O’Douls

I’ve been drinking a lot lately and my girlfriend was kind enough to point it out, so I told her I would put down the bottle for a few days. Yesterday was the first day of my temporary sobriety. All I could think about was how nice it would be to go to the bar and watch the baseball game after work, but then I remembered I wasn’t drinking. But then I remembered that non-alcoholic beer is a thing. So I went to the bar and ordered an O’Doul’s with a chilled glass.

The bartender came back with an O’Doul’s Amber. I didn’t even know they had an amber, I’ve only seen the one in the green bottles. I poured the beer into my glass and admired its reddish hue and slightly hoppy aroma. It looked like beer. I took a sip. It tasted like an amber, a little rich and sweet with a slight hoppy finish. It had good mouthfeel. I sat there watching the game and making small talk with the other barflies and it felt like any other day at the bar. I just wasn’t getting drunk.

I had one more O’Doul’s Amber before I left the bar. The evening was still young so I got a six pack of the original O’Doul’s on the way home. The regular O’Doul’s is more like a lager. It’s mild with a slightly dry finish. I normally drink IPAs so it tastes very bland to me, but I still felt like I was drinking beer.

O’Doul’s is not fully free from alcohol. It’s less than .5% alcohol by volume. Kombucha is anywhere from .5% to 2% for comparison. They brew O’Doul’s like a regular beer and then they distill the alcohol out without heating or cooking the beer. That helps to retain the flavor profile. It’s not perfect. It’s like eating meatless chicken. It’s almost like the real deal but something is missing. It’s still a good way to wean yourself off alcohol. I say that as I’m currently enjoying my second six pack in two days. It definitely helps keep me distracted from real beer and my typical morning hangover.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Everybody is Being a Jerk Today!

I had a difficult coworker a few years ago. She was one of those people that are simply hard to deal with. She thought she was the shit and she wasn’t, so she didn’t really fit in. I remember her complaining once, telling me that “Everybody is being a jerk today!” I like to use that story as a teaching moment. If you think that everybody is being a jerk, you are the jerk. If you have a problem with everybody, you are the problem. She didn’t last much longer and she eventually quit and found another job. She does that every few months. I can only assume it’s because everybody is still being a jerk to her.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Electric Scooter Invasion

San Francisco was recently bombarded by three electric scooter rental companies. Literally thousands of scooters have been dumped all over the city. You either love them or hate them, and some people really do hate them. I’ve seen pictures in the news of scooters that have been tossed in trees, thrown into the bay, stuffed into garbage cans, left toppled over, have had cords cut, have had QR codes removed to render them useless, and shat on. Like people have actually pooped on them. Electric scooter rentals are a new thing so a lot of the users are riding them on sidewalks, endangering pedestrians and dogs out on walks. They leave them parked in random spots, blocking the way for disabled people. They have been decried as a public nuisance.

But the scooters are a great alternative form of transportation in the city. It’s cheaper than a Lyft or Uber for short distances. There’s not much polluting involved. And it’s a fun way of getting from Point A to Point B. My friend started riding them about a week ago, he made a good enough sales pitch for me to download Bird and LimeBike. The apps sat dormant for a few days until tonight. I had to transfer buses on the way home and the next bus was sixteen minutes away. So I got pissed and jumped on my skateboard towards home. I passed by a LimeBike scooter and I took that as a sign to try new things. I jumped off my board and opened the LimeBike app. It accessed my camera and asked me to scan the QR code. I did. Then it asked me to activate the scooter by paying with ApplePay. I pressed my thumb on the sensor and the scooter came to life. It was that easy. There was a safety light in the back and a little headlight in the front. It wasn’t bright enough to see where you’re going, but it’s enough to keep cars from slamming into you. There was a speedometer that told me I was going about fifteen miles per hour. It took less than a minute to get used to the scooter. I was able to drive it with my longboard hanging from my left arm, a bag of groceries on my right shoulder, and my backpack of work stuff without any problems. I was able to go about a mile in eight minutes and it only cost me $1.20. Maybe there was a promotion or coupon added automatically but it was totally worth it. I’ll ride an electric scooter again. I encourage you to ride one too.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Muni Sucks

Muni sucks. I’m writing this as I wait at the bus stop for the 47 line. The app and the website both assure me that my bus is two minutes away, one minute away, and arriving. It’s been twenty-five, now, twenty-six minutes, and I’m still waiting for a phantom bus. It’s fucking ridiculous. I pay money for my Muni pass every month for a service that doesn’t deliver like it says it will. They should reimburse me the cost of a fare for every failed arrival. Netflix would reimburse me. Public transportation should too. Muni sucks.

Critically Rated at 3/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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There is no Wayne’s World 1

One of my biggest pet peeves is when someone inserts 1 into the title of the first film of a franchise. You often hear people say that Wayne’s World 1 is way better than Wayne’s World 2. Or that Rush Hour 1 was the best movie in the trilogy. I hate that. There is no Wayne’s World 1. It’s Wayne’s World and Wayne’s World 2. Rush Hour has two sequels. Yes, it’s the first movie but it’s not called Rush Hour 1. It’s simply Rush Hour. You can check IMDB.com if you don’t believe me. Don’t even get me started on people who say Die Hard 1 or Star Wars 1.

There are a few exceptions like History of the World, Part I and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1. But there is no History of the World, Part II and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 was the seventh film of the franchise, not the first. The moral of the story is there is no Wayne’s World 1. So don’t say it.

Critically Rated at 5/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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My Safety Noodle

In 2015 my sister made a few totems out of pool noodles to use at Outside Lands. She took a couple of pool noodles, added some ribbons at the top to make them distinctive, and bought some glow sticks to attach at night. Those totems served our group well, uniting us between different sets throughout the weekend. When the festival ended, I took one of the totems home.

Outside Lands 2016 rolled around and the totem came out of retirement. He even got an upgrade when one of our friends wrapped a battery powered LED light strip around it. The totem became an essential part of our Outside Lands experience. I liked to carry it. It was my safety noodle. I always knew where I was in a sea of people.

The safety noodle returned for his third Outside Lands in 2017. That’s impressive. My sister, the creator, added an inflatable unicorn to the top because the third anniversary is the unicorn anniversary. The unicorn turned my safety noodle into a celebrity. Random festival goers would take pictures of it and use it as a beacon to find their own friends.

Unfortunately the third year of Outside Lands took a toll on it. The LED lights got a little faulty. He also got a little bent from the extra weight from the unicorn. Pool noodles are not designed to deal with that kind of stress. I’m not sure if he will be able to survive Outside Lands 2018. He will make an appearance. I owe him that. But I don’t see him making it through another crazy weekend of debauchery. I want him to go out on his own terms and (other than the inside of my closet) Outside Lands is all he knows.

Critically Rated at 16/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Stereo in a Hearse

I was walking downtown yesterday and passed by a funeral home. There was a hearse pulling up to it. I didn’t wonder if there was a body inside. I wondered if the driver had any music to listen to. I don’t know how most funeral homes work, but I assume the driver isn’t always carrying deceased cargo. It’s not always a solemn occasion. Sometimes he’s just driving. And driving is always better with some tunes. I truly hope that there is a stereo in a hearse. I’m not being morbid. I’d want my last ride to be accompanied by music instead of silence.

Critically Rated at 11/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Black Panther (Film)

Black Panther is a 2018 Marvel superhero film based on the comic book character. It’s more than a movie, at this point it is a bona fide movement. It’s the first major blockbuster to celebrate black culture. It was directed by a black guy, written by black people, with a majority black cast and that’s a rare feat because Hollywood loves whitewashing. It’s not the best Marvel movie, but you could argue that it is the most important one.

Ryan Coogler (known for Fruitvale Station and Creed) will join Spike Lee and John Singleton as one of the most successful African-American directors in cinematic history. He deserves it. He turned a relatively obscure comic book character into movie star. Not only is Black Panther about powerful black men, it’s also about powerful black women. That means that black kids have powerful role models to look up to. White people take that for granted. The white guy is almost always the hero of the story. Black people are depicted as sidekicks, villains, gangsters, and comic relief. It’s a breath of fresh air to see something different.

Chadwick Boseman stars as T’Challa aka the Black Panther. Michael B. Jordan plays Killmonger, the sympathetic villain. They are kind of like Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. They recognize a major injustice and deal with it in different ways which leads to an inevitable conflict. There you have the most simplistic deconstruction of the plot. Throw in a few awesome action sequences and some philosophical questions about race and responsibility and you have the formula for a great movie. Go see it in theaters. Pay for your ticket. Be a part of it.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Curling

We are in the midst of the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics and curling is once again taking the world by storm. Curling is like shuffleboard on ice. It’s one of the few sports that seems accessible to everyone. I’m thirty-two years old and know that I can never win a medal with a snowboard, skis, or ice skates, but I have a chance to compete with a broom in my hand.

Instead of getting drunk and going bowling, I want to get a group together to drink and go curling. It seems like a leisurely activity with plenty of time to chat and socialize without being overly physical. Plus you can set your beer down on the ice between turns and keep it cold. You can’t do that while bowling.

Critically Rated at 13/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Everything Sucks! (TV Show, Not Life in General)

Everything Sucks! is the latest Netflix show that I binge watched. It’s a coming of age dramady set in 1996, so expect plenty of tubular references to ’90s pop culture. The show follows Luke O’Neil (played by Jahi Di’Allo Winston) as he begins his freshman year at Boring High School in Boring, Oregon. That’s a real town but a fictional school if you were wondering. Luke meets Kate Messner (played by Peyton Kennedy), the angsty daughter of the principal and develops a crush on her. Throw in supporting characters from the A/V Club and the Drama Club and you have the premise for a solid show.

Everything Sucks! starts out seeming like your stereotypical teenage soap opera but they take a few chances that I wasn’t expecting. This isn’t about boy meets girl, boy gets girl. There’s more to it than that. Shit doesn’t go to plan, and the main characters have to deal with things they weren’t expecting. All of this set to a sweet soundtrack of nostalgic nineties hits. It’s not as universal as The Wonder Years nor as honest as Freaks and Geeks, but it’s worth watching if you experienced the nineties and want to reminisce a bit. It’s not in my top twenty-five shows of all time, but it’s good enough to recommend.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Guns

I’m not a politician. I don’t pretend to be. But it’s quite clear that this country has a problem with guns. The Valentine’s Day school shooting in Florida is the latest massacre that left innocent people dead at the hands of a madman. It won’t be the last. I guarantee you that there will be another major mass shooting before the month is over. How many more Columbines and Sandy Hooks do we have to endure before we wake the fuck up and do something?

Americans love guns. They are a huge part of our history. They are huge part of our entertainment. The top five movies of all time are Avatar, Titanic, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, and Marvel’s The Avengers. Pretty diverse movies ranging from fantastic space operas, historical love epics, to dinosaurs and superhero collaborations. They all feature guns. We are encouraged to own guns. It’s ingrained in us thanks to mass media and the power of the NRA and a corrupt government that always turns a blind eye.

I’ve shot guns before. I went to a shooting range in Alaska and shot a few handguns and an AR-15. It was fun. I get why people like it. But guns kill people. That’s what they were designed to do, especially the AR-15. Anyone remember lawn darts? That was a game where people threw foot long darts with metal tips at a target. It was a fun childhood game, innocent to the core. Over a ten year period 6,700 people in the USA were injured by lawn darts. 75% of these injuries were to children, three of whom died. Things that kill children are bad, so the government wisely stepped in and banned the sale of lawn darts. Lawn darts killed three kids in ten years and that was enough to make them illegal. Seventeen people died yesterday in Parkland, Florida. Something is clearly wrong here.

Critically Rated at 1/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Group Crossword

I was at my dive bar a week ago and the bartender was doing a crossword puzzle behind the bar (that’s how you know it’s a real dive bar). There were three other patrons besides me and we were only sipping beers so he had plenty of time to work on it. He would occasionally read out a clue and ask for help. After a little while he set it down and I asked to see it. He had about half of it filled out, not too shabby. I picked up a pen, jotted in a few answers, and put it down. The lady sitting next to me grabbed it next. She put in a few words and passed it on to the guy next to her.

At this point it was a group crossword, a collaborative effort to fill it all out and complete it. Each of us had mini Eureka! moments and contributed in some way. We came close to perfection. We only had a few answers missing by the time I left. I can only hope that the bartender took it home and finished it. A crossword is like solitaire. You’re supposed to play it by yourself, but it becomes a group effort when you do it in public.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Self Narrator

I know a lady who narrates whatever she is doing out loud. If she walks into a room to check her phone she will actually say, “I’m walking in here to check my phone.” If she’s brushing her hair she’s explaining why she has to brush it, how many tangles she has, and how her hair gets frizzy with the slightest bit of moisture. Most of the time she’s talking to herself but every now and then she will look at someone else for validation. She’s a self narrator. I have no other way to describe it. Narrating your own life isn’t a habit I would recommend falling into. It annoys other people and makes you look crazy. Morgan Freeman is the only person that can successfully get away with it.

Critically Rated at 6/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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D.B. Cooper

D.B. Cooper is the alias of an unidentified man who successfully hijacked a plane on November 24, 1971. ”Twas the night before Thanksgiving and D.B. Cooper had a meticulous plan. He bought a plane ticket with cash and shortly after takeoff he told a flight attendant that he had a bomb in his briefcase. He demanded four parachutes and two hundred thousand dollars in cash. His demands were met, he released some hostages, and arranged for the plane to go to Mexico. At some point during the flight he jumped out of the plane with the money and two parachutes, never to be seen again. It was and still remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history.

Whether or not he survived is unknown. But this was a man with a plan and he’s become a legend. The FBI investigated the case for more than forty-five years before giving up. He inspired a slew of copycats, none of which were successful. It’s a fascinating story and Hollywood has been slacking on telling his tale. Someone needs to make a movie about him. Maybe Kevin Spacey can play him. His schedule is pretty open these days.

Critically Rated at 15/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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My Christmas Lights

I have a strand of Christmas lights in my room. I leave my Christmas lights up all year. I’m not lazy. I leave them up on purpose. I use them as mood lighting when I’m watching a movie or Netflix. I have them displayed around my TV. It makes for a more immersive viewing experience. The soft glow of the lights perfectly compliments the soft glow of the TV. It kind of looks like a shrine to mass media. They also give me enough light to see around the room without destroying my night vision. Plus they look decorative around the holidays and make me seem festive. I’m not though. I’m a grinch.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Cooking Shows

Cooking shows are awesome. That’s why there’s a whole network about food. I used to not enjoy them. That was mostly because I was stoned and being tortured by tantalizing food that I couldn’t eat. Now I see cooking shows for what they are: a celebration of culinary creations that bring people together. Food is the great equalizer. Everyone needs to eat. It’s only natural to talk about the things we share. Different cultures have different cuisines and you can’t travel the world without expanding your palette. Cooking is an art and the cooks depicted have honed their craft.

Cooking shows are the televised window to all the things you are missing out on. They make you want to go to Vietnam and eat phò. Or to Mexico for some tacos al pastor. Every host enjoys the food too much and always praises it highly, and that makes me want to try it more for some reason. I want to scrutinize it and put it to the test. Every meal brings them to orgasm. Can it really be that good? Let’s see.

Cooking shows are postcards to what the world has to offer. It’s great to look at but it’s not real until you experience it for yourself. They give you incentive to try new things.

Critically Rated at 14/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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Drug Lords

Drug Lords is a four part Netflix documentary about drug lords. It’s a very deceptive title. Each episode runs about forty-five minutes long. The first episode is about Pablo Escobar, who is always a fascinating topic. The second episode is about the Cali Cartel. The third episode is about Frank Lucas, the heroin king of New York. The last episode is about Australia’s Pettingill Clan. I didn’t know anything about the Pettingill Clan before I saw Drug Lords, and now I do, so Drug Lords is educational.

The first two episodes go hand in hand with Netflix’s Narcos. Denzel Washington played Frank Lucas in American Gangster so I was a little familiar with his story. The episode about the Pettingill Clan is the least interesting. They aren’t nearly as dangerous or infamous as Pablo Escobar, the Cali Cartel, or Frank Lucas. They should have done El Chapo or Freeway Rick Ross instead of limping out with the Pettingill Clan. Oh well. Drug Lords is a cool series. I wish it had a few more episodes, but it’s worth checking out if you have some time to kill.

Critically Rated at 12/17

Written, Rated, and Reviewed by Brendan H. Young

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