2017 book and beer chums

While I continue to finish up filling in gaps as hinted at over here, and partially filled here, 2017 book-and-beer matches! I embarrassingly keep a spreadsheet of this sort of thing, because it seems like a good idea when you read, drink and then have to remember or retrace your steps a lot.

 

issue #15 (Feb 2017)

BOOK: Books vs. cigarettes by George Orwell

BEER: Mountain Goat (Melb, AUS) Rare Breed ‘Pulped Fiction’ blood orange IPA

notes: the ‘Romance’ issue, so pairing good lit with good booze seemed pretty romantic to me. Learnt way more than I wanted to about the hygiene in French hospitals during early twentieth-century warfare, as well as a cool (or not, ha, ha, ha…anyway) unit to measure temperature that wasn’t the Kelvin (think it was this one), and Orwell did not have a happy childhood. His experiences at boarding school, and of being a partial scholarship recipient sounded awful – though, perhaps that’s testament to his skill in describing and conveying human behaviour.

issue #16 (Mar 2017)

BOOK: Ablutions by Patrick deWitt

BEER: TWO, gasp! Doctor’s Orders (Sydney, AUS) ‘Fleshwound’ & Brasserie Fantôme (Wallonia, BELG) India red ale.

notes: As of late last year, I just read Anthony Bourdain’s Kitchen Confidential and feel like this novella is the dive bartender companion in that it describes some of the clientele and professionals in the industry in the late 80s-maybe early 90s. Both books are hilarious, and reading deWitt’s barman narrative makes it hard to ignore speculation on just how intimate he is with their way of life…it’s also a quick read. I’m not sure how on earth I managed to stretch out two good bottles of beer (not exactly small ones either…500mL and 750mL respectively!) to cover my reading period. I gobbled up this book.

issue #17 (Apr 2017)

BOOK: The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham

BEER: Sierra Nevada (USA) ‘Narwhal’ barrel-aged imperial stout

notes: I’d somehow managed to find myself a new sharehouse to live, and completed this B&B way before things started to get awful. Froth ed gave me a bottle of the ‘Narwhal’ and trying to ignore that various beer sirens were singing, I read Wyndham’s classic with it. The book is scarily not as dated as it should feel. One of my favourite memories of growing up in England was watching Chocky, which is based on Wyndham’s book of the same name. Most of his famous titles are on booklists as examples of excellent speculative fiction – which I’m hoping to read more of this year (2018).

issue #18 (May 2017)

BOOK: Difficult Women by Roxane Gay

BEER: SPARKKE (Adelaide, AUS) ginger beer, pilsener, hard lemonade, cider

notes: Had started reading this late for a WMN book club meeting, and due to deadlines and a performance I was rehearsing for, didn’t actually get to read and drink at the same time. At the time, no one knew that I was going into hospital for depression (I went straight after the performance wrapped up, and given you can’t drink booze in hospital, there was no B&B for June).

It wasn’t a good month, but Emily and Clint getting a copy of Froth and the piece about Difficult Women signed by THE AUTHOR got me so excited, I had to get sleepers to properly knock me out that night in hospital (they didn’t know I was in, that’s why it’s so funny. Also first time in my life I’ve nearly puked in excitement!).

I wrote a funny bit of dialogue about how my mother, in unintentional Asian tiger mum mode, completely doused my excitement with a metaphysical wet blanket when I told her about what Em and Clint had done. She is, however, being a Magpies supporter, very proud of my brother driving the hearse for a former footballer who was granted a state funeral around the same time. But seriously, it wasn’t a good time of the year and photos of Roxane even holding Froth…it felt like an amazingly surreal and wonderful thing to happen and cling onto. We all have our s/hero/i/n/e/s! <3

(NB. 1. I don’t want to drive anyone’s hearse, famous or not. It does actually sound quite nerve-wracking & 2. Sparkke have since added TWO beverages to their core range, f*ck yeah! 3. I clearly need to up my game as an Asian daughter)

issue #20 (Jul 2017)

BOOK: The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

BEER: 4 Pines (Syd, AUS) cherry coconut brown ale

notes: Another WNM book club selection, which I’d read way after the meeting. It’s been on my to-read list for years, and still haven’t seen its TV adaptation, which is apparently really good as well as quite different from the book. I knew it’d be full-on, so chose a beer to get me through its darkness (it did). Also loved what Clint did with the colour scheme of the woman’s garments.

issue #21 (Aug 2017)

BOOK: The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins

BEER: Bright Brewery (Bright, VIC) ‘Stubborn Russian’ imperial stout

notes: It was so much fun writing this, and getting to hang out in Bright despite the fact that it was actually freezing (one morning the hot water system froze over so it took a while to get it going!). Met some faithful Froth readers, who I again bumped into on New Year’s Eve last year, and keep trying to invent reasons to go back up to Bright. and they do kickarse things like raise awareness of important issues, whilst having fun! James & Jenn were fab hosts, as were their two kittehs!

issue #22 (Sep 2017)

BOOK: Wasted: a story of alcohol, grief, and a death in Brisbane by Elspeth Muir

BEER: Shenanigans Brewing (AUS) ‘Flower Power’ grisette

notes: um, risky choice of book when you write for an alcohol mag, BUT both the beer and the book evoked all those pre-summer feels when the flowers are starting to show, and scents of life become more intense. So, a memoir that deals with the death of a family member, and drinking culture in Australia had to go with a beer that is intensely low ABV-wise. It was also the beginning of a three-month stint in Northcote living with two magical creatives, and a cranky-as-fuck tabby. It was the most happy and productive period of my life I’ve had in a reeeeeeeeeeally long time. I love you Danni & Lolly (and Maddy-cat).

issue #23 (Oct 2017)

BOOK: A Horse Walks Into A Bar by David Grossman (translated from the Hebrew by Jessica Cohen)

BEER: Coconspirators Brewing (Melb, AUS) ‘The Bookie’ pale ale

notes: second month of the Northcote sublet, and I found myself starting to go on dates. I met one gorgeous person a while back who didn’t at all like me, and he was mega into film. I’m hopeless with films, but I recall his pretending to sound like a gangster (no, not like an African one that supposedly terrorises Melbourne, whatevs, stupid fucking out-of-touch-with-the-twenty-first-century federal government), and what a hoot this book and beer were! Clint also designs for this Melb-based brewery, who are doing some delish fabbo things. Fond memories!

issue #24 (Nov 2017)

BOOK: A Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

BEER: Two Birds’ Brewing (Melb, AUS) ‘Passion Victim’ summer ale

notes: my last month in Northcote, and my housie Danni was such a sweetie, helping me take profesh photo where the month’s book and empty beer cans are popping out of a showbag!* I cackled out loud reading the book, and chose the beer because summer was coming, and it had Galaxy hops! It also reminded me of how much I miss the sciences. Adams clearly revels in knowledge, in a not-talk-down-to-others kind of way, but in a way that can’t help but infect you with a passion (har har) for the intersections of several disciplines.

*from a Froth launch

issue #25 (Dec 2017-Jan 2018)

BOOK: It’s Raining in Mango by Thea Astley

BEER: Sailors’ Grave (Orbost, AUS) peach melba pavlova cream sour

notes: having found myself in a somewhat oppressive living sitch, I had to lock myself in my room for a day to even read this book, which I totally chose on a whim but is wonderful – why isn’t it better known?! The reviewing beer bit was much easier, though also tricky given I was rehearsing like crazy for a performance. I got asked to leave that sharehouse whilst on a date, sigh. That sucked pretty hardcore. I’m thankfully still friends with the other housemate who is a wonderful human (them and their partner very nearly had to deal with my embarrassed tearful arse after going home from said date).

It was…a character-building year. Got my heart broken a few times, and made some really good, close friends. Hopefully 2018 will mean not having to be hospitalised, and not missing contributing to a single issue of Froth! I might go back and edit these later to reflect the respective themes of each issue (was lax with that, whoops) – this post is already longer than I would’ve preferred.

you got your health, kiddo…

It’s early in the week, the month, the year. I’m nearly forty and still classify myself as a loser (not by choice). My parents are about to retire, and I’m living with them after being bumped out of a shit sharehouse situation (woah, alliteration much?!?!). My job network provider doesn’t think I’m a total burnout* because he sounded remotely interested in the notion of my freelance writing. The person before him – my actual consultant – was a deeply empathic human. I’m guessing this is why he’s no longer in that…’role’.

I’ll always have booze, words and cats, right? I put on  the soundtrack to Miss Sloane, by Max Richter, after having caught Richter’s name in the credits. Watching TV is not a habit that feels comfortable anymore, not while there’s so much daylight.

My folks are out wishing my gorgeous younger nephew a happy birthday, I’m here getting ready for a housesitting gig, and doing a bit of reading, and writing. These posts aren’t for personal or professional gain – it’s to remind me that other creatives exist and to pay tribute. My song might be very, very, very quiet or barely audible, but that’s okay for now.

zine: ‘Top Secret Burger’ & ‘Space Out‘ by Link Raptor Art

drink: Sailors’ Grave BrewingDown She Gose

I got two zines recently from a Brisbane-based distro because I wanted to read Shastra Deo‘s contribution in The Tundish Review #4. It’s pretty exciting to see a Fijian-Indian Brisbane-based poet having a collection published (fuck yeah!) and Junky Comics had some other fabbo offerings. I loaded up my e-cart like a good sad consumer drowning her sorrows with two teeny zines by Linkraptor because: 1. mental health, and 2. who doesn’t love burgers?!?!

You all know I’m all about the mental health crapping on (I have major depressive disorder and NO, YOGA WILL NOT FUCKING CURE IT). You may also appreciate the gentle irony that for most of my life, I struggled with very disordered eating. Hated food. This dramatically changed once my psychiatrist put me on antipsychotics. One in particular stands out as really encouraging me to love food, and that one is called quetiapine (brand name is usually ‘Seroquel’ or variations thereof. I refer to chemical names because that is the constant name they share). As someone who has never taken recreational drugs, the ‘marijuana munchies’ started to make some sort of sense once quetiapine was prescribed for me (for PTSD-type symptoms; no! yoga did not cure it so stop thinking about it!). Holy fuck. GIVE ME ALL THE CHEESEBURGERS. WITH ALL THE BEEF PATTIES. NOW. NOW. NOW.

The last page of ‘Top Secret Burger’ has the words ‘the mission of the secret burger is to give the best burger for whatever you enjoy…’ and it’s a damn pure sentiment. Everyone being entitled to the burger of their dreams – yep, vegans, vegetarians, gluten-free folks…it sounds like a dream, huh?

My cat is lying out of the sun, to my right. There is something supremely comforting, knowing that she’s alive and relaxed, and feeling safe. When I first met her, she was an anxious cat – being a rescue, and belonging to someone else. Watching her gradually ‘undo’ her nervous habits has helped me undo some of mine.

‘Space Out’ has some sentiments that remind me, or help me feel okay about not having all of my long-term memories intact (I explain a bit about that here, but please be mindful that it contains reference to medical procedures some may find disturbing). That we’re fallible because we’re human, and that is okay (well, as long as we’re not doing it on purpose).

Both the zines are like reading a hug from a stranger who is somehow familiar. Isn’t that why we choose to create, and keep on creating? Most of our economies don’t value creatives the way they should – unless they’re able to be profitable (which is totally crap, by the by – please do NOT confuse me for one of those who thinks this is a good way to be). One of the things I like about my depression is that due to seeing the lows the mind can fall to, sometimes a stranger being kind – or being themselves has this ability to make you feel like…you could be a nobody to yourself but someone who doesn’t even know you thinks you’re worth something, and they don’t look to gain from it.

That’s also what this series of posts will hopefully be about. Revelling in multidimensional living when you’ve spent twenty or so years with…the volume turned down, or not up to speed. Rejoicing in half-price boxes of choc-coated matcha ice cream confection-whatsits. Rejoicing in having a clean, dry, warm bed to sleep in. Not worrying about how much you get paid, and when that will be.

Soooo, guess who’s the dumbarse who totes picked a tinnie based on its purty label! Was expecting a watermelony gose like the one I’d tried at Bar SK but accidentally got one that tastes like seaweed and a bitter lager – which is actually the pilsner influence! And no, the seaweed isn’t gross, and – bear with me – isn’t awful! Goses are supposed to be salty anyway, and this had that savoury, clean Mex-lagerish thing happening that went well with my matcha ice cream splurge. It’s sort of sad that just as I was really digging ‘Down She Gose’, it finished!

Just as it was starting to warm up and get less lager-pilsnerish, it was GONE. Having said that, in terms of gose-country, it’s not that salty or sour, but that might make it an entry-level beer into that style (protip: now you know what to get for your beer-nerdy family member/friend/colleague etc.).

If you have a perv on their website, they have quite a few fab tinnies (the grapefruit and marigold saison sounds divine?!). Anyway, keep an open mind and palate! Seaweed-salty low-booze beer is way better than you think it’d sound. Besides, this is Melbourne, we’re used to assaulting newfangled sensations!

In acknowledging that not everyone wants to drink alcohol, a great non-alcoholic alternative might be genmaicha (Japanese roasted rice green tea). Of course it goes well with sushi, and light, subtle flavours. Hit me up with hiyayakko right now, please!

*sings* it’s gonna be alright…with Gigiiiiiiii…

*worth watching the whole thing, but from 4’24” is why I’ve hotlinked it!

one zine, one drink, one DJ set…

I have an embarrassing stockpile of media to consume, and limited time available at my good friend’s place where I’ve just had to break up two cats in a very hairy, very loud fight.

The scent of possum piss sets them both on edge, regardless of how hot or cold the night becomes. I’m trying to listen to this DJ set (which started off pretty dreamily…tinkling of some sort of hard-cast bell), and one of my feline charges is missing a chunk of fur. I’ve got them cordoned off in separate parts of my friend’s apartment, after brewing a fuck-off sized mug of tea (pic here).

zine: Concrete Queers issue 5

drink: Madame Flavour rooibos mint & choc (as a treat, when grocery shopping!)

Coincidentally, this issue opens with liz duck-chong’s ‘tectonic girl’ which has some awesome  crème brûlée images (they didn’t include the accents, but I can hear my high school teacher cheerily chanting ‘accent grave, acc-cent cir-con-flex-uh!‘ and damn, now I fancy burnt cream for dessert and it’s far too early in the week for such indulgences!) – yeah, this was once a food blog and didn’t I say something about speed-reviewing a zine with a tinnie in hand?

Yeah, well, given how much I drank over New Year’s Eve, it didn’t seem sensible to drink more booze, and I did want to give the teetotallers nice options.

The cats have both calmed down, and it’s on to ‘imperfect’ by Liam Gabriel York. Their finishing line in their poem (promise it’s not a spoiler) ‘Change is the tool that shapes my soul.’ seems especially pertinent to me right now, for my immediate future, my less nearer future. It feels incredibly comforting to read that line, right now.

An anime-style character is represented in illustration, fragmented, by Brigit Macfarlane. It’s called ‘Sleep Paralysis’. One can’t quite tell if the character’s clothes are empty, though what limbs show are solid. It’s probably the most poetic rendering I’ve seen of something so horrific. Night terrors, and sleep paralysis less so, used to be part of a lot of my sleeping life.

I still think it’s pretty funny that I freaked out a goregrind musician ex, once, with my blood curdling scream. A plane could be about to run (him) down and (he’d) still look barely affected, so it was…surprising, to say the least.

The sole prose contribution is by the zine’s poetry editor Tilly Houghton – in ‘On Poetry’, she voices some of her thoughts and motivations on why and how she writes, edits, refines, arranges. Again, it’s comforting to know someone else out there moves and saves versions of works in different folders…when are the damn things ever really…’finished’?!

I’ll pause here, both this ethereal DJ set, and reading – it’s time for another cuppa, and to cordon off the kitties.

It’s just before the halfway mark of the zine, I’m stretching out my choc mint rooibos pyramid teabag for another delicious, divine-smelling mug, and realising my dot-to-dot skills aren’t that great – the zine centrefold is interactive!

Just before that is a cool piece by Hamish McIntyre called ‘Unstuck’ and is somewhat about poetry in motions, and repetition (which old-school poetry does, as do song lyrics – which classify as…poetry! yup). As a former flautist, I’ve never really found repetition of technical work (scales, and similar exercises designed to make you sound flawless when jumping from high and low registers, or just all-out trilling/ornamentation* overly poetic, but bodies in motion, performing repetitive actions in some sort of sync, looks incredibly fluid and elastic. That’s what I got out of reading that piece.

The second half has a poem each by the aforementioned contributors liz duck-chong, Liam Gabriel York, and poetry ed Tilly Houghton, then two photographs by Laura Knott, a gorgeous longer work by clara johanna called ’20/20′ with musings on growing up, feminism, and what it means to start to want. The final piece is an illustration of someone look at themselves in a mirror – I’ve always liked Frank Candiloro’s artwork because xyr linework reminds me of the sturdy thickness of lino cuts. It’s like my friend Chloe once told me – everyone draws lines differently, unique to themselves – it’s so true. I’m personally an appalling visual artist – the lines I seek solace in are the ones made up of letters and words.

That DJ set and tea were really fucking good. Definitely getting another box of these amazeballs pyramid whatsits.

*my first ever personal blog eons ago was called ‘Grace Notes @ Snarkattack’ because of the fluting thing, and how ‘grace notes’ (e.g. acciaccatura, and similar-but-diffs appoggiatura) are fleeting, but there. Also, not sure if this is actually true, but apparently my mother briefly considered naming me Grace, so it’s funny on several levels. I…don’t get out much, huh.