PBR’s Revenge

I drink good beer. I don’t think that fact will surprise anyone: I spend a great deal of time in microbreweries, and I’ve developed a pretty good appreciation for real beers. My brewer friends may mock my palate, but…well…they taste shit in beers that no sane person would ever find without hints from the “experts”.

There are, thank heavens, good breweries up this way. Actually, there are numerous good breweries: Bozeman alone has 8 craft breweries, of which 4-5 are well worth a visit. But…and, yes, here’s the inevitable but…

…but: we run out of the good beer pretty damn fast around here. Remember, there are 800 trillion people in the park at any given moment, and they drink through anything and everything we have in stock.

You know what that leaves?

Yep: PBR…or Miller High Life.

*shudder**

No, really: I shudder just to think of that shit!

But I’ve been drinking it.

I hate myself for it…I know my “sin account” is growing exponentially, and I’ll pay for my foolishness in the afterlife…I know I’m not even drinking actual beer…but, shit, I can only afford so much scotch and a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do!

When I get back home, my “home” brewery isn’t even gonna let me in the door without some serious level of atonement.

The worst part is that I’ve been teaching the kids up here about good beer. Preaching about it, actually. Hell, I’ve even run a couple of beer tours to Bozeman for the staff! With that in mind, what nickname have they given me? High Life.

I feel so dirty. I hate myself right now.

Oh, and the title of this post is a…well…it’s a clue to something in Silence.

What, did you really think I wouldn’t write about my personal shame?!

 

Get Off My Lawn! Pt II

Ok, look…I know the hair may be going a bit grey, and my knees make more noise than a popcorn machine, but that does not mean I’m old!

If you’re only as old as you feel, I’m pretty much stuck in my early twenties.

So, the other day I had to get three new kids checked out with their banks so they can start working as cashiers. Yes, I said “kids”…deal with it. All three spent the entire 20 minutes saying “yes, sir” and “no, sir”. I felt like goddamned Methuselah.

IMG_0174But – and this is the important bit, kids – we cagey old bastards always get our revenge. There ain’t a 22 year old in the world who can keep up with me when it comes to whiskey.

Take that, youth and energy! Age and cynicism win again!!

Now where the hell is my walker? I feel like shit this morning…

The biggest problem up here isn’t finding good beer, it’s finding people who appreciate good beer. There is far too much PBR and Bud Light flying around for any self-respecting beer-snob to keep his or her sanity. Crap, I have to spend more time educating these folks on decent beers than I do actually drinking.

On the other hand, with this many folks from backgrounds so different and varied, I am getting a ton of new music to listen to. That is a very good, and very welcome, thing: my writing needed an infusion of fresh music. The old soundtrack was getting a bit stale, and it was starting to come out in the words themselves. New music means new thoughts and new outlooks…that can be almost as valuable to me as the change of scene has been.

By the way: if the last couple of posts seem a bit choppy it’s because, well, they are. I’m currently sitting outside trying to catch the last of the sun while I write this pout – two hours ago it was 65, now it’s 40…and In two more hours it will be in the high 20’s.

Not even a decent beer can keep my fingers warm at this point…

My Spidey-Sense Is A-Tinglin’!

I’ve been all over the world. Err, well, at least over a good chunk of it (36 countries and counting). And just how many places have I been where there isn’t a freaking Starbucks every 100 feet?

Yep, you guessed it…just one: Bozeman, Montana.

The hotel I’m in has no breakfast (really, who the hell doesn’t serve breakfast?!), and I need coffee in the worst damned way, so it’s out the door I go to start scouting*.

*Thanks, Apple Maps, for being singularly unhelpful!

It’s either find a place, or eat in the hotel restaurant. And I hate hotel restaurants.

I hate Starbucks almost as much, by the way. Shit, Starbucks is America’s STD: once one appears, it’s there forever and it’s gonna get nothin’ but worse.

Coffee and a muffin, however, wait for no man.

Thank God for my magic spidey-sense about these things. Less than a mile from the hotel I found a pretty good craft brewery (406 Brewing, if you’re keeping score). But wait…it’s 8:00 on a Sunday morning. I’m bad, but even I haven’t gone THAT far down the rabbit hole.

Okay, so take note of the location and return to scouting…

A hundred yards more. Oh, thank every single thing in the universe: A COFFEE PLACE!!

Not just a coffee place, but a small local place with unconventional, creative individuals running it…and…andAND…freaking good coffee! I promise you, there is a chorus of angels singing around me as I walk through that door.

The morning started so poorly – “what do you mean, you don’t serve breakfast?” – but shit-howdy, the day has been shaping up so nicely since!

Even as I type this, I’ve had my coffee and muffin, and now I’m sitting in the brewery I found earlier and working my way through a taster tray of a few of their beers. I am, by the way, going to have some new ammunition for the Drink of the Month section…

And you wonder why I randomly decided to run off and spend a summer doing this?

Writing About Not Writing; or, Where’s My Beer?!

So I’ve been on this “healthy” kick lately. Keep my cardio up, try to lose a few (dozen) pounds, that kind of thing.

A big part of that effort has been riding my bike more and more. Now, that bit really helps…not just with the exercise, but also with the “mood” thing. Aside from a good hike in the mountains, there ain’t much out there better for your mental health than an hour or two riding in the sunshine (and, yes, where I live does have something to do with that).

All is not well in my world, however. Not by a long shot.

Bike riding and healthy eating are not challenging, to be honest. I can do those without missing a beat. No, the problem is that I’ve also been cutting way, way back on beer. And I mean WAY back: I get, while on this kick, all of one visit per week.

That sounds great in theory…until you remember that I do at least two-thirds of my writing in taprooms! Cutting back means I’m not going to breweries. Not going to breweries means – yep, you guessed it – I ain’t writing!

Gah! Fuck my health, I need to write!

The sun is finally back out after two days of freezing rain. Two days in which I’ve been not riding and not writing. A ninety-minute bike ride was exactly what I needed. It felt good. And what do I do right after that oh-so-healthy-ride?IMG_0153

I swear to everything I hold dear, there was a chorus of angels singing around me as I took that first sip (drink, quaff….okay, okay, massive gulp) of beer.

IMG_0152Oh, thank God! I’m not just sitting in my regular seat in my regular taproom…I’m home!

This post came out in about thirty seconds, and the next is already coming together in the back of my mind. So also are some notes for Act II of Silence that need to be done before I can start writing that portion of the story (yes, Act I is done-ish).

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to write…

Na zdravi!

P.S.

And, yes, yes…I know it really is all in my head. But, hey, it’s my damned head! At some point I probably need to explore the preconceptions and neuroses that say I can only write when I’m out in the “wild”. But not now. Right now it’s beer:thirty and I’m, err, occupied.

Grumpy Old Bastard

Yeehaw…it’s “Hot Burrito Challenge” day at the brewery.

I like hot food. I really do. BUT! Why the hell would you want to try to power down a ghost-chile-burrito – and a pint of chile-beer that is, if anything, even hotter – for fun?

Just how is puking everything back up five minutes later FUN?

Fine, call me a wuss. Call me weak. Call me whatever you want; I’m still gonna sit over here in my little corner and drink my…well, at the moment it’s a Vienna lager. I might switch to the Irish dry stout next, but that’s as “extreme” as I plan to get today.

I am also not going to be physically damaged and miserable for the next 36 hours…

Hangovers I can handle – shit, I’ve had some doozies in my time – but physical damage because you ate stupid shit? No thank you.

Why am I writing about this? Because I got kicked out of my regular seat at the bar!

Goddamit!

I am very much a creature of habit. Err, a creature of kinda scary, borderline OCD, habits actually. When I want to work – shit, when I need to work – I hate like hell to have anything screwed up.

But here I sit, pushed off to the side in another room because…well…if I stayed in my “usual” seat I’d be stuck eating one of the damned death-tubes these lunatics are calling “burritos”.

Harrumph!

And, yes, I am currently channeling my inner bitter-old man…now get off my lawn!

IMG_0043Oh, for the love of Christ and all that’s holy!

I gave in to the pressure. I had a chip – one single goddamned CHIP – with a few drops of the ghost-pepper hot sauce on it. I’m crying like a 4-year-old who lost his teddy bear, my nose is running like I started doing entire freaking shots of cottonwood
“fluff”, and I’m not sure I’m ever going to taste again…

I’m fairly certain THIS is why Anakin Skywalker turned into Darth Vader! It had nothing to do with being a neurotic, co-dependent, needy piece of shit – he just did a “Hot Burrito Challenge” at the wrong time. I’m ready to turn to the darskide as well…

Now, of course, the writer in me has to wonder: just how the hell do I turn this into a scene in the next story?

Sorry about that, Connor. It really is gonna suck for you…

 

P.S.

My mouth is STILL fucking numb!!

A Slave To Research

img_0142Remember when I said music and mood (and my surroundings) influence heavily what I write in any particular session? Yeah…well…err…

That ain’t always a good thing. I tell myself to write what I feel at any given time, write the “correct” scene, but…

I never even listened to my mother, why the hell would I listen to myself?

I tried, for the last hour, to write something totally and completely at odds with my mood. Not just off, but way, way off.

It would be funny if it wasn’t so irritating! No, check that…it is pretty damn funny (at least to me).

I was trying to do an angry confrontation scene in prison…while I was feeling, err, less than serious.

Hard to capture that honest reality when you’re laughing while your protagonist is supposed to be enraged. As a practical note: I have to set myself certain goals and schedules when I write in order to avoid wandering off the tracks.

Those random squirrel moments are okay here on the blog, but in the actual story? I get enough shit from people for the language and darkness of the themes/settings, I don’t need to add random stream-of-consciousness shit to the fire, thank you very much!

Okay, so productivity was out. What did I do? Write the drink and music of the week sections for the next couple of weeks, of course!

Now, if I’m gonna write those sections, of course I have to research! And research extensively…and then research some more.

Do I really have to add that I love research?

As a writer there are a million frustrations to the life (money, isolation, money, editors, money, etc…) but there are perks.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go drink some more research.

What Are We Drinking Today?

Okay, so…food and booze.

Some day I want to write a story where those two are the main focus…

I am – to put it bluntly – a complete nerd (and whore) for good food and good booze. The good news is that I’m also a pretty good cook. The bad is that I couldn’t ferment, brew or distill if you held a gun to my head.

I have also travelled extensively, and know a decent bit about quite a few cultures/societies. In my world – and I am not alone in this – every society/culture is expressed best through its food and booze. A close second, I will add, is through a culture’s music.

I have had unforgettable meals with foods and peoples I never even imagined as a kid. In fact, I remember and know far more about those cultures where I ate and drank with regular folks than about those cultures I formally “studied” in college.

The good thing is that we have available almost anything you can imagine here in the US. The bad thing is that, unless you are in the right area, most of what we have is a pale imitation of the real thing.

Go buy yakisoba here in the US…if you are not in certain neighborhoods in LA or San Francisco, that dish will bear zero relationship to the yakisoba you get in Japan. God forbid we start talking about bibimbap or pho or even a real street taco.

Shit…this is why I love travel! And, yes, like pretty much everything else in my life, when I travel I turn the knob to eleven. There is no such thing as over-doing it, nor as going “too deep” into a culture…

Food and booze actually figure more heavily into my stories than the words themselves let on. Those two things are important factors in communicating the mood and temperament of my characters and the situations they face.

Beyond that, however, they also communicate a bit about me – communicate, even, what I am craving as I write. Connor once noted the smell of a yakisoba place as he walked through the crowded alleys of his res-hold. Yep, you guessed right – the writer was hungry as shit at that point.

Now, while the food might represent me to a degree, the booze is a bit more symbolic. Is it shitty shochu? Or decent beer? Or high-end scotch? Each of those carries a different connotation and meaning that communicates something about the character (and their circumstances) as they order/drink.

On a side-note: there is a standing inside-joke involving beer. I work into every single story I write the brewery my friends own (and, yes, the place where I do a lot of my writing). Every single story. It ain’t always easy to find, but it is always there.

That being said, my own personal prejudices also come into play. You could not, for instance, pay me to drink rum, so none of my characters do. You will know, in fact, if ever a character of mine does drink rum, that I hate and want to kill that particular person!

With the characters I care about, on the other hand, you see stuff closer to what I personally like. There’s a good reason why Oz is a whiskey drinker…

With all that in mind, I am going to make some changes to this blog over the next couple of weeks. This topic will gain a certain amount of space on the page: in addition to a small section for an “album/song of the week”, I am going to add a section for a “drink of the week”.

I did think about doing a “brewery of the week” as well (yes, I love beer!), but that would cut just a bit too close to a different sort of writing I do. So, while I will talk about individual beers, I nixed the idea of doing so for breweries themselves as I don’t want to cross the streams on this particular (pseudo-anonymous) blog.

Oktoberfest!

Ahh, Oktoberfest. It’s the most magical time of the year!

All I want for Oktoberfest is beer…

Okay, that didn’t sound alcoholic or anything.

The root of the problem is that I know just too damned many people in the beer business…and spend too much time in that world myself. You know (if you’ve been paying attention) that I do quite a bit of my writing in the taprooms of breweries. Well, one brewery in particular…the one owned and staffed by friends of mine.

I also–in my “non-writer-life”–spend a great deal of time & work immersed in the beer culture of both the US and Europe. And, yes, it is as satisfying as it sounds! And, no, I won’t give any more information. This is, after all, supposed to be an anonymous blog. If I start talking about my “real work” that anonymity goes bye-bye fairly quickly.

At any rate, all of that is to say that last weekend was Okotoberfest at my “preferred” brewery. It was crowded, it was lively, and it was a hell of a lot of fun. I even wrote a couple of blog posts over the weekend so I could keep things going.

Then I read them again. Err, well, I sobered up first, then I read them.

I may have had too much to drink to write on that particular day…

They were funny as hell, but not even I can figure what the hell I was talking about when I wrote them. Other than a dude wearing short-shorts and girls in dirndls (hah! take that word, spell check!). And no one wants a dude wearing short-shorts.

The dirndls were cool, though.

And hammerschlagen. You have to have hammerschlagen. And, yes, all the cornhole aficionados out there just wish they could play hammerschlagen…of course, so do I. I suck at hammerschlagen. Almost as much as I suck at cornhole.