As usual, let’s take everything in reverse order.
When I’m not writing or under the hood of a car, I work as a gemologist. About six weeks ago I came across an opportunity to live in Saint Lucia and apply that knowledge and experience to the jewelry industry in both a sales and teaching capacity.
Leaving everything behind and heading out to a tiny island, well, it’s the kind of opportunity everyone hopes for, though few ever get the chance. But honestly, most people who dream about it would probably pass when they realize just how big a deal it is to leave everything you know, pack only what you can’t live without and kiss everything you’re used to good-bye for some great big unknown. But I’m not most people, and my first week has already been one hell of a ride. (So yes, this recent piece over at Manarchy is a true story.)
Now you’re probably thinking this means giving up a few hobbies and first world conveniences. Selling those two beautiful cars was not the easiest decision in the world, but oddly enough, selling most of the other stuff wasn’t so bad. The long term plan is to give it at least a year, and if during that time I’m not sold, it’s not like I’ll have any big regrets. If nothing else, it will all be great fodder for both fiction and non-fiction alike in the months and years to come. But honestly, I’m in no hurry to leave the island life behind.
In other life-changing news (at least for me), my first novel, Subliminal Messiah, has been picked up by Perfect Edge Books. (And I’ve updated that excerpt to reflect a couple slight revisions.) Right now I’m working diligently to get some final edits smoothed out, and there’s still a lot of work to be done before we go to press, so that should occupy a lot of my spare time while I’m getting used to island life.
As far as other writing goes, I didn’t get anything in print this year, but I did publish over thirty articles, essays and op-eds online, so I definitely kept busy. And as far as fiction is concerned, it looks like I’ll have a few more things in print next year above and beyond the novel, so I can’t complain. More on that in the coming weeks as well.And another little blessing in disguise: This month we’ll be taking a hiatus at Manarchy Magazine and collecting our thoughts about the new year. Given my recent relocation, it’ll be nice to have some time to devote solely to adjusting to a new climate, culture and way of life. Additionally, given the scarcity and relative expense of scotch on the island, it’s difficult to imagine continuing my Whiskey Review column. There are several other ideas in the works, so stay tuned for that.
Finally, I’d be remiss not to say that I’m looking forward to January, when my lovely wife and daughter will join me out here in the Caribbean. They’re going to enjoy a white Christmas in New England with the family and then fly down after the holiday rush when airfare goes back down to something reasonable. During that time my job is to settle in and get my bearings so when they finally make the trip their transition will be a little easier than it has been on me.
Honestly, I don’t want anything for Christmas but the company of my family. If I have to wait a few more weeks, then so be it, but that’s the biggest thing wearing on me at the moment. Well, that and having to iron my own shirts, but I think I can adjust to the latter. The knowledge that this house won’t be empty for long is what keeps me going right now. By the time they get here the novel will be ready to go, I’ll have a pretty good idea what’s what on the island, and with any luck they’ll settle in fast and we can (re)start our lives over together.
In the meantime, here’s to another great year!
Here’s a brief list of what went up around the internet last month, in case you missed anything.
… [A]ll things considered my wife was still reasonably excited about the prospect of a slick new device that was not an Apple product and therefore expressly for her and not me. Kindle Fire in hand, she hit the power button and decided to dig in. This is where things got really annoying.
First off, the device was set up for me, with my Amazon account information already loaded. That’d be awesome if I’d bought it for myself. The first order of business, then, became not playing around or customizing the device’s settings, but changing all the account information over, which was slow, boring and tiresome. Again, imagine this as a gift for my non-techie parents, trying to figure out why they got my Kindle in the mail.
[D]espite its less-than-enthusiastic reception, Fight Club has become a cult classic and enjoyed an award-winning DVD release. I can say with confidence that this is one of those rare instances where the film and the book stand on their own artistic merits, each serving to complement the experience of its counterpart.
Pseudo-premium whiskies often come across like movies based on a book. The original is nearly always better. Cases in point: Knob Creek’s 9 Year Small Batch is fantastic, but their 9 Year Small Batch Special Reserve simply isn’t worth the extra dough; Same goes for Jack Daniel’s Special Reserve and its counterpart; And Redbreast’s new, limited run 15 year single malt is basically okay versus their fantastic 12 year (compared here).
In light of all that, I couldn’t have been more surprised when Maker’s 46 turned out to be the drink of the night.
Eight o’clock, the night before Westboro Baptist Church is scheduled to protest at a military funeral in San Diego and I’ve just caught word. These are the folks who hide behind Freedom of Speech to display signs with slogans like THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS and GOD HATES FAGS. In fact, that last line plus dot com is their official website.
You just can’t make this stuff up.
After a brief hiatus, things have whirred back to life over at ManArchy Magazine. My latest whiskey review is now live, comparing Redbreast’s 12 year (the 2010 Irish Whiskey of the Year which I’ve written about before) with their newer 15 year offering.
The first time I tried this whiskey was at Kells Irish Restaurant and Pub in downtown Portland. Still finding my footing in the world of whiskey and scotch, I was more than happy when the waiter made some personal recommendations that turned out to be spot on, Redbreast 12 year among them. [...]
The nose is amazing and complex with undertones of citrus and fruit that serve to balance a wide range of tobacco, leather, vanilla and black tea.
The palette is even bigger, dominated by layers of spice and ginger, clover honey and anise. Ice will unlock more sweet notes, not quite vanilla, more like cream soda with the sugar under control, and hints of sherry.
Read on –>
The latest in my Whiskey 101 series, now live over at ManArchy Magazine:
In this corner: From Moray, Scotland. Weighing in at 750ml, in the light green bottle, with black lettering over a tan label. It’s the 12 year old single malt you’ve probably never heard of, here to defend its title as the best-selling whiskey in the world: The Glenlivet.
And the challenger: From Kilmarnok, Scotland. Also weighing in at 750ml, in the notorious clear bottle, with gold lettering over that distinguished diagonal Black Label for which it is named, this 12 year old blended whiskey is arguably the most well-known whiskey in the world: Johnnie Walker.
Read on –>
My whiskey series continues with some thoughts on the quintessential American Whiskey, Jack Daniels.
“This week, each one of you has a homework assignment. You’re gonna go out, you’re gonna start a fight with a total stranger.” ~ Tyler Durden
Now substitute “start a fight” with “have a drink” and “total stranger” with “drinking buddy” and you’re right on track.
* * *
In the first article, Stop Drinking, Start Tasting, we covered the very basics of whiskey, how it’s made, and how to sip it right, noting color, smell and taste. This is a man’s world, after all, and the modern man knows when to order a Jack and Coke, and when to order a Highland Park 12 year, neat. And not just because your date will think you’re a genius for knowing how to order whiskey (talk about pre-heating the oven), but because these drinks really are worth tasting.
Now it may seem that we’re just railing on Jack Daniels here, so rather than give the impression that the Old No. 7 is a whiskey for the undiscriminating palette, let’s take a closer look to see if it deserves the popularity it enjoys.
Read on –>