Beverages often have stories to them, either of how they were made or about what inspired them. The story behind Oakshire Brewing’s Frederic C. Noir is probably the longest and most varied I’ve ever come across. Practically a saga, even.
Here is the bottle description verbatim:
“Originally brewed for the 1st Anniversary of Eugene’s 16 Tons, “Frederic’s Lost Arm” was a collaboration with J-Tea International - a Saison made with Iron Goddess Green Oolong Tea. This farmhouse style ale was a tribute to the French writer Frederic Sauser who lost dominant arm in WWI before learning to write with his other hand. We laid the beer to slumber for two years with Brettanomyces Clausenii, a wild yeast evoking fruity aromas and earthy, funky flavors. Fred is light, crisp, and fruity with mild herbal noes and a pineapple-like finish. See what time has done for Frederic C. Noir! Cheers to three years of prosperity at 16 Tons!”
A year ago, I had the pleasure of sampling Frederic’s Lost Arm. (Man, that sounds wrong out of context.) Josh Chamberlain of J-TEA was the one who gave me the heads up. That batch had been aged in a gin barrel for several months, resulting in a very juniper-laden and sour ale that I adored. I didn’t get much of an oolong taste from it, but my nose was clogged at the time. Any gentle presence would’ve been lost on me.
J-TEA Josh - again - alerted the social mediasphere of a sequel to that batch. Yes, the beer had a damn sequel. How does that happen?! It was the remainder of the Lost Arm batch, but this time - aged in a Pinot Noir barrel for two years. I’m no stranger to wine barrel-aged beers. Many have graced my palate, but this was my first wine barrel-aged tea-beer. That combined both of my favorite pursuits - barrel-aged beers and tea-beers. The only downside…it was only available in Eugene. Two friggin’ hours away from my neck o’ the woods.
I mulled over the idea of a road trip for several days. Eventually, I almost gave up - telling myself, Eh, they probably ran out by now. Then a small part of me urged my fingers to the keyboard. I decided to contact 16 Tons via Twitter to see if they had any more Frederic left. By some small miracle, they did.
I was on the road to Eugene two days later.
My first stop was to visit the source for the oolong used for the beer - J-Tea International. While there, I was able to meet, pick the brain of, and sample the wares of the owner himself - Josh. He also informed me that the oolong used for the Frederics was a Four Seasons greener-style oolong from Taiwan. Not sure if this contradicts the “Iron Goddess” claim on the Frederic C. Noir bottle or if there was some confusion on my part. Taiwan does produce a Ti Guan Yin variant in the Muzha region. Eh, whatever.
The next stop was one of two locations that 16 Tons manages. For those that’ve never heard of it, it’s basically the specialty beer store(s?) in Eugene. Their reputation is well-earned. They carried many beers I hadn’t heard of (yet), and had several barrel-aged options on tap. After buying my precious bottle of Frederic, I was lucky enough to sample a wine barrel-aged beer produced by a monastery in Sweden. Absolutely wonderful way to pit stop.
In a display of profound patience for someone like me, I didn’t actually tear into this bottle until a week or so later. I wanted to do it in a more public setting than my usual tasting pattern (i.e. alone, in front of my computer). The perfect opportunity came in the form of a themeless party at a friend’s house in Camas. Yes, I know, Camas and I have some shaky history, but sometimes it’s well worth the risk. I may have been the only one drinking that early, but at least I was among friends. Still counts.
When I uncorked it, I braced myself for fizz. Nothing happened for a ten seconds. Then I pressed my nose to the bottle to get a good whiff. That’s when it happened…
A geyser of foam exploded up my nostrils. Luckily, it was a wonderful aroma that invaded my nose - sour, corky, and fruity. The liquor itself poured smoothly, and its color was a crisp, spring green with minimal head. It almost looked like a white wine.
And it kind of tasted like wine. The front was all Pinot - slightly astringent and kind of grapy - but the rest was a Belgian sour to the core. The finish was where I detected a bit of the oolong used for the beer’s water base. The herbaceous quality on the aftertaste was Formosan to a “tea”. I sipped this over the course of two hours while at the Camas party.
I departed early to make a second stop at a karaoke bar to meet some other friends. Somehow, someway, I thought it a bright idea to sing a bluegrass song whilst amidst the hipsterati of Northeast Portland. That was met with ironic stares. I giggled awkwardly on the inside.
I blame Frederic.
The only time I would ever be caught dead in a place like Camas, WA. would be to visit friends. That said, I never thought I’d come close to actually dying in Camas. I was lured from my hermitic, lazy day-off at home by the friendly promise of tortellini and lobster bisque soup. Never would I claim to have foodie sensibilities, but I can be easily coaxed from any activity by the word “bisque”. Another minor miracle was how quickly it took me to actually get to Camas from my burb to the west of Portland. A half-hour; that’s it. Usually, it takes an hour.
In short, the evening of fancy-ish feasting was meant to be. Good food was had with good friends, geekeries were discussed. And I departed - or rather rolled - out of the house duly satisfied.
But that wasn’t the real “fun”.
I’ve left my friend’s house on a number of occasions, and - even with my crappy sense of direction - managed to drive home with relative ease. Not sure what happened this night. Either it was the immenent carb crash, or the fact that it was midnight, but I took a wrong turn about two streets away. I “thought” I was on the right avenue leading down the hill and onto Highway 14, but apparently I was a block off. Or more.
Not sure how, but I ended up in some affluent part of the neighborhood. The average house was three stories high. Cars along the curbs outclassed my five-year-old Focus by a good $20K, at least. In my attempts to leave the lavish but labyrinthine neighborhood, I ended up at the top of a hill - tailing a beat-up Subaru Forrester/Volvo-ish-looking car. The driver seemed to take notice and…stopped, blocking my egress.
I waited a good three minutes for him to either (a) continue driving or (b) turn off the road. He did neither; he simply waited there. Lights on. A part of me wanted to honk the ol’ horn, but it was late at night in a rich neighborhood. So, I did (what I thought was) the only sensible thing. I flashed my brights at the guy.
That got his attention. He turned his car a tad to face me- squinting. The driver was a gravelly-faced, goateed mess of a man. Far different than what I expected to find in this neighborhood in specific, but…strangely fitting for Camas in general. He squinted at me; I waved for him to move.
After a moment or two of pantomiming, I gave up on the stopped Gravel-Faced Goateed Guy, and turned my car around to find another route. Then I saw something behind me - the same beat-up Subaru/Volvo-ish car Gravel-Faced Goateed Guy was driving. It was him, and he was in hot pursuit. This instantly gave me (and my car) pause.
I pulled over. He pulled up next to me. I raised my arms and pantomimed a “What?!”.
He yelled out, “Roll down your window!”
Aaaand I went from curious to scared shitless in .05 seconds.
Putting foot to pedal, I hauled arse away from him. Gravel-Faced Goateed Guy was right on my tail. I swerved in and out of every twisty road in the Street of Dreams-esque subdivision. He angled and dodged to keep pace. Another car - a Sable, I think? - was parked up ahead. A driver occupied it as well. I wondered if it was GFGG’s back-up. I sharply turned to avoid hitting it, narrowly missing the front bumper. GFGG’s beat-up-mobile dodged to the left. Now, we were neck and neck, side-by-side. It was an honest-to-Yahweh race across McMansion row.
When we were window-to-window, he shouted at me again, “Pull over now!”
Obviously, I didn’t adhere to his request. Instead, I picked up speed. All the while, fumbling with my Droid to dial 911. Have you ever tried to dial on a smart phone in the middle of the car chase? It’s not possible; I’m convinced. Unless you have it on speed-dial, which I didn’t. I tossed my phone away and continued attempting to shake my pursuer.
For what seemed like eons, I darted in and out of cul-de-sacs and cross-streets with GFGG parallel to me. A couple of times, he hugged so close to my car, I thought he would ram me. All I could think was, FUCKFUCKFUCKFUCKFUCK! Where was a bloody road I recognized?!
One more turn…and I gave up.
GFGG skidded his car to a stop, blocking the road like some sort of redneck cop. He stepped out, flannelled, breathing heavily…and pissed. This time, I rolled down my window. I held up my hands in surrender and repeatedly stumbled the phrase, “I’m sorry, I’m lost. I’m lost. I’m lost!”
He stopped within a few feet of my driver’s side window and sternly said, “I’m not going to hurt you. Turn your dome light on. Now.”
Hands shaking, I obeyed. GFGG checked my passenger seat. Then simply left. Once his beatmobile was gone, I slowly rolled up my window. Heart still thumping a mile a minute, I started the Focus back up. The entire way home, I kept asking myself, Dafuq just happened?!
Three days have passed since then, and I have a theory. I believe that GFGG lived in the neighborhood, saw me tailing him and assumed I meant him ill-will. He was probably some sort of…uh…Neighborhood Watch Hick. Or something. When he checked the back of my car, he was probably searching for weapons. What made him assume I was a threat? Well, it certainly wasn’t the Focus I was driving. But the fact that I flashed my brights at him from the start probably didn’t help matters.
All said, we were two scared-shitless men at midnight assuming the other was a danger. I can say this with a certainty, though, I won’t be getting lost in a rich neighborhood any time soon. Ghettos are safer.
I’ve been an anime (read: cartoons from Japan) fan for most of my life. If there’s one generalization I hate hearing, it’s that the 90s were considered the “dark age” of anime. That is, until the advent of Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star and their ilk. Since my otaku (read: geek) side blossomed during this decade, I get rather defensive when I hear 90s anime being derided. Sure, there was a lot of crap. (I’m looking at you Genocyber.) However, there were several gems, too. Many of which most normal folks have probably never heard of.
So, I thought it high time to list off a few of my more esoteric favorites from the dark-aged decade that was.
My Top 90s Anime You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
In no particular order.
I would never have heard of this OVA (Original Video Animation) if it weren’t for an anime group I was loosely affiliated with in high school. It was released in Japan in 1994, but never jumped across the Pacific pond. And, to this day, I’m confused as to why.
Billed as a parody of the “supernatural high school” genre, the story centers around Hasumi - the titular “guardress” of the title. Her high school is built over a “hellmouth” of sorts, and her duty is to protect her step-brother - the key to unlocking said gate. Demons called Remnants repeatedly invade the school to take said key out. Luckily, the students and faculty are trained in supernatural combat.
Sounds a lot like Buffy, doesn’t it?
The animation and fight scenes are incredible for the time. And despite its lampooning style of storytelling, some of the characterization is rather well thought out. Hasumi remains one of my favorite female protagonists in all of animedom.
At only four episodes, it’s painfully short.
In the early-to-mid-90s, Pioneer (yes, that Pioneer) tried to get into the anime game. Many of the titles under their umbrella were rather impressive. El Hazard, Tenchi Muyo, and Bastard!!! were all thanks to them. However, the series they hyped up as one of their flagship titles never got much fanfare after its initial release.
The Hakkenden is based on a 200-year-old Japanese novel originally titled Nansō Satomi Hakkenden (or “The Eight Dogs Chronicles”). The story is long and epic. To summarize, it deals with eight samurai half-brothers who are all part-dog. I’m…not kidding. The chapters focus on their attempts to find one another, and their quest to bring the Satomi clan back to prominence and prosperity. It’s all very Bushido.
The animated version took a more surrealist and subversive turn, emphasizing the horror elements of the series. It also added a bit of grey to the normally black-and-white/good-vs.-evil events of the story. Clocking in at only thirteen episodes (and one clip show), the sprawling epic was sometimes difficult to follow. I had to re-watch it twice to finally pin all the plot points down.
The animation, the music, and the characters. The story has a very deliberate pace, and the visuals are always striking. The eight protagonists are some of the most fascinating and diverse of all the samurai fiction I’ve absorbed.
For some reason, directing duties for some of the episodes changed hands, leading to dramatic shifts in animation style. The experience wasn’t too jarring, but two episodes in particular stood out as complete eyesores - “Horyu Tower” and “Hamaji’s Resurrection”, episodes 4 and 10 respectively. The former’s style was too cartoonish compared to the rest of the series, and the latter opted for hideous rotoscope animation. Never a good idea.
Three words: Female. Space. Pirates.
The story centers around the crew of the pirate ship for which the series gets its name. Said crew are also named for months out of the year - Janny, Feb, April, May and June. The ship itself is an ancient vessel of unknown technology with the capability of “diving” into hyperspace, as opposed to warping like normal vessels. It is also implied that the ship is biotech in origin.
The series only spanned two episodes; the first was a bit of a stand-alone, while the second tried to set up a larger story-arc. Unfortunately, NEC and AIC - the corporate entities funding the project - scrapped any future development, leaving several plot threads dangling.
In the late-90s, the female crew were given a second lease on life with the Pioneer-backed, six-episode Sol Bianca: The Legacy. The series had nothing to do with the previous incarnation. Aside from the ship design and the character names and likenesses, everything else was changed.
Everything. Simply everything. The first episode of the original series was lightning in a bottle. Storytelling, character development, scenarios, everything about it worked. The second episode was a tad weaker, but still held up to the first.
Everything about Sol Bianca: The Legacy. God, what a celluloid abortion that was.
Yet another anime that never saw a stateside release. I first caught wind of it when I saw various scenes in an AMV (anime music video) a fan had made. The animation was so breathtaking, I had to track it down. Keep in mind, this was 1993. Pre-Internet. By “track it down”, I had to beg a smelly bearded man for a bootleg VHS.
Thankfully, it was well worth the awkward effort. The story focused on a youth from the 25th century who escapes his despotic world. Unfortunately, his vehicle is damaged in the escape attempt, and he makes a pit stop in the 20th century to jury-rig his time machine to a bus. Unlucky for him, though, the bus is already occupied by students and a teacher who join him on his time leaping against their will.
The movie actually came out in 1986, but since I didn’t discover it until the 90s, I’m flimsily including it on this list. It was far darker a story than I’d anticipated, but I rather liked the direction it took. Some of the events play out far differently from other time travel tales.
The animation. Man, this was a fluid piece of work. The detailed art was impressive as well, especially considering that this was pre-Akira.
The pacing and the 20th century characters - particularly the women. They were annoyingly, stereotypically Japanese. That and the movie ended on a rather open-ended, abstract note. A trope in anime I never liked.
There are plenty of other anime from this dark age I could recommend, but I’d better cut this short for now. That’s enough geeking out for one entry. I may jot down more at a later juncture. Do give those titles a looksy if you find yourself in need of a good time-waster.
Friday - The Work Rally
When everyone else on the planet was enjoying Friday like it’s a Friday, I - and several others at my job - were toiling through it like it was our Monday. In other words, it was busy - unusually so for this time of year. Added to that was the announcement that we were having a “work rally” in the middle of the day. One that would take up about an hour or two; a lot of productivity lost.
I had next to no desire to attend, but we had no choice. It was mandatory. One thing many of my compatriots were looking forward to was the prize drawing. Raffle tickets were handed out to see who won an iPad 2. Shrugging, I also took a ticket.
I thought to myself, Wouldn’t it be hilarious if I - the Droid/PC user - won it. Then scoffed.
The drawing was made.
And I won the iPad.
You win this round, God/Fate/Universe/Whatever.
Saturday - The Book Launch
A good friend of mine, Justin W. Price beat me to it. He published an actual book. Not an ebook (anybody can do that), but an honest-to-Hemingway, in-print book. To celebrate the occasion, he was having a launch party at a bookstore in the middle of the quaint little burb of St. Johns. Several friends of his were also performing poetry and music live at the event.
The whole time, I sorta kept to the corner of the bookstore by the food. One particular musician caught my eye, though - a gorgeous redhead with a voice like Tori Amos’s and Reginka Spektor’s lovechild. Her song “Imagine” really tugged at the ol’ heartstring. Naturally, I wanted to know more about her.
After her set was done, I did the only thing a red-blooded, shy geek would do. I surfed around for her Facebook on my phone. As I was doing so, though, someone addressed me.
“Are these cookies?” a feminine voice asked.
I looked up. It was her. I clumsily put my phone down and hastened an, “I-I think so?”
The continued conversation was awkward on my end. It was like being caught with your pants down. It didn’t help that the book corner I was occupying was the Young Adult section.
The final poetry performer was Justin himself, reading some poems from his book, Digging to China. My favorite of the set was “The Battle of Bunk Bed Ridge” - mainly for the childlike aspect on display. Before I departed, I congratulated him…then thought to myself, What was keeping me from finishing something like that?
Sunday - Epic Nachos
It was Super Bowl Sunday, and I had to work for part of it. Normally, I could give two shits about football, or football-related events. But my friend JL throws an awesome party every year for said game. What draws me every time, besides catching up with old friends? Nachos.
JL makes the most epic nachos on the planet. Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.
It didn’t matter to me which team won or lost, Epic Nachos always won.
Many people were in attendance for the occasion - fifteen-to-twenty by my “beer maths”. As I devoured nachos by the plateful, I noticed a couple sitting in the large easy chair in the living room. The girlfriend/wife/er-something - Italian to the core - was being very highly sociable. She “seemed” familiar.
On a number of occasions, JL had mentioned a gal that was his go-to drinking buddy. I wondered to myself if she was the one he referred to. To Facebook, I went. I noticed that JL had tagged her in a status update, and I “investigated” from there. In the process, I had “LIKED” said status update.
Moments later, I received a friend request from her. I accepted. Mere seconds after that, there was a message on my Wall:
It’s been a pleasure Facebooking with you from less than 2 feet away.
It was the second time that weekend my attempts at Facestalking had been noticed. Clearly my FB-ing skills aren’t that ninja. I should work on that.
It may come across as an odd confession…but…things have been going alright. Not great, but alright. That’s a dramatic improvement over the last year or so. For the first time ever, I’m at a job where I’m appreciated. Heck, I even got Employee of the Month. That’s never happened before. However, with all the modest good fortune floating around, I couldn’t help but wonder when the other foot would drop.
And it did.
One inconsequential morning, I went to fill up my gas tank. I handed the attendant my VISA, not thinking much of it. He returned a few seconds later with a, “This was declined.” Not an answer someone expects to hear at 6:30AM. The card still had a balance, so what was the deal?
I gave PenFed a call, and they informed me the account had been closed. Unfortunately, they couldn’t tell me why. What they could tell me was that a letter was sent out explaining the situation. I hopped online once I got home, and noticed the letter had also been sent electronically. The reason for the card closure?
My credit score had dropped. Significantly. From 750-something back in ‘09…to somewhere in the 500s, now.
A panic attack ensued.
My first thought was to order a copy of my credit report. How on Earth could I let it get that low? Granted, my debt to income ratio was horrible, and - since 2010 - I’d had two bouts of unemployment. Not enough to warrant a score dip that large, or so I thought.
To add further insult to inquiry, the attempt to order my credit report via Equifax was ulcer-inducing. They kept directing me to the phone number, which then redirected me to their website - rinse, repeat. By the end, I was screaming at my computer so loudly, I scared my brother/roommate and his girlfriend out of the house.
Eventually, I calmed down long enough to find a number that worked. And received confirmation that it’d been sent. I also had time to reflect upon it. There was a time when I used to be pretty responsible with money. Hiccups - both personal and economical - curbed my fiscal fortitude, though. My debt level far outweighed my ability to pay things off. That and - truth be told - my spending was rampant. I also used credit cards way too much. My ability to debt-shuffle was “derp”-tastic at best.
I had to look no further than my $34 copy of Wheel of Time: A Memory of Light sitting next to me on the computer desk.
It was the last book in a series I had started when I was in high school. Only fifty pages left; I was almost done with that twenty-year reading journey. Still, it was an expensive purchase. One I couldn’t entirely justify.
In the midst of my financial credit crisis, I decided to read. Three hours later - while sipping an expensive pint of chardonnay barrel-aged Belgian-style double IPA - I finished that damn brick of a book. And felt both satisfied and melancholy at the same time. It ended perfectly; I couldn’t have thought of a better way to do it. Yet at the same time, with that ending, I realized something in me needed to end as well.
I stared at my pint, morose.
I wouldn’t say I’m an out-of-control drinker, but I do like my beer. Worse, I like expensive beer. If it has the words “casked”, “barrel-aged”, “oak-chipped” or “bottle-conditioned” in the title, I want it. That often presents a problem, though, since these special beers usually cost as much wine. On average, $12-$15 a bottle. And I was purchasing one or two of these a week.
My usual haunt for these purchases was a specialty beer shop in a neighboring burb. I had a lingering crush on the weekend bartender. I used my beer snobbery as an excuse to see her. This week, I decided to pay yet another visit, but resisted the urge to buy an expensive bottle.
A part of me started to think she was catching on to the fact that I liked her. She seemed kinda creeped out by my continued presence. I completely understood, too. As I exited the shop around 11:30 with a light rye-beer buzz, I realized…that’d be the last time I’d be in to see her.
That would also be the last time - for some time - that I’d buy beer there.
That would be the last time I’d go to a bar alone.
That would be the last time…
I have always been poor, but I’d never been loser poor. I always enjoyed beer, but I never drank alone. (Unless you count a pint or two after a rough day of work.) I’d always liked women…but never bartenders.
I was that guy. A sadder version of the sap I’d always been. With every good comes a bad, and I was doing nothing to improve upon it. The week wasn’t all bad, though. I still had my tea…yet even those had their epilogues. But that’s another story.
For the companion “steep story” to this entry, go HERE.
It’s no secret that I spend entirely way too much time on YouTube. The video site halts any sort of productivity. That said, the time spent isn’t entirely wasted. Some of the channels are actually rather informative. Or at the very least, entertainingly thought-provoking. So, I thought I would waste your time listing off the YouTube channels that waste my time…productively.
John Green already made a name for himself as a young adult author. I even did a review of one of his books some time ago. His brother, Hank, already had a gig as a…honestly, I dunno. I think he was just always an Internet Renaissance Man with inhuman multitasking skills.
In late-2006 - when YouTube was still in its infancy - the brothers Green swore off standard mediums of contact to vlog (videoblog) at each other every day for a year. The experiment was dubbed “Brotherhood 2.0″, and it made them an Internet sensation. After the project ended, they decided to continue the format (or rather, John did), and several years later, they’re still at it.
Their videos are insightful, educational, and downright inspiring. That and they were instrumental in defining the YouTube community that exists today. Several other spinoff channels were spawned by the brothers for educational purposes, included (but not limited to) SciShow and CrashCourse. And I won’t even go into the number of websites they’ve spawned. That barely scratches the surface of their far-reaching, new media grasp.
In summary, they’re a force for good, and not for - as they put it - “worldsuck”.
This is a relatively new addition to the YouTube sphere. It’s first video was uploaded on March 14th of this year, and was the product of PBS Digital Studios. Former Know Your Meme alum, Mike Rugnetta, is the host and head-writer. The focus of the channel is difficult to describe. Rugnetta’s opening phrase sums it up rather nicely, though: “Here’s an idea…”
From what I can tell, the focus is on philosophy and Internet culture and how the two converge. It is not a channel for the faint of attention span. That said, Rugnetta and co. make the material they discuss rather approachable. Heck, even the ideas of Kierkegaard are utilized in a fairly straightforward manner, and his writings are anything but.
Everything from bronies to webcomics is given ample textual dissection. Another breath of fresh air is the video comments. YouTube is infamous for the rampant retardation of some of its viewers. Trolling is commonplace. As are grammatical mishaps. On PBS Idea’s channel, some quality control appears to be in effect. I go here once a week for a dose of mind-fellatio.
I hate the news; I refuse to watch it because it sours my mood. As a result, I sometimes come across like a Luddite living under a rock. Thanks to channels like SourceFed, I - at least - stay informed on a cursory level. Part of the Philip DeFranco umbrella, SourceFed began its life as a news aggregation site before evolving into a five-upload-a-day news spot on YouTube proper.
One of the hosts - Joe Bereta - was already a relatively well-known Internet celebrity; half of the comedy sketch duo Barats and Bereta. The others…um…never heard of ‘em. But the chemistry of the participants involved worked. That and they somehow made news entertaining. Either that or I’m just old enough to find it entertaining.
Point being, their “20-Minutes-or-Less” snippets are a must-watch for me - daily. That and I have an unrequited crush on the hostess, Lee Newton. Women that cute can’t be that witty. They just can’t! It totally ruins my paradigm.
My only gripe is their weekend content. Seriously, guys, lose your movie shows. They don’t work. At all. Your hosts can’t adore every movie they watch. Not possible. Unless they’re ferrets.
That about covers my favorite totally-worth-it YouTube timewasters. If you’ll excuse me, I have cat videos that demand my undivided attention. And an actual cat that’s screaming at me for more food.
I’m going to say something absolutely no one will agree with…but I hate the idea of Halloween.
*cowers behind a pitchfork*
Let me explain. I didn’t say I hate Halloween itself, just the idea of it. It’s one of those pseudo-holidays that seems pointless to me. For some reason, I just don’t gel with it. Yet every time I am coerced into the festivities - costumes, candy, coitus (I wish!), et al. - I end up having a ball. So, why am I torn every year it comes around?
Allow me to shed some blacklight: Here are…
The Top 5 Reasons I Should Hate Halloween…but Don’t.
Number #5: The Yearly Slutpocalypse
I can’t claim ownership of that term; it was actually coined - more popularly - by Philip DeFranco. Basically, it’s a reference to the exemption that all women give themselves to skank it up in the most revealing costumes ever. It’s objectionable, demeaning, reverse-misogynistic , pre-feminist, and…
Gods, I love it.
Some of the costumes that come out of the Slutpocalypse do give me pause, though. I mean, I’ve seen outfits of a Sexy Tigger. I should never, ever have sexual fantasies about friggin’ Tigger. But, damn if it ain’t awesome to behold.
Yes, I am a dirty old man.
Number #4: Finding a Costume
One of the worst plights suffered by an average-looking white man is that I look like…an average-looking white man. I am mal-proportioned to suit any sort of cosplay role. Nothing works on me. As a result, every year I’m torn over what to be and - worse - how to afford it.
Most years, I recycle bits and pieces of old costumes. This year, like many years prior, I re-used a kilt that was sewn for me by a friend of mine. The permutation: A Scottish pimp. Complete with “stable” of sheep.
Where are you going?
Number #3: Picking a Party
Everyone and their mother’s kitchen sink throws a party (or the weekend nearest to) Halloween. And - at least, initially - I want no part of any of ‘em. Reason being, I’m an indecisive bugger. If more than one party is being thrown, I’m always worried about offending the hosts by attending another one instead. One year, to avoid that problem, I went to five parties in one night to cover all my bases. That was exhausting.
I know what some of you uninvited readers might be thinking, “At least you had parties to go to?”
My response would be, “Trade ya?”
I don’t like being conflicted. My gut reaction in that sort of dilemma is to opt out completely and stay home watching horror movies. But if/when I am pulled from my hermitic Hobbit-hole to attend something, I usually have a good time. Damn it.
Number #2: Pumpkin-Flavored Everything
Maybe it’s just a Fall thing, but between September and November, the market is inundated with every possible variant of “pumpkin”. Bread, desserts, candies, you name it. With the exception of pumpkin pie, what people don’t realize is…pumpkin is not an agreeable flavor. At all. C’mon, back me up here. Am I the only one?
Okay, there is one statistical outlier - beer. I have no clue why, but pumpkin beer tastes delicious. Hell, I had one in early September that actually floored me (and not in a drunk way). That is the one pumpkin pass I’ll give for the season.
Number #1: Candycorn
What can I say about this delectable triangular piece of awesome. It’s absolutely horrible for me. The health benefits are nonexistent. I might as well be eating wax. Actually, I think they are made of wax. And every damn year, I can’t resist their inevitable pull.
I can’t fully describe their flavor other than “orange”-tasting ambrosia. Not the orange fruit, the color. The worst part is, once I start eating them…I can’t stop. No impulse control exists when in the company of candycorn. The zombie apocalypse will begin with candycorn - I’m convinced.
And that’s my list. For those of you who are all dressed up and ready to go, have a ball. And to those sitting this one out, there’s always candycorn.
Happy Pumpkin-Flavored-Everything Day.
I’ll be the first to admit it, my diet is horrible. What do I live on? Sandwiches, Pop-Tarts, cup noodles and fast food. What’s worse is I live in a health-conscious, vegetarian state. Some of these vegetarians are friends of mine. Time and again, they look at my choice in meals and cringe.
A common commentary is, “Don’t you want to live to a ripe old age?”
My answer, “Why would I want to do something like that?!”
I have no interest in getting old - nada. At the time of this writing, I’m an outta-shape, 36-year-old, unmarried, college educated, and unemployed white male. I have no 401K, no IRA, no other numerically fancy-schmancy accounts, and I’m worried about qualifying for food stamps. Prospects for quality in my “golden years” aren’t exactly the best. Do I want thirty more years of this crap? Hell no.
Compound that with the fact that I’m already reaching the point where my age might be a factor. A couple of years ago, I was attending a job group. I hated every minute of it. Most of the attendees had at least three decades on me. Many had been project managers, office managers, PR reps, and whatever soft-service titles existed prior to the ‘08 economic crash. All of them were frustrated because they were constantly being passed-over by younger, cheaper, and more energetic laborers. To them, anyone in their thirties was the enemy. Opinions I possessed were immediately shot down.
Needless to say, I stopped going.
Two years later - as in, now - I found myself once again “touched” by the unemployment faery. Yet I was overjoyed that I had landed an interview with a hotel downtown. When I got down there, I was shocked. I was older than most of the staff by a good ten years. This had never happened before. The hiring manager himself was, maybe, 25. If that. The beard only made him look younger.
It didn’t help that the majority of the staff were also young, fit, and ridiculously good-looking. Downtown Portland, gotta love it. I tried to play up my experience in the field, but that might have been to my detriment. Playing the “old man” card was clearly the wrong approach. As evidenced by my denial of the job a week or so later.
Had I finally reached that point? Was that now a determining factor in my hire-ability? Well, yes and no.
If there’s one thing I try to be, it’s current. Thanks to a wonderful tool called the Internet, it doesn’t take long for anyone to gain a cursory understanding of pop-cultural trends. Music, movies, gossip, tech, and news are but a click away. The problem is figuring out how to apply said stimuli to a real world setting.
There’s no hiding the gray hair, but it is far easier to mask obsoleteness. Buzzwords from the 90s don’t apply in a millennial workplace. Keeping up-to-date on that is key. Words like “social media” or “new media” are very clearly on their way out. After all, social/new media has become the norm. Outdated language can be job-threatening. In this, I have been moderately successful. No, the issue is far deeper.
One thing that comes with age is a sense of privilege - an expectation of what you can do versus what you won’t do. I, for one, think I’m beyond fast food work. That may not necessarily be the case. After all, I’ve seen my regular wage drop from $11.50 an hour to $9.
Another factor is life choices. Instead of building a set of marketable skills, I sorta skated through my 20s and 30s. What do I have to show for it? A useless English degree, and years of customer service experience. And I don’t even like people.
Which brings me to the real issue.
I’m a damned curmudgeon. There’s no getting around it. The older I get, the more pissed off I become. Sure, there are smatterings of happiness strewn throughout my day. However, by the end of it, all I want to do is surf the net then fall asleep. It’s the modern equivalent to retiring to Matlock. I’ve retired from life in my mind.
Is this likely to change? Probably not. One of the best things I can do is stay active, find ways to keep my mind alert, and welcome the inevitable “oldening” with a smile and a middle finger. I just hope one day I can afford a lawn and a porch…
So I can tell young whippersnappers to get the f**k off it.
As I write this, I’m currently nursing a beer called “Kill Devil” from the Brothers Widmer – a rum barrel-aged brown ale. I was brainstorming – pint in hand – and itching for something to write about. I happened to be yacking with a fellow Facebook friend, and consulted her on one of three topics to write about. Given that I was already drinking a beer, she said I should choose that topic. And indeed I have. Since I’m currently drinking an odd ale, I figured, “Why not focus on odd ales I’ve tried?”
And here they are:
I “Seaweed” Beer, I Drink It
A few years ago, I attended an event dubbed Fringe Fest at a specialty beer shop called Belmont Station. I encountered some folks with whom I knew mutual people. While I had been there for a particular tea-beer, they recommended another ale from out of Scotland. They had me at “Scotland”.
The Williams Bros. brewing op resides in lloa, Clackmannanshire…wherever that is. All I know is that it has the word “shire” in it, which instantly makes that place awesome! Seaweed was an actual ingredient included in their Kelpie ale, which instantly made it doubly awesome! If I remember it correctly (and that’s debatable), I found the ale to be smooth, light, but sweetly vegetal. Like actual kelp. Whatever the case may be, I remember liking it.
I don’t remember in what context I heard about bacon as a recipe in beer, but it had something to do with a brewfest. One that I couldn’t attend, no less; I was in ire of that fact. Some brewery out of the East Coast had concocted a bacon beer. While I’m allergic to the stuff, I have been known to risk life and limb to try different bacoriffic permutations. Beer was my next phase.
A year or so later – after (you guessed it) another brewfest – a friend of mine had the drunken “jeenyus” idea to go to the Rogue Public House for dinner. Keep in mind, we were already three-to-four strong pints in, and I’m a lightweight by genetic design.
Anyway, Rogue had put out a hot pink bottle on the market called the Bacon Maple Ale. And, I’ll be damned if it didn’t taste exactly like that. Sweet, syrupy and…uh…bacony. It also made me sick to my stomach, but that could’ve been the pints prior. We almost got kicked out, for good reason.
Another year after – while enjoying some quesadillas at a specialty shop called Birra Deli – I had the opportunity to try another bacon beer. Instead of risking an entire pint, though, I went for a simple 5oz. taster instead. It was from Uncommon Brewers. I can’t remember what it was called, though. It was majestic…and it didn’t make me sick in my tum-tum.
Worst-Best of Both Worlds
On a random outing for happy hour at the McMenamins Imbrie Hall, a friend and I saw mention of a beer release event. One of the wares being whored was an unlikely combination – a lager aged in a tequila cask. If there were two more unholy ingredients, I couldn’t think of them. I hate lagers, and I loathe tequila. I have a few collegiate “porcelain god” memories (or lack thereof) thanks to “ta-kill-ya”.
When the day finally came, we sampled all they had to offer. All of them were “meh”, save for the darker ales and…*sigh*…the tequila-casked lager. Seriously, it was to die for. It was slightly spicy, incredibly crisp, containing only a partial liquor bite, and deceptively strong. And again, it didn’t make me sick in my tum-tum. I guess – as the old cliché goes – two wrongs can make a right. Or at the very least, a “right now”.
That’s just a smidge of the strange things I’ve sipped and usurped in recent months/years. The pattern isn’t likely to change anytime soon. If there’s an odd alcoholic combination out there, you’d better believe I’m going in once. Like a donkey show.
Hrm…donkey –flavored beer.
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