May Hooray 7

It’s a shame when doing our best to stay healthy results in us living in a less healthy and pleasant environment! So I was pretty happy to come across this story over the weekend.

A company called Avantium has found a way to make “plastic” water or soft drink bottles out of plants instead of traditional oil-based plastics. The result is a bottle which doesn’t require nearly as much fossil fuel, and which won’t stay around forever and ever if not properly recycled. With literally tens of millions of bottles being discarded by the day, they’ve become a huge water pollution problem in the oceans as well as a visual blight in our parks and cities where too few are bothered to put them in a blue bin to recycle, or even find a garbage can. And if they do end up in the garbage, they quickly fill up landfills. Ecowatch say that about 50 billion – billion – plastic water bottles were sold in the U.S.alone last year, up from 42 billion in 2015. And of those, only 23% get recycled. Container Recycling say an average of 60 million plastic bottles (water and pop) go into American landfills daily, or about 22 billion per year. With an average weight of 9 grams (or about 1/3 ounce) per bottle these days, that relates to 225 000 tons of plastic waste per year… and as much being simply tossed out along the roads or in parks or parking lots by the more slobbish among us. These bottles require millions of gallons of oil to make, and take hundreds of years to decompose if dumped. No wonder many were thirsty for a better way to keep from being dehydrated.

Avantium’s bottles are said to decompose naturally in no more than three years if left outside, possibly less in some environments, and being of plant material are biodegradable and if not actually helpful, at least not harmful to the environment. They “can be recycled, or returned to nature without harm,” the company suggests. Currently they’re using corn or sugar beets to make the product, but they soon hope to be able to use “biowaste” – things like the husks of the corn we assume – to do he same without negatively impacting the food supply.

Happily Coca Cola has pledged to have all their “plastic” bottles made of this or other biodegradable products as soon as 2023, as does Danone (a maker of some bottled waters and drinks as well as yogurt.) Brewer Carlsberg are trying out cardboard bottles with a liner made of the Avantium bio-plastic for their beer in some markets. We hope that Pepsico, Dr. Pepper, Anheiser Busch and other mass manufacturers of cold drinks will follow suit, and in the meantime, raise a glass – or plastic bottle- to Avantium and Coke, Danone and Carlsberg.

Boffo Beer Blog, Week 14: Ain’t This One Sumpin’

Well, isn’t this “sumpin”. This time out I tried Lagunitas Breweries feisty little offering they call Little Sumpin. And she is that.

The brewery is based in Petaluma, a city of around 60 000 located just north of San Francisco, but they also have a brewery in Chicago to deliver fresher beer to eastern locales, as well as a third taproom in Seattle. The company which boasts the slogan “life is uncertain, don’t sip” was started, more or less, in 1993 in Tony Magee’s kitchen. After an incident involving a burnt turkey dinner, “Tony’s wife Carissa kindly asked him to move his new hobby elsewhere.” After a stop at a garden shed, he eventually set up shop in town and has grown from there to a pretty big little sumpin’ of a brewery, selling in over 20 countries apparently.

Tony’s apparently nearly as big a fan of music as he is of beer, and the brewery offers live music at all three taprooms (which are currently closed due to the corona virus) and frequent stage shows in their hometown at the Petaluma Ampitheatre. While you’re in the taprooms, you can enjoy a menu ranging from Cobb salads and pretzels to mussels and burgers. They’ve even curated Spotify playlists on their website, tailored to each of their beers. Speaking of which, they have a fairly decent range of them, perhaps ten or so regular offerings plus sporadic seasonals like a red ale.

I did find the website was a bit lagging in the beer page – maybe the webmaster had enjoyed one too many – but among the regulars from Lagunitas are an IPA, a Czech-style pilsener and a lite beer plus more off-the-wall like a cannabis-infused one and “Hoppy Refresher”, a zero calorie, no-alcohol, clear sparkling hop drink. And of course, Little Sumpin.

They call Little Sumpin’ (the most readily available of theirs in Texas at least) a “truly unique style featuring a strong hop finish and a silky body. Filtered wheat ale that is good for both IPA and wheat beer fans.”

That’s a pretty good sounding choice, and well, Lagunitas didn’t lie. I cracked open a 12-ounce, rather stubby bottle with the “little sumpin’ “ lady they call Millie on the label, with her raven hair, bustiere, shorts and bobby sox. Pouring it, I found a nice amber-colored beer with decent effervescence and a thick, foamy head. My first impression was a strong, but pleasing taste. Definitely hoppy but not overly bitter and with just a hint of fruitiness that sometime does come along with wheat beers (usually because they have orange or at times grapefruit added in.) The aftertaste was a tiny bit tangy in the mouth.

I had it with a spicy beef taco and some cut up bell peppers and tomatoes, and found it a nice companion. The drink held its own and cut the spiciness of the beef pretty well. It had a good “mouth feel” as some brewers like to call it.

Overall, I liked it. A bit of the best of both worlds, the worlds being IPAs and wheat beers. At 7% alcohol she’s no dainty lass; I rate it 8 out of 10 for strength, 8 out of 10 for flavor and overall

bboopbboopbboopbboop

Four Betty Boops out of five.

May Hooray 6

If there’s one store I miss going into lately (due to the pandemic restrictions), it would be the city’s Barnes & Noble bookstore. I love books, love magazines, love reading. Checking out an eight-foot section of current best-sellers at Walmart doesn’t quite compare, and while Amazon exceeds the range and breadth of selection a 20 000 square foot brick-and-mortar outlet can provide, it lacks the ambience. It lacks the tactile experience. It lacks $3 cups of coffee! And of course, it doesn’t generally provide the great level of surprise that I get when I go in to a store and see something I’d never heard of on the shelves but can’t live without anymore. I’d wager that about half all the books I’ve bought in the past five years have been ones I’d not heard of and wasn’t looking for until I saw them in the store, started reading the slipcover and was hooked.

Anyway, I’ve been reading a bit more than usual during these times, as I hope many of you have been too. The book I’m just about finished right now is My Squirrel Days by actress Ellie Kemper. Many of you would know her from her role as Erin in The Office, but as an infrequent viewer of that (I liked the limited British series that was adapted for the U.S., back in the day, but somehow never really got into the Steve Carell version) I just knew her name a little and non-specifically, and thought “hey, a redhead and a squirrel on the cover. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

And it is quite good, although not Pulitzer Prize good nor fall on the floor laughing funny. It’s witty at times and a good-natured little memoir of a B-list actress who seems likable enough. But that’s not the point of this. The point is, I was able to pick it up for free. And it doesn’t get much better than that! Frankly, it’s not something I would have bought even if discounted from the $26 cover price, but that’s where today’s topic comes in – Little Free Libraries. I picked it up on a whim at a neighborhood one of those while dropping off a book or two I was done with that might brighten or enlighten someone else’s day.

If you’re not familiar with Little Free Libraries, maybe you should be. The “libraries” are little depositories of books that typically volunteers have on their lawns. The idea is simple. They put up what looks like a large mailbox outside their place. Many go to great lengths to creatively decorate theirs, but even if it’s just a plain wooden box, it still serves the same purpose. People who have books they don’t want or have room for anymore drop them off in them. At the same time, anyone can stop at it and help themselves to a book or two if they want. Like one of those “leave a penny, take a penny” trays at a checkout, only for books. And occasionally magazines or movies as well, I find. Since I started noticing around them in my adopted city a few years ago, I’ve come to visit them fairly regularly, dropping off books I figure more likely to gain dust than my renewed attention in the next few years, and picking up a number of ones I’ve read.

The non-profit that runs the service won a World Literacy Award this year and estimate they have around 100 000 little libraries around the world. I’m aware of six or seven around my county, and doubtless there are quite a few more…and some near you too.

Now, it is true that long before “Little Free Libraries” there were big free libraries thanks to our municipalities. Obviously they rather dwarf the little ones in selection and orderliness, given that the little ones usually top out at a few dozen books. But the little ones have some things going for them too.

First, as they point out, they’re open 24/7. Rather more convenient to find something to read on a rainy weekend if it’s 11 o’clock at night. And, since you can actually take the books, there’s no deadline on returning them. No late fees should you forget about them. No library cards needed either.

The big thing they have though is proximity and visibility. City libraries are often few and far between, and not always conveniently located for those without cars. The little libraries aim to be right in the neighborhoods people live in and walk (or drive) by every day. That’s especially useful for kids on their way to school and indeed one of the main objectives they have is to get books into the hands of children who don’t have many – or any- at home. Their figures show that academically, children who grow up without books at home lag three years behind children who have well-stocked bookshelves and read frequently at home. They hope to let some of those kids catch up. As well, the little boxes o’books help promote community, with neighbors meeting more neighbors and getting involved in their own neighborhood. All of that seems like good reason to cheer.

So if you’re “Marie Kondo-ing” while waiting out this virus*, you might want to investigate and see if there isn’t a little library near you to drop off the books that are straining your shelves. And who knows – you might even find a fun book about an actress you didn’t know of . And, if you’re very lucky, maybe even her rodent.

 

*it’s of course worth mentioning that it pays to be cautious right now with the corona virus situation. It’s advisable to wear gloves right now if you’re going to use one of the libraries and, of course maintain social distancing if your neighbors are out there too. And as the CDC note that the virus can live for several days on hard surfaces (Healthline say it can survive on paper up to 4 days), currently it might be wise to file away any new acquisition from them for reading a little later on.

Photo – Waco Tribune Herald

May Hooray 5

Rock musicians get a bad rap at times. Of course some are dumb as posts, but that could be said of many professions from truck drivers to store clerks to senior politicians as well. Many however have a lot going on. There are ones who’ve worked as teachers (Sheryl Crow, Bryan Ferry and Sting to name just three), ones who’ve written books, ones who are pilots (Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden has worked as a commercial jet pilot in his down time from the band), others that have turned successfully into other arts like painting (John Mellencamp, Richard Butler of Psychedelic Furs) or photography (Michael Stipe, Chris Stein of Blondie).

One of the quirkier characters in the field is David Byrne, the former singer of Talking Heads. He formed the band while studying art and design at university in Rhode Island and put together some of the most unusual and ground-breaking rock of the late-’70s and early-’80s. He wrote a movie (True Stories) and as eclectic as the band was, found them too confining. He quit and has worked on other movie soundtracks, (one of which won an Academy Award for Best Original Score), several Broadway plays, formed his own record company to promote obscure World Music largely from Africa and published a book of botanical sketches he drew. And he’s an avid cyclist and has worked extensively to make New York City more bike-friendly. Whew! Writing it makes me feel a bit lazy for sitting around at night saying “OK, one more re-run of That 70s Show before cleaning the dishes.

Anyhow, he comes to mind because I was writing about him a few days back on my music blog. Another blogger there, Msjadeli brought another project of Byrne’s to my attention. A website, designed to help us feel a bit more optimistic in these trying times. The name says it all – Reasons to be Cheerful.  Subtitled “News for when you’ve had too much news”, it’s an interesting site. There’s a a hodgepodge of stories that do indeed lend one to seeing more light at the end of the tunnel; stories of smart urban planning, good health news, social good and a whole lot more. Give it a look!

Creative thinkers like Byrne – one more reason to be cheerful!

Tiny Moments

I just took out the garbage from the kitchen, a heavy bag that I’m sure didn’t smell too fragrant to anyone else in the house. I couldn’t smell a thing, which is a common reaction I have, being a renowned Male of Exceptionally Poor Sense of Smell. Anyhow, I put on my flip-flops and hauled it out to the plastic bin beside the garage and stood there for a bit before coming back in.

It was about 10 minutes after sunset, the beautiful twilight photographers and poets alike adore. Still enough light in the sky to see the outline of trees and other things on the horizon clearly against the deepening blue, dark enough for it to be undeniably “night.” Some bright star shone bright in the northwestern sky. Probably a planet actually. For some reason, usually scientific me has little interest in knowing what body up in the sky I’m looking at. If I see a snake slither by, I want to know the species despite having little fear of them (I’m not one to think them bad or expect every one out there is deadly).After about half an hour of web searches yesterday, I figured the baby snake dashing horizontally across the lawn yesterday as I cut the grass was a tiny King snake.  I have written letters published in journals debating whether cute little chickadees are actually just one species of bird, or two. I took a course on being a severe storm reporter for the weather service. All about science. But when it comes to stars, constellations and planets, it’s just look up and “ooh, pretty!”.

Anyway, I stood there by the garbage can and looked at the sky, appreciated the one bright star and tiny little duller ones starting to show, and listened to some wrens and Mockingbirds singing late into the evening and just felt peaceful. Content in the moment. I listened for nighthawks, the plaintive little “beep” call of the nocturnal insect-eating bird of our cities, but didn’t hear one and noted to myself I’d never been in Texas this late in the year before without hearing one. I remembered a night about five, six months back when I took the garbage out similarly late in the evening and stood, listening to a hooting owl and eventually was able to make out its silohuette in a backyard tree, it viewing me with as much interest as I it, I think. So, I came back in and pulled the little bag out of the bedroom trash can and took it out too.

It reminded me of a short story I read not long ago – “A Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman. In it, two kids get stuck in a sort of Groundhog Day-like time loop and end up mapping all sorts of tiny, perfect moments that happen around their town every day – a hawk swooping down to get a floating fish, a teen making the perfect skateboarding trick and riding down a handrail to finish it, seeing a B-list movie actor drive by. Taking out the garbage, seeing the bright star, anticipating a nasal little bird call, feeling a little bit of a cool breeze on my arms after a humid and briefly stormy day, all was nice.

Not fantastic. Not winning the lottery big. Not best sex of my life soul-quaking. Not seeing my favorite band take the stage or my baseball team win the World Series good, but nice. And the earth-shattering, life-changing moments come around rarely. Those little moments after taking out the garbage, seeing the stars, hearing an owl hoot…every day around us when we become aware.

It’s the tiny moments that make it all good. So, as much as our current situation with the pandemic and worry sucks, if you are aware, I bet you can find your tiny glorious moments today. And tomorrow. And the next day. And suddenly, life seems a whole lot more wonderful.

What are your “owl hooting when you take out the garbage” moments?

May Hooray 4

They say if you don’t laugh, you’ll cry. So it’s great to have comics around anytime, but especially in troublesome times like we’ve had in 2020. I would imagine that the “comedy” genre in services like Netflix and Amazon Prime has seen an uptick in searches since this whole pandemic began.

Not long ago, blogger Badfinger20 listed his favorite comics, which generated no small amount of commentary. Thank goodness we have so many people who are funny, and try to keep us laughing!

My sense of humor is quirky. One stand-up comedian who always makes me laugh with his dry, deadpan delivery and metaphysical jokes is Steven Wright. Not a week goes by that I’m driving somewhere and see someone pulled over on the side of the road and I remember his line : “I got stopped for speeding the other day. The cop comes over and says, ‘hey don’t you know the speed limit is 55 miles per hour here?’ and I said ‘yeah, but I didn’t want to be out that long.’”

The show Saturday Night Live in its prime (to me, the first half of the ’90s with Dana Carvey, Mike Myers, Victoria Jackson, Dennis Miller etc; to my older brother and his cohorts, the Eddie Murphy-led early-’80s) was hilarious week after week with its sketches and “Weekend update” but many times my favorite section was a little series of bizarre Hallmark-moments gone wrong that led into commercials, entitled “Deep Thoughts.”

Lots of people have been stepping up to try and cheer up the rest of us lately, and I salute them all and leave you with this one from a British (usually) photography website.

Keep laughing and have a great day!

May Hooray 3

I’ve been reading through actress Ellie Kemper’s book My Squirrel Days this week. Considering the heroine in my novel Grace…fully living is a perky redhead and the network show that appeals to me most among the new crop features carrot-topped Zoey, .I think I might have a bit of a “thing” for redheads. Or books about squirrels.

Anyway, one story The Office actress relates is of Waldo, a plush walrus toy who “wears a small white sailor’s cap that suggests he is not opposed to a good time!” While other bits of her childhood fell away, Waldo stayed with her until one fateful weekend in Vegas, when she was in her 30s, that he disappeared. (Spoiler alert: the hotel found him and returned him to Ellie! Yay!)

I understand. I live in a household of two things. People who are allergic to, well pretty much everything, and a house of plush critters.

I never had a pet as a child; my allergies wouldn’t allow for a dog or cat, and I was probably the only one in the house who saw appeal in reptiles. (“Hi Fido”, I’d dream of saying to someone with their pet schnauzer, “this is my Timmy. He’s a timber rattlesnake. Aren’t those golden and brown scales beautiful…”) . When I was on my own and in my late 20s, I got a hamster named Henley. I got him a nice terrarium with a wheel and a ladder thingy for him to climb, and changed the wood chips regularly. Unfortunately, Henley taught me two things. One, that hamsters slept all the livelong day and then got up to run on squeaky wheels all night long. And two, that when freed from the confines of their home terrarium, they’d enjoy biting me, and disappearing into the ductwork in about equal parts. I was sad when one day after I’d shared my apartment with him for about two years that I noticed Henley hadn’t been up for a night or two and wasn’t eating the food I gave him… but not sad enough to think of bringing in a Henley Jr. Henley was a good little dude though, and I think made a wonderful Christmas card insert one year, posing in front of some yule lights.

I always liked cats, but not sneezing, let alone having trouble breathing. As luck would have it, the first lady I ended up close enough to to actually live with for a year had three cats. Remarkably, the one which had a reputation for hating people took to me. After a few months, Daphne would wait for me by the door like a puppy and seem to be as happy as a pup when I came in. More remarkably, I sneezed very little in that year. Unfortunately, her owner didn’t respond as eagerly to me when I got in, after awhile.  Go figure. As soon as Daphne was dragged off with her owner and I returned to my homeland, pretty much every cat I’ve met leaves me wheezy and short of breath within minutes. Which is better than the reaction my sweetie has to them. Dogs? Pretty much the same. We had to dog-sit a black lab called Allie for over a year, and Allie was a good dog! Good doggie!! My walk with her was a daily highlight for both of us. But Allie was largely an outside dog, and when indoors, she usually bedded down in the little pseudo-home we made for her in the garage. When it got real cold, she was invited into the living room, to lie on a sheet which would be washed every day afterwards… while we all sneezed, sniffled and wheezed.

But we do have some “furry” friends to keep us company, like Ellie does. No walruses but some classy “friends” nevertheless. My sweetie has her big bear, Diva, who wears a leopard-print jacket. And her doting bear boyfriend Cocoa, who inexplicably is a white bear. But he has panache as we see in this photo:

cmas bear

Her daughter, the Kiddo loves sheep. So she has a collection of stuffed lambs. Prominent among those are Fluffers and Luke. Fluffers, the fluffiest of sheep, originated in Canada, where “someone” found him one Easter and sent him down to Texas to be with her about eight or nine years back, when Kiddo was much smaller. He’s sweet and quiet, like a Canadian, and fluffy like a …well, something! Then there’s little rambunctious Luke the ram, always getting into things, and tipping over due to the size of his nose. We see him riding Fluffers here:

fluffer

For years, I didn’t have such accompaniment,but this year, going through a local department store I came across this little fellow.

EB bear

It was just after Valentine’s Day and no one had taken him home, and I feared his future was to end up on the Island of Misfit Toys. So I adopted “EB”. Which stands for Edward Bear. The name of a fine Canadian band, and the real name of Winnie the Pooh, the gold standard of friendly bears. Or possibly it stands for “Evidently Brown.” Or perhaps “Everybody’s Buddy.”  Or even “Exceedingly Bugged (by a lack of pizza.)” EB likes pizza. He obviously has style,, since he wears a snazzy bow tie. And likes pizza. He’s happy now that he has a home, watching TV with sweetie and me…and Diva and Coco Bear too!

May Hooray 2

Another silver lining of the pandemic, if there is such a possibility, is that it’s giving us extra time to watch old favorite TV shows, or perhaps find new favorites. Every evening not spent shopping could mean three or four episodes of a New Classic! Now while I don’t want to suggest everyone become couch potatoes and do want to remind you it IS OK to get outside and move around a bit, as long as we’re not in crowds, sometimes a bit of time with good “friends” on screen can be a boost.

For me, this spring I’ve discovered two new series that have appealed to me. Both reflect my love of romcom films like When Harry Met Sally and You’ve Got Mail.

The first is the familiarly-titled Four Weddings and a Funeral. The title itself was taken from a popular British 1994 movie starring Hugh Grant and Andie MacDowell and follows them and their on-again, off-again trans-Atlantic love affair as they attend mutual friends’ weddings and funerals. The TV version was a 2019 remake of sorts from Mindy Kaling. The 10-episode miniseries delivered on Hulu borrows the name and the overall gist of the movie, but isn’t simply the same story with new characters, lest you wonder. This confused me a little at first, but once I accepted this was a new story and took it for what it was, it worked.

Like the movie, the show follows a romance between an American woman, Maya, and a British guy, Kash and how they interact through mutual friends in London. The film borrows readily and blatantly from famous scenes in romcom movies like Love, Actually and Notting Hill and while a little long-winded, a little heavy-handed in its handling of gay characters and overly PC at times, it still has its charms. By the end you’re cheering for the leads and their romance.

The other new show I’ve fallen for is a current network offering… and that’s not something that happens every year for me anymore. NBC’s Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist is a romdram, if you will. Part romance, part drama and an exuberant return to Hollywood musicals of the past. Rather a new, grown-up version of Glee, in the early years of that show before it jumped the shark and took Jane Lynch with it, casting her essentially as Lucifer and forcing the writers to turn themselves inside out finding convoluted reasons to have the group of university types keep coming back from across the country to hang out at their old high school.

Zoey is a nerdy millennial gal who works in a trendy software company and has to deal with office rivalries, family stresses and isn’t sure which way to turn when confronted with two decent but flawed suitors. Oh, and through a freaky MRI incident, she’s blessed with the ability to at times hear what others around her are thinking… in song. So the story line gets driven by big musical numbers of songs ranging from “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” by REM to Billy Joel’s “Lullabye” to  The Beatles “Help,”  Tears for Fears “Mad World,” and a rather somber take on “American Pie.”

It’s an entirely odd concept but it works better than it should, thanks in large part to solid writing and the charisma of Jane Levy as Zoey. Season one wrapped us this past weekend and probably singly increased the demand for Kleenex by about 50%.

If you like romance stories or comedies with a bit of a dark underbelly, both shows might work for you. If it’s not your thing, that’s fine too… don’t be afraid to take a bit of the time this pandemic is keeping you from being out in groups from looking for new faves of your own… but don’t forget to take time to keep on top of the real romances in your own life be they at home or far away!

Boffo Beer Blog : Week 13 (?) A Texmex Quaff Enters The Ring

In honor of cinco de Mayo, this week I went extravagante and tried out some “south of the border” flavor to go with a bit of a Tex/Mex lunch. I tried out Deep Ellum’s Neato Bandito “Czech-inspired Mexican lager” to go with some Fideo… vermicelli with beef and a few spices to the rest of us.

Deep Ellum is apparently a trendy neighborhood in Dallas, one which came from an industrial beginning and now is a place of cool shops and brick lofts. Deep Ellum Brewing set up shop there fairly recently, in 2011. It now has its brewery there, along with a taproom/restaurant. It also has one of those in Fort Worth. The website shows a rather nice looking brick-walled bar with an outdoor patio as well, but not surprisingly, the taprooms are closed right now due to the pandemic. Maldito! They say they were inspired by a “healthy disdain for the status quo” and want drinkers to “help us annihilate bland corporate beers.” The brewery favors colorful and cartoonish cans, with some of its regular fare including the omni-present (in Texas) Dallas Blonde, Deep Ellum IPA and Blind Lemon, a lemonade spritzer.

For Neato Bandito, they suggest it’s a “high-flying lager brewed with corn, light in color but big in flavor.” They suggest it goes well with chili-topped potato skins.

I cracked open one of the big 19-ounce cans, bright yellow and adorned with cartoons of Mexican wrestlers. Pouring it, I was surprised at how thick and foamy a head it created. It seemed like a beer designed to be kegged at a bar. The color was a deep yellow, with very little carbonization. The head was rather long-lasting and had a nice foamy consistency.

The flavor though, was underwhelming. It came across as a little bitter and strong-ish and watery at the same time, which is a bit of a feat to pull off. As I drank more of it, I thought I could discern a little bit of a chemically flavor that you sometimes find in really cheap lagers. Mind you, it didn’t do badly when consumed with the somewhat spicy pasta-and-meat.

It put me in mind of something like Pabst with a bit more hoppiness or someone trying to make Corona in a mass-market mega-brewery. This might have to do with the corn in it. Most beers typically use barley as the grain, but The Spruce Eats note that rice and corn are cheaper grains and often used in place of the barley (or wheat which is also used in some of the better Euro-beers). Budweiser for instance, uses rice, while some mass market offerings like Busch Lite opt for corn. To be fair, other references suggest that many Mexican beers have used corn all along, so it may be Neato Bandito is a good attempt at being authentically Mexican.

Be that as it may, Neato Bandito was one of the rare beers where I found that the single serving was a bit much, and didn’t even empty the can. There was something mildly disquieting about the corn-based flavor and hoppiness. All in all, I rate it 7 out of 10 for strength (it comes in at a hearty 6.0% alcohol) but only 4 out of 10 for flavor, so overall

ombreroombrerohalfsomb

Just 2.5 sombreros out of 5.

May Hooray 1

May is a cheery month, I think. Or at least it should be one. It’s bright, the weather’s getting nice, flowers are blooming, birds are singing, baseball is a quarter-way through the schedule and getting interesting (well, most years!), we’re able to shed our winter clothes. If you’re a student, the end of the school year is almost upon you and if you’re at work, we’re getting to the time of long weekends and summer holidays. May should be a fine month which uplifts us all.

Of course, this year is a bit different. “Covid 19” and “Social distancing” are running neck-and-neck for the most used new entries into our lexicon and both can make us nostalgic for ones which popped into popular use in recent years… things like “Gangham style.” Even “impeachment” see downright warm and fuzzy by comparison.

So since we’re all quite probably stressed about the virus, about our health and the health of the economy, this May looks a bit darker and drearier. But there’s still lots of good out there, lots to enjoy,so this month I’ll try to put out a few thoughts on things which we can be thankful for, or enjoy even in Pandemic Times. It’s an idea that’s not altogether new to me. In 2015, I put out a book (Thank Goodness – 101 Things To Be Grateful For Today) designed to do the same – make one see the good all around them every day.

So let’s start with a simple one…we can still spend time with our families and the ones we love at home. People are finding ways to have fun with their kids. Some families might even be re-discovering forgotten pleasures like playing board games together or running through their library of favorite old movies. And while many, like me, are missing pro baseball and the kids can’t play organized little league that doesn’t stop everyone from having a little fun on the diamond, like this father and son:

Try to enjoy your day, and if you have little ones, remember any day can be a special one.