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

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 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 #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