PATRICK MCVAY

WRITER

My Musings

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Dust In The Wind

I’m sure you’re wondering how my brewing life is going these days, so let me tell you: it's going tremendously well! Did you know that I’ve been voted “homebrewer most likely to believe he’s going to brew commercially in an old barn?” And no, I don’t own a barn. (Yet!)

But I do own a Grainfather. If you don’t know what one is, would you believe that it’s a new, consumer-level brewing device that enables you to make fantastic beer just by sprinkling magic beer dust into fresh water, and then bottling? Hopefully not, as that would expose your gullibility. I’m told that the technology to concoct magic beer dust is still several years away. Needless to say, I’m working on my own version of magic beer dust in my beer laboratory. I think we can all agree that America can’t be made great again without a drinkable version of instant, powdered beer.

In the meantime, there is the Grainfather, a device that steeps grains to extract sugars and then boils the wort, all in one chamber, before pumping out the precious liquid gold through a chiller and into a fermenter. It’s practically like magic beer dust!

I suppose, actually, that the closest thing we humans have to magic beer dust is dry malt extract, which certainly is dusty, and, when mixed with fresh, clean Quabbin Reservoir water and inoculated with a dose of dry yeast, is magically transformed into beer.

(But the grainfather is still much better).

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This Old Wall

As we Americans proceed with building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, I’m wondering if our wall’s accounting team has included the cost of painting the wall in the estimate we’re providing to Mexico. Needless to say, I hope so. Not only can a coat of paint improve the the look of a barrier wall, it can also help extend the wall’s life. Who wants to spend fifteen to twenty billion dollars on a wall only to see water and sun damage erode it in a couple of short decades? Not me, and certainly not any of the Mexicans whose tax dollars are paying for this wall.

Of course, I don’t know any Mexicans whose tax dollars are paying for any wall. However, I know that Mexicans are a proud people who like their walls to be well-built and colorful, lasting for years in the scorching heat of the US-Mexico border region. Therefore, it’s clear we should plan to paint the wall.

As someone who has painted many walls in my house (none of which Mexico paid a dime for!), I can tell you that the first thing we need to understand is what our wall is going to be made of. No painter in his right mind chooses paint without knowing the substrate onto which he’ll be laying his master strokes. In our case, let’s assume we’re talking about beautiful wall of concrete. Now, between the time when the first section of our 1,000-mile-long beautiful wall is built and we go back to paint it, years will have past, so it’s going to have collected dust, grime, and bullet holes, so I recommend cleaning the wall with a solution of tri-sodium phosphate and some fresh Rio Grande water. Next, concrete can be a little tough to work with, so I recommend scuffing the 1,000-mile long wall with some beautiful 80 to 100 grit sandpaper. This will allow the sealer to adhere better. Once the whole 1,000 mile-long length of beautiful concrete barrier is properly scuffed, you can go ahead and apply your sealer. I recommend sealing with two coats. It’s a lot of work, but using a roller will really help move things along!

Wait a minute, did you forget to clean and scuff up the American side of the wall too? Whether our Mexicans friends can see the American side is immaterial, they still have to pay for us to scrub it, scuff it, seal it, prime it, and paint it. Do you think when the big dig happened in Boston they just left the tunnels bereft of any kind of aesthetic visuals?

Now that you’ve cleaned, scuffed, and sealed both sides of the beautiful and happy 40-foot high barricade, it’s time to get serious and lay a coat of primer on. I recommend tinting your primer to match the main coat’s color and allow for a single overcoat to be applied.

Which brings us to the most important question of all: what color should we paint our wall? Not to open up a can of worms, but shouldn’t one of us offer Mexico some color swatches to choose from?

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Remember, Woman

Over the several middle years of my life, during which I still sometimes identified as Catholic, it was fairly common for me to be interrogated on the streets, in bars, at work, etc., by people who’d pull me aside to say, behind a cupped hand, “Dude, you got something on your forehead.”

It was like my fly was down and I was about to meet the Queen of England. In reality, it was just Ash Wednesday and a priest had smeared the burnt remnants of palm fronds on my forehead.

I grew up in East Syracuse, NY, and if you didn’t have a gray-black cross of ash on your forehead you weren’t anybody. Everyone was Catholic, unless you had inadvertently stumbled into the neighborhood. There were no such things as Muslims back then. Instead, we had “Moslems.” Or, more likely, Arabs who were Christian, like the Gabriels across the street, and their cousins the Kamaars, not to mention my half-Irish, half-Lebanese cousins a few miles away – among the best people I’ve ever known.

Now I see people with ash on their foreheads and I wonder how many of them are secretively advised to go look at themselves in mirrors so that they don’t walk around looking like Cinderella, or Bert in Mary Poppins. Most of the people who take the brunt of such ignorant man-on-the-street counsel are the early morning mass-attenders; evening supplicants get less attention, as non-Catholic friends have figured it all out by six or seven at night.

But they will forget again next year, and will once again quietly make little “wipe your forehead” gestures to their office colleagues from across the conference room during 9 a.m. admin meetings.

Remember, man, that you are dust, and unto dust you shall return. Rare, true words spoken by the Catholic Church.

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Black Joe

You may not believe this, but I’m currently riding a huge emotional high. As I’m well-known for having a gloomy demeanor, to find me walking with a spring in my step must be jarring for the American public. If I’ve taken my fellow citizens out of their comfort level, I apologize. It’s just what happens to me when I see a great rock show.

The obvious question is, what show could possibly have changed my normally dour disposition, even in these trying days of political assininity? The answer is Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears. (But you knew that!)

First of all, how am I able to see this band for just $17? Does Black Joe have a benefactor or something, allowing people like me to see the show at a steep discount? If not, the ticket price makes no economic sense. I can do almost nothing else in the world for $17, but somehow I’m able to see this great soul/funk band tear it up in the small Middle East club in Cambridge, MA, on the corner of Mass Ave and Brookline Street, where so much great music comes and goes. Since I may be the last person on earth who actually buys physical copies of albums, I don’t think they are making much money from CD or record sales. So what gives?

My friend Tim says bands like this are licensing their work. I suppose. But can they possibly earn enough to make ends meet in this extra large band that Black Joe totes around? I believe there were six Honeybears on stage with him on Friday night, blowing into horns, banging and strumming and so forth. That’s a lot of sweaty guys to put into hotels, feed, and drive around, all because of licensing deals and $17 a ticket in a venue that holds about 350 people.

I’m sure you’re expecting me to review the show in detail, but that would be a waste of your time. All you need to know is that I give it such a huge thumbs up that I’m going to demand that Howard go to Blackjoelewis.com, select the “shows” page, and then buy a low-priced ticket to see the band in Minneapolis. That way, he can finally see them do “I’m Broke” live and in person.

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The New Look, Feel, and Smell

Suddenly, just when you were finally getting comfortable with my website, I go and reorganize information into 3 columns instead of just two, add links to other sites (right hand column, scroll down a bit), and install a tag cloud (just below it) that's claims to be unused. Why?! “The next thing you know he’ll be running ads!” Read On

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