Monday, October 29, 2007

beer and philosophy

Well, all good things must come to an end and this blog is one of them. It saddens me to think how this is one of the very last posts on this blog (not THE last, but we're getting close, so don't stop checking in quite yet).

Fuck it.

The king is dead. Long live the king.

Like a phoenix rising from the smoldering ashes, will soar triumphantly over the interwebs for many more years to come. I bought the domain. I even posted something over there. Check it out. Maybe a month from now? Six weeks at the most? Prepare yourself people. Prepare yourself.

In the meantime, life must go on. And it went on in a big way for me today. I rarely check my mailbox in the department here. Mostly academic press catalogs, bulletins from various offices on campus, ethical guidelines for instructors of scantly clad undergrads. You know, the typical stuff. But today, today there was something special waiting for me when I arrived. Beer and Philosophy went to press, into the mail, and arrived in my box sometime in the last week. I wouldn't have checked my mail today either if it hadn't been for post on A Good Beer Blog about Beer and Philosophy's release.

Remember when I said I wrote a chapter for this fine book? It's pretty cool to see my name in print with the likes of Garrett Oliver, Sam Calagione, Peter Machamer, and the late Michael Jackson. Yeah, I wish I had more time to write the chapter, it was a bit of a rush job, but I guess it turned out OK. If you're interested in beer or philosophy you should probably pick it up. It's cheap. Only $13 on Amazon. I haven't read anything except Michael Jackson's foreword, but some of the chapters look very promising. Neil Manson's chapter on The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Beer look great (it's a dialog) as does Dale Jacquette's on authenticity and the aesthetics of the brewer's art. These two just caught my eye. I'm sure the other's are great too.

Click both for bigger.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

indiana autumntime smallmouth

My parents arrived on Friday and we dined together and my brother and I drank half yards of Guinness at the Irish Lion. Then we played Contra on his laptop until midnight and drank Wild Turkey Rye. The following day we went to the IU-Penn State football contest where the boys from Happy Valley squeaked one out with the help of four IU fumbles. We tailgated the hell out of that game. Mom and dad rented an RV and everything.

It was good to see them. I'm just starting to realize that my family is funny. Not weird funny, but comical funny. Not goofy comical, but comedically comical. You know, they make good jokes. Here is a good picture of my mom "cannonballing" jungle juice with some other Penn State fans at the tailgate (my father laughing in the background). It's 10:30am. Click for bigger.

I awoke at 7:30am this morning to see them off. The box on wheels literally lumbers down Maxwell into the rising sun. It's early. Might as well go fishing.

8am I'm out the door, heading west on a deserted Sunday autumn morning through Spencer and onto Gosport to try for another beautiful bass. The air is crisp and cool, the sky clear like it doesn't exist, the sharp angle of the sun slices through the void like soft lasers. The West Fork of the White River is big water. And it flows almost exclusively through farmland, for over one hundred miles before Gosport. It was a bit muddy. We got heavy rains on Thursday.

I fished it anyway. But didn't catch nothin'. There are big fish in there. I know it. I will catch one.

This is what happens when you aren't catching fish. As for those of you who haven't seen me since oh, about June, this is what my face now looks like. I guess I do need to trim it up a bit. Although I think a full beard will be something I emphasize in my MIP2K7 speech. Click all for bigger.

I packed it up after about an hour and headed back towards Bloomington and down 37 to Ketchum Road and Clear Creek which is much smaller and had probably cleared by now. It was also during this drive that I heard Robert Plant and Alison Krauss signing together. Apparently they have made an entire album? I will have to purchase it. The song was good.

I've developed a bit of a bond with Clear Creek. Fished it probably fifteen times and I know how it smells and it looks and where to walk and where the fish are. And it was a very pretty little creek today. Click for bigger.

And had a very good day today. I didn't catch any huge fish. I got my big fish on Wednesday. Today I caught a lot of decent sized creek smallies and it pretty much ruled. The fish were really quite pretty (for bass). Not the dull olive-yellow color I've seen there before. They were killing the little Clousers. As far as colors go chartreuse worked the best but I lost the only two I had to rocks. The "weedless" design with the dumbbell eyes is great and all, but those eyes get caught in rocks pretty easily. Caught a couple on orange and fire tiger as well. They didn't seem interested in olive. I picked up fish in deep holes, smaller holes, riffles, wide flat sections, everywhere. I was finally thrilled to be fishing in Indiana. Click all for bigger.

I'm holding a beautiful bass like a trout! Holy shit!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

out damn skunk!

There are so many things I want to post here, Pennsylvania's performance at the Great American Beer Festival, the recent bear attacks in Pennsylvania, other ways in which Pennsylvania is the best state etc.

But I went fishing tonight instead.

And caught a fish.

Lord have mercy. I cried. Loudly. Last week. With Michael. When I caught no Steelhead, when I caught no Chinook, no Coho on Trail Creek. Fourteen hours of fishing effort. Slogging up and down the muddy creek bank boulevards. Casting and casting. Driving and Driving. And Mike had to drive back to Missouri on Sunday.

Despite the fact that no fish were caught, over all I'd say the trip was a success. Further scouting of the creeks, familiarizing myself with the highways and byways of Porter County. Eating chicken and butter and ham and potatoes and butter and onions cooked in tin foil on the coals with Mike Pell and bottles of Marzenbier and Wild Turkey Rye around the fire? Good times.

Despite loud people in the next campsite.


I start awake with mad face. Sneering in my dreams. Alcohol is prohibited in the National Lakeshore buddy, I'll call the goddamn security presence down on your ass unless you shut your fucking trap. Piece of shit.

"Who you callin' piece of shit? Piece of shit."

"I'm callin' you a piece a shit. It's 3:30 in the am and we have to wake up in less than three hours to catch the salmon. I mean, dude, cut us some slack."

"Um, yeah, sorry about dat dude. Wer gonna, ah, go on over ta da, ta my buddies site, ova dare by da, by da thing, the dumpsta."



Here's Mike above a really good hole on Trail Creek were the river narrow and deepens and all the fish have to come through here. We saw somebody hook up with a fish in this hole on Saturday, and saw several large fish move through and hold there, we put everything we had right over their noses. Several times. Nothing. But this creepy picture. Click for bigger.

Saw these guy's fish flopping in the water and I yelled at Pell, "I see a fish! It's freakin' out!" They claimed to have hooked these fish on spoons. Big spoons. They had incredible Chicagoland accents. Really incredible accents. I can't even begin to come up with a homonym. The one guy said "spoons" in a very cool way. I'll just put it like that. Click for bigger. (note purple plastic sled in background)

After we passed these guys we came upon an older couple fishing the absolute hell out of a hole much like the one we were at earlier. The dude had like three rods out, supported by sticks, and one in his hand. His wife was standing at the head of the run flingin' spinners into the hole, methodically. Again and again and again. These people accused those damn kids of snaggin' them fish. "You don't catch two like that one right after the other. They snagged 'em in the face." I really don't know. The fish weren't cut and battered looking. Looked Quite clean actually.

And the Pell again. Click for bigger.

So we got skunked. We had a good time though. However I was a little concerned that some of Mike Pell's skunk streak wore off on me. It came up a few times. "Skunk streak this, skunk streak that. Put a glow stick in a bottle and shot it with a pellet gun, skunk streak, skunk streak." Like that it came up. It was weird. You're right.

But no matter, for I have caught a fine bass tonight! And I think I'll be ok until next week.

I decided to try a new spot because all I hear about Indiana is that it has great bass fishing. I've caught a few decent fish down at Clear Creek, but there are other rivers around that are known to be better smallmouth fisheries, like Sugar Creek, Blue River, and the West Fork of the White River, which happens to be the closest to me.

Thirty minutes past five and I've arrived. Gosport. Public Access. This river is large. I thrash about the brush trying to hike up the far side which is more clearly not somebody's property. But the fishing sucks there. Way too deep. Can't wade out in it. So I grow a set and walk back across the old bridge and down through more jaggers and out into a rocky section only one to two feet deep. Eight or ten huge carp stacked up about twenty feet out, I could see them from the bridge. They created quite a wake, hoovering the silt and slim off the rocks. Really quite active. Black and pink and shiny from above like some elegant mahogany koi. Much paler down here. And bigger.

I cast at them for while with nothing to show for it. I caught a carp this summer on a Clouser in New Mexico, so maybe. But no. I tied on a popper and cast it about, slurp, slurp. Slurp, slurp. Missed one fished. Couldn't tell how big it was. Cast it about some more. Nothing.

Tie on the small Clouser again. These are Clousers. I tied a shit ton of them for Wipers about a month ago. But then I never went fishing for Wipers. Click for bigger.

This time I pick up two small bass on two consecutive casts. These were quite small, about five inches. But things were picking up I could tell. It was getting fairly dark and the clouds to the west and north were menacing. Possibly tornadoes tomorrow. Nobody comes to class when there's a tornado warning.

But I start to notice more fish feeding on the surface. Probably a hatch of some sort, but all my dry flies are back in the car so I tie on the popper again but get no looks for ten minutes. It's pretty much dark now, low glow orange hum on the horizon. So I tie the little Clouser back on, begin false casting and strip gobs of line off at a time until the cast is difficult to handle, maybe sixty feet for me. I haul on the back cast and haul on the forward cast and shoot the last few feet of line out, just into the deeper water at ten o'clock. I strip the line in fairly fast and regularly so as not to hang up on the rocks. About half way back and a strong bass made a big take pulled line from my reel for five minutes before I grabbed his lip and held him up for this picture. Click for bigger.

And this one. Which I call, "Fat Pink Hand with fish." Click for bigger.

Well look at that? An all "click for bigger" post. Astounding. I don't know how he does it.

Also, I think you should check out this website, er, magazine. It's called This is Fly. I'm not so keen on the beer reviews, but read this article. It's pretty good. A great website. Smart, easy, aesthetically appealing with the great Flash (?) turn-the-pages thing. Incredible photography. Perhaps a bit too hip in general, but they do have an eye for design.

It's raining hard now. It's supposed to continue for some time. Several days perhaps. Flush out Trail Creek, waft the scent of home to Steelhead in the lake. I'll be back. Hopefully in ten days.

Monday, October 15, 2007


The 4-H has an online Flash game they call Horseland where players breed and raise their own show horses. It's somehow affiliated with a kids show on CBS called KEWLopolis. The basic membership is free, but only with the premium membership can you "own stables and host shows. They also get a larger allowance of play money each week." Horseland is "easy to learn, but you can play it for years."

The internet continues to blow my mind.

Unfortunately, after trying the game myself, I have to say it sucks. The only fancy pants Flash animation was on the first page. After that it's really pretty crappy. Lots of people playing though it seemed. Over 12,000 registered American Mustangs.

So anyway, what brings me to this delightful Interwebs crossroad is that I was trying to find out, for whatever reason (none of your business), about 4-H, the organization that I thought was exclusively about kids raising farm animals. Never doubted it, like P or not-P. 4-H = kids and farm animals. Maybe the Harrisburg Farm Show too.

I went to their site (the National 4-H Council) and there is virtually nothing at all about farming. From their PDF document "an overview of 4-H today" in the About Us section: "4-H has three primary program areas: science, engineering and technology; healthy living; and citizenship. Youth learn leadership, citizenship and life skills through more than 1,000 projects with topics as varied as rocketry, GPS mapping, DNA analysis, public speaking, photography, nutrition and community service."

Where's farming?

You can kind of guess that 4-H is involved in agriculture by the list of companies that sponsor it: Carhart, John Deere, Monsanto, ATV Safety Institute, and The Farm Credit System Foundation. But the list also includes: The Annie E. Casey Foundation, New York Life, Met Life, Toyota, and JC Penney.

If you look very carefully in the Programs area of the site in the Science, Engineering, and Technology section, there is a small pie chart that is rather difficult to read which says that 41% of 4-H youth participate in Animal Science, 11% in Agriculture, and 13% in Plant Science. The others participate in Engineering, Technology, and Other Sciences (16%) and Environmental Science (19%). But they point out in a tiny footnote that members often participate in more than one project. So really it could be that almost every single person in 4-H does Animal Science (read: birthing cows) and ALSO have participated in at least on other project in one other area.

Anyway, I think they're trying to hip it up a little over at 4-H and I think it's kind of silly to hide all the slimy lambings and brutal slaughters behind Science and Technology. I don't think it's dishonest though (perhaps not mentioning farming in the "overview" when 65% of 4-H members do it might be dishonest), but 4-H folks know a lot of science and they are probably more likely to go onto careers in science or technology.

I mean, check out this incredibly charming webpage about raising sheep from the UC Irvine 4-H farm. Very cute, like a kid wrote it, from the Why Raising a Sheep is Fun section: "walking a lamb every day after school can be relaxing" and "Wet sheep smell like wet wool." Followed by explosions of science: "Watch for the afterbirth. You can discard it right away or let the ewe eat it. In the wild this is what mothers do to remove some of the birthing smell, hoping to discourage predators. The afterbirth also contains hormones that, when consumed by the mother, stimulate the uterus to contract and return to its normal size." And those that are somewhere in between: "The second hardest part is identifying a lamb's body parts when your hand is exploring the inside of the ewe's reproductive tract."

He leans back in his chair and it squeaks. He kicks up his feet and slowly places his hands interlocked behind his head while exhaling, "Ahhhhh, the internet.

Friday, October 12, 2007

dear Feist

Is it so wrong that I should want to lick your lemony eyes? That I should worship at the tips of your dangly bangs? Brush gently your well formed cheeks in dutiful reverence to your siren song? Dare to kiss the wide horizon of your mouth? Sunset. Breathe in your breath. I am obsessed.

Last weekend I went to the Brookville Tailwater and caught these beautiful brown trout for you. Their beauty reminds me of your beauty. Their spots of your spots. The way they shake, slippery and slidey, away from me as I stalk upriver.

I had your delightful songs in my head while I spoke with local Kevin about crossbow season and catching seventy pound catfish with chicken liver. And the Schaffer boys from Rasselas who helped pour the foundation for uncle Joe’s new house ten years ago and how I went squirrel hunting once with their grandfather Wally and how the boat ran out of gas and he didn’t swim and was quite scared actually and I had to swim to shore with a rope and pull the boat in and how Tim Bremen and I walked back to the truck and he siphoned gas out of the tank and it got in his mouth and it looked intense what with the burning and the spitting and the coughing and the red eyes. And psoriasis Glenn who fishes there five or six times a week and smokes those little cigar cigarettes and has a yellow mustache and who is a very good fisherman.

It seemed rather tenuous, too many irons in the fire if you will, to keep your songs on my mind while I spoke with these men. How funny it would be if they knew. But I kept them there anyway.

I am going to catch steelhead and salmon for you this weekend Feist. I’ll mail you one.

Monday, October 01, 2007

all the way west: a new movie

I finally got around to looking through all the shotty video footage from my road trip out west this summer. I made a movie. My brother, Adam "the Heed" Dunn, master of Flash, built this sweet player for me, note how the player maintains the theme of the website. He's the man. He does this stuff for a living. The video is big, ~50mb, so let it load before watching.

Director's commentary below.

I took the first shots while driving east through Western South Dakota on my way back. There were big thunderstorms on the horizon to the south. The song is Feist's "The Water."

Part 1: this shot is of Greenback Cutthroat trout in the stream below Spruce Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park. Then a greenback in Fern Lake in RMNP. Then pictures of some fish I caught: a brown trout in the Big Thompson River below RMNP in Colorado, a rainbow I caught in Indian Camp Creek, a tributary to the Middle Fork of the Gila River in New Mexico, a rainbow from the McCloud River below Ah-Di-Na in Northern California, four greenbacks from RMNP, and a Volcano Creek Golden Trout from Golden Trout Creek in the lower Sierra Nevada. Then a magnificent sunset near the California-Oregon border. A Golden Trout I accidentally killed in Mulkey Creek (the only dead fish of the whole trip that I know of). My shadow and the same trout. Shadow of the ferry from Vancouver Island to Vancouver. Driving through dusty western Kansas. Driving toward Denver in Colorado.

Part 2: driving north on the east side of the Sierra, just south of Yosemite I think. Driving south through northern New Mexico. Driving east through eastern Wyoming I think. A lizard along the Middle Fork of the Gila River. My brother in Lake Quinault on the Olympic Peninsula. The same. Mythbusters and my brother's Havoc Heli in our room at the Quinault Lodge. The music is Feist's "My Moon My Man."

Part 3: in the tent, seeking refuge from mosquitoes near Fern Lake in RMNP. Stretching out near the Fern Lake trailhead in RMNP. Chris fixing some wires somewhere in windy Kansas. My brother on the windy ferry from Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula to Victoria on Vancouver Island BC. Ian fly fishing for the first time on the Big Thompson River. He likes poker better. But he has good nymphing mechanics. Should have used an indicator though. Ian fed up with fishing after he fell in a river somewhere in RMNP. Mt. Lassen in California. Again (or maybe Shasta?) Sunset in Oregon. My brother fed up with the video in Quinault Rain Forest. Sunset near the Illinois-Indiana border. My car plastered with bugs after the drive back. The song is Old Crow Medicine Show's "I'm Stickin' to the Union." That is all.