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Category: Reviews

080: A Change In Focus

So, I know you have all really come to love and adore the content I post here on How Many Beards. But this post is to serve as a bit of a forewarning that you may notice a slight shift in focus coming soon.

complete beer course

In TOTALLY unrelated news, I am finding myself getting back into brewing and as part of that I am diving into beer styles. The internet has almost unanimously pointed me towards The Complete Beer Course by Joshua M. Bernstein. It’s a hefty tome that is equal parts coffee table book and actual fountain of knowledge. The book is truly designed to walk you through learning the different beer styles, and it’s something I am fully committing to. As a result of all this you should start to see more regular posting here. The downside is you probably won’t really care about most of it, and some of it may be unintelligible if I forget about the second half of Hemingway’s maxim: Write Drunk, Edit Sober.

What I am really here to ask is if anyone is interested in joining me on this voyage. It won’t be a short one. There are 10 Classes, and the first class has 34 beers (2 from each style) to try. So let me know! Don’t make me be the guy drinking all these beers alone! I’ll do it though. I’ll drink them alone. At night. In the dark. While everyone is sleeping.

 

073: 2013 Gift Guide – Pt. 1

Well hello there fine chaps! It seems it is that fine time of year again when we all start gearing up for the holidays. The parties are planned and scheduled, good times are shared, and goodfaith compromises are made on how much weight gain is acceptable between Thanksgiving and Jan 2nd. For most people it’s also a time of exchanging gifts, and in case any of you are looking for a little inspiration we’re here to prep you before you find yourself wandering the mall on Dec 17th in a spiked-eggnog fueled daze with no idea what to get anyone except your self. Also, don’t forget my birthday falls conveniently halfway between now and the old 25th of December so anything you want to pop in the mail is up to you. Follow the jump to see what’s in store.

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065: New Belgium Sunshine Wheat

I want to start this off with a disclosure and then an anecdote and finally my thoughts on New Belgium’s Sunshine Wheat.

new_belgium_sunshine_wheat

First the disclosure, I have always wanted to write about beer. As a guy who was a college student as the craft beer revolution finally began to edge its way into Florida I had the distinct pleasure of softly exploring the world of beer. I started at the bottom with those classic standbys of Budweiser, Miller, and all their lighter varieties. Luckily we then progressed into slightly more interesting if not necessarily inventive options such as Yuengling, Guiness, Blue Moon, and Woodchuck. I have no illusions that these are not what are now considered craft beers, but at the time they were leaps and bounds better than what we were routinely guzzling at parties. It was only towards the end of my career at FSU (approximately 2009) that we started to get access to the better stuff. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Sweetwater Blue and 420, New Belgium Fat Tire were among the first. However, shortly after this initial renaissance I shipped off to Korea which to be fair may have some of the worst beer in the world. A year later when I returned the craft beer renaissance had hit Florida like a tidal wave and I dove right in. Two and half years and close to 300 different beers later I surfaced with a new outlook on beer, one of moderation. A view point where I can enjoy the slamming hops of a Cigar City Jai Alai, pick out the intricacies of a Left Hand Fade To Black Vol. 4, and savor the cool, malty crispness of a Miller High Life.

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063: The To Do List

Over the weekend the misses (missus?) and I went to see The To Do List. Let’s just say it is a masterpiece of 90’s nostalgia. If you haven’t heard of it, watch the trailer and then go see it.

The movie stars Aubrey Plaza who if you know her from anywhere probably know her from Parks And Rec. If not then you’ll definitely remember her as “that funny girl you’ve seen in a bunch of things but can’t remember her name.” Plaza normal gets pretty type cast as a dead pant master of snark. In The To Do List she finally gets to break out of that role as a virginal teen in the 90’s who has decided to finally start her sexual education before she goes to college.

THE-TO-DO-LIST

 

While the movie is funny in its own regard, a lions share of my enjoyment came from how well it nails the 90’s nostalgia. Probably the best example of this is the spot on attire worn by Bill Hader, Donald Glover, Rachel Bilson, Andy Samberg, and the rest of the suprisingly star studded cast. But the setting does more than present a fun callback, it helps the movie. Had it been set now the core funny factor in the movie would have been killed by the fact that one can hop on the internet and Google everything. In the film it’s up to Plaza’s character, with a little help from her friends to discover what exactly all the things on her list are from “rim job” to “motorboating.”

the to do list popsicle

 

The To Do List is an excellent summer comedy, but is also a wonderful look at female sexuality. It allows the women in the movie to explore their sexuality without the traditional movie drama of them being labeled a slut or an overwhelming load of sap and sentimentality. At the end of the day it’s a refreshing take on the High School Sexual Awakening movie we’ve all seen once too many.

060: ‘Salem’s Lot

There are a lot of different ways to describe different types or genres of literature. So many that I never really bothered to pay attention to them. Simply one more way for people to classify, pigeonhole, and thereby engender a license to be an elitist prick about something. I can only imagine that most people don’t have very kind descriptors for the kind of work that Stephen King writes, but regardless of his literary merits there is one undeniable tenant to his work: it’s fun to read. I’ve read a few other books by King over the last few years and have always found them entertaining. I even read his half advice/half memoir On Writing and found it uniquely interesting (but that’s a conversation for another post). Most recently I was in the midst of prepping for a trip to Boston, MA and Portsmouth, NH so I swung by the library and picked up a copy of a distinctly New Englandish book, ‘Salem’s Lot

salems lot cover

Now for all you font/grammar weirdos out there, let me clarify right off the bat that the apostrophe at the front of ‘Salem’s Lot is not a typo. Right away in the book they identify that the setting is a town called Jerusalem’s Lot, conveniently shortened to ‘Salem’s Lot. King even provides a back story. To me the most interesting part was the brief insight that Jerusalem contains the word Salem. But whatever.

The main reason I’m convening a post on this book though is its subject matter.  This is a story about vampires. Now you might already be clicking for the close window button but hear me out for just a second. Yes, vampires are played out, over saturated, or whatever you want to call it, but that’s exactly what makes ‘Salem’s Lot so satisfying. It was King’s 2nd novel and it was published in 1975. What this creates is a charming and refreshing take on the vampire menace. There’s nothing sexy going on here, just old school unspeakable horror in the night style vampires who want nothing more to consume. As an added bonus the setting naturally precludes all modern amenities (cell phones, internet research, etc,). And lastly, this is from when King was still fresh to writing, when he was writing more for himself than for any audience.

I am recommending ‘Salem’s Lot as fodder for your next thesis paper? No. But am I recommending it as a incredibly fun and compelling read? Absolutely. So get to it. 

Have you read ‘Salem’s Lot? Any thoughts or concerns? Leave’em in the comments.

057: 1776

1776 4/5

What do you know about the American Revolutionary War? Hopefully you know that we won. That’s usually a good place to start. You might know we fought the English when they were still truly Great Britain. Hell, maybe you’ve even seen the Patriot and have some inkling of how horrific the war actually was. More than likely though you don’t really know much. That’s where David McCullough comes in. He’s a two-time Pulitzer Prize winning author who specializes in historical accounts and biographies. You’re probably most familiar with his book John Adams, or more likely the superb mini-series HBO made based on it. But I digress, we’re here to talk about 1776.

1776-mccullough

 

Let’s clear something up right away. This is a book about history. This is not a History Book. You probably won’t realize until you get to the end and see that the last 40 pages or so are filled with the references, bibliography, and index that this book is exhaustively well researched. But thank god it is because it’s the details that make 1776 what it is. The book follows the Continental Army from roughly the time Washington is appointed General/right after Bunker Hill all the way up through his crossing of the Delaware to rout the Hessian soldiers from Trenton. It primarily follows Washington and provides thorough insight to his psyche during these 18 months or so, but it also follows several other lesser known heroes of the Revolutionary War, the young men whom Washington came to trust most to help lead his army.

battle of princeton

The book is not terribly long, less than 300 pages, but still manages to pack in a dizzying amount of easily digestible information without moving at a snail’s pace. Rather, McCullough gives you just enough to make you feel smart but not too much to make you feel like you’re studying for a midterm. I would definitely recommend this for Summer Reading as a nice break to all that fast fiction or lady empowerment comedy stuff you’re reading. Plus Independence Day is right around the corner.

 

 

 

 

054: Friday Jams | Twenty One Pilots – Holding On To You

It’s Friiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiidaaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyyyy. This band, Twenty One Pilots, has been blowing up around here. Definitely give this one a listen.

And here’s another track from them I love.

BONUS: HAVE YOU HEARD THE NEW DAFT PUNK SINGLE?

049: Astronautalis

This is a guest post from the inimitably impassioned Meghan. She’ll be bring us regular updates on the music-world with a Left Coast take from her current home in Portland. To get your fill of music nonsense and passionate rants about New Girl, follow her on Twitter. Meghan is now the 1 of the 2 better halves of Secret Rad Media!

An impromptu, short introduction to Astronautalis.

Portland, Oregon – Wonder Ballroom

WHY and Astronautalis 012

I’ve got a new Wednesday recommendation for you all. To begin, when I try to explain an artist to someone as an introduction I usually use the “If so & so and so & so had a baby” analogy. That has always worked perfectly until this past Sunday night when I found myself in front of clean-cut and handsomely charming Andy Bothwell, aka – Astronautalis.

Opening for WHY? which I was set to attend that evening, I decided to throw some of his tunes on before the show, just to get acquainted. Now let me throw some names at you. First I heard the rising addictive hip-hop beats and vox of recent phenom, Macklemore. Perfect, I thought. Then I heard the grungy southern twang ala Lucero with the added smoothness of a one Caleb Followill. “This guy is all over the place;” I stumbled forward in confusion. More deep beats. Okay, he IS hip-hop. Now synth. Now he is Isaac Brock. Then, wait, did someone put on Billy Joel? What is happening?! And then my brain imploded.

When I came to, I found myself at the front of the stage of Portland’s Wonder Ballroom. Looking up at Astronautalis he explained how he used to be a ‘little British girl,’ later to amend “that was a lie, I was never a little British girl. Everything from here on out will be the truth.” The center crowd, slow to feel him out, finally broke into an all out dance party as he belted through what appeared to be his biggest hit – “Contrails” (which recorded, features Tegan Quin).

Astronautalis ft. Tegan Quin – Contrails

As sweaty bodies and exhausted breath overwhelmed the crowd, Andy asked us to name some topics for the backbone of his traditional freestyle session. Bukowski, drinking tea, being 21, The Walking Dead, redheads, an unavoidable sneak-in of C.S. Lewis, three or so more and he was off. I looked around the crowd as he spit out a slew of words, band building beats behind him, as if this was a poem years in the making. The closing of his set produced gaping jaws on faces of the crowd, as the percentage of bodies who had never heard of Astronautalis inevitably accepted they would be leaving their brains behind at Wonder ballroom this night.

An Astronautalis Freestyle

047: Friday Jam’s | Fall Out Boy – My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark

As an old school fan of Fall Out Boy I never know what to expect from these weirdos, especially after they put up Infinity On High and Folie A Deux the latter of which I never even listened to. But, their first two albums, Take This To Your Grave and From Under The Cork Tree have always held a special place in my musical upbringing. So, when I heard they had a new single out I was naturally full of trepidation. Could this be a glorious, hot return to their roots or would it just be a continuance of their steaming record of garbage.

Well, somehow it managed to be both. Their new single “My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark” is truly hot garbage, in that even though it is garbage, it’s still hot and I can’t stop listening to it. Enjoy.

042: Randy’s Monday Morning Obsession #5 – Cinemode App

This is one of a series of regular posts from my dear friend Randy. Check back every Monday for a fresh look at what has taken over Randy’s litter box of a brain that week. For more timely ramblings from him head straight to the source, @RMChase3.

Yo yo yo Randy here, taking a brief rest from whacking rats with a nail spiked bat to bring you today’s obsession.  Have you heard about this texting thing? Of course you have quit being a jerk.   All of the kids are doing it, so are my parents, old people have somehow figured out how to do it, and every once in a while I’ve been known to do it.  It would seem however, as much as we first world people love our txt msgs businesses do not. One such business is the movie business.  For what feels like decades they have been telling us not to interrupt their movies with our phone calls.  So we all collectively followed their advice and took up to text messaging to never interrupt movies. So then the theaters were all “hey quit talking AND texting during our major motion pictures.” And I was all “ Dammit movies why do you keep taking away from me!? First talking, now you take my texts messages what’s next? You gonna take my phones? I THOUGHT I LIVED IN AMERICA NOT COMMUNIST RUSSIA!!”

cinemark logo

I get it. Using the phone backlights the screen piercing the artificial night made by the theater  Also some fools don’t turn off the ringer and hearing the first 14 seconds of “All the things she said” by TATU while I’m watching the Bratz movie is a mood killer. Unfortunately not everyone has the balls to kick obnoxious cellphone users out of their building like The Alamo Drafthouse.  The good folks over at Cinemark realized this and came up with a great solution: The Cinemode App. Unlike most no text apps like the Drive Safely App that entirely prohibits you Cinemark still allows you the option. You download the app and when you go to a movie during the preshow entertainment the screen will tell you to activate “movie mode” (my term not theirs.) Once activated it dims your phones screen.   It also rewards you for not texting or using your phone for the duration of the movie with reduced ticket and concession prices. Now for sad news it’s only for Cinemark theatres which means not everyone can be part of this revolution of not being an inconsiderate jerk. Which currently means even I dear reader have to take a trip to get in on this. So download this, then download moviepass, and then you’re going to have like, the best movie experience ever.  But I’ve got to go smash me some more rats. I hope you enjoyed or if not GFY. Until next time

Go out. Go obsess

Randy.