Archive for the ‘Boozing’ Category

Irish, stewed

March 17, 2016
The wearin' of the green.

The wearin’ of the green.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day to the lot of ye. May yis be in heaven a half hour before the divil knows yeer dead.

This seems as good a time as any to disclose to anyone who hasn’t figured it out that I will not be tipping a pint today because I no longer imbibe.

’Tis so. Quit the drink more than three years ago, and while I occasionally miss the idea of having a drop taken, I can’t say I miss the actuality.

There were no DUIs, no 12-step programs, no health issues. I didn’t wake up underneath my truck in a driveway not my own with a blinding hangover and a cast on one leg (though I have done that).

But while battling a nasty upper-respiratory bug in 2013 I thought it would be a good idea to leave the drink be while the pipes were rattling. Then I recalled that I hadn’t done my once-traditional sober January in a few years, so I thought I’d revive that practice.

We have some (ahem) issues with the uisce beatha in my family. None of us aspired to become drunks, as far as I know, yet more than a few of us have, so since I have some small experience with addiction (to nicotine) I liked to occasionally take stock of myself, see if I simply liked to drink or had to drink. There’s a line there somewhere, but damn few signposts. Mostly we see it in the rear-view mirror, after we’re already upside down in the ditch, wheels spinning in empty air.

So, yeah. January came and went, and I thought, “Hm. Let’s go for February.” And then it was March. And then it was 2014. And 2015. You get the idea. It just sorta grew on me, the way hair doesn’t anymore. Not on the head, anyway.

I didn’t experience any withdrawal symptoms, not the way I did when quitting cigarettes. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, was that ever a trial by fire. So maybe I wasn’t addicted to alcohol the way I was to nicotine, though I was a drinker far longer than I was a smoker.

Whatever. Now I’m just being stubborn about it. I have this streak going, and I’m riding it out.

Sobriety hasn’t made me any smarter, though. All those brain cells I started with are gone for good. Why, I arose this morning without pulling on anything green. ’Tis lucky I am that Herself didn’t pinch me.

• And now, a musical interlude: The Chieftains performing “John O’Connor and the Ode to Whiskey.”

• Editor’s note: The header photo of O’Grady’s Marina Inn in Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland, was taken by my sister, Peggy O’Grady, though we are said to have our roots in County Clare. As for the Irish above it, it’s a rough Google translation of “Bigger. Hairier. Closer to the ground.”

Wild at Ivywild

January 1, 2014

I had not yet been set loose upon the world on Jan. 1, 1954. That blessed event occurred nearly three months later, on March 27, in the hospital at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.

As family legend has it, Mom’s obstetrician, upon learning I was to be named Patrick Declan O’Grady, proposed inducing labor to get me born on St. Patrick’s Day. Mom declined, and the rest, as they say, is history.

Out west in Colorado Springs, the Ivywild School was already open for business, and had been for years. In fact, it was one year older than my old man, who was born in 1917 in Bogalusa, La.

I didn’t attend Ivywild — by the time we got here in 1967, I was a ninth grader, and anyway, after a brief flirtation with a bomb-shelter-equipped home in the Skyway area we settled well outside downtown proper in what a newspaper colleague would later confirm was most emphatically not part of Colorado Springs, our suburban trilevel being well east of Hancock Avenue.

Ivywild gave up the ghost as a school in 2009, but was reborn recently thanks to local entrepreneurs Joe Coleman and Mike Bristol, who turned the picturesque old pile into the new home of Bristol Brewing, plus a number of other ventures: The Principal’s Office (booze and java); The Meat Locker (deli and charcuterie); Old School Bakery (breads and pastries); Hunt or Gather (seasonal foods from area farmers); Bicycle Experience (the second location of a neighborhood shop); and office space.

I hadn’t conducted an inspection tour since Ivywild’s resurrection, but last night Herself and I, along with a neighbor and the latest tenants of The House Back East®, dropped in to scope out a New Year’s Eve bash in the gym (think back-in-the-day sock hop, but with the booze actually sold on site, plus more and older wastrels).

It was pretty damned impressive, as you can see from the pix if you clicked the link above. The music was less so — the gym was a mighty small space, with either an indifferent sound system, poor mixing or a combination of the two, plus lots of chatter in the audience — but still, chapeau to all involved in making the Ivywild revival happen.

Ivywild is a welcome reminder that it’s not all Industrial Christianity and LiberTea here in Bibleburg. I plan on sentencing myself to a few rounds of detention there in 2014.

Happy New Year’s Eve

December 31, 2012
Shot and a beer, New Year's Eve 2012

Two dead soldiers.

As 2012 stumbles drunkenly toward its denouement, I’m toasting its imminent and overdue departure with a pair of tasty Colorado beverages — the last shooter from a bottle of Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Whiskey and a chaser of Odell Brewing Co.’s 5 Barrel Pale Ale.

Earlier today I answered emails, viewed the news with the usual alarm, broadcast various snarky bits via Twitter, sent out some final invoices and collaborated with the folks at Red Kite Prayer on their end-of-the-year awards. Finally, after putting it off as long as was humanly possible, I tottered out for a short run in subfreezing temps.

My reward for such diligence? Falling flat on my ass in Monument Valley Park. Thus the medicinal whiskey.

I should know better than to exercise when tired. Technique deteriorates, what’s left of the mind wanders, and the next thing you know you’re hitting the frosty ground with a thud, like a trash bag full of bacon grease, potato peelings and empty bottles.

Yet phoenix-like I arose, cursing, and stumbled on through the cold. determined to shed another gram or two before packing on the pounds at a final holiday gathering, which happily is just across the street.

But before I go, I’d like to thank you for popping round during 2012. The joint remains woefully light on Pulitzers, MacArthur genius grants and (all of a sudden) Leopold Bros. American Small Batch Whiskey. But it continues to be remarkably heavy in lively and intelligent discourse (largely in the comments section, my posts serving as the literary equivalent of a questionable foundation laid by highly unskilled labor).

So slainte to thee and thine, and pop round again next year for some fresh nonsense.

• This just in from The Midnight Rambler: “New Year’s Eve,” via Tom Waits.

No more Mister Nys guy

December 28, 2012

Some heavily marinated frites-eating knucklehead thought it was amusing to toss beer on Sven Nys at the Azencross today.

Said knucklehead thought otherwise after the Cannibal of Baal — who was having a very bad day on the job — dropped his bike and ducked through the course tape to have a pointed discussion with him, just before a less restrained individual flew past to flatten the beer-pitcher.

Nys returned to the course, jogging with his bike, but eventually abandoned in disgust. Two crashes and seven dousings with beer apparently were enough for one day. Afterward he tweeted: “Throwing beer each lap is a bit much, so I got it into my head to go & ask why. A little bit of respect, please.” Word.

The days of wine and hoses

December 27, 2012
Tavel rosé

This Tavel rosé pairs well with food. It’s also pretty damn’ nice all by its lonesome.

We shipped Herself the Elder back to Tennessee this morning, or so we thought.

Her flight out of Bibleburg, slated for 10:45 a.m., didn’t go wheels up until 12:30 p.m. And her connector in Dallas was canceled, so she’s camped in the Dallas airport awaiting another. If she’s lucky she’ll be back in the loving bosom of her cats at midnight.

Meanwhile, Herself the Younger is driving home from Denver in a light snow and cursing like a sailor, because she (a) hates driving in the dark, (2) hates driving in the snow, and (iii) hates driving in the snow in the dark.

Only I am left unscathed to tell the tale, because I have the great good fortune to be unemployable and thus possessed of abundant leisure to motor hither and thither in the daylight, when it is not snowing. Thus did I hie me to the grog shop, fortified by a largish check for making things up, thence to restock the wine rack stripped bare by our Yuletide revelry.

Now I’m sipping a tart Tavel rosé and sifting mentally through the available leftovers: quite a bit of posole; the makings for a short round of tacos de papas con chorizo; some pintos in chipotle chile; the underpinnings for a second round of beef enchiladas on red chile, save the sauce.

Posole, tacos and beans it is. Even a slacker deserves a day off.

Barking dogs, fat flies and spider webs

November 24, 2012
Turkish delight

Turkish enjoys a sunny spot on the drawing board after a hard day of doing … well … not much of anything, really.

Whew. We appear to have survived another Thanksgiving-Black Friday combo. But it was a near thing. I don’t know how professional cooks survive all those hours on their feet — ’bout dark-thirty yesterday my dogs commenced to bark and they haven’t stopped yet.

A couple of friends popped round last night to split a bottle of sparking rosé and eat some leftovers, which I swear to God took nearly as long to reheat as the original meal did to cook. They also brought some killer green-chile-and-jack wontons with a guacamole garnish that put our heat-it-and-eat-it to shame.

Anyway, we stayed up too late and drank too much and today we all felt a tad listless for some reason, even the four-legged crowd, which does not imbibe (see Turkish, at right).

After a few hours of puttering around the ranch Herself toddled off for a short run and I took a break from work to ride the Jamis Supernova around Monument Valley Park, which proved a bad idea. I felt like a fat fly negotiating a spider web constructed of retractable dog leashes and feckin’ eejits.

Now I’m wrapping up the day’s paying chores, sipping a 5 Barrel Pale Ale and contemplating the evening meal. Whaddaya think? Turkey, turkey or … turkey?

Tick, tock

October 19, 2012
Sinton Trail, Oct. 19, 2012

The yellow leaves are fading fast and falling to earth. There’s a metaphor here somewhere; I’m sure of it.

Now we wait. The UCI has announced that it intends to disclose its course of action in USADA v. TCWSNBN on Monday, but tonight the object of their intention is addressing a gala hoedown marking the 15th-anniversary of Livestrong, once known as the Lance Armstrong Foundation, which remains its official title.

This means that ink-stained and pixel-pocked wretches worldwide must postpone the drinking of lunch, dinner or breakfast until Big Tex either (a) says, “It’s a fair cop, but society is to blame,” or (2) re-enacts the Hitler-in-the-bunker scene, but this time in first-person Texican instead of German and without the postage-stamp ‘stache. Either way, the poor bastards will have to file something, which will only make them bilious and vengeful come Monday.

I already did my little bit of business this morning, fielding a few e-mails from editors and watching a vanity not get installed in the downstairs bathroom (see “Return of the Shit Monsoon). So I left the revelation watch to others and took the All-City Space Horse out for a pleasant 90-minute ride, which seems to be just about my speed lately,

I had been prepared to be critical of the bike, because I had noticed some knee discomfort while riding it that didn’t occur while astride anything else. The pedal-shoe interface seemed without fault, as I have Shimano SPDs on several other bikes.

Finally I broke out the tape measure and checked saddle height against two other bikes that weren’t bugging me and lo and behold: The Space Horse was way off. I’d sack that mechanic if he didn’t know me so well. Dude reads my mail and knows all my passwords and is wearing my pants as we speak. So much for my chops as a fount of velo-wisdom.

Now I’m back at the ranch and enjoying a delicious glass of dinner because I’m not the guy who has to write the story, when and if there is one. And my knees don’t hurt, either.

• Late update: A standing o’ for The Boss and no fresh revelations. A third option (iii) that I hadn’t even considered (see “fount of velo-wisdom,” above). Still, it’s good news for me. The last time I lost a bet on a Big Tex story I had to dress up as Betsy Andreu for a week.

Black Irish, or ‘Who’s Your Paddy?’

March 17, 2012
Guinness and Bushmills

Guinness is good for you. So is Bushmills. They both make the sidewalk softer.

A very happy St. Patrick’s Day to you and yours. Herself and I cycled downtown to catch a bit of the annual parade, and the video clip above represents our unanimous pick for Dudes Having the Most Fun.

This particular parade entry was sponsored by a pub, Tony’s Downtown Bar. And while it could easily be construed as racist, I’m gonna give ’em a pass, because I almost always find dudes in gorilla suits funny for some unknown reason. It’s a weakness.

Now I’m back at the ranch and fueling up for a bit of holiday cookery — a simple Irish stew involving lamb, potatoes and other tasty bits. Herself is sipping a Smithwick’s and fiddling with some video of her own.

The evening’s entertainment will consist of The Pogues, The Chieftains and “The Commitments,” with a little Frank O’Connor for bedtime reading. And tomorrow, we suffer — not just from having a drop taken, but from the return of March in its traditional form, which is to say windy and chilly. Saints preserve us.

Happy birthday to Herself

March 12, 2012

All hail Herself, who today celebrates her … um, well, a birthday. No need to mention which one. You wouldn’t believe it anyway, as she still appears to be around 19.

Cat in a box

"How do you like your birthday gift, honey? Whaddaya mean, you already have one of these?"

We celebrated early with dinner at The Blue Star last night, and as always it was damn’ fine eating. The joint was jumpin’, too, which was nice to see. Maybe all that jabber about the Great Recession having ended is true after all, because The Blue Star ain’t exactly Mickey D’s, yo. No drive-up windows there, is what.

We started with appetizers — stuffed poblano with chipotle orange sauce and flash-fried calamari with sweet Thai chili sauce — then settled into the serious eating. Herself dug into some roasted lamb leg ragout with pappardelle and brown-butter peas, while I went for the ahi crusted with Italian breadcrumbs, cream-of-mushroom beurre, sweet-pea pasta and crispy leeks.

For dessert, we shared The Corleone — vanilla-bean ice cream rolled in graham-cracker crumbs, white and dark chocolate, roasted walnuts, pecans and almonds, cinnamon and nutmeg, drizzled with honey.

Ordinarily we hit some high-end bottle of wine with dinner, as Sunday is half-price night at The Blue Star. But we’ve both been into beer lately, so instead we had a couple drafts of Colorado hop squeezin’s from Boulder’s Avery Brewing — Joe’s American Pilsner and IPA.

This constitutes treason, as Bristol Brewing sits right next door to The Blue Star, and several of their excellent beers are on the menu. But I’ll make up for it this week. We’re looking at a stretch of sunny days with temps in the 60s and 70s, and if that ain’t Red Rocket Pale Ale-drinking weather, I’ve never seen it.

Beans ‘n’ booze

August 6, 2011

Herself and I dined out this evening with a neighbor and some of her out-of-town family, with whom we have become friendly over the years.

There was wine afterward on our back deck, and as it was getting dark nobody noticed (I hope) the half-assed mowing job I did yesterday. Miss Mia Sopaipilla and Buddy the Wonder Dog made brief appearances to rave reviews, but Turkish refused to leave his dressing room, citing obscure union regs about dogs and cats and never the twain shall meet outside the Thunderdome, and certainly not while the party of the first part is wearing a ridiculous purple harness and leash, which is the only way the big galoot gets outside since collecting a nasty and expensive abscess while at large and unfettered.

All in all, it was a pleasant way to end a day of making bricks without straw at PharaohNews. A casual glance at the interwebs at midshift unearthed a few small-helmet types aghast at our lack of investigative journalism. This is not unlike complaining that the free blowjob you just got from the unemployed barmaid didn’t include a free shot of top-shelf tequila with an artisan-beer back.