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Showing posts from August, 2016

Toms Roasting Co. Honduran coffee

Who knew Toms (the shoe brand that donates a pair for every pair you buy) made coffee too? Who
knew? I didn't when I picked up this bag of coffee. The only reason I bought it was because I wanted Guatemalan coffee and the grocery store didn't have that so, vaguely remembering that Honduras and Guatemala are close to each other,* I bought the next best thing.

When you drink as much coffee as I do, you start to notice things like how it tastes, where it comes from, how it's roasted, yada yada yada, all sorts of stuff I once thought was the realm of "coffee snobs" or "hipsters" but I now realize I JUST WASN'T PAYING ATTENTION. GAHD it is nice when you finally discover your archetypal, idealized version of coffee and say to yourself: "Where did this come from? I want to know everything about this."

Sadly, Toms Honduran (Las Capucas) coffee is not exactly that good, but it's good. Its flavor profile of "clean, silky, almonds" is …

New Yorker Fiction Review #143: "Anhedonia, Here I Come" by Colin Barrett

Issue: April 18, 2016

Story: "Anhedonia, Here I Come" by Colin Barrett
Rating: Meh/$
Review: So...this is a not-completely un-interesting story about a young wanna-be poet who is more in love with affecting the look and lifestyle of a poet than actually writing great poetry and who finds himself becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of having money and living a bourgeois existence, even desirous of it. 
Mixed review because the first page of the story was so laden with unnecessary adjectives that I barely got through it. I remembered a lot better from Colin Barrett, based on his story "The Ways" from back in early 2015, which I really, really liked. But with sentences like the following, it was really hard to keep my eyes on the page this time:
"With his cheeks flocked with old acne scars, the sebum gleam to his macrocephalic forehead, his long, exquisitely dented aquiline nose (his favorite feature), inexpiably seedy smile, and hair an untamable squall…

New Yorker Fiction Review #142: "The Burglar" by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

Issue: April 11, 2016

Story: "The Burglar" by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum

Rating: $

Review: I'll give this story points for form; it is told in rotating, close-third person perspective, alternating between three different points of view, with every new paragraph. It's a good (a damn good) trick to keep modern-day readers like me, with short attention spans, closely engaged in the story. And it worked, even though the story itself is less than compelling.

Not going to get too involved in a plot summary. It's about a burglar, a T.V. show writer, and the T.V. show writer's wife, and how the wife gets caught-up in the plot of the T.V. show the writer is working on (meta enough for you you?? Zzzzz...). Or perhaps the whole thing is part of the T.V. show? I don't know and I don't really want to take the time to dig further.

If the whole point here was to create a fun piece of meta-fiction...then Bynum almost did that, but not quite. I was engaged by the story-tellin…

Water Reviews: Saint-Geron Mineral Water

Water: Saint-Geron

Type: sparkling mineral

Source:Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, France

Rating: Five drops

Review: Saint-Geron is an afternoon mineral water. The "Queen of Table Waters." A water of day-dreams. The official water of good health and un-troubled minds. One sip alone may be enough to send you into a wistful, European trance. Combined with a steak frites and an espresso -- it cured me of my mini-hangover so well that I bought and drank a second bottle.

If you find a bottle, drink it. The very act alone will make you feel cool and European. Which, let's face it: Just about everything European makes you feel cool and, sometimes -- guess what -- drinking mineral water is more about feeling sophisticated than actually doing something "good for your body" or whatever. And I encourage you to try and feel sophisticated whenever possible. This water will do that. It also tastes really good.

This water doesn't have the work-a-day heavy carbonation of a Perrier…

New Yorker Fiction Review #141: "God's Work" by Kevin Canty

Issue: April 4, 2016

Story: "God's Work" by Kevin Canty

Rating: $/Meh

Review: I expected a bit better from Kevin Canty. The subject material here is good, a sort of "forbidden" teenaged flirtation between a Jehova's witness named Sander and a tattooed, not-very-religious, soon-to-be wayward teenaged girl named Clara. Sander and Clara are classmates, and when Sander's mother takes him to Clara's house, they encounter Clara's willfully un-religious father who promptly shows them out.

For whatever reason -- we hope curiosity about Sander -- Clara shows up at one a prayer meeting at Sander's church. She becomes somewhat involved, takes a walk or two with Sander, on which we think they are going to hook up, or at least kiss, but nothing happens.

Loaded with prurient tension, Canty didn't really do much with this story. I understand a story doesn't always have to have a Flannery O'Connor type "slap-in-the-face", WTF?!?! kind of …

How to Have a Great Time in Kaua'i

I just got back from 10 days on the island of Kaua'i, in Hawaii. And here is what I learned about how to have a good time in Kaua'i:

1.)Pack Appropriate Footwear. In general, all you're going to need in Kaua'i is a bathing suit, a pair of shorts, a shirt, a hat, and some sunglasses. But the footwear thing is key. I recommend at least a pair of flip-flops, a pair of "ocean shoes" like aqua-socks or something that cover your toes (Tevas won't do), a pair of loafers or street shoes, and a pair of hiking boots. Yes, that's four pairs of shoes. Why? Flip-flops for beach and poolside lounging. Ocean-shoes because everywhere you go on Kaua'i, including a few feet into the ocean, where you cannot see them, there are these cute, cuddly volcanic rocks that while they may look pretty will gladly cut a gash in your foot or lift one of your toe-nails off at the slightest provocation. After 10 days of wearing only moderately appropriate footwear, my feet look l…