Wet Wednesday: In Search of More Hops

We're going to go all the way back to the beginning. Not the beginning of alcohol, but my personal drinking experiences. It started with Captain Morgan straight from the bottle at the fraternity of a good friend of mine. Later that college summer I started drinking beer from the keg. It was disgusting. I don't know if it was all the rum or the blacklight, but both the beer and I were a little green. Throughout that year of college, I realized that you can't just keep taking shots to maintain a level of drunkeness. And once you've had enough shots, you can't taste the beer anyways, so I started to develop a tolerance to the taste of beer.

A Proliferation of BevMo! in West LA

It used to be that the nearest BevMo! to Santa Monica was in West Hollywood (about 10 traffic-filled miles away, far from any major freeway, not convenient to get to) or Torrance (15 miles south on the freeway, can be really long in traffic). This was sad because BevMo is the best chain retailer for beer in SoCal. Their wine selection and prices are pretty good also.

But now, at least two new BevMo stores are suddenly coming to the west side. There is a BevMo coming to Wilshire and Centinela, next to CVS. A new banner on the store says its grand opening will be July 16th, a Friday. I'm excited. There has also been some reaction to the Wilshire BevMo from local media.

Since apparently one isn't enough, there is another new BevMo on Santa Monica Blvd and Westwood under renovation. The building used to house a Pier 1 Imports. Just for reference, these two stores are basically 2 miles apart. Not quite sure why BevMo decided to flood the market with self-competition, but if it results in more good beers (and wines) on shelves in my neighborhood, I strongly support this proliferation.

Quick Tech Thursday: Disappearing Car Door

This has a dubious connection to tech, but I thought it was pretty cool

Beer Wednesday: Pugsley's Signature Series Imperial Porter by Shipyard

My overall impression of the Pugsley's Signature Series Imperial Porter by Shipyard (based in Maine) is that it's "pretty good." Didn't rock my world, didn't melt my face (as Gary V would say), but it didn't offend me either. It was a pretty flavorful, medium-bodied imperial porter that I wouldn't mind having again.

Music Tuesdays via Caitlin McCabe - Baby I'm Yours by Breakbot

From our friend C-Mac. This is the song I had wanted to link to last week, but C-Mac never put it up so I stole it. She tells me this band is French.

Tech Thursday: The World's Best Soccer Player

I'm a day late, and I'm OK with that. I'm in the most confused-emotional state of my life after this morning's US-Slovenia game (what kind of shit call was that Mr. Coulibaly? Why spot the 2 goals US? Thank goodness we got the draw!), so what better way to honor of the above with a Tech Thursday about soccer? I came across this article on Forbes this morning about the work Luís Amaral is doing at Northwestern's McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science. I'm anxious to read about the results of Mr. Amaral's work, and hope he's produced some solid work, as there's a multitude of data out there on soccer players - it's just the quantifying part that's hard.

Image via Peter Velter.

Beer Wednesday: Damnation by Russian River

I recently tried Damnation by Russian River with our friend Natalie of Meeting Lunch (a sustainable food blog) and enjoyed it. Russian River labels Damnation as a "golden ale" and I see it described by ratebeer as a Belgian Strong Ale and by Beer Advocate as a Belgian Strong Pale Ale. It's 7% ABV so strong is a good descriptor; it's also got yeast in it (it's a cork top) so I can see how it's Belgian. It's also golden. I vote for Belgian Strong Golden Ale.

This Week in Sports: The US Open...where Pro's look like regular guys and we love it.

The US Open is my favorite golf tournament of the year. It's the one tournament every year that professional golfers are happy to shoot par. It is the closest they come to having a similar experience to everyone else trying to break 100/90/80. Not in the scores, but in the emotions and feelings that result from a good chip to set up a tap in par or missing the green on your approach shot.

Here Phil Mickelson comes up short on a false front and watches the ball roll 60 yards back to his feet...three times before finding the green on his sixth shot, only to three putt for a 9. Every golfer has experienced holes like this. I know EXACTLY how he feels. I have no idea what Tiger feels like when he goes driver-iron-20 foot putt for eagle on a par 5. The best I can realistically expect on a par 5 is driver-3 wood- two putt for birdie.

Now the caveat to loving the US Open is that I need to know how good these guys are to appreciate their struggles. You need a Northern Trust Open and a Waste Management Phoenix Open where the winner is 16-under par to be able to differentiate between the US Open and your local club championship. You first need to be impressed by the birdies and eagles these guys can get with regularity before understanding the triumph of par on a USGA-designed course.

Which would you rather watch? The best in the world displaying skills you do not have? Or the best going through the same trials and tribulations you regularly face?

Music Tuesdays - In for the Kill and Bulletproof by La Roux

As suggested by Scott, the before:

And the after:

Just looking at the name of the artist and the hair in those still screens, I figured we were in for a Scottie Special. The songs, with their 80s revival sound, backed that up. I'm not going to lie - I've been hearing Bulletproof on the radio and it's totally stuck in my head.

For comparison - our amiga C-Mac has a similarly retro-sounding selection this week also. Do you prefer the La Roux selection or the Breakbot song? Do you dig the general style, or no?

Tech Thursday: Is the Internet Good for Intelligence?

I know this debate has been probably been kicked around for a decade, but I'm bringing it up this week for 2 reasons:
  1. I've read about it in 2 completely different forums this week: the Sports Guy's idiot guide to the Mutant Russian Mark Cuban (MRMC) and an interesting 2-article 'debate' from the Wall Street Journal (Dumber here and Smarter here)
  2. I think that as we approach our 1-year anniversary here at FIWK, it's an apt debate since we are now a part of the debate. Does FIWK make you smarter or dumber?

Image via WSJ.

Beer Wednesday: El Camino (un)Real Black Ale by Stone, Firestone Walker, and 21st Amendment

The El Camino (un)Real Black Ale is another collaboration effort initiated by Stone Brewing and featuring Firestone Walker and 21st Amendment. (We previously sampled this as an adjunct to the FIWK IPA Tasting.) One of Stone's previous collaborative beers, the Kona Coffee Macadamia Nut Porter, was a delicious product of their team-up with Kona Brewing and a Hawai'i homebrewer. Much like that beer, the El Camino has a particular mission in mind. It seeks to use local flora found along the historic El Camino Real in California and create a unique black ale. They achieved their goal.

Music Tuesdays: growing and dying(?)


When I first heard Owl City, I strongly disliked the song. It was whiny and soft and seemed exactly like something Royce would put on this blog knowing I would reduce his grace period. On the other hand, Paparazzi was a catchy pop song that I could get in to.

Then I kept hearing both songs on the radio and a funny thing happened. I started to like Owl City. It was light and happy. I enjoyed the transitions from refrain to chorus and back. I liked the imagery. I was enjoying listening to the song and gradually went from simply not changing the radio station to actually seeking it out. Owl City was growing on me.

Paparazzi was doing the opposite. The more I heard the song, the less I liked it. It became whiny and repetitive. Owl City and Paparazzi had switched places in my heart. Paparazzi was dying on me. But is this the right word? Was the song wilting on me? Shrinking? Decreasing? Dropping?

P.S. I continually referred to the song title Paparazzi because Lady Gaga has many popular songs, while Owl City only has the one popular song. Much like everyone referred to Fat Lip as "the Sum 41 song" until the success of their second album, Does This Look Infected?

This Week in Sports: Gearing up for the World Cup

My favorite World Cup article so far is by The Unlikely Fan and is called "The World Cup, Translated Into American". The author compares all 32 World Cup teams to what he perceives as their American equivalents, to give Americans a point of reference.

I enjoyed reading every comparison, even if some are a little weird (Mexico) while others seem pretty good (Holland). Although it did really hurt to see my (and Aaron's) beloved Chargers compared to unlikable (okay, hate-able) Portugal. Causing MP to coin the phrase Ronaldo Rivers. Grr.

Which of these comparisons work, and which need to be reassigned?

Weekend Comedy 6/6

Tech Thursday plus Financial Friday: Apple v Microsoft

Last week Apple's market capitalization surpassed Microsoft's, which is pretty amazing. When I read that announcement I was actually shocked. I don't follow that type of thing closely and hadn't realized they were getting close.

When I dug into the numbers I became even more surprised. As the NY Times article on the subject says:

"The companies have comparable revenue, with Microsoft at $58.4 billion and Apple at $42.9 billion. But in their most recent fiscal years, Apple had net income of $5.7 billion, while Microsoft earned $14.6 billion.

"Microsoft has more cash and short-term investments, $39.7 billion, to Apple’s $23.1 billion, which makes the value assigned by the market to Apple, essentially a bet on its future prospects, all the more remarkable."

Are you as surprised as I am that the market is valuing the company with $15.5 billion greater in-place revenue and $9 billion greater in-place net income as being LESS valuable than the other? Do you believe that Apple's future prospects mean it will be more profitable than Microsoft in the near future, or that Microsoft's profits will diminish below Apple's?

This Week in Sports: I don't want either of these teams to win

The only thing I can guarantee regarding the NBA Finals is that two weeks from now at least 90% of sports fans are going to have to put up with an insufferable fan base extolling their team as one of the greatest franchises ever. It's not that I dislike either team, although I would have preferred a Suns-Magic or Suns-Cavs Finals, it's how much I don't want to have to put up with the fans of either of these teams. It's the fact that I don't want every media outlet shoving these teams down my throat.

No matter who wins, I'm screwed either way. Between the Sports Guy and Royce, I have to listen to die-hard fans wax poetically about their team winning/losing. I can only pray that there isn't a referee scandal or big mistake that causes one to complain incessantly. Now, don't get me wrong. Both guys can make me laugh and I will read every word they write, regardless of the outcome...but I can already tell that I am going to feel the way my non-Chargers-fan friends feel when I am explaining how great LaDainian Tomlinson was.

Beer Wednesday: Eye of the Hawk Select Ale by Mendocino Brewing Co

My roommate recently brought back the Eye of the Hawk Select Ale by Mendocino Brewing Company from our local Trader Joe's. He liked that it was on sale and styled itself as a "dry ale." After trying it, I have to say the dry ale description is apt; overall it was an interesting and pretty nice ale.