Sunday, May 28, 2023

'Tis the Season for Narragansett Beer

Captain Quint drank 'gansett

I do not typically endorse products, mostly because no one is paying me to. (If any eccentric billionaires or benevolent corporations have an offer, you know my contact info!) However, there are some products I enjoy so much that I can, nay must sing their praises on this blog. 

It's Memorial Day weekend, the true start of summer. This weekend and those that follow for the next few months will be full of cookouts and sweaty outdoor activities tailor-made for drinking beers. The catch, however, is that on a hot day a beer must not merely taste good, it must also quench the thirst.

Craft beers may be great, but they fail this crucial test. Normally I stan darker beers, but drinking an imperial stout on a 90 degree day just feels flat out gross. Craft brewers have gone all in on IPAs in recent years, whose hoppiness makes my mouth puckery and dry. This is anathema on a hot day. Fruitier beers avoid this problem, but their sugar combined with hot sunshine can make me feel zapped. 

On a hot summer day it's best not to get fancy. A can of good old fashioned mass market lager can do the trick. Its watery nature quenches the thirst and goes down easy. The problem is that such beers are often bland, taste like crap, have a weird aftertaste, or lose one street cred. This is why you have to take a step down to the bottom shelf at the liquor store and grab what a friend calls "a shitty local beer." In this dusty area you will not see cans of beer with cute names or animal mascots, but beers that look like they haven't updated their graphic design since the Ford administration.

This is why I love me some 'gansett. 

It's got enough flavor that it's not Bud Light piss water, but doesn't have the weird aftertaste of Coors Banquet. They also often sell it with their rad 1975 can design, which makes you look pretty cool while drinking it. Hell, if it's good enough for Captain Quint, it's good enough for me. 

So this summer bring some 'gansetts to the cookout and reap the rewards. 

Sunday, May 21, 2023

The Therapeutic Joy of Watching Silent Film

I have been on a mission to reduce the amount of time I spend in the virtual world. It's becoming clear that social media is designed in ways that make me anxious and unhappy when I use it too much, and that it often distracts me when I should be focused on other things. 

Like any other addiction that one wishes to tame into moderation (as opposed to abstinence), one needs to establish rules and practices. When it comes to my device I push myself to go to news sources themselves, rather than social media. One problem I still face is the lure of "double screening," which usually means not fully enjoying a film or TV show.

My willpower can't always do all the heavy lifting, so watching certain things helps. Recently the Blank Check podcast, one of my favorites, decided to do a series on Buster Keaton. Since I can easily watch all of his films due to the good folks at Criterion and Kanopy, I decided for the first time to watch all of the films the podcast would cover in their series. 

I'd seen a couple of Keatons before, a long time ago. Watching a bunch of silent movies has been strangely therapeutic, since they completely resist double screening. The lack of sound demands closer attention, and the intricacies of Keaton's set-ups and gags provide an amazing payoff. I find myself getting lost in these movies in ways I just haven't been watching movies at home in years. 

The best silent films are the purest cinema, and are visually far more exciting than anything to come for decades after. Not having to worry about microphone placements or sound or setting scenes around dialogue gives the camera an exhilarating freedom of movement. The lack of dialogue also allows something made 100 years ago to still feel contemporary in the most uncanny ways.  

It is ironic that film, that most visual of mediums, was more viscerally so in its earliest incarnations. It was the first to utilize the screen, the origins of our modern screen-obsessed daily lives. Yet somehow, the originators managed to do things a century ago that seem impossible today. Watch a great silent film and lose yourself; I guarantee a good time. 

Saturday, May 20, 2023

Bring Back the Roadshow Format

 My most recent Substack is about the need to bring back intermissions in movies. They are making movies even longer without any way for us to pee! Back in the 50s and 60s Hollywood showed longer epics in a "roadshow" format that included an overture and intermission. I say bring it back!

(No worries, some Notes From the Ironbound exclusive content is coming this weekend!)

Friday, May 12, 2023

Teacher Action Week

Teacher appreciation week is drawing to a close, which got me thinking about how the people currently attacking education are in the minority. The love teachers get this week from parents and students has the potential to be turned into something more impactful than mere gratitude. Over on Substack I wrote about how next week should be Teacher Action Week. 

Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Elvis Presley, "For the Good Times" (Track of the Week)

Every now and then I go on an Elvis jag, and now is one of those times. My recent obsession is the King's live performances from the 1970s. I used to overlook this part of his career, seeing it as the long sad, sunset of decline before Elvis' death. While he struggled with addiction during this period, he still turned in some amazing performances. After giving up on the movies and doing the 68 Comeback Special, Elvis was able to do more of what he wanted to do in terms of what he sang. In concert he would toss off his old hits, but he would give his new favorites a power and energy surpassing what he brought as a raw country boy shaking his hips back in the 50s. 

Priscilla also divorced him.

As far as I am aware, Elvis was not faithful, so I don't want to paint him as a victim here. In any case, he started singing famous songs of heartbreak and made them his own. Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" became a hit in the hands of Ray Price. As good as that version is, Elvis tops it

It's a song of boundless, shameless need. The singer begs for his lover to stay with him for another night even though he knows that the relationship and the love are over. This is the sound of a man at the end of his emotional rope, unable to move on from the emotional devastation of a breakup. I must admit I have been on both sides of this situation in my life, as the person begging and the person being begged. It's not very dignified, but love makes fools of us all, even the King of Rock and Roll.