May 28, 2010

Beer Labels!

I thought when I pitched a competition, I'd have a ball seeing all the entries.  But I guess the kickoff was weak so only two friends took a shot.  Still, the goal was achieved, and two strong entries finished in a tie, which means only one thing:  a shootout to determine the winner!  I'll line up the shots and then drink them, and I'll declare myself the winner and hoist the cup in the end.

Here are the two entries, both of which will grace the bottles of my new brew in time for the opening game broadcast of the World Cup.  First, only because I received it first, is Gene's entry.

It's based on the FIFA World Cup 2010 logo, cleverly updated for the topic at hand.  I've modified it further to include the only thing that's clearly missing:

Then there is Jen's entry.  You may recall that she originally suggested Dudley's Old Peculiar as the name of the batch, but that turned into Dudley's Old & Peculiar.  I'm not sure if I'm supposed to take that as an insult or not.  In any case, the label is definitely good enough to put on the bottles, and it probably describes both the beer and the brewer.

So there you have it.  Inbounds Ale and Old & Peculiar.

May 21, 2010

ahoy, matey, weigh anchor and cast off!

The boys and I are going on a cruise this weekend.  An overnight cruise on a ship that will not leave the dock.  This will be my sixth time spending the night on this ship.  It's Ethan's fifth time and Sam's third.  I think.  I've lost track.

It's time for our annual scout overnight on the USS Hornet aircraft carrier, Ethan's second favorite place on the entire Earth.  (His first favorite is Disneyland.)  Here's a photo from one of our early overnights on the Hornet, when Ethan was just a Bear cub.  This must have been our second trip.  Didn't we both look young back then?

Ethan was so enamored of the Hornet that when the pine car derby came around, we decided we had to make an aircraft carrier car.  This is the absolute pinnacle of my craftsmanship with woodworking.  Ethan did most of the painting himself.

Years later, when Sam became a Tiger cub, we all went together.  Here's a photo of the boys on the flight deck with one of Sam's best friends.  That was four years ago; now all three of them are in the same Boy Scout troop.  (The kid hanging off the missile is not with us.)

Although we sleep in bunks in the berthing areas with lots of other people snoring and whatever, and although the food is cafeteria quality, and although it gets cold and drafty at night, I actually am really looking forward to this trip.  The Hornet puts on a great overnight event, and it's fabulous to see such a piece of history come alive through the stories the docents tell and through the eyes of the kids.

Hopefully I won't forget my camera.  Come back next week to see photos from this year.

On Sunday I'll be bottling the beer I brewed two weeks ago.  I still have only two label submissions.  As it stands now, I'll be using both and sharing them on the blog next week.  If I get any more at, I'll include them in the batch.

I am happy to say that on my recent business trip I managed to write for several hours on airplanes and came up with about 4,200 new words on the new new novel.  The new old novel is under submission, and the old new novel was semi-abandoned a couple months ago in favor of this new new novel.

May 9, 2010

Beer! Brewing! Need a name and label!

In keeping with my new years resolutions for 2010, I brewed a new batch of beer yesterday.  It's an Irish Red Ale, which they say is a lot like a Scotch ale but not quite so Scottish.

I had to start by buying a new stopper and air lock because I broke the old one with the last batch.  Turns out if that rubber stoppers get hard and dry as they get old, and if you push too hard, they actually slip down into the carboy.  We managed to work it out, but we broke the airlock during bottling.  So anyway, with the new equipment in place and a fresh ingredient kit from Beer, Beer, & More Beer, we brewed.

The beer looks great.  It now ferments and settles for two weeks, then I'll bottle it.  Two weeks later, just days before the opening game of the World Cup, it will be ready to drink.

The only problem is, I need a name and a label for it.  Normally I'd do this myself, but I'm turning to you, all my friends, to do it for me.  This is probably as close to a blog contest as I'll ever come, so you better jump on this opportunity before it expires.

The task:  Name the beer and create a label that can be printed on Avery 5264 labels, which are a great size for both the 22 ounce and the 12 ounce bottles.  These are 3-1/3" by 4" with rounded corners, and you need to be aware that I am not very good at printing bleeds unless you also provide me a six-up version that can be printed on my Mac Mini.

The context:  This beer will be consumed mostly in a hot tub with the World Cup on the big screen.  Some will be given away to friends, probably.  Children may be present, so no X rated labels.  (Actually, feel free to send X-rated labels.  I just won't pick them as winners.)

Submissions:  Email the name and artwork to me at, no later than May 23, 2010.

The prize:  I dunno.  Maybe, like, I'll say thank you.  And you'll get the thrill of having your work displayed on beer bottles in my home.

May 6, 2010

Let us pray, or, like, whatever.

Dudes, it is the National Day of Prayer here in the good old U S of A, despite what some fuddy-duddy judge dude says.  Our founding fathers had the good sense to set up a system of government that separates church from state, and which leaves enough wiggle room for the state to cozy up to the church when it wants.  Cozying up is good.  I like cozying up, given the right cozy-up partner (that cozy photo there's me and Carrie Underwood).  And wiggle room is good, especially with that same cozy-up partner.  And really you can cozy up almost anywhere, especially if... sorry, lost my train of thought there.  What day is it?

Oh, right.  National Day of Prayer, which causes much angst and gnashing of teeth.  Did you know there's a group called Freedom from Religion Foundation?  I like the concept because, really, isn't freedom what this country's all about?  The pilgrims left Europe because the church didn't like the way they worshipped the old white-haired dude in the sky with the big beard and the magic finger.  Which is weird because all of them worshipped that same dude, from the same book.

But the Freedom from Religion Foundation has a really funky acronym.  FfRF.  Sounds like something a dog says when its got a tennis ball in its mouth, or the sound that comes out when you get latte foam up your nose by accident.  I think it's because of this funky sounding acronym that they are so wound up and tense over religion.  They think people are making fun of them, saying "FfRF" and giggling, so they feel like they have to prove themselves or something by being as militantly devoted to their cause as Franklin Graham is to his.

Here's what I think:  We don't need a National Day of Prayer.  Congress, back in the ancient days of the 50s or whenever, solved a problem that didn't exist and didn't need solving.  People who pray have like fifty-two days of prayer already.  Some people pray every day.  They really need another one where the government tells everyone who doesn't pray that we should all be praying?  On a Thursday in May?  This is necessary?

No, it's not necessary.  It doesn't help the spirituality of those who are already spiritual.  It doesn't create spirituality in those who aren't.  It's not like National Day of Prayer raises awareness of God.  National Day of Eating Fewer Trans-Fats, now that I could get behind.  It's practical, and there's a public health aspect to it.  But there's only one purpose a National Day of Prayer can serve, and that purpose involves solidifying the political power of the religious over the non-religious.

But instead of joining in that battle, I think I'll quote from two very wise men.
“Life is short and complicated and nobody knows what to do about it. So don’t do anything about it. Just take it easy, man. Stop worrying so much whether you’ll make it into the finals. Kick back with some friends and some oat soda and whether you roll strikes or gutters, do your best to be true to yourself and others – that is to say, abide.”
--The Dude
“Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God's side, for God is always right.”
--Abraham Lincoln
And, with one final thought from Mr. Lincoln, I say, "Happy National Day of Prayer."  Take it easy.

May 4, 2010

looking for happiness in the bottom of a D cup

Here in California, we have a lot of fake boobs.  We also have a lot of things that create fake happiness.  Napa offers wine, Marin offers marijuana, and Genentech offers Valium.  These mind altering substances offer a brief illusion of happiness but do not actually make people happy.  Fake boobs may or may not make certain people happy, for real.

A week or so ago a woman in Orange County went so far as to fake some credit in order to pay for her new fake boobs.  She was looking forward to hitting the bars to show off her new chest, but it looks like she'll be spending time (six months) behind bars instead.

Back in 2005, ABC aired a story about a new trend:  parents giving their children boob jobs for high school graduation.  Presumably, the gift was limited to daughters.  But again, this is California, so anything's possible.  The best line from this story:
The gift of breast implants costs about $7,000. "But I don't think you can put really a price on your child's happiness," [Jennifer's mom] said.
That's right.  No price is too high for our child's happiness because, you know, money can buy happiness.  If the Jaguar doesn't do it for you, maybe a nice rack will.  If that doesn't work, maybe Xanax is for you.

Here in our very own elementary school, my younger son acted and sang in the school play.  He was a cardsman in Alice in Wonderland, and although it wasn't a starring role, he had several lines and loved every minute of it.  By all accounts, the play was a smashing production, and I agree.  Really well done, with some terrific performances.  Around the last week of rehearsals, though, I heard an ugly rumor that some of the little girls (these are 10 and 11 year olds) had begun taking anti anxiety medication because of the pressure of this play.  This wasn't about boobs, of course.

But this was:  A retailer in the UK was recently forced to pull a product from its shelves.  The product?  Bikinis for girls younger than 10 years old.  Bikinis with padded bras, for girls younger than 10 years old.  The article notes an anonymous source with a possibly reasonable explanation for this, but really.  Come on.  Really?

Padded bras for little girls?  Women stealing money to get boob jobs?  Children taking anti anxiety medication to make it through the school play?  Parents buying their daughters new boobs to create self esteem?

What the cuss has happened to us?

At least this lady knows how to teach her son proper values.  If he's gonna steal the Xanax she hid in her bra, she's gonna turn him in to the cops.  Talk about looking for happiness in the bottom of a D cup.