Feb 102016
 

Liquorature Gathering #063 – “The Dark Tower” (Stephen King)The_Dark_Tower

Date:  August 8th, 2014

Host:  Curt / Barry

Whisky:  BenRiach 1999 Cask #40043, SMWS 1.72 “Sophisticated, Delicate & Feminine” 19 y.o. (Glenfarclas), SMWS 77.28 “Tropical Nights” 25 y.o. (Glen Ord), Convalmore 28 y.o., Tullibardine 1964 42 y.o., Kavalan Peated Cask #02949 Distillery Exclusive

 

Some stories are just too big for Liquorature.  ‘The Dark Tower’ was one.  No book in the series, excepting possibly the first, was what could be (or should be) considered a standalone volume.  And, of course, asking the gang to read seven (plus) volumes, in addition to apocrypha and other works was simply not feasible or realistic.  A few years back I floated the idea of doing ‘The dark Tower’ as an offline opt-in Liquorature event for any who were willing to invest some extracurricular time to the multi-thousand page word count.  It never really gelled as an idea, though there were rumblings of interest.  We let it lie.

As you may well be aware by now, Liquorature fell into a period of slumber for a brief while; a cocoon-stage which we call The Dark Ages.  It was during this time that Maltmonster approached me, having started following the beams to the tower himself.  “This is a big story,” he said.  “We need to discuss”.  I’d read through the series a couple of times, and a few of the books several more times.  I was more than willing to crash read through all again to catch up.  MM suggested offering the former Liquorature members an opportunity to tag along on this epic journey, and make something of the night.  A meeting at the Bridlewood nexus, if you will (ahem…my house).  Sure enough, many were interested.  And so it came to happen.

At this time, understand, the club didn’t exist.  It had been nearly half a year since I Old-Yeller’d it in the back 40.  This monumental ‘Dark Tower’ event was a one-off.  A singular gathering with a central focal point.  I guess it had as a template prior Liqurature events to use as a Springboard, but event the simple fact that this was primarily Maltmonster’s event should be indicative enough of the extracurricular nature of this one.  Maltmonster was never a true Liquorature member.  As it came to be, he and I joint hosted this one.  My place, my food choices, etc…his malt selections, etc.

This was an undertaking, event and sprawling story of epic proportions.  Infinite proportions, even.  While most conceded 10/10 for scope, imagination and characters there were some criticisms for an occasionally meandering plot, some anachronistic placements of pop culture and an authorial interjection of the most intrusive sort imaginable (if you’ve read it you’ll understand).  But the greatest indignation was reserved for the ending.  Some were outright incensed; a couple reluctantly conceded its logic; and yours truly said it was perfect, beautiful and absolutely gutting.  I remember reading it for the first time and feeling like I’d been kicked in the stomach.  Remember, I’d been following these characters for probably 15 years by this point.  And even the most macho among us admitted shedding a tear and/or getting emotionally wracked at a couple of points throughout this journey.

The discussion was long.  It had to be.  We did this one justice, I’m proud to say.

Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were lubricating our tongues and minds with a stunning array of single malts.  Every bottle on the table had a reason behind its selection.  I won’t spill here (some things stay with Liquorature), but let’s just say they were as intrinsically linked to the story as the mythical numbers in ‘Lost’.  An SMWS Glen Ord and a stunning 28 y.o. Convalmore were unquestionably the highlights for me.  Both sit high in my all-time rankings now.

Taking further cues from the Ka-tet’s journey, I made my own version of ‘gunslinger burritos’.  Grilled, salted meat, wrapped in greens (with more goodies wrapped inside of course).  Quite amazing, if I do say so myself.  We’ve since made these a few times ’round my homestead.  Not bad for a concocted recipe.  Note: no bumblers were harmed in the making of this meal.

Finally…it was announced that Liquorature would be born again on the heels of this event, with this night leading the charge as the first occasion of our second run.  The faces may be different in some cases, but most of the workings would remain as they were.  We made something beautiful years back (before the world had moved on), now it was simply time to strengthen the beams.

I can’t lie…it felt good to be back in the saddle.  And hopefully this time we can keep it on the straight and narrow.

Until next…long days and pleasant nights.

 

– Curt

Feb 012016
 

Liquorature Gathering #057 – “Fahrenheit 451” (Ray Bradbury)fahrenheit-451

Date:  October, 2013

Host:  Bauer

Whisky:  Highland Park Thor, Springbank Cask 450, Balvenie Single Barrel 12 y.o. Bourbon

 

Ah, Ray Bradbury.  The master.  Gotta credit Lance here for my own initiation into Bradbury’s worlds.  A few years back he introduced me to a collection of the man’s short stories by way of ‘The Illustrated Man’.  Of course I knew of Bradbury’s work, but in my naïve rejection of the genre I simply passed him over time and again.  When finally pressed to take book hand I was utterly blown away.  And frustrated with myself, I should add, for all the time wasted.

Bradbury’s shorter offerings are grounded (ironic word choice, I guess, considering a large proportion of his stories have deep space settings) more in speculative fiction with a simplistic – yet dark- bent, as opposed to any truly technical hard science fiction leanings.  In fact, the closest contemporary I can think of to Bradbury’s modus operandi is that of Stephen King’s own short stories.  The ‘get in, slit the throat, get out’ kind of brevity that makes them resonant, affecting and lingering.

So what happens when you take that concept a little further and expand to a couple hundred pages?  Quite frankly, it works perfectly.  Or at least it does with ‘Fahrenheit 451’.  This is still just a simple story, in terms of execution and imagination being more important than fact and research, but the message is utterly transcendent.  Additionally, it speaks volumes (pun intended) to an audience of bibliophiles, such as a book club.

Bauer chose this one for us.  That means malt selections were also at his discretion of course.  He hooked up releases from two of Scotland’s great producers, in Highland Park and Springbank.  The latter was an indie and slightly out of character for the distillery (but still a great malt!), while the former was a knockout.  We beat the hell out this 16 year old cask strength Norse god.  And the evening’s third dram was a single cask from Balvenie.  Balvenie rarely excites me, but this was a gorgeous drink.  Truly.  Clean and beautiful.  Oh yeah…and did you notice the Springbank was Cask 450, while the book was ‘Fahrenheit 451’?  Cheeky.

As always, Bauer offered up anything else he had open as well.  Only fitting we should be quite ‘wet’ (read: somewhat slightly affected by beverage) by the end of a night discussing fire.

I’m still hoping to tackle a collection of Bradbury’s short works in the coming years.

 

– Curt

Sep 252014
 

After a lengthy hiatus, Liquorature is back.  Though not as you may have known it.

Earlier this year Liquorature fell from its lofty perch as the last outreach of civilized modern man. For five (mostly) glorious years it had stood as a bastian of hope and intellectual respite in a world sadly riddled with reality TV, socialite headlines and video games displacing books as the preferred medium of escapism. Something had happened. The spark had very nearly died. The lamp had dimmed.

lamp

Rather than see this beloved outpost fall into ruin, we pulled closed the doors and shuttered the windows.

It leaves a hole in your life though.  Once you’ve become accustomed to the ritual of the monthly gathering, the anticipation of a good read, the salivation for new drams and the hope of an inspired conversation, well…it’s hard to simply let it rot on the vine.  Some things inevitably needed to change, though, in order to make it work again.

Now…many moons later, that guttering spark has been brought back to life.  In a way, this is a Frankenstein moment of sorts for Liquorature.  The make-up of the club has changed.  The overall direction has slightly shifted.  Perhaps a few formalities will morph into something more or less than they were previously.  Either way…we’re back.

A mate of mine – a filthy, devious, Irish mate of mine – got hold of me a few months back regarding Stephen King’s magnum opus ‘The Dark Tower’.  We had discussed the merits of this series when we gathered for the ‘Cell’ event a couple years ago.  Apparently the recommendation did not go unheeded.  As my hobo pal drew towards the end of this monstrous yarn, he called me and said that this was one that needed to be discussed.  A timeframe was soon agreed upon, and a few of us more masochistic souls began laboriously plodding through the seven canonical volumes, plus the apocryphal add-ons.  Finally, a month or so ago (August 8th, actually), we gathered and talked the shit outta this one over many a dram.  It turned out to be a great night that effectively became the launching point for this new iteration of Liquorature.

Prior to our untimely (though temporary) demise, there had been a couple of books lined up that we never got ’round to.  I guess only time will tell whether or not we ever come back to those tales.  Instead, we have moved forward with a new collective, a new rotation, new selections and a new outlook.  The coming months will bring the following:

“Star Maker” (Olaf Stapledon)
“The Stars My Destination” (Alfred Bester)
“The Old Man And The Sea” (Ernest Hemingway)
“A Christmas Carol” (Charles Dickens)

…and after that, leading off 2015, who know?

Feel free to pour yourself a drink and read along from your distant vantages and partake vicariously here via comments.

Keep watch for many updates to the site.  She’s a little rusty, but we’ll pretty ‘er up.

In the meantime…I look forward to sharing the journey.

 

‘Keep your lamp trimmed and burning, for this old world is almost gone’

– C

Aug 262013
 

american godsLiquorature Gathering #044 – “American Gods” (Neil Gaiman)

Date:  September, 2012

Host:  Clint

Whisky:  Great King Street, Glenfiddich 15, GlenDronach 15

Rum:  Mount Gay XO Eclipse

 

Sadly, a night when I was fighting a wicked cold.  A couple of us (Pat, Scott and I) had just returned from a jaunt over to the promised land (Scotland) touring distilleries and drowning our livers in that greatest of libations, Scotch single malt whisky.  On my second-to-last day there I managed to contract a case of what was either the Plague or gonoherpasyphylaids.  Man…this f*cking cold knocked me on my *ss!  Contrary to initial thoughts (that all of that alcohol still running rampant in my veins would kill off any possible infection), this heavy drinking binge must have beaten the hell out of my immune system.  ‘Laid low’ doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Clint likely could have thrown out Johnny Walker Red and any of the McClellands line-up and I wouldn’t have known the difference.  Ok, ok…let’s not get silly.  Compromised tastebuds?  Yes.  But let’s be clear…it would take a full-on lobotomy to make me think either of the afore-mentioned constituted real whisky.  Settle down, I jest.  Ish.

As it was, Clint was playing to his themes.  He’d been writing a wee series for my other site, All Things Whisky, and his latest subject matter had been Speysiders at or around 15 years, if memory serves.  Ergo…we at Liquorature got to revisit a couple of old friends (the ‘Fiddich…s’ok, but the ‘Dronach…now that’s a special one).  On top of these two, Ostby broke out a bottle of Compass Box Great King Street, John Glaser’s latest concoction.  Great blend, this.  I know some of you more snobby buggers are reading that last sentence and thinking ‘oxymoron’.  Well…shaddap.  😉  And for the Rum Sage…a bottle of Mount Gay XO Eclipse.

Good sipping, this, and well paired with an interesting pressed steak sandwich (hard to describe…easy to eat).  And with that, we were rolling.

‘American Gods’, by Neil Gaiman, is a book that had me hooked from the get-go.  It was dark, it was eerie, it was twisted and it bordered on brilliant.  I was picking up a bit of Clive Barker here…a bit of Salman Rushdie there…maybe a little Stephen King and a bit of…hmmmm…not sure…maybe some comic book flare throughout?  Not quite right, but neither is this an easy one to pinpoint.

The sad fact of the matter is, though, that we as a crew were simply not all that ‘on’ this night.  While the companionship was, as always, top-notch, the discussion itself was lacklustre.  Not our best.  We sorta seemed to be struggling for topics and lacked the enthusiasm a work like this deserves.  And trust me…it does deserve your attention.  There are some hella cool rollercoaster twists of absolute excellence as this book unfolds.  Summed up in two words:  Read it.

One note though, for those about to undertake this journey…if I had a do-over…I’da paired this bad muthaf*kka with some Highland Park.  Now THAT would have been epic.

Wish I’d felt better personally (and that the three of us weren’t still recovering from a liver-beating in Scotland), but still a memorable night.

Randoms:  Jesus says “f*cking dough head” … “gee…that guy got it rough, huh?” … “Irfit j*zz”

 

– Curt

Aug 252013
 

Liquorature Gathering #041 – “Cell” (Stephen King)Cell

Date:  June, 2012

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Macallan Cask Strength, Laphroaig 18 y.o., ADR Bowmore 15 y.o., Sheep Dip 1990 Old Hebridean, Octomore Orpheus, SMWS 33.114 ‘Sweet Versus Savoury’, Auchentoshan Valinch 2011

Rum:  Ron de Jeremy

 

Aww, man.  Theme nights.  So much win and so much fail.  The best laid plans of mice and men, and all that…

So…after a helluva night for ‘The Wicker Man’, I was hoping to ratchet it up again here for this one.  What subject could possibly allow more thematic fun than zombies?  Nothing!  And trust me…there was play a’plenty.  And therein lies the problem.  Too many distractions.

Two little bits of contest fun were set up to get the night rolling.  First up…a ‘Cell’ quiz.  Come on, lads…do you actually pay attention when you read these books or just gloss over and pray for the end?  The way it went down:  all the guys settled in with pen and paper and had to answer 20 questions related to the book.  Jay was running a bit late and showed up about halfway through quiz time.  He picked up his ‘homework’…scribbled for a few seconds…and got more right than any of the others.  WTF?!  Winner number 1.

Contest two…Ahhh…the fun stuff.  How do you take down a zombie?  Why, a head shot of course!  The walls were liberally plastered in decaying zombie heads (one from Zombi, one from NotLD, one from TWD, a wrestling zombie and a Spock zombie).  Each of the guys had to take a turn with dart guns (pistol and rifle) taking out the brain.  Tense, tense sh*t, I tells ya.  In the end, though…Chris took top honors as marksman.  I’ll be calling him when the inevitable zombie apocalypse gets rolling.

Now…the winners were brought out back to find two graves laid out under the deck, and told to pick one each.  Beneath each headstone was a bloody sheet-wrapped ‘corpse’ containing something cool.  The details…hmm…for club members only.

Maltmonster joined us again this eve as a guest, in what is becoming sort of an honorary Liquorature membership for nights I host.  Always fun…always one to contribute to the inebriation and to the evening’s humor…and a guy who freaking loves the thematic theatrics.  Couldn’t ask for a better contributor.

For edibles I tossed some carcass on the grill.  Couldn’t have a zombie night without gnawing the meat off the bone, could we now?

Whiskies on offer this eve?  Well…there were a lot of ‘em.  See the notes above for the full outlay.  Variety is the spice of life.

And the rum?  Well…depending on your take, we either took it up a notch this eve or sunk to rock bottom.  Ron de Jeremy.  That’s right.  A rum named for the king o’ swing, The Hedgehog, himself!

Randoms:  Barry sitting in … Lester or the atheist … Shooting contest … quiz … “The premise was pretty cute” – Barry … “Of course you did, you f*cking idiot, you’re in a Stephen King book!” – Clint … Pick your apocalypse … Buckteeth … “Actually have a part…in nine parts”.

 

– Curt

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 #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 #022 – “The Hound Of The Baskervilles” (Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

Date:  November, 2010

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Johnnie Walker Gold Label, Edradour Straight From The Cask Chateauneuf Du Pape, Isle of Arran Bourbon Cask Single Cask

Rum:  Cadenheads Green Label Laphroaig Cask Matured

 

This month was a sort of renaissance for the club.  We initiated two new members, tackled a classic (complete with iconic literary character), visited a few exceptional drams and had a great conversation that sort of put us back on the rails in terms of insight, intellect and enjoyment.  We’ve had a run of books recently that to some were homework and to others lacked enough meat to provide topics of discussion.  Such is the nature of this endeavor though.

Pat, Jay and I put in a somewhat tardy arrival (apologies again Scott).  We had been to a guitar clinic at Long & McQuade, watching the inimitable Gordie Johnson dragging the blues kicking and screaming from a Gibson acoustic.  Damn…I love this guy.  If you haven’t checked out Big Sugar, friends…you’re missing out.  Helluva way to kick off a great night.  We boogied back down South in time to kick things off a tad later than usual.

Introductions were in order between Jay and Chris.  These two chaps had yet to meet, but here’s hoping they become as tight as the rest of us.  Lance spoke a few words in honor…we raised our glasses…and commenced things as a new entity.  The initiation itself?  Can’t tell you that here.  The masons would be proud though.  ;)

Scott’s pick for November took a few of us by surprise.  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Hound of the Baskervilles”.  Somewhat surprising to see how few of us had ever actually read the exploits of the iconic Sherlock Holmes and his esteemed colleague, Watson.  A few of us took a little initiative and read more of the Holmes canon in order to flesh out the big picture.

Among the topics covered, we spoke of style, narrative structure, the gothic horror element, our preconceptions, the depth of character, deduction and much more.  This was much more like the conversations of old.  When it came time to weigh in it seems most impressions were favorable.  Some took exception to the flow and arc of the tale (ie. early climax with drawn out denouement), but in the end still enjoyed the tale.  A favorite element for all was atmosphere and setting.

Well picked, Scott.  There are some truly legendary authors out there yet to be tackled by the Liquorature gang (Asimov, Howard, King, Dickens, Melville, Nabokov, Vonnegut, Bradbury, Orwell, on and on), and Doyle was certainly one that needed to be read.  I think we’re all glad to have read this one.

Should note that the Ginger Buddha had done the place up in style too.  Maps of the moor, facsimile letters and documents and great visuals were posted and strewn around the room to add a little ambience.  Nifty.

When it came to the bevvies…

Scott paid a visit to Andrew Ferguson at the Kensington Wine Market for a little guidance in his selection.  Not that guidance is necessarily needed, but hey…Andrew knows his stuff…has some unique malts…and often has open bottles to sample before making your selection.  Together they came up with a solid Isle of Arran Bourbon Cask (single cask) and a gorgeous rich Edradour SFTC Chateauneuf du Pape (also single cask).  Before hitting these beefier cask strength numbers, we sampled the Johnnie Walker Gold Label.  Nice.  Quite nice indeed.  The Edradour was the runaway though.

And rum?  Well…this was an abortion.  I speak only for myself here (and perhaps one or two unnamed others), but was this distilled Barbie juice we were drinking?  Holy plastic flavors.  In a sojourn down to the afore-mentioned KWM I had seen a Cadenheads bottling that had been matured in Laphroaig casks.  I mentioned this to Scott, and unbeknownst to the rest he did indeed pick this one.  Peated rum?  WTF?!  While the rum appreciators said, “bah…this is not rum…it’s more like a whisky”, the whisky drinkers were swishing out their mouths in distaste and declaring it nothing like our beloved malts.  In hindsight, I’d be curious to know if any actually liked it.  Something different anyway.

As is becoming the standard, the lads are merciless with their needling.  The Star Trek and wrestling references not only continue unabated, but a few have taken it upon themselves to draw obscure connections and parallels with our book selection.  Sigh.  And here I thought I had surrounded myself with the elite.  This delusion was further shattered by the avalanche of Mandingo, John Holmes and general porn comments.  This little foray into the gutter was the lowest we’ve sunk yet…and was bloody hilarious.  If we needed any more assurance as to why this is a men’s club…this was it.

All in all, a truly memorable night.  It was great to have Chris back in the fold (you may remember he had sat in on our ‘”Wizard’s First Rule” gathering) and equally great to have Jay for the first time.  I think this group is going to work out just fine.  Though we’re a little bigger now, all concerns about too many seemed to unfounded as we never really had any “shhhhhhhhh” moments.  Well done, all.  This was a great night to have been the new guys’ first.

A few random thoughts:

Rod Stewart has ‘Bob’ hair…the Glencairn dilemma…Hamlet in the original Klingon…”Honey, I’m coming home”…countless Star Trek, wrestling and porn references…Mandingo…hostel head (Ostby)…plastic in my rum…the pink box…

mmmmmmmmIMG_5109IMG_5119IMG_5120
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A little more ... I can get the whole thing in....IMG_5142IMG_5145IMG_5150
 
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– Curt
 
 
May 042010
 

It is no secret that I am an unabashed fanboi.  Let’s face it…whether you are a fan of the macabre or not…the man can write.  I own copies of all of King’s major books…go out of my way to collect his short stories when they appear in other sources…collect the comics…and constantly watch for news on the man and his writings.

King’s life is oftentimes as fascinating as his his novels.  Though he has yet to publish his memoirs in that bulky tome I’ve been waiting for, he has allowed insights into his life in many ways.  ‘Danse Macabre’ and ‘On Writing’ are two of the better examples of this.  King also provides brilliant forewards to his novels, and juicy tidbits accompany his short story anthologies.  Though the man appreciates his privacy, his forays into the spotlight are gems.  For those with less interest in the Wizard behind the curtain than the land he rules…

The volume of work King has turned out is astounding.  The thing that makes him so special in the contemporary canon is that the quality of his writing never seems to waver.  We all have our favorites of course, but even those that didn’t ring as loud for me as others still soar miles above the competition.

King’s strength has always been his characters.  Recent years have shown a tendency towards even deeper character-driven tales, though never at the expense of the chills from which his reputation was derived.  Early novels had a more…visceral and gritty approach.  Many of my favorites (‘Salem’s Lot’, ‘The Stand’, ‘Pet Semetary’) are from this era.  The short stories King gave us from this time are bloody brilliant as well.  Recent years have given us a mixed bag of mystery (‘The Colorado Kid’), zombie (‘Cell’), homage (‘Blaze’ – under the Bachman name) and classic King (‘Duma Key’).

The lesson?  Expect the unexpected.

…and really…how can you not love a guy who is himself a musician and music lover?

As one of our most prolific and influential contemporary authors (and an icon across several genres), I thought it only fitting to open up some dialogue on Stephen King.  Until someone picks one of his books for the club, this will be my outlet.

My King collection:

Current King:

‘Just After Sunset’ (2008) – Latest short story collection.

‘Under The Dome’ (2009) – Most recent doorstopper at >1000 pages.

‘Blockade Billy’ (2010) – A limited run.

‘Full Dark, No Stars’ (2010) – Four King novellas (a la ‘Four Past Midnight’ or ‘Different Seasons’)

Jan 162010
 

As an aside to Liquorature, but still the same idea…I am hoping to have at least a few commit to a long term one-off meeting.  Many months in the future.  I am hoping to get a few of the members to make it through all seven book of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (soon to be an eighth!!).  I want to make this strictly optional for those who devour books at a faster rate than our club dictates.  I am hoping for a long night of discussion over VERY fine whiskies and rums (start saving, boys).  There is an endless store of subject matter in these books, without any of it necessarily having to be tooooooo deep.

Just a thought…this would be the perfect opportunity for an ‘Occasional Traveler’ or two to join us if they have read, or want to read, such a bulky tale.

This meeting would not take place until all who commit have finished.  Likely towards the back end of the year.  I will host.

I know a few were interested, but before I start making my way through again I would like to know there are others equally committed.

Yay or nae will suffice.

Thoughts, gents?  Anyone want to follow Roland on his quest?