Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 36 -- The Sunset Warrior

by Eric Van Lustbader

Started: Nov. 26
Finished: Nov. 29

Notes: I've gone all this year reading next to no speculative fiction and definitely no fantasy fiction, so I thought it time to change that before 2023 comes to and end. Also, I've been meaning to read this author for decades now, and I'm finally taking the plunge.

Mini review: The world has frozen over and humanity has been forced to move far underground in order to survive. Here society has become something of a caste system, though one swordsman refuses to bend the knee to any even when civil war appears to be looming among the powerful. Secrets loom and the swordsman finds himself on a quest to learn the truth of not only his reality, but that of all humanity. Mostly a novel of political intrigue, the action quotient kicks up near the end. Also, several revelations near the end were quite surprising to me, which is not usually the case for me. The writing style here reminded me somewhat of Michael Moorcock but without the finesse, which is not a bad thing. The first novel in a trilogy, I'll have to keep my eyes pealed for the other books in the series.

Monday, November 27, 2023

Beer of the Week: Two Hearted IPA

Beer score: 6.9

Company: Bell's
ABV: 7.0
IBU: 60

This one has changed hands a couple of times over the years, originally being brewed by the folks at the Kalamazoo Brewery  when I first tasted it decades go, but now the folks at Bell's produce this fine beer.

It's really good for watching late-night vampire movies. Take that for what you will.

When pouring, there's a bit of a citrus and pine scent. When tasting, there's still a touch of that citrus but there's also the barest hints of breadiness.

It has a pretty strong bitter flavor while going down, but is good and smooth enough for lager fans.

I would drink this again. And again.

Saturday, November 25, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 35 - The Gospel According to St. Luke

published by Zondervan

Started: Nov. 21
Finished: Nov. 25

Notes: Considering the Christmas season is looming ahead, I thought it fitting to read the next gospel among my Bible readings.

Mini review: Of the three Synoptic Gospels, I find this one the most comprehensive, telling much that appears in the other two, outlining the life of Jesus while adding some few details not in the other books.

Tuesday, November 21, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 34 -- Schools and Masters of Fencing

by Egerton Castle

Started: Nov. 3
Finished: Nov. 21

Notes: Of late I've been reading a fair amount about swords in history and I felt like continuing my reading trend for at least one more book. Originally published in 1885, this book covers the periods from the Middle Ages through the 18th Century.

Mini review: This turns out not to be a fully comprehensive book on the fencing masters of the period, for the author's information comes from a particular large collection of books available to him at the time of writing, and I personally know of at least a few fencing masters who are note even named within this book. That does not mean this book does not have its uses, nor that is was not interesting, for it did cover plenty of fencing masters including some well known to me. It's worth picking up if you are interested in the history of the sword, and I found the author's personal prejudices related to the sword to be interesting and even sometimes amusing, for he seemed to find perfection in the small sword of the 18th and 19th Centuries (weapons which I personally tend to despise) while he had little love for the earlier rapier and downright disdain for even earlier weapons such as the longsword.

Monday, November 20, 2023

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Blue Ridge Porter

Beer score: 7.7

No chance to try a beer this week, but I have notes from this brew which is no longer with us.

And it's a shame this one is no longer with us.

It had a decent amount of bitterness with a fairly strong coffee and burnt caramel flavor. Fairly light for a porter with a creamy texture.

It was a "chocolate" beer, which didn't mean it contained real chocolate, but is a dark brew that often has a coffee taste.

This one was originally brewed by the Frederick Crewing Co. in Maryland, then later they were bought out by the Flying Dog brewing folks, and eventually this beer ended up with the Wild Goose Brewery. Either way, this one's no longer available.

Monday, November 13, 2023

Beer of the Week: Lowenbrau Original

Beer score: 4.7

Company: Lowenbrau
ABV: 5.2
IBU: 19

This one has gone by various names over the years, including Lowenbrau Special and Lowenbrau Munchen, and the label on the green bottles changes slightly from time to time, but it's basically the flagship beer for the Lowenbrau folks, their first and original. Also, I'm told the Lowenbrau sold in the U.S. and that sold in other parts of the world have slightly different recipes, though I've only had the version sold in the U.S.

Pours a light golden color, almost like straw, with lots of carbonation, while giving off a weak bread-like scent, very weak.

This beer is wet and has a very made-for-America taste.

Not an awful beer, but also not a very good one. There are better on the market, even in the U.S.

Monday, November 06, 2023

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Saranac Single Malt Ale

Beer score: 7.0

The Saranac folks have made some decent brews over the years, but unfortunately not all of them are still around, like this one. At least I have a few old notes left over.

The label boasted that this beer had a flavor distinctive from any other beer, and while I don't know if I'd go that far, it definitely was different from any of the other Saranac brews I've tasted over the decades.

This one went down very smooth and wet with a bitterness that hit the tongue quickly but died out on the way down to the stomach. That bitterness grew strong the more you drank, but it left your mouth soon except for a slight dull taste still in the mouth.

Friday, November 03, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 33 - The Gospel According to St. Mark

published by Zondervan

Started: Nov. 1
Finished: Nov. 3

Notes: For some reason of which I'm not aware, I believe this is the book of the gospels which I have read the least, including never having read it all straight through. So, considering many scholars believe this to be the first of the gospels to have been written, and the fact I recently finished reading Matthew, it should be interesting for me.

Mini review: From a strict narrative point of view, this is my least favorite of the gospels, mainly because for the first two-thirds of this book there is little narrative structure, the timeline being a jumble of Jesus going around performing miracles and parables in no seeming real order, with the only major event of the life of Jesus to be mentioned being the transfiguration. That being said, the last third of this book is a brief outline of the last days and resurrection of Jesus, though it is so brief as to nearly being uninformative.

Wednesday, November 01, 2023

Books read in 2023: No. 32 -- The Archaeology of Weapons

by Ewart Oakeshott

Started: Oct. 12
Finished: Nov. 1

Notes: It's only been a little more than a week since I read Richard Burton's The Book of the Sword from the 19th Century. Of course much of the information there was outdated due to historical research over the last century and more, so I wanted to read something more up to date. This book here was originally published in 1960 though my edition includes an update from 1994. Unfortunately the author is no longer with us, so there can be no other updates. However, for decades Ewart Oakeshott was considered by many to be the pre-eminent expert on all things sword related. I have read a number of shorter pieces from him though this is the first book of his I've to read.

Mini review: This turned out to be an excellent book full of plenty of information. I found it to be an excellent follow up to Burton's The Book of the Sword because that book winds down toward the end of the Roman era which is mostly where this book picks up, continuing along until the 15th Century. The Viking era is covered fairly well, and the 11th through 14th Centuries are covered extremely well, breaking down the various parts of a sword and codifying them. And to make clear, most of this book pertains to swords, though there are some shorter sections pertaining to daggers, polearms, armor, etc.