To Life!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Readers of Around the Keg, it has happened. Our entire reason for being...everything we work so hard for here, with the reviews and links to beer and so forth; it is all at long last justified. Our toil. Our tears. The ridicule we take. It's all been worth it.

Why Do Heavy Drinkers Outlive Nondrinkers?

Loyal readers, it appears that Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research shows that moderate drinkers (defined as 1-3 drinks per day) outlive non-drinkers. However, the paper shows that, though only slightly, heavy drinkers tend to outlive non-drinkers as well!

I personally like to credit our collective collectiveness, sociability, relieved stress, lower blood pressure, higher HDL (the good cholesterol, found in decent quantities in darker beers) and overall wonderful senses of humor that we've worked so hard on here at ATK.

From the article:

All that beer, yet so slender and fit!  
But a new paper in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research suggests that — for reasons that aren't entirely clear — abstaining from alcohol does actually tend to increase one's risk of dying even when you exclude former drinkers. The most shocking part? Abstainers' mortality rates are higher than those of heavy drinkers...

But even after controlling for nearly all imaginable variables — socioeconomic status, level of physical activity, number of close friends, quality of social support and so on — the researchers (a six-member team led by psychologist Charles Holahan of the University of Texas at Austin) found that over a 20-year period, mortality rates were highest for those who had never been drinkers, second-highest for heavy drinkers and lowest for moderate drinkers.
Slainte, mazel tov, cheers and bottoms-up, gents. I personally am gonna work on adding a few more years to my life span tonight!


A Review Of Sorts

Friday, August 27, 2010

Yeah, so no beer review, again, today. I have been sick since Wednesday with a bad cold. Given that, I can't even taste the strongest of foods, nor smell even my 3 boys' nasty little feet that are apparently stinking up the entire house. So that makes tasting little subtleties out of the question.

So instead, the review of sorts, is this article written by famed movie reviewer Roger Ebert: Ten Things I Know About The Mosque.

Point #9 made me laugh out loud.

Point #10 makes me kinda want to hurt someone.

#3, I agree with, with reservation. (I don't think it'll be moved; it's too late)

#5 is Steves' mantra, and dammitall, I agree.


Actions Have Consequences

Thursday, August 26, 2010

I'm sure this is just an isolated incident. And this.


Moron the Community Center 3 Blocks From Ground Zero

Monday, August 23, 2010

Watch in fascination as an angry lily-white mob threatens a guy who they think is a Muslim (24 seconds in, he delivers, fearlessly, my favorite quote of this entire debate: "y'all dumb motherfuckers don't know my opinion on shit.").We are a stupid, stupid people.

From Little Green Footballs (quoted from the videographer): "Later I caught up with the man who’s name is Kenny. He is a Union carpenter who works at Ground Zero."

The next time NPR of all stations calls it the Ground Zero Mosque, I am calling them and asking for my money back. As far as I'm concerned, that phrase is part and parcel to the racist attack we see here. It fuels all of the misconceptions that the drivers of this movement use to their advantage. It's fucking twisted.


Fantasy Football part II

Friday, August 20, 2010

I hate to interrupt the ongoing saga of the Ground Zero Mosque with something trivial, but we need a few more players for our FF league. Our League name is Around the Keg. The ID number is 485088 and the password is guiness. Non-ATKers, spouses, friends. Invite whomever you want.


GOP Profiteering

So over the top, you might think its a skit on SNL.  Prepare to be pissed.


The Ground Zero Mosque...

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

...for the record, is not at Ground Zero. It is three blocks away.

Nor is it a mosque, any more than a YMCA is a church.

There has been much published about what exactly abounds in that three blocks, and it appears to be mainly porn, liquor, a restaurant, a cheap clothing store and an off-track betting facility.

This link shows via stunning cameraphone pix just what exactly resides on the hallowed ground that is 1 - 3 blocks from Ground Zero (again, decidedly not actually Ground Zero itself).

Our lovely, unbiased media has taken to calling in the Ground Zero Mosque or some derivation thereupon. Again, this is a misnomer. It is quite not at Ground Zero. This begs the question: how far exactly is the reach of the sanctity of Ground Zero? 10 blocks? 20? All of Manhattan? I am afraid I know the answer, and I am afraid the answer is "everywhere."

This op-ed from the Detroit News written by known douchenozzle Charles Krauthammer (just look at his pic...tell me I'm wrong), suggests again and again that the moque will actually be situated directly on top of Ground Zero. He then, without laughing, goes on to compare it to a convent set up in a death camp and a hypothetical German center of good-will constructed next to yet another death camp. No false comparisons there.

Just for the record, take one more look at pics from the real proposed site. Just, you know, to help make an informed decision about the appropriateness of this mosque-that's-not-a-mosque-but-instead-is-a-community-center-with-Jewish-and-Christian-board-members.


Fantasy Football

Monday, August 16, 2010

I just have a quick question for the ATK staff and regular posters. I just realized that football season is getting close. I love watching games and going to the occasional one, but I also love fantasy football. Unfortunately, the league I have been a part of for the last 10 years has disbanded. I was wondering if there was any interest in and ATK league. We would need 10-12 players and I would use Yahoo, as it seems to work better than the others I have tried. If there isn't any interest, then does anyone belong to another one I could join. I prefer to join one where I know most of the others, as opposed to some random league.



At 7:30 this morning, a call came in from They were calling to verify a trip to Africa.

Of course, neither of us are flying to Africa.

My credit card got hacked. This card is linked to our joint bank account. I called and got the card blocked, but not before more than $3,800 in purchases were run-up on the card.

Here's the kicker: we have to wait for those purchases to post to the account...and thus temporarily lose several consecutive $700+ purchases...before we can dispute them. We can't cut them off ahead of time. Because we called so quickly and got in front of it, all of these charges seemed to happen in just one day and that strengthens our case as to what is and is not ours. But if just 1 charge goes through that the bank won't let me dispute, I AM buying airline tickets for a one-man murder spree.

So I am on my way to losing nearly $4,000 FUCKING DOLLARS to some sphincter-kissing fuckface in Africa and some dickfucking fuck hole in New Zeeland so they can enjoy $700 in vitamin supplements, $700 and $600 in flights, and various sundry other charges for roughly $700 a pop. Fuck you guys.

Thanks to Expedia for catching it and alerting us. I will use that company from now on for my travel needs.

But a big giant eat-a-pile-of-shit to the dickwads who stole from my family. As we are unable to use our account until the charges are disputed and the like, things...simple eggs and milk for the kids will have to go on our credit card which we then have to pay off later, but only after APRs are charged.

This is hugely inconvenient. Just goes to show...


Sushi and Beer

Friday, August 13, 2010

The fact that one of my favorite meals contributes to fish de-population and over-fishing doesn't trouble me. Sushi doesn't trouble me at all; neither socially nor in terms of taste and texture.

What does trouble me are the beers you are usually forced to consume with sushi. Let me explain.

Even the freshest sushi is a tad...fishy. All those fishy oils that coat your tongue so lovingly tend also to mask all but the biggest, boldest flavors that beer can produce. Add to that the tastebud-searing wasabi dollops, fish-tank imbued seaweed paper and hyper-starchy sushimeshi (sushi rice), and I'll be damned if only beer you can taste is a massive Russian Imperial Stout. But of course, the huge alcohol, roasty-toasty and oil-slick molasses flavors of the stout will completely destroy any chance of tasting that lovely fresh fish.

What's a guy to do?

Most sushi bars suggest you go all-out Japanese. Since you're ordering slightly-endangered fresh fish and sitting at a knee-cramping table, you might as well also try some of Japan's finest beer "traditions." One of those is Kirin Ichiban.

This is a mistake.

Let's first discuss the finer properties of Ichiban, then let's chat about what you should do instead.

Strike 1: despite all of the kanji all over the bottle and the dragony-horsey thing, make no mistake. This beer is brewed by Anheuser-Busch right here in the U.S. False advertising? Could be.

For what it's worth, the beer looks good and refreshing. Great, sticky lacing clings all the way down the glass, leaving little rings down the inside to mark your progress. Kinda like the beer version of tree rings? Pale yellow, highly effervescent and beautifully crystal-clear. That's where the good part ends.

You know how you're driving down a country road late at night? You can't see that well. There's a lump in the road, which you easily drive around. Suddenly, without warning, the vents in the car emit that unmistakable nose hair-burning smell. Your eyes water. You gag just a bit. You try frantically to turn off your vents or turn of the recirculating air or open your windows or please God anything to get the smell to go away Jesus Christ my clothes are going to smell like this for a week!! That smell? That's what you get hints of in this beer. Ah, the fine aromas of skunk and cooked cabbage. What could be more inviting (to someone begging to die)? Under the layers of roadkill, one may experience a slight graininess and a hint of rice husk. But that takes a strong stomach to wade through all the carcass first.

A rice/grainy husk flavor upfront...oh who am I kidding? The grain and rice overwhelms what slight taste there already is to this beer. There is a puckery astringency (medicinal), the hop bitterness tastes like they strained any floral/earthy/grassy/citrusy flavors out of their hops and just kept the bitter. "Bitter" combined with "medicinal" yields a beer that is barely drinkable were I left alone in the desert.

Light body, highly carbonated, blah blah. Blech.

The beer tried to do one thing right: bitterness fights fish oil. Bitterness cleanses the tongue between sips, as does lots of carbonation. The problem is, Ichiban is so bad in and of itself that there is no compliment. It's merely to drink something (for your mouth's sake, pick water...) between bites. And even then, if you choose Ichiban to wet your whistle, you get what you deserve: a less than memorable dinner experience at what could have been a culinary delight.

This is exactly the opposite of what modern Japanese cuisine is attempting to do. Each different bite of fish yields vastly different flavors and textures. You drink a drink, then, that accentuates each flavor and cleanses the palate. This is why they put that pickled ginger shit on your plate.

If you go to a sushi place worth their weight, they'll have a nice IPA on tap (for example, San Su in East Lansing carries New Holland's Mad Hatter, which is a beautiful IPA). The heavy sweet malt provides a different flavor, and the hops, beyond simple bitter, provide their own flavors as well, along with cleansing your palate between different fish. The heavier carbonation in an IPA also serves to provide scrubby bubbles to your tongue and all in all enhances your sushi experience. A well-crafted IPA brings out all the flavors you want and helps get rid of the fishy aftertaste everyone tries to avoid with heaps of wasabi and pickled ginger. Imagine enjoying a beautiful chef's choice chirashi bowl; texture after texture, robust flavors and mild flavors, as naturally as possible without the mouth-searing condiments. You can! Just not every with Kirin Ichiban. Stick with water...and wasabi.


Profile in Courage

Yesterday, the New York Times had a profile of New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s support of the construction of a Muslim community center a few blocks away from ground zero in Manhattan.

Bloomberg Official Photo

The article details his position as one in opposition of religious discrimination, something his parent’s faced as Jews trying to buy a home in Massachusetts.

Yet his quote really simplifies the argument:

“If somebody wants to build a mosque in a place where it’s zoned for it and they can raise the money, then they can do that,” he said. “And it’s not the government’s business.”
No matter what someone’s emotional reaction is to the building of this center, there is no way to stop it. Any efforts will be a violation of one group’s religious constitutional rights, which would be settled by the courts, likely in favor of the Muslim people developing the center.

I think it is important to note that this center will welcome people of different faiths as a way to bring the community together. Isn’t this kind of what we all dreamed and cried for following September 11, 2001?

Bloomberg could have dodged the whole argument and left it to the courts and various development boards to settle. Instead, he has weighed in on it in support of religious tolerance, despite public oppostion.  One person said it is the mayor's finest hour.  It may very well be.


SteveS clan grows by one

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Despite a scheduled c-section for the 15th of this month and no problems, my wife went into labor last night and our son was born early this morning. I happy to report that SteveS jr. (actually his name is Sam) and Mrs. SteveS are doing great. Sorry I don't have any pictures, but my wife has the camera. My already sporadic posting may become even more limited as I re-enter the world of the perpetually sleep-deprived.


Failed Media

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

So first, a correspondent with Politics Daily whinges about Michelle Obama's recent vacay in Spain. Read the whole article and tell me it doesn't have an air of chip-on-the-shoulder.

The first lady is traveling with a small number of friends, who arrived on their own. While Mrs. Obama pays for her personal expenses, taxpayers pick up the costs of three shifts of Secret Service details and other security and support staffers, plus most costs associated with her Air Force plane.
One thing that irritates me about that is the misleading "taxpayers pick up the tab" piece. First, Michelle Obama would have Secret Service protection if she vacationed in Disney, New Orleans, San Francisco, or the U.P. She has them when she goes shopping. She has them while just sitting in the White House watching TV. Second, it makes it sound like there is extra expense involved. There may be extra expense for, say, a hotel room for 3 shifts-worth of Secret Service agents, but in terms of the agents themselves, there simply isn't. It's not like we have big plastic boxes of Agent Xs waiting to be purchased, unwrapped and turned on when she needs an escort. These are agents getting a paycheck, watching her that day or not.
She is now at a world-renowned resort while the jobless rate is high and the economy is still struggling. By doing so she is tempting a backlash. Mrs. Obama is highlighting the beauty of Spain's Mediterranean coast before her weekend visit to Florida's coast later this month to encourage tourism in areas not impacted by the BP oil spill.

The East Wing argues that Mrs. Obama is not an elected official and, as a private citizen, is free to focus on her family and friends. Still, what she does will be perceived by the public one way or another -- the East Wing has to know that. Mrs. Obama has gone to great lengths so far to avoid any controversy in her tenure and as a result has popularity ratings in every poll much higher than her husband's.
There is so much wrong with her statements. The jobless rate is high, therefore Mrs. Obama needs to stay home too? And drawing a parallel between Spain's coast and Florida's in the wake of the disaster is a false comparison. It's simply silliness to try connect the two. And of fucking course she is more popular than her husband; she's not the one making the decisions he is! Jesus, people hired this correspondent??

She then contradicts herself in her assertion that Mrs. Obama is somehow highlighting the beauty of Spain's coast by listen Michelle's 8 vacation destinations this summer. #7? "Aug. 14: A first family weekend planned on the Florida Gulf coast. The first couple have been trying to draw tourists to the area in the wake of the BP disaster."

The journalist's next article is more whinging. My favorite part is in the 1st paragraph where she says "questions are being raised about the cost to taxpayers," whereby she links to her own article wherein she asked the question herself. Great, top-notch journalism. People are asking questions! Who? Me!

Says the article: "ABC did a piece Friday morning about Mrs. Obama and Sasha buying matching sundresses, the ritzy resort they visited and the heavy coverage of the visit by Spanish media." OK. Great. My wife went to Traverse City and spent gobs of money on expensive beer and chocolate. The worse part is the insinuation that the lavish spending spree is linked to taxpayers. She is betting we forgot that one days earlier, this same journalist acknowledged "Mrs. Obama pays for her personal expenses".

We also get the same criticism meme the author is trying to create: "And while Mrs. Obama and President Obama have tried to encourage tourism in Gulf Coast areas not impacted by the BP oil spill, she is highlighting the beauty of Spain's Mediterranean beaches before the first family travels to Florida's Gulf Coast on Aug. 14 for a weekend stay." Really?? On purpose??

Ah! Finally the comparison I was waiting for. Lynn Sweet delivers the goods: "Mrs. Bush's true personal trips were hiking vacations in national parks with female pals."

Fancy-pants Michelle takes personal trips with no official duties to lavish resorts. Plane-Jane Laura, however, sensing the mood of the electorate, took her dutiless trips to our glorious national parks.

And then? Ms. Sweet publishes what amounts to a grudging apology! Included in the apology are gems like: "A reason Mrs. Obama stayed at the ritzy Villa Padierna in Marbella was security, I was told. Agents were able to secure the lush resort and a nearby beach." I really like how she works "lavish" in just one more time to make sure we get the point that she didn't stay at an Econolodge. She admits herself, as do Secret Service guys, that one reason you stay at 4+-star resorts as a President is because they are very, very easy to secure, allowing Secret Service to use the already-robust hotel security at an upscale joint.
The Spain vacation put the first dent in her brand since becoming first lady. She was criticized for choosing Spain's Costa del Sol instead of the Gulf Coast, where tourism is hurting because of the BP oil spill; for going on another vacation when people in the U.S. face tough economic times; and for incurring taxpayer expenses for the trip.
She was criticized? By whom, may I ask? Why, you, Ms. Sweet. And Matt Fucking Drudge. This final "apology" article started thusly
Michelle Obama returned to Washington on Sunday from five days on Spain's Mediterranean coast, taking a mother-daughter trip with Sasha, 9, that stirred controversy. A White House source told me, however, that Mrs. Obama traveled to Spain to help a grieving friend deal with the death of her father.
.For the record, the "stirred controversy" in the quote a link back to her own controversy-stirring original article.

The Main Stream Media: liberal as ever.

My favorite comment to Sweet's article: "I believe I detect a bit of envy and jealously in the comments I am reading. I am of the opinion that a public person can't win regardless of his or her choices in their private life..they are dammed if they do and dammed if they don't. Let a mother show her daughter a bit of the world."



Monday, August 09, 2010

I got to visit Chicago this weekend for a bachelor party of a friend (and soon-to-be brother in law). I can't say it enough: I love Chicago. It's a big, metropolitan city with a mid-west attitude.

The bar-hopping scene was amazing. Our tour guide, Ed's brother, lives in Chicago and knows of all the neighborhoods, nooks and crannies that I have never explored or even knew about despite several hundred trips to Chicago in my adulthood.

Some highlights:

--Dinner at Japonais. Holy mother of whatever, this dinner was spectacular. Little slivers of marinaded meat you cook on a really hot rock. Sake martinis. I had a veal cutlet that nearly made me weep it was so good. Bao so delicious it was surreal. After dinner was drinks at their river-level bar outdoors. And an equally surreal conversation with the Drunkest Girl in Chicago.

--Bucktown. Nearly got booted from a bar for tearing their Chicago Blackhawks flag off the wall. Ate at some burger joint at 3:00 in the morning; I ate a burger topped with Spicy mayo, an egg and some bacon. Why embellish what's already perfect?

--Breakfast in the Gold Coast neighborhood. It was...beautiful. Also, mind-bogglingly expensive. Well, breakfast was reasonable. But a 3-bedroom condo sells for $2.5 million.

the obligatory Wrigley Sign photo
--A Cubbies game (they lost 4-3). Cubs were behind 4-1 in the 9th. Cincy's pitcher, some schlep who looks about as old as my son, loaded the bases and then walked 2 cubbies before finally pitching the winning strikeout. Cubs just couldn't bat-in even a fucking single to tie or win the game for God's sake. My seat was fantastic. Old Style beer, by the way, is simply awful. Like I'd rather have a Bud Light awful. Why it's the "official beer of the Chicago Cubs" is probably why the Cubs suck. If they got a different Official Beer (Goose Island, for example, is a fine local brewery) they may do better. Old Style is so bad, I am convinced it is why the Cubs are still cursed. Only obstinance and nostalgia are why this beer still exists.

--Drinks in Wrigleyville right after the game. At which we drank.

I was nearly decapitated by a foul ball
--Dinner at Fogo De Chao, a Brazilian steakhouse. If you have never been to a Brazlinian steakhouse, you are missing out on life. You have a little button with a green side and a red side. If the red side is up, you eat in peace. If the green side is up, you are constantly surrounded by wait staff carrying 6-pounds of meat on huge skewers. They slice off a hunk of whatever kind of meat they are carrying. At one point, I was surrounded by 4 waiters and when the knives and shouting finally cleared away, I have a plate piled high with filet mignon, garlic beer, sausage, chicken legs, strip steak, and various other forms of steak I simply don't remember. They have a salad bar at Fogo, which is funny; I think it's there just so people feel like they have a healthy option. Gentlemen, I ate so much meat I was sweating and I almost fell asleep at the table. Every cut of meat, 16 varieties in all, was simply delicious. One price, all you can eat and I made sure they lost money on me. Beware: if you forget to flip your badge to red, you will never be left alone, and your plate will never get emptied. Not that that's a bad thing...

--More drinks in various bars, including an astonishing variety of Irish pubs.

I made it back mostly in one piece. I should also mention that Lollapalooza and the filming of Transformers 3 were also going on as we were there. We never went to Lollapalooza, but Optimus Prime was driving back and forth on a small stretch of bridge out the window of our hotel. And there were explosions (but whether I mean for the movie or in my bathroom every morning is up to you to decide; I may mean both).


Happy International Beer Day!

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Today is International Beer Day!

According to the website created for this momentous occasion:

International Beer Day is a Glorious August 5th Celebration of Beer, taking place at pubs, clubs, bars and breweries all over the world.
That’s right, folks. Come this August 5th, Makers, Lovers and Sellers of beer all around the globe now have another reason to raise their frosty mugs. Along with hundreds of bars, restaurants, pubs and breweries worldwide, we have declared the aforementioned International Beer Day!
The purpose of IBD is threefold:

1) To gather with friends and enjoy the deliciousness that is beer.
2) To celebrate the dedicated men and women who brew and serve our beer.
3) To bring the world together under the united banner of beer by celebrating the beers of all nations and cultures together on this one remarkable day.

The site also has a search feature to find a celebration near you.

Seems like three great reasons to go out drinking or to stop at you local beer Mecca.


What's Old Is New

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

I was recently sent a HuffPo link on an ancient, extinct brewing method:  Stein Brewing.

Apparently, as legend has it, brewers of old had no way to consistently keep a beer at the hour-long rolling boil that is necessary for brewing beer the right way; fire and coals would boil water, but not hundreds of gallons at a time and not for an hour.  A solution?  Throw glowing red-hot rocks into the water as it went along.  As soon as the rolling boil slowed, you chuck a few more in there.  Of course, we can do all sorts of fancy boiling with our gas-powered stoves these days, but the prospect of achieving a rolling boil by adding a regular supply of glowingly-hot rocks to your 500-gallon boiler is just too fun not to try.

Enter Six Point Craft Ales in Brooklyn, NY.  They heard about this style and wanted to try it.  There was only one remaining problem; as the guys from Six Point put: The only problem was Shane and David had no idea how to pull this off, as there was no manual on how to properly make a stein beer. This style of beer had been defunct for several centuries, and there was no written record on how stein beers were actually made.

Their solution was elegant:

Sixpoint Craft Ales : The Making of Dr. Klankenstein from Aaron Ekroth on Vimeo.

I must have some of this beer.


Vote, Or I Will Own Your Mind

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

But seeing as I am Cthulhu, I already do. So go vote, for toady is your silly Primary election. Vote for your "leaders" whom I already own to do my bidding.

Think I'm kidding? Look about you. Conservative talk radio. The Tea Party movement. Pelosi and Reid. Tell me I haven't already won.

Of course I have. I am Cthulhu. Go about your fun little Democracy. I'll be back in time for dessert....made of your souls.

Vote DESPAIR in 2010...



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