Posts Tagged ‘Review’

Book Review: The Last Fish Tale by Mark Kurlansky

Author: Mark Kurlansky
Title: The Last Fish Tale
Publication Info: Blackstone Audiobooks, Inc. (2008)
ISBN: 1433214776

Summary/Review:

Mark Kurlansky, author of excellent books about Cod and Salt, takes on the unique fishing town of Gloucester, Massachusetts in this work.  Kurlansky approaches Gloucester from all angles with a historical survey stretching back to colonial times (and earlier), cultural and sociological insights into Gloucester people, and every so often throws in a traditional seafood recipe for good measure.  Kurlansky alternates between fish tales – adventures of exaggerated braggadocio – and Gloucester tales – peculiarly tragice stories of those who went down in ships.

Mostly though, this is a book about Gloucester’s life blood – the fisheries and the commercial fisherman who sail out into them.  In fact, Kurlansky ventures far beyond Gloucester to Canada, Britain, and Europe to other fishing villages who essentially share the same ecosystem and suffer the same fate of fishing villages in a time of dwindling stocks, pollutions, and sometimes counterproductive government regulation.  This is a fascinating and lively book and I really enjoyed a learning a bit about a town so close to home, yet so distinctly separate.

Recommended books: Trawler: A Journey Through the North Atlantic by Redmond O’Hanlon; Ptown: Art, Sex, and Money on the Outer Cape by Peter Manso; The Perfect Storm: A True Story of Men against the Sea by Sebastian Junger
Rating:

Book Review: Becoming Manny by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg

When Manny Ramirez played in Boston, I enjoyed watching him play and always thought he got a raw deal from the Red Sox fans & media who accused him of being selfish, lazy, and disruptive (among other things I can’t print here).  I always got the sense that Manny was shy and just wanted to play baseball well and not deal with the stresses of public scrutiny, which I can find understandable.  Becoming Manny: Inside the Life of Baseball’s Most Enigmatic Slugger (2009) by Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg confirms my understanding of Manny, although my esteem for him has fallen since he tested positive for performance enhancing drugs (ill-timed for the release of this book as well).

Still this is a well-written and informative biography, especially the parts about Manny’s early years before he reached the major leagues.  Rhodes is a psychologists and offers some great insights through he lens of Manny Ramirez of children of immigrants, the extremes of poverty and strong community in inner-city neighborhoods, and the life of youth athletes.  There is a special emphasis on coaches teachers, and friends who mentor young athletes.  In Manny’s case there are older and wiser men to guide him through most of his life, most importantly Carlos “Macaco” Ferreira a Little League coach and lifelong friend.

Manny-lovers and more importantly Manny-haters should check this book out.  It’s an excellent example of baseball biography at it’s best.

Becoming Manny : inside the life of baseball’s most enigmatic slugger / Jean Rhodes and Shawn Boburg.
Publisher: New York : Scribner, 2009.
ISBN: 9781416577065
1416577068
Description:304 p. : ill. ; 24 cm.
Edition: 1st Scribner hardcover ed.

Beer Review: Presidente

Beer: Presidente Imported Beer
Brewer: Cerveceria Nacional Dominicana
Source:  12 oz. bottle
Rating: No stars (4.5 of 10)
Comments:  A lager from the Dominican Republic.  Just the type of beer that you’d expect to drink on a hot day at the beach.  Pale, weak, and not to exciting but okay if you’re not too discerning in what you quaff to cool off.

Beer Review: Boddington’s Pub Ale

Beer: Boddington’s Pub Ale
Brewer:  InBev
Source:  Draught
Rating: ** (6.3 of 10)
Comments: A golden bubbly beer with a thick creamy head. I detected a scent of melon and despite being a bitter this beer tasted malty and mellow.  In fact, I thought it tasted rather like a lager  instead of an ale.  The head sustains while drinking, leaving a lot of lacing on the glass.  Not bad.  Very smooth if not too exciting.

Beer Review: Clarke’s Amber

Beer: Clarke’s Amber
Brewer: (served at) Clarke’s at South Station
Source:  Draught
Rating: * (5.2 of 10)
Comments:  This is the house beer at Clarke’s the pub within South Station in Boston (although I’ve become somewhat distrustful of house beers).  This is not a great beer but a decent cheap beer (only $3 compared to $5 and up for the name brand beers).  It’s not so much amber as a deep mahogany color.  I didn’t detect much of an aroma and the taste is somewhat acidic with hints of a sweet candy flavor.  The head dissipates quickly and leaves only sporadic lacing on the glass.

Clarke’s itself seems like a nice place to toss back a pint, fairly busy on a Friday night even though there’s not much else going on in that part of town.  After dinner and a couple of beers I hopped on the commuter rail to Forest Hills.  Nice!

Beer Review: Radeberger Pilsener

Beer: Radeberger Pilsener
Brewer: Radeberger Exportbierbrauerei
Source:  Draft
Rating: *** (7.5 of 10)
Comments:  On-tap at Emmet’s pub in Beacon Hill, Radeberger is served in a tall, slender mug that displays it’s golden color, bubbly carbonation, and frothy head.  It has kind of a grassy/grainy aroma and flavor with a nice aftertaste you can chew on for a while.  Everything about it is kind of smooth and subtle, so one would might find it a little flavorless if one drinks it too fast.

Beer Review: Magic Hat #9

Beer: Magic Hat #9
Brewer: Magic Hat Brewing Company
Source:  Draft
Rating: *** (7.3 of 10)
Comments: Enjoyed a pint of this potion at Doyle’s over the weekend and found it an agreeable if not remarkable beer.  The aroma and taste are sweetened by apricot, making it yet another in a parade of fruity beers I’ve been sampling lately. The apricot is balanced by a hoppy flavor so it’s not overwhelmingly sweet.  The beer is a nice amber color with a good sized head and decent lacing on the glass.  I think I’ve had this beer in a bottle before and not been all to impressed but the on-tap version is more palatable.  Magic Hat Brewing Company is in Burlington, VT so I’m calling for another road trip.

Previously: Magic Hat “Jinx”

Book Review: Faithful Dissenters by Robert McClory

Robert McClory puts the Catholic church under the historical lens in Faithful Dissenters: Stories of Men and Women Who Loved and Changed the Church (2000) to show instances when individuals have stood up against official Church teachings and hierarchy.  These dissenters are sometimes punished in their time, but all have been revealed to be prophetic voices whose ideas are accepted by the Church at large to the Church’s benefit.

The Faithful Dissenters include:

  • John Courtney Murray, who proposed the very American idea of “freedom of religion”
  • Galileo, who respectively tried to incorporate his observations of the heavens into the Church’s longtime understanding of cosmology only to have his studies repressed
    • “Still, there are two facts about which no dispute is possible: first, on the scientific issue, Galileo was overwhelmingly correct and the institutional Church was wrong; second, by seeking to quell an idea whose time had come, Church leaders dealt the institutional Church a severe blow from which it is still recovering,” – p. 26
  • John Henry Newman, who insisted that doctrine actually develops bottom-up from the laity
  • Mary Ward, who founded an order of religious sisters active in apostolic works of teaching and charitable work within the world at a time when women religious were expected to be cloistered
  • 16th century Jesuits who realized the changing economy of Renaissance Europe meant changes in the understanding of usury as well
  • Catherine of Siena, who took it on herself to tell the Avignon papacy to shape up and ship back to Rome
  • Matteo Ricci, a Jesuit missionary to China who success converting the Chinese to Christianity by controversially incorporating local Buddhist and Confucian philosophy
    • “In a very real sense, his biographers have noted, Ricci tried to do for Confucius what Thomas Aquinas did for Aristotle: provide a complex belief system witha a philosophical and moral undergirding, thus making the mysteries of the faith more approachable to the people of a specific culture,” – p. 97.
  • Hildegard of Bingen, a visionary with startlingly modern concepts of the feminine divine
  • Yves Congar, an ecumenical activist for fellowship, dialogue and respect of other Christian denominations and Judaism
    • “Congar wrote of two great temptations confronting the Church in every age: “Pharisaism,” that is, absolutizing religious rules and regulations rather than serving the spiritual and pastoral needs of the people; and “the temptation of the Synagogue,” that is, freezing tradition in such a way that cannot develop beyond what was understood in the past.  What the Church must do, he insisted, is harmonize itself more generously with the style of a new society — “a society she [the Church] is called to baptize as she has baptized others in the past,”” – p. 124
  • John Purcell and Edward Purcell, who taught that slavery was sinful at a time when it was widely accepted in the Church

In the conclusion, McClory writes:

In two important respects the dissenters described her are unqualifiedly alike.  First, they absolutely refused to leave the Churh in the face of all their difficulties.  One could argue that this stubborn fidelity, this standing in place while contradicting authority, was the principal factor in their  ultimate success and (sometimes posthumous) vindication.  Second, they did not see themselves as disobedient persons.  They shared a remarkable awareness that submission to God and submission to Church authority are not always the same thing.  Some today might call them “cafeteria Catholics.”  In a sense, they were; they maintained that not everything in the cafeteria was edible. Nevertheless, their acknowledgment of Church authority and their gratitude for what the Church offered them over the long haul never left, ” – p. 164

I thought this was a good book as the historical sketches were well-written and informative.  Additionally, it is written very respectfully, resisting the temptation to condemn those who tried to quash dissent as history’s losers or turn this into a rallying cry for our times.  McClory message is that good people can disagree and some ideas are ahead of their time, but eventually that which is of God will triumph.

Author : McClory, Robert, 1932-
Title : Faithful dissenters : stories of men and women who loved and changed the church / Robert McClory.
Published : New York : Orbis Books 2000.
Description : viii, 180 p. : ports ; 24 cm.
ISBN : 1570753229 (pbk.)

Beer Review: Mayflower Pale Ale

Beer: Mayflower Pale Ale
Brewer: Mayflower Brewing Co.
Source:  12 oz. bottle
Rating: *** (7.8 of 10)
Comments:  From the Plymouth, MA based brewery comes their flagship (pun intended?) pale ale and it’s a pretty good one.  It pours out a nice orangey-brown with a thick head (one that lasts a while and leaves a little lace behind to boot).  It has a malty taste with some fruity overtones and a touch of the bitter in the aftertaste.  I liked it.  Anyone up for a road trip to Plymouth to sample at the brewery?

Beer Review: Singha Lager

Beer: Singha Lager
Brewer: Boon Rawd Brewery
Source:  12 oz. bottle
Rating: * (5.6 of 10)
Comments:  Enjoyed with a Thai Meal at the Wonder Spice Cafe in Jamaica Plain.  This is a lager, not my favorite style, but a decent one that is cool and drinkable.  Singha is very pale gold beer without much carbonation and a thick head made up of big bubbles that dissipate quickly.  The aroma is kind of must, the beer feels effervescent on the tongue, and the aftertaste is fruity but otherwise there’s not much flavor.  This is an okay beer that goes well with the food but not something I’d get on any other occasion.

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