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But let us pass to greener, or, rather, yellower pastures. For one of the most outstanding modern achievements of a “westernized” Japan is the existence of a thriving, high-quality brewing industry. Tradition has it that the trade was founded under the tutelage of imported German brewmasters, which would help explain the success of smooth, delicious Japanese brands like Kirin and Asahi. Less commendable are some of the innovations of lesser Japanese brewers, including, rumor would have it, the use of formaldehyde as a flavor additive.
Closer to home, Canada deserves praise for several splendid ales, the name of Molson coming to mind in particular, and Mexico is not without its distinguished brands, notably Carta Blanca beer and an excellent ale, Bohemia. Which brings us back to the States, and the end of this bibulous ramble. I would only add that, next to the beer itself, and the company in which it is drunk, the most important thing is the container. Silver, pewter, porcelain, earthenware, and glass all have their special advocates. Silver is fine, except that it tends to taste tarnished even before it looks so. A good, highly polished pewter tankard, preferably Cornish, has always seemed to me a more practical substitute. In former years, most thriving breweries and taverns produced their own tankards and steins, and special editions were issued to immortalize everything from hangings to horseraces. In my own collection is one mysterious item — a tall, dignified white porcelain piece, which proudly but enigmatically commemorates “Ivanhoe 36, Reading 42, August 17-18, 1910” in fine Old English characters along with an odd heraldic crest and “Reading Pa.” in smaller print. All of which is very impressive, but I haven’t the slightest clue as to what it means. Far less mysterious is the rhymed message on a small earthenware mug manufactured for “Celebrated Royal Pilsner Beer of Kansas City and Weston, Mo.”:
Here’s to the lying Lips we meet,
For truthful Lips are bores,
And lying Lips are very sweet,
When lying close to yours.
What luxury of sentiment and economy of expression — and how appropriate here in Washington, D.C. There are times, however, when one inclines to the melancholy rather than the romantic, and when that mood seizes me, I invariably resort to a lidded clay beerpot of German manufacture, fashioned in the form of a human skull and reminiscent of a more celebrated verse than the one chosen by the makers of “Celebrated Royal Pilsner Beer” — Lord Byron’s Lines Inscribed Upon a Cup Formed from a Skull:
Start not — nor deem my spirit fled:
In me behold the only skull,
From which, unlike a living head,
Whatever flows is never dull
Why not — since through life’s little day
Our heads such sad effects produce?
Redeem’d from worms and wasting clay
This chance is theirs, to be of use.
At any rate, it beats leaving your brain to science. Bottoms up, everyone.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?