Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Ranking the Rank

I just finished the book "Travels with Barley" by Ken Wells. The work is subtitled "The Quest for the Perfect Beer Joint," but many aspects of beer and beer culture are discussed within its pages.
One personal point of interest concerned the existence of beer snobs. I haven't spent a lot of time considering the existence of such a class of humans. I expect such elitism from wine drinkers, but not your average blue-collar beer drinker.
I was once derided myself in an Asheville bar for choosing to drink a Bass ale rather than a local ale. I thought very little of the encounter at the time, outside of wondering why the hell he cared about what touched my tongue, a unique flavor sensor unlikely to share his same passions.
Nonetheless, I do have strong opinions on certain beers. I prefer lagers rather than ales or other "hoppy" beers. I like a smoother taste and the hoppier beers tend to give me indigestion. Regardless of how good something tastes, a certain amount of pain in return is simply not worth the pleasure gained. There are exceptions to even these rules - I was at the time of the incident just recalled, a bit of a Bass fan, and I have gone through periods where I drank a lot of Guinness, as well as Newcastle Brown Ale.
I would have to admit that I like changing my beer of choice on occasion. This month it may be Red Stripe, by June I might be pouring Stella Artois down my gaping gullet. My love of drinking games will drive me on occasion into the caressing arms of a case of my long-time friend (and enemy of the beer snob), the cheap mass-produced lager, Busch Light. I would even quaff the Keystone and Miller products disdained by the butt-licking kitty beer snob pictured above.
I guess I would say in summation that although I have some general preferences, I feel I am pretty open-minded about beer and will try almost anything once. There are, however, four brands I just won't go to anymore for a pint. Here is the banned list: I plead guilt to my own personal beer snobbery.

4. Chili Beer: Down in Charleston, during my younger days when I would try just about anything once, I bought one of these beers with a jalapeno pepper floating inside the bottle. I know, it sounds like a terrible idea - and so it turned out to be.

3. Coors/Coors Light: Although I will drink a Killian's on rare occasion, the Coors Brewing company is otherwise dead to me. I would like to give you a high-minded reason like their disdain for gay rights and other right-wing positions the company's owners have taken over the years. Sadly, I would be lying - if they made a great beer I could probably put all that aside. In reality, they make flavorless piss up and down their product line and I just don't care to purchase anymore.

2. Natural Ice (a.k.a. Natty Ice): The ice beer was the hot product of the moment during my college years. For the first time, the massive behemoths of the beer industry had introduced lagers with an average of 5% alcohol by volume, rather than a measly 3%. For college students looking for ways to get retarded drunk in 2.3 seconds, the ice beer was a revelation. The unfortunate downside was that the beer companies hadn't actually bothered to make a beer that was drinkable as well. The one case of Natty Ice I purchased was the only case in my life I can remember throwing away with several untouched beers still left inside.

1. Icehouse: Yet another ice beer, Icehouse was supposedly made by Miller Brewing Company at the storied Plank Road Brewery, as the company called the place where they didn't really make the brew. I only wish that my career of drinking Icehouse was equally as fictional. People used to actually purchase kegs of this rot-gut booze and I was young and dumb enough to think that if I just drank it fast enough that it would no longer taste like the fermented leavings from the bottom of my garbage disposal. The result was, that I, not used to the alcohol content difference and unwilling to drink the swill slowly, inevitably became so drunk as to incur brain-lock. Many stories of my boorish behavior can be recounted to you by others in my fraternity (and I won some awards - not coveted ones), but since my mind was in off-mode at those times, I cannot personally recount them to you, dear reader.
Unfortunately, I do remember the day after drinking Icehouse, and not terribly fondly. You may recall yourself the displeasure of violent headaches and gastrointestinal agony from one of your own "day-afters." I had a few of these days myself after a night of Icehouse, but the worst was the day I woke up to find my face half-submerged in a puddle. No, I didn't pass out in a gutter - that would have been a preferably result. Miraculously no doubt, I was safely in my own bed, gazing upon the contents of my stomach from the night before.
The cleanup period of the next day (many thanks to Josh Gillespie for helping me through that day) convinced me never to touch an Icehouse again. Not to be a beer snob, but I suggest that you do the same.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Lindsey Comes Out

A gay bit of news today here in South Carolina as Lindsey Graham has decided that he will come out this very spring.
That's right, South Carolina's senior Senator is going to be part of the debutante class of 2010 in Central, South Carolina, the town where he was born.
With thirty percent of the small burg living in poverty, Lindsey will be part of a four person group making the rounds of Central high society. He is the first male in the town's history to participate in the program.
The people of Central have been very supportive of their local hero.
"I'm very glad he is finally going to come out," said Martha Griffith, the town librarian, as she extinguished her lit fag. "My closet is full of stunning outfits I have been very hard at work designing to properly accentuate his lithe, girlish figure."
Some have questioned his motives, wondering if there was a political agenda behind the move.
"I find it very queer that a fifty-five year old man would enter a program designed to assist teenage girls as they blossom into womanhood," wondered Tea Party activist Wilson Sticksbottom III.
Senator Graham himself deigned to return our phone calls for the first time ever and provided his reasoning for the controversial decision to become a debutante. "There has been something bothering me day and night. I just couldn't bring myself to blame immigrants for all of the world's problems and I always wondered why. I mean, I've never shown empathy before so why with this one issue?"
Lindsey continued, "One day I was back visiting my home town of Central and I got into a deep conversation with my friend Martha Griffith, the co-ordinator of GFW (Genteel Flowering Women). When she spoke of the joys of the debutante process I had an epiphany, realizing what had been missing from my life all along. I also came to the obvious conclusion that the dirty Mexicans are ruining our economy and must be stopped."
The Senator's tour of Central high society will start at the crow of the cock on May 3 with a reception at the home of Gregory and Vanessa Manlove and concludes with a huge ball at the home of Chris and Marjorie Butt-Pounder on the 17th of that same month.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flobots to Ride Their Bike at the Handlebar

May 27 will bring an original mix of Rocky Mountain hip-hop and rock to South Carolina as Denver, Colorado's Flobots will be performing at the Handlebar in Greenville along with opening acts Trouble Andrew and Champagne Champagne.
The Flobots are currently touring the United States in support of their second full length album for Universal Republic, Survival Story. The band came on to the scene back in 2008 with the song "Handlebars," a tale of ego run wild with distinctive political undertones.
The band is never unwilling to share their personal beliefs, as demonstrated throughout their first release on a major label. Fight With Tools, which includes references to the failure of the government to adequately respond to Hurricane Katrina ("Stand Up"), an ode to a Southern woman who stood up for black civil rights in the 1950s and 1960s ("Anne Braden"), and occasional references to the plight of Leonard Peltier, a long-imprisoned American Indian activist who many are convinced was convicted with the use of contrived evidence and coerced witnesses.
Regardless of your personal convictions, however, these guys can flow and, unlike many hip-hop artists, the six-man group play real instruments in a live setting with flair and not a little bit of ability. Strings and brass compliment guitars and drums combining for a full, almost orchestral sound that imparts a delightful bit of elegance to the songs without overpowering the impressive lyrics of the two MCs, Jonny 5 and Brer Rabbit.
"Stand Up" and ride your bike with no "Handlebars" to the Handlebar on May 27th or I will "Punch You in the Face."

Editor's Note: "Punch You in the Face" is not an actual Flobots song so don't yell out for them to play it during the show unless you want the band to look confused.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Welcome Back to the Diamond

In order to properly roll out the red carpet on the brand new season I thought it might be a good idea to announce this year's Major League Baseball all-name team. If I wait til June the Cubs might be eliminated from contention and I could lose interest. So without further ado:

Catcher: The duo of Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Texas Rangers) and Taylor Teagarden (same). The longest name in the league can't be left off the list. He has to wear two jerseys to completely spell his surname in its entirety. As far as Teagarden, I love the irony of such a large man (the catcher runs 200 lbs. +) running around with such a petit-sounding moniker, which conjures up scenes from "Gosford Park" and "Pride and Prejudice" in my mind.

First Base: Unfortunately Yonder Alonso didn't actually make the Cincinnati Reds Opening Day roster. I have faith, however, that Alonso will put in the work down yonder in AAA and he will be back in the majors soon enough to deserve a spot on the team. We will start long time name team fave Ryan "Donnie" Garko (Cleveland Indians) in his place until that time comes (in your face?).

Second Base: Congratulations to Asdrubal "Assdrool" Cabrera (Cleveland Indians), who has maintained his starting position for the third straight year (and probably until he is forcibly retired due to suckiness - actually he was good last year but I just can't picture a Hall of Fame career from someone named Assdrool).

Shortstop: Brian Bo(w)cock and his bent weiner that shoots arrows also sucked it up a bit too much in the spring and will not be wearing a Phillies uniform. Ryan (TheRapist) TheRiot (Chicago Cubs) will hold down the fort (and hopefully be moved to second with his second basemen arm-having self.

Third Base: Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox. No real reason except to give me an excuse to ask a couple survey questions. Who comes off as more of a pansy - Jeff Gordon or David Beckham? Will Gordon Beckham combine their pansy personalities into a super-human freakazoid character about whom several Marvel Comic Book series will be written?

Left Field: Cory Hart (Milwaukee Brewers). He still wears his sunglasses at night - so he can, so he can, see better. His starting job is in jeopardy thanks to Angel Pagan, who, according to redneck troglodyte and ex-major leaguer John Rocker, is the holiest thing in all of godforsaken New York.

Center Field: Milton Bradley (Seattle Mariners) and Coco Crisp (Oakland Athletics). These two actually played together in the early part of their career for the Cleveland Indians. They are platoon in perpetuity here - until Bradley irritates the last few teams who have yet to get rid of him.

Right Field: Fuckudome obviously has his job locked up as long as he can remain on the Chicago Cubs roster. After playing so badly in right field today that even Alfonso Soriano was ashamed, this may be his last year in this spot. Several players named Fucku-something are primed to take his place in the Japanese baseball player quota system.

Pitcher: Toby Stoner (New York Mets). All he needs are some tasty waves, cool buds, and he's fine. Even so, the team will need a couple more arms, so Johnathan Albadalejo (New York Yankees), pronounced "I-am-a-banjo, will fill in from time to time. That illegitimate pitcher from the Philadelphia Phillies, Antonio Bastardo, will throw a few innings as well. Obviously a spot is reserved in the bullpen for Boof Bonser of the Boston Red Sox, who starts the year on the disabled list. Jeff Manship (Minnesota Twins) should be prepared to set sail during the September call-up when rosters expand to 35. "Jerkin The" Merkin Valdez has already shit the bed for the Toronto Blue Jays with an ERA of 27 and been sent to the minor leagues where he will likely perish in ignominy.

Bonus tandem: Doug Fister and David Price (pitchers, Seattle Mariners and Tampa Rays. Together these two form Fister Price. Their slogan: Fister-Price, erotic toys. You know, for kids!

So there is your roster. I am always doing research to improve the quality of the side, so all suggestions will be taken under advisement. Enjoy the season while you can - only 20,000 games left to go!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Welcome to the Morgue

Despite my worst efforts, I am proud to say I graduated from Furman University in 1997. Although the classes were boring and I tried not to go to them very often, I greatly enjoyed my time there. I do have one bone to pick, though. As a big fan of NCAA basketball there was one thing missing from campus during my term of matriculation: a basketball arena on the campus.
During those years and many before that time our team played their games at Greenville Memorial Auditorium in downtown Greenville. Since I didn't have a car for most of that period and I would have been too drunk to drive one anyway, I was unable to attend any games. Needless to say, I was intrigued and excited to find that, as a part of Furman's plan to simultaneously employ every construction worker in the state,an on-campus facility was being built in time for the 1998 season (better late than never I suppose). Also, my home town team, the College of Charleston - the school where my parents had worked all my life - would be joining Furman's conference that very season.
My excitement lasted about as long as two halves of basketball. The College of Charleston Cougars were not at fault, as they escaped with an easy win (they are roughly 11-2 when visiting Furman since becoming members of the Southern Conference). The problem I had was the new vacant cavern the administration at my alma mater was deigning to call a basketball facility.
Never in my life have I attended a sporting event in a less-suitable place. The crowd is completely taken out of the action by the architect before the opening whistle is even blown.
If you have been to a Furman sporting event you might ask how the zombies we have for fans could be made even less effective. Good question! Trust me, the administration found a way. The seats are set up in tiers that shoot quickly backwards as they go up and so are removed further and further from the action on the floor. By the tenth row you would need a megaphone for anyone participating in the game to hear your vicious catcalls.
The stadium is known as Timmons Arena, but "The Morgue" would be a more appropriate moniker. The great open areas that surround the playing area and the grandstands allows the little bit of noise created by the fans to filter right out of the building. One wonders if the architect was aiming to make the place as quiet as possible. If so, in the words of Borat, "Great success!"
I have long given up on attending games just to see Furman play, but I make a pilgrimage every year to see the College of Charleston game. During this year's game I thought for the first twenty minutes that I was in a library. Only at the very end of a match-up that was very close for the majority of the second half did there appear to be more than five fans in attendance.
Is it too early to tear down Timmons Arena and try again? Why not? Let's get those construction workers employed once more. We can stimulate the economy and vanquish "The Morgue."