Feb 042016
 

Liquorature #060 – “Shalimar The Clown” (Salman Rushdie)Shalimar

Date:  January, 2014

Host:  Chris

Whisky:  Glenfarclas Family Cask 2002 (Willow Park Exclusive), Murray McDavid Macallan 1998 10 y.o., Amrut Fusion

 

I remember Lance once expressing his outright detestation of Rushdie.  I think he went so far as to threaten boycott in the event any of us picked one of Rushdie’s novels.  But how could we not?  The man is arguably one of literature’s most fascinating personages.

As you likely know if you’re reading this bit – here on a site dedicated to fiction – Rushdie was the subject of an Iranian fatwa (death sentence) declaimed by the Ayatollah Khomeini after the publication of his novel ‘The Satanic Verses’ in the late ’80s.  Perceived sleights against Islam, it seems, didn’t go over too well at that time either.  Hmmm…what to say about that?  Nothing here, to be certain.  In our closed room this chilly January night?  Well…that was another story.  Volatile, as you can imagine.  Very volatile.  And interestingly enough, somewhat polarizing in ways.  Enough said.

Suffice it to say, year six of Liquorature’s existence started off with a bang.  (That was a bad pun, wasn’t it?)

‘Shalimar’ was, I think, merely an ok story in the eyes of the gang.  The writing was highly praised, the characters lauded, but the overall experience was perceived to be somewhat lacking, if I recall correctly.  Our heated debates rages around external subject matter that was dredged up over the course of understanding culture, time and place, but wasn’t specific to opinions about the tale itself.  On that we presented a fairly united front.  Good solid…seven and a half (not really…just quoting ‘Beautiful Girls’ and driving home the mediocre, lukewarm reception).

The whiskies also left us headscratching a bit.  The Glenfarclas was an oddball, boasting notes of seventy mezcal, while the indie Macallan was top heavy with a not altogether pleasant wine-iness.  Oh well.  The Amrut was a life preserver thrown out into these turbulent waters.  In the end…we were saved.  And slightly drunk.  😉

Random notes:  Wish we’d had Lance here for this one.

 

– Curt

Feb 042016
 

Liquorature Gathering #058 – “The Fountainhead” (Ayn Rand)the-fountainhead

Date:  November, 2013

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Macallan Travel Series “Forties”, MacKinlay’s Rare Old Highlands Malt (Shackleton Recreation), GlenDronach 1994 17 y.o. Cask #261, Amrut Intermediate Sherry, Ardbeg Corryvreckan

 

In the first year of Liquorature (book number nine in our queue, actually) we had a go at Ayn Rand.  ‘Atlas Shrugged’.  Her magnum opus.  A book – and worldview – that is as divisive as the border between the Koreas.

Things didn’t quite work out the way we’d hoped that night we gathered to discuss.  One or two of the Collective were MIA; one arrived late after a very long day of work; and I think another had to leave early.  There was a pervasive sense of ‘ugh, wish this event was on another night’.  Don’t get me wrong.  We had lots to say and everyone wanted to share, but it just wasn’t the best night for it due to circumstance.  We did end up in some rather heated discussion at the end of the night regarding unions and such, but as to the philosophical side of Rand’s work (known as ‘Objectivism’) we never really fully engaged.

Fast forward four years and it seemed about time to slip back into her sepia-soaked, early 20th century idealism.

Rand often gets lambasted for use of oversimplified idealistic supermen characters, hammer to the head philosophical diatribes and boxy, formal and unpoetic writing.  I can, in a way, understand the criticisms even if I don’t necessarily agree.  That’s a big debate and not one for the ‘here and now’.  Suffice it to say that some of the Liquorature boys felt exactly this way, while others were right behind her stylistic and intellectual leanings.  As I said above…divisive.  And as you can imagine, perfect fodder for book club discussion.

‘The Fountainhead’ was first published in 1943, so the opportunity to crack open a bottle of Macallan Forties was a no-brainer.  We like our theme play, aye?  The other malts, as listed above, were a smattering of neat drams and old favorites.  Quite frankly, I simply wanted to pour good drinks to compliment a novel I cherish and one that has a very special place in my heart.  And suit, they did.  Perfect social lubricant for this night.  And happy to report that we did more justice to this meeting than we did to the previous.  It was rousing, stimulating, intelligent and insightful.  The book earned much respect, if not all hearts.  If that makes sense.

On a selfish note, it pleases me to no end to share this one with others.  I first read it in high school, when it was passed on to me by a woman who changed my life.  We shared much, not the least of which was an intellectual bent and a need to push boundaries of accepted doctrine.  These are the things we’re meant to share, I think.

I should also note that as I write this, in January of 2016, we are debating tackling ‘Atlas’ again.  Only two of our current Collective was around in that first year.  Perhaps a do-over is in order.  More to come.

Random notes:  El Cid chili … salsa fresca and cinnamon buns … “blue eagle”

 

– 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 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

Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #007 – “Atlantis” (David Gibbons)

Date:  August, 2009

Host:  Scott

Whisky:  Yamazaki 12 y.o., Macallan Fine Oak 10 y.o.

Rum:  Santa Teresa 1796

 

Really liked the ambience for this meeting.  Cozy little set up at Scott’s place.  Great snacks and nice beverages.  Scott picked up a Japanese whisky (Yamazaki) that was a very pleasant surprise.  The book did not receive an overly warm reception.  Most felt it went a little off the rails, and was derivative of the Cussler/Indiana Jones schtick.  That being said, it did have many positive merits.  Led me into some research regarding the “historical” Atlantis, Plato, ancient civilizations, etc.  For a mediocre book it managed to bring out one of the better conversations we’ve had to date.  Good night.  Topic conversation about two hours.

 

– Curt