Sunday, December 21, 2008

30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack: Full Moon

(30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack is a recurring feature which reviews a beer from the point of view of a guy who knows nothing about beer except for that he loves it. And it loves him. So go quench your thirst my friends.)

Once upon a winter dreary,
I drank a beer, taste twas so cheery.
First sip filled my lips with a hint of orange,
an abbey ale, oh Belgium it was born.

Yes for this review, I rhyme for you,
a Blue Moon brew, winter ale, shall do.

Roasted malts, dark sugar and spices,
not the summer drink we enjoy with orange slices.
This ale claims right on the label to be full bodied,
for my taste buds it tis light, not too heavy nor shoddy.

Yes a true mix of malts and hearty carbonation,
the dark brown bottle hints of a classy persuasion.

When it gets warm, drinks a bit watery and old,
keep her in a glass, frosty and cold.
With instructions as these you'll notice true qualities,
medium hops, mild barley, makes for a drink quite caramely.

In summary I think this beer is rated just "OK",
but screw me, I'm a jerk, what does TSOFan0000 from Beer Advocate have to say?

Pours a clear, amber color with nice carbonation. I was expecting a slight haze from it, but this looks to be very well filtered.

Sweet malts dominate the nose. Almost bock-like. Some toastiness is also present, but mostly sweet malts and a hint of candi sugar.

Very light in the mouth. Some nuttiness to it, sweet malts once again dominate, but a very light beer. Not flawed in any way, just not memorable in any way either.

Overall, a very drinkable beer.

So for you, I wish Holiday cheer and drinkable beer,
great food with friends and gay times which don't end.

Till the new year I say have a good night,
I gotta go pack and catch my next flight.

Feeling quite alive in Dead Space

Today I completed the Sci-Fi horror game Dead Space, and with it, conquered my irrational fear of scary video games. I kinda wuss out sometimes. Stuff makes me jump. Sounds make me look around like I am being hunted. It's spooky, OK? Either way, I challenged on, beat it, and more importantly loved it more and more the further I got. There were an incredible number of things that went really well in this one, and in a year where it had to stack up against GTA IV and Fall Out 3, not to mention Gears 2, Dead Space will be passed over by too many. Read this poorly written review, and please give the game a shot.

We can begin with the story. I love the world design and the notion that humanity has developed ships and fleets that roam the galaxy tearing apart planets to harvest them. The whole "derelict space craft with aliens on board" is over played a bit, but as Dead Space's story develops and you learn more about what you encounter, you become enthralled in the religion, technology and people the game thrusts upon you. So while it started fast and kept a moderate pace of story content, the final few chapters (12 total) really ramped up the excitement of discovering your protagonist's fate.

The art and aesthetics are where this really becomes a gem. Blood, destruction, blood, guts, blood, flickering lights.. and you get it, blood. It is everywhere and its not over done, but done just well enough to make you imagine each scene's occurrences before you arrived. The sound design is phenomenal, and possibly the single best effect of the whole game. The things you hear that are just sound track merge so well with the sounds of creatures and machinery you interact with, that you struggle to tell if you are currently being hunted or are safe. The game manages to never make you feel truly secure, always keeping you on your toes, never rewarding you with a sense of security after a battle. Ya know how in old cartoons if a door or boulder or anything in the scene were going to be a part of the animation, it had a different color or look than the backdrop? You could tell what was part of the foreground and not the background. Well in Dead Space, you can't. It merges into one freaky world audibly and visually so well.

Some of my favorite aspects of the game were its HUD design and weaponry. All menus, controls, maps, video dialog, all come up from a holographic projection in your suit. With your character set slightly off to the left in third person, your suit projects navigation, inventory and weaponry to the right of the screen. Once you master an amazingly simple control scheme, the game moves fluidly and you feel as if you really stand in the ship, running for your own hide. The weaponry is a strong suit for the game because they did not just arm you with machine guns, rocket launchers and lasers. Managing to turn mining equipment into powerful weapons, and give you the ability to upgrade them as the game moves on, really added to the helpless non-soldier feeling of your character.

Dead Space does have its fall offs. You never really feel much emotion from or for the main character. No voice, face or personality makes him hard to connect to, particularly in respect to his love interest on the ship. I found out late that you have the ability to go back and read his journal, but it does not help as much as is needed. The other major gripes are the times the game tries to be something it isn't. Playing basketball and asteroids is not the strong suit of Dead Space, but they included it to break up the story I suppose. For me, it just ruined the flow.

In the end, the game got almost everything right. Fresh weaponry and inventory ideas, unrelenting pursuit and fear, the morbid quiet of outer space. Dead Space comes up huge, and is worth every childish scream that made me feel like a lil girl.

Score: 5 out of 5 headless floating corpses dripping blood all over my TV screen.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ode to Jeep

Most who read this blog already know about my epic vehicular catastrophe last February. But in case you haven't, here's a quick recap. Driving my '99 Jeep Cherokee Classic down I-75 on the way to Medium's in the middle of last winter's final hoorah. Car in front of me spins out completely. We collide and both end up on the left shoulder. Big surprise, asshole has no license plate and drives off. In trying to escape the death trap of a highway, I get rear ended as another car tries to pass me. Long story short, there's no way to find the guy from the first accident and I get blamed for the second, it sucked but that's old news. Since then, I bought my '05 Jetta and moved on. The slick driving, gas mileage, and little perks served me well over the summer and I felt like this was an all-around upgrade in car-age. How quickly we forget.

This afternoon I had 2 errands to run, consisting of a one mile excursion to the library and post office. A simple drive that I make almost every day. Vetoed at the end of the driveway. Where my 10 year dented, paint chipped, bumpy, uneven brick could've powered through this weather without a thought, this $14000 of "German Engineering" gets stuck in a mere foot and a half of snow. I miss the Jeep. Sure I had to climb in the trunk to change cds, constantly adjust for a slight leftward pull, and it's lack of anti-lock breaks were probably what got me in that accident in the first place, but dammit, I still love ya buddy. Hope whatever pieces in whatever junkyard you find yourself in are at peace. *Salute*

On the shoulders of Lions

How desperate does a man have to be to put his faith in the worst?

This weekend I approach a rarity in my life… a fantasy sports semifinal. The 3B has a deep history of fantasy football and hockey, reaching back six or seven years now. Thanks to an over active geek-gland I track performance of the group across our four leagues. With our new Dynasty style leagues just now starting up, data focuses on only the traditional “draft every year” leagues we’ve had, but I have a table showing each participant’s “Performance %.” This stat is essentially based on a simple 1:1 ratio of career points against seasons you have played.

In our little world, if you finish first, you gain 4 points; second, 2; and third, 1. If you equal out to say 11 points over 11 seasons like Mr. E. Goedtel, you bat a perfect 100%. If you are a ridiculous overachiever like K. Firth, you obtain 8 points in 5 seasons for a 160% ranking. Now, bragging rights within the group really fall on how many points you’ve gained, making Baby Bop the top dog, but just like any sport with any geek fan fare, stats are fun to look at and this provides a unique way to see whom is playing better than whom.

Yes, dwindling down near the bottom (players with just one or two seasons omitted) is your brave author, with a pathetic 11 seasons worth 3 points for his fabulous 27.27%. Now I know the shut out of Room 312 will end this year with either Ford or Newman guaranteed at least 1 point, and they have not historically been finishers, but of all the people with 10 or more seasons, I just blow. I mean the next spot up is Damman with at least a full out championship and 40%. When you consider the drop off in seasons to the guy below me is 6, I am just not happy with my history of finishes.

So that brings me back to my point. How desperate do you need to be? Already eliminated in the Dynasty league, I take on my old roomie in the traditional football semifinals. I have three QBs on my bench this week. Mr. Warner is a legendary scapegoat in this league. He will always find a way to destroy you. Facing New England in a blizzard this Sunday is not the best match-up Mr. Warner and I could ever dream of, especially with one of his star wide outs gone. Mr. Romo? Yea he’s playing the #2 defense in the league, Baltimore. That should be fun. So who might I turn to? None other than Mr. Dan Orlovsky of the Detroit Lions. The kid threw for over 200 yards in his last two starts, couple TDs and is going up against a Saints team that only thinks offense. All the “pros” say he’s a hot pick this week, but good lord, a Lion? A Lion QB?

If I make this choice, lord have mercy on me.

Eric, here is your championship game invite.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Doing it for the kids... even though it will mean I can't have kids

So I have a few posts I want to get out there before I run away and most other people run away for the holiday. This is probably the most important in terms of message and purpose, so lets get it out of the way. In some small way I attempt (read: ATTEMPT) to make the world a better place every year. My efforts are usually no more than a butterfly's flap of the wings in the big picture, but I like to do it none the less. This year, masochism seemed like the perfect choice. For the low low cost of however much I can get you to donate, I am going to run, not jump, and them fully submerge myself in the Atlantic Ocean on January 24th in Baltimore. (OK, so it is the Chesapeake Bay, no need to get bitchy over it.) Along with thousands of others, I will attempt to help raise a record amount of dough for the Special Olympics. My team, "Significant Shrinkage," Aims to raise $1,000 and we are only to about $400 now. While I am the leading participant at this time, I wanna be even more kick ass and do more. What the hell, I want to grovel at your feet more and tell you all what wonderful people you are for parting ways with your $5, $10, $500 donations.

Seriously, the Special Olympics is an important and needed event in this world. The economic crisis throws so many charitable organizations in risk this year, and they need our support more than ever. I would love for you to help with this cause, but even if you don't, try and help somewhere else. Donate your time to ring a bell for the Salvation Army, serve food at a shelter, or donate old winter wear and blankets for the needy. Me? I am donating my nuts to mother nature... and I would like you to pay homage to them in coin.

To contribute to my hypothermia, follow this link. Yes I promise pictures when it is over and I can no longer have children.

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Album You Missed: Guilt Show

(The Album You Missed is a recurring feature which describes a great album from the past that well, you might have missed and should probably go out and listen to. Seriously, just even download it on-line, it will take you 6 minutes.)

When The Get Up Kids broke up and became a fraction of themselves, I never thought the pieces would materialize into such polarizing parts. Outside of being in the “genre,” Reggie and the Full Effect, Koufax, and The New Amsterdams were altogether nothing alike, and nothing like The Get Up Kids. The was fun exploration for me and one I was happy with, as The Get Up Kids were unique, trend setting and just fit right where I needed them to be. Their last full effort before the 2004 breakup was Guilt Show, an album that never rose to the band’s early prodigy like success, and an album you just might have missed.

Put out by Vagrant and reaching as high as 58 on the Billboard Top 200, Guilt Show was a more subdued rock oriented piece. Pryor’s vocals had fully expanded to his true potential, and the music was some of the most elegantly composed that the “kids” had ever put together. The tone of this album was not as angst or pubescently driven as before, possibly because of the Pope brothers’ heavier involvement in the writing, possibly because of Rob’s divorce, and possibly because of rising band tensions.

What you find are tracks which are easily background for a lazy Sunday afternoon. Mellow and easy to swallow, tracks like Wouldn’t Believe It, Man Of Conviction, and Never Be Alone pull at your heart strings if you are listening to the words, but can also be hum along worthy if you’re just following the beat. The one gripe I had with this album was that even though Wouldn’t Believe It had moderate single success, I never really felt a powerhouse track rise up from the ashes of The Get Up Kids destruction. It could be that this LP was the result of their impending break-up, it could be that the shift in temper or tempo did not serve them as well. With that said and promptly set aside however, this is a gem worth seeking out and putting on this weekend, even if you forget you played it afterward.

Score: 3 out of 5 "I would be OK falling asleep while playing this album."

Thursday, December 11, 2008

30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack: Raspberry-Kahlua-Nog

(30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack is a recurring feature which reviews a beer from the point of view of a guy who knows nothing about beer except for that he loves it. And it loves him. So go quench your thirst my friends.)

So as my first two 30lbs. segments pointed out, it is the season of holiday parties and festive beers. Well, at a recent holiday party I played the white elephant game. I have no idea why the game is called that particular name, all I know it as is "you get to steal someone else's gift and it is fun". Well I got to go very first, and this meant I was walking away with whatever gift I wanted at the end. You Better believe I took the alcohol. A nice little Kahlua gift set it was. Cup, liter, and some samples. So this may not be a beer, but gosh darn it, I have a holiday drink and I might as well review it for you. Now how did I turn Kahlua into a holiday drink? Eggnog! Just so happens I know a pretty simple recipe for some holiday cheer...

  1. 2 parts Kahlua.
  2. 1 part vodka.
  3. Mix with Eggnog.
  4. Stir.

Now for this lil drink I chose Absolute Raspberry for my vodka. I am one of those guys who likes raspberry and chocolate, so this works for me, Or I at least think it will. So how does this contraption taste? Well first off I put way too much vodka in, think I'll pour a little more eggnog in after a few gulps. Obviously the type of vodka and eggnog you choose will affect this taste incredibly, but my raspberry-Kahlua-nog is pretty darn tasty. The first thing you gain note of is the crisp taste of the absolute, as flavored abso tends to do. As you begin to swallow the Kahlua really kicks in and then the aftertaste is all owned by the eggnog. This is truly a hearty, sit by the fire and watch the snow fall with loved ones beverage. It is a little hard for me to get into the mood as it is 50 and pouring rain in Baltimore right now, but I can sit back and close my eyes and imagine the slush of Michigan... oh yea... there it is.

So obviously Beer Advocate is not going to review my eggnog contraption, but that is beyond the point. I hope you at some time this holiday escape from the shopping, the crazy family and nutso chaos, and steal some moments for the good old hearty holiday drink. If you go for the ras-Kahlua-nog, smile and think of me.

Happy Holidays booze hounds.

3B Dream

OK, so I need everyone's help to discover the meaning behind this strange 3B dream I had last night:

It all started with Jason and I (Newman, if this isn't clear), where we lived in South Dakota. We didn't live together, we just lived in the same town. We were invited, along with everyone in 3B, to go to New Andy's ranch near Texas for some go-karting. We were invited to go Thursday-Saturday. I booked a very expensive hotel suite, and then after it was booked, Jason tried to change the dates to Friday-Sunday. I yelled at him and talked him out of changing the dates. We drove down to Texas from South Dakota in two cars (following each other) and had a fight about what interstate to take.

On the way, I called Korey, who said he probably wasn't coming. I also remember calling Bill but I'm not sure why. When we got to the suite, I checked in, and inside the room was this really hot redhead, hiding behind the kitchen counter. She worked as a bellhop at the hotel, and had folded a towel into a very intricate design around her head, and was just hiding there like the Cheshire Cat, smiling. I jumped back, and she laughed. We talked about what a strange thing that was to do, and she agreed. Then others from 3B began to arrive, and she helped them with their bags into the room. She commented that I had brought too many pillows.

I also had my mail diverted from my home with a "change of address" form. When I arrived in Texas, I already had a Newsweek magazine and two phone books, one for South Dakota, and one was the MSU Faculty that we all used to get in the dorms.

At one point after several of us were in the room, it dawned on me that we all could have just stayed with New Andy at his ranch and saved a lot of money.

Then we headed out to New Andy's ranch. It had a large go-kart track, but it was majorly banked, almost like a skateboard course from one of those Tony Hawk games. This made it very impractical for go-karts, as it was too small around, and too banked. It was also above ground...

Howie and I were racing in the go-karts, Mariokart style, and he took one of the banks too high and flew up and over. I finished the race and Dammon yelled to him, and Howie responded that he was OK, just all bumped and brused. Ron was driving the Yoshi kart, and Medium was racing him in a normal kart at this point. I was standing with Nick, New Andy, Jason, Dammon, Bill, and Anne (yes, Anne came without Korey...). There were others around different parts of the track, but we were up on the platform.

I then went back to the suite to try and have sex with the redhead, but Jason and others followed and blocked my efforts. When it was time to check out, instead of any of us packing, we just got about 10 bellhops to come and help carry all of our unpacked stuff to the cars. For some reason, I had a lot of personal items from my home, along with items from my parents home, that I wouldn't have brought. They were all unpacked. This included my step-mom's scrapbooking supplies and sheet music, all unpacked and spread out under one of the beds. I also seemed to have 7 pairs of shoes... The bellhops were givin our stuff to carry based on their arm legnth and gender. I would say something like "The female bellhop with the 2nd longest arms, come here" and a girl would run over, hug me (to show arm legnth) and then start picking up all of the stuff to take to the car.

This is when Eric and Lauren came from their room (they were the only ones to not stay in the suite, minus New Andy who stayed at his ranch) and Lauren made fun of me for having more shoes than her. She was also holding that picture frame that I "borrowed" years ago from her sister's party and we had at the 3B apt. for a while. I got in my car and started the drive back to South Dakota, and Jason got mad at me because I needed to go to the Post Office to have my mail changed back from the hotel address to my home address.


Thoughts? I believe this is somehow important, because I NEVER remember dreams. Plus it was so vivid and many of you were there.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Best Albums of 2008

Just as I did a year ago, I present to you my favorite albums of 2008. In 2007, Motion City Soundtrack, Say Anything, and Bayside made the list, this year who is the top of the crop? These are not the critics’ picks, these are mine. These are works I picked up and could not put down, for the reasons I will explain below. Please add your own in the comments, respond to my views, and enjoy the artists who impacted my mood so many times this past year.

#5 – Senses Fail – Life Is Not a Waiting Room

I almost forgot my fifth album on this list was being release this year. Senses Fail is a talking point, or was, about what production, stage presence, and “scene” means versus quality rock and the actual music when it comes to popularity. Over the past few albums Senses Fail have been accused of carrying audience through sheer clique appeal and for every reason but the music. Through it all, the record label issues, cred wars, and the inner questions of relevance, they have made albums that float above the plane. I have always seen them as a standard setting band, one who may not do it the best or the longest, but the changes they make to the screamo scene on an album by album basis are trends copied by the industry.

With Life Is Not a Waiting Room you hear and feel the traditional Senses Fail vibe. The album is about love lost, self torture, the black, the dark, the evil inside of us all. Songs about drinking, death, scorn and love fill the tracks just as the three previous releases all did. The one transcending message through this record and found hidden in each song is hope. You leave the album feeling empowered, uplifted to a degree, and ready to kick the crap out of whatever pains you. The music is not any more complex, changed or important than what you know of Senses Fail. The tracks could seamlessly be placed in the previous album or in my guess, the next. Possibly the production values have improved and possibly Buddy has found more range in his voice, but you should not expect a new sound. That is totally fine with me. I want to put a Senses Album in my CD player and scream while I drive, and with this effort the screaming can be a little more uplifted than before.

#4 – Jack’s Mannequin – The Glass Passenger

It is hard for me to write about The Glass Passenger for so many reasons. I can’t relate to the cancer Andrew faced prior to writing this. When thinking about Jack’s I am forced to relive the loss of a relationship that was so short but so important to me. I am also just completely enthralled in the work, to the point I don’t know how best to describe it. Jack’s Mannequin has always been the sappiest pop in my music collection. These are songs girls swoon over and men just wish no one catches them listening to. The composition is beautiful, the lyrics meaningful. Fans of Something Corporate never fully assimilated into the Jack’s fold, and I think that simply can be characterized as an issue in maturity.

The Glass Passenger picks up where Everything in Transit left off. The album is hopeful, as it should be. It is released after Andrew’s conquering of leukemia and stands as an emblem in the battle against cancer. The album strives to not be pigeonholed by that memory though. Lyrics on love, family and friends pull you to personal places in your own life, and away from where Andrew has been. The music continues to be beautiful and fluid. His mastery of the piano sounds that much more complete, and the tracks truly have taken time to marinate. This is the album I fall asleep to on the airplane, even in the worse turbulence.

#3 – Kings of Leon – Only By the Night

There was a time I would have never listened to an artist like Kings of Leon. Call it ignorance, lack of culture, or just stupidity, but the aesthetics of the music would not have charmed me. Thank god that is not today and I did not miss Only By the Night. This album can be summed up in one word: Sex. This is attraction, passion, movement. If rock and roll were to be dance floor motion, Kings of Leon captured it here.

With the tracks Use Somebody, Sex on Fire and Be Somebody, Kings have brought three forceful rock tracks to the mainstream. Each of these manages to leap at you when played on the radio among your standard rock tracks. The vocal power, the composition, the feeling is all there. The album fills in its singles with solid efforts following the trends of the album. If more stood out I might have bumped them up to number two this year, but considering I’d have passed on them altogether in the past, I think third is mighty fitting.

#2 – Rise Against – Appeal to Reason

For me, the first exploration of a Rise Against album involves a lot of intent listening, a staring at the wall and a really focused kind of listening. I consider the lyrics and songs that Tim Mcllarth composes to be poetry. There really is not a better punk rock band at painting vivid images and stories in your mind. Appeal to Reason does not venture too far from messages that The Unraveling first made for the band back in 2000, but it provides a needed and valid update.

Full of political theories, statements and hope; Appeal to Reason audibly is exactly what you knew you would find in a Rise Against album. The vocals are a little more polished and timing more fluid. Overall the production values are representative of experience and a better budget. What you really come away with is the message and the emotion of what the band wants to talk about. The big opening single Re-Education is a hard hitting, jump around thrash fest. Dig into Hero of War and feel its message. A true poem of what kind of pain a soldier experiences emotionally in this day and age, it is a timeless testament to the relevance of Rise Against.

#1 – Weezer – The Red Album

Weezer is quickly becoming a new generation’s Metallica. A band can be technically sound, innovative and yet if it garners too much acclaim, too much success, a certain percentage of the population becomes sick of the recognition and success. This is not a Nickelback or Creed type of saturation and hate; this is reserved for quality bands that just become over exposed.

With Weezer’s return to colors, The Red Album took me a bit to jump on. At first I felt like Pork and Beans got overplayed on the radio, but then I dug into Troublemaker, Heart Songs, and The Greatest Man That Ever Lived and I fell in love. My brother is right; they do sing about being famous and being the best, and that can be alienating, but it works for me. A tongue in cheek exploration is fine for me when someone has been to the top, then the bottom and now back to relevance. The melodies are friendly, thrashes are head-bang-worthy, and the lyrics classic. With that, Weezer comes in as my most played, most loved album of 2008.

Some honorable mentions this year that I enjoyed and just didn’t make my cut: The Offspring – Rise and Fall, Rage and Grace and Anberlin – New Surrender.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Leading the world in selling nothing (part 2)

I want to clarify something real quick. Obviously I am for the bridge loans. I believe that the UAW has made, and is currently working to make, significant concessions. Domestic cars are vastly better in quality now than they were just a decade ago (it will just take a while for customers to realize this). It is definitely not a sure thing, but there is a strong chance that once these changes take effect on the Big 3's expenditures / profits they will become viable companies again.

I guess my real point is... the bailout and bridge loans should go together. You cannot save one flawed industry and turn around and doom another (especially when the one that has done the most work to turn itself around is the one that is at risk of not getting support). If Congress turns its back on the auto industry, they should go back and reclaim our money from the financial industry and allow it to to be broken and reborn also.

On a far less serious note, I have realized lately that I don't really like it when a girl thinks everything I say is hilarious. This is because I personally know that a lot of the things I say really aren't funny (even when I doubt the things I'm about to say are going to be funny, 75% of the time I will say them anyway... I'd rather take a chance and get a laugh than not even try). So, when I say something that I know shouldn't be that funny, and she laughs her ass off.... it makes me wonder... what's wrong here? Do you have a worse sense of what's funny and not than me? Or are you just trying far too hard... I don't want you to be trying this hard.

Love, Medium(!)


Is anyone planning on going to see MSU play in the Capital One Bowl? I am interested in checking out prices... exploring the possibilities, if you would.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Leading the World in Selling Nothing.

I am going to admit this right off the bat: I have not done and solid research before making this post. I have been to the internets before (over 7 years!) and I know that research is rarely (never) needed before you put something on-line.

I'm sure everyone is aware that Congress is currently considering a "bridge loan" for the Big 3. This is quite often compared to the recent Financial Bail Out passed hastily by Congress. There are several differences between these two, so i'm going to compare and contrast to give my ramblings some structure.

1.a. The Auto Bailout is, in fact, a loan designed to give the automakers enough credit to survive until concessions by the UAW take effect. Ford may not even need to use this line of credit. The automakers, should they regain profitability, would repay the taxpayer money. The last I heard the Big 3 was asking for about $34 Billion in loans total.

1. b. The Financial Bailout is about $700 Billion, which ballooned to over $800 Billion after Congress got their pet projects attached to the bill. Instead of being a loan, there are some various regular and preferred stock options that the government has attached to the bank bailouts... This does mean that IF the banks turn around, we may get a chunk of that money back. I am unsure what sort of guarantee if any there is on money given to other companies such as insurance giant AIG. I am assuming it is probably another form of stocks.

2. a. One of the main beating points from the media over the Big 3 bridge loans was the use of private jets by Auto Executives. The PR was so bad that the Auto CEOs actually drove from Detroit to Washington for their next meetings. That is an incredibly stupid, empty gesture that achieved nothing. GM is not going to be saved because it sells it's Jets. It was essentially Congress forcing the Big 3 to bow down before them like dogs and beg. And why? Because Congress desperately needs to try and regain face after bending over for AIG.

2. b. Since being bailed out out twice, AIG has planned to pay executives $503 Million in "retention bonuses". Basically, they plan to overpay their executives on a massive scale to prevent them from leaving for greener pastures. These are the same executives that ran the company into the ground. The Financial industry is, rightfully so, shrinking at the moment. There are thousands of qualified businessmen looking for jobs right now. There is absolutely no reason anyone should overpay to higher an AIG employee away from them, and therefore no reason to really overpay to keep an AIG employee from bailing ship. They should be thankful they still have jobs. In addition to this little ploy, AIG was also famously caught throwing massive retreats and parties for employees after getting bailed out. Our taxpayer money has gone to sending their already over compensated employees on some unnecessary retreat.

3. a. Congress has actually made the good move of demanding the Big 3 present some sort of plan before receiving a loan. This is a good move and should not be criticized.

3. b. Congress made no move whatsoever to require a plan out of the Financial Sector. We gave them $700 Billion and have no idea where any of it is going.

4. a. Congress was in such a hurry to pass the Financial Bailout because "financial experts" said an imminent shutdown of the economy was about to occur (These same experts, and many congressmen, happen to have worked for all these banking companies before. Many of them plan on returning to spots on the board of executives when they are done working for the government. It's in their best interest that these companies survive and profit unharmed). Basically, the financial industry was going to go bankrupt and need to be painfully rebuilt. No one wants this.

4. b. Nobody is in a hurry to pass the Big 3 Bridge Loans. A main argument against them is that the better course of action is to just let the Big 3 fail, as their are already "broken beyond repair".

That is where I become confused. It is okay to allow a major section of American Industry to fail, causing millions to be unemployed, therefore putting a major dent in middle-class consumer spending. This is okay because the industry is already "broken". If you ask me, our financial industry is clearly also broken. Yes, it will be painful to rebuild it. But maybe we should.

Poor decisions and fraud are everywhere in the financial industry plagued by greed. There are accounts of loan applications being doctored by the financial companies (approved by high level execs) in order to sell more mortgages (which were then packaged together and sold off like stocks). They were essentially issuing bad loans and then using them to gain more capital. That's what scares me about the financial industry... It thrives off greedy people finding ways to make money without producing anything. Why can't we let that fail? Doesn't anyone want to see the financial industry fixed the way people want the auto industry fixed?

That's what is scares me about America. Over time we have turned away from actual industry/making actual products and toward making money off of the work of others. Americans have fired their fellow countrymen in order to pay poorly for other countries to make our products. We've made it so that knowing a physical trade... actually creating a tangible product for your living, is seen as a dirty occupation. Nobody wants to be a carpenter or an electrician anymore in America. Those are jobs you get if you can't be a lawyer or CEO.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Jiggle the handle

I wrote a post a couple months ago dealing with an on-line footprint, or your history of internet usage. The internet can be a place where footprints are left in cement as opposed to a track in the sand. Erasing is impossible without powerful tools and effort. In the mid '90s when AOL really started to take hold and anyone who had internet was now under a screen name, or sharing one with a family. Many people were forced into choosing "handle" for the first time in their lives. Simple handles involving any combination of your name, birthday, hometown or favorite sport were common. My first ever handle was a simple jas6854 on AOL, with the numbers being completely random.

I halfheartedly attempted to figure out the origin of the term handle, but I lost interest. I do know the term originated within the hacker community in probably the late '80s, and more recently has become part of the common lexicon of message board and video game culture. I find great interest in the evolution of a handles purpose. In the past hackers used them to carve a unique identity keeping them hidden from authority, yet allowing them to take claim for their accomplishments. Today a handle can either be synonymous with a person's true persona or used as a veil just as it was originally in the '80s. The advent of video game handles and the very prevalent Xbox gamercard, Wii Mii, and etc. have allowed people to create secondary personae that are socially acceptable and desirable to connect your true identity with.

Yet even in this world where a handle may just be used as a true extension of yourself online, others have used the masking ability of it to become horrible other versions of themselves. The ability to spew racist, sexist, and un-pc commentary in video games and on message boards without any blow back to one's personal self is an opportunity so many have been unable to resist. The psychological reasons for this are beyond my desire to explore and have been written about before, but what should be noted as I continue, are the two common forms of handle usage; continuation of self, and a alternate self.

What is really interesting to me is how people choose their handles. I would like to as an example, use the Three B group's Xbox tags which are posted on this very blog. In looking over the few examples we have, I see a common theme of clique nicknames and inside jokes as a basis for a gamertag.

My own personal handle Uckofay stems from a unique evolution of nicknames and inside jokes, to which the absolute origin of it I am not even aware. Due most assuredly to my big mouth, outlandish comments and actions, a roommate dubbed me Fucko, to which my first blush reaction is perceiving it as an protagonist/jester nickname. I modified the name myself using pig latin for a more socially acceptable use on bar crawl t-shirts, and Uckofay was born. As time went on I shortened it to U-fay, but always kept Uckofay along with TheOnlyDoubleJ as the two handles most people know me as in an online interaction. Uckofay was ultimately the choice I made in my gamertag selection, probably because it had an edgier and more aggressive sound to it than my previous screen name.

My brother's is a great example of a situational or observational nickname. Being my younger brother, he was commonly called Little James. Well as he grew to be larger than I, little James did not fit very well. He couldn't be Big James as that would cause you to think he was the elder of the two. Well small and big are separated by Medium, and Medium James was born.

Damman this weekend changed his. Angry Damman could be considered an ironic tag. As a guy who is commonly quiet and thoughtful, the use of an aggressive adjective is not one you would commonly use with him.

PDramaRocks is one of my favorites. Pat is a guy known to happily complain and object to most things the community said or did, much like a popular Entourage character. The simple addition of Pat's first initial to Drama created one of the best fitting handles I have ever witnessed.

Nistur and NoTurn, I have no friggin clue where you guys got that. notNotHoward is a simple observation to a very complicated nickname, to which an entire additional post could be written.

In all of these situations, I know none of us to be alternate ego personalities. For the most part the Three B group act online as you would expect them to act in person. I feel this usage of a handle to be the most common, or at least I am optimistic that it is. My fear is that as younger generations grow up with internet personalities from an earlier age and discover the ability anonymity gives to be a complete ass online, they will gravitate towards alternate identities. If they choose to do so, let us just hope they at least create some amusing handles to block.

NFL Celebrations Make Me Want to Vomit

I'm sorry, but I need to rant. My thoughts might not be in any particular order, and I may repeat myself, but hear me out because you might like it. So here it is:

NFL players are full of themselves. Now I know what you're thinking: "Say it ain't so, Howard! Say it ain't so." But its true. I'm not really sure how it all started, so I'll go ahead and give credit to referring to yourself in the third-person. That led way to players being so clever that they figured out how to spell their initials using their own two arms (LJ, LT, TO). And most recently, players very publicly changing their name to something so different because they needed to new way to draw attention to themselves. The only thing that these players love more than football, nay, the money they make by playing football, is the themselves. As if this "I'm so important that my name on the back of the jersey is way more important than the team name on front of jersey" mentality wasn't enough to make me hate the NFL and most of its players, watching today's Cowboys/Steelers (which was a good game, as far as professional football goes) and Thanksgiving day football (possibly the only games this season that I have watched in their entirety) reminded me of another reason why I hate football. These dudes celebrate every play as if they have never made a good play before in their entire lives. I'd like to give these guys the benefit of the doubt, since they're in the NFL, that they have in fact made big plays before... or had a tackle, sack, catch, 20 yard run, etc. So why can't these players act like they've been there before? In tonight's game a Steeler player returned a punt for 20 yards and celebrated by shaking uncontrollably, similar to that of a Tonic-Clonic Seizure. What is that? During the Cowboys' game on Thanksgiving, one the Cowboys' defensive lineman flapped his arms after every tackle. Personally I would be much more intimidated by a player that made play after play and simply returned to the huddle to prepare to kill again, like a machine whose only job is seek and destroy... without making an ass of himself every time. Now would that be so hard? I know its not fair to group every player into this category, because there is the occasional breath of fresh air like Barry Sanders that would simply toss the ball to the official after scoring a touchdown and just jog back to sideline to ready to do it again... like a machine. Can you name any current NFL players that do this? Possibly if you're a die hard fan, but for smart people (read: hockey fans) its not very likely. Some celebrations are classic, and should be loved, such as the Lambeau Leap. Its not about self-promotion, making headlines, getting on SportsCenter (which has taken a huge dive in highlights and is more worried about rumors or Dancing With the Stars than actual sports), or making sure every camera is watching you; its about thanking the fans at the stadium because the people of the city literally own the team. This celebration rules. Sacking a quarterback and then pretending to dig a pretend grave with a pretend shovel is dumb. Scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl that could win the game and dunking the ball over the uprights is not only a clutch play, but a decent celebration that shows is another tip of the hat to these players' athletic ability. Gathering a fumble and celebrating while running toward the end zone from the 15 yard line is dumb... And even more dumb when you get caught up to at the 2 yard line and get the ball knocked out of your hand (stupid Leon Lett). The NHL players have it right. If a player scores a slam dunk, back door goal, the first thing he does is find the player that made the pass. An NFL player would celebrate his ability to stand there and while the other guy made him look good. When was the last time a wide receiver sought out the quarterback after making an amazing play? Hockey players get together, tap the goal scorer on the hat, tap his shin pads, and go to the bench. They don't stand at center ice while wearing cape or skate by the other bench while telling their opponent to suck it. That would be uncouth. There is no stupid dance. There is no self-promotion. They line up and get ready to do it again. Like a machine. There are always exceptions, and certain situations allow for excessive celebration. Think late 1980's Theo Fleury sliding on his knees across center during the Stanley Cup finals when he scored the OT winner. He slid, and then he and the team dog piled on the goalie. Together. As a team. No one did a stupid dance. No one pulled a cell phone out from behind the goal post. No one did the "Soulja Boy." Catch the fucking ball. Pat the quarterback on the ass. Get ready to do it again. You get to keep your dignity, show some class, and no one will fine you. Thanks for letting me get this off my chest. In case there you were curious about all of the pictures that I included, I felt bad not including some because when I searched for football celebrations there were just so many vomit inducing images that I needed to share some of them. For fuck's sake, celebrating a good play should not come equipped with a penalty or a multi-thousand dollar fine. Have a good night.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Objection!: Return To Sender

(Objection! is a (new!) recurring feature in which things were said, lines were drawn, and someone needs a good verbal beating. And I'm just the person to give it.)

Dear Jason:

I'm sorry to hear that you are unhappy with our free and multiple operating system compatible iTunes software. It really breaks my heart to hear that your WINDOWS pc is rejecting our (in your own words) "superior media developing device." I understand your frustrations with some of our hardware and I'm sorry that you disagree with our marketing practices, but I don't think the word "parasite" is appropriate (we prefer "opportunist"). I would like to offer you a free iTunes download of "Song you don't know" by Band That Sucks in hopes that you will continue to not pay us for things in the future.
-Steve "I have more money than God" Jobs

Ok, Steve Jobs probably is a dick, but face it, the guy and his company have come up with some amazing tech over the last 20 some years. Yeah, they charge an arm and a leg for it. Yeah sometimes it breaks. Too freaking bad. It's still better than Windows Media Player/Windows Vista/Zune. Also, if a guy is upset that their new 3G iPhone isn't exactly twice as fast as the old one and that the company "sold too many", does that really entitle him to sue Apple for probably 1000 times what he paid for it? Umm, no. You're gonna have to find free money somewhere else buddy.
Now, as for Apple making false or ambiguous advertising claims? Hello? McFly? That's what marketing IS. Stretching facts and making unprovable claims is the business of which, if you think Apple is the sole proprietor, then you must be living in a bubble. I don't like it any more than anyone else, but in our present business world, the fact is that the companies that try to stay within the existing bounds fall behind or get gobbled up by everybody else.

Besides, iTunes runs just fine on my MacBook.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack: Odd Notion '07

(30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack is a recurring feature which reviews a beer from the point of view of a guy who knows nothing about beer except for that he loves it. And it loves him. So go quench your thirst my friends.)

Time. Time is an enemy of many things. Life, clocks, homework. Beer. Time is most definitely against beer. Good beer lasts for awhile, but not forever. Certainly not a year correct? Well lets find out.

My beer this week is another winter specialty... from 2007. Ah yes, the winter of '07. I moved here to Baltimore and celebrated with a mix pack from Magic Hat. In it was this dandy lil beer I somehow never got around to drinking and let slide until tonight, when it shall meet its fate. Meet the Magic Hat "Odd Notion" of winter 2007.

This beer is my kind of beer, 7.5% alc/vol and dark. It is a very light and viscous beer. Almost no head, and that has nothing to do with the time here. Time has treated this beer well. I would have to say I would enjoy it more last year, things would not be floating in it as they are now. Beyond that however, this is a tasty winter classic. Carrying a tart first bite, she finishes with a bit of ginger, maybe caramel. Who the hell knows, I am drinking over a year old beer. Lets turn to Beer Advocate for some expert advice on this retro sud.

Dark and cloudy with a thin head and faintly spicy aroma. It's got a smooth taste that reminded me favorably of good fruitcake --roasted malts and flavors of spice, molasses, toffee and nuts. At 7.5% alcohol, it packs a bit of a punch, but it doesn't taste too strong.

That one comes from brentk56 in North Carolina. Thanks Brent, and thanks BA.

So the moral of the story is drink your beer. Do not let the beer sit there, it is a sin. If you do, someday you will have to face the skunky truth, even if it is still pretty darn tasty.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Ultra-douche incarnate

So if you have not heard this quote from Sean Avery of the Dallas Stars yet, well here it is:

Uh, I'm really happy to be back in Calgary. I love Canada. And I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about. Enjoy the game tonight.

Back story: Avery has nabbed some hotties before and a few have gone on to date other NHL players. In this case, before facing the Flames, Avery was calling attention to Dion Phaneuf of the Flames, who is dating Elisha Cuthbert.

The NHL has erupted in outrage over his comment, with the head office suspending him and calling him to NYC to meat with GB. Players all over have called him out on it, and at first, well I defended him. I have wanted a heroes and villains world in the NHL forever. They could market these kind of stories so well, and it would be the kind of back story that allowed you to grow fan base without circus acts like the Winter Classic (See my prior rant). I didn't think this was something warranting suspension, maybe a sharp fine, but not a vacation from the ice.

I have changed my mind on this since this morning. It is degrading to women, a bad influence for kids, and overall a nasty comment. I still don't think the league itself has any right stepping in on this when they let blatant head hits and dirty play go un-suspended on a weekly basis. The Stars claim they would have given him the noose themselves, and that is where the suspension should have come from. At the end of the day Avery will get his, and I really hope it comes in the form of Jack Bauer. Or ol Dion. Pretty much the same result.

An open letter to Apple

Dear Apple:

So I am pissed off at you. Look, you have funny commercials, solely because John is funny as shit. Beyond that, you blow. And you keep stealing the money of my friends because you can convince them that “oooo my computer is recyclable” or “I won’t ever crash!”

I see you for the parasite you are. You are an advertising genius. Who else can throw out frivolous lies and get the public to believe them? Just today, Gizmodo produced a link to a story in which you were quoted as saying…

Plaintiff's claims, and those of the purported class, are barred by the fact that the alleged deceptive statements were such that no reasonable person in Plaintiff's position could have reasonably relied on or misunderstood Apple's statements as claims of fact.

In other words, your advertisements are lies and you know it. You also know people will swallow it whole. Well maybe it is time we release the truth! Guess what buddy, I know that every computer is recyclable 100% now, not just you. I don’t think China would exist without that industry come to think of it… I also know that you are more expensive than a PC of equal computing power. Your “3G” iPhone? Gimmie a fucking break, you are lucky to be 2G in most service areas.

Please don’t even get me started on you never crashing. Oh, sorry, you “Kernel” error instead. Well la de da. I wasted half my college tuition waiting for your superior media developing devices to un-stall and let me finish my project.

Beyond the lies, your other transgressions are just diabolic. iPod batteries cannot be replaced and die in under two years of average consumer use. iPhones have a backdoor off switch for applications people paid good money for, allowing you to take them away with no refund whenever you wish. Your iPhone is also made of such shitty material that they ship with cracks in the casings. Steve Jobs is an evil robot.

Yet through it all, you win. You sell, you lie, you sell some more and lie some more. How do you win? Pretty lights. All your consumers amount to nothing more than a moth to a flame. Aesthetics and ad sense are the only reason you succeed, and just as you quoted above… it is all a lie.

With love,


Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Lost Potential, in the lit class I'm currently taking, we've read a handful of classic short stories and novels from the last few centuries. The latest one is now To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf. If you haven't read this the narrative is.... boggling. Rather than follow any real rhyme or reason, it jumps through various character's minds, putting great detail to even the most trivial and mundane thoughts as they enter that person's head. I promise that's it for the literary analysis in my post, but I am going somewhere with this. About 90% of our class hated this novel, the style and form of it was just too messy and confusing. As soon as I figured it out though, I was like, this is my brain! All this ADD inspired nonsense is a perfect model of the randomness that is my thought process!

Well it turns out Virginia Woolf was rather mentally imbalanced herself. She suffered several breakdowns in her life and eventually committed suicide by jumping in a river. Now.....I'M mentally imbalanced. I have trouble fitting into normal society and normal values. I even suffer from the same loopy thought patterns as these famous writers. Why the hell don't I have some great literary or artistic mind? Unfair says I .

I can only guess that I'm just not crazy enough. My life is lacking that one particularly devastating hardship that would push me over the edge. And frankly, my friends and family aren't helping. You guys are either too insistent on keeping me not-isolated, or just too nice to me in general. At this rate I'll spend the rest of my long, somewhat enjoyable life working a real job, always having food and shelter, and possibly even getting married. I hope you're happy you bastards.

Just like Ugs, a classic winter mistake

I have been sitting on this one for awhile, waiting to see what other angle or aesthetic drags itself from some unknown hole to be judged and valued. Yes my friends, the NHL will hold the 2009 Winter Classic on January 1st, with my beloved Red Wings facing the bastards from Chicago. The game takes place in one of the top three holiest baseball shrines ever, bubblegum field.

I voiced thorough disapproval over the game last year, to which Penguins fans told me I was jealous and I would change my tone if the Red Wings had a national spot light like that. Well, here I am to say that as the day fast approaches, and new details seem to have subsided, I remain opposed to the game. That is not to say I won’t watch with great interest.

Several things about this whole event irk me. First is the basic molestation of the NHL and its relevance as a brand. Yes this is America folks, a place where sports and championships mean squat unless paying customers buy in. The Stanley Cup would be played for in some back room poker game if zero people paid to watch competition for it. So on this day, the NHL has said “Hey, we cannot alter our game, promote our stars better, or hire a better commish to raise ratings, so let’s go act like a circus act for attention!”

This is all the Winter Classic amounts to, a ratings pull. I will not accept the “heritage of the game” roots argument. Maybe when the League pulled off the Montreal versus Edmonton game several years ago as an exhibition match; that was fine and dandy. Now when they send teams overseas for actual regular season contests, as well as this, I see them for the misguided ratings whores they are. Look, I would work for ratings too, but I’d do it through star recognition, rivalry building, cheaper access, not a side show.

No, now that they show this game as a “centerpiece” yearly, I think it is a gag. This is an event waiting for disaster. NHL players are world class athletes. They play at a faster speed than any athlete on the planet, and on the most volatile surface any game is held. Until they take up rocket-bike polo on the top of a volcano, hockey is the fastest sport. (Sorry NASCAR, I won’t even go there today.) For those of you unfamiliar with ice hockey, the ice itself is a science. Well paid men work day and night to ensure the ice stays as perfect as possible Not only does this make sure the puck plays smoothly, but that million dollar athletes do not hit a rut and blow an ACL.

So what happens when an ice rink is built outside in conditions you cannot control? You ask for disaster. Sure, last year was pretty. Snow falling, cold Canadian weather blowing into Buffalo. Beautiful. What happens when unseasonably warm weather brings rain or ruins the ice in Chicago? The zamboni already had more ice time than Crosby in Buffalo, so what then? It better not be the Red Wings young superstar player who tears a knee on a rut that would not have been present indoors.

Outside of the quality of the game, I just dislike the approach. True hockey fans bitched about the Fox Trax puck, idiot-proof explanation of the rules and commentary, why do we accept a blatant pull for some of the NCAA Bowl game ratings on New Years Day?

My intelligent argument aside; I hate the Wings’ jersey; the classic wheel from the glory days would have been better suited. I think the old non-Tigers English D just confuses people and was used by the club for a short period of time for a reason.

This is not to say I won’t watch, cheer and hope for a favorable outcome on the 1st like other Wings fans, but I’d rather do it at a traditional Joe Louis New Years Eve game. Let someone else from a team without history get sacrificed.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Turkey comas on a plane are no fun

I had yet another terrific trip home to the mitten world, 
where the skies are gray unless you desire a good game of football in nasty weather. Then they will be beautiful and sunny. None the less, Thanksgiving was a blessing, a chance to see my family and friends that does not come enough. Medium and I were treated to a Red Wings game by young Patrice on Friday. There lil Patrick asked us to be co-best men for his wedding, an honor accepted dutifully.

Saturday was the epic football game(s). I think all told we got 19 or 20 guys to show up and give 4 or 5 hours in exchange for a weeks worth of pain and agony. The plays were epic, the scores were epic, the hits more epic, the ball hits... less than epic but more frequent. I think next year we might need to start wearing cups.

Saturday night proved to be just as much fun. Lots of good friends for good beer, stories and antics. What can you say about a night that ends with girls sneaking beer out of the bar in their purse so we can play beer pong with two bottle caps taped together?

I will write up a music review and another winter beer review this week before I go to D.C. Come to think of it, maybe I won't... but I promise I'll try.


Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Continuing the Turkey Day Thoughts...

I also will be returning home to Michigan for the Turkey Day. And, like Jason, truly appreciate the traditions associated with this holiday. For me this year, things are really different. It almost became unbearable when the Lions started flirting with another blackout. However, as of noon today, the game sold out and that issue has been avoided.

An important tradition in my family has been the home Thanksgiving, often at my grandparents house. Everyone in the family is invited (and that includes all of the extended family, the ex-husbands and new wives, people who are longtime friends, etc.) Normally all of these people are invited, half say they will come, and everything works out fine. This year, due most likely to el Nino, everyone said "Yes, we'll be there."


The table won't fit nearly that many people, and my grandparents (in their 80's, both have had hip replacements) really can't cook and clean up for that many people. So, for the first time EVER, we will be eating at a restaurant. I have literally no idea what to expect with this. I'll probably miss some of the Lions game, and also I am worried that I won't get some of my old favorite foods. On top of this, part of my family decided they didn't want to deal with the restaurant, and are having a smaller dinner at home. I am expected to attend, so after I go out to eat, I have to come home to eat. Oy...

However, the day will be great I am sure, with family and friends and food. And, MSU basketball tips at 7:00pm Thanksgiving night against Maryland. That should be good...

I also am looking forward to joining in Jason's traditions on Saturday, and seeing my 3B brothers. That does not happen nearly often enough.

Mmmm... Stuffed Kramer

I get to fly home to the mitten today for what is fast becoming one of my favorite holidays if it wasn’t already. This is my second Thanksgiving away from home and now more than ever I enjoy building new traditions. Making my brother pick me up from the airport; playing the “but I never get to come home anymore!” excuse during dinner clean up; stealing all the good parts of the turkey because I am the long lost son, ect.

For real though, this for me is where traditions really become important. This trip will mark the second such year I stay up till the sun breaks on Thanksgiving eve playing video games with my bro, it will be a third annual football match at Brooklands between college friends, and it will be one of a very few occasions I get to celebrate with my Three B gang out at the bar Saturday.

Top all of this off with a trip to see the Red Wings Friday and it might as well be Christmas. So a happy holiday to you my friends. Travel safe, eat too much, and god forbid please do not watch the entire Lions game. Depression sets in after the holidays, not during people.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 24, 2008

This Football Season Is No Fantasy of Mine

Fantasy football. FANTASY football. You would think that something claiming to be a fantasy would be way more pleasant than what is currently happening in my football fantasy. At this moment I am bringing up the rear in one league, and I am third to last in the other. And my "good" team hasn't so much as squeaked by in each of my victories. My personal fantasy football moment involves more blow outs, less injuries, more offense, no bad players, and no bad management. Shit - I would even settle for more close games as long as I win. Fantasy. Instead I get football hell. The only blow outs occur when I am taking it raw. If a star players goes down, chances are I own him. If I don't own him, then he is probably the guy that should be passing the ball to my star receiver (fucking Tom Brady). If a player had a breakout season last year and was poised for great things, then I made sure that my guy was the one that proved that the previous season was, in fact, a fluke. And that leaves managerial errors... If Yahoo! predicts a my no-name running back or wide receiver to have a career making week because the player over shadowing him goes down or because he is playing the Lions, and this prediction influences me to bench my older future Hall of Fame player, then the chances are that the no-name player will continue to be a no-name player and the future Hall of Famer will have the greatest game of his life... while sitting on my bench. Fantasy. For about half the teams the season turns into a hellish mix of headaches and bad decisions... sort of like undergrad. A little less than half of the teams have season that ends with "I almost made a difference" or "I was so close"... sort of like life. And then there are the select few. Out the thousands that "play" each season, there are the champions. They made all of the right decisions: getting a lesser draft pick that meant you couldn't snag those super stars that had the worst seasons of their careers and instead had to settle for the guy that turned out to lead the league is everything, stumbling across a couple of free agents that turned out to be key role players (like the guy that runs for 21 yards and 2 TDs), getting his roster to play a nice mix "now you guys can take a break this week, but this means that you guys need to have break out weeks," and making sure his players stayed healthy all year... So you know, all of the things that they didn't actually have any control over. Fantasy. This game needs a new name. My fantasy would have more human interaction (because its more fun to talk smack in person), more money (I would be happy to sign a 10 year contract worth $2.4 million annually to play this game in Yahoo! over ESPN), and more cheerleaders. I would settle for each games' highlights to be reenacted by cheerleaders, but again this is my fantasy. *Sigh* Fantasy.

Me too!

I will join Newman in vowing to have a renewed (read: new) effort to post on this blog.

The topic of my first post: Ice Hockey.

The younger class of Ninja Monks (Mike, Ken and Myself) are coming out of a brief hockey retirement and starting some drop in at Troy Sports Center and the Onyx. The end goal will be to join a league. If any Metro Detroit Area 3Bers are interested we'd be glad to have you.

For your added humor I will be attempting to combine minimal roller hockey goalie experience and minimal ice hockey experience into playing goalie on ice. I have yet to buy the goalie skates, but once I do... well... I don't expect it to be pretty. I would really appreciate it if anyone familiar with Royal Oak (Howie) might be able to direct me to a frozen pond / outdoor ice rink where i can slip and slide in my pads before going to a drop in (where I expect to disappoint the paying customers).

30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack: Season's Best

(30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack is a recurring feature which reviews a beer from the point of view of a guy who knows nothing about beer except for that he loves it. And it loves him. So go quench your thirst my friends.)

Ya know, I spoil you. Or you spoil me by reading this. Either way, let me reward you. Is there anything in life better than beer? Seriously? A significant other yells at you, sports hurt us, children cry. Beer loves you. Beer tastes good. In my constant search for blog relevance, I have added a second recurring feature this week, and it shall be known as 30 lbs. Short of a Six Pack. If you can't catch the metaphor there, you probably don't like beer. Yes, for you, I shall sacrifice. I shall endeavor to explore and search out new and tasty brews, even old familiar brews, and put my taste buds to keyboard for you. My review of such brew, shall flow fourth like the frothy head of... ok screw it, time to taste.

Today's beer is in the seasonal category. Winter truly is one of my favorite drinking times, and breweries never let you down. Saranac beers come from the Matt Brewing Company of Utica, NY. In the Saranac Holiday Sampler you will find this happy little beer; and that is what it is. A pleasant, easy to finish, fun to start, not too filling, not too weak beer. Described as a nut brown lager, Season's Best has a mild amber color and hint of caramel. It carries very little head and finishes just ever so slightly bitter, that good tinge of bitter finish you would get in a specialty Sam's. Real beer people would tell you that the finish comes from more hops or something, I will tell you that it is just plain good. This beer is 5.3% alcohol and Saranac recommends it with some good old pork or BBQ. I recommend it with more Season's Best, because you need be saving room for whats important... more beer.

Now because I love you, and I know I don't know jack about beer, I want to lend to you a real voice of authority. If you have never heard of Beer Advocate, thank me now, because I just made your world better. This website is a fantastic user generated review forum for beers, and for each review I shall throw in one from BA to give some actual knowledge to what I be saying. For Season's Best we tap into "wiseguy142" from Rochester, NY.

"Nut Brown Lager." Wtf. Ok I guess I'm excited, sounds pretty tasty and unusual. Just noticed the nice artwork on the label which I don't think I've been appreciating when it comes to the rest of Saranac's beers. Pours a nice amber brown.. maybe a little too similar to their ESB if they're trying to differentiate the two based on color. But good head and good lacing. Aroma is great, very perfume-y and piney, but it's either how it mixes with the rest of the malt or something else that makes it unique. Taste is a huge kick in the malt bone, if there was one. Astringency is very noticeable though, which seems to be a problem for Saranac's beers. The complex roasted malt flavors retain their integrity in the face of the lagering process, which was what I was worried about. I was worried it was going to be like the Indian Brown Ale and taste nothing like a brown anything, but it definitely pulls through. Unfortunately, the astringency is a huge flaw and affects my score significantly. Mouthfeel benefits form the overall malt character- medium to full body and really pleasant to drink. Probably a tie with the ESB for my favorite in the mix pack. Just fix that astringency, apply it to the other beers in the pack and I'd be really happy."

Thank you wiseguy142.

Ok, I have five more to drink and an airplane to catch tomorrow. Peace.

Here Comes Newman!

I just want to let everyone in 3B know... and by "everyone" I mean Jason and Dammon it seems... that I, Newman, will now be slightly more active in this blog! I am making this decision after getting a random, weird invite on facebook from Jason. I normally delete these right away, cause I don't enjoy becoming an elf on someones trek to *insert mythical place here.* But, this one said 3B in the title, so I was mildly interested. I couldn't figure it out at first, until I realized it was just a page to promote the old crappy blog, instead of something sexy and new.

Now, at this point I normally would have just pooped out on it again, but I recently started using google reader. It's this "thing" that takes "posts" and puts them in one place. So, I wouldn't need to say, remember to go to the blog to now read it. So I added this blog to my reader.

Reader #3!!! Whooo! My favorite post so far? Dammon saying Jason's rule of tyranny is over. :)


Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Album You Missed: 11 Days

(The Album You Missed is a recurring feature which describes a great album from the past that well, you might have missed and should probably go out and listen to. Seriously, just even download it on-line, it will take you 6 minutes.)

So I have a lot of music. I have always been a fan of music, obsessing over different genres and bands as fads came and went. I worked at a college radio station for the better part of 5 years and lets just say we looked at "borrowing" the music fairly liberally. Before my computer KO'd on me I had somewhere above 15k songs on it, now I host a modest but diverse 6k to go along with my 600-700 albums stacked in the living room. I like to throw the itunes on shuffle and see where it takes me some days and it makes me nostalgic. When these moments happen, well it is time to blog about them. TAYM will dig into my collection on a whenever I feel like it basis and give you the scoop on something I, in my egotistical opinion think you need to know.

The first artist for this topic you've never heard of it. Literally. Like thats the band. Never Heard Of It, or NHOI are California pop-punkers who have been kicking around the docs for the better part of two decades I think, I don't have any facts to back that up, but it feels right. NHOI are truly some of the veterans of the pop punk genre and honestly, Fall Out Boy, Yellowcard, Simple Sucks Plan.. err Simple Plan would not be in existence without the trench work dug by this gang. 11 Days was released in 2004 on Unmotivated Records. Ironically named enough, Unmotivated Records is run by NHOI as they are a powerhouse of a DIY band.

11 Days is laced with the kind of pop and lyrics that really get you through a bad day, stubbed toe, apocalypse, whatever. When Hard Headed hits on track two, you just start singing along by the second round of the chorus, because it is that simple to pick up. Yea, none of these lyrics or hooks are going to rock your world and make you spit on Hendrix's grave, but sometimes baby, toe tappin just has to happen. Where else are you going to find a band who can spew out the lyrics "Shes been acting like a dick and I've been a bitch" while smiling and humming? 11 Days will give you 11 tracks, nearly all of them topping out at the punk standard of 2 minutes and 30 seconds. Stick around after the last song for one of the best bonus tracks ever recorded. EVER. Think Arnold the Governator doing a rap with Danny Devito, for serious. Highlights on the album are Hard Headed, Walkin' Alone, Dead Awake and Satisfied.

Score: 3 out of 5 "I'd be embarrassed if a hot chick pulled up next to my car and heard me listening to this but I know all the lyrics anyway."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mega Man is a real prick

Mega Man taunts me. I wrote that Dead Space was scary? How about a tiny 8-bit demon who laughs at you in your sleep? I think my "gamerscore" made me too cocky, or maybe the ease of games these days is to blame, but my 10 year old self would be ashamed. Mega Man 9, the "reboot" of the series on XBLA and PSN is old school hard. Rendered in beautiful 8-bit video and sound, it makes you shrink 2 feet (well for me 0) and act like a kid again. The game triumphantly brings back all the nostalgic habits of your retro gaming past. Button mashing, edge of your seat screaming at the TV, cookies and Mountain Dew... yum. Every Mega Man game to me from 1 to 5, was really just the same. Yea, new bosses or gimmicks, but puzzles run together and themes kind of get stale. It was what it was though and you played for the joy of the familiar. That past day is so old now, it really isn't familiar, but a friend I am happy to reacquaint with now that winter and video game season is setting in.

5 out of 5 "I'm never getting far enough in this game to rate it"'s.

In about a month I'll be writing my top five albums of the year again. I have been pondering what I really liked, what I missed, because honestly I know I've missed a bunch no longer being around radio operations. I try and listen to several different indie feeds and I know when my favorites of the genre are performing anew, but obviously some will slip through the cracks. I need to fill up on a few new tunes before my plane rides this holiday season kick up. Suggestions are much appreciated.

And now, several fractured thoughts from a tired mind: Personally, I am really excited to get home for Thanksgiving. Shit has been weird around these parts lately. I've had struggles at work, however I am in a happier and much more productive mode now. Stress is still high but I think I have evolved and am dealing with it much better than before. Training wheels have rusted off kid. Personal life continues to baffle me. Hockey season ended with a heroic playoff drive and victory, but now I'll be on the shelf for awhile so I can heal my back. And let us just say, outside of "Mickey", boy have I hit a cold streak.. ouch. Guess I need a hair cut. I really wanted to finally move downtown into this loft right next to Camden yard, but nothing was available in the size I wanted; the waiting shall continue. Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind was on to something I think. I would like a cheeseburger. Maybe a coke... eh lets make that a beer. Happy Sat night all.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Karma is an asshole

Well didn’t this lil man just have an interesting night last night. Per usual, whenever my bad influence comes into town, shenanigans follow. With Korey suggesting this could be one of the last trips he makes to Baltimore, I ventured out for one drink that naturally turned into a few more. What can I say, I need booze to suffer through his dominance of me in all of the bar games we play.

Well fast forward to the Waterfront where we are playing billiards. As I humbly sit aside and watch Korey play some dude, I enjoy sips of Sam’s in between insults about my choice to wear a scarf. It was friggin cold alright? Then out of nowhere, like Wal-mart Wolverine on a price drop, Mickey descended upon me. Mickey can best be summed up as such: Over 40 woman, Iranian decent, decent appearance for her age if you like the skuzzy Balmore type who reeks of smoke and seafood. While draped over my shoulder, sniffing my hair and groping various areas, she informed me we were now pool partners, she was recently divorced, and she was horny.

Now normally I have a great sense of humor, I love when this shit happens to OTHERS, but tonight with the look in Baby Bop and associates’ eyes, I knew I had to suffer through this one for the team. So in between texts about getting man raped and drink after drink to make this situation a little more tolerable, I took solace in the fact that somehow, somewhere, Mike Ford was smiling.

Let us turn focus to the hilaaarious image accompanying this post. Yes my friends, the new Xbox experience is upon us, and my avatar has already bludgeoned Damman’s. This thing might just catch on. I am impressed for the most part. The system seems to run faster, information is laid out in a way which makes sense. I love the Gamertag and Game blades, which show information in an easy system, where before you had to dig through multiple layers to see what achievements could be had and were accomplished.

It will take time to see how it fleshes out in terms of user interaction, but party set up, and avatar games could add a decent Wii like influence to the console. Bravo M$, it took you four years, but you finally have an OS that makes sense.