Sumatra Stout

This is a bit unusual for me. I am reviewing a coffee flavoured beer.

Sumatra Coffee Stout (Trade Route Brewing Co.)

The body of the Stout suggests the body of Sumatra.

Upon sipping the stout taste is dominant. There is not much of a hint of the coffee until you stop the sip. Then  starting 4 second later and lasting for a good minute, the aftertaste comes forward giving a distinct indonesian coffee flavour, with a light sweet malty finish. This stout should be sipped slowly to get the benefit of as much of the coffee tones as possible. I recommend sharing a bottle with another beer/coffee lover.




Peru Organic

On one of my recent stops at Ootopia Roasters in Bremerton to get green and roasted coffee beans, I came upon an organic Peru they had recently roasted. Here is my review

Peru Organic – Ootopia

Sparkling citrus tones, but not overpowering. Excellent body. Good cocoa aftertones, and a micro-mini explosion of coffee aroma and flavour on the back of the tongue. Well balanced flavour. Very pleasant aftertaste

In sugar and cream the body holds up well. the citrus tones quiet down some. This serves to accent the cocoa tones.

This would make an excellent mid-day coffee

Review of Capella Romana’s Concert of Rachmaninov’s All-Night-Vigil

Capella Romana sings Rachmaninov All-Night-Vigil

Concert on January 7 2012

On olde calendar Christmas (Jan 7) Capella Romana performed the All-Night-Vigil at St. James Cathedral in Seattle. Capella Romana is a Chamber choir that beefed up its bass section for this concert. According to Chesnokov’s book on choral directing they should have had an additional bass and octavist to balance the sound (page 13). The octavist they did have did a magnificent job. When the choir went flat in the Velichit Dush (Magnificat) #11 the octavist were still able to sing a clear Low Bb (which by that time had become a Low A) and tune it immaculately. The choir gave a spirited performance which was augmented by including some of the other parts of the All-Night-Vigil that Rakhmaninov did not set. They included pieces by other Russian Masters that gave a sense of the context of the Vigil as a worship service. For this effort I must applaud the Capella Romana.


On Communion

Communion was inaugurated with the Kingdom of God. If our proclamation is to be the Kingdom of God, it is realized in this worship, which God Himself has left us. (full disclosure- I was born baptist and am now Orthodox)

God is eternal, so our worship of Him needs to follow in that. Worship should appeal to every part of our humanity (our seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling, touching) but not our passions. I think that this communion being so much like the last time and the time before that is part of the message of the Kingdom of God and that it is eternal. I am most glad that it is ever the same and ever new.

Review of Recordings of the Rachmaninov All-Night-Vigil


A Review of Recordings  of the Rakhmaninov All-Night-Vigil.


The oldest available recording of the All-Night-Vigil is by the State Russian Academic Choir conducted by Alexander Sveshnikov. It was first recorded in 1965 by Melodiya, but not widely available. In 1973 they re-recorded this for the centennial of Rakhmaniov’s birth. Because of anti-religious ideology, it was mainly exported outside the former Soviet Union. Recently the 1965 recording was remastered and has been re-released.

Sveshnikov was a student of Chesnokov who was last conductor of the Moscow Synod Choir that premiered the All Night Vigil. Both Rakhmaninov and Chesnokov were students of Stepen Smolensky (Rakhmaninov dedicated the All-Night Vigil to Stepan Smolensky).

This makes Sveshnikov the musical “grandson” of Nikolai Danilin, who premiered the work.

The Svesnikov recordings feature lush bass and octavist that make the recordings very satisfying. When they go flat, they go flat together. A valid criticism of the recordings is that when syllables have a strong accent due to the text that both soloists and choir will scoop the pitch. While some may think this to be idiomatic, there is no reason why such strong accents could not be accomplished without bending the pitch. Additionally the Choir sounds vocally fatigued for the last 3 pieces, and the octavist that goes down to a low G1 at the end #14 sounds creaky, crickety and fried.

The tempos in the 1965 reading are a bit quicker; the transparency of the vocal parts is clearer. The quality of the recording engineering and the subtleties of shaping and the blend are better in the 1973 recording.

The attention to detail, the attention to intonation and overtones to the point where, at points, it sounds as if instruments were accompanying them playing notes that no one is actually singing, and that it is produced by a musical grandson of the original make these must listen to.


In 1986 the USSR Minster of Culture Chamber Choir under the direction of Valeri Polyansky recorded the All-Night-Vigil in Dormition Cathedral (also a Melodiya recording). The recording is every bit as respectable as the Svesnikov recording. For the most part they avoid the scooping that afflicts the Sveshnikov recordings. The tempos are also a bit livelier. For a chamber choir it is a good rendering. The intonation is, on the whole, good. A notable exception is at the beginning of #9 Blagosloven yesi Gospodi (Blessed art Thou O Lord/ Evlogitarion/ Angelski Sobor) when the altos come in on the Bb, they take a good second to find the pitch. While the recording is good, one misses the sound of a full choir.

Mstislav Rostropovich recorded the All-Night-Vigil with the Choral Arts Society of Washington in 1987 on the Erato label. The tempi are bold and energetic, making for a spirited performance. The recording suffers a light bass section.

Robert Shaw recorded the Vigil with the Robert Shaw Festival Singers in 1989 for Telarc. The intonation is beyond immaculate, the blend is wonderful. The recording has a feeling of “something missing”. What is missing is that the normal accents that are part of the Slavonic Text, that would not need to be notated as accented, are entirely missing. It is as if a very good french choir were singing that did not understand where the strong accents were required.

Recently (2010) the combined Church Choirs of Saratov recorded the Vigil, conducted by Svetlana Khakhalina. The recording was produced by the Eparchy of Saratov. The recording was done at Intercession Church in Saratov in Russia. This is a good recording of the Vigil. The balance between parts is very good and it has a transparency that is missing in the Sveshnikov recordings. It does have one draw-back. There is one Bass II (not an octavist) who is frequently off pitch just enough to draw attention to his voice.

Mahogany Bear – Spectacled Bear Columbian


Mahogany Bear – Spectacled Bear Columbian

Visual beans were uniform with slightest tearing  of oil, but not overly so. The aroma upon grinding was good with a hint of earthy tang. In a white porcelain cup the colour was brown with a slight hint of amber.

Auto drip: The coffee started with Citrus tones with some tang. The body was medium. Adding half & half suppresses some of the body but not dramatically so.

Espresso shot had very pleasant earthy tones with a slight bittersweet after taste with good creme and a better body than auto drip.

Press Pot: The color upon the  water pouring was a good brown purple. The crust broke with a nice looking foam. A slurp brought a good aroma. The body was on the slightly heavy side of medium (better body than most columbians). Sugar and half & half brought out some of the natural sweetness that seems to be a bit shy, and emphasizes the cocoa tones with just a hint of tang. The body held up to the half&half. The predominate aftertaste is of the earthy tang that the aroma of the grinding promised.

We have made a Covenant with Death


We have made a covenant with Death, and with hell we have an agreement; when the rushing storm shall pass through, it shall not come unto us. For we have made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.

Therefore, thus saith the Lord, the Lord: Behold I lay for the foundation of Sion a costly stone, a choice, a corner-stone, a precious one for its foundations and he that believes shall by no means be ashamed. And I will cause judgement for hope, and my compassion shall be for measures, and ye that trust vainly in falsehood, the storm shall by no means pass you by. except that it also take away your covenant of death and your trust in hell shall by no means stand. If the rushing storm should come upon you, ye shall be beaten down by it. — Isaiah 28:15-18

skull Isaiah EE

We have chosen death, from the very beginning. Daily we chose death. We choose distractions of gadgets and things. We become more self centered and narcissistic. We look for new toys, new distractions, new ways of quieting down the noise that comes from within, that comes from the myriad assaults from media, politics, and commercials. We choose the noise over being present to the moment, to the people around us. We choose death in ignoring the people right in front of us. We choose death in ignoring our own hungry souls. The Lenten Triodion has a hymn for the last week of Lent that says, “I see my mind, O Lord, lying always like Lazarus before the gates of repentance, but with indifference I pass it by, and leave it hungry, sick and wounded by the passions. “ (St. Joseph the Studite, Triodion 6th week Monday Vespers)

While we are distracted, our world nears crisis, our countries move towards decay, our economies move to the brink of disaster. Right wing idealogues assure us that everything will be fine so long as we continue our covenant with death, and liberals are too co-opted by the same covenant to raise the alarm (except that they want to disagree on how the details of that death will be executed). We have “made lies our refuge and under falsehood we have hidden ourselves.”

Our covenant with death shall lead us to perdition.

But it is not how it must be. Behold the corner-stone; behold hope and compassion. How do we get there? By ending our cooperation with death; by ending our escape from each other.

We are in this together. We will either cooperate together to end our march towards destruction, or we shall have that destruction be a rushing storm. Can we accomplish this own our own? NO. We can accomplish it through the precious cornerstone, the CHOICE.

We end it by ceasing our war on the sick, the poor, the hungry. We end it by ending our war on the planet. We end it meeting those around us instead of retreating into the temporary pleasures of our gadgets. We end it by ceasing to blame those people over there for what is going on. We end it by repenting. We end it by loving the Image of God in all people, even those we hate. We end it by loving God in the least of these. We end it by nourishing our starving minds (Nous) in encounter with God through communion, through prayer, and through communication with our fellow humans.