Friday, February 20, 2009

Later gators, it's DR time.

Off to the Dominican Republic for another week of goodwill and charity and "wild west pharmacy". See you in 10 days or so. Later!

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

To all of you with loved ones, significant others, partners, etc. I wish you and yours a very happy Valentine's Day. May you use this day to remind each other what you mean to each other and profess your undying love to the end of time.

Me? I used to really adore this upcoming song. A tune that stated the determined adoration and commitment that one could have for another. If you were to die, and no one would be there to accompany you into the void, fear not...I would come with you. Death Cab for Cutie originally did it, and the exquisitely beautiful Amanda Palmer covered it. I Will Follow You Into the Dark.

A particularly touching verse boasted of world travels, of seeing the world with the one you love. With the one you adore. It'll be fine at the end of time, 'til death do us part, because our life was full and eventful and you know what, we saw it all. "You and me, have seen everything to see, from Bangkok to Calgary..."

Enjoy. Maybe this song could be a part of your life:

But now? For me?

Fuck Valentine's Day.

Friday, February 13, 2009

An appropriate beer style for an appropriate mood.

Screw lemonade. When life gives you lemons, make beer.

My return to homebrewing in 2009 occurred yesterday on a day off. The style tackled? An English Bitter. That's right. Bitter. My first brew in 2009. My first brew session since Kimberly stated she doesn't want me around and wants to be alone.

I'm normally a happy-go-lucky guy. A generally happy person. Sadly, it takes quite a bit of effort lately and a constant fight against the darkness to keep the previous level of joy somewhat sustainable. So, to expel the demons and perform a bitter catharsis, an appropriate beer style was brewed: bitter. "My Marriage Has Made Me Bitter" Bitter.

The muse for brewing an English Bitter? Some bitter English music. Cue up PJ Harvey on the garage's CD player:

The recipe was culled from the book Clone Brews on page 111 (Thames Welsh Bitter Ale) and tweaked just a tad due to what my local Triad Homebrew had in stock hop-wise:

0.5 lb Crystal Malt 60L
0.5 lb torrified wheat

3.3 lb light Liquid Malt Extract (LME)
2.25 lb extra light LME
4 oz cane sugar

0.5 oz UK Challenger hops (7.0% alpha acid) at 60 minutes
0.5 oz UK Challenger hops 7.0% AA at 45 minutes
1 oz Fuggles hops 4.0% AA at 5 minutes

1 Whirlfloc tablet at 15 minutes to clarify

WLP007 Dry English Ale yeast

It was a refreshingly warm 70-degree North Carolina February day spent in the garage with my loyal dogs brewing up 5 gallons of tasty beverage.

Nice to get my head on straight, continue on with life, and do what brings me joy: brewing beer. Here's to continuing on and enjoying life.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Happy 200th birthday!

February 12, 1809. BOTH Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln are born, changing the world forever.

Brewery Business Hopping Despite Tanking Economy

Another beer piece on NPR's All Things Considered from this past Tuesday.

“Drinking beer is part of your culture. Other products might be affected by the economy, but everything revolves around beer. When you're sad, you have a beer; when you're content, you have a beer.”
Juan Manuel Prado,
health and safety manager at the new Corona brewery in Piedras Negras, Mexico

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


So you may know that for the first time ever (since the mustache actually kinda comes in) I am growing a beard. Three weeks now, although the most recent pick was only at 2 weeks:

A possible goal? 2,222 toothpicks in one's beard. Aim high.

Yeah, so I've been drinking...

It doesn't "count" as country's CAKE!

Sir Salman Rushdie

Yup. You read that correctly.

Author, political critic, and dare I say humorist Sir Salman Rushdie paid a visit to Greensboro last night for the next installment in the Guilford College lecture series: Literature and Politics in the Modern World. Riveting. Fatwa be damned!!!

At one time, novels were one of the main sources for news and information concerning the world around us. Take Charles Dickens. Whether it was reporting on substandard children's orphanages or frankly inventing a lot of Christmas, his novels reported on the state of the world, fomenting change where needed. With the multitude of avenues to receive news nowadays, some say today's novels fall by the wayside and do not provide this service to society anymore. Rushdie says hogwash.

When the state mandates that Item A is the "truth", and an author writes a novel from his/her own perspective and states the TRUE Item B in their book, the author has become a political author.

The differing importance of the Napoleonic Wars to Tolstoy and Austen are interesting. Tolstoy brings a version of the Russian front in War and Peace from his own perspective, virtually bringing to light a worldview of the Russian military leader Kutuzov that stems mainly from the book's exploits versus more timid real-time "newsy" accounts. Jane Austen uses military figures in her romance novels merely as pretty party guests in impeccable attire, nevermind the war of the time that was ravaging. The war did not affect her lifestyle as it did Tolstoy.

The novel is not a mouthpiece of the state, a nation, a religion, a cause. The novel is the perspective of the author alone; the thoughts and vision of the world through the eyes of the author. The novel still has a place in the world for political and newsy topics.

Afterward, I had the privilege to have three books signed by Rushdie. Invigorating. So cool to meet the man. The line was immense and time was short, so no personal photo op with him. But he's caught for posterity signing my books, including the eponymous The Satanic Verses.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Sweet Inauguration photos!

Knowing what an Obama groupie I am (or "became" after Edwards dropped out), fraternity brother "Lude" emailed a link to some pretty awesome Inauguration pics. Staggering overhead shots. And if you couldn't find me, I saved you the trouble. Click to enlarge the photo and to see where I circled myself on the Mall.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Black Pearl Sings!

Tonight was the next performance in the Triad Stage season pass tickets. Frank Higgins' play Black Pearl Sings! about Susannah, a woman who, with a grant from the Library of Congress, travels to prisons to record African-American folk songs for posterity's sake...and hopefully personal glory. Pearl, an inmate for the past 10 years, sings with a glorious voice and enamors Susannah. Pearl also is hoping to contact her missing daughter, a losing proposition within the prison walls. Susannah also is hoping to find that one old song that could be traced to Africa itself as it came across on a slave ship. Susannah and Pearl forge a relationship where each one has something the other wants: Pearl barters with Susannah to help find her daughter, Susannah barters with Pearl by using her government contacts to secure her release.

Pearl's release occurs, with the condition she stays under Susannah's care; a form of "slavery" in Pearl's eyes. The two go to New York to ply their trade and earn money; money to help fund the search for Pearl's daughter. When a reviewer likens the performance to the unveiling of King Kong to an uppercrust audience, you can palpably sense the discomfort. What are we doing this for? Do we sell our souls for acceptance? Do we fully barter what we have and offer up what the other TRULY wants? Do we offer up that nugget that we hold that the other is really looking for, or hold onto it for ourselves?

Frank Higgins' interview on our local NPR station's Triad Arts Up Close:

Gran Torino

Today I didn't feel like going to see Oscar-nominated Rachel Getting Married or Vicky Cristina Barcelona to be more schooled on the actress-portion of the nominations, so I took in a matinee of what I heard was a good film that didn't make the Oscar cut for Eastwood: Gran Torino. The trailer:

Wow. Powerful. Eastwood plays a crotchety widowed Korean War veteran who stubbornly stays in the old neighborhood even as all the house around him are purchased by Asians, namely the Hmong. His interactions with the neighbors are coarse. His utterances vile and bigoted. When an Asian gang tries to recruit the shy introverted young neighbor of Eastwood, the rifle comes out and a guttural "Get off my lawn." drives the gang away.

As a newfound neighborhood hero, Eastwood, once despised by his foreign neighborhood, is now embraced, even adored for his "heroism". Eastwood slowly grows closer to his Asian friends than his own family. He begrudgingly becomes a mentor to his young neighbor. When a brutal act of gang retaliation befalls the neighborhood, vengeance occurs in the unlikeliest of ways, bringing peace of mind and peace to the neighborhood.

A solid Full Price for this film. I've been on a tear lately: haven't seen a bad one in a while.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Post-Super Bowl, pre-Spring Training baseball fix

Before the World Baseball Classic (to which I am going to in Los Angeles next month), there are other games to bide the time. The wonderfully orgasmically fantastic MLB Network is airing live games for the entirety of the Serie del Caribe, i.e. the 2009 Caribbean Series held in Mexicali, Mexico.

February 2-7.
Puerto Rico
Dominican Republic

Tonight's game keeping me and the dogs company? Mexico vs. Dominican Republic.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Wrestler

Marissa Tomei as a stripper. Come on! It's a no-brainer! The trailer from today's matinee viewing extravaganza:

I'll be honest with you. I just don't care for Mickey Rourke. He looks like a cartoon of his former 9 1/2 Weeks self. Plump lips that seem to be utterly unable to form a whistle; overly stretched eyelids from one too many cosmetic procedures. He looks like a plastoid clown. So I had low expectations for both Rourke and the subject matter. (A professional wrestler? Really?)

I felt differently upon exiting the theater.

Sure Rourke looks like hell, but in the context of the film it works. Rourke portrays an old haggard hero from the wrestling world of the 1980s, The Ram. 20 years later, he's living in a trailer, sometimes sleeping in his van. He works in the backroom of a grocery store for money. He's behind on rent. He frequents a strip club and befriends an older stripper (Tomei). His daughter hates him for disappearing and not being around.

Can an old beaten down wrestler, an old stripper seeing young more nubile bodies squeezing her out, and a young daughter abandoned by her no-good father all manage to trudge through life? The parallel journeys of Rourke and Tomei, the wrestler and the stripper, are eerily similar. When all around you tells you to stop, yet this is the only life you know, how in the world CAN you stop?

A solid Matinee for the film,...but a "firm" (wink wink) Full Price for Marissa Tomei. Come on, she's a STRIPPER!!!!