Monday, January 29, 2024

Beer of the Week: Wurzburger Hofbrau Premium Pilsner

Beer score: 4.2

Company: Wurzburger Hofbrau
ABV: 4.9
IBU: 25

Sometimes when tasting a beer for the first time, I have high hopes. Sometimes not. This time I was in the middle of the road, so I wasn't disappointed, but I also didn't come away excited.

This wasn't a bad beer, it was just nothing real special.

Pours a golden color while giving off a slightly sweet and grassy smell.

Light and wet on the tongue with a gentle honey sweetness.

And that's about it. Not much to say about this one. If you're in the mood for a lighter beer that's not actually a "light" beer, then this could be just the thing for you.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 4 - The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Romans

published by Zondervan

Started: Jan. 26
Finished: Jan. 28

Notes: I'm finally getting to the "letters" portion of the New Testament.

Mini review: As often as I've read this book of the Bible, I'm still always surprised and not only how much Paul preaches the message of Christ but expounds upon it to a length that Paul brings into Christianity notions that Jesus himself did not mention, or at least not in the Gospels as we have them. I'm not saying Paul was necessarily wrong or misleading, but it does make one wonder whether these notions were Paul's own or if the Holy Spirit were speaking through him.

Friday, January 26, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 3 -- October Light

by John Gardner

Started: Jan. 6
Finished: Jan. 26

Notes: Gardner is an author I've long admired, both his fiction and non-fiction, but I feel I should read more of his works. His most famous novel is likely Grendel, but I've also much appreciated his non-fiction book On Moral Fiction. Here's to hoping I'll find this novel interesting as well.

Mini review: This was what some might consider a "serious" novel, even a ponderous novel, and it's not the fastest or easiest of reads, but I'm definitely glad to have read it, though I doubt I'll ever do so again. The plot will sound rather mundane. It's the 1970s in rural Vermont and an old farmer lives with his even older sister in their family home. One night they get into an argument, he shoots the television, and chases her upstairs where he locks her in her room. The next day when he has come around and decides to let her out, she refuses, the sister going on something of a strike, refusing to leave her room or clean house or cook for her brother. Throughout the novel she stays in her room, surviving by using a bed pan and a crate of apples available to her. Soon enough other members of the family show up and try to affect things, and eventually even pastors and friends try to end this stalemate between brother and sister. All the while, the elderly woman in her room reads a "trashy" novel that she discovered, a book of drug smugglers and a somewhat suicidal protagonists. Interesting enough, no small amount of this "trashy" novel is given to the reader, so it's sort of like two novels in one. Again, all this sounds rather mundane, but this is a novel with depths, touching upon family relations, politics, religion, philosophy, and ultimately, grief and how we cope or don't cope with it. There are few surprises here, though there are a few, and no small amount of space is spent on memories of the past, of the older people's younger days and those they have loved and lost. I feel like I'm barely touching what this novel is about, but this is supposed to be a mini review and not a full-out one. Can I recommend this novel? Not for everyone. But if you're the type who likes to delve into a literary piece from time to time, this one should be right up your alley.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Kara-bu Ale

Beer score: 7.2

This raspberry porter was strong like a heavy porter or one of the lighter stouts, but with a little more fizz than I felt was needed. Fermented with raspberries, this beer had a fruity taste and smell but not an overly sweet taste and smell. If it had had a little less carbonation, it would have scored higher.

Unfortunately this brew was made by the H.C. Berger Brewing Company of Ft. Collins, Colorado, which went out of business more than a decade ago..

So much for a pretty good beer.

Monday, January 15, 2024

Beer of the Week: Samuel Smith India Ale

Beer score: 8.6

Company: Samuel Smith Brewery
ABV: 5.0
IBU: 46

I'm not a big fan of India Pale Ales in general, but this is one of the best ones around. It doesn't have the sometimes strong, grapefruity sharpness of many IPAs.

Pours a nice copper color while giving off scents of bread, earthiness, and fruit, perhaps bananas. If you pour this one too fast, it will leave plenty of foamy head, but practice makes perfect.

The taste is stronger than the scent, featuring a complexity unusual in most IPAs. Here the taste features that breadiness and fruitiness mentioned above, but it's stronger, and there are also balanced flavors of citrus, flowers, a touch of sweet maple, and more.

Fairly smooth, not too strong, balanced well.

As far as I'm concerned, Samuel Smith's doesn't make a bad beer. This one isn't one of my favorite Samuel Smith's brews, but look at the score I gave it. Not a favorite beer, but such a high score? That should tell you just how good Samuel Smith's beers are. Even one that isn't a favorite still scores pretty high.

Monday, January 08, 2024

Beer of the Week Blast from the Past: Crooked River Beers

The Crooked River Brewing Company was putting out decent beers back in the early 2000s in Cleveland, Ohio, but unfortunately they went by the wayside about a decade or so back. Still, I have a few notes of the few beers I tasted from this brewery.

Crooked River Cool Mule Porter

Beer score: 6.4

Heavy and fizzy with a burnt/sweet syrup flavor. A good brew for those starting out with beer tastings. I wouldn't have called it a personal favorite, but I wouldn't have turned one down at a party or gathering.

Crooked River Black Forest Lager

Beer score: 6.2

The taste of this brew was initially very sweet, almost to the point of tasting like a cider. This was one of the sweetest lagers I've ever tasted.

Crooked River Lighthouse Gold

Beer score: 6.6

A nice, light thirst-quenching lager. Light enough you could sit around and drink these all evening without feeling bloated.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 2 - The Acts of the Apostles

published by Zondervan

Started: Jan. 5
Finished: Jan. 6

Notes: I'm nearing my ending of reading the KJV all the way through, but I'm not going to get there if I don't persevere.

Mini review: Roughly the first half of this book consists of events and actions taken by the apostles after the ascension of Christ, while the second half of this book covers Paul's conversion and his preaching before finally arriving at Rome. I had forgotten, and found it interesting, the number of minor events that are sprinkled throughout this book, events that usually involved one miracle or another concerning named individuals who are never again mentioned in the Bible.

Friday, January 05, 2024

Marketing just isn't my thing

Today I was reading an article titled "The Top 10 Publishing Trends for 2024" and I pulled up short at trend 2: Authors Build Their Brands and Communities.


Now, let me say right here, I don't have anything against my fellow authors who work at their branding, at marketing, at building a community, at media or public relations, or whatever the hell you want to call it.

Allow me to repeat that for those who will start screaming "But ... but ... but ..." I don't have anything against my fellow authors who work at their branding, at marketing, at building a community, at media or public relations, or whatever the hell you want to call it.

All that work ... well, it works for some people. I'm sure there are those who even enjoy it, who like reaching out and making connections with their fellow authors, with readers, etc.

But that's not me.

Maybe you could call me an introvert. Maybe I'm a luddite. Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man. Go ahead. Call me whatever mean-spirited, nasty thing you might want to call me. This is the Internet and the days of social media and manufactured rage, after all.

Simply, frankly, I just don't care.

It's not that I don't care about other people. I do, but only in a general, I-wish-we-could-all-just-get-along kind of way. I do see and read about plenty of things that are worth outrage, but I also see and read about a lot of outrage that's focused upon things that simply are not worthy of anyone's time.

I'm tired.

I'm tired of social media, of this faux world we've created, of that fake outrage. And I'm frankly tired of humanity, mainly of what we've become because of our use of technology.

I'm not saying the technology itself is evil, nor am I suggesting all of humanity is evil, but I will say our modern technology brings out the worst of us and the worst in us. Our modern technology gives voice to every little thought in our heads, when maybe sometimes we should just shut the hell up about things that aren't truly worthy of rage.

Okay, I'm digressing. It happens.

Anyway, marketing, branding, whatever you want to call it ... I simply don't care.

I want to write, edit, publish, do some graphic design, that's it. I have no interest whatsoever in reaching out to my readers, to fans or possible fans.

I realize that sounds atrocious in this day and age, maybe even selfish. Okay, maybe I am selfish. But I write a book, it gets published somehow or other, the reader pays a few bucks for the book, reads it, hopefully enjoys it, maybe even leaves a review somewhere ... and that's where it should end, as far as I'm concerned.

If a reader reaches out to me with praise or damnation or questions or what-have-you, that's fine. I don't mind hearing from folks, and I try to answer.

But I'm not your buddy. I'm not your friend. Hell, I don't even want to be your friend.

There are a number of people in real life that I'd call friends even though I have not spoken to them face to face in years, maybe even decades in some cases, but they're the type of friends for which it wouldn't matter, that if I ran into them tomorrow it would be just like we saw one another yesterday. I also have a fair amount of acquaintances online and in the real world, people with whom I'm generally on friendly terms, some I know personally and some I know professionally.

But the truth is, I don't have a lot of friends. And that's on purpose. I'm not crying out here that I'm lonely or anything. Believe me, that would be far from the truth.

Maybe I'm just a loner. I have a beautiful woman in my life, and that's really all I need. I don't feel a need for a lot of close relationships, and I definitely don't feel a need for a lot of pseudo-relationships or fake relationships. I don't have a need to talk with complete strangers about anything, not even my writing.

If I have anything to say, it's in my writing or maybe it's here on this blog. In truth, at this point I'm even to the point where I don't feel much of a need to talk with other authors, because most of the talk usually comes down to one of about three conversations, usually involving money or marketing or maybe reminiscing about some book or author, but on rare occasions involving craft.

I don't care for marketing, reaching out, building community, etc. All this really came to light for me a month or so ago when the company I've been using for more than a decade for my e-mail newsletter informed me they were going out of business. My initial thought was, "Crap! Now I'll have to find another service." But then it dawned on me, why? I only send out a newsletter about once every other year anyway, and with my current state of health it's not like I'm churning out novels often, so why bother?

So, I'll keep writing, even if it's a slow process for me nowadays.

No, I don't wish anyone anything bad. I simply don't feel a need to reach out and make contacts with complete strangers.

If you enjoy my books, I'm glad. Truly. Really. I'm appreciative. But I don't need to go over ad nauseam with dozens or even hundreds of strangers about my writing process, or about what's coming next, or about my personal life. Hell, half the time I couldn't even answer any such questions because very often I simply don't know what's coming next, and my personal life is exactly that, person. As for my writing process, it changes somewhat depending on what's going on in my life at any given time.

I do recognize that marketing and all that goes with it is a road to success for many authors, but I'm simply not interested. Could I have more success? Sure, but I'm satisfied where I'm at, being a relatively unknown writer who still manages to eke out a living typing on a screen. Yeah, more money is always nice, but the emotional drain it would take for me to do all that marketing work? No, thank you. I'll pass.

So ...


There. I've given my grumpy old man rant for the day.

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Books read in 2024: No. 1 -- The King's Daughters

by Nathalie Mallet

Started: Jan. 1
Finished: Jan. 4

Notes: Geez, I can't believe it's been 17 years since I read this author's debut novel, and I've been trying to read the follow-up book ever since. Better late than never, I suppose. The first novel was a mystery novel set in a fantasy world, so I'm expecting this sequel to be much the same.

Mini review: This was a fun read. An Arab-type prince travels to a frozen northern kingdom where a number of princesses are going missing. Meanwhile a monster is breaking into a castle at night and killing people. Mystery piles upon mystery, but in the end a solution is found. I tend to prefer mystery novels in which clues are available for the reader to try and figure things out on their own, which is sort of the case here, but I'm willing to give fantasy novels something of a benefit of the doubt. Either way, this one was a good read.

Tuesday, January 02, 2024

Beer of the Week: Guinness Extra Stout

Beer score: 9.6

Company: Guinness
ABV: 5.6
IBU: 40

It's nice to start off the year with a good beer, and this stout is proof a popular beer can still be a great beer and doesn't have to be dumbed down for a mass customer base.

Pours dark, so dark you can't see light through it in a clear glass, but also leaves a foamy but not fizzy head with nice lacings. While pouring, it gives off a dark, chocolatey smell with more than a few hints of roasted coffee.

The flavoring is much the same as the scent.

Guinness if one of the thickest, stoutest, and strongest beers on the market. It's so heavy, a six pack will get most beer drinkers more than tipsy.

My favorite of all the stouts I've tasted, and in my opinion is probably too strong for beginning beer tasters.