KITSILANO MAPLE CREAM ALE—Finders/keepers for the Easter Bunny

My Fellow Inebriates,

Ever lost a camera or memory stick while on vacation? Losing an awesome camera sucks, but losing months of saved pictures is devastating.

If you’re like many people, you leave hundreds of photos on your memory card without copying them over to your computer or printing them. I had to remind my parents of this the other day when my dad decided to take the camera card to work in his pocket. OMG! How would we get all those pictures back of me posing with wine bottles?!

Either this or the prospect of losing everything—from her trip to Ireland to Miss P’s 6th birthday—freaked my mum out and prompted her to copy the pictures over to the hard drive. But why was it so hard to get up the initiative to do it?

Is it because we believe in the kindness of others? Does my mum think that, if she left the Canon on a playground bench, someone would scruple to return it to her?

What would you do if you found a forgotten camera?

Well, first of all, I would look at ALL the pictures on it. Because there might be some funny or racy shots. But, after I finished snooping, I’d contact ifoundyourcamera. Founded by 21-year-old Canadian journalism student Matt Preprost, the site was conceived as a way to bridge losers with finders of cameras and memory devices—no fees to either.

There’s something really affirming about ifoundyourcamera. Using crowd sourcing to help us help other people is a great way of leveraging the web, and the site has pages of success stories to recommend it.

Just recently one of my mum’s friends accidentally left her camera in a restaurant after lunch. (If you have a lot of liquid lunches, the probability of this increases.) She never saw it again. In all likelihood it was stolen, but imagine if the thief had had the semi-decency to extract the camera card and contact ifoundyourcamera. He/she could have kept the camera, disavowed all knowledge of it, but returned the irreplaceable pictures. Then, using insurance money, my mum’s friend would have bought a kickass new camera.

If we’d had a kickass new camera, here’s what I would have done at Easter. I would have set it up on a timer to take pictures at intervals, so we could catch a shot of the Easter Bunny. You see, he took the last beer out of the fridge. It was a KITSILANO MAPLE CREAM ALE from Granville Island Brewery, one of the nicer Lower Mainland breweries and a cool tourist attraction.

When my dad bought this beer he was worried that the maple would be overwhelming. He bought it, I would assume, because he loves me so much; he wanted me to have something novel to review. Granville Island has a great track record with us, though, so that worry diminished before the beer finished pouring.

In the glass KITSILANO MAPLE CREAM ALE is a striking amber with a creamy head. On the nose, maple is apparent without being cloying; vanilla and caramel notes play back-up. On the palate it’s refreshing and balanced—again, not cloying, but satisfyingly sweet (my mum thought perhaps a little too sweet). The mouthfeel is very rich and creamy, yet still quite crisp. Moderately carbonated, this ale goes down very smoothly (and quickly). The sweetness lends it a perceived heaviness that might prevent (other) drinkers from imbibing it all night, and lingers on the tongue for quite a long time.

Overall, KITSILANO MAPLE CREAM ALE is a pleasant member of the Granville Island beer family. I’d still take the PALE ALE over it, but it’s a damn decent beer.

Unfortunately the maple flavor must have appealed to the Easter Bunny’s sweet tooth. I wish I’d been awake with the camera to catch a shot of him leaving us bereft of beer and leaving behind a shitload of non-alcoholic chocolate. But let’s face it, you don’t really want to leave a camera running non-stop: if it happened to catch my parents in some marital affectionate moment I would have to bash the whole apparatus to pieces.

And speaking of Things That Cannot Be Unseen, another of my mother’s acquaintance’s, Bea, once handed her camera to a trustworthy-looking tourist while on vacation in Mexico. She asked the dude to photograph her parasailing. Don’t forget my mother is ancient; this was before digital cameras. Bea did her parasailing bit, then looked anxiously for the tourist. Initially she thought he’d pulled a fast one. But he did emerge from the crowds and hand her the camera. When, back in Vancouver, Bea developed the photos at the drugstore, she found one shot of herself parasailing, and ten of the friendly tourist’s genitalia.

Which isn’t the sort of photo ifoundyourcamera would have published, even if Matt Preprost had been out of diapers and preternaturally web-savvy enough to start the site in preschool. So it was lucky for Bea that her tourist friend was so nice. Not only did she get a parasailing shot; she got some free porn too (which, incidentally, wasn’t how she saw it).

The countdown’s on…get your green on

My Fellow Inebriates,

One of my fave pubs

If you’re in an Irish pub you’re very likely to see a countdown prominently displayed. Pub owners get excited this time of year. They’ve endured over two months of winter doldrums, and they’re gearing up for the quintessential party that will bring in bar patrons and trigger them to start spending again: St. Patrick’s Day.

Isn’t it fitting that in 2012, our final year if you’re consulting the Mayan calendar, St. Patrick’s Day should fall on a Saturday? Propitious for pub owners and patrons alike, St. Paddy’s Day is a fantastic opportunity to cut loose, embrace the coming spring, get drunk, get naked, and embarrass yourself.

OMG, look what they do to the Chicago River every year.

St. Patrick’s Day is a curiosity in that it seems to transcend religion and ethnicity. Everyone happily clambers on board and becomes Irish for a day without involving any religion-based controversy. Happy happy! Whatever we’ve done as a culture to arrive at a day where everyone gets together in friendship to get blitzed, we’ve done it right. Think about it…Christmas has become a tug-of-war between secular and religious domains who argue over the appropriateness of manger scenes and the origins of the holiday. Easter juxtaposes uneasily with Passover, intermingling images of a springtime bunny and slaughtered lamb’s blood. Even Halloween has detractors who insist its dark themes invoke Satan. And somehow—despite being named after a Catholic saint—St. Patrick’s Day manages to please both secular and religious camps. Why is that?

Perhaps it’s because the occasion is primarily a New World phenomenon. Whereas the date of St. Patrick’s death was commemorated in Ireland as a religious holiday on which Irish people would go to mass and then have a nice meal, Irish immigrants in North America took it to a whole new level, tying it to revelry and drunken merriment in a way that stuck and spread worldwide, eventually spreading back to the homeland and elevating a formerly minor holiday to the status it holds today.

Essentially the modern idea of St. Patrick’s Day incubated in North America independently of Ireland and in fact burgeoned into the commercial celebration it is during the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, gaining popularity among expatriate Protestants and Catholics alike and eventually becoming known as non-sectarian.

Surely this illustrates the power of alcohol to bring people together. If all holidays were focused on drunken revelry, so many of society’s problems would be solved. But did St. Patrick have any idea of his future legacy? Who was that dude, anyway?

St. Patrick was British. It’s true, he was a wealthy Brit whose family owned slaves. Everything changed when he was kidnapped and brought to Ireland as a slave to herd sheep. Wow! Talk about comeuppance.

He wasn’t particularly religious, although his childhood home was Christian. Finding himself among sheep, he started to hear voices and experienced a conversion.

He used the shamrock as a metaphor for the Christian Holy Trinity.

He banished Ireland’s snakes. Nah, he really didn’t. Ireland doesn’t have any snakes, and it never did. It’s too cold and bounded by water. Snakes have no reason to go there and no means either. They are most likely a metaphor for Druids, who steadily disappeared after St. Patrick embarked on his mission to convert Ireland to Christianity.

He lived a long time ago. St. Patrick died in 461, since which time traditions such as wearing green and drinking 13 million pints of Guinness every March 17 have sprung up. Curiously, prior to North America’s remaking of St. Patrick’s Day, wearing green had always been considered unlucky inIreland. Traditionally the faerie folk dressed in green and would kidnap children who wore their favorite color.

St. Patrick’s lasting gift to Ireland has been tourism. Millions of travelers would never have thought to visit that rugged and beautiful country if not for his story.

Something like a quarter of North America claims Irish descent, a figure that probably defies math. Irishness seems to appeal to people, and even those with an eighth of it in their blood will say on March 17 “Kiss me, I’m Irish.”

As you may recall, Fluffy, the possessed bear living with us now, is Irish. This dampens my enthusiasm for St. Patrick’s Day considerably. I wonder whether he will gather up his strength for that day and then unleash demonic wrath on us. He’s been building up to it gradually. Last night he turned the bathroom fan on (with his mind, people!) and made the computer go blue-screen while I was on Facebook (again, with his mind!). Is there nothing he won’t do?!