Rum:  Havana Club, a couple of aged Rum Nation releases and a schwackload more

 

Ok…don’t tell anyone.  I sipped rum this night.  And only rum.  And I actually sort of almost kinda maybe possibly didn’t mind one of ’em.  Repeat that and I can’t be responsible for what happens.  Seriously.  You’ll tarnish my reputation.

This was a rather frustrating eve in which only four of the gang of eight made it out to participate.  Life gets in the way, I get it, but a rather poor showing can be quite heartbreaking, especially when hosting.  Nevertheless, we could have cried into our beers (errr…rum), or we could have turned it into a night to remember.  Obviously, we went with the latter.  Much like the case of the infamous ‘Blood Meridian’ night, this wee crew brought it all to the table and had a heck of a night full of Caribbean dialect, tooth-rottingly sweet libations, and holy-fires-o’-hell cuisine.  In short…our host took things to the authentic nth degree.

Lance, very much in Lance fashion, put together a feisty and fiery little feast for us.  Frivolous alliteration aside, these forays into full-blown fiery ring delight are always a source of anticipation leading up to the big event.  Once we’d all gathered, we dug in ’round the kitchen table for a helluva good meal before retiring to the great outdoors (aka the back deck) for the session itself.

Lance took us on a whirlwind tour of cane juice, putting our tastebuds through the paces, and actually managed to find one that I quite liked.  One I would have actually maybe considered buying, to be honest.  Think it was the Rum Nation Jamaica 25 year old.  Apparently it only takes rum about 25 years or so in the barrel to reach a point where I find it quaffable.  Hey…whatever works.  So long’s we get there in the end, right?

This month we didn’t have a tale to speak of.  We had about a dozen and a half.  Lance’s pick, ‘Ways Of Sunlight’, by Samuel Selvon (at one time a UofC writer-in-residence, interestingly enough), was a neat little collection of tales that took us into a completely new cultural vantage.  Very cool stuff.  While not exactly intellectually groundbreaking or anything, this quirky depiction of Caribbean life was broken into two sections, the first, entitled ‘Trinidad’, provided a peek into days gone by in this poor Southern nation.  The second section, ‘London’, provided a neat counterpoint in transposing character types (and possibly some of the same characters?) from part one into the urban sprawl of London, England.

Quite an enjoyable read, really.  Think Hemingway in the tropics and you’ll be close.

Good pick, Lance.  Thanks for taking us on another journey.  Insightful.  I mean that on more levels than one.

Randoms:  Curt liked a rum (RN 25 Jamaica) … and drank no whisky … wingman duties … what’s your house number? … “oh baby…you gonna have such good mangoes” … Lance brings the spice … four man crew

 

– Curt

 

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #029 – “The Stand” (Stephen King)

Date:  June, 2011

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  BenRiach Solstice,  Isle of Jura Prophecy,  Duthies’ Hazelburn 8 y.o.

Rum:  Iceberg, Gosling’s Black Seal

 

The rum-guzzlah had to take a pass on this one due to other obligations, and is kicking himself once again for missing out on arguably one of our best conversations to date.  We spent about three hours on this book, before circling references back to it several times throughout the course of a long and enjoyable evening.  Poor guy.  Missed another one of our best in the ‘Blood Meridian’ night, then left early on ‘Atlas Shrugged’ night just before things ramped up for some heat and polarity.  Perhaps it’s the black humorist in me that finds a funny irony in the fact that the guy who would likely most enjoy good sporting conversation missed some of our shining moments.  Sorry, buddy.  If it is any cold comfort to you, we held down the fort admirably.

This little soiree, hosted by Scotty, aka The Ginger Buddha, initially promised a low key event, but delivered in spades.  Brilliant drinks, a great read and hours of engaging conversation.  Love it when I have no expectations and end up floored.  Walking away from this one with many pleasant memories.

The Buddha knocked one outta the park with his Scotch selections this month.  First up, an indie bottling of an 8 year old Hazelburn from Duthies.  Charming and unique.  More peat than I’d expect.  Next, the first Isle of Jura I’ve ever really been able to sink my teeth into, the Prophecy.  Large, smoky and as it says on the bottle, ‘profoundly peated’.  Finally, my personal highlight for the night, BenRiach Solstice.  A port finished peat monster.  VERY different and utterly winning.

The rums, uncertain though he was as to Ruminsky’s attendance, were Iceberg and Gosling’s.  I can’t speak to either here, as I neither tried them, nor had any inclination, but I have a mate who swears by the Gosling’s.  These bottles were hardly dented.  Mild fender-bender perhaps.  Gotta say it…the stunning whiskies stole the show.

But wait!  There was one more whiskey this eve.  I managed to track down a bottle of The Kid’s ‘happy crappy’ (You believe that?  Don’t tell me, I’ll tell you.), Rebel Yell.  C’mon…I had to.  Soon as I found it I know it would be good for a laugh.  Though expectations were justifiably low as we popped the top, it actually turned out to be a fairly palatable bourbon.  No stunner, to be sure, but not bad at all.

With the G7 gathered and quenching thirsts over their redneck juice, we kicked into ‘serious mode’ (as serious as it ever gets anyway).

First things first, the gang wanted to know whether or not $80 worth of motivation was enough to coax Bob (he of the compromised schedule and busier-than-hell lifestyle) to the end of the tale in time for our gathering.  He and Lance had laid down a $40 wager last month on whether or not he’d finish.  Though unable to attend this one, looks like Lance has a payday waiting for him come next meeting.  Good times.  Lots of laughs about this.

The book, Stephen King’s opus, “The Stand”, was either loved or appreciated by all, I believe.  A couple members of the collective are King junkies and have worked their way through this one multiple times.  It simply doesn’t get old.

The greatest criticism was reserved for slow development and meandering passages.  The point was countered by saying this was a somewhat sociological tale that was meant to depict the rebuilding of civilization, and not simply blow sh*t up.  This ended up as a polite ‘agree-to-disagree’ type scenario.  Fair ‘nough.

The characters were liked (some loved), the dialogue and setting praised and many, many favorite scenes pointed out.  The attention to detail and speculative nature were also lauded.

Thematically, we delved into religion (the primary contention centering on where the other demographics were?  Did god wipe out all the Muslims?  Hindus?), politics, crime and punishment, sociology, inherent nature, metaphysics, economy and survivalism.  Though I could share details, I prefer to let the imaginations run and keep these conversations private as the ‘intellectual property’ of Liquorature.  Let’s face it…we’re frickin’ brilliant lads!

We spoke to the reasons for King’s success and post-apocalyptic fiction as genre.  We touched on all of the ‘what would you do’s?’ and what each of our personal roles would be in a similar ‘rebuilding of society’ situation.  Of course, we also briefly touched on the Dark Tower.  Finally, I should note…for sh*ts and giggles…it was ME who gave the guys their obligatory mentions of the ‘Taboo 3’.  Yep…all three were courtesy of yours truly.

As this book is about to see its second screen adaptation realized, some fun was had playing the casting call game.  A few of us who have seen the old made-for-TV version agreed a few of the actors from the original series should reprise their roles, but several new suggestions were bandied about.  Fun exercise for a book like this, and relatively easy as the characters are so well-defined.

All in all…a bloody great night.  One of my top 5 now for sure.

Well done, Buddha.  Drinks, book and all.  Good picks.

The randoms:  Rebel Yell…”Sold!” Auction Bob…the throbbin’ 8…Clint’s ten minute two minute summary…Rob Lowe: “You actually know he’s a handsome man”…”What’s the point of Flagg, other than to be a d*ck?”…saddle up a cow…”saved by the grace of god, a dog and a ******”…”if you’ve had one pistol in the butt, you’ve had ‘em all”…The Hoff ‘Ooga Chaka’ing…”Wake up!  Wake up!”…”Rebel Yell ranks right up there with the abolition of slavery”…”you didn’t write down ******, didja?”

 

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #026 – “Neuromancer” (William Gibson)

Date:  March, 2011

Host – Clint

Whisky:  Bunnahabhain 18, Macallan Cask Strength, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, Port Ellen 9th Release*, Signatory Springbank 1969*, Brora 30 y.o.*, ADR Bowmore 15 y.o.*, Jamesons Rarest Vintage*, Laphroaig 25 y.o. Cask Strength*, Tullibardine 1966*

Rum:  Flor de Cana 12

 

Poor Ostby.  The lad gets taken to task for his book choices far more than the rest of the crew.  For some reason his selections either incite vigorous polarization or overwhelming disgust.  Thankfully his ‘awww, shucks, fellas’ and ‘I’d never read it before either’ approach allows him to escape the proverbial cross a couple members have debated nailing him to (after ‘Blood Meridian’ and ‘The Catcher In The Rye’ in particular).  All kidding aside though, Clint has brought some great fodder for discussion to the table through his selections.

‘Neuromancer’ came a little out of left field really.  Or so it seemed.  My ignorance blindsided even me, as the more I looked into this seminal work and influential author the more I realized I’d been living in a cave (hopefully not that of Plato’s farcical idiocy).  Let’s face it…Gibson created a monstrously insightful and enigmatic work that set the stage for a legion of followers.  The Liquorature take?  Well…credit where credit is due…the sphere of influence is easily seen in everyday cinematic and literary trappings.  We acknowledged this, but the first comment made on the night was “I want my money back”.

This eloquent turn of phrase can be attributed to none other than the legendary Maltmonster.  For those into cryptozoology, rest easy.  Even Lance must now readily attest that the beast does exist.  Much like seeing the elusive Keenan-Bear, the proof was far too long in the making for some members of Liquorature (Sage Surujbally, in particular).  Long and short, Maltmonster joined us as an Occasional Traveler for the evening’s festivities.  Clint and I approached him several weeks back about sitting in for a night of inebriation and elucidation.  MM was more than receptive to the idea.

For those not so in-the-know, MM is a frequent contributor and resident wit both here on Liquorature and also on ATW (www.allthingswhisky.com).  His caustic humor and appreciation for the finer things in life (not to mention a healthy disdain for cane-based beverages) made him an ideal candidate to be subjected to our lowbrow humor and pseudo-intellect.  We dragged him down to our level with minimal effort, I should add.  No offense, MM.

Ostby laid out the table with a flair for variety.  A rich and delicious Bunnahabhain 18 year old (yep…the re-vamp at 46.3%) first and foremost.  Balanced, deep and gentle.  A deeply-sherried Macallan cask strength next.  Macallan being a favorite of the Maltmonster, incidentally.  Finally, new to our shores, Isle of Arran Machrie Moor, a peated surprise that sadly does not quite have the balls to back its bravado.  Decent…though slightly underwhelming.  For the rumchum…Flor de Cana 12.  Though I desperately wanted to try this one, I simply ran out of time.  No, wait…that’s not right.  Plenty of time.  Simply have better taste than that.  ;)

A pot of seafood gumbo simmered away in a big ‘ol gumbo pot as well.  Hella good, but one can expect no less from Iron Chef Ostby (heretofore known as ‘Bubba Gump’).  The guy is a helluva cook.  If you get an invite to dinner, you’d be sadly remiss to pass on the opportunity.

The consumables didn’t end there however.  MM, in his uber-humble, yet unflinching generosity, brought a sack o’ heels with him.  Heels does not do justice.  These were hefty bottles.  Port Ellen 9 (“all bow,” he said reverentially when presenting to the gang), Brora 30 yo 2005, Laphroaig 25 yo CS, Signatory Springbank 1969, AD Rattray Bowmore 15 yo, Tullibardine 1966, Jameson Special Reserve.  I can attest, as can the rest, not a dud in the lot.  These are damn sexy drams.

Needless to say, while the novel itself was met with a lukewarm reception for the most part, the whisky certainly was not.

Back to the book.  A precursor to the whole cyberpunk movement, Neuromancer’s dark and cold shadow can be seen across many facets of contemporary pop culture.  I dare not draw the comparisons and parallels here that we did as a group, as I sort of think each reader should do that for him/herself.  An overwhelmingly united opinion spoke to the mired tangle of Gibson’s writing (eloquent and sparse, but somehow dense as f*ck to get one’s head around), yet tended towards a solid appreciation of the tale itself.  While not likely to be anyone’s favorite, nor will it become toilet paper for some (as one or two previous selections may have been).  The characters were unique enough to allow a variety of sympathetic to apathetic opinions by the gang.  Come on…who didn’t find Molly sexy?  You’re lying.

What night at Liquorature is complete without the obligatory dropping of the sacred terms?  Wrestling, Mandingo and sigh…Star Trek.  Gad…why this filth permeates such minds is simply beyond me.  The only life forms lower than a Trekkie are George W Bush and Stephen Harper.

Finally…there was the morning after.  Let’s leave that one alone.  What happens at Liquorature…stays at Liquorature.

 

The randoms:  Mel Gibson … the German Shyster … “You sure do got a purty mouth” … “give you the Jimbo” … “Clint…are your plants live?” … “If anyone is gonna insult you, it’s gonna be me” … a flaccid 8 … “drove cabs, smoked pot and lived with a monkey” … the addition of the thumbs up/thumbs down prediction … MM’s ante to the bevy cause*.

 

– Curt