Thursday, July 30, 2009

Want out of Cleveland? Win a Cy Young!

2007 Cy Young Award winner - CC Sabathia.
2008...Sabathia gone.

2008 Cy Young Award winner - Cliff Lee
2009....Lee gone.

Unreal. The fire sale begins anew. Can we please get an owner who wants to win again? Good luck selling this team to the city in 2010. And then don't bitch that you can't sign a big name because attendance is piss poor.

This hurts.

"Losing one Cy Young winner one year and another the very next year is probably hard for a fan to swallow. It's the nature of the game. It's something you're really going to have to talk to Shapiro about, as far as his outlook and his intent with the whole deal. Obviously, he feels he's making the team better with those deals. It's not my job to grade it. It's my job to pitch."

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Who wants a free XL Winston-Salem Dash t-shirt?

Behold! THIS fine garment could be yours! Went to my 2nd Kinston Indians @ Winston-Salem Warthogs, er, "Dash" game in as many nights. Went into the park with just what I had on me, and left with a fabulous prize. A smashing t-shirt. Sadly, it is sized an XL and when all is said and done would not properly showcase my stunning XXL physique.

Want it?

How'd I get it? I was selected my the mid-inning entertainment guy (due to my Indians garb) to answer trivia questions over the loudspeaker concerning the Major League film trilogy, those wacky comedies about the Cleveland Indians. I got 4 out of 5 correct, my lone mistake from Major League III and something about the South Carolina Buzz or something or another. Frankly, I was the awesomest film ever made, II sucked, and I never did in fact even see III on principle.

Kinston took a 4-0 lead after the top of the 1st inning, and it went all downhill from there. My inside-out rally cap in the 9th got Kinston a run, but in the end it was a 10-5 loss. Ouch.

My newfound followee and souvenir ball donor Ronald Rivas did not play, but did take his turn coaching 1st base during the later innings:

Sat in the same seats as Monday with Jim and Jeannette...the only 3 people seemingly clapping for Kinston. And Jeannette got herself a ball lobbed to us by Kinston's first baseman after an inning. (As I am a complete baseball dork, hollering his name over and over (Ole! Ole! Ole! Ole!) with hands awaiting did the trick.) But in any event, the rains stayed away for another evening of Cleveland Indians minor league baseball. A fun time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

A 2nd pro baseball lobbed to me? REALLY?!?!?!?

Monday, July 27, 2009. Play ball!

One of Cleveland's "L'il Indians" teams came to town for some minor league baseball. This time the High-A Carolina League Kinston Indians were over in Winston-Salem for a series. Monday and Tuesday's games will coincide nicely with my work schedule, as I always circle the dates when Kinston and Lake County and Columbus come around.

The former Winston-Salem Warthogs changed their name to the horrendous Winston-Salem Dash for their new ballpark this year. "Dash"? Yeah. Dash. The thing found in between the Winston and the Salem. Awful.

Anyway, name change for the new ballpark. Except they're playing in the old ballpark. YIKES! It seems there has been some ownership whining about who knows what, so the new ballpark set to open in 2009 stands yet unfinished. UNFINISHED! In July!!! Of the year it was to open!!! And the Warthogs, er, Dash left venerable Ernie Shore Field for their new home....except their new home ain't done. Soooooo.....they apparently struck a deal with Wake Forest University to rent out their old home, which is now known as the Wake Forest Baseball Park.

I'm not sure if the whole pissing match has anything to do with what transpired tonight, but in the 3rd inning I looked around and literally HAND COUNTED all the fans in the seats and made it all the way up to 164.

164. In the seats.

Now I'm sure the church group that had a Monday night outing were all seated in the white picnic tent in left field...all thousands of them. Because surely there were more than 164 fans there to see a ballgame.

And another thing possibly tied to the pissing match, almost all of the food kiosks and vendors were closed. Boarded up. HUH???? One spot to get food. One. Good thing I nabbed my two hot dogs early....wouldn't want to wait in that long line of 164 people if we all decided to get food at the same time!

$9 gets you behind the dugout. The guy at the ticket window saw my Cleveland Indians jersey and rightfully surmised, "behind the Kinston dugout?" Why yes, good sir. Take my $9 and get me behind the visitors!

The Indians lost 3-2. A rally in the 9th fell short as 2 men on were wiped out with a game-ending double play. But I found a new friend. A new player to watch and follow during his hopefully successful career: the lanky shortstop pictured here, Ronald Rivas.

"Why Ronald Rivas?" you may ask? Before the top of the 9th, upon leaving the field and entering the dugout, he tosses me the game-used baseball. NICE!!!! 38 years and not one foul ball or game-used ball, and all of a sudden I get a Washington Nationals foul tip from Ryan Zimmerman in June, and then a Kinston Indians inning ending ball lobbed to me in July by Ronald Rivas. All in one summer. Wow.

This game used ball business may seem silly to you, but dammit if this doesn't help lift the spirits after all the shit of the past year or two!!!!

Tweet Boxx Ep. 6

Another solid week. Oh, and he's from CLEVELAND? Like me??? Ahhhhh....that northeast Ohio "sarcasm gene" cannot be stopped.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Double Brew Day!!! Blanche de Greensboro and Maple Pumpkin Ale v.3.0

Thursday. A day off. A day that I crammed with plenty of brewing fun. Two, count 'em, TWO beers brewed up. The first on the brew schedule was the third installment in my summer brewing Belgian line: Blanche de Greensboro, a clone of Unibroue's Blanche de Chambly. It's one of the finer Belgian witbiers you'll find...and it's brewed in Canada. The second beer was an unprecedented THIRD brewing of one of my particular creations: Maple Pumpkin Ale v.3.0. This one takes about two months to clear up and finish, which will take us right into football season where this beer is enjoyed most.

It was a busy day, so we'll do a timeline:

Up! Yes that's right. Up at 7:00am on a day off. Inconceivable.

Dry cleaners. Hey, there's chores to be done before all the fun starts.

Clean out and defrost the garage freezer.

Boil 1 pound of corn sugar in 1 pint of water, cool, then add to secondary fermenter. Then transfer "The Devil's Bats" Belgian Golden Ale from primary to secondary on the sugar water. Kick up a second fermentation and dry the beer out a touch more.

Now that the Duvel clone is transferred, clean and sanitize both primary fermenters.

Clean and sanitize the brewing equipment.

Set up my brew station in the garage.

Fire up the brew kettle to boil 7 gallons of water. First on the brew docket: Blanche de Greensboro.

Turn off the burner and add the wheat malt to the water. Brewing's begun!


Start charcoal on the smoker.

Go inside and roast 5 cans of pure pumpkin for Maple Pumpkin Ale v.3.0

Add soaked hickory wood chunks to the coals.

Meat on!

Add orange peel and coriander to the Blanche de Greensboro.

Pump witbier through plate chiller to primary fermenter.

Carry primary to kitchen.
Stir roasted pumpkin.

Back rinse plate chiller and clean up some equipment.

Add 8 gallons of water to kettle for Maple Pumpkin Ale v.3.0.

Roasted pumpkin is done.

Ahhh, and my first fuck-up. You see, the witbier had no crushed grains to steep so I could go directly to the boil. Here, I have 3 pounds of cracked grains to steep, and it needs to do so at 153 degrees. Um, I shot straight up to 212. Dammit. Let's wait for the 8 gallons of boiled water to cool down to 153 in North Carolina heat....

Freezer cleaned out completely. The food goes back in.

The 8 gallons make their way down to 153 degrees, so let's steep!

Pull meat off smoker.

Steeping done, to the dry cleaners we go to pick up my clothes.

Fire the kettle up to boil.

Turn off burner. Add malt, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup, and roasted pumpkin flesh.

BOIL! (Again.) Always such a rollicking and vigorous boil with this recipe. 8 gallons plus all the pumpkin flesh, maple syrup, and spices in here and it just wants to GO!

2nd addition of spices and maple.

Final addition of spices and maple.

Pump through plate chiller to primary fermenter....sloooooooowly.....

Pump transfer STALLS with one gallon to go. Too thick and gooey. Just look at the kettle's false bottom!

Carry primary into kitchen then manually strain remaining liquid in brew kettle into a Pyrex dish and a large mixing bowl. Place said containers in clean freezer to chill down from freshly boiled to pitchable yeast temperature (around 80 degrees).

Do final cleanup of garage.

Liquid in freezer has cooled sufficiently. Add to primary fermenter to top off to 5 gallons.

Scrub brew kettle. Clean hoses and parts. Set up blowoff tubes for both primary fermenters. Watch Blanche de Greensboro begin bubbling and fermenting....already!

Dry equipment. Wait for the yeasty magic to happen in both fermenters.


Whew, a long day. But quite a fun one. TWO beers fermenting away as of Friday morning. The rubber cap for the blowoff tube couldn't quiiiiiiite grab hold to the carboy's neck for the Blanche de Greensboro. I mean, just look at what the yeast starter did building up towards brew day:

So big deal, some goop oozed out the top and down the fermenter. Seeing this could happen the night before with the quick fermentation, I put the witbier in the sink to minimize cleanup. Worked well.

So for the recipes. the Maple Pumpkin Ale v.3.0 is basically v.2.0 posted here with 8 oz of maple syrup added with each addition.
Maple syrup in v.1.0 = 8 oz @ 90 min, 4 oz @ 20 min
Maple syrup in v.2.0 = 8 oz @ 90 min, 4 oz @ 20 min, 4 oz @ 2 min
Maple syrup in v.3.0 = 8 oz @ 90 min, 8 oz @ 20 min, 8 oz @ 2 min (plus 8 oz into secondary when it's time)

And as for the Blanche de Greensboro, another Belgian from the eponymous book Clone Brews:

What a day! Slowly but surely it seems I'm rediscovering that joy has NOT indeed perished from the earth!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Tweet Boxx Ep. 5

Another week = more hijinks.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

I Am A Homebrewer

You may remember this stirring video shown at the National Homebrewers Conference that I posted here on 4/24/09: I Am a Craft Brewer.

Well this afternoon I just received a "tweet" from Charlie Papazian (the author of The Complete Joy of Homebrewing, founder of the Great American Beer festival, the American Homebrewers Association, and the Association of Brewers). It was this homage to the craft brewers video:

I Am a Homebrewer


Saturday, July 18, 2009

What about me?...What about me????

I sat there looking ugly
Looking ugly and mean
I knew what you were saying
You were saying to me

Baby's got some new rules
Baby said she's had it with me
It seems a shame you waste your time on me
It seems a lot to waste your time for me


Day off. Matinee time. Today's installment? Sugar. A quietly promoted "artsy" film about Domincan Republic can't-miss phenom "Sugar" and his quest for the Major Leagues.

The trailer:

The early portions of the film really brought me back to my medical relief trips to the DR and the respite that beisbol gives to the relative squalor there. Beisbol is the only way out for most. Sugar develops a WICKED curveball that is his ticket to Spring Training. The Dominican to Arizona spring training to the minor leagues in Iowa is a dizzying ride for this young 19-year-old. He's on the fast track. He can't miss. Until injury stalls the freight train of success. What will happen now? Will the train to the bigs continue?

A behind-the-scenes look of an immigrant sports phenom and all that occurs inside his head. Imagine being uprooted from your Dominican batey, sent to Arizona, then to IOWA of all places with all the barriers involved. There's more to the package than baseball. Language, food, culture, the terrors to succeed.

A powerful film. A baseball film that doesn't follow the usual trajectory of sports hero. Really a great film.

Even putting my immense love of baseball and my adoration of the Dominican Republic aside, this film earns the easiest of FULL PRICE scores. GO SEE THIS MOVIE!!!

"The Devil's Bats" Belgian Ale

Soon after the Saison Dupont clone was brewed June 30, I fired up the kettle for another Belgian homebrew session. This time, my favorite Belgian beer: Duvel.

"Duvel?" you may ask? "What's that mean?" Question not the wiki:

To commemorate the end of World War I, the Moortgat Brewery named their main beer Victory Ale. But during the 1920s, an avid drinker described the beer as "nen echten duvel" (a real devil in Brabantian) - perhaps in reference to its formidable alcohol content (8.5% ABV) - and the name of the beer was changed to Duvel. It has become the brewery's flagship beer. Considered by many the definitive version of the Belgian Strong Golden Ale style, Duvel is brewed with Pilsner malt and white sugar, and hopped with Saaz hops and Styrian Goldings. The yeast still stems from the original culture of Scottish yeast bought by Albert Moortgat during a prospection-tour in the U.K. just after WWI.

The recipe, again straight from the book Clone Brews:

The ingredients:

And the spooky brewing session that summoned three BATS to circle the driveway and generally creep me out. Hence, "The Devil's Bats" moniker.

A lot of hops were added for this beer. Mainly to offset the 7 pounds of malt, the pound of Belgian candi sugar, and 1 1/3 pounds of corn sugar added! The kettle's false bottom really prevented a lot of sludge from making it over through the plate cooler into the fermenter:

I finished cleaning by about 12:30am and pitched the yeast at that time. (The "cold" water from the hose running through the plate chiller really wasn't cold enough to FULLY transfer heat from the wort so it took a little longer to cool to a pitchable temperature.) After pitching, all in all, a successfully vigorous fermentation. I used my first blowoff tube for the primary fermenter instead of my usual airlock. I grew weary of cleaning up explosions. Not that I'm bitching. Having explosions means your fermentation is strong.

First, freshly aerated wort, then 8 hours into fermentation, then a closeup of the krausen:

And finally the video (complete with Lhasa Apso toenails wondering why daddy is kneeling in front of the kitchen counter). I love the constant gurgling from the bubbles:

This one won't be ready for a while yet. After the week or so in primary, I add another pound of sugar to secondary and let that ferment out (probably another week or so). Then, once it's settled, I need to cold condition it for 4 weeks. I needed to remove shelves in the garage fridge to make room (and consequently remove inventory by consumptive methods). Then, it's bottling time and another five weeks to condition! So, we're looking at the FIRST WEEK OF OCTOBER for this one to be ready to drink.

Damn. I guess I need to brew up a quicker beer to consume in the meantime...

Friday, July 17, 2009

Tweet Boxx is....AWESOME!

OK, so I "tweet" now on Twitter (@FlashRPh). I don't know what I quite add to society by doing so, but it's an easy way to follow along with all my celebrity and musical "friends" I have amassed over the years.

There is an online "program"? "Show"? "Webcast"? called Tweet Boxx that uses sarcasm and wit to excoriate the dim and the dimwitted. Hilarious!!! The first 4 episodes so far:

Episode 1:

Episode 2:

Episode 3:

Episode 4:


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Welcome to the Senate, Mr. Franken.

Now you go and have a good time.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Smoking hot

Against my better judgement, there may in fact be some sort of higher power with proof of a beauty like this that covers sports.

And then wears a dress like this:
All is indeed right with the world.


Congratulations, Erin Andrews. You have reached the upper echelon of my infatuations.
And now, long overdue,...Erin Andrews

A sincere "thank you" for all you do.

Belgian beer meeting

FINALLY! A Battleground Brewers Guild meeting that actually jives with my work schedule! A good time to catch up in-person with some online friends. And the meeting was indeed a good one, a favorite topic of mine:


Delicious craft offerings on the cutting edge of brewing experimentation and design. Beers that seemingly fit no mold, yet fall into recognized categories all their own. Enigmatic. Complex. Delicious.

Many many bottles passed around! Commercial varieties of Orval, Chimay White, Duvel, Ommegang Three Philosophers. Homebrew samples of dubbels, quads, oud bruin. A 5-gallon keg of Natty Greene's Belgian Blonde Ale. A tasty Belgian-esque dinner to be paired with Belgian beer. Yum.

Sour. Funky. Bready. Spicy. A meeting that runs the gamut of Belgian beer.

And a convenient 5-minute drive home on backstreets. You know, just in case things got out of hand. ;-)

A great way to spend a smidge under 3 hours. Brought back many of the good memories I still manage to keep and hold dear, such as this shot of Brugge in Belgium:


3:00am on a Tuesday night. (Or would you call it Wednesday morning?) Fucking fits of melancholy. Sometimes I really hate what's become of this.

Sheets of empty canvas, untouched sheets of clay
Were laid spread out before me as her body once did.
All five horizons revolved around her soul
As the earth to the sun.
Now the air I tasted and breathed has taken a turn...

And all I taught her was everything!
I know she gave me all that she wore.
And now my bitter hands chafe beneath the clouds of what was everything.
All the pictures have all been washed in black,
Tattooed everything...

I take a walk outside,
I'm surrounded by some kids at play.
I can feel their laughter, so why do I sear?
And twisted thoughts that spin round my head...
I'm spinning!
Oh I'm spinning,
How quick the sun can drop away!

And now my bitter hands cradle broken glass of what was everything.
All the pictures have all been washed in black, tattooed everything.

All the love gone bad turned my world to black.
Tattooed all I see.
All that I am.
All I'll be....

I know someday you'll have a beautiful life,
I know you'll be a sun in somebody else's sky.
But why?
Why can't it be?
Why can't it be mine?.....

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Public Enemies

"Die like you live: all of a sudden."

Who knew that freshmen year of college and 21 Jump Street on television would end up propelling Johnny Depp into one of the finest actors of my generation. Seriously. His performance in Public Enemies is definitely engaging. Any role he takes on seemingly is a winner.

The trailer:

However, the storyline in this film leaves me wanting. There's so much more! It's 2 hours and 25 minutes long. And I mean "long". It dragged. If you didn't know the backstory, I fear some nuggets are lost. Sure, Dillinger was a beloved public icon. But why??? (Besides the one line: "We don't do kidnapping. The public doesn't like kidnapping.") He was driven to a life of crime. But why??? I wish the film dealt with some of the intricacies of his background; his reason for being. They had the time! Why not go into WHY?

Christian Bale portrays the FBI agent set to bring in Dillinger. Are they, Dillinger and the G-Man, seemingly similar? Focused. Driven. Goal-oriented. Cat and mouse. Intensely contested.

But if you don't know at least a smidge of the history, I fear some motives and background are lost.

It disappointed me. Matinee only.


Monday, July 13, 2009

Chris Berman is a fucking tool.

"Hate" is a strong word. But I hate Chris Berman.

A hyperinflated stammering blowhard. If you're in broadcast journalism, you would probably assume that timbre, pitch, and the ability to know when to take a fucking breath would be paramount in one's skill set. With Chris Berman, not so much. Why he continues to be on television is beyond me. He is a toolbag. And those SHORT-SLEEVED SHIRTS underneath the suit jacket are really a nice touch.

Sloppy douchebag.

And someone else has noticed his annoying trend to broadcast a home run call INCORRECTLY. Observe:

...But worst of all, it features Chris Berman calling each and every shot, and that's ninth circle of hell stuff. This year even more so, because I recently discovered that, in addition to being annoying, his "back, back, back" business is both (a) stolen; and (b) wrong. I read this last week while doing some research on fabled Dodgers and Yankees broadcaster Red Barber:

A number of play-by-play announcers, including Chris Berman, picked up on his use of "back, back, back" to describe a long fly ball with potential to be a home run. Oddly, those other announcers are describing the flight of the ball, whereas Barber was describing the outfielder, in this famous call from Game 6 of the 1947 World Series with Joe DiMaggio at bat: "Here's the pitch, swung on, belted... it's a long one... back goes Gionfriddo, back, back, back, back, back, back... heeee makes a one-handed catch against the bullpen! Oh, Doctor!"

Which makes sense when you think about it because the ball, as far as it's concerned anyway, is going forward. It's the outfielder who is going back.

Either way, fine Berman, steal from Red Barber if you must. But at least steal correctly. There are no outfielders making plays on the ball at the Home Run Derby, so there shouldn't be any "back, back, backs." If you agree to drop that tired, stolen and inaccurate shtick, I'll agree to watch your little exhibition. Deal?

You fucking suck, Berman. Go die in a fire.


Sunday, July 12, 2009


Holy crap. This was my 2pm-10pm weekend, but that didn't stop me and two of my work cohorts from hitting up the movie Brüno for an opening night 11:20pm showing on Friday. The success, astonishment, and utterly ribald classic of Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan was a Sacha Baron Cohen treasure. Expectations were indeed set very high.

The trailer:

So. Where to begin? Besides being REALLY self-conscious about my penis size now? Full frontal to say the least! A film to make the homophobic squeamish. A film to make you question how you view others who are "different". A film to take the ignorant and box them on their ears.

A little more spastic in storyline as opposed to 2006's Borat. It seemed Cohen tried to "do too much" and insert Brüno into too many stories. The schwarzenballing from the Austrian fashion television scene. The loss of Diesel, his dwarf lover. The pining from Lutz, his assistant's assistant. The coming to America. The trading for an African baby. The attempt to become straight to become an A-list celebrity. It just seemed like too many goals/storylines as opposed to Borat traveling across America to meet Pamela Anderson.

The film uses caustic humor to force inward reflection and thought. To the nth degree. Unbridled raucous laughs to produce social discussion. Cohen intrigues to say the least.

A teetering Full Price score from me.

Now what time is my next anal bleaching appointment?...

Friday, July 10, 2009

Summer Chili

Nearly World Famous Gordon Chili was posted here in February 2008. I recently had a taste for it even in the heat of summer, so I spent my Wednesday off preparing it....with a few tweaks. You can basically follow along with the recipe from 2/08, but it changes each time I make it.

Namely, I added more chiles: dried and whole. Habanero, jalapeno, chile, ancho. Just enough insidious heat without burning your lips off.

Plus, instead of using broth and water, I just boiled two full bottles of Great Lakes Brewing's Edmund Fitzgerald Porter to make the chiles pliable before blending. And of course the entire concoction gets thrown in.
And I usually make an absolute mess of the place when I'm in the kitchen, but that's half the fun!

All in all, a fun day in the kitchen...with the dogs underfoot scavenging. Suffice to say neither one is a fan of pureed chile pepper. Spicing is never measured. Cilantro, cumin, chili powder, cinnamon, oregano. A heap of this, a healthy sprinkle of that, and the winner? Because I can and no one is here to tell me "no" entire bag of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips. Yes!

A huge ass pot of chili and Brown Sugar Cornbread. Yum! Who needs cold winters for good chili? Good food knows no season.