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June 27, 2006

Wooder Wooder Everywhere

Yes, it’s been raining a lot. Yesterday evening at dusk, I set up my tripod in the mud during a break in the downpour to capture these lilies. Don’t worry; I set them free.

Lilies Lilies


Nice pics. And have I mentioned that you make me laugh. (Capturing the lilies, Something about chafing in relation to the world cup) Funny stuff.

How very lovely! My lilies are the boring, plain white, "Easter" variety, but they sure do smell nice.

Nice photos.

June 26, 2006

Using VLC with Audio Hijack

As I’ve mentioned I've been using Audio Hijack Pro to time-shift radio shows. All’s well in radio land except that the files occasionally “skip.” At first I thought Audio Hijack was having a problem buffering until I noticed it happening to the stream itself. That cast suspicion on the apps I use to capture streams: QuickTime Player and iTunes (I need both so I can record two shows at once). I thought I would try using VLC and see if it handles streams better. The only problem was that VLC wouldn’t start playing automatically when called from Audio Hijack Pro. VLC got the URL fine, but it wouldn’t start playing unless you clicked the play button. No good. The solution was to create a playlist file in VLC and have Audio Hijack Pro open the playlist file via VLC.

While I’m on the subject of audio, here’s a little AppleScript that fixes an annoying problem I have with my PowerBook G4. Often when waking from sleep, the audio balance is all the way to one side. This script sets the balance back to centered. Note: it requires System Events, which is not enabled by default. Open the Universal Access preference pane, and click “Enable access for assistive devices.”

tell application "System Preferences"
    set current pane to pane ""
  on error errMsg number errNum
    display dialog errMsg
  end try
end tell

tell application "System Events"
  tell process "System Preferences"
    tell tab group 1 of window 1
      click radio button "Output"
      tell slider 1 of group 1
        set value to 0
      end tell
    end tell
  end tell
end tell

tell application "System Preferences"
end tell

I dropped it in the Scripts folder at ~/Library/Scripts so it’s always available. Here’s hoping you don’t have a need for it.


I recently bought Audio Hijack Pro to record Internet radio, and also noticed that the streams skips when using QuickTime. iTunes works but isn't a good solution because AHP seems to have an annoying habit of stopping/restarting iTunes when the timer kicks off - plus I hate having to clean up those bookmark files it leaves after connecting to a URL. So I tried VLC, but noticed it wouldn't start playing the URL automatically. Your playlist solution works great. It really blows my mind that QuickTime in 2008 would still have problems simply playing a stream - and this is on Leopard with QT 7.4.1. I'm also surprised that the latest version of AHP can't control VLC properly, although maybe that is VLC's fault. I guess it just goes to show you that some problems never get cleared up. Anyway, thanks again for the solution.

Thank you very much for this tip. I was struggling with the same problem, and this post is the first result on Google for { audio hijack vlc }. Worked perfectly.

THANKS for this! I've been using RealPlayer and iTunes, but I now want to grab a 3rd stream and QuickTime has been choppy (even by itself). Now I can use VLC. And the playlist method works for Whamb ( ) also. Whamb is much smaller than iTunes, RealPlayer or QuickTime. I've used VLT to make playlist files for each of my Internet radio stations, and Whamb can use them.

For my stations that have multiple recordings, I'll need to update only 1 playlist file instead of each AHJ entry if the link changes.

I made some comments yesterday suggesting Whamb as a lightweight stream source. Since then I've seen some negative comments about it, and tonight I've had it lock up consistently with one station (sound stops after 14 sec and app must be force quit), but work OK with others. So, recommendation withdrawn.

June 25, 2006

The Vegetable Adventure Begins

I haven’t had to work the last two Saturdays and have been taking full advantage of the time off. Last Saturday was the Blogger Meetup, which I believe broke all attendance records. Other than drinking some weird beer that tasted like cherry soda, I had a great time. Following that was a themed party/art exhibit at Ted Adams’ gallery. I brought a print which he graciously found room for and a whole mess of Texas shrimp and rice, which couldn’t compete with all the amazing edible art the creative people brought. (Look among these pix on Flickr for any tagged “Food Fetish Picture Party”) Despite being my usual mild-mannered wallflower self at both events, I still managed to meet and have speech with some really interesting people.

Last night, we made dinner with some “new” vegetables. Thursday evening, while I was at a user group meeting sharing pizza with fellow FileMaker developers, Anne picked up our first “share” of the season, a selection of ten fruits and vegetables from a nearby farm (see Anne’s post for details). Anne dug up enough recipes to use all the produce, and last night we made kale with cannellini beans from Deborah Madison’s Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Kale and cannellini

Accompanying the fried catfish is kale and cannellini garnished with lemon and parmesan.

We deliberately chose produce we’ve never eaten before just for the culinary challenge and adventure of it. For example, I’ve never tried kale before, having eaten only spinach and collards. Kale is somewhere between these two in flavor and texture and is an interesting alternative. It promises to be an interesting summer experiencing so many new flavors. I think we would be lost without Deborah Madison’s terrific cookbook, however. On Friday, we made our first recipe from her book, using homegrown arugula and spinach linguine. Both recipes we’ve prepared so far have turned out great. If anyone has any other cookbooks slanted towards vegetable cookery to recommend, please let me know. I love cookbooks almost as much as I love food.


I'm a fan of the "cherry soda beer"/Lindemanns Frambois Kreik (but I still prefer the "raspberry soda beer"/Lindemanns Frambois Lambic) - thanks for the taste!

The food looks yummy and I think I like the cookbooks more than the cooking (but that's from having a hitchen the size of a postage stamp).

June 24, 2006

Speech by David Sedaris [nanoblog]

This week’s New Yorker contains the funniest David Sedaris story I’ve read, his commencement address to the Princeton class of 2006.

June 22, 2006

Kick Ball, Get Check

Can't say I've been afflicted with World Cup fever. A mild headache and some chafing, but no fever. That’s not to say I don’t like soccer. I was first exposed to the game in high school, which only had a soccer team, no football. I admit I was fascinated by the magical ball-handling skills of the players. Not enough to try playing myself or even watch a game, but fascinated nevertheless.

I am reminded of a scene in Annie Hall when Alvy (Woody Allen) and Robin (Janet Margolin) are at a party chockablock with intellectuals, and a bored Alvy sneaks off to watch the Knicks on TV. Robin confronts him and demands, “What is so fascinating about a bunch of pituitary cases trying to stuff a ball through a hoop?” Alvy answers, “What is fascinating is that it's physical.” I have to agree, and sports don't get much more exciting than soccer. I almost got caught up in it, but I just don’t have that sports gene. Good luck today, USA.

June 21, 2006

The Young and the Clueless

I’m sure we've all had our clueless moments. As I’ve gotten older, my occasional high-profile clueless moments have been replaced by a more-pervasive existential haze of low-grade cluelessness. I’m not sure that’s an improvement, but it gives me an excuse to point out others’ cluelessness and laugh cruelly at them. I know, I know, people in glass pots shouldn’t kettle black...

Here’s an example that’s excusable for two reasons. One is that it happened before there was Google. Of course, it could happen today, but if it did, it would represent truly negligent cluelessness. The other is that the incident made for such an engaging anecdote. If you screw up, admit the truth and the world will laugh with you, not at you.

Michael Bierut tells the story of calling world-famous photographer Arnold Newman, not knowing who he was, to shoot a portrait for a brochure. Newman was gracious and even sent over his portfolio of portraits on request—of Kennedy, Picasso, Marilyn Monroe, etc, etc, etc. Newman didn’t get the gig—too expensive. Read Michael’s priceless reminiscence at Design Observer. And then read all the comments for more heartwarming stories.


I have no excuse for one of the biggest clueless blunders that I had made a few years ago. I was so embarrassed that I've blocked out the details of the reasons for the contact. What I do remember is that Walt Crawford, who's a senior analyst for Research Libraries Group (RLG)(, had contacted me at work, and had sent me a fairly reasoned criticism of something I had been working on. It was late when I had forwarded his message to my boss, and had made two very bad errors in judgment: first, that I had prefaced the message to my boss by saying "Some guy sent me this message..." and second, by accidentally cc-ing Walt Crawford himself. He sent a rather bemused email in return, saying that he considered himself to have enough credentials to be more than "some guy" off the street. When I realized who he was, I was mortified and wrote him an apology.

I must admit that it is very unlike me to be so careless with my correspondence.

too too funny. everyone's got stories like these.

June 15, 2006

Villanova Diner RIP

I noticed the other day that a Main Line landmark has been erased from the planet: the Villanova Diner. (It was torn down and replaced by a bank.) Many years ago, the building was a Howard Johnson’s restaurant which offered decent typical diner fare and a galaxy of ice cream flavors. The Howard Johnson’s closed and was reopened as the Villanova Diner.

Because of its convenient location and the dearth of restaurants in the immediate vicinity, I’ve eaten there quite a few times over the years. So did a lot of people; the place was always busy. Normally if I don’t like a restaurant, I won’t bother to write about it, but in this case I’m making an exception: I can’t think of a place with consistently worse food. Nothing I ever ate there was any good. Over the years I kept simplifying my order in a quest to find something that tasted good. Even a humble tuna sandwich or a diner staple like bacon and eggs had that certain nothing. An amazing place; I don’t know how they did it. I’m sure the bank will serve better meals. At least the dishes should come with interest.


there was a 24-hr diner near me that sounds similar in consistency of "food quality" that went under a couple years ago (Savoy, I think, 11th & locust).

Wow. All those times I went there with friends when it was busy, we just thought our sense of taste was radically different from everyone else's.

Speaking of Main Line diners, I was out toward Manilla's a while back and I didn't see it anywhere. Didn't it used to be next to Chili's? Just wondering.

Location. Location. Location.

You can be crappy if you're convenient. Which is true for a lot of things in life.

Howard, Manilla's is there, just not Manilla's. They sold the original diner building to a place in Florida, disassembled it piece by piece, and put up the over-loud monstrosity up in its old place next to Chilis. Crazy, the place is completely different. I won't go there now. Little kids grinding pancakes into the carpet while their parents ignore it and the decibel level hovers in the mid 90s. I'd rather eat in the jetwash of a 737 than go to this "Manilla's."

Tony, that Villanova Diner...everyone I know, including me, has had a parallel experience. I'm into a few good diners in the are now: Nudy's in Devon, The Classic Diner in Frazer, and Meredith's in Berywn. All are different, but worth the trip on Sunday morning.

If I know anything about restaurants, I know that the Villanova Diner was way below average; still it’s nice to hear that opinion echoed.
Ellen, I’ve been to the dearly-departed Savoy maybe a half-dozen times, so I can say that, as funky and humble as it was, its food outclassed the Villanova Diner’s handily.
Wow, Frank, that’s interesting about Minella’s. Because the footprint of the new place is the same, I assumed that it was just remodeled. Minella’s and I go back to around 1976 and I’ve eaten there hundreds of times, although not recently. Sad to hear it’s nothing like the old place. Thanks for the recommendations further west!
Howard, I think your sense of taste is fine. Like Tom said, Location. Location. Location.

Thanks for info, Frank.

I must've driven by the Manilla's location a couple years ago (I think). I remember it was after a late movie and we were going to go in for a bowl of soup or something. It was gone. I just assumed that was it for the old place -- guess it was, now that you mention it.

Ah, the memories (and nicknames; we used to call the place Sal-Manilla's)

And thanks for re-affirmation of my taste, Tony. Sometimes I'm not so sure...

Yeah, Sal Manilla! Great tenor player from South Philly. Haven’t seen him in years. He usually worked with this guy Al Dente, who sounded just like Louis Prima. :-)

Impressive...For going there so often and not liking the food, that doesn't say much about actions speaking louder than words. I would never go back to a restaurant i spoke so poorly of, which makes me think that maybe it wasn't the food that bothered you there but maybe someone. There are many different categories in the restaurant business. When you pay $5 for a burger at a diner, you shouldn't have the expecations of a $20 High-end Restuarant burger. I think this is what people who don't know the food industry can't distinguish between. I hope the next restaurant/diner you go to so often is actually one you can praise. To say you went often although you didn't like the food, doesn't say much... sorry.

June 13, 2006

Earthquake Strikes Upper Dublin Township

A violent earthquake struck the heart of peaceful Upper Dublin Township in Montgomery County last night during commencement exercises at the high school. I think I was able to capture the tremors very well (see picture below).

Thanks to the abundant optimism in the air, no one was injured. (It’s what air bags are filled with.)

Earthquake rocks Upper Dublin Township

So it's a little blurry. You try taking a picture at a shutter speed of 1/20 second while hanging on to the back of a speeding golf cart with one hand. Of course, the paparazzi do this sort of thing all the time.

What really happened is that my niece graduated from high school; she is headed to Boston University in the fall. As for the blurry picture, two members of our party have trouble walking, so after the ceremony we were all given rides back to the parking lot in golf carts. Naturally I risked my life to get a picture, if you can call it that.

June 11, 2006

Alert the Grammar Police

As artless as the directions and legalese on gas pumps usually are, the language is usually grammatically correct. Not so at this truck stop somewhere in Lancaster County where we stopped Friday night:

I count two typos and a missing apostrophe. Everybody makes mistakes, and I don’t hold gas-station owners to a high standard. If this were a hand-lettered sign, I wouldn't even have mentioned it, but I assume this was created by “Corporate.” They should know better.

This reminds me of a common sight: signs with gratuitous quotation marks. The change in meaning is usually inadvertently humorous. Example: A roadside sign advertising “Fresh” Vegetables. Enjoy the many examples at the Gallery of “Misused” Quotation Marks. Even funnier (to me) than misheard lyrics.


now that's just plain wrong

Being an English teacher, this sort of thing really bugs me -- particularly the "loose/lose" distinction. This is what those keyring Sharpies are good for.

I remember being in the local Genuardi's when it first opened up. I was really impressed with the express checkout signs that read, "15 items or fewer." -not that I ever minded "15 items or less." I just thought it was interesting that they observed that particular grammar rule when no one else did.

@Howard - I've actually seen the "x items or fewer" at a couple places, shockingly. And it wasn't a Geunardi's either, never been in one. I can't remember where I saw them now...

I'm a little late to comment here, but I couldn't resist. Have you read Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation? God, I love that book.

I have read Eats, Shoots & Leaves and loved it. It’s right up there with Strunk & White and Henry Fowler’s Modern English Usage.

June 8, 2006


By now, most everyone has seen the video of the Mentos and Diet Coke homage to the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. (See it here; read how it was done here.)

What I learned yesterday is that the two Mentotechnicians, Fritz Grobe and Stephen Voltz, are from Maine. (I heard them interviewed on NPR, reminding me simultaneously that my membership dollars aren’t going to waste, and that they aren’t afraid to take on the tough stories of the day.) The fact that these two guys are from Maine just warmed my cockles. They possessed not only the epic vision to see the artistic possibilities in the humble Mentos parlor trick, but also the (perhaps disturbing) intensity of focus it takes to master the delicate balance between creativity and engineering it took to pull the whole thing off. That’s not the first thing I think of when I think of Maine—but it works for me.


I too heard the interview about the Mentos fountain display. What's more, I recall hearing an earlier NPR interview with one of these guys before the whole fountains stunt was performed. The were explaining how exactly Mentos and Diet Coke achieve the desired effect.

The just had a VH1/Webjunk clip showing a variation of this - I found it here:

June 6, 2006

Tune Me Up

I don’t often ask for your help, but I’m getting desperate. I have a credit of $14.01 at the iTunes Music Store. And I don’t know what to do with it.

When iTunes debuted, I bought one song just to try it out. Since then, nothing. We’re talking years going by here, so this new credit situation has me paralyzed with indecision. That’s why I’m asking for your help. Help me use up this credit.

There are only two rules:

  1. There are no rules.
  2. See Rule 1.

(I always wanted to do that.)

The real rules: Leave one song title (and the artist) in a comment or drop me an email. (If you want to post anonymously, just enter a bogus name and email address in the comment.) Don’t worry if the song’s not actually available through iTMS, although that would be ideal, since I will buy the first 14 songs recommended (in the unlikely event I get 14).

Please pick something that you love, and not something that you think I might like. My brother-in-law has made me some mixes that have included gems I never would have found on my own (Fountains of Wayne and Hindu Rodeo just to name two). That’s the point here. I am expecting to be surprised and delighted by your choices. The song doesn’t have to be obscure. Chances are, if it was recorded in the last 15 years, I haven’t heard it.

If our positions were reversed, here’s what I would select: Quilombo by Gilberto Gil or anything from Los Amigos Invisibles’ “The New Sound of the Venezuelan Gozadera”; how about Quiero Desintegrar a Tu Novio. Decisions, decisions.

If you can, please avoid choosing any jazz or Brazilian music, or anything by the two artists I love unconditionally and get everything they put out, John Scofield and Susan Werner.

I stand to discover some wonderful music from this exercise. You on the other hand, get nothing out of this. Nothing, that is, except my undying admiration for your good taste.

Thanks to Anne for the clever post title. Who knows, this might turn into one of those meme thingies.


UPDATE June 7: Cha-ching! You’ve helped me spend $6.93 so far; only $7.08 to go. As I suspected, I have heard of only three of the bands. So far the list is a little Wilco-heavy, but that’s OK, as I have observed that all the cool kids like Wilco. Thanks to those who have participated so far.

UPDATE June 8: After two days, I have 8 recommendations. By my calculations, that means everybody who reads this blog participated. I still have $6.09 left to spend, so feel free to add a recommendation by way of the comments whenever you happen to read this.

UPDATE June 11: I still have some choices to make as you can see from the playlist below... and there’s only one dollar left in the kitty.

UPDATE June 13: Although I still have two songs to chose, my credit is spent. Thanks, everyone. Again, if you are coming in late to this thread, feel free to add your recommendation by way of the comments. Funky, there will be a review of the tunes forthcoming. Please allow two to four weeks for delivery. Void where prohibited.

Here’s the final playlist:

  1. “How Long Have You Been Stoned” by Over the Rhine [Howard]
  2. “Sunken Treasure” by Wilco [Stacey]
  3. “Come on Home” by Everything but the Girl [Ellen]
  4. "I'm the Man Who Loves You” by Wilco [Mark]
  5. “Side” by Travis [Funky Dung]
  6. “Jesus” by Page France [Tom] (not available at iTMS; substituted “Rhythm” from “Come, I’m a Lion!”)
  7. “Sanibel” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young [James]
  8. “El Cerrito Place” by Charlie Robison [Frank]
  9. “America” by Hamilton Camp [Marisa]
  10. Something by Ben Vaughn... (I will choose) [Yoko]
  11. “Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?” by Ted Leo & the Pharmacists [Mrs. Harridan]
  12. “Jack the Ripper” by Morrissey [picturegrl]
  13. Something from “Observatory” by Julia Dollison [John]
  14. “And We Danced” by The Hooters [Anne Marie]


Well, I don't know the iTunes catalog so well, but I'll assume you can get just about anything there, right?

If so, I suggest "How Long Have You Been Stoned" by Over the Rhine. It's on the media player as I type and I've always enjoyed it quite a bit. (Over the Rhine also has a couple free downloads of other songs on their site, as well as a handful over in Paste's free mp3 collection.)

Good luck with the hunt for new music!

Audience participation! I love it! I've going to break the non-rules and give you a few:
"Hold On, Hold On" or "Favorite" by Neko Case (the first one is a new track of hers; the second is my all-time favorite Neko Case song)
"Sunken Treasure" by Wilco
"Let It Ride" by Ryan Adams and the Cardinals
"Sascha" by Jolie Holland
"Autumn Sweater" by Yo La Tengo

I also have to say ... Over the Rhine is a Cincinnati band that I've been following since I was a freshman in college and they were just getting started playing in college dive bars. I love them and love that they got a plug by one of your readers!

oh - like "the best music you aren't listening to" concept? October Project, Katydids (rather old, 80's?), Everything But the Girl (older stuff - radical style shift @ 10 years ago, not bad, but...), Julia Fordham (I know more of her older, but she didn't have a radical style shift), Rachael Sage.

Best blurbing I can do: OP/ethereal, Katydids/catchy pop rock edge, EBTG bluesy pop, JFbluesy as well I guess, RP/"chick music" ethereal/rock hybrid

If I think of more (I'm sure there's at least one I should be putting and am brain farting on - there always is with me), I'll add...

After a lot of soul searching, I'm going with Wilco's "I'm the Man Who Loves You." Two versions are available on iTunes - the live version's good, but I'd suggest the original from Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

Thanks for the opportunity to school you!

"Side" by Travis (album: Invisible Band)

Right now "Jesus" by Page France is on heavy rotation on my iPod.

Sanibel by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

The Lee Shore by Crosby, Stills & Nash.
The two versions available on the iTunes Music Store are live. I prefer the version on disc 2 of the Box Set (not available through iTunes).
Lee Shore

I'm a little late to the party, but I'd like to recommend El Cerrito Place by Charlie Robison (husband of Emily, her of Dixie Chicks fame).

I would buy Hamilton Camp's version of the Simon and Garfunkel song "America." Hamilton Camp went by the name Bob Camp for the first chunk of his career, and was one of the first, influential folkies.

I've never used iTunes, and I don't listen to much music made in the last 15 years, so I don't know if my suggestions will be much good, but the wacky things I love to listen to are:
1. Anything by Ben Vaughn
2. Urlicht by Uri Caine (that's the album name.)

I will second Stacey's Neko Case recommendation - she's really good. And I personally recommend "Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone?" by Ted Leo & the pharmacists, off of Hearts of Oak. Not sure if it's on iTunes, though.

Can't wait to hear what's on the full list!

I'm in a heavy British mood since I'm applying for my passport soon, so the following are in heavy rotation for me:

This is the World Calling by Bob Geldof
Jack the Ripper by Morrissey
Eurotrash Girl by Cracker
Hands Away by Interpol
In a Big Country by Big Country

(I understand that NONE of these may suit your taste. That's just what I'M listening to. :-)

I'll chime in with my current favorite: Julia Dollison's "Observatory". I read about Julia on Terry Teachout's blog ( On "Observatory", she makes her own the jazz standards "All the Things You Are" and "Night and Day", adds her own interpretation to Rufus Wainwright's "Poses", and pens wonderful originals such as "Forward, Like So" and "Observatory". I've been hitting the repeat button.

Be sure to write a post reviewing the songs you bought. :)

how about the hooters "and we danced"?

every time that song plays, I can still see the video in my mind - and the old exton drive-in that is no more....(sigh)

The Trapeze Swinger - Iron and Wine

Better late than never I say.

June 5, 2006

Let Us Now Praise Famous Dave’s

Had lunch at Famous Dave’s yesterday. That makes three BBQ chains I’ve visited so far, Smokey Bones and Dickey’s being the other two. I wonder if BBQ is a hot, new sub-genre of chain restaurants, or if they are just now reaching the Northeast. In other words, are more on the way? As much as I love BBQ, I’m no connoisseur and am easily satisfied; I enjoyed my pork sandwich very much. The short list of beers was uninspired, but included Newcastle Brown Ale, which I ordered. Judging from our waitress’s reaction, I may have been the first person to do. She asked me skeptically if that beer was on the list. I said yes, and she carefully wrote all three words down. When she returned with the drinks, she apologized for taking so long; they had to search for the stash of Newcastle.

One thing that rubbed me the wrong way falls into the category of gimmicks that chain restaurants do to differentiate themselves from each other (since the food itself is somewhat interchangeable). It’s the Scripted Greeting. I encountered this gimmick first at a Roy Rogers many years where I was greeted with, “HowdypartnermayItakeyourorder?” Spelling that as one word doesn't begin to do justice to the mindless, robotic delivery this poor employee had mastered after saying it so many times. I’m sure that’s not the effect that Marketing had in mind. Fortunately I don’t hear this too often, but at Dave’s we were greeted with, “Hi, I’m famous Kim.” Aw, c’mon. It’s Dave’s world. We just live in it. Only Dave gets to be famous. When I open my chain of lobster-roll restaurants, you can bet there’ll be a script (’cause I always wanted to direct), but for the greeting step it will say:

Greet the customer. In your own way.

There was one other odd thing. Kim took great pains to explain the five BBQ sauces, but when my sandwich arrived, it was already sauced! Granted, it was sauced with the one I identified as my favorite during the tasting, so maybe she was just being thoughtful.

By the way, if you want superb BBQ in a non-chain restaurant (and you know you do), please visit The Smoked Joint (1420 Locust Street) or Sweet Lucy’s. I haven’t been to Sweet Lucy’s yet, but I know at The Smoked Joint they will greet you in their own way. If they don’t, just ask them what they’re smokin’.

June 3, 2006

Chimay is Belgian for Expensive

One more tale from the weekend. Last weekend. (Real-time blogging this ain’t.) This is about beer, which has become one of my favorite subjects in the last few years.

I’ve seen Chimay beer offered at various places, and I’ve always been curious about it, simply because it’s so expensive. Last Friday, we had dinner at Shanachie, an Irish pub in Ambler run by singer Gerry Timlin. We were feeling expansive on our big night out (earlier we had caught a set by Overunderground at the Brew Ha Ha), so we split a Chimay. According to, there is more than one “Chimay.” I’m not sure exactly what we got, but I think it was called Grand Reserve, and it came in a large bottle (750-ml?), so one was enough for both of us. It tasted just like Guinness to me (which I love), only more expensive. I don’t have the palate, the experience, or the vocabulary to draw any more comparisons than that. Did I mention it was expensive? It must be good, then.

The highlight of the meal wasn’t the beer or the food or even the live Irish music, but an encounter with the charming Mr. Timlin himelf. He drew a bead on me from across the room and swooped down, exclaiming, “I like your haircut!” referring to nothing more than our shared male-pattern baldness and beard. We do look a lot alike (see his picture at, enough so that people at the next table wondered if we were brothers. I can add Gerry to the short list of celebrities I resemble (at least superficially), which includes Leonard Maltin (the movie reviewer) and local DJ John Harvey.

Sorry for that digression; back to beer. Chimay Blanche made Forbes’ list of the the 20 coolest beers. There are a few on that list I’m interested in trying. What can I say. I like lists.


I love Chimay Blue and, since discovering the brew on a European vacation (that has resulted in serious blackmail material for most of my friends) have been willing to pay the price for it. I didn't get a chance to try the blanche until a business trip to Brussels last year - it's actually pretty good. I can't say I care for their other brews too much (especially not the red, which is more readily available in this area than the blue or blanche). Using a chambord shaped glass does make a difference in taste - for the better (this is how it's served in Europe and by folks who know a heckuvalot more about fine beers than I). Just remember, never drink it from the bottle!

I've always resisted the urge to try the Belgians too. Still haven't had a Chimay. I did have 2 glasses of the Flying Fish [Delaware] Belgian Style Dubbel which was quite nice and I'm told it's a decent substitute for the real thing.

Re: the Forbes list - Boddingtons has been one of my favorite beers for some time now. It's an easy drink, a light Guinness. And I just discovered the Spaten Optamator last week and good god is it good. They have it on tap at Ludwigs Garten where they have some ot the best brews in town [even though I do hate me some hefe weisse]. The food there is good too. I was surprised at how many of the beers on the list I've had and for the most part enjoyed.

I live too close to the Beerery, err, I mean the Foodery, to not give it a try sometime soon. I've been gettiing more into the beer as I get older. And re: Ludwigs - LOVE Ludwigs, both the food and the beer!!! Have to see if they still serve the 7 oz. samplers....

Pammianne, I think our beer was a blue. While our Chimay wasn’t served in a beautiful glass, at least it was in a glass!
Albert and Ellen, I think I need to take a road trip to Ludwig’s Garten soon. By the way, a friend at work considers hefe weisse his favorite—but he’s German. I’ve never had one. Both Spatens sound interesting to me.

I love the spaten optimator. Ever since I discovered it at Ludwigs that's all I order (hey, i tend to stick to things i like) but it's definitely the chimay what I tend to order over at Monks...
Has anyone heard of Elephant? I believe it's german. it's good too.