Interactive Results

Posted by Jim on Nov 6th, 2014
Nov 6

I just came across this personalized results page for the Portland Marathon that I ran last month. I really like that it gives a visual representation of my position at various times throughout the race, as well as where I finished it the various divisions (age, gender, overall).


Portland Marathon Results Graphic


Speaking of running, I created an account at Athlinks, a race results community. I need to track down my results from some Smuttynose 5k‘s I ran in the mid-to-late 2000’s before it will be complete. There are some provisional results that haven’t posted yet as well, mainly because race directors spelled my name wrong in the results, or the races were so small they have never been linked to the site (I’m looking at you Moxie Days 5k).

I also keep an updated profile over at the Marathon Maniacs site, but I believe you need to be another Maniac to see it. If another Maniac comes across this post, please comment!

I was introduced to Athlinks because it was mentioned in this very interesting New Yorker article. It is about a supposed serial marathon cheater—a guy who has admitted to fabricating an entire race, complete with results. The article is worth reading even if you aren’t a runner.

Reading Goals – 1 Month In

Posted by Jim on Jan 31st, 2012
Jan 31

2012 is one month old, and I have read 11 books.  This represents some great progress towards my goal of reading 15 novels-length works and 15 graphic novels and/or children’s books.  Here is the breakdown so far:


  • Zombie by J. R. Angelella
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith
  • The Chronicles of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg et al
  • Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling
  • 11/22/63 by Stephen King

Graphic Novels & Children’s Books

  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznik
  • The Homeland Directive by Robert Venditti
  • The Death-Ray by Daniel Clowes
  • Every Thing On It by Shel Silverstien
  • Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness by Donn Fendler
  • The Bipollo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss

My current reading selection is Unfamiliar Fishes by Sarah Vowell, which will end up being book number one for February.  I also checked Chronic City by Jonathan Lethem out from the library; I will read it once I’m finished with Ms. Vowell.

A Holiday for Stouts

Posted by Jim on Mar 16th, 2011
Mar 16

Tomorrow is St. Patrick’s Day. As is the tradition of Nissa and I, we will be having breakfast at Bull Feeney’s tomorrow morning. They serve a fine full Irish breakfast, and the large pours of beer taste even better when consumed before noon. Nissa will have to head to work, whereas I have a few hours in the Old Port before I must go pick up Emmett. I’ll probably check out the new porter that will be poured at Gritty’s, or go get a pint of the recently rereleased Bourbon Barrel Aged Lake Trout Stout at Sebago. Normally I finish up with a chalice or two at Novare, but day care is closing at 3 tomorrow, so I’ll have to skip the bier garden this year.

To get myself in the mood, I’m enjoying a few stouts tonight. First up is the classic Cadillac Mountain Stout from Bar Harbor Brewing Company. If I review any others tonight, I’ll add them to this post.

Bar Harbor Brewing Co. Cadillac Mountain Stout
A- / 4.03
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured from a cellared bottle into my Beamish Imperial Pint. This bottle has been in my cellar since May 2009.

Caddy is a very dark beer. The opaque black liquid fills my glass. The head is foamy, brown and thick. As it settles good lacing is left behind. A little bit of film and foam coats the sides of the glass as I swirl the beer about.

Sweet roasted malts greet my nose as I inhale this beer’s aroma. Milk chocolate covered caramel comes to mind.

Dark malts with a slight roasted quality is the first thing I taste as the beer enters my mouth. As I swallow, the taste of hot fudge syrup is present, but it is only the slightest bit sweet and not syrupy at all. I’m not sure if that quite makes sense; it is chocolately, but not like normal chocolate, hot fudge sauce is the closest thing that I can think of to describe it. There is a sherry-like quality to the beer, but it isn’t too strong.

The carbonation level isn’t very high, but there are still some bubbles to this beer. A coat remains after I swallow, although it is a bit watery and not too flavorful. There is just enough of the beer in it to make me want another sip.

Overall, I am a fan of this stout. This aged bottle doesn’t quite live up to the once legendary status of this beer. I would drink it again, most likely fresh and certainly nothing older than a year old. I had samples fresh at the brewery, and I remember liking it more, but the time and place could have been a factor in that memory. People will tell you that the beer isn’t as good as it used to be, before the brewery changed hands and (supposedly) the recipe changed. I can’t really comment on that, as I wasn’t much of a beer geek back when I had the original recipe and I don’t remember how it tasted. Still, it is a very good stout that is worth seeking out.

From A to Wythburn

Posted by Jim on Apr 5th, 2010
Apr 5

We are quickly approaching the two year anniversary of Nissa and I moving into our house in South Portland, yet whenever I sit down with The Sentry or read a local blog, I still have to check a map to see where the story takes place.  My problem is that I have no idea where most streets in South Portland are!  If it’s not a direct route between my home and one of the city’s schools, chances are I haven’t gone that way before.  My goal for the summer is to rectify this problem (and get some extra exercise) by riding my bike on every street in our town.  It may be a lofty goal, but the pursuit of it will be lots of fun!

My first task was to go to the South Portland GIS database, which is linked off of the town’s homepage and lists every parcel of land in the tax assessor’s database.  Luckily for me, you can limit your search to every lot on any single street in town by choosing the street from a drop down menu.  I went into the html source code for the page and extracted the list of all of the streets, which I imported into a Google Docs spreadsheet.  I now have an almost complete list of streets in town.  I’ve come across a few streets that are officially named roads but do not appear in the GIS list, as there is no property that front-facing towards these streets, such as Billy Vachon street.  As I’ve come across these streets, I’ve added them into my spreadsheet.  Also, the GIS list contains paper roads and other addresses that exist on paper only.  For example, the database lists Benjamin W. Pickett street extension.  The normal Benjamin W. Pickett street is a short road by SMCC, yet I could find no extension on Google Maps.  Examining the GIS records, I discovered that the extension exists on paper as the official address of the Old Settlers Cemetery, which is surrounded by property owned by SMCC (you can see it here).  I’ve had to delete a few of these streets from my list.  The current number of distinct streets on my list is 526, but that is a rather volatile total.

I started this quest on March first and have so far been down a number of streets I never knew existed.  It’s really interesting to see all sorts of interesting houses and surprising sights (such as the great view of the Portland peninsula available from the top of the hill on Julia street).  I’ve also discovered some off-road areas accessible to the public I never knew existed, such as a walking path at the intersection of Marsh rd and Providence ave.

The other really fun aspect of all of this is the planning I get to do.  I try to make sure I can bike on as many streets as I can whenever I find myself in a new area.  Today, for work, I will need to bike to the school department’s off-campus program, houses in the Hamlin school at the intersection of Sawyer and Ocean.  There a re a number of dead end residential streets between Highland and Sawyer that I’ve never had an occasion to go down.  I’ll rectify that today.  I’m also planning on riding on a few streets off of Parrott street that I’ve been near.  All in all, I plan on riding on 18 new streets just in that small area.  I don’t feel the need to ride the entire length of a street for it to count towards my goal, but by the same token, I won’t cont a street if I only ride along it for a few feet.  I would like to go for a least a block.

With all of this great weather we’ve had recently, this has been a great way for me to enjoy sun and explore South Portland.

A New List to Ponder

Posted by Jim on Feb 17th, 2010
Feb 17

At some point in the past month, Novare Res created a new challenge for those of us who bested the list of 200 beers to try.  Now, in addition to having a personalized, engraved chalice (as well as the envy of beer needs far and wide), each member of the Uprising gets access to a special new car.  This VIP club, as it is known, features a list with 100 blank spaces, to be filled in by bottles and occasional draft pours of some of the rarest and finest beers Novare has on offer.  In fact, there is a special bottle list that only VIP club members have access to.  There is no prize for complete the card, but really, isn’t the additional beer education reward enough?  Also, there is no cost to join!  Once you’ve finished the Uprising challenge, all you do is have to ask to join the VIP club.  Right now, the VIP club is only being advertised via word-of-mouth but I figured I should give it a bit of an endorsement with a blog post (I hope there aren’t Fight Club style rules about it).

I joined the club this past Sunday, after learning about it from my fellow beer advocate Matt.  I didn’t copy down the entire list of exclusive bottles, but I know it contained all three of the De Proef collaboration beers (with Tomme Arthur, Jason Perkins and John Mallett), the Froach 20th Anniversary beer, Black Albert and Mikkeller Cascade Single Hop IPA.  In the future, more bottles will be added, and as the stock dwindles, some bottles will be removed from the list.  There is also the possibility of special draft selections being part of the VIP club, but it appears the focus of the club is for Eric to share some special bottles with a group of loyal customers who mainly drink the draft list. [if you had a 20 oz chalice, wouldn’t you stick to drafts as well?]  I’m excited to get back and try some more special bottles; I’ve been on the lookout for the Froach 20th Anniversary beer since I first heard of it a few months back.  I don’t know the policy of splitting big bottles from the list with non-VIP members, but if you see me at Novare and want to test the rules, just let me know.

I had already had a few rounds (there was a beer and chocolate pairing going on at the time of my visit), so I decided to inaugurate my card with a 12 oz seelction, the aforementioned Mikkeller Cascade.  Also that day, I reviewed a few other choice beverages, including what my be my favorite Cantillon selection, the St. Lamvinus.

Mikkeller Cascade Single Hop IPA

A- / 4.2
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Poured from a chilled bottle into my Uprising chalice at Novare Res. It has an opaque, dark orange appearance. There is a thin white head. There is no visible carbonation, but it is a dark beer, so any rising bubbles may be hidden from view. The aroma is surprising. I can smell sweet malts and some fruity hops. They work very well together. It has a crisp, dry bitter flavor. It’s very hoppy! It starts out bitter, then bitter flavors return anew in the finish. Not surprisingly, there is a bitter aftertaste as well. It actually tastes slightly creamy at first. It has a world class level of flavor. It has a lighter medium body. It’s hard to tell if the tickle I feel on my tongue is due to the carbonation or the bitter hops. It feels good either way. I find it to be very drinkable for a bitter beer. I wouldn’t want an entire 4/6 pack, but I could easily finish this bottle. With just these 12 ounces, I won’t get tired of the bitter hops.

Wintercoat Mols Øl

B+ / 3.9
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Hand pumped from a cask at Novare Res. The beer is a deep purple color with a soapy tan head. I am watching the head dissolve in front of me. There is some rising carbonation. It has a great cask beer look. I am not picking up much in the way of an aroma, just some slight woodsy notes. I can detect flavors of rye, plum, whiskey and a bite of alcohol. There may be some juniper in the mix as well. It’s a very complex beer. It has a medium body and not a very significant mouth coat. As for carbonation…let’s say if a beer with a lot of carbonation was like a huge mountain range, the Mols Øl is like some rolling hills; it’s not a flat beer, but it isn’t that difficult stomach [I’m not sure that analogy makes much sense now, but when I wrote it in my notebook I thought it was a good comparison]. This beer is not exactly what I was expecting from a Danish casked beer. The spices and complexity makes it hard to drink fast–I want to give each sip a lot of attention–yes it is still pretty drinkable.

Cantillion Saint Lamvinus

A+ / 4.55
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5

Reviewed from my notes. Review based upon two 4 ounce pours I had, each served in a tiny wine glass at Novare Res’ Valentines Day beer and chocolate pairing. The beer has an opaque plum/cranberry hue. There is no head or visible carbonation. It is a beautiful looking beer. It has a great fruity, funky aroma. It is slightly champagne-like. A mildly sweet fruit flavor is the first thing I taste. Tartness kicks in as I swallow and lingers briefly. I am definitely tasting wine-like flavors (red grapes, mostly), but all in a great funk wrapper. It’s delicious. It has a crisp, dry light body. The tingly funk feeling is a great substitute for the carbonation bubbles you can usually feel in beers. There is a slight mouth coat. For a sour beer, this is amazingly drinkable. It really isn’t all that sour. I wish I had a bigger pour! It is definitely a sipper, but extremely enjoyable. Personally, I can’t see myself ever getting tired of this beer. It is near perfect.

Sebago Frye’s Leap IPA

B+ / 3.8
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my tasting notes. Served at the Old Port Sebago location in a logo glass. The beer has a translucent, tarnished orange color. There is a thin head made of white soap bubbles. I can see lots of carbonation rising within. It’s aroma is earthy and has scents of grassy hops. It is not an overpowering smell. The beer tastes like a mouthful of hops. There is sweetness, citrus and lots of bitterness. The bitter flavor stay on long after I’ve swallowed. It’s body is lighter and feels slightly watery. It does have a good mouthcoating–a fine layer of sweet and bitter flavors/feelings. The carbonation compliments the bitter flavors. I find this to be a pretty drinkable beer, especially for a bitter IPA. The bitterness may prove to be too strong after a while, but this single pint drinks very well. A solid, reliable, local IPA that is worth revisiting.

Bonus review from a Monday afternoon tasting: Nøgne-ø/Jolly Pumpkin/Stone Special Holiday Ale

A / 4.3
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4.5

Poured from a cellar temperature bottle into a Gouden Carolus chalice. It has a dark ruby/brown color, almost like a glass of cola. There is a modest tan foam head that settled down to a skim of foam. No light can penetrate through the sides of the glass, but near the top of the beer some light filters through and I can see bubbles rising to the top. The aroma can be classified and spiced malt. I am picking up nutmeg, sweet candy and a bit of juniper. It’s very interesting. It has a big roasted malt flavor. You can taste the rye a bit of the nuttiness from the chestnuts. It also has a touch of warm alcohol that lingers on, along with some forest-like flavors (probably the juniper I picked up in the nose) and finishes up with a slight coffee bitterness. I was surprised at how thick this beer was when I first tasted it. I rolls around your mouth and doesn’t want to leave once you’ve swallowed. It has the kind of body that demands respect and attention. It is hearty enough to earn the name winter warmer. Despite the big body and flavors, I find the beer to be quite drinkable. At no point do the spices overwhelm, nor does the ABV. This is an ideal beverage for a long winters night. Highly recommended!

A near perfect meal

Posted by Jim on Feb 9th, 2010
Feb 9

Nissa and I took advantage of locals night at the Lion’s Pride yesterday.  The special pricing includes $12 for a large plate of shrimp scampi or generous cut of prime rib.  I guess it’s called locals night because not many tourists are still in Brunswick on Mondays.  We drove up from South Portland for the meal, and I certainly found it to be worthwhile.  It’s amazing to me that more people aren’t taking advantage of this offer.  I know we are all experiencing tough economic times, but if you are able to afford a meal out, this should be near the top of your list.  The steak I ordered was very tasty.  It had been way too long since I ordered a piece of prime rib.  I wouldn’t say that the cut I had last night is better than the sirloin tips that are always on the menu, but I am still very happy with my choice.  As soon as Nissa and I decided to have dinner here, I was picturing what find beer I would order to accompany my meal.  For me, it was a no-brainer: a glass of Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale.  This s one of my favorite beers.  It’s high cost and rarity makes it a special occasion beer for me, and this nice dinner seemed like a good opportunity to order one.  here’s my impression of this terrific brew.

Pannepot Old Fisherman’s Ale

A+ / 4.65
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 5

Reviewed from my tasting notes. Served in a snifter at the Lion’s Pride. The beer is colored a very dark shade of brown; it is too dark too see anything through it except for a faint glow caused by a bright light. There was a small head of tiny tan bubbles It quickly settled to skim of foam. There was a little bit of lacing left by the settling, but a great amount of lacing occurred as I began to drink the beer. The Old Fisherman’s Ale smells nothing like an old fisherman. It is mainly sweet, with plenty of spices. I think I can detect aromas of clove and date, but identifying smells is one of my weak points, so I can’t do this aroma justice. I find it be very pleasant and a perfect compliment to the amazing flavor this beer possesses. I taste plums and dates. It is a bit sweet, but not as sweet as other Quads and high alcohol brews. In fact, there is just a hint of alcohol, mostly in the finish. You can feel and taste it evaporating after you swallow. For a spiced beer, this is taste perfection. The body is of medium consistency, while the level of carbonation is on the lighter side. There is some mouth coating, but it is very slight. It is not syrupy or sticky; as I described above, it feels like it is just a thin layer of alcohol the pleasantly disappears. This is especially impressive, considering the strength and style of this beer. This quality mouthfeel lends itself to making Pannepot incredibly drinkable. The spices never get overwhelming. If you order a glass of this, or pop open a bottle, you could sip it slowly for a long time, or just as easily, you could order round after round. The alcohol never impedes the drinkablity (the Old Fisherman’s Ale is dangerous that way). I would drink this beer all the time, if it wasn’t so rare (and expensive). It’s an exceptional product that I can easily call my favorite Quad.

The Lion’s Pride always has a bunch of posters up advertising upcoming events and specials, so I was surprised when I saw an announcement on their blog that was not advertised in the restaurant.  The week spanning March 5 through the 13th is the date of the Lion’s Pride First Annual Belgian Beer fest.  Beer nerds far and wide know the reputation of the Belgian Beer festival held annually at Ebenezer’s (the Lion’s Pride’s sister location), so to have a similar event this close to home is something to be very excited about.  Chris, the host of these events, is always very generous with the rare beers he offers to those lucky folks who make the pilgrimage to the event, and this one looks to be no different.  The blog has a number of beers listed, but the event listing at Beer Advocate actually has a bit more information, so I’ll copy that list for you to look over:

On Draught:
A whole bunch of Allagash Goodies will be on draught
De Dolle Mad Bitch Oct.2009
DeDolle Stille Nacht 2007
Tsmije Plus
Tsmije Tripel
Tsmije Kerst
Tsmije Catherine The Great
Tsmije Wostyjte
Tsmije BBB (CASK)
Oude Beersel Framboise
Oude Beersel Unblended Lambic
Pannepot 2007
Tsjeeses 2008
De Glazen Toren Jan De Litche
De Glazen Toren Saison De Epmere
De Glazen Toren Canister
Cuvee De Angelique
Konnenings Hoeven Quad
Chimay Tripel
Cantillon Gueuze
Cantillon Cuvee De Champions 02-03
Cantillon Lou Pepe Kriek 2006
Cantillon Vigeronne
La Trappe Brother Isdor
Abbey ST Bon Chien 2006
Abbey ST Bon Chien 2007
Abbey St Bn Chien 2008
BFM Le Muele
BFM Toriple
Brooklyn Flemish Gold
St. Bernardus
And a few other rather interesting things being poured as well 😉

It’s easy to be excited about everything on that list.  Considering that something as amazing as Koningshoeven Quad is the low point (as in, easiest to acquire outside of this event) , I don’t know how a beer fan could not be incredibly excited about this event.  I find it too hard to even list the stand-outs—they are all stand-outs.  But on March 5 I’ll have to decide what to drink first, so based upon what information I have now, I think I would have to order a Kabert.  Don’t go looking for a beer Advocate listing for Kabert, you won’t find it, this beer is too rare.  It’s a special blend of Portsmouth’s Kate the Great and De Struisse’s Black Albert.  Is it possible for two of the greatest beers on Earth to be made even better?  I’ll let you know on March 5th.

Last Night’s Reviews

Posted by Jim on Jan 22nd, 2010
Jan 22

My first Pitch the Pint night at the Lion’s Pride was an excellent experience.  The place was virtually empty, which surprised Nissa and I, but it meant that we could kick back and have an hours long conversation about beer with Leigh and Ryan (our gracious hosts for the evening) and close down the bar.  We left with a few glasses, which was very generous, and got to tour the behind the scenes areas (VIP access!).  It was a really special night, and other great memory I’ll associate this excellent beer bar.

I reviewed three beers over the course of the evening. They aren’t very wordy, but I only wanted to jot down quick tasting notes so I could get back to the conversation.

d’Achouffe Le Chouffe

A / 4.35
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Poured from a bottle into a Le Chouffe goblet. It’s a golden orange beer with a thin white head. It’s translucent and has lots of carbonation bubbles visible within. It has a very nice earthy yeast aroma; there may be a hint of fruit in it as well. It has a great grassy, wheat like taste. There is a hint of alcohol in the finish. It’s spiced to perfection. It has a heavier body than I expected, and a plenty of carbonation. It’s a bit strong, but very good to drink. An excellent beer.

d’Achouffe N’Ice Chouffe

B+ / 3.8
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | drink: 4

Reviewed from my notes. Served in a La Chouffe goblet. It has a medium brown color, opaque, with a thin skim of grey bubbles. I couldn’t detect much aroma, but it was served pretty cold. It has a slightly sweet flavor, with some caramel notes. There is a lot of carbonation and a medium body. Overall, a pretty interesting beer that was fun to drink, but I don’t think I’d order too many. I’m glad I got it on tap instead of in a bottle.

De Glazen Toren Jan de Lichte

A / 4.4
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | drink: 4.5

Reviewed from my notes. Served in a tulip glass. The beer is colored somewhere between gold and orange. It has a nice, thick white foam head. There isn’t much carbonation visible in the glass. There is a slight earthy yeast aroma. You can taste orange and coriander as well as some candy sugar sweetness in the finish. It is an interesting mix of flavors, complex like a glass of champagne. It has a less-than-medium body and a near perfect mouth coating (just enough to leave you wanting another sip). This beer is highly drinkable. I could stick with this all night. Everything by De Glazen Toren is so good!

There was some great stuff on tap last night that we didn’t get to try.  Good thing we’ll be back in Brunswick on Saturday!

21rst at 76

Posted by Jim on Dec 4th, 2009
Dec 4

Tomorrow is Repeal Day, the 76th anniversary of the ratification of the 21rst amendment, which repealed the 18th and made alcohol legal once again!  One way I’m honoring that great act is by buying and consuming some exceptional beers.

I made a trip to Downeast Beverage yesterday afternoon, whilst waiting for 4 pm to roll around and for Novare Res to open its doors.  I really shouldn’t go here alone, especially with a fat wallet, as I always see so many beers I want to purchase, and I usually end up buying most of what I want.  I limited myself to four bottles, all of which look to be exceptional.  I picked up a 750 ml of Fantome Noel, which is the third different Fantome selection I’ve added to my cellar since the fall.  It’s such a great brewery, I feel really lucky that I am able to find so many different Fantome products in Maine.

I also bought myself a bottle of Weyerbacher XIII, their anniversary beer from 2008.  I already had a bottle of the Twelve and the fourteen should still be on store shelves; once I pick one up, I’ll have a bit of a vertical going.  That’s pretty exciting!

Lastly, I bought two 12 oz bottles of J.W. Lees Harvest Ale.  One is from 2007, which I’ll save until 2017 so Nissa and I can drink it on our tenth wedding anniversary.  The other bottle is the port cask aged variety and it dates from 2005.  This is my favorite style of the cask aged series.  I’ll probably drink it soon, maybe for Christmas or New Years.

Tomorrow, on Repeal Day, Nissa and I will be traveling to a home in Biddeford to take part in the first meeting of the Southern Maine Beer Drinkers Group, a collection of beer enthusiasts who met on Beer Advocate.  There will be some exceptional beers on offer tomorrow.  I’ll do a full write up of what I got try after the meeting.

Finally, tonight is the First Friday Art Walk in Portland.  I’ll be headed out to the Two Point Gallery to meet the folks behind Rum Riot Brewing Company.  There isn’t much information on this group (at least not that I could find), but apparently they only offer there beers in two ways: on draught at a specific gallery on First Friday or in a bottle/growler by contacting the brewery directly.  I hope that their beer is good, as I’d love to think I’ve discovered a new source of excellent beer from right here in the Portland area.  If you get a chance, make your way to 564 Congress at 5pm and join me for a beer you most likely have never tried before.  Plus, it’s free!

Winter Changes

Posted by Jim on Dec 1st, 2009
Dec 1

I decided to update my desktop picture today to reflect the change of the season.  What do you think?

Winter '09-'10 Desktop

The picture is a piece of original digital art by my friend Steven Albert.  It a background from the animated film Balto, which Steven worked on.

In case you are curious, the icons in my menu bar represent Meteorologist, Adium (with the 1Up menu bar icon xtra), GrowlTunes, Library Books, iScrobbler, Spaces, Time Machine, Bluetooth, AirPort, Battery, iStat Menus Time & Date and Spotlight.

My dock has Finder, Safari, Firefox, Adium (with a Darth Vader icon xtra that doesn’t appear to be available any more), iChat, Mail, Tweetdeck, Address Book, Stickies, NeoOffice,, Text Wrangler, Text Edit, iTunes, FrostWire, Transmission, CyberDuck, iPhoto, System Preferences, Terminal, Activity Monitor, Console, Network Utility, AirPort Utility, Disk Utility, my downloads folder and the Trash.

Birthday Wishes

Posted by Jim on Nov 23rd, 2009
Nov 23

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Bull Moose.  I’m not sure of the actual date the first store in Brunswick opened, but since mentions of the anniversary have become more frequent, both at Bull Moose’s site and in the media, I figured the time was right for me to post some memories of my favorite music/movies/video games/etc. store.

I’m pretty sure that my first visit to a Bull Moose was in the spring of 1998.  Some friends and I left Waldoboro to drive into South Portland to do some shopping in the mall area.  On our way through Brunswick someone decided we should stop to visit a record store I had never heard of before; the only music store in town I was familiar with was the chain store at Cook’s Corner.  I remember walking in and being impressed with both the huge selection of music, but also with all of the other merchandise, as well as the cool music playing and interesting stickers and posters covering the walls and windows.  This wasn’t slick or corporate, it was like visiting a cool friend’s basement rec room.  I knew that in a few months, when I started attending Bowdoin, that I would be spending a lot of time at this quirky shop right down the road (it wasn’t until a few years later that I learned the founder of Bull Moose was a Bowdoin grad; I began to love the store even more).

I don’t have the receipt of my purchases that day, but I do know one of the discs I walked out the door with was Old and In the Way’s self-titled release.  I was getting into the Grateful Dead over the past year and had recently been introduced to Jerry Garcia’s diverse side projects.  This bluegrass effort seemed like a promising album and eleven years later, I still consider it one of my favorites.  Besides the CD I purchased, I do have one other memento from that day.  I signed up for my frequent buyers card during that visit, and I still have the same card in my wallet.  It’s been in my pocket longer than any other card I carry, and I’ve had to repair it with packing tape to keep it from breaking in half, but it is still the one card that I don’t leave home without.

Beaten and broken but still earning me points

Beaten and broken but still earning me points

I’ve had a lot of great experiences at the various Bull Moose stores, here are some of my favorites:

Walking down the stairs and into the Old Port location to find myself in the middle of a very low key El Vez live performance.

Spending a gift certificate for my birthday on The FeeliesOnly Life” album and being told by the cashier that “every time someone purchases a Feelies reissue an angel gets its wings.”

Being called out by name when I accidentally left my frequent buyer card behind at the counter.  Sure, maybe the only reason the girl working new my name was because she had just scanned my card, but I’d like to think it was because I was visiting the Brunswick store an average of two to four times a month.

Buying a copy of Johnny Cash‘s Unearthed box set (in pristine condition) from the used section and being complimented for my good taste in music while also being chided for buying it before any of the staff had a chance to set it aside for themselves.

I was in the Brunswick store late on a Saturday night when I was kicked out because the store was closing.  I was having somewhat of a tough time at college at that point, and this was one in a long number of Saturday nights I hadn’t done anything exciting.  I had decided to go cheer myself up with a music purchase.  The store was about to close and I didn’t want to leave empty handed, so I grabbed the Talking Heads Remain in Light disc.  I had never heard the album, and only knew that it was supposed to be good (Phish had covered it in its entirety and that was enough of a recommendation for me at the time).  The guy working who was kicking me out told me I had made an awesome choice as he rung me up. Unbeknownst to him, that little compliment made my day.  That disc also turned me into a devoted Talking Heads fan.  I now own all of their albums, all purchased from various Bull Moose locations.  [For years, the first thing I would do when I went to Bull Moose was check the used section for any Talking Heads CDs I didn’t own; about three years ago I finally found a copy of Little Creatures, the elusive holdout in my collection.]

As I implied above, in college I was a pretty big Phish fan.  The band was playing two nights at the Cumberland County Civic Center in December of 1999 and I wanted tickets for both nights.  I had quite the scare when I went to buy my tickets at Bull Moose.  I don’t know if the cashier hit a wrong button, but when I first tried to get them, he told me the show had just sold out (the people in front of me in line all got tickets).  Luckily for me, he tried again and was able to secure my tickets for the shows.

In one of many musical discoveries, I remember being at the Scarborough store with my then girlfriend, now wife, and hearing some impressive rockabilly/bluegrass/awesome music over the loudspeakers.  After about 15 minutes of listening while browsing, we had to find out what we were listening to.  It was Langhorne Slim‘s When the Sun’s Gone Down album, a copy of which we promptly bought (and have been fans of ever since).  [Which reminds me, I need to come in and get his latest release!]

While not happening in the store, nor exclusive to a single event, I need to list this decidedly Bull Moose occurrence.  If you are like me, and love to spread your love of Bull Moose, I’m sure you’ve had a similar experience.  I love watching the reactions of friends and family members when they unwrap a gift to discover a dreadful looking CD, only to open the case and realize what they are actually holding is a Bull Moose gift certificate.  [Also, I have to celebrate that Bull Moose still offers gift certificates in “bad cd” form; it’s so much more fun to give or receive than a gift card.]

All of these moments stand out enough in my mind for me to recount them here, but I think the small, insignificant experiences that blend together are the ones that I  remember most fondly.  I don’t know many times my friends and I have walked into a store and spent literally hours browsing, trying to decide which or the thousands of great discs we should spend out money on.  At this point in my life, my collection is too large to remember where each CD came from, but I know a number originated as a discovery in the used section.  Usually when I find a great disc for a pre-owned price I think about how lucky I am, but once in a while I feel sorry for the person who had to give up such great music.  I can’t think of another store that makes something as mundane as shopping into such a wonderful experience for me.

I’m really glad that Bull Moose is still with us (the full 20 years for some of you, 11 for me).  We hear a lot about how the recording industry is changing and that it is impossible for independent music stores to survive.  At this time of the year, when we think about all the things we are grateful for, I am very thankful that Bull Moose has proven to be successful in spite of what is occurring in the words of music and movies as well as in the face of such difficult economic times.  I hope it is around for a long time to come.  I can’t imagine buying my music, movies, or video games any place else.

Lastly, a collection of some of the words of wisdom printed on my old receipts:

  • steely dan makes me weep.
  • experience the awe of the moist gumball
  • beck really wants you to dance
  • harry potter books not sold here
  • ask chad why he’s called “chadmatoes.”
  • harry connick mowatt jr.
  • …hang on to the sasss…
  • dinosaurs once roamed here—never forget
  • I was negative 2 in 1985
  • how many times can you watch zombies?
  • my lips feel like warm cheese
  • pathetic attempt to sound indie
  • it’s not a glow-stick, it’s a slim jim!
  • what about the voice of geddy lee?

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