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 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #025 – “The Fionavar Tapestry” (Guy Gavriel Kay)

Date:  February, 2011

Host – Lance

Whisky:  Bruichladdich Manzanilla 12 Willow Park Exclusive

Rum:  Bruichladdich Renegade Grenada 11 Year Old, Angostura Dark 5 yr old, Favell’s London Dock Navy rum

 

The fantasy flag is waved in the Liquorature camp with more fervent fanboy-ism than even I (Surujbally’s appointed ‘Hippie’) can muster for all things Ardbeg.  And that is saying something.  Mention Lord of the Rings, Goodkind, Jordan or Fionavar and you’re nearly guaranteed to have someone spurting in their pants and someone else ready to launch into ‘the Great Debate’ (whether or not LotR can be considered for Liquorature selection…BTW, I weigh in with a resounding NO!).

While five out of eight of us are big fans of the genre, the remaining three are lukewarm (at best) in terms of reception.  Interestingly, all three of us that seem to have an allergy to fantasy have either a predisposition towards Ayn Rand, or an outright rejection of illogical leaps of faith (ahem… ‘Mr. A-is-A).  To us non-converts, the prevalence of dues ex machina and resolution through means beyond physics is simply…too foreign.

To be fair, however, we have tackled a couple of fantasy works now, and I take away positives from both.

Let’s chat about the edible and quaffable now.

Lance’s curry (‘fess up, boy!  ‘Twas the wife who dunnit, wudnit?!) dishes were spectacular.  A certain someone visited the spread three times, finally moving on to filling a mug with this spicy goodness, as we’d dirtied all of the dishes.  Must confess, though it wounds me and burns like an untreated STD (uh…or so I hear), rum actually works just right with curry.  The sweet and spice harmonize well.

Methinks Lance should share his recipes, as did Pat with his man-chili.  I’d love to have these dishes more frequently.  Perhaps I simply need to sit in for dinner more often, huh?  The only downside is the cavity-inducing grog he serves up to guests.  Coruba, anyone?

After we finished stuffing ourselves on this Indian bounty, I quickly shifted back to a man’s drink and popped the cork on Lance’s whisky sacrifice for the event, Willow Park’s exclusive Bruichladdich Manzanilla.  Bauer would have liked this one.  Thankfully a few of us have bottles we can share with him when next he makes it out (Miss ya, buddy).

This was a night full of bloody great conversation.  The laughs were non-stop.  Sweet medicine after a hard week at work.  At one point with tears flowing down our cheeks, Lance mentioned how needed this was and referred to it like a refreshing rain (or some such poetic gibberish).  All kidding aside, the point was taken.  Think we all let our shoulders sag a bit this night.  You could almost hear the knots in people’s backs releasing.

Confession.  Lance picked me up a copy of ‘The Fionavar Tapestry’ about a year and a half ago now.  On two separate occasions I picked it up, but quickly set it down again.  Just not in the right frame of mind for it.  His selecting it for our February pick was actually somewhat of a relief for me (though a few others groaned under the weight of such a massive undertaking), as I finally had forced motivation to read it, and could no longer insult Lance by not reading the gift he’d given me.

So, let’s see…A few freakin’ loved it.  At least one said, ‘no, nae, never’.  The rest sat in a camp that weighed flaw against appreciation for scope, visuals, story-telling and originality (which was also a sticking point for some others).  Overall…quite a positive reception really.  I concede to appreciating it much more than when I started, and can say I am glad for having read it.  All true analysis stays within the group.  Read it yourself if you care to speculate as to what we may or may not have liked.  Anyone who has read it…drop a line here on Liquorature.  Love to engage on this one.

In the end, I think everyone was simply in the right mental space to have a great night.  It turned out to be just that.

 

The randoms:  Obama, the mage…Newman, the wizard…Rum and the special olympics… “Dammit, I got a svart in my bowl” …score many baskets…like a liger…the Hoff…Mandingo’s baseball bat… “Mandingo…whatta guy” …”The was f*ckin’ rad, let’s eat pizza”.

 

– 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

 

 
Aug 232013
 

Liquorature Gathering #009 – “Atlas Shrugged” (Ayn Rand)

Date:  October, 2009

Host:  Curt

Whisky:  Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, Amrut, Laphroaig Quarter Cask

Rum:  Flor de Cana 5 y.o.

Tequila:  El Jimador

 

Sigh.  This should have been our magnum opus discussion.  Instead it was a slightly disappointing night.  Not bad…just…disappointing.  With a book like ‘Atlas’, we went into it with so much hype and elevated expectations.  Perhaps expectations were set too high though, as we did all see the potential, just never quite reached the heights of conversational brilliance to which we’d all aspired.  Icarus and all, right?  Topics of conversation never really got deep enough into philosophy or aesthetics for my liking.  And to be honest, I expected a little more polarity, but it seemed to be fairly well-received and appreciated by most of the gang and all for the same qualities.  Oh well.

I had ordered a few Atlas pieces before this night, and awarded Bauer a “Who is John Galt” shirt for the ultimate achievement, and simply being the uber keener (in the three months between announcement of Atlas and our meeting, he read Atlas twice and The Fountainhead as well).  Can’t recall if I wore my Danneskjold Repossessions shirt or Reardon Steel one.  😉

Pat, Clint, Bauer and I had cigars and laid into a couple of true heavyweights in terms of peated whisky.  I should also note that this was the night we met and fell in love with the Beast.  Ardbeg Airigh Nam Beist, that is.  Dear gawd, what a whisky.  Most of the gang, at this early stage in their tasting journeys were a little…err…unimpressed with the smoky peat monsters.  Oh well…the Ardbeg was beautiful, and the Quarter Cask a brilliant dram too.  I had managed to track down a single malt from India, following on the footsteps of Buddha, who had found a nifty Japanese whisky earlier on.  There was some rum and tequila open too.  The former took a beating.  The latter…not so much.  Food wise…just some snacks:  a table full of a wide array of munchies and sweets.

I’d guess our topic conversation topped out at about two and a half hours.  …And didn’t even scratch the surface.

Perhaps we’ll have to try ‘The Fountainhead’ at some point.

 

– Curt