Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Gen X Radio

It's hard to find stuff I actually want to listen to on the radio, and my commute is too short to justify hooking up my iPod and looking for something good on it.

The Buzz is ostensibly what I'd listen to, at least if I wanted to hear Spoon's The Underdog for the eleventy billionth time or the Chili Peppers rhyme syllables with words (hey-o / say-o) or the morning crew do a set-up skit about roses.*

*You do know that almost everything you hear on a morning show--the calls, the fights--is a setup, right? It's been planned in advance. The people on the phone are being paid.

So I hit seek a couple times and ended up at 99.7 FM. It's now billing itself as "Gen X radio", which I find a bit patronizing. However, I figured I'd give it a shot.

I tuned in during Fiona Apple's Criminal. Okay. Fine (though overplayed) song. This could go one of two directions.

Next was Tal Bachman's She's So High. Yeah, they're going that direction. Poppy 90s stuff. Great. Well, I'll give them one more shot...

Who Let The Dogs Out.

Really. I actually waited about 10 seconds because I figured it was some sort of commercial for a pet shelter.

It wasn't.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Beer Roundup Continued

A few more beers to get out there:

Ska Modus Hoperandi India Pale Ale

Ska Ten Pin Porter

The first Ska beer I had was their Red Ale, and it was utterly boring. Never one to give up on a brewery for one crummy beer, I picked up a six pack of Modus Hoperandi. This is a good IPA, though I’ll admit I can detect no subtlety in that style of beer. They all taste roughly the same to me, with some being weaker and not-so-good (Red Hook, Tallgrass) and others being bigger and more flavorful (Bell’s Two Hearted, Great Divide Titan). This beer falls into the better side of that comparison. You could put Titan, Modus Hoperandi, and Lagunitas in front of me and I probably couldn’t tell which was which. It’s better out of a glass (naturally), but isn’t too shabby out of a can either. The can makes it a good choice for tailgating or float trips. $7.99/6 pack CANS

The Ten Pin Porter is a good beer, but just an okay porter. I like a balanced porter, and this one fits that bill. Some malt sweetness, some coffee and chocolate notes, some hops. Definitely worth a try in a make-your-own sixer application; not worth an entire sixer when there are so many better choices out there (including Bell’s, Anchor, Founders, Bully!, Cutthroat, Avery…). $8.99/6 pack

Rogue St. Rogue Dry-Hopped Red

I’ve found that a hoppy red is one of my favorite summer beers, and this one does not disappoint. It’s a nice-looking amber/red color. The taste starts nicely balanced (not sweet, not bitter) and finishes with a crisp, dry hop flavor. Hence the name. This one is a good beer…but if you like this style and can still find Odell Red (it was a late spring seasonal), do that instead. I slightly prefer the Odell anyway, and it was selling for $8/six pack while I paid $12.49 for this Rogue.

Odell St. Lupulin

Speaking of Odell, their summer seasonal is out now. St. Lupulin is an “Extra Pale Ale”, and it’s delicious. Hoppy, with an interesting lightly sweet (but not overwhelming) flavor. It’s not a sweet beer by any means…I can’t figure out a good way to describe it. It’s a Pale Ale with a little something I can’t quite identify. Bull @ KC Beer Blog did a nice back story to the beer last week. I had it on tap at Barley’s a couple weeks ago, and Dish Pizza in Liberty carries it (though I may have had their last bottle Tuesday night). $7.99 to $8.99/6 pack

Southampton Abbot 12

I drank a bunch of good beer when I was in New York last month, but I haven’t bothered reviewing any of them because I made it a point not to drink any beers you can get in Kansas City, and why should I just brag about all the stuff I got to try that you didn’t? Well, I’m making an exception for Southampton Abbot 12.
I was in Manhattan for a training/licensing seminar the week after Memorial Day. My wife came along so we could do some vacationing as well. While I was there, my company called and informed me I needed to stay there to audit a school district. This left me with a good part of the weekend to kill by myself, so I drove out to Southampton Public House, did a beer sampler, and picked up a couple 750ml bottles to take home.
One of these was the Abbot 12, a quadrupel. It looked amazing, smelled amazing, and tasted PHENOMENAL. When my wife and I took our first sip, we looked at each other and just gave each other the silent “whoa” expression. Two more sips in, and she was getting sad because we couldn’t get the beer in Kansas City. This beer was just stunning. Caramelly, a little spicy, a little…figgy? Very complex and interesting. A wonderful special occasion beer; truly one of the best beers I’ve ever had. TRY IT if you have a chance. $12/750ml bottle

My wife was saddened by the bottle’s emptiness:

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tantrum Improv Comedy with Bryn Donovan, Author of "An Experienced Mistress" - Friday @ 8pm

Date: Friday, July 16, 2010
Time: 8:00pm - 10:00pm
Location: Westport Coffeehouse
Street: 4010 Pennsylvania
City/Town: Kansas City, MO

There's only one place to see KC's most interesting personalities live, unscripted and uncensored: the Tantrum show on Fridays at the Westport Coffeehouse. Our special guests will tell true stories based on audience suggestions, and Tantrum's team of professional improvisers will spin them into scenes.

Joining us in July:

Bryn Donovan is a poet, a writer and the newly published author of An Experienced Mistress. Her romance novel features a smart, funny painter-chick...the hot, charming ex-soldier who falls for her...and some fantastically written love scenes that make us blush if we think about them too hard. She lives in Kansas with her romantic husband and their goofy golden retrievers.

Tantrum with Bryn Donovan
Tickets: $10
Will almost certainly contain adult material.

Call 816-678-8886 for reservations.

Get to know Bryn:
Get to know Tantrum:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

(The Appearance of) Diversity in Education

I got this postcard from Johnson County Community College, and I thought the forced diversity depicted in the student photos was rather funny.

Sorry the pictures are lousy…but here’s what we’ve got:

-Asian girl
-White guy
-Middle Eastern girl
-Black guy
-Hispanic guy
-White girl
-Black guy

A veritable Rainbow Coalition, eh?

From their own website:
Female students make up 54 percent of the student body. About 16.5 percent are non-Caucasian.

In other words, 71.4% (postcard), 16.5% (reality).

I think I like this commercial even better, as it divides time equally between academic programs and jackass students messing with their mobile devices.

Dude at the end giving the “what’s up” shrug and going right back to the phone…exactly how does that sell your school?

(Dotte aside: I wish I could find the KCKCC commercial online. It's even lower budget, if you can imagine that. It consists of a white guy, black guy, Asian girl, and Hispanic girl, each slowly turning to the camera. The two guys were menacing as HELL, mugging 'Dotte style for all to see. Oh - and one of the quotes at the bottom of the screen used the word 'exiciting'.)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Overdue Beer Roundup

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so I figure it’s about time. As requested, I added the price I paid.

Lagunitas Imperial Red (2009)
First things first: I opened one of the bottles from the previous post. It was still rather tasty and drinkable, but there were little hints of “off” flavors that indicate it was showing its age a bit. That, or I was really trying to find them. Either way, I’m not throwing it out. I wish they brewed it again this year. $8.99/6 pack

UPDATE: The 2nd bottle I had was more or less ruined. Definitely not right. I won't be going back to Lukas any time soon.

O’Fallon Wee Heavy
This is a Scotch ale, and a potent one at that – it comes in a hair over 10%. Virtually zero carbonation. Syrupy and a bit overwhelming. It would be an okay sipper in November in front of the fire, but not this time of year. Overall, just too much if you’re not in the mood for brandy. I struggled to finish a half-bottle. Great Divide’s Claymore Scotch Ale is a much better, more drinkable choice. $7.99/4 pack.

Crown Valley Big Bison Ale (Belgian Dubbel)

Flying Dog Garde Dog (Biere de Garde)

I put these together for a reason.

Crown Valley is a winery in St. Genevieve, MO that recently got into the brewing business. They’ve been in KC for maybe a month. There were four or five styles to choose from at the liquor store. I picked up some Big Bison Ale because it was marketed as a Belgian Dubbel, one of my favorite styles. It barely resembled some of the Dubbels I know and love. The yeast flavor wasn’t right, the toffee/caramel finish wasn’t there…the flavors simply lacked the depth and complexity that usually bring a smile to my face with a good Belgian.

Flying Dog typically disappoints me; I like their Gonzo Imperial Porter and that’s about it. I tried a bottle of this as part of a make-your-own six-pack, so I figure my risk was minimized. It had the nice, unfiltered look, but didn’t really deliver any complexity.

Both beers are simply cheap versions of Belgian (ok, Bd’G is French) styles that taste…well, kinda cheap. They’re not horrible beers, but they’re not good examples of the styles they purport to represent. It’s as if both beers need full-on recipe tweaking, along with some time. Hell, Biere de Garde literally means “Beer to Keep”; in other words, it’s a brew that is supposed to age somewhat.

Both are $7.99/6 pack. If you want a cheap Belgian dubbel, buy New Belgium’s Abbey for the same price. If you want a very good, mid-priced dubbel, get a 4-pack of North Coast’s Brother Theolonious or Ommegang’s Abbey Ale for about $10. For Biere de Garde, there aren’t many choices in KC. Schlafly does a decent job with a 750ml bottle for $7.49. An alternative would be to try the similar but less sweet Belgian Saison (such as Saison DuPont).

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shutdown Ale
This would be something akin to an Imperial ESB (Extra Special Bitter). Huge hops, huge bitter flavor. It’s still around in most liquor stores despite being a spring seasonal. Delicious beer, but you only need one at 9.7% ABV. Recommended, unless you just got done playing softball in 90ยบ heat. Then it’s a bit much. $8.99/6 pack.

I've got a couple more I'll add when I have a chance.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Lukas Liquor Superstore: A Word Of Caution

Last year, one of my favorite beers was Lagunitas' Imperial Red Ale. Hoppy, rich, super flavorful, and only about $8.99 per six-pack made it a great find AND a great bargain.

I've been on the lookout for it this year as well, but I hadn't seen any until this past weekend. My wife and I made a trip to Lukas Liquor Superstore at 135th and State Line to check the selection. We're closer to the one at 119th and Metcalf, but the Missouri store has a somewhat larger selection due to a larger number of breweries licensed to distribute there.

Sure enough, as we made it to the back of the store, two six-packs of the good stuff were sitting there on the shelf.

I was happy, but the fact that Lagunitas beers are just about everywhere these days made me a bit suspicious that I hadn't seen the Imperial Red anywhere else in the Metro.

(That, and two different people have told me they have found a lot of old beer on Lukas' shelves.)

I looked at the bottles for clues only to find a lengthy serial number stamped on each with no obvious "code" to determine the brew date.

After picking up a couple other treats, we headed to the cashier. I asked if there was any way to make sure this wasn't left over from last year. She emphatically told me there was no way this could be left over from last year; they keep a very tight inventory and there's no way it would be old.

Fair enough; off I went with my beer.

Most who know me would understand I could not leave it at this.

I emailed Lagunitas:

I'm a fan of Lagunitas out here in Kansas City.

I've been looking around for the Imperial Red this year, and I hadn't seen it...until I happened to find some last night.

Problem is, I get the sneaking suspicion it's left over from last year.

So I thought I'd ask:

1. When did you last brew the Imperial Red?

2. If this is an old batch, how does it hold up to aging?

It was one of my favorites last year, so I won't throw it out unless you tell me it's going to be hella skunky.

In the meantime, the Undercover Shutdown will keep me company.


The response (emphasis mine):

Hello (jjskck),

We have not brewed the Imperial Red since last year. It should hold up well if the storage conditions were good. For obvious reasons, I cannot guarantee that it was stored properly or that there were no temperature changes in storing the beer.

I would suggest that you open one up and see.

Hope this helps….


Lagunitas Brewing Co.

I haven't tasted the beer yet, since I'm in the process of finishing a sixer of Rogue's dry-hopped red. But that's not the point.

The point is: if you're shopping at Lukas, you should check your beer to make sure you're getting fresh stuff.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Two Dwindling Industries

I was at dinner with my wife and my mom last night. My wife reminded me that we needed to pick up stamps, and my mom asked whether we had seen that stamps were set to rise in price again.

“They’re going to put themselves out of business.”

Well, possibly, but a two-cent increase in the price of stamps isn’t going to be what does it. I still believe $0.46 is an incredible bargain to send a letter anywhere in these United States, and some things still call for more formality than email. Also, there are still plenty of entities who use direct mail advertising via the USPS.

Ironically, the slow fade of the USPS will benefit from the rapid decline of the newspaper.

Retailers are now pulling their weekly circulars from the daily newspaper, opting instead for direct mail.

When I stopped at Hyvee over lunch, the sign on their door said something like, “For your convenience, our weekly ad will be mailed directly to you beginning July 7.”

Walgreens is about to start doing the same, and I’ve noticed several other retailers no longer appear in the Sunday paper.

The downward spiral for newspapers began some time ago, but that vortex has accelerated dramatically.

It’s a familiar pattern: starting in the 1960s, the KCK population base began to erode. This was followed by an increase in tax rates. More people left, creating a smaller (and less wealthy tax base); therefore, taxes rose again. Repeat this for about 40 years and you’ll see why they’re in the bind they’re in.

Same thing with the newspaper: the circulation dipped, and manpower (and therefore content) was reduced in response. This resulted in even fewer subscribers, and therefore fewer advertisers, which resulted in further staff layoffs until you’re left with…well, the paper we have today.

I love the Star. There has been a newspaper in my house since I was born.

I just don’t know how much longer they can hold on.