Tuesday, December 27, 2011

factum est

I finally finished it: William Gaddis' masterpiece, The Recognitions. 956 pages of pure genius. I shall not look upon its like again.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Water of Life

My wife was able to talk her parents into giving us gift cards this year for Xmas. So, instead of getting shirts I would never wear and tube socks (how I despise tube socks) I received a $50 gift card for my favorite liquor store, Specs. I don't know if you have a Specs in your neck of the woods, but if you don't, you are missing out on one hell of a selection of spirits. If it can be drunk, they probably sell it. I have been busy trying to come up with a list of what I would like to get.

Initially, I intended to buy a really good absinthe with it. Lucid produces an absinthe that is very close to what Verlaine and Rimbaud swilled in Paris. But at over $60/bottle, it would take up all of my $50 gift card and then some, and I would still have to get an absinthe spoon and fountain, and absinthe glass. Because if you're not going to prepare it the traditional way, why bother? But all that would set me back I don't know how much, and I would only have one bottle to show for it.

So, I decided to take another tack, and get several bottles of some spirits I have never tried. And I was able to tie them all together with a theme. Sort of. Well, here goes.

First off, we have Linie Aquavit (taken from Latin: aqua vÄ«tae, "water of life”) It is a Norwegian spirit, made from potatoes, which have been fermented, then distilled and flavored with caraway (in the book I've been reading, William Gaddis' “The Recognitions,” Rev. Gwyon is always walking around with the scent of caraways on his breath. But I believe he was drinking schnapps, not aquavit.)

Anyways, what I like about this particular one, is that they put it in old sherry casks, put the casks on a ship, and then sail them from Norway to Australia, and back to Norway again. The motion of the waves, plus the changes in temperatures and the sea air, all combine to transform it into something special. At least that's what Linie says. It's a pretty fascinating way of doing it, and you can read the whole story on their website, here.

Next, there is Daron Calvados XO. Calvados is produced by fermenting apples, and then distilling that into an apple brandy, which is an eau de vie, French for “water of life,” right? They don't put this on boats and sail it around the world, or anything, but I happen to like apples, and it fit in with the theme.

Now, the next spirit is not an eau de vie, but I'm not completely breaking with the theme, just going off on a bit of a tangent. Going back to the first bottle, and thinking of it's seafaring ways, I thought it would be nice to add a bottle of something that has always been associated with the sea: rum.

I've never been much of a rum drinker—mainly because rum is usually used as a mixer for cocktails, and I'm more of a straight liquor drinker. But I did a bit of research into what are considered decent sipping rums, and Cruzan Single Barrel rum showed up more than a few times on experts' lists, so I'm willing to go out on a limb (or a plank) and give it a try.

Well, that's it. Three bottles totaling somewhere around $90. Still more than my card, but hey, I'll only be out $40, and that's not too shabby.

I'll be sure to put some tasting notes of these in a future post. Cheers!

Thursday, December 22, 2011


I read yesterday that, contrary to what I'd always heard, alcohol does not destroy brain cells.  Best news I've had all week.  Bottoms up!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Fear and Arrogance

Since I started writing in this blog, I don't believe I've posted anything about my loss of faith. I could be mistaken, but I don't think I have. I just got through reading a quote the inimitable Murr posted on his blog, The Lectern. It's a quote from W. E. H. Lecky on the religious impulse, and is a very eloquent way of describing why people choose to believe. It made me decide it was time to say a few words about my falling out with god.

I could probably go on and on about it, but I won't. I am going to focus on how it has affected me, and how I'm feeling now, right this very instant. And maybe I'll find some solace in baring my nonexistent soul.

I misplaced my faith over 20 years ago. Prior to that, I was a good little catholic boy, and was comforted in knowing that no matter how bad life might become, I had an eternal afterlife in paradise to look forward to (and there was no doubt I would end up in the preferred place, as every fiber in my body was tuned to doing what god expected. I even seriously considered becoming a priest--but more on that another time, perhaps.)

But then I went to college, and started learning about reality. I listened to lectures on biology and evolution, and began thinking and reasoning things out for myself. My inquisitive mind led me to books about all the different religions in the world (past and present) and one of the many things I discovered was how christianity borrowed stole much of its material from Mithraism. And one day everything clicked into place, and I realized there was no god.

My newfound atheism left me feeling smug and superior to all the fools who still believed in all this nonsense. Like when you figured out it was really your dad dressing up as Santa, and that the whole thing was just made up. And how you looked at the younger kids who were still naive enough to believe. Foolish, little children, you would say. But now I know the truth. I have taken one step closer to becoming an adult.

Many years have passed since then and although my wife tells me that even on my best days, I'm still an insufferable snob, I really no longer feel that way about anyone who believes.

What do I feel? Most days, I would find it quaint and amusing that someone could still believe in all that. But lately, something else has crept in: envy. Because they have something I've lost: a sense of security.

I fear the Nothingness. Once I die I will cease to exist. I know this to be true. My thoughts are simply generated by my brain; nothing more, nothing less. Once my neurons cease to fire, I will be no more. I won't go to heaven because there is no heaven. I won't see my parents again, because they no longer exist. And I will never see my wife and child ever again. I love my daughter more than life itself, and the thought of never seeing her again...well, words can't describe how it makes me feel.

But to make matters worse, my arrogance won't let me reconcile the fact that once I die, the universe will continue on without me. All my thoughts, emotions, my consciousness, ME, I cannot end! Never mind the billions of years the universe got along fine without me. Now that I'm here, it cannot possibly continue on in my absence. I even have trouble sleeping most nights, because to sleep, it is like a mini-death, a giving-up of oneself to the void. And I dread that.

I've been floundering in this meaningless, uncaring ocean ever since I ceased to believe. If there were just a shred of evidence, a tiny speck of something, anything I could grasp onto, and believe once again as I had in my youth, you bet I'd latch onto that and never let go.

But I know it's not going to happen. My eyes were opened, and I can never close them again.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Like my Fire

Has it really been over a month since I've writ in this thing? You're slippin', bubz.

Well, let's get down to it, shall we? My wife bought me an early xmas present, one of those Kindle Fires. It's a pretty nice little device. You can't do any writing on it, but that's about it's only limitation. I've been busy putting free classics on it, cuz damn, I refuse to pay for a virtual book, doncha know? If I'm going to shell out some cash, I want something I can actually hold in my hands. Besides, there are plenty free ones out there. Why, just an hour ago I found these five gems:
  1. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus from the 1604 Quarto by Christopher Marlowe
  2. The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
  3. A Hero of Our Time by Mikhail Yerevich Lermontov
  4. La-Bas by J. K. Huysmans
  5. Against the Grain by J. K. Huysmans

Now how cool is that, huh? Pretty good stuff. And it is awfully easy to read on it. I can read in bed, and not disturb my wife. Hmmm, maybe that's why she got it for me?

As to The Recognitions, I'm just about finished. I really don't want to see it end, but Gaddis has really picked up the action in Part III, and I'm having a hard time putting it down. I went ahead and pre-ordered the new Dalkey edition coming out in January, along with their new edition of JR, which is coming out on the same day. And each for only $12! Damn, Dalkey, I luv you guys! I also ordered, and it just came in, The Street of Crocodiles and Other Stories by Bruno Schulz. This was recommended by a friend I met on LT (tanks dr. dangle!) but I don't know when I'm going to get to it, as I have a HUGE stack of books I'm dying to read. Damn if I can't decide which one. I told my wife we'd do a readalong with Emma, but I've got to read something else, too! I had been wanting to read Sorrentino's Mulligan's Stew, but couldn't justify cracking it until I took on O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds, which I had actually started before The Recogs lured me away. So, maybe I'll return to that. Too many books.

Well, that's all I feel like writing for now. Sorry this wasn't much of a post and if I bored your ass off, I apologize. But I'll do better next time. Promise.