Soup du Jour
Launching a blog has reminded me of the start-up bands I played in through high school. In the age of Led Zeppelin and the Strawberry Alarm Clock, the first, most critical decision was, what would we be called? The first several practice sessions, meant for playing music, were spent instead with pen and paper, brainstorming and rejecting band names. The name had to be clever, memorable and (marginally) pertinent. And it couldn’t be a name that would embarrass us when we rocketed to stardom someday (though a silly name didn’t hurt the Beatles).
And so with a blog. A colleague introduced the idea: “There’s a space on the new website for you to start a blog.” As I wondered about ideas, writing schedules and timeliness, he followed up with the question that really counted: “What are you going to call it?” What? I have to name this thing? Out came the pen and paper, and suddenly I’m back at band practice.
Who am I, who do I want to reach out there in the ether, and can a name help? I work in the beer world pretty much 24/7, editing a magazine about beer and writing a newspaper column on same, so the name has to allude to the beverage. Despite being nearly marinated in the stuff, I didn’t want to christen myself as The Beer [insert female word]. The good ones are taken: there is already a Beer Chick, as well as a bitch, a goddess, a vixen, a slut, a wench and a queen of beer. That leaves the female names that promise more than I care to deliver—jade, strumpet, hussy and minx come to mind—or aren’t very inviting, along the lines of matron, scold or harridan.
“The Beer Matron.” I’ll pass.
Of course, there are words that link women spiritually to beer: Ninkasi and Tenenit, the beer goddesses of Sumeria and of Egypt; and Kalevatar, the maiden who discovers the magic of fermentation in the Finnish creation saga, the Kalevala. But these references are a little obscure; besides, the best-known translation of the Kalevala bears an irritating rhythmic resemblance to Hiawatha. There are also historic connections to the women who worked in beer, the brewsters and alewives who brewed or sold beer in past centuries. But after some work (and a beer), I dropped the female references from the list of nominated names.
From what remained, my favorite candidate was “Head Retention,” which kind of describes the way my brain works. Alternatively, I wanted to sign myself “Agatha Gristy.” But friends insisted that the first would attract attention of the Wrong Kind, the second showed a smart alecky fondness for puns, and that both implied that I know more about brewing than I actually know. Fair enough.
So, welcome to “Beer Soup,” a place where any ingredients can be considered. Somewhere between Duck Soup, a favorite film, and Stone Soup, my favorite fairy tale, where so much seems to come from so little, “Beer Soup” will stir together bits of whatever I have on hand, in hopes that something unexpectedly tasty results.
Still, I hope that someday, somebody picks up “Head Retention.” It would be a good band name.