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Monday, June 30, 2008

Coexist & The Masks of Eternity

Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire has contributed another gem of a graphic to the KMSA Art Collection. Art, like music and poetry, is the language of the soul, and the soul of the Knight of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale is open to all the Divine wonders the Creator has given to us. This graphic reminds me of a song I wrote about 25 years ago titled, "The Masks of Eternity". I wrote it about how conveniently organized religion claims to be spiritual, but actually hides behind their dogmas. To be dogmatic is to be fundamental. That's the subject of another blog, as well as something the Divine is not. I also wrote it because very often the Divine is hidden to us behind the Masks of religion, the Masks of Eternity. Yes, Sir Bowie, another quest...centuries, light years old! I published the song as a poem and read it at a World Ecumenical Day in New Harmony, Indiana wearing goggles that had all the religious symbols painted over the goggles so that I couldn't see out, but nobody could see in. So without further adieu...I give to you the "Masks of Eternity".

The masks of eternity are lost in our hour of grace
The preachers yell...The voodoo spell
Hide the deeper reality
The masks of eternity dwell inside us all

We strive to seek inner peace

Let's break down our pious walls

The masks of eternity have been with us all along

God within...Since time began
His spirit makes us strong
The masks of eternity make us all one race

The masks of eternity
hide the one and only face

Sir Hook of the Mask of Warrick

Sunday, June 29, 2008


According to mythology, Persephone ruled as the Queen of Hades when Pluto, God of the Dead, absconded with her for the nether world. Persephone’s mother was Demeter, the goddess of grain. Demeter’s Roman equivalent is Ceres, the goddess whose name gave us the word ‘cereal’ and the Latin root word for beer yeast, ‘cerevisiae.’

Being the goddess of grain and fertility, Demeter failed to produce any crops while she mourned the loss of her daughter to the god of the underworld. Eventually, Zeus, the supreme god of the Greeks, convinced Pluto to allow Persephone to return to her mother. But before she left, Pluto fed her a few kernels of pomegranate. The fruit was so sweet that Persephone agreed to return to Hades for part of each year so she could enjoy its succulent seeds.

So, what's all this have to do with our Knights of MSA? Beer! Pomegranate beer to be exact.

Shmaltz Brewing has combined the many elements of this myth - pomegranate juice, grains and yeast – and created Origin Pomegranate Ale (8.5% ABV). This ale is pink and is described at she-devil sweetness and complex.

Here are a few lines from the Origin label:

In the Greek myth of Persephone's abduction by Hades, lord of the underworld, the pomegranate represents life, regeneration, marriage, perhaps the seasons... contradictory versions, way too convoluted for a beer flyer- google it! • St. John of the Cross made the pomegranate seeds the symbol of divine perfection. • The Pueblo believed that those who witnessed the ingestion of the arils were blessed with powers of divination. • In China the pomegranate is widely represented in ceramic art symbolizing fertility and abundance.

Since the rind of the fruit is tough, but the juice sweet, the pomegranate came to symbolize the priest; severe on the outside, indulgent on the inside. • In Christian art, the pomegranate often found in paintings of the Virgin and Child symbolizes resurrection and life. • The Qu'ran mentions pomegranates three times - twice as examples of the good things God creates, once as a fruit found in the Garden of Paradise. • In some parts of the world, it's believed that Eve tempted Adam with a pomegranate (No, the Bible doesn't say “apple”).

So, having read all this, my quest (“quest,” there's that word again) is to find a bottle of Origin this week and enjoy in the heat and humidity of Indiana summer.


Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Beer, Art, and Graffiti

I know that many of you Knights out there are artists or work in the advertising field (or both).

This short story involves both.

I didn't know this, but Philadelphia is known for colorful murals of famous people and places.

Beer advertisers, of course, don't miss a beat.

It seems that Pabst Brewing Co., which produces Colt 45, has placed graffiti-styled ads for their beers around Philadelphia. The ads show comic book-style characters clutching bottles and cans of Colt 45. "Works every time," reads the slogan. The ad's gray-and-white adult cartoon characters are shown holding golden cans and bottles of the malt liquor. In the corner, the small print reads, "Yo, enjoy our frosty malt beverages responsibly!"

According to an AP article: “A nonprofit anti-billboard group, the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight, has complained to city regulators, saying the ads should be removed because they are in areas not zoned for advertising.” And, “ Mary Tracy, executive director of the group, said they are particularly offensive in a city known for murals of famous places and people, from Frank Sinatra to Malcolm X.”

A cyclist passes an advertisement for Colt 45 malt liquor on Girard Avenue in Philadelphia, Wednesday, June 25, 2008. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Bottom line. A lot of people have taken offense to the “artful ads” and are demanding them taken down. What do you think? Effective advertising? Urban blight? Art?

Something to think about.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Friday, June 27, 2008

Bill Gates, Black Elk, and Quests!

I've read stories of Bill Gates going away to a secluded cabin – away to nature – with a stack of papers and “problems.” He'd read, study, reflect, write, and then emerge with manifestos which could shift the focus of the Microsoft and the entire world! Sort of like the ancient “vision quest.”

The word “quest” jumped out at me in this morning's paper: (From AP) Microsoft faces ‘quests’ as Gates steps back. It is almost unthinkable that any one human could pick up where Bill Gates leaves off when he ends his full-time tenure today as Microsoft’s leader.

“We’ve created a thing we called quests, where we divided our types of customers down, and we got the best thinkers on these things, both the very practical people who are with the customers, the engineers who write the code, and the researchers who may be more unbound in terms of their time frame and imagination, and put them together,” Gates said (end).

Microsoft, it seems, is not saying anything specific about the actual substance of the quests. But, I love the idea of moving forward on “quests.” It's something that I've done without even knowing I was doing it. Though I have to admit, I've never come away with an idea that will change the world, I have Gone on a hike or camping trip and experienced a deeper understanding of Nature and Spirit.

Vision Quest is, of course, a ceremony practiced by many cultures including American Indians. This story about one of his Vision Quests is from Black Elk:

At the top of the mountain I saw made with many store a circle with a cross inside (the circle of life and the four directions). I sat down by the edge of this circle to pray. I thought this is only a symbol of the universe.

"True," a very soft voice said.

"Look and you will see the Center of the Universe. Look at every created thing."

As I looked around I saw that every created thing had a thread of smoke or light going from it.

The voice whispered, "This cord that every created thing has is what connects it to the Creator.

Without this cord it would not exist."

As I watched I saw that all these threads, coming from everything, went to the center of the circle where the four directions were one place (the center of the cross).

I saw that all these threads were tied together or joined here at this spot.

The voice spoke again, "This is the Center of the Universe. The place where all things join together and all things become one. The place where everything begins and ends. The place inside everything created."

That's when I understood that all of creation, the seen and the unseen, was all related.

The voice spoke one last time, "Yes, now you know the Center of the Universe." (end)

Note, Black Elk discovered all that without the use of a laptop and wireless Internet!

What's your quests today?

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Creating Lists

As I get older, I find myself being more sensitive to those “things to do before you die” lists. You know, places to see, things to do, people to meet, fatal diseases to accidentally cure while microwaving frozen dinners...

Lady Suzanne and I enjoyed an entertaining movie about just that (to-do lists, not microwavable dinners): The Bucket List.

The movie is the creation of NYU film school graduate Justin Zackham. A while back he wrote a list of things he wanted to accomplish and set about crossing items off the list. It inspired him to write The Bucket List, a “tragicomic” buddy flick starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, two old men who learn they’ve only got two months to live. They make a bucket list, a collection of things they’d like to accomplish before—you guessed it—kicking the bucket.

The movie was extremely painful to watch at times as it hit a little too close to home (my father just passed away from cancer a few months ago). But, it was also painful for another reason. At one point, sitting on top of one of the pyramids, Morgan Freeman's character tells the story of a man dying and going to heaven. At the gates to heaven, the man is asked to answer to two questions; if he answers “yes” to both he may enter.

Question 1) Did you find joy in your life?

Question 2) Did you bring joy to others?

I wonder how I'll answer those questions? Knowing that the deepest secret is that life is not a process of discovery, but a process of creation, it's time to create my “bucket list.” I'll start it with just two main items: Create Joy for myself and create Joy for others. Of course, after that, the exciting “to-dos” are limitless!

American Poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) wrote, "For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: 'It might have been!'"

Hopefully, today I can cross one thing off my list. You see, a long time ago, one of the items on my “bucket list” was: “Create a secret society or club that works to improve myself and creates a little joy for others.”

With Sir Hook's invaluable help and your blessing, I hope the creation of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit, and Ale qualifies.

Now I'm off to microwave breakfast and hopefully cross off...

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I remember my first trip the the Owensboro Country Club with my future in-laws. I ordered a bourbon because 1. I was in Kentucky, the birthplace of bourbon and 2. I didn't want to seem back-woods, lower class Hoosier (which I was! Well, not the back-woods part). Had they had "luxury beer" back then, I would had preferred one of those.

I soon got over the fear of drinking beer in from of the new family and their club friends after I realized that these people put their pants on one leg at a time like me -- only they had a lot more money in their pockets!

All this is a build-up to a story about a "beer fit for a queen!" June is the 55th anniversary of the Queen's coronation, and Foster's sent her a gift-wrapped bottle of Crown Ambassador Reserve lager, the first from a limited release of 5000 champagne-style bottles to be sold at $60 each.

According to one article I read by Mike Gribble, "the gesture is a crafty marketing hook to launch a new drinks category Foster's master brewer John Cozens calls "luxury beer".

"It's expensive to make and it's expensive to package but it's Australian, it's luxury and let's hope there's more to come," said Mr Cozens, originally from Yorkshire and a brewer for 39 years.

The launch emulates a similar move in 1954, when the premium beer market was pioneered with the announcement Crown Lager would be made available to the public upon the Queen's first visit to the country.

Previously Crown Lager had been reserved for aristocracy and visiting dignitaries since its inception in 1919 (end)

God Save the Queen... and, at $60 a bottle, the beer.

Sir Bowie Too Frugal to Drink Luxury Beers of Greenbriar

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Not A Real Post

Okay, I'll admit it. You can't count this as a real post because there is nothing original about it -- other than it's about George Carlin again -- a true original.

I was reading more of his work last night and thought I would throw out a few more quotes. You can write a book with all his work... He wrote several! I remember reading one of them the week before 9/11 where he rants ("rants," wait, that's another comic) anyway, where he discusses airline security or lack thereof. Very prophetic.

Carlin could do it all, from profound to profane. Here are just a few more Carlin-isms:

I recently went to a new doctor and noticed he was located in something called the Professional Building. I felt better right away.

I think people should be allowed to do anything they want. We haven't tried that for a while. Maybe this time it'll work.

I'm completely in favor of the separation of Church and State. My idea is that these two institutions screw us up enough on their own, so both of them together is certain death.

I'm not concerned about all hell breaking loose, but that a PART of hell will break loose... it'll be much harder to detect.

In comic strips, the person on the right always speaks first.

Inside every cynical person, there is a disappointed idealist.

Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town.

Most people work just hard enough not to get fired and get paid just enough money not to quit.

Not only do I not know what's going on, I wouldn't know what to do about it if I did.

One can never know for sure what a deserted area looks like.

People who say they don't care what people think are usually desperate to have people think they don't care what people think.

Religion is just mind control.

Some people see things that are and ask, Why? Some people dream of things that never were and ask, Why not? Some people have to go to work and don't have time for all that.

Standing ovations have become far too commonplace. What we need are ovations where the audience members all punch and kick one another.

The main reason Santa is so jolly is because he knows where all the bad girls live.

The other night I ate at a real nice family restaurant. Every table had an argument going.

The reason I talk to myself is that I'm the only one whose answers I accept.

The status quo sucks.

There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls.

There's no present. There's only the immediate future and the recent past.

Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?

When someone is impatient and says, "I haven't got all day," I always wonder, How can that be? How can you not have all day?

When you're born you get a ticket to the freak show. When you're born in America, you get a front row seat.

- - -

May the forces of evil become confused on the way to your house (Yes, stolen from GC, too).

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Monday, June 23, 2008

George Carlin, Grammy-Winning Exponent of Black Humor, Dies

Not surprised, but still saddened when I read this headline:

George Carlin, Grammy-Winning Exponent of Black Humor, Dies
By Patrick Donahue

June 23 (Bloomberg) -- George Carlin, an American comedian who scrapped an early career as a variety-show humorist to become a Grammy-winning font of countercultural, profanity-filled black humor, died in California. He was 71.

Carlin went to St. John's Hospital, Santa Monica, yesterday after complaining of chest pain and died at 5:55 p.m. local time, publicist Jeff Abraham told the Associated Press. Abraham didn't immediately respond to a call requesting confirmation.

Carlin gained prominence in the 1970s with stand-up routines such as ``The Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV,'' which landed him in a Milwaukee jail. According to a timeline on the comedian's Web site, he was arrested for ``using indecent language in front of wheelchair-bound children.''

The subject of Carlin's routine in 1978 reached the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled that the Federal Communications Commission had the power to prohibit stations from airing profanities when children may be able to hear them (edited for length. For the full story go to

Carlin spent a lifetime Thinking, Drinking (and drugs), and Being Merry.

Here a few of my favorite Carnin Lines:

Think off-center.

Always do whatever's next.

Atheism is a non-prophet organization.

By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.

Death is caused by swallowing small amounts of saliva over a long period of time.

Don't sweat the petty things and don't pet the sweaty things.

Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.

Have you ever noticed that anybody driving slower than you is an idiot, and anyone going faster than you is a maniac?

I have as much authority as the Pope, I just don't have as many people who believe it.

I was thinking about how people seem to read the Bible a whole lot more as they get older; then it dawned on me - they're cramming for their final exam.

I went to a bookstore and asked the saleswoman, "Where's the self-help section?" She said if she told me, it would defeat the purpose.

If it's true that our species is alone in the universe, then I'd have to say the universe aimed rather low and settled for very little.

And Finally:

I'm always relieved when someone is delivering a eulogy and I realize I'm listening to it.

Not this time, George.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Hard Stone...Soft Hearts

Yesterday's celebration of Summer Solstice did this errant Knight's heart much good! Alas, through the toils of battle it becomes easy to give into a jaded spirit. Not unlike how Sir Bowie shared about his writers block, I too had become stymied with expressing what was dwelling deep inside my heart. Oh, I've been writing, but for my health care publication, which finally goes to press tomorrow. Yesterday, I just decided to sit down and make myself write from the heart. I felt so much better putting myself back on the Salisbury Plain! This morning I awaken to this gift from Sir Dayvd of Oxfordshire. A pictorial of yesterday's blog!

Attached was another photo of the Hele Stone view with a full moon rising at eventide! Open the bottle of spirits, let the Spirit soar, let the Spirit's of the ancients and the Heavenly Host surround us and Sing the Soul's Song, a song without limits, without words, without structure...just the pure Music of Life. This morning Lady Allwinky and myself went to 7am Mass. We sang the Responsorial Psalm, "If Today You Hear His Voice, Harden Not Your Hearts."

It was easier singing this song this morning because of where I put myself yesterday, on the Salisbury Plain. Of course, it also helped to get a phone call from Sir Ryan last night who, even though exhausted, sounded excited about finally moving out of the Reception Battalion and into his Tank Training Unit. He gets his weapons today! My son armed, I am armed with the spiritual weapons to fight my inner wars. Singing this morning reminded me of another Stone place dear to my heart. Pictured at the left, the Cave entrance into the Chapel at the Jesuit Retreat House, Whitehouse, high on the bluffs of the Mississippi, just south of St. Louis. I make an annual retreat to this holy place. The Jesuits are found of meditations that put you into make believe or historical situations to better get a feeling for the scriptures. If you will, to make it a personal experience and journey. Not unlike how I placed myself yesterday on the Salisbury Plain. It was in this Chapel on a particularly stormy night the year after my open heart surgery that I wrote the following Haiku that I will end this blog with:

The Cave Shelters Seekers
Softening Hearts
Once As Hard As Its Stone

Sir Hook the Brave Heart of Warrick

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Longing on the Longest Day

Today is Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year and one of the Knights of Moleskine, Spirit and Ale official Feast Days. Not that we hold the patent on this holiday. It has been celebrated for eons in our human culture.

Nothing quite says Summer Solstice for me as much as a picture of Stonehenge as it reaches towards the sky on the Salisbury Plain. I'm quite fascinated by the structure, how it got there, who built it, etc. There are many theories, stories, legends, myths, but one thing is for certain, it captures the imagination, and for a Knight that is all that is necessary.

I remember the first time I came up to the stones on a crisp June morning back in 1979. Back in the States before my journey, I had the scenario all laid out in my mind. I would arrive early to fully investigate and soak in the stones and the surrounding country side. I would walk through them, caressing them, soaking in their centuries of secrets. I would then return at eventide with a bottle of wine and sit in the middle of the stones and wait for the magic to begin. Alas, it was another great story waiting to be told, but it would never least in reality. I was disappointed to discover that you could no longer walk through the monument or touch the stones. The park closed at night and the only view at eventide was the highway that ran next to it. I did discover; however, a nice pub down the road where I drank great pints of bitter and laughed with the locals about my longing for the stones!

Today I find myself again longing for the stones, or rather, longing for the magic they represent on the longest day. It has been a long June at the Wells Castle. Our great hall has been filled with laughter, tears, joy and dread. But in the end I raised up this morning with the sunrise and put myself in the center of the stones, just like I imagined on this day back in 1979 and watched the sun rise over the hele stone. It is a great day to be alive, to imagine, to dream, to create magic in our lives!

Dream and Carry On,
Sir Hook the Part Time Druid of Warrick

Friday, June 20, 2008

One More Anniversary Story!

My recent posts about our Wedding Anniversary and my '55 Willys got me thinking about another anniversary. It was 44 years ago this week that my Grandfather purchased a Buick LeSabre: A 1964 Buck LeSabre Four-Door Sedan (Model 4469) to be exact -- Wedgewood Blue. The car was purchased on June 18, 1964 for $3,699.54.

They drove out west that summer to see the construction progress of the newest wonders of the modern world -- the Houston Astrodome. Other big trips included taking my sister and oldest brother (Sir John of Rosedale) on a trip up north. Later, they took my twin brother and I on a trip to the East Coast.

My Grandpa and Grandma "Louie" loved that car; they literally went through two other cars while this one was garage kept and pampered beyond belief.

(In case you can't tell, Sir Bowie is the cute one on the right!)

So, what ever happened to that old Buick?

Well, after my Grandma Louie passed away suddenly, Grandpa rarely drove the Buick (it was mostly hers). As time passed, he even talked about selling it to a neighbor who had dreams of trashing it into some kind of faux street rod. Not wanting to see it leave the family, I purchased it in July of 1989.

Today, she's kept in our garage and pampered. She just turned 56,000 miles this month. Why would I bother taking the time and money to keep that old machinery up and running?

You see, I've traveled a lot of miles on my journey since I said good-bye to my Grandpa and Grandma Louie -- having their Buck on the trip has helped me re-member them... and I pray that someday I meet up with them down the road.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Liberty and Beer

I noticed today on that on this date in 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrives in New York Harbor as a symbol of Franco-American friendship.

Probably one of the most recognizable images in the world, beer companies have never been shy about exploiting it to sell beer. And perhaps that is fitting; after all, many of the early brewers who came to this country passed "Lady Liberty" on their way to Ellis Island immigration center.

Here are some facts from

Nine years late, the 300-foot statue was a gift from the people of France, who had been the Patriots’ primary foreign ally in the War for Independence, to those of United States as a celebration of the Declaration of Independence’s centenary in 1876. The monumental work is mounted on a steel framework designed by Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel. Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi sculpted the statue, originally titled “Liberty Enlightening the World” from copper sheets upon a steel frame. After completion, the statue was disassembled into 350 sections and shipped in 214 crates to New York Harbor. Over a year later, on October 28, 1886, the statue was reconstructed and dedicated in a large public ceremony by President Grover Cleveland.

The statue’s pedestal bears the words of poet Emma Lazarus, written in 1883:

Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me. I lift my lamp beside the golden door (end).

I wonder if we should take those words off of the Satute? Are we Americans eager to "give me your tired, your poor..." anymore? Something to hoist a beer with friends and think about.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Running On Empty

More like crawling!

I awoke this morning feeling emotionally and creatively empty with regards to my work. I’ve been busy, but there is just no spark to ignite creative fuel.

Knowing that a ride in my ’55 Willys M38A1 (Jeep) with the top down usually makes me feel better, I dropped the top and headed off. That’s when I noticed that the needle of my gas gage was pegging far left. My Willys was literally running on empty, too. With only a 10 gallon gas tank to begin with, I knew I might be screwed.

We all know that adversity can help spark creative solutions. I quickly recalculated my route to take me to the nearest gas station – not exactly confident I’d make it. I was living the motto, “Hope for the best; prepare for the worst!” Worst case was that I’d be un-strapping my 5 gallon can off the back and walking,

Fortunately, I was able to coast into the nearest petrol oasis and filled up.

The rest of the trip to work got me thinking of my creative state of emptiness and what I could do to get out of it. I recognize that I haven’t contributed to the pages of my Moleskine in weeks. I haven’t grilled a new meat recipe in months. I haven’t done a lot of things that really spark my creative fuel.

I know that writing this short blog won’t come close to filling my tank, but perhaps it will be enough to drive me to work, to do the best of my ability while here, and get back home again – my true oasis.

Fellow Knights, are you running on empty? What fills your creative tanks?

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Anniversary Knights

Lady Suzanne and I celebrated our 24th Wedding Anniversary last night. We haven't gotten out much in recent years, so we opted to have a quiet dinner, take a walk along the Ohio River, and visit the old neighbor bar where we used to hang out and where, 25 years ago, we got engaged.

On our honeymoon, we stayed near a lighthouse in Jupiter, Florida. Across from the lighthouse was a great restaurant/bar where we'd go and drink beer and eat homemade bread. So, in honor of that memory, we headed to the water – with a glass of Bass Pale Ale for me and a much-less-than-pale beer for Suzanne. We watched the sunset in the west and the moon rise in the east.

Next, we headed to The Duck Inn. This is a neighborhood tavern that, 25 years ago, was one roach short of being closed by the Health Department; However, in addition to being full of roaches and god knows what else, it was always full of colorful characters who drank copious amounts of fish bowls/schooners of beer (Pabst Blue Ribbon on tap) and sang off-color songs at the piano bar. It was truly a place where everybody knew your name. Late one Saturday night -- or more likely early Sunday morning -- while playing pinball, I asked Suzanne to marry me. Damn, Les the bartender and Daisy the waitress threw one hell of a party the rest of the night and morning.

They say that you can't go back home again. Last night, we did. Sadly, there are no more piano bars, no Les and Daisy, and no pinball machine.

About that last item. A few years after we were married, I went back to the Duck Inn only to find that THE pinball machine was long gone. It seems that the old “5 ball for a quarter” machine had become outdated. A drunk at the bar thought that he had seen it in a bar downtown. The hunt was on: There, they said that the vending machine company had taken it away. The company said that they sold it to a guy who fixes up old machines. The guy who fixes them up said that he'd gladly sell it to me – for a price. So, for an anniversary surprise, I bought it for Suzanne. Over two decades later, it still holds an honored place in our home.

One beer at the Duck and we were off for home. Not exactly the most romantic sounding adventures, but it's our adventure. Hope you don't mind my sharing it with you.

Sir Bowie “High Score of Countdown” of Greenbriar

Monday, June 16, 2008

A Knight in June

This man is full of Pimm's No 1 Cup with Elderflower Lemonade, and Margharita Pizza,as he soaks up the rays at the Trout Inn near Oxford.

Knights,....While Sir Hook and Lady Allwinky and Sir Ryan, poignantly go through their rites of passage, I thought I'd step up to the plate, in the Spirit of the Knights...and introduce you to one of our English Summer drinking traditions.

June in England, is in full flood, sometimes literally...with our unique brand of rainstorms followed by blue skies ( and nauseum ). It is why we have emerald green trees and vegetation and carry umbrellas while walking around in polo shirts and shorts.. Such is the heady verdant almost moist decadent atmosphere when you sit in the sunshine at one of the many ancient riverside inns, that you invariably, become Bertie Wooster-ish, and dispense with winters heavy dark beers

and plump for something quintessentially Summertime in Middle England, that of the magical drink, Pimm's.

Pimm's is a brand of alcoholic beverages now owned by Diageo. Its most popular product is Pimm's No. 1 Cup, a gin-based beverage that can be served both on ice or in cocktails. The recipe of Pimm's No. 1 Cup is secret; it has a dark tea colour with a reddish tint, and tastes subtly of spice and citrus fruit.

Pimm's is most common in Southern England and is one of the two staple drinks at the Henley Royal Regatta and the Glyndebourne opera festival, the other being champagne. As a result Pimm's has the reputation of being a drink for the upper class.

Pimm's No. 1 Cup is the essential ingredient in the Pimm's Cup, which mixes one part Pimm's No.1 with three parts lemonade or lemon soda (sometimes ginger ale or Indian tonic water), ice cubes, borage leaves (nowadays a wedge of cucumber is usually substituted for this ingredient), mint leaves and slices of lemon, orange and strawberry.

There are five other

Pimm's products besides No.1. The essential difference among them is the base alcohol used to produce them:

  • Pimm's No. 1 Cup is based on gin. It is 25% alcohol by volume.

  • Pimm's No. 2 Cup was based on whisky. Currently phased out.

  • Pimm's No. 3 Cup is based on brandy. Phased out, but a version infused with spices and orange peel marketed as Pimm's Winter Cup is now seasonally available.

  • Pimm's No. 4 Cup was based on rum. Currently phased out.

  • Pimm's No. 5 Cup was based on rye. Currently phased out.

  • Pimm's No. 6 Cup is based on vodka. It is still produced, but in small quantities.

History and culture:

Pimm's was first produced in 1823, by James Pimm, a farmer's son from Kent who became the owner of an oyster bar in the City of London, near the Bank of England. Pimm offered the tonic, (a gin-based drink containing quinine and a secret mixture of herbs) as an aid to digestion, serving it in a small tankard known as a "No. 1 Cup", hence its subsequent name.

Pimm's began large-scale production in 1851 to keep up with sales to other bars. The distillery began selling it commercially in 1859 using hawkers on bicycles. In 1865 Pimm sold the business and the right to use his name to Frederick Saywer. In 1880 the business was acquired by future Mayor of London Horatio Davies and a chain of Pimm's Oyster Houses was franchised in 1887.

Pimm's later extended their range, utilising a number of other spirits as bases for new "cups". In 1851 Pimm's No. 2 Cup and Pimm's No. 3 Cup were introduced. After World War II, Pimm's No. 4 Cup was invented, followed by Pimm's No. 5 Cup and Pimm's No.6 Cup in the 1960s. In 1946, the corks were replaced by twist-off bottle caps.

The brand fell on hard times in the 1970s and 1980s. The Oyster House chain was sold and Pimm's Cups products Nos. 2 through 5 were phased out in the 1970s due to reduced demand. In 2005, Pimm's reintroduced Pimm's Winter Cup, which consists of Pimms No. 3 Cup (the brandy variant) infused with spices and orange peel. In 2006 the Pimm's Company brand was bought by Diageo.

Substitution: Pimm's may not always be available, especially outside the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. Bartenders who wish to make a Pimm's Cup without its main ingredient usually mix one part gin with one part red Vermouth and 1/2 part to 1 part of triple sec or Orange Curacao.

So there you go... anyone out there in the colonies,ditch the ice cold Bud and Rolling Rock, pour a Pimms or similar and Lie back and think of England...

Sir Dayvd ( hic ) of Oxford-shire

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Magic Hat #9...The 3 Alarm Party...And Sancturary

This is the view of the bar at the Blind Tiger Pub on Broad Street in Charleston, SC. It was the beginning of an adventurous Friday evening. The gentlemen at the bar were talking about the Knight's favorite subject...Unity through Diversity. Actually they were discussing how they represented minorities. The Jew, the Gay Guy, the Woman and the Black Man. I bellied up to the bar to remind them that they represented the beauty of Unity through Diversity, and that by being Unified through our Diversity we become the Majority...morality (as defined by the RIGHTeuos) or not! That's when we discovered Magic Hat #9!

Magic Hat #9 was lit over the entrance to the bathroom's. I enquired as to what this intriguing beer was. It is an English style Pale Ale, but lighter than a regular pale ale, brewed by Magic Hat Brewery in Vermont. It produced an evening experience which was a cross between the Beatles "Revolution #9" from the White Album and the Mad Hater from "Alice in Wonderland". It was only a preview of the coming attractions!

Here is Magic Hat #9 in all its Amber Glory! Magic Hat #9, the ticket to Paradise and an alternative universe habitated by Giant Mushrooms and talking Worms. Of course, the occasional Frat Party hosted by ex "Duke" La Cross players sneaks into the story, which produces the "3 Alarm Party".

Charleston's finest, Ladder Number 9, ironically, show up to our B&B in Charleston on the Vendue Range in the French Quarter between the River and East Bay Street at 3am. Not only was I reminded of Hillary's famous, or is that infamous, commercial on getting the 3am call at the White House, but we actually lived through the experience. It appears that these "Duke" graduates, who were attending an upcoming wedding , decided that they would have a party and smoke in several rooms in a non-smoking building. The result was obvious!

We could only laugh as we watched the spectacle from the middle of the Vendue Range, knowing that if we where at least 20 years younger we would be within this same crowd; however, faining being upset, we received a comp room for the night which allowed us to truly enjoy our next stop...

...the Sanctuary at Kiawah Island, 20 minutes south of Charleston. Kiawah is where we always brought our kids on Summer Holiday since 1993. The Sanctuary is a relatively new 5 Star Resort. This is the view from our Beachfront Suite, Room 277. Not too bad for a couple of Magic Hatter's escaping a 3 Alarm Charleston Fire! Best of all, we don't have to wear a hump back and cry out all night long, "Sanctuary, Sanctuary!"

Of course, being our 24th Anniversary, we where treated by the hotel staff to a bottle of very fine Spanish Brut Champagne. Perhaps a slight step up from Magic Hat #9, but non the less just as effective. It appears that with all the drama, trauma, and general hilarity we have caused each other and you, our loyal readers, because of our son going through Basic Training, we have realised that life goes on, and what a wonderful life it is as long as you are brave enough to live it!

So with that, Lady Allwinky and Sir Hook bid you God Speed as you discover the joy that shines through the clouds of your life, as we have once again on our annual pilgrimage to South Carolina, home of loyalists, rebels, movers, shakers and colonial candle stick makers.

Sir Hook, Lord Proprietor of Kiawah and Warrick

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Product of My Environment!

As I've mentioned in previous posts, I grew up in and live in a Midwest U.S.A. Community that is rich in beer brewing history – U.S. Beer brewing. Yes, that means that I crew up drinking (and still drink) what the rest of the world would call “flavorless swill” -- including Budweiser brands.

There is still hope. Thanks to more and more imports becoming available in the past few years, I'm growing to really love what “real” beer is all about – including some very flavorful Belgian brews. Budweiser might market themselves as the “King of Beers,” but the Belgians brew among the finest.

It turns out the the rest of the world sees Budweiser as a WEAK beer – but it's a MIGHTY brand.

How mighty? How about $46-billion. The Belgian/Brazilian brewing giant InBev announced Wednesday that it is making a $46-billion U.S. attempt to buy Anheuser-Busch, the leading brewery in America and the maker of Budweiser.

A Belgian/Brazilian company buying our Bud? Buying our clydesdales, wagon, and dalmatians? Not so fast: Americans have rushed to denounce the threat to an American icon. A petition opposing the takeover has already garnered tens of thousands of signatures screaming to “keep the Eagle flying.” Americans, it seems, are appalled at the thought of bud passing into foreign hands

It's a great marketing lesson in branding, class associations, unlimited advertising budgets.

This one should be one fascination on-going debate at bars, taverns, pubs...

Let's have a beer sometime and discuss how all this is playing out.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Give it a rest!

Those of you who workout with weights -- and perhaps, those people like me who don't -- know that it isn't the physical workout that makes us stronger, it's the RESTING. During the workout, you're trying to slightly damage the muscle fibers by overloading them. Basically, once that little "micro-trauma" is over, the body's rescue team comes in to rebuild muscle to prepare for the next traumatic event. The workout is just the spark that gets the magic started.

What does all this have to do with this Knights of Moleskine, Spirit, and Ale blog?

You see, Sir Hooks post of yesterday hit me like a micro-trauma; truthfully, more like an earthquake. It sparked a thought process that got me thinking about putting my life into perspective. The Wells' beautiful words and images sparked images of the people I love and the people I love moving away, about the family and friends that I have and those I have lost, and about what it means to live in this country and this world.

So today I'm calling for a day of "post rest." Today, I challenge each one reading this to scroll down and read Sir Hook's post "Red Eyes - Red Knight." Even if you've read it before, please read it again. I guarantee that you will be touched by some micro-trauma that you missed the first time. Print it out, read it daily and keep them (and all the world) in your prayers.

Today I am resting from writing. I'm reading, rereading, reflecting... and growing stronger.

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Red Eyes-Red Knight

It's finally arrived. Sir Ryan of Warrick begins his journey from child to man, from warrior wanna be to warrior have to be. It's been a 2 day roller coaster of emotions, ranging from pride and excitment to fear and the feeling of your heart being ripped out of your chest as your only son is ripped from your life. It reminded me of the opening scenes of the movie "300", where the mother is held back in agony as she watches her son being taken away by a warrior to begin the process to ultimate manhood. That same scene played out in our home Tuesday as Sergent Ramsey came to pick up Ryan for his trip to the MEPS center in Louisville, Ky.

Here is Sir Ryan with Sergent Ramsey in the foyer of our home as he is handed his contract and asked one last time if this is what he wants for his life. He smiles with a combination of excitment and nervous energy, like so many young men centuries before him, ready to embrace the way of the warrior. It's a journey that starts in ignorance, but ignorance and innocence will soon give way to harsh reality and a new way of life, the way of the warrior, the way to manhood.

It's the wave goodbye as the eyes turn red through tears of joy and fear, knowing that Sir Ryan is soon to become a real Knight, a Red Knight of the 2nd Battilion, 81st Armor Regiment, 194th Armored Bridgade at Fort Knox.

The next day we meet up with Sir Ryan at the MEPS processing center in Louisville before he swears in and ships out for Basic Training. Here is Sir Ryan and my wife, his mother, Lady Allwinky.

Sir Ryan and yours truly, Sir Hook, in one of our final embraces as father and son before he ships out. It's a surreal event to know that this is the last time I will see him as a teen age boy. Our next embrace he will be a man and a warrior. He wears his Kiawah Island T-Shirt, which is appropriate because we spent so many years in and around Charleston, SC asorbing its history and culture, and because this is where Lady Allwinky and myself will be going for the next few days to recover from yet another major event in our lives. My final words to him where, "Be strong! Be strong in body, mind and soul." Words I said as much for my own benefit as his. I become aware that the journey of the warrior never ends.

The swear in ceremony begins in the "Ceremony Room" at the MEPS center. Sir Ryan is in the front row to the left, a position he earns as "Group Leader" because of his rank as E3, Private First Class, from busting his ass this past four months in the Future Soldiers program. He already has earned the honor and responsibility of leading men. I am very proud and pray that he continues to grow in his leadership roll.

I was invited by the Captain to come up front to take a few shots during the swearing in ceremony. This was a profound shot for me as Sir Ryan lets the seriousness of this moment sink in and Lady Allwinky wears the face of a grieving mother in the background.

The gate shuts in our face as we watch our son and the other young men march off to the bus that takes them to Basic Training. The gate reminds me of the seperation that we now must feel and deal with. A barrier between a child and a man, the mother and child. A no man's land, to coin a WWI military phrase, that only Ryan can now travel alone. I follow Lady Allwinky as she is overcome by the moment and snap this photo, a mother's bowed head under the American Flag as she mourns the loss of her son's innocence while the nation gains another warrior-son. I pray for strength for us all and for our country to truly honor the lives of these brave young men by using them wisely and sparingly in our defense. Red Eyes follow the Red Knight as he rides towards his destiny.

Sir Hook the Father of the Red Knight of Warrick

Dems Beers

Earlier this year, Sixpoint Craft Ales announced the release of the "Hop Obama" ale in both New York State and Massachusetts. Supporters of the democratic process can hoist a glass of this limited-edition beer that was brewed in tribute to the inspiration that has been Senator Barack Obama's presidential campaign.

Though I've not seen it, the beer is supposed to be available in finer bars and restaurants for a very limited time throughout both states.

Yesterday I read some news (probably old news) that is good news for all Reds and Blues:

Headline: Waste Beer Ethanol to Fuel Democratic Convention Motorpool
DENVER, Colorado - The flex-fuel vehicles at this summer's Democratic National Convention will be running on waste beer, thanks to the Molson Coors Brewing Company.

Molson Coors, along with its U.S. subsidiary, Coors Brewing Company, will be the Official E85 Ethanol Producer for the convention, which is set for August 25 through 28 in Denver.

Molson Coors is donating all the clean-burning ethanol fuel for the fleet of 400 General Motors flex-fuel vehicles to be used for the convention's transportation needs. The fleet will be for the use of U.S. House and Senate Leadership, DNC officials and state party chairs, delegates, staff, and members of the media.

All the buses and motorpool vehicles are flex-fuel, hybrids or run on biofuel, the DNC Host Committee says.

It is made from waste beer – not the aftermath of consumption – but, generated at the Golden, Colorado, brewery, which now produces about three million gallons annually. Coors is the first major U.S. brewer to convert its waste beer into ethanol. (From Environmental News Service)

If you're caught speeding, is that “Waste makes haste?”

Sir Bowie of Greenbriar