Jan 282016
 

Liquorature Gathering #050 – “Moby Dick” (Herman Melville)Moby-Dick

Date:  March, 2013

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Ardbeg Galileo, Bowmore Laimrig 15 y.o., Glenfarclas 21 y.o., Aberlour a’bunadh (Batch 37), Connemara

Rum:  Plantation 5 y.o.

 

Tonight I made enemies.  On a grand scale.  Few books have caused as much animosity and bellyaching amongst the Liquorature collective as Melville’s masterpiece ‘Moby Dick’.  ‘Catcher In The Rye’ had us ready to tar and feather Salinger (coincidentally on the day of his death), while ‘Looking Backward’s’ condescending puerile drivel had a couple of us ready to turn all those thousands of words into so much toilet paper.  But this massive and daunting recounting of the hunt for the white whale, in all its Victorian charm, had the united members of the group on the verge of mutiny.

So who was the sadistic bastard who subjected the boys to such a literary flogging?  Yep.  Yours truly.

Here’s the deal…’Moby Dick’ is one of the greatest novels ever written.  I can’t even look at that as a subjective statement.  In all my bias I simply can’t wrap my head around this being any less than fact.  I adore this tale.  And I unequivocally love the execution.  The chapters on cetology and all extraneous bolt-ons to the story proper only serve to sink us deeper and deeper beneath the crushing weight of the oceans Melville paints for us.  Isn’t that what we want in good literature?  The immersive experience?  I’ve read through this book a couple of times now, and as I type this I am honestly contemplating another go-round.  In fact…with weeks to go until the next gathering, I think I may pick this up tonight.

So…reception wasn’t great this time around.  So be it.  The criticisms were many, but there was some appreciation as well.  Granted most of that was simply that the whole experience was behind us, but so be it.

We had our occasional member, Maltmonster, sit in for this one, and spent the evening in heated conversation, drowning our livers in Ardbeg, Bowmore, Glenfarclas and Aberlour.  We even deigned to put out a little Irish juice for our genetically-challenged friend.  It was the briny Ardbeg and Bowmore, however, that really suited the experience, reeking of oceanic influence as they do. And the sounds of Ahab’s ‘Call Of The Wretched Sea’ album provided a doomy backdrop to the whole affair.  Memorable and atmospheric.  Loved it.

Randoms:  “Fuck thee”…”Poor Pip”…”He brought the A-Team”…”…And that was a whole chapter”…”Hung with harpoons” …an Irish guest.

NB: Exiled rum-junkie Lance did a really good write up of the novel while in sandland.

– Curt

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature Gathering #042 – “A Confederacy Of Dunces” (John Kennedy Toole)Dunces

Date:  July, 2012

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  BenRomach Peat Smoke, Glen Elgin 16 y.o. Cask Strength, Caol Ila Distiller’s Edition, Glenglassaugh ‘The Spirit Drink That Dare Not Speak It’s Name’

Rum:  Gosling’s Black Seal

 

Oh boy.  Another one of those ultimately polarizing tales.  The guys either hated it or outright detested it.  No, I kid.  Sort of.

A couple of the crew (Clint and Chris, in particular) have a bit of a softspot for the more ridiculous stylings of this type of absurdist humor (hearken back to ‘Catch 22’, if you will), and as could have been foreseen, quite enjoyed this odd little romp through the opium fields.  Those of us with a more serious bent (read: better taste) found this barely palatable.  About as appealing as street vendor dogs when one is craving a nice filet, might be an apropos analogy.

As we pulled up to the digs for the evenings festivities, we were greeted by the great hotdog slinger himself, Bauer.  More Ignatious than John Paul Ziller, this guy.  Banner flying, literally, and hotdogs a’steaming (boiling? grilling?…can’t quite recall), we were led into the den of the absurd.

With a somewhat smaller crew than usual, we were able to crowd around a few seats in the cooler basement, and oh, darn…unfortunately had extra portions of barley juice to consume.  I know there was a rum on offer this eve, but for the life of me I can’t recall why.  Sage Surujbally was one of the absentees for this ‘Confederacy’ meet, so the rum may have taken a little knock or two, but not much more than that.  Proper respec’ to da whisky, as it should be.  (Sorry, Lance.  😉  )

So, the book.  Wow.  What a trial in suffering.  I kinda think I’d opt for a coin toss between crucifixion and a re-read of the sour unpleasant life of Ignatius J. Reilly.  Truly an insufferable c*** if ever there was one.  I won’t expound on the virtues of the author’s capturing of dialect or time and place.  It becomes irrelevant in the face of such an insurmountable obstacle as tolerating the protagonist (can he actually be considered a protagonist?).  Instead, suffice it to say that this is one of the top three most-want-to-punch-in-the-face characters ever written, and for that alone the novel was an exercise in enduring revulsion.  Tough read.  (In case you’re curious…the other two in the top three are Holden Caulfield and Doctor Leet).

Even with an abbreviated crew…great night.  Clint and Chris in fine form.  Lotsa laughs.

Cheers, Bauer.  For the soiree, if not the book choice.  😉

The randoms:  The Doors … “OG God” … “I wanna party on your p*ssy” … some Clutch … small crew … a few good laughs … acoustics … Ani DiFranco.

 

– Curt

 

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