Thursday, April 30, 2009

Amanda Palmer birthday post

I've been known to annoy the shit out of people concerning my adoration of Amanda Palmer. Repeatedly. Now who knew that today on her 33rd birthday that is PRECISELY what I am supposed to do? To wit, her birthday post on her website's blog:

what i want for my birthday. really.

hola comrades!

i’d like to thank you all for your many birthday wishes…they’ve come flooding in via twitter, myspace, and email…the love has been profuse, profane and profound and, just…thank you. thank you and i love you. i’m so happy.

i’ve spent all week composing an epic open letter to robert smith. he turned 50 on tuesday. i was hoping to get it posted up for his birthday. i failed. it was just too much, too long. i think it might turn into a novel. which he’ll never read. i digress.

it’s april 30th and i’m 33. this is what i’ve always referred to as JESUS YEAR.

yes, the year christ bit the bullet.

it’s easy to get pissed at him. he accomplished so much in so little time. betch.

i am also angry, in a similar way, at the beatles. “please, please me” came out in 1963, “abbey road” in 1969 (“let it be” doesn’t count) and in between they put out god knows how many songs into the universe and changed who fucking knows how much about the world and the people in it and what they were doing and thinking. when they disbanded, john lennon was TWENTY-NINE (and was the OLDEST FUCKING BEATLE). betch.

this shit is just ridiculous. let’s not get into it.

i’ve accomplished plenty, and i’m proud of what i’ve done, and i have no regrets, and everything is just fucking awesome.


let’s leave it at that.

NOW. lots of you have asked me WHAT I WANT for my birthday. i am going to actually ask, for the first time in my life, for a gift. from you. my people.

here is what i’d like for my birthday:

please take this moment in time and think about one person, any person, who you think might like my music and my art. someone who doesn’t know it. someone who does not have amanda fucking palmer in their life and might like her there. this does not have to be a peer. it could be a child, a mother, an ex, an uncle, an befriended enemy, a co-worker, a long-lost friend, a teacher, a whatever. ANYONE.

picture them in your mind. picture if their life might possibly be made better if you brought some afp into it.

please send/get to them them either of the following (in any format your lifestyle or computer literacy allows for. and explain why you are sending this. explain why you like this artist. explain that it’s her birthday and she’s asked you, as a favor to her, to do this. the worst they will do is delete your email, tell you to fuck off, or disown you)

1) a copy of WHO KILLED AMANDA PALMER. if you don’t think they have the attention span for the whole album, send them a track.

2) a youtube clip of one of your favorite AFP videos.

here are some options:

leeds united:

the shocking oasis video, (banned in the uk!!! use this fact to impress your younger siblings):

the who killed amanda palmer video series by michael pope:
runs in the family:
the point of it all:
strength through music:
guitar hero:

and if they’re a hard sell, try……

me playing creep in the audience at the middle east (always a good way to convince people i’m not too evil):

and if ALL ELSE FAILS…..

send THIS (and if YOU haven’t seen it….just….go watch it. it’s amazing. i had a blog to write about it, but i fucked off. i will later. promise.) it’s me, in harvard sqaure last summer, lip-synching “everybody’s gotta live.” even your great-grandmother will like it. i swear:

please let me know how it goes. twitter, comment, email, whatevs.

i want to know how this experiment works.

whether you fully understand it or not, i rely on you to make my life work. this is part of how we do it. i am so glad you’re here. i am so glad i’m here. i am so glad we’re here.

i can’t think of a better gift.

Amanda Fucking Palmer
Lexington, MA

Happy 33rd birthday, Amanda!

The attached video contains a wondrous collection of all things I love:

a) Amanda Palmer
b) a black The Who t-shirt
c) The Rocky Horror Picture Show

April 30, 1976. Amanda Palmer is born. And the world smiled.

"And Flash Gordon was there in silver underwear..."

Saturday, April 25, 2009


The Brannons drove down to visit family this weekend, and they were gracious enough to load up Pivot for the drive. "Pivot", you ask? The story was posted here.

I was anxious to get my hands on Pivot. The wall above the couch was screaming for it. I was able to gaze upon it from photos only; I longed to get up close and see the texture, the vibrancy, the effort put into it.

It's here. It's in one piece. And it's on the wall. Lara, you really did a beautiful job on this. Thank you so much.

Dave Matthews Band - Charlotte

Hey it's obnoxiously late. Almost 3:00am. Let's blog!

Friday: another day of working 8-4, another evening of Dave Matthews Band in concert. Tonight? The trek down to Charlotte. A few of the Dominican Republic crew gathered to carpool down and tailgate...before AND afterward. BBQ chicken, brats, pasta salad, beer. Delicious.

Tonight's vibe was completely different from Wednesday. Raleigh seemed "edgier" and "angrier". Tonight seemed more like a frolicky singalong. More mellow songs (Stay or Leave, Crush, Where Are You Going) seemed to give it a warm cozy feel....until the roof was torn down with a rousing rendition of Talking Heads' Burning Down the House. Wow.

A different night. A different city. A different Dave mood. A different concert altogether. A fun night to hang out with DR cronies and just enjoy a second night of Dave.

Opens with Pantala Naga Pampa-->Rapunzel, ends with the Gordon favorite Grey Street, then finishes 3 encores with Stay. No angry All Along the Watchtower tonight.

The setlist:

Friday Apr 24 2009
Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre

Pantala Naga Pampa-->Rapunzel
Where Are You Going
Stay Or Leave
Burning Down The House
Why I Am
Spaceman [segue into...]
Corn Bread
So Much To Say [segue into...]
Anyone Seen The Bridge [segue into...]
Too Much (Fake) [segue into...]
Tripping Billies
Funny The Way It Is
So Damn Lucky
Grey Street

Blue Water
Crash Into Me
Stay (Wasting Time)

A lot of fun. A couple of days of great DMB music to lighten the mood and heal the soul. Just a great couple of trips for concerts. Outstanding.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I am a craft brewer.

Well, not ME per se. But this video was played before Stone Brewing Co.'s Greg Koch's keynote address at the Craft Brewers Conference in Boston. It's packed with the who's who of the craft brewing industry. Packed with enough "stars" to make me shiver and squeal like a little schoolgirl.

(And check out the guy with the crazy jacket and Fullsteam shirt. North Carolina's own!)

I Am A Craft Brewer from I Am A Craft Brewer on Vimeo.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


A new division of Disney, Disneynature, releases an environmentally-conscious film concerning the plight of the animal kingdom in our current global climate situation. Earth Day was the release date, but that did not jive with the schedules of some of us at work who wanted to see it. So after a Walgreens dinner date the evening after Earth Day on Thursday, a gaggle of us took it in. For me, the first Rated G film I have seen in I can't tell you how long. Rated G or not, as always on here, first it's the trailer:

Visually stunning. Startlingly majestic on the big screen. It wasn't in iMax, but I did find myself on more than one occasion tilting forward in dizzying awe. As a G rating may suggest, the tribulations of real life animals are glossed over in some detail. A leopard catching its prey is shot in slow motion with mournful music filling the air. Then once the jaws grip around the neck,...fade scene.

Animal offspring are termed "families", with "dad polar bear" out to find food for the clan. Metaphors to allow young children to understand the social and/or familial structure of wild animals; it works. Sometimes it's corny, but I felt it works.

James Earl Jones narrates and inserts subtle pleas for global warming solutions. Polar bears need a solid ice shelf to hunt for seal; the ice doesn't last long into the season now, so their food gathering period is shortened and their existence threatened, etc. down the line. Disneynature is touching young minds to try to enlighten them as to the world's plight. Open their eyes to the worldview and not a narrow-minded myopic vision of "us first and screw our descendants and the world". So the ice shelf doesn't last so long, big deal. Wrong, my friend.

A film based on the extensive BBC series Planet Earth. Captures shots from the small screen and absolutely explodes them onto the silver screen. A visual gem.

A Full Price. For a G movie? You don't say.

Dave Matthews Band - Raleigh

Wednesday night saw the first of two North Carolina concerts by the Dave Matthews Band. So naturally, being a member of their Warehouse fan club, I bought tickets to both shows before the general public. Wednesday in Raleigh and Friday in Charlotte.

After work was over and immediately on the way to Raleigh, first it was a stop at the Carolina Brewery & Grill in Pittsboro for a delicious barbeque chicken pizza and pints of Flagship IPA. Satiated and quenched, it was back in the Jeep to the [insert corporate sponsor name here] Amphiteatre at Walnut Creek.

Logging in at just a hair under 2 and a half hours, this show just rocked my socks off. It was bittersweet in that their longtime saxophone/horn player LeRoi Moore had passed away in an ATV accident, and this was my first show with him gone. And, because his shoes were so large to fill, it took TWO additional horn players to fit the bill and, I wouldn't say "replace" him, but rather to take his spot on the stage. Tim Reynolds was along to play electric guitar (even Dave busted out the electric for the new song Why I Am!), and there was no Butch Taylor sighting as there were no keyboards tonight.

From the raucous Bartender to the closing Two Step to the long encore of All Along the Watchtower melding into the heavy portions of Stairway to Heaven, this show was spectacular.

The set list:
Wednesday Apr 22 2009
Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek

Why I Am
Anyone Seen The Bridge [segue into...]
Too Much (Fake) [segue into...]
Ants Marching
You Might Die Trying
Corn Bread
Dancing Nancies [segue into...]
Funny The Way It Is
So Damn Lucky
Grey Street
Two Step


Blue Water
All Along The Watchtower


Hastily made Cleveland tourism video

Got home from the Dave Matthews Band concert in Raleigh just a smidge ago (yes it's insanely late), and I'm checking up on my usual interwebs routine, where lo and behold on there was this gem. I can't get it out of my head now...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!

April 22 is Earth Day. I'd post a little more today, but the schedule is full. Working 8-4, a quick change, dinner at Carolina Brewery in Pittsboro, then it's a Dave Matthews Band concert in Raleigh. So tomorrow looks to be pretty thin with regards to computer time.

In the meantime, go hug a tree.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Eddie Vedder solo and live in Baltimore

I have a week off in June. Originally I was going to head out to Oakland for the National Homebrewers Conference, but instead I've been kicking around other destinations: back to Belgium, back to Germany, back to Montana for a It's-been-10-years-since-I've-been-to-Glacier-National-Park trip. But to keep things more economical, it looks like a trip in the Jeep up and down the eastern states is winning out.

The initial mapping looks to log 1,675 miles in one week's time: Greensboro as the start with Cooperstown, NY as the furthest point. In between there's all sorts of possibilities: Kitty Hawk, Williamsburg, DC, Philadelphia. I had a preliminary itinerary in mind, and then BOOM! the first variant:

Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam is doing a small venue tour from June 8 to July 2. On Sunday and Monday June 14-15 he will be playing the beautiful Lyric Opera House in Baltimore. So naturally, since I am one to enjoy a concert or two, I snatched up a ticket for Monday's show. So Baltimore is now a confirmed date on my upcoming massive East Coast Swing.


I'll certainly be sure to pack my best flannel for the occasion.

Such is the way of the world
You can never know
Just where to put all your faith
And how will it grow

Gonna rise up
Burning black holes in dark memories
Gonna rise up
Turning mistakes into gold

Such is the passage of time
Too fast to fold
And suddenly swallowed by signs
Lo and behold

Gonna rise up
Find my direction magnetically
Gonna rise up
Throw down my ace in the hole

Baba O'Riley

I'm tired of the last post being such a downer. I'm tired of logging on and seeing that the most recent post I've typed has recorded my latest sour mood funk. I'm not a "sour mood" kind of guy. It bothers me. So in a fit of joyous wonder, I found a combination on the interwebs mixing two of my favorite bands: Pearl Jam singing The Who.

And dammit if it didn't put a smile on my face instantly.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

So Sad About Us

Fucking melancholy strikes again.

Things were going just fine until my most favorite band in the entire world pops up on my latest iPod song shuffle. The Who Live at the Royal Albert Hall. Special guests abound (Bryan Adams, Eddie Vedder, Noel Gallagher, etc.) on this CD, with this song featuring guest Paul Weller attempting to drive me down into dark somber realms.


But sharing your sadness makes you stronger, right?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Anna Quindlen

Tuesday night was the final night in the 2008-09 Guilford College lecture series. The speaker? Anna Quindlen.

It was refreshingly better than I had expected. I guess going in I thought this would be the weakest of the bunch this season, but it was surprisingly entertaining.

As a commentator, columnist, social critic, Quindlen manages to grab a rope and pull down huge national issues to the common citizen viewpoint. Her first person view on national stage issues and how they relate to regular people is unique.

Giving me a huge smile tonight, she expounded on reading and its place in society. Reading gives you a window to other worlds. Reading places you in the mind of authors long gone. Reading holds a solid spot in our daily it should.

She held up a sheet of paper with the words: Call me Ishmael. What does that mean? Sure, it's the first line of Melville's epic Moby Dick, but it is more? Is it just a sentence? Is it something else? To the common 3-year-old it means nothing. A curvy line, a round one, then two straight black marks on white paper. That's all. But eventual learning and mind development allows us to appreciate this sentence. A simple sentence that over 150 years later gives meaning and purpose and basis for debate and reflection. Intriguing.

With the current state of the economy, she lamented the possible cut in library funding. What would endanger us as a society more over the long haul (do not think myopically in the short term here, think long term)....cutting library or defense budgets? What would harm us day-to-day as a people more?

She states empathy is a tennant of humanity. Reading allows you to feel empathy towards the protagonist, antagonist, author. So essentially, reading helps define what humanity is. Deep.

All in all, an evening that left me with a smile on my face and a refreshing take on her public speaking. I don't know why I thought it would be weak. Maybe I foresaw a "girlie" talk. Who knows. But it was great.

2009-10 starts up in October. Mailers go out first of May. An easy renewal for me.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Multiple DC trips yield excessive purchase

OK, so you know I'm a sucker for a quick 4+ hour drive up to Washington, DC. There's so much to see. There's so much to do. There's so much history involved.

One of my favorite spots is the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery. I love going there. It just so happens I'm also a sucker for a Smithsonian gift shop. Well, above the main register at the Portrait Gallery gift shop is this really neato piece of artwork. It's a map of the United States where the states have been cut out of license plates. It's wicked cool. Every time I go, I just stare at it in awe. It's just so damn COOL!

Well, in Seinfeld it was "The Summer of George". So I guess this is "The Spring of Christopher". I've been doing a lot of things that, quite frankly, make me HAPPY. My life has gone down into the relative shitter lately, and in response I've been trying my damnedest to bring up my mood and allow me the happiness that I fucking deserve. So what did I do now?

I called the Smithsonian to purchase this artwork.

The great thing is that the artist, Aaron Foster out in California, will make one personally with each order. Vintage license plates and reclaimed wood from old homes and barns are used. I love it. Sure it's probably way too much, and had I still had a housemate to play conscience for me I wouldn't have jumped in the deep end like this, but like they said in the movie Risky Business, sometimes you just have to say 'What the fuck.' Weeks after my initial call to the Smithsonian, a 60-pound awkward box arrives on the front stoop. And with great difficulty, I get it onto the mantle by myself.


The day after Opening Day.

It's the rough morning after Opening Day's frivolity. With a holiday weekend and families involved, we said some goodbyes quite early, we ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant then said goodbye to others, and finally Dale, me, The Other Chris, and Julie made our way to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum to be touristy. It was pretty cool. I had been there once before years and years and years ago, but for some reason this trip I found it to be more satisfying. I had reservations about returning, but this current visit alleviated those fears. This was really cool!

About 3:00, The Other Chris and Julie had to skip out and do their own familial obligations, so Dale and I went on a west side brewpub crawl until 11:00pm. From downtown, we hit:

First, Rocky River Brewing Co.

Then on to Lakewood and the Buckeye Beer Engine.

Third, we hit up a new spot we read about in the Great Lakes Brewing News while at Buckeye, a new brewpub that just opened up this past TUESDAY and has been a rollicking HIT ever since! It was the cartoonishly-named yet delicious beer-brewed Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon. What a find!

Fourth, yes fourth, it was time to eat so some "southern style" BBQ was in order. Dale's a big "eastern NC" vinegary BBQ fan (blecch!) so my dissertation on Cleveland BBQ intrigued him. The destination: The Brew Kettle. To quote Dale, "Who knew that 'southern-style' meant 'Memphis-style'?" I countered that technically Memphis IS indeed south of Cleveland. Eastern NC does not have a monopoly on the term "southern style".

Then, realizing that the giftshop at Great Lakes Brewing would be closed by this time, we searched for the closest grocery store on my new GPS device (I LOVE it) and found a Giant Eagle to buy a metric ass-load of GLBC bottles to bring home and ration until Opening Day 2010. Blackout Stout, Burning River Pale Ale, and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter were the winning beers to come home to NC.

Finally it's 11:00pm, and for the final stop we made our way back to the venerable Great Lakes Brewing to fill a couple growlers of Blackout Stout and Edmund Fitzgerald Porter and to have that one final beer and ice cream of the trip. A great way to end the weekend, for early Sunday morning we'll be hitting the road for our close to 8-hour ride back home. An awesome trip all the way around.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Opening Day 2009!

So it's finally here: Opening Day 2009. Our yearly get-together with decades-long friends. Our one time a year when we ALL take the same time off and enjoy a brief visit to reminisce, drink good beer, watch baseball, and generally have an outstanding time with one another.

Thursday I worked 8-4, er, actually just 8-3. Then it was the 7+ hour drive northward to crash at Duke's in Mt. Vernon, OH. Fellow local beer nut Dale traveled with me this year, so he arrived at my house and we loaded up the Jeep and we took off.

Friday, we made for a 9am departure to arrive at our pregame destination: Great Lakes Brewing Co. The brewpubs to end all brewpubs. Call me a homer, but it's my favorite. Yes, even above my adored Foothills. We arrived before Great Lakes opened. So, it was a quick walk-over to Dave's Supermarket around the corner for some to release their coffee and for me to purchase 5 containers of brown Stadium Mustard. I needed to stock up.

Finally a table for 12 is acquired and we commence the drinking. And eating. But mostly drinking. Their fine, fine beverages were consumed with almost reckless abandon. Every one on the board was ordered...even my arch-nemesis Eliot Ness Vienna Lager. My least favorite. But I sucked it up and ordered a pint just to do it. Just to be stubborn and give Art the mental finger. Just to say I did so. It's on the board, after all.

So a $427 bill later, we make our way to Jacobs Field. The GLBC Fatty Wagon was on the fritz or something, so a smaller van was being utilized to carry revelers across the Lorain-Carnegie Bridge to the ballpark. It didn't carry as many people. So the line didn't reduce by very much with each roundtrip. Frustrated, and only out $1 each for the fare, we made Dave's underage son drive all of us in their own minivan. It made for cozy surroundings and some accidental touching where strangers shouldn't, but we made it across in one piece. And besides, we're not strangers so it's not inappropriate touching.

The game started, and then promptly stalled with a rain delay. Are you serious? ANOTHER year of crappy weather. Well, the rain chilled to the core more so than the SNOW of 2007, so we said the heck with this and left. Back across the bridge. We checked into our hotel, then made our way to The Winking Lizard for some munchies and some more beer. Here, after the Cavaliers game on TV was over, we discover that 60-odd people out of 41,000 had actually stayed in the ballpark and the game was back on after a 3-hour break. Sadly, the Toronto Blue Jays had their way with us afterward and a 13-7 score in favor of the bad guys was the horrifying result.

After the Lizard and the end of the game on TV, most of us went off to bed, but a few intrepid souls made one final trip of the day to Great Lakes Brewing for a dessert nightcap: both beer and ice cream. Blackout Stout, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter, and that delicious Edmund Fitzgerald Porter ice cream were on the docket. It took quite some pushing and determination to down that final beer of the long day, and we for the most part did not indeed succeed. Back to the hotel to wake up our sleeping roommates and then crash. And crash HARD.

A wonderful day spent with great friends. I so look forward to seeing everybody in one setting. And this year's trip did not disappoint.


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

"It's SUPPOSED to taste like a shit taco."

Another classic from last night's Daily Show. Run for your lives, tyranny has finally come to our shores...

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Tracking an Ancient Belgian Beer

A fine Wall Street Journal article concerning the old-style Belgian beer known as lambic. I can't believe it's been over 6 months since I've crawled around the dusty musty and cobweb-laden Cantillon Brewery in Brussels. I really need to go back. Really.

APRIL 6, 2009, 8:02 P.M. ET

Tracking an Ancient Belgian Beer

Lambic, a rare, sour brew, uses techniques dating back to man's first beer. Reporter Charles Forelle visits one of the few remaining breweries
BRUSSELS -- Beer is usually not a morning pursuit.

But it was still dark one day last month when I lumbered out of bed and over to the tiny Cantillon brewery, located in a scruffy neighborhood not far from the main train station here.

Industrial brewers can be as secretive as defense contractors -- good luck getting inside the mashing room of Diageo PLC's Guinness brewery in Dublin -- but a couple of times a year Cantillon opens its doors to the public.

I had risen early because I wanted to see how to brew lambic, a Belgian specialty so retro its origins go back thousands of years. The early-morning start was necessary because there are no refrigerated tanks or cryogenic chillers at Cantillon; the boiled liquid that will become beer cools in the open air, and it needs a whole, cold night to do so. Thus all the mixing, cooking, filtering and boiling must be completed well before sunset.

Lambic brewing is "a process that has become so rare around the world, but that was once the universal method of making beer," says Jean-Pierre Van Roy, the patriarch of the family that has owned and run Cantillon for a century. "As with everything rare, we need to be watchful, we need to be able to show this type of industry to our generation and future generations."

Take sips of two dozen different beers and the lambic will be the one you remember. A traditional lambic is startlingly sour, like plain yogurt, and full of musty and meaty flavors.

Lambic is brewed only in Brussels and a few towns on the city's western edge -- and only a dozen breweries make it. Cantillon makes around 32,000 gallons a year; Anheuser-Busch InBev pumps out more than 1.3 billion gallons of Bud Light annually. Bottles are easy to find in Brussels, but it's likely to take a committed search anywhere else.

All beer starts out roughly the same: Some sort of grain is cooked in water to turn its starches to sugar. The brewer then adds yeast to turn the sugars to alcohol.

Brewers of lambic skip that last step. At Cantillon, the cooked grain-broth -- wort, it's called -- is pumped up to the attic, then dumped into a giant, copper tub beneath the eaves that looks like a children's splashing pool. It cools there overnight, picking up the wild yeasts and bacteria floating in the Brussels air.

This is the same method the first human to concoct beer most likely used thousands of years ago. Like true sourdough bread and natural yogurt, lambic is resolutely pre-industrial and is fermented with whatever bugs happen to be nearby.

Belgian scientists have deconstructed lambic and found scores of different species of micro-flora. Two important types are lactic-acid bacteria, which make lambic sour, and yeasts of the genus Brettanomyces, among them B. bruxellensis, which give lambic its characteristic aroma. "Horse blanket" is the term favored by beer cognoscenti. This is not a terribly useful olfactory cue for those of us who dwell in cities, but the scent is of hay and must -- and also of something very much alive. It is
a weird concept for beer, no doubt, but strangely compelling and astoundingly complex. Needless to say, sour mustiness is a tough sell -- don't look for commercials of sweaty young things dancing to reggaeton and taking swigs from bottles of lambic.

"People have a taste for anything, but their palates have been deformed," Mr. Van Roy says. "Industrial producers get people used to eating and drinking in a certain way. And when you explain to people what the product is, when you let them taste it, they come to realize that this sourness we have in our products is really a popular taste."

To at least a small slice of beer fans, it is.

Despite the early hour, professional brewers on a pilgrimage, home brewers with a sense of curiosity and a throng of committed drinkers mingled over croissants and coffee at the Cantillon brewery. The coffee was weak, and by 9 a.m. or so most everyone switched over to beer.

A group of bleary-eyed Californian brewers conquered the early morning simply: by staying up the whole night before. They marveled as Jean Van Roy -- Jean-Pierre's son, now head brewer -- scurried between tanks, hooking up copper pipes to control the flow between chambers, tweaking spigots and levers.

There is nothing modern about Cantillon -- no blinking lights or beeping electronic temperature monitors. Barrels are steamed clean by hand in a low-ceilinged, Dickensian basement. A system of flywheels, belts and gears powers what needs powering and turns what needs turning.

The mash-tun -- the heart of the brewery, where wheat and barley are mixed and cooked -- is a 19th-century model in heavy iron. To fill it, a worker one floor up shovels grain down a chute.

Lambic brewing as done at Cantillon would drive the bean-counters of a big brewery mad. Cantillon can brew only in the colder months, when the weather is right; the brewery gets in about 20 working days a year -- if the weather turns suddenly warm, a batch can be spoiled. Most of the product sits in inventory for years before being sold, and the long aging in wooden casks means about a third of what's brewed is lost to evaporation -- the "angel's share," as it's known.

"The angels of Brussels are great gourmands," the elder Mr. Van Roy says, standing in the attic amid sacks of grain, an orange scarf knotted at his throat.

"The big brewers can't work like us," he says. "It's impossible. They have staff and other expenses." At Cantillon, "there are no directors or administrators. There's a father, a mother, children and now grandchildren."

Around mid-day, Jean Van Roy starts drawing tumblers of wort from the mash-tun, passing around samples in plastic cups. It is warm and sweet. Eventually he is satisfied, and he pulls more levers to begin pumping the liquid upstairs into vats for boiling.

A few hours later, he deems the boiling complete. Visitors crowd up to the attic, clambering on creaky wood stairs for a glimpse of the cooling pool. The wort gushes in, and they give a cheer. Soon the whole, chilly room fills with a warm, beery haze.

Only a few more years, and you could drink it.

And to think the reporter and I almost took the exact same picture! Here's his, then my two:

I'm thirsty for some stinky lambic now. And a Cantillon Kriek 100% Lambic might do just nicely tonight...

Opening Day!...on the road for my beloved Indians

Regardless of the recent cold snap, spring is in the air and my step is just a little bit lighter. Baseball season is finally here. Officially. (Granted the first game was Sunday night with just the Braves and Phillies playing, but today was the big day with regard to the teams playing.)

My Cleveland Indians opened on the road Monday night in Texas. And promptly got shellacked 9-1. And it wasn't even that close. Our lonely singular run was scored on a wild pitch as pictured here. Ugh. 2008's Cy Young Award winner and 2009's #1 guy Cliff Lee just got pummeled. Enjoy the thrilling recap here.

Still, baseball is here and I couldn't be more excited. With the dark cloud of steroids, the shenanigans of pampered athletes, the mind-boggling salary structure, with all of it....I am still a little kid when it comes time for baseball and follow it with obsessive wonder. Major leagues, local minor leagues, Indians minor league teams, all of it.

I love it.

And more importantly, this coming Friday will be another installment of our Kappa Psi fraternity-brother-plus-other-friends Opening Day get-together at Jacobs, er I mean "Progressive", Field to sit in the damp cold and bond with each other...something I really look forward to every year. And this year will be extra special for me in light of recent relationship issues. Their support has been unwavering and, not that there's anything wrong with it, their love keeps me strong. So it will be GREAT to catch up with old friends in person and hug and smack each other and laugh and make fun of each other and revert back to being 19 or 20 years old.

I love baseball.


Sunday night saw the next installment in the Triad Stage season passes: Henrik Ibsen's dark and disturbing drama from the late, late 1800s Ghosts. I was wondering what I was in for upon reading some of the blurbs in the playbill, such as this one, my favorite:

“An open drain; a loathsome sore unbandaged; a dirty act done publicly; a lazar-house with all it doors and windows open…candid foulness…offensive cynicism…Ibsen’s melancholy and malodorous world…Absolutely loathsome and fetid…Gross, almost putrid decorum.”

–London’s Daily Telegraph, 1891, anonymous editorial

Wow, what the hell am I in for?

A dark and dreary play with such heavy topics as incest, lies, sexual infidelity, such advanced stage syphilis that mental status changes are quite evident, and the begging by a son to his own mother to kill him with an overdose of morphine. Quite the pick-me-up!

I don't even know how to describe this. A woman who, upon pressure from the pastor, stays with a husband against all common sense. Incestuous relations, kept secret for so long, finally ooze forth and taint all those involved. The disease that disturbs them, that mental disease and secret affliction that was passed from father to son, the advanced stage of disease that causes one to beg for their own death. So very dark and intense, and yet throughout the performance I sat there with an uncomfortable bewildered look upon my face. I understand that the theater is meant to provoke emotion and produce discussion, but this one really left me spent and exhausted.

Listen to some info from Triad Stage director Preston Lane on our local NPR station WFDD and their program Triad Arts Up Close:

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy belated birthday, Christopher Walken!

In a fit of horrific oversight, I neglected to mention the birthday of a thespian GENIUS.

Christopher Walken was born March 31, 1943. And the world instantly was made a better place.

YouTube stated "Embedding is disabled upon request", so I cannot post the video I really, really wanted you to see on here. You'll have to click on the link and watch genius in action. Seriously. Do it. You'll thank me.

We have a title.

From the artist herself:
No your heart will never be the will be better. Sometimes you are asked to pivot...your choice or not and I firmly believe that one door slams shut another will open wide. those shapes are your pivot.


Lara, thank you. I love it.