Monday, December 29, 2008

Dominion Baltic Porter Winter Brew: The right kind of porter

I bought Dominion Baltic Porter Winter Brew at a Safeway in Reston, Va., this past Saturday evening.

Essentially a local beer, it was brewed at the nearby Old Dominion Brewing Co. in Ashburn, Va.

Porters and I haven't always gotten along. Sometimes they're too smoky for me; sometimes they're too bitter and dark, and I'm saying that as a fan of dark-roast coffees and dark chocolate.

Sipping the Baltic Porter this evening, I am relieved to taste one of the most agreeable roasted pine-nut flavors I've ever had in a beer.

The fine line between roasted nuts and burnt nuts is often crossed in brewing (and crossed in nightclubs, but that's another story).

This porter belongs in the rich, hearty, comfort-food category, as long as you like roasted flavors in your beers. Speaking of comfort foods, the Baltic Porter is a high-gravity beer, advertised at 7 percent alcohol by volume.

My six-pack of Baltic Porter was priced at $8.99.

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Missing the CCU students

This past fall semester was my first time teaching as a college instructor. Did you really think the Beerman column paid all the bills? Ha!

I was teaching composition and literature classes at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC.

I taught five sections of three courses -- and drove to campus six days a week (that sixth day would be a three-hour long Saturday morning class).

I was never entirely successful at getting all my students to be quiet when I was lecturing --

Or to quit sending text messages from their phones during class periods.

And yet -- strangely enough -- I miss them.

Yeah, yeah -- I know -- they do NOT miss me.

They just wanted to get that English or humanities requirement out of the way.

And yet -- strangely enough -- I miss them.

And I wish them well this coming New Year and spring semester.

(P.S. I'm on Facebook!)

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Uncle Bill & I say: Bushmills for holidays!

A good man of Irish descent, and his grand-nephew (me), with Bushmills Irish whisky on Saturday afternoon in the home of a former CIA employee.

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Friday, December 26, 2008

Croissants Bistro & Bakery: New Year's Eve Chef's Tasting Menu

Note the available wine flights, listed at the end -- and, at the very end, the phone number for reservations. -- Colin


NEW YEAR'S EVE CHEF'S TASTING MENU
CROISSANTS BISTRO & BAKERY



Featuring Chef Bryan Bodle

$50

Amuse Bousche
Chef's choice to get you started

Appetizers:
your choice

Malpaque Oysters on the half shell, Bloody Mary Sorbet, Shaved Cucumber

Crepe Florentine, Light Tomato Cream

Preserved Duck Leg and Forest Mushroom Spring Roll, Sweet and Sour Au Jus

Salads:
your choice

Classic Caesar, shaved Parmesan, Thyme Garlic Bruschetta

or

Organic Baby Spinach Salad, warm Shallot, Bacon Vinaigrette,
Baby Tomato, Honey Pecans, Crumbled Clemson Bleu Cheese

Entree:
your choice

Pan Seared Yellow Fin Tuna "Au Poivre"
Nicoise accompaniments

Petite Filet and oven roasted half tail of Maine Lobster,
Saffron Potato Puree, Ratatouille Vinaigrette

Grill Roasted New Zealand Rack of Lamb
Soft herb creamy Polenta, fine roasted Bell Pepper- Olive Relish

Dessert:
Featuring Culinary Institute Student, Sara Johnson

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepes

or

Egg Nog Creme Brulee

Wine Flights available for additional charge:
Wine selections by Stephen Stroman
Champagne Flight
White Wine Flight
Red Wine Flight

843-448-2253
call for reservations

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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

2005 Dancing Bull Zinfandel on Christmas Eve

Dancing Bull Zinfandel (2005) has got to be the spiciest, pepperiest zinfandel I've ever had. Even so, it has plenty of fruitiness to offer.

This might be the first time I've been tempted to call a wine "exciting." Boredom is impossible with this one.

It has all the versatility listed on the bottle -- you could pair it with spicy BBQ or pizza (or a dozen other dishes).

My wife's cousin works for a wine distributer based in Columbia, SC, and he's spending the night with us. He says it's a mid-list Gallo product. Dancing Bull zin is available -- when stores are actually open -- within the $8-$9 range.

Merry Christmas!

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Does CNN's Bonnie Schneider want to have a baby?

At about 8:30 a.m. today, CNN's meteorologist Bonnie Schneider was talking about airport delays and big winter storms while a sign, directly beneath her, proclaimed: I WANT A BABY.

A few seconds later, about the time I really started to believe that some CNN staffers were taking holiday liberties with their professionalism, the words scrolled over to: COMING UP.

A few more seconds, and it scrolled back to: I WANT A BABY.

Whew!


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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Me, as Santa



At the annual Briarcliffe Acres, SC, Christmas Caroling shindig, held tonight. My daughter Maggie, 8, on the right in the foreground.

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May your White Russians be tanned

I guess the colder air makes the richness of a White Russian more appealing.

Here's the recipe I've been using:

10-ounce glass filled about two-thirds with ice

1 ounce of Kahlua

2 ounces of Ketel One

Top off with half-and-half

However, you can go for more punch (and less fat) if you increase the liquors and decrease the half-and-half.

In other words, you can give those White Russians a tan.

Or a deep tan.

This Christmas, I think we can all agree: Russians are far too pasty-white.

But I'm thinking we'll want to skip the outright Black Russians -- we really want a little of that comfort-food factor, courtesy the half-and-half.

Let's go for the Deeply Tanned Russian.

The Deeply Tanned Russian offers the potency we need with a touch of comfort.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Season's Greetings.

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Monday, December 22, 2008

Postmodernism-Postsecularism: a cursory report

Initial notes (I'm just beginning to understand this, I think):

Modernism or modernity was premised on the pretense of objective knowledge. Part of modernism's fuel was the scientific method and the quest for certainties about the natural world.

This placed religious narratives and myths outside the realm of fact, and fact became more important than value.

However, as postmodernism and postsecularism would insist, there is no purely objective reason or objective rationality within human beings.

We might be able to gather accurate data, but inevitably, that data is interpreted within a web of beliefs and values.

A big-picture story underlies every point of view.

Therefore, while the likes of Bertrand Russell and Richard Dawkins in the modernist camp have been able to say, in so many words, "We do not have enough objective knowledge to say that religious story is historically factual," the likes of John Milbank and others in postmodern and postsecular camp have been able to say, "We do not have enough objective knowledge to say that religious story is a myth."

This is more than merely turning the tables on modernity. It's a realization that beliefs and values cannot be trumped by facts, because facts are always understood within the context of beliefs and values.

While we function with some sense of foundational knowledge by which we make other decisions and judgments about the world around us, at some point, foundational knowledge is taken on faith.

If there is a foundational point of view within some of the theological postsecularists, it would be that there is a God who has all the objective knowledge, and we don't have it.


Clarifications? Better explanations? Denunciations? Additions? Please comment.


My sources for the above comments include this article:

"God's Own Knowledge," by J. Sharlet in Killing the Buddha

And these books:

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Sunday, December 21, 2008

The ambitious holiday reading list

Reading:

The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing, by Richard Hugo

Shopgirl, by Steve Martin

Faith Seeking Understanding: An Introduction to Christian Theology, by Daniel L. Migliore

Radical Orthodoxy and the Reformed Tradition: Creation, Covenant, and Participation, James K.A. Smith and James H. Olthuis, editors

Macbeth, by Shakespeare

Critical Theory: A User-Friendly Guide, by Lois Tyson

Reading the Written Image: Verbal Play, Interpretation, and the Roots of Iconophobia, by Christopher Collins

Finishing or Continuing:

The Best Creative Nonfiction, Vol. 1, Lee Gutkind, editor

The Optimist: Poems, by Joshua Mehigan

The Last Battle, by C.S. Lewis, which I've been reading with the kids

Tree of Heaven: Poems, by Jim McKean, who was my thesis adviser

Air Guitar: Essays on Art and Democracy, by Dave Hickey

A Stay Against Confusion: Essays on Faith and Fiction, by Ron Hansen

Examining:

Imaginative Writing, by Janet Burroway

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Michelob Craft Collection on shelves now

Michelob's Craft Collection has three 12-ounce bottles each of Pale Ale, Irish Red, Porter, and Marzen.

I saw it at the Bi-Lo on 38th Avenue North (in Myrtle Beach) for about $11.99.

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Monday, December 15, 2008

That song on the iTunes commercial

It's The Asteroids Galaxy Tour's "Around the Bend." Great song! The video -- full of old-school, 1980s era effects -- is available for viewing right here, thanks to YouTube:

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Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Drinking the 'Yellow Snow' at Longbeards

Sage advice like "don't eat the yellow snow" is not very meaningful on the Grand Strand, even if it lives on in the memory of some of our retired Yankee transplants.

Rogue Brewery, a left-coast beer maker with a sense of humor, offers us the opportunity to drink Yellow Snow, or Yellow Snow IPA, to be exact. I found it on tap at Longbeard's Bar and Grill, 5040 Carolina Forest Boulevard, which has one of the most incredible wood interiors I have ever seen in a restaurant.

IPAs, or India Pale Ales, can be a bit prickly for the novice beer drinker, and Yellow Snow certainly has its full-flavored impact. Fortunately, it's not as pungent as its namesake and accompanying pale, golden color would suggest - far from it. Like most brews from Rogue, I'll order it again.

Of course, we all know what "yellow snow" really refers to - it is snow that has turned yellow because either a dog took a leak or someone poured out a can of Busch Light.

Breckenridge Brewery's Agave WheatDuring my session at Longbeard's, I also tried Breckenridge Brewery's Agave Wheat. I haven't decided if I like it yet. It's an American-style unfiltered wheat beer made with the nectar of the Salmiana Agave, which makes for a distinctive taste.

I was treated to a taste of another Breckenridge brew on tap at Longbeard's, this one the Avalanche Ale, an American amber that goes easy on the hops and leans on the maltiness.

I enjoyed Longbeard's, its atmosphere, its beer, and its turkey melt. I'll be back.

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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Two unrelated philosophical quotes

Ludwig Wittgenstein, in the latter half of his career, offered this advice to philosophers who want to understand how words are used:

"Don't think but look!"

"...when investigating meaning, the philosopher must 'look and see' the variety of uses to which the word is put."
-- Anat Biletzki and Anat Matar in their article on Wittgenstein in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy


# # #

I know little about Wittgenstein, and even less about Wilhelm Dilthey, but both have me intrigued lately.

Dilthey drew a distinction between natural science and (what is sometimes called) human science with this quote:

"We explain nature, humans we must understand."

Read a detailed article on Dilthey here.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wines and beers for Thanksgiving

I have the responsibility of selecting the wine for my family's Thanksgiving feast in Raleigh, N.C.

Although I've been writing a regular column about beer for two and a half years now, I've made some notes along the way about wine pairings for Thanksgiving, which might be the most difficult pairing challenge of them all.

Last year, I was moderately successful by offering both a chardonnay and a riesling before and during dinner.

To make those choices, I had flipped through Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and I had searched the Internet for pairing suggestions. As an addition help, the local grocery store had cards on the shelves with Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast ratings -- I just had to make sure that the year on the card was the same as the year on the available bottles.

This year, I decided to add a zinfandel to the mix, only because I know some in my family will always prefer red. Truth be told, no one will care about the type of wines with this meal as much as I will!

Except for the riesling, for which I have a personal affection, I tried to stick to the affordable end of the available wines.

So here are the selections:

Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling 2007 (received an 87 from Wine Spectator); retails around $11 per bottle

King Fish California Chardonnay 2006; retails around $6 per bottle

Barefoot Zinfandel from Lodi, California (no date); retails around $7 per bottle

Earlier this year, I wrote a cover story for a local weekly about beer-and-food pairings, but I still decided not to spend the money on better beers for pairing purposes. Most of my family will drink wine with the meal.

Recently, I have gained a new appreciation and respect for big domestic brewers, and it just so happens that a new beer by Bud and an long-standing beer by Michelob have become personal favorites. Here's what the Thanksgiving beer cooler looks like:

Budweiser American Ale: This new beer from Bud is an all-malt ale with Pacific Cascade hops.

Michelob Lager: A traditional, all-malt lager with European hops.

Woodchuck Amber Cider: This crisp, refreshing alternative to wine and beer works well with holiday feasts; plus you can still count on a little lift. It's 5 percent.

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Wines and beers for Thanksgiving

I have the responsibility of selecting the wine for my family's Thanksgiving feast in Raleigh, N.C. My choices are listed in boldface below.

Although I've been writing a regular column about beer for two and a half years now, I've made some notes along the way about wine pairings for Thanksgiving, which might be the most difficult pairing challenge of them all.

Last year, I was moderately successful by offering both a chardonnay and a riesling before and during dinner.

To make those choices, I had flipped through Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast, and I had searched the Internet for pairing suggestions. As an addition help, the local grocery store had cards on the shelves with Wine Spectator and Wine Enthusiast ratings -- I just had to make sure that the year on the card was the same as the year on the available bottles.

This year, I decided to add a zinfandel to the mix, only because I know some in my family will always prefer red. Truth be told, no one will care about the type of wines with this meal as much as I will!

Except for the riesling, for which I have a personal affection, I tried to stick to the affordable end of the available wines.

So here are the selections:

Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling 2007 (received an 87 from Wine Spectator); retails around $11 per bottle

King Fish California Chardonnay 2006; retails around $6 per bottle

Barefoot Zinfandel from Lodi, California (no date); retails around $7 per bottle

Earlier this year, I wrote a cover story for a local weekly about beer-and-food pairings, but I still decided not to spend the money on better beers for pairing purposes. Most of my family will drink wine with the meal.

Recently, I have gained a new appreciation and respect for big domestic brewers, and it just so happens that a new beer by Bud and an long-standing beer by Michelob have become personal favorites. Here's what the Thanksgiving beer cooler looks like:

Budweiser American Ale: This new beer from Bud is an all-malt ale with Pacific Cascade hops.

Michelob Lager: A traditional, all-malt lager with European hops.

Woodchuck Amber Cider: This crisp, refreshing alternative to wine and beer works well with holiday feasts; plus you can still count on a little lift. It's 5 percent.

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Sunday, November 23, 2008

1989: Walker Percy receives Laetare award from University of Nortre Dame

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Saturday, November 22, 2008

New South Brewing Co. to start canning

New South Brewing Co. in Myrtle Beach, S.C., will begin canning beer in March.

Dave Epstein, owner of New South, said the canning equipment will arrive in January.

New South provides kegs to bars and restaurants in the Carolinas, especially in the greater Myrtle Beach area.

Epstein displayed possible can designs during New South's recent 10th anniversary celebration.





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Wednesday, November 19, 2008

'Little Toy Gun' by Honeyhoney on NBC's 'Life'

I love NBC's "Life," and tonight's episode featured the song "Little Toy Gun" by Honeyhoney, which I first heard on a Paste magazine sampler CD. Here's a clip and a link to purchase the download.

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Monday, November 17, 2008

I was elected to Trinity's vestry

For the second time, I have been elected to the vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church here in Myrtle Beach. I am uniquely qualified to serve in this role because one of my few skills is the ability to sit through meetings. Sometimes I can even scowl at handouts and budget proposals while cocking a skeptical eyebrow. The next logical step for me is to become a member of Congress.
spanish-inquisition

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Sing along with Watershed

Once in a while I see Joe Oestreich around Coastal Carolina University's English Department office. He's an assistant professor at CCU and member of the Ohio-based band Watershed. I downloaded Watershed's album Fifth of July from iTunes three days ago, and I'm listening to the song "5th of July" over and over again. Here's a clip with a link to purchase:

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Friday, November 14, 2008

New favorite song: '5th of July' by Watershed

Once in a while I see Joe Oestreich around CCU's English Department office. He's an assistant professor and member of the band Watershed. I downloaded Watershed's album Fifth of July from iTunes today, and I'm listening to the song "5th of July" over and over again. Here's a clip with a link to purchase:

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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Beer truck driver arrested on suspicion of drunken driving; trailer full of beer flipped

Take note of where this happened -- what a coincidence.

The Associated Press

WHEAT RIDGE, Colo. — A contract beer truck driver has been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after his rig flipped over in suburban Wheat Ridge.

Police say 56-year-old Bobby Dodge of McGregor, Texas was eastbound on Colorado 58 about 7:30 p.m. Tuesday when he took an exit ramp for eastbound Interstate 70 too fast. The truck and its 45,000-pound trailer full of beer overturned.

Wheat Ridge police spokeswoman Lisa Stigall says the beer, which had recently been picked up in Golden, remained enclosed inside the trailer. Authorities had to remove the entire load in order for the trailer to be set upright.

The wreckage blocked the ramp until about 2:30 a.m. Wednesday.

No injuries were reported. Stigall says Dodge was booked and taken to a detoxification facility.

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Monday, November 10, 2008

Stability in liturgical worship

The liturgies that have been around a while -- those that have not been formed in the spirit of modern innovation -- are most valuable for the way in which they repeat the Gospel and the basic tenants of the Christian faith.

Their greatest value is also their greatest liability, because contemporary people see repetition as boring.

But, I protest, consider the alternatives. In fact, consider two types of fundamentalist worship and one type of innovative worship.

Fundamentalist Type One: The minister or ministers believe themselves to be so full of the Holy Spirit that no reasoned understanding of Scripture or tradition is necessary. This type may present itself with ecstatic worship, spontaneous bursts of unknown languages, and prophecies on par with, or superseding, Scripture.

Fundamentalist Type Two: After well-worn hymns, the preacher roundly condemns The World and sin and reaffirms damnation through appeals to select Bible verses. This type may present itself with a King James translation of the Bible.

Innovative Type: Following up-tempo entertainment, Bible verses are presented as tools to solve life's problems. In varying fashion, either the sermon or the Bible acts like a tool box. If you go to the tool box knowing which tool you need, you can fix any problem. This type may present itself with a can-do attitude and a determination to try harder to make life work.

Meanwhile, the old liturgies primarily seen in Lutheran, Anglican, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox services -- their roots in an era prior to the canonization of the New Testament -- continue to return to one singular point, stated explicitly or implicitly: Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us; therefore let us keep the feast.

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In Carolina Forest, a big glass of Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat

A cold and rainy Saturday afternoon does not tend to inspire the drinking of summery wheat beers, but after a morning's work I went to Buffalo Wild Wings in Carolina Forest (between Myrtle Beach and Conway, S.C.) and realized that the only thing on tap that I hadn't tried, or at least wasn't sure I had tried, was Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat. The Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co., based in Wisconsin, has made some small distribution forays into the Grand Strand.

I have this problem lately - I'll think about ordering a regular pint and then hear words like "the 23-ounce, please" coming out of my mouth. The barkeep brought an extra tall glass of glowing gold.

The weird thing about Leinie's Sunset Wheat - or, more likely, the weird thing about me - was the undeniable taste of blueberries that continued through the last ounce. Can taste buds hallucinate? Later, I read through the Leinekugel Web site's description of the beer a few times, and never saw the word "blueberry" in it.

So I'm crazy. But by the time I got to the bottom of the glass, I had associated the taste in my mouth with the blue tap handle and made the assumption that blueberry juice was added to the outstanding wheat beer.

The bill was $4.34. I can deal with that price for 23 ounces of a Leinie.





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Saturday, November 8, 2008

American Ale: That Bud's for me

As I write this, I'm sipping beer from a coffee mug. It's fitting. I arrived at beer snobbery through the unlikely path of coffee snobbery.

While in college, I tried the coffee at Cup a Joe on Hillsborough Street in Raleigh, N.C. All the beans and brews were roasted in-house, and with the first sip of that French Roast, I entered a religious experience that henceforth consigned all the Folgers and Maxwell Houses to the shadows of the unredeemed.

When I opened the late Living Room Coffee Bar and Used Books in Myrtle Beach back in 2001, I purchased beans for brewed java and espresso from Larry's Beans, another small, regional roaster, because I knew the quality was going to be better than anything I could get from the big distributors.

In other words, in that one sip at Cup a Joe years ago, I learned that every product had a big brand for mass consumption as well as little-know artisan brand hidden in an out-of-the-way shop. Today I prefer the local and regional microbrews, and scoff at the Budweisers of the world.

Budweiser's American Ale has shut me up.

Figuratively speaking. I'll keep writing for now.

Bud's American Ale seemed like a cynical ploy to appeal to the pickier beer drinker, except that the quality of the beer takes the cynical part out of the ploy.

I never liked the idea that Bud's lager - the brand's best known beer, the one everybody calls Bud - was made with rice as well as barley. The company must have decided that a good remedy would be to make an all-malt ale, an ale made with nothing but barley, and to enhance it with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest.

So as I drink Bud's American Ale from my prized CNN coffee mug (speaking of big brands for mass consumption), I'm tasting a solid amber brew and a finish that leans toward the dry side. I didn't quite get the advertised "noticeably citrus aroma," although I tasted a bit in the finish. If I hold the coffee mug under a light, I can see that the color scale runs to the deep and dark side of amber.

The most informative thing I can say, however, is this: My respect for Bud and its big parent company Anheuser-Busch is bubbling upward.

I've seen six-packs of American Ale bottles selling in the $6.14-$6.59 range. Go to www.budamericanale.com and click "Find It" for local bars and stores that carry this ale.





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Friday, November 7, 2008

Bud's American Ale


Bud's American Ale seemed like a cynical ploy to appeal to the pickier beer drinker, except that the quality of the beer takes the cynical part out of the ploy.

I never liked the idea that Bud's lager - the brand's best known beer, the one everybody calls Bud - was made with rice as well as barley. The company must have decided that a good remedy would be to make an all-malt ale, an ale made with nothing but barley, and to enhance it with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest.

So as I drink Bud's American Ale, I'm tasting a solid amber brew and a finish that leans toward the dry side. I didn't quite get the advertised "noticeably citrus aroma," although I tasted a bit in the finish. If I hold the coffee mug under a light, I can see that the color scale runs to the deep and dark side of amber.

The most informative thing I can say, however, is this: My respect for Bud and its big parent company Anheuser-Busch is bubbling upward.

I've seen six-packs of American Ale bottles selling in the $6.14-$6.59 range. Go to www.budamericanale.com and click "Find It" for local bars and stores that carry this ale.



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Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Special Election Coverage: Envy beating Greed at polls

It looks like Envy is going to win in a landslide today. Greed will not quite be able to win key swing states needed to tip the Electoral College away from Envy.

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Sunday, November 2, 2008

Big anniversary party at Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery this Tuesday, on Election Day

Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery (at Broadway at the Beach here in Myrtle Beach) will celebrate its 13th anniversary this coming Tuesday, on Election Day.

Brewer Eric Lamb is planning to tap the Porter, and Liberty will have 2-for-1 meal deals available -- the restaurant's own "economic bailout."



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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our intellectual positions and our hearts

“Let us not pretend to doubt in our philosophy what we do not doubt in our hearts,” wrote the U.S. philosopher Charles S. Peirce in his book Some Consequences of Four Incapacities.
“Our philosophy” and “our hearts” are separated here in a way that addresses the habits of thought among Peirce’s contemporaries. But Peirce seems to be saying that the distinction between “our philosophy” and “our hearts” is not actually that distinct. His statement strikes me as an argument with a singular point: that we are singular beings, not compartmentalized beings operating in separate realms.
My thoughts jump to this description of Soren Kierkegaard’s philosophy as described by William Barrett in his book Irrational Man: “…my existence is not at all a matter of speculation to me, but a reality in which I am personally and passionately involved. I do not find this existence reflected in the mirror of the mind, I encounter it in life; it is my life, a current flowing invisibly around all my mental mirrors.”
So I wonder if heart and critical thinking can operate entirely separate from each other. There is plenty more to say on this. What do you think? Comment below.
-Colin Foote Burch

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Get your beer news published in the Weekly Surge

You can make a comment on this blog post.

You can email me at beerpour@yahoo.com .

Either way, I'll give extremely serious consideration to your beer specials, your new beverage arrivals, or your upcoming adult-beverage related events in the greater Myrtle Beach area.

Cheers!

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Saturday, October 11, 2008

Beer tasting today (Saturday, Oct. 11)

Jim Varcadipane recently purchased Atlantic Discount Spirits at 2901 U.S. 17 South in Garden City Beach, and today is the final day of his BeerFest, which has featured some local and regional distributors.

Varcadipane said each distributor should have approximately 12 different beers. Here's a look at today's schedule.

3:30-6:30 p.m., Saturday (Oct. 11): Advintage Wines of North Charleston and Aleph Wines of Columbia have the wares, along with regional distributor Republic National.

Call 357-6232 or visit www.atlanticdiscountspirits.com for more information.

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

Blessing of the Beasts in Albuquerque

Mark Goodman, our former rector at Trinity Episcopal here in Myrtle Beach (and a treasured friend of mine), is now dean of the Cathedral Church of Saint John in downtown Albuquerque, N.M. Here is KOAT-TV's video clip of the pet blessing service Mark held today in honor of Saint Francis.
http://www.koat.com/video/17627147/

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

Two special events at Atlantic Discount Spirits in Garden City Beach this weekend

Later today (Friday, Oct. 3), Atlantic Discount Spirits will have a tasting with Crown Royal, Cask 16, Zwack, and Kettle One Citroen. The tasting runs 3:30-6:30 p.m.

And on Saturday (Oct. 4), also 3:30-6:30 p.m., the store will have a tasting with Forty Creek Barrel Select Whiskey and Charter 101.

Atlantic Discount Spirits is located at 2901-A U.S. 17 South in Garden City Beach.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I coined a new put-down

I tried this out on my Facebook page, and two friend have liked it so far. Here goes:

"I ain't in your league 'cause I ain't playin' your games."

Slam! Yep, it's original. (c) Copyright 2008 Colin Burch

: )

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Monday, September 29, 2008

Some days, my daughters just want to stay home

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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Mellow Mushroom's brew list continues to grow

Last week, a friend told me that Mellow Mushroom here in Myrtle Beach has been slowly but surely adding more and more brews -- beers on tap, to be more precise.

Anyone out there tried some of the local Mellow Mushroom's recently added beer offerings? Care to comment?

By the way, the friend who told me was Michael Wood, who has done an outstanding cover story on the Myrtle Beach underground music scene for the Weekly Surge. Read the article here.

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Crazy about 'Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics'

I love this Editorial Statement for Arion: A Journal of Humanities and the Classics:

"MORE THAN humane philology is essential for keeping the classics as a living force. Arion therefore exists to publish work that needs to be done and that otherwise might not get done. We want to stimulate, provoke, even 'plant' work that now finds no encouragement or congenial home elsewhere. This means swimming against the mainstream, resisting the extremes of conventional philology and critical fashion into which the profession is now polarized. But occupying this vital center should in no way preclude the crucial centrifugal movement that may lead us across disciplinary lines and beyond the academy. Our commitment is to a genuine and generous pluralism that opens up rather than polarizes classical studies. We will not be coerced into conforming either to the traditional paradigms or to the 'new' metaphysic and ideological absolutism of contemporary theory. If we are to move beyond the cant of 'isms' now dominating the academy, intellectual daring is needed, not disciplinary diffidence.

"We are in quest of freshness of vision, distinction of thought (as opposed to professional group-think), rigor of imagination, and an energetic sense of the spaciousness of the classical tradition."

The above excerpt appeared here.

Visit the Arion homepage here.

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Thursday, September 11, 2008

Gratitude for the givenness of the world

Following the recent death of the great Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, I have been listening to David Aikman's essay "One Word of Truth: A Portrait of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn" on a special MP3 edition of Mars Hill Audio.

Mars Hill Audio also has a 74-minute download entitled The Christian Humanism of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (also available for purchase on CD) featuring scholar Edward E. Ericson, Jr. Here's a fantastic quote from Ericson's 2006 book, The Solzhenitsyn Reader: New and Essential Writings, 1947-2005:

"Solzhenitsyn's work and witness teach us that the true alternative to revolutionary utopianism is not postmodern nihilism but gratitude for the givenness of the world and a determined but patient effort to correct injustices within it."

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Quote of the Week

In the "hot pour" interview column in the current (Sept. 4) edition of The Weekly Surge, Christian S. Gore interviews Jessie Leeson, 28, a bartender at the local Gordon Biersch restaurant and brewery.

Christian S. Gore: Have you ever thought about what it'd be like to work a shift on LSD?

Jessie Leeson: Every shift I work I feel like I am on LSD... Myrtle Beach is a trippy place."

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Quote of the Week

In the "hot pour" interview column in the current (Sept. 4) edition of The Weekly Surge, Christian S. Gore interviews Jessie Leeson, 28, a bartender at the local Gordon Biersch restaurant and brewery.

Christian S. Gore: Have you ever thought about what it'd be like to work a shift on LSD?

Jessie Leeson: Every shift I work I feel like I am on LSD... Myrtle Beach is a trippy place."

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Beerman has gone to every-other-week

To the readers of my Beerman column in The Weekly Surge --

If you haven't noticed yet, the editor and I decided to make Beerman an every-other-week kind of column.

I will continue to update this blog between columns.

Send me news when you have some!

cheers,
Colin

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Friday, September 5, 2008

Hanna knocks down a big tree

Here in Briarcliffe Acres, S.C. --



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For wine drinkers: Cavit's 2007 Pinot Noir from Italy

Wednesday night, my wife and I had a quick, casual dinner at the Olive Garden across U.S. 17 from Barefoot Landing (North Myrtle Beach, SC). We bought a bottle of 2007 Pinot Noir from Provincia di Pavia, by the Cavit Collection. It was, as advertised, light and fruity -- and we loved it. Plus, it was affordable. We spent about $20 on that bottle, which is pretty darn reasonable for a bottle at a restaurant.

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Audio Prozac: The Cleaning the Kitchen And Waiting for Hannah Playlist

Coastal Carolina University in nearby Conway has canceled classes Friday and Saturday (yes, I teach a three-hour class on Saturday) due to concerns about Tropical Storm Hannah.

On such an occasion, I offer my playlist for cleaning the kitchen at 1 a.m. while looking forward to two days off to catch-up while assuming Hannah won't be a problem in the greater Myrtle Beach area:

1. Long Time Coming -- The Delays

2. Hey Girl -- The Delays

3. The Burden -- Dropkick Murphys

4. Five Candles (You Were There) -- Jars of Clay

5. Praise You -- Fatboy Slim

6. The Devil Never Sleeps -- Iron & Wine

7. Door Into Summer -- Jacob's Trouble (covering The Monkees)

8. Hangin' Around -- Counting Crows

9. Your Reverie -- Kelley Stoltz

10. Alongside You -- Molly Jenson

11. New Shoes -- Paolo Nutini

12. Don't You Evah -- Spoon

13. Stevie Nix -- The Hold Steady

14. Times Like These -- Foo Fighters

15. Rocknroll -- Lovedrug

16. Ride My See-Saw -- The Moody Blues

17. I'm Amazed -- My Morning Jacket

18. The Ritz -- Office

19. I Choose -- The Offspring

20. Bouncing Around the Room -- Phish

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain-Palin Campaign On Hurricane Gustav Aftermath

ST. PAUL (BS) -- In a Saturday preview of their campaign, Sen. John McCain and his running mate Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin tried to head-off the Democratic presidential ticket with vows to help anyone struck by incoming Hurricane Gustav.

"Our opponents will promise to shovel millions of federal dollars to you, the future victims of Hurricane Gustav," McCain said.

"But I will come down there and shovel debris from your yard," he said.

"And look at Gov. Palin over there. Now there's a woman who can clean a house."

The Palin-cleaning-house comment caused an immediate surge in approval ratings among evangelicals.

-Colin Foote Burch, who fabricated everything above

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Simpsons and Rev. Wright

Warning: Offensive language involved.

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Two thumbs up for this Red Stripe beer commercial

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Hysterical Red Stripe beer commerical

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

'The Silver Chair' by C.S. Lewis

The Silver Chair (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 6) The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
This might be my second-favorite of the Narnia books, after The Horse and His Boy.


View all my reviews.

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I loved Steve Martin's 'Born Standing Up'

Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life by Steve Martin


My review


rating: 4 of 5 stars
I loved how Steve Martin recalls his creative development, his artistic development, from small-time vaudeville to big-time comedy. His growth, his peak, his wise decision to re-invent himself toward film, along with his spare family life (if redeemed toward the end). This is book is also and outstanding example of what the genre of "creative nonfiction" or "literary nonfiction" can be. This works very well as a book, and ends where it ought to, although being a big fan of "L.A. Story" and being completely selfish, I wish the chronology had extended to the writing and making of that film.


View all my reviews.

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Great moments in childhood

Maggie, age 8, just after her mother closed a Hammacher Schlemmer catalog:
"Mommy, why do you need an underwater pogo stick?"

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian writers & the Archbishop of Canterbury

I interviewed Lesley Chamberlain not so long ago, when two of her major works on Russian intellectual history were about to be published in the United States.

Now, Chamberlain has interviewed Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, about the work of Russian novelist Dostoevsky.

Here is a key excerpt from Williams' comments:

Dostoevsky famously said: "If there’s no God, then everything is permitted." It’s a view the west might consider more often. Dostoevsky’s not saying that if there’s no God then no one’s watching us and we can do what we like. He’s really asking: what’s the rationale for living this way and not otherwise? If there’s no God, then there’s no shape to our lives. Our behaviour needs to be in tune with something. If there’s no divine tune, how do you know where to go, what to do? To believe in God is not a business of rewards, but an ability to make sense of things.

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The objectives of metaphysics, the objectives of science

“If the objectives of metaphysics are spurious, then they cannot be fulfilled by science any more than they can be by metaphysics.”

-Jeff Coulter and Wes Sharrock, Brain, Mind, and Human Behavior in Contemporary Cognitive Science (2007)

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Friday, August 8, 2008

The evening news with WMBF, Myrtle Beach's first NBC affiliate

Danner Evans is the right woman for the anchor seat in the WMBF local news operation: she's crisp, quick, charming and attractive.

WMBF is the new -- and the first -- NBC affiliate in the Myrtle Beach-Florence market. Friday (August 8) was the local news operation's first day on the air.

But even with Evans' solid handling of the co-anchor position with Michael Maely, the WMBF 11 o'clock news on Friday evening(running late due to the NBC coverage of Olympic opening ceremonies in Beijing) brought these questions to mind:

1. The segment with the Internet reporter is a smart idea, but will the camera get close enough to the screen, or will the screen become big enough, so that the viewers can see what is on the displayed Web sites? CNN has an Internet reporter who does the same thing, and it can be an effective and useful segment, but the CNN screen is larger, and the viewers can see what is on the Web sites.

2. Tonight's opening report, regarding the Olympics, was broadcast live from a local sports bar. The report had only one bar patron talking on camera; the rest of the report was a voice-over of the reporter talking while the viewers watched mundane shots of the people sitting around inside the bar. Will WMBF generally avoid mundane footage?

3. Was everyone a bit nervous tonight? The introduction to a segment on counterfeit bills was awkward and repetitive. Another segment about air quality in Beijing included a fumble with graphics and video. That's all understandable. After months of build-up, the big day was here, and the folks in the newsroom knew they were riding the NBC legacy. It was truly a big day. Brian Williams, reporting from Beijing, gave a shout out to the new WMBF during NBC's Nightly News.

All that being said, hats off to Justin Felder for two good stories about local Olympic athletes -- crisp reports with charm.

And, WMBF's graphics, color schemes, and set are appealing and engaging.

Only good can result from another news operation in the area.

The new NBC affiliate will make WPDE and WBTW work even harder -- and that's important when broadcast journalism's usual crib sheet, the daily newspaper, in this case The Sun News, has gone through a recent round of counterintuitive layoffs and belt-tightening.

Maybe the cuts were not so counterintuitive. Maybe locals just prefer TV news (the short version with bright, spiffy graphics) to newspapers (the in-depth, and best-reported, version), but Horry County, the so-called Independent Republic, needs all the public accountability it can get.

Even if every report ends with the reporter saying "live, local, and late-breaking." Which brings me to:

4. Will WMBF really end each and every report with "live, local, and late-breaking"? Really? I mean, time is everything on television, right?

#

Newcomers to the area might not understand the significance of a local NBC affiliate. Since I moved to Myrtle Beach in 1996, I have had both the Columbia, S.C., and the Wilmington, N.C., affiliates available on my local TimeWarner cable box. Meanwhile, WBTW 13 (CBS) and WPDE 15 (ABC) both have been covering the Myrtle Beach-Florence market for several years now.

#

Late update: Conan O'Brien just did a shout-out to the new WMBF on his Late Night with Conan O'Brien show.

-Colin Foote Burch

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Here's another thought

"To ask how I would think if I were brought up outside any particular society, is as meaningless as to ask how I would think if I were born in no particular body, relying on no particular sensory and nervous organs."

- Michael Polanyi, Personal Knowledge

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Here's a thought

"What we do is to bring words back from their metaphysical to their everyday use.... The real discovery is the one that makes me capable of stopping doing philosophy when I want to."

-Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations

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Sunday, August 3, 2008

Solzhenitsyn's short, brilliant aesthetic statement; honoring the most famous lecture of late Solzhenitsyn

With the passing of Russian Nobel Laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (obit here, and here), it is only fitting for me to praise a short hardback book I found at a used book store years ago -- perhaps the smallest hardcover with a dust jacket that I had seen to date.

Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Lecture on Literature stimulated my mind, blessed me, invigorated me. The book is still one of my greatest treasures. He was not able to deliver the lecture in person -- another cruelty in his life.

Here are some excerpts from Solzhenitsyn's lecture that I have kept in a separate file of quotations that are important to me:

And even more, much more than this: whole countries and continents repeat each other's mistakes after a while; it can happen even now, in an age when, it would seem, everything is clearly visible and obvious! No indeed: what some peoples have already suffered, considered, and rejected suddenly turns up among others as the last and newest word.

The artist is only given to sense more keenly than others the harmony of the world and all the beauty and savagery of man's contribution to it -- and to communicate this poignantly to people.

It is in vain to affirm that which the heart does not confirm.

Art opens even the chilled, darkened heart to high spiritual experience. Through the instrumentality of art we are sometimes sent – vaguely, briefly – insights which logical processes of thought cannot attain.

However, there is a special quality in the essence of beauty, a special quality in the status of art: the conviction carried by a genuine work of art is absolutely indisputable and tames even the strongly opposed heart.

One can construct a political speech, an assertive journalistic polemic, a program for organizing society, a philosophical system, so that in appearance it is smooth, well structured, and yet it is built upon a mistake, a lie; and the hidden element, the distortion, will not immediately become visible. And a speech, or a journalistic essay, or a program rebuttal, or a different philosophical structure can be counterposed to the first – and it will seem just as well constructed and as smooth, and everything will seem to fit. And therefore one has faith in them – yet one has no faith.

In contrast, a work of art bears within itself its own confirmation: concepts which are manufactured out of whole cloth or overstrained will not stand up to being tested in images, will somehow fall apart and turn out to be sickly and pallid and convincing to no one.

Works steeped in truth and presenting it to us vividly alive will take hold of us, will attract us to themselves with great power – and no one ever, even in a latter age, will presume to negate them. And so perhaps that old trinity of Truth, Good and Beauty is not just the outworn formula it used to seem to use during our heady, materialistic youth. If the crests of these three trees join together, as the investigators and explorers used to affirm, and if the too obvious, too straight branches of Truth and Good are crushed or amputated and cannot reach the light – yet perhaps the whimsical, unpredictable, unexpected branches of Beauty will make their way through and soar up TO THAT VERY PLACE and in this way perform the work of all three.


Solzhenitsyn, a great artistic and prophetic voice, falls silent in the hour we might need him the most.

-Colin Foote Burch

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Saturday, August 2, 2008

Beer-food pairings article now archived online

Everyone talks about wine pairings, but not as many talk about beer pairings.

If you've ever wanted to know what beer to have with a certain food -- or what food to have with a certain beer -- I've got you covered.

Here's the link:

http://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/static/weeklysurge/2008%20archives/072408%20archives/main072408.html

Enjoy!

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Article on beer-food pairings now archived online

Everyone talks about wine pairings, but not as many talk about beer pairings.

If you've ever wanted to know what beer to have with a certain food -- or what food to have with a certain beer -- I've got you covered.

Here's the link:

http://www.weeklysurge.com/2008%20archives/072408%20archives/main072408.html

Enjoy!

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Friday, July 25, 2008

Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale with Chicken Salad

I had just written an article about beer-and-food pairings. I had not included chicken salad in the beer-and-food pairings mix, but the next day, a friend visited for lunch and we had chicken salad sandwiches with Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale.

Excellent pairing. My friend agreed. I knew it would be close. Rogue includes little pairing icons on its larger, single-sale bottles (one pint + six ounces), and the Morimoto Soba Ale included a fish icon and a bird icon. Morimoto Soba Ale was light enough and zippy enough to compliment white meat, even when that white meat is mixed with mayonnaise and grapes.

You can read the beer-and-food pairing article here.

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God, Hugh Laurie, and 'House, MD'

A new article has me thinking more about the religious content of my favorite show on television: House, MD on Fox, starring Hugh Laurie as Dr. Gregory House.

I don't like to record it because I don't like to wait for it. My world stops for the start of a new episode.

My affection is against the rules.

I am a theist -- frustrated, searching, liturgically minded, often-doubting, usually more philosophical than theological, yet ultimately a Christian of some sort.

Laurie and his TV character House are both strident, stringent atheists. The actor and the character ridicule all stripes of believers with ease and regularity.

Oddly enough, series creator and executive producer David Shore has twin brothers who are Orthodox rabbis, according to an article in the Spring 2008 edition of Religion in the News (which just arrived in my mailbox today, in late July).

The brother of rabbis creating and guiding a show about an atheist? Maybe that's why I find the religious content of House, MD to be remarkably well-informed and true to the state of religious thought in our time. (I'm not totally ignorant of the subject, either -- hey, I won a Medal of Distinction in the Battleground God game at The Philosopher's Magazine Web site!)

"To ignore issues of faith is to ignore a pretty fundamental part of all people's lives when they're in the hospital, facing death," Shore said in an NPR interview last year. "I'm not saying all people find God, but they certainly do ask those questions."

I'll never forget the episode (can't remember the title or season) in which Dr. Robert Chase, played by Jesse Spencer, spends time talking with a nun who has (what else?) an undiagnosed illness. We learn that Dr. Chase had once been a seminary student, and the way his lingering knowledge of the Christian faith -- and his apparent desire but inability to believe -- are brought to the surface rings true. Kudos to both the acting and the writing.

Here's an example of the program's religious content, from Christine McCarthy McMorris's article "Playing Godless" in Religion in the News:

In "House vs. God" (Season 2), a teenaged faith healer is brought to the hospital, where House sets up a scoreboard for both him and God to win points. Although he discovers that the young healer has contracted a sexually transmitted disease that he is hiding from his father, exposure to the boy's virus seems to (miraculously) shrink the tumor of a cancer patient at the hospital. Although House remains unconvinced ("I fear for the human race. A teenager claims to be the voice of God, and people with advanced degrees are listening,"), by the end of the program the score is even.

But some people have to latch onto the most simplistic, surface-level interpretations, rather than identifying the messiness of life and faith and doubt, and rather than understanding that television programs, like many creative works, are at their best when they jump into ambiguities and uncertainties, following William Shakespeare's genius as explained by John Keats: "I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason." Uninspired by such an approach would be The Parents Television Council, the leadership of which called Fox "the most anti-religious network" and accused House, MD of "consistently mocking religion and people of faith."

Indeed, Dr. House's ridicule of religious people has included not only Christians, but also Mormons and Orthodox Jews. But the program's story lines don't actually allow a cut-and-dried verdict on complex topics. Maybe that's why I find it so rewarding to watch.

--Colin Foote Burch, member, Society of Professional Journalists, and affiliate member, Religion Newswriters Association

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Lewis Black is an antique

As I'm ignoring my daughters' pleas for breakfast this morning, Lewis Black is hosting a show about comedians on the History Channel.

It's a History Channel program because Lewis Black and unseen producers are interviewing dozens of comedians, each with essential historical information at the bottom of the screen, like:

Kathy Griffin
Comedian for 13 Years

See? It's history!

Maybe they should do a segment on another historical era, like back when Kathy Griffin was funny.

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Sunday, July 20, 2008

Lutherans promote cremation

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Monday, July 14, 2008

Sign of the Times

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Sign of the Times

I don't know where this came from, because I received it from a forwarded email, but it sums up our times, no?

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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Definitive review of Myrtle Beach's beer now online

Hey folks -- my Weekly Surge cover story about Myrtle Beach's locally brewed beer was published on May 29, but the newspaper's Web site didn't seem to have a permalink for story until recently. Now, at last, you can find it here. Note that at the bottom of the main article, there are links for two related stories that ran with the same package.

The main players are:

1. The microbrewery New South Brewing Co. in Myrtle Beach;

2. The brewpub Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery at Broadway at the Beach in Myrtle Beach;

3. The brewpub Quigley's Plate and Pint in Pawleys Island;

4. The new Gordon Biersch brewpub at The Market Common on the former Myrtle Beach Air Force Base.

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Review: Sloane Crosley's 'I Was Told There'd Be Cake'

I Was Told There'd Be Cake
by Sloane Crosley
Publisher: Riverhead Books
Published: April
Pages: 230
List Price: $14

Synopsis: Sloane Crosley, evidently in her late 20s or early 30s, turns her life's fumbles and misadventures into wry, humorous essays. Crosley's self-mockery lends a ring of truth. You can't make this stuff up.

Why it's a good beach book: It's funny and easy to follow. It puts everyday life at arm's length - exactly what you want at the beach. It views life, love, and jobs through humor-tinted glasses. Plus, it's paperback: easy to tote.

Details, details, details: In the essay "Fuck you, Columbus," Crosley tells the story of moving from a two-bedroom apartment in New York City to a studio apartment three blocks away. She locks her keys in her old apartment, and pays $280 for a locksmith. Later the same day, she locks her keys in her new apartment, and gets a whopping $20 reduction on the second bill. She amicably parts ways with her roommate. She "had the bonus of living with someone with a healthy penchant for childish pranks. Into our newly adult lives there crept the occasional short-sheeting of my bed or setting of my alarm clock for an obscure time. And then hiding it. Who would keep me on my toes now? You can't exactly scare yourself out of the hiccups or glue your own toothbrush to the ceiling." At times, Crosley is easier to understand if you've lived in a big city; at other times, she will be easier to get if you're female. But overall, these essays are down-to-earth and for everyone. I can't speak for Dave Sedaris' most recent book, but Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake belongs on your shelf next to Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim.


-Colin Foote Burch, member of the National Book Critics Circle and the Society of Professional Journalists

This article originally appeared in this summer book roundup in the Weekly Surge of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

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Plantinga on natural selection and naturalism

Alvin Plantinga, professor of philosophy at the University of Notre Dame, made an interesting comment in the July/August edition of Books & Culture:

"[N]atural selection doesn't care about the truth or falsehood of your beliefs; it cares only about adaptive behavior. Your beliefs may all be false, ridiculously false; if your behavior is adaptive, you will survive and reproduce."

Plantinga does not rule out evolution in his article.

In fact, the name of the article is "Evolution vs. Naturalism."

How's that?

Here's a hint:

"Naturalism is the idea that there is no such person as God or anything like God; we might think of it as high-octane atheism or perhaps atheism-plus. It is possible to be an atheist without rising to the lofty heights (or descending to the murky depths) of naturalism. Aristotle, the ancient Stoics, and Hegel (in at least certain stages) could properly claim to be atheists, but they couldn't properly claim to be naturalists: each endorses something (Aristotle's Prime Mover, the Stoics' Nous, Hegel's Absolute) no self-respecting naturalist could tolerate." [emphasis added]

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Ten out of Tenn Tour

Click the poster to enlarge it and see the cities and dates.

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Pentecostalism and the evaluation of personal experience

In the current edition of Books & Culture, Arlene M. Sanchez Walsh reflects on an afternoon tour she took of Angelus Temple, where the late Pentecostal hero Aimee Semple McPherson ministered. Sanchez, herself a licensed minister in the Pentecostal denomination called International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, writes that "the Pentecostal cult of personality tells us more about who Pentecostals are than it does about the leaders they hold in such high esteem."

The personality cults abound in Pentecostal and charismatic versions of Christianity. Right now, in Lakeland, Fla., some of my friends and family members are visiting an "outpouring" that is being presided-over by one of the latest personalities to gather a cult following: Todd Bentley, who can be seen on numerous YouTube videos leading crowds into near-hysterical frenzies.

The problem, these days, in our mass culture, is that charismatic personalities (using charismatic in the broadest sense of the term) and intense experiences are considered indications of reality or truth or God's presence. No one seems to think that senses and perceptions could be manipulated -- wittingly or unwittingly -- by a leader or by a crowd, in politics as well as religion.

"When a leader has the quality of charisma, he is able to arouse an extraordinary level of trust and devotion from his followers," wrote Wendy Duncan in her book I Can't Hear God Anymore: Life in a Dallas Cult. "The charismatic leader attracts people to his ideas and causes them to desire to be in his presence."

What follows that initial devotion, though, is a movement from one personality to the next, from one "move of God" to the next, from one "outpouring" to the next, from one "revival" to the next. Len Oakes, in his book Prophetic Charisma: The Psychology of Revolutionary Religious Personalities (Syracuse University Press, 1997), wrote, "The followers surrender not to the person of the leader but to the power manifest in him, and they will desert him if his power fails. The followers attain freedom from routine and the commonplace by surrendering to the leader and -- through him -- to their own emotional depths."

Following Oakes, it seems to me, based on my own 20 growing-up years in neo-Pentecostal/charismatic churches, that the promise of a new personality, as well as the alleged new move of God that comes with him, is never delivered and eventually fades away, so one is always eagerly looking for that next fix, whether it is a fix that will finally bring healing or guidance, or a fix that will bring a new experience of "emotional depths."

Consider again Oakes' phrase "freedom from routine and the commonplace." It is interesting that a common accusation against institutional churches is that their rituals and their orderliness smack of spiritual deadness. To be sure, as Jaroslav Pelikan said, "Tradition is the living faith of the dead; traditionalism is the dead faith of the living." But what are the accusers of institutional churches seeking from the charismatic leader and the latest outpouring, the latest revival? Not truth. Instead, they seek experiences. The accusers of institutional churches never seem to consider that rituals and orderliness might be structured in such a way so that truth could be handed down to generation after generation.

But if a guy has been brought up with television and rock 'n' roll, how is he going to see the value in quietness and orderliness and the repetition of old texts unless he has the help of a little teaching or training? He wants sensation. Sensations dictate to him whether or not truth is being communicated. If the sensations come with Jesus' name attached, then they must be from God, never mind all affronts to historical doctrine and theology, never mind the atmosphere created by music and the mantra-like repetition of phrases.

Perhaps he should consider that church and worship are not about his personal experiences.

The fact that he does not consider such thoughts is evidence enough that Sanchez was right: "the Pentecostal cult of personality tells us more about who Pentecostals are than it does about the leaders they hold in such high esteem." All they want, as Oakes said, is "freedom from routine and the commonplace" and the resulting experience of "emotional depths."

-Colin Foote Burch

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Friday, June 27, 2008

New favorite song: 'Hologram' by Katie Herzig

I think everyone probably knows a feeling -- probably from younger years in life -- of wanting to be close enough to a certain someone to fantasize about the possibility of a romance, while not wanting to take it all the way, not wanting to commit. It seems more fun to live in the possibility than to risk the reality of the relationship. Katie Herzig captures that sense in her flirty, sexy song "Hologram." I found it on the Paste magazine CD Sampler (Issue 44). Here's a link to purchase it on MP3.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This church sign needs a caption; please provide one in the comments section

Seen just off an I-95 exit in Roanoke Rapids, N.C., June 23, 2008:

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Saturday, June 21, 2008

An old family photo

 

My grandfather, Colin F. Burch, Jr., is standing in the middle.

Standing on the right is my great-grandfather, Colin F. Burch, Sr.

Seated on the left is my grandmother, Audrey Weibel Burch.

The baby is my father, Colin III.

The funeral service for my grandfather will be Monday morning in Avenue, Maryland.

He'll be buried in the churchyard of All Saints Episcopal Church with dozens of his family members and ancestors, including his parents and his younger brother Walter Dent Burch.
Posted by Picasa

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Friday, June 20, 2008

Give Michelob a chance

I'm continuing to reevaluate my beer-snobbery.

I had basically written off the big domestics in favor of microbrews and imports, until twice recently I dined at Chuck's Steakhouse, 9695 Kings Highway on Restaurant Row in Myrtle Beach.

My wife and I always love the food at Chuck's, but the steakhouse has only one beer on tap, Michelob Lager, plus a tap for the beer substitute Michelob Ultra. (They also have a selection of bottled beers.)

But Chuck's knows how to make the most of that Michelob, offering a big, frosty, 28-ounce goblet for $5.50.

On both of my recent visits, the goblet was perfectly frosted.

I thought the Michelob had interesting hop characteristics, followed by a pleasant dryness.

It was not the blandness I had come to expect from big domestics. Michelob had something going on. It paired well with steak. I finished the goblet smiling.

Later, I went to the Michelob Web site, which claimed that their lager is made with European hops and "a 100-percent-malt blend." Meaning: no rice, no corn, just barley malt. What a difference.

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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Col. Colin F. Burch, Jr., 1918-2008


My grandfather died this morning. He was 89. I had just seen him this past weekend; he had been groggy and couldn't say a lot.

He was a flight instructor in WWII, and an engineer on the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System. He also served in the Korean War, and retired a full-bird Colonel.

I really loved him; I'll really miss him.

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Monday, June 16, 2008

A visit to Capital Ale House in Richmond, Va.; a date with Legend Brown Ale

I stopped at Capital Ale House in downtown Richmond, Va., during a break from my rocket ride down Interstate 95 yesterday. The barkeep said the only locally brewed beer on tap was Legend Brown Ale, but of course several other local and regional brews -- along with dozens more -- were available behind six doors of coolers that were packed with bottles.

Legend Brewing Co.'s Brown Ale felt and tasted just about perfect. It was sweet with just enough hops to keep it honest. The medium-light body served both sip-ability and drink-ability.

Capital Ale House had a frost strip, or frost in a stainless steel indention, set into the long, wood bar. Nice touch.

My 12-ounce Legend Brown Ale was $3.50.

My house burger was $7.49.

Capital Ale House also offers take-home bottles for 25-percent off the list price, as long as each purchase meets a $10 minimum, which is due to concerns of local residents, according to the menu.

So I picked up two bottles to go.

My take-home Legend Golden Ale, in a one-pint, six-fluid ounce bottle, was $6.50.

And my take-home 12-ounce bottle of Full Nelson, from Blue Mountain Brewery in Afton, Virginia, was $4.

Stay tuned and I'll tell you what these good-looking beers taste like.

-Colin Foote Burch

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Saturday, June 14, 2008

Old Dominion Brew Pub, Ashburn, VA; sampling five beers at Old Dominion Brew Pub

Live, from Chantilly, Va., I'm filing a review of Old Dominion Brew Pub in Ashburn, Va., for blog watchers as well as readers of my Beerman column in the Weekly Surge of Myrtle Beach, S.C.

Tucked away in an office park, Old Dominion Brew Pub at 44633 Guilford Drive, Ashburn, Va., gave me a sampler flight of these beers ($6.25):

Beach House Pils: The yellow-golden sunshine of this brew is intense in the best way a pilsner can be. It hits with a ton of taste, especially citrus-like flavors, and a crisp finish.

Dominion Lager: I tasted a touch of roasted malt, subtle yet still more than I usually get in a lager.

Dominion Ale: A solid ale, amber in color, advertised as the product of two-row pale, caramel, and black malts, and Kent Golding hops.

Dominion Pale Ale: This is a regular pale ale, but I've tasted India Pale Ales this good and hoppy. Outstanding, more punch than a typical pale ale, with hints of grapefruit and a dry finish.

I also tried a full pint Dominion Oak Barrel Stout: Wow. This might be my favorite stout, ever. I wondered what was taking so long for the barkeep to bring my pint of the stout when I realized that the beer was slowly pouring into the pint glass while I waited. How slow? I watched another pull of a stout, as the pint glass stood on another, inverted pint glass and the stream slowly went down the side of the glass. I started counting when the glass was about a fifth full. I estimated about a full minute for the pour. Nice.

The head was a dark beige, almost with a faint tint of orange to the color.

As advertised, the flavors were of vanilla and bourbon. I didn't find a bit of bitterness in it. In fact, Dominion Oak Barrel Stout was sweet and yummy. The body was medium, not as heavy as it could have been.

One important note:

Today, I spent approximately three hours trying to find the Old Dominion Brew Pub in Ashburn. It's tucked away -- quite literally -- in an office park.

In fact, overcoming my maleness, I asked for directions not once, not twice, but three times, and I still couldn't find the damn thing. Then, duh, I called the brew pub's phone number, and found a recorded message with helpful, clear, straightforward directions.

-Colin Foote Burch

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Wednesday, June 11, 2008

To put it all into a nutshell...

To put it all into a nutshell,
I can't put it into a nutshell.

-Colin Foote Burch

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Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Choosing the right cooler for beach & boating

I saw a Styrofoam cooler at a local grocery store for $5.99. I figured you could pack 18 cans and ice into it - and then pick the beer off the ground when the bottom busts out.

If you're going to buy a cooler, make a little investment. Skip the Styrofoam.

A better idea would be to look for the Thermos collapsible can cooler, which expands from a cloth ring into an insulated cylinder full of brews. It holds 54 cans plus ice, keeps the beer cold for three days, and retails locally for around $20.

Better yet, try the 64-quart Coleman Extreme, a traditional rectangular structure, outfitted with wheels, and enough space inside to pack 85 cans. It can keep the brews cold for five days, and retails locally for around $60.

Just remember - if you're going to invest in a nice cooler, put some decent beer in it.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

Relativism, theism as my daughters watch 'Star Wars' for the first time

Maggie, 8, watched most of Star Wars for the first time last night, but she was too tired to finish the movie, so she went to bed.

As I type this, she is watching the movie, again, from the beginning, with her sisters, Audrey, 6, and Sadie, almost 3 — although in fairness to this father, my wife and I believe the latter will fall asleep shortly.

I read the opening to Audrey — the scroll of words across the stars — so she could follow the basic story line. And I watched the beginning with them. I was explaining that the Storm Troopers were not androids or robots, but people in armor, and that they were bad guys.

Maggie, 8: “They’re not bad guys, they just believe different things.”

Audrey, 6: “The good guys believe in God.”

Wow! We’ll talk through this later.

-Colin Foote Burch
Check out:

Star Wars and Philosophy (Popular Culture and Philosophy)

Christian Wisdom of the Jedi Masters

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Peter Reinhart wins another James Beard Award!

Peter Reinhart, my friend and an editorial adviser for LiturgicalCredo.com, won another James Beard Foundation Award last night in New York City.

His book, Peter Reinhart's Whole Grain Breads: New Techniques, Extraordinary Flavor, won in the Baking and Dessert cookbook category.

Read excerpts of Peter's writings, and find links to his books, here.

Peter teaches at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte, N.C.

See all of last night's James Beard Award winners, here.

Congratulations, Peter!

-Colin Foote Burch

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Saturday, June 7, 2008

Our third child turns 3 next month; so much learned, so much more to know

Sadie, our third-child surprise, the one we almost named Merlot due to her likely inspiration, will turn three years old next month.
Her birthday is on Bastille Day. There's significance in that. I'm sure of it. I just haven't figured it out yet.
Sadie has two older sisters, ages 6 and 8, neither of which were nearly named after a red wine.
My wife and I learned gobs from our first two. Every developmental stage has its normal traits, like the tantrums of the "terrible twos" and potty training.
On the other hand, each child is different. We identified attention-deficit disorder in our oldest daughter when she was 6 years old. We suspected a degree of anxiety in our middle child when she was 4 years old.
In both cases, we sought professional help. We looked into conventional medical approaches to these problems as well as emerging remedies like neurofeedback, which has been the subject of mainstream medical research in Germany. My wife and I believe that our love for our children must be guided by critical minds that insist on multiple sources of information for anything we consider. While it is impossible to know everything, our approach removes some of the variables in decision-making -- and it has been fruitful. With our intentional involvement at home and the help of a licensed doctor, the oldest daughter can maintain focused attention for much longer, and the middle daughter is less anxious in her daily life.
But there remains the simple fact -- even as we begin our third run through the preschool years -- that we have so much to learn. Researchers say that the human brain develops dramatically during the first five years of life -- so much so, that my wife and I feel the burden of properly navigating Sadie's third and fourth years. How do you do it perfectly? When no one has ever done it perfectly?
Well, there is some good news for us.
Well, first, we've done made it through the preschool years twice already. And if you have done so, you ought to pat yourself on the back.
Second, we know where to look for good information. We have culled the good authors, books and Web sites from the mediocre and the bad.
Third, we know how to love Sadie. We make direct eye contact with her. We hug her and kiss her all the time (probably not difficult for most parents, yet extremely important at this stage of development). We spend time with her, even when it is difficult to peel ourselves away from our computers.
Sadie has been on her own learning curve. We don't let her do whatever she wants -- especially when what she wants to do involves wet toilet paper --never mind her persistence and fits. Surviving these episodes requires a level of patience and endurance that my wife and I do not possess naturally, and I'm sure many American parents feel the same way.
Yet in the end, all the little struggles are worth it. We see the outcomes of our preschool-year efforts in the 8-year-old and the 6-year-old.
I cannot wait for the next year with the little girl we almost named Merlot. I want to help that little brain develop to its full potential.
-Colin Foote Burch

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