6.30.2008

Expectation and Frustration



One topic that has vexed our group lately is the topic of holiday plans. Specifically the 4th of July, obviously, since that is right around the corner. Unlike some holidays that fall on a Monday by default, we all know the 4th flops around the work week like some retarded fish out of water. Looking at the calendar weeks ago I knew that with the Leap Year, Independence Day would fall on a Friday.


Okay, gentle reader, you may be thinking "Hey prick, what's wrong with a long weekend? Why do you hate America?" My response to that strawman(apart from calling you all effete pansy assholes) is from the stalwart drinker POV: Everything.

First, every cop and his supervisor will be out looking for drunks. Not only on the roads, but nearly everywhere people are having a good time. If there is statistical data that proves that more people get plastered on New Years, Memorial Day, etc...then I would like to parse those numbers. In short, the best supposed special occasions for tying one on also appear to be the times when "the man" wants to regulate said fun the most. While I certainly don't condone reckless behavior(shut the fuck up) and can understand the need for controls in a civilized society I also adhere to the spirit of "Quis custodiet ipsos custodes" I mean it is quite hilarious to see all these stern commercials from the THP regarding their traffic enforcement efforts. I am surprised they can find the time, what with all the roadside blowjobs and scandal du jour.

Secondly, not quite a month ago it seems as if every asshole on the planet started asking every other asshole what they were doing for the 4th. It's been completely beaten to death, ergo I am over this weekend before it even gets here. John Adams once posited that our Independence Day should be forever marked by celebrations and gatherings for perpetuity, so I will do my patriotic duty...but man, I wish people would just chill out and let things happen. I guarantee a good time will be had by all, and no odious overzealous planning will help that.



Take a breath folks, relax, and enjoy the extra day off. Reflect on what price was paid by brave men and women. Our leisure should be just that-not toil or work. Funny how we today tend to make light of honest labor, and seek to muddy our fun with rules and schedules.




6.27.2008

Bailey's Sports Grill

It's time for another bar review. This week: Bailey's Sports Grill. I have to admit it has been a while since I've been to this long-running Knoxville establishment. Located smack-dab in the heart of west Knoxville, it is a bit out of range for frequent visits by yours truly. However it has stood the test of time and has gotten on quite well without my patronage for this long.
This most recent visit happened to be during lunch while I was running some errands and decided I'd stop in to watch Wimbledon on the big screen. I sat at the bar as usual and ordered the first decent draft I recognized amongst the macro-brews, a Sierra-Nevada Pale Ale. The place was kinda empty, but it was lunchtime and the place is huge so it can be deceiving. There were some obvious regulars at the bar and numerous pool tables having a good time. The staff seemed to know every customer except me, but were very courteous & friendly nonetheless and treated me well.

I ordered one of my all-time favorite meals that I use as a measuring stick for all pubs and bars across the country: fish & chips.

It is a simple meal that is surprisingly hard to find done well. Most places take the easy route using frozen, pre-battered fish planks, standard fries and serve with creamy coleslaw and tartar sauce. Bailey's was much better and may be considered my new favorite place for fish & chips in Knoxville. These are Newcastle Brown hand-battered fillets that you can tell are freshly made. There were 3 large pieces of fish, the "chips" were pretty standard but cooked well (meaning crisp) and the slaw wasn't too creamy but sorta bland. Overall it was a great meal that I strongly recommend. Did I mention the staff was friendly? The bartender, manager, another staffer, and the line cook came by to see how my meal was - impressive.

Maybe the only complaint I would mention is the pricey beer at $4.25 a pint. I guess the recent climb in oil prices has trickled down to everything. I've heard there is a soon-to-be shortage of wheat and hops that will raise prices even more in the very near future, so get ready. Now would be a good time to visit our friends at http://www.moderndrunkardmagazine.com/ to catch up on some bar hand signals. Bonus points for anyone who recognizes this one:

I assume Bailey's still fills up for happy hour, evenings, and weekends much more than lunchtime. It has large TVs (not trannys) everywhere with all varieties of sports showing constantly, the aforementioned pool tables, darts, and other bar games. Plus it is 21+ only so all the smokers know they can light up! As a non-smoker I sometimes enjoy the nostalgic smell of beer and cigarettes like I remember from every bar while growing up. If I lived closer I'm sure I would go there more often. As it is I will continue to visit when I can, which averages out to about once every 1.5 years. Hopefully everyone else out there can keep it going 'til my next visit - so drink up!!

6.26.2008

A great swell of pity

Lately, I have had a few conversations with Tag and Mackey about finding a beer that is your number one...you know, the single beer you could take with you anywhere you go and drink anytime. Think of the tired example of being marooned...what one person, one book, etc would you want?

For the three of us, it happens to be IPA. Not just any IPA, but the one that currently sits in Mackey's well-explored kegerator.

How many of you see people in their prime adult life slide into a bar where fine drafts are available, kitschy bottled beers, superbeers, barley wines or somesuch only to watch said adults lamely get a Bud Light or Miller Lite? Awful. I mean, I am not talking about college kids or recent grads that are still trying to find their niche in the beerswilling world, but job or career holding assholes that simply haven't branched out from the tired and blue rather than tried and true.

When I was in my early 20's if you wanted anything other than macrobrew American lagers or pilsners, you pretty much had to get a Killians or a Sam. Slowly, you could see Shiners make their way into rotation. It's been a slow ride to get to my beloved IPA, but definitely worth the wait. Plenty of those strong assed bastards left to crush. Along the way I've lived the High Life, knocked back Pabst Blue Ribbon, and recently welcomed back Lowenbrau into the fold. Not bad, but compared to IPA, or even an Alt or Brown Ale there is no choice. Thousand times out of a thousand it will be microbrewed booze.

His lordship counts himself fortunate to have had this catharsis relatively early on...what a pisser it would be to discover "the beer of one's life" with a mere handful of years left. Very Hobbesian. In fact...nasty, brutish, and short seems an apt description for most macrobrewed sheisse.

6.25.2008

Florida in jean shorts

Well as some may know I have just returned from a week vacation, in the mega fucked up state of Florida. Now there are the obvious reasons to think FL this way, like any collage football team in the state, even the small ones like USF, and UCF. So we all agree on that? Good. We won’t go through all the reasons right now but I am sure they will come up throughout this post. First I think we may have found one of the nicer places to stay in the state; Indian Rocks Beach. I highly recommended it, its part of the Tampa Bay area just south of Clearwater Beach. But unlike Clearwater It has next to no high rise condos, to block views and provide housing for tourist. God I hate tourist even when I am one. IRB is all nice houses with some nice restaurants and bars, but not too many of them to where it attracts temporary Floridians to flock there. We rented one of these little houses; the only way to go. A kitchen and grill, plus nobody at a front desk to give me dirty looks when I unload the keg (yes I packed less so I could fit a keg in the trunk, you can’t count on FL to provide good beer). Well the house was small but served its purpose as a eating, sleeping and drinking shelter for when we did not want to be at the beach or fishing. Yes fishing; not much of a fishermen but good activity to do while drinking. Side Note: one time fishing with a group of locals we were surrounded by 5 grown men wearing jean shorts. Yes five out of the 8 people there had on jean shorts and two of the people without were me and the other guy on the trip with me. Some converted to shorts, and some purchased as jean shorts; even a converted pair rolled at the bottom with holes in the ass. Come on FL do you have to prove every stereotype all on one trip. The main problem is to them their not jean shorts their just shorts; either way their gay. Ok back to my trip; Yes I brought a keg, I don’t leave Knoxville without one very often. It’s a trust thing; at least I know I have some good beer, if things aren’t going well. I had 1 five gallon keg and 6 two litter growlers, and we only had one growler on the last night between the two of us. Yes that’s 6.5 gallons, or 832 foz. Plus a bottle of Makers, two half gallon bottles of vodka, and vino, but when you have nowhere to go and nowhere to drive it goes fast. Now as most know I am not afraid to go straight from coffee to beer, but getting a Makers on the rocks between them makes for a good morning. Now a drinking tip for FL; go to happy hours, they are a great deal unlike afterwards, they cater to the old locals who drink during the day (key word old). The hard part of that is Happy Hours end early, because they have to fit an early bird special in there before dinner time. Well I could go on and on but I need to get to my beer.

6.19.2008

Bar Review



Kitty Kaga presents to you: The Half Barrel


Okay, this is already a weird one. The Half Barrel on Cumberland Avenue, aka The Strip, is the leftover detrius from Knoxville's abortive attempt at a Beer Sellar. I'm going to be perfectly honest, any new business on The Strip has it tough from my perspective. Gone are the days of The Lap, Library, Ivy's, The Roman Room, Varsity Inn, and Hawkeyes. Those places kicked serious ass for decades and what passes for bars down there these days reeks like pure gasoline.

We've had some mixed experiences at this place. Excellent beer selection, but a menu that has changed a bit. Ephemeral. Some exotic and out of the way items have given way to standard pub fare. Sure, that's okay, if you want to remain amongst the common nebulae of local bars. If you want to stand out though, make a name for yourself, you might want to go back to the beer brats and Thai chicken dishes folks.

The strength of this place is the long and spacious bar, and as I mentioned it has a great many beers on draft...at least a couple dozen at last count. Low-Down Brown, Stella Artois, Abita, along with the standard macrobrew trash, so you have some choices to make. I recommend looking at the menu when you get there to check for prices as there is quite a bit of range there. Being a college bar, they are not above specials, such as 22 oz Yeungling "Bombers" on certain weeknights, but for the most part you aren't coming away from here cheap.

Also a pro is the varied liquor selection. You can get all the various bourbons you would expect at a high end joint...single barrel Jack, Beam Black, Special Reserve Crown, Blantons to name a few. Even though yours truly is not a Scotch drinker, you can find a wide variety up top as well.

The physical allure of most bars is somewhat missing here. At the time of our last visit, the pool table was gone and the back room is now just a hallway to the pissoirs.

All in all, this is a decent enough place for a gameday or a casual night out...but not for one's primary joint. My 2 cents.

Bar Review


Macleod's University Gathering Place
The latter is emphasized. This is because that for many years, Macleod's was a downtown gathering place. Due to ruthless and utterly prickish assholes that leased the property, management had to move to the UT campus. A once thriving place for a sound lunch and happy hour beverages now exists as a standard bar on The Strip.
A bit of a disclaimer is needed here. The authors of this blog are friends with the owner and proprietor of this bar, so you can expect nothing but praise. When this place was in its original confines, bad behavior and powerdrinking would be de riguer. The lunchtime atmosphere would be replaced by hardy chemical fiends and madness would ensue. It was pretty much the only game in Market Square, indeed, downtown at that time...which makes its ignominious move to campus even more disgraceful.
Macleods has a standard format for a campus bar...jukebox, pool table, bar games, and upon occasion karaoke. Management has adapted well from the lunch-theme to nightlife, and the drafts will pour freely...whiskey served in abundant amounts. It goes from zero to sixty in no time, and you can be the only patron in the bar one minute and literally awash in drunks within the hour. The menu is sound as a pound(sterling) and you can't go wrong with any burger or club sandwich the kitchen produces. Yeungling and Maker's Mark are there to keep this author satisfied.
I am proud of this place, and hope that all six of you get your asses down there more often. We all should.

6.16.2008

WTF

Shit. It happened again. In lieu of the usual Monday Hangover I’ve decided to waste your time reporting on what is perhaps the most awful, useless conversation in the history of drinking. Yep, another Battle of the Bands segment – this time with twice the stupidity!
This installment is brought to you courtesy of one of our regular drinking sots: Disco Dan.

As almost any Saturday afternoon goes (when not on the lake) we were drinking at the bar. The usual culprits were on hand: King Randall the Insufferable and his queen, Lord von Lord, myself, Disco Dan and a few others. Things are going well enough until the foreboding words “hey, who sings this song” are uttered and I know what is about to happen. Sure enough we begin discussing music and before you know it we have a “challenge”. This was a new low, even for us:

Bay City Rollers vs. Pet Shop Boys

Seriously? Are you fucking kidding me? The goddamn Bay City Rollers? Never mind the Pet Shop Boys for a minute – The Bay City Rollers??? Who the hell even remembers them, much less any of their songs? Disco Dan does apparently. He is a bit older than most of our group and god knows what other scheisse from the 1970’s he’ll belch forth at a given time, but none of us were prepared to handle this discussion. So automatically we respond by shitting on his chosen band. And don’t even try to figure how we matched them against the Pet Shop Boys. Does it matter? I never thought I’d have to listen to them again, much less be forced to defend them as a superior musical act. God. Anyway:

Bay City Rollers


Pros
:
-Only song I recognize is featured in Mike Myers “So I Married an Axe Murderer?” film: S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night!

Cons:
-Just look at them!
-No one even knows of them. Fuck them. And fuck you too, Dan. Jesus.

Pet Shop Boys


Pros:
-Only slightly better than the fucking Bay Shitty Rollers
-“I’ve got the brains. You’ve got the looks. Let’s make lots of money.”

Cons:
-Faggy, Euro pop band
-Lots of club/dance music
-Interrupted too many cool radio play lists in the ‘80s

God, isn't that enough to make you want to jam a hammer-drill through your ears. But wait – there’s more!!

We went on to another, almost respectable challenge for our second round:

Asia vs. Steely Dan

This is a lopsided match up. The bands aren’t even in the same genre and I think Asia only had two albums vs. around 30 for Steely Dan. I don’t know how we get so wrapped up in this mess but it does help pass the time while drinking the day away. Fuck, I need some new friends.

Asia

Pros
:
-Heat of the Moment
-The video for “Only Time Will Tell” features gymnastics and avant-garde use of TVs

Cons:
-Had only 2 – 3 prominent albums before splitting apart
-Two offspring bands both claim the Asia band title
-Clinging to desperation and performing to this day

Steely Dan

Pros:
-Michael McDonald sang back up on a lot of their songs
-Black Friday
-Babylon Sisters
-Bad Sneakers
-Deacon Blues
-Do It Again
-East St. Louis Toodle-oo
-Hey Nineteen
-Kid Charlemagne
-My Old School

Cons:
-I used to think they were too jazzy and faggy for me to like
-Use of studio musician line up to produce albums gives them an unfair advantage


So there you have it. This is how I wasted part of my drunken weekend. God I hope the rest of you never have it so bad. Geesh, I'm in need of a serious drink. Alone. Without shitty music. Steely Dan is okay. Disco Dan on the other hand...

6.13.2008

Sundown 2.0- The Contrarian View

On the heels of Mackey's post regarding Sundown minutia, I feel compelled to add some thoughts on this once-relevant activity.

Sundown in the City has been hashed out on many local blogs and message boards, and a variety of viewpoints and opinions have surfaced. Too many kids, we should welcome the kids, not enough places to get a drink, too much drinking, etc. and so forth throughout perpetuity.

Allow me to give the more or less official view of Sundown from the bloggers here:

It now sucks.

A little background is necessary. The authors here break the year down into boozing seasons and Sundown was the proverbial spring of drinking, just as it coincides with the onset of the common Springtime. It's a time to shake off the doldrums of winter, see old friends that come out of hibernation, watch some cool regional and nationally renown bands, end up at the patio of the Downtown Grill and Brewery. Rinse and repeat. Up until a few years ago, the crowd seemed a friendly mixture of powerdrinkers and sophisticated music fans co-existing in a fun atmosphere. Now, it's a draconian exercise in KPD and the city's desire to regulate their responsibility and fun. Also you can't swing a cat without hitting drunkass teenagers and students. (hypocrisy disclaimer-while the authors were once punkass underage drinkers ourselves, we were much much cooler than the chumps and chumpettes that do so now, so suck it!)

Mackey has alluded to the rules regarding bottled water and paying for the 'privilege' to drink in addition to the product itself. Absurd. I can understand the mentality of these events even if I don't agree with them. Just like Rossini, the powers that be want you to have to complete Heraklean labors to just get a fucking beer. Stand in line for a wristband, stand in line for a ticket, stand in line for a beer. It all takes precious time that frankly we don't have in a mass of peeps.

While the lineups in years past have been great(Drive-By Truckers, Gin Blossoms to name a couple) and this year is no exception, the crowd has simply outgrown the venue. It's a hot sticky concrete canyon and is hotter than balls. It makes my friends that live downtown miserable simply by virtue of having thousands of folks in their grill.

I can understand the great passion that many people have for Sundown, even now...and respect that viewpoint. But for the professional drunkard, eschew the show, find a barstool and hunker the fuck down.

Sundown

I took an early walk through Market Square yesterday as Sundown in the City was preparing for the evening and noticed a few things:
  • People openly drinking on the way to the event - good for them!
  • Bag checkers will not let you bring in a bottle of water (not me, some other guy)
  • $1 wrist bands at ID check - so now I have to pay for the privilege to drink a beer?
  • Cops huddled in a group not doing a damn thing
  • Knoxville has at least one of those stupid robot "performers" on the square
  • Strange but artistic graffiti on Wall Street
  • Awful beer selection

Of course I didn't stay around for the music; I had people coming over to drink beer at my place. I would show pictures to enhance this post but my camera batteries died, my laptop is already crashed, so I'm basically facked all 'round.

6.09.2008

Monday Hangover

I hate to admit there isn’t much of a hangover to report this Monday. Not that we didn’t consume massive amounts of alcohol this weekend (I mean it was the weekend) but usually one of our drunk asses does something so ridiculous and/or stupid to shame ourselves that we legitimately expect to be horse-laughed and ridiculed until someone does something else to take the spotlight off our follies. Ridicule builds character.

I’ve decided to alter this tame weekend of semi-decent behavior by falsifying some facts in the spirit of entertaining you, drunken reader. The fun will be deciphering which events actually happened vs. those that did not. “Never let the facts get in the way of a good story” someone once said…

So Friday I decided I would only work a half day and told my boss in no uncertain terms that I was tired of his shit and that I may be back on Monday. I said goodbye to all the saps left toiling at their desks by carpet bombing my way out the door. I started drinking immediately at 12:01 p.m. as I walked from my downtown office to my apartment near Strawberry Plains Pike. It was hot that day and I must have drank damn near the entire 12-pack of Hamm’s before I made it home.

After a relaxing massage and nap I am revived and ready to go! I don my 70’s era silk threads and make my way back to Knoxville where I have plans to meet up with Lord von Lord and Scarlett O’Harlot for happy hour drinks. (You will be introduced to this lush soon enough) Naturally I make a couple of stops along the way to parch my thirst and discover a favorite domestic beer just added that day to the beer taps at Manhattan’s:

Coors Original “The Banquet Beer”.

Hell. Yes. I have a few and continue on to the Urban Bar where I’m meeting those two drunks. It has been a while since I’ve seen the old girl and she appears a bit different than I remember as she arrived on her skateboard:


After assuring the server that none of us are police cadets conducting a sting operation we have some cocktails and draft beers. I then report back to the captain that they have let their guard down and to send in the “backup” cadets after we leave. Not every bar fills up completely at 5:00 p.m. for happy hour like it should, and this place was not even close, as we were the only customers. They could have used a few Greyhound transients to liven up the place, but I’ll quit my bitching – not everyone enjoys the company of smelly, money-grubbing strangers as much as I do. Nevertheless we finish our drinks and LVL pays the tab for once. (See, you add a fine lady to the group and all of a sudden that sumbitch becomes Donald “Don Juan” Trump)

We meet up with King Randall the Insufferable and his queen and continue drinking. Talk about someone who looks the other way when the check comes, KRTI is the only person I know to be confused with a transient while sipping PBR tallboys at Marie’s Olde Towne Tavern. We move along to yet another bar; this time I order a fine 12 year old scotch (single malt of course) with 2 cubes of ice. I ease into the drink and slip away to my happy place while waiting for my taxi to arrive.

Saturday was spent on the lake as it should be in 90 degree weather. The following things were consumed first: lunch, Goody’s powders, large bottles of water, Gatorade. Then on to the drinking: lake beer and Blanton’s bourbon. In between there were many insults, floating, bullshit, piracy, lies, accusations, boasting, stories of those who puked all last week on the boat, stories of girls’ ta-tas from last week, smoke breaks, responsible boating, ridicule of malt beverages on the lake, grilled Hebrew National hot dogs, burgers and chicken, mashed potatoes, underage girls flashing their goods, Ful-manure griping, discussing the ladies French Open champion

gun play, Tool, the heat, relief that hockey season was over, and not one single frozen boat drink.
After safely returning home via private limo I somehow managed to make my way downtown and met King Randall for a few more beers. This was the mistake. Not that anything happened, aside from quiet, polite conversation with “The Human Buzz Saw” while listening to the poetic styling of Sarah McLaughlin

but rather the lengthy 14 hour day of alcohol consumption that put me on the couch the better part of Sunday.

After finally recovering enough to make it to the weekly cookout at Tag’s we arrive and do little more than drink oh, 10 - 20 pitchers of beer, have dinner, relax, lose the dog, plot vengeance against those who plot against us, discuss the Commodores, and finally make our way back home in time to get some rest before the work week. And yes, I begrudgingly came to work today as I threatened not to do, but only so I could dispense the horrible surplus of “carpet bombs” I amassed over the weekend. I think I may take the day off Tuesday instead.

Review: Blanton's

In our ongoing efforts to edify the masses about obscure or off-the-beaten-path booze, we present to you:



Blanton's Bourbon.

This is another higher end bourbon that, of course, hails from Kentucky. Like most hooch from that state, Blanton's claims any number of 'firsts' and awards...to be honest, I get tired of reading the accolades. I believe in drinking actions, not drinking words, so boasts made about the product don't typically sway my purchase in the package store.

Still, Blanton's does appeal to me from a variety of directions. The bottle, from an aesthetic viewpoint, is pretty cool. Looks like a nasty brown grenade. The cork/stopper is a homage to Kentucky's horse racing tradition, and the label contains many little tidbits about the origin of each individual bottle such as dates, barrel, and proof. Ours was a common proof of around 93.

As for taste the bourbon is very smooth, and I prefer it slightly chilled. To be frank, we tested this bottle under battlefield conditions ie the lake, rather than at the bar or in privacy of one's home. Passing the bottle around, it was generally agreed that it was a fine bourbon, though the parameters for the testing period were late in the day after many, many beers.

The grenade is somewhat pricey...getting one for 50 bucks seems to be the mean range. Honestly, I am more apt to still drink Maker's for day to day boozing...but Blanton's is certainly a fine potable, and would make for an excellent gift.

6.03.2008

I Just Called To Say I Hate You

Well I was hoping this didn’t have to be posted, but because of the horrible start it has been proven that it must. So for those of you not in the know (probably 2 out of the 6 who read this babble) this is The Summer of Shunning.

shun
verb
1.
avoid and stay away from deliberately; stay clear of
2.
expel from a community or group [syn: banish]

Not a hard concept to understand, but hard to implement. This is hard to believe with this group, but here we are. Hey it’s not something to feel bad about, some people just fucking deserve it, and we probably should have done this a long time ago. Even though we have opened up our fun to the web, that doesn’t mean the group around us can’t get too big. Sometimes you have to cut off the weak and stupid to fend for themselves. There are cases where you see potential in some to be able to drink with the group and occasionally inject a bit of insight, but there may come a time when you must realize that not all will reach their full potential, or they will do something or many things so fucking dumb that they must be shunned. This concept must be understood and followed by all in order to work. Boycotts don’t work if you’re the only one boycotting. So this should be done with extreme prejudice, they should know they are on our list, if they can’t already sense it. The more they feel the sense of ostracism, the less of it we will have to do, therefore more time to drink. And trust me beer taste better with people you like.