Happy birthday, Mr. Hemingway

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAErnest Hemingway, that manliest man of all manley men, was born this day in 1899.

He died on July 2, 1961, so Papa would have been 115 years old today if he hadn’t shot himself in the gut. That’s also assuming he wouldn’t have drank himself to death, keeled over from lung cancer, OD’d on bacon or perished in some freak fishing accident instead.

His beautifully sparse writing has made Hemingway a favorite of aspiring writers for generations. So tell me, what’s your favorite Hemingway sentence? Copy and paste it in the comment section below.

One of my favorite sentences (there are too many to pick one) comes from the very first page of The Old Man and the Sea, the last novel Hemingway would ever see published.

The sail was patched with flour sacks and, furled, it looked like the flag of permanent defeat.

Knocks the wind right out of you, doesn’t it? Comment below with your favorite Hemingway sentence.

 

Space!

Moon Landing FrontThis Sunday marks the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11′s moon landing, and the Daily Mail decided to celebrate.

Our front page today includes remembrances of that historic occasion from West Virginia natives (and NASA retirees) Homer Hickam and Jon McBride.

Hickam, who would later become a NASA engineer, was in Washington State at the time having just returned from Vietnam. McBride, who would later become the first West Virginian in space, was in Virginia training to become a fighter pilot. You can click here to read the whole story.

This morning I received an email from a reader, Lew McDaniel of Independence, W.Va., offering his memories of July 20, 1969. He has a pretty neat story, too:

I was a linguist in the Army and stationed at Field Station Berlin in Germany when the moon landing occurred.  We had no TV, but we did have a plethora of electronic equipment around and some talented technicians.  Those guys rigged up some of that equipment so we could watch the landing on an oscilloscope.  We also managed to get direct audio between the moon and Earth.

Small screen for sure, but we all crowded into a small room to get whatever view we could and all cheered when the first step was made.  Then it was back to work.

Mark Wolfe poses with Brandon Stacy, how plays Spock on the fan produced Internet series “Star Trek: Phase II.”

Mark Wolfe poses with Brandon Stacy, how plays Spock on the fan produced Internet series “Star Trek: Phase II.”

Also in today’s paper, we have the story of four old friends brought back together through their mutual love of the original “Star Trek” series.

But Mark Wolfe, Dale Morton, Robert Withrow and Clayton Sayre aren’t your normal Trekkies.

They are part of a major fan-produced web series called “Star Trek: Phase II,” which creates new episodes of the original series using dead-accurate sets, costumes and props.

Click here to read more about their intergalactic adventure.

Hear it first: “Live It” by Farnsworth

10527516_767462223306680_412617591087743455_nThe Pop Machine is partnering with Twin Cousins Records to offer you, dear reader, a first listen of the new album “Live It” by Charleston blues-rock trio Farnsworth.

Interestingly enough, this is really the first time “Live It” has touched the digital realm.The band used all analog equipment — old-school mixing boards, multi-track tape decks, the whole deal — to record the album.

Twin Cousins will release “Live It” on limited-edition vinyl on Sept. 23.

You can get your pre-order now at twincousinsrecords.bandcamp.com. The album will also be available for digital download.

Stay tuned for more details about the release party for “Live It.” That’s tentatively scheduled for Sept. 20 at Sullivan’s Records on the East End, and could feature some special guests.

Tofujitsu plays for Charley West’s Bonus Tracks

Bonus Tracks1Local husband-and-wife rock and rollers Sean Richardson and Karen Allen are Tofujitsu.

The band just released a new four-song EP, and they’re playing Live on the Levee this Friday along with Qiet.

But first, they performed their song “Darjeeling” for the latest edition of our video series Charley West’s Bonus Tracks.

Click here to read more about this quirky duo. Click below to watch Marcus Constantino’s video of the band performing their song “Darjeeling.”

 

 

Valentina Lisitsa’s POV piano

I love to watch classical pianists play. Not just listen, watch.

The way their bodies interact with their instrument, their arms and hands flowing over the keyboard, their bodies shifting from side to side. It’s like watching someone dance with a piece of furniture…except beautiful.

Well, Valentina Lisitsa (classical music’s biggest YouTube star) is giving her fans a whole new way to watch her perform. Back in May she posted a video of her performance of Beethoven’s Sonata No. 17…shot using a GoPro helmet cam.

Give it a peek. It’s a unique opportunity to see a performance the way the musician does.

Beggar’s Clan plays for Charley West’s Bonus Tracks

Bonus Tracks1In case you missed it, last week’s Daily Mail “Arts and Culture” section featured local reggae band Beggars Clan. Click here to read our story.

The group performed at the Boulevard Tavern last Friday and will play at Foster’s Tavern in Beckley this Friday before heading to Point Pleasant on Saturday for the Sweatstock festival.

In the meantime, Daily Mail photographer Craig Cunningham shot this video of the group performing their song “Can’t Stop Us” as part of our Charley West’s Bonus Tracks video series. Give it a listen:

Taste-of-ALL 2014 winners announced

tasteLast Sunday was Taste-of-ALL, when local restaurants and chefs face off for some pretty prestigious awards. Here is a list of this year’s winners.

Taste-of-All Charleston 2014 newspaper food writer’s awards

(Judges Steven Keith, “The Food Guy” Charleston Daily Mail and Judy Grigoraci, “From the Kitchen” The Charleston Gazette)

Overall Best Dish: Chicken and Waffle (Southern waffle, made to order, honey nut encrusted crisp-fried chicken breast, topped with candied jalapeno, pecans, and drizzle of sage infused maple syrup) – Black Sheep Burritos, Charleston

Overall Special Dish: Fire Roasted Tomato Soup with gouda, garnished with Gorgonzola Crouton – Four Points by Sheraton, Charleston

Honorable mentions:

Steven: Black Sheep pan-seared cashew and wasabi-crusted Ahi tuna “nacho” (served atop a fried wonton with sesame-ginger aioli and chili-mirin reduction) and Quarry Manor Senior Living’s fried green tomato BLT slider.

Judy: Housemade Sweet Potato Burger with Spicy Mayo – B&D Gastro Pub

FestivALL 10 cake contest in celebration of FestivALL’s 10th season winners

(Judges Sarah Plumley of Sarah’s Bakery; Lisa Dravenstott, executive pastry chef Distinctive Gourmet Civic Center and Cheri Godfrey, executive pastry chef Mardi Gras Casino and Resort)

Third place: Nicole Wolfe, Cross Lanes – Coconut Cream Cake

Second place: Rachael Shaffer, St. Albans – Red Velvet Cake with Almond Buttercream Frosting

First place: Jean Jones, South Charleston – Golden Apple Black Walnut Cake with Whipped Butter Frosting (her grandmother’s recipe)

Highest Sales Award

BrickSalt Bar + Kitchen (Marriott)

Taste of ALL “Chef Off”

Winner: Chef Andrew Quisenberry, Quarry Manor (Judges Bridget Lancaster, America’s Test Kitchen; Scott Maroney, executive chef for Mardi Gras Casino & Resort; Chef Paul Smith, Buzz Food Service; Don Wilson, Generation Charleston)

People’s Choice Awards:

Appetizer:

First – Adelphia, Deep Fried Feta

Second – B&D Gastropub, Dragon Bites

Third – Four Brothers Coffee and Tea House, Lobster Bisque Soup

Entree:

First – Quarry Manor Senior Living, Fried Green Tomato BLT Slider

Second – Black Sheep Burrito & Brew, Chicken & Waffle

Third – Black Sheep Burrito & Brew, Pan-seared Ahi Tuna

Dessert:

First – Distinctive Gourmet, WV Beignet w/ Vanilla Moonshine Sauce

Second – 5 Corners Cafe, Bread Pudding (3 votes separated 1st & 2nd place)

Third – Ellen’s Homemade Ice Cream, Ice Cream

Drinks:

First – Four Brothers Coffee and Tea House, Four Brothers Blended Coffee

Second – Sweet Spoon Bubble Tea

Third – Huskey’s Dairy Bar, Milkshake

Chicken on the brain

Chicken
For the last few weeks I’ve been writing a series of stories for the Daily Mail about fried chicken, my idea of the perfect summertime food.

But I need your help to end the series. I need your recipes.

Week one kicked off with — what else? — breakfast. I spoke with chefs at Bluegrass Kitchen and Black Sheep Burritos about how they make their fried chicken and waffles.

The second story focused on family restaurants The Grill and Harding’s Family Restaurant, which employ simple recipes to make seriously delicious chicken.

This week’s story (look for it in Wednesday’s paper) will feature local wing joints Adelphia Sports Bar & Grille and The Cold Spot.

I’m going to conclude the series next week, just in time for the Fourth of July. Here’s where you come in.

Many of my most-memorable meals have not been in restaurants. They’ve been home-cooked efforts, shared with family and friends. So if I’m looking for the best fried chicken, I figure the best place to find it is at home.

I need your best recipes for fried chicken. I don’t care if you clipped it from a magazine or if it’s a recipe handed down from your great-great grandmother. I just want to know how you make fried chicken in your kitchen.

Send your recipes to life@dailymailwv.com, or (if they’re short enough) tweet at me.

Game of Thrones recap: “The Children” look to their future

 

There is a scene in “Winter is Coming,” the debut episode of Game of Thrones that premiered in 2011, when a young(er) Arya Stark spies the mobile court of King Robert Baratheon approaching her hometown of Winterfell. Wearing a helmet of unknown owner, she grins before seeming to remember that she should be somewhere else at the moment, specifically lined up with the rest of the Stark clan in anticipation of the court’s arrival.

She turns and runs back to her mother and father just in time, with Lady Catelyn Stark demanding to know where she had been, and her father, Lord Eddard Stark, simply wanting to know where she got the helmet.

In “The Children,” the season finale of GOT that premiered Sunday night, it is apparent that while Arya might be well on her way to being a full-blown psychopath as a result of her reaction to the death and destruction that have followed her in the last few years of her life, there is plenty of wonder left the kid, or plenty of kid left in the wonder.

Having secured passage to Bravos on a ship leaving a port village of the Vale, Arya’s is the last image we get of Season 4. Here, after looking behind and seeing the continent of Westeros getting smaller behind her, she races to the bow of the ship to look for Bravos as if it will appear at any time over the horizon. Actress Maisie Williams manages the same wondrous look on her face as in the series debut, though it lacks some of its original orneriness, which is replaced by a sense of experience.

Thankfully, Arya’s story does not get lost in the shuffle here, and we have HBO and show runners/writers D.B Weiss and David Benioff to thank for this, because make no mistake, there was plenty to get lost in during the episode. But instead of the season’s finale being GOT’s “Who shot J.R.?” as a result of its need to give resolution to the trial of Tyrion Lannister, “The Children” got to that page and a lot more in an episode that hit a reset button for several of the series’ most crucial story lines.

Last week’s “The Watchers on the Wall” episode provided this ability. Instead of jumping right into Tyrion’s fate immediately after watching The Mountain crush the skull of Prince Oberyn Martell into bloody pulp, viewers got two weeks to digest that scenario before seeing its outcome. In the meantime, the wildlings finally attacked The Wall, Sam Tarly grew up, and we were able to clear our heads a little bit (with all due respect to the Red Viper).

The finale was far more than just about Tyrion. The full-episode break from King’s Landing last week allowed “The Children” room to breathe and grow, without viewers tapping their collective feet shouting, “Get to Tyrion already!” at their televisions.

The episode, the longest in GOT history at 66 minutes, begins at the very point, “Watchers” left off, with Jon Snow setting out in search of wildling leader Mance Rayder. It is here that a plot point left dangling at the end of Season 3 finally gets addressed. At the point that it becomes apparent that Snow is in the wildling camp to kill rather than negotiate with the King Beyond the Wall, Stannis Baratheon’s legion storms into the North like the Romans hitting Gaul, and before you know it there’s dead barbarians everywhere until Rayder tells his men to stand down.

The resulting conversation between Snow and Stannis is one of the heaviest yet in the series. It is the closest Baratheon will ever come to being face-to-face with Ned Stark, the man who – way back in Season 1 when Ned still had a head – let it be known that Stannis’ brother Robert’s son Joffrey was not his own but the product of the incestuous relationship between Queen Cersei Baratheon and her brother Jaime Lannister.

Stannis commands Mance Rayder to kneel to him, as by right (if only by technicality and not by public recognition), Stannis is the King of the Seven Kingdoms. Rayder refuses and Stannis, in a show of rare deference for the character, takes Snow’s suggestion of how to handle Mance to heart.

It is, perhaps, the most kingly moment of Stannis’ story arc to date, and it comes at a time – as we saw by show’s end – that perhaps puts him in his most favorable position yet to convince the Seven Kingdoms of his political leadership ability, not to mention his legitimate claim to the Iron Throne.

The subsequent scenes involving Cersei, which see her confess her relationship with Jaime to their father, actually show more about Tywin than they reveal about the queen’s mental state, which has been unraveling slowly but steadily all season. At first, she cannot believe that Tywin does not already know of the relationship but then realizes that it makes sense he does not. Her line, “How can someone so consumed by the idea of his family have any conception what his actual family was doing,” she asks rhetorically.

The question was remembered later, as Tywin was having bolts from a crossbow pegged into him by Tyrion. Lord Tywin’s insistence on disregarding the thoughts and feelings of his children directly led to his doom as he sat on a toilet and was unable to refrain from using the term “whore” when referencing the love of Tyrion’s life.

Unlike previous season-enders, “The Children” does not contain a moment for the devout fans of Daenerys Targaryen to cling to for the next 10 months as a point of pride. The Mother of Dragons instead is faced with the realization that those dragons are too beastly to be allowed to have free access to the skies after a shepherd produces the charred bones of his 3-year-old daughter to Daenerys in Meereen, the product of Drogon’s fire and aggression.

We are left with a shot of Dany crying as she shuts two of her dragons – Drogon’s whereabouts are unknown – in the catacombs of Meereen. It is left to the viewer to decide if she was crying over locking her dragons away or for the plight of the man whose daughter was just turned to charcoal because of them.

Bran Stark’s meeting with the three-eyed raven he has sought for three seasons comes to a quizzical end, as well, that will certainly be explained in greater detail in Season 5. After being attacked by zombified skeletons of a long-ago army, Bran, Meera and Hodor are saved by the Children of the Forest (the literal source of the episode’s title). Although Jojen doesn’t survive the attack, it is revealed by the raven – who apparently is an old man who lives in a tree with the Children of the Forest – that Jojen knew what his fate would be for a long time before its occurrence.

The episode’s first character death jumps right to its second, as Brienne of Tarth and Podrick stumble upon none other than Arya Stark and the Hound. Here is perhaps the high point of the episode, though many will argue (and perhaps win that argument) that Tyrion’s murder of his father and subsequent escape from King’s Landing trumps it.

Both Brienne and Sandor Clegane have it in their minds that their duty is to protect Arya Stark. Neither one believes the other, and it is easy for most viewers to believe that the Hound is only in it for the money.

So was Han Solo. In any event, the ensuing duel between Brienne and the Hound is one of the series’ best and most brutal not in such a graphic sense – although Brienne biting off the Hound’s right ear was impressive – but in the effort put forth by each contestant. For Brienne, it was the outpouring of rage that had been pent up for the better part of three seasons that won the day, sending the Hound down a mountain where Arya eventually leaves him to die.

Ponder a moment on the story arc of Brienne. A woman in a medieval society who has learned to fight as well as the finest knights in the Seven Kingdoms, who has unspoken amorous feelings for Renly Baratheon, a homosexual man for whom she is charged with protecting. He dies with her in the room, and she is later charged by Catelyn Stark with the duty of returning Jaime Lannister to King’s Landing in the hopes of a prisoner exchange that will free Sansa and Arya Stark from the city after their father was beheaded. En route, the two are captured by the Boltons, and Brienne subsequently begins to develop feelings for Jaime Lannister through the trust he placed in her and as a result of his saving her from danger twice. Brienne then learns of Catelyn’s death, yet still maintains her quest to find her daughters.

That’s a lot of stress for one person to handle, and the Hound – already slowed by a festering wound to his neck – never had a chance.

But as interesting as Brienne’s long-awaited outpouring of rage was, so too watching the Hound face his end. One of the more transformative characters of the series, the Hound began life as we know it as Joffrey Baratheon’s muscle. He ended life pleading for Arya Stark to kill him, and the voyage from one point to the last was truly humanizing. If anyone tells you that they knew when he killed the butcher’s boy in Season 1 that his own end would be moving and empathy-inducing they’re lying or they’ve read ahead.

Speaking of endings, although it was the one that we were all waiting to see, Tyrion’s murder of Shae (did everyone just forget about her after the trial, I ask) and of Tywin sealed the dwarf’s fate in a sense that regardless of his prior innocence, made it certain he will never return to his prior status. Tyrion began the episode in a box of a room awaiting his death. He ended the episode in a box headed for Essos. In between, the familiar tune of “The Rains of Castamere,” which played as Tywin drew his final breaths, ushered Tyrion into his new life as an escaped convict.

Season 4 was in many ways a transitional season. After the Red Wedding of Season 3 essentially put an end to the War of the Five Kings as far as many viewers were concerned, new directions, characters and plot lines were needed, and in a hurry in order to maintain the public’s grasp on the story as a whole. “The Children” cemented many of those directions and it left us looking forward to Season 5 as  those new players and places come into their own.

Charley West’s Bonus Tracks: The Dread Pirate, Roberts

What do you get when you mix old-time fiddle tunes, bluegrass, gypsy jazz, bebop and 1940s swing? You get Charleston band The Dread Pirate, Roberts.

Click here to read more about the band. They’re playing tonight at the Bluegrass Kitchen but in the meantime, check out this video by my pal Marcus Constantino. He gathered the band at Fret ‘n’ Fiddle in St. Albans for a new edition of Charley West’s Bonus Tracks.

Click here to see more videos from the series.