07/27/2009 § Leave a comment
So I’ve been terribly negligent of updating this blog. That’s what happens when I try to do two things at once. Shouldn’t have tried to do my regular blog posts and talk about our trip. It left me like the donkey who found himself equidistant between two carrots; unable to move at all.
And between a job I hate and trying to write a book and summer with all its usual distractions I have found little time to work on this blog. So until I allot some real time to craft a post I’m going to post some of my favorite pics from the trip. Here they are.
06/17/2009 § Leave a comment
“We must be the only two jerks in the world to fly to Argentina and look for brewpubs.”
I said that to Gemma. At least in my memories I said it, while searching travel guides and internets for info. I think I probably said several times that we were the only two jerks to do “X” when we traveled. Guess it was my schtick…..and her’s also. She was the Laurel to my Hardy.
I believe it was our second or third evening that we did manage to make it out to Cossab. Cossab is situated in the West. It was on Carlos Calvo, which happened to be the same street as our B&B. We were initially excited about this, thinking we could maybe walk, and then realized it was about five miles to the West.
Gemma and I have no beef with walking five miles. We do it in our native land of Chicago and we even did it while we were there. But walking in the evening with a belly and head full of frothy South American beer was not a good idea…..so we took a cab.
Since nothing opens until 8 in Buenos Aires we waited outside for Peter to show up. The place was open but just, and we didn’t want to be the first jerks in the place. Especially because conversation would have been, ahem, strained to say the least. And I would have probably said something stupid like, “Quiero cerveza un chopp….” which is totally fine, but then since I would have wanted to say something else to showcase my stellar spanish skills I would have said “btw, estoy el diablo blanco.” And I would have thrown in the webspeak too. It was good Gemma was there to keep me in line.
Peter showed up about four minutes later and we went in. It was a dark pub. Beer cans and coasters covered the walls. We felt right at home. We took a seat by the window and waited for Paola and Arturo. Pao had been buying a space heater for the winter and Arturo had been sleeping, I think.
Our friends arrived shortly after and we sampled their house beers, most of which, sadly, were unavailable. The blonde was good. The porter was good. I think those are the only ones that made an impression. The rest were drinkable but nothing exceptional. We ordered food.
They love pizza down in Buenos Aires but most of it is a strange sort of Frankenstien version of what we think of as pizza. Strange white cheese and whole green olives….sometimes raw onions thrown on top, &tc. We drank Stella and Quilmes and even some Guiness I believe. Arturo and I became better friends while chainsmoking all evening outside the front. We left at about 3 or 330am.
Smoking is technically banned in Buenos Aires bars but it is a loose sort of ban. Some bars just don’t care. Some are strict about the policy. Some specific rooms in certain bars are smoking rooms. Some upstairs areas are smoking if the place is big enough. Generally we just took a quick look around to see if others were smoking and if not we went outside.
The other brewpub we went to, Antares, was in Palermo. Palermo is a very nice area. It is filled with shops and fancy restaurants and lovely streets and beautiful homes and hotels. Antares is among the fancy places.
Gemma and I had wandered around Palermo all afternoon looking for a restaurant we had read about. We found it. It was closed and lots of people were inside cleaning intensely. Our hunger pulled us away too quick to discover what what had caused them to close for lunch. We wandered a bit. We were thrown. When our plans fail we often starve. Not due to lack of restaurants but due to indecision. Restaurants were everywhere we just had a hard time deciding. We found a traditional parrilla place that ended up being the best meat I had while there. Not the best meal. The best meat. I intend to write about our food on another post.
After our Palermo shopping adventures, in which niether Gemma or I made a single purchase (again the indecision thing….it amazes me we got to South America!), we stopped at a bar. I got made fun of for ordering a “disco drink,” which I took to mean a girls drink.
It was tasty though, so whatever. And full of bourbon…which is why I got it. And honestly, you can only drink so much Quilmes.
Then we texted Arturo and headed to Antares. It was getting chilly but I wanted to sit outside to smoke. I got readdicted while there. Hard not to when the packs are 5 pesos; roughly $1.80.
Gemma and I sampled their two dark beers before Arturo showed up. When he arrived we got the flight. It was all good and we were, I think, all very impressed. The bar, which is one of five or six scattered about Argentina, was lovely. The decor and clientelle definetely reflected the neighborhood in which it was placed.
When we all got too cold we went in and had another pint. Draft beer is called “chopp” there. It was just the three of us and Arturo told us about his mother country Columbia. We would have loved to stay there all evening but it was Tuesday and we had a date with a dive bar and a traditional tango singer later. We met up with Pao and Peter enjoyed more Quilmes at our next bar which was not a brewpub but which merits it’s own post in the near future..
05/28/2009 § 1 Comment
Gemma and I have safely returned from the autumnal lands of South America. I have been working nonstop since our return but will continue with the saga of Orlando and Angelica soon. I have much to say regarding our trip and intend to write a fairly long entry with some photos; hopefully starting today.
We had a wonderful time visiting with our friends Peter, Poala, Arturo, and the millions of other folks who are down there. I learned a lot, drank a fair amount, and even picked up a few folktales I was unfamiliar with.
To tide you over here is a photo of a not-so-old folktale that is being produced for the stage in Buenos Aires. Alas, Gemma and I did not have time to see it; one of our many regrets. Too little time.
05/07/2009 § Leave a comment
I’m working non-stop until Gemma and I depart for Argentina. Therefore, those of you who are dying to know what happens next in the saga of Orlando and Angelica will have to wait until after we return on the 22nd.
We are also having a party tomorrow so posting on this blog won’t be happening.
I was planning on traveling south of the equator with Borges in my bag and maté dripping from my lips. I was looking forward to revisiting the crazy land of ideas that he created. However, I grew excited and read Ficciones recently and another short collection we have. So I don’t want to read them again and won’t be bringing Borges with on the plane. Visiting his old haunts and smoking at sidewalk cafes in San Telmo will have to suffice for me. This is probably for the best because I imagine every jerk on the plane will be reading him.
Instead of Borges I’ll be reading some Charles Brockden Brown on my trip. Specifically I’ll be reading Edgar Huntley; or Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker. Picked it up for a buck! He has nothing to do with South America but I figure I’ll go down there representing the USA full force. I’ll probably write it up when I return. I will also be making a separate link with photos and musings on our trip.
¡Hasta luego boludos!
05/04/2009 § 3 Comments
Your God is your great kite, which cows the birds of a whole district.
Lair of the White Worm is Bram Stoker’s final novel before he died in 1912. I was particularly excited about this book after learning it was based on the legend of the Lambton Worm. The lambton worm (or Wyrm) is of course an antediluvian beast that wreaked havoc on the English countryside (something I am one day looking forward to doing…and something my good freind Mikey is currently doing).
I haven’t read all of Stoker, but I really like Dracula, at least it’s main elements. I don’t care for its epistolary format and the way in which it reads, i.e. kind of slow. Maybe it’s the format. Maybe it’s just me. But I liked it nonetheless.
And I didn’t love Lair of the White Worm but I did really like it. I can overlook all of the books faults, such as introducing characters and then forgetting about them completely, only to have them return in the final pages. I can overlook deus ex machina. I can overlook the (as is typical in this genre and time period) less than generous portrayals of woman and minorities.
I can overlook final paragraphs like
“I think it is quite time you young people departed for that honeymoon of yours! -There was a twinkle in his eyes as he spoke. -Mimi’s soft shy glance at her husband, was sufficient answer.”
I enjoy happy endings as much as anyone, maybe more, but c’mon.
I can forget about these things because the book has so many wonderful ideas; the ancient beast living in the English countryside, a kite that becomes sentient (at least to one maniac) who receives scheming messages up it’s long umbilical, Scanner-style psychic battles…..&tc. Unfortunately in the end they don’t really work together. Any one of those would be sufficient for a single novel. Perhaps it just needed to be beefed up. It’s a mere 210 pages.
A brief synopsis:
The White Worm has evolved somewhat and can roam about as a woman name Lady Arabella, with some level of scanner-power. She slinks around in white dresses seductively. She is trying to marry this rich guy….to prove once again women, even ones that have evolved from antediluvian creatures all want a rich man.
Adam Salton returns to England from Australia to reclaim his estate. He joins his uncle and his uncle’s friend in the battle against this scourge that nobody else seems to know about. Then a random stranger comes from Africa with a servant who also has scanner-like powers. There is a pair of cousins who are beautiful…also, with scanner-like powers.
The uncle is introduced and then ignored until the final pages of the book. The only explanation being, he is too old and infirm to be swept up in the intrigue and final battle with the worm. Which, I must say is the biggest disappointment. There is no real final battle. The Giant Kite is incorporated (I must say I was worried it would not be brought back for the finale), as is the madman who sends it letters up the wire. Then there is a scene very reminiscent of Tremors.(“What the hell is going on! I mean, what the HELL is going on!”) It’s worth it just to read it with Tremors and Kevin Bacon in the back of your mind.
A redeeming element in the book, considering it’s portrayal of woman as evil (Lady Arabella/White Worm), and helpless (all other women in the book), is that a woman does stand up to the maniac who flies his kite and the white worm (scanner-style). So that’s awesome. But then, she is named “Mimi.” Ugh. Barf.
So I don’t know. Totally unorganized post. But I just finished it and haven’t had time to let it stew in my brainpot. I liked it. It’s a quick read.
And the title is awesome.
04/28/2009 § 3 Comments
Thanks to James Kennedy and Christian Moerk for their readings at Hopleaf this evening.
Gemma and I shared the CB&J and some good beer while watching James Kennedy read from his book and leap about the room with spectacular energy. Though personally I’m not one for book readings, Gemma and I thoroughly enjoyed the theatricality and humor Mr. Kennedy brought to the table.
Should have brought my copy with, and not Lair of the White Worm, so I could have struck up some conversation.
Shyness is nice, but shyness can stop you….
Thanks to the lovely Gemma for escorting me and the good folks at bookslut and hopleaf…and of course the authors James Kennedy and Christian Moerk.
04/26/2009 § 1 Comment
If any of the twenty folks who read this blog have any interest, Gemma and I will be heading to Hopleaf on Tuesday for the bookslut reading with James Kennedy. He wrote a lovely little book that you should read if you haven’t.
Hopleaf has a wonderful selection of beer and some of the best brisket I’ve had in Chicago. Their CB&J is also delectable. Belgian beer and the Belgian Prankster for all who attend.
Info on James Kennedy and his book can be found here.
Come out and support Chicago writers.
Event starts at 7:30.