Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Quick Reviews and Short Football Rant...

Merry Christmas to all!  And Happy New Year as well!  Another Christmas in the rearview and it's kind of sad already.  A lot of work for one day, but I had a truly wonderful holiday.  Spent time with family and friends, received some nice gifts, and enjoyed quite a few craft beers.

First, the best of the lot that I had over the holidays--Goose Island's Ten Hills IPA.  This APA is 6.2% ABV and was poured from a bottle into an SPG.  This beer gives you everything you would want from a pale ale.  There is a creamy head sitting softly atop a copper-colored beer and as the glass was emptied, nice lacing remained around the glass.

Big scents emerge immediately--tropical citrusy fruit, some maltiness and hints of bitter grapefruit.  The taste is also quite good.  The usual bitter hops of a pale ale blended with a nice bready mouthfeel make for a very good beer.  This is a solid 4, but limited.  If you see it, buy it.

Now for maybe the worst of the lot.  Ridgeway's Bad Elf Winter's Ale, is a poor excuse for a winter beer.  Maybe I was expecting a true winter beer--spicy, hearty, delicious, but Bad Elf offered none of that.  Instead, the thin, pale IPA from England is just OK even for an IPA.  I believe this beer to be more of a holiday novelty than a serious brew, as there are other beers in their holiday line that are much better.  Some of those include Lump of Coal Dark Holiday Stout, Pickled Santa English Xmas Ale, and Insanely Bad Elf Imperial Red Ale.

To football.  The Pittsburgh Steelers were bounced from the playoffs Sunday afternoon, when the Chiefs back-up players were cheated out of a win over the Chargers (yes, I'm bitter).  But, that's football.  It stinks that the NFL officials wait til the day after to say that we fucked up--I already knew that, but would rather them keep it to themselves since the game was over.

There's always next season.  Speaking of seasons, before you know it spring will be here.  Will we see some more Orioles magic in 2014?  I hope so.

More beer reviews coming Friday.  Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year's to all.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Crazy CBFs

I know.  I missed last Friday, but I assure you that I did enjoy a few craft beers.  And even though it is early right now, I want to talk about two of my favorite beers.

First, last Friday, I sampled the always excellent Anchor Steam Christmas Ale.  Now if you've had this beer and really know this beer, then you know that the label changes every year as does the recipe.  Not only is the beer a wonderful experience, with tastes and aromas of Christmas--spices, malty goodness and a slight trace of mild hops, but it reminds me why I love the Christmas season.  With this great beer, I do something that has become a Christmas tradition for me.

Each year, I buy a magnum of the Christmas Ale and wait a year to enjoy it.  But, for today, I am reviewing the 2013 release from a 12 oz. bottle.  This beer is a solid 5 for me.  Beer was poured into a SPG with a beautiful brownish color with a creamy white head.  There are notes of chocolate, holiday spices like cinnamon and clove, all finished with a slight bitter taste reminiscent of a dark chocolate.  I love this beer.  Try it...you won't be disappointed, and at only 5.5% ABV, you enjoy more than one.

The beer for today, actually from last night around 12:30am, is another winter favorite--Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale.  First off, this is a far cry from the traditional gingerbread Christmas beers.  This is an American IPA (or APA), with a big 6.8% ABV.  Sierra Nevada makes many beers that I love, and this is one of them.

Forget the cinnamon and spices you might expect because this is a big pale ale that pours a somewhat cloudy amber color with a rich head and excellent lacing.  The citrusy, hoppy aroma remains a constant, with slight hints of earthiness and grapefruit.  This beer lacks the heavy bitterness typical of many pale ales, and that makes it finish with a nice smooth mouthfeel.  Excellent beer.  I would also rate this a 5.

As for a Christmas blog, can't do it.  Too much to say, too little time.

Anyway, Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year as well.  In the meantime, drink good beer, enjoy time with family and friends, and if at all possible, do something nice for a total stranger.  And I don't mean just hold a door or offer a holiday greeting, I mean something truly heartfelt and full of Christmas spirit.  It will make you feel good.

Earlier this week, at a local restaurant with a good friend, he and I noticed a woman, perhaps in her 40's with two young children.  The woman wore a head scarf and was seemingly bald.  Maybe a cancer patient.  Regardless, I secretly paid her tab and was thanked by her waitress and the manager.  And you know what, it made me feel damn good.  Try it.  I hope she and her children have a fantastic Christmas.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Beer Friday

Welcome to another CBF.  I know it's Saturday but I'm trying my best.  Lots of Christmas business this week and very little writing.  But, I'm still in it for the long haul.  Things are definitely on the horizon.  Part one of my vampire novel is coming right after the New Year and I will also begin two other fairly lengthy writing projects.

You will find all of my updates here.

Anyway, who wants a cold beer?  (The answer to that is always a resounding hell yes!!!)   This week's beer is Blue Point Brewery's Winter Ale.  I would rate this a solid 3 (see previous post for rating info).

Blue Point's winter seasonal is somewhat of an oddball--it is an American amber/red ale that comes in at a robust 7% ABV.  The beer was poured from a 12 oz. bottle into a standard pint glass (SPG) and enjoyed while staring at the undecroated Christmas tree.  A blog about Xmas is really coming, by mid-week at the latest.

The winter ale is a crisp amber color, clear with a fair amount of lacing.  The beer smells of malts and doughy sweetness.  The first sip was like drinkling a typical red ale, save for the slightly higher alcohol content.  Amidst the malty goodness there is a hint of caramel that gives the beer a nice sugary quality.  There is very little hops to speak of, typical of a red ale.

Blue Point's winter offering is good, not a traditional winter beer that leans on spicy goodness for the flavor character.

Until next time, drink up and drink well.  And if you are in a store that sells beer and happen to see Anchor Steam's Christmas Ale, give it a shot.  You won't be disappointed.  Who knows, maybe I'll review the beer next week.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Beer Friday and a Writing Update

It's Friday again (well actually Monday) and I have a new beer review.  It would have been sooner but I was busy sleeping off my Thanksgiving turkey.

Today's beer is a real treat, a limited release, an expensiove one at that, and last but not least, a damn fine beer.

The beer is Goose Island's Bourbon County Brand Stout.  This Imperial Stout, aged in bourbon barrels, is high octane--almost 30 proof, or nearly 15% ABV, three timers higher than the average beer.  Where to start?

The 4-pack of 12 ounce bottles aren't cheap.  They retail for about $23, but are so limited that if a store has them then chances are they aren't sitting on a shelf.  Instead, a valued customer might receive a psst and then a few whispered words.  That's how I came to buy the beer.

The bottle was sampled at a Tipplers Beer Society meeting on November 30th.  The beer pours a thick black and aromas of coffee, chocolate, and molasses burst forth, with a strong scent of bourbon never too far behind.  The head is thin, but rich in tannish color.  The first taste...ah, bourbon and chocolate stout.  The beer reminded me of Stone's Russian Imperial Stout, after someone poured a shot of bourbon in it.  The aftertaste is of roasted chocolate and coffee with the tang of bourbon lingering.

It's a big beer, but easy enough to drink.  Would you sit around and drink a 4-pack by yourself?  Probably not.  Especially at over $5 a bottle.  And for the first time, I will give a beer a number rating.  This beer is a solid 4.

I rate beers 1-5.  Here is how the scale works: a 1 is a horrific beer that I probably wouldn't drink even if it was free.  A 5 would indicate an all-time favorite, a beer that I would actively seek out whenever possible.  An example of a 1 beer is Leinenkugel's Summer Shandy (tastes like a lemon cleaner) and a 5 would be Anchor Steam's Christmas Beer.

On a writing note, I am in the final stages of (finally) releasing '9 of a Kind' and I also have a story anthologized in a book just released last week.  The link is here.  My story is 'Bernice.'  Support your independent authors and enjoy the creepy stories.


Friday, November 22, 2013

A Trio of Beers (with a Spaghetti Western twist)

Hello.  Craft Beer Friday again.  Question is, where the hell have I been???  Out of town, shitty memory, and wrote a draft but didn't post.  So, that brings us up to speed.

Anyone remember the Clint Eastwood flick The Good, the Bad, and The Ugly?  Great movie which also stars Lee Van Cleef and Eli Wallach rounding out the trio.  Anyway, I'm going to review four beers today.

We will call them--the excellent, the really good, the good, and the horrifically awful.

Beer #1.  Samuel Adams Chocolate Cherry Bock (available in the winter variety 12 pack).  An excellent beer, sampled on...hell I can't remember the date.  The bottled beer was sampled from a wide-mouthed snifter glass.  The beer poured a dark brown with a creamy off tan head and a wonderful aroma of chocolate malts with hints of cherry.  The cherry flavor comes through like a shining star in the taste--crisp with the sweetness of maraschino cherries.  The beer reminds me a lot of Sam Adams Cherry Wheat, also quite good.

As a side note, years ago, when Sam's Cherry Wheat was a summer seasonal beer, my friends and I bought fifteen cases to make sure we didn't run short.  Sadly, the beers did not see the first cool autumn day.

Beer #2.  Stone Brewery's Ruination IPA.  This heavy Imperial IPA comes in at a stout 8.2% ABV.  As stated before, I love IPAs.  I would have rated this higher had I not tried the Sam Adams Chocolate Cherry Bock first.  The bomber bottle was poured into a standard pint glass.  The beer smells like a typical IPA--citrus, piney, and a strong hop aroma.  The amber colored beer maintained a good head and the lacing on the glass was off white and prominent.  I love this beer--but my favorite from Stone is their Russian Imperial Stout.

Beer #3.  Blue Mountain Brewery's Steel Wheels ESB.  I wanted to love this Virginia beer, but could not.  The ESB (extra strong bitter) poured yellowish clear with minimal head or lacing.  The taste was reminiscent of a bitter American red ale.  The canned beer was poured into a standard pint glass.  The bitterness flattened the taste of the beer a little too much for me, but I still liked it OK.  ESBs (a British style of beer) are typically not my favorites.  On to the ugly.

Beer #4.  Samuel Adams  Juniper IPA (also from the same winter variety 12 pack).  This beer is a swing and a miss.  As I opened the beer and sniffed the bottle I knew instantly that I would not like this beer.  Juniper berries are used to distill gin--NOT for flavoring beer.   The bottle of beer was poured into s standard pint glass (SPG from now on) and the colro was golden with a whitish head and minimal lacing.  The beer smells piney with strong odors of juniper--horrific.  I am not a gin drinker and so maybe for someone who does like gin, it might be the beer for them.  But not me.

I never finished the beer.  Still have a full one in the beer fridge.  I'll have to offer that to a guest, assuring them that it is a good beer.

A holiday blog coming Tuesday or Wednesday.  (I hope)

Keep trying craft beers--you never know when you just might discover your favorite new brew.

Friday, October 25, 2013

CBF (Craft Beer Friday)

Friday again.  Where does the time go?  Well, as long as it's Friday, I might as well enjoy another fine craft beer.

Today's beer is from Devil's Backbone Brewery Company out of Lexington, VA.  The beer, Eight Point IPA.  The deer-themed label depicts a timid buck sipping from a pond--but this is no timid beer.

Not to argue the minutiae, but I almost want to call this an APA (American pale ale, as opposed to an India pale ale) because it was not only made here in the US, but IPAs should be more bitter and have a higher ABV than APAs, but the lines can blur.  This beer tends towards an APA.

Anyway, back to Eight Point IPA.

The beer poured a clear, deep golden color with decent head and nice lacing.  Big aromas came right away.  There is a citrus odor masking a bready, doughy scent.  It is quite pleasant.  The beer is immensely drinkable at 5.9% ABV.

The grapefruit-like taste melds well with the consistent bitterness that is typical of this beer style.  There is a nice balance of carbonation as well, easily noted as the bitter fruit taste remains even after the beer is empty.

If you try and like Eight Point IPA, I would suggest Devil's Backbone's Vienna Lager.  It was the first beer I had from DB and it is also a very good beer.

And if you try both beers and like them, go to the DB site and buy something, or send them some love.  I especially like the shirt that reads "Nelson County, Va.  More Breweries than Stoplights".

Sounds like a wonderful place to me.  New post Monday or Tuesday. 


Friday, October 18, 2013

It's Craft Beer Friday Again...

Welcome back to another edition of Craft Beer Friday.  The beer this week is from one of my all-time favorite breweries, Sierra Nevada, out of Choco, California.  Other than their summer offering (I dislike almost all summer beers anyway), this is an outstanding brewery with a great heritage and the unique ability to constantly crank out great beer.

The selection this week is Sierra Nevada's Flipside Red IPA.  You might be wondering how a red IPA differs from a regular IPA, and I will tell you.  A red IPA is a normal American red ale, brewed with a stronger alcohol content, then hopped up like a pale ale, or in this case, an IPA.  And Sierra Nevada does it quite well.

Right away you get the bitterness of the hops and the dry mouth-feel, followed by the malty richness of the red ale.  This was purchased in a 12-pack and quaffed from a pint glass.  It is a beautiful beer.

Flipside pours a crisp copper red, with a hearty head that retains and leaves some lacing on the glass.  Because of the color of the beer, you immediatley think of a malty, bready richness, typical of American red ales.  But this is no 5% ABV beer.  Flipside is 6.2% ABV and has a depth of flavor unique to the style.  The maltiness is like a shadow for the powerful hop notes--in the background, yet always there.

The bitter, grapefruity  smell is slightly cut by the sweetness of the malts.  This is a very drinkable beer that could forge the way for other brewers to start making red IPAs (at least I hope so).

Another great beer for a Craft Beer Friday.  Go and grab yourself a 6 or 12 pack, or even a case of Sierra Nevada's Flipside.  You won't be disappointed.  If you are, send me the unused portion.

I will see that it is disposed of properly--one bottle at a time.


Saturday, October 12, 2013

Craft Beer Friday

I decided I would combine two of my favorite things--writing and beer.  I love beer.  Cheap domestic in cans (if that's all that is available) to expensive single bottles of limited release beers, I dig all of them.  Do I prefer Michelob Ultra over Anchor Steam Liberty Ale?  Never.  But when in Rome...

So every Friday (forgot to post this last night), I will choose a fine craft beer and give an honest review.  I am not by any means a beer expert, but I know a lot more than most.  Through my review, I hope to convert one non-craft beer drinker over to the dark side--and that dark side is full of wonderful beers, like porters and stouts, the trendy black IPAs, and all of the other wonderful shades of beer in the world.

Today's beer is from Ballast Point Brewing Company (San Diego, CA).  The selection is Sculpin IPA.  To not muddle the review, a quick word or two about the name of the beer.

Ballast Point names many of their beers after fish--a sculpin is a fish.  An IPA, or India pale ale, is a style of beer often brewed with pale malts and has a higher alcohol content (the earliest of these beers were shipped from England to their colonists in India and had to survive the long trip at sea).

Anyway, enough history, back to Sculpin IPA.  The beer was from a 12oz. bottle and the ABV (alcohol by volume) was 7%, high by the average beer standard, but right on par with most IPAs.

Simply stated, it is a wonderful beer.  The beer pours a mostly clear amber, with a generous head.  The beer was sampled out of a 16oz. pilsner glass.  As the beer level lowered, beautiful lacing rimmed the inside of the glass.

As for the smell of this fantastic elixir--imagine the aromatics a freshly peeled grapefruit would give off.  Strong scents of grapefruit and hops are easily noted.  The taste, magnificent.  Big, bold hop notes with the bitterness and boldness of grapefruit make for a great IPA.

Ballast Point Sculpin IPA could be my new favorite IPA.  I still love the beers that Stone, Lancaster, and Dogfish Head are making, but Sculpin certainly ranks among the top.

That's all for now.  After all, the beer did come in a six pack.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Where Did the Year Go???

Opened up my blog and was shocked to see that I hadn't posted anything since August 3rd.  So I ask, where did the summer go?  It seems as though it was just Memorial Day, as opposed to Labor Day.  Hell, now Halloween is just around the corner.

What about all of those summer projects that I had planned to tackle this year?  What about playing several rounds of golf, outside with buddies, drinking beer and hanging out?  Damn.

It was a weird summer.  We had a few streaks of weather that felt almost like autumn, and very few hot and humid days (thankfully).  A mild summer makes me hope for a mild winter.  Snow is for kids, and getting out of school, and snowball battles with friends.  As an adult, snow is just not my favoirite weather.

Snow is pretty to look at, initially before it is marred by dirt, exhaust and general grime.  But it sucks when you have to shovel it, dig a car out from under it, or worry about getting anywhere.  You don't have to shovel heat or humidity.  So I try not to complain about any summer weather.

Anyway, the Steelers are currently 0-4.  I'm a realist, so I know any chance for a playoff run is extremely slim, if not impossible.  I'm still hopeful.

Coming later this week, I will finally post a blog updating my (at best) fledgling writing career and what plans I have between now and the end of the year.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

A Super Bowl High...in July?

I meant to post this sooner, but shit happens.  Before I start, this is not a rant, nor the ravings of a bitter fan.  These are simply facts as I have experienced them.

As a lifelong Pittsburgh Steelers fan, I have nothing against the Ravens, their players, their quality organization or their fans.  First and foremost I am a football fan.  I will watch the worst two teams play even during preseason.  I love football that much.

But it's baseball season now.  And a few years ago, for one summer, I was an Orioles season ticket holder.  I have always been an Orioles fan.  Last season was a treat for O's fans as the team finally showed some real promise.  This season is no different.  I occasionally wear an Orioles hat in public, whether it be at a grocery store or out getting gas.  But since the Super Bowl on February 3rd of this year, something odd has taken place.

The Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31 in an exciting game.  I was happy for all.  It would not have broken my heart had the 49ers rallied at the end, but that may be a topic for another entry.

Anyway, since the Super Bowl, no matter where I go, someone is always decked out in Ravens gear as if it was December and the team had already locked up the AFC North.

I guess some folks are still high off their Super Bowl victory.  Look, I rooted for the Ravens when they beat the Giants like a drum in Super Bowl XXXV.  I rationalized that if not the Steelers, at least someone in our division.

I knew a lot of Ravens fans who felt the same way.  They ALL have changed.  They hate the Steelers and want to see them do poorly forever.  Oh well.  I also find that people who are new to me and seemingly think I'm a decent guy, soon change their opinion when they find out that I support the Steelers.

It's just a kid's game, played by rich men, who are not nearly as fanatical as you or me or any other crazy fan that bleeds Purple, Black and Gold, or Philly Green.

In a nutshell, I will continue to support the Black and Orange, rooting for Mr. Jones, Crush, my all-time favorite Greek player, and Manny the Kid.    But when the Steelers play their first regular season game on Sunday, September 8th against the Tennessee Titans, I will be cheering my Black and Gold to victory.

But I'll also continue rooting for the Black and Orange.  Go O's.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Moby Dick, the Masterpiece

Moby Dick is a big book, full of deep images and stark characters set against one of the harshest jobs ever undertaken by man--whaling.  Herman Melville, a writer of great vision and views that were decades ahead of their time, poured his soul into Moby Dick.  Sadly, he died broke, and several years after his death, critics finally realized the power and scope of his novel.

For the first-timer picking up Moby Dick, it is quite the task.  The novel is dense with allegory and references to Shakespeare and the Bible, to name just a few.  If you decide to read the book, I have a few simple suggestions.  I'm not claiming to be an expert, but I have read the novel almost a dozen times.

First, skim or skip all of the sections about whaling.  More specifically, where the descriptions of the rendering of the blubber and other whale harvesting chapters are concerned, skip them.  They show Melville's knowledge of whaling, but do little to further the momentum of the story.

Now, when the men are on the whale boats, chasing, harpooning, and killing whales, these pages give great insight into the main characters.  Read these and enjoy the high adventure.

Second, think man vs. nature.  After all, it is the crux of the novel.  Moby Dick took Ahab's leg and the maniacal captain wants revenge on the white whale.  By the time you finish the book, you will also see a mythical side of Melville as evidenced by this enigmatic white whale called Moby Dick.

And Melville, having been on whalers and traveled a great deal to faraway islands with different races and cultures, made a statement that is just as true today as it was a century and a half ago.

Ishmael, the narrator of the story, thinks about sharing his bed with Queequeg, a South Sea islander, headhunter, and possible cannibal.  At minimum, he is most assuredly a savage.  Ishmael rationalizes the situation simply.

   "What's all this fuss I have been making about, thought I to myself--the man's a human being as I am: he has just as much reason to fear me as I have to be afraid of him.  Better sleep with a sober cannibal than a drunken Christian."

A beautiful passage.  Very thought provoking.  A novel idea for 1851.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Catching up on movies...

Well, summer has arrived and the Missus and I have started to catch up on some movies that we missed.  Finally, we have seen the Avengers (after being ridiculed by tons of friends, and you know who you are).  Excellent movie.  Hulk smashing Loki back and forth like a rag doll was epic.  Best part of the movie.

From there, we saw the new Bond movie, Skyfall.  Another great movie with an opening chase sequence to rival any other Bond chase scene.  Great fun, great film.  I really enjoy Daniel Craig as Bond--very suave.

Next, we tackled (lame football reference), Silver Linings Playbook.  Another fine movie, and in case you just climbed out from under a rock, check out Jennifer Lawrence.  Phenomenal actress, and not too shabby on the eyes.  Also, check out Winter's Bone; Jennifer Lawrence is excellent as a tough girl under tough circumstances in the Ozark Mountains.

Monday, I watched Brave (by myself), the Pixar movie about a Scottish tomboy named Merida.  The movie won Best Animated Film of the Year.  I rarely do animated films (the Missus, never), but this was fantastic.  Funny, heart-warming, and profoundly original, I am not ashamed to admit, that I thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

Well, it was inevitable.  Because Moby Dick is my all time favorite book, not to mention the greatest American novel of all time, I will post a blog soon about lessons from Moby Dick, that still apply today.

If you haven't read Moby Dick, go buy a copy today.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Perils of Writing...

Where to begin?  Imagine that, a blog about writing, by a writer who can't find a place to start a story.  Let's cut the shit.  I have too many ideas in my head and not enough time to write.  And I'm not bitching.  Just stating facts.

I am currently editing 9 stories, editing a novel-length piece of 478 pages, and trying to work on five new stories, 2 of which will probably end up at 200 pages or so.  I am having a hell of a time organizing myself.

Hope to have a book of short stories for e-book sale on Amazon and B&N (and the other outlets) by the end of the month.  Waiting for some artwork and for a few beta readers to get through the stories.

I have a tentative title in mind for the stories, but not written in stone just yet.

I made a list this morning, a very detailed list, of how I am going to approach this conundrum.  Everything has to be worked on based on how important they are--in other words, the novella that is bouncing around in my head shall take no precedence before the nine stories that should be for sale by June 30th.

Organize, yourself, man.  Keep writing you bum...

By the way, if you happen to stop by and check out my musings, feel free to leave a comment.  Good or bad, they will be appreciated.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

Another long weekend has come and gone.  Weather was perfect for all of my weekend plans.  I had no big plans, but I kind of like it that way, especially after having 2 weddings on back to back weekends.

Saturday.  A slow, meandering day, topped off by a monthly beer meeting.  Our Tipplers Beer Society has been meeting for over a year.  And though we do drink a fair amount of beer, we actually discuss and evaluate the merits of each beer.  This past meeting featured summer beers (my least favorite seasonal).  Christ it seemed as though we spent a good part of the afternoon swilling back Lemon Pledge.  Horrific.

Sunday.  The Missus, my brothers and myself went to a German Spring Fest.  Great music, great food, and three giant liters of beer (including Hofbrau Oktoberfest).  Awesome.

Monday.  Lazy day.  Read a lot, watched TV, and played some Xbox.  Drank a few beers.

Also thought a lot about the people around the world who do what they do, so I can do what I want to do.  I toast their efforts and think about God Bless the USA by Lee Greenwood.  Cheers to all of the fine men and women who give so freely...

Thank you.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Weddings -- Part 2

The second wedding is over, and I've come out on the other side safe and sound.  And sane for the most part.

I would like to report that wedding number 2 went off without a hitch, but I'm afraid I can not.  About halfway throuh the reception the beautiful bride took an unfortuante tumble on the dance floor, spraining her knee.

Initially, people assumed that she would carry on.  That opinion changed when the ambulance and the EMTs showed up.  The music played on while she and her new husband fist-pumped their way out of the reception and to a local hispital.

The reception continued, though a bit of somberness had fallen over the crowd.  Fueled by Miller Lite and a bit of Jack Daniel's, I was able to carry on as well, even filling in for the groom for what seemed like a two hour Polish apron dance.

Good news, bride is OK and she and the groom are enjoying their honeymoon, though perhaps at a slower pace (stupid crutches).  They will certainly have an interesting story to tell for the rest of their lives.

Well until the next wedding...

Thursday, May 16, 2013


Well, the first of two consecutive weekends of back-to-back weddings is over.  A drive to South Carolina, a quick two day stay, and then back home.

I am a veteran of over two decades of wonderful marriage.  It still makes me happy to go to a wedding (every now and then), and see a young couple embark on a life together.

Am I getting soft in my middle age?

To be truthful, I dreaded the drive, both there and back, and dreaded the ceremony.  I even dreaded the reception.  But you know what, it was ok.  Really better than OK.  Good food, good friends and family, a dance with the Missus, and an open bar all added to my enjoyment.

This Saturday's wedding I am dreading also.  I'm the best man, you know the toast giver, ring monitor, and all that other jazz.

I'm sure that once I get there and the festivities begin, I will enjoy myself as is usually the case.  Again, there should be good food, good friends and family, the beautiful Missus, and for the groom's sake, an open bar.

Cheers to Zack and Jen.  And cheers to last weekend's happy couple, Sara and Christopher. 

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Death Comes in Threes?

Good morning.  Sorry about the delay.  I guess it has been a good delay since my last musing.  So many ideas to write about and so little time.  I've got to get better at organizing my ideas and dividing up the writing hours accordingly.

Anyway, I wanted to discuss the idea of death coming in threes.  I'm not superstitious at all, but apparently this notion of the three-pronged death cycle is quite old.

If we look at the music industry in the last two weeks, somewhat of a more open-mind than me, might link the deaths of three people.

George Jones, country legend, world-famous drinker and otherwise notorious outlaw, died on April 26th at the age of 81.  Less than a week later, Chris 'Mac Daddy' Kelly from Kris Kross, died at the age of 34 (way too early for anyone to die) on May 1st.

The very next day, May 2nd, Jeff Hanneman died.  Jeff was a guitartist for one of my absolute all-time favorite bands, Slayer.  He was only 49.  Too young.

I share a personal link with all three of these artists.

In the late 80s and early 90s I kind of liked rap.  I could understand what the artists were saying, and in general, it didn't suck like it does today.  But, to each his own.  I liked Kris Kross' big hit, Jump along with other artists like Public Enemy, LL Cool J, Kool Moe D, and A Tribe Called Quest.

Later I got into country music, preferring bluegrass and classic country to the newer pop-style country.  George Jones was always a favorite.  Still love two of his big hits today -- He Stopped Loving Her Today and I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair.

My first love, though, was always rock n' roll.  Kiss, Slayer, Black Sabbath, Motley Crue, Saxon and countless others.  I still listen to the same old stuff today.  I like new rock n' roll, but it's just not the same.  Maybe I associate those old songs with my youth, or maybe the music was just better back then.

Whatever the case, it's only rock n' roll, but I love it.  Always have, always will.

I think I'll listen to Slayer's World Painted Blood today.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Boston and beer...

First things first.  A silent, heartfelt nod to the city of Boston and the great people who live there.  What happened last Monday was a tragedy; those good people didn't deserve to have a celebration marred by someones thoughtless actions.  I know words can't fix the problems of the world, but I hope people will think about the consequences of their actions.

On to an easier topic.  Beer.  Glorious beer.  Sampled a bunch of new beers this past week, some really good, and others, quite awful.

On the good side, Sam Adams Blueberry Hill Lager.  Nice blueberry beer, with good lacing and a strong nose.  Easy drinking, smooth and refreshing.

On the awful side, Blue Moon's Blackberry Tart Ale.  Pours a nice color, but has a somewhat medicinal smell.  Little to no head and rather flat in taste.  They did however, get the tart taste.  Not very good.

If you want to try a blackberry beer, I suggest Sam Adams Blackberry Wit--excellent.

Anyway, as promised, here are a few paragraphs from Killing Machine (better late than never).

            Smug son of a bitch.  The Harmons were hateful old codgers and as to the dog being harmless, Jason had a plan for taking care of that, and soon.  And fences were expensive and when it came down to it, Jason liked the openness of his property, free from a ghastly fence ruining the view.
            “I am so sick of those fucking neighbors and their goddamned dog.  I’m going to choke them all to death, but that little shit machine is going to be first.”
            Jason mimicked the act of choking and his face looked like a red balloon as he aped strangling a small dog.  Bruno watched quietly.

Until next time, think about the folks in Boston, and then have a beer.

Friday, April 12, 2013

44 Sucks...

I'm not going to bitch, but 44 sucks.  I turned 44 in February and between arthritis, costocondritis, and a pulled neck muscle, I rarely have days that are pain free.  Yet, I still feel lucky.  But I'm not the blessings counting kind of guy--I just know I have it better than a lot of other people on this big green and blue ball we call Earth.

I've got the Missus who is the most dedicated, persevering person that I know.  I've got a spare fridge almost overflowing with great craft beer (and a few holdouts from St. Patrick's Day).  I've started writing full time and am loving it.  Did I just count blessings?

Anyway, it's Friday and the weekend is here.  I'm going to put in 4-6 hours today on a new story (another robot story), and a longer piece that I'm currently calling The Portrait (an homage to Oscar Wilde's only novel).

It's not even 9am, but I'm already thinking about the day's first beer.  It's not far off.  I think the first victim will be a Sam Adams Blueberry Hill Lager.  I'll give a full review of the beer next week.

On Monday or Tuesday I will post a few paragraphs from a story I finished called Killing Machine.

Have a great weekend.  I'm going to.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Success and Weekends...

Another weekend down the tubes.  I finished "Birthday Wishes" and for good this time.  It was a minor success.  Great weekend.  No plans, no obligations, and no where to go. 

Started with a lazy Saturday morning with the Missus.  Then I got my first real haircut in over two years.  I went with the faux-hawk and I'm not so sure, but I might be too old for this look.  We'll see.

Added two more stories to the "FINISHED" folder on Saturday.  Another success.

Nice day Sunday.  A little XBOX in the am ( I am a Black Ops 2 multiplayer junkie), followed up by a lazy afternoon and evening.  All capped off by a great dinner of crabcakes courtesy of the Missus.

Excellent weekend.  In a future post (and it won't be long), I will put up a few paragraphs from my most recent story--a robot tale.

Keep writing, you bum.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Perils of Writing...

Well, I have had a productive week.  At least until this morning.  On Monday at 7am I started writing as if it were my job.  I logged about 24 hours of writing, editing, and thinking about new stories over the course of four days.  But, I hit a block.

And not a writer's block.  I broke my own rule.  If a story is deemed finished, then it goes into the folder marked "FINISHED."  That was until I reread a story called 'Birthday Wishes' (one of my personal favs).

Three lousy paragraphs...those few sentences have been a tremendous pain in my ass.  But, before the day is out, I'm going to fix those paragraphs, and the story will go back into the "FINISHED" folder and stay there.

On the brighter side, I've started to understand a little bit about myself.  I have more ideas than I can put down at one time.  I started a notebook full of story ideas.  It is filling up fast.

I have robot stories fighting with zombie stories, psycho slashers battling sadistic killers, all for space on the written page.  I'll get them all out...eventually.

After all, I'm in it for the long haul.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Orioles baseball and Easter...

April 2nd.  Easter came and went.  Today starts a new season for the Orioles. Yes, I am a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and a fan of the Baltimore Orioles.  Last season the Orioles gave long-suffering fans like myself a small glimmer of hope.  Going into this season I have high expectations, but with lots of reservations.  I'll keep my fingers crossed for good luck...if I were actually superstitious.

Anyway, back to Easter.  I'm not religious.  In fact, I hardly ever talk about religion to anyone.  It's best that way.  But Easter, unlike Christmas, is a busy day that ends up being crammed into one day.  Two houses to visit.  Two meals to eat, and overall, just too much.  However, as I dreaded this past Sunday like a kid with a cavity dreads the dentist, I was pleasantly surprised to have a great day.

There was no mass in the morning, just breakfast with the Missus.  Then a trip to her aunt's, followed by a trip to my mom's.  And do you know what Easter has in common with Christmas other than the Christ overtones?  It's really about being with family and sharing good times, good food, and good wine and beer.  So, it was a Happy Easter.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Welcome and enjoy.

Welcome to the Musings of Mr. Hyde. It is April 1st and I have no time for fools. This new blog will serve as a window into the mind of a long-time writer, though none of what I have written has ever appeared in print. 

Hopefully, this blog will be the first step in what will become a self-satisfying
writing career. Money and accolades will also help, but that will depend on the merits of my writings.

I will enter new blogs as things cross my mind, and after I mull them over, I will put them into writing. We are one day removed from the Easter holiday, so very shortly, I will post about my thoughts on Easter.

Humor, sarcasm and wit will be the basis of my musings, sprinkled in with the occasional horror and slap in the face candor. I hope you enjoy.