Category Archives: Front Porch Cats

Front Porch Chats S2 #25

7 Devils Brewing-Arago amber ale in a glass on a table outside.

Let me just get this out of the way: if you’re hoping for cat updates, I’m sorry, there’s no cat updates. I’m actually thinking I didn’t adopt a cat at all. I instead have a hungry ghost, who is polite enough to poop in the designated area.

It’s a hard thing, being scared all the time.

I see that in people-but the results usually has them turning mean, these days. Instead of hiding under shelves.

I’m old enough to remember how homosexuals were described in the 80’s, the terms used to turn the general public against ourselves. I am not the first, nor will I be the last person to tell you: the language was the same.

It always, always started with ‘protecting the children’ from something that someone insisted children couldn’t understand, or from predators and it always was rooted in some religious organization. And it always evolved, wherever it was allowed, into malice against our own. Mask off; it was never about the children, it was always about getting to persecute someone.

This is why I’ve come to appreciate the notion that ‘tolerance is an armistice’. We’ll allow for differences of opinion until someone breaks the peace. Then we gotta fight.

Still, I think it’s important to remember who we’re fighting against. Because there are plenty of people in Florida, or Texas, or Arkansas, that all quietly (or not so quietly) struggle against the shitstorm they are in. And they are denied the usual levers of power that would help them.

I won’t turn on those people. I won’t write off North Dakota just because their leadership is hateful. They’re governor, sure. Fuck her and the horse she rode in on.

But we’re gonna judge the individuals by what they do, not by the circumstances they have no control over.

In the meantime, feed the ghost. Poop where you’re supposed to. Be patient.

This has all come with a side of 7 Devils’ Arago Amber ale. It’s not a bad beer but it’s a little sweet for my liking. The finish has that sugar sourness and that doesn’t encourage me to drink more of it. If it was drier, perhaps, I might like that more. It’s not bad. It isn’t great.

Front Porch Chats S2 #24

Little Beast's Czech Pilsner in a glass on a table outside.

90 degree day? It’s time for a Pilsner, this one from Little Beast, and the notes on it is that it’s Czech style. Without looking it up, I don’t know what that means but what I can tell you is that if Budweiser was an improved beer from hop nose to more flavor, then that’s what you’d have in this glass.

On a day like today, it’s perfect.

I know that you know that something is wrong, right? It’s mid-May, and there’s a weather advisory for the next few days due to heat. That’s just wrong. And you just know there’s some knucklefuck who is going to insist that you shouldn’t believe your own experience.

But it’s 90 degrees in Portland and it shouldn’t be. This seems like a legit problem.

It’s a problem I’m going to put off discussing for now. I don’t think I’m saying anything new. Since I can sit on my porch and sip a very cold beer while a breeze keeps the worst at bay, well that is a pretty good day. Take your good days.

Because you just never know when you’ll get them. I’m thinking of my cat, whom I just adopted today. She’s having one of the worst days of her life, for the third time. Her owner died and she went into a shelter. Then she went into foster care. Now she’s here.

I can only imagine how shaken she is. I can see her, at the back end of the carrier, body facing away from the opening, head turned around waiting to see what the next bad thing is. I know she’s not happy, I know she’s scared.

It’ll take awhile for her to understand there is not a bad thing coming. She’s stuck on a bad day and I sympathize with that. I’ve been stuck on bad days, myself-more than once. But I have therapy, friends, writing, and beer to help me process.

All she’s got is me, now. She rightly doesn’t trust that yet, but it’s my job to lay the groundwork for her to have better days.

Which is really what our job is, as decent-striving people. Lay the groundwork for others around us and behind us, to have better days as they move forward.

The cat might not understand that. But I know you do.

Front Porch Chats S2 #23

Ecliptic's Orange Giant barleywine in a glass on a table outside.

While I am delighted to have the Orange Giant barleywine that has been barrel aged from Ecliptic in my glass, eventually I feel I’m going to have to just have a regular barleywine to recalibrate my senses.

That shouldn’t take much: this beverage has a very harsh finish that is arguing against further sips. It’s ashy, and there’s nothing in the middle or front end of this beer to support something so strong.

Still, it’s a sipping drink and I am in a sipping drink frame of mind. Because I’m trying to adopt a cat. The thing about adopting a cat is that I have to choose one. Which means I have to think about my personal limitations-what I can and cannot do to care for another creature.

It’s a little humbling to admit there are some tasks you just aren’t ready for, when it comes to caring for someone. I might grow into them-I certainly hope I continue to grow, full stop-but I might not grow into those particular tasks.

But there is a shy, frightened, older cat who has lost her owner, and I’m asking if I can give her a home.

So it’s a good thing that I’ve been watching a lot of Doctor Who, lately. Because the modern take of the Doctor has been particularly explicit in the notion that basic people are good, and worth saving from cosmic horrors. That flawed as we are, we still make choices that exemplify us because of love. And we make those choices often enough enough that creatures with godlike abilities find us worth of protection.

Considering the power I would have over a cat, this is a little reassuring, honestly. I can take care of another creature who needs someone to do it. And maybe I’ll fuck it up a little bit, but I won’t fuck it up a lot.

I’ll take those odds.

A second review on the Orange Giant, after some warmup time has blunted the harshness of the finish a little. Not enough, though to make the beer one that I can get excited about.

Front Porch Chats S2 #22

It’s day ten of my covid recovery; after this I can go be around people. I’ve been advised that until my cough subsides I still ought to wear a mask, which is fine. Being able to visit with people again will be nice.

Foreland's Magnetic Thoughts IPA in glass on table outside

Because being suck was awful. I am fortunate that I had vaccinations, healthcare, and good friends to follow up on me because the experience could have been much, much worse.

I asked my Dad, ‘how does anyone do this and not think; that’s fucking terrible let’s not do this again or to anyone’ and his reply was “well, everyone’s experience is different. I’ve never seen anything quite like this.”

Since there I’ve been stuck on the empathy problem. Because it does seem to be true that people had a wide range of experiences from the pandemic, from death to almost nothing, from days of illness to months of struggle, I still am stuck on that question:

Why are people stumbling on the empathy around this?

I know empathy isn’t the easiest trait to manage; the line between how much is too much caring and just enough is tricky and the grok of when one should harvest their field of fucks and when it should be laid fallow is also one that can be uncertain.

But if someone tells me that something sucks for them, well shit let’s not do the thing that sucks. Let’s actively try to curb instances of suck for people, because why should we have to endure more suck than is absolutely necessary?

When we are told that certain actions create harm for people, it is uncivil to attempt to censure them, just so we don’t have to think about that harm. Confronting that harm, doing what can be done to minimize it, it doesn’t take much. And it’ll leave everyone in a better place. Not just the white folks.

Just sayin’.

The beer today is Foreland’s Magnetic Thoughts IPA and I have to admit; it’s merely OK. There isn’t much nose to lead into this beer, and the bitterness seems to outweigh any other flavors. A rare miss from them, I think.

Front Porch Chats S2 #21

Steeplejack tropical stout with excessive head in glass on a table outside

Today, I’m going to ask y’all to keep two competing ideas in your head and there’s probably no better circumstance to try and do that than with a beer. I’ve got the Palo Santo aged tropical stout from Steeplejack; I recommend you fortify as appropriate.

I haven’t been able to squeeze through the door of a bar in the past two weeks without hearing about the Bud Light “controversy”, since they paid a trans influencer to promote their beer. So I suppose it’s time I weighed in on things, if for no other reason than we’ll all finally know that the white dude has an opinion. Let’s start with the obvious:

Corporations are not your fucking friends. They are the opposite of that most of the time, Switzerland status at best. The suits at ABInBev did some calculations and figured out that they’d get money through this, and the influencer got paid (and paid well, I hope) in order to sell people, specifically LGBTQ+ people and anyone who is friends with them, their product.

The money from that community spends as well as anyone’s, and ABInBev wants it. But make no mistake, they are part of the reason that community lives under the conditions they do-care to guess what politicians they donated to?

They don’t give a damn about us. They care about money.

However, the market has spoken, y’all. The calculus of making money has been done: fascists are a bad look, diversity and inclusion is a good one. And it doesn’t matter how loud the assholes begging for relevance in the current discourse are, businesses have already figured it out.

They aren’t going to pander to the racists anymore. They’ll sell racists and fascists beer, or iPhones, or Disneyland trips, or whatever they’re willing to pay money for, but they’re gonna have to pay that money right alongside the Muslims, the queers, women, disabled people, and those assholes are gonna have to play nice, too, because nobody HAS to sell a bigot a beer.

There are a lot more non-bigoted people who want beer and the corporations will go where the money is. The money is in being a better person, at least for now.

So what does this mean? Well, to me it means that we, the compassionate and brave and basically people who are trying to do better, to keep at it. To keep demanding justice, equality, and peace. Aggressively so (which is a challenging thing to bring about when it comes to peace but we’re already keeping one set of competitive thoughts in, what’s one more?).

The fascists always lose, in the end. Let’s make sure it’s sooner rather than later.

It’s a solid stout from Steeplejack; the mouthfeel is pretty creamy, the woody notes are in the nose and the finish, and I’d say it’s a solid companion to the post. Cheers!

Front Porch Chats S2 #20

So….I was sick last week. Stayed home, played a lot of videogames, slept in when I could. Anything happen?

Old Fellowship barleywine from Montavilla brewing, in glass on table outside

I’m on the porch with an Old Fellowship barleywine from Montavilla brewing and it’s a complicated beer. The first nasal impression is one of church wine and let me tell you, if you don’t know what church wine smells like you don’t really want to. Sour and unpleasant but at the same time vinous in the way of red wines, that first whiff leaves a lot to be desired.

It goes away pretty quickly though, leaving the more malty character. That leaves quickly too, though. What’s left is a moderately flavorful beverage: it’s sweetish but more on the caramel/tofffee side. However the finish has a bitterness that feels like it’s compensating for something.

It’s been said that the moral arc of the universe tends towards justice and certainly, I believe we’ve seen some of that start this week.

Feel free to ignore the Chicken Littles who tell you that if it can happen to That Fucking Guy it can happen to YOU.

Yes. If you commit crimes, then you too can (and should!) be prosecuted under the law. That’s what a fair justice system IS, baby.

Considering the conditions the children have to live under, that trans people face daily, that Black and Brown people in America have endured for centuries-horrible examples of which we ALSO saw just this week- I’d say we are long overdue for some of that fairness.

So keep at it, citizens. The country-this planet-is worth fighting for, worth preserving so humans can live on it.

P.S. Fuck Clarence Thomas. Prison isn’t good enough for that corrupt nosecrust of a man, but I’ll accept it.

Front Porch Chats S2 #19

(Musical accompaniment to this post: song I love remixed by a musician I also love. Don’t worry, the post won’t take as long to read as the song)

So, I had a birthday last week. Things looked a bit like this:

10 people in bunny ears at a table.

There is…a lot going on in this picture and there are stories within this story that I could tell-would even enjoy telling honestly.

But, mostly what I feel is humbled, and honored and very grateful.

It is things like this that give me hope that maybe-but by no means certainly-maybe things will work out. For the okayest. Doesn’t have to be the best. But enough that we have a life worth living, just because your friends will show up in bunny ears and a convince 3/4 of a bar to wear them, for no reason, really…

The okayest is worth living for, too.

Occidental's Japanese lager in glass on table outside

Occidental’s Japanese lager on the table today and it is an excellent beer but like most lagers, really wants the most destructive food to join it-from a health perspective. Pizza, nachos, hot dogs, you know: all the things that make life worth it, but you shouldn’t have every day.

Kinda like birthdays.

Front Porch Chats S2 #18

Away Days-Forest Hills IIPA in glass on a table outside.

You lack conviction.”

I have been thinking about this scene a lot this week, specifically as a way to contextualize the recent revelations that Tucker Carlson-a man who is uniquely suited to be both a white nationalist fuckboi and the worst goddamn lay in America-hated Donald Trump.

Sure, he hated Trump because the man was bad for business and in the end, Carlson is the kind of fuckboi who wants to make sure you’ve left the money on the dresser. But nevertheless, after what might only be 10 years human time but is probably two or three lifetimes of RealHuman Ted Cruz’s species, it comes to light that the man that Carlson has spent god knows how much time sucking off is despicable.

Just like every decent person saw.

I honestly wonder what that kind of hate does to a person. Well…I used to. I used to wonder about that because it just wasn’t on such high volume.

But at this point, I get it: hate is all they have because money doesn’t love you back.

And they don’t just hate Blacks, women, and LGBTQ+ people. No. Their hate encompasses everything: the “plebes”, the poor- even, and especially, each other.

As horrific as their hatred is, and the consequences that we are having to hack through like Indiana Jones with a trusty machete, the key to their undoing is always and forevermore locked within them: they hate each other. They have no guiding principle, no belief in each other. “Fuck you, got mine” is the only signal in the sky for them.

Say what you want about people doing the work of compassion, we at least are doing the work that represents our conviction. When push comes to shove, I know I can rely on the people around me to help, in whatever way they can, as much as they can. Not just when things aren’t so great, but also when things are good! We get to be happy, just because the people around us are happy.

That’s a little magical, when you think about it.

Carlson can’t ever say that. And I would feel bad for him and his ilk, but actions do have consequences as they so gleefully and spitefully like to inform us.

So fuck ‘em. They’ll lose, no matter how dire things seem for us.

They lack conviction.

All of these musings come with a Forest Hills IIPA from Away Days. (i didn’t mean to spotlight them two weeks in a row but…) . What I would say I appreciate about this double IPA is that even though it is strong it isn’t cloying, and even though it is hopped well, there’s enough sweetness to keep everything in check.

Pretty dang good.

Finally, I’m taking the rest of the week of. Have fun, be safe, and I’ll see you on Monday.

Front Porch Chats S2 #17

Bucket Hay Bobby barleywine in a pint glass on a table outside

Just look at this Bucket Hay Bobby Barleywine from Away Days. It’s such a rich amber color, while still being almost clear enough to see through.

And while this beer is a toffee bomb: just a rich malt flavor wave, there’s more to it. A subtle hop nose I cannot pin down, and a finish that hints at the kind of flavors a deep red wine might offer. I dare say this beer might go nicely with a piece of chocolate. Away Days probably doesn’t get enough credit in this town, but they’re quietly doing some killer English style ales and doing them deliciously.

Last October, I was at Heavy Blog Is Heavy and caught a preview for a band: Cities Underground. Calling itself ‘cartoon metal’, I was definitely going to check that out. Metal tends to come in two emotional flavors: Rage and Doom. While there’s a looooot you can do with that, it’s nice to get a change up.

And I liked this album, Snicklewharfburger! So I put a pin in it in order to pick the album up when it was released in November-which I did. Except I only got one song off the album; the single. I triple checked the dates, because I don’t like making a fuss when it’s unnecessary but yup: the date the album was released had come and gone and I only got one song.

I email Bandcamp and a few days later they CC me on an email to the artist, letting them know that they hadn’t toggled the ‘release’ button.

Apparently, I was the only one who noticed, because I was the only one who wanted the record. According to the site, I’m still the only one who has purchased it and ever since then I’ve just been thinking about how remarkable it is that I found this piece of art.

Eight billion people and one dude makes an album, puts it out into the universe, and one other dude on the other side of the planet stumbles onto it and goes: Hell yeah, gimme that!

This planet is both very big and very small, and while the odds of someone doing something that another person likes out of eight billion are possible, maybe even probable….they certainly aren’t in favor of the maker when it comes to discovery.

We’re lucky we find things at all, sometimes.

But, also: We do find things, given the genuine opportunity. Our art, our people, our families. Yes, yes, a chunk of our lives are defined by geographic arenas and chance but they are also shaped by dumb luck and an open heart, sometimes.

Our people are out there, our art is out there, and they are worth finding, cherishing, and sharing.

On the flip side: even if we are only here for a little while, it’s worth doing things. You never know who’s going to find them-even if it’s just you finding yourself. But maybe someone will stumble into it, or seek it out, and be so, so glad that you made it. It wasn’t just for you: It was for them, too.

And that’s pretty goddamn cool.

Front Porch Chats S2 #16

When I was a kid-think 6 or 8ish, somewhere in there-I remember looking into the darkest part of my bedroom at night and wishing, with all the fervor of a child, that I could be that. In the dark, unseen. Because then, maybe, things wouldn’t be so bad: if people didn’t notice me, then I couldn’t be picked on or blamed when things went wrong. I did that a lot and of course it came true, just not how I expected.

Bend brewing's Hop Head DIPA in glass on table outside

Today, I am a sad cloud. A sad cloud with a Hop Head double IPA from Bend brewing, which is a well rounded, tropical influenced IPA. I can’t taste the alcohol, despite it being 9%, the hop bitterness isn’t over the top, although the bitterness definitely lingers, and while the tropical fruit qualities are in the nose and somewhat in the body (which has a nice, weighty viscosity to it), nothing is overwhelming.

The reason I am a sad cloud is because it will be my birthday soon and typically my method of asking if people would like to meet for my birthday is just to ask them, or to make a passing remark on social media and if people wanted to come great, and if not, hey no big deal. This year is different. This year, an event has been created.

I did this because people who keep tabs on me via social media kept telling me that they were sorry they missed coming to hang out. I realized that those people did not use social media like I did and maybe I should approach things differently.

So I made an event. All I have to do now is invite people to it.

The trouble is, I would apparently rather cease existence entirely than create the burden of inviting people. Asking people to pay any attention to me at all creates a level of anxiety that I would, quite frankly, rather wink out of reality entirely to avoid a la George Bailey, than do the very simple act of asking people to have a beer with me, because it’s my birthday.

Now, I know that some friends and family read this blog (hi there!) but I want to emphasize this: I don’t need anyone to affirm my existence or tell me that I matter or anything, really at all.

That’s what therapy is for and I promise y’all, I am trying to do that work.

But it does bring me to what I want to discuss today. I talk a lot about how we deserve better and we have to do that work against the exploitative systems (here defined as racism, sexism, capitalism, basically anything that attempts to reduce human beings to either cogs in a machine to make money, sycophants promoting the exploitation, or nothing at all) that are enforced upon us.

However! There is another kind of work worth doing as well-if we deserve better, do we not deserve to be better ourselves?

And that shit is hard, yo. Maybe harder than changing the external forces, because more than anything the internal work can feel lonely and scary. Trying to fix external things, you can at least be scared with people.

I don’t know if I’m going to follow through with the invite. I’ve been wrestling with it for three days now and it isn’t getting any easier. It some ways it’s getting worse; going to the invite, seeing everything set up and how many people are attending: one.

I wish that it didn’t list me, that nobody was attending. This insistence that I exist is troublesome.

But I do and for this moment, this is my work. Ain’t nothing to do but have at it.