Monday, September 29, 2014

VanderGhinste oud bruin sour ale

The retro art! The men in straw boaters, à la Maurice Chevalier! That deep French (or rather perhaps Flemish) blue!

And that delicious taste. We know how we love sours. VanderGhinste ranks right up there with our favorites, the Duchesse and Ichtegem's, which is now hard to find.

Now my fatheads, I have just finished a three year project, writing, polishing and re-polishing my memoir/novel, so you must pardon me if I use Pluot, at least for a while, as an excuse to relax a bit and still write, but perhaps polish less. There above, you have your sour to enjoy; and what else?

Quite a while ago, some nice people at a p.r. firm sent me a copy of Adam Rogers' new book, Proof: The Science of Booze (Houghton Mifflin, 2014). It's full of good information and interesting stories from his travels in the researching of booze, and I especially like the organization. The eight chapters take us right through the making and ingesting of drink, from microbes up, "Yeast," "Sugar," "Fermentation," "Aging," etc., all the way to chapter 8, "Hangover." What I find difficult about it is the style. It's written in very conversational, abbreviated guy-magazine talk, into which old-fashioned prose formality still creeps from time to time. All of it becomes halting and distracting. "That'll be where we go next," "what'd be the difference if it did?" and so on. But if you are going to use constructions like that in a book, I suppose for the sake of hipness and accessibility, why not maintain them? He jumps from "would've" and "it'd" in one sentence to something like "it would not have been the first time that" in the next. Shouldn't macho hipness and accessibility in language be good all the way through? 

So I would suggest you want Proof as something to consult, not to savor. Full disclosure: I must admit that for me a little chemistry goes a very long way. My gentleman friend would probably roll his eyes and sum up. "You females like your romance novels, don't you."

What else? We've been through this before somewhat, but the new opera season is starting and I have also surfed a bit on the station's "Chime In" comment board and so have seen the way people unburden themselves of their opinions there, so we'll revisit the issue --  

-- I have a sort of love-hate relationship with our legendary local classical radio station, WFMT. I love the fact that it exists, that it educates me and often plays nice things; I hate the fact that, for example, its potentially most interesting program, "Exploring Good Music" with Bill McGlaughlin, is hosted by a man whose "dese dem 'n' dose" diction should drive anyone to madness ("an' den Bayd'ven wrote a sym'fny, over by dere"). I furthermore hate the fact that so much of its late-night programming is so awful. After 10 p.m. is precisely when I want WFMT to lull me to sleep with nice things, harpsichords mostly. And yet, on four or five nights out of seven, 10 p.m. is precisely when the station chooses to be awful. Monday is "Critical Thinking with A---- P------" (liberals, nattering). Wednesday is all about the Chicago record company Cedille, which might be all right as a subject except this hour, too, seems to involve little else but liberals nattering. Friday: hoary rebroadcasts of Studs Terkel -- more "dese dem 'n' dose" diction, and liberals, nattering. Saturday is folk music: liberals nattering.

This leaves only Thursday as our prime hope for good late night music, followed by the smaller hope of Tuesday. Thursday gives us "The Baroque and Before," usually sheer delight, and Tuesday gives us the Tuesday Night Opera. Sometimes this is screechy -- to this day my son, who sleeps in the bedroom next door, remembers the time he couldn't get any peace for an hour because the opera was a very early and awkward Verdi -- but sometimes it is Handel. (We have forgotten to finish the tally of our nights of musical hope from WFMT. Last of all is Sunday's 10 p.m. "Pipe Dreams" and its organ music. We can't count it, because it's simply strange beyond reckoning. That people go to churches and applaud what sounds like one-dimensional calliope or baseball park thundering is fascinating in itself. We wouldn't even know they did so, except that "Pipe Dreams" always seems to play live concert recordings, from churches, where the people clap sacrilegiously after the organist is done.)

At any rate it happens that on a recent Tuesday, the opera was Handel. Rinaldo. Lovely and pleasant. Some weeks ago, sometime in August, it was Vivaldi. Griselda. Also lovely and pleasant. And, yes, full disclosure, I did fall right asleep both times.

However, I did also rush to YouTube the next afternoon to look up Handel and listen to whatever I might find. Can there be anything more lovely than Joyce DiDonato singing "Dopo notte" (after night), from an opera called Ariodante? Or, than Ann Hallenberg singing Rinaldo's "Laschia ch'io pianga" (let me weep)? We must have more operas in which medieval Crusader princesses resort beautifully to prayer after being abducted by an evil sorceress. I even bought a CD of Joyce DiDonato's Furore, to play in the car. ...a bit screechy.

Now company has arrived for a visit, so I must go.

VanderGhinste oud bruin, retail, about $5 for a 12 ounce bottle.

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