Thursday, March 22, 2012

Booze and Boat Bits #6 (5 short items of interest)


I was going to make this the “All Good News” edition, but every single story ended up with a flip side.  In the words of Robert Carlyle’s marvelously creepy Rumpelstiltskin on Once Upon A Time, “All magic comes with a price!”

Judith Tebbutt
1:  The good news:  On Wednesday, Judith Tebbutt, the British woman who was whisked away from the Kenyan resort of Kiwayu Safari Village by Somali "pirates," was released after six months of captivity.  The bad news…is considerable.  One, the son who secured her release appears to have paid a ransom of over a million dollars.  Two, she had no idea until she was a free woman again that her husband had been killed during the kidnapping.  Three, there are still several civilians being held in Somalia, not to mention the nearly two hundred sailors being held on vessels at sea.

All those dots mean booze.
2:  The good news:  Washington state residents are only a couple months away from Booze Emancipation, June 1.  Recently, a fun and helpful interactive map was published that allows you to zoom in on your neighborhood and see who has applied for a liquor license.  It’s just as you’d expect:  grocery chains like QFC and Safeway, “pharmacies” like Walgreens and Bartell, and big box stores like Target and—of course—Cost Co.  I am all abuzz over the potential for competition and, simply, the new convenience.  I can get me rum at the same time I get my cheese, Bandaids, or toilet paper…all the essentials in one spot.  The question:  specialties.  Are the buyers at Safeway really going to think to stock Rogue Blackbeard Dark Rum, Punt e Mes, or Domaine de Canton, or are they just going to stock Bacardi and Martini & Rossi?  Are there going to be stand-alone liquor stores for bartenders or at-home mixologists?  Liberation:  It's never as simple as how you imagined it.

3:   The good that there's no news about the Kalakala.  No reports of taking on water, no threats of immediate demise.  The bad news:  Steve Rodrigues' trailer next to the ferry was hauled away by the property owners, and, as of last report on March 8th, he is depending on family and friends for a place to live.  I am not here to discuss Steve's personal affairs, but since Steve IS the sole visionary for the Kalakala's future this is yet another bad omen.  The one-cent buyer remains a shadow.  The vast majority of online commentary on the Kalakala is negative, most calling for the boat to be scrapped or sunk.  So no news really means that the fate of the Kalakala is still hanging by that same slender, ragged thread.

And you thought he was ugly alive...

4:  The good news:  Shane is dead.  The bad news:  So is Dale, and we all have to wait til Fall for more The Walking Dead.  But there will be Mad Men, and Christina Hendricks is infinitely more sexy than a walker in a barn.

The Goddess Joan

5:  We got an email from our landlord that we need to move by May 31.  This is a complex mixture of good and bad news.  It was inevitable, and in a way I’m surprised it didn’t happen sooner.  After the initial shock, compounded by the fact that it was morning--I am not a morning person, justsoyaknow-- I have come to realize that this is an opportunity.  Yeah, it's gonna be a gargantuan hassle.  But, in fact, I like moving, and it's something I've done a lot.  Moving is a reset button.  It's a chance to assess your material possessions, sort, and eliminate.  Moving, even just crosstown, means new environs and a chance to learn and explore.  Hell, it's a chance to redecorate, which means maybe I can set up my pirate cave.  For all you readers, I am not going to make this a blog about the move (since this isn't going to mean fulfilling my liveaboard fantasy), and naturally this will temporarily impede my ability to write.  Another day, another horizon.  Watch for my signal flags.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Aubrey-Maturin in Brief 7: The Surgeon's Mate

Which it describes what Diana Villiers must tolerate to be with Dr. Stephen Maturin (SPOILERS):
  • Put up with unmitigated, educated obstinacy.
  • Accept that you will not always know everything about him.
  • Balance his awkwardness with your poise and radiance at academic events.
  • Be prepared that he will disappear on dangerous, secret missions with no real expectation of return.
  • Understand that as long as he is on assignment with Capt. Jack Aubrey, there is always the possibility that he may wreck on a lee shore.
  • Expect that you may lose things very valuable to yourself to help him.
  • Know that he may end up imprisoned, even tortured, and that his only possibility of escape may be by making a deal with a dangerous agent.
  • Love him, in spite of it all.
Not that Maturin has it easy dealing with his equally stubborn mate.  Not that Maturin is alone having woman troubles.  Yet The Surgeon's Mate is, even through sea battles, tense diplomatic negotiations, and close calls with French interrogation, above all a love tale, if only as it could be written by Patrick O'Brian.  We pick up where we left off at the end of The Fortune of War...

"H.M.S. Shannon Leading Her Prize the American Frigate Chesapeake into Halifax Harbour" by John Christian Schetky

(1) The battered Shannon brings the battered Chesapeake into Halifax, Nova Scotia.  Grave feelings among the crew quickly give way to cheer as they are given a heroes' welcome.  The curious trio of Capt. Jack Aubrey, Dr. Stephen Maturin, and Diana Villiers goes ashore.  Aubrey longs for news of home but instead finds that two of his foes, Harte and Wray, have achieved further power in the Admiralty.  Maturin delivers the coup of Johnson's papers to Major Beck, the Marine in charge of intelligence.  He acquires a certificate of local liberty for Villiers, who is otherwise viewed as a renegade British citizen.  Although they are barely able to find a bed in the crowded town, Maturin finally gets sleep.  Villiers is happy as she prepares for a celebratory ball, but she once more rebuffs Maturin's insistence on getting married.

"HMS Asia docked in Halifax Harbour, 1797" by George Gustavus Lennock

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Somalia Update: Of Conferences and Cultural Relativity

Photo op's will solve all the world's problems

Just over a week ago there was a large conference in London on what to do about Somalia.  55 nations and international organizations were there, including big players:  the President of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Sharif Sheikh Ahmed; President Farole of Puntland; British Prime Minister David Cameron; U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton; and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.  Piracy and terrorism were on the table, but the real issue was that the TFG's mandate is scheduled to run out in August...the "Transition" is to give way to something they'd like to call 'permanence.'  Can anyone actually agree on what that is to look like and how to get there?  How does the problem of piracy fit in?  And what do the Somalis themselves think about it?  To gain some breadth, I read over two dozen articles from what I hoped would be very different media perspectives, including The New York Times, The Huffington Post, the U.K. Guardian, and two online newspapers from Somalia itself, and  My conclusion:  The only way Somalia can gain anything like stability is not by imposing foreign models but by creating something that meshes ALL of the cultural complexities of the region.  That means that the West has to acknowledge the central role of Islam and not paint all the followers of Islam as terrorists or potential terrorists.  Dear readers, please indulge me.  This does have to do with pirates.  More importantly, it has to do with how WE shape the world.