June 30, 2013

The fainting man

If you have a history of fainting when having blood drawn, here’s a tip: tell that to someone beforehand. That way you can avoid causing the exciting and memorable, albeit awkward, scene I created Saturday morning.

For years, my parents hounded me about getting “blood work” done. Despite the fact the last time I had blood drawn for testing was the week before I started eighth grade — almost seventeen years ago — I refused. A few weeks ago, though, I may have had an allergic reaction to Brussels sprouts (I was woozy for a whole day after eating them) and my parents’ pleas to have my blood tested became relentless. I cracked and accompanied my mom, who was also having blood drawn, to a local lab Saturday morning.

I was not a happy camper. Not only did I have to fast for twelve hours, ingesting nothing but water, I do not like having my blood drawn. Blood and needles by themselves do not bother me, but needles going into my veins? Fuck that. My aversion to the process is perhaps the only reason why I waited so long to have blood drawn again, and also the reason I was not the most enthusiastic patient. I wanted to get it over with as quickly as possible. I did not want to make a big deal out of it — and also not mention the fact I have fainted before.

I did not think it was a big deal. The reason I fainted the first time, when I was ten, was mostly from shock. I assumed they were going to prick my finger and collect the blood on a piece of paper. I had had that done many times before and expected it again. Nope. From what I recall, a nurse sunk a needle into my arm and pulled the blood with a syringe. Horrified, I closed my eyes and tensed up, fighting against it. At one point, the nurse told my mom I would likely break the needle (I did not). When it was finally over, I relaxed and fainted.

I always assumed I fainted because I was traumatized. If I did not look this time, I thought I would be fine. No need to say anything, so I didn’t.

After checking in at the lab Saturday morning, I went first. It was a one-man operation, so the guy checking people in also drew blood. He led me into a room, had me sit in a chair with high, padded armrests, and made idle chit-chat as he nonchalantly got to work. I felt a minor sting in my left arm and kept my eyes straight ahead, responding to his questions. After a minute or so, I felt myself gradually weaken. I was fading slowly, and as he worked on my arm (probably just finishing up) I casually said, “Hey, um… I’m gonna pass out for a second.” I made an effort to tilt my head so it would rest on my right shoulder and was out.

I went to a happy place. It was a featureless void, colored a deep, earth-tone greenish brown, and I was completely content there. I was relaxed and unconcerned. There was a murmuring in the distance, but that did not bother me. I was there for a while, and then…

I was staring at two faces. My vision was very blurry but I could make out two faces. Who are these people? I wondered. Where am I? How did I get here? For a moment I was very confused and alarmed. Why had I been taken from my happy place? A figure was standing in the doorway, looking at me, and then disappeared. Finally, I recognized my mom and the technician. Someone said, “You fainted.”

“Oh,” I said. “Okay.”

I was apparently out for about thirty seconds. The technician was aware my mom was also there, so when I fainted he ran into the waiting room calling “Mom! Mom! He fainted!” Everyone else in the waiting room was very alarmed and concerned, but my mom assuaged their worry by saying, “Oh, he does this.” To wake me, the technician and my mom began slapping my face. A man who was waiting with his daughter also came back to check on me. When I finally regained consciousness, the technician told me to start coughing and my mom and the man from the waiting room got me some water. (The jug on the water cooler was apparently empty, so the guy threw it off and then ripped off the plastic connector on the next full jug — which you are not supposed to do, at least with those kinds of jugs. It worked regardless.) The technician had to stay with me until I felt well enough to walk, so I drank water, coughed, and then laid on a padded table while my mom had her blood drawn. Finally, after a long delay — the whole operation basically stopped while I recovered — my mom and I returned to the waiting room where I continued to drink water and cough for about fifteen minutes. Thankfully, the lab had closed so the only people who were inconvenienced were the father and daughter and another guy. They were all kind enough to be understanding.

The technician said I fainted because I had been fasting; my blood sugar was low. It is apparently pretty common. Though I was not embarrassed or ashamed, the technician said even Iowa football players faint (he did not name names, though). The next time I have blood drawn, he told me, I need to tell someone that I have a history of fainting. Instead of sitting, I should lie down and bend my knees.

I’ll remember to do that — in another seventeen years.

June 28, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #476: Dale's Pale Ale

Tomorrow around ten o’clock I am having my blood drawn — for the first time in almost seventeen years! That’s right: the babies born the day after I last had blood drawn are now old enough to drive. I need to fast after ten tonight so I am sampling this week’s proper BotW now.

The beer of the weekend is a legend in the craft beer community: Dale’s Pale Ale, brewed by the Oskar Blues Brewing Company of Longmont, Colorado.

I say legend because I always hear people rave about Oskar Blues. Dale’s Pale Ale is the brewery’s flagship beer and always seems to be advertised in BeerAdvocate.

Serving type: 12-ounce can. The “CANNED ON” date printed on the bottom of the can is “03/25/2013 @13:25.” Now that’s how you do it!

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is pale copper. A finger of buttery, light tan head settled quickly, leaving a thin and bubbly skim, a ring around the edge, and short lacing along the sides.

Smell: The aroma is a tad faint but it is malty and hoppy at the same time. Caramel and toffee on one extreme, and pine resin, grapefruit, and tangerine on the other. The bitterness is really gritty and earthy.

Taste: The mouthfeel is full and dry. Much like the smell, the malts and hops are fused — at least at first. Eventually the hops take control. Lots of pine; the grapefruit from the aroma takes a backseat. Unlike the smell, though, I do not think there is any tangerine. Underneath the spice and citrus are caramel and lightly toasted malts. The bitterness strikes at the end, coating the taste buds and lingering long after each sip.

Drinkability: Hmm. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is my definitive pale ale and I think it will retain the crown. I like Dale’s hoppiness but think it is too aggressive; I think Dale’s is more of an IPA. Semantics aside, it is still a very tasty and drinkable brew.

Fun facts about DPA:

-Style: American Pale Ale.

-Price: Good question. I did not grab the receipt at good o’ Otto’s Elm Grove Liquor’s.

-Serving temperature: 40-45ºF.

-Alcohol content: 6.5 percent ABV.

-IBU: 65.

-Everything else you wanted to know about Dale’s Pale Ale can be found in this video:

I kind of want one of those DPA tall boys as seen being canned and on the “trail side.”

-Printed below the freshness date on the bottom of the can is “INVERT AND ENJOY!” Gladly!

The Quiet Man’s grade: A-.

June 27, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #475: Rebel Kent The First

The beer tonight is an interesting little ale, at least in name: Rebel Kent The First, brewed by the 3 Sheeps Brewing Company of Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. No freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is hazy amber with a ruby/grapefruit tint. A finger of eggshell-colored head left a spotted skim, ring around the edge, and a little lacing along the glass.

Smell: While allowing the beer to warm in the glass, I could smell a fusion of caramel, toffee, and cocoa from about three-quarters of an arm’s length away. Up close it smells a lot like a British pale ale: lots of toffee, caramel, toasted malts, molasses, rye bread, and grass. Needless to say, it is very inviting.

Taste: Much spicier than I was expecting. The rye is really powerful. The beer’s website mentions Belgian yeast and I’ll go with it (what the heck?). Underneath and overshadowed are caramel, toffee, bready toasted malts, and grass. I do not pick up any molasses, though. There are hints of honey and fruity esters, though.

Drinkability: Though it is flavorful, I was expecting something different from the aroma. I wanted a rich, malty, British-style pale ale. But whatever. It is what it is — which is pretty tasty and drinkable.

Fun facts about RKTF:

-Style: American Amber Ale.

-Price: $1.69/bottle at Otto’s Elm Grove Liquors in Elm Grove, Wisconsin.

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 5 percent ABV.

-IBU: 13.

-Nerdiness from the beer’s webpage that kind of, maybe, sort of offers an explanation for the name:

Second cousin to the Earl of Sandwich, these two loved trying to one-up each other with their unconventional combinations. While the Earl is best known for combining meat and bread, Kent thankfully went another direction and created a unique amber ale.

-I have never been to Sheboygan. I just thought I would let everyone know that. Wisconsin is definitely a state I should spend more time exploring. (I should probably exploring with the state I call home, first. Except for driving through it on Interstate 80, I have never explored the western part of the state. At some point I should check out the Loess Hills.)

The Quiet Man’s grade: B.

The Bookworm: The Surprise Party

The Surprise Party, by R.L. Stine. 167 pages. Pocket Books. August 1989.

The dangers of the Fear Street woods weren’t just rumor. People really did disappear in those dark hills that stretched for miles past the end of Fear Street. Strange, impossible accidents were reported in the newspaper. Trees fell, seemingly for no reason at all. Normally fearful animals attacked with bizarre ferocity (p. 81).

After what seemed like weeks of writing and going back and forth with editors, I finally had time to return to good ol’ Shadyside and Fear Street. It felt so good to read again — to just sit and let the events of The Surprise Party unfold to my amusement. That is one of the reasons why I am revisiting the Fear Street series: mindless fun.

The Surprise Party was the second book in the Fear Street series, after The New Girl. Interestingly, the major characters of The New Girl, Cory Brooks and his neighbor/girlfriend Lisa Blume, play supporting roles in The Surprise Party, which makes me wonder if Stine intended there to be more character continuity. At least at first; that is obviously not what happened as the series progressed. With the exception of a few holdovers (most notably Suki Thomas — that slut!), Shadyside and its eponymous high school are seemingly repopulated with new people every book. (Suki Thomas also appears in The Surprise Party.)

This was the first Fear Street book that involves one of the “strange, impossible accidents” that occur in the Fear Street woods. (The Shadyside police, I realized, must have no investigative skills whatsoever.) The events of the novel take place one year after the mysterious death of Evan, the boyfriend of Meg Dalton’s best friend, Ellen. Evan was found, shot dead, in the Fear Street woods by Meg’s cousin, a character named Brian who is obsessed with a role-playing game called Wizards and Dungeons.

Evan’s death sent lasting shockwaves through Meg’s group of friends. Tony, Meg’s boyfriend, became moody and easily irritable. Shannon, Evan’s sister, became pensive and withdrawn. Brian lost himself in his role-playing. And Ellen moved away and has not contacted anyone since she left. However, the gang catches wind that Ellen will be making a trip back to Shadyside and Meg thinks it is a good idea to have a surprise party to welcome her back. Someone else, though, thinks differently and begins threatening Meg, telling her she should cancel the party — or else. But instead of being scared, Meg becomes bound and determined to have the party no matter what — which she does, in a recently renovated house deep within the Fear Street woods. (Nice choice, huh? “Lets throw a party for Ellen deep in the woods where mysterious things always happen — including her boyfriend’s murder!”)

The big surprise in The Surprise Party was the fact Stine revealed the identity of Evan’s killer (or supposed killer; it’s complicated) and the person threatening Meg two-thirds of the way through the book. Meg remains clueless until the climax, but Stine reveals him to the reader with a couple chapters written from his perspective. That was unexpected and a little disappointing. I want the mystery to remain until the end.

Also unexpected were frank mentions of sex and drinking. Regarding Suki Thomas, Shannon is quoted as saying “she’ll do it with any boy who asks her.” Though the language is pretty fourth grade childish, it is much more explicit than the allusions to her “reputation” in other books. Meg and Shannon also attend a party where a character is drinking beer. Both gave The Surprise Party a shred of reality that was likely avoided on purpose in later Fear Street books.

And another amusing surprise was this odd little tidbit about the Fear Street woods, which directly follows the quote at the top of the post:

Perhaps the strangest thing of all about those woods was that no birds ever ventured there. No birds chewed on the ripe wild berries, or dug for worms in the soft earth, or built nests in the trees. Over the years, teams of scientists from universities around the nation had come intent on explaining why the woods were bird-free. But they all went home as mystified as when they had arrived (p. 81).

Okay… From now on, I will definitely be on the lookout for references to birds in the Fear Street woods.

June 26, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #474: Hop Happy

Forward!…to my Wisconsin haul!

The beer tonight is Hop Happy, brewed by the Milwaukee Brewing Company of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. No freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is cloudy amber with a lot of floating globules. A buttery, fine, light tan head settled slowly, leaving an uneven cap and lacing along the glass.

Smell: My first thoughts were of biscuits and caramel. It is very malty for an IPA, which I think is the point. Underneath aromas of bready pale malts, caramel, and toffee is a subtle splash of grapefruit, tangerine, pine, and gritty bitterness.

Taste: The hops deliver a nice, lingering bitterness that I was not expecting after the sweetness of the aroma. The mouthfeel is also superb: full and creamy — a sign the oatmeal is doing the trick. The citrus and hop spice slowly work on the palate. Grapefruit, tangerine, pine, and earthy spice really steal the show. Underneath is a solid malt foundation of caramel, toffee, and bready malts. It really is a delicious blend.

Drinkability: Tasty and easy drinking. Bombast is not the goal with this brew, but it does offer a nice dose of hops and flavor. Good stuff.

Fun facts about Hop Happy:

-Style: American IPA.

-Price: $1.69 at the Otto’s Elm Grove Liquor in Elm Grove, Wisconsin. I did not grab the receipt, but most of the other singles I bought have a $1.69 sticker on the cap.

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 7.7 percent — which is pretty hefty for an IPA.

-IBU: 51.

-The carrier for Hop Happy features the face of George Walker. Here is some info on Walker from the brewery website:

George Walker is a one of the first settlers to southeastern Wisconsin, considered one of the three founders of Milwaukee and a twice elected mayor of Milwaukee. He arrived in the area in the spring of 1834 and settled on a peninsula jutting out into the lowlands which eventually took the name of Walker’s Point, establishing a trading post there.

Described as a laid-back, fat and happy fellow – George is someone you’d want to hang out with and have a beer. He tipped the scales at 350 pounds and a contemporary described him as “the very personification of jollity and good humor.” Despite his girth, Walker was said to be the finest dancer in the territory and a skater of unusual grace – when the ice was thick enough.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

The Gems of Sharpless: June 26, 2013

I was very absentminded last Wednesday and did not make a visit to Sharpless. Grr. I atoned today, though. On to the gems!

-A table full of old beer signs and brewania were front and center, including these Schlitz lamps.

-Also included was this old Schlitz ad. Other than the name of the beer and brewery, I have no clue what the portrait has to do with Schlitz or beer.

-Quite frankly, I think this is probably the dumbest beer-related item I have ever seen. So dumb.

-“Sup, triple OG?”

-Big Red, eh? Looks more like a novelty bottle full of urine.

-The pensive Maytag Man.

-I do not understand why someone would give away old family pictures. I cannot believe someone would not claim them.

-The blood covered yin-yang is a tad tacky, but I like it! It’s just what I have always wanted!

-An old Hawkeye Beer can, featuring a drinking Herky. Also note the “Not associated with University of Iowa” on the other side.

-Whoa! A blast from the past. Does anyone else remember Boom Ball?

-This can of Budweiser Light not only caught my attention because of its age (according to Answers.com, the name was changed to “Bud Light” in 1984), but because it also does not have a pull tab at the top. The only way to open it is to use a churchkey. It is obviously a canning error, though I doubt the can is worth anything.

June 25, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #473: Dark Cloud

The brew tonight is the last of my aunt and uncle’s Southern sixer: Dark Cloud, brewed by Mother Earth Brewing of Kinston, North Carolina.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The “BOTTLED ON” date printed on the label is “012913.” This bottle is getting a little old.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is clear, medium mahogany. Two fingers of buttery, light tan head dissipated slowly, leaving a spotted and uneven lacing and trails along the side of the glass.

Smell: Rich, dark maltiness. Caramel, toffee, toasted malts, chocolate, cherry, plum, and some nutmeg.

Taste: It is definitely more dunkel than lager. Caramel, toffee, toasted malts, a lot more chocolate than the smell, some smoked malts, cherry, plum, perhaps a little raspberry, and a nice beery bite.

Drinkability: This is solid stuff. It likely sets the bar for the boldest versions of the style, at least as far as I have experienced.

Fun facts about Dark Cloud:

-Style: Munich-style Dunkel Lager.

-Price: Mowin’! I cannot pass it up.

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 5.1 percent ABV

-Food pairings: Recommended on the beer’s webpage are “American Cheeseburger, Chicken with Brown Mushroom Gravy, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, North Carolina BBQ, Macadamia Cheesecake.”

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

Beer of the Weekend #472: Shotgun Betty

I finally finished a batch of proofs today so I thought I would celebrate with a brown bottle lunch: Shotgun Betty Hefeweizen, brewed by the Lonerider Brewing Company of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. “BEST BEFORE 06.20.2013” is printed on the label. I guess I waited a couple days too long.

Appearance: Poured into a weizen glass. The color is cloudy amber. A little light, soda-like foam dissipated immediately.

Smell: Whoa! An American wheat beer that actually smells like a true hefeweizen! Though faint, the aromas are unmistakable: banana, apple, cloves, wheat, and bubblegum.

Taste: The bottle is pretty old so the taste is flat and cardboard-like. But there are hints of what it used to be: apple, banana, clove, wheat, and a little bubblegum.

Drinkability: I wish I had a fresher bottle because this seemed like it was a decent hefe.

Fun facts about SBH:

-Style: Hefeweizen.

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 5.8 percent ABV.

-Written on the back label is this: “Shotgun Betty is a sexy, tough cowgirl who is always armed and dangerous.” On the beer’s webpage is a slightly different version: “Shotgun Betty uses her sharpshooting skills to target those that show a weakness for wheat beer with a body that won’t quit.”

The Quiet Man’s grade: C-.

June 24, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #471: Buckshot Amber Ale

The beer tonight is Buckshot Amber Ale, brewed by Natty Greene’s Brewing Company of Greensboro, North Carolina.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. A batch code is printed on the back label but there is nothing discernable as a freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is medium amber. Quite a bit of carbonation is rising from the bottom. A half-finger of buttery, eggshell-colored head dissipated quickly, leaving a thin skim, a ring around the edge, and patches were the carbonation surfaces.

Smell: Though relatively subdued, it is malty and sweet. Aromas of caramel, toffee, toasted malts, and dark fruit esters are immediately noticeable. Cherry licorice is prominent as well, and there is a hint of cocoa.

Taste: Though not light, the mouthfeel reminds me of Alka-Seltzer. At least at first. That impression fades as the beer warms. Much like the aroma, the flavor is subdued as well. It mostly mirrors the smell: caramel, toffee, toasted malts, raspberry and maybe a little plum, cherry licorice, and a hint of cocoa. Each sip leaves a nice, beery bite coating the tongue and cheeks.

Drinkability: It’s good enough. I wish it were more flavorful, though. It definitely has the complexity, but needs to be bolder.

Fun facts about BAA:

-Style: American Amber Ale.

-Price: Mowing in the rain. (I stopped after it really started coming down. I needed to wait a couple hours afterward before the grass was dry again.)

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 4.8 percent ABV.

-IBU: 25.

-Color: The beer’s webpage says “15.” I have no clue what measurement that is but assume it is SRM.

-Speaking about the beer’s webpage, it is pretty dang informative. Not only does it include the usual info — ABV, IBU, and brewer’s notes — but it also features a flavor chart.

-At the very bottom of the Natty Greene’s website is “Natty Greene’s Breweing Companay.” I am unsure if the misspellings are intentional or not.

-There are two Natty Greene’s locations in North Carolina: one in Greensboro and another in Raleigh.

-Who is Natty Greene? I assume it is Nathanael Greene, a general in the Continental Army. Greene’s Wikipedia page says he is “known for his successful command in the Southern Campaign, forcing British general Charles Cornwallis to abandon the Carolinas and head for Virginia.”

The Quiet Man’s grade: B-.

The student loan interest rate increase: missing the forest through the trees

For whatever reason, I started receiving mass emails from Dave Loebsack, my US House Representative. I am not going to complain since he is my Congressman, and I like the fact he and his staff are making an effort to connect with constituents. But I do not understand why I started receiving his emails all of a sudden. Hmm.

Anyway, Loebsack’s email today was about the impending interest rate increase for new student loans. Here is the skinny from the email:

In only one week on July 1st, the interest rates on new student loans are set to double from their current rate of 3.4 to 6.8 percent. Unless Congress acts to stop this increase, as I have long been pushing for, students will pay an additional $1,000 for each year that they take out loans to pay for their education.

I am not exactly sure if the interest rate mandate is for all student loans, public and private, or just public loans. Regardless, this does not affect me directly since I do not plan to return to school. Plus — not that this would matter anyway, but I thought I would gloat — I paid off the last of my student loans over three years ago. (I remember the day I mailed my last payment. It was a sunny, fresh SoCal spring morning. I had the day off and was flying to Honolulu in the afternoon to “attend” a conference. I woke up late, walked to the post office in downtown Huntington Beach, and dropped my last payment to Iowa Student Loans into the mailbox. Afterward I walked to the beach, let the waves lap my feet and legs, and then walked home and drove to LAX. Hours later in Waikiki, I let the waves lap my feet again. Not only did I pay off my student loans that day, I stepped into the Pacific Ocean at two separate locations, thousands of miles apart, on the same day.)

In a certain way I was lucky: the only student loans I took out were for my stay at the fabulous Mayflower dorm my freshman year. (I essentially paid something like $8,000 to live in a cinderblock box. I would have been better off renting an apartment.) And though I had to pay my own tuition after losing my DI scholarship, I would not have wanted it any other way. The thought of taking out more loans to pay tuition disgusted me. I preferred working all summer, scheduling classes around work in the fall and spring, and living as sparingly as possible. Sure, I may have needed to live in my parents’ basement, lend books for my English classes from the library, and wear cargo pants with a hole in the groin, but at least I was not deep in debt, not paying more later. And when I was blessed enough to land a good job, I made sure I paid off what I did owe so I was done with student loans — forever.

But not everybody can play it as smoothly as I did. (Honestly, I probably could have done much better, but I am not complaining.) Not everyone is lucky enough to go to college in their hometown. College is expensive and almost everybody uses student loans as a stopgap to not only pay for school but also food and housing (and maybe other, frivolous things they can do without). Which is one of the pathetic ironies of the debate about the student loan interest rate: no matter what, an advanced education in the United States is still prohibitively expensive. Dave Loebsack can argue for keeping the student loan interest rate at 3.4 percent until he is blue in the face, and Congress can vote to make it so. But that still does not solve the real problem. He and Congress are still feeding American college students to the racketeering wolves in the banking sector. Admittedly, nobody is forced to go to college and take out loans. But, as I said, the soaring fees of public education make loans a necessity. Even I, the dedicated cheapskate, could not avoid them.

Later in his email, Loebsack says:

As I have shared with many of you, I grew up in poverty and would not have been able to attend college and pull myself up by my bootstraps without the assistance of student aid programs like federal student loans. It is so important that all of our young people have the same opportunities to build a new life through education.

Albeit, contractually obligated to repay loans at interest.

Though I think Loebsack is a decent enough guy (despite having never voted for him) I think he would be better off fighting to make higher education more affordable than bickering about the interest rate of the status quo.

June 23, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #470: Loose Cannon

Milwaukee is surprisingly underrated, but I will get to that later. I have Southern beer to drink before I can move on to my new Wisconsin haul.

The beer tonight is Loose Cannon, brewed by the Clipper City Brewing Company of Baltimore, Maryland.

Though Clipper City is listed as the brewer on the label, Heavy Seas is prominently displayed on the bottle. Heavy Seas may be a brand or series name. I am unsure and it is too late for me to care enough to properly investigate. I just want to drink a beer.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. The freshest taste notches are located at “JUL” and “13.”

Appearance: Poured into a tulip. The color is hazy, pale amber. A finger of thick, uneven, off-white head dissipated slowly.

Smell: Though it leans malty, it is a nice balance of IPA citrus and a sweet, bready foundation. Sweet caramel, toffee, bready malts, pine, tangerine, and touches of grapefruit. A hint of alcohol is also noticeable.

Taste: The hops are likely not as strong since this bottle is on the older side, but it is still a tasty brew. It has a thick, creamy mouthfeel. Sweet caramel, bready malts, tangerine, and a hint of grapefruit. Alcohol overpowers everything at the end of each sip.

Drinkability: Good stuff. I fresher bottle may provide stronger hops but I will take this. Very mellow and drinkable.

Fun facts about Loose Cannon:

-Style: The beer’s website and BA classify it as “American IPA.”

-Price: Mowin’.

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 7.25 percent ABV.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

June 20, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #469: Bad Penny Brown Ale

So. Milwaukee. I am trying to figure out what my dad and I can do before heading to Miller Park for the Braves-Brewers game tomorrow night. All my dad wants to do is eat at one of the burger joints featured in an episode of Food Wars. We will do that for lunch, but I have no clue what we will do afterward. Dad says we will play it by ear, but what is in Milwaukee to play by ear? Hmm… I’ll figure something out.

The beer tonight is Bad Penny Brown Ale, brewed by the Big Boss Brewing Company of Raleigh, North Carolina.

Bad Penny may be the first beer I have ever tried from the Tar Heel State.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. Bottling month and year numbers for notching are written on the side of the label, but there are no notches.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is a beautiful deep, ruby-tinted brown. A finger of buttery, creamy, light tan head settled to a thin lacing and thick, buttery ring around the edge.

Smell: Kind of funky. I am unsure if the general impression is nutty or medicinal rubber. I think it may be a combination of both. Underneath are aromas of caramel, toffee, toasted malts, black licorice, and some dark fruit esters (mostly plum and cherry).

Taste: The mouthfeel is pretty creamy. The nutty/rubbery quality dominates. Though there are toasted undertones, the flavor is very tart. Sweet caramel, toffee, toasted malts, a little cocoa, and both sweet and dark esters (apple, plum, and cherry). After letting it sit for a few minutes, the medicinal quality becomes so overpowering that it just about ruins the whole beer.

Drinkability: It looks awesome, the smell is uninviting, and the flavor eventually becomes offensive. I suspect this bottle is past its prime so I will stay open minded. I think this one deserves an asterisk.

Fun facts about Bad Penny:

-Style: Brown ale.

-Price: Cuttin’ grass!

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: The website says 5.5 percent ABV but 5.2 percent ABV is written on the bottle.

-Food pairings: The Big Boss website says, “Enjoy with red meat, duck, lamb, pork, barbeque, spicy beef dishes, chili & almost any cheese!”

-IBU: 25.

The Quiet Man’s grade: C-*.

Iowa City bans red light cameras and drones — for a while

On Tuesday night, the Iowa City City Council passed an ordinance that bans the use of red light cameras, license plate readers (unless a police officer or parking attendant is on the scene), and drones. Apparently, it is the first of its kind in the nation and has received applause from across the country. However, as Bobblehead points out, passage of the ordinance is mostly symbolic and meant to “avoid a potential legal battle” regarding a citizen-initiated petition, according to yesterday’s CRG:

That petition, submitted this spring, sought to either force the City Council to ban the devices or send the matter to voters in an election.

The city attorney ruled that the portion or [sic] the proposed ordinance dealing with traffic-enforcement cameras was not timely and therefore the council did not have to act on it. The ACLU of Iowa earlier had said it would consider suing if Iowa City did not allow the whole petition to move forward.

But city staffers recommended that the council ban all three technologies anyway. Part of their reasoning was that cameras would not be installed until at least next year and the council can reconsider the ordinance two years after it is adopted.

The ordinance apparently puts the petition ordeal to bed and the majority of the council still favors red light cameras. In the long run, the measure serves as a symbolic stopgap.

The pointless symbolism made Bobblehead boil over (understandably, and much to my amusement). I agree the ordinance is useless since the council will inevitably revisit the issue of red light cameras in a couple years, when they hope the DOT has written guidelines for the use of cameras on state routes. (Most of the intersections Iowa City has targeted for red light cameras are along state highways.) But while I am not a fan of automated eyes in the sky keeping us in line, sending fines to vehicle owners weeks later instead of issuing citations to drivers on-site, and private companies operating the whole system and keeping the lion’s share of the profits, I appreciate the practically of red light cameras. Call me naïve, but I think people who break the laws we have established should be disciplined. I do not think I would have as much of a problem if the police used cameras to supplement in-person enforcement (e.g.; someone monitors the live video feed for violators and an officer is nearby to issue citations). (Can I reconcile that with the queasiness I feel regarding the NSA’s domestic surveillance? Do I need to?) I think that would probably be the best solution to have it both ways: it appease opponents who disagree with the an automated system and uses cameras at the same time.

But in regards to red light and speed cameras and their supposed safety benefits, one question has gone unanswered (though I have yet to pose it to anyone): do they lower insurance premiums? I wondered that in a post about red light cameras last year and I have yet to read whether or not there is any affect on insurance costs. If red light and speed cameras improve driver safety, then driving in cities where they are installed should present fewer risks; the probability of getting hit by someone running a red light or driving too fast is less, which means my insurance company is taking less of a risk by insuring me. That is how it works, isn’t it?

Regardless, I do not have to worry about red light cameras or FBI drones in Iowa City for the next two years. Phew! What a weight off my shoulders! All I have to worry about now is the NSA making notes of the people I call and email, and keeping track of my Internet habits.

June 19, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #468: River Falls Red Ale

The first beer from my aunt and uncle’s custom sixer is not from North Carolina. It is, however, from one of the Carolina’s: River Falls Red Ale, brewed by the Thomas Creek Brewery of Greenville, South Carolina.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. A batch code is printed on the bottle but there is no freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a pint glass. The color is pale copper. A finger of off-white, buttery head left a thick ring around the edge and a spotted lacing.

Smell: Sweet and malty. Caramel, toffee, red and black licorice. It induces flashbacks of another beer but cannot remember which. (Murphy’s Irish Red?) As it warms, dark fruit plum and raspberry emerge, as well as strawberry and apple sweetness.

Taste: The mouthfeel is thick and chewy — a very welcome surprise. At first, the flavor is somewhat subtle and unimpressive; it offers very little except caramel and toffee sweetness. Hop spice and bitterness come into play as the beer warms, giving it a nice boost, and hints of fruit and licorice also emerge.

Drinkability: Very good stuff. Each sip invites another.

Fun facts about RFRA:

-Style: Thomas Creek calls it “Irish-Style Red Ale.”

-Price: A love for mowing lawns. Basically, I got paid to do something I love. On that note, I have often thought about starting a one-man lawn mowing business.

-Serving temperature: 40-45ºF.

-Alcohol content: 6.2 percent ABV.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

The Mustache, the tourism industry, and Iowa's first day of school

The first day of school in Iowa has become a bone of contention.

Though Iowa schools are legally mandated to start the week of September 1, many obtain waivers to start classes weeks earlier — too early, according to Governor Terry Branstad and the state tourism lobby. They say the waiver system is out of control (waivers are apparently issued left and right) and recommend a post-Labor Day, uniform start date to squeeze in a few extra weeks of vacation spending. Much to the ire of school district officials, who want to maintain local control, the Iowa Department of Education is heeding The Mustache’s call and is considering a plan to change the waiver system.

I am torn on this issue. I understand the point being made by Branstad and Co. and also empathize with Iowa’s schoolchildren. Who wants to start school on August 15, especially in a three-story building with no air conditioning? However, I support local control and think it is a very bad idea to let the tourism industry decide when school should start. That decision should be left to education professionals who, I assume, know what is best.

However, it seems school is starting earlier and earlier — perhaps, I’ll admit, too early. I could be wrong, but I always remember school starting the week before Labor Day. After the long, tedious first week, we always had a welcome three-day weekend. That changed sometime when I was in high school, when classes started two weeks before Labor Day. The only reason I remember that is because Mervgotti, who spent his summers lounging on the couch watching reruns of Pacific Blue and Silk Stalkings, complained about it. (The first day of school in Iowa City has always coincided with the first day of classes at the UI.) The week before Labor Day has always seemed to me to be the natural time to start a new school year, but the day after Labor Day seems to be the de facto first day of school for much of the country. School started after Labor Day in California, and schools in Minnesota apparently do the same. Bobblehead’s wife, a Minnesotan, bemoaned Iowa’s early start date last year. She wanted to take her Little Sister to the state fair the week before Labor Day but could not because school had already started.

On that note, I suppose the tourism industry has a point: an earlier start date prevents late-summer trips. (I say “late-summer” because our family vacations took place in July or early-August.) However, I am unsure how much extra vacation spending there is. My family did not take many vacations — I remember vacationing outside of Iowa four times during my K–12 years — but we did take day trips to Adventureland or spend long weekends with relatives (woo hoo!), and I am willing to bet many Iowa families do the same if possible. I doubt many Iowans spend full-blown vacations inside their own state. Families scrimp and save to go to Disney World, Yellowstone, and Washington, DC — not the Loess Hills or Okoboji. Plus, if the school year started later it would need to end later, negating early-summer vacation days.

On the flip side…. Educators claim that students are more receptive and learn more at the beginning of the school year. Some students even want to be at school — a complete contrast to the end of the year when everyone is counting the days, hours, and minutes before the final bell. If that is the case, though, does it matter when the school year begins and ends?

School district officials are dead set on keeping the status quo, but it seems like a compromise is in the works. The waiver system may stay, but it may no longer be as “lax” as Branstad accuses. Some districts may still receive waivers, but most may be stuck starting school the week of September 1. I do not think that would be a bad thing, but I do not want the state to make a habit of consulting the tourism industry on education issues.

June 18, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #467: Martens Witte

Holy cow: I have time to blog! It’s a miracle!

I am heading to Milwaukee on Friday so I thought would do a couple mid-week tastings. I mowed my aunt and uncle’s lawn a couple times while they were in North Carolina and they paid me with a custom sixer of Tar Heel State beer. I’ll tap into that later, though, because the beer tonight was an impulse purchase at John’s: Martens Witte, brewed by Brouwerij Martens NV of Bocholt, Belgium.

Yes, I am using one of my becker glasses. Instinct tells me to serve witbier in a weizen glass, but BA recommends a pint glass. Sure, why not?

Serving type: 500 ml can. “E: 31/08/13” is printed on the bottom of the can and I assume that is a best-by date.

Appearance: Poured into a becker glass. The color is hazy, pale gold. Two fingers of buttery, eggshell-colored head left an even skim and thick ring around the edge.

Smell: Very spicy for a wit, and I assume that is because of the coriander. It smells like a saison at first. However, the spice fades and the usual wit qualities emerge. Pale malts, wheat, yeast, a splash of Radler-like lemon, and orange peel.

Taste: Light mouthfeel. The spice is noticeable at first, but it fades and tames considerably. Pale malts, wheat, Radler-like lemon, yeast, and orange peel.

Drinkability: Decent enough. I am not much of a witbier fan, but this sets itself apart from others.

Fun facts about Martens Witte:

-Style: Witbier.

-Price: $2.79/can at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Serving temperature: 45-50ºF.

-Alcohol content: 4.8 percent ABV.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B-.

The NSA scandal: empathy for Winston Smith

News that the NSA has been collecting and mining information regarding our phone calls and Internet usage has reminded me of a couple things.

The first is something that happened a few days after I moved to Santa Cruz, when I was eating breakfast at McDonalds with my mom, uncle, and my uncle’s girlfriend. It was, I believe, the day after the fifth anniversary of 9/11. All the networks had aired retrospectives and our emotions and memories from that day had resurfaced. The attacks on New York and Washington, DC dominated the national psyche again — as well as the measures taken afterward to prevent more attacks. My uncle, a staunch red Republicrat, brought up the PATRIOT Act and the powers of surveillance it granted. I remember he said this: “I don’t have a problem with it. I’ve got nothing to hide.”

The second thing is Winston Smith, the main character in Nineteen Eighty-Four, journaling in an alcove in his apartment, hidden from the prying eye of the “telescreen.” I have always felt sorry for Smith and the thought of such invasive surveillance has revolted me ever since. (Not that I was a fan before. I think that scene near the beginning of the book made me realize such a thing was possible.) Years after reading Nineteen Eighty-Four (I only read half, shamefully), I wondered how such a system of surveillance could be implemented. How could a spying “telescreen” be installed in every household? It would, I hoped, never be possible to impose such a thing; people would never allow cameras and microphones to be forcefully installed in their homes. Instead, I thought, the way to do it would be to somehow make people want to be monitored, want to have surveillance equipment installed in their homes. It was a scary revelation and I am reminded of it whenever I look at the built-in camera on my laptop.

What are my thoughts about the NSA scandal? First of all, I am surprised by the weak public outcry. People seem to be waking up to it after a week of media hammering, but it seems the IRS scandal generated more vitriol. Though the IRS’ increased scrutiny targeted groups with a conservative agenda, the NSA has been keeping tabs on everybody. That is not cool in my book. Unlike my uncle, I do have a problem with it. There has to be a way to preserve peace without trampling on our liberties and privacy.

(Though I could be wrong, I am pretty sure my uncle has a problem with government surveillance now. If he has changed his mind, I bet it has something to do with the person living in the White House and the party he belongs to. Similarly, I am sure it is the same reason why many blue Republicrats stopped caring for four years.)

Ironically, though I do not like the fact the NSA has been tracking and data mining my calls and Internet usage, it does not anger me. I have (much like many others, apparently) shrugged my shoulders and thought, “It’s not like we didn’t assume so already.” That is probably the most alarming thing about the NSA scandal: it seems our speculation has given way to indifference. So what do we do now that we know the government is doing what we assumed it was doing for so long? So far, it seems, we will continue as if we are still blissfully cynical. That is equally uncool in my book, so I think it is probably time to voice my disapproval before I end up hiding in an alcove to write in my journal.

June 15, 2013

Shame on me: breaking my PS3 controller

Yesterday I did something so childish and uncharacteristic that I deserve to be publicly humiliated for it: I broke my PS3 controller after spiking it on the ground. It is, I have to shamefully admit, the second PlayStation controller that has fallen victim to my rare bursts of rage.

A couple days ago, I read this BBC article about Electronic Arts being voted the worst company in the United States two years in a row. (EA? Really? Of all the companies that willfully price gouge, pollute, and produce low quality products, EA is voted the worst company in the country?) Thirty years ago, the company apparently asked in an advertisement, “Can a computer make you cry?” I suppose it can, especially if one of EA’s video games can induce controller-breaking irritation.

I was playing NCAA Football 12. My top-ranked San Jose State Spartans were playing at tenth-ranked Air Force. The game was in hand in the fourth quarter, 20-6, and Air Force could do nothing offensively. However, bad passes kept me from blowing the game wide open. My frustration grew with each knockdown, catch-stripping hit, long pass, and interception. I began taking it out on the controller. I spiked it once, then again a few minutes later. I spiked it a third time, harder, and was amazed that it was still working. “I have to stop doing that,” I thought, reminding myself of the PS2 controller I broke years ago. However, a fifth interception and ensuing touchdown return broke me — and the controller. I threw it to the ground and the number light on the front went out. I knew it was broken, so I tossed it across the room. It skipped on the carpet and hit the wall, leaving a white mark by the L1 button.

I turned the game off. After a minute of cooling down, my guilt began to crush me. I am so sentimental that I even feel bad about mistreating inanimate objects. “What have I done?” I thought. Lovingly, I gently picked up the controller and examined it. I could hear a small piece rattling around inside. I pressed the PS button and the “3” and “4” lights flashed red. I did not test it to see if it worked (it still may), but it seemed I had made my controller, the original that came with the system, special.

The worst thing about all this: the controller was innocent. It had nothing to do with my awful performance. Taking my frustration out on the controller was as useless as when people shook monitors when their computer froze. (The monitor had nothing to do with it.)

As a thirty-year old man, I know better than to do that. It was a childish thing to do. Shame on me.

Update: Actually, the controller still works. I used it to beat Air Force, 37-3. The only difference now is that the “1” and “2” lights on the front do not work.

June 14, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #466: Dos Pistolas

The beer of the weekend is going to be interesting because I have no clue what to expect. It says “Dark Beer” on the can, but we shall see. The beer is Dos Pistolas, brewed by the Great River Brewery of Davenport, Iowa.

Serving type: 12-ounce cans. No freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a pilsner glass. The color is deep caramel brown. A half-finger of light, off-white foam disappeared almost instantly, leaving behind a skim and thin ring around the edge.

Smell: Hairspray, or faint nail polish, is most noticeable at first. (It is nowhere near as strong as it is in some Schell beers, though.) Underneath are toasted malts, caramel, and a little toffee. There are hints of dark fruit esters hanging around in the background, and there is a surprise dusting of cinnamon. As it warms it becomes very bready. It kind of oscillates between a salon and a school lunch cinnamon roll.

Taste: The first couple sips are an awkward fusion of the hairspray (I really have no clue what that would impart that; floral hops?), bready malts, and caramel. As the beer warms, the mix becomes much more pleasing and tasty. Hairspray continues to dominate, though.

Drinkability: This is the last Dos Pistolas I will drink from a glass. The rest will be straight from the can, baby!

Fun facts about Dos Pistolas:

-Style: Great River calls it “Mexican Dark Lager.” However, it is classified on BA as “Vienna Lager.”

-Price: $9.92/sixer at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Serving temperature: 40-45ºF.

-Alcohol content: 5.6 percent ABV.

-Nerdiness from the Great River site:

A special brew made for Cinco de Mayo, the Dos Pistolas Negra is a Mexican-style Dark Lager that is light, crisp, and smooth with just a hint of caramel. This brew also goes great with a lime!

-Nerdiness from the can:

At long last, a dark beer that you do not have to be afraid of. While most dark beers are tall, dark and chewy, Dos Pistolas is short, dark and drinkable.

The Quiet Man’s grade: C.

June 13, 2013

Blast from the past: Video Power

For years I have been trying to remember the name of a video game show I watched after school when I was a kid. Memories of the audience chanting “Stump! Stump! Stump!” during the quiz portion, and the winner’s mad scramble through the store at the end, grabbing video games off the wall and sticking them to a Velcro vest, haunted me. Not really, but I always wondered about the long lost title. (It was not, as all my friends assured me, Nick Arcade. I never remember watching Nick Arcade.) Thanks to the almighty power of the Internet, I finally figured it out today: Video Power.

Though I do not remember watching it everyday, I watched Video Power enough for it to make a lasting impression. (It could not have interfered with KGAN’s classic after-school lineup that, over the years, included Duck Tales, TaleSpin, Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, and Darkwing Duck. I may have only been able to watch it on Thursday, when school released one hour early.) Needless to say, it was epicly early-nineties. Honestly: the intro and music is straight out of a 2 Unlimited music video.

Video Power aired on WGN and was preempted by Cubs day games — which, despite Video Power’s inherent awesomeness, is perhaps one of its most lasting impressions. I would come home, eager to watch Video Power, and find shirtless bleacher bums and Harry Caray’s drunken commentary instead. For years it was one of the reasons I despised the Cubs and reveled in their misfortune.

June 12, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #465: Rebel

The beer tonight, another candidate for my forthcoming LV recommendation, is Rebel, brewed by the Měťanský Pivovar Havlíčkův Brod, A.S. of Havlíčkův Brod, Czech Republic.

I have a craving for grassy, dry, refreshing pilsner and think something Czech would be a good fit for July. However, I drank a Staropramen today and was unimpressed. It lacked the freshly cut grass and hay aroma I wanted. Sünner Kölsch is in the lead, I think.

Serving type: 12-ounce bottle. There is no freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a pilsner flute. The color is clear, deep gold. A finger of white head dissipated fairly quickly and left an even skim and ring around the edge.

Smell: I got a whiff of delicious grassiness when I popped the cap — a good sign, no doubt. Scents of apple, grape, strawberry, and maybe a touch of banana make it sweet and fruity. It is grassy as well, though the grassiness is pretty tame. There is a touch of skunk, too.

Taste: The mouthfeel is dry and the flavor offers a nice pilsner bite that jabs the tonsils. It is very herbal at first with touches of spice, but then the esters take over: apple, grape, strawberry, and a touch of banana. As it warms, the taste is reminiscent of apple juice — albeit with a beer-like bite.

Drinkability: I wish it would have been a little grassier or skunkier, but it is tasty and refreshing.

Fun facts about Rebel:

-Style: According to BA, it is a “Czech Pilsener.” (I cannot remember the difference between “pilsner” and pilsener.”)

-Price: $2.49/bottle at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Serving temperature: 40-45ºF.

-Alcohol content: 4.4 percent ABV.

The Quiet Man’s grade: C+.

The Gems of Sharpless: June 12, 2013

-It was apparently guns day at Sharpless — or at least this collection of guns was on sale. The oldest among them, I believe, were two from 1873: a rifle and a pistol with a shoulder stock.

-There was also a closeout on band instruments.

-A very spiffy looking toy tractor.

-No! (The only people in the world who would own something like this are corporate managers who have their own “team” of people.)

-The reason I took a picture of this is because I thought it was odd someone would have a portrait of Madonna. However, looking at it now I wonder, “What’s with the hanging meats just to the left?”

-I found this brother and sister droll set a little creepy.

-Sometimes I think it is fun to guess the year something was made or designed based on its cover. For this Nerf Ping Pong set, I would guess 1981.

-This Adidas ad from a June 1999 ESPN Magazine naturally caught my attention. Though I do not remember women wearing shorts that short back then.

-ET. Enough said.

-I am pretty sure this was a potato shooter.

-Old shopping carts from the Co-op.

June 11, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #464: Sünner Kölsch

Work and errands have been nonstop recently, so I need a beer. Fittingly, I have a couple recommendation candidates chilling my fridge. (More work! Yay! This is why I may not be writing for the LV much longer.)

The beer tonight is an authentic kölsch, unlike the shameful imitation I drank this weekend: Sünner Kölsch, brewed by the Gebr. Sünner GmbH & Co. KG of Köln, Germany.

Serving type: 500 ml bottle. There is no easily discernable freshness date. There is a “Best before End:” space on the back label, but nothing printed there.

Appearance: Served in a Stange. The beer is a light straw color and topped with a thick, white, meringue-like head that settles very slowly and unevenly, leaving foam stuck to the glass.

Smell: Crisp and very floral. It has that barnyard or freshly cut hay aroma. It also has nice esters, too — strawberry, apple, and even a little banana — and a splash of citrus.

Taste: Crisp, clean, and dry. It mostly mirrors the smell, though the floral bitterness really shines. Hay loft, pale malts, some esters, a splash of zest, and a really nice bite.

Drinkability: Light, tasty, and refreshing. This is good stuff.

Fun facts about SüKö (I love umlauts):

-Style: Kölsch.

-Price: $2.99/bottle at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Serving temperature: 40-45ºF.

-Alcohol content: 5.4 percent ABV.

The Quiet Man’s grade: B+.

June 7, 2013

Beer of the Weekend #463: Sidekick Kölsch

The beer of the weekend is an indigenous Iowa brew that caught my eye last week (because it is the perfect reason to bust out my Stange): Sidekick Kölsch, brewed by the Peace Tree Brewing Company of Knoxville, Iowa.

Though the brewery is in Knoxville, “brewed & packaged at Peace Tree Brewing Company, Cold Springs, Minnesota” is printed on the can. Interesting.

Serving type: 12-ounce can. No freshness date.

Appearance: Poured into a Stange. The color is straw and two fingers of off-white foam dissipated fairly quickly, leaving an even skim, a ring around the edge, and trails along the glass.

Smell: Musty adjunct grains. There is a hint of grassiness and lemon, but not much else.

Taste: Lots of adjunct grain and pale malts. It has Peace Tree’s Belgian yeast touch, which is… Meh. There are hints of grassiness and floral hops let you know you are drinking a beer; it has an adequate bitterness to it. There is a light fruitiness and a touch of zest.

Drinkability: Though there is some semblance of kölsch, it is far from what I expect from the style.

Fun facts about Sidekick Kölsch:

-Style: Kölsch. Without the umlaut over the “o” I guess it should be spelled “koelsch.”

-Price: $9.99/sixer at John’s Grocery in Iowa City.

-Serving temperature: 40-45ºF.

-Alcohol content: No clue. It is not on the can or listed online.

-“You might be wondering, why cans?” says the Peace Tree blog post announcing the return of Sidekick. “Well, they are a great container for beer since they prohibit light, allow less room for air and chill quickly. Not to mention, how easy to pack along for camping, boating, biking, hiking, golfing or any other favorite outdoor activity?”

-Here is Peace Tree’s much-hyped description of the beer:

Some beers fight for attention and then there are some unsung heroes. Wearing the mask of a lager, this filtered enter ale is crisp yet refreshing yet packs a wallop of flavor. Brewed in the tradition of Cologne, Germany, this Kolsch style ale is the perfect companion for your backpack, tackle box or picnic basket. Ka-Pow!

-Sidekick Kölsch comes in a box, which is pretty rare:

-Admittedly, one of the reasons I bought this was because I always liked the movie

The Quiet Man’s grade: C-.

June 6, 2013

The Gems of Sharpless: June 5, 2013

It’s baaaack! The Gems of Sharpless returns after a long hiatus, which is inexplicable, really. Though Sharpless is open year-round, I just stopped going after November. I hope to make it a weekly habit once again, especially since I am in desperate need of blog posts.

On to the gems!

-This speaks for itself. I thought this was corny as hell, but an older couple laughed and reveled in it.

-Yep: a gurney of katanas. You do not see that everyday.

-I am dead sure I have this same lunchbox. I never used it when I was a kid (I always used a Garfield or Duck Tales plastic lunchbox) and have no clue where it is. Anyway, this lunchbox was in the glass case with other items worth a little more than a buck, which makes me want to find my Six Million Dollar Man lunchbox…

-What drives people to obsess about Elvis? I may never know. (Do I want to?)

-A miniature Metrodome, sans roof. This may be a collectable after next season.

-I have never been to Denver so I cannot attest to its cleanliness. I like the spirit, though.

-A tableful of liquor bottles. Having once collected beer bottles, I have no clue why anyone would want to save this stuff. It becomes a big waste of space.

-Speaking of beer bottles, here are some old bottles of Rogue Ales brew. Rogue was founded in 1988, so I assume this is the original logo and depiction of the Rogue.

-Just what I have been looking for all my life! A box of empty, seventy-fifth anniversary Pepsi cans!