23 June 2009

Shorter Vox Day

Shorter Vox Day: "You should judge a book by its cover."

(There are so many levels of horseshit in that small post of Vox's that I was originally tempted to write out an entire post drawing out the threads of the utter dumbosity -- but why waste my time pointing out such obvious flaws in the writings of the intellectually blinkered?

22 June 2009

Beer Review, Guinness 250th Anniversary Stout

Guinness 250th Anniversary Stout
Dublin, Ireland
5% ABV

Appearance: Very dark coloration, black/brown with a slight reddish tinge on the bottom. Thick off-white head that leaves significant lacing. 4.5/5

Smell: Dry aromatic maltiness, lots of breadiness, hints of mild hops. Has an almost bock-like aroma. Interesting. 4.0/5

Taste: Sweeter than expected. I'm drinking this warmer than usual, having left it out of the fridge longer than I intended, and the extra warmth is bringing a lot of sweet malty complexity to the forefront. Astringent on the finish, dry on the aftertaste. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Perhaps a touch thicker than ordinary Guinness (which is very watery to my palate), with a touch of carbonation. No hop bite at all. 4.0/5

Drinkability: I'll probably get a bottle of Guinness and a bottle of Extra Stout and do a three-way side-by-side at some point. I think this is a better beer than either of those, but whether it's just my mind playing tricks on my tastebuds I can't say. 4.0/5

Overall: 4.1/5

21 June 2009

Beer Review, Founders Imperial Stout

Founders Imperial Stout
Grand Rapids, MI
10.5% ABV

Appearance: Very dark, black, with a thick tan-colored smooth head. Head sticks around and leaves significant lacing. 4.5/5

Smell: Sweet, malty, chocolatey, but with a bit of a fruity undertone. Hints of chocolate-covered cherries and... grapes. Very nice aroma. 5.0/5

Taste: Highly astringent, very strong with the alcohol. Underneath the astringency is a strong malt presence and a touch of breadiness. Finishes dry. It's pretty unbalanced for my palate -- I'd prefer this with either a stronger malt to overcome the astringency or less alcohol. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Thick, velvety. Leaves the tongue coated. No significant carbonation. 4.5/5

Drinkability: A good RIS, but not quite a great one. Maybe if I let one cellar for awhile... 4.0/5

Overall: 4.35/5

20 June 2009

Non-Nude Playboy

So. Olivia Munn, one of the hosts of G4's Attack of the Show and generally considered my gamer geeks across the world as a numero uno piece of fapping material*, is appearing in Playboy. She's done it before, but now she's the cover model.

Good for her, I say. She's funny and bright, at least based on the bits of her show that I've seen, and over the past couple of years has leveraged her obvious good looks into a kind of cult sex-symboldom, appearing in numerous sexy magazine shoots just like any other celebrity-model would. Appearing nude in Playboy isn't exactly the kind of career-changing scandal that it was when Drew Barrymore showed she wasn't a kid anymore in 1995, but it certainly gives her fans a little of what they want and shows that Munn's willing to treat her fans like adults who can take her seriously (or, at least as seriously as AOTS deserves) even after they've seen her areolae.

Except that Munn won't be appearing nude. She'll be in the red bikini you see above, covering all that naughty naughty nipple-flesh, and basically showing no more skin than you'd see in an issue of Maxim. Maybe Munn is uncomfortable showing her ta-tas, or has some moral issue with it. Maybe she (or her publicists) have decided that it's better for her career to never appear nude, to give her fanbase yet another tease when they were hoping for full nudity. Whatever the reason, I personally don't really give a shit -- Munn isn't a celebrity crush of mine, and since I have access to this little thing called the Internet, I can see all the boobies I could ever want, free of charge.

No, I'm more interested in what this means for the future of Playboy. Say what you will about the magazine, about its history or its current incarnation, but Hefner's creation was revolutionary when it appeared in 1953. Even if you feel that pornography of any kind harms women or society in general, the very existence of high-gloss quality nudity like Playboy, with the social acceptance that Hefner fought for over the decades, helped to make it possible for modern-day depictions of sex and sensuality to be much more free than those of decades past. Do you really think it would be possible to hand out pamphlets depicting realistic images of home mammograms, for instance, without Playboy or something similar paving the way? I doubt it.

So for five decades or so Playboy was the place you went for celebrity nudes. Drew Barrymore, the little darling girl from E.T., appeared nude in the magazine and proved that she wasn't a little girl anymore. Barrymore launched her adult career, fans of attractive celebrities got their rocks off, and pretty much everyone involved made money hand over fist. (No pun intended.) Seeing a celebrity on the cover of Hefner's magazine was a guarantee that you'd get to see that chick nekkid, tastefully so and with a healthy dollop of wholesome that you didn't get in the magazine's more hardcore competitors (Penthouse, Hustler). But the nudity kept it a slice above such "lad-mags" as Maxim -- a magazine accessible enough to have jewelry sold at Hot Topic, but "dirty" enough to be sold in a package with a black plastic wrapper.

So the news that Munn's Playboy appearance is being hyped on her TV show and on the celebrity blogs, but without any nudity, signals a bit of a sea change in the magazine's operation. Playboy has been suffering the last decade or so from the easy access to pornography provided by the Internet -- they've been battling falling sales numbers with the Girls Next Door reality show and significant branding. In the era of Kendra, Playboy isn't so much a dirty magazine as a place for goofy blonde celebriboobs to jiggle.

I've long felt that Playboy's future would look a lot like Andrew Blake or Kink.com, that pressure from the net would force the publication to do hardcore material, but material with a high-gloss sheen and with that fun girl-next-door perspective it's always offered. Instead it looks like the runners of the magazine have decided to go more for Maxim with a pedigree. Which is fine for them, I suppose -- I'm sure the editorial staff of the magazine and the beancounters in the home office have a lot more data to judge the future direction of Playboy than some dude in Kalamazoo. But it's a shame to me that a name that used to stand for the kind of quality product is now making moves to a watered-down future irrelevance.

19 June 2009

Sumatra Stout Recipe

I forgot to post this the other day. Recipe for the Coffee Stout I brewed on Wednesday.

1/2 lb Black Patent Malt
1/2 lb Chocolate Malt
1 lb Munton's Roasted Non-malted Black Barley
3/4 lb Water Street Sumatra Coffee
6.6 lbs Dark LME
1 oz Northern Brewer (45 min)
0.5 oz Liberty (5 min)
0.5 oz Liberty (0 min)

The wort came out dark as fuck on this one, and the aroma was heavenly. I made a Coffee Oatmeal Stout before, which turned out fine, but I didn't add enough coffee and the beer turned out a lot lighter than I wanted. I'm hoping this is going to be a nice roasty jet-black stout with a malty backbone.

I guess we'll see in a couple of weeks. The plan is to move it to glass this Wednesday, leave it in the secondary for another week, then bottle around July 1.

11 June 2009

Beer Review, Double Crooked Tree IPA

Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree IPA
Marshall, MI
13.6% ABV

Appearance: Pours darker than expected, a ruddy brown more like a malty lager than a DIPA, with a thick slightly-off-white head that reduces to about a quarter-inch fairly quickly. Very nice impression from the appearance. 4.5/5

Smell: Oooh. Sweet, malty, but with a nice dollop of crisp grassy hops. (Perhaps Centennial?) Rich, invigorating, very well-executed. 4.5/5

Taste: Sweet with unfermented sugar, slightly "hot" with alcohol. Hoppy but balanced with a nice sweet malt backbone, intense but not overwhelming. These would probably age very well, although true hopfiends will probably find this a bit underpowered for their liking. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Thick, coats the tongue, with a nice wallop of hops and high carbonation. 4.0/5

Drinkability: For thirteen+ percent, this is amazingly smooth. Fans of the style should at least give it a once-over. 4.5/5

Overall: 4.25/5

02 June 2009

Beer Review, Founders Double Trouble

Founders Double Trouble Imperial IPA
Grand Rapids, MI
9.4% ABV

Appearance: Hazy yellow-orange appearance, thin white head that dissipates quickly. 4.0/5

Smell: Sweet citrus, heavy with grapefruit, with a strong dose of crisp white hops. Very nice aroma. 4.5/5

Taste: Hops. Lots of clean hops. All over the entire body of the beer, with a strongly alcoholic finish and a drying aftertaste. Some notes of citrus. It's good, but very strong. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate. Heavy with hops (obviously) and a high carbonation (not quite so obviously). 4.0/5

Drinkability: Quite a good DIPA. Not the greatest ever, ends up a bit one-note, but not bad at all. 4.0/5

Overall: 4.1/5

01 June 2009

Beer Review, Edmund Fitzgerald Porter

Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter
Cleveland, OH
5.8% ABV

Appearance: Dark, nearly black velvet, but not opaque like a stout (slight transparency to the body) and with a reddish tinge to the liquid. Half-inch khaki-colored head. Amazing appearance. 4.5/5

Smell: Dark malts, lots of sweet grapes and raisins, very bready. 4.0/5

Taste: Delicious dry malts, roasted grains, slightly dry on the finish. A touch of raisin sweetness, but not too much. Basically a note-perfect American Porter. 4.5/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate thickness, mild carbonation, no significant hops. Smooth. 3.5/5

Drinkability: This may be my all-time favorite porter. 4.0/5

Overall: 4.25/5

(And that's probably being a bit too harsh on it, numerically speaking.)