Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Beer and football VI — week fifteen

The game: Titans at Patriots
The beer: Josephsbrau Winter Brew Dark Double Bock Lager
The result: Win, 33–16
The commentary: No clickbait this week! I'm still waiting to see the Akiem Hicks touchdown anyway, since the L-team behind Eye-Anne Eagle and Dan "You Might Learn the Rules, Dan, Since You Used to Play the Position" Fouts (he earned the nickname after questioning a non-call for grounding against a clearly outside-the-tackle Brady) were busy showing us the ball-less half of the field. CBS must have poached a Fox cameraman since that network has never captured the first snap coming out of commercial. You have one job! Regardless, by 24–3 I was tweaking my Survivor analysis from Sunday. Tasha deserved better.

The bock was a pleasant surprise. Five bucks for a six-pack at namesake Trader Joe's. Boatswain (I lied), Josephbrau, Trader José… they hold up alright on Beer Advocate. And who is harder to please than a group of half-drunk commenters who submit reviews to Beer Advocate? We're all better for the precision of two decimal places when rating something from one to five.

Their wine though? Trader Jérôme's? A five-dollar bottle will get you to the destination but not taste very good along the way. That's just science. But if you pay, say, twelve, and apply the Trader-Joe's-to-real-world currency conversion rate of 1.00:1.25, you feel pretty good about a "fifteen-dollar" cabernet, right? Especially after trying and liking a sample in the store? Until one of three things happens before you open the bottle later that evening and your wife makes a face after her first sip:

1. The wine paired well with the cheese you also sampled, to the point that it was overwhelmed. Smothered, even. Disguised.

2. Up until the tasting, the bottle you took home was stored for months under a mound of spoiled teriyaki tofu and then wiped down with raspberry sorbet and potato pancakes.

3. The motherfuckers pulled a bait-and-switch, shunning a contract forged over the years by people who offer free sips of wine out of little medicine cups. A. thinks I might have something here.

Fifty-seven degrees in Boston today? Must be Christmas!

1. Freeways – Another Holiday
Boston reverb from the first Polk Records holiday compilation and available here for free. We wish you a shoegaze Christmas.

2. Solomon Burke – A Christmas Prayer
I'm a big fan of these spoken-word pieces, more the impassioned telling than any message. "Demonistic drugs!" Solomon Burke, Johnny Cash and Rudy Ray Moore are a kind of holy trinity in some universe.

3. Tia Blake & Her Folk-Group – Children, Go Where I Send Thee
Also known as "The Holy Babe," this has become a favorite carol of mine. John Fahey played us his "barely recognizable" interpretation back in 2012. Again with the links.

4. Can – Little Star of Bethlehem
An outtake of an outtake, recorded (with Malcolm Mooney) in 1969 and compiled on the "unofficial" Radio Waves. "Correction: going up!"

5. Charles Bradley – Mary's Baby
A cuckolded Joseph proclaims "I'm standing right here!"

Up next: A Patriots win ensures home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A Jets win increases the chances of the moderately frightening Steelers missing out. Hmmm. Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Beer and football VI — week fourteen

The game: Patriots at Texans
The beer: Clown Shoes Coffee Pecan Pie Porter
The result: Win, 27–6; Jeremy, 10–0–0
The commentary: Leave it to fantasy origin stories involving turkeys to reclaim first place in the AFC. These past few weeks have become awfully meta around here: repeated self-referential links to a year-old post about the ineptitude of an eventual champion and the compiling of a monstrous space-rock concert are in. The timeline so far…

2014, week fourThe Patriots lose to the Chiefs on Monday Night Football, digging their own graves (I did not handle it well, "suffering from night terrors about special teamer Matthew Slater being the Patriots' MVP for the second week in a row") while somehow showing life toward the end. Postgame Belichick talks of the respect he has for his players. Mike Felger and Tony Massarotti commence simultaneous six-day orgasms.

2014, week five – Apparently I've already moved on to understanding that the Patriots, realistically, do not suck. "For at least a week." I seem more concerned about the previous year's loss to the Bengals as it related to a Misfits concert in New Hampshire. More linkhole fodder.

2014, week nine – If I may say so, a marvelous couple of paragraphs about the state of the Patriots, their fanbase and the Boston media. I believe in this team again after the Denver game, which I didn't expect them to win either.

2014, week twelve – "Monday night, I couldn't remember ever seeing a losing team kneel on the ball to end a game. That's what this season is becoming around here."

2014, week thirteenThe last real loss (sorry, Bills) until week twelve this year.

2014/2015 playoffs, week twoThe beginning of a thirteen-game winning streak peaking in February but not celebrated until June.

2015, week eleven – This success is getting dull. Let's fuck it up with more Pink Floyd talk.

2015, week twelveCurse you, Pink Floyd!

2015, week thirteenCurse you, Founders!

Now today. My reader (!) surely appreciates how this blog circles back upon itself. In all the madness over certain England-based psychedelic bands and/or Michigan-based craft brewers, should I instead have looked closer to home—up the street, in fact—toward a certain New England-based craft brewer that had been waving its arms the entire time? The beer during my woe-is-us nadir: Clown Shoes Pecan Pie Porter. The beer sitting in my fridge for three weeks or so, awaiting an eligibility decision on versioning until precedent was cited (here/here): Clown Shoes Coffee Pecan Pie Porter. Coffee… wake up! I'm here! And all is well again, as Denver, Cincinnati and Houston conspire to transition the Patriots from "Will this team even make the playoffs?" to "Had 'em all the way!" Felger and Massarotti weep. For at least a week.

This season's knock-out pool has come to a merciful end. Since losing in week four (what is it with week four?), I decided against buying back in and, continuing to play offline, "won" nine in a row until "losing" with Denver on Sunday. If I had bought back in there's a good chance I would have repeated, since both remaining players stalemated with losses last week. I'm not too down on myself since I don't know that I would have been bold enough to actually pick the Giants in week five after parting with another thirty units. C'est la goddamn vie.

Tuesday, as teased last week, saw the release of part five of InterContinental VaGina highlights. Not much to discuss because I was sufficiently responsible (four—five?—beers, 9:20 train, no after-party), though as I stood eating shrimp the dripping cocktail sauce that would have fallen straight to the floor a few years ago instead grazed my expanding midsection. Drag. Day-after gossip revealed that I didn't miss anyone, like, getting tossed out of a bar for pouring his own beer. There's always next year.

Survivor! I've had my issues with the city of Cambridge and its residents (however varied) but I was rooting for Jeremy and I'm glad he won. Normally my inner cynic would revolt against what might appear to be a sympathy grab of a closing statement but, as with his (few) other displays of emotion, he was hollering—almost fugue-like—from far below the surface. That thousand-yard stare as Jeff retreated with the votes (unfortunately not toward a winged, ultraviolet mastodon)? It was the stunned realization that he may have done this for nothing. Or else a fine imitation. I believed him.

Tasha was charming and likable but never stood a chance. Much of her intrigue involved the physical wonders of her breasts growing larger while she lost weight everywhere else. Her bikini top also seemed to go through the dryer on high every week. Amazing. On a related note, I once had an in-depth discussion over a few dozen beers (the O'Neill's session) about breast reduction and how the "tissue," like matter, should transfer elsewhere rather than cease to be. (This man—whose company I did enjoy, as will happen when the waitress proclaims "Fucking awesome!" in response to our heavy appetizer order—turned out to be the type who contributes to rising gun sales after mass shootings and is afraid de gubment gone tek way 'is righth! We are no longer friends. I'm unsure if he is yet to single-handedly bring down a shooter and become the hero all gun advocates aspire to be.)

And Spencer, poor Spencer. He competed well strategically and in challenges, appeared to achieve genuine personal growth and received zero winning votes. I'm pleased that Cass apparently grew disgusted with her own behavior while watching the season and came crawling back with "Get a beer after?" His noncommital was marvelous. Anyway, yeah, he couldn't touch Jeremy's soulful birth announcement. I'd like to see him back another season if only I didn't despise when the show rehashes contestants (Rupert!) more than once. These are the problems I create for myself.

Up next: Tenneseein' is Tennebelievin' the Titans can't possibly lose by fifty-nine points again, right? Cheers!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Beer and football VI — week thirteen

The game: Eagles at Patriots
The beer: Founders Breakfast Stout
The result: Loss, 35–28
The commentary: This is where the heaviness sets in. Perhaps my "Before Floyd"/"After Floyd" theory was too broad. Is it, in fact, a Founders Curse? First the All-Day IPA and now the Breakfast Stout: can it be so simple? Or should I recognize the possibility that what I drink after a game is over (recorded and saved for primetime) has no effect on its already determined outcome? I don't know, maybe it's bad coaching again. My man Fred Kirsch from PFW in Progress likened the odd on-side/mortar kick-off to Ernst Stavro Blofeld explaining to James Bond how he will eventually be killed by this laser beam or that school of piranha. You've got the Eagles where you want them—down two touchdowns early—and most of them have checked out mentally. Why provide an opportunity for some to run out of patience for losing? "Fuck this asshole for practicing trick plays on us. Shit, we can still make the playoffs, right? Let's go! Then all back to the Electric Factory tomorrow night!" These against-all-odds comebacks only come around so often and you can't be expected to win every time. The Pats let one slip against the Broncos but they would have gotten away with something had they won on Sunday—might have felt almost unclean. Strange way to manage a dominant team, despite the injuries. The world's smallest violin…

It's the second week of December and that brings Big Doings. The (fake) Christmas tree was erected… and took up the full floor-to-ceiling height in the living room of our new house. I guess we'll be shopping for a new, shorter, priced-to-move (and equally fake) tree on December 26. Work also had its Second Annual Corporate Subdivisional Acronym Holiday Gathering in Boston's Ladder District (née Combat Zone) on Thursday. This time I got in two free beers and some decent room-temperature appetizers before the Corporate Subdivisional Acronym Tab was closed out. It remains stunning when an open bar becomes a cash bar without notice. Talk of ditching for the Beantown Pub (not only a better spot but also closer to the train station) gave me new life as, inexplicably, some co-op student majoring in Disposable Hipness hooked in her iPhone to undoubtedly stream The Very Best of Millennial Bullshit Non-Music Designed to Turn You Into What You Once Rebelled Against, With the "In My Day" This and the "Blue Cheer" That and dribbled the life out of me one programmed Swedish bleat at a time. Follow me! I spent maybe half an hour there, drinking Coke and never removing my jacket so as not to be tempted to wonder if "Maybe the 11:45 isn't so bad after all." I almost pissed myself during the hurried walk to catch the 9:20 but it was worth it.

And this week? And this week! It's all back to the InterContinental VaGina for another Full-Firm Alphabet Soup Takeover Featuring Shrimp and Architecturally Brilliant Dessert Offerings. (Full-Firm Takeover now playing in back-alley theaters across the country.) I remain exceptionally proud of that CUNT CONT photo. Also to come is my sixth (short) holiday playlist, consisting of MP3 files that I own. Oh, twenty-somethings.

Up next: The football gods conspire to break JJ Watt's hand before the Texans host the Patriots. The queue to rail against injustice forms in the comments section of Pro Football Talk. Cheers!

Friday, December 4, 2015

Beer and football VI — week twelve

The game: Patriots at Broncos
The beer: Founders All-Day India Pale Ale
The result: Loss, 30–24
The commentary: In comparing and contrasting Vince Wilfork and Logan Mankins, beyond the obvious black/white and offensive line/defensive line, one result is obvious: Wilfork's career with the Pats was bookended by Super Bowl victories (2004 to 2014) while Mankins's spanned the full trophy-less period in between (2005 to 2013). Fascinating! "Before Vince" defines a period of success that was not yet over; "Before Logan," a period of success that, though unknown at the time, had already terminated. "After Vince" is a period of renewed success, to which he contributed, with hope for more; "After Logan," this team hadn't won a Super Bowl in nine years.

Similarly, two distinct whens may have emerged in the Biff/Bang/Pow sector of yonder World Wide Web. "Before Floyd" raised a white flag where "three hours of entropy in Kansas City" marked the end of a run of sustained dominance—since 2001—that had not always been measured in championships. Darkness overwhelmed as gradual worsening seemed inevitable. Until it reversed. Another trophy and ten straight regular-season victories later, I decided to revisit the moment of panic and alter not only a silly playlist but also, perhaps, fate itself. Are we now rutted in "After Floyd"? Is the team doomed to futility until, say, Wilfork signs a one-day contract to retire a Patriot? Will fans forever debate the merits of "The Embryo"? What have I done?

No matter. You (!) haven't even listened to the whole thing anyway.

Oh, undefeated season. Your kind is certainly hard to grasp, though did I ever really believe in its possibility after the unpleasantness? Twelve wins is commendable and fourteen is attainable but who gives a shit once the final win comes in February. That remains the goal.

Sunday night, in which Brock Osweiler reminded everyone of the Brady/Bledsoe debate and Gronk scared the living shit out of a fanbase that immediately jumped to "Why can't Belichick surround Brady with more talent?!" panic (they have a point, this time), the game really was remarkable in that it took a hostile environment, injuries, bad officiating (on both sides) and overtime for the Broncos to win. I have to hand it to Brady (and Gostkowski) for coming back in regulation but also to Osweiler for not throwing up on himself. It will be interesting to see how everything plays out at five thousand feet over the next ten months. (Said altitude had to be what caused Collinsworth to pronounce "breadbasket" as "bread-bahh-sket" when Tavon Wilson slammed Osweiler to the turf. You can only suppress your Dayton Brahmin heritage for so long there, Chris.)

The "All Day IPA," which I edit to a hyphenated "All-Day IPA" because it is a compound goddamn adjective, was perfect for an extended Thanksgiving weekend with the in-laws. Session beer is a must when presented with ten hours of football and puzzling halftime performances. (It also prevents a morning-after hangover from snapping at your hosts when your four-year-old daughter is allowed to wander into a living room where Fox News is showing the fallout of another mass shooting and declaring that all is well.) I had a weird discussion with A. last night after Coldplay was announced as this season's Super Bowl act. Who cares? Who tunes in just for the halftime show? "My mom and I always did." Really? I haven't missed a Super Bowl since XVII in 1983 (Redskins–Dolphins, family room floor, Chinese food) and I remember two halftime shows from before February (Katy Perry, and just see if I remember her a year from now): U2 during XXXVI (Hector's house, Ivan's infant daughter in my arms) and the Wardrobe Malfunction during XXXVIII (first night in our barely furnished Cambridge apartment, pizza, Steve). Two Patriots games. Two situations in which I was compelled to watch. Likely, the two most high-profile performances in decades, what with the 9/11 tribute and the nipple. Those first two are the reasons I saw them at all and the last is why I remember them still. But what others? Since U2 and prior to Katy Perry, the good guys have appeared in four others, and I can't name or place a wrinkled rock band, lip-syncing R&B superstar or jingoistic country hack. And yet there are people out there, maybe even people I've married, who can. I know nothing about—or around—football.

Oh, and that bit last week about McCourty and Harmon "perfecting the bad angle" and "whenever we do lose it will surely be their fault"? Local knower of things Mike Reiss offered some rare pointed criticism along those lines in a piece titled "Tackling in Patriots' secondary a top issue to address from loss": "safeties struggled to tackle and shed blocks"; "Harmon having a chance to bring Anderson down at the 30 and failing to do so because of poor technique"; "McCourty missed a tackle in the backfield"; "Harmon bounced off Anderson while attempting a touchdown-saving tackle"; "Harmon's poor angle on Ronnie Hillman's 19-yard touchdown run in the second quarter"; "McCourty taking heat from former teammate Talib about all those live kittens he once ate on a dare." I left out the deserved scrutiny of Butler, Ryan and Chung (who usually plays more like a linebacker) to focus on those who are specifically on the field to defend against the big play. It's a wonder how much Pro Bowl talk McCourty gets during national broadcasts from people who don't have to watch him every week.

Up next: It's either "We got a lot, a lot of culture" or "I ain't no goddamn son of a bitch." Cheers!