Friday, May 07, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 22 -- Flame and Crimson: A History of Sword-and-Sorcery

by Brian Murphy

Started: May 1
Finished: May 7

Notes: I've been meaning to get a copy of this book since it came out a year or two ago, and now I have. I'm hoping to enjoy this one.

Mini review: This is perhaps the most comprehensive book about sword and sorcery I've come across in my more-than 50 years. And it's good. And fair. I'd comment more, but I'm going to write a longer review for the Rogue Blades site and I'll post that link here when it's available in a week or two. But I can say this to readers of my blog: Go read this book.

Honoring mothers on Mother's Day

My Rogue Blades article this week attempts to honor mothers on Mother's Day.

Monday, May 03, 2021

Beer of the Week: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout

Beer score: 9.8

Company: Samuel Smith's Brewery

ABV: 5.0
IBU: 32

This is the smoothest stout I've ever had. Really. It's not as heavy as most stouts, but it isn't watery either.

It pours dark, really dark, almost but not quite as dark as a Guinness. And then there's that dark, burnt, yummy smell not unlike coffee.

As for the taste, there's a touch of sweetness on the way down but otherwise it tastes like it smells with those bready, coffee-like textures.

Drink this.

Friday, April 30, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 21 -- The Second Book of The Chronicles

published by Zondervan

Started: April 27
Finished: April 30

Notes: Since I've just finished reading The First Book of The Chronicles, I'm going ahead and reading this book from the Bible.

Mini review: This one turned out to be a condensed version of the history of Israel and Judah from the death of King David to the exile and then return of the Israelites to Israel and Judah. All of this was pretty much already covered in The First and Second Books of the Kings.

Going Super over at Black Gate

At Black Gate this week, I take a look back at ye olde Marvel Super Heroes RPG, also commonly known as FASERIP.



Over at Rogue Blades

My Rogue Blades article this week suggests that while we talk a lot about fictional heroes, let us not forget the heroes in real life.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 20 -- The First Book of The Chronicles

published by Zondervan

Started: April 23
Finished: April 26

Notes: I've been spacing out my Bible readings so I won't get burned out, but now it's time to get back at it.

Mini review: Much of this was made up of lists. List of genealogy from Adam to David, lists of priests and their various duties and their families. But some of this was a condensed version of the life of King David.

Monday, April 26, 2021

Beer of the Week: Saranac Black Forest

Beer score: 6.9

Company: Saranac

ABV: 5.5
IBU: 20

This beer comes and goes in the market, so sometimes it can be difficult to find. This used to be a staple Saranac brew, but back in 2015 they dropped it, then brought it back. It's sort of seasonal, I suppose, but whenever you're lucky enough to find it, it's worth a try.

It's dark when you pour it, and it has a pale, foamy head. It's hardy going down and has a good, strong flavor that's not unlike burnt caramel, maybe toffee, but not sweet.

This is a solid beer for beer snobs who have moved just beyond the novice stage. I wouldn't call this an overly unique drink, sort of a typical dark beer, if there is such a thing, but still, it's a good beer.

Friday, April 23, 2021

At Rogue Blades this week

My Rogue Blades article this week is about being the hero you want to be by playing tabletop roleplaying games. Enjoy!

Books read in 2021: No. 19 -- Savage Worlds Adventure Edition Roleplaying Game


Started: April 18
Finished: April 23

Notes: During the last decade or so I've played one version or another of the Savage Worlds tabletop RPG on various occasions, always just using the rules as I picked them up from play. This wasn't too difficult because Savage Worlds is to some extent based upon the rules used for the Deadlands game, which I'm quite familiar with having played that game a lot back in the '90s. Still, as one of my regular gaming groups is planning a couple of upcoming campaigns using the Savage Worlds rules, I thought maybe it was time I actually read one of the rules books from beginning to end so I would know more of what I was doing.

Mini review: Reading this makes me look forward all the more to starting a campaign with this game in the coming days. Once players get used to this system, I think they'll find it provides faster player than a lot of RPGs out there. It's also a bit more deadly in combat, from a character's point of view, but also less so at the same time, meaning the fights themselves tend to be more realistic than in some systems but the healing options are generous. If that made sense.

Monday, April 19, 2021

Beer of the Week: Niksicko Pivo

Beer score: 5.9

Company: Trebjesa Brewery

ABV: 5.0
IBU: NA

This one looks not unlike a typical American premium beer with a light golden color.

That being said, it has a pretty powerful bitter flavor, especially for a brew that looks and smells like Budweiser. There's too much carbonation for my taste, but this isn't an awful beer. It's what cheap American beers want to be.

Comes to us from Montenegro.

Sunday, April 18, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 18 -- The Devil in the White City

by Erik Larson

Started: April 9
Finished: April 18

Notes: I've been wanting to read this one for a while now since its a about the serial killer H.H. Holmes who was active in the U.S., specifically Chicago, in the 1890s. I had thought this was fiction, but it turns out it is not but is based upon various writings and forms of the time.

Mini review: For those seeking a true crime book with lots of information about H.H. Holmes, they will be disappointed. This book is mostly about the builders and the building of the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, though perhaps a fourth of this book focuses on Holmes. If interested in Holmes, there are better, more informative books, such as Depraved by Harold Schechter. Also, though not difficult to read, this was a rather dense book in its style, making it not the most enjoyable of reads. Still, there was interesting information here, so I'm glad I picked up this one.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Beer of the Week: Hell's Belle

Beer score: 7.2

Company: Big Boss Brewing Co.

ABV: 7.0
IBU: 30

This one has a nice, light floral quality to it with a very pleasant scent that wafts up from the glass. There is just a hint of almost IPA-like bitterness on the tip of the tongue when drinking this, and there's also a hint of spice and sweetness. Very restrained in its fruitiness, but there are citrus undercurrents here.

Light enough you could drink several in one sitting, but does have a complex flavor that keeps you guessing.

Comes from the Big Boss Brewing Co. of Raleigh, North Carolina. The bottle says this is a "Belgain Style Ale," and that's right on the nose, almost like a white ale.

Friday, April 09, 2021

Talking 'Invincible' over at Rogue Blades

My Rogue Blades article this week does a little study of the animated super hero show Invincible.



Books read in 2021: No. 17 -- The Woman in the Coffin


Started: April 7
Finished: April 9

Notes: I was intrigued about this novella after the author penned an article over at Black Gate about his influences, including silent German expressionist films of the early 20th Century.

Mini review: Those with a fondness for occult tales set in the Victorian era will find much here to enjoy. Kidnappings, mesmerism, even murder abound here. This was a fun read and should not be overlooked.

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 16 -- Sleeping Beauties


Started: March 21
Finished: April 7

Notes: I just finished a collection of spooky stories which I did not find all that spooky, so I thought I'd turn to the king of horror and his youngest son to see if they can give me a fright or two.

Mini review: A damn fine novel, and not in need of shortening as some of Stephen King's works are. Somewhat long and expansive, but that was needed for this tale in which all the women in the world (or nearly all of them) fall asleep and can't be woken. Also, a cocoon of sorts wraps itself around the women, and if anyone tries to wake them, they go mad and attack those who attempted to wake them. Nearly all the story takes place in a small Appalachian town and a women's prison, and there is some horror here but ultimately this is fantasy. And there's a somewhat bittersweet ending, though it's not really a dark one. One of my better King reads of recent years.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Beer of the Week: Breckenridge Imperial Avalanche Amber Ale

Beer score: 6.2

Company: Breckenridge Brewery

ABV: 9.0
IBU: NA

The good folks at Breckenridge Brewery don't produce this beer all the time, it being one of their former staples from decades in the past. Still, they occasionally brew a batch, though at times it has gone by slightly different names, and I was fortunate enough to try it again recently after not having it in more than 10 years.

This is something of a red ale, fairly sweet with little fizz. It goes down smooth and easy with a watery texture.

Worth tasting, and might even make a good regular drinking beer, especially with salty bar snacks like pretzels. Also, this would be an excellent brew for beginning beer snobs to cut their teeth on.

Monday, March 29, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Michelob Marzen

Beer score: 3.9

A couple of decades back, Michelob tried to get in on the craft brew and brewpub craze by coming up with a bunch of "fancy" beers. This was one of them, and like most from this era of Michelob's trials and errors, it's no longer with us.

This one was supposed to be a smooth lager, at least according to the bottle's label. It got too sweet after the second drink, but the carbonation was tolerable (though still a little more than I like).

It was something a little different, but not anything overly special.

Friday, March 26, 2021

Monday, March 22, 2021

Beer of the Week: Jade IPA

Beer score: 7.9

Company: Foothills Brewing

ABV: 7.4
IBU: 86

I'm not the biggest IPA fan, but this one from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, was definitely a favorite.

It pours out golden with a bit of cloudiness in the coloring. The smell reminded me somewhat of fruit, maybe pineapple and oranges.

But in the drinking is where this beer really shines. The touch of fruit is still there, but it's only a touch, not as strong as in the smell. Then the hardy bitterness hits your tongue and it's magnificent, with hints of bread and wood. Also, the sour skunkiness that's common to many IPA brews is totally absent here.

Like I said, I'm not a big IPA fan, but I could drink this one all the time.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

DragonQuest, the RPG that was early competition for D&D

Over at Black Gate this week, I write about the early tabletop RPG DragonQuest, how much I love it, and how it was everly competition for Dungeons & Dragons.

Books read in 2021: No. 15 -- Spooky Southwest

by S.E. Schlosser

Started: March 16
Finished: March 20

Notes: Somewhat sadly, this is the last of the books I purchased during a cross-country road trip nearly three years ago. This one is a series with other books in the series being based in other parts of the country than the Southwest, so if I enjoy this one enough there's still plenty of others to read.

Mini review: Ghosts abound here, the devil makes a few appearances, there are some witches and even a vampire, but all in all I didn't find these stories all that spooky, more like light folk tales. It was really more how the stories were told, in a rated G or maybe PG style, and there's nothing wrong with that, it just wasn't for me. I prefer my spooky stories a bit darker, but that's fine because not everything has to be for me. I'm sure there are plenty of folks who would enjoy these tales more than myself.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 14 -- The Second Book of the Kings

published by Zondervan

Started: March 15
Finished: March 17

Notes: As I've just finished The First Book of the Kings, I decided to read The Second Book of the Kings.

Mini review: Here continues the history of a long list of kings of Israel and Judah, the majority who are considered evil and sinning before God, mostly through idolatry but also through many other crimes. A few of these kings are good in God's eyes, but very few. After years and years of living with the sins of Israel and Judah, God eventually allows the Babylonians to basically destroy the temple and much of Jerusalem while killing or taking away the leaders of Israel and Judah to keep as exiles.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: SLO Brewing Co. Cole Porter

Beer score: 4.9

Yet another beer no longer with us, though I still have some old notes about this one.

For those of you who like really strong, nutty-flavored beers, this one would've been for you. It went down smooth and frothy, but the almond taste was too strong for me (which is why the score above isn't higher).

This beer came from the SLO Brewing Co., a brewery and restaurant in San Luis Obispo, California, that later became part of the Downtown Brewing Co. Eventually SLO Brewing went its own way again, but they decided against continuing this decent brew.

Monday, March 15, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 13 -- The First Book of the Kings

published by Zondervan

Started: March 12
Finished: March 14

Notes: The Bible isn't going to read itself, so I return to my studies of it.

Mini review: This book details the final years of King David and the reign of King Solomon. I was surprised to learn Solomon had lost some of God's favor in the king's forget years, information I had forgotten if I had ever known it. The rest of the book concerns a long series of kings of Israel and Judah, most worse than the one before and falling to sin in the eyes of God, often by creating and worshipping idols. A few of these kings were still considered Godly men, but not many.

Friday, March 12, 2021

At Rogue Blades: The 87th Precinct

 This week over at the Rogue Blades site, I write about my love for Ed McBain's 87th Precinct novels.

Books read on 2021: No. 12 -- The Empty Hours

by Ed McBain

Started: March 8
Finished: March 12

Notes: As I've just penned an article about my love for these 87th Precinct books, I'm in the mood to read one. This one isn't a novel, however, but a collection of three novellas.

Mini review: A young woman is murdered inside her apartment and leaves behind a string of mysterious statements in her check book. A rabbi is stabbed to death behind his temple and the letter J is painted on the wall above him. A detective goes on a skiing vacation in which two ski instructors are murdered. These are the three stories that make up this book, and each of them was quite strong. The last story, "Storm," was quite different from most 87th Precinct tales in that it didn't actually take place within the precinct but at a ski lodge. I'm always glad to read McBain because he always tells great stories.

Monday, March 08, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 11 -- One for the Money

by Janet Evanovich

Started: March 3
Finished: March 8

Notes: If I didn't sometimes check out authors I'd never read before, I'd never discover authors I love. Which is why I so often do read authors I've never read before, which is the case here.

Mini review: Jersey girl Stephanie Plum is down on her luck and out of a job. To make ends meet, she goes to work for her cousin Vinny (yes, you read that correctly) as a bounty hunter, which seems entirely unlike Stephanie. Her first case? She has to find an ex-boyfriend of sorts who is wanted for murder. Oh, yeah, and he happens to be a cop. Hilarity ensues and Stephanie finds herself embroiled with a champion boxer, street hookers, cops, family, and lots of other characters. In the end, this was a pretty fun read. I enjoyed it. Not sure I'll ever go out of my way to read another of these Plum novels, but I also wouldn't turn one down.

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Red Wolf

Beer score: 3.3

There was a time in the 1990s when "red" beers seemed to be all the rage in stores. This one was from Anheuser-Busch.

It was beer. You could drink it. Budweiser fans who wanted to live a little on the wild side probably drank this without getting too turned off. Otherwise, it was nothing special.

As can be expected, it pour a light amber color, almost yellow. There was a lot of corn in the smell and taste, and a lot of carbonation. It wasn't a great beer, which is probably why it's no longer around.

Saturday, March 06, 2021

My Black Gate article this week takes a look back at a board game's origins. So, gentlemen, start your engines for Car Wars!



Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 10 -- Message in a Bottle

by Nicholas Sparks

Started: Feb. 23
Finished: March 3

Notes: Every once in a while I pick up a book by a popular author simply to study how they do what they do, and that is the case here. I've seen a movie or two based off Sparks' work and I enjoyed them, but I can't say I'm particularly drawn to these type of tales of love and melancholy. Still, maybe I'll be surprised, or maybe I'll learn something.

Mini review: This was a sad one that reminded me far too much of my own life. A widower throws bottles in the ocean, bottles that contain letters to his late wife. A newspaper columnist discovers a floating bottle containing one of the letters and decides to find out about the writer of the letters. They meet and fall in love. Of course they have troubles, but then tragedy occurs. This one hit a little too close to home for me as a widower myself, but I'm glad I read it. The writing style here is solid and makes for an easy enough read. My only real complaint is that the events and the characters felt a little too pat to me, a little too contrived, but it worked for the story as told.

Monday, March 01, 2021

Beer of the Week: Grimbergen Triple

Beer score: 5.8

Company: Grimbergen

ABV: 8.0
IBU: 5

This has got to be the sweetest beer I've ever taste. That doesn't mean the taste is bad, but it's so hard to get to it through all the sweetness. This was so sweet I couldn't finish a bottle (though it was a big bottle).

As for pouring, it has a nice, light golden color to it. The smell has some caramel and fruitiness to it.

Going down, there's some of that caramel and fruit flavors, but again, the sweetness here is just overpowering. It does have a strong alcohol aftertaste.

Only truly experienced beer tasters should think about trying this. Worth trying when you are in the mood for something unique.

Friday, February 26, 2021

At Rogue Blades: When Our Heroes are Flawed

My article at Rogue Blades this week talks about flawed, real-world heroes and that maybe we should cut them some slack because maybe, just maybe, we're the ones being overly judgmental.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 9 -- Between the Bridge and the River


Started: Feb. 13
Finished: Feb. 23

Notes: I'm in need of some fiction, so I turn to this novel. I know comedian Ferguson can write non-fiction, as I've read his excellent autobiography, so now I'll find out how he handles fiction.

Mini review: It's not easy to describe this novel. For one thing, the plot jumps around all over the place, especially early on, though by about the halfway point things begin to mull and the last half of the novel is easy to follow. Also, there are numerous characters, and it's sometimes not so easy to keep track of them. There are two Scottish men who were friends as boys but who part ways in high school, one who eventually becomes a television personality and the other who lives a rather dull life with a wife he does not truly love. One of them becomes something of a holy man, the other discovers he has cancer and falls in love, though I won't tell you which is which. Then there are the two brothers from the South in America, one who becomes a movie star and the other his manager, and eventually they go into the business of religion. And there are many other charcters, though those are the main ones. It all ties together somewhat in the end in what turns out to be quite the spiritual novel. If there's a message here, it's ultimately a simple one, "Help others." The title itself doesn't seem to make much sense until the end of this book, and there's definitely a spirituality there. I like that. I won't say this was a fun read, though there is some humor, but it wasn't a complete drudge.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Beer of the Week: Paulener Hefe-Weizen

Beer score: 6.5

Company: Paulener

ABV: 5.5
IBU: 16

A hefe-weizen is a type of wheat beer that has been conditioned in the bottle. This here beer is brewed and bottled by Paulener of Munich, Germany.

When you pour this one, it has a cloudy look to it with a bit of coloring that's somewhat amber. That being said, it's smooth and has a fruity taste that is cool at first but overpowering after a few drinks.

This beer would score higher for me if the fruit taste didn't come on so strong.

Still, it's a good sipping beer for dessert. You could serve this as a wine to non-beer drinkers and I think they would enjoy it.

Monday, February 15, 2021

Beer of the Week: Geary's Pale Ale

Beer score: 7.8

Company: Geary Brewing Company

ABV: 5.2
IBU: 38

This one pours with a smooth copper color. The smell isn't overly strong, but there are definitely hints of the malt and hops with a slight cereal and caramel texture.

Going down, this is a solid, wet and frothy pale ale that isn't overly bitter. Has a little bit of a bitter kick when swallowing, but not much. Has a great flavor that's much like the smell with hints of bread and that caramel.

I like this beer, so yeah, I can recommend. You should try one.

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 8 -- The Case for Faith


Started: Feb. 5
Finished: Feb. 13

Notes: I love to study Christian apologetics, of which Strobel is known to be a major writer. That being said, I've read one of his books before and I wasn't a big fan, mainly because I felt he covered ground already covered time and time again by other authors. I'm willing to give him another try, though, and maybe there will be something new here for me to learn.

Mini review: Here Strobel attempts to answer a number of objections to Christianity through interviews with various experts on science, philosophy and religion. Strobel does a quality job of finding answers for the presented concerns, but I always feel as if his writings are a bit simplistic for my taste, that the answers aren't necessarily pat but that they're just touching upon the tip of the iceberg. Of course he's writing for a somewhat general Christian audience, but I prefer deeper material. I'm not opposed to reading more Strobel, but I think I prefer the works of the likes of Josh McDowell or even C.S. Lewis.

Friday, February 12, 2021

Don't throw away your heroes

This week at the Rouge Blades site, I write about throwing away your heroes and how it's best not to do so. To be more specific, I talk about when I left home for the first time and gave away my childhood comics, toys, games, and all that went with it. Sigh.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Concealed Carry: The 3 Speed Holster

I've not written a weapons post in a long while, but I've been excited about a recent purchase so I just had to share about it.

Like many firearms enthusiasts and those who carry concealed or openly, I'm always on the lookout for a new holster. A good holster, one that's just perfect for you, isn't always easy to find, and most gun enthusiasts will have a bunch of them, some they use and some they were disappointed with and are shoved back in a closet somewhere. To those who don't carry, being picky about a holster might seem silly, but it's actually quite important to have a good holster for safety purposes and for comfort and fit.
So, I'm always looking.

And recently I read about the 3 Speed Holster.

I was a little skeptical at first, but after ordering one and now wearing it some, I have to say I love it!

It straps around your waist and connects with a long velcro strap that you can cut shorter if you want. The actual holster is fitted to whatever you carry, in my case a Beretta 92FS, not a small or particularly light handgun. The "belt" is for inside-the-waistband carry but I don't see why it couldn't be carried outside the waistband as long as you're wearing a long shirt or something similar.

What made this holster stand out for me is that it can be worn by a big guy such as myself, and comfortable holsters for those of us who are plus sized can be especially difficult to find. That being said, the 3 Speed Holster isn't just for big guys, it's for all sizes, and when ordering you specify your dimensions.

Also, I love the fact you can wear this holster with practically anything, including sweatpants, which are notoriously difficult to find holsters or gun belts for.

So far my 3 Speed Holster is comfortable and molds slightly to the body. Also, it can be shifted up and down quite easily, so I suppose you could pull it higher up near your chest if you wanted.

Mine came with a slot for a spare magazine, but if my memory serves, you can specify not having the slot for extra magazines when ordering.

I love this thing. I don't know yet if it'll be my regular, go-to holster for pants and jeans, but I'll definitely be utilizing it for sweatpants and shorts and the like.
No, that's not my Beretta. This is a stock photo from the 3 Speed Holster company, but it's a good example of what they have to offer.


Monday, February 08, 2021

Beer of the Week: Andechs Export Dunkel

Beer score: 7.6

Company: Kloster Andechs

ABV: 4.9
IBU: 19

This German beer pours a dark copper color, and hits you right away with a strong caramel scent.

Upon tasting, that caramel flavor turns into a toasted bitterness on the way down. Just a tad too much carbonation for my taste, but not enough to ruin the drink.

Quite enjoyable.

Friday, February 05, 2021

My Black Gate article this week takes a look back to the 1980s, specifically to the tabletop roleplaying game "Lords of Creation" from the Avalon Hill company.

Books read in 2021: No. 7 -- The Second Book of Samuel

published by Zondervan

Started: Feb. 2
Finished: Feb. 4

Notes: As I just finished The First Book of Samuel, I thought I'd continue on here.

Mini review: This continues with David's life, leading into his old age but not quite to his death. Here can be found more beheadings and rapes and slaughters than any Sword & Sorcery story I've ever read, but most of this wasn't brought about by David himself, though he seems to have been a great war general. And despite his being loved by God, David is not perfect and sins in awful ways, though he and his people pay for it even after David shows contrition. In many ways, David's biggest faults are his loyalty to his family, no few of whom try to overthrow him or murder him and who do awful things sometimes even to each other. It is interesting to see the ancient writers of this book did not shy away from showing the hero, David, in a negative light when he deserved it.

Tuesday, February 02, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 6 -- The First Book of Samuel

published by Zondervan

Started: Jan. 27
Finished: Feb. 2

Notes: Last year I began reading the Bible in bits and starts, so now I continue to keep at it. This book, and the one that follows it, are basically the story of King David's life.

Mini review: The Hebrews beseech the prophet Samuel for a king, and despite God's misgivings, Saul is decided upon. However, Saul sins against God, so God decides David would be a better king. Then much of this book entails Saul hunting to slay David and David time and time again either going into hiding or asking Saul why he wants David dead, to which there is no good reason other than fear and jealousy. In the end, Saul is killed in a battle that does not involve David, and this is pretty much where this book ends. David has not been crowned yet, but that's coming.

Monday, February 01, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Schell's Pils

Beer score: 3.0

I've not had time of late to try some new beers or even to drink beer, but I have notes from a number of beers that are no longer in production. This is one of those beers, though the brewer is still around and produces a pilsener, just not this one.

This one was not a favorite, but I still always hate to discover a beer is no longer on the market. Even if a beer isn't for me, someone might enjoy it.

Anyway, this one was very light and sweet. It had a light yellow color to it and smelled of bread with a hint of maybe orange or lemon. The taste also had a bready quality along with the sweetness.

Not an awful beer but not a great one. Better beers are and were available, so maybe that's why this one is no longer around, but I still felt it was worth trying.

Friday, January 29, 2021

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 5 -- Shane


Started: Jan. 24
Finished: Jan. 27

Notes: Yep, this is the Western novel which was the basis for the famous 1953 movie starring Alan Ladd. I enjoy the movie, so I'm looking forward to this one.

Mini review: Though I've read this was a children's book back in the day, it would probably be considered too strong for kids today, at least by most parents. No, this tale was written for the boys of my father's generation, and I have to say maybe we've lost a little because of this. Anyway, this was a pretty good book, and it didn't seem childish to me at all though told from the point of view of a boy. The movie version pretty much sticks to this novel, though some scenes shown in the movie were only told of here, and there are some minor differences. Western fiction fans would do themselves a service to read this.

Monday, January 25, 2021

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Blue Ridge Amber Lager

Beer score: 5.9

Another beer that's no longer in production, it went through multiple brewing companies before eventually dying off. The Frederick Brewing Company had it for a while, and then it got bought out by the Flying Dog Brewery for a bit, and then ended up with the Wild Goose Brewery. Such a shame this decent beer is no longer around.

It poured an orange color and had a caramel, malty smell to it. Good cold. Wet and a little thin with more caramel in the tasting.

A pretty good beer for premium beer drinkers to expand their tastes with. Not bad at all, but by no means an awesome beer.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 4 -- The Unforgiven


Started: Jan. 20
Finished: Jan. 24

Notes: I've been reading a fair amount of non-fiction concerning the Old West of late, so thought I'd turn to some of the fiction on the era. This particular novel was the basis for the 1960 movie starring Burt Lancaster. I've read this author's novel The Searchers and generally enjoyed it, so thought I'd give him another go.

Mini review: After a somewhat slow start, this turned out to be a damn fine novel. It's written in a style more common to half a century or more ago, being verbose by today's standards, but this is necessary as this isn't simply a tale of gunfights and adventure, though there is some of that. This is mainly a tale of the cowfolk who helped build the frontier and the hardships and dangers they faced, especially their struggles against Native American tribes, her being the Kiowa. Also, by modern standards this isn't the most politically correct of novels, but the anger and curses thrown at the Kiowa is mostly understandable (at least from some characters) because of the tense situations; in other words, if you're fighting for your life, you're not going to worry so much if the words coming from your mouth are politcally correct.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 3 -- Lady at the O.K. Corral: The True Story of Joesphine Marcus Earp


Started: Jan. 10
Finished: Jan. 20

Notes: Believe it or not, I did not purchase this book when I visited Tombstone, Arizona a few years ago, site of the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Instead, I found it at a used book store in North Carolina, but thought I'd read it now since I'm in the middle of a spell of reading about the Old West. Also, for some time now I've been interested in Josephine Marcus Earp, the actress who married Wyatt Earp.

Mini review: For those wanting to learn more about Tombstone and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, there will not be much new information here. However, for those who are seeking knowledge of Wyatt and Josephine Earp's life after the events of Tombstone, there is much to be found here. The writer is mostly sympathetic towards her subject matter, but is more than willing to tell when others had negative recollections of Wyatt and Josephine. The writing style is not a favorite of mine, but it's not awful.

Monday, January 18, 2021

Beer of the Week: Molson Canadian

Beer score: 5.6

Company: Molson Coors

ABV: 5.0
IBU: 15

A cheese and crackers lager. A good, plain, all-around beer. Not necessarily a beer snob's beer, but not a bad beer at all. You could serve this one to your beer snob friends and not be disgraced.

Has a light, pale color like gold when you pour it, though there is something of a corn and rice smell that's not uncommon among premium beers.

There's a touch of malty sweetness here, a nice beer flavor, and a frothy head. This is a clean, fairly smooth beer. Not a favorite of mine, but I could see myself drinking these while doing work around the house.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Beer of the Week: Schlitz

Beer score: 1.5

Company: Schlitz

ABV: 4.7
IBU: NA

I suppose it's beer.

From the bottle into the glass, this one has the color of straw. And it smells like corn.

Tastes like cheap beer, and barely that. Weak with a little carbonation.

Not my thing, but it has its place. Still, unless all you're seeking is a cheap buzz, stay away from this beer. In all fairness, Schlitz has been owned by a few different companies over the decades and hasn't always had the same recipe, so maybe some Schlitz in the past has been better than the version I most recently had or maybe today's Schlitz is better than the old stuff.

Searching for heroes

This week over at Black Gate, I chat about a cross-country road trip I took a few years ago and how it inspired me to search for heroes on that trip.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 2 -- Soiled Doves: Prostitution in The Early West


Started: Jan. 5
Finished: Jan. 10

Notes: Yep, it's another book I picked up in Tombstone a few years ago.

Mini review: While the subject matter here was interesting enough, I found the execution less than desirable. Most of this is a collection of snippets and information from other books about the lives of famous madams and prostitutes in the Old West, with only some vagueness about the overall picture of prostitution during the time period. The writing was fair, but the book itself should have had a stronger structure instead of jumping around so much in the timeline.

Tuesday, January 05, 2021

Books read in 2021: No. 1 -- Doc Holliday: A Family Portrait


Started: Jan. 1
Finished: Jan. 5

Notes: As might be expected considering the subject matter, I picked up this book during a trip to Tombstone, Arizona, a couple of years ago, site of the legendary gunfight at the OK Corral, in which the famous (or infamous) Doc Holliday took part. This one could be especially revealing as it's from a descendent of Holliday. It looks to be well noted and indexed, but I would expect nothing else from a book from the University of Oklahoma Press; I've read some of that publisher's books before and they've always been quite enlightening about the Old West.

Mini review: This is what all history books should endeavor towards. Entertaining while not flippant, informative without being boring, and full of notes which actually add knowledge. The author obviously has something of a Holliday leaning, but that's to be expected, and in truth her bias isn't overly blatant, allowing the text to be relatively fair to the Doc and those involved in the old Clanton-Earp feud. If you enjoy Old West, non-fiction, I highly suggest you read this. Even if you think you know Doc Holliday, there will be things here to learn, mostly about Doc's earlier days before heading west but also a few things about his days in Texas, Colorado, Arizona, etc.

Monday, January 04, 2021

Beer of the Week: Sierra Nevada Celebration

Beer score: 3.0

Company: Sierra Nevada

ABV: 6.8
IBU: 65

Anyone who has read this blog will likely know I'm flat out not a fan of these spiced holiday drinks. So, in all fairness, my brief reviews and scores for these beers tend to be less than positive.

Which is pretty much the case here.

The color is amber. The scent is hoppy with a touch of fruity. The flavor is a strong, bitter mixture of cinnamon and holiday spices.

Sierra Nevada puts out some great beers, but I can't say this is one of them. Though this is no fault of their own. I simply don't like these kinds of beers.