Thursday, January 15, 2009

It has been real. Surreal, in fact

Max is taking a hiatus from blogging. Blogs will no longer be updated. You people have been outlandishly amazing.

Max has some projects that need to be finished up.

A hiatus is not forever. I will return and track you all down and force-feed you sick humor again one day.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Substitute post. Not to worry. I often lie but my intentions are always good at the time.

Dear reader (or "readers" if there happens to be two of you today):

I know I promised to continue my sermon series on cognac in this slot today, so if you are here expecting the second installment... tough shit. I have tired of cognac. Especially after I reread yesterday's post and discovered the stuff was French. Kidding. The truth is my second lesson on cognac never arrived in the mail from the Merde Correspondence School in Bakersfied. I can only teach you alkies after I learn it myself, K? So, maybe tomorrow.

Anyhow, left without a post (which has never bothered me in the past - I just don't post for a month when I can't think of anything) I will instead substitute an incredibly humorous comment I made last night on my friend Chica's new hip "sarcasm" blog, written by a lady, and called, inventively, "Lady Sarcasm." Which, since she thought she was too hot shit to answer on her blog, I feel free to reproduce here. Might as well get SOME mileage out of it.

Incidentally, I have been hearing some snickers from you lesser bloggers about my comments to your blogs being much too long, and that is why you don't read them, much less answer them. And that, further, you could survive if I didn't comment at all. Screw you. I won't mention any names, because I have no desire to embarrass you, but one of the primary culprit's initials is C.A.N.U.C.K.L.E.F.U.C.K.I.N.G.H.E.A.D. Photobucketand it is only because I don't really give a royal rat's ass that I don't stop writing right now and remove him from the blog buddy list in my sidebar. That, and the fact that you have already paid me to run you for a whole year and I have already spent your crappy Canadian money. Goddam beer swilling hockey watching Fat Bastard fan llama loving pervert. You are lucky I have too much class to just give out your name publicly. If Princess didn't think your blog was funny I would do it anyway.

So, Chica has apparently run out of sarcastic ideas already, so yesterday she wrote a post about the first time she got drunk enough to throw up. Classy blog, classy broad. I think she said she was, like, 9 years old when it happened. And, like a true friend, I faked interest in her post and tried to empathize with her in my comment:

"Oh, the stories I could tell you of youthful ignorance. Have you ever thrown up in a taxi? I have. One of those big first-puke-of-the-evening 2-gallon gushers. The fucker threw me out on somebody's front lawn in a really bad neighborhood at 1 o'clock in the morning. And they had a dog. Then I had a sort of blank space in my memory and the next thing I knew, like a bad movie, I was crawling on all fours fully clothed into the Gulf of Mexico. Then the movie of my memory just sort of stops there. Freeze-frame. I'm sure someone must have pulled me out. I mean, I'm not dead, right? I remember thinking I was the next day. Dead, I mean.

"I am proud to know you now that you are a humor blogger. I know three people there now. I will follow you over there and read your stuff. Thank you for reading my drivel - I know you didn't really invite people to tell their own stupid stories on your blog. Your story was pretty cool. Sort of like Toad in American Graffiti. Only you are a girl. Ah, well."

But do you think she cares? I spent over 11 minutes composing that marvel of nature and she won't even acknowledge it. If any of you reading this - and I truly doubt any have bothered to read this far down - please don't be afraid she might read this and be offended. Like Claire, Chica only reads the blog titles and then tries to come up with a 2 sentence comment. She will be out of here faster than a Pinoy Entredropper on speed. So don't worry. She will probably comment something like, "Sorry you couldn't think of anything to blog about. That often happens to me, too. But please don't lie! (smiley face here.)

Sigh. Not to worry. I am beginning to wind down now. Humor-Bloggers eat your hearts out. More on cognac tomorrow if it comes in the mail. I have already drank the sample they sent to the pub anyway. Straight from the coffee cup. Bet you can't tell.

Here is today's example of a blogger who writes much better and funnier than I, just so I don't get a big head and start thinking I am god's gift to humor:

"...Alcoholism: Anybody looking to slander your behavior will always bring up that you drink too much, regardless of the frequency or severity, instantly putting you on the defensive. It's just like when you make a crack about a gay person, are accused of being homophobic, then scramble to pretend you're a big fan of men fucking. A relationship counselor once hinted that drinking eight beers during Sunday football hints at a problem — that's less than a beer per hour, plus it was a lie; it was more like 18. When did alcoholism suddenly become applicable to everybody who drinks enough alcohol to enjoy a hint of its effect? It used to be an affliction proprietary to Irishmen who drank varnish; now if you reach for your fourth beer, you can hear high horses whinny from all directions. .."

As usual, I can't remember where I stole this from, but, trust me, the guy's blog was fantastic and I would link you to it in a New York minute if I had thought to keep a record when I stumbled by it. So help me God.
"...creating the space for change..." Oh, kiss my ass.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

What is Cognac?

Cognac, like brandy, is distilled wine. (Actually, cognac technically IS brandy, just special extra high quality.) Wine is not always made from grapes, of course, and thus neither is brandy always from grape wine.

True cognac comes from the west of France and is made from a particular variety of white grape called Ugni Blanc. This kind of grape produces a rather bland wine which is not particularly interesting as a wine, but since the wine is going to be distilled, aged and blended anyway, that doesn't matter. The point is, this wine makes a good "base" for producing Cognac.

The wine is then distilled (during the winter) in copper stills, and the resulting colorless, POTENT liquid is then placed into oak casks to age.

[To "distill" means to heat the wine until it changes into its gaseous state (when water does this, we call its gaseous state "steam") and then cool it back down by running the vapor through a series of coils (copper tubing in this case) until it returns to liquid form and drips out the end of the coil into a receiving container. A post dedicated to distilling is coming up, so I won't go into more detail here. The main thing to remember here is that, in distilling fermented liquids, the whole point of distilling is to raise the alcohol content percentage of the liquid. Basically, alcohol has a lower boiling point than water does, so you heat the wine up only to a point where the alcohol "boils" but not the water. The water part of the wine is thus left behind and only the alcohol part "boils off" and is collected at the other end of the cooler coil. So the liquid collected at the other end is really flavored alcohol mostly. Sorry, I said I wasn't going into it that deeply but it just escalated on me.]

"Regular" undistilled wine might have a, say, 7% alcohol content, but if you choose to distill that wine, the alcohol content in the resulting liquid is much higher. With cognac, this is about 40%. Incidentally, "proof" is always double the alcohol content of any distilled alcoholic beverage. So, in the above example, the cognac would be "80 proof."

The distilled liquid is left in the oak casks for a minimum of two years, but sometimes for decades. The latter cognac would cost you a bit more than the former. Heh. Anyway, it absorbs color, flavors, and aroma from the oak and the result is cognac. Not quite finished yet, though: most often, cognacs of different ages and regions are blended (by experts in the craft) before it is bottled. This is how the various signature styles and tastes of different brands is achieved.

Tomorrow: how to choose a cognac and how to drink cognac. You can't just dump the stuff in a coffee cup, you know! Is this cool, or what?

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

New Year's disclaimer for all my blogs

A blog, I think, is a place where the blogger can stand up on his soapbox and give his opinion, right or wrong. The post doesn’t have to be true or false, right or wrong. It doesn’t have to solve any problems. A blog is only a pulpit. If the content is interesting, a crowd may gather.

And the “comments” section of a blog is the place where listeners get to give their feedback, their own opinions - cheers of agreement or rotten tomatoes of rebuttal.

It’s called “Free Speech” and it is one item on a very short list of things upon which both liberals and conservatives agree is a good thing to have.

I hope nothing on this blog serves to attack you PERSONALLY. I don’t care whether you are a liberal or a conservative or anything else in between. I don’t care about your education, rightness or wrongness or religious or political beliefs. And I don’t really give a damn what color your skin is.

In almost all cases, I am not trying to convert you: I am only putting forth my own opinions. I DO feel that the more information we have at our disposal, the more opinions we have for our consideration, the better and more informed will be our eventual choices that form and mold our personal value systems.

I hope you visit this blog as frequently as you can, and I hope you come prepared to comment. Those who come to clap and cheer and shout out their agreement are welcome, and so are the ones who think I live on another planet. I love to argue. But I am swayed most often by logic and truth and reality, so please bring a few facts along with the rotten tomatoes. Thank you.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Speaking of Super-Piss and Pschitt...

Amazingly, we WERE speaking of those liquids in the comments of the last post. As a result, I have been led even further afield in my research.

First (in case you haven't bothered to read it or the comments thereto), the last post was about "things that taste bad". Bass ale was really just one example. But "things that taste bad" is a much larger genre that bears further exploration, don't you think? Of course.

As a natural consequence of this thought process, I soon found myself on the Wikipedia page for "Burton". Not that this city leaves a bad taste in anyone's mouth, but because I was ashamed I had never heard of Bass Ale, and had smartassedly poked fun at the parent city of Bass by linking to a shrug picture in the aforementioned snotty post. 

It turns out (if you believe Wikipedia - and I have learned to be very cautious in that regard) that the city of Burton is historically known far and wide for the brewing of beers. I noted the article didn't exactly come right out and say "fine" beers.

It turns out this brewing opportunity (as it were) is because of the marvelously salty Burton water which they suck from the river Trent, which river, it seems, God, in a fit of some sort of aqueous rage, caused to flow through this beautiful landscape which would become the site of the future city of Burton, and, particularly, of the unfortunate brewery which would one day produce the equally-unfortunate Bass piss ale.

And granite, I think. Granite to make the Trent salty in order to allow for more hops to be used in the brewing of Bass piss ale.

Those of you who know the attention span of Relax Max will nod your heads in empathy when he tells you it was at this point in the Wikipedia article that he lost interest in Burton. Or perhaps dozed off, not sure which. But, just before the act of leaving the page, the mouse button probably already at half-click, one of those cutesy (read: annoying as hell) link-words Wikipedia is so famous for, came flying off the page and struck the dead center of my right eye.

That link-word was "Marmite".

Always seeking to increase my limited American vocabulary, and especially always on the lookout to enrich it with those special pithy British words, I clicked. Yes. I clicked on that word which (I just instantly knew in my heart) only three Americans had ever seen before me. Marmite.

It turns out Burton (or at least one factory in Burton) also produces Marmite. If you are a brewing town, why throw away perfectly good slimy brown used yeast, right? Har! - not one of you, not even Sobriquet, has ever heard of Marmite! And you call yourselves British! Sheeeit.

What word shall I use to describe this delicate condiment? "Repulsive?" "Revolting?" No, not strong enough. Need something stronger. Al Gore comes to mind. "Gore-raising." Ah, yes. Something to do with gore. Or Gore. As you wish. That terrible feeling in your diaphragm as you realize a good purging chunder has become imminent. Such as when an ungodly smell wafts into your unguarded nostrils as you walk your dog past a sewage treatment plant in the dead of Summer. Or when when Al Gore unexpectedly walks into the room. Either way.

The last post was about things that taste unpleasant, and inadvertently brought both Finland and France into the fray as well. Super-Piss. Schitt. Bass Ale. This post will close the chapter. The last word, I promise, on the subject of bad taste will be Marmite. Or Algore. Take your pick.

Actually, come to think of it, "gorge" is the word I was trying to raise, not "gore". Too late now - this post is finished. But "gore" ain't bad either.

Peace. Please do come back for more.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Bass is the most famous British ale

At least that is what I read this morning when I was perusing the vast wasteland of the blogosphere, looking for things British to steal from other bloggers.

Sorry, never heard of it. But I don't drink that much any more since my last release. Silly me, I thought the most famous was Guinness. 

Anyway, here's the scoop on Bass ale.

"Bass has been an institution in the UK since 1777." Something about that date. Can't quite put my finger on it. Perhaps only a coincidence, anyway.

"Napoleon fought over it and it was even served on the Titanic." True? I don't know. A couple of possible losers anyway.

"Brewed in Burton." I took a few days to run a door-to-door survey about this attribute of Bass ale, and found the typical American reaction to be this.

"A rich caramel aroma with a little bitterness from the hops at the end." I know that is what I personally always look for. Especially one that makes me hop at the end.

"Uses the original recipe and uses two strains of yeast to produce its special taste."

"Currently being launched in the USA where it is
expected to become one of the countries favorite quality imported ales." I would have said "country's", but I have been told by several people to stop being so judgmental.

I hope those of you who have actually had a chance to try this, Britain's most famous of ales, will please share your experience. Thank you.

For those of you who follow that sort of thing, this is our pub's 100th post. So what, you say? Indeed. My sentiments exactly.