Things I Know Very Little (But Pretend to Know) About: Craft Beers

I currently live in Cincinnati, which has a lot of local breweries. One is less than a half mile from my apartment (and it’s great!).

Before I got here, I was in rural Oklahoma for work. There were more baptists churches than breweries (there were no breweries). Cincinnati, from what I was told, is one of the top cities for craft breweries in the country. I’ve only scratched the surface of the craft beer scene in this town (and Covington and Newport across the bridge in Kentucky).

To quote Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh: “I like beer.” I also like going to these breweries. The aforementioned brewery down the street is large, draws big crowds almost every night and always has a few new beers on tap. Just this past weekend, I visited one in northern Kentucky and found one worth drinking most of the night.

For me, I couldn’t tell you the full details of every beer on the blackboard, but I’ll go for darker ales and lagers. If I’m going to spend between five and eight dollars for a beer, I look for flavor and an ABV worth the price.

Now, learning more about craft beers is something I could do in my down time, but I don’t always have that, so I’ll gain bits of knowledge by asking the bartenders questions. They like to say brewing is a science. It wasn’t my best subject in school, but it might make chemistry more intriguing.

We Need Satire Now More Than Ever

Political and religious satire are two shining examples of our right to freedom of speech in this country.

Political satire is one that has existed for a long time in this country. Saturday Night Live has taken the lead since it first hit the air in 1975.

Chevy Chase was a clumsy Gerald Ford, Dan Aykroyd played Jimmy Carter as someone who knew how to handle an acid trip, Phil Hartman was a diabolical Ronald Reagan, Dana Carvey’s George H.W. Bush might be the most popular, Hartman and Darrell Hammond both played Bill Clinton in their own way, Will Ferrell made up words portraying George W. Bush and Fred Armisen and Jay Pharoah did Barack Obama.

With Donald Trump, who was impersonated decades before he became President, has been done by Hammond mostly and a short time by Taran Killam before departing the show.

As debates between him and Hillary Clinton began in the fall of 2016, SNL recruited a heavy-hitter to do Trump: Alec Baldwin, who has been a guest host a record 17 times.

From the start, Baldwin nailed Trump. At times, it feels too easy because Trump gives him so much material almost weekly.

When Trump won, it probably came as a surprise, requiring Baldwin to stick close to New York City when SNL is doing a show that week.

Most, if not all, of the Presidents in office since SNL premiered have taken the high road when reacting to impressions of them. George H.W. Bush invited Carvey to the White House and Hammond stood side-by-side by Clinton while dressed like him. He’s never been President, but Newt Gingrich had Chris Farley visit the Capitol and do an impression of him when he was Speaker of the House.

For Trump, who has hosted SNL a few times, doesn’t like it at all. For a man who likes to insult political opponents and anyone who dares to disagree with him, he had a meltdown after Baldwin re-created his announcement where he declared a national emergency to get money for his border wall.

Trump loves using Twitter to rile up his supporters and cause a distraction.

I’ve learned to ignore the tweets, but this one has almost caused a strain on my eyes from rolling too hard. Maybe Trump has an ax to grind with Baldwin (most conservatives do). A lot of people found the cold open funny, while others will express their outrage by sharing it on Facebook and parrot his words.

What exactly did Trump want SNL to do? There might be some variety hour on state television in North Korea where Kim Jong Un is showered with praise, but SNL is not there to kiss up to him or any politician. They’re tasked with taking the events of the week and making them funny in what is a scary world at times.

Maybe the President should stop making it so easy for the writers.

Also this week, I saw this petition regarding TBS’s new mini-series Miracle Workers.

The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property (TFP), a Catholic group, organized a petition to take the show off the air due to Steve Buscemi’s portrayal of God.

Here’s the first episode in full.

If you haven’t watched it yet (SPOIILERS AHEAD), Miracle Workers shows heaven as a corporation and Buscemi’s God as the man in charge.

The show opens with God watching all the terrible things happening on Earth on multiple TVs and is clearly distraught by what he’s watching. A stock car driver is shown thanking him for his success and shortly later, which lifts his spirit, but the news anchor announces the driver died in a fiery crash soon after, depressing Buscemi’s God even more as he tries to find a solution to all of Earth’s problems. His solution is to blow up the Earth and start a new project (a restaurant).

Daniel Radcliffe and Geraldine Viswanathan work in the department of prayers, mainly helping people find their keys and gloves while sending tougher prayers to the man upstairs. They agree to take on two tough prayers with the same goal: bring two young people who like each other together and kiss in two weeks time to stop God’s plan.

What I find humorous is this idea they know exactly what God, a man nobody has ever seen or met, is like. I know he was kind of mean in the Old Testament, so maybe Buscemi is channeling that era when God sent a flood to destroy the Earth?

We can portray God, Jesus and other biblical figures in a way where we might poke fun at them, but the writers of shows, movies and musicals don’t risk being killed like others worldwide do when it comes to showing the prophet Muhammad. South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone took a big risk doing it on their show and Comedy Central censored parts of it out of fear.

South Park has had multiple episodes with Jesus. One shows him using steroids, while another shows him killing Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, who overtakes the Vatican in an Easter episode.

So many other shows have used God and Jesus for humor and satire.

It would appear The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property won’t take the time to truly understand the meaning behind something like Buscemi’s God character. TFP is just jumping to conclusions, which backfires in most situations.

Joan Osbourne’s “One of Us” asked the question “what if God was one us?”. Miracle Workers kind of does this. For the religious, God is in charge of everything going on in the universe. With the way things have been going lately, you may have an understanding of why Buscemi’s God is the way he is.

It’s also a workplace comedy, so it’s not made to be taken too seriously. The Office didn’t show the true American workplace. It showed one we’d like to work at. Miracle Workers gives us a drearier, and yes, exaggerated view of the corporate world and uses heaven as the background.

Perhaps TFP should focus on more important issues. The Oakland, California diocese is the latest to release the names of priests, deacons and others accused of sexual abuse. That’s on top of several other diocese reports across the country that have come out.

Whether it’s Donald Trump or groups like TFP that are so easily triggered by impression of them or some character in a book, it shows that some can’t find humor and meaning in a way someone or something is interpreted.

Gerald Ford didn’t fall down every three steps, George W. Bush can read and his father would laugh at Dana Carvey’s nasally-sounding impression of him.

We need a reason to laugh at politics and religion. Too many times, both don’t make the world a better place. Both have caused bloodshed and war in the history of mankind.

I was told a long time ago to laugh at myself more. I’m glad I learned to, or else I would be a miserable as Trump and the TFP.


The Hurricanes Are Jerks (And Damn Proud of It)

Hockey isn’t for everyone. But you know what everyone likes? Group celebrations.

The National Football League lightened up on celebrations two years ago, leading to group celebrations and the “team photo” for defenses after turnovers.

In the National Hockey League, the Carolina Hurricanes have become the game’s first team to have postgame home victory celebrations. They’ve adopted the Skol clap used by Iceland’s soccer team and the Minnesota Vikings, but after leading the PNC Arena crowd in the chant, they follow it up with a new, choreographed celebration.

More recently, we’ve seen “Duck, Duck, Goose” played at center ice, a Jose Bautista bat flip and the limbo.

Nobody really knew what the young Hurricanes were going to do this season. Having a celebration after each home win helps them stand out from the other 30 teams. The New York Rangers do a stick raise salute to the Madison Square Garden crowd after a win. The Hurricanes took that concept and made it fun.

Also, it keeps fans in the stands if they’re winning. A lot of fans like to break for the exits during the final media timeout to beat traffic.

The Hurricanes continue to come up with new celebrations and they’re also in contention for a playoff spot.

So they’re having fun and playing good hockey. Nobody should have a problem with that, right?

Well, Don Cherry does.

The former player, coach and now talking head on CBC called them “jerks”.

Cherry, much like Mike Milbury, is an old school hockey guys that stunts the game’s growth, especially for teams in markets like Carolina.

Cherry is hockey royalty in Canada. Unlike the Hurricanes, Canadian teams in the NHL don’t have to worry about drawing crowds and building a rapport with fans.

Hockey players get slapped with a stigma that they are just emotionless robots who work out, play hockey and repeat all through their careers. Alexander Ovechkin doing a keg stand with the Stanley Cup this past summer helped show that hockey players can have some fun. God forbid the Hurricanes enjoy a win.

How did the team respond to old man Cherry? They put it on a t-shirt.

ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski reported late Monday night that they’re very popular, and not just in North Carolina.

How hot are those “Bunch of Jerks” shirts that the Carolina Hurricanes created to goof on Don Cherry? A little more than 24 hours after they went on sale online, the Hurricanes sold 1,680 shirts. Those sales included 41 states and three countries: the U.S., the Netherlands and, of course, Canada. They go on sale in the Hurricanes team store on Tuesday. The team commissioned the shirts in protest of Cherry’s “Hockey Night in Canada” criticism of Carolina’s home ice victory celebrations. He called the players “a bunch of jerks” for their choreographed routines that have ranged from full speed jumps into the glass to human bowling pins being knocked down by a helmet.- Greg Wyshynski

Those t-shirts are a lot better than the suits Cherry throws on every Saturday night.

As long as the jerks don’t keep the Pittsburgh Penguins out of the playoffs, they can do a conga line around the ice after a home win and I’ll share it on all social media platforms.

Turning into My Parents: Network Television

Welcome to “Turning into My Parents”. A series on how I’m slowly becoming more like the people who raised me.

Since venturing out on my own, I’ve paid for cable or satellite television.

For most of my 20s, I have gravitated toward cable channels like FX, FXX, AMC, Comedy Central and TBS. When I started making more money, I got HBO and Showtime. Not facing the same restrictions ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC go through, shows on cable are more creative, raunchier and words like s**t and more recently, a f**k or two is now allowed by the censors.

At one time, NBC’s Thursday night lineup was a must-watch. The Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation and Community (still waiting on the movie, Dan Harmon!) was an amazing two hours. But after those shows got cancelled, I stopped tuning in to the night NBC called “Must See TV”. The peacock also got on my bad side after the way they ruined Conan O’Brien’s Tonight Show.

With all the great shows on cable throughout this decade, network television was secondary. Sporting events and local news were main reasons to tune in.

A couple years ago while on a trip to South Bend, Indiana to see a Notre Dame football game, my uncles couldn’t stop talking about ABC shows like Modern Family and The Goldbergs. Not too long after that, I caught Modern in syndication on USA Network and then started watching new episodes on ABC. Then I started watching The Goldbergs and “Hey! Patton Oswalt is grown up Adam! I like Patton!” so that became something to follow.

More lately, Wednesday night has become ABC night at my apartment. The Goldbergs, its spinoff Schooled, Modern Family and Single Parents takes up two hours of my night.

I used to be ahead of my parents and relatives when it came to television. I got my dad hooked on Family Guy. I knew how King of Queens ended before my parents even started watching it.

Maybe I’m the one who is behind now?

AAF: The Fix Football Fans Need

At this time of year, we’re usually undergoing a football withdrawal in this country.

The Super Bowl is played the first Sunday of February (this year’s game was about as bad as the halftime show) and then we’re left without organized football until the preseason in August.

Luckily, America’s football addiction has new methadone clinic to hold it over until the fall with the Alliance of American Football, or The Alliance for short, #AAF for the cool kids on Twitter.

You and I probably saw the announcement of The Alliance a few months back and probably said “Another league? Oh, yeah. I’ve seen this before”.

Since the AFL-NFL merger, there have been several leagues that have come and gone.

The World Football League lasted one season in the 1970s. Donald Trump’s beef with the NFL eventually killed the USFL, which had a good thing going as a spring sports league before an anti-trust lawsuit and attempt to move to the fall. The XFL…well, you already know what happened (XFL 2.0 launches in 2020) and the United Football League had a decent run from 2009-2012.

While all those leagues failed, what could make The Alliance actually work?

Like other leagues, it’s a chance for guys who never reached the NFL, or those who fell out, to get back on the field and a place to play around with some rules.

The Alliance’s made its debut six days after the Super Bowl on CBS…and it was better than most probably expected. Heck, it beat ABC’s Saturday night NBA game in the ratings.

For one, there are rule changes.

Games move quicker with a 35 second clock, there are no kickoffs and teams must go for two points after every touchdown.

Also, during reviews, TV viewers get a first-hand look at the interaction between the replay official in the booth and head referee on the field. Something the NFL should have done years ago.

The league has former NFL players. Two that stood out for me were former Jets quarterback Christian Hackenberg and former Browns and Colts running back Trent Richardson.

After watching Hackenberg in Memphis’ first game, his performance didn’t do much to start his path back to the NFL any time soon. Richardson is one who could play his way to a camp invite (and so could several guys in this league).

Call me crazy, but I think this league could work.

Here’s why.

The NFL doesn’t have a minor league system like baseball and hockey, or a developmental league like basketball. The Alliance, if it stays in place during the NFL offseason, can keep us occupied in the dead months and give NFL teams a chance to find a diamond in the rough or fill out their practice squads.

The Alliance only has eight teams, so there’s only four games a week. There’s also a TV deal to put games on CBS, CBS Sports Network, NFL Network and channels like TNT that fall under the Turner Sports banner.

The deaths of the WFL, USFL, XFL and UFL have all led up to this chance for football in the NFL offseason to finally stick after decades of shortcomings.

And no. I don’t have a favorite team…yet. But if you like deep handoffs and jet sweeps, Christian Hackenberg’s Memphis Express might be for you.

“You Choo-Choo Choose Me?”

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day…again.

You fall into one of…let’s say three categories on this Hallmark holiday.

You are either married or in a relationship, which makes this day mandatory, you took to Tinder and found a date for tonight, hoping the app does what it’s intended to do, or you’re single.

I fall into the third category. You’re either content or you feel like society is judging you. I have felt both. This year, I don’t care.

I’m pushing 30 and I just don’t care.

Valentine’s Day is like going to Disney World: there’s pressure to really like it. I’ve been to Disney World as a kid and liked it, but I won’t go back until I have my own kids or I’m named Super Bowl MVP (which won’t happen).

As stated a few paragraphs back, I called the holiday what it is. It’s a commercialized holiday to sell chocolate left over from Halloween and a way to clear space at Walgreens for graduation cards in May.

If anything, I blame the pressure of elementary school Valentine’s Days.

Remember? You had to make a mailbox AND had to give everybody a Valentine.

The Simpsons episode “I Love Lisa” is a great example of this. We all see ourselves as Lisa, but some of us are Ralph Wiggum.

Poor, dim Ralph. Left with zero cards (I guess Miss Hoover didn’t have a “Valentine from each student” policy). Lisa gives him a card out of pity, giving Ralph the idea that Lisa likes him.

In the end, she breaks his heart in what is one of the funniest and at the same time, saddest moments in the show’s history thanks to Bart but like most episodes, it ends with both becoming friends while “Monster Mash” plays on KBBL (the official song of Valentine’s Day and Presidents Day for me).

What’s the lesson? Well, it’s that not everybody loves everybody (sorry, Jackie Moon). Sure, when we’re young, we learn and grow through interaction with kids our age. Someone probably thought this would carry over into adulthood. Well, not entirely.

You learn it’s easier to be mean than nice when you venture out on your own. Each February 14th after you leave grade school is met with the reality that not everyone is going to give you a “Ren and Stimpy” themed Valentine.

So, if you got somebody to spend money on to express your feelings for, great. If you don’t, do what Tom and Donna say and “Treat Yo Self!”. Because not everybody really “Choo Choo Chooses You”.