Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Beer and football VI — week eleven

The game: Bills at Patriots
The beer: Ballast Point Black Marlin Porter
The result: Win, 20–13
The commentary: "I'm not emotionally prepared to write about the state of my football team." Lo, had I joined the loathsome rabble? Remain I there? Surely not, so long as ours is somehow a top-twenty defense.

I've recently… acquired… a copy of the bootlegged unauthorized Pink Floyd live set Meddled, which itself seems to be an unauthorized spin on the unauthorized Meddler. Recorded at the Paris Theatre in London for a session with John Peel in September of 1971, I'd be remiss to let its high fidelity pass without revisiting last season's week of panic to retcon myself an improved three-hour-plus concert à la that business with Nomar Garciaparra and the interrupting cow. John Gruden, feel free to listen along while reviewing the game film in your continued search for Sammy Watkins, who is right there at the top of the screen, you buffoon! To recap…

1. Astronomy Domine
2. Fat Old Sun
3. Atom Heart Mother

Smoking Blues, November 1970

4. Grantchester Meadows (a.k.a. "Daybreak")
The Man and the Journey, September 1969

5. Green Is the Colour
Electric Factory 1970, September 1970

6. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
Live in Montreux, September 1971

7. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
Electric Factory 1970

8. The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (a.k.a. "Doing It")
9. Cymbaline (a.k.a. "Nightmare")

The Man and the Journey

10. Echoes
Live in Montreux

11. Interstellar Overdrive
Electric Factory 1970

12. Pow R. Toc H. (a.k.a. "The Pink Jungle")
13. The Labyrinths of Auximenes
14. Behold the Temple of Light

The Man and the Journey

15. A Saucerful of Secrets
Electric Factory 1970

16. More Blues
Smoking Blues

Pretty solid! OK, my work is done. But wait! Three Meddled songs are coming in through the window! Alright, let's sit around the fire with a few Pecan Pie Porters (available again) instead of Monday's adequate Black Marlin (and certainly over last week's Coronado Blue Bridge, which tasted of disappointment more than coffee or stout) and see what we can do to stretch this thing out even further.

To start things off, I continue to favor the "Astronomy Domine"/"Fat Old Sun" pacing (and breadth) already in place. But the new 1971 version of the latter is superior, due as much to the recording as to the playing, so it slots in as the new number two. "I am not a number! I am a free man!" David even manages to keep his shit together this time. The transition back to Smoking Blues's "Atom Heart Mother" isn't as fluid but we're talking about recordings of indeterminate goddamn origin here.

The other edits are the additions of two songs and about seventeen minutes. In retrospect, this doesn't seem to be as big a deal as it did when I originally set about recompiling a bunch of Pink Floyd songs on a blog that no one reads. Onward. "One of These Days" breaks up the Waters-y, doom-y "Careful With That Axe, Eugene"/"Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun" block that bogged down the early middle. Hard rock has a place in the world. On that note, I really tried to slot in Smoking Blues's "The Embryo" last year but it just wouldn't happen—perhaps my officiousness demanded an even, divisible sixteen. But now? But now! The vocals are much stronger a year later and Meddled wins out again over the distracting crowd chatter of Smoking Blues. "Aw man, I sat in gum!" Those children's giggles creep me out too—what is this, The Re-Deadening?—and the seagull effects were later rolled into "Echoes" with great success. Redundancy in two-hundred-minute territory is, after all, an offense only slightly more criminal than a hampering WNEW station identification.

Considerations were made for replacing Montreux's "Echoes" with this new one but the opening "Ping!" isn't as well done, for I remain proud of that "Nightmare"/"Echoes" transition. And rightly so! Lastly, Meddled's "Blues" is actually "More Blues" and sounds too, I don't know, produced. It doesn't satisfy as a closing track and I can't be bothered to blow this thing up—clearly, since I haven't really done much to it other than replace one song and add two more. You might even say that's exactly what I've done. And a selection of sane gentleman might even agree with you. You Swiss are just angry that I inferred a "Ze!" ahead of "Pank Floyt!" to serve a comedic agenda.

New! Improved! And may G. kick this godforsaken virus to Ibiza.

1. Astronomy Domine
2. Fat Old Sun
3. Atom Heart Mother
4. Grantchester Meadows (a.k.a. "Daybreak")
5. Green Is the Colour
6. Careful With That Axe, Eugene
7. One of These Days
8. Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun
9. The Grand Vizier's Garden Party (a.k.a. "Doing It")
10. Cymbaline (a.k.a. "Nightmare")
11. Echoes
12. Interstellar Overdrive
13. Pow R. Toc H. (a.k.a. "The Pink Jungle")
14. The Labyrinths of Auximenes
15. Behold the Temple of Light
16. The Embryo
17. A Saucerful of Secrets
18. More Blues


Up next: The league is less interesting without Peyton Manning. Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Beer and football VI — week ten

The game: Patriots at Giants
The beer: Coronado Blue Bridge Coffee Stout
The result: Win, 27–26
The commentary: It's getting eerie around here. Undefeated (though not nearly so) as in 2007, visiting "New York" to play the Giants in one for the ages. And remaining undefeated through it all! Is this a sign of what's to come? Is that a good thing?

People have been talking around here about an undefeated season since week two, which is admirable even for this fickle fanbase—if we'd blown that lead to the Bills the same people would have called for Belichick's head and #JimmyTime would have blown up the internet. Just see tomorrow morning if Brady plays against type. (Meanwhile, McCourty and Harmon are perfecting the bad angle in the presence, and continued mastery, of Professor Brandon Meriweather. Whenever we do lose it will surely be their fault.)

It's wonderful to have a yard big enough to host parties, ponies and jungle gyms. With a yard, though, comes the hell of fallen leaves. I've complained of our old condo sporting a yard just big enough to maintain for appearances but useless in any other sense, other than collecting flying sheets of that Globe Direct bullshit that you cannot opt out of.

Sunday afternoon the three of us made what might qualify as a dent in the process of filling two barrels plus a dozen yard waste bags with leaves and leaves and leaves. So much remains that A. is demanding we hire a landscaper to take care of the rest. Lesson learned, I suppose, that next year I should not wait for every last leaf to fall before picking up the rake.

It's not all bad.

Big week for health news in our household between virus-related grossness and, oh, this. Whenever you are lying on the bed and your four-year-old daughter is jumping up and down next to you, listen as your brain screams "End this now!" Otherwise it's your own damn fault. Skull met skull and somehow G. didn't hurt herself too badly. I needed to find a local dentist anyway.

Lastly, here is something G. insists is not a self-portrait. Coy smile and all-pink outfit? Riiight. I made the mistake of describing it to A. as wearing a pink tutu, a pink top and pink pants when G interjected: "A tutu and a shirt. No pants!" Never question an artist.

Up next: Tonight! Rex Ryan! Without a net! Cheers!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Beer and football VI — week nine

The game: Redskins at Patriots
The beer: Smuttynose Rhye India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 27–10
The commentary: I thought for awhile that announcers Kevin Burkhardt and John Lynch (sure, John, it was your decision to leave the Pats in 2008) were deliberately avoiding the name "Redskins." With so many awkward uses of just "Washington," a Burkhardt reference to them as "Washington football" and Lynch audibly cutting himself off at "Redsk" later on, it seemed an evident editorial decision. I have no problem with the effort because it is a despicable name, though I question their motivation since ignoring the problem (if Fox feels it is a problem) seems an odd way to solve it. Shouldn't one overemphasize and call attention to the name in order to force viewers to consider it themselves? Anyway, I eventually noticed several awkward uses of "New England" and "New England football" so I suspect the two are just lousy announcers. Shocker.

Speaking of lousy, how about this prescient jewel among an otherwise silly post from 2006? "I'm not PC thug, but it's about time to retire the name Redskins; the team's baseball hats have a cool R they could adopt as a new logo, and they could become something else that starts with R like the Rapscallions or the Republocrats." It was a poorly conceived exercise by a man nine years my junior but, lo, such mature civility shines through! My "Fuckers" analysis of the Broncos and a hot take on 1987's Predator as "a symbol of American triumph" also showed signs of future life. Em dashes and I have come a long way together—how did the ten-year anniversary pass without another visit from Charles Napier? Not the actor!

To football. Not the blowout everyone expected, which I'll chalk up to the game being a glorified (sloppy) practice session for Tom Brady and company. An onside kick ahead by a touchdown in the first quarter? Tighten it up! Two similar outs in a row to Brandon LaFell late in the game? Stay frosty! Jimmy Garoppolo entering the game without notice in the third quarter? Uh, let's not go nuts. Unfortunately for us it was full contact and Dion Lewis is done for the year. Shit. Vollmer banged up, Edelman getting knocked into apparent concussion protocol, Gronkowski slow to stand after a fourth-quarter reception and tackle… everyone deals with injuries and this is where relatively poor draft success might catch up to some teams. On top of that, my "Rhye IPA" exploded out of the bottle and it took several paper towels to clean up the mess. The smallest violin. Things are tough all over when you're undefeated halfway through the regular season.

The beer drama happened last night during the season three premier of Curb Your Enthusiasm (no spoilers!). I nursed an iced coffee during the game, which made it extra rewarding every time Pierre Garçon dropped a catchable ball/made an athletic first down and I shouted—to an empty house, with the girls out for fun—"Garçon, coffee!" Pretty smarrr-tah.

I watched on a slight delay while transferring files to our new laptop, for it was that kind of game. Overdue since our last (still kicking) is as old as Lynch's "retirement." The interesting phase is yet to happen: early in August I dropped my "shock-proof" external drive and ever since it emits unsettling grind-crunch noises and won't fully backup to the cloud. Some files, at least, are since corrupted—files like pictures and songs, for what else is there? Tonight I will begin downloading from said ether an archived version from Before Gravity and, at close to six hundred gigabytes, I figure on a week. Drag. Once that's complete I'll compare everything (mainly MP3s, I think) to After Gravity, see what newer files are missing and hope I have copies at work, where I download most of my music. Wish me luck. The post-millennial surely laughs at my predicament while listening to Spotify on his or her iPhone, decked out to look like a Sony Walkman because eighties. Revelation will come once their favorite bands delegitimize the current state of streaming as a business model and pull all content, leaving Brayden and Brianna to realize that "transferring files" is meaningless because they own nothing. Alas, kiddos, Steve Albini will always be right.

Up next: The Giants are all over the map again this season. Will our worst fears be realized on Sunday? In February? Cheers!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Beer and football VI — week eight

The game: Dolphins at Patriots
The beer: Ipswich Ruby Red India Pale Ale
The result: Win, 36–7; Kelly Ashley, 4–0–0–0
The commentary: Halloween is a big deal in our new hometown. Our previous home was closer to Boston but also closer to madness and the exponential suburban shift has resulted, somehow, in a community more plainly vibrant. As evidence I present October's "Arts & Illumination" weekend (see week seven), with floating bonfires and Tangled-esque candles on the river, live (good) music, face-painting, a shadow theater, ice cream (!) and general merriment. "Would you believe! It's a happ-ah-nee-ying-ying!" Well said, Magic Mushrooms! Fresh, cold Autumn air fueled us that Saturday as G. and one of her best friends led our exploration of new (to us) streets, finding interest around every corner. A wonderful (and late) night that only turned dangerous when we accepted a half-mile ride home in a car without an extra child safety seat. Know that I held on tight.

Overall it was a celebrated warm-up to Halloween itself, falling conveniently on another working-parent-friendly Saturday. (And, by god, the Saturday before featured a chowder-tasting contest!) Daytime trick-or-treating started downtown at noon, with local businesses handing out candy and competing in a "decorate a telephone pole" contest that leaned heavily on whimsy and Minions. Again: vibrant! And then—and then!—the local brewery (huzzah!) introduced its new "Ruby Red" IPA, which is decidedly yummy if dark brown rather than red. A. sampled their Pumpkin Porter, which I didn't even know existed, and it was difficult to tell them apart by appearance. First-world problem. Two four-ounce servings may be a flimsy qualifier for beer of the week but it's my goddamn blog.

Later on during proper trick-or-treating we technically went through seven bags of candy, though some of that can be accounted for by (likely) punk kids (likely) emptying the bowl since both of us wanted to accompany G. up and down our new street for part of the evening. And I thought we were crazy to buy that much in the first place. G. did well as a winged mermaid, acquiring accessories along the way in beaded necklaces and a headband bow that added a "flapper" descriptor to her multi-layered costume. She adores the headband, an alarmingly cheap mash of plastic, pins and rayon that A. wants to ditch. I hope we don't accidentally "lose" it like we have two Pete the Cat volumes. Have you read this reheated garbage?

Here's the shot I called on Thursday before the watching the Project Runway finale, in anticipation of the producers not veering toward political correctness: "Hooray for Kelly from Project Runway! It's easy to root for the local girl when she's likable on top of being a good designer. One last trip to the Basketball Hall of Fame for her and she can bust the hell out of Springfield as every resident should aspire. Never again tempt the suicide dash from the 291 offramp across 91 to the West Columbus Avenue exit. You're free now!"

You remain free, as I expect you'd do well whether or not you were robbed almost as badly as Mondo in season eight. Whatever amount A. and I "trust" a reality show, it's slipped a notch because the supposed (and, perhaps, genuine) importance of presenting a fashion show for plus-size women, no matter how banal, is more deserving of praise and reward than a truly cohesive and chic collection that put guilt-free smiles on everyone's faces. I hope the judges purged extra well after dinner.

Up next: The Patriots close out a three-game home stand tomorrow with a visit from the Washington Kikes Niggers Redskins. This is the twenty-first century. Cheers!