Monday, February 26, 2024

Beer of the Week: Black Stilleto Stout

Beer score: 5.7

Company: Gizmo Brew Works
ABV: 6.1
IBU: 31

Pours a dark chocolate color with a brown, foamy head. Not the darkest looking stout I've ever seen, but still pretty dark.

Gives off smells of coffee and dark chocolate.

Kind of light in the mouth for a stout, but also has a smoothness to it that borders on creamy.

The taste is mostly of burnt coffee with a touch of chocolate and a fair amount of bitterness, but there's also a hint of sweetness that lingers on the tongue.

Not a bad stout. Not the best I've had, but I wouldn't turn my nose up at this one.

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 9 - The Second Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

published by Zondervan

Started: Feb. 25
Finished: Feb. 25

Notes: Since I just finished Paul's first letter to the Corinthians, I thought I should read this second letter.

Mini review: To my surprise, Paul is actually somewhat apologetic here for the harshness of his first letter to the Corinthians. However, he does go on to expound in Christian belief and to give warnings against false teachers while also presenting his own ministry.

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 8 - The First Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians

published by Zondervan

Started: Feb. 22
Finished: Feb. 24

Notes: I've gotten behind somewhat in my Bible readings while I was into other books, so now I get back to it.

Mini review: In this letter, Paul is mostly lambasting the church in Corinth for reported wrongdoings. Paul also outlines somewhat his itinerary for travel.

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 7 -- On Becoming a Novelist

by John Gardner

Started: Feb. 15
Finished: Feb. 22

Notes: I've been on something of a John Gardner kick of late, so I thought I'd read some of his non-fiction, which I usually prefer to his fiction.

Mini review: Though this is a short book, it is heavy in its text and in its ideas, not making it a fast read. I don't think Gardner ever wrote anything that wasn't overly "thick," so to speak, and I don't mean that as an insult, though at times reading him can become rather tiresome I must admit. Anyway, this book is mainly about the emotional and mental growth of becoming a fiction writer, mainly a novelist. There is some talk of craft and some advice about profession, but mostly Gardner focuses upon the inner life of a writer. Gardner has been accused of being somewhat pedantic and definitely snobbish, and he might not have even disagreed with such sentiments, but I find him to be more of a realist and more egalitarian than he might at first seem. While his own goals as a writer and his interests and advice are in the area of the literary writer, the "serious" writer, he has good things to say about genre writing and writing on less seemingly worthy matters. Gardner's viewpoint is almost always about art, not so much about the business of publishing, of making money through writing, etc. He's more interested in ideas and emotions, and not in telling about them but about showing them. He also has a penchant for allegory to some extent, though he might deny that claim; even if he would admit to such, he would likely say it was not intentional. So, why I won't claim Gardner as a favorite read, I will admit to having a certain fascination about the man.

Monday, February 19, 2024

Beer of the Week: Lagunitas IPA

Beer score: 4.5

Company: Lagunitas Brewing Company
ABV: 6.2
IBU: 51

In a glass, this beer appears a light golden color with hints of amber. It's not an overly carbonated beer, but it will form a decent head when poured.

Upon smelling, this beer gives off hints of bread and a little of sweet flowers.

I'm not a big fan of IPAs, mainly because too often when I've tried one there has been a sourness of which I'm not a fan. This one doesn't have much of that sourness, but there is a little of it the more you drink.

The smell and the taste mostly consist of "beer." That means it smells and tastes mainly like a mass-produced, premium beer common to the United States.

This isn't an awful beer, not by any means, but I can't call it a favorite. Is it worth drinking? Yeah, sure, if you're not on the prowl for anything unusual but just want a beer.

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 6 -- The Bell Jar

by Slyvia Plath

Started: Feb. 8
Finished: Feb. 15

Notes: This novel, the only one ever published from the author, is the tale of a young woman's descent into madness and her attempt to kill herself. I do not know if she succeeds, but I do know the author killed herself in a manner which is apparently outlined in this book. It sounds like sadness all around, but I'm interested to see where the tale will take the reader.

Mini review: A young woman makes her way through a magazine internship in New York City in the 1950s and then returns home afterward during a summer between college classes. Once back home she begins suffering through a serious depression but she still remains functional, that is until her mother takes her to a psychiatrist who puts the young woman under electro-shock therapy. The change in character is immediate. As soon as this woman has her first bout of electro-shock therapy, she becomes suicidal. All she thinks about is killing herself. Does she manage to do it? I won't tell, in case you should read this book. Oddly enough, this tale isn't overly desperate or sad, at least not in the telling. There are moments of excitement and of desperation, but they are few, most of this tale being told almost as if by a journalist, in a very matter-of-fact manner. Also, though this is the better book, in my opinion, there's almost no way to read this without comparing it to Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Beer of the Week: Moravian Rhapsody Czech Pilsener

Beer score: 7.8

Company: Raleigh Brewing Company
ABV: 5.2
IBU: 37

Pours a light golden color with the barest hint of cloudiness while giving off little scent other than some floral touches.

Quite sweet on the first sip, but a cool bitterness grows upon further drinking. There's a bit of citrus in the flavor, though I didn't find it overly strong. There's also a bit of grassiness and floral notes in the taste.

Goes down very smooth at first, and though it remains fairly smooth throughout, some carbonation does show through the more you drink. It also gains in strength and bitterness the more you drink.

Yeah, I enjoyed this one. I could see spending an evening with a six-pack of this beer.

Thursday, February 08, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 5 -- The King's Indian: Stories & Tales

by John Gardner

Started: Jan. 28
Finished: Feb. 8

Notes: I feel I've read a fair amount of Gardner, most recently having read his novel October Light, but I've never read any of his short fiction. So, I was delighted to discover this collection in a used book store.

Mini review: Though Gardner's style is too literary for my usual taste, here he presents not only a couple of literary tales, but also several stories of the gothic and a few of fantasy in the fairy-tale tradition. The final story, a novella, is "The King's Indian," and it's a tale of a young man on a ship at sea and a mad journey he finds himself on. In my opinion, Gardner's biggest weakness are his endings, because he usually has none. His stories ramble on with great characters, decent plots, and plenty of insight, but then they just sort of peter out to nothing. In Gardner's defense, that might be the point. His stories often deal with the fragility of our beliefs, and I'm not sure he comes to any strong conclusions but presents a variety of possibilities, none of which are usually pleasing to the reader.

Monday, February 05, 2024

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Brewery Hill Centennial Lager

Beer score: 8.0

Originally coming to us from Lion Brewery Inc. out of Pennsylvania, this is another fine beer that's no longer with us.

This was a smooth, soft lager that reminded me of blond ales but without as much carbonation. The light, layering sweetness was kind to the tongue and not overpowering.

Apparently the folks at this brewery know how to make beer, but it's a shame they did away with this awesome one.