Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Public Transit

This is about as deep as it gets around here until I finish the first draft of my book. Which, ya know, I'm okay with. We have so many Legos floating around this place.

Also, I almost misspelled "Kryptonite." My wife caught the typo for me. "Some nerd you are!" she declared. Some nerd indeed.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

The Stage Is Littered With Fragments of Shattered Expectations

There’s a whole set of expectations that accompany you, as an audience member, when you step into a theater. You’ll keep quiet during the performance. You won’t attempt to engage the actors in conversation unless they ask you to. You will not ask the people on stage if it’s over yet. And though plenty may come to mind, you most certainly won’t offer suggestions as to how the performance might be improved - at least not in the moment.

These are pretty reasonable expectations, so much so that you might not even think about them most of the time. Except, that is, when you get handed a permission slip to ignore them.

The Ash and I were brewing beer on New Year’s Day, along with the generous assistance from our friends Bill and Brandon. The boys were thoroughly uninterested in what we were doing, having taken the measure of it and determined that it stood to benefit them in no way at all. And then their friend, Neighbor Kid, came over, and the three of them went off and got lost in Little Boy Imagination Land, a place which, if I remember correct, is populated by dragons, tanks, and mermaids with snakes for hair and flamethrowers in their boobs. Among others.

So there we are, four adults standing outside around the brew pot, each of us with a brew in our hand. One of us was probably stirring. Neighbor Kid sticks his head out the back door and tells us that we need to come in and see their play. I misunderstand for a second, think I’m hearing him tell us we need to come in and watch them play, which, what? Why do we want to...? OH, play noun, not verb. Though, now that I mention it, there are plenty of philosophical discussions to be had regarding the relationship between play the noun and play the verb, what amount of the verb goes into the noun, what the noun actually is. I’ve watched them happen, read the treatises. Or was it a manifesto? Right now, as I type this, as you read this, someone somewhere is declaring, "it's a play, not a show!" It’s sort of like “Stairway to Heaven” - it’s never not happening somewhere.

We adults file into the house and into the living room where Neighbor Kid and our boys are waiting, their excitement to reveal their creation to us causing their skin to bristle with energy and their hair to stand on end. Neighbor Kid, because he is the oldest, gives the signal, and the play begins.

It starts with my oldest rolling a bowling ball and knocking over a row of pins. Then a remote control truck races onstage and knocks him over, then zips around the playing area. My youngest bounces in on a horse and attacks the truck. People are falling over. Dialogue is minimal. It’s all very performance art. And through it all, we in the audience are speaking, not only to one another in unhushed tones, but also to the three players. We’re asking aloud what it is that we are seeing. We're cracking wise. We’re offering our learned assessments. We’re pleading with them to stop bashing the truck into the piano. At one point, someone asks, “Okay, is that it?” Can you imagine? But the kids seem not to mind our jibber-jabber one bit. Though they would have been perfectly entitled to do so, not a single one of them turns to us and snarls “Respect the fourth wall!” 
We applaud them from a standing position and they bow.

Children. Expectations. Explosions.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

New Year's Day IPA

I spent New Year’s Day brewing beer. 

The equipment
I hadn’t planned to spend New Year’s Day brewing beer. It all came about when a long-standing wish of mine met up with an early birthday present from my Mom, a generous gift certificate to the Austin Homebrew Supply store. Wifearrific and I ran down there, picked out our equipment and the ingredients for our first batch, then came home and were all “OKAY! WHEN ARE WE DOING THIS THING?!” To which the calendar responded, “Uh, well, looks like you’re free on New Year’s Day, assuming you’re not too hungover.”

Amazingly enough, some of our brewing friends (that’s right, I’m lucky enough to have brewing friends - plural) agreed to spend their New Year’s Day brewing beer with us. I thought for sure the requisite hangover would have everyone down for the count, but such was not the case. 

Not hungover, as far as I can tell
Which is great, because frankly, the process involves a lot of standing around, waiting on things to happen, waiting on the timer to tell you it’s time to do the next step. And what a better way to stand around waiting on stuff than with your friends, all of whom brought beer along with them, because really? You’re going to not drink beer while you brew? Pshaw. 

At one point, the kids called us inside the house to show us a play they’d created and had been rehearsing. I doubt that happens at most breweries. That's a whole 'nother rabbit hole I'll have to jump down later.

After an afternoon of rich smells and thick concoctions, we closed up the whole works and shoved it into the pantry where it’ll ferment for the next couple of weeks or so, after which, it gets to age in its bottles for a while, and only then do we get to find out if we did it right...or right enough anyway. 

And now it just sits, in the closet, next to the dogfood
It’s odd, you know? Doing all this work to create the perfect environment just to let nature take its course, then sitting back and taking a mostly passive role, like some sort of non-interventionist God that just pokes his head in every now and then, “Everything going okay in here?” then pops back out. Sure, there’s more work to come, but our part in the actual making of the liquid is all but done.

I was talking to one of my oldest friends about our plans to brew on New Year’s Day, and he said it sounded like the start of a great tradition, an idea that I liked right away. I like traditions. Or no, scratch that. I actually kind of hate traditions, but that’s because when I think “tradition,” I think of some tired old ritual whose inconvenience has come to vastly outweigh its purpose, whose original meaning is long forgotten, and that only gets repeated because that’s the way it’s been done since before anybody can remember. No, I don’t need that. I like traditions I can be part of. And as is the case here, I like traditions that I can be in on at the start.

Mark your calendars now, because January 1, 2013 will be the second annual New Year’s Day Holmes-brew.

Wifearrific with beerarriffic