Enjoying Your Life by Being the Recipient of a Beer Advent Calendar: Parts 10 – 12

I will continue to include pictures of my kid in order to shamelessly drive traffic to my blog.

We’re halfway through the Beer Advent calendar! The only way to alleviate the glum feeling of only having half of the beer left will be… uh… to drink the other half? Sure.

December 10: Amsterdam Brewery’s Cruiser All Day Pale Ale

CRUISER!

My feelings about Cruiser are already publicly recorded. My feelings about Cruiser have not changed. This beer still rips.

Never disappoints.

Jollymeter score: 9/10

December 11: Pilsner Urquell

If the Amsterdam Cruiser was a blast from the past, a tallboy of Pilsner Urquell is a blast from biblical times.

Pilsner Urquell reminds me of a time when craft beer wasn’t so mainstream, and the tallboys that one could grab at the LCBO were mostly Euro cheapies. I spent many, many nights swilling Pilsner Urquell, Lowenbrau and Tuborg in dusty basements and overcrowded parties. Back then taste wasn’t really a large part of the equation. It was really more of a “what can I get that isn’t breakable that holds the most for under $2” proposition.

Pilsner Urquell bills itself as the original pilsner and that may be true, but it tastes so cheap and mass produced that it’s really not so great for drinking. It is better than some of the even cheaper Euro tallboys, but overall I cannot recommend it unless you are going to be heading to some party where people are stage-diving off of some stairs into a crowded living room.

Jollymeter score: 4/10

December 12: Cowbell Brewing Co – Absent Landlord Country Kolsch

I’m not the world’s biggest fan of the Kolsch style, but I would be lying if I tried to pretend that I had strong feelings about it either way. I think that my knee-jerk reaction is to opt for bitter beer, and if the beer isn’t bitter it had better be outstanding in some other way. I haven’t come across many Kolsch beers that seem to stand out to me.

This beer is fine, and is nicely balanced. Extremely light and slightly fruity (but not wheat-beer-fruity), it goes down without a fuss. I find that beers in this style taste very much like the grain that they are made with, but… the sunnier side of the grain rather than the earthy side of the grain. If that makes any sense at all. Probably doesn’t.

Absent Landlord is okay. It looks beautiful. Boring can.

Jollymeter rating: 6/10

Halfway there. Living on prayer. Tune in next time for the back half!

To start reading this series from the beginning, go ahead and click here!

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Dadness: PEPPA PIG

There are many excuses I could give for not having updated this blog in over a year, but the most reasonable excuse of all is the fact that I now have a kid and I am happily getting whatever remains of my lifeforce sucked out of me little by little, day by day. Please feel free to send your congratulations, sympathies, or money orders to mark.meeks@gmail.com.

My daughter is now two years old and she is a marvel of a human being. She’s the reason we get up every morning and she’s the reason we can’t wait until it’s time to go to bed every night. I know that you’re not supposed to show your kid television these days, but also: shut up, you sanctimonious pile of shit and go parent your own fucking kids.

My daughter adores Peppa Pig. She has Peppa Pig books and Peppa Pig toys. Peppa Pig sticker albums and Peppa Pig clothes. She can call out even the show’s most inconsequential characters by name. She is maybe starting to speak some with a British accent because of this show. I hated this show when it started to appear in our home. I have since come to love it.

This is Peppa Pig. She is the lead player in this program, and is an anti-hero in the vein of a Don Draper or Tony Soprano. She is a self-obsessed megalomaniac who is always on the lookout for the easiest way to win at anything. She (like everyone on the show) has an unyielding urge to jump up and down in every muddy puddle that presents itself. She never stops talking and she is probably the worst thing about her own show.

Peppa has a little brother named George. George can only say the word “Dinosaur”. He also cries a lot, but this is actually good and realistic writing. I have a two-year old and they really do cry a lot. George and Peppa go on adventures where they learn important lessons like how their Dad is too out of shape to exercise and how you can teach a parrot to say nasty things to your grandparents.

George and Peppa’s parents are only known as Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig. Here they are in sexy beach clothes. Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig are fairly realistic approximations of human, non-pig parents, because Mummy Pig is a generally very competent parent and Daddy Pig thinks he knows everything but is always falling down and trying to find ways to be lazy. Daddy Pig is a sucker.

Peppa and her family live in a town full of other families of animals, but it seems as though every other animal family is actually a different species of animal from every other family. The Mum and the Dad and the kids are always the same species within each family, though. I don’t know what kind of a statement the show is trying to make with this. There are cases where there are other families of pigs, but they are either out of town relatives or they are, like, the Grandma and Grandpa pig. Daddy Pig does not have parents (or they are dead?) but he does have a brother. I do not know where these animal people are finding partners, and I find the whole thing to be extremely problematic and distressing. I have argued about this at length with my wife, who is sure that there are just other animal people in town that we’re not privy to seeing. I dunno! Seems far fetched!

This show makes some (intentional?) statements about class divisions through its running joke that one poor rabbit lady basically has like fifty jobs. I don’t know what’s funny about that. Everybody else has a big and nice house and seems to just be able to get by with one job. Ms Rabbit works at like twenty different stores, flies a helicopter, is a nurse, and also a flight attendant. Give this poor woman a break. Everyone else in this town should be ashamed of themselves.

At one point there’s an episode where you realize that there’s more than one rabbit lady, and you think “Oh, well at least all of those jobs must be split between two rabbit ladies”. Then you find out that they’re sisters and one of them is a stay-at-home Mum, The underclass Ms Rabbit has to deliver her sister’s baby, probably for minimum wage or something.

I realize now that I could write a lot about Peppa Pig, which has me feeling that my brain has been very addled by parenting, or maybe that it’s a great show. I could talk about how all of the animal people have a speech tick where they make their respective animal sounds before speaking and while they do so, their eyes go kind of slack and lifeless, like the actual animal inside of them is staging a tiny rebellion against the walking-upright and human-acting manner in which they’re forced to live out their lives… but I will save that for another day.

In conclusion, Peppa Pig is a very nice and occasionally very funny show for kids and parents to enjoy. I am only a feeling a little bit (entirely) sick of the five seasons that live on Netflix that I have seen no less than twenty times each.

[SPOILERS AHEAD]

I must mention, though… The series finale where they reveal that all of Peppa’s adventures were actually just synapses firing for the last time in the dying brain of a mortally wounded Tim Robbins was a bold narrative choice, but may have missed the mark in terms of age-appropriate storytelling.

Just my opinion.

Enjoying Your Life by Being the Recipient of a Beer Advent Calendar: Parts 7- 9

Time marches on! The above photo provides incontrovertible evidence of this fact! A year can go by and your kid can get a head taller and also refuse to hold your stinkin’ ol’ hand. You can grow some beard hair but not change your clothes at all, apparently. Stinkin’ indeed.

It hasn’t been a year since my last beer post, but I feel the ceaseless lurch of my own aging nonetheless! Let’s sand down the prickly edges of that advancing decrepitude by enjoying a beverage, shall we?

December 7: Thornbury Village Ladder Run Amber Lager

I know Thornbury for their (really quite good) apple cider, but haven’t really sampled many of their beers. I like a nice amber from time to time, and this one hit the spot. The beer has a lovely deep amber hue (and I didn’t take a picture to provide you with), and it features a great earthy, malty flavour.

It is a bit on the sweet side, which made it taste a lot like a Vienna lager to me (but I think that the styles are quite similar). I think that it would be more up my alley if it doubled down on the earthiness and dialed back the sweet notes, but it is a very nice beer regardless.

The can features a fish and I guess fish climb ladders.

Jollymeter score: 7/10

December 8: Peroni Nastro Azzurro

Peroni!

I haven’t had one of these in a while, but I am well acquainted with this beer. Peroni Nastro Azzurro is a totally reasonable pale lager and maybe the only Italian beer I’ve ever had. I enjoyed this with my dinner and I think that this is what nature intended for this brew. Peroni doesn’t bring much to the table in terms of distinctive flavour, but it is a very good beer when paired with food.

The beer is ultra-pale and very refreshing when kept super cold. This isn’t an award-winner in my books, but it’s easy to drink and non-filling. It’s alright!

Jollymeter score: 6/10

December 6: Big Rock Brewery Traditional Ale

I know that I have complained in a preview post about nonsensical beer names. This is swinging way too hard in the other direction. It might as well just say “Brown Liquid” on the can. Actually, that would be way more fun and funny than “Traditional Ale”.

But whatever, the name is a pretty accurate description of this beer. It’s a very straightforward nutty brown ale, that I’m sure I was supposed to drink warm or something (I didn’t). Very malt-focused flavour, but easy to drink. Not as sweet as the amber lager mentioned above, but I believe that may be part of the distinction of an ale vs a lager (beerheads can help me out here if I’m totally wrong).

This is a solid beer, totally drinkable. I’m docking points for the extremely boring can and name, though.

Jollymeter rating: 6/10

Another post in the can, so to speak. Bring on the weekend, friends! Bring on those wacky lockdown holidays!

To start reading this series from the beginning, go ahead and click here!

Reevaluating GREMLINS: Part 1

It’s that time of year.

The time of year where one (or more) of your friends thinks that they’re being clever when they’re asked about their favourite Christmas movie and they say: “Die Hard“! It’s pretty tough to argue with the fact that Die Hard is an amazing film, but their response is an extremely baldfaced and tired way of dodging the question while trying to look cool and tough.

I’ve got news that may shock you.

I’m even WORSE.

For years, when people would ask me about my favourite Christmas movie, I would always say: “Gremlins”! I think it was me being aware of the fact that Die Hard was the “cool guy” answer, so I had to come up with something that was also a non-answer, but even more left-field. I’m the worst!

Gremlins is, in fact, a film set during the Christmas holiday season. I’m just not sure whether or not it qualifies as a film about Christmas. Sure, the entire plot hinges upon a misguided Christmas gift, and the trappings of Christmas abound, but the themes and lessons are not particularly of the season. It just as easily could have been about a kid getting a birthday present, perhaps around Halloween.

While the film’s yuletide bonafides may be dubious, I have nonetheless always considered Gremlins an unimpeachable classic. But am I right? I have decided to take a look at this 1984 Joe Dante gem through my 2017 Mark Meeks eyes in order to determine whether or not I have been mistaken.

vlcsnap-error841.pngGremlins opens with a scene in which a bumbling inventor steals an animal from a stereotypical Chinese mystic character. He tries to do the American thing and buy the animal at any price. When he is rebuffed, he does the other American thing, which is to say that he just takes what he wants anyway.

The heartland America vs mystical foreign invader theme of this film has probably been the core thesis of many undergrad term papers. I’m not going to delve too deeply into academic mumbo-jumbo here, as I’m largely more interested in whether or not this film holds up as an entertaining piece of holiday entertainment. That being said, I’ve gotta address the case of Mr. Futterman.

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Mr. Futterman is one of the townspeople, who we are introduced to in the film’s title sequence, along with Billy, the film’s protagonist. He explains to Billy that his car is covered in snow and won’t start because it’s a foreign piece of shit. Mr. Futterman was MAGA thirty years before MAGA was MAGA. We’ll see more of him later.

vlcsnap-error763.pngBilly runs to his bank teller job (because his foreign piece of shit won’t start) and clips on his tie. The town’s rich lady shows up in order to provide the film with a rich lady to hate, and to tell Billy that she’d like for his dog to be a dead dog. Merry Christmas, Billy. Here’s the thing, though.

vlcsnap-error543.pngBilly’s dog came to work with him and jumps up out of a hiding spot and proceeds to bite the shit out of the old lady. This leads me to my first major point of divergence with my past feelings about this film:

BARNEY THE DOG ACTUALLY FUCKING DESERVES TO BE PUT DOWN

Dogs get put down for attacking people! Even if they are evil rich ladies! Barney is out of control!

vlcsnap-error450.pngBilly gets in a lot of trouble at work for bringing a bloodthirsty attack dog with him, so he goes to the local bar to drown his sorrows and draw cartoons of himself eating popcorn or something. His work friend shows up to tell him that he’s a dumdum for drawing cartoons when he could be drawing a huge fuckin’ paycheque because capitalism for the win or whatever. This character, played by Judge Reinhold, is a piece of shit and seems like the kind of character that Paul Ryan saw as a kid and thought “Wait, why isn’t this guy the hero of the movie?”

vlcsnap-error385.pngWhen Billy gets home from the bar, he opens a Christmas present from his dad, the bumbling inventor. It’s the very same animal that he stole from the Chinese man during the film’s opening! This scene, which reveals Gremlins’ legendary cutie-creature, Gizmo, brought me to my second rude awakening about the film:

GIZMO IS NOT ACTUALLY CUTE AT ALL

He’s just kinda gross looking, and… moist looking in that way that all 1980s practical special effects were. He does become kind of cute in the sequel, but in this film? Yuck!

Billy’s dad lays out the three rules for safely caring for a… thing like this. These are:

  1. Don’t expose it to bright light. Sunlight will kill it.
  2. Don’t get it wet.
  3. Don’t feed it after midnight.

The contradictions and logical problems with these rules have been covered to death elsewhere, so I’m not going to get into it. Let’s just pretend that it all make perfect sense, as the rules have never really bothered me. Have a little bit of whimsy, whydoncha?

vlcsnap-error003.pngBilly and Gizmo get to know each other by jamming on a Casio keyboard. We get an even better look at Gizmo, and he’s a goddamned eyesore. He can really sing, though.

vlcsnap-error870.pngThe next day, Billy explodes an orange in one of his dad’s inventions. It is a fun scene for the kids, because it is gross and gooey, and it is a good piece of character work to continue hammering home the fact that Billy’s dad is a piece of shit. Then Billy’s friend Corey Feldman comes over to hang out. Their friendship makes no sense, because Billy is old enough to drink beer at a bar, and Corey Feldman doesn’t appear to be old enough to sleep without a nightlight. Regardless, they go hang out upstairs to look at comics. Seems a little inappropriate. But whatever.

You would think that Billy would immediately want to show off his new pet, seeing as it is a creature whose existence on the planet was unknown to him as early as one day ago, but instead he changes his shirt (…) and they talk about comic books. Eventually Corey Feldman meets Gizmo and promptly spills water on him. Like an asshole.

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Gizmo flips out. Little balls of pulsing fur erupt off of his wet spot, and quickly develop into new little gross Gizmo creatures. One of them has a white mohawk and we are instructed to conclude that he is the really bad one because of it. Seems kind of unfair. The strangest thing about this whole scene is that once these new Gizmos are finished hatching, and we get the sense that they’re really bad dudes and that original Gizmo is super upset about it, Corey Feldman is all “Okay, whatever”, and flops down on the bed to read comic books.

Forget about the fact that he spilled the water that caused the problem in the first place. How could anyone possibly get over observing a completely unrecorded species for the first time in the space of thirty seconds? How fucking good are those comic books? He’s got a weaker attention span than even the most stereotypical millennial, and this leads me to my third bone to pick with this film:

MOST OF THIS IS COREY FELDMAN’S FAULT AND HE NEVER PAYS FOR IT

What a piece of shit.

vlcsnap-error783.pngThe bad Gizmos eventually trick Billy into feeding them after midnight, which causes them to turn into some combination of turds and boogers. Kids movies in the 1980s were super, super gross. In trying to make sense of the whole mess, Billy and Corey Feldman take one of the boogerturds to the local high school science teacher.

vlcsnap-error456.pngHigh school science teachers are bored, so this guy is pretty happy to have something to do for a change. Meanwhile at home…

vlcsnap-error147.pngGizmo is trapped in Billy’s bedroom as the boogerturds begin to emit not only fog but… green light? His face is hilarious. Like a combination between Grumpy Cat and me when something disgusts me.

vlcsnap-error067.pngThe same thing apparently happens at the high school after some indeterminate amount of time, and Teach is plenty excited about it. I wonder if high school teachers in real life are all super hungry to be involved with scientific discoveries, the way that 100% of high school science teachers in movies are? Probably not. Seems like the kind of job that you take when you’re cool with just… coasting.

vlcsnap-error536.pngThis is followed by a pretty sweet montage of icky things emerging from their poop-booger shell. In true 1980s fashion, everything is super disgusting and wet. I’ll bet it smells terrible in there.

The science teacher goes looking for whatever it is that hatched out of the egg that was left in his care. I’m not saying that he did a bad job or anything, but… he did a bad job. Could he not keep an eye on the goddamned thing even to the extent that he would have noticed it venting enormous plumes of green vapor everywhere? But no. He loses the hatchling.

It doesn’t stay lost very long, though.

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Because it stabs him in the fucking ass with a hypodermic needle. I’ve debated over the year whether or not we’re supposed to infer that this guy is dead, or whether he’s just knocked out. Judging by the tone of the second film, I’m not sure that this film has as high of a body count as it seems to at first glance. That being said, this guy seems pretty dead to me.

You flew too close to the sun, High School Science Icarus.

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Back at Billy’s house, we’re reminded of the fact that most of the eggs were hatching there. This presents a problem for Billy’s mom, who is home alone with them. I forget where Billy is. Probably out with Corey Feldman someplace.

We get our first good look at the newly hatched booger-balls. They’re super gross and pretty awesome. I’ll just call them gremlins from here on, because that’s the name of the movie.

The sequence that follows is one of my favourites in the film. Billy’s mom must defend her kitchen against these boorish foreign invaders. She does a remarkable job.


One of the gremlins decides to snack on whatever Billy’s mom had mixing in her food processor. Mom hits the RED button, which lets you know that she isn’t fucking around.

vlcsnap-error789.pngThen she grabs a knife and just goes Norman Bates on a second gremlin.

And, in what may be one of the most iconic moments of the entire series (or perhaps of the entire decade in film), she knocks a third gremlin back into her microwave and nukes it!

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Billy’s mom is the best. I’ll bet this scene led to soooooo many pets dying in the 1980s.

Holy fiddlefuddle, this is a long post. I am going to continue writing about this masterpiece of holiday cinema at a later date. Maybe in another three years.

Ranking Every Nu Metal Band – Part 1: Wicked Wisdom vs Godhead

For a style of music that is popularly characterized as being completely lunkheaded, Nu Metal is actually pretty complicated… feelings-wise. I’m pretty sure that many of us of a certain vintage cringe when we think about it, not only because it is bad and dumb (which it often was and is), but because we would rather not have to admit that we were once absolutely neck-deep onboard with something that is now so universally maligned.

Earlier this year, I got to thinking about Nu Metal when my very smart and handsome friend Jesse created the longest and most hilarious Spotify playlist of all time (which I will embed at the bottom of this post).

There are hundreds of Nu Metal songs on it and it is obscene. And constantly hilarious. And… often… actually sort of good? Some of the most obvious bands have managed to transcend the genre and clearly have some material that stands the test of time. But there are also tracks on this playlist that I only vaguely remember that are actually kind of fun.

I’ve done my fair share of reevaluating things on this blog, but I have never gone so far as reevaluating an entire genre. Perhaps it is time that we give Nu Metal a second look. A fair shot. Hey Man, nice shot (not nu metal).

I’m going to system(of a down)atically and def(tones)initively get to the bottom of which Nu Metal band is the greatest and which Nu Metal band is the weakest… by ranking each and every one of them, two bands at a time. To determine the scope of the project, I am looking to the Wikipedia list of Nu Metal bands, as Wikipedia is as close to an authority on any given subject as I can think of.

I have placed each band a numbered list in alphabetical order and for every installment I will use a random number generator to select two bands. I will compare and evaluate the bands based on their strengths and weaknesses relative to each other and to the genre, and I will conclude by slotting them into a ranking position. I will probably just listen to whatever each band’s top five songs on Spotify are. I don’t have all the time in the world and this genre is 95% unlistenable horseshit, so I’m not too concerned if anyone thinks that this isn’t in depth enough. It is my hope that this project will serve to bawitaba a greater understandadangdiggydiggy of upjumptheboogie.

Today’s bands to be ranked: WICKED WISDOM and GODHEAD

WICKED WISDOM

When I rolled Wicked Wisdom as a choice for this post, my first thought was “I have never heard of this band in my life”. When I Googled them, I realized that of course I have have heard of Wicked Wisdom because Wicked Wisdom is JADA PINKETT’S FUCKING NU METAL BAND.

I had forgotten all about this, but holy shit. There was a time when Nu Metal was so huge that this sort of thing was only moderately surprising. Looking back 15 or more years later, it seems completely insane.

Listening to it, I’ve gotta admit… this is definitely Nu Metal. Specifically, this is a great example of Nu Metal having completely jumped-the-shark. This is Nu Metal post-Jonathan Davis doing that terrible movie soundtrack, and post-Evanescence selling a bonkers number of that record with that song of theirs on it. It’s all here. Paint-by-numbers riffs with super-thick production. Weak samples. Lyrical anger that overshoots menace and lands in a realm of icky teen-friendly moronic melodrama. Wow, this is something.

It seems as though Wicked Wisdom isn’t even on Spotify, so I’m limited to just listening to samples on YouTube. It’s just as well, given that they only seem to have two albums and I think only one single? “Bleed All Over Me” is one humdinger of a tune, featuring such lyrical gems as “I love your pain, And how it makes me feel inside” and “I crave your pain, ‘Cause I’m its only friend”. Wow. Hot stuff.

Giving a listen to this, and scrubbing through the band’s 2006 full-length album, it is pretty standard lower-tier stuff. Pinkett doesn’t add much to the party, but she can carry a tune and performs with an acceptable level of angst. It very occasionally sounds like the band wants to liven things up with some time signature changes and riffs that stray from the drop-D boilerplate. The drum performance is actually fairly solid. Wikipedia indicates that the drummer also played in Fishbone, who were what some may consider more of a real band.

It’s pretty embarrassing, dated stuff. Justifiably forgotten. The vocals and lyrics are awkward enough to derail whatever few interesting moments you might find here.

This post feels like a giant mistake already.

Best song: Maybe “Something Inside of Me” because there’s a pretty interesting riff in there that feels super off-kilter, and the chorus feels really Serial Joe-ish to me.

GODHEAD

When two of your top five songs are different covers of the same Beatles song, you might be in trouble. I actually remember this cover of “Eleanor Rigby”. It may seem like Godhead saw the success that Orgy had with their “Blue Monday” cover and decided to cash in with a similarly flavoured cover of their own. Looking more carefully, though, it appears that Godhead’s first released cover of “Eleanor Rigby” was actually released a year before that Orgy album came out. So… I don’t know what to think. It still doesn’t make it a good idea. None of this was a good idea.

Godhead seems to have been lumped in with Nu Metal in the same way that Orgy was, despite not really sounding like a Nu Metal band at all. They’re much more of a Nine Inch Nails or Marilyn Manson pastiche, and not a particularly good one. Their number one song on Spotify – “Penetrate” (ugh) – is a lurching bore, industrial metal so generic and bland it makes the prospect of working on an actual industrial assembly line seem like it might be more of a thrill by comparison. It ends with the line “I’m not going to imitate”, which is pretty hilarious.

I’m not really sure what makes this group Nu Metal, beyond just the time period where their biggest (maybe only relevant?) album was released. The non-“Eleanor Rigby” songs in this top five are just the pits. “Break You Down” kicks off by almost verbatim ripping off a Nine Inch Nails song and features Marilyn Manson as a guest, somehow. The band are still active and releasing music. I didn’t listen to, uh… anything more recent than what was released in the year 2000.

Best song: “Eleanor Rigby”. Lol. Can’t pick which one!

The Ranking

Fortunately, I don’t actually have to decide if either of these bands are good. I just need to rank them relative to each other. They’re both pretty bad. Again, this post was a bad idea.

Although they’re both derivative, bland also-rans, I think I have to give Wicked Wisdom the edge in this contest over Godhead, given that Wicked Wisdom is almost hilariously Nu Metal-sounding and Godhead isn’t at all Nu Metal-sounding. I can’t recommend ever listening to either of them.

  1. WICKED WISDOM
  2. GODHEAD

As it stands currently, my incredibly accurate ranking system has determined that Wicked Wisdom is the best Nu Metal band of all time. Will they hang onto the crown? Only time and more ranking match-ups will tell. More ranking match-ups which I am sure that I will definitely maybe do or not do.

In the meantime, please enjoy Jesse’s playlist and I encourage you to check out and purchase his very excellent not-nu metal music.

Enjoying Your Life by Being the Recipient of a Beer Advent Calendar: Parts 4 – 6

I don’t know about you guys, but we’re getting wicked festive over here. Went to a Christmas tree farm, picked out a little tree, and spent some quality time getting it all gussied up. All of that hard work demands a thirst-quenching beverage. Luckily, I get to pull a surprise beverage out of a funny looking box every morning.

Here, have a look at what my weekend tasted like!

December 4: New Belgium Brewing – Voodoo Ranger IPA

This is one of those beer names that seems like it was picked out of a hat full of words, and then they designed the can around whatever came out. I like most things that feature skellies, and this can is sort of fun, but the name is annoyingly default wacky beer-name to me.

It seems as though New Belgium is an American brewing company that has subcontracted this beer to Steamwhistle for the Canadian market? I wasn’t really aware that Steamwhistle was brewing anything other than their flagship hotdog-water flavoured pilsner, but here we are.

This is a 7% IPA. It’s bitter, but not crazy bitter. Something about it tastes kind of old fashioned to me, but I can’t find the words to better explain what I mean by that. It’s fine. I don’t know that I would rush out for another one.

Jollymeter score: 5/10

December 5: Whitewater Brewing Company – Wild Bog Cranberry Sour

At first glance, this beer seems to have a the same kind of word salad name that I just complained about, but I am now reading that cranberries used to grow wild in bogs, so… this one actually makes sense. I was resistant to the sour beer explosion a few years back, but have come to enjoy them fairly regularly these days. Never more than one in a sitting, mind you, but they can be extremely refreshing and they lend themselves pretty well to the addition of extra flavours.

This is a good sour. Flavoured beer sometimes suffers from having a “fake-y” taste, but the cranberry notes work well here. Very refreshing and nicely carbonated. Pretty to look at, although I was hoping for more of a pink colour when I poured it. The flavour is intense. Each sip is a bit bracing. I could definitely only drink one of these in a day.

Fun to drink and fun to say the word “bog”, so I will pick this up again at some point.

Jollymeter score: 8/10

December 6: Beau’s Brewing Co. – Wag The Wolf White IPA

Beau’s Brewing Co. is pretty similar to Steamwhistle in the respect that I feel like they’ve been largely defined by just one beer. Their flagship beer, Lugtread, is a totally fine and drinkable ale. Comes in a fun bottle that you should probably only have one of. I hadn’t really given much thought to their other products, but my mystery box has presented me with a reason to.

White Wolf White IPA has a pretty nice looking can design. I’m not the world’s hugest fan of wheat beers in general, but they’re a pleasant change from time to time. This beer pours characteristically light, and created such copious amounts of head that my wife started mocking me for not knowing how to pour a beer and I’m not sure if the beer should lose points for that or if somehow I should just lose points for that.

This beer delivers exactly what its style suggests. It features the bright, lightly fruity notes of a wheat beer, while also serving up a bitter hoppy snap. It was refreshing, but I feel a little more partial to a straight-up IPA. Usually with a wheat beer or white ale, you can throw a lemon wedge into the mix in order to liven things up, but I’m not sure that the lemon would work very well in this case.

I think that this beer is good, but it’s maybe just not my thing.

Jollymeter rating: 7/10

This brings the weekend to a close! What will the next week bring? Hopefully some more beer and maybe some weather that doesn’t make us all want to jump into a wild bog and drown ourselves.

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Dadness: My Spotify 2020 Wrapped

Being a parent can really change a person.

I would argue that being a parent has actually turned me into a much better person in virtually every way. Every now and again, though, the universe throws how much you’ve changed right in your stupid sagging baggy-eyed face.

I’ve been a Dad for over two years now. But let’s get real. I’ve been a guy who takes himself way too seriously – especially when it comes to musical tastes – for way, way longer. Like 25 years or more!

So this year I was looking forward to my yearly readout of my musical discoveries and habits from Spotify (the streaming juggernaut that we all agree is evil but most of us are too weak to resist). What songs reign supreme? Which new discovery was the most interesting?

When I looked at my statistics, it felt like a pink polka-dotted punch in the mouth.

From what I have been made to understand, my top artist of 2020 was… Minnie Mouse. Not only that, I am apparently one of Minnie’s biggest fans. Top 0.5% biggest.

Further inspection revealed that my (or somebody’s) love of Minnie Mouse was not some sort of an outlier or fluke.

No, it seems as though the gang is all here. I would consider Goofy to be at least kind of a punk artist, but this top five has completely obliterated my carefully constructed self-image. Does this look like the top five of someone who will only listen to things if they can be described by slapping the word “core” onto the end of another unrelated word? No.

Also, if you’re wondering who the fuck Luke Amis is, you’re not alone. I also wondered. I was thrilled to see Google reveal that he is a child actor who performs the voice of a cartoon cat on Netflix’s Rhyme Time Town. Christ on a cracker.

What songs were we listening to from this hip gang of artists?

Just tremendous stuff. Although, in all honesty, “Frida Little Ate A Little” is a fucking bop, and “Mickey’s Laugh Shack” has some pretty fun moments if you like things to have a bit of a vaudevillian vibe.

We’ve actually found some kid’s songs that I quite enjoy. A few have found their way onto my own favourites list, which is perhaps a little surprising. An artist named Frances England has a great song called “Bicycle” that my daughter and I love to sing together. We love “Little Bird, Little Bird” as sung by an artist named Elizabeth Mitchell. Hell, we went through a Raffi phase this year that has me convinced all over again that the guy is a genius. It’s not all bad.

Spotify provides you with a list of your top 100 songs and I think that it’s at least 30 songs into the list before it gets to anything I actually chose to listen to. Probably more embarrassing than all of the kid stuff, actually, is the fact that one of my own bands is on this list three or four times, but I insist that it is just because I miss those guys terribly after having moved away to the frozen tundra for some reason.

So… my reputation as a music connoisseur is completely shot. I was upset for a minute. But then I thought about my daughter running around in circles in the living room, singing along to all of these stupid songs that I think are lame… and I feel great about it. Great enough to throw on “Baby Beluga” and keep one finger on the mouse-click to switch things over to a Slayer song if you think that someone might ask what’s playing in your headphones.

If you would like to enjoy some of what we spent this year enjoying, please go ahead and give our top 100 songs of the year a spin in the playlist below!

Enjoying Your Life by Being the Recipient of a Beer Advent Calendar: Parts 1 – 3

When I was a kid, there were few things that felt as exciting as getting up each December morning and popping a waxy piece of low-grade chocolate out of a numbered compartment on an advent calendar. It was a more effective way of building holiday anticipation and anxiety than any ol’ tree or song or elaborate Catholic school candle-lighting ceremony could ever hope to be. Junk candy. In the morning. Every day. So exciting!

From my late teens to my late thirties, I had a roughly twenty year stretch of feeling fairly ambivalent about the holidays. It became a time to visit family. It became a time to drink a lot of beer with family. Something to look forward to, sure. Something that inspired wonder and glee? Certainly not.

Things are turning around, though. Having a young kid around the house and watching them experience the holidays for the first time goes a long way in rekindling some vicarious excitement that we may have forgotten how to access on our own. Holidays are all becoming fun again, and not just because I’m having one or two extra “fun drinks”. It is great.

This year, in a gesture of true holiday kindness and glorious synergy, my wife presented me with a gift that combined the childhood excitement of an advent calendar with the joys of low-grade adult alcohol dependency: A Beer Advent Calendar!

Every morning until Christmas, I get to pop a beer out of this thing. I’ll put it in the fridge and drink it in the evening. Each beer is a mystery and each mystery bring me one step closer to the true meaning of the season, which I’m sure I will figure out and inform you of when I get to the 24th beer.

For now, I’m going to document my haul in a series of posts and say a few words about each festive beer I consume. Here we go!

December 1: Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale

When I popped a can of Keith’s out of the #1 compartment, I felt slightly underwhelmed. But upon thinking about it, Keith’s is a pretty comforting opening selection. This is a beer that I know very well and have gotten to know even better since moving to North Bay, Ontario. It is my Father-in-Law’s go-to beer and although I used to be a little dismissive of it, I quite like it now. It’s super drinkable and refreshing, and is probably the best out of the group of Canadian beers that you can find on tap basically anywhere.

I don’t know what qualifies this beer as an IPA, though. What’s the deal? What does Wikipedia say?

Archived recipes for beer made by the Alexander Keith’s Brewery in the early 1900s show high levels of hopping, with large all-maltmash ingredients and no use of corn, typical for beers of that time.[4] In contrast, the modern beer marketed as Alexander Keith’s IPA is only 5% alcohol by volume and lightly hopped, which does not meet the accepted criteria for an India pale ale.[5] At the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards, Alexander Keith’s IPA won third place, not in the IPA category, but in the “North American Style Blonde or Golden Ale” category.

Well, there you have it. Anyway, I drank it and it was good.

Jollymeter score: 6/10

December 2: Wasaga Beach Brewing Company – Beach One Cerveza

A can of summer vibes on a day that was snowy as fuck. I’m not going to lie and say that I was mad about it.

Compartment #2 held this Mexican-style lager from Wasaga Beach. Very light and easy-drinking, this beer does a reasonably good job of mimicking the beach-ready beers made by Modelo or Dos Equis. While drinking it, I commented that the beer might feel more at home in a bottle w/ a lime wedge. Very refreshing choice. I drank this and I enjoyed it.

Jollymeter score: 7/10

December 3: Bud Light

Lol. Okay.

This was a Bud Light.

Jollymeter score: 4/10

Parting Thoughts

Well, so far so beer. I’m truly enjoying this beer journey. Even the Bud Light was like, a free beer. So… it was great. If the remaining 21 days are all also Bud Light, maybe my tune will change. So far, though, Beer Advent calendar is a 10/10 on the PARUMPAFUNFUN scale!

Check back soon for another update!

Great Job, Robot: “I Wonder What’s Inside Your Butthole” by Jolee

There are times when the collection of ones and zeroes that comprise whatever profile it is that Spotify uses to manipulate me will truly impress. “Great Job, Robot” is dedicated to those songs that the Spotify algorithm gods throw at me that I think are quite excellent or otherwise noteworthy picks. Please be advised that these posts will concern themselves with saying mostly positive things about tunes, unlike the unreasonable slag-fests that occupy most of the real estate on this blog.

I Wonder What’s Inside Your Butthole – Jolee

Yes, I know that cash-ins on viral videos are universally shameless and tacky, particularly when they involve kids. But this one slaps.

Jolee’s “I Wonder What’s Inside Your Butthole” is thought-provoking, incisive, and an absolute monster truck of a pop song. She handles her own callbacks (“I always wanna kno-wah!”) with ease and tackles a spoken word bridge with more panache than ol’ Eddie Vedder ever did. I’m kind of just sad that this track is so short and that it’s her only single.

From now on, whenever I’m missing my parents, I will know that they can always be found inside my butthole. And for this I am grateful.

I love “I Wonder What’s Inside Your Butthole” by Jolee. Great Job, Robot.

Great Job, Robot: “Early Morning Rain” by Ian & Sylvia

There are times when the collection of ones and zeroes that comprise whatever profile it is that Spotify uses to manipulate me will truly impress. “Great Job, Robot” is dedicated to those songs that the Spotify algorithm gods throw at me that I think are quite excellent or otherwise noteworthy picks. Please be advised that these posts will concern themselves with saying mostly positive things about tunes, unlike the unreasonable slag-fests that occupy most of the real estate on this blog.

Early Morning Rain – Ian & Sylvia

Possibly the finest song I’ve ever heard about being sad and wasted at an airport. Spotify tossed this gem at me one morning while I was driving to work and the car started driving itself while I just sat there and wept like an infant. Not really, but This song was written by Gordon Lightfoot. His version is great, but this Ian & Sylvia cover crushes it.

The arrangement is about as slight as it gets, just some acoustic guitars plucking and the two vocalists. I think that’s all that I really need to feel the full weight of a desperate airport bender. The melodrama is cranked up to 10 and the combined vocal vibrato of Ian & Sylvia is basically a weapon of mass destruction. They should be in jail for having vibrato like this.

I’m a huge sucker for sad sack folk music, and this tune has the added advantage of throwing in a few truly glum-as-fuck chord changes that don’t seem to be in the Lightfoot version. Drag me down, you dour Canadian folkies.

Drag. Me. Down.

I like “Early Morning Rain” by Ian & Sylvia. Great job, Robot.

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