Friday, August 28, 2015

One For The Road

We recently returned from a lengthy family road trip. During the course of it we covered 3203 miles through thirteen states with stops in:

Des Moines
Kansas City
St. Louis
Memphis
New Orleans
Mobile
Birmingham
Nashville
Louisville
Chicago

We visited museums, parks, caves, battlefields, and breweries. Traveling provides excellent opportunities to find beers otherwise not available in your home market and I made the most of them on this journey.

It started at the Exile Brewing in Des Moines, Iowa. It was located in downtown Des Moines in an old industrial building (the basement had a dungeon like feel to it in a good way). The beer was good and the food was even better.

While in the great Des Moines metro area I also made a point to stop by a store to procure some Toppling Goliath. The Decorah, Iowa brewery has long been on my “must try” wish list and I was excited to get my grubby paws on their Golden Nugget IPA. It was quite tasty, but I’m not sure it really lived up to the hype (no Todd The Axe Man it be) .

Next up was Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City. Boulevard is a well establish craft brewer and their facility was impressive. However, the tap room was small and with only two bar keeps on a sultry Saturday afternoon, there was a bit of a wait to get a beer. The beer itself was decent, but not especially exciting which has been my general impression of Boulevard overall.

During our time in Kansas City I also procured some Ale Mucho Hoppo from Charleville Brewing (Missouri) and Crop Duster Mid-American IPA from Thunderhead Brewing (Nebraska). The Ale Mucho Hoppo is a really nice double IPA. The Crop Duster had a fantastic can design and was pretty tasty as well.

While I have been able to enjoy beer from Schlafly in the past I was looking forward to visiting in person while we were in St. Louis. We ended up hitting the tap room downtown. It was a fairly large place in an older building. The food was great and the beer was fantastic especially the American IPA on cask and unfiltered hefeweizen. Nice to be able to pick up a sampler 12-pack to go too (and walk around downtown St. Louis with it on a steaming afternoon).

We spent three days in New Orleans which provided for ample opportunity to indulge in local favorites. It started at the Crescent City Brewhouse whose beer and food has a definite German influence. I thoroughly enjoyed their fine hefeweizen which went down especially well on a blistering hot afternoon.

While shopping at Target, I picked up a six-pack of Southern Hops'pitality IPA from Lazy Magnolia (Mississippi). It’s a decent IPA and I have to admit that it was rather convenient to explore the beer aisle while grabbing some groceries (although we had to have another clerk check out our beer purchase).

NOLA Brewing offered a number of interesting brews at their tap room near the river. The Mecha Double IPA is a delicious hop bomb. They also had a barbecue establishment that shared their property where you could order and pick up ‘cue from a window. It’s a set up that Minnesota tap rooms would do well to emulate. Unless we still have some sort of silly law against it (likely).

On the way out of the Big Easy, I snagged some Mississippi Fire Ant Imperial Red from Southern Prohibition Brewing (Hattiesburg, MS). The can features an awesome design of a giant version of said fire ant dragging a victim away. The beer itself was big and bold if a bit too boozy.

The most pleasant surprise of the trip was likely the all too short time we spent in Nashville. Our positive views of the city were no doubt influenced by our visits to two tap rooms within easy walking distance of each other. We kicked off at the Yazoo Brewery which was packed on a Saturday afternoon. It has a funky, arty sort of vibe to it and well-crafted beer to go with it. The Jackalope Brewery has an even more funky environment and was a fun place to hang and imbibe their fine beers. The Dire Wolf IPA was especially good and $7 for a 32oz growler of it was a hell of a deal (that was growler & beer for seven bones not just the refill).

Our next stop was in Louisville which include a stop at one of the Bluegrass Brewing locations. They had a cool covered area for outdoor seating and we again enjoyed some high quality beer and grub. The Alt and Atta Boy IPA were both quite tasty offerings.

Kentucky is bourbon country and I made a trip to a local liquor store in Louisville to procure the brown elixir of life. The selection was amazing and even a little intimidating. There were so many options it was hard to decide which one to go with. I finally selected Angels Envy and it turned out to be a heavenly choice. I also picked up an IPA from West Sixth Brewing (Lexington, KY) which was also ended up being a good call.

Perhaps the greatest disappointment of the journey was not being able to make a stop at 3 Floyds Brewing in Munster, Indiana. It was on our original itinerary, but since the entire state of Indiana is currently undergoing road construction of some sort or another, we had to adjust our route to Chicago and Munster was no longer within range. I did quaff an Alpha King in Chicago, but it wasn’t the same as being there. Next time…

I did get to try another Indiana brewer when I picked up a four-pack of Fistful of Hops Orange from Sun King Brewing (Indianapolis). As promised it delivered a citrusy hop punch.

The last stop on our trip was in Chicago. There I paired Anti-Hero IPA and Fist City brews from Revolution Brewing with the city’s legendary deep dish pizza. A delightful combination.

A lot of miles, a lot of beers, and a lot of fun. As our six-year-old son asked moments after arriving home from the adventure, “Now what?” Good question son, good question.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

HWX: Making America Great Again





It’s a special weekend edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants who reconvene to discuss the important issues of the day. Topics addressed include:

*  The #1 movie in America, Straight Outta Compton, its cultural implications, and an advance sneak preview of the sequel, coming next fall, featuring the secret 6th NWA member.

*  The trumped up “anchor baby” controversy and the media going from gate keeper to gate builder.

*  The Donald Trump phenomenon – is he Ronald Reagan, Herman Cain, or Ross Perot?

*  On the eve of national Go Topless Day, a discussion of the burgeoning civil rights issue of shirtlessnessism.

*  American servicemen going John McClane on a French train

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, August 06, 2015

Two Big Ones

FLETCH: I'm Harry S. Truman from Casewell Insurance Underwriters.

MARVIN: (smiles) Harry S. Truman?

FLETCH: My parents were great fans of the former President.

MARVIN: Isn't that nice. Good man. Showed the Japs a thing or two.

FLETCH: Sure did. Dropped the big one on them.

MARVIN: Dropped two big ones. Real fighter.

Every year on this date it seems that we have to refight the debate about whether Truman should have dropped the two big ones or not. For some much needed historical perspective, it's hard to beat this video from Prager University.

In recent years, many academics and others have condemned President Truman's decision to use the atomic bomb on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki as unnecessary and immoral. Yet this interpretation relies on a poor understanding of history that both lacks perspective and ignores context. Dropping the bomb shortened the war and saved countless lives -- both American and Japanese. In five minutes, Professor of History at Notre Dame, Father Wilson Miscamble, explains.

Monday, July 06, 2015

Clarion Call

Excerpt from Archbishop Charles Chaput's column called Peace on Earth:

Others have already done a good job of deconstructing the Supreme Court's June 26 Obergefell v. Hodges decision forcing "gay marriage" onto the nation. Legally incoherent and impressive in its abuse of judicial power, it will have huge implications for the way Americans live their lives. Anyone who wonders what "marriage equality" really means need only watch the fallout in our laws, courts and public policies over the next decade. Persons innocent enough to imagine that the Church might be allowed to continue her social mission without growing government interference will have an unhappy encounter with reality.

Christians have a privileged calling to respect the God-given dignity of all persons, including those with same-sex attraction. That's fundamental to Christian love and justice. We are accountable to God for the way we treat others.

But Christians also have a duty to think clearly, and to live, teach and work for the truth about the nature of human sexuality, the purpose of marriage and the integrity of the family. No court ruling can change that. And the last thing we need from religious - including Catholic -- leaders in the face of this profoundly flawed Supreme Court decision is weakness or ambiguity.


The recessional hymn at Mass yesterday was the "Battle Hymn of the Republic." It was selected to recognize Independence Day, but its words were especially relevant given recent events. One line in particular caught my attention:

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat


His truth is marching on whether or not our country chooses to march in step with it or not.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Outside Looking In

The latest and greatest from Prager University is a timely offering with Independence Day just around the corner:

This week's video is about something very dear to all of us...the United States of America. What makes it different? Is it really a great nation? If so, what distinguishes it from other societies? Outsiders tend to be the best judges of character, so we went to an outsider--best-selling Australian author Nick Adams--to get these answers.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

HWX: A Kinder, Gentler Machine Gun Hand


It’s a special Saturday edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants who reconvene to discuss the important issues of the day. Topics addressed include:

•The family favorite segment “What are you drinking?” and our potentially controversial libation choices.

•The recent Supreme Court decisions and what that august body can learn from the NBA draft.

•Review of “Jurassic World” and preview of the new movie “Jurassic Campaign: Hillasaurus Rex”.

•Donald Trump’s entrance into the Presidential sweepstakes and his unfortunate choice of a campaign theme song, with a dramatic reading from Paul Happe.

•Martin O’Malley appeals to broad ethnic stereotypes in his campaign theme songs.

There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.


Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Keep it Smart Stupid

In the years since 9/11, I’ve traveled a fair amount. And while I haven’t been happy about some of their practices, I’ve been rather tolerant regarding the TSA. I haven’t been wont to howl in outrage that my civil liberties are being violated because I have to go through a body scan to board a plane. Something needed to be done to prevent further terrorist attacks in the air and while the effectiveness of some TSA measures to do so seemed rather dubious, I was for the part willing to go along for the greater good. My bigger problems with the TSA was the inefficiency of many their processes and the seemingly capricious nature of some of the rule changes which only created confusion and frustration for travelers.

However, a recent travel experience tested my patience and tolerance for the organization. My mother-in-law accompanied us on a trip to Colorado for a family gathering/vacation. Since I am part of TSA’s PreCheck program and they were traveling with me, my wife and three boys also received expedited screening privileges. And to their credit, the TSA decided that an eighty-two-year old grandmother (soon to be great) from a small town in Minnesota would also not have to go through the usual security rigmarole and so she too was PreCheck.

Okay, so far we have an eighty-two-year-old woman with PreCheck status who needs to go through security. Should be simple, right?

And it might have been if my mother-in-law hadn’t had both her knees replaced. She relayed that critical tidbit of information to the TSA screeners both when we left Minneapolis and on our return flight from Denver.

The experience in Minneapolis wasn’t bad. After she set up alarms going through the metal detector, they diverted her to the body scan machine. Once she passed that, she was good to go. It resulted in a few moments of confusion when we couldn’t figure out what happened to her and a slight delay for us in clearing security, but it was at most a minor inconvenience.

In Denver however things were a bit more complicated. After my mother-in-law rang the wrong sort of bells with the metal detector she was instructed to step aside and wait for a female agent who to perform enhanced security techniques. The agent who arrived was apparently not having a great day and it showed in her attitude. I’m not going to say bitchy because that would describe her perfectly (nod to Jim Gaffigan). Her lack of civility combined with her lack of common sense made for a perfect storm of the kind of mindless TSA behavior that drives people insane.

Which was exactly the impact it had on my wife. After we waited and watched the proceedings for a while, she finally got fed up and went over to see what was going on. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned from my travels it’s that the TSA doesn’t really appreciate such interventions even when done with the best of intentions. Knowing that and that my wife was frustrated that her mother was being treated rudely without reason I had visions of an incident brewing which would not only delay our return home, but also get the whole family placed on the permanent terrorist watch list.

Thankfully she resisted the urge to express her real emotions at that moment and managed to keep things under control. She soon rejoined us with her mother who apparently wasn’t such a threat after all.

I’m all for the assurances of security which the TSA is supposed to provide. As long as it’s done smartly.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Separated at Birth: Newsboy Cap Edition

Over the Hill rocker David Lee Roth of Van Halen, sporting a cap:
David Lee Roth Hits Up Nicki Minaj During Van Halen Performance
Over the Hill Rocker Brian Johnson of AC/DC, sporting a cap:
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a not-so-good sport, Andy Capp:

Separated at Birth: Presidential Contenders Edition

Republican frontrunner Jeb Bush:

and LPGA frontrunner Inbee Park:

Friday, June 19, 2015

HWX: Call Me Caitlyn and The New Normal



It’s a special edition of HWX, with Brian Ward of Fraters Libertas and Paul Happe of the Nihilist in Golf Pants who reconvene to discuss the important issues of the day. Topics addressed include:
  • The meaning of Bruce and/or Caitlyn Jenner, including a preview of this summer’s blockbuster biopic starring Jack Nicholson

  • Hurricane Hillary Clinton hits Houston with her conspiracy theory of the moment: systematic disenfranchisement of the poor, people of color, and young people by Republicans from coast to coast. We pick through the rubble, with an assist from the X Files.

  • The meaning of black and/or white NAACP activist and Africana Studies professor Rachel Dolezal.

  • The latest vocal stylings of Democrat Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, including return appearances of Jackie Mason, the Anteater from Pink Panther, and special appearance by Bob Marley.

  • This Week in Gate Keeping, and the newspaper the East Oregonian heralding yet another societal barrier falling with the triumph of an Amphibian American.
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There are many ways to hear the podcast, including over on the mother ship at Ricochet.  You can be sure to never miss an episode by subscribing via iTunes.  Or you can just use the player embedded in the upper right hand corner of this website.  If all of these fail, send me an email and I'll come to your house and read from a written transcript.  Hope you enjoy.