Archive for August, 2011

Life is too short for bad beer

Posted in beer with tags on August 30, 2011 by cueball

That is a simplistic representation as to why I drink craft beer (All the guides say you should write a blog title that quickly captures the reader and explains what the posting is about.  This may be the first time I’ve followed that rule).  However, it is rather accurate.  Let me explain.

I like most beer drinkers started on the lower end of the scale.  My first two years of college I consumed, in some amounts, Milwaukee’s Best, Milwaukee’s Best Light, Bud Light, Olympia, National Bohemian, Mickey’s Big Mouth, and a few others I have forgotten.  That was when I was snaking free beer or having someone else buy beer for me since I was not 21.

However, once I became 21 all that changed.  It was me going out to buy the beer and spending my money.  My first good beer would have to have been Michelob Dark.  It was a good enough beer, but the moment that shifted everything was when I bought Samuel Adams Boston Lager.  The best way to describe it is that it was the first beer I drank that I could tell was made to be beer and not a consumable product to be sold to beer drinkers.

The next two years of college beer drinking for me was filled with Sam Adams and the late great much lamented Pete’s Wicked Ale.  I found an interesting thing happening, I enjoyed the beer more even though I drank less of it.  Taste actually mattered.

I got older and kept drinking beer finding new and different beers to enjoy.  Now you’re asking (if you have kept reading this), “Why is life too short for bad beer?”  Simple, life is too short and each moment in it too precious to waste on things you either do not enjoy or get no benefit from.  It is not about how much stuff you have or how much that stuff costs, it is about enjoying it and savoring every moment.

That is why I drink craft beer.  I do not want to waste the beer.  If I am going to drink something, I want it to leave an impression.

The worse thing a beer reviewer can say about a beer is that it did not really leave any kind of impression.  The silliest advertising campaign I have seen was the Bud Light Drinkability campaign.  Water is drinkable.  You are making beer for goodness sake, you could strive something a little higher on the quality scale.  I understand after a long day cutting grass you may just want something cold wet and light to drink, but that describes water.  If you are making beer, you should go for a little more than, “It’s like water.”  Luckily that idiocy failed as a campaign.

Again, what does this title mean.  It means you should wring every moment of happiness and joy out of this finite existence we have.  Whether that means enjoying good beer with good friends; watching a late summer sunset; reveling in the laughter of your children.  Take your time to enjoy each moment, because once they are gone, they are gone like tears in rain (Cool movie reference to close).

People we will be living with until January

Posted in college football with tags , on August 29, 2011 by cueball

I could not come up with something to write about this morning.  My attention had been taken by the ants invading my kitchen.  I think I got killed all of them and the kitchen has been cleaned with bleach.

Anyway, I was stumped as to what to write about until I found Richard Dietsch’s article about college football announcers.  I will admit, I am bad about noticing announcers.  I only notice them if they are really good or really bad.  Most announcers are just background noise to me.  I just need time, score, situation, who has the ball, and who is making the tackle.  If an analyst can breakdown the game and teach me something that is a bonus and if the play-by-play announcer entertains me, then so much the better.

I had forgotten Gus Johnson was doing college games for FOX now.  That could be fun if he gets a bunch of Pac 12 and Big 12 shoot outs.

To take from Dietsch’s column, here are my picks for announcers:

Must Watch

For me, this depends on the game.  Usually, Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit have the biggest game of the day and Verne Lundquist and Gary Danielson have the biggest SEC game of the day, so they are my usual must watch teams.  HOwever, I do agree that two guys who should get more love from the ESPN brass are Sean McDonough and Ed Cunningham.  McDonough has always been one of my favorite announcers:  understated professional and always rises to the emotional moment of the game.  Cunningham is one of the guys I actually learn something from as an analyst.  As an ACC guy, I get a lot of Tim Brandt during football and basketball season and generally like his work.

Least Appealing

This was the easiest category.  Lou Holtz and Craig James.  Lou is just bad at television especially in a studio setting.  His interactions with Mark seem forced and are not entertaining.  James is the jock who has mistaken his athletic success as some kind of marker of intelligence.  He violates one of the main rules of true intelligence:  Knowing how smart you are not.  Plus, his whole Mike Leach/Bruce Feldman mess leaves a bad mark on him and ESPN.  May and Jesse Palmer are innocuous enough.  If they were alone with good play-by-play guys they might be tolerable.  Instead, they are stuck with Lou and James.

What would I change about ESPN’s coverage

Less James and Holtz.  More McDonough, Cunningham, and Reese Davis.  Treating the enterprise as a journalistic excercise with huge entertainment value instead of the other way around. This may be heresy, but I also have very little use for sideline reporters.  They have two main jobs:  tell me who is hurt and how bad; let me know what has happened in a mess like the end of the Music City Bowl.  We get very little from the coach interviews before game and at half-time.

Anyway.  The season is about to begin and for that we are all happy.

Natty Greene’s Brewing Company Southern Pale Ale

Posted in beer with tags , on August 27, 2011 by cueball

Now that Natty Greene’s Southern Pale Ale is available at grocery stores across North Carolina, I am a happy man.  This is the reason I drink craft beer.  You can taste the difference in a beer where the brewers put their heart and soul into what they are doing because, not only do they love beer, they love making beer.  It is an expression of who they are.

Don’t get me wrong.  As a homebrewer, I know that it is hard to make beer.  It is hard to make any beer and that includes something mass produced like Bud Light.  It is hard to make Bud Light and it is a craft to make every batch brewed all across the world taste just like another batch.

However, it is different drinking a beer that is made to be enjoyed and not just consumed.

On to the review.  It pours with a nice deep golden color and leaves a nice slightly off-white head (maybe just white).  Immediately get the aroma of the Cascade hops (love Cascade hops).  It has a piney freshly cut grass aroma.  In any other style (but IPA or Double IPA) it might be over powering, but here it works.  The taste continues with the hoppy taste, pine cones and fresh cut grass with a little sweetness and nuttiness from the malt.  A quality beer brewed with care.

With the increased availability this may become my new go to beer.  The 5.2% ABV makes it great for session drinking and the crispness makes it even better for warm summer nights sitting out on the porch listening to the crickets and other critters go through their paces.

Back in da saddle.

Posted in beer, college football, football, sports, sports and society on August 24, 2011 by eightball

When Cueball and I decided to start this blog we said we were going to post something around once a week…….wellllll….by those rules….I’M WAYYYY BEHIND.  See…I spend my day writing…either taking notes or writing reports.  I write as much in a month as most people did in college.  I am either writing, reviewing and rewriting, or agonizing over reports from my past that stink.  It’s the life of a P.I.   The difference is…I’m not writing for wives that have cheating husbands….I’m writing for Ivy League educated attorneys siting in their towers in NYC…..so…my community college education gets put to the test on a daily basis.  So I have decided I’m going to use this to vent…and to hell if the grammar is correct.

Well…enough about that….having a cigar and an Arrogant Bastard Ale, kinda made me want to write.  Today I heard something that actually made since in the sports world.  I was watching Dan Patrick and he reported Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots said that he believed the NFL should move the extra point kick back 10-15 yds.  That would take the most anti-climatic play in sports and actually put some drama in it.  I have always thought the PAT is the dumbest play in Pro Football…hell…college as well.  If you make it to college as a kicker…and assuming the holder gets the ball down and the line holds a block for at least a second….all the kicker has to do is keep his head down and follow through…..how hard is that.  Now…you drop the placement of the ball from the 10 (20 yd kick) to the 25 yd line (35 yd kick)…..that would be worth watching.   Wind in a lot of stadiums would come into play.  If you are a dome team kicker and you’re playing in an outdoor stadium, and you don’t know how the wind swirls in the stadium…….gooooood luck.

More to come…..Eightball out.

Dumpster Fire

Posted in college football, football, sports with tags , on August 17, 2011 by cueball

That is the best way to describe what is going on with the University of Miami right now. The breadth of what is in the Yahoo! Sports report is staggering. I’m trying to figure out something to write about concerning this, but I have no idea where to start.

By the way, if Charles Robinson is in town and you are an university president or athletic director. Be afraid, be very afraid.

I will not let this dead horse go unbeaten

Posted in acc sports, college football, sports with tags , , , , on August 17, 2011 by cueball

Day 3 of my writing about the A&M/SEC dance continues.  The reason, this is the most interesting thing for me to write about going on at the moment.  Except the fun that is going on in Miami.  You should really read the Yahoo! Sports article.

Now, as we move past the will they or won’t they phase of A&M’s expected move, we step into the completely amorphous discussion of, “Who is the 14th (15th and 16th) team?”

Whatever teams the SEC will poach will probably come from the ACC or what is left of the carcass of the Big 12.  The most important potential scenario to me as a UNC graduate and ACC fan is the UNC/Duke to the SEC and the ACC imploding.

John Swofford has consistently maintained that the ACC would most likely be reactive to any conference realignment.  However, it stretches the bounds of logic that he and the other muckity-mucks in the ACC do not see the folly in that attitude.  Last summer the impetus for realignment came from the Big 10 and they were looking towards the Big 12 and possibly the Big East.   It made sense for the ACC and the SEC to be reactive.  They would get the chance to pick up the pieces of whatever was left.

This summer’s aggressor is the SEC and they are looking to the Big 12 (this conference is only surviving because of the University of Texas and Oklahoma at this point) and the ACC.  The SEC has said two things:  they are not averse to expansion (meaning they are going to expand soon) and they would like to avoid expansion into states where an SEC school currently resides.

Now, I’m not a geography expert, but looking at a map of the United States it seems clear that there are only four states (not counting Texas) that would fall into the SEC footprint currently without a member school:  Oklahoma, Missouri, North Carolina, Virginia.

Now comes speculation here on the interwebs (such a reliable source of information) that the SEC would love to expand with UNC and Duke (In other news, I would love to be dating a former supermodel who is now an orthopedic surgeon.).

Even if this is a piece of rampant unsubstantiated internet rumor, the ACC should take notice, because rumors have a good track record of being based at least partially in fact.  I believe this means the ACC should assume the aggressive (to use a phrase from Robert E. Lee).

What does that mean?  First, finish off the Big East.  Meaning, connect BC with the rest of the conference by picking off Rutgers, Connecticut, and/or Pittsburgh.  Let’s say John Swofford is a silver-tongued devil and is able to get all three of those schools to jump.  Here comes the real audacious act:  Go after Vanderbilt.  Anyone with any knowledge of college sports knows that Vandy fits the culture of the ACC much better then the SEC.   At that point you change your divisions to North:  BC, Rutgers, Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Maryland, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest; and South:  UNC, NC State, Duke, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Florida St., Miami, and Vandy.

Vandy is probably not leaving the SEC because that is a lot of money to walk away from and the ACC seems to be in this reactive arrogance that believes that ACC’s tradition will keep it intact.  If we have learned one thing during the conference realignment follies of the last few years, it is that a lot of money always trumps tradition.

I’m going crazy. I’m standing here solidly on my own two hands and going crazy.

Posted in college football, football, sports on August 16, 2011 by cueball

Title of post comes from The Philadelphia Story.

I am a fan of romatic comedies.  My favorite is probably The Philadelphia Story with Jimmy Stewart, Katharine Hepburn, and Cary Grant.  Anyway, the reason I like romantic comedies is they all have the same basic plot, so you know what is going to happen in every movie.   It works like this:  Boy meets girl; boy and girl flirt until they find out they are in love; boy and girl have a beautiful growing relationship; boy and girl hit snag; boy and girl break up; boy and girl find they can’t live without each other, come back together; and the end.  The key to making a romantic comedy that works, comes in the execution and the originality of the details and minor characters.  Yet, I digress.

The Texas A&M to the SEC story has now hit the point in this romantic comedy where boy and girl hit a snag.  (By the way, it is hard to write with guys dragging shingles across your roof.)  This is the part of the movie where the gods, friends, family, jobs, whatever rear their ugly heads and keep our couple apart.  In this case it is the lawyers and the Big 12.  So, what will our plucky couple do to finally find their true happiness together.  Put their lawyers and accountants together to figure out how to pay the up to $30 million in penalties for A&M to leave the increasingly misnamed Big 12.  Whatever A&M will end up paying will be well south of that and the SEC will probably cover part of it.

This also gives the SEC time to figure out the 14th team.  That is probably almost as big a sticking point.  This is complicated by the desire of the SEC not to expand in existing SEC states.  That does not limit their possibilities as much as make the hoops they’ll need to jump through more numerous.  This is still the SEC and because of their football success, the basically print money, so finding a 14th team is not that hard.

The reason I like considering this a romantic comedy is part of the reason A&M is leaving the Big 12 is some screwed up passive aggressive attempt to get someone to tell them, “We love you for you and not your big brother Texas.”  Also, A&M President R. Bowen Loftin basically dropped a “its not you, its me” during his press conference yesterday:  “It’s not so much what’s wrong with the Big 12, it’s what’s right for Texas A&M and where we want to go in time.”

The other reason they are doing this is of course greed and the potential to make buckets of money in the SEC.

This will all be decided sometime over the next month and the NCAA landscape will begin to change in ways we cannot even imagine at this point.  Someone, whom we don’t believe will ever leave their conference will leave their conference and throw everything into chaos.

“What we imagine is order is merely the prevailing form of chaos.”  Kerry Thornley.