Saturday, December 3, 2016

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 29: You Might Like It

Today's dram: The Glenlivet, 12-Year-Old

Today's tasting notes: Do not fear to drink this. Perhaps maybe try this if you've never had Scotch whisky before. It is the definition of approachable -- an easy-to-enjoy whisky exemplifying the basics of a style, in this case a single malt from the Scottish Highlands.* Smell it, and it will take you to a warm happy place. Sip it, and feel that warmth flow into you. Hold it in your mouth briefly, savor the heat and subtle sweetness. Swallow, and feel smoothness with just enough of an edge to let you know it is actually Scotch whisky.

Today's thoughts: Growing up I was a picky eater. That is a true statement, but it also rather understates both the past and present. When I was a kid, I hated eating almost everything. Ever heard a parent lament that their kid will only eat chicken nuggets and ketchup? Yeah, I hated those, too. Especially the ketchup. Bleh. And I still hate it. I hate nearly all condiments, in fact. And yes, hate is the right word. It's not a word I ever really go for, but I will allow myself to be an absolutist and use that word in regard to those things. Ketchup? Hate. Mustard? Hate. Mayonnaise? Hatehatehate!

Send me food with any of that on it and tell me to just scrape it off? Fuck you. Scrape your face off.

My younger sister told me at Thanksgiving that her two-year-old son can't stand mayonnaise, and she thinks he might be allergic because he throws up when he encounters it. When she said that, I wanted to run to him and hug him and tell him, "You are not alone! Uncle Jon also knows this pain!"

But he's two years old, so I didn't.

I will as soon as he gets a handle on this language thing, though.

What I will try not to say to him are things like "Try it, you might like it" and "Your tastes will change."

How I loathed those phrases, which were thrown at me so often in my youth.

And yet ... I now grudgingly admit they hold glimmers of truth.

I mean, I did finally learn to like pizza, a burger in a bun rather than separate, potatoes, pecan pie ...

Oh, and whisky.

Contrary to appearances, I was never against trying things. I just wanted people to listen after I tried a thing and said, "No, this isn't for me." Usually, the gag reflex got the point across, but people are surprisingly persistent when you tell them you can't stand a thing they love.

Here is where I nominate my mother for sainthood, because wow did I ever make her life difficult, what with the not eating most of what she ever put in front of me, which necessitated an awful lot of cooking something extra just for me, and so much special ordering at restaurants, and entirely too many patient conversations explaining my eating habits to other people, and ... god, how is she not completely mad?

She is made of steel, that is why.

But under her steel beats the softest heart in the world, and she never let me go hungry or forced me to be miserable just because I was picky.

I am going to go call her as soon as I post this.

Today's note on meeting the expectations of others: Fuck 'em. Yeah, me included, for telling you to try Scotch whisky. Don't want to? Don't. Grinning and bearing is overrated. Graciously decline where possible, threaten to stab as needed, repeat as necessary. And always, always, to thine own taste buds be true.

Today's toast: To picky eaters everywhere: May the person who takes your order always listen carefully and get it right!

A whisky tumbler with a double measure of The Glenlivet 12-Year-Old sits on a desk before a half-size bottle of same and a stuffed Yoda keeps watch. Background: Bookcases.

[If you don't know what's going on here, click the 2016 whisky wind-down content label to catch up.]


* -- Speyside. I know. But if you know enough about Scotch whisky to know Glenlivet's sub-region, then that paragraph really isn't for you, now is it?

Friday, December 2, 2016

2016 Whisky Wind-down, 30: Smoke, Peat, and Love

Today's dram: Laphroaig, 10-Year-Old, Cask Strength (56.3%), Batch 2, December 2010

Today's tasting notes: Do not drink this if you do not enjoy smoke and peat. Seriously, probably don't even sniff it. If you've had Laphroaig before, you know its reputation as the smokiest, peatiest of all the notoriously smoky, peaty Islay malts. The cask-strength version is essentially the dire, half-dragon version. Do not attempt if below Scotch Whisky Character Level 10.

Today's thoughts: My wife gifted me this bottle for a birthday a few years ago. Once, maybe twice a year I pour myself a wee dram and savor it for the smoky, peaty punch in the mouth it is. My wife I appreciate every day of the year. For her strength and compassion. For her humor and insight. For the support she lends me, in ten thousand little ways, from one day to the next. It's no exaggeration to say I wouldn't be who I am without her. Life is better as a great adventure, together.

Today's note on drinking form: Some people choose to water cask-strength whisky. These people are weak. (Do not even talk to me about people who water standard-strength whisky.)

Or, to put it another way: my favorite whisky is like my favorite person: strong as all hell.

Today's toast: To love!

Laphroaig cask-strength whisky, in a glass before its bottle, sharing a mantle with Christmas Cthulhu.

[If you don't know what's going on here, click the 2016 whisky wind-down content label to catch up.]

2016 Whisky Wind-down: Primer

If ever a year called for a whisky advent calendar, it's this one.

While advent has a particular meaning -- counting down the days leading up to Christmas -- I'm more excited to see 2016 out the door.

I did not prepare ahead and buy a whisky advent calendar, but I do posses a not-small collection of whisky, enough to daily drink a different dram as I delight in the demise of this damned year.

In that spirit, I shall marshal my spirits and begin 2016 Whisky Wind-down.

Each day for the rest of the year, I'll pick a whisky and write something about it, something about the year, and something else.

I'll probably do this daily, and I'll probably be consistent in form, but no guarantees either way.

It won't be just about the whisky, of course. I've got a lot on my mind lately, and I'll use every dram as a vehicle to segue into something. Some of them, even, will be fun. I've been gloomy lately, much like 2016 itself, and it's time to remember there is still light in the world. And while I don't think we should lose ourselves in delight while the world burns, sometimes we have to remember that we can't fight fires all day every day.

Anyway, it's been a long year. Bottoms up.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Barkeep, Another

A hand lifts a chalice-shaped glass of beer in toast. The glass bears the name of the Trappist monastery that brews the ale inside: Spencer. The ale is the color of copper and topped with a stiff, high foam.
Here's to you, Nanny.

In the very near future my writing will have a tendency to focus on drinking and reminiscing.

Before that starts, I'd like to revisit a piece wherein I did both of those things, albeit for rather different reasons. I've mentioned before -- and it would likely be obvious to you, anyway -- that I sometimes have trouble making the words flow. There are a number of times when I want to be here, saying something, and I can't make it happen.

Then, sometimes, all it takes is a beer in a bar on my grandmother's birthday.

I think about that evening a lot, actually. Whenever the words won't come, which is all too often. My maternal grandmother never really knew me as a writer, but I still think of disappointing her when I'm not living up to my own expectations.

Anyway, here's one occasion when I did, if only briefly:

A Trappist Toast

Notes: The font is funny on that page. That's because I composed and posted the entire entry at the bar, using my phone. It bugs me, but not enough to change it, because seeing it reminds me that much more of the act of writing itself, which, well, not to belabor the point entirely, was much more important to me that evening than the actual words themselves.

(Also, I forgot the photo.)

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Non Sequitur: Did I Wash That?

Have you ever, mid-shower, lost track of whether you washed some area or not? If I try, I can always remember having washed the area; I just can't always distinguish a fresh memory from ~15,000 older ones. Anyway, my legs are definitely clean today.

Actually, We Could Use Some Water

It rained yesterday (and again today) in metro Atlanta.

First time in a long time.

43 days.

That broke the previous record of 39 days.

Set in 1884.

I assume that record is accurate, though it dates back to when Jeb and Cletus kept count with chalk marks on the side of a barn.

If that image fills you with nostalgia, just wait until you see the president-elect's science team.

Anyway, a long dry spell, as Jeb and Cletus would say.

And yet ... I hadn't really heard much about it.

I knew it was dry recently, but only in the same vague way I knew it was a bit warm.

It's not like the news is very good at following more than one apocalypse at a time.

Frankly, I haven't lately paid attention to much weather beyond my own mental fog.

Then, of course, a lot of things have been on fire across the south lately.

That's pretty serious.

You can tell because our governor went so far as to issue executive orders saying, essentially, "it's dry; don't burn things, dummies."

While that might seem like obvious advice in a drought, this is Georgia, where his predecessor once, during a drought, no shit, led a prayer group to ask God for rain.

Leadership is relative, folks.

Speaking of which, don't look too closely at that science team, not unless you want a serious excuse to up your anxiety and/or alcoholism.

I won't bore you with the data, but I feel it in my bones.

Huh. With statements like that, maybe I can get a job on that science team.

I don't have a degree in the field, but that hardly seems disqualifying for working in this administration.

Then again I actually believe in science, so maybe not.

Regardless, this is just the beginning.

Fires and drought and T-shirt weather into winter.

Sea ice? What sea ice?

Buckle in.

Meanwhile, Jeb and Cletus will keep making marks on the barn, until the fires or the floods come.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

We Don't Need No Water

Image of Donald Trump tweet from November 29: "Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!"
Tweets like this weren't funny even before this guy got elected to lead the country.

I'll get some flak for saying this, but it isn't disrespectful to burn the flag.

It is disrespectful to suggest that the rights of someone choosing to burn a piece of cloth should be tossed to the wind under a would-be despot's say-so.


Yes. Exactly. Now, what I want to know is, how do you expect me to respect you when you scream louder, make more noise over that symbol than you do over the very rights it represents?

Get mad about the flag being burned.

But also get mad that hate crimes are up in the wake of our presidential election.

Get mad that the VP-elect thinks it's okay to try to "convert" LGBT youth to be straight.

Get mad that the president-elect has made more time for his foreign business partners than taking intelligence briefings.

Hell, get mad that the president-elect is spending time on Twitter picking fights with reporters and actors and comedians and activists when there are far more important things going on.

Get mad that the same people so upset over this expression of free speech shrug their shoulders when asked about the surge of another unpopular expression of free speech -- white supremacy.

Finally, get mad about a president-elect who openly talks of punishing citizens for an act that is protected by our nation's constitution and legal precedent.

Then talk to me about how much that flag really represents.