Monday, December 24, 2012

Beer and football III — weeks fifteen and sixteen

Week fifteen
The game: 49ers at Patriots
The beer: Boatswain Chocolate Stout
The result: Loss, 41–34; Denise, 6–1–1
The commentary: A few weeks ago we visited Hell N Earth Babies R Us in search of the Perfect Winter Coat for G. (eventually purchased at JC Penney, and it is perfect) and afterward I dropped into Trader Joe's next door to pick up some delicious Cat Cookies. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but two fully stocked aisles of liquor and beer! I vaguely recall the location on Memorial Drive supplying such wares alongside the second worst parking lot in the world, behind only the Porter Square Shopping Center soul-crusher. Each of these lots is in Cambridge. Of course.

Imagine my delight when I walked over to the far section of the store to discover row after row of bottles. I could have kissed Joe right on the mouth at that moment and wished I'd shaved. Two male employees were standing nearby with one seemingly coaching the other on the stock ("…this one's more expensive at Kappy's…") and I had to shove one of them out of the way to mutter something about "When did… this… happen?!" Turns out it started the day before. Glory! I grabbed the stout (do you like how nautical terms are rarely pronounced the way they are spelled, as if owning a boat isn't exclusive enough?) and a cheap bottle of red from an enormous endcap display that somehow convinced me it would taste like an expensive one (it didn't). I also bought a few boxes of macaroni and cheese because it is really fucking good there.

Sunday evening I sipped the stout while G. missed her second straight primetime game. Poor girl. Maybe she dreamed a better outcome. Anyway, the beer cost three bucks—for all I knew a team of bagboys "brewed" it out back using spring water, chocolate syrup and breadcrumbs. I assumed it would be overly sweet but it is an actual beer from an actual brewery called either Rhinelander or Minhas. Google results are spotty. Maybe it was made out back after all. They did a good job though—I'd have paid six.

The game speaks for itself: bad defense, Brady heroics. As it snowed that afternoon I posted "Advantage: Patriots" on Facebook and I was dead wrong, the home team looked like a bunch of Dolphins out there. NFL Turning Point (now mercifully aired on the NBC Sports Network instead of the no-longer-subscribed-to NFL Network) didn't paint much of a picture of how far apart the teams' performances were through two and a half quarters—it's hard to believe the "turning point" came with almost seven minutes remaining because it should have been over a long time earlier. What a game.

The Dexter and Survivor: Philippines finales once again interfered with the game but this time it was all live. Do it live! The plan was to watch Survivor up until the winner was announced, speed through the recorded game after that and then save the reunion and Dexter for Monday night. A. and her lack of sleep had other ideas, though, and she was out cold an hour into it. So my beer and I switched over to the (by then) massacre and rode the rollercoaster until much too late—it was my turn to fall asleep on the couch before I even had a chance to hear Steve Burton talk only about what a historic comeback it would have been if they'd managed to win. Small details!

Back to Survivor. After Malcolm lost his mind and decided to get wishy-washy with Denise (why not rope in crazy Abi-Maria at five to vote out Michael and Blair?) and subsequently got voted out it became clear that Denise was the only way to go, so we were very satisfied with the outcome. I mean, the other two options? A returning player (I hate this crap!) with clumsy little scorpions for brains or a former Facts of Life star who seemed nice enough most of the time but see-sawed every episode and often within individual episodes between "But I'm a Christian!" guilt and "I will eat his balls!" cunning. No one likes that kind of player even before learning she probably does alright on that Eastland High money.

Week sixteen
The game: Patriots at Jaguars
The beer: Berkshire Gold Spike German Style Kölsch Ale
The result: Win, 23–16
The commentary: No "patriots utter dominance" label for this two-fer even after a win. And no "broadcaster utter dominance" label for color man Solomon Wilcots after he called Michael Hoomanawanui "Oh-uh-uh-moo-ah-hoo" following the big first-quarter reception. How hard is it to study the handful of difficult-to-pronounce names in the game you're about to call? I hate announcers. I hate them all so much.

Speaking of "Huh-oh-mah-nah-wah-noo-wee," he's doing an admirable impression of the injured Gronkowski with a couple of big receptions the past two weeks. Unfortunately he mustn't be anywhere close in terms of blocking because the protection hasn't been up to the task recently—injuries and capable defenses play a role, sure, but Brady's been getting hammered. Hopefully Gronk is back this week in a possible must-win game that could ensure a playoff bye.

Intriguing AFC scenarios come Sunday. It's a steep one to expect the Chiefs to beat the Broncos in Denver when Denver has a legitimate reason to play for the win. Houston at Indy though? Sure, it's in the Texans' interest to win as well, but they've played two absolute stinkers the past three weeks. The Colts and their fans are going to be pumped and I'm not sure Kubiak and friends can handle this kind of pressure, or any for that matter. Fingers crossed.

Yes, I'm assuming we'll beat the Dolphins… the team that parted ways with Chad Henne… who basically had his way with the Pats' secondary last week… as a backup quarterback… on one of the worst teams in the league. What can possibly go wrong? (On that topic, just reread this and then this. It's painful. Painful!)

Up next: The three of us will have a nice family Christmas Eve at home before heading to Connecticut tomorrow to see a movie about Hobbits. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Beer and football III — week fourteen

The game: Texans at Patriots
The beer: Smuttynose Scotch Ale
The result: Win, 42–14
The commentary: I had it all figured out. Thursday, December 6 featured Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale in my 365 Bottles of Beer for the Year calendar (it's leap year: plus one, suckers!). When I saw it last week I said "Snap! I've got that in my fridge!" I was pumped. Even transcribed the full review in order to put my own naive spin on what I was drinking, so "…it has a bready, toasted biscuit aroma with a touch of hops and sulfur" was to become, like, "I'm getting full and drunk and what's that smell?" Turns out, though, it was actually the Scotch Ale I picked up a couple of months ago. The labels aren't even similar! Luckily it, too, was "captivating" ("yummers!"), thus avoiding the shame spiral.

Since we're here, I've got four bombers left in the fridge. One or two of them date back to summertime. Do beers age well? What is bottle-conditioning, anyway? Regardless, the only thing keeping them from lasting me through the first playoff game is if the good guys earn a bye… I'll gladly pick up a fifth bottle for that! And honestly, I like our chances of obtaining the top seed—the Texans team I saw can't sweep both upcoming games against the Colts. I know they aren't as bad as they looked, having won eleven games, but I think this loss is going to stick with them awhile. Texans drop one, Pats win out (possible, though it will be a challenge Sunday night), voilà! Still not buying more beer-and-football beer until necessary, of course.

G. is disappointed that she's missing all these primetime games. It's too bad because she would have loved Monday's. High-fives for everyone! Look at her here. I'm not even going to Photoshop out those drool stains because her drool is the cutest. The cutest! How long before drinking a giant beer and sneaking into your daughter's room to take pictures of her while she sleeps is considered creepy? Too late?

I guess I should write about the game. I haven't done much of that recently. I didn't sit very comfortably on the opening drive, with Foster's negated first down being upstaged by his subsequent first-and-fifteen first down. Time out, Patriots, with fifty-nine minutes and fourteen seconds remaining? Uh-oh. Buy hey, I guess it was a good time out because Schaub and company went three and out after that. It was basically over right there, even if I didn't actually say "This game's over" until Brady scrambled for that first down at the end of the third quarter.

See you next year, Donté! That was an amazing play. I thought you were faster though? (No one seems to have any idea why he went on injured reserve. I wonder if there's an injury settlement in his future. If he makes it to training camp in 2013 I certainly don't expect him to survive cut-down day.) I loved the quick pace all around against a talented, aggressive defense—it pits one team's conditioning against the other's and I like our chances every time. JJ Watt sucking wind on the sideline? Sign me up! Hopefully Patrick Willis and Aldon Smith tucker out just as easily. Wouldn't mind a little wintry mix action on top of that.

We had another holiday party at the InterContinental VaGina the other night, so it must be time for this season's Christmas playlist! Good thing, because the DJ sucked reindeer balls. This one runs a little Santa-heavy, just like his sleigh. Har! Har!

1. Kay Martin & Her Body Guards – Santa's Going to Be Late Tonight
She's gotta have it! Kay mellows out and leaves the double entendres behind. "Lover."

2. The Soul Saints Orchestra – Santa's Got a Bag of Soul
"Yeah! Unh!"

3. Wild Billy Childish & the Musicians of the British Empire – Santa Claus
The preamble is even funnier here than on the Headcoatees original cover (?). That one, by the way, is purportedly included on A Damaged Christmas Gift To You but be forewarned that the track is actually 1992's "Cum Into My Mouth," an error so shocking that it can't actually be an error, right? Merry Christmas! Dirty sex!

4. John Fahey – Children, Go Where I Send Thee
A friend of mine sings in a chorus. Our family tried like hell to attend one of their holiday performances last weekend and let me just say the challenges of parenthood got in the way. We missed "Children, Go Where I Send Thee" and it's too bad because that's one of my favorites this year. So I'm including Fahey's barely recognizable version in my daughter's totally-refused-to-eat-or-nap honor.

5. Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band – There Ain't No Santa Claus on the Evenin' Stage
I first posted a holiday mini-playlist two years ago and eulogized Captain Beefheart in the same breath. Clearly I wasn't aware at the time that my man released a "Christmas song" on The Spotlight Kid back in '72. In my defense I've been distracted by Trout Mask Replica and The Mirror Man Sessions for a solid decade and, by 2010, hadn't yet ventured too deeply into their seventies output. This one's for him.

Up next: It's a tough one hosting the 49ers. Colin Kaepernick is the type of quarterback (athletic, accurate, unfamiliar) who tends to expose weakness in Belichick's recent defenses. We'll see. Cheers!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Beer and football III — week thirteen

The game: Patriots at Dolphins
The beer: Southern Tier 2X Double Milk Stout
The result: Win, 23–16
The commentary: Yet another example this season of a beer label's hierarchy confounding me. Is it just "2X Stout"? Or "2X Stout Double Milk Stout"? Southern Tier also brews a "2X IPA." So "2X IPA Double India Pale Ale"? That's a redundant mess. Rock Art's smoked porter similarly threw me for a loop—its label reads "Double Porter" with the word "Smoked" beneath it. Is that a carefree line break or a deliberate separation? Should I have inferred an em dash? "Double Porter—Smoked"? Are other "Double Porters" available? "Double Porter—Stochastic"? Or is "Smoked" merely the "Undilutable Slang Truth!" to "2X Stout"'s Room to Live? These are the problems I create for myself.

My cousins came by for a little AFC East Championship action. G., of course, thought that was a great time to nap for the first Sunday in weeks. Luckily she didn't sleep through the entire visit or else she would have missed out on some serious book snuggling! She loved every second of it and they couldn't get enough of her. It was really sweet.

Elaborate tie-breaker formulas currently position the good guys as the second playoff seed. Woot! Thirteen wins (so, winning out) should sustain that but twelve might be alright too. I think they need a bye week more than ever this season though. These are the problems Patriots fans create for themselves.

Up next: The Texans travel to Foxborough to try to prove to me that they really are a good team. I remain unconvinced, even though I know nothing about them—they're the friggin Texans. Cheers!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Beer and football III — week twelve

The game: Patriots at Jets
The beer: Mayflower Winter Oatmeal Stout
The result: Win, 49–19
The commentary: What a laugher! That was the most fun I'd had since… well, probably like a half hour before when G. was still awake. But you get the idea. Also, this happened, which was pretty funny:

A.: "Did you pick that for the theme?"

Me: "Pick what?"

A.: "The beer."

Me: (Stares blankly.) "Theme?"

A.: "Because it's Thanksgiving. (Pauses.) 'Mayflower.'"

Me: "Oh! I guess not."

I can't imagine the rest of the AFC is too pleased that the Pats' putrid defense and special teams are starting to make plays. They're coming on at the right time, as usual, and let's hope they can keep it up. The Jets, though… probably everyone's excited to see how that's going down. And, excepting that ass fumble, it wasn't even as close as the score indicated.

Logo contest update! I was not chosen as one of three finalists. Rats! One of them uses an identical color scheme to mine and, honestly, might be a little better (though not as legible at smaller sizes, which was one of the requirements). Another uses typography alright but is pretty hokey. The third is a total embarrassment and I want no part of a contest in which it is considered a top option. The commonality between the three is an over-the-top nautical theme that I used to a minimum because, for crying out loud, not everyone on the North Shore has a goddamn boat. Also, the voting process that decides the winner is not a fancy online model that could have been utilized in 1993 but rather an old-fashioned "go to one of these few locations and vote via secret ballot—submissions by Jews will be noted as such" affairs. Those Nazis can have their hate cake! On the website (so they are familiar with the internet?) are a few pictures of people who've hawked their wares at past arts festivals. They all can be characterized by at least two of the following: old; white; tacky; unshowered; wicker-happy; vest-happy. No thanks.

Up next: Tom Brady brings his kids down to that South Beach playground we discovered last month. We're having company over for this one—I had it penciled in as a loss but I've since changed my mind because I want everyone to enjoy themselves. Cheers!