People’s Choice Hot & Spicy Beef Jerky

I’ve tried a lot of beef jerky brands in my day. My current favorite is People’s Choice. They’ve been making premium beef jerky since 1929, it’s handcrafted, family owned, and it’s made with 100% USA beef. They have a few different flavors, but Hot & Spicy is the best one. It’s hot and spicy like the name implies, but it’s not overly powerful. It goes great with a cold beer.

People’s Choice stands out because they cut their jerky really thin. It’s more like a sheet of jerky than a typical strip of jerky. It’s not as moist as some other brands but it’s not too dried out. It’s the perfect balance of meat and spice. Every time I offer someone a piece, they ask for another as soon as they finish. I’m torn because I want people to try it but I want it all for myself at the same time. I figured it might be easier to write about how good it is, sing its praises, and try to convince you to buy your own. The people have spoken, they’ve decided: it’s People’s Choice.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Sleep Mask

My girlfriend and I have different schedules. She gets up earlier than me, usually an hour or more before I do. That means that she either has to do her makeup in the bathroom or turn on the light to do it in her room which wakes me up. We had to reach a compromise. So I went to Walgreens and bought a sleep mask. It only cost ten bucks and it’s already proven itself to be a worthy investment.

A sleep mask is self explanatory: it’s a mask you wear when you sleep. It covers your eyes and blocks out the light, allowing the wearer to sleep better. I have to admit that I kind of like it. It only took a few nights to get used to, but I wake up feeling more rested. It really helps to block out any light, and by extension the outside world. Yeah, it looks ridiculous but I don’t care if it helps me sleep better. A sleep mask at night is as good as coffee in the morning.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Budweiser

Budweiser is a beer. It’s the only beer for a lot of people. Brand loyalty goes a long way and I know a lot of people that prefer Budweiser over water. My feelings on Budweiser are mixed. It’s too popular, it’s too bland, and it’s too pretentious. They call themselves the king of beers. They’ve even temporarily relabeled themselves as America instead of Budweiser as part of some bizarre marketing ploy. They proudly admit to being made partially from rice. Rice is nice but most beer lovers prefer hops and barley.

Budweiser is drinkable though. I have to give them that. It has a consistently crisp and refreshing taste. It doesn’t really get skunky. It’s my preferred tall boy for beach days because it’s cheap, it’s not too heavy, and it comes in twenty-five ounce cans. Most tall boys are twenty-four ounces. That extra ounce means you’re getting more bang for your buck.

I prefer to drink craft beer when I’m at a bar or at home. I like IPAs and sours and the occasional stout if the weather is cold. Whenever I buy a six pack of something nice I’ll still pick up a tall boy of Budweiser as well. I drink the good beer until I’m nice and toasty and then I’ll switch over to Bud when I’m drunk. That way I won’t waste my good beer when I’m too fucked up to enjoy it. That’s not alcoholism, that’s using my noodle. Budweiser is not the best beer. I wouldn’t even call it a good beer. But it’s beer and that’s enough reason for me to drink it.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Tom Petty

Once upon a time in the summer of 2001, I walked into a Best Buy and walked out with the compilation album Greatest Hits by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. I didn’t know much about Tom Petty at that point. I knew a couple of his songs like “Free Fallin'” and “The Waiting” and that was enough to justify buying it. I popped the CD into my car stereo on the drive home and my life was changed forever. His music spoke to me. It awakened something in my soul. I felt like Tom Petty was singing to me directly. He became my favorite artist instantly.

He was a rock star, a real rock star. He had hit singles and critically acclaimed albums and put on one hell of a live show. No road trip was complete without listening to a little Petty. In an era of illegal downloads, I made it a point to buy his albums, all of them. Even his stuff with Mudcrutch, the Traveling Wilburys, and Johnny Cash. I wanted him to have my money. I was lucky enough to see him live five times. Once at the Hollywood Bowl, twice at Outside Lands, once at the Oakland Coliseum, and the last one at BottleRock in what became his final tour. Watching Tom Petty live was better than listening to his albums. Everybody would sing along to every song, spark joints during “Mary Jane’s Last Dance” and just enjoy experiencing a legend do what he did best.

I hate that I have to speak about Tom Petty in the past tense now. He was a big part of my life. He always will be. You are the soundtrack to my life, Tom. Thank you.

Critically Rated at 17/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Matt Cain

Matt Cain pitched his last game on September 30, 2017, one day before his 33rd birthday, retiring after thirteen seasons with The San Francisco Giants. It’s very rare to see a player wear only one uniform for over ten years and he deserves to be recognized. He accomplished many great things in his career. He has three World Series rings, three All-Star recognitions, and the only perfect game in Giants history. He never got the fame or glory that Tim Lincecum or Madison Bumgarner got, but he was the backbone of the team for many seasons. He was called the Horse for a reason. He was reliable. You knew he was going to go seven innings and that he was going to keep you in the game.

I grew up a Giants fan. I remember the magical 2010 season in which we finally won the World Series as the San Francisco Giants. I went to a lot of games that season but the most memorable one was my first ever postseason game. I saw Matt Cain take on the Phillies in the pivotal Game 3 of the NLCS. He was masterful with only two hits in seven innings, giving us a 3-0 victory. I celebrated in the stands and snapped a photo that became my iPhone background for the next couple of years. I remember watching his perfect game two seasons later. I started watching it at Red Jack Saloon, my favorite dive bar. I made the trek home and got back just in time to see Gregor Blanco’s amazing catch. I knew that I was witnessing history in the making. They got that last out and Matt Cain cemented his legacy. Lots of people win multiple championships. Throwing a perfect game is damn near impossible.

Matt Cain will always be one of my favorite Giants. His poster is on my wall. He will stay on my wall. It’s not the greatest honor but it’s the least I can do.

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It (2017 Film)

In this era of Hollywood there is an abundance of sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots and most of them suck. But every now and then a seemingly unnecessary reboot comes out and steals the thunder from the original. Mad Max: Fury Road comes to mind. It is one of those films as well. Most people grew up with the beloved 1990 miniseries starring Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown. It was scary, but lots of things are scary when you’re five years old. The miniseries was tame. They didn’t have the budget to do anything spectacular. It was made for TV so they had to censor things and leave stuff out. The movie has an R rating and they run with it.

Tim Curry’s portrayal of Pennywise was iconic. Bill Skarsgård had some big shoes to fill. He filled them, and then had to get bigger shoes because his feet were too big to fit them. He Heath Ledgered it. Skarsgård’s portrayal is terrifying and mesmerizing. He’s unpredictable and makes you feel uneasy. The only way to keep your sanity is by reminding yourself that it’s only a movie.

The movie stars a bunch of kids. Movies that rely on child actors are hit or miss. It only takes one shitty actor to ruin the whole film. The entire cast is solid. Jaeden Lieberher does a great job as Bill Denbrough, the main character. If he sucked the movie would suck. All the kids in the Losers Club are good. Finn Wolfhard, aka the kid from Stranger Things, adds another classic child horror story to his resume. Jeremy Ray Taylor plays Ben, the fat new kid. He’s actually overweight, not the usual version of Hollywood’s stereotypical fat kid. He adds to the realism. Jackson Robert Scott plays Georgie, the film’s first depicted victim of Pennywise. He’s the youngest actor and has some of the creepiest lines. 

Director Andy Muschietti has created a blockbuster. It is already the highest grossing horror film of all time. It is also the highest grossing film to be released in September. That’s pretty impressive. It deserves all the hype it is getting. Right after I saw it, I went home and watched the opening scene from the miniseries and from the movie on YouTube to compare them. Watch it now, see for yourself. It’s night and day. It made me realize how cheesy the miniseries actually is. 

In conclusion, go see It.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

You’ll Float Too!

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Otter Pops

I’ve been blogging for more than five years and somehow never got around to writing about Otter Pops. I’m even more shocked than you are. Otter Pops were a staple of my childhood. I always knew that summer was approaching when my mom would come home from Costco with a big box of Otter Pops. My sisters and I would squeal with excitement and quickly throw them in the freezer because Otter Pops are the frozen treat that you have to freeze yourself.

Otter Pops come in six zippy flavors, each one named after a different character. There’s Louie-Bloo Raspberry, which tastes like blue raspberry. There’s Poncho Punch, he tastes like tropical fruit punch. Alexander the Grape is the purple one. He tastes like grapes and might be the worst flavor if there is such a thing. The orange one is Little Orphan Orange and she tastes like orange. She’s the other contender for worst flavor. Strawberry Short Kook is red and tastes like strawberries. Then there is Sir Issac Lime, he’s green and tastes like lime. There used to be a yellow lemon flavored Otter Pop known as Rip Van Lemon, but he must have sucked because he disappeared in the seventies and nobody really cared.

I was addicted to Otter Pops. I would steal them and hide the evidence. I would go after Poncho Punch, Louie-Bloo Raspberry and Sir Issac Lime first because they were the best flavors. Then I would eat a Strawberry Short Kook to make my tongue red again. I would stash the wrappers under the top layer of trash. I had my Otter Pop stealing technique down. I probably ate half of each box by myself. I should apologize to my sisters but I regret nothing.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Delicious Memories

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Pork Butt

My roommate likes to cook. He’s recently gotten into using our crockpot to make delicious feasts. He made ribs last week. Right now he’s making pork butt. Pork butt (also known as Boston butt) is a really popular cut of meat. It’s the preferred cut for pulled pork. It’s also a misnomer. Pork butt comes from the upper shoulder. Shocking, I know. Your life is a lie. I told my roommate that pork butt comes from the shoulder and he responded by saying “Gross!” My roommate is a funny guy. 

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Ham is the real pork butt.

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Babybel

I like cheese. Cheese is good. It takes burgers to another level. It turns tortilla chips into nachos. Cheese is like bacon. It makes everything better but it’s best enjoyed by itself. If I’m eating cheese as a snack I generally prefer some type of string cheese, but every once in a while I get the hankering for a Babybel. Babybel is a brand of cheese with a distinctive look. Each mini cheese wheel is encased within a protective red wax cover. 

The cheese is decent but the red wax seal is the star of the show. After you eat the cheese you’re left with the wax. You can mold and squish and squeeze the wax. Its not as malleable as Silly Putty, but it’s still fun to play with. Babybel is an interactive snack. The wax also makes it holds up better than most cheese so you can take it hiking or backpacking. It’s a heavy duty cheese for traveling and enjoying life outdoors. You can also also eat it at the office. It’s very versatile. 

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young 

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Standing in the Middle of the Sidewalk 

Few things annoy me more than people standing in the middle of the sidewalk. There is no reason to stand there. If you want to check your phone, or glance at a map, or smoke a cigarette then go right ahead, but make sure you’re out of the way. You don’t need to obstruct the sidewalk. A sidewalk is like a road for pedestrians. You wouldn’t park your car in the middle of the street. That would be stupid. People will honk at you and crash into you. You would pull over into the shoulder and stay out of the way. So if we could all just do that on the sidewalk too that would be great. 

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Batman Chucks

I skate around the city as my primary form of transportation. It wears out my shoes pretty quickly. My last pair of shoes got holes in the soles and I was about to buy some new ones until I remembered that I had a pair of Converse Chuck Taylor All Stars that I’ve only worn once sitting in the back of my closet. They aren’t your standard Chuck Taylors. They are Batman Chucks. They are black with yellow Batman symbols all over them. I’ve only worn them once before because they are so loud. They scream at you. They demand attention. 

I didn’t want to waste my money on a new pair of shoes when I had a perfectly good pair already in my possession. So I put them on and I’ve been rocking them for over two weeks now. My girlfriend hates them, but most people love them. I’ve gotten a lot of compliments from random strangers. She hates that even more. My life has changed for the better since I’ve started wearing my Batman Chucks. I’d recommend for everyone to try them at least once but I don’t want you to steal my style.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Some Fine Lookin’ Shoes

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“I Didn’t See You”

I had to work this morning, so I woke up bright and early then hopped on my longboard towards the subway. I was in the bike lane where I was supposed to be when suddenly a black SUV veered into my lane, coming within a foot of hitting me. Luckily i have cat-like reflexes and I jumped off my board in time. I walked over to his hood and blocked his path, raised my middle finger, and yelled at him for almost hitting me. I noticed his Lyft tag and saw his passenger waiting to get picked up on the curb. I looked at him and asked if he was sure he wanted to get in a car with a driver that clearly can’t drive. The Lyft driver rolled down his window and said “I didn’t see you.”

I didn’t see you. No fucking shit. That’s why he almost hit me. That’s not really a valid excuse. It’s San Francisco. There are bikers, skaters, joggers, and crackheads everywhere. If he drives in the city for a living, he needs to know that. So I took a picture of his license plate to report him to Lyft. He’s getting only getting one star and a negative review from me. 

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

Blurry pic of the culprit

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Basil Hayden’s 

Basil Hayden’s is a Kentucky straight bourbon whiskey. It’s closely related to Jim Beam, but it’s a classier drink to order. It has more rye than most whiskeys and has a spicier finish. Once upon a time it was aged for eight years but it has since been rebranded as “artfully aged” so I’m sure they are skimping somewhere on the production line. It’s 80 proof which gives it a 40% alcohol by volume content, pretty standard for a bottle of bourbon. 

Basil Hayden’s is a lesser known bourbon despite some mainstream support. If you’re at a bar that carries it, you should take advantage and order a shot. I only became aware of it in the last few weeks because it was the whiskey of choice for my friend Josh. He’s no longer with us, but I’ve since tried it and must admit that he had good taste. I’m going to sip it, enjoy it, and remember a great person that was taken too soon. Try Basil Hayden’s. Do it for Josh. And don’t tell me if you hate it because I don’t want to hear it. 

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Skipping Breakfast 

I skip breakfast. I usually wake up, take a shit and a shower, get dressed, and go to work. I’ll have a cup of black coffee and a glass of ice water in the breakroom before my shift starts. My first meal is usually lunch, then I’ll snack throughout the day until dinner, and maybe a few more munchies before bedtime. That’s been my routine for a while now. 

The nice thing about skipping breakfast is that I’m conditioned to it and my body doesn’t rely on it. So when I do actually do eat breakfast I feel like Popeye downing a can of spinach. All the naysayers will say that’s proof that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Malarkey, it’s just a boost like a video game power up. 

The weird thing is that I like breakfast foods. Eggs, hash browns, sausage, pancakes, motherfucking bacon… all are delicious, but I’d rather have them for dinner when I’m awake enough to enjoy them. Cereal is more of a snack for me, but I’d rather eat it straight from the box than pour it in a bowl with milk. That makes it soggy and soggy cereal is gross. Don’t get me wrong. Breakfast is good, it’s just too early for me. I need time to build up my appetite.

Critically Rated at 10/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Ordering “Beer” at a Bar

I bartend at a tourist trap in San Francisco. That means I deal with a lot of people that don’t know how to order drinks. At least twice a shift I will ask a customer what they want to drink, and they will respond with “Beer.” I just shake my head and explain to them that this isn’t Hollywood. This isn’t a movie. You don’t just say “Beer” and get a beer. Do you want bottle or draft? Do you want something imported, domestic, or a local craft brew? Do you want a lager, an ale, a stout, a porter, a wheat beer or an IPA? You have to be more specific. If you want a Budweiser, then order a fucking Budweiser. I don’t have time to hold your hand and walk you through the menu. I’m too busy helping people who actually know what they want to drink. The next motherfucker who asks me for a beer is getting a glass of O’Doul’s and the middle finger. You wanted a beer, you got one. Now fuck off. 

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Flush-Resistant Dookie

I was at my friend’s house a few years ago and had to take a shit. I went to his bathroom and pooped and I pooped good. It was a pretty substantial dump. I admired it briefly and then flushed it down. I washed my hands, dried them off, and started to open the door when I noticed a small turd still in the toilet bowl. Normally I would just leave a little nugget like that but I respected my friend too much to do that to him. I flushed the toilet again. It somehow managed to survive another rough ride around the bowl. It didn’t want to go. I had to flush the toilet a third time. No dice. The fourth flush didn’t do anything either. On the fifth fucking flush it finally disappeared. I felt a little bad. He was a tough little fucker. I’ve encountered other flush-resistant dookie since, but nothing on that level. I still think about him every now and then, or whenever I see a Tootsie Roll. I hope he’s still out there somewhere. I wish him the best.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Bartender Hands

I’ve been bartending a couple of days a week and it’s starting to catch up with me. Right now I’m suffering from a case of bartender hands. That’s when your hands are slightly dried out with small nicks and cuts. The cuts aren’t generally visible but you sure as hell feel them when you get lime juice or a bit of salt in them, both common hazards of the trade. Bartending isn’t just making cocktails, pouring beer, and making small talk with customers. There’s a lot of grunt work involved. You get bartender hands from washing glassware, prepping fruit, broken pieces of glass, and any combination of the above. It takes its toll after a while. It’s worth it at the end of the shift though. Count your money, not your problems. 

Critically Rated at 7/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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