Friday, May 29, 2009


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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Do you like FireFly Sweet Tea Vodka?

June is National Iced Tea Month, so I'm writing an article on FireFly Sweet Tea Vodka for the Weekly Surge.

If you're in the restaurant business and like FireFly Sweet Tea Vodka, let me know! Click the "comments" link below.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Hysterical: Jeremiah Weed So. Style Sweet Tea Vodka to sponsor tire air in racing cars

Must see:

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Growing hops in the Carolinas

Recently I had dinner with some Myrtle Beach-area homebrewing enthusiasts who said they grow their own hops.

Dave Epstein of New South Brewing in Myrtle Beach recently purchased some hop rhizomes, but didn't sound too optimistic about their prospects. He said they don't tend to grow well in the Carolinas.

Have you tried to grow hops in the Carolinas? Any luck? Tips?

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Audrey's surgical adventure

Our family doctor recommended that we have a dermatologist look at a little brown mole on the side of Audrey's nose, so we went to the skin doc today.

Audrey, 7, hadn't been looking forward to this examination of the little mole she had had since age three or four -- all day had not been looking forward to it.

The doc took a look at the mole and thought he should take it off.

This, Kristi and I knew, involved syringes and knives.

The doc and nurse put a topical anesthetic on Audrey's nose. The nurse, who has a boy just seven days older than Audrey, suggested that we come back prepared to hold her down, because she would see the needle, and then the blade, moving toward her nose. This didn't sound good to us.

We went to McDonald's for an hour while the topical cream started to work.

When we arrived back at the doc's office, we waited in the little surgical room for a few minutes, and told Audrey that she might need to close her eyes while the doc was working, because he was going to be so close to her eyes.

This was our strategy to help her avoid visual contact with the needle and the knife.

Audrey asked us how the doc was going to take off her mole.

We carefully avoided words like "needle," "shot," "knife," "blade," "razor," "Mommy is a bit squeemish about skin surgery," and "Mommy will be squinting her eyes shut while she holds your hand."

I told Audrey the doc has special doctor tools, and Kristi added that we didn't know exactly what type of tools the doc would use.

Finally, the doc and nurse arrived.

The only trick was getting Audrey to turn her head to her left and close her eyes.

She had to endure the injection into her nose. The injected fluid stung a bit, and that brought some tears and anxiety, but soon we were all telling her the worst part was over.

The doc gave a minute for the numbing agent to work, and then we had Audrey shut her eyes again. The doc just took a little razor blade and zip zip zip, the mole was off and dropped into a little specimen jar where it could be precocious and dress in pink by itself.

Audrey was very brave. We told Audrey we were very proud of her. She didn't, at the time, want to know what happened. I told her she was like Reepicheep and Lucy in The Chronicles of Narnia, and Kristi filled her in on the surgical details later.

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New South's canning machine once belonged to Dale's Pale Ale

Last night, New South Brewing Co. in Myrtle Beach was hosting a customer appreciation night. I asked owner Dave Epstein, "Where's the canning machine?"

I was expecting something with conveyer belts, but instead, the canning machine was merely a stainless steel countertop with three no-so-large machines attached to it.

Basically, this machine fills two cans at a time. "Very labor intensive," Epstein said.

(In the image immediately above, Epstein stands beside the part of the machine that fills two cans at a time, with sensors for an automatic shut-off.)

The cool thing? That very machine used to belong to Dale's Pale Ale, which has grown into a larger canning operation and partnered with Paste magazine for some free downloads.

New South has been held up by several tiny details on their can label. The division formerly known at ATF (can't remember the new name) has been asking New South to tweak parts of the White Ale label, and then tweak other parts of the label, for months now.

The image immediately above is the final stage in the canning process, when six cans become a six-pack. Epstein was told the machine could produce 25 cases per hour.

P.S. -- Paste is the coolest magazine ever, and it happens to need your help.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

US Air Force journal's obituary for my grandfather

An Air Force journal recently published this obituary of my grandfather:

Colin F. Burch, Jr.(1919-2008) retired from the Air Force at the grade of Colonel after 21 years of active military service. After graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, Blacksburg, VA in 1940, he was commissioned in the US Army Reserve as a Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers and entered active duty. He completed primary flying training at Parks Air College, IL. He graduated from the Air Corps Advanced Flying School, Maxwell Field, AL, and transferred to the Air Corps Reserve in 1941. In 1946 he became a Senior Pilot and in 1956 was awarded the rating of command pilot. He accumulated over 4500 flying hours in conventional and jet aircraft including overseas tours in Japan and Hawaii.

Col. Burch directed the program involving the first use of digital computers in air defense. He planned, organized and directed the first research and development program to provide the nation with a defense against the ballistic missile. He helped prepare the development plan for the “Man-In-Space” program handling the Lunar Reconnaissance portion. The first Joint Air Force/Army Communications Satellite Program was also under his direction, as well as the first Advanced Research and Development Program for Ballistic Missile and Space Systems for the Air Force. His survivors include his wife, Audrey Weibel Burch, 5 children, 8 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.

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Looking for votes: What's your favorite spring seasonal beer?

TBonz Gill & Grill recently released its American Pale Ale (produced by New South Brewing Co.) at Myrtle Beach area locations. It's the perfect spring seasonal.

But it's also very local.

What are your choices for favorite spring seasonal, in your town, or nationwide?

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

'The Wind Brought Us the Crisis'

A concept by Luzinterruptus illuminated financial pages on the steps of the Madrid Stock Exchange.

See more of this series of photos here, or visit the site for more visual stunts -- guerrilla art? -- here.

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Another reaction to the Myrtle Beach helmet law

At least one local church knows how to reach out during Bike Week.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

U. of Kentucky's glossary of rhetorical terms

The Department of Modern & Classical Languages, Literatures, & Cultures at the University of Kentucky has an outstanding site: A Glossary of Rhetorical Terms with Examples.

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Dale's Pale Ale, Paste magazine offer free downloads

Even though Paste magazine is struggling, they're still one of the best magazines on music, film, books, and culture.

They've hooked up with Dale's Pale Ale to offer free downloads. Visit the "Dale's Pale Ale Paste Downlow'd Club" here.

And look for the banner on this blog or click here to help save Paste.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Good deals at the Myrtle Beach Pelicans game

On tap: Shock Top white ale and Budweiser American Ale.

Twenty-four ounce cups of draft or 24-ounce cans of Bud, Bud Light, and Bud Select: $6 each.

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Katie Herzig, before hitting the stage in Carrboro, NC

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

TBonz's American Pale Ale

Good news, everyone -- TBonz's new American Pale Ale is outstanding.

It's just what we need in these times: quality worth getting excited about.

American Pale Ale is Brock Kurtzman's first recipe for New South Brewing Co., which brews TBonz's signature beers. Kurtzman helps New South owner Dave Epstein while also keeping the bar at Mellow Mushroom, home of an extensive beer collection.

Like many pale ales, this beer has a strong citrus-like flavor. I definitely thought about grapefruit juice during my first sips of American Pale Ale.

Check out TBonz's Grand Strand locations here.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Beer yawns

Does anyone else get the yawns when drinking beer?

I mean, beer as opposed to other adult beverages.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

I'm in the National Book Critics Circle article

The National Book Critics Circle's Board of Directors included my comments in their recent "NBCC Reads: Spring 2009" roundup.

The question they had asked the membership for this round of NBCC Reads was, "Which work in translation has had the most effect on your reading and writing?"

They included a generous portion of my response in this post:

Colin Foote Burch chose Blaise Pascal’s Pensées, and quoted a couple of aphoristic gems that addressed the writer’s task in particular: “The last thing one discovers in writing a book is what to put first.“

Be sure to visit the post to see many more, and probably better, influential works in translation.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

'Saints and Villains" by Denise Giardina

Saints and Villains (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Saints and Villains by Denise Giardina

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
Denise Giardina has offered an imaginative but well-researched take on the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Saints and Villains is a novel that goes into Bonhoeffer's thoughts, struggles, and experiences, starting with childhood, including his time in the seminary in New York. His interactions with T.S. Eliot and George Bell, Bishop of Chichester, are fascinating -- wish I could have eavesdropped on those conversations. I cheated here: I listened to it on audio. But this is historical fiction at its best. I discovered it when looking through Image journal's list of 100 essential books.

View all my reviews.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

RJ Rockers' Son of a Peach

The RJ Rockers guys told me Son of a Peach would be on the Grand Strand about now -- I had met them at the inaugural Myrtle Beach Beer Fest sponsored by the Weekly Surge.

I tried Son of a Peach earlier this evening at Longbeard's, which is one of my favorite restaurants on the Grand Strand.

Longbeard's had draft pints of Son of a Peach for $4.

I'm going to keep my opinion of this peach-flavored beer to myself temporarily. I'll eventually say what I think, but have you tried it? What's your opinion? Use the comment link to let sound off.

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Liberty Steakhouse and Brewery to hold Brewmaster Dinners

I went to the first Brewmaster Dinner at Liberty Steakhouse & Brewery in Myrtle Beach, SC, this past Wednesday evening, and another will likely take place in late May.

In fact, the Liberty folks might even make it a monthly event.

The $35 dinner began with a pint of anything on tap, followed by a tour of the brewing facility conducted by Eric Lamb, the brew chief at Liberty.

Then the dinner included pairings with four courses: appetizer, soup-and-salad, entree, and dessert. I will write about the full experience in my next column for The Weekly Surge.

And stay tuned for more information on the next Brewmaster Dinner.

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