Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.
Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here. I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).
Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China. To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame. But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff. In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).
So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):
17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53
In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…
Obits actually in the blog: 16
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
The jihadi sparrow
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)
Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track
Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38
Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)
Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5
Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)
Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)
Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017
Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)
Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)
Name: Espresso Stout
Rating (1-5): 4 out of 5 Steve Harveys
Notes: After a bottle of champagne, a bottle of port, a bottle of Chianti, and half a bottle of Vin Santo, I was ready for some stout. Merry Christmas, and I hope yours was nice, as well.
Name: Stove Pipe Stout
Rating (1-5): 4 out of 5 “It’s Not All Doom and Glooms”
Notes: Neither of us is Christmassy this year but it is Winter and that requires/demands gorging. I baked a gallon of biscotti to go with the pair of Vin Santos on the wine rack, there’s a round of cornbread soon to be a dressing ingredient for the turkey crown tomorrow, and there’s some raw pizza sauce in the background. I sold my keyboard on e-Bay and am waiting for the guy to come pick it up (down to just the uke and the guitar). Jackie begged off the Peanuts Christmas this year but I listened to David Sedaris’ Santaland Diaries on my run a little while ago. Ho. Ho. Ho.
The other entries on the Advent Calendar are here.
Name: Oyster Stout
Brewery: Three Boys
Rating (1-5): 2 out of 5 Gay May/September Romantic Christmases
Notes: I can’t fault this beer in any way at all. The venue, Brew Dog in Shepherds Bush, is as annoying as getting stuck on a broken down subway full of people on their way to Comic Con or a gaming convention.
Name: Phoenix Smoked Porter
Rating (1-5): 3 out of 5 “Santa’s Laps”
Notes: The beer was nothing special and the Lass o’ Richmond where I purchased the brew tried to shortchange me then did a bunch of doublespeak to make it sound like I was the one with the mathematics wrong.
On a similar note, Ian Dury had many reasons to be cheerful:
none of which included running 8 miles across London on a cold, winter day to get to his memorial bench only to find that the sound feature has been removed:
The bench is in Richmond Park, where the wild deer are docile:
So docile, in fact, that as well armed as they are they barely take note while something as recklessly dangerous as drunken Brits on holiday approach close enough to touch them. Like Americans at an all-you-can-eat buffet, they just keep on eating despite the likelihood of imminent doom. This is as fitting a metaphor for this fucked up year as I have seen.
But, the sunset was beautiful this evening. 1, 2, 3….
All of the Porter/Stout Advent Calendar entries can be found at this link.
Name: London Porter
Brewery: Red Squirrel
Rating (1-5): 5 out of 5 of too much of the wrong beer (but I found the right one, eventually)
Notes: Three pubs into the run between and around Amersham and Chesham and there was not a single one with an interesting porter or stout. I knew I had a couple in the fridge, but this was disappointing. As I left the Red Lion to find the Chesham Station, though, the Red Squirrel caught my eye. Gadzooks! Another micro, the fourth this week! I went in and the place was a treat (write-up soon to follow).
At one point one of the barflies remarked that ‘alcohol is the solution.’ I reached into my backpack and handed him the Christmas greeting that arrived that afternoon from an American friend I’ve known for donkey’s years:
and, on the inside:
She’s been down a bit, as have we all, since the US Presidential Debacle (2016 version). Write her a note if you want to do a good deed before Santa makes his final decisions (there’s a link on her currently underused blog).