A Beer (or Two) and a Story (or Two)

I like reading. I like beer. Sometimes I like both at once, usually when I go out ‘solo’ after work for a quick dinner and drink (or two) rather than go home and rustle up my own food. I thought it might be fun to start blogging every now and then about some of the more entertaining stories I’ve read in this situation, so here goes episode 1 of ??…

The Venue: MacNivens Restaurant & Bar, visited on 7/25/17; picture below from Yelp.com. I once toyed with the idea of founding a “Sir Walter Scott Book Club” that would meet here (since, after all, it’s a Scottish Restaurant) but I found it hard to recruit members…


The Beer: Natural Liberty – an American Pale Lager by Black Acre Brewing Company

Did I Eat Anything? Yes, the Poached Salmon Salad, which was, as I like to say, “MacNivenscent!” 🙂

The Story: Ray Bradbury’s “The Dragon”

(photos from Indianapolis Monthly and Google images)

Disclaimer: I actually read two stories and had two different beers on this outing, the other story being Bradbury’s “The Exiles” and the other beer being Confessional IPA from St. Joseph Brewing Co. I’d read the story before (even blogged about it here) so I won’t include it in this post, and though Confessional IPA is a decent brew, it is imho inferior to “Nat Lib,” which is one of my favorite local beers.

The Story

I’m in the process of cleaning up the unread “orphan stories” that I didn’t finish as part of my #24in48 Readathon plans, and the next card I drew was the four of Clubs, to which I had assigned the story “The Dragon” from my copy of Bradbury Stories: 100 of his Most Celebrated Tales. It was originally published in 1955 in Esquire Magazine.


***Spoilers follow*** It’s a very short story, which I didn’t realize when I started it, having just “jumped” to its location on my Kindle reader. Two intrepid men (I’m assuming they’re knights since they have armor and lances) are somewhere on the moor, seeking a dragon which has apparently been causing havoc in the countryside, eating “men traveling alone between our town and the next.” We learn something of what the men are up against:

“This dragon, they say his eyes are fire. His breath a white gas; you can see him burn across the dark lands. He runs with sulfur and thunder and kindles the grass. Sheep panic and die insane. Women deliver forth monsters. The dragon’s fury is such that tower walls shake back to dust. His victims, at sunrise, are strewn hither thither on the hills. How many knights, I ask, have gone for this monster and failed, even as we shall fail?”

Though the men in this story know the time period (or think they do) in which it is set – “900 years after the Nativity” – there is something special about Time on the moors…

“On this moor is no Time, is only Forever. I feel if I ran back on the road the town would be gone, the people yet unborn, things changed, the castles unquarried from the rocks, the timbers still uncut from the forests; don’t ask how I know; the moor knows and tells me.”

This story wouldn’t deliver the goods if these two brave souls didn’t indeed encounter the dragon they seek, but is it one of their time, or another? Will they vanquish it, or will their bodies be left strewn in its wake, as countless others have been?

I really enjoyed this story and was once again amazed at how some authors can tell such a great story in so few pages.

What about YOU? Do you sometimes find yourself “sitting at the bar” and reading? e-Readers and their associated apps have made this commonplace for me anymore…

A Quick #24in48 Readathon Update


Morning all! I have to get to work here in a minute, but now that the #24in48 Readathon is officially over, I thought I’d provide a quick update:

I read for a total of 10 hours and 13 minutes and completed 28 stories (my lofty goal was 52 stories so I waaaaay overestimated my chances there). As most of my readers know, all of the stories were by Ray Bradbury. This is the first time I’ve read so many stories by one author “in a row” and I found that it was a very interesting experience – be the end of the readathon, Bradbury’s voice was becoming very familiar to me. (I’ll publish a more detailed post later on my impressions of what I read)

I tried to stop and tweet about my reading in the breaks between stories and I believe I sent out between 40-50 Tweets, and received 169 “likes” on them. I gained six Twitter followers during the readathon.  The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies gained eight “likes” on Facebook during the readathon, though I couldn’t prove if all (or any, frankly) were due to my tweeting and blogging about it.

I will be tabulating the “entries” to my give away during the next couple days and will announce the winner(s) soon. Likes, comments, and retweets all counted as an entry, and likes and comments on my blog did as well, so I may have close to 200 entries in the hat to draw from. Now I have to find a hat. 🙂

Here are my answers to the wrap-up questions posted by readathon hosts Rachel, Kristen, and Kerry:

  1. How many books did you read? Pages? (If you didn’t keep track, tell me that too!) I read short stories instead of books and finished 28 of them. A record for me during a #24in48 readathon – the last few #24in48 readathons, I’ve read my goal of 24 short stories rather than 24 hours. I didn’t keep track of pages read – I’m such a slow reader that it’s too depressing to do that. I’d estimate 400-450 pages, though.
  2. How many hours did you read? If my records are correct, 10 hours 13 minutes. (In my defense, I had several other obligations during the weekend that each took big chunks of time away from my reading opportunities, but it seems that’s always the case for me.)
  3. What do you think worked well in this readathon? Reading short stories gave me natural breaks, as only a few took me longer than 30 minutes to read. During the breaks I would tweet a couple times and try to like and comment on other ‘thon’ers tweets. This part of the readathon was a lot of fun.
  4. What do you think could be done to improve the readathon for next time? Seems pretty good as it is, to me! 🙂 I wish I weren’t such a slow reader, but that happens with me every readathon.
  5. Will you participate in a future 24in48 readathon? Yes, I am looking forward to it already!

#24in48 Readathon – Hour 16 Update:

: okay, I got off to a much slower start than I hoped, having decided I should at least put in an appearance at my brother’s birthday party. I got home about 9:45 (I decided to used GMT for my time zone for this readathon, so that means I official started at 8pm here) and hoped to read for at least awhile, but didn’t last too long before ISP started drifting off. I decided to let sleep happen (like I have a choice!) and just hit the ground running this morning, which I did. Immediately getting started by reading a couple stories in bed before I got up. Then it was off to Panera for coffee and breakfast where, for once, no one was in “my spot” and I read pretty solidly untila bout 10:30. At that point I’d read nine of my intended fifty-two stories and drew my card for the tenth one.

Activities: I’ve been pretty active in tweeting updates and trying to read and like a few tweets between each break in stories. This is quite fun for me, seeing what everyone else is reading and even what challenges they may be encountering during the readathon. Seeing some of their progress reports, though, makes me wish I were a much faster reader (this happens every time I participate in a readathon, though.)
Time: I’m averaging around a twenty minutes a story I guess, which means it’s theoretically possible I complete all fifty two during the readathon, but we’ll see.


Story 1: Rathskeller Biergarten & couch at home; 2. Couch at home 3 & 4 Bed; 5-9 Panera Bread on Southport Road (where much of this blog has been written over the years)

It seems appropriate to use a space travel-related deck of cards, so I opted for this “Space Center” deck.

space center cards

Stories Read (& my rating) so Far:

7 of Hearts – Way in the Middle of the Air (4.0 Stars)

Ace of Clubs – The Watchful Poker Chip of H.Matisse (2.5 stars)

9 of Hearts – The Martian (3.5 stars)

3 of Hearts – The Third Expedition (4.5 stars)

8 of Spades – The Witch Door (4 stars)

4 of Diamonds – The Man (4 stars)

Jack of Clubs – The Toynbee Convector (3.5 stars)

5 of Hearts – The Fire Balloons (3.5 stars)

10 of Hearts – There Will Come Soft Rains (4.5 stars)

: It’s odd that random chance thus far has front loaded my stories from The Martian Chronicles. Maybe Fate knows how much I liked that book and wanted to start men out with more favorites. There’s something about “There Will Come Soft Rains” that really gets to me. Something about an “automated” house outliving its creators yet eventually falling victim itself to “The Forces of Nature” that activates my “sympathy subroutine” – and the inclusion of the poem by Teasdale is perfect in this story. A couple stories examined religious themes too,especially “The Man” which I don’t think I’ve ever read before. It offers a somewhat damn good view of humanity – or at least some of its members.

Giveaway Update:
I’ve recorded just over 30 entries or “chances in the hat” so far. If I eclipse 100, I will consider adding a second giveaway item. You can enterthegive away by commenting on this – or any – blog post during the readathon, or by liking or replying to my tweets, or – for double credit – liking or following The Center for Ray Bradbury Studies’ Facebook Page. https://m.facebook.com/bradburycenter/posts/1767308936627668

Up Next: I’ve adjourned to the Indiana State Library in downtown Indy – a favorite weekend reading/working spot and am going to try to read for the next three hours straight. Follow my progress on Twitter (@Bibliophilopoly) and let me know how you’re doing as well.

“The Burning Man” by Ray Bradbury

I’ve been doing a previously unadvertised full-moon add-on to my Deal Me In short story reading this year, selecting thirteen stories by Ray Bradbury and intending to read them in random order on the thirteen full moons on 2015’s calendar. Katherine at The Writerly Reader is doing a “lunar version” of Deal Me In also (see her latest post here), as are two non-blogging friends of mine at work. Seeing the full moon appear in the sky is a great reminder that it’s time to read another story!


The Burning Man – Ray Bradbury

Young Doug and his Aunt Neva are heading out for a picnic at the lake on a scorching hot July day. Their old pickup truck disturbs the peace in a typical Bradburian way. It “plowed up dust in yellow plumes which took an hour to lie back down and move no more in that special slumber that stuns the world in mid-July.” Armed with lemonade and deviled ham sandwiches and the anticipation of beating the heat with a swim, they slow down as they see a man standing by the side of the road. The Burning Man. They give him a lift, but he soon begins with “the crazy talk” – mostly about the heat and it’s unbearable-ness. “You ever try to figure,” shouted the man, leaning forward between them “— whether or not the weather is driving you crazy, or you’re crazy already?” He also inquires if it “isn’t the year of the seventeen year locusts?” And begins to wonder aloud “Yes, sir, there’s more to the world than people appreciate. If there can be seventeen-year locusts, why not seventeen-year people? Ever thought of that?”

He comments that “Day like today, all hell breaks loose inside your head. Lucifer was born on a day like this, in a wilderness like this,” and all his talk soon leads the devout Neva to cast him out of the pickup, using the threat of bibles in the trunk, holy water in the radiator and a pistol with silver bullets under her seat, not to mention that “Reverend Bishop Kelley” is not far behind her on the road. The burning man hastily exits and Doug marvels at his Aunt’s language. Asking her if it was true. She says “no” and when Doug is shocked that she would be lying she asks him, “Do you think HE was lying too?” Doug isn’t sure. They proceed on to the lake, but this may not be their last encounter with The Burning Man that day…

This short story was a great snack of a morning read before work today. I own it in the collection “Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales.” It checks in at just over six pages. I suspect I’ll be thinking about The Burning Man a lot today…

“The Burning Man” was adapted into a vignette for the modern Twilight Zone reboot and can be viewed on YouTube at https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=xHh5ceJNTE8 (I haven’t watched it yet, so view at your own risk…)

(Below: a more famous ‘burning man’ of Bradbury’s has graced the cover of many editions of his hallmark work, “Fahrenheit 451”)


Deal Me In – Week 50 Wrap Up


This reading challenge is not a sprint but a marathon – and we’re nearing mile 26… Below are links to new DMI posts since the last update.

Dale finally got another baseball story as his six of hearts led him to Zane Grey’s “The Manager of Madden’s Hill” http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/12/11/zane-grey-the-manager-of-maddens-hill/

Below: Zane Grey


For Randall, it was the three of spades and Ray Bradbury’s story “Hopscotch” http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/12/hopscotch-by-ray-bradbury.html

Katherine drew the queen of diamonds and read Edgar Allan Poe’s story “Te Facts in the Case of M. Valdermar” http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/12/13/deal-me-in-week-50-the-facts-in-the-case-of-m-valdemar/

I read a new-to-me author’s story, Carol Anshaw’s “The Last Speaker of the Language” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/12/14/the-last-speaker-of-the-language-carol-anshaw/

Two weeks to go! Our next draw will actually determine the order our next two stories :-). Look for a post from me in the next week “officially” announcing DMI 2015. Hopefully we can have as great a group of participants as we’ve had this year.

Deal Me In – Week 49 Wrap Up


The cards in our short story decks are dwindling like the remaining days of 2014. Here are links to new posts since the last update:

Randall read the Ray Bradbury classic “The Illustrated Man“; see his thoughts at http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/12/the-illustrated-man-by-ray-bradbury.html

Dale waited until winter to draw the five of diamonds for Bernard Malamud’s “A Summer’s Readinghttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/12/04/bernard-malamud-a-summers-reading/

Katherine also read a classic, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” by Ambrose Bierce. http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/12/06/deal-me-in-week-49-an-occurrence-at-owl-creek-bridge/

I read Edith Wharton’s “The Eyes” scroll down to my prior post to see. 🙂

That’s it for this week! Three weeks to go before it’ll be time to shuffle up and deal again…

Below: actor Rod Steiger portrayed “The Illustrated Man” on film. (Don’t EVER call them Tattoos!)


Deal Me In – Week 46 Wrap Up


A little behind schedule getting this posted as i was “out late” last night at the Colts game (which was a disaster for the home team, ugh). Anyhoo, here we are:

Only a few cards left now… Below are links to new posts this week.

It’s time for James to shuffle up as he drew his last two cards, getting Haruki Murakami’s “The Rise and Fall of Sharpie Cakes” and Henry James’s “The Figure in the Carpethttp://jamesreadsbooks.com/2014/11/10/henry-james-vs-haruki-murakami-a-deal-me-in-short-story-challenge/. James becomes the first of us to complete his 52 stories this year. Can’t remember everything he read? His original roster can be found at: http://readywhenyouarecb.blogspot.in/2014/01/deal-me-in.html

Dale read the oft-anthologized James Baldwin story, “Sonny’s Blues” http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/11/12/james-baldwin-sonnys-blues/

Randall read Bruce McAllister’s “The Boy in Zaquitos” http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/11/the-boy-in-zaquitos-by-bruce-mcallister.html from the Best American Short Stories anthology of 2007.

I read Katherine Vaz’s “Fado” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/fado-by-katherine-vaz/ and continue to enjoy one of my favorite new to me authors of 2014.

Return Reader delivers four new posts:
On George Saunders’s “Sea Oak” http://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/short-story-35-sea-oak-george-saunders/

On Olufemi Terry’s “Stickfighting Days” http://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/15/short-story-36-stickfighting-days-olufemi-terry/

On Saki’s “The Mouse” http://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/short-story-37-the-mouse-saki/

On Ray Bradbury’s “The Veldt” http://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/short-story-38-the-veldt-ray-bradbury/

Katherine wrote about Matthew Costello’s “The Final Vanish” http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/11/16/deal-me-in-week-46-the-last-vanish/ and shares a video of another famous vanishing…

Deal Me In – Week 45 Wrap Up


New posts this week from the DMI crew:

Coincidentally, with me also reading The Martian Chronicles this week, two of us drew a Ray Bradbury story from their Deal Me In deck.

Dale read “Some Live Like Lazarushttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/ray-bradbury-some-live-like-lazarus/

And Randall read “Let’s Play Poisonhttp://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/11/lets-play-poison-by-ray-bradbury.html

The avalanche of stories from Returning Reader continues:
1) Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s “Eva is Inside Her Cathttp://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/03/short-story-30-eva-is-inside-her-cat-gabriel-garcia-marquez/
2) the Ernest Hemingway classic “The Snows of Kilimanjarohttp://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/05/short-story-31-the-snows-of-kilimanjaro-ernest-hemingway/
3) Anton Chekhov’s “Gooseberrieshttp://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/06/short-story-32-gooseberries-anton-chekhov/
4) Dylan Thomas’s “A Child’s Christmas in Wales
5) Ungulani Ba Ka Khosa’s “An Unexpected Deathhttp://returningreader.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/short-story-34-an-unexpected-death-ungulani-ba-ka-khosa/

Katherine has exhausted her hearts suit after reading Robyn Carr’s “Natasha’s Bedroomhttp://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/deal-me-in-week-45-natashas-bedroom/ There’s also a magic trick video featuring her card 🙂

I missed Halloween by one day in drawing Ambrose Bierce’s ghost story, “Beyond the Wall” (I got goosebumps) https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/beyond-the-wall-a-ghost-story-by-ambrose-Bierce/

Candiss posted about Margaret Atwood’s “Happy Endinghttp://readthegamut.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/deal-me-in-challenge-story-45-happy-endings-by-margaret-atwood/

Some other short story content from the week that I found interesting:

Have you heard of author Ron Rash before? I hadn’t, but this collection sounds like it would be at home on my bookshelf http://www.thedailynewsonline.com/entertainment/article_6fa4c738-66d1-11e4-9fcb-dfce161211a2.html

Great article about an event in NY where some of the authors featured in The Best American Short Stories (2014 edition) read their work at a Barnes and Noble. I’ve included some stories from The BASS series the past couple Deal Me In challenges. Looks like I may want to do so again. 🙂 http://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/nov/07/jennifer-egan-writing-technologies-short-stories

I follow a couple Irish literary accounts n Twitter and they appear to have a thriving short story culture over there. The Davy Byrnes award is one of their prestigious writing prizes. (I’ve read one story from this source in a previous DMI, Claire Keegan’s “Foster”. https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2013/04/15/a-perfect-opportunity-to-say-nothing/)
Here’s a collection of the cream of that crop.

Deal Me In – Week 43 Wrap Up


(Image from cafepress.com)

Happy Hallowe’en to everybody! Below are links to new posts since the last update:

Katherine read “[Answer]” by F. Paul Wilson http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/10/26/deal-me-in-week-43-answer/

Randall read Ray Bradbury’s “The Smile“.http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-smile-by-ray-bradbury.html

Dale read Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Merry Menhttp://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/robert-louis-stevenson-the-merry-men/

I read my first Salman Rushdie “Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella Consummate their Relationship” https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/10/25/salman-rushdies-christopher-columbus-and-queen-isabella-consummate-their-relationship/ this is another Deal Me In “twin” as Dale also posted about this story just last week.

Our year of fifty-two stories is winding down. Has anyone else begun building a roster for next year? I came up with one of my four “suits” over the weekend – I’m doing a “stories published in The New Yorker magazine” suit (gotta put that digital subscription with access to the short story archive to good use, right?). I have ideas for my other suits, but I’ll keep them secret for now. 🙂 What are your short story reading plans for 2015?

Deal Me In – Week 40 Wrap Up


A lot of great stories and posts this week. Check out the links below.

Candiss is back, and with a “doubleheader” covering Ursula K. LeGuin’s “The Ones Who Walk Away from Omelas” and Anton Chekhov’s “Gooseberries” http://readthegamut.wordpress.com/2014/10/05/deal-me-in-challenge-stories-39-40-an-unexpected-relationship-between-chekhov-and-le-guin/

Dale brings us Dorothy Parker’s “The Waltz” http://mirrorwithclouds.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/dorothy-parker-the-waltz/

It’s the Ace of Spades at Time Enough at Last which means Randall shares with us “February 1999: Ylla” by Ray Bradbury http://timeenuf.blogspot.com/2014/10/february-1999-ylla-by-ray-bradbury.html

Katherine drew the King of Clubs and reviews “A Cascade of Lies” by Steve Rasnic Tem http://katenread.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/deal-me-in-week-40-a-cascade-of-lies/

At two stories a “pop”, James is down to just four cards in his deck after reading Grace Paley’s “In Time Which Made a Monkey of us All” and “A Prince of Thirteen Days” by Ayala Dawn Johnson http://jamesreadsbooks.com/2014/10/05/grace-paley-vs-alaya-dawn-johnson/

My story was so short, I almost felt like I had the week off, but Kate Chopin’s “Story of an Hour” was, pound for pound, one of the best I’ve read recently. https://bibliophilica.wordpress.com/2014/10/04/kate-chopins-story-of-an-hour/

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