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Showing posts from November, 2019

Reza Aslan at Carnegie Music Hall

He's like a stand-up comic who can actually teach you something... Last night I saw Iranian-American scholar-writer Reza Aslan speak at Carnegie Music Hall, part of the Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures series (which I attend far, far too few of considering the schedule has been hung on my fridge for most of the past year). Despite the fact I've had a postage-stamp sized picture of Reza Aslan staring me in the face while I make my morning coffee everyday, I still did not plan to attend his talk. After all, the subject matter -- his new book entitled God: A Human History -- did not immediately interest me. After hearing the man speak and listening to him sort of summarize the ideas in the book, I think I owe his book at least a rental from the library, if not a much deeper investigation. Essentially, Reza Aslan studies religion from an anthropological perspective. Specifically, in God: A Human History , he takes a look at the human compulsion and necessity to believ

New Yorker Fiction Review #233: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" by Joyce Carol Oates

Review of a short story from the Oct. 14, 2019 issue of The New Yorker... I think it's about time for me to start reading more stuff by Joyce Carol Oates. God knows there is no shortage of it. But other than her story "Mastiff" from way back in July of 2013, I don't think I've ever read anything else of hers. "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" is not life-changing by any means it's just a damn good short story and if you're going to spend your time reading, you might as well read the best. Joyce Carol Oates, if not the best, is definitely one of the giants of contemporary literature. Why? If this latest short story is any indication, her prose is so clear and clean, her voice so direct, that she actually accomplishes that trick of making you feel like you're not reading. That's pretty powerful, and I don't come across that very often. Not only that, but she has a gift for creating very vivid characters who are alive with in

Costa Rican Tarrazu, La Pastora - Shenandoah Joe roasters, Charlottesville, Va.

Picked up a pound of this last weekend in Charlottesville, Va. I love Costa Rican coffee. This one tastes a bit smokier and bolder than what I'm used to in the Costa Rican coffee department. But still a damned good cup. I've tried it in the moka pot, pour-over, and drip machine. Actually kind of prefer it from the drip machine. I've started to stop at local coffee roasters whenever I travel now. This is something I haven't really latched onto until recently. Of course I have known about the local / specialty coffee movement, just like I've known about the craft beer craze, or a billion other "local" and artisanal food/drink obsessions out there. IDK why but lately this is something that interests me. Can a coffee bean taste differently if roasted in Charlottesville, Va. versus Pittsburgh, Pa? My guess is it's not the location but rather what kind of bean and how it was roasted, what method, etc. But anyway, it's an excuse to drink some damn g

First Taste of Brook Trout Fishing

Last weekend I fished the North Fork Moorman's River, near Charlottesville, Va. and caught a nice, feisty little brook trout. Throughout the day -- a long and not altogether warm day of fishing -- I got a number of bites, but only actually took into my hands and voluntarily released one fish. That has always been my measure of whether a fish has truly been "caught"; did you actually take the hook out of it's mouth, or did the fish spit it out before you landed it? The former is a catch. The latter is a miss.  How does brook trout fishing differ from fishing for rainbow trout or brown trout? Well, the fundamentals are basically the same, except for the fact that brook trout almost always live in tiny, somewhat remote streams (or brooks...ha) and are usually native, or wild, meaning they are bred and born in the wild, as opposed to being bred in a hatchery and stocked into the stream by the fish and game commission.  This makes brook trout fishing different i

Having Your Sh*t Together

No, this is not going to be a post about the metaphorical meaning of "having your sh*t together," like we say about a person, he or she "has their sh*t together" as in... they have their life generally sorted out and functioning properly, they are in control, etc. I don't know whether I've ever had or ever will have my "metaphorical" sh*t together, and I don't really care. This post is about something far, far more interesting to me, that is, two of my favorite leisure-time pursuits: camping and fishing. Camping and fishing each require a lot of equipment. For camping, you essentially need light, packable versions of everything you already have at home. That would be some sort of shelter (tent), a bed (sleeping bag, cot, etc.), some way to cook food (camp stove and fuel), some way to get water (water jugs, water purifier), eating utensils, food, somewhere to sit around the fire, appropriate clothing (a whole other story), etc. etc. For fis