Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Path To Super Obesity

Well, I've surpassed my 49th birthday weight and now weigh the most I ever have--yay, me.

You know, a lot people think fat people are lazy, but I'm here to tell you that gaining weight is hard work. After eating, I feel uncomfortable, tired, and short of breath-- same as after exercising.

In less than 5 months I have gone from normal weight to moderately obese-- a threshold crossed at 221 lbs, according to the public health establishment. They divide obesity into 4 classifications, popularly referred to as moderate, severe, morbid, and super. They could have gone with a more logical progression like moderate, severe, severer, and severest; but having to refer to somebody as "severerly obese" would result in too many grammatical injuries, so they went with the next most obvious terms: morbid and super.

IMO, the jump from "moderate" to "severe" seems a little harsh. One moment I'll be minding my own business, being moderately obese (because anything is okay in moderation, even obesity), and the next moment I'll find myself in the treacherous territory of severe obesity. They make it sound like I'll be fighting each day for survival in Antarctica ... in winter ... wearing a speedo.

After that, if I manage to gain enough weight, I will graduate to morbid obesity. Yes, at 295 lbs, I'll clearly be dead and rotting. If that's the image they want to conjure, I'd prefer to be called "zombie" obese. That sounds much cooler, and fat people are kind of like zombies. We're slow, groan when we walk, and we'll eat you if we can get away with it. Seriously, this is me leaving the Olive Garden: "Oh-h-h-h. Oh-h-h-h. Why did I eat so many breadsticks? Brains! I need brains!"

But I'll have to settle for "morbid". And then the magic can really happen. Because if I have the confidence and endurance to cross the frozen wasteland of morbidness, I'll suddenly be transformed into super obese!

Faster than a diet pill recall. More powerful than a pharmaceutical lobbyist. Able to unleap junk science conclusions in a single bound. It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a fat person on a plane, wishing they made the seats a bit larger, it's Super Obee!

Weight: 234 lbs (12/11)
Weight: 230 lbs (12/04)
Weight: 227 lbs (11/27)
Weight: 224 lbs (11/20)

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Mithrael's Manifatso

It's time for me to get really fat--and I don't mean for the holidays. After reaching my goal of weighing 180 lbs on my 50th birthday, I wasn't sure what, if anything, I wanted to do next. Continuing to lose weight was not an option, because, frankly, dieting sucked and I got no enjoyment from being thinner. Maintaining a more comfortable weight, like 200 lbs, would have been the smart choice, but I rarely make those and couldn't find a conviction, like turning 50, to supply the necessary motivation. I was about to settle for "whatever" until one day I was overcome with a fiery passion to become obese...yes, you read that correctly, obese. Why on earth would anyone intentionally run in the opposite direction of conventional wisdom? Oh, wait, that's an answer not a question. Here are some others:

● I'm one crazy mofo (aka father).
● I hate being cold. Hello fat, goodbye fartcicles.
● I could feel my butt bones crunch at 180 lbs. It felt like sitting on marbles. Why pay $1000 for a La-Z Boy, when I could just be one?
● No longer will anyone question why I'm wearing sweat pants--they'll always be in style for my weight class!
● Working out will be far easier. I'll be able to break a sweat and get my heart rate up to cardio level by just thinking of crossing a room.
● There's nothing like a massive energy reserve to survive major surgery (even if latter was caused by the former), or an apocalypse (even if skinny people are trying to eat you).
● If I can't afford to be livin' large, I might as well be livin' 2-people-in-one large. You know, be all I can be.
● I could have an additional revenue stream as an in-store Santa, "before" model, or rent-a-bounce house.
● There's too much social pressure *not* to be obese--like my 5-yr old, I hate being told what to do, even if it's "only a suggestion". What's the big deal anyway? Are people afraid of gaining weight from 2nd-hand fat?

But more or less seriously, I'm going to take this more or less seriously. On one hand, I don't have a lot of faith in medical claims about obesity. There are too many variables involved and conflicting research findings to support that. On the other hand, there must be limits to what a body can endure, so I plan to listen closely to my body for mine. I'm not trying to be unhealthy--I'll still clean my arteries daily with a bottle of whisky, and I have an agreement with my wife to have no rolls of fat that I can hide a rash or bologna sandwich in. The only real issue I have with this new course of action that I will be slightly more full of shit than usual.

Happy holidays, y'all!

Weight: 221 lbs (11/13)
Weight: 218 lbs (11/06)
Weight: 215 lbs (10/30)
Weight: 212 lbs (10/23)
Weight: 210 lbs (10/16)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Jeremiah Weed -- Music To My Liver

Cheap, popular, and super sweet, Jeremiah Weed bourbon apparently strikes a chord with song-writers. I can't help but wonder if CCR/3DN were similarly inspired:

Jeremiah is a bourbon
Is a good friend of mine
Never understands a single word I say (being a bottle and all)
But we still have a mighty good time

Weight: 209 lbs (10/09)
Weight: 210 lbs (10/02)
Weight: 207 lbs (9/25)
Weight: 206 lbs (9/18)
Weight: 204 lbs (9/11)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ate a Dumbbell

As some may have predicted, I managed to reclaim 20 lbs of the 49 I lost in a scant 6 weeks. A good chunk of that is likely due to eating thick grilled cheese sandwiches between "Breaking Bad" episodes at midnight. Ironically, here's a contemporary show about a guy who just turned 50 and starts a new, high-risk life. And while I may not start a meth lab, I can eat grilled cheese like nobody's business.

Weight: 201 lbs
Weight: 200 lbs (8/28)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Oh, Say Can You Drink?

The music for "The Star-Spangled Banner" was originally a sophisticated drinking song written for "The Anacreontic Society", a London gentlemen's club of amateur musicians founded in the mid-18th century. And here is a modern gentlemen's club singing it:

To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat in full glee
A few sons of Harmony sent a petition,
That he their inspirer and patron would be,
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian:
"Voice, fiddle and flute,
No longer be mute.
I'll lend you my name, and inspire you to boot...
And, besides, I'll instruct you, like me, to entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine."

The news to Olympus immediately flew,
Where Old Thunder decided to give himself airs.
"If we suffer these mortals their schemes to pursue,
There's Devil a goddess will stay above stairs.
Hark! Already they cry
In transports of joy,
A fig for Parnassus, to Rowley's we'll fly!
And there, my good fellows, we'll learn to entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine."

"The yellow-hair'd god, and his nine fusty maids,
To the hill of old Lud will incontinent flee.
Idalia will boast but of tenantless shades
And the biforked hill a mere desert will be.
My thunder, no fear on't
Will soon do its errand,
And damme!, I'll swinge the ringleaders I warrant,
I'll trim the young dogs, for thus daring to twine,
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine."

Apollo rose up; and said prithee ne'er quarrel
Good king of the gods with thy vot'ries below!
Your thunder is useless---then, shewing his laurel
Cry'd "Sic evitable fulmen, you know.
Then over each head
My laurels I'll spread,
So my sons from your crackers no mischief shall dread,
Whilst snug in their club-room, they jovially twine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine."

Next Momus got up, with his risible phiz
And swore with Apollo he'd cheerfully join.
The full tide of harmony still shall be his
But the song, and the catch and the laugh shall be mine.
Then, Jove be not jealous
Of these honest fellows,
Cry'd ove, "We relent, since the truth you now tell us
And swear, by old Styx, that they long shall entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine."

Ye sons of Anacreon, then join hand in hand
Preserve unanimity, friends and love.
'Tis your's to support what's so happily plann'd
You've the sanction of gods, and the fiat of love.
While thus we agree
Our toast, let it be
May our club flourish happy, united and free!
And long may the sons of Anacreon entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus' vine.

Weight: 197 lbs

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

5 Lowbrow Canadians

Or rather, 5 great bargains for poor slobs like me! I thought I was done with my close-but-far liquor super store, but my 4-year old daughter needing more Hello Kitty lip gloss was somehow an excuse to pay it a visit and buy 8.75 liters of Canada's overcrowded rear end. Canadian whisky is supposed to "possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky". In the category that I drink, anyway, that distinctive taste most closely resembles ammonia (presumably from rye), the strength of which helps set one "expression" apart from the other. It's the kind of taste that straddles the border between pleasure and pain, and I suspect that too much of it could make one instantly ill. Personally, I favor Canadian whiskies with less of this Canadian flavor, which are the Canadian Hunter and Northern Lights in this bunch. I don't hate that rye taste, though, so I will still happily imbibe the Canadian Lake, Canadian LTD, and the alluring sounding Canadian Gold. Come to think of it, I have yet to meet a whisky I won't drink.

Weight: 195 lbs

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Drink weller with LYTEshow

Those righteous dudes over at Drinkwel have done it again and devised a new product for the serious drinker. And this time there's no pill to swallow--just a tiny capful of critical, calorie-free electrolytes to replace those lost to beerination. Alcohol is awesome at fighting heart disease, and a great tool for losing weight, but there's no doubt that it sucks you drier than a fossil of a raisin in a kiln. That's why I usually drink plenty of water with my whisky. I've often thought of supplementing that with a sports drink designed to replace fluids, but such concoctions tend to have sugar or artificial sweetener, both of which I try to avoid.

LyteShow is just what the doctor ordered (or might order if I really saw one or cared what they said). I actually find that it gives water a slightly pleasant taste and makes it seem like I'm drinking something of substance--and I am: magnesium, zinc, chloride, and more. An order of LyteShow includes a small and handy travel flask-- the cap of which doubles as a convenient measuring device.

So whether you're abusing diuretics for sport doping, fighting forest fires, getting drunk off your ass, or drinking alcohol and caffeine for good health like myself, LyteShow is the perfect addition to smooth out some of the pitfalls and rough edges.

Weight: 191 lbs

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Last of the Irish

Gained 9 pounds in a week!

Last November, I drank 2 day's worth of Canadian and Irish whiskey in 2-3 hours and got pretty darn sick. On my birthday last week, I ate 2 day's worth of food in 10-11 hours and also got sick. While events like these are undoubtedly stupid, I believe they serve the greater purpose of rekindling motivation. Maintaining a healthy balance forever is both difficult and boring. Extreme negative experiences, even self-inflicted, can create polarized goal posts that we are driven to defend against repeating, at least until they slowly fade into the past. Anything we can do to refresh those negative memories can help renew continuous improvement, and so it is under that guise that I again drink what I previously vomited up on my fleece jacket several moons ago.

A bit farther into my past, I considered Bushmills, Jameson, and Tillamore Dew to be my favorite, premium whiskies. Having completed my Irish whiskey tour, they now taste somewhat bland compared to others--Tillamore Dew being the most distinguished of the trio. But I'm still more than happy to have them on my team reminding me of the past. I really do think it makes me stronger, in my typically twisted fashion.

Weight: 189 lbs

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Achievement Unlocked!! -- 180 lbs (-49)

So I took ex-lax yesterday for a little boost. Does that make me a Lance Armstrong?

Speaking of which, unless I'm dying of a dreadful disease, or get a part in a movie, I swear by the Hammer of Thor that I'll never weigh this much less again. I certainly look different, but not all that much better, and I honestly don't feel any particular improvement (on the contrary, I am often colder, and I hate that!). Except for a few valuable lessons that I will recount later, and pooping a bit less, I think this weight-loss thing was a big waste of time and effort. Then again, I was turning 50, so I had to do something. Losing ~50 pounds by drinking a lot of whisky and not exercising was definitely something.

And so ends a very, very long diet. Jack In The Box, here I come!

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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

I Can See My Privates! -- 181 lbs (-48)

A new low! (In more ways than one.)

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Sunday, July 14, 2013

Wolfhound & Clontarf -- 182 lbs (-47) [3X]

Wolfhound, IMO, is another indistinguishable Irish whiskey in the same camp as Finnegan, Kilbeggan, Jameson, etc. It calls itself "the gentle giant", though I'm not sure where the "giant" part comes in. It's still good, though--don't get me wrong.

Clontarf is a different story. It is hard for me to describe, aside from being a bit more complex and having a physical kick that makes me wince. Clontarf also pays homage to a historic Irish vs. Vikings battle, and I must say I feel like fighting Vikings after drinking it.

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

6 Days Left! -- 183 lbs (-46) [8X]

I am so looking forward to being done with this year-long diet. Regardless of whether I reach my goal of weighing 180 pounds by the 17th (which is looking barely possible), I will stop tracking what I eat, drink, and weigh on that day. I don't know if I'll try to maintain a healthy weight (which for me means staying under 200 lbs), but I suspect I will eat a little more and drink a little less, on average. I will continue to maintain this blog for at least another year, fighting the good fight (the right to drink in moderation 24x7) and occasionally posting bottom-shelf reviews.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

Concannon & Powers -- 185 lbs (-44) [36X]

With a little over a week to go on this year-long diet, I'm still not sure if I'll reach my goal of 180 pounds. As predicted, self-control has been difficult over the 4-day holiday weekend--the only "saving grace" has been 2 days of dysentery I'm blaming on a bad hot link I ate at our local 4th of July fair. And it is sick, literally and figuratively, that I'm to the point where I'm thankful for such a GI failure--possibly a sign that I am taking this commitment I made to myself, and the 1 or 2 people that occasionally read this blog, a bit too seriously. A sign that I will blissfully ignore.

Concannon & Powers are here to cheer me on and help me push my limits. They immediately changed my opinion of Irish whiskey lacking in variety with their smooth character and strong undertones of butterscotch and caramel, respectively and respectfully. I may be eating like crap, feeling like crap, and, well, crapping like crap, but I'll be drinking finely blended golden whiskey to weather on through.

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Thursday, July 4, 2013

American Pride (bourbon) -- 184 lbs (-45) [24X]

Did you really think I'd be drinking Irish whiskey on this day? No way--it's American bourbon and beer, baby. I'm not sure if I'm proud to be an American, given that pride is a cardinal sin, but I greatly appreciate my liberties and try to use them whenever possible. I certainly don't take my freedom to drink whiskey for granted. It was illegal for a time and there are many who would love to make it that way again. American Pride is one of the few American brands that weathered Prohibition as medicinal whiskey. The advert that got them through it speaks to me even now:
"If You Use Whiskey at all - American Pride IS WHAT YOU WANT! For Medicinal or Potable Purposes of Any Kind.”
Sadly today, like so many whiskies, it has lost it's historical flavor and is now a cheap bulk bourbon via the wonders of acquisition. But even more have been lost forever, and at least I can afford it.

Happy 4th!

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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Finnegan, Kilbeggan, Donovanabevegan -- 185 lbs (-44) [33X]

I may like the taste of Irish whiskey best, but thus far I'm not detecting the same level of variety I've experienced with scotch (even the cheap stuff). And as W. Ross Ashby said, "variety absorbs variety, defines the minimum number of states necessary for a controller to control a system of a given number of states." Lack of self-control explained!

Seriously, Finnegan and Kilbeggan taste exactly the same to me, and rate 3-3-3.5 on my sweetness, strength, and complexity scale of 1-5. There is a clean taste present in these Irish whiskies that makes me feel like I'm in an Irish Spring or Stayfree commercial, and that I also find in the few single malts I have tried. Rather than complicate the scale I'll just say this fresh feeling enhances the complexity. Finnegan and Kilbeggan are both owned by Cooley Distillery, which is owned by Beam, Inc.

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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Luck of the Irish Whiskey -- 187 lbs (-42) [42X]

Except for the night I almost killed myself with free Jameson & Bushmills, I haven't had any Irish whiskey on this diet. And I don't have a good reason. Let's be romantic and say I was saving the best for last, because that will be my conclusion as my one-year experiment comes to a close. I can tell you in hindsight, however, that Irish whiskey does not appear to have a bottom-shelf presence--the cheapest Irish whiskey I can buy (Finnegan) is $20 before taxes, and it tastes better than most any scotch, bourbon, or other whisky I have tried. It's no wonder I can't control myself around it.

And I could use a little Irish luck. I need to lose ~7 pounds in 2.5 weeks to meet my one-year goal, and that will be extra challenging with the long American Independence Day weekend coming up. I am not confident that I'll make it, or that I will continue after my birthday, so place your bets now.

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Famous Black Grouse -- 185 lbs (-44) [31X]

The Black Grouse was quite lovely--a Father's Day present thoroughly enjoyed. It falls into the same semi-sweet, lightly smoky bucket as Black Bottle, Teachers Highland Cream, and Passport. Jim Murray's Whisky Bible gives it a generous 94 (much higher than the others in this class, though it doesn't seem that different to me), and I rate it a 3-2-3 on my sweetness, strength, and complexity scale of 1-5 (where being in the middle is best, IMO).

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Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cachaça & Quinquina -- 188 lbs (-41) [36X]

Enough experimentation. At this point, I've tried enough new distilled spirits from "The Drunken Botanist" to have strengthened my resolve for scotch and bourbon. It'll just be me and whisky for awhile, after I finish off the Boca Loco Cachaça and Bonal Gentiane-Quina (the latter isn't actually distilled, but "fortified").

Boca Loco Cachaça
I was a rum drinker long before whisky, and may do a nostalgic tour someday, but I wanted to try something slightly different with Boca Loco. Cachaça is distilled from pure sugercane juice (as opposed to molasses like rum), and is the main ingredient in a Caipirinha, a Brazilian cocktail a friend of mine is quite fond of (not unlike a Mojito--the ingredients are eerily similar). Boca Loco is much sweeter than rum, perhaps a bit too much to drink neat, but it's decent in coffee, and obviously good with lime juice. My main complaint about Boca Loco is the extra tall bottle--too tall to fit in my liquor cabinet w/ a pour spout, so I have to keep putting the spout on and taking it off, or risk spillage. Perhaps there is a shorter pourer out there, but I never had a need for one before.

Bonal Gentiane-Quina
The first mixed drink ever served to me in a pitcher was a Manhattan, so it holds a special place in my heart. And yet, despite experimenting with a variety of whiskies and vermouths, I've never had a Manhattan that I truly loved. Call it one of several unfulfilled quests in my life--perhaps unfulfillable now that I am hooked on whisky neat. The problem for me is that Manhattans, even with a dry vermouth, are just too sweet. So when I read about Bonal Gentiane-Quina, quinquina being a bitter cousin of vermouth, I had to give it a try. Well, straight up, it tastes like fermented Chinese orange chicken sauce with a lot of peel--almost enjoyable but ultimately disgusting. It was somehow sweeter than a sweet vermouth and dry at the same time. The resulting Manhattan, alas, was still too sweet, but pretty good. I may experiment mixing Bonal Gentiane-Quina with other whiskies just to finish the bottle, or I might just pour it down the drain--we'll see.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

BMI Death Calculator -- 189 lbs (-40) [38X]

Of all First World problems, none seems to take so much time and energy as fussing about weight. Medical science, for instance, has done so many studies on BMI that it is having to do studies of those studies--and even those draw different conclusions. Pretty much all studies confirm that people who are extremely underweight (< 16 BMI) or extremely overweight (> 35 BMI) have greatly increased death rates, but the results for people in the overweight range (25 to 30 BMI) vary from small risk to increased benefit--the trend being towards the latter. A study in 2010 of 19 other studies found that, for white adult males at least, being mildly overweight was best. An even more recent study in 2012, of 97 unique studies, concluded that overweight and grade 1 obesity classifications were optimal for all-cause mortality (and was widely covered in the media).

For your own morbid fun, you can see where yourself and others might have fared in the 2010 study here:

BMI: ?

Hazard Ratio: ?

This person is classified as ?

This person is probably around ?% more at risk of dying based on their weight and height

Please note these results are normalized across a large number of variables such as age, health, and lifestyle, so they should be taken with a "grain of salt". For instance, the same study found that moderate alcohol consumption was associated with decreasing death rates for increasing BMI (for non-smokers). Stated differently, overweight drinkers that don't smoke tend to live longer.

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Sunday, June 16, 2013

Do Dad's Deserve Better? -- 193 lbs (-36) [5X]

Starting tomorrow, I start my last push to meet my 50th birthday goal of 180 lbs. My plan? Pretty much how I started almost a year ago: intermittent fasting with only alcohol, protein, and veggies.

So there's this Father's Day campaign started by Johnnie Walker about how dads should get scotch, rather than ties or cuff links, as a present. And while I can relate to that sentiment, I'm not sure that we dads really deserve it. First of all, this isn't very practical, since only the mom can legally buy alcohol, and any self-respecting mom isn't going to walk into a liquor store with kids in tow. Second, we made a choice to sacrifice certain things when getting married and raising kids, and our wife and kids shouldn't be asked to pay tribute for that. I believe we should still buy and drink scotch--we owe it to ourselves--but nobody else "owes" us. The thought behind a tie is fine, even if we don't wear ties.

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Friday, June 14, 2013

More Apples & Pears -- 189 lbs (-40) [37X]

Last month, inspired by Amy Stewart's "The Drunken Botanist", I tried apple and pear brandy for the first time, settling on the American Captain Apple Jack* and Clear Creek Pear Brandy. This month, I went international with the French Berneroy VSOP Calvados and German Fidelitas Obstler (also an eau-de-vie). The calvados was sweeter and tastier than the apple jack, and the eau-de-vie was the most bitter of the four, but good for a dry mood. I'd probably be done with apple and pear brandy, except Clear Creek is practically next door compared to France and Germany, so I ought to visit there someday.

* You could say I have a thing for names that start with Captain, but don't read into that

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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Potter's Blended Scotch Whisky -- 189 lbs (-40) [35X]

Despite the almost over-whelming choice in blended scotch, I've found they fall into a few groups of similar-tasting whiskies (at least in my price range). And while sophisticated reviewers will go on at length about nose, palate, and finish, my simple brain and tongue prefer to classify whiskies along three basic parameters: sweetness, strength, and complexity. On a scale of 1-5, I'd give Potter's Blended Scotch Whisky a 3-2-2 rating, joining one of my favorite groups with honored members Pipers Clan, Old Crofter, and Dewar's. Welcome to the team, Potter's!

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Thursday, June 6, 2013

Shochu & Soju -- 187 lbs (-42) [36X]

Amy Stewart's "The Drunken Botanist" continues to inspire me to try new spirits. This week it's Japanese shochu and Korean soju, the latter of which supposedly outsells all other spirits in the world. These liquors come in a wide variety and are distilled primarily from rice, sweet potato and/or buckwheat. Although they can have the same alcohol content as whisky, they tend to come in much lower. That has the advantage of not having to meter out so carefully, but the disadvantage of still qualifying as hard liquor and subject to the same high taxes (at least in WA). My choices ranged between 20-30% ABV:

● EvenStar Shochu Ginger (30%)
-- I'm a big fan of ginger and couldn't resist. It was like ginger beer meets gin, and did not disappoint.
● Satsuma Mura Imo Shochu (25%)
-- To me, this was a drier, cleaner version of the sake wine I've tried in Japanese restaurants.
● Ku Soju Original (20.1%)
-- This is the cheap super-selling stuff, and tasted like sake in sugar water. Not in a bad way.

I thought I'd ruin this post by including one of my favorite, most politically-incorrect and culturally-insensitive comedy sketches, because every time I sip one of these fine beverages, I think of "bingo, bingo, housey, housey":

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Trader Joe's Kentucky Bourbon -- 191 lbs (-38) [13X]

Topping off my amateur reviews of Trader Joe's branded whiskies is their Kentucky Bourbon. True to form, Trader Joe's strikes a strong balance between good quality and price ($14.99 pre-tax). It isn't a steal like the Blended Scotch, but is more accessible than the Highland Single Malt on a bourbon scale, in that Trader Joe's Kentucky Bourbon has the complex, spicy dryness of a sophisticated bourbon. And of course, it tastes great in coffee. :-)

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

Brandy Is Dandy *And* Quicker -- 189 lbs (-40) [32X]

For someone who finds all hard liquor to be at least a little sweet, as I now do, brandy is my just desserts. Although I haven't had any brandy on this one-year diet until this late month, I am certainly no stranger (remind me to tell you how I pierced my nipple on bag of brandy someday), and Amy Stewart has recently twisted my arm to supplement whisky with all kinds of non-whisky. In particular, she got me very excited about apple and pear brandy, which I hadn't tried, and I have since found to be quite enjoyable, if not a wee bit expensive-- I paid a total of $84.05/L for Clear Creek Pear brandy at Total Wine vs. $13.4/L for plain old Christian Bros at Trader Joe's. Honestly, I don't get why Christian Brothers is a bottom-shelf brandy. It tastes great, clean, and firm, and also mixes well with coffee as one might expect. Bros is always a good deal, but Trader Joe's has somehow managed to sell it at a steal. Buy some quick before they get wise!

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Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Shape of Things to Come -- 191 lbs (-38) [11X]

I seem to have gained 2-3 pounds this month, on average, probably from lots of donuts, pizza, and other starchy/fried foods. It just goes to show that alcohol is no diet pill--I never said it was. My thesis has always been that you don't need to cut out alcohol in a diet, rather it helps in metabolic and psychological ways and has additional health benefits. YOU NEED TO ACTUALLY DIET in some fashion (or exercise) to lose weight at this age--you can't just eat whatever you want whenever without compensating somehow, as I have been recently. If it weren't for my birthday (7/17) looming so close, I can totally see myself careening back into my old pot-bellied self. That's too bad, really, because maintaining a healthy BMI could go a long way in extending my second life, but I don't see any motivation anchoring me to that after I turn 50. I'm just an Orson Wells at heart, but for now, it's back to the business at hand. I'm running out of runway and heading in the wrong direction, so let's see if I can't cut out donuts et al for the remainder of the duration... starting after this holiday weekend and taking off Father's Day, that is :-).

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Thursday, May 23, 2013

O Canadian Whisky -- 191 lbs (-38) [9X]

Until I developed a taste for whisky/whiskey, it all tasted pretty much like gasoline. But now it amazes me how different scotch, bourbon, and Canadian whisky are from one another, and how well each holds together as a category despite plenty of variety within. It turns out that national regulations are largely responsible for this cohesion--the UK requires scotch to be made from at least some malted barley, the US requires bourbon to be made from at least 51% corn, and Canadian whisky must "possess the aroma, taste and character generally attributed to Canadian whisky". That last one may seem too self-referential at first, but Canadian whisky is historically a blend of two primary components that give it a distinctive, yet mild taste: a very light "base" whisky made primarily from corn, and a heavier "flavoring" whisky high in rye. This general character is found in all of this month's bottom-shelf Canadian whiskies, with only subtle variation between them. R&R is the mildest, if not a tad watery; Black Velvet has a feint pepper kick at the end, which is a bit stronger in the less-sweet Black Velvet Reserve 8y; and Canadian Mist is somewhere in the middle with a well-balanced, hearty flavor. Canadian whisky gets bonus points for mixing well with coffee (like bourbon but unlike scotch) *and* being good straight-up when you want something slightly less sweet than bourbon (but not as good as pricier scotch).

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Friday, May 17, 2013

10 Months Down, 2 To Go -- 190 lbs (-39) [12X]

When I started this diet, I told myself that it was only one year out of my life, and it would be over eventually. The first 4 months seemed to go quickly, but the last 6 feel as if they have stretched on forever--and I still haven't achieved my weight-loss goal of 49 lbs by my 50th birthday on July 17, 2013. Somewhere along the line I modified that goal to weigh 180 or less *on* my birthday, and that has had the interesting side-effect of enabling me to put off losing the last ~10 lbs until the last possible minute (weeks, really), yet motivating me to stay within 10 lbs of my goal at the same time. I'm having a hard time with that last part this month, however, because my work place has started carrying Snyder's hot buffalo wing pretzels. Of all things, I have little or no resistance to this evil, starchy snack. I try to keep it out of the house for that reason, but now Fate has decided to stick this in my face Monday through Friday, which are supposed to be my weight-loss days. And I know it is Fate, because this is a relatively obscure product, and there is really no good reason to put it in a vending machine unless it is to TAUNT ME. So I may find myself drifting farther away from my goal before Father's Day, after which I vow to cut out all starch until my birthday. It's only one month out of my life, so how hard can it be?

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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

2 Bang-for-the-Buck Bourbons -- 188 lbs (-41) [32X]

Old Crow Reserve has the somewhat rare distinction of being a value brand *and* having a rich history. It was supposedly the first sour mash whiskey, and a favorite of Mark Twain, Ulysses S. Grant (the one entombed, not buried, in Grant's Tomb), and Hunter S. Thompson. Once a top-selling bourbon, Old Crow lost significant market share due to human error, greed, and pride, and today's Old Crow is owned by Jim Beam and produced with a different recipe.

Colonel Lee bourbon has the somewhat unrare indistinction of being one of Sazerac's 30+ bourbon brands. Old Crow is a bit heartier, and it should be, given it is aged an extra year and has a higher ABV. But both taste smooth, clean, and sweet.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

3 Scotches Only A Mother Could Love -- 190 lbs (-39) [11X]

And only a mother could tell them apart. There isn't anything particularly distinguishing amongst these bottom-shelf whiskies, besides the packaging. Yeah, Sir Edwards won some medal, Old Bridge plays off a historic landmark, and Highland Breeze has a tad higher alcohol content, but a mother will try not to play favorites. Wait, I'm not a mom, and none of these beat Pipers Clan in this category. Sorry, kids, you'll never amount to anything great. You should be thankful you can be called a scotch. But Daddy still loves you in his own way.

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Thursday, May 9, 2013

Mixed-Up May -- 189 lbs (-40) [25X]

At the beginning of each month, I stock up on liquor at Total Wine. Usually, it's all about scotch and Evan Williams, but this month, I have several divergent themes going on:

● Cinco de Mayo
I won't post a separate review of it this time around, but I bought a .375 ml bottle of El Jimador Reposado tequila for 5/5 and found it to be far superior to the Zapopan tequila I bought recently. I'm not really a tequila person, but I found this to be quite enjoyable by itself. Perhaps being aged in imported Kentucky white oak barrels makes it a semi-whiskey cross-over, but it certainly gave me pause.

● Scotch is like Pizza
I've never met a pizza I didn't like--even the cardboard-tasting stuff at now-extinct drive-ins was manna to me. In that spirit (pun intended), I continue to scrape bottom in the hopes of finding that next great blended scotch value. Sadly, one of the scotches I bought (Pipers Clan) I've tried before and forgot, but at least I was consistent and still liked it. One of the great things about getting old is getting to have the same first-time experience over and over.

● Bargain Basement Bourbon
It's time to give corn whiskey some love. For one, I'm about to run out of new low-end scotch brands to try. For two, I've been too co-dependent on Evan Williams far too long, and I really should be open to new value brands.

● Canadian Bottom-Shelf
Nothing is easier on the wallet than cheap-ass Canadian whiskey. The biggest problem with scotch, budget-wise, is the import overhead that exists even for the lowest of the low. I've been afraid my whole life to try the equivalent Canadian brands, maybe because it's hard to believe anything of value could be so darn inexpensive, but my new fearless outlook on life enables me to finally chance it.

● Brandies
There is a recurring theme of cheap and cheaper going on here, but I've shelled out quite a bit more for some apple and pear brandy, thanks to some enticing passages in "The Drunken Botanist, a fascinating book about the plant biology behind my favorite liquids.

FWIW, I did buy some Christian Bros to counter the steep cost of pear brandy.

Here's what's on the menu for May:
ProductVolumeBase PriceSpirits Liter TaxSpirits Sales TaxTotal
Canadian Mist375ml$4.79$1.41$.98$7.18 ($19.15/L)
R&R Canadian750ml$6.99$2.83$1.43$11.25 ($15.00/L)
Black Velvet750ml$7.99$2.83$1.64$12.46 ($16.61/L)
El Jimador Reposado375ml$9.49$1.41$1.95$12.85 ($34.27/L)
Christian Bros Brandy750ml$9.49$2.83$1.95$14.27 ($19.03/L)
Old Crow Reserve750ml$10.99$2.83$2.25$16.07 ($21.43/L)
Pipers Clan Scotch750ml$10.99$2.83$2.25$16.07 ($21.43/L)
Highland Breeze750ml$11.99$2.83$2.46$17.28 ($23.04/L)
Black Velvet 8yr750ml$11.99$2.83$2.46$17.28 ($23.04/L)
Old Bridge Scotch Whisky750ml$12.99$2.83$2.66$18.48 ($24.64/L)
Sir Edwards Blended Scotch Whisky750ml$12.99$2.83$2.66$18.48 ($24.64/L)
Colonel Lee Bourbon1.75L$16.99$6.60$3.48$27.07 ($15.47/L)
Captain Apple Jack750ml$17.99$2.83$3.69$24.51 ($32.68/L)
Clear Creek Pear Brandy375ml$24.99$1.41$5.12$31.52 ($84.05/L)

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