Sunday, March 31, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 14 -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians

published by Zondervan

Started: March 30
Finished: March 31

Notes: I just finished Ephesians, a rather short book of the Bible, so I thought I'd go ahead and read another.

Mini review: In this letter, Paul briefly goes into possible future plans concerning the church of the Philippians, but more than anything he expounds upon that church his own example of being faithful to God and he sets forth some notions of what it takes to be good Christian.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 13 -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Ephesians

published by Zondervan

Started: March 30
Finished: March 30

Notes: After a break, it's to get back to my Bible readings.

Mini review: I found this book to be somewhat strange for Paul. Usually in his letters he is quite clear about why he is writing to a specific church, but in this one he is rather vague. Mostly he lays out what he believes should be some tenants of the Christian faith, with quite a bit of focus upon grace. This letter was so different that I have to wonder if Paul even wrote it, and there have been questions over the centuries about whether or not Paul actually wrote some of the epistles that are allegedly from him.

Friday, March 29, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 12 -- Caravaggio: A Life Sacred and Profane

by Andrew Graham-Dixon

Started: March 7
Finished: March 29

Notes: Being that Caravaggio is one of my favorite artists, I was quite thrilled a little more than a decade ago when I heard on the radio (probably NPR) an interview with the author of this biography talking about this very book. I decided I must have this book, but then time passed and I forgot about it. Fast forward a few years and I ran across this book in a bookstore. Of course I snagged it up. But that's been nearly a decade ago. Finally I'm getting around to it. I know some basics of the life of Caravaggio, but I'm looking forward to learning much more.

Mini review: Caravaggio's life is a perfect example of  Jesus' quote in Matthew 26:52, "for all they that take the sword shall perish by the sword." A gifted artist, a man who could have had it all, Caravaggio's ego (and more than likely more than a little alcohol) took ahold of his life far too often and led him into a world of debauchery and violence. I mean none of this as a spiritual judgement upon the man himself, because I do respect him and his work. In truth, Caravaggio is one o my favorite artists, his use of darkness and light to exemplify specific scenes, his use of common folk to represent historical and mythological figures, all of it I appreciate. But he died at 38 in mysterious circumstances, most likely due to a wound he had received to his face during a fracas. He could have done so much more if he had lived, and he could have done so much more if he had lived a life less full of conflict he too often brought upon himself. But then he wouldn't have been true to himself and wouldn't have been the artist he had been.

Monday, March 25, 2024

Beer of the Week: Famosa Lager Beer

Beer score: 3.0

Company: Cerveceria Centro Americana
ABV: 5.0

Pours a very pale golden color, almost like one of the lighter champagnes. Really, this is one of the lightest in color beers I've ever seen.

Gives off a slightly sweet but skunky smell that's not overly appealing.

On the tongue, this one is sweet but not too sweet, though sweeter than the smell would indicate. It gave me a lot of corn taste, but a little bit of breadiness and bitterness that grows stronger in the aftertaste.

Not a great beer, pretty weak over all, but I've had worse. Is it worth trying? No, not really, not unless you want to be a completest and taste every beer you can. There are plenty of better beers available, but there are also some that are worse.

If this one is served cold, I suppose it could be a nice thirst quencher on a hot day.

Monday, March 18, 2024

Beer of the Week: Bud Light

Beer score: 3.0

Company: Anheuser-Busch
ABV: 4.2
IBU: 6

Lots of carbonation here, but that seems to be common among light beers.

Smells like premium beer, tastes like premium beer.

There isn't much taste here, but there is more fizz than in Budweiser.

If you're wanting a light beer because you are on a diet, you can't get much weaker or lighter than this one, though there are some with less carbonation.

Monday, March 11, 2024

Beer of the Week: 7 Clans Blonde Ale

Beer score: 4.2

Company: 7 Clans Brewing
ABV: 5.0
IBU: 31

Poured a light golden color with a little cloudiness while giving off smells of corn.

The taste is slightly bitter, though that bitterness grows the more one drinks of this. There's a little sweetness to be found here, along with suggestions of bread and maybe citrus or flowers.

To be honest, this was a disappointment to me, especially as blonde ales tend to be one of my favorite types of beer. It wasn't so much that this was an awful beer, but it didn't seem like a blond ale but more like a lager. Still, I'd be willing to try one again.

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 11 -- The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Galatians

published by Zondervan

Started: March 7
Finished: March 7

Notes: I thought I'd stick another short Bible reading in between longer biographies.

Mini review: There are some interesting points Paul makes in this letter to the Galatians. Of course he writes the usual upbraidings, telling the church to remain true, but he also lays out quite plainly the differing traits between the "works of the flesh" and the "works of the Spirit." Also, he does write a fair amount about the disagreement in the early church about whether or not circumcision is necessary, with Paul coming down on the side that it is not.

Books read in 2024: No. 10 -- John Gardner: Literary Outlaw

by Barry Silesky

Started: Feb. 26
Finished: March 7

Notes: I've been reading a fair amount of works by John Gardner of late, and I admit to a fascination about the man, but it dawned on me I know little about the man other than a bare outline of his life. So, looking around for a biography, I found this one.

Mini review: This was a solid biography. Gardner is shown to be a complex character, tormented by the death of a brother, and always seeking to find some balance in his writing and his life between chaos and traditional values. In Gardner's case, as so often happens with artists, chaos seemed to win much of the time, at least in his life if not his writing. And one might argue that element of chaos even led to his early death. It was also nice to see a character who not only changed in their habits and opinions over time, but who showed little fret about having done so, which is something I've always understood because I feel human beings are almost always more complicated than to stifle themselves with the same thoughts, ideas, even actions, etc., all their lives. In other words, it doesn't surprise me when people change their attitudes and sometimes even their personalities. Was Gardner a great man? Ultimately, I would say not, though he obviously aspired to be and even yearned for it. But I believe within him there had existed the possibility, one which might have bloomed had he lived longer. Was he a great writer? Hmm, maybe. At the least, I would say he was a good literary writer, but I also believe he too often overlooked the simpler elements of our existence, at least within his writing, making things more complex than they needed to be. In other words, sometimes we do something simply because we want to, not because of some tragic past or deep thoughts, though that can happen, too. I'd also like to add that this book took me back to my college days as Gardner had also been a professor, one highly respected for teaching creative writing, and this brought me back decades ago to my own creative writing classes as a student, though I don't recall any of my professors being as thorough in reading student manuscripts as Gardner had been.

Monday, March 04, 2024

Beer of the Week: Paycheck Pilsner

Beer score: 3.9

Company: Fullsteam Brewery
ABV: 4.5
IBU: 26

This one pours a hazy golden color that's light while giving off aromas of slight, sweet breadiness.

The taste and texture I found nothing special. It's relatively light in the mouth, but the carbonation grows the more you drink, the not to the point of being obnoxious.

The flavors I found rather mundane. Not an awful beer, but reminds me more of a regional beer that's been bought out by a big-name beer and then dumbed down for a mass audience.

Would I drink this again? Yeah, if I was at a party and someone handed me one, I wouldn't turn it down, but I also wouldn't go out of my way to purchase one of these.