I can’t get no.

Today’s topic on the Diane Rehm show is satisficing. The term is a mashup of two words: satisfy + suffice = satisfice. This is how people make decisions. People make a quick choice and stick with what works. The example they discuss is how when you need dry cleaning you don’t sample every option and test which place works best with wool, silk, or linen. The list of how to begin is not exhaustive, it’s simply the first one that you heard of or the one right down the street from where you live.

It reminds me of how when I’m looking for coffee I go to Starbucks. Not because it’s the most glamorous option, but rather in spite of the cost, I get a consistent cup of coffee every time. In my case it’s a pumpkin spice Frappucino. Granted I could have gone someplace else and not have paid six dollars for an exciting jolt of caffeine. I could have gone to a local store and picked up a drink and a pound of beans, as I’ve run out at home. Maybe I’ll do that the next time I satisfice.

Vorticism

Until I watched the movie Blazing Saddles as an adult I never realized that I enjoy the ending the best. It’s a spaghetti Western that pokes fun at gender, race, and politics. Oh yeah, it’s got fart jokes, too, which before I get too far in I also recall something about the banality of old film. Having watched it recently in mixed company, I realize this may very well be the best last film made for men. Our little watching group wondered who would star in the remake. Would Amy Schumer play Madeline Kahn’s part? Maybe Dave Chapelle could be beckoned back to play the sheriff. We lingered for a minute at best, declaring that no one would ever be caught dead doing a remake of Blazing Saddles because it just couldn’t be done today. Too much tension. Too many waves. All fart jokes aside, certain things don’t translate well into the parlance of our time.

Within the final twenty minutes of the film, the camera pans out past the Western sun to reveal the Hollywood studios in which the sets were built and scenes were filmed. One of the final cowboy fight scenes interrupts Dom Deluise directing dancers on a closed set, where tuxedoed men show down against dudes in bandanas and chaps. Then the mob blows through the actor’s cafeteria, where everyone ends up pie-faced. The meta feel was just right on. I had begun to get the feeling they were making an actual movie there. Boy was I wrong.

I forget so much of life is not just one thing. It’s the many things we cannot see now that must awaken in us hope, a less pointed movement to the disappearing headline. I love the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds album. Recently thumbing through an online discography, I realized there are many repeated songs in slightly differently performed ways. Over half of their albums have mono and stereo versions of the same tune, or digitally remastered versions set to entirely new albums. I came across the Smile Sessions boxed set, where there are 24 different tracks of Good Vibrations and 38 songs titled Heroes and Villains in varying takes and remixes. In Holland remastered, California Song comes in three versions: Big Sur, the Beaks of Eagles, California. Pied Piper appears twice in different lengths, one at 2 minutes 20 twenty seconds, the other at 2 minutes 9 seconds. This is the land of new technology, at best offering version 2.0 of the same thing you bought last year. At worst it lets the nerds discuss, degree by degree, permutations of their specifically turning desires.

I like the repeated versions, the slightly similar embodiments of creativity drafted out into the finished product. It says more about the way people can attribute a mood or feeling to something so trivial as the presence of a triangle ding or the extra three measures at the end of a verse, or how through so much effort we see simply some different rendition of our own preferences.

It also speaks to a larger narrative of how our own internal rhythms are staged and performed over and over, throughout our lives, which makes me think about family movies on old-fashioned 8mm movie projectors. They are a nearly extinct medium played on a reel that burns a little bit of the end frames. The stopping is so hard against the light, if you simply set a frame of film down on the bulb within seconds it sets fire. I burn a bit in the process of finding my younger self. I forget it’s me out there, it’s me every time. I may be taking something for granted. Or maybe it’s not this, not what I can see from this perspective.

The convenience of today is not so much in the hardware, but the software. A ton of the data from websites and online businesses are plucked from a cloud. Floppy discs are obsolete. Items with no digital interface that cannot be shared or distributed over social media have less value until they are scanned and uploaded into the web. One’s cell phone provides the clearest view of a captured sense of something and its feeling therein. Many ways of looking at things, old photographs on 35 mm film, are oddly unappealing, and I say this because we are re-appropriating the way we see things. If other people do not see it, it doesn’t exist. It is giving more credence to the term if a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound? It does not until it creates an electrical impulse inside the human ear.

Things that are not witnessed by many people do not make an impact. They are not what you can most easily see with anymore, and by you, I mean the royal you. On the TV show Star Trek: The Next Generation, the Borgs were part computer, part human. They assimilated everyone they came into contact with, except for Picard, as he kept some of his human memories inside of him, which helped hoist himself free from the ice block of the collective unconscious. I wouldn’t go so far to say that our Facebook accounts are us, but maybe it’s the closest thing to this sentiment that I can find right now.

I often forget to look up, up and away and distract myself from this. I often forget about the meaning of things, to look out and away from the face of something close up and just look away so that the things in the background are in focus. When I was in kindergarten I used to count the grades I had until I would be done with public school. I recall how impossible it seemed to get through twelve more years of suffering. I always try to think of life this way, a series of suffering years one must endure to get to the good times, and then I remember to look at things from far off, breathe, step out of the vortex.

Records and rackets

CAM00170I hope to one day string together the things I do not need and see them through to their meaningful ends. Football and beer, both American pastimes, are joint clichés. Sometimes I think about the movie Big Business starring Lily Tomlin and Better Midler and recall the mirror scene, where Midler and her twin sister parrot each other’s movements until they reach a level of certitude that the reflection has pulled away from itself. Certain things I back away from, being predictable, and strangely tonight I only timidly pick apart the alikeness in me.

Although destined for oneness, there is a reckoning that splits the atom. In a snow globe there is no weight. The confetti falls where everything is free. A friend of mine works in a bottling plant. He says the term they use for opened or damaged cases is breakage. At his old job, he was allowed to bring home a certain number of breakage bottles a week. He gave me one piece of advice: always go where the beer is free. Free beer tastes better than anything you ever pay for.

Tonight on the way home from work I swing by the Drinking Consultants. It’s this place I like because it’s got a great selection and the dudes are cool. I picked up a case of my favorite beer by Uinta brewery. It’s a twelve pack of half Hop Nosh, half Trader IPA. There are missing cans so the guys at the store sell it to me for half off. They’re cool like that. I thank them and tell them I’ll be back next week for an unopened version of this.

Summertime in New England is when the higher ABV beers are too caloric and filling, so I resort to the light mirage of a drink that I can be light with. Nothing gets heavy. Trader IPA is a session beer, so it levitates. I sit on the couch intently writing about this idea, how things are so light they are almost unseen, unknowable in their limitation.

I am watching the men’s US open in tennis, Roger Federer vs. Steve Darcis. The match is something I sense going on in the background as my new record plays. I got Depression Cherry by Beach House today. Living in tandum with so many wonderful things, I like to think life is a bit of treading water into our sinking oblivion of ourselves. I like to get lost when I am feeling other things.

Session drinks have less than or equal to 4% alcohol by volume (“The Session”, 2015). Aaron Goldfarb of Esquire magazine defines the term sessioning as one’s ability to drink as much as one likes from four in the afternoon until bedtime without getting truly wasted. I reappropriate the term limitation of flavor as the certainty that I can enjoy myself without needing a nap. Although some of the flavor is changed in its lightness, I can see through things and onto the next thing standing across from itself into a new mirror.

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References

Goldfarb, Aaron. 2014. Why the ‘Session’ beer makes zero sense. Retrieved from http://www.esquire.com/food-drink/drinks/a30663/session-beer-is-dumb/

The Session Beer Project. 2015. Retrieved from http://sessionbeerproject.blogspot.com

Green Head IPA

Green Head IPA

Robust amber hue and my nostrils are at a salute. Hot, peppery, gingery aroma clears the sinuses. Grapefruit pings a far away vessel on the edge of the horizon. In a row boat filled with peaches, the pit I have rolled around in my mouth a hundred times, I am salt pulled reluctantly from the seeping shoreline, salt pulled from the core of peach guts.  Salty finish keeps my lips dry, tongue wet. Rolling the tongue along the crest of each wave anchored in crunchy mouthfeel of salted, lime-soaked Tostitos.  I am finished now, around the lip of empty bottles under the skyline of an orange sun, I am not the salt.  I am done.

Kuasapa

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Amber cloudy with medium head.  Smells clean and hoppy.  Alive and fresh in medium bubble with ginger and citrus finish.  Mind spinning as I take a sip, another sip, another sip half gulping into the bitter.  Where is the slip n slide I was expecting, of hops I am supposed to splash into?  Instead I am submerged entirely in a bath of bitter.  I am tasting a surprise.  This new flavor trifecta, bright clean hops, is the first time I have ever had a bitter, so I am on a new plane.  Super dimensional ginger, spicy pepper, clove, and lemon zest explode in my mouth.  I see the horizon of a new planet from the edge of my cratered tongue.  One small step for man.  One giant leap for my mouth.

Heady Topper

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Labor Day road trip to Burlington, VT, in pursuit of the great Heady Topper.  Research takes us to Penny Cluse Cafe.  We sample biscuits and pesto cream gravy; banana bread with walnut cream cheese; bucket of spuds topped with chive, cilantro, and sour cream; corn polenta; and apple wood smoked bacon.  Delicious food paired with long sought after brew.

Heady Topper comes in a can.  Side of the can directions explicitly state: drink from the can!  Drank out of can vs. from a glass, the can sips taste best.

Aroma is light and citrusy, and lagery, and fresh.  Hops are hinted at in a pepper scent spiked with spice.

Appearance seems like a lager, champagne gold like Miller High Life.  I am wondering where in this drink is the hops.

Flavor is a short hop, neat and tidy.  Tongue dives into the home plate which is in fact a dish of lemon slices.  IPA is super brief that finishes more like a dry ale.

Overall I will try this again.  I enjoy its levity and lusciously squeezable citrus body.

Unexpectedly this does not taste like an IPA, but surprisingly it cleaned my palate.  I will revisit with a different pairing of food stuffs.

 

Lindeman’s Raspberry Lambic and Rogue Chocolat Stout

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Raspberry Lambic:

Aroma is clean, tart, makes my mouth buds water.

Color is dark mahogany, tiny bubble roam up the side of the glass.  Opaque red when held to the light lets no brightness pass through.  No head except for lacing of 1/4 inch bubble meniscus caught against the edge of the glass.

Flavor is sweet in a high frequency.  Very chewy mouthfeel.  Wave crashes quickly down to a tart rush that makes my mouth water.  Almost cranberry sour.

Sweet and simple goodness.

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Rogue Chocolate Stout:

Smells like a deep chocolate bar wrapped in paper, waiting to be ripped opened and devoured.

Huge head makes me want to wrap my mouth around this treasure.  Dark color seems like liquid cocoa.

Flavor is delicious, not as chalky as usual stout.  Sweetness lightens to a bready mouthfeel.

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Mixing Lambic and Stout together:

Flavor is joint venture of fruit and chocolate with a nutty texture.  Raspberry brings out a lemony sharpness against the chocolate.  Fresh, light, and perfectly paired with blueberry pie.

Shipyard Smashed Pumpkin

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It is autumn time again, and with it comes the rights of fall.  The rights of fall include drinking and smashing pumpkins, whether they are your own or belong to your neighbors.  If it were any other season it would be inappropriate, but now is the time when dead leaves crunch underfoot and little goblins go door-to-door for tricks, so why not treat yo self?

This cloudy amber-colored pumpkin ale appears cloudy amber with dissolving head that sinks like a doughnut made of bubbles.  Golden bubble doughnuts fall to the bottom of the glass as my explanation for what look like crumbs settle.

Pumpkin pie nose reminds me of these holiday dinners where as a kid I would hesitate to eat dessert and skip straight to the Christmas tree, burying my face in these ornaments made of gingham cats stuffed with clove.  The nutmeg is like that ornament, bunting my senses with welcoming spice.

Flavor is caramel and a burnt sugar with custard build.  Thin carbonation burns and brightens the heaviness of the 9% abv, rolling like pebbles at the bottom of the ocean.   Sandy mouthfeel with pumpkin and clove waves crashing against hops.

Overall this is my pumpkin go to beer.  I am always looking for something to take its place.

Terrible

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My glass of Terrible doesn’t take long to go down.  From the look of it I cannot tell if it’s purple or chestnut.  This 10.5% abv seems dark and complex and I am anticipating layers.  I shove my face over the four fingered head.  Wafts of sourdough and flowers on the nose, I am reminded how awful it is to wait for the foam to go down.  Mouthfeel is dense woody, and textured with medium bubble.  Belgian through and through in fog of plum and fig.   Enclosed in this forest so dense and alive flavors are a lot to get to.  Dancing somewhere in the distance I detect a spice.  Her name may be clove, anis, cumin seed.  I want to get to more flavors but will need another round to get to the bottom of this mystery.   I cannot wait to try my next bottle.