Saturday, February 18, 2012

Beer and foo Stall tactic!

I'm not yet ready to discuss beer and catastrophe. Instead, let's mourn the imminent death of my smartphone's camera by celebrating some of its best narrative photographs. Click to enlarge.

We'll start with the preciousness. I love this picture, from the same "session" as week five. G. was all about funny faces that day—it looks like she's about to pull off a mask and reveal herself as a V baby or something. She is the best.

Here's the orange frame I got in December's yankee swap (still don't have a print for it). I was diligently working away one afternoon when I glanced over and liked the way our blinding sun projected the Dunkin Donuts cup's shadow upon it. I promise this is in no way staged. It is art.

Garden Fresh Salad Co. in Chelsea is located, as you would expect with a name like "Garden Fresh," next door to one scrapyard and across the street from another. It's also a stone's throw from the train tracks, as demonstrated by this shot taken from a passing commuter rail car. You can get no fresher than backhoes, discarded appliances, telephone lines, barbed wire and a foot of snow.

The later stages of August's BBC beer dinner at Cambridge Common. What a great night, made greater by the no-show table neighbor whose beers were split evenly between my two friends and me. I was pretty all set.

We took a long walk in Marblehead in the Spring, and at the time I thought the "dichotomy" of these signs was really something else. It was hilarious to me in some subtle, clever way. For the life of me, though, I can't remember what the big deal was—I no longer get the joke. Any ideas?

I swear, every time I whip out my camera in an outdoor setting I end up with a picture exactly like this, taken from the same goddamn angle, with the same proportion of sky to structure. And I don't even realize it until I upload the photos afterward and realize "Hmm, that looks familiar." Here's the Newburyport version, taken during a trip soon after G. was born.

Turning this one ninety degrees changes the message from CAUTION: WET FLOOR to CAUTION: LUNGING ASSASSIN. Dig the cheesy rose-colored marble in my old building. At least it will still be standing in five years, unlike the new one which I think came from Ikea.

I don't know what to make of the logo for a local dry cleaner. Clearly the goal was to present an all-powerful superhero who zaps stains away from racks of undersized clothing. To me, however, he looks like an evil puppet master with wonderful child-bearing hips.

This was my Halloween costume a couple of years ago. I dressed up as someone who shops in the adolescents department at Marshall's.

A. and I traveled to Block Island in the Fall of 2010. We rented a scooter and toured most of the accessible roadways, but we had to stop at one point in order to document what total badasses we were in those helmets. Do not fuck with us.

The uncommon (though less so, recently) spelling of my name was inspired by a character on the old television series The Big Valley. TV Land or somebody plays a lot of reruns—here's a recent one. Do not fuck with Jarrod.

Here I am sitting in our hotel room in Montreal trying to decide which RetroCamera setting was best. I think people rely too much on these things—any old fool can oversaturate an image—but I'll admit it is fun to mix them in from time to time. So I composed the same shot over and over, applying a different filter for each one in order to compare them side by side. I think this Polaroid knock-off turned out especially creepy, like it's one of those purposely staid images where if you look closely enough you can make out a demon or a bloody screwdriver in the shadows.

A. and I had a little scare early in our pregnancy that thankfully turned out to be nothing. Upon learning the good news (or, rather, having a doctor rule out any bad news) we celebrated by heading straight from the hospital to Woody's Grill & Tap, one of my all-time favorite restaurants (I used to live right around the corner). Our joy and relief were palpable as we enjoyed the best pizza in Boston, snug in front of the brick oven, with A. sneaking sips of my Coffeehouse Porter. Around the Horn was on the TV above the bar and there must have been a malfunction with the closed captioning because it read WHO HAVE TO BE BORING? the entire half hour. What a brilliant sentence fragment—we laughed and laughed and it was just what we needed.

Lastly, as I said at the top, the shutter on my phone's camera is having trouble handling light and therefore has been slow to function—just try explaining that to a squirming five-month-old as you attempt to snap her picture. Anyway, there's an auto body repair shop right on the East Boston/Revere town line that puts its trade to good use when a local sports team is in a championship game or series—naturally, they stage the remains of an accident out front. Leading up to the (gulp) Super Bowl, they had decked out a giant SUV in Patriots colors and had it colliding with and destroying a compact coupe with a Giants logo painted on it. The coupe was pretend burning and everything. As we drove by one night I tried to snap a quick picture to post on Facebook—I even had a caption written in my head, "The flames are fake but the fire is REAL"—when my camera called bullshit on that. A. had to keep moving because traffic was heavy, so I just started shooting random pictures to see if it would fix itself. It wouldn't: the above is a single photograph and not a collage—one click, no post-click editing. The reddish section is pretty much straight ahead, the way I was facing, but the others represent alternate realities where I aimed the camera anywhere from left to right. Time for a new phone.

Maybe I'll return next week to try to work out what the hell happened in Indianapolis (hint: terrible defense!). Beyond that, I'm in a bit of what might be called a creative trough. Beefheart? Sure, but I haven't read the book yet. Short story? I have a title, Trial Size, and nothing else. At least there will be six thousand or so words to look forward to in May when I barf up another overlong annual playlist. Two of those words? Iron Maiden.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Beer and football II — playoffs, week four (bye)

The beer: Boulder "Mojo" India Pale Ale
The commentary: Twenty-one beers with one more to go. Let's recap by relating each week's selection to a player on this year's Patriots. Smell the contrivance!

1. Berkshire Saint of Circumstance India Pale AleTom Brady
Most valuable. I'd start the season with no other.

2. Rogue Mocha PorterAndre Carter
A. being all "Are you gonna drink that or what??" was the equivalent of fans (and media) clamoring for a pass-rushing force. Sorry he won't be on the field this weekend.

3. Clown Shoes Lubrication American Black AleChad Ochocinco
Lots of noise and controversy over something that didn't work out very well. "Ochocinco" is Spanish for "debased ethnic whore."

4. Notch SaisonNate Solder
Notch's session beers were a nice discovery of mine. High level of quality but not as strong as you might prefer, like my man Nate. Luckily power is something Solder can achieve "at the NFL level" over the next couple of years.

5. Pretty Things Hedgerow BitterRob Gronkowski
Remember 2010's draft, with the scramble at the top of the second round as the Pats jumped ahead of the Ravens at the last second to snag Gronkowski? Very similar to that asshole who I thought took the last Hedgerow.

6. Berkshire Oktoberfest LagerRob Ninkovich
Octoberfest beers usually serve as overlooked role players—never elite but often satisfying. Sound familiar?

7. Samuel Adams Boston LagerBenJarvus Green-Ellis
There is no beer I take for granted more so than Boston Lager. With every first sip I'm all "Goddamn, this is a great beer." Always reliable, just like the Law Firm. Watching him bust it up the other day was extremely rewarding.

8. Cambridge Great Pumpkin AleDeion Branch
Pumpkin beers have a limited shelf life but when it's on, it's on. Branch (my daughter's favorite player) plays every game and rarely gets noticed but when he's on, he's on.

9. Blue Hills Imperial Red India Pale AleBrandon Spikes
Spikes must have pounded one of these nine-percent-alcohol monsters before donning that pink suit. Whatever it takes, man.

10. Haverhill GestAlt German-Style Brown AleSebastian Vollmer
I wasted some of this bomber after it spewed all over the kitchen. Meanwhile, "The Texan Kraut" wasted a roster spot most of the season by playing like four games. Hopefully he makes a strong comeback Sunday, or at least plays a single down.

11. Stone Smoked PorterStevan Ridley
Very tempting early (Raider game), disappeared awhile, came back strong and then was inactive after too many fumbles. A smoked porter was mine for a few minutes during 2010's yankee swap but was taken away, so I got one of my own this year. Then I got drunk and A. made me a healthy scratch from baby duty.

12. Ipswich Oatmeal StoutWes Welker
Awesome but underappreciated. Why don't I drink this more often? Pay the man!

13. Just Beer Moby D American AleKyle Arrington
Arrington led the league in interceptions by being in the right place at the right time as balls were thrown or tipped straight to him. And that Mansfield-area liquor store was definitely in the right place at the right time as we drove south to a family get-together and I was sans six pack. I snagged the Moby D there as well.

14. Berkshire Steel Rail Extra Pale AleJerod Mayo
The Steel Rail is fine but not as good as I remember from my days in the 413. Similarly, you can count on Mayo to lead the team in tackles every week but he'll never leave his mark on a game like Ray Lewis or Patrick Willis.

15. People's Pint Scotch AleBrian Waters
Good thing we picked up Waters mere seconds before the first game of the season, much like my out-of-the-way discovery of this delicious Scotch ale I didn't realize I needed. Wonderful stories, both.

16. Ipswich 20th Anniversary Imperial Pale AlePatrick Chung
It felt like Chung hadn't played for twenty years but he eventually came back strong and (possibly) revitalized the defense. Please strike this from the record if Eli throws for three hundred.

17. Samuel Adams Vixen Chocolate Chili Bock LagerAaron Hernandez
Another high-alcohol beer that probably killed a few brain cells. Lots of flavor, versatility and humor in each of these.

18. Founders PorterVince Wilfork
Premium beer—only four bottles per pack, in honor of Big Vince consistently playing all four downs throughout the season.

19. Slumbrew Porter Square PorterDevin McCourty
High expectations, but among the more disappointing beer- or football-related things all season. Hopefully McCourty can bounce back with a solid Super Bowl performance and Slumbrew can redeem itself when I inevitably try its in-development "Beetlejuice" ale.

20. Shipyard Double Old Thumper AleMatt Light
Seems like no one should have to take on so many double thumpers in a season: Demarcus Ware, James Harrison, Dwight Freeney, Brian Orakpo, Elvis Dumervil (twice), Terrell Suggs and all those Giant bruisers (twice!). Undoubtedly his finest season.

21. Boulder Mojo India Pale Ale – Kyle Love
Love? Mojo? I'm stretching. But my man Kyle is one of those low-round/undrafted guys who comes in and plays like a second rounder. A no-nonsense football player, like this no-nonsense cask brew I got at Cambridge Common the other night, though Love might be a tad larger than thirteen ounces per pour.

Tonight I'll head to Vinnin Liquors to get the Super Bowl beer. Exciting! I'm keeping an open mind but will probably aim for an expensive, highly rated stout—thankfully I have Beer Advocate bookmarked on my phone. Regarding the contest itself, I think the Pats take six of ten games against these guys, and since they've already lost to them once this season the odds of winning in Indy increase to sixty-seven percent. I'll take it: 28–17, good guys.

Up next: XLVI. Cheers!