Tuesday, February 26, 2008

The End of an Epic Feud

Let's get one thing straight: Michael Jerome Cialini is one of my oldest and most treasured friends. I met him when he was a mulleted, bespectacled 9th grader, and I immediately thought he was an asshole ... but my kind of asshole. We rode the bus together, made fun of the entire class of 1994, then later I would send him mix tapes while he was in the Air Force and he would send me illegible letters. (This was before the internets, mind you.) Mike was good enough to let me be a part of his wedding to his wonderful and lovely wife Brenna, and hopefully I will be able to punch him 32 times this coming May 1st.

Through our nearly two decades of friendship, we have probably agreed on perhaps four things. Everything else has been a bitter feud. I like rap music with a positive message, he likes it only with lots of swearing. He likes Stern, I like Opie and Anthony. I like baseball, he likes the Mets. We are on polar opposites on nearly every spectrum of ideas. And that's an okay thing; it's good to have dissent.

Many topics I take with a grain of salt -- politics, sports, philosophy. But when it came to beer, I could stand silent no longer!

Mike launched his new site, The People's Beer Drinker, and I reacted in a visceral -- and as one person has told me -- overboard way. Point taken. And as expected, Michael fired back, taking umbrage with my assessment of the need for a macrobrew blog.

In the course of his retort, Mike made his opinion known, and naturally I read it and understand where he's coming from. But I had to take exception to a few things, mainly three main assertions I find to be patently incorrect. Hopefully they will clear up a few points and Mike and I can go back to fighting about the NFL (the best sports league in the nation).

Myth #1: I am a beer snob and I don't like ANY macro beers.
I consider myself a "geek," not a snob. Contrary to my misunderstood "internet persona," I don't actually look down on anyone who likes macro brews. To the contrary, I still will enjoy a few of them from time to time. I never said that I think people who drink what I consider to be lesser beers "lesser beer drinkers." The truth is -- as my compadre Javen recently pointed out to me -- the macro lagers of today are by-and-large pale copies of German styles. The microbrews are the true "American" beers, because like jazz and baseball, they were invented here, or at least finely tuned to become their current incarnations. In my very humble opinion, microbrews and craft beers are truly in the American tradition, in that they eschewed the Xeroxing of old tried-and-true, popular styles and went off the beaten path by innovating. I am the furthest thing from a snob, to be honest. In "real life" I have never chastized someone for drinking Bud or Coors. I used to drink nothing but the Big Three in college, as well as maybe something from Labatt or Molson. I drank Blatz and Stroh's in Milwaukee, and three pitchers of Coors light in Baltimore. I own a Miller High Life t-shirt! And these are just examples from the last few years. I can't deny that expanding my scope has opened me up to a new and exciting world, but I don't look down on those who drink something I don't like. Drink what you like and be happy, dammit!

Myth #2: I believe that anyone who doesn't agree with me is wrong.
This could not be further from the truth. I would never tell anyone to drink something they hate any more than I would have anyone tell me to eat green beans. I was speaking to a friend today and told her that I probably dislike 2 out of every 5 beers I try, and I spend a lot more money than most people do on beer. Like, an embarassingly lot more. No one will ever convince me that beer that is mass-produced with inferior ingredients is as good as craft-brewed beer, on the whole. I still think that there is a craft brew for everyone out there, and that no matter what macro style you like, there is a micro waiting for you that you will love. However, if you don't want to do that, I'm not going to call you out just because of that fact. Will I offer that you try something I'm drinking? Yes. Will I suggest an alternative based on what you like? Sure. Honestly, I never even discuss the subject of beer superiority with someone else unless they take the tone -- which I feel Mike had toward me, unprovoked -- that for some reason I'm some sort of elitist because I don't buy cases of Blue Light anymore. People who know me know that I have never "forced" a beer on anyone, but rather I shepherd anyone who is interested toward beers I think they may like, or give them a sip of mine. And more often than not, they hate the beer. But at least they tried it, and that's all I ask.

Myth #3: I am shitting on Mike's new blog.
I think Mike could actually make something out of this blog that would be worth reading. I will certainly be checking back from time to time. I do have to admit I question the motive behind it, whether it's to actually explore and celebrate American macros and pale lagers, or whether it's just to sort of "stick it" to so-called beer snobs. (Mike has a history of inflammatory internet speech.) To me its like -- to use an example to which Mike may relate -- starting a mainstream rap blog as a reaction to the undue attention that independent hip-hop blogs get. The fact remains that Miller/Bud/Coors account for 75% of the beer industry in the United States, and are therefore hardly underrepresented. I find it hard to believe that someone would want to stick it to the "little guy," small businesses in America that are trying to stay afloat while the Big Boys are constantly swallowing them up. To me it's akin to a site lauding how great Microsoft is, as a reaction to, say, Linux, or a lesser-known entity. If Michael can do something with it that is good for beer as a whole -- and not just the beers I like -- I will be a regular reader. My initial, emotional reaction to Mike's post is one that goes way way back to when Mike would simply say "_______ sucks" to any post I made regarding a topic I liked. There are a lot of "soccer sucks," "the NFL draft sucks," and the like out there with Mike's byline, and when it came to this subject I thought a counterpoint was in order.

So I hope I cleared a few things up for everyone. Mike, let's one day get together somewhere we can enjoy both Cascade- and Amarillo-hopped Imperial IPAs as well as Genny Cream Ale. It's time we let America being healing.

Monday, February 18, 2008

Tellin' It Like It Is!

It's so refreshing to hear people on the internet who are not afraid to SPEAK THEIR MINDS!!!!!!!!

Wow! So BRAVE!!!!!

What great OBSERVATIONS on our CULTURE!!!!!!!

These folks TELL US what we NEED to HEAR!!!!!!!!!

They're not gonna PLAY by your RULES, MAAAAAAAN

They're gonna SAY what they WANT, whether you LIKE it or NOT!!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!1!!! So get USED TO IT!!!!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!11

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Celebrity Fight!

And look at these two steaming piles of asshole go at it:

I Don't Mean to Be Rude But...

The next time Simon Cowell starts to act snooty, I'm going to think of this clip from Sale of the Century, a 1990 British game show. Unfortunately, some prat didn't want YouTube to embed it. It's about 10 minutes long but kinda funny if you think Simon can be a bit arrogant at times.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Xs and Os

Happy Valentines Day, my pretties, one day late. Hope you enjoyed yours as much as I enjoyed mine.

Love ya babies!

Monday, February 04, 2008

Humble Pie

[Note: If your name is Cunningham, Ash or Willie Moe, I urge you to skip over this. It's not directed toward you nor meant to be a "slam" of any kind. You know I think you fellas are swell and love you guys despite the team you have chosen to support. Take no personal offense, I beg you. Breakfast is on me next time, kids. This one is most certainly not for your perusal...]

The amazing thing about sports is that just when you think the world has run out of good true stories, sports find a way to create geniuinely compelling, unexpected and dramatic new moments.

I'm not trying to go all Bob Costas on you here. This is not about sentimentality; it's about drama. It's about actually believing in the improbable. I've been around long enough to experience some truly incredible and legendary moments in sports. Kirk Gibson's 9th inning bomb in the 1988 World Series, the Bills coming back from down 32 against the Houston Oilers, the Red Sox coming back from 3-0 to beat the Yankees in the 2004 World Series. I've also seen some incredible upsets, like Duke beating UNLV in 1990, Buster Douglas beating Mike Tyson on my 14th birthday, and last night.

First, let's get one thing straight: I hate the New England Patriots. I mean, I fucking hate them. Hate isn't strong enough a word, really. I used to say I hated the New York Yankees, but that feels like mild annoyance compared to how I feel about this collection of arrogant phonies and their godawful corporate-speak philosophies. Their "Humble Pie" t-shirts, their desire to copyright "19-0" (as if the term had never been invented), their asshole head coach, their prettyboy QB, their everyone-loves-us-cuz-we're-so-gritty linebacking corps, and the fact that they cheat.

I'm not just talking about Spygate, although the way that Patriots fans have tried to justify that makes my stomach churn. You know goddamn well that if it was discovered that the Colts had been stealing signals in the 2006 AFC Championship Game, all the Yah-Doods in RedSawx caps woulda been screamin' bluddy murdah for six and a haff munts. I don't buy the "everyone's doing it" defense, and if they were, why would the NFL give a record fine and penalize a draft pick to their crown jewel franchise and no one else?

But no, the cheating to which I'm referring is two decades of chicanery and bending the rules until they are forced to be changed. It all comes from the Head Coach, of course, Mr. Charisma himself, Bill Belicheat. From Super Bowl XXV where he told Giants LB Gary Reasons to kick the ball Scott Norwood was about to kick wide right after it was already spotted, to forcing the Indianapolis Colts to play on a field that should have been crossed with a mule and a sherpa, Belicheat has done everything he can to gain every tiny advantage out of the game, just short of breaking the rules. And sometimes not stopping short.

Why is it a 15-yard you call two consecutive time-outs to freeze a kicker? Because the Patriots used to try and fake kickers out by calling the second time out they didn't have. Why are there stricter rules about how much contact defensive backs can have with receivers? Look no further than the 2003 AFC Championship Game and the Ty Law rule. You can thank Vince Wilfork for destroying J.P. Losman's career in Buffalo with a cheapshot to the knee. Wilfork takes pride in being find thousands of dollars.

After the AFC Championship Game two weeks ago, San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick said that Pats defensive lineman Richard Seymour was "Head slapping, foot stomping in the pile, running by and throwing punches in your back," called Seymour "dirty, cheap, pompous" and said Richard Seymour is the biggest (expletive) I've ever played."

They have wiped their filthy asses with Terrible Towels, they have danced in the middle of the field to mock Shawne Merriman (who is a douche, granted). They put Tom Brady as "probable" on the injury report every week -- which, frankly, I'm surprised some Vegas mobster-type hasn't made Belicheat stop doing at gunpoint. I read this morning that before the game, the Patriots were inviting the Giants to their upcoming victory parties after the game. This team reeks of high character.

Paul Woody of the Richmond Post-Dispatch does a better job than I do of laying out why the Patriots are such a bunch of fucking dirtbags.

And the worst part is that they are perpetually lauded by the media as being "a class organization." It's one thing for the Patriots themselves to trumpet themselves as a bunch of take-the-high-road "lunch pail" players; it's altogether something else for the smitten media to be compliant in perpetuating this myth. Any time Belicheat's old buddy Phil Simms speaks of Tom Brady, you practically have to wipe Brady's ejaculate from Simms' chin.

So single-minded was the media's desire to see "a historic team" that they glossed over all the things that make the Patriots so hateable. At least the Bad Boy Detroit Pistons and "South America's Team" Dallas Cowboys had the decency to be flamboyantly assholish and unlikable. It takes a truly despicable character to stab a man in the stomach while smiling to his face.

But the rich, evil fat-cats of the world can only sit atop their golden thrones, smoking fine cigars and laughing at the misfortunes of the poor for so long before they are brought to earth by the most vengeful bitch known to humankind.


As many of my faithful readers know, I predicted this back in November. The Patriots and their hubris were simply too obvious to ignore. They had made their living all season by talking trash to lesser opponents (picking on straw-men like Pittsburgh's Aaron Smith), running up the score (including going for it on fourth down several times when the game was well in hand) and all the while playing the part of the top-hatted gentleman.

People often accuse me and fellow Patriot-Haters of being jealous of the Patriots' success. Not true. While I would love to watch my Bills win 3 of 4 Super Bowls, I don't hate the Patriots just because they are good. The San Antonio Spurs have been every bit as dominant as the Patriots over the last decade, and I don't hate them. Nor did I hate the St. Louis Rams from 1999-2001. I hate them because they are hateable. Whether it's Bill Belichick's smug press conferences, Tedi Bruschi making the "ok" sign with his hand and homosexually yelling "that's threeeeeee!!!!" into a camera, or Charlie Weis getting a tummy tuck so he would look more like "head coaching material," this image-conscious franchise with the worst logo in sports reeks of all that is phony integrity.

So you can loathe my schadenfreude of the Patriots ass-pounding at the hands of the blitz-happy New York Giants -- a team for which I hold no particular affinity -- if you like, but I prefer to look at it as justice. No team that I've ever known has been more detestable, no team has had a less likeable cast of characters, and no team has ever set themselves up for more rancorous, bilious vitriol than this band of Wall Street vulture types dressed up in a hard-hat wearing blue collar guise.

I loved Tom Brady looking as if he had switched bodies with Eli Manning (who I also can't stand but for other unrelated reasons) and was looking for his daddy to help him out somehow.

I loved watching Lace-Tedi Bruschi and Junior Seau doing a cursory public-relations hug in the hopes that Steve Sabol and NFL Films would be watching.

I loved watching the Giants attack Brady like a kamikaze squad and that Brady couldn't muster more than the one final drive with four Giants in his face on every play, taking away his 6-8 seconds in the pocket.

I loved that all I saw on the Patriots' sideline when the Pats were on offense was Bruschi, Seau and Mike "My Nose Starts at My Forehead" Vrabel sucking wind instead of laughing and back-slapping each other.

I loved that Rodney Harrison and the vaunted Pats secondary got torched all night long.

I loved watching Darth Sweatshirt Belicheat walk off the field in defeat, the weight of a Super Bowl choke job pulling down his genius balloon like a sandbag.

I love that the sports media won't acknowledge two consecutive chokes by these same Patriots -- this colossal tank and last year's 18-point blown lead against Indy. Although Mark "Stink" Schlereth did say that this was the most significant loss in the history of the National Football League.

I am lucky in that the only Patriots fans I know are wonderful people, and apart from a couple semi-heated discussions, they have been refreshingly classy about their team's success.

As for the mouth-breathing bottom-feeders who end every weak argument with "count the rings," suck defeat and swallow it down. You are the reason that 95% of the non-New England population is celebrating this cold February day.