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Eric: Yet More On Burns Night

I've had other questions sent to me about this most Scots of nights. Well, as it turns out, the Wikipedia entry on Burns Night has a good solid grounding on formal and informal Burns Night revelry.

For me, Burns Night has always been about Whisky and Poetry. I remember a truly wonderful, drunken Burns Night back in my Ithaca days where we sat about, getting drunker and drunker and scouring my copy of the Norton Anthology for any poetry we felt like declaiming in a drunken rant.

Tonight, I will indeed read a poem or three, potentially reciting them to my cat. And I have rather a lot of Scotch on hand, including a wonderfully casky Bowmore I got for Arisia. I got it because it came with a hip flask, actually. But the scotch turned out to be superior, which is a nice thing.

So, imagine me if you will, tippling of the water of life and reading poetry to my cat and to all who come in spirit.

And imagine me not having Haggis, because honestly, that shit be nasty.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at January 25, 2006 1:29 PM

Comments

Comment from: Darth Paradox posted at January 25, 2006 1:56 PM

Aye, I'll be raising a glass of scotch tonight. Maybe I'll track down some poetry, too - your tradition sounds quite fun.

Comment from: Robotech_Master posted at January 25, 2006 2:02 PM

Sounds like a good excuse for polishing off that bottle of Glenlivet in my cabinet.

In lieu of haggis, perhaps you could have some vienna sausage instead.

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 25, 2006 2:04 PM

Or thermal rubber. That would be about right.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 25, 2006 2:06 PM

s/reading\ poetry/WIN\ THE\ BLOODY\ LOTTERY/

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 25, 2006 2:09 PM

I have no whiskey.

Why did you let me leave America with no whiskey?

I HAVE NO WHISKEY.

(Mind, I'm also totally unqualified to observe the occasion, given that, well, poetry.)

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 25, 2006 2:10 PM

You don't have to write the poetry, dear. Just read it.

And you have Stark Vodka. I think Robert Burns would approve.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski posted at January 25, 2006 2:27 PM

Next January 18 I must remember to settle in my chair with honey and milk, and read Now We Are Six to my cat.

Comment from: Doctor Setebos posted at January 25, 2006 2:29 PM

And you have Stark Vodka. I think Robert Burns would approve.
Robert Burns would approve of any alcohol, if I remember correctly.

Comment from: Ray Radlein posted at January 25, 2006 2:49 PM

s/reading\ poetry/WIN\ THE\ BLOODY\ LOTTERY/

So you think that he should spend the evening "[....] tippling of the water of life and WIN THE BLOODY LOTTERY to my cat"? What does that even mean?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 25, 2006 3:33 PM

It seems to me, given your current location, that you should have no problem getting a hold of whiskey, scotch, or any number of inebriating drinks, Weds.

Comment from: Tangent posted at January 25, 2006 4:38 PM

mmmm... scotch...

Comment from: Ghastly posted at January 25, 2006 5:16 PM

I played a Scotchtoberfest gig once and they served "hagwurst". Haggis stuffed into sausage casings served in a bun.

It was very good.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 25, 2006 5:17 PM

But I'm not qualified to *read* the poetry, dear. That's half the point.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 25, 2006 5:24 PM

Also:

Ray: It means "Not having had coffee yet, this is the only way I can express, 'Screw the poetry. Win the lottery instead.'"

32: We had a couplefew single-serving bottles of proper single malt in the house before I left; I arguably should have snagged the one I meant to drink before leaving, but didn't. Also, believe it or not, the stuff's cheaper in New Hampshire eight times out of ten.

Plus, the Tesco shuts at eight.

Comment from: Denyer posted at January 25, 2006 5:44 PM

imagine me not having Haggis, because honestly, that shit be nasty.

Tried haggis for the first time the other day, and rather liked it. Goes well with mashed swede and potato... just try not to think of it as being approximately one third finely-shredded pig lung if that sort of thing bothers you...

At least it's not czarnina.

Comment from: larksilver posted at January 25, 2006 6:09 PM

NPR did a bit about Robert Burns the other day (and of course, my first thought was: "ooh his birthday must be coming. Eric's going to blog about it." How sad is that?)

Anyway... they were talking about Scottish traditions on Burns Night, and the preparations many Scots were making for it. One individual they interviewed was making haggis, and even he said that sometimes, he looks down at what he's doing, and thinks "I'm going to EAT this nasty mess?"

Comment from: larksilver posted at January 25, 2006 6:10 PM

Note: I don't recall if they called it Burns Night or not in the interview; now it's just called that in my brain, and it's all Eric's fault.

Comment from: Alan Sharkey posted at January 25, 2006 6:24 PM

It's odd. I'm possibly the least patriotic person ever, but you mess with the haggis and you mess with me.

...me being an 8-stone beanpole with bony flapping arms, but that's beside the point. The haggis is king. Great chieftain o' thy puddin' race, indeed.

It's possibly due to the fact that we have a national hero who wrote poetry, got drunk and shacked up with almost anyone who'd go near him. Other nations have great statesmen, military geniuses. We have a farmer/customs official from Ayr. Excellent stuff.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 25, 2006 6:51 PM

just try not to think of it as being approximately one third finely-shredded pig lung

They sell vegetarian haggis over here.

I'm all WHYEE?

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 25, 2006 7:05 PM

Vegetarian haggis? Is that just an empty plate?

Comment from: Denyer posted at January 25, 2006 7:17 PM

Veggie haggis... well, it's mashed up stuff with spices cooked in a skin of some kind. It's the vegetarian bacon I think's taking the piss rather. What next? Vegetarian beef, sasquatch and longpig?

But of course: http://www.eathufu.com/home.asp

Comment from: ptdebelak posted at January 25, 2006 7:19 PM

For some reason I have trouble associating sloppy drunkenness and a Norton Anthology of poetry. As a musician, the equivalent for me would be getting really drunk and then blasting Brahms' lullaby on the stereo. Not exactly my cup of tea.

Comment from: Canuck-Errant posted at January 25, 2006 7:36 PM

Wasn't there a British study that said eating haggis is really quite bad for you?

Comment from: Eric Burns posted at January 25, 2006 8:00 PM

For some reason I have trouble associating sloppy drunkenness and a Norton Anthology of poetry. As a musician, the equivalent for me would be getting really drunk and then blasting Brahms' lullaby on the stereo. Not exactly my cup of tea.

I submit we're not discussing the same poetry, then. Some poetry is greatly enhanced -- celebrated, even -- with alcohol and passion.

Comment from: Denyer posted at January 25, 2006 9:01 PM

Mmm... Harrison's V would be the equivalent of death metal or traditional punk, whilst Larkin lends himself more to stoner rock...

Comment from: Ghastly posted at January 25, 2006 9:08 PM

Comment from: Canuck-Errant

Wasn't there a British study that said eating haggis is really quite bad for you?

No, it was a British study that said the Scottish are really quite bad for you.

Comment from: Alan Sharkey posted at January 25, 2006 9:31 PM

Eating haggis is fine. The deep-fried mars bar, less so.

Comment from: Prodigal posted at January 25, 2006 9:42 PM

Weds, the fact that he let you leave America with no whisky is yet another proof (as it were) that he's crazy for you. You've got far better brands available to you where you live, or at least within a train ride of it.

As for the haggis? I suppose I've just been fortunate in the times I've eaten it. I love the stuff.

Comment from: 32_footsteps posted at January 25, 2006 11:04 PM

Let's put it this way - how much of the poetry written that made it into Norton's was made while the poet in question was greatly inebriated? Seems like a perfect fit to me.

Myself, I had a different night. I jammed on Guitar Hero, got threatened by Randy Milholland (but he won't carry it out so long as I keep reading S*P), and got to make a slew of totally inappropriate jokes with people I've never met before. Not quite whiskey and poetry, but I'll take it.

Comment from: larksilver posted at January 26, 2006 1:18 AM

Some poetry is greatly enhanced -- celebrated, even -- with alcohol and passion.

Heck, lots of poetry is only good if you're drunk or high-on-passion, or both.

the Scottish are really quite bad for you

I woke up my son (briefly, thankfully) laughing at this. Okay, okay, so I'm an easy mark. What can I say?

The deep-fried mars bar

I'm sorry... what was that? That phrase just does not compute somehow. Or maybe it broke my brain. Yeah, maybe that's it. deep fried... no, no that's not right. I must be reading it wrong.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 26, 2006 1:50 AM

Heck, lots of poetry is only good if you're drunk or high-on-passion, or both.

I'm sure that's not what he meant. (If it's only good when you're not sober, it's not good. If it's still good, but could get better, there's a shot.)

As for deep-fried Mars Bars: eh, tourist trap.

Comment from: ormond_sacker posted at January 26, 2006 3:26 AM

Tourist trap? Oh, thank God. The deep-fried Mars Bar has been vaguely unsettling since I heard about it. It's the unexpected tapioca ball in the bubble tea of my Hibernophilia. And... that's about enough Burns Night for me.

Comment from: miyaa posted at January 26, 2006 3:55 AM

Coincidentially, Good Eats had an all-new episode on some of the basics in bartending. No scotch recipies, but I do know now how to make a proper martini.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to get one of them ponies/jiglet combos.

(Can you be a proper bartender without actually having had alcohol other than at Mass or accidentially downing a whole container of Nyquil?)

Comment from: Darth Paradox posted at January 26, 2006 4:02 AM

Ahh. I had a glass of Macallan 12-year and read Scots Wha Hae over the phone to my girlfriend. A successful night, I suppose.

Here's to you, Robbie.

Comment from: Kaychsea posted at January 26, 2006 5:48 AM

Haggis: What else would you do with left over sheep? (Pig indeed!)

There are good and bad in the world of Haggis, stick to McSweens and you'll be fine, meat or veggie.

And they do the veggie one so Vegetarians can have a Burns night obviously.

Springbank 10 year old cask strength. Mmmmm....

Comment from: larksilver posted at January 26, 2006 10:02 AM

I'm sure that's not what he meant. (If it's only good when you're not sober, it's not good. If it's still good, but could get better, there's a shot.)

I know. It was meant as my own statement, my own thought on so much of the poetry that's out there, not an attempt at rephrasing Eric's words. Also, it was supposed to be a wee bit funny. So much for that, I guess.

Comment from: J.A.K posted at January 26, 2006 7:16 PM

Deep-fried mars bar = a Scottish delicacy which is a mars bar, deep fried in fat and batter. It is thought to be the leading cause of death in Scotland.

Of course, we do like our deep-fried delicacies. T

The chip shop nearest here will deep-fry anything (I hear the deep-fried Creme egg is good), and offer chocolated pizzas.

And it's cheap. It's perfect for us students. Unless you want a life epectancy.

And they do a haggis pizza, which actually takes the discussion back to Burns' night.

Haggis is brilliant, especially for breakfast.

Comment from: Wednesday White posted at January 26, 2006 8:20 PM

(Can you be a proper bartender without actually having had alcohol other than at Mass or accidentially downing a whole container of Nyquil?)

Yes. One of my best friends does reasonably well bartending at con parties where the alcohol selection is fairly comprehensive, and enjoys drink mixing -- but she has to have other people test new inventions for her, because she's teetotal.

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