Thursday, June 28, 2012

B is for Beer

B is for beer, and for "bad at blogging." This idea clearly hasn't inspired me to update as much as I'd hoped, but at least it's there for backup. (B is for Beer is also, it seems, a novel by Tom Robbins. Authors really like this title conceit.)

So ... beer. I am not much of a fan. Like any good Wisconsinite, I enjoy beer cheese soup (in small doses) and appreciate a good beer-boiled bratwurst. When it comes to cans or bottles of the stuff, however, I'd just as soon pass. I can choke it down if incredibly thirsty - the lighter and fruitier the better - but for me it's like soda: I simply can't understand why people choose to drink it if there are other options. Such as water. (Yes, I said "like soda." Clearly, I am the anomaly here.)

I do have positive associations with beer, for the most part. Beer reminds me of summer, of parties, of baseball games. Does anybody else remember when part of downtown Milwaukee was constantly enveloped in the aroma of beer from the factories? You couldn't drive through on the highway without being overwhelmed by the smell of malted hops and barley.

Basically, any warm-weather outdoor activity doesn't seem complete without coolers of beer. We had some last weekend in Colorado, hanging out at the awesome (in every sense) Red Rocks park. Cold beverages of all kinds were vital, because the temperature hovered around 100 degrees both days. We were outdoors for more than twenty-four of those hours altogether. Our reward was two days in the company of excellent people, great music from Wilco, Dr. Dog, and the Punch Brothers, and jaw-dropping views like this.

Photo by Double_Nickel
I wish I were fonder of beer, because buying beer is so much fun. I'm not talking about six-packs of Schlitz, but the dizzying array of specialty microbrews available at a decent liquor store. The limited editions, the seasonal varieties, the stuff you can only buy regionally. I try to imagine that instead of beer, it's endless varieties of artisanal iced tea. And that insufferable tea nerds brew their own batches of tea and spend hours talking about it. That is something I could definitely get behind.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

A is for Alibi

In an attempt to kick-start my blogging and produce more than an entry or two per month, I've decided to try a new writing gimmick. I've seen others use the alphabet for inspiration, and it seemed like a good idea, but I needed an angle. For that angle, I am turning to my friend Google. For each letter of the alphabet, I'm going to type the phrase "[letter] is for " into Google. I'll write an entry about (spoiler alert!) the first match in the drop-down list from the Google search box. Every once in awhile, I assume, this will be interrupted by actual things to write about.

If you type "A is for " into the Google search box, the first match is alibi. A is for Alibi seems to be the first book in a series by Sue Grafton, which I have not read, so I've got nothing there. It did, however, start me thinking about the word alibi. What are its origins? It doesn't sound like most English words. At first I wondered if we stole it from Arabic, but then I realized I was just conflating alibi and Ali Baba. Yes. Let's find out the real story! Back to Google!

Aha: alibi is from Latin. In Latin it means "elsewhere." Perfect. Its use as a noun in English dates from the late 18th century, so I guess before then people didn't have alibis. Perhaps they had excuses or justifications.

I don't think I have any personal alibi anecdotes. Not being involved with the justice system, the word just makes me think of books, TV, and movies. A thousand Law and Order episodes, detective dramas, you name it. Oh, that does remind me that I've been catching up on the BBC series Sherlock lately. I'm almost through Series 2, which isn't that difficult because each series is three episodes long. Benedict Cumberbatch: best name ever? He's a definite contender. My favorite detective series ever, though, was Veronica Mars. I wish I could watch the first season of that show all over again for the first time. Sigh.

Okay! I think we have plenty of evidence now that my experience with alibis comes from television and not real-life adventure. And that I'm the kind of person who looks up word origins. What will the letter B bring? Stay tuned! (Actually, it's pretty easy to find out what the letter B will bring. But not what I'll say about it!)