Saturday, November 14, 2009

Team Fortress 2, yes or no?

If you are an online gamer you have undoubtedly heard of TF2, for a couple of reasons. You see, there was the original game, called Team Fortress, and at some point awhile after it was released Valve (the game developer) announced intentions to make TF2. Years passed without the release of TF2. In software/gaming circles, if something never materializes it becomes known as vaporware, a clever and humorous descriptive of something that just isn't going to come to be (or has an extremely poor chance of happening). So TF2 initially became famous for being something long promised, yet to appear, and which seemed to have whispered away into the ethos.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Restaurant drive-through greetings, yes or no?

Apparently the fast food industry has been taken over by flacks who think that having the drive-through employee issue a greeting to customers before their order is a good thing. I've experienced this at Wendy's, Taco Bell and Burger King. This is how it works: you pull up to the speaker and a voice greets you with, "Welcome to (name of place), how are you today?"

I hate this. Let's be honest, the person who is wearing the headset and asking me that question doesn't even know me and does not care how I'm doing. I know someone who works in this industry and the goal of every fast food drive-through is to take the order and have it in the hands of the customer in a prescribed amount of time or less. That's the bottom line for them and I can live with that. I do not feel any more appreciated as a customer because someone asked me how I was doing. And, this part is important, it slows down the entire process.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

GLBC's "Christmas Ale", yes or no? (live taste test)

GLBC is short for Great Lakes Brewing Company. It is located in Cleveland, Ohio and is one of the few things about which that city can be proud. You see, GLBC makes awesome beers. I have sampled numerous offerings of their and enjoyed every one. This particular beer, the Christmas Ale, was recommeneed by my brother-in-law, who really knows his beer and whose taste I have yet to find fault with.

I've just poured it from the bottle into the glass and immediately noticed the lovely copper color of the brew and a firm head. And the head on this is the color it should be. The heads on mega brewery beers are white. Pure white. The head on this beer is an almond color and that's they way it should be. Beers made the right way do not have perfectly white heads (wheat beers excluded).

The aroma is richly malty and inviting. If this were a food I would say it "smells delicious". The flavor is malty too. The beer is made with cinnamon, honey and ginger. I don't have a truly refined palate and am having trouble detecting the cinnamon in aroma or flavor, but I can note the honey sweetness and uniqueness that ginger imparts, especially when left on the tongue for a few seconds.

I'm not a huge fan of spiced/flavored beers. It's not that I don't like them, I just don't like a steady diet of them. That is true of this beer also, but I have to say that as a once-in-awhile seasonal beer it is very, very good. So to answer the question, two thumbs up and a "Yes!"

"The Great Gatsby", yes or no?

This novel is considered to be a classic of American literature and is Fitzgerald's magnum opus. Before I answer the question, let me speak briefly about another literary work.

"An Occurrence at Owl Creek" is a short story by Ambrose Bierce. I was first exposed to it in High School English class, where we watched a short movie made of the story. I loved it. I have read the story since and continue to love it. The protagonist is a Confederate soldier during the Civil War. The story begins with him about to be hanged by Union troops. Greater minds may offer detailed insight about the story (that perhaps it is anti-war, etc.) but I love it simply because it is wonderfully crafted. This was one of those stories that grips you to the extent that you will not walk away from it until it is finished. Once Bierce humanizes the protagonist you find yourself hoping against hope that he will be spared his fate, and once it appears that will happen your heart rises into your throat as you cheer him on. The ending is surprising and something of a kick to the gut (I won't reveal it specifically...go read it for yourself). Frankly, most any other ending would have veered off course from the realism of the story.

I mention the above as a contrast to "The Great Gatsby". You see, "The Great Gatsby" sucks on ice. I realize it is filled with a steady supply of plot undertones and that there is a deeper plot than what is seen on the surface. What I cannot get past are the two glaring faults with the basic plot, which must be sound before any undertones can work. My gripes are these:

1. There is only one likable character in the entire novel and he gets run down and killed by a car (driven by another character). The characters are not unlikable because of a reader's personal preferences either. They are unlikable because they are duplicitous, self-centered jerks.

2. The premise of the story is that a man is so smitten with a woman from his past that he becomes rich so he can buy a mansion near hers (where she resides with her husband) and throw lavish parties in the hopes that she will one day attend one of his lavish parties and they will be reunited.

So, after much use of words, the answer to the question is "No!"

Saturday, November 7, 2009

The BCS, yes or no?

The BCS is the Bowl Championship Series, college football's answer to a question no one asked. It works like this:
1. At the end of the regular season the #1 and #2 ranked teams play for the national championship in a bowl game that rotates from location to location.
2. The team rankings are determined by a poll of college football coaches (who notoriously don't vote themselves and have a toady do it for them) and a computer. Or series of computers. I'm not sure which. Regardless of whether it's one computer or several they appear to all be using Windows ME and an AMD K6 processor because they are stuck in the past.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Wet dogs, yes or no?

This one is posted per request. You've probably heard the saying, "There is nothing friendlier than a wet dog." Firstly, this may not be entirely true. I've met some people with body odor (due to poor hygiene, too much nasty perfume, etc.) who are remarkably friendly. They want to give you a long hug and then sit next to you. Ugh.

But I digress. I'm going to answer "yes" to this. Dogs are great. I love dogs. And while it's true that a wet dog smells bad and will get you wet too, how can I find such fault with an otherwise lovable animal simply because he/she got wet? Maybe we smell badly to dogs when were wet. If so they still maintain their friendly, loyal demeanor with us, and it would be unfair of me to not behave in like manner.

Friday, October 30, 2009

This Led Zeppelin video, yes or no?

The song is "Gallows Pole" by Led Zeppelin. Or should I say "Led Zeppelin", since neither John Bonham or John Paul Jones are present. Regardless of that, this bunch is tight and they sound amazing. The inclusion of a hurdy gurdy is genius and really tops off the sound.

So to answer the question, a resounding, resplendent, resonant YES!!!!

Oh yeah, here is the video

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Local sports radio, yes or no?

This will vary from place to place, but I can only judge based on what is local to me, and what is local here stinks. For starters, this station's local in-studio (sometimes on location) radio show claims to be #1 in the city. That's not surprising, since as far as I know it's the only sports radio local show in said city.

The usual host of said show is adequate at best. He evidently has nasal issues because he often times sniffs loudly enough to come through his microphone (just what you hope for in a radio announcer). His voice is often nasal as well, particularly when pronouncing certain words (anything with a hard A, for instance). The thing is that this guy does quite well when discussing certain topics, like boxing. He'll have Burt Sugar as a guest sometimes and the host obviously knows the history and lore of the sport. On a few other topics he does fine too. But, and this is important, most of his shows don't include the areas where he shines. Instead I am treated to boring dissertations of local high school football, with local HS football coaches who make lousy guests/interviewees. Far too often the guest is a local TV sports person, who happens to be in the host's fantasy football league, and I get to hear a 20 minute conversation about their FF league and listen as they crack each other up as they trash talk other members of that league.

This poster, yes or no?

The poster I refer to is this one. Look dude, I'm sorry that this guy stole your guns. I'm sorry that he took advantage of your trust. But in all honesty, your poster is absolutely hilarious! Like it says at the link, you had me at "former sea captain".

This poster earns a gaping YES!

New York City, yes or no?

First, the anwer: no. Let me re-phrase! There, the red "no" stands out so as to better express my feelings.

Why a "no" for NYC? Various reasons, most notably the following:
  • The elitism of NYC residents (if you don't live there you don't count, according to them)
  • The media focus upon it, as though it's the center of civilization
  • The media of NYC itself, which is arrogant, rude and eats their young
  • That I had to shell out absurd amounts of money on the NY turnpike and for lodging, because the state's taxes are through the roof, all to help pay for the money-soaking sponge that is NYC
  • Their Mayor is an idiot who is operating a nanny state
  • It's the home of the Yankees
  • All NY sports teams are deemed permanently relevant solely because they are NY sports teams (the Mets, Rangers, Jets, Giants and Knicks), even if they are the very definition of suck.
New Yorkers think their pizza & cheesecake is the best, that their sports teams are the best, that their subway is the best, that their culture is the best and that their city is the very epicenter of all things worthwhile. When the towers were hit on 9/11/2001 we all sympathized and embraced NYC (and without the decent folk of the Midwest and the South that reaction would have been weaker). But it didn't take long at all for NYC to revert to form and give a collective middle finger to the rest of the U.S. This attitude has even swelled from NYC to other parts of the Northeast (Massachusetts, for instance).

I'd tell you to go do something with yourself but that insult just happens to be trademarked by NYC, and I don't dare infringe on something as culturally highbrow as that.

Jimmy Football (Bud Light ads), yes or no?

By now everyone has seen one of these ads. The first ad I saw was the one with the "Grooler" (a cooler and grill together). I initially thought they were parody ads, since the behavior of Jimmy Football and his audience are so over-the-top. When Jimmy Football grabs that hot dog off of the grill and pretends it's a phone (and he's answering a call from the future) I was only mildly annoyed.

However, I saw an actual Grooler set up in a local grocery not long after these ads began appearing. So while these ads may be designed to be campy parodies the products in them are apparently real. I looked at the Grooler, gently shook it and noted the size of the grill, the cooler parts and its overall construction. Let me tell you, it's absolute junk! The coolers aren't insulated and the grill is tiny; perhaps large enough for a couple of burgers and a half dozen hot dogs. And maybe the toadie who put it together did a half-hearted job but when I gently shook the entire contraption I thought it would fall apart.

The other products I've seen in this series of ads are a "#1" foam hand with an attached beer can coozy (which would spill all over when you raise the hand) and a speaker mounted in what looks like a Bud Light 12-pack box. I'm sure they are also crap junk.

So, yes or no? An enormous NO! The Jimmy Football character has a stupid name. He, and the ads themselves are indeed campy and obvious parodies of infomercials, but they are stupid, annoying and when you couple that with the garbage products they shill I find the overall sum of parts to be quite distasteful.

ITT Tech commercials, yes or no?

Let's cut to the! Every one of these commercials is the same:
  • Guy is stuck in a dead-end job or has lost his job
  • Guy decides to make life better for him and his family (familial improvement is always a selling point)
  • Guy went to ITT Tech and now life is so much better
  • Guy doesn't tell us why life is better or how he's improved himself
If you want to sell me on ITT Tech then tell me what this guy's former job was, then tell me what his new, post-ITT Tech job is and why it's better. Is his salary higher? Better benefits? His boss isn't a jerk? Why is his life so much better since he got a degree from ITT Tech?

The lack of information is enough to merit a "no" vote, but the ads themselves are so cheesy. At some point they always show the guy with his wife and kids, frolicking in a park or on the lawn. The latest one shows the guy playing baseball. Did he go to ITT Tech and earn a degree in baseball? I'm left to presume this is a recreational league. I hope so because he throws a fastball that has a high arc and clocks in at around 45 mph (and the batter swings and misses by a foot, after which they cut to the umpire, who dramatically calls a strike).

Sappy family bonding moments attached to vague claims about a life that is wholly better, with no information or evidence to support the claim, just don't add up. Put up or shut up, ITT Tech!

Kige Ramsey, yes or no?

For the unknowing, Kige Ramsey is a guy from Kentucky who is a huge sports fan and who began posting videos on YouTube. Kige began calling his endeavor "YouTube Sports" and if you've seen any number of his videos you will recognize his customary greeting of, "Hello YouTube viewers, this is Kige Ramsey..."

What sets Kige apart is that his videos consist of the most vapid and glaringly obvious content possible. Kige began by posting videos (presumably from his parent's basement) where he sat behind a card table and in front of a wood-paneled wall. Kige would opine about something vague and obvious, such as that for his favorite NFL team (the Titans) to do well this season they would have to score points on offense and play good defense. Of course, that's the recipe for success for any NFL team. Kige eventually branched out into segments called "Coach Kige", wherein he would so something like diagram a basketball play that had zero chance of working, or offering his input on a particular team (i.e. that his beloved Kentucky Wildcats only hurt their chances of winning by committing turnovers and bad fouls).

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Jim Koch, yes or no?

A resounding YES! Koch (pronounced like Cook) is the founder and owner of Boston Beer Company, aka Samuel Adams. I'm a beer snob and, while I like pretty much every offering from Samuel Adams which I have tried, there are others I like better. For instance, I like the flagship SA Boston Lager, but IMHO Brooklyn Beer's lager is better. But that's just me and when all is said and done Jim Koch's breweries make perfectly fine beer. But so do a lot of other breweries, so why revere Jim Koch?

For starters, he began his company at a time when craft brewing was unknown and trying to forge a foothold in the American beer market meant going up against the huge breweries of Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors. Not only did Koch succeed in getting his company off the ground, he did it the American way: through hard work and perseverance. Samuel Adams is now the largest craft brewer in the U.S. and the largest American-owned brewer in the nation. That's right, the huge breweries are not American-owned any longer.

Koch encourages home brewing and each year Samuel Adams has a contest wherein home brewers submit their beers for blind judging. The winners get to travel to Boston and help brew their recipes, which are sold each Spring in the Longshot sampler packs (Longshot is the name of the contest). That is awesome! Koch has designed a new specially shaped glass that enhances beer drinking. Each year SA has a company-wide meeting which culminates with a round of beer trivia. When the world-wide hop shortage was at it's worst Koch agreed to sell--at cost--some 20,000 pounds of hops to other breweries that were having trouble procuring the hops they needed. And Koch did not do it publicly (though someone heard about it and made it public).

Jim Koch is an ideal example of a man who pursued a dream, made it happen the old-fashioned way and continues to operate it in that manner. And Samuel Adams isn't resting on its laurels. The mega breweries are about glitzy advertising, profit making and churning out tons of weak-tasting "beer" (which is made using rice or corn and hop extract instead of real hops), sold barely cheaper than craft beers. Jim Koch continues to run a company that stays true to its roots and hasn't abandoned what got it here in favor of making more money. Kudos to you, Jim Koch. May you continue to prosper.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Blogger's templates: yes or no?

As someone who has used I'll have to say "no". Gee Blogger, why only 6-8 choices? I know I can change them by writing my own scripts but I don't want to go to all that effort. That's why you're here.