Wednesday, September 30, 2009

My surfinbird

Just as Peter Griffin listens to Surfinbird over and over again, I cannot stop listening to the Daler Mehndi classic Saade Dil Te Churiyan Chaliyan:

Get out of my head! Also, isn't that a wacky t-shirt?

Monday, September 28, 2009

From my childhood 5: Spuds McKenzie

When I was a child, beer was sold by beer drinking party animal dogs. Today I see beer commercials where they sell coolers and foam crap instead of beer. Whaaa? Listen kids, this is how it is done:

Here is another classic Spuds, sorry embedding was disabled.

Anyways, this is so brilliant I wish I thought of it. If I were an ad executive I would do crazy stuff like this to sell beer. I'd have keyboard cat beer commercials. I'd have commercials that laud beer's "beer goggle" abilities. It would be crazy. And it would work because, well, it is only beer. Seriously. First of all, beer should theoretically sell itself. If you have to advertise for it you are probably doing something wrong. Second, all pisswater beers like Bud and Miller are interchangeable anyways. So the only difference between the two is brand advertising, hence the need for party animal dogs or some other crazy crap. Amirite?

Libraryster: the slowdown

The libraryster will become less frequent, as this is my last week of freedom. With that, here are some recent gems:

Raymond Chandler - Farewell, My Lovely His second book, and not bad at all. It is not as good as his first, The Big Sleep, which I highly recommend. It is better than his last, The Long Goodbye. Still, it is a good read.

James Joyce - Exiles Joyce's only play, written between A Portrait of the Artist and Ulysses, it is about Irish exiles and their uncertainty at home. It is a quick read, and for me was worth it as I myself am an exile.

Ivan Turgenev - Home of the Gentry I just started this, but usually enjoy the Russian Romantics, so I have high hopes.

I also had a book of George Hurrell's Hollywood portraits. Oooh pretty pictures.

Finally, all the music this week has been a bust, sadly.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Brandy showdown

Autumn is the time of year where staying warm becomes important. No more cool down drinks like White Russians for me. Instead, warm up liquor comes out. That's right, it is brandy time. Drink it by itself. Pour some in your hot cider. It warms the soul.

There are many cheap American brandies, but are any of them any good? I saw Christian Brothers VSOP on sale for 10 dollars. According to the Christian Brothers website, it is a pot still brandy in the French Cognac tradition, and the VSOP is aged 8 years. Wow, sounds like a deal, right? On the way out I saw the tiny little one shot bottle of E & J VSOP for a dollar. I picked it up so I could do a head to head.

Now I haven't had Christian Brothers brandy since I lived and drank with Fisher. Though it seems like only yesterday, it was many years ago. But first up, E & J.

E & J is Ernest and Julio Gallo. You might remember them as purveyors of cheap wines, like my friend Carlo Rossi and the legendary Paisano. 7 dollars for 4 liters of red wine. You might also remember Ernest and Julio as the makers of Boone's farm. Also Bartles and Jaymes.

How does it taste? It tastes ok. It is a little harsh straight from the bottle, but put in some ice and let it melt a bit and the flavors start to become pronounced. You can taste the underlying wine flavors quite a bit. For good or for bad. It is ok, but price for price I think Christian Brothers is a better deal.

Christian Brothers VSOP is also a bit harsh straight up, but as the ice melts the flavors come out well. There is a strong taste of vanilla in this. I read that it comes from the oak. It could be that more years in the barrel make more of a vanilla flavor. It is sweet, and mellow enough. Neither one are likely to give you a hangover. At my liquor store E&J is a dollar more, but isn't a dollar tastier. Also, there is a rebate coupon for Christian Brothers that takes the price of VSOP down to 7 dollars for a fifth. Definitely a deal worth picking up, if for nothing else than spicing up your hot cider.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Bourbon Reprise

This weekend I had two choices for bourbon. Tondar gave Ezra Brooks a thumbs up. The Kentucky Cats gave Rebel Yell a thumbs up. In my readings I saw that Rebel Yell uses wheat in the mash instead of the usual rye. Similar wheated whiskeys are Maker's Mark and Old Fitzgerald. Well, I seem to recall that Maker's Mark is good. So could Rebel Yell be the poor man's Maker's Mark?

The bottle, sitting on the bottom shelf, was coated in a thin film of dust. People up here in the Northlands probably aren't into Southern whiskey. They definitely aren't into Billy Idol whiskey. Now if this was The Joker whiskey, I suspect it would fly off the shelves.

The answer is yes. I like this bourbon. It is not harsh, so you can drink a lot and not get a hangover. It doesn't have the sharpness of the rye whiskies, so if that is what you are looking for you will be disappointed. It is a sweet whiskey, so if you prefer a dry whiskey you will also be disappointed. If you like Maker's Mark, I suspect this will do when you find yourself in the unemployment line.

I feel like I should write more, but I can't find the words. I don't want to persuade you to try this whiskey if it isn't to your tastes. So much of whiskey is your own tastes. But it meets the minimum requirement which is it doesn't have that rubbing alcohol aroma and kerosene flavor. For the price I won't complain.

Tune in next week for the great American Brandy showdown!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Libraryster; enjoy it while it lasts

Hopefully you are able to reap the rewards of reading books, listening to CDs, and watching DVDs for free thanks to libraryster. If so, count your lucky stars. Apparently the people of Philadelphia aren't so lucky:

We deeply regret to inform you that without the necessary budgetary legislation by the State Legislature in Harrisburg, the City of Philadelphia will not have the funds to operate our neighborhood branch libraries, regional libraries, or the Parkway Central Library after October 2, 2009.

Specifically, the following will take effect after the close of business, October 2, 2009:

  • All branch and regional library programs, including programs for children and teens, after school programs, computer classes, and programs for adults, will be cancelled
  • All Parkway Central Library programs, including children programs, programs to support small businesses and job seekers, computer classes and after school programs, will be cancelled. We are exploring the possibility of relocating the Philadelphia Author Series programs to other non-library facilities.
  • All library visits to schools, day care centers, senior centers and other community centers will cease.
  • All community meetings at our branch and regional libraries, and the Parkway Central Library, will be cancelled.
  • All GED, ABE and ESL programs held at Free Library branches will be discontinued, students should contact their teacher to see if other arrangements are being made.
Ouch! Where will the hobos go to stay warm in the winter and look at internet porn? Where will the schizophrenic go to shave his head? I shudder to think.

Speaking of which, I found a real gem this week:

Exultate Deo - Masterpieces of sacred polyphony - Westminster Cathedral Choir

Excellent old school part singing. Renaissance type polyphony, sung masterfully. Check it out, if your library is still open.


I have some rather unfortunate news. In a few weeks, or possibly less, I will again be one of the drones. I suppose that means more posts typed on the godmachine while I'm in the restroom. So pardon my spelling and grammar mistakes in advance.


Soon I will be one of life's suckers

The transcendental meditations of Ronnie James Dio

Some of you might be mystified at the lyrics penned by Ronnie James Dio. After all, a metaphor such as a "rainbow in the dark" might need some clarification. As Dio states:

When there's lightning
You know it always brings me down
'Cause it's free and I see
that its me who's lost and never found

A cry out for magic
I feel it dancing in the light
It was cold, lost my hold
To the shadows of the night

No sign of the morning coming
You've been left on your own
Like a rainbow in the dark,
A rainbow in the dark

Left on your own, like a rainbow in the dark? I've never seen a rainbow in the dark. Is it on its own? Well, let's examine this subject...

It turns out that rainbows do in fact occur in the dark, in a way. Not, of course, total darkness. But at night, a time we refer to as "dark", rainbows do come out from time to time. It is called a "moonbow". Check it out:

Now I know what you are thinking. Holy crap my mind's just been blown. Well, as if you needed more evidence of the erudition of Dio:

"Why should we think that this should last forever? I was just as happy - and I'm sure Wendy was just as happy before - struggling and being happy together." Indeed! Finding happiness in penury as easily as in prosperity reminds me of Aristotle's argument on happiness and God...

"God himself bears witness to this conclusion. His is happy and blessed; but he is so in and by himself, by reason of the nature of his being, and not by virtue of any external good. This will explain why there must always be a difference between being happy and and being fortunate. Accident and chance are causes of the goods external to the soul; but no man can be just and temperate merely from chance or by chance." - Aristotle Politics; VII - 1323.21

Maybe tomorrow I will draw the link between Dio and Voltaire. Maybe tomorrow the good Lord will take you away...

Monday, September 14, 2009

Cisco watch

Normally I am not into rituals. Some argue that rituals are an intrinsic part of the human experience. I think they are boring, and largely avoid them. Does that mean I'm not human? Still, I do indulge in one ritual.

My post-interview ritual when blazing through the job circuit is to douse my sorrows with a coating of MD 20/20. Like novocaine for the soul! It will coat your unhappiness like bathtub scum. Mmmmm, bathtub scum...

So there I was at the liquor store. I went for the cooler (my store keeps it cold for me) and reached in for my 20/20 when I saw that my world has a new addition. Orange Jubilee! Now normally I would be all over that to review for the Booze Army. But I've done enough gambling on hooch for a while, and I went with old faithful "red grape".

It was then that I noticed that there are two delightful new flavors of Cisco: grape and pineapple. Let's all welcome the new addition to the bumwine family. I was going to take pictures for posterity, but the lady behind the counter was already eying me good for coming in to buy bumwine wearing a suit.

Connoisseurs beware: I spyed these new flavors only in the 13% alcohol variety. As you recall from your hobonomics, compared to the full 18% of Richards, that ain't no deal.

Blue devil

I don't know how it stacks up with Blue Rasberry for taste, but definitely falls short on the econometric scale of homeless poverty.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Start saving for Christmas

I know that Christmas is a long way off. But if you are looking for something really about a still? Check out stilldrinkin's awesome still page:

"So easy even an 8 year old girl can pull off a killer run!"

Its never too early for baby to start moonshining! Yes, I'm talking to you!

What I like best about this site is that they refer to your end product as "hooch". Awesome.

Adventures in Scotch

I have it on good authority that the best bottle of Scotch under 15 dollars is McMasters. Its tagline is "the taste will never compete with both the memories it leaves and steals". Thinking back to excessive McMasters and vomiting (not me personally) makes me want to drink whiskey from a 15 dollar bottle of hooch and raise hell. Why is no one in this town cool enough for this simple mission?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Time goes bye

Time goes bye so quickly


It has been a long year.

Looks kinda like the mythical pumpkermelon, doesn't it? Probably just a funky shaped young watermelon.

Anyways, nothing new in the Autumn booze department. How about you? Drink anything wacky lately? Inquiring minds want to know.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

First whisky, now Heavy Metal

First they started to make whisky. Now they are perfecting the art of heavy metal to export to the world markets. Yes, it turns out there is heavy metal in India:

Old school, for sure. A bit of old Celtic Frost in this, and some doomy stuff, and maybe a bit of thrash elements. Also, there is this Testament worship:

Though it has Dissection vocals, I reminds me of old Testament a lot. Probably helps with pronunciation, diction, and elocution. Actually, this isn't bad at all. I hope their whisky is this good, it is supposed to hit Stateside before the New Year. Speaking of which, the googles are telling me that the Amrut homepage will give my computer the heebie jeebies. Weird.

Anyways, the band is called Kryptos. I hope it is a Sanskrit word for something cool. Graverobber would be a cool band name. Maybe it is Sanskrit for graverobber? I can only pretend.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The godmachine explained

You may be wondering why I refer to the iPhone as the godmachine. Its meaning may be obvious to you, but I will explain to the uninitiated.

The band Nevermore wrote a song called Poison Godmachine. It is about the television. "Useless information for your useless little lives. The tv lies and pacifies". If the tv is a godmachine, surely this phone is one too. For, with the right app (slingbox) it is a tv. But it is so much more; GPS navigation, mp3 player, mobile phone, web browser, etc. Surely the ancients would have thought its powers god-like. But is it poisonous like television?

Also, I lost my copy of The Politics of Ecstasy. If you have an extra, it may be mine. If so send me a line, I miss it.

From the godmachine

Perhaps this is a result of the lenght of my unemployment and my looming penury, but I am taking a break from Napoleon and James Bond to re-read Walden free on the godmachine. I remembered Thoreau's aescetic lifestyle, but forgot his motivation in heading into the forest. Unable to tenure gainful employment in the town after a stint as a journalist for a small publication he goes to Walden for purely temporal reasons. "To transact business with the fewest obstacles", in his own words.

Friday, September 4, 2009

And the loser is...

So I made my decision. I chose, based on the belief that years in a barrel meant a damn. I bought Old Charter 8 years. It was just under 15 dollars. Was it a bargain? I poured it into a glass full of ice and sat down to enjoy myself. I took a whiff of the fumes emanating from the bottle. I could smell the faint trace of rubbing alcohol. That's a bad sign. That means that they left too much of the tails, and there are fusel oils in there. That's the stuff that gives that burning kerosene flavor to booze, and gives you a hangover the next morning. I took a sip. It went down ok. It was sweet. It has some bitterness and that feint burning of kerosene. I knew it.

Old Charter

Awww hamburgers!

As the ice melted, the flavors eroded. The sweetness left, leaving only bitter and kerosene. Strange, because usually when you add a splash of water to whiskey the flavors open up. It is how Noel Sweeney recommends you drink your Irish whiskey:

God bless you Noel!

On the whole Old Charter was a let down. It was cheap, but there was cheaper. For a few dollars more, I could have bought one of Noel's creations: Irish Manor. I love that stuff. For a few dollars less I could have tried Old Fitzgerald or something else. So I guess the loser is Old Charter. I guess the loser is me.

To round out the day, I also bought Black Velvet reserve, also aged in oak for 8 years. This was a much cheaper booze, coming in at a mere ten dollars. I cracked it open and took a whiff. I could smell whisky, but less of the rubbing alcohol vapors. That was a good sign. I poured it into a glass full of ice. The flavors were very strong. It is a very dry whisky, with sharp rye flavors. It isn't a bad drink, but too dry for me to enjoy without a mixer.

Black Velvet

Hello, what have we here? Sweet Vermouth? Now we're talking. The sweetness from the vermouth balances out the dry whisky, and makes a respectable Manhattan. The day is not lost entirely.

Now I think I've gone a good enough gambit down the Canadian whisky road. I know what to expect from them.

So that's my experience with bourbon. Lesson learned, I think. Next time you get bourbon advice from Kentuckians, you listen damnit. Next time I try bourbon I'll buy that Billy Idol bourbon.

Thursday, September 3, 2009


I haven't finished either Napoleon book, but they are coming along. I sent that logic book back. Formal logic isn't my thing in the first place, but this book didn't have enough explaining why. I found a website that is better if I am ever again curious.

I was also disappointed in The Maltese Falcon. It was a 1950s reprint, and mentions WWII and other postwar items. The book was originally published around 1920. The Bogart film is from 41, filmed before the war. So I had to wonder just how much was updated for the times, and that took away from some of the pleasure of reading.

This week:

Live and Let Die - there are only two James Bond books I haven't read, but after this I will be down to the Spy Who Loved Me.

The Encyclopedia of Card Tricks - I want to learn a few simple card tricks. I figure it is an easy way to break the ice when meeting new people. Unfortunately this book is not for beginners. It explains how to perform the tricks, but not any card trick techniques necessary so I am at a loss and this book goes straight back. I guess I will have to let YouTube be my guide.

The Cure - Bloodflowers ...because there is a good chance my team will lose this Saturday.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009


What kind of person goes to the liquor store and looks at all the bottles but doesn't buy anything? What kind of person spends hours online pouring over reviews of bottom shelf hooch? Someone who is unemployed and has too much time on their hands. Me, that's who.

Briefly; the liquor store only sells Ancient Age in the plastic containers, and I reject drinking from plastic. So it is off the list. The Ten High at the store is not a blend. It says "straight" whiskey on it, which I understand to be American parlance for a "single" in Irish/Scottish whisk(e)y. OMG the internet lied! But I'm not going to add it to the list because I gotta whittle this down before kick-off. But more on that later.

I figured that since I am an old curmudgeon I should pick something with "old" in the name. It worked out really well with Old Overholt rye whiskey. My choices are:

Old Grand-dad
Old Fitzgerald
Old Crow

However, today I went to the other good liquor store in town, mostly to see if they have any different brandies. They don't. But they do have Old Charter bourbon. Aged in oak 8 years. 14 dollars.

So now I'm thinking:

Old Grand-dad
Old Fitzgerald
Old Crow
Old Charter

Old Grand-dad is just at the cusp of my price, but they have the "bottled in bond" 100 proof for 14.49, which is reputed to be superior to the 80 proof. Old Charter is the same price, but aged 8 years. I don't really care about proof at all. Old Fitzgerald has a spiffy label. It has a depiction of a pot still (even though it certainly is made in a column still) and has the motto "Old fashioned but still in style". Hey, that's me! The only good thing I can say about Old Crow is the following story:

One time I bought a bottle of Old Crow on a lark and took it to the 308 house. There was a party. We started drinking the Old Crow. We started mixing it with Richard's Wild Irish Rose. The only thing I remember about Old Crow is that I remarked "pretty smooth for ten bucks". The next morning the bottle was empty, so it must be alright. What it tastes like...well that was too long ago to recall.

The other good thing about Old Crow is that you can affectionately call it the rotten raven.

About kick-off: I forgot that kick off for college football season does not start on Saturday. It starts tomorrow night with Oregon vs Boise St! Hey, actually that game sounds pretty good. It is like rubbing one out a couple hours before you head out to club technochocolate to get some ass.

I better hurry up and make a damn decision already!



Aside from the bottles of Southern Comfort, The Knot, and the last two feet of this rack which is filled with Vermouth so that you can make Manhattans, this is all whiskey. It's like it goes on forever.

I just wish they had more brandy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The process of elimination

Previously I started on what may be a quixotic quest to find a real value bourbon. A diamond in the rough if you will; very cheap but of surprisingly good taste and smoothness. I've found that sort of rough diamond with brandy and Canadian whisky, so why not bourbon? The list was:

Rebel Yell
Old Grand-dad
Ezra Brooks
Old Crow
Ancient Age
Ten High
Old Fitzgerald
Evan Williams
Early Times

Tondar voiced objections to Evan Williams and Early Times. Based on reviews, Evan Williams seemed like Jim Beam with a different label and a bit cheaper price. Early Times, as it turns out, is not bourbon proper because it reuses the barrels. True bourbon can use the barrels only once. I didn't think this was a problem because other whiskies of the world go and use those former bourbon barrels to make some great booze. Still, if a hooch it be, off the list it goes. Finally, there is Ten High. I really wanted to like this one, based solely on the name. It is a poker term, a ten high straight. It sounds like the sort of bourbon grandpa drank back in the 70s. It got good enough reviews (unfortunately they all did), but it got the worst of the good reviews. Some blogger even claimed it was blended with vodka. This I don't believe, because in order to be whiskey it has to be aged in oak for at least 3 years. Still, as a safe precaution I have scratched Ten High from the list as well.

The revised list is:

Rebel Yell
Old Grand-dad
Ezra Brooks
Old Crow
Ancient Age
Old Fitzgerald

My Kentucky contacts think Rebel Yell is a winner, so that is probably enough in my book. Though I shudder to think I might drink a Confederate whiskey. Or a Billy Idol whiskey.


Every soldier needs a uniform. I've been toying with the idea of printing this t-shirt design for the Booze Army.

Make custom t-shirts at

Green because it is the color of Ireland, the island that gave birth to whiskey. Green because I like the color green. I guess it could be any color, really. Maybe remove the line "whiskey you're my darling" on the back.

I think it is spiffy enough that, were I five years younger I would buy one myself and wear it. Unfortunately Grandpa Booze is too much of an old curmudgeon to wear a slogan shirt anymore. Maybe the campus freshmen would eat it up if I printed these in tomato red.

I dunno, would you buy one? Would you wear this around town?