Montgolfiere Weekly

An exploration of culture in its many forms


by Pat Rich

Phänomenologie des Kraftbiers

By Pat Rich

Recently I was contemplating Hegel and the end of history, something I had not done since my university days. This was prompted not by existential angst but by a recent article in The Globe and Mail – and not one of the profound musings of Margaret Wente, but rather a piece in the Living section.

The article described how a small microbrewery in Seaforth, Ontario — Half Hours on Earth Brewery (the name itself evidently taken from the lyrics of a now-defunct New York rock band) — has turned to music lyrics to name its beers. Continue reading “Phänomenologie des Kraftbiers”

A recent Paris visit: Being a short dissertation of potential value to the neophyte traveller

By Pat Rich


While it may come as a surprise to those anticipating that the whole world now speaks English, they do indeed still speak French in Paris. However, Parisians are now far more accommodating to unilingual English tourists than they were in the past. Those speaking English only will no longer be greeted with distain, and English is almost universally understood in tourist settings. Attempts to speak French by anglophones will be appreciated, but the visitor will generally find their Parisian host/server will instantly recognize a non-native accent and switch to English. Continue reading “A recent Paris visit: Being a short dissertation of potential value to the neophyte traveller”

The new beer culture

by Pat Rich

We were sitting with friends at the Aberdeen Pavilion in Lansdowne Park in Ottawa a few weeks ago enjoying the St. Patrick’s Day festivities with music, food and, most important, at least 12 different varieties of draft beer supplied by Beau’s Brewery, the well-established Vankleek Hill microbrewery.

The event had been sold out for weeks and mirrored the success Beau’s has had with its Oktoberfest event held for the past 7 years at the Vankleek Hill Fairgrounds. Beau’s also sponsored the St. Patrick’s Day parade that preceded the Lansdowne Park event. A spokesman for the brewery was quoted as saying the celebrations aimed to have “a more traditional, cultural focus. We want this to be a cultural celebration.” Continue reading “The new beer culture”

A pint of plain and #dotMED16

by Pat Rich

It was probably inevitable that what was intended to be a sincere post about a unique conference in Dublin that combines the humanities and medicine (#dotMED16) would ramble a tad unsteadily into ruminations about Flann O’Brien and the Platonic theory of forms as it relates to Irish pubs.

Frankly, it was Samuel Shem, the keynote speaker at the dotMED conference, who brought the disparate elements together when he explicitly referenced O’Brien’s The Third Policeman and how Shem had incorporated the two large (both in size and importance) policemen from that book into his own novel, The House of God. Continue reading “A pint of plain and #dotMED16”

I laughed until I stopped: Are the Internet and social media killing satire?

by Pat Rich

Social media and the Internet have been widely praised for ushering in a new era of improved communications and networking. Through the Internet and a wide variety of social media tools and platforms, individuals have the opportunity to interact globally at levels previously unknown in human history.

Unfortunately, the widespread use of social media and the Internet has led to unprecedented levels of bad behavior (spamming, flaming, trolling … you name it) and appears to be threatening long-cherished literary forms such as satire. Continue reading “I laughed until I stopped: Are the Internet and social media killing satire?”

Tweeting the west wind

by Pat Rich

One of my main activities on social media for the last few years has been to follow on Twitter the life of a man who dies each year and is then reborn to die again the following year.

No, not him.

I’m referring to perhaps Canada’s only truly iconic artist — Tom Thomson. Continue reading “Tweeting the west wind”

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