A Post Of Many Posts

Being Friday evening already, I have little doubt that most of you are busy readying yourselves for the inevitable carnival of debauchery that comes with the arrival of the weekend. Well, unless you’re like me, in which case you’re planning to sit in the comfy chair later tonight, play a few cutthroat rounds of Words with Friends, and then poor yourself a pint of IPA and pretend you’ll finish it somehow before nodding off in front of an episode of Arrow.

Either way, I’ll keep this short. I know, I know, I’m all empty promises, right?

I wanted to draw your attention to three blog posts, not including this one. Because, believe it or not, I actually wrote a couple this week.

First, since Wednesday was National Lager Day, I took advantage of the chance to ramble a little bit in a post for the Hoperatives. Because while ales of a hundred varieties seem to hog all the spotlight these days, lagers are a dependable, quiet hero for many of us thirsty craft beer drinkers. Maybe they deserve a second chance at that spotlight?

Beer wasn’t the only thing on my mind this week. As pretty much everyone knows, it’s holiday time, which means that the already glacial pace of publishing slows to a geological crawl. So what’s a middle grade writer with little to no patience supposed to do in the lull? Today on Middle Grade Minded, I make a few key suggestions.

Also, there’s a pretty good chance I make reference to pie.

Finally, our second oldest son turned an unfathomable 11 years old today. At first, I wanted to write a post railing against the assertion that I could possibly be old enough to be the father of 12 and 11 year old sons.  However, it turns out that I wrote a post about Middle Son’s actual birth 11 long years ago. It’s a fairly  entertaining story, all things considered.  You should check it out.

On that note, I’ll let you get back to your previously scheduled debauchery. Just remember to turn the lights out when you go out. We don’t own stock in the electricity company.

Beyond that, make sure you have a great weekend. And try not to set the place on fire.


Uh oh, it’s Magic

Imagine my complete and utter disbelief when I realized yesterday that it’s been an entire week since I posted anything here.  Quite frankly, I should be ashamed of myself.  I mean, going a full week without so much as a stick figure drawing or a haiku is a level of laziness tantamount to hiding in bed with the covers drawn up over me as if the Boogeyman—no, wait, make that the Evil Lunch Lady—is waiting beneath my bed, ready to steal away my soul or, worse, force-feed me soggy school spinach until the End of Days.

But, honest, I wasn’t that lazy

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Unrelated things you should know about

Some people get to travel to interesting, exciting places for business. New York City, Paris, London, New Orleans, Las Vegas.  I also get to travel for business from time to time. And when I do, boy, do I ever get to go to some, um, smallish, largely unknown places. Places that occasionally might appear as a word a on a map between two bigger slightly more interesting places.

Like Carroll, Iowa.

And Wallingford, Connecticut.

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Stopping to smell the flowers, err, hop aroma

Have you ever noticed that everybody nowadays seems to have lists and lists of stuff they’re actively checking-off  to feel like they’re, you know, accomplishing those ever important “life goals”?  There’s the pile of books you just have to burn through because everyone says that they’re each, respectively, the best thing since Snooki’s book*; there’s your “Bucket List” (which is currently the length of a elephant’s trunk and growing), that compilation of everything you simply must experience before your number comes up and it’s time to exit the Ride of Life at the back gate; there are all those movies you have to see and all the places you need to set foot in just so you can say you were there; all the stupid little repairs you need to do around the house because that dumb toilet keeps overflowing…

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Revisiting resolutions, my three favorite posts, and an ominous warning

After writing a brief look ahead at 2013, I realized that the ridiculously rambly spiel about my Exciting! New! Plan! for glassware in 2013 would make an excellent post for Hoperatives.  You know, because that blog over there is about the beer, like, 24×7.  Of course, as with any post I’ve written, you can rest assured that I wandered off topic and had a few words unrelated to the size and shape of glasses I’d be drinking from in the coming year.

So! If you’re the slightest bit curious about my official position on New Year’s Resolutions, and why I tend to play along these days when I might not have been much of the joiner in my youth, you should click through this link and read along to find out.

With that out of the way, there was one other piece of business to cover today.  Well, that and a warning.

Before I get to that rather ominous bit, though, someone (and by someone, as is usual, I mean the voices in my head) asked me to list my three favorite posts from 2013.  Honestly, that was a tough one.

Well, after much consideration and wading through the 200+ posts I wrote over the course of the year, I think I’ve settled on the three that meant the most to me.

  1. There’s the one about the pine wood derby tank, which I love because it demonstrates that even fumbling, craft-less hands like my own can help produce great things with the proper motivation.
  2. There’s the one from Valentine’s Day, because I’m a huge sap at heart, yet am still immature enough to giggle at the fact that I spent my Valentine’s Day evening doing some plumbing.  No, seriously, actually toilet repair.
  3. The one about the seemingly never-ending little league baseball game, because it starts with me complaining and ends with the realization of why we spend our lives playing games we aren’t very good at in the first place.  For an author querying his first novel, it was a particularly pointed conclusion.

Are these the best posts I wrote this year?  Probably not.  I’m not even sure they’re really any good.  But each one entertained me in a certain way, and each of these also meant something to the Puddinette.  And as we all know, entertaining her is why I do this in the first place.

Then again, odds are good that if you take my opinion and add a $4, you could buy yourself a small decaf, non-fat, no-whip latte.

Oh, and as for the dark and scary warning I mentioned above?  I’ve got an itch to mess with the blog’s theme and some of the underlying mechanisms for How Things Work around here. So keep an eye out for new stuff, and don’t freak out if one morning nothing looks quite familiar – that’s just the man behind the curtain mucking things up.

And if there’s one thing we all need, it’s a little stirring up the pot from time to time.


Happy Christmas to all and to all a good…adaptation (or two)

Being Christmas day, the Puddinette are I, and of course all the puddinlings, are hanging out with extended family and making quite merry. Santa was very good to everyone, and there’s been quite a flurry of gifts changing hands all afternoon. A fabulous dinner is in the offing, (one of those belt-busters, if you know what I mean) and A Christmas Story is on every TV screen I see.

Which is to say, Christmas has been just as merry and all-around Grade-A as one could hope. In other words, I’m feeling pretty blessed at the moment. With the exception that I could use a little sleep right now, there’s not a whole lot to complain about.

I hope your holidays are every bit as awesome, too.

On another holiday related note, I kept up the now-annual tradition of adapting a well-known Christmas story for Hoperatives.com to make it relatable for craft brew lovers. After the success of last year’s A Craft Beer Christmas Carol*, I wasn’t sure how I’d follow without looking like a fool. So I dug deep and picked one of my all-time favorites, How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Without further adieu, I am proud to present How the Grinch Stole Beermas for Hoperatives.com.


*In case you missed it last year, A Craft Beer Christmas Carol was reposted in its entirety today, all five parts, on Hoperatives.com for your reading enjoyment. Hope you enjoy it!

A Craft Brew Christmas Carol: The Ghost of Jackson Merrill
A Craft Brew Christmas Carol: The First Spirit
A Craft Brew Christmas Carol: The Second Spirit
A Craft Brew Christmas Carol: The Third Spirit
A Craft Brew Christmas Carol: The End of It

Beer that won’t make you "fall down, go boom"

When I was kid, “fall down, go boom” was a commonly used phrase around the house.  I’d spin around until I couldn’t see straight, and end up splayed out on the floor like the Vitruvian Man.  And with three siblings, two of whom being younger than me, there was no shortage of the falling or the going boom.

Coincidentally (which, by the way is not the same thing as “ironically“), I have a hockey game tonight.  Guess who’s got two thumbs and is likely to “fall down, go boom” when he takes the ice?

*points to self*

This guyyyyyyy!

Yes, well, Moving on. All this “fall down, go boom” shtick was supposed to lead directly to a bit about beer.  As I’m gotten older, it seems that as much as I still very much enjoy having a few tasty craft beers from time to time, I don’t always enjoy the weight and high alcohol content one usually finds in the more innovative of today’s brews.  Which, of course, got me to thinking about session beers.

What’s a “session” beer, you ask?

According to Wikipedia,

“Session drinking” is a chiefly British term that refers to drinking a large quantity of beer during a “session” (i.e. a specific period of time) without becoming intoxicated.[3] A session is generally a social occasion

Makes sense?  Good.  Now that you know what session drinking is, you’re all prepped to go read the piece I posted today for Hoperatives.com: In Search of a Good Session.

While you do that, I think I’ll spin around in circle a few times and see if I can make myself hurl.

Because, you know, why not?


Thursday obviously means beer time

beer thumbnailWell, no so much for me, at least from a consumption perspective, because I have to run early tomorrow morning.  And if there’s anything I’ve proven to myself so far, it’s that late night beer drinking + early AM running = Massive Ugh.  But that’s okay!  Because what I really meant was that today’s a good day to write about beer.  At least, if you’re me.  If you’re not, then, yes, drink some too.

Why do I always write about beer on Thursday, you ask?  Because, um, obviously, uh, yeah, I don’t know.  Maybe some week I’ll choose to write a post about beer on Wednesday, or perhaps even Tuesday.  I mean, beer doesn’t haven’t to be the topic of the day only on Thursday, right?  I could totally pick a different day to vomit out some word ramblings on the subject.

Goodness know I have ramblings every day of the week.

Anyway, protestations about my self-assigned weekly schedule notwithstanding, today is Thursday, and not surprisingly, also the day I’ve written about beer, again.

This time, though, it’s not just beer I get to rambling about!  What with the national election nonsense machine running in high gear now and just under three weeks to the Big Day, I thought it might be a worthwhile endeavor to highlight how each of the candidates from the two major tickets seem to feel about craft beer.

You know, because, really, a) craft beer, b) having more well-written sci-fi shows on TV (that don’t get cancelled in the first four weeks), and, oh yeah, c) improving reading and overall literacy are, you know, the “big” issues for me.

I’m kidding of course.  At least about the sci-fi thing.  Also that those are the only things I care about.

Point being, I conjured a little post on Hoperatives today (one that amuses me, at least) about the candidates and their respective relationship with beer.  What I realized first is that this is an odd foursome.  But then something surprising happened.  In all this thinking about politics and craft beer, I stumbled right into a realization about economic policy that’s probably going to stick with me for a long time.

And people say spending all my time thinking about beer isn’t healthy.

So!  Here’s the new post. I’m pleased with it.  If you like beer and/or politics, read it, maybe?

Also, I should mention that my weekly football/craft beer blurb was posted in Paul Daugherty’s blog on Cincinnati.com, The Morning Line today.  In case you’re not sure what to drink this Sunday during the Bengal’s game, I have a few suggestions of what to consider, and conversely, what to avoid like the plague (hint: it rhymes with Iron Kitty).

All right, that’s enough silliness from me.  Happy Thursday, everyone.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, all this beer talk has me a tad parched.  Oh, right.  Running.



A Few Tidbits: Money, Cookies, Football and Beer (x2)

  1. It was picture day for the kids today at school. Can you say, “Cha-ching?” Somehow I manage to forget this every year, but the long and short of life with several children of elementary  school – and quite possibly any K-12 – age is you’re basically just going to be penniless from the day school starts in August until October 31st.  Between that time, as a parent, you’re going pay for fees, school supplies, school fund raisers, official school pictures, activity fees, scouting fees, scouting fund raisers, activity fund raisers, and, hell, I don’t know, probably some books and who knows what else.  I feel like maybe it’d be easier if Moose and Rocko just made a stop by the house once month and hit me up for “protection” to keep the place from getting toilet papered.  At least then I’d know exactlywhy it cost me so much.

  2. Regarding the aforementioned scouting fund raisers, I have a piece of advice for the Girl Scouts of America.  Dear GSA, nothing, and I’m mean absolutely nothing in this world has so quickly turned my coworkers from their normally pleasant, congenial selves into raging balls of white-hot disappointment, frothing at the mouth like a rabid Doberman and looking at me as if I just cancelled Christmas as the day I put your fall fund-raising order form by the coffee station at work.  Because, after decades of conditioning people to slobber all over themselves at the mere sight of that greenish, clover-y logo for those cookies you’re apparently baking the cracking into, a temporary but nonetheless violent psychosis was the only realistic response the instant they picked up an order form and realized I was attempting to foist magazines upon them instead of guilt-inducing yet somehow life-affirming baked goods.
  3. In case I didn’t mention it, I’ve been occasionally contributing a beer-related tidbit every week or so to the Rusty Nail blog of Cincinnati.com and SI.com’s sports columnist Paul Daugherty, The Morning Line.  Basically, the theme is that since I like sports and I like beer, I suggest a beer or two that would be appropriate for whichever NFL team the Bengals are playing the upcoming Sunday.  It’s kind of silly, but I’m having fun with it.  He including my latest offering to his blog today, which discussion beers you might drink to accompany a game against the Cleveland Browns.
  4. Of course, not every week is as easy as this week.  Cleveland has plenty of solid beer-drinking options, both up north in town and distributed to us down here.  Unfortunately, some NFL cities are apparently quite bereft when it comes to getting a decent craft brew.  Last week, the Dolphins came to town, and try as I might, I really couldn’t find anything terribly interesting in the way of better beer in Miami.  This, of course, got me to thinking about visiting towns that are a craft beer Sahara, which, obviously, led me to this week’s Hoperatives post.

And I think that’s quite enough rambling about nonsense for one day.


Bond, Beers, and Bellyachin’

I guess it was last Saturday night, during SNL, when I saw the commercial.  It immediately made me scratch my head and mumble, “Whizza whazza whozzit?” into my beer.  I’m speaking, of course, of the new James Bond Skyfall-related ad for Heineken.

That is, this one:

Now, I heart me some Bond and, honestly, I have absolutely nothing against this spot as a piece of advertising itself.  Unfortunately, though, I do have a problem with Ian Fleming’s most well-known secret agent pimping a Dutch beer.  Of course, as it’s both Thursday and this is a beer-related rant (totally a coincidence, I assure you), I climbed up on the soapbox the Hoperatives leave out for me on Wednesday nights when they put out the dog.

Never you mind that the dog and I both end up outside for the night.  Just…shh.

Anyway, I wrote a bit about Bond and British Beer Betrayal today in a Hoperatives post.  Maybe you’d enjoy reading it?

Speaking of beer…just, you know, on a more personal level, it appears that I’ve finally come to the crossroads I’ve been both expecting and fearing for the past 6 weeks or so.  It’s time to pick a priority: either the running, or the beer.

For the first few weeks, I intentionally tried not to have to make a choice.  I figured that if I could have my cake and drink it up on Thursday nights after completing the week’s workouts, I’d both be more inclined to stick to the running and also have some kind of reward to offer myself.  If this all sounds a bit familiar, yes, I did, in fact, ramble on about this exact topic a few weeks ago.

The thing is, though, schedules sometimes have to be tried and erred before you know what’s really going to work.  And at this point in the game, it turns out that I really need to run more often in the morning than in the evenings.  That is, unless I want to do it after the kids go to bed.  But honestly, the thing is that the Puddinpop became my running buddy in the early stages of this thing, and I hate telling him I’m going for a run alone.  Also, I keep my pace better when he’s with me, since I intentionally don’t try to dash through it since he’s got long-for-a-kid-but-still-shorter-than-mine legs.

Left to my own devices, see, I usually end up not so much jogging as running like the Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse is finally upon us and there’s a host of grey-skinned meat-sacks shambling after me moaning, “Braaaaaaaiiins.” In other words, I’m gasping like a goldfish in the hands of that mean kid from your old neighborhood, Jimmy “The Fish Asphyxiator,” after barely half a mile.

That’s not really, you know, optimal.

So, long story short, mornings are better for running.  The problem, then, is that come Friday morning, I’m going to have a run to get in.  And as much as I hate to admit it, there’s just no way that enjoying myself thoroughly through Beer Drinking Thursday is going to lead to anything positive on Friday morning.

Here I am, then, finally forced to decide between my comfortable, well-established, Thursday beer traditions and a run that won’t have me hating my feet, legs, lungs, the pavement, and the stupid air for playing so hard to get tomorrow morning.

Believe it or not, I’m putting the easier run before the more awesome Thursday night.

And if that’s not a sign of the Apocalypse, I just don’t know what possibly could be.

Hopefully the world doesn’t end right away, though.  Because otherwise I figure I can make up for it with a newly instituted Beer Drinking Friday.

I guess I’ll survive until tomorrow.

So, yeah, I’m being all responsible and making decisions like, you know, “a grown-up.”

But that doesn’t mean I have to like it.

In fact, let’s never speak of this again.