The Night Jeffrey Ford Read in Greenpoint

Last night I had the pleasure of seeing one of my favorite living authors, Jeffrey Ford, read at the WORD Bookstore in Greenpoint. Jeff’s stories are surreal, funny, poignant and personal to use just a few adjectives, and always entertaining. Last night was no exception. He read a story called “The Double of My Double is Not My Double”. The story is new and, I believe, unpublished. That’s one of the great things about Jeff’s readings – you usually end up with something you’ve never heard (or read) before. I think Jeff’s one of the finest short story writers I’ve ever encountered and if you’re interested in short stories as either a reader or a writer, you must check out some of his fine fiction. You can read some of them for free here, here, and here. Also here. Or you can hear me reading two of his stories at Podcastle – The Dreaming Wind and The Annals of Eelin-Ok.

Also reading last night was Felix Gilman who read part of a short story set in the same world as his most recent novel (which I’m dying to read), The Half-Made World. What I heard of “Lightbringers and Rainmakers” sounded great and the whole thing is available to read (for free) on

Which brings me just to one point. WORD has this thing, particularly for this Wold Newton series of readings, where they have musical accompaniment with the readers. It’s an interesting concept, but one I find ultimately problematic. While the band is great, and the music a pleasure to listen to, I find that it often competes with the author’s reading and, the way my brain works, I have to fight to focus on the words rather than the music. Last night, Jeff managed to be heard throughout his reading, but Felix, who is more softspoken, sometimes seemed drowned out. I wouldn’t have them ditch the music completely, but I think it would be used more effectively to intro and outro the readers and perhaps as people are coming in and in-between readers. Otherwise I, at least, find it to be somewhat distracting.

Afterward, we moved over to the nearby Lulu’s for a beer. I have to admit to being pleasantly surprised by the place. It’s a comfy, dark yet somehow elegant bar with a decent beer selection and with each drink you order after 6, you get a free pizza. I paid five bucks for a Captain Lawrence Smoked Porter, which I enjoyed, expecting a wilted, cardboardy slice of pizza to accompany it. Instead I got a fairly decent mini-pie that filled me up completely.  I have to admit to now being a fan of the place and I will certainly return.

All in all, quite a wonderful night.

The new site is live!

After about a week of trying to get things together, is now live. It’s not exactly how I planned it (I’m crap at dealing with WordPress Themes), but it’s simple and that’s okay.

Thanks to Allyson for designing the logo. I would have been lost without her.

If you have an interest in wine and beer, please check it out. I’ll be catching up with some old posts there in the next few weeks and then onto new adventures.

Loreley Beer Tasting – March 11, 2009

<!– /* Font Definitions */ @font-face {font-family:SimSun; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-alt:????¨¬??; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 135135232 16 0 262145 0;} @font-face {font-family:”\@SimSun”; panose-1:2 1 6 0 3 1 1 1 1 1; mso-font-charset:134; mso-generic-font-family:auto; mso-font-pitch:variable; mso-font-signature:3 135135232 16 0 262145 0;} /* Style Definitions */ p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal {mso-style-parent:””; margin:0in; margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:12.0pt; font-family:”Times New Roman”; mso-fareast-font-family:SimSun;} @page Section1 {size:8.5in 11.0in; margin:1.0in 1.25in 1.0in 1.25in; mso-header-margin:.5in; mso-footer-margin:.5in; mso-paper-source:0;} div.Section1 {page:Section1;} –>

Loreley was recommended to me as a good example of a German beer bar in Manhattan and I have to say that it didn’t disappoint. After checking their website based on the recommendation, I saw that they had a beer tasting with food for $29. Unable to pass that up, I went to check it out.

My expectations were low given the low price, but Loreley proceeded to blow them away. Not only did I sample nine German beers, but they delivered a three course meal that while fairly straightforward, was substantial and certainly more than the few bites I was expecting.

Here’s a list of the beers with some of my notes:

1. Reissdorf Kolsch: from Cologne, a very light, crisp and bitter ale, pale gold in the glass. This wasn’t very strong in flavor, not very developed. Like a better Coors Light.

2. Bitburger Pilsner: Pale gold, crisp, with a strong honey aroma on the nose and honey on the initial mouth followed by hoppy bitterness. A good Pilsner.

3. Radeberger Pilsner: slightly metallic nose, bitter and hoppy. A mineral quality to the finish. I didn’t like this one as much as the Bitburger.

4. Hofbrau Lager: pale gold, more malt coming through than hops. Honey and orange on the nose and up front, hoppy on the finish.

5. Franziskaner Hefeweissbier: This one resembled orange soda a bit in the glass. Orange and clove on the nose, some grapefruit and spice. Creamy mouthfeel, citrusy, a little bitterness. Undercurrent of banana. My girlfriend predicted that this would be good with pancakes.

6. Schneider Weisse : Floral and spice aromas, poured a cloudy apricot color. Light and fruity, it reminded me of Blue Moon.

7. Erdinger Oktoberfest Weizen: Aromas of apple and pineapple lifesavers. Banana bread on the palate with hints of citrus.

8. Kostritzer Schwarzbier: Thick tan head with lots of bubbles, the color of sarsaparilla. Metallic odor, minerals. Hoppy and bitter up front with a smoky, malty finish. Almost has a hazelnut or walnut aftertaste. We snuck out a few of Vosges’ Barcelona Almonds (chocolate covered salty, smoked almonds) and they paired perfectly with the beer.

9. Spaten Ur-Marzen: Smelled…like a lager. Poured a reddish brown with a thin head. Malt up front, hops in the finish. For the ending beer it was a little unremarkable.

The food they served was simple as mentioned – a simple Caesar-like salad to start; beef, mashed potatoes and cabbage for the main course; and vanilla sponge cake with icing and jam for dessert. Still, we ate and drank well for what we paid. I would suggest that if they do another one, go check it out. Rudy also provided some great information about the beers and the regions. I intend to go back, just to have some beer and food next time. Brats and beer sound like a good combo to me.

At the Bar: Rattle and Hum 3/6

Rattle and Hum was a new experience for me, a place recommended by the bartender at Vol de Nuit. They have an impressive selection of beer and they will now be my go-to place if Ginger Man is packed (as it often is). They also have tastings and other events that I will surely be checking out. I had two beers there:

Flying Dog Oak Aged Gonzo – this beer was strong (9.5% ABV), dark and sweet as I expected. A good example of an Imperial Baltic Porter. Not much of a head  and very little lacing. Licorice and molasses notes in the taste.

Left Hand Jackman’s American Pale Ale – After the Gonzo, I craved something lighter and hoppier, so I tried this one. Poured a dark golden color, with apricot on the nose and fruit up front in the mouth along with some bitterness. Creamy on the finish. Very light and drinkable. The flavor of the hops became stronger as I drank. Not really a favorite of mine – not enough complexity in the flavors.

My friend, Devin, had the Southern Tier Backburner American Barleywine which I had a sip of. Strong, as expected with a barleywine (10% ABV), Belgian in style and flavor – aromatic and floral. What surprised me was how hoppy it finished. Definitely something I’d like to try myself on another trip.

Tasting Notes – Clo Wine Bar – 3/7

Since a friend of mine wanted to try a new place, I trekked up to the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle to give Clo a whirl. What I’d read about it said it was very futuristic and sci-fi, so how could I resist. What it is is more of a wine automat. You hand over a credit card and are given a Clo card which keeps track of how much you drink, and a glass. You then go around the kiosk-like space and choose what wine you want which you can then dispense into your glass from a thin, metal spout. Think the soda dispenser at 7-11, only with a smaller dispenser (and much smaller portions). A guide lists all the wines and their locations for easy hunting, though some seats at the large bench table have an interactive visual menu (shot down from projectors in the ceiling) which you can manipulate with your hands. I found they didn’t work too well, though maybe I’m just a bit spastic.

I tasted three wines while I was there. I neglected to write down the name of the Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand that I tried, but it was crisp and cold and slightly sweet and exactly what I wanted to kick things off.

From there I went on to the Seghesio Zinfandel which was just perfect. Jammy on the nose and the palate, but complex and dark with hints of spice and a nice deep body. It was one of the best zins I can remember trying. I kicked myself for not stopping by their winery when I was in Sonoma County last year (it was recommended – just ran out of time).

I finished the night with a 2005 Kaesler Stonehorse Shiraz from Australia. A nice, bold red with traditional pepper and spice notes, but also well-developed fruit, I was impressed with this Shiraz. And it was a great follow-up to the Segheshio.

Clo might not be for everyone, and it is a little gimmicky, but I wasn’t disappointed with any of the wine I tried and I would venture that the climate control in the dispensing units allows the wine to come through the way it’s supposed to. Prices aren’t cheap, but it’s possible to have three glasses of wine for under $30 and I would expect them to at least be decent (none of the wines I tried was over $15 if I recall).

I’m pretty sure I’ll return to try more of their selections.

Older posts »

Falling Sky – Out now!

Falling Sky, my first novel, came out October 7, 2014 from Pyr. It's an adventure story set in a post-apocalyptic future with airships. Publisher's Weekly called it a "solid and memorable debut" while Library Journal gave it a starred review and named it Debut of the Month. For more information, please click here.

Upcoming Events

Recent Posts

  • Ben Flies Again
    02/18/2015 — Just a reminder that tomorrow is my Reddit AMA starting at 7PM EST. For those who don’t know, AMA stands for Ask Me Anything and that’s what I’ll be doing. If you want to ask me something, just log onto…Read more »
  • Ask Me Anything – February 19
    02/05/2015 — In two weeks, on Thursday, February 19 at 7:00 PM, I will be doing a Reddit AMA. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the AMA, it stands for Ask Me Anything. I’ll answer questions on any topic, but…Read more »
  • My Eligible Work
    01/24/2015 — As much as I hate doing this, the nominations are currently open for the Hugo Nominations. Members of the 2014, 2015, and 2016 Worldcons (voting members) are eligible to nominate works published in 2014 (more details here). I don’t have…Read more »
  • The Last of 2014
    01/08/2015 — It’s a new year and yet I was remiss in not posting about some things that happened last year, particularly related to Falling Sky: I appeared on the Functional Nerds podcast with John Anealio and Patrick Hester in December. If…Read more »
  • Falling Sky Launch Party!
    10/13/2014 — If you’re in or near New York City tomorrow night, I hope you’ll come join me for the Falling Sky Launch Party. It will be held at Professor Thom’s in the East Village from 7-10. A bookseller from Word bookstore…Read more »