Monthly Archives: April 2014

The Forester for the Trees: Epilogue

The first time I drove Harold after finishing my 1,500-word ode to him, a young guy driving a Mustang crossed four lanes of traffic out of turn and totaled my beloved Subaru Forester.

The collision happened on a zippy four-lane road, which the Mustang’s driver was attempting to cross perpendicularly. From my vantage point, I was driving in the far-right lane. The Mustang first registered in the left corner of my vision as a panicked white flash; the driver had misjudged the speed of the traffic he was trying to cut through, then floored the accelerator and shot across the roadway to try to hurtle out of his mistake. I braked as the Mustang illegally surged into my lane, but still t-boned the car’s passenger-side door with Harold’s snout, which destroyed Harold’s engine compartment.

The Forester’s safety system acquitted itself well; I came out with no injuries except sore hands from strangling the steering wheel throughout the collision. Mentally, though, I was a little off. I stayed outwardly composed at the scene, but looking back, the wreck created several incongruities in my head:

  • I at first thought the Mustang’s passenger was a woman, judging from the glimpse I caught as the Mustang slid sideways away from Harold immediately after the impact. “Is your lady OK?” I asked the driver about a minute later, thinking his girlfriend might be hurt. He looked confused, but said the passenger was fine. Later, when I got a good look, I realized the passenger was a sturdily built man with a shaved head. (He was, in fact, OK.)
  • The tow-truck driver who came to retrieve Harold picked up a car’s grill off the road and tossed it onto Harold’s front passenger-side seat. What the hell, man? I thought. That’s not mine. I somehow believed he’d mistakenly thrown a random piece of road debris into my car, until I visited Harold at the junkyard to retrieve my belongings and saw that it was the Forester’s grill in the seat. (I kept the grill.)
  • The police officer who reported to the scene initially talked to me while I was standing on a curb, looming above him. The curb exaggerated the difference in our sizes: He was about 5’7″ and trim, while I’m 6’2″ and oafish. Hope he doesn’t think I’m trying to intimidate him by standing up here, I thought. Then I considered stepping off the curb, but was worried I’d bump into him. I ended up slouching a little and concentrating on keeping my voice, which was threatening to shake like my hands already were, slow and calm. Some intimidator I am.

The timing of Harold’s death—so soon after I’d articulated what the Forester meant to me—has remained in my mind as much as the wreck itself. The obvious lesson from the incident’s timing is to never write about the things you care for.

But the better lesson is to always write about the things you care for, because some guy in a Mustang could kill one of them later today. I was too bullheaded and lazy to learn this while my parents were fighting their terminal illnesses, but the SUV they left me got it through. Thanks, Harold.


And welcome to the Steger Sector, yet-to-be-named replacement Forester.


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The NFL Is Great. More Would Be Terrible.

“We do think it is the right thing for the game.”—NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, in 2011, on lengthening the league’s regular season

“I won’t let it happen.”—new NFL Players Association president Eric Winston, in 2014, on the same idea

Winston, as the newly elected leader of the NFL players’ union, selected an important issue to make his first big promise on; he came down on the right side of it. Goodell, who works for the league’s team owners, has long pushed for expanding the regular season from 16 games to 18. The idea behind the 18-game proposal is that, since the NFL is such a popular sport already, two extra games would boost revenues while giving fans more chances to enjoy the sport. But doing so would harm the league the commissioner aims to promote: His owners would field a weaker game-day product as more of the league’s best players—its starters—fall to injury.

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Beer Review: Penn Quarter Porter

Tonight, I picked up a six pack of DC Brau’s Penn Quarter Porter.


Beer Packaging: Each Penn Quarter Porter can features a prominent stovepipe hat stamped with the DC Brau logo. On the other side of the can is a box labeled PENN QUARTER FACTS. (Every bit of text on Penn Quarter Porter cans is in all caps.) The fact box shouts: “PENN QUARTER IS MOST FAMOUS FOR FORD’S THEATRE, WHERE PRESIDENT ABRAHAM LINCOLN WAS ASSASSINATED, AND HIS HAT AND COAT CAN STILL BE SEEN TO THIS DAY.” It’s educational, but a bit morbid. I wonder if a beer called Dallas Doppelbock would feature DALLAS FACTS trumpeting the details of JFK’s assassination.

Beer Style: Penn Quarter Porter is a ROBUST PORTER, according to the packaging. It’s supposed to be on the line between a stout and a porter. Stouts are typically the heaviest of beers, while porters are the next level down, so if you’ve ever played a MechWarrior game, you can think of a Penn Quarter Porter as a mix between a 100-ton Assault Mech (stout) and a 75-ton Heavy Mech (porter). And if you haven’t played any MechWarrior, you should drink a dozen Penn Quarter Porters and try to forget about your wasted life.

The Brewery: DC Brau is located in Washington DC, just barely over the border from Bladensburg, Maryland. For their name’s sake, DC Brau’s location is fortunate: “Maryland Brau” has absolutely no charm at all, while “Bladensburg Brau” sounds like a medieval German torture device.

The brewery is fun to visit; the part open to the public is essentially a big warehouse, with a bearded, cargo-shorted doorman and a helpful cashier/guide in the entry room. Behind that lies a much larger space bustling with brewers and canning machinery. You can sample four beers for free; however, you can’t drink any more than that on DC Brau’s premises. They sell growlers and six packs, which you can purchase and then scurry off to drink in private. The brewery also provides free pretzels, of which my girlfriend somehow pirated 10 bags during our last visit.

Penn Quarter Porter in One Text: “The problem with having Penn Quarter Porters in the fridge is that you always want another Penn Quarter Porter.”

Penn Quarter Porter, Elaborated: Penn Quarter Porter is indeed a stoutish porter, as the ROBUST PORTER description suggests. Despite its bluster, Penn Quarter Porter’s relatively low ABV of 5.5% and just-medium body keep the beer from being a sluggishness-inducer, which is good, because its stouty, chocolate-coffee flavor will make you want more than one. This is the only beer so far to earn a nickname from my beer-drinking circle: “PQP.” It’s fitting that PQP sounds like a street drug, because Penn Quarter Porter is kind of addictive, in that it’s a beer I have a very hard time not buying when I see it on a shelf. Try it yourself, and maybe I’ll see you one day in PQP Anonymous.

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