Saturday, August 30, 2008

Wyatt Earp, NOML Hall of Famer

The votes have been cast, the results tallied, the hanging chads carefully scrutinized one by one. You, the McBoners, have spoken, and today we enshrine one of the great moustaches ever to hitch a team, deal a card, or pistol-whip a ne'er-do-well.

Wyatt Earp (1848-1929) was a true renaissance man of the Wild West. Lawman, gunfighter, gambler, teamster, farmer, miner, occasional boxing referee, his travels took him from Kansas to Alaska to California. He counted legendary gunfighters Doc Holliday and Bat Masterson as his friends, and he lived with an opium-swilling prostitute whom he ditched for an actress. Countless books and movies have been made about him and his exploits in the untamed frontier towns of the west.

Above all, the world remembers Earp and his brothers for the famous gunfight at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona, but what would Earp have amounted to without his trusty moustache? Don't think it would have made a difference? Think again. The McBone investigative team unearthed this rare photo of a clean-shaven Wyatt Earp from his early days as a lawman:

Needless to say, he was run out of town. Thankfully for him and the town of Tombstone, Earp had long put away his razor when he took on Ike Clanton and his cowboy gang of thugs in October of 1881. Months later, Earp, his moustache and his posse would embark on his immortal vendetta ride, in which he avenged the murder of his brother Morgan by killing four more members of the ruthless cowboy gang.

Today we honor Wyatt Earp as the newest member of the Northern Ohio Moustache League Hall of Fame. Like any NOML Hall of Famer, Wyatt Earp's moustache both defined and transcended an era. Long, lush, well-maintained but not without an unruly side, Earp's moustache was a worthy reflection of the man who grew it. He and his facial hair left an indelible mark on the history of this country, and for that he will live forever in the halls of moustache excellence.

Visit Wyatt Earp and the other 10 inductees at the NOML Moustache Hall of Fame.


Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The McBone Beer Journal: Upland Wheat Ale

I was browsing the beer section* of our local Kroger the other day, trying to see beyond the endless supply of crap domestic macros, when, for a moment, the dark clouds parted. Wedged in among those behemoth 24 packs of Busch and Bud and Blatz were a few lonely six packs. How quaint they looked, and how overmatched. My heart sang an little, aching lament.

One in particular caught my eye, a wheat ale crafted in Bloomington, Indiana by the Upland Brewing Company--a worthy enough sounding prospect. Since Alex and I recently relocated to the Hoosier state I thought it appropriate to open this journal with my first authentic Indianan microbrew. I forgave the uninspired label and grabbed a sixer. The box touted the beer as a "classic rendition of the Belgian Wit Beer." Upland's wheat, according to the label, was a gold medal winner in the 2002 Great American Beer Fest in the category of Herb and Spice Beer. I gladly plopped $8.50 down for six bottles.

I was excited, yes, but also wary. I love a good wheat beer, and I love a good microbrew, but the combination of the two is quite often unsatisfactory. Nearly all well-established small breweries offer some form of wheat beer nowadays, be it a Belgian white or German Hefeweizen, and I marvel that a brewery can craft an array of wonderful beers and then fall so short in the category of wheat. A good Belgian wheat, or white, is a complex blend of herbs and spices and should explode with manifold flavors in the mouth. Still, so many American breweries produce what amounts to an insipid travesty of what Belgian monks perfected in the middle ages, or else we're treated to some obnoxious, typically American sort of Wildberry Wheat X-treme!!! When did beer begin to resemble breakfast cereal in this country? Personally, I think the monks had it right. What a little solitude and prayer can do for malted grain.

Anyway, I'm supposed to be talking about Upland Brewing Co. here and its own take on wheat ale. Now, with any wheat beer I first look for a healthy layer of yeast at the bottom of the bottle. Wheat beer should be cloudy, not clear. This is critical, because unfiltered yeast is where much of the flavor comes from, and what's more depressing than a clear and tasteless wheat? Nothing actually, and to my delight, Upland's Wheat Ale passed that first test with top marks. I trembled with excitement when I poured the ale and saw its color--a lovely honey-like golden orange. The head fizzed up and quickly vanished. Elation set in, but it was not to last. I took a whiff and there met my first disappointment. Instead of an otherworldly fragrance typical of the best wheats, my nostrils detected something citrusy and weak. I braced for heartbreak and raised the glass.

My worst fears were realized with the first sip. Lemon, of all things, dominated from first to last. While by no means bland, my tongue sought complexities that simply weren't there. Where were the herbs? Where the spices? All I found was a slight smack of alcohol and lots of lemon, which came and went and left no real impression. Even the aftertaste was hardly discernible. This was a beer without depth, without soul. You wouldn't sit down with a friend and discuss the work of James Ensor over an Upland Wheat Ale. This is the kind of beer that you drink--nay, quaff--after mowing the lawn. I was horrified to learn on the company's website that, in their tasting room, the wheat ale is served with a wedge of orange. Orange! The last thing this beer needs is more citrus. I mean, is this beer or Five Alive?

In short, Upland Brewing's Wheat Ale raises high your hopes but in the end is little more than a refreshing summer ale. Will I try the other beers that comprise their product line? Naturally, but, sadly I cannot in good conscience recommend the wheat ale.

Official McBone Rating: 2.0 McBones.


* As Purdue's school year approached, I found it funny that Kroger created massive displays of student essentials--dorm carpets, mini fridges, and cheap domestic beer.

Monday, August 25, 2008

So, I Guess the Pigeon Never Made It

Joe Biden. What an obvious and disappointing candidate for vice president he is. I mean, I get it. Obama clearly wanted to answer his critics by addressing his so-called weaknesses. One knock we keep hearing is that, with a mere two terms in the Senate under his belt, Obama is too inexperienced to hold the highest office in the land. Well, Joe Biden sure has experience; he's been a senator since 1912, when he won his seat from incumbent Anatole Stanko. Another one is that Obama is particularly weak on foreign policy. Foreign policy happens to be one of Joe Biden's true strengths. After all, we're bombing the shit out of Iraq at least in part because of his vote to go to war. You don't get to be chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee for nothing.

Seriously though. While the choice of Joe Biden doesn't make me want to do somersaults, I'm not projectile vomiting, either. I guess Obama thought it prudent to hire a gray-haired insider to secure the vote of those who feel more comfortable with, well, a gray-haired insider.

Anyway, the point is: Joe Biden was never McBone's choice for VP. The following is a list of five candidates that McBone submitted to the Obama campaign back in June via carrier pigeon. I can only assume the pigeon didn't make it. I was going to email him too, but then Grand Theft Auto came out and, well, you know...

Here's the list!

1. Jimmy Carter

While I can't take credit for creation of the Obama/Carter ticket, it certainly had McBone's full endorsement. I mean, if you have to have an aged white male living at One Observatory Circle, why not make him a Nobel Prize-winning champion of peace and equality? Jimmy Carter is Dick Cheney's diametric opposite, which is exactly what the world needs right now.

2. Mike Gravel.

Or how about a non Nobel Prize-winning champion of peace and equality? Am I beating a dead horse with this Mike Gravel thing? I dunno. When a guy comes right out and says in a debate that the military industrial complex controls our government, I have to applaud. And agree. Because it's true.

3. Iron Man.

You wanna get tough on foreign policy? You wanna find Osama bin Laden? You wanna end the war on terror right now? Here's your man. Tony Stark would fly right into those mountains on the Afghan-Pakistani border and nail bin Laden and all of his Taliban thugs and still make it back in time to pose for the cover of GQ. Sure, you'd have to put up with the occasional sex scandal, but what the hell? It worked for Bill Clinton. Who also posed for GQ, and has many suits--one of them is probably made of iron.

4. Amazing Larry.

If you don't know who Amazing Larry is, then you need to watch Pee-wee's Big Adventure right now. And shame on you. Watch it, and I think you'll agree--Amazing Larry would live up to his name in the office of vice president.

5. This chick* we saw at the fair at Sheffield Lake.

We don't know who she is or what she does for a living or, actually, what we were doing at the fair at Sheffield Lake. We aren't sure what her views are on foreign policy, or if she has any views on foreign policy, or if she even knows what foreign policy is. I do know we were all strangely captivated by her, so much that our friends Craig and Jessica snapped this furtive picture. No doubt she would captivate the voting public, too. Have you ever seen four people simultaneously fall in love with someone? I swear it happened on that hot summer day when this chick wandered toward us and got in line for a funnel cake. Where are you, oh Sheffield Lake girl of our dreams? Where are you when your nation needs you most?

So there you have it. Any of the five, I am convinced, would have been a fine choice for VP. A better choice than Joe Biden, you ask? Time will tell, but I'm inclined to say, yeah, probably.


*McBone objects to the use of the word "chick" to describe a woman, but we feel that in certain rare cases, it applies.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

McBone Welcomes...

Our friend Nikki Widner is one of the coolest people I've ever known. In fact, she's so cool that I often feel awed by her sheer, unadulterated and 100% natural coolness. And that's just the thing--she's not one of these people who tries to be cool. No sir, Nikki's coolness is inherent and pure, flowing from her in effortless waves. When I met her way back in my college days at Ohio University, the first thing I noticed was how cool she was--and that she was kissing my girlfriend. Initially I thought she was probably a little too cool for the likes of me, but she didn't hold my lack of coolness against me. When fate brought Nikki and Alex to Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado, Nikki was cooler than ever, and we picked up right where we left off, minus the kissing.

Alex and I are proud to have one of Nikki's photos hanging on our wall. Like all truly cool people, Nikki is an artist. She's also a mother, wife, cook, world traveler, publisher, writer and, happily, a blogger. Please read her blog, art and lemons, a lovingly written page dedicated to film, food, photos, stories and travel. McBone promises you will not be disappointed.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Parents--Not All Bad

Like many people, I have issues, a great weight of baggage that I carry around like some two hundred pound sack of misery. Who's to blame for my 32 years of frustration and disappointment? My parents of course, but I'm not using this space to complain. I'm above cataloging for you here the many ways in which my folks have screwed me up, and I don't want to bore you with some long, detailed list that would take me weeks, if not months, to compile. Anyway, that's what I'm paying my shrink for, right?

No, I'm writing this post from a sense of obligation, because, truth be told, my parents are not all bad. Hell, I'm a grown up now. I like to think I've acquired some measure of maturity along the way and perhaps a dab of wisdom too. I can look past the years of intimidation, negligence, pettiness, alcoholism and spite and focus purely on the positive. So what if there are lingering memories of public humiliation? So what if their preferred method of parenting often included a leather belt and a stream of expletives? No one said being a mom and a dad was easy, and God knows there isn't any formula. I'm sure we were a handful!

Dad, we've had our differences in life to be sure, but I can look back now and smile at the experiences we've shared. How many times did I throw a blanket over you when you'd fallen asleep in that greasy, infected La-Z-Boy? I'd clear away your empties and the pile of spent lottery tickets and tuck you in. Often a thick white froth of spittle had formed on your moustache. I'd wipe it away so gently, knowing that to wake you could result in a costly trip to the dentist.

And mom, I can never forget your special meatloaf--crisp and black on the outside, raw in the middle, and always garnished with the ash of a Virginia Slim. You'd tell me to shut up and eat and forget about the taste, and I did my best to choke it down. I know when you slammed the bottle of ketchup on the table that you were just making sure we got our vegetables for the day.

Looking back, you guys were much more loving than I gave you credit for. I know now when you kicked my "no-good sissy of a brother" out of the house at 14 that it was for his own good. He's been going to church and seems really happy with his third wife. His pastor says that lots of young boys experiment, so I'm sure that whole thing was just a phase. I've been telling him to give you two a call, but you know how stubborn he can be. Don't worry, he'll come around. I can tell when he says things like "I have no parents," that he doesn't really mean it. What a drama queen!

There are other things too, like the Chuck E. Cheese's that Dad got us kicked out of, and my high school graduation, which Dad also got us kicked out of. All that seemed embarrassing at the time, but I just laugh about it now and cherish the fact that we made these memories together as a family.

So, thanks for raising me, Mom and Dad, at least when Grandma and Grandpa weren't. I can't pretend that it was always smooth sailing at the Bowler household, but at least I always had a roof over my head and a few square meals every week.



Pictured above: Mom and Dad putting me out on my ear, ca. 1993

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

What Happened to McBone?

Have you ever been stuck? In a rut? Spinning your wheels, as it were? Boy, I sure am. Perhaps you've noticed that McBone hasn't been itself lately. Well, due to our relocation to Indiana and a trip to New York, I've been a bit tied up lately. Now that I'm back, I can't quite seem to find that good old, down-home, extra-chewy McBone goodness on which you've all grown to depend. Like heroin, McBone is addictive. Unlike heroin, we're nutritious too, and since our inception way back in 2007, we've tried to sprinkle a little McBone everywhere and on everything. Remember wheat germ? That's us.

I guess what I'm trying to say is: I'm sorry. Like any good dealer, I've carefully nurtured your dependency. What you didn't expect was to be suddenly cut off from your supply. I imagine that the last month or so must have been a bit like going cold turkey. Oh, the suffering you've surely endured--sweats, shakes, nausea, long nights of sleepless terror.

Well, I may be down, but I'm not out. I'm willing to make some lifestyle changes in order to bring you, my dear McBoners, a more satisfactory McBone experience every time you log on. Here are a few measures I am already taking:

Binge drinking









And whatever else it takes, McBoners, I'll do. I promise I'll find the inspiration that has made McBone the number one anti-mayonnaise, pro-Cleveland blog in the sphere. You have my official McBone Guarantee.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Cavs Acquire Mo Williams!

All right, I know. I've been making some wild predictions lately about how my teams will perform, and almost all of them have proved absolutely and utterly wrong. Most of you McBoners probably remember how I looked into the crystal ball last summer and saw the Browns winning 4 games. You'll also recall how foolish they proved me by winning 10. The Cavs disappointed me by winning 45 games during a fitful season in which I had them notching 55 and making the NBA Finals for a second consecutive year. Then there's the Indians. Everyone knows I chose them to win the World Series, even though I myself have long proclaimed they will never win a title while the abominable Chief Wahoo adorns their uniforms. World Series rings all around? Try 70 wins, a mid-summer salary dump and a good, long look at the hapless Andy Marte.

So, when I'm wrong, I'm really wrong. You'd think common sense would tell me to sober up and shut my mouth, right? Not gonna happen. The Cavaliers won't begin their new campaign until November, and until yesterday it would have been generous to call their summer uneventful. A signing here, an ongoing negotiation there, but nothing much to get the juices flowing. All that changed yesterday when I got a call from my brother. There I was, at the Indiana State Fair, watching the celebrity log sawing contest (Miss Indiana herself was a participant) when my phone started to vibrate. Here's a snippet:

Jeff: What are you doing?

Me: Watching Miss Indiana saw a log. This better be good.

Jeff: So, you haven't heard?

Me: Heard what?

Jeff: The Cavs just acquired Maurice Williams for Damon Jones and Joe Smith!

I could have kissed Miss Indiana right then and there. Not only had my Cavaliers acquired a standout point guard to run with LeBron James, the type of high octane, scoring guard they've needed for 5 seasons, but we got him for the equivalent of a sack of beans. Actually, I should say we got him for Joe Smith and a sack of beans, because Smith is a hell of a player.

Now, I spent a lot of time hating Mo Williams the last few years because he absolutely torched the Cavs every time he played them. Does this deal get the McBone Seal of Approval? Hell yes: McB. Williams' lights-out shooting and his nightly line of 17-7-3 will finally kick start an offense that has long needed another big-time ballhandler and scoring threat to take some pressure off of LBJ. I absolutely LOVE Mo Williams.

So, here we go, McBoners. Even though I don't think the Cavs' summer is quite over, I do believe the following to be true: The Cavaliers will win 60 games and crush their playoff foes en route to their first NBA Championship. Just remember where you heard it first. Now, let's get these damned Olympics over with and let the season begin!

Go Cavs!


PS: kb, you and your Sox are welcome to Paul Byrd. Hell of a likable pitcher.

Monday, August 11, 2008

The Cardier Kids Always Destroy Our Cameras

Generally speaking, I feel blessed to have the brothers-in-law that life has dealt me. In-laws as a rule can be a nightmare of bickering and resentment. Not so with mine. Eduardo and Gustavo Cardier have been like brothers to me from the moment we met. However, when it comes to cameras, they're a downright curse. Allow me illustrate a few examples, and I think you'll agree.

December, 2004, Club Puerto Azul, Venezuela

As recently as 2004, Alex and I recorded our memories the old fashioned way--with a non-digital camera. Often we were mocked for clinging to the old ways, but we loved our little apparatus, a worthy Canon that had gone with me on my first transcontinental foray--a study-abroad in Austria in 1997. Back then you had 32 pictures per roll and you took every shot as though it were your last. Well, the Canon took its last shot during, of all things, a game of miniature golf, not in Austria, but at the Club Puerto Azul in Venezuela. My beloved cuñado, Gustavo, then a wily eight-year-old, was growing bored with the game. Instead of putting from the tee of the 15th hole, he took a full and mighty swing. I, unsuspecting, with camera dangling from neck, was standing all too close. Gustavo's follow-through hit the Canon squarely, dashing it to oblivion forever. Hardly contrite, he cackled with glee at seeing the fairway littered with the shattered ruins of my first camera.

December, 2005, Madrid, Spain

A digital replacement for the Canon was procured for our relocation to France, but it was in Spain that our latest camera, a Panasonic with a Lumix lens (recommended personally by the preeminent photographer, Spencer Tunick) was to meet its fate. We had ventured south to pick up Eduardo in Madrid, so that he might fulfill a longtime dream of seeing the Futbol Club Real Madrid play live and in person. We met him at the airport and at once handed over the camera, knowing he would want to document this life-changing trip to Europe. After fetching his baggage, we descended into the subway. As we entered the train, a pack of Gypsies, in the guise of ordinary passengers, surrounded us. Not fooled, I turned to face them, determined to protect my camera and family from this band of ruthless thieves. Alas, we were outnumbered and my efforts were in vain. One of them, a young woman, plucked our Panasonic from Eduardo's backpack and made her escape. The subway doors closed, but it was not over yet. I pried them open again and leaped to the platform, snagging the Gypsy by her scarf. Alex, meanwhile, fanned Eduardo, who had fainted in the chaos. While I tussled with this hellcat of a Gypsy, she tossed the camera to another, a moustachioed co-conspirator. A security guard separated me from the girl as her accomplice raced to the exit. I pulled the guard's pistol from his holster and fired three shots, the last of which I'm sure grazed the Gypsy's thigh. I was not shooting to kill, only to disable. Regrettably, I was tackled now by a team of security personnel and the weapon was wrested from me as the Gypsy limped to freedom. No doubt I would have been arrested, but I explained our plight and the guards drew a map to the nearest Corte Ingles electronics store, where we bought an identical replacement.

August, 2008, Amagansett, New York

No golf club or Gypsy was to do in our next camera, but the treacherous sea. Our second Panasonic served us well in the interval between Cardier visits. Unfortunately it was Gustavo's turn to come and see us, this time in the USA. We picked him up in Chicago without incident, then drove to Ohio and New York, where we frolicked in the city, snapping photos to our hearts' content. Soon, a week had passed, and we went further east, to Amagansett on Long Island. Feeling more confident, too confident perhaps, Alex and Gustavo brought the Panasonic down to the beach. At that moment, a dusky shape appeared on the horizon, tattered sails held up by a half-rotten mast. The sun ducked behind a bank of clouds and glimpsed what I had feared--the Jolly Roger boldly fluttering in the wind.

Pirates! Already the swarthy crew was rowing to the shore, swords drawn and thirsting for blood. Naturally, my first instinct was to protect the camera, but Gustavo, ever the free-spirited rapscallion, had already snatched it from Alex's hand was dashing into the surf. I could see it by the wild look in his eyes: a pirate's life was what he wanted, and he meant to record his adventures in crisp digital images.

I was having none of that, not with our camera anyway. I plunged in after him and snatched the camera as I was surrounded by cutlass-wielding cutthroats, all demanding I hand over the "booty" that was our Panasonic. Instead I threw it toward the shore, toward Alex, though I knew her chances of catching it were slim. And catch it she didn't. It bobbled in her hands and fell softly into the sand. Soon a gentle surf washed over its black carapace and I moaned a lament.

Quickly I gathered my senses. I was surrounded, armed only with a bit of driftwood I had picked up from the beach, a feeble weapon in the face of so much flashing steel. The shallows of the Atlantic was to be my watery grave. The pirates leered and laughed and were about to run me through when cannonfire sounded. I was saved. A royal ship full of redcoats chased the scurvy dogs back to their wreck of a boat. I snatched my brother in law, gave him a Dutch rub as punishment, and dragged him ashore. Alex was waiting there, shaking the camera in dismay.

This thing's screwed, she said, shooting her brother a dirty look that said: and screw you too!

So there you have it, McBoners. The sad tale of our cameras, but I do not finish without a ray of light. The Panasonic is in the shop, and we've purchased an inexpensive Kodak to be used by Gustavo for the rest of his trip and for any other encounters with those darn Cardiers!

Camera statistics in the Cardier era:

Number of our cameras used: 4

Number of our cameras ruined: 3

Total dollars lost: untold millions

Pictured above: Alex with camera-destroying brothers Gustavo (left) and Eduardo Cardier