Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Tribute to the Black and Tan

Although I do love th’ Black and Tan
It’ll shorten, by half, my lifespan.
It’s chock full of flavor2
But it’s killing my liver
And makes me . . . forget what I’m doing.

1. Technically, a drink composed of half Guinness and half Harp is called a Half-and-Half, not a Black-and-Tan. However, (a) I really don’t care, and (b) I found it a lot easier to rhyme with “tan” than with “half.”
2. When using your worst fake-Irish accent—and trust us, we know your Irish accent sucks—this comes out as “flivver,” thus preserving the rhyme scheme. Another option is to pronounce “liver” as “laivor.”

Sunday, March 28, 2010

A Much Better Declaration of Principles

It has been discreetly brought to our attention that some of the content in our most recent post, “A Declaration of Principles,” may bear a passing and wholly accidental resemblance to a vaguely similar declaration from an obscure, poorly-publicized pre–World War II film.

Bowling in the Dark’s Department of Integrity, Fact-Checking, and Cover-ups would like to assure our readers that any resemblance between the lines from this movie—which, incidentally, was too lame to even be filmed in color—and the declaration we earlier claimed as our own is pure coincidence, utterly inadvertent, and almost certainly somebody else’s fault. We’re pretty sure we can pin it all on the current or former American president—each of them, of course, worse than Hitler—provided either we or our readers have had enough to drink.

We would also like to point out that borrowing other people’s work to make ourselves look smarter, clever, or more relevant—while frowned upon in some circles, particularly snooty academics and navel-gazers who value hilariously outdated notions like “truth” and “honesty”—is well within the bounds of our established principles.

Nevertheless, to minimize the odds of our being investigated by a feeble and toothless panel of Boulderite academics or, worse yet, of being pursued to the ends of the Earth by Orson Welles’s vengeful zombie, we have assembled a fresh set of principles, which follow below. For your reading pleasure we have arranged them in order from the most modest, personal, and humble to the most pompous, self-aggrandizing, and possibly delusional, with some smatterings of snottiness scattered throughout:

To make ourselves (and, if possible, our readers) laugh, when we’re trying to be funny.

To occasionally provoke a thought or two, and possibly even generate some lively discussion, when we’re not trying to be funny.

To never be—whether we have two readers or two hundred (or, more likely, eight)—a waste of our readers’ time.1

To write about whatever we darn well please, even if that means 152 consecutive columns on, for example, salary cap issues in major league baseball or mockery of folks who think the Apocalypse is right around the corner.

To eventually, somehow, introduce ourselves to readers who aren’t family members or close personal friends.

To listen respectfully to, thoughtfully address, and then promptly disregard any and all criticism, no matter how legitimate, insightful, or beneficial.

To turn Bowling in the Dark into an obscenely lucrative media empire so that we, Squid Bandit and Some Guy, can achieve our simple, humble childhood dreams of racing across the United States in solid gold Ferraris to see our faces added to Mount Rushmore.

To ruin Citizen Kane for everybody who reads this by explaining “Rosebud,” the movie’s central mystery, to our readers.2

Bowling in the Dark

1. It’s hard for us to believe that any free internet content truly can be a waste of time, but it’s impossible to deny that it can be found if you know where to look.
2. “Rosebud” is the last word that Charles Foster Kane (played by Orson Welles) whispers on his deathbed. Nobody has ever found out what it means, which is why Citizen Kane is universally regarded as a shitty movie.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Declaration of Principles





Bowling in the Dark

Friday, March 19, 2010

A Message from the Central Bureaucracy

The first United States Census occurred in 1790—in other words, it’s been going on longer than anybody’s lifetime—and happens every ten years. This makes it fantastically easy to remember: if the current year ends with a 0 (like, for example, 2010), it’s time for a Census. While I don’t pay much attention to the news or to current events, and was a distracted and often disinterested student from elementary school all the way through 5.5 years of college, I always assumed that it was more or less common knowledge that the Census was coming this year.

Silly of me, I know.

Based on the exposure it’s gotten lately, it was apparently far from common knowledge that the Census was happening, or even that it ever existed in the first place. We (that is, somebody in the government) paid roughly $2.5 million to air a Super Bowl commercial about it, responses to which covered the broad range between “Is that the guy from St. Elsewhere?” and “this is as pointless as that Tim Tebow thing.”

I didn’t think too much of this at the time, though, because, as a die-hard football fan, I was far too focused on the Super Bowl and whichever teams were playing1 to pay attention to the commercials.

This commercial came to mind, though, when I received a letter from the U.S. Department of Commerce, Economics and Statistics Administration, U.S. Census Bureau that informed me that
About one week from now, you will receive a 2010 Census form in the mail. When you receive your form, please fill it out and mail it in promptly.
In short, the Census Bureau sent out some 115 million letters to tell us that we were about to receive a letter, and, as it turns out, about a week or two after the census forms are received, we’re all to receive postcards to notify us that we’ve all received our census forms.

I understand that the U.S. Postal Service is struggling and could really use the work, but I’m not convinced that we need to receive two pieces of mail—ones that we’re paying for, of course—to tell us about another piece of mail that either we’re about to get or we’ve already gotten (and that we’ve also paying for).

If there are roughly 115 million households in the U.S., it stands to reason that we’re paying for approximately 230 million of these pointless little reminders. I don’t want to sound like a Tea Party member2 or anything, but this seems to me to be a good example of our government spending our money stupidly.

According to the government’s 2010 Census website, this system
was developed to get the highest mail-return rate possible. Our studies have shown that mailing a letter telling you that a form is on the way and, after the forms have been mailed out, sending a postcard reminding you to respond increases the mail-return rate.
Now, given that our government3 has kept itself busy by firing our money out of its ass in every conceivable ill-advised direction in quantities that stagger the imagination,4 maybe it’s useless to quibble over a paltry couple hundred million dollars. But it’s a shame to realize that the Census Bureau is operating under the assumption that we have no brains in our heads (and it’s at least as much of a shame that they apparently have studies to back this up). And it’s hard to believe they couldn’t have found a less ridiculous and senseless way of enticing people to return their Census forms.

Just off the top of my head, I’d have to say that it’d probably be at least as effective—and certainly far less wasteful—if the government were to print, on the census-form envelope itself, some sort of statement about how important the census is . . . or maybe a brief, easily-noticeable sentence about the legal consequences about failing to return the form.

Aw, what the hell, just forget it. That’s a stupid idea anyway. It’d never work, and there’s no way such a complex notion could be phrased succinctly enough to fit on an 8.5" x 11" envelope.

1. Red Wings vs. Celtics, I think.
2. Official motto: “We’re insane as hell, and we’re not going to take it anymore.”
3. Under, mind you, not only the current administration but also previous ones. I’m not trying to place blame on any single major party full of incompetent boobs.
4. That sounded pretty Tea Party-ish of me, didn’t it? Damn it.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Some Guy’s Adventures through the Pint Glass, Part 3

Day 3: “All I want out of life is when I walk down the street people say ‘There goes the greatest beer that ever lived.’”

The third selection from the Mystery Beer Case is our second from the Boston Beer Company—whose drinks had for a while been produced (strangely enough) by the Pittsburgh Brewing Company, and are now brewed primarily in Cincinnati, Ohio. Geographical oddities aside, I'm pleased to announce that rather than throwing another weirdo lemon-rind hefeweizen out of left field, the Case has delivered the brewery’s flagship brand,

Samuel Adams Boston Lager, Boston/Cincinnati/Pittsburgh, Massachusetts/Ohio/Pennsylvania.

A Boston Lager is a peculiar brand of beer that, despite being an exasperating and sometimes embarrassing failure for more than eight decades, remained inexplicably popular throughout the twentieth century not only in the Massachusetts area but also, to a somewhat lesser degree, nationwide.

Considered one of the top beers in the world until 1918, the Boston Lager went into a devastating eighty-six year drought in which it absolutely, undeniably sucked—sometimes failing quietly and subtly, at other times imploding tragically on the world's biggest stage—year after fruitless year, leaving behind a trail of increasingly frustrated and embittered supporters.

Rather than placing the blame fairly on a long history of substandard ingredients, poor recipes, and incompetent management, these poor demented fans of the Boston Lager spent most of their time venting their frustrations on more popular and successful beers from the New York City area, or conjuring up wild theories about a mystical Curse supposedly laid upon their hapless drink.

The Boston Lager finally regained some respect after the turn of the century when, in September 2004, it swept a slumping Coors Extra Gold in a four-game series, ending its long drought and once again holding sway as the World Champion of Beer. After the Boston Lager recaptured the championship in 2007, it effectively reestablished itself as a decent drink—one its fans could be proud of—instead of little more than an expensive punch line.

On a side note, its resurgence has revealed an unfortunate side effect: countless fans of the Boston Lager—for the most part an almost-pathetic and sympathetically muted, fatalistic bunch during their team’s drink’s long slump—have, thanks to their beer’s achieving a long-awaited modicum of success, revealed a tendency to be cocky, loudmouthed, insufferable pricks. Contrary to what folks might have wanted to believe, Boston fans weren’t lovable losers, but merely tolerable losers—and once they could shed the “loser” tag, the “tolerable” tag was quick to follow.

Given its history, it’s not surprising to find the Samuel Adams Boston Lager to be a touch on the dark side, more than a little bitter, and even a bit off-putting. It has an alcohol content of 4.75%—which, by an unusual coincidence, was also Babe Ruth’s alcohol content in 1918, his last season in Boston—and to be honest, it’s a bit too hoppy for my tastes. Drinkers who prefer a strong flavor and aroma, however, would do well to give this beer a chance.

Samuel Adams Boston Lager is a beer to be sipped, not hurried through—unless, of course, you find out you hate it and want to move on to the next drink as quickly as possible. It’s dark and robust enough to be a good winter beer, best served slightly warm, when the night outside is as cold as Ted Williams’ head. While the Boston Beer Company definitely hasn’t made my favorite beer, they know what they’re trying to do with  Samuel Adams Boston Lager, and they do it well. Some Guy’s rating for Samuel Adams Boston Lager: one (1) 1978 Game 163 home run by Bucky F. Dent.

For more of Some Guy’s Adventures through the Pint Glass, check here: Day 1  Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 5  Day 6

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Some Guy’s Adventures through the Pint Glass, Part 2

Day two: Give me liberty, or give me drinks

The Research Department here at Bowling in the Dark recently completed an exhaustive cross-cultural national survey, compiling detailed information about average Americans’ familiarity with their nation’s history. We’ve learned that despite a significant emphasis on American history at all levels of public schooling, most Americans’ grasp of their own national origins can be disappointingly spotty.

For example, the following are some of the better-informed answers we received regarding a short list of prominent figures from the American Revolution:

George Washington: believed to have chopped down a cherry tree and then thrown it across the Potomac River, President Washington prevaricated before a Congressional inquiry into the subject, stating that “it depends on what the meaning of the word ‘cherry’ is.”

Thomas Jefferson: In-depth research has shown that Thomas Jefferson may have slept with one of his slaves. A tiny community of pedantic nitpickers1 said something about Jefferson writing something or other, holding some sort of office, and maybe hanging out with, like, French people or something, but honestly, we couldn’t find any real Americans who actually gave a crap. As the director of the Thomas Jefferson Institute explained, “Dude, he was having sex. That’s fucking awesome.”

John Paul Jones: Sea captain, scourge of the British Navy, and Led Zeppelin bassist, 1775–1980. Remarkably well-preserved for a 263-year-old.2 When ordered by the captain of the HMS Serapis to keep the noise down, he famously replied, “I have not yet turned on my amp!”

Benjamin Franklin: a famous colonial inventor, writer, publisher, statesman, and amateur kite-flyer, Franklin was the first to prove the theory that, when electrocuted, the average American shits his pants in a most undignified manner. To hide his shame, Franklin moved to France, where became famous for wearing a fur cap.

Nathan Hale: Gave one single measly life to his country, and has spent the last two hundred fifty years dining out on it. “I regret that I blah blah blah something, something, whatever.” Why don’t you just shut up and pay your own bar tab once in a while, you big fat freeloader.

Abraham Lincoln: Despite being born more than three decades after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln is warmly remembered as a hero of the American Revolution. An experienced attorney and a splendid orator, Lincoln first gained renown for his spirited presidential debates against the 2'4" Stephen Douglas. The towering Lincoln, with a confident grasp of the issues at hand, a wealth of knowledge at his command, and a charmingly rustic delivery characteristic of his rural upbringing, crushed the diminutive Douglas in their final debate with a single blow from his massive, gnarled fist.

John Adams: Star of the movie musical 1776, this often-marginalized hero of the republic was reintroduced to the American public and a whole new generation of awestruck schoolchildren as the voice of a talking car.

Samuel Adams: the Beer Guy. Yep, that’s right, probably the most recognizable hero from the American Revolution—except, of course, for the dude that had sex—is Samuel Adams, the guy that makes that beer. Rather than delve into the complex and probably disappointing reasons why this is the case, or get into a tirade about the state of the American educational system,3 let’s just recognize this for what it is—a really convenient segue into discussing today’s beer selection:

Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat, Boston Beer Company, Boston, Massachusetts (or possibly Cincinnati, Ohio).

While I rarely refuse a wheat beer if one is offered to me, I don’t usually go out of my way to order them. I don’t generally mind the flavor, but something about their murkiness is off-putting. A clear drink (such as last installment’s Carlsberg) is trustworthy: you can tell there’s no disgusting little floaties in it. And a stout—Guinness, for example—is fine too, because frankly it could be filled with a handful of hammered little tadpoles swimming every which way, and I wouldn’t have any idea. So that’s fine. A wheat beer, on the other hand, seems actually designed to be hazy—as if it’s taunting me—and I’m not a big fan of that.4

Sam Adams’ Coastal Wheat did indeed come out of the bottle a touch cloudy, though not as much as I’d expected. I sensed a slightly fruity odor, and sure enough, a quick glance at the label confirmed that this is a “Wheat Ale brewed with Lemon Peel.” The label fails to explain, however, why the beer is brewed with the shittiest part of the lemon, the part that nobody ever, ever eats. I suspect that the Redcoats took all the genuinely edible parts of our colonial lemons, leaving stout patriots like Adams to throw whatever scraps they could find into their beer. We’re lucky the Boston Beer Company chose this recipe; research indicates that Samuel Adams had also developed brews that made use of fish heads, newsprint, and tea leaves dredged back out of Boston Harbor.

That said, though, Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat is a pretty good beer. It’s a refreshing break after a long day of whatever the hell it is I do all day. While I may not go out of my way to buy it for myself any time soon—in part because I still have almost 90% of the Mystery Case left—I certainly wouldn’t turn one down if it were offered to me.

Some Guy’s abitrary but indisputably accurate rating for Samuel Adams Coastal Wheat: Two (2) lanterns hanging in the steeple of the Old North Church.

For more of Some Guy’s Adventures through the Pint Glass, check here: Day 1  Day 2  Day 3  Day 4  Day 5  Day 6

1. I think they described themselves as “historians,” whatever the hell that means.
2. He must be Haitian.
3. Or the possibility that I may have simply made up one or two of the above facts about our founding fathers, and the American public’s beliefs about them. It’s also possible that I made up the survey . . . and also our Research Department.
4. I drink pulp-free orange juice, too, which at least means I’m consistent. I don’t see any reason why you’d need or want to know what kind of orange juice I drink, though, which is why I’ve put it here in the footnotes. Don’t tell me you actually waste time reading the footnotes.