I don’t normally run promo posters as art pieces… But every rule was made to be broken.
I was lucky enough to get a chance to sample 3 years of this vintage ale (2011, 2010 and 2008). I didn’t believe beer could cellar but I was surprised to find that much like wine, these brews improved with time. Not all beer is meant to cellar–typically these brews are higher in alcohol content which mellows over time. I’m sure there’s all kinds of science behind this. But I’ll let you Google that yourself.
This link has some options in addition to Fuller’s.
Gift: Northern Brewer has a great hop kit including a book of hops, a straining bag for dry hopping and some hop candy.
Beer: A sampler pack is always welcome for most beer lovers. For the hop head, look for beer that has a high IBU rating. Here are a couple of breweries that typically have hopped up fare:
· Stone Brewing
· Green Flash Brewing
· Tall Grass Brewing
· Boulevard – Specifically 80 Acre (Though I love MANY of their beers)
You can’t go wrong with equipment. Buy that special brewer a beer gun to fill bottles, a new wort chiller or some growlers or bottles. These stainless bottles and growlers are new and fun, or if your brewer has all the growlers he or she needs, get this sling instead.
For the brewers who geek out about the science behind beer (or the brewers who have all they need and more for BEER), here are some other great options from Midwest Supplies including kits to make: Soft Cheeses, Yogurt, Kombucha, Soda, Hot Sauce, Liqueur and Sake.
This shirt made me laugh! Dog lovers and your pooch will appreciate it.
You can also buy pretty much anything from Lagunitas Brewery– they have the best dog logo and their mason jar pint glasses have paw prints on them. Cute and functional! They also have dog treats that my pups went crazy for!
I would really like to have one of these gallon brewing kits. I think it would be really fun to experiment with brewing and not have the commitment of 5 gallons to drink if it isn’t quite right.
I’d also love a couple of sets of taster glasses and paddles. While I’m fine with passing a bottle around to taste and share, it does look a little more legit if we all have our own little glass.
Awesome and then some.
Despite the tag line on the Inveterate Media Junkies site banner, you might be surprised to learn that I am not a bitter ass– at least not 100% of the time. In fact, I can be quite charming and impish when I want to be. That said, I still can’t stand self-important assholes or no-talent fucks who survive on decades-long relationships with even lesser talented higher-ups. It saddens me to see a movie, tv show or comic book that could have been so much better– if only someone with taste had the balls to say, “We’re not releasing/publishing this piece of shit.”
And as much as I could write a series of books about the many idiots who populate the entertainment business, I can’t lay all the blame on the creatives. Nope. I also blame the fans… People who simply refuse to curb their buying habits because of their love for a particular medium. These men & women are truly the root of the problem. Every time they pay to watch something just because it’s in a genre they adore or purchase a shitty book because, ya know, they’ve loved the Justice League cartoon since they were kids… They send resounding votes to corporations which state, unequivocally, they don’t care about quality.
It’s the sheeple gotta have it now mentality… And we’ve all felt it. Problem is, this mindset makes it near impossible to expect a mass of truly riveting stories, films and television series. And it slides all the way down the social network ladder too: Every retweet for some crappy show, every Facebook “like” for some untalented creator reinforces, sadly, that we will lap up their shit– and even ask, “Please, sirs/madames… May we have some more?” And please don’t throw the age card at me. Despite Jose’s recent joke that I’m 67 (or whatever he wrote announcing my latest birthday), I’m not that much older than he is (I swear)… But I am old enough to know what I like and I don’t like– and I have definitely lived long enough to believe I can offer valid opinions… Or I wouldn’t be here.
And for those who chronically point at my weekly stacks as evidence that I am guilty of the same thing I’m complaining about? Get over it. I publish weekly articles on a popular pop culture website… And unlike the hacks who will praise or eviscerate new projects based on the current consensus (or payola, advertising dollars or other perks), I refuse to discuss anything I haven’t seen or read first. If I were just buying what I liked, those stacks would be amazingly short. And even now, I have to point out every 3 months (or so) that I do not buy or watch the majority of shit shoveled at us every week. I also continue to contend that whatever I strike-through and refuse to purchase on my Pull Lists speaks louder than anything I happen to recommend or buy.
To put a point on all this, I’d like to showcase some of the stuff I refuse to spend my money on– despite wondering if my not doing so somehow limits my knowledge and grasp of the industries we discuss. Note: These are not personal preferences as much as they are items I’ve been forced to forego because I just can’t take it anymore.
So let’s call this Insideman’s 2013 Anti-Gift Guide… Which, humorously, will be followed by several fantastic columns where talented people will point out some GREAT STUFF you should be buying. But make no mistake, this is stuff I am boycotting… Products I wouldn’t buy with your money.
Let’s start with the obvious stuff:
- Digest-sized comics. Every once in a while I still get burned buying one of these pieces of shit (mainly because the publishers “forget” to put “digest” in the title or don’t note the book’s dimensions in their descriptions). Why do I detest digests? Because I am not 5 years old. My hands and eyes are not made for these tree wasters… And they way they condense beautiful art is ridiculous. The worst idea ever? Putting Judge Dredd comics in a series of digest-sized horrors.
- Anything printed by Zenescope. Again, another obvious choice. I never pass up a chance to remind you how shitty this publisher’s comics are. Zenescope books represent the ultimate trifecta of horribleness: Shitty Stories, Shitty Drawings… And worst of all? They’re the pricktease kings of the comic world. They push unnaturally sized breasts and asses in our faces– but don’t have the balls to show the real goods. (And no, black silhouettes of curvaceous tarts do NOT count.)
- Hacky Superhero Movies. It’s absolutely batshit insane to contribute to a comic-centric website and basically refuse to see or comment on bad superhero movies. But I do. See, I often get invited to screenings for these monstrosities due to my “day job” and I do go see them. I also get a chance to read many of the scripts far in advance too. But I keep my mouth shut. Why? Two reasons: Given the timing, I would be breaking confidences and courtesies were I to divulge my true thoughts on these multi-million dollar turds in advance. And if I wait until release day? Then I’m just adding my voice to the overwhelming fan dissension and mayhem that occurs after one of these shit-stains sees release… And my diatribes come off as just another fickle fanboy who can’t handle Hollywood’s (mis)interpretation of a comic classic. That’s an exercise in fruitless internet masturbation I have no interest in.
So what do I do instead? When I see something that’s gone horribly wrong, I call some of the people I know who are responsible for greenlighting these soulless vehicles and I attempt to educate them on what they did wrong… And I always reiterate how important it is to try to stay true to the time-tested material. Sometimes this leads to wonderfully thoughtful discussions and other times people swear at me. I’m okay with either response.
- Kurt Busiek comics. You may (or may not) know about this particular personal beef– even if you follow my ramblings regularly. I used to revere Busiek as one of the best writers in the business… Until he treated me like TOTAL CRAP on Twitter one day– when I innocently attempted to tell him where he could buy a great Carrot Cake. Yep, that’s how SILLY this “feud” is… But since he acted so poorly to a huge fan– I see no reason to EVER buy another one of his books on principle… And I used to give out his stuff every year as Christmas gifts (to people who were thinking about getting into comics– primarily writers.) As it stands, I’ve stopped buying Astro City and anything else he’s writing… And as much as I was willing to pay BIG BUCKS for Dark Horse’s Colossal Conan Omnibus (even though I’ve read and purchased every Conan hardcover and trade the company has ever published)– I won’t be buying this ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLAR book because some of that cash will go to Busiek.
- TV or Movie Tie-in Comics. I used to buy ‘em all. (Do you own a copy of any of the CSI Omnibi? I do!) Now I refuse to read books that are more poorly written (and poorly drawn) than the actual mediocre source material they’re adapted from. This means no more Green Hornet crap, no more Transformers comics and no more GI Joe trades. And if you think I’m picking on a large amount of IDW or Dynamite’s output, you’d be correct. When I suddenly realized I’d stopped myself from spending over $48.00 USD on this paint-by-numbers crapola just this week… I immediately celebrated by taking my girlfriend out for a nice dinner.
On occasion, I will continue to make exceptions for certain talented creators (Mark Waid, Steve Niles, etc.) but only because I expect quality from them no matter what they’re writing. One caveat: I love Red Sonja too much to stop buying her shit collections. (Every fan has their Achilles heel.) But I am in therapy for this particular problem– and hope for a breakthrough on this front soon.
- Any Future Jeph Loeb monstrosity. This is also a NEW boycott. And no, it isn’t in effect because Loeb is a dick… Because he isn’t. It’s because I just finished reading the Wolverine Sabertooth Reborn Hardcover I had been avoiding for months… And I’ve just had it. I’ve had it with the hacky half-baked plotting, the hacky repetitive dialogue– but most of all, the sense of joyless “I don’t give shit” quality every piece of Jeph’s writing now exhibits.
I’m a firm believer that if people don’t like (or aren’t enjoying) their jobs, they should stop doing them and go find another line of work that fulfills them… And I believe this of Jeph Loeb. What started as a hugely promising comics career (Batman: The Long Halloween) quickly devolved into things like the putrid and stiff Batman: Hush and one of the WORST COMICS ever published– the Rob Liefeld “drawn” Onslaught Reborn OVER-SIZED Hardcover. I emphasize the words “over-sized” here because the book is rather huge– as if someone thought printing the art this big might finally wake the Zombies up and ruin any future Liefeld may have had as a comic book penciler. No such luck. (Some may also remember Onslaught Reborn was the book I viciously flung away from me after I finished reading it– denting my living room wall.)
For some reason, a whole litany of mediocre to mega crappy Loeb comics never brought forth this reaction before. So I guess I should thank Marvel for releasing the Wolverine Sabertooth Reborn Hardcover, eh? Or as I call it, the book so painfully bad that even usually intriguing artist Simone Bianchi phoned his art in.
- Ca$h Grabs– especially RECYCLED Ca$h Grabs. Now, understandably, some of these I have to buy. But the older stuff– comics I originally read in my misspent youth? Why am I buying this shit? Because I remember it fondly? I don’t have anywhere near enough time to enjoy the NEW STUFF I want to read– so I’ll probably never re-read these books. I just had to put an end to this… Primarily because buying comics I liked as a child seems to make the Big Two (Marvel & DC) think it’s OK to publish tripe like the New Warriors Omnibus… Or the Absolute Blackest Night Edition… Or the (2!) West Coast Avengers Omnibi… Or the Absolute Superman – For Tomorrow Edition… Or the Nicieza/Liefeld X-Force omnibus. (You know I could go on and on.)
A subset to this category is a rather new (to comics) phenomenon: As the Marvel Movie Machine continues to roll on, the publisher is repackaging stories in new trades with different covers– and most importantly– different titles. Some of these collections are pared-down versions of previously released omnibi and bigger trades… And are meant to cash in on a current film. If you become intrigued by a certain retread (and I wouldn’t blame you if you did– I’ve succumbed many times, which is why I’m boycotting them now)… Please remember to check the ISSUE numbers contained therein– as you may have already read or purchased the stories before.
This has been a bad trend in the music biz for years– as music companies re-press classic albums with new covers and rearranged track lists (and maybe 1 or 2 different songs). By all means, buy what you want… But a quick 2-minute check on the Net will tell you whether you’re making a redundant purchase– or not.
- Many Fantagraphics collections. This is a wide brush I’m slinging here– I know that. You’re unlikely to find a bigger fan of esoteric, wonderfully weird comics than me… But even I have my limits. There’s a very fine line between avant-garde, independent storytelling and pompous self-indulgent crap. I’ve purchased dozens and dozens of FB books– only to sit and shake my head at the waste of trees and money as I read them. (Or attempted to read them.) Some of their stuff is that impenetrable.
I’ll still buy all the Love & Rockets, Peanuts, Captain Easy, Prince Valiant, Buz Sawyer, Daniel Clowes, Jacques Tardi and Jason collections they can print… But if they’re losing money on many of their more non-commercial releases due to low fan demand (so much so that the Peanuts juggernaut alone can’t finance these micro titles), maybe it’s not the fans who are uneducated or unappreciative– maybe it’s just that many of these books are destined to only appeal to a money losing niche subset.
On the front page of their site, the publisher characterizes their just concluded, extremely successful Kickstarter campaign as sort of an indie comic fan’s obligation. The exact phrase used is, “We won’t sell out, so we need YOU to buy in.” Not me. I’ve spent THOUSANDS and THOUSANDS of dollars on various Fantagraphics books over the years (I note this amount not to brag, but to delineate my level of previous support)… So I do not see any reason why I should feel compelled to also donate (even if I do get books, swag or perks for my money). To be clear, I’m glad their campaign was successful. I wouldn’t want FB (or almost any publisher) to go out of business… Nor would I want them to stop providing such a wide range of artistic voices.
I’m just thinking… If the mass publication of certain titles pose such a real danger to the overall health of the company… Maybe just maybe they should consider not printing so many of these books in a given year. The loss of Fantagraphics would be devastating to many– and putting the entire line at risk for series of low-selling titles seems unnecessarily foolhardy as well.
I’ll still buy my FB favorites (and I’m sure I’ll find a few new ones) but I strongly urge you to buy their (and any other publisher’s) books after considered research. Don’t just buy whatever FB serves up because you want to support indie comics. (There are far too many deserving independent publishers for that kind of nonsense.) Take note of my experience. If you don’t exercise some sort of caution or discernment, you’re liable to be reading a disgusting, needless tale about an elf who likes to skullfuck his dead enemies– like I did.
Or maybe you like that kind of stuff?
I could go further… But I figure that’s enough grouchiness for one column.