Category: Culture

The 10 Best Beer Gimmicks

The big beer manufacturers (particularly MillerCoors) are always looking for new and exciting ways to attract new customers. One easy way to do that without fundamentally changing your product is to offer the same bland beer in “innovative” packaging. The following are what I consider the 10 best, ranked in order from shittiest to most effective.

10 – The Miller Lite Vortex Bottle

vortex-bottle1Oh man, was this thing ever a turd. I distinctly remember ordering one at a bar in Stamford, CT where I almost exclusively drank draught PBRs (they were cheap) because I wanted to see what it did. In a word: nothing. Not a damn thing. If you’re not familiar, it was an otherwise normal glass bottle with what looked like “rifling” inside the neck. And it was supposed to…. hell if I know. I guess maybe the beer was supposed to spin like a football as it came out, but no one bothered to think a) why anyone would want that, and b) the limits of fluid dynamics that make said action impossible. It didn’t cost any more than a regular bottle, but man what a bait and switch.

9 – The Coors Light Frost Brewed Liner

155086898_bca56a1e64_m These were supposed to “lock in the refreshing frost brewed rocky mountain taste.” What they really did was turn the tab, inside, and top lip of the can blue. When I look into my beer can, there are several things I don’t want to see. Bugs and ashes are chief among them, but an eerie blue tint is up there. Hint – you don’t need a special liner to “lock in” the taste of prospector piss.

 

8 – Anheuser Busch Aluminum Bottles

budlightalumI get the motivation behind these. Glass is not only expensive, but dangerous as well. It’s harder to dispose of. It’s translucence can “taint” the beer (which kind of tastes like taint anyway). The problem is that these combined the worst parts of a bottle and a can. Like bottles, they were difficult to open (I think most were pop tops), and they were a real motherfucker to crush when you wanted to trash them. Like a can, their aluminum construction meant they cooled down quicker, but their narrow mouth and 16 oz capacity meant they warmed up before you could finish them. Plus, they were really tall and skinny, so no normal coozy fit around them. If there’s any theme here, it’s to not fuck with the great American longneck.

7 – The Coors Vented Widemouth Can

ventBig points here for trying to address a real need and coming up with a solution that could theoretically   work. Why yes, I would love to consume my cheap American lager in a faster and smoother fashion!  Unfortunately, it’s a poorly executed idea. The wider mouth is fine, but everyone knows those vents are just a token. Look at the opening as close to eye level as possible, and you see that the vents aren’t really vents at all. Still, they get consideration for daring to cut a wider hole in the top of the can.

 

6 – The Coors Light Cooler Pack

Coors18CoolerPackThis was back when Coors was trying to push their plastic bottles on us, which were an atrocity in their own right. Those fuckers were squishy and slippery. More interesting, though, was the way they packaged them. It was a normal beer box, but the inside was lined with a blue plastic bag so that you could ice them down right in the box. Again, a great concept. Why lug a cooler to the beach/tailgate/public hanging when you could just pick up a case of refreshing Frost Brewed Coors Light and a bag of ice? If you ever owned one of these, you know why they sucked. They leaked, almost immediately. Also, it’s a testament to the shittiness plastic bottles that they were forced to design a package that required extra input in order to keep them cool from the store to the destination.

5 – Current Generation Aluminum Bottles

Lite Alum PintI know MillerCoors is sold this way (particularly at sporting events), and I think Anheuser might have come around as well. Unlike the old Anheuser bottles, these offer 16 oz of refreshing hooch in a more reasonable package. The bottle is wide enough to fit in a coozy. The wider mouth means you can drink it before it gets too warm. The replaceable top is great for keeping out… I don’t know, bees or whatever. It’s no one’s first choice, but it’s still more convenient than walking around with, say, a pint of beer in a Solo cup.

 

4 – The Bud Light Write On Label

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Sara wants a trip to the Bone Zone Cafe, where funnily enough they serve Miller.

These were not only kind of fun, but hold the distinction of being a gimmick that didn’t even bother pretending that it somehow enhanced the beer or the drinking experience. They were useful, for example, for writing your name on your bottle if you were too much of a pussy to finish it before setting it down in a crowd. It was also really handy for making sure you were roofie-ing the right person (I kid, I kid). It was also fun at a bar to buy one, scratch something like “I wanna cover your tits in safflower oil,” send it to a girl, and then have the bartender claim your unsuspecting buddy was the one making the overture. Good times.

3 – The Coors Light “Cold Activated” Bottles and Cans

CoorsLite_ColdActivated_2StageCoors has a knack for coming up with gimmicks that seem to come from a place of good intentions. I mean, why not a visual indicator of whether or not your beer is “cold as the rockies?” The problem is that the mountains are a good indicator of the temperature of the package, but not necessarily the beer within. Aluminum is a good conductor of heat, so if the mountains on a can indicate coldness, there’s a good chance the beer isn’t far behind. But bottles? Not so much. Glass is an insulator, so all the blue mountains mean is that the label is cold. Besides, if you’re too stupid to pick up a beer and determine if it’s adequately chilled, you don’t deserve one anyway. On top of that, now they have stripes for “cold” and “super cold.” That’s just insulting. Still, if it made it into a Little Big Town song, it has to count for something.

2 – The Heineken Textured Can

heineken-can I just found out about these, and I like them. They’re simple. They don’t claim to fuss with the flavor of the beer, so it comes out tasting as skunky as you’d expect. It’s your basic can, only with some raised knurling around the outside. It’s definitely easier to hold on to, and I would assume acts as an extra temperature barrier between your skin and the can, however small. It’s one of those things you pick up and say “why isn’t everyone doing this?”

 

– The Miller Lite Punch Top Can

Punch CanFinally, Milwaukee’s storied brewing company got one right, and boy did they ever. It’s a basic can with no bells or whistles, save for the tiny little notch on the top that beckons you to penetrate it with a key or something similar. The idea is to improve airflow into the can as beer is pouring out, and unlike the Coors vents, it works. You can absolutely destroy these things. That’s a good thing, because they’re found on the 16 and even 22 oz cans, where quick drinking is imperative. If you’re, say, pregaming a baseball game or some other event where bonging and shotgunning are “frowned upon,” these are the way to go. Even if you’re a dainty little girl (or in a place where conspicuous public drinking is prohibited), when poured into a cup the extra opening cuts down on foam big time.

I’m sure I missed some, so let me know. Others, like mini kegs, I intentionally left out. In the mean time, we’ll have to wait for the next gimmick to come along, or for the big boys to make beers that are slightly less shitty.

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A Quasi-Academic Look at #Thicke’s “Blurred Lines”

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Since the song came out, Robin #Thicke has defended its questionable content by saying that the whole point of it is to make fun of the kind of guys who act/think this way. At first, I kind of figured it was a response meant to deflect the question and/or screw with people. But then I started thinking “is there a way this could actually be true?” Turns out, there is, or at least I think there is, and it’s simple: Imagine the falsetto parts of the verses as the “smooth” things this would-be lady killer wants to say to his intended, and the full-voice parts are what actually comes out.

Let’s set the scene. It’s Saturday night, and our protagonist is in “da club,” as they say, where he spied a lady he’d like to talk to. The problem: what the hell does he say to her? Pickup lines are old news, and with the loud music a simple “hey what’s up” isn’t going to lead to much. He needs something a little more… open ended.

If you can’t hear what I’m trying to say
If you can’t read from the same page

“I like that. It’s poetic. Metaphorical, even. What is it I’m trying to say? From what page am I reading? Bitches love this artsy stuff. I bet she’ll respond with something flirty. Ok, let’s do this. Let’s blow her mind.”

MAYBE I’M GOING DEF,
MAYBE I’M GOING BLIND
MAYBE I’M OUT OF MY MIND

“Shit. That’s not what I meant to say at all. I’m not nearly drunk enough. Or too drunk, I can’t tell. Yeah, that’s probably not the best thing to say to a girl when you first meet her. ‘Hi, I’m only approaching you because I’m blind, can’t hear your voice, and am crazy.’ Good job. Oh well, next one.”

Our Protagonist moves around the bar until he finds another potential candidate. “She’s hot, but not, like, THAT hot,” he thinks to himself. Perfect. This time, maybe something a little more direct is in order. Nothing too obvious, but maybe not trying to be so abstract will keep him from tongue tying himself.

What do they make dreams for
When you got them jeans on
What do we need steam for

“This is PERFECT. Heavy on the innuendo, but nothing inappropriate. Solid gold brother, solid gold.”

YOU THE HOTTEST BITCH IN THIS PLACE

“SHIT. Why did I say that? There goes all the innuendo. That wasn’t subtle. That was the opposite of subtle. Wait… maybe she didn’t hear me? She’s into this. We’re dancing! Awesome!”

I feel so lucky
You wanna hug me
What rhymes with hug me?

“I really hope I didn’t say that out loud. Shit, I did. Haha, she said ‘rub me.’ That doesn’t even rhyme, really. I think I’ve met my dream girl. Uh oh, we’re really grinding now. I wish I had some real gangster-type shit to say to her. That would be tits.”

One thing I ask of you
Let me be the one you back that ass to
Go, from Malibu, to Paris, boo
Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you
So hit me up when you passing through
I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two
Swag on, even when you dress casual
I mean it’s almost unbearable
Then, honey you’re not there when I’m
With my foresight bitch you pay me by
Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you
He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that
So I just watch and wait for you to salute
But you didn’t pick
Not many women can refuse this pimpin’
I’m a nice guy, but don’t get it if you get with me

“Damn, what a sick rhyme. I’ve been working on that one for weeks. My bros say my flow’s improved A LOT. Time to field test it, as they say.”

Shake the vibe, get down, get up
DO YOU LIKE IT HURT, LIKE IT HURT?
WHAT YOU DON’T LIKE WORK?

“Christ, who am I, James Brown? Whatever, she liked the enthusiasm. I think she’s, like, really drunk. Or maybe I’m just that good. Yeah, I bet that’s it.”

As the night progresses, the duo decide on taking the party to his place for some post-club revelry, and maybe, if our protagonist is lucky, some sex (or at least under-the-shirt-but-over-the-bra boob touching.

“Whew, I still have some weed left. God, this stuff is shit. It’s like the stems grew their own stems and that’s what I’m left with. Hopefully she won’t notice if I play up the stickiness.”

Baby can you breathe? I got this from Jamaica
It always works for me, Dakota to Decatur

“Perfect. I’ve never been to either of the Dakotas, and I don’t even know where Decatur is. But Jamaica’s a place with good weed, right? Saying I take it with me from Dakota to Decatur (which I’m pretty sure is in, like, Turkey or something) makes me sound like a world traveler who’s badass enough to not worry about the implications of transporting drugs across international boundaries. Ok, time to… Wh- What? She just took it and smoked it? No explanation needed? And now she wants me to go get a condom? THIS IS THE BEST NIGHT OF MY LIFE!”

Later, as he’s in the bathroom searching for is long-expired box of condoms, he gives himself a pep talk…

No more pretending
Cause now you winning
Here’s our beginning

Yes, champ. Winning indeed.

____

From that perspective, the song’s explanation makes sense. These guys who think they’re master pickup artists don’t realize that their occasional success is usually just due to their finding a girl who was out to have fun and get laid herself. Not convinced? What would that same kind of douchebag say to himself if he saw a girl he wanted dancing with another man? Would it be something like… this?

OK now he was close, tried to domesticate you
But you’re an animal, baby it’s in your nature
Just let me liberate you
You don’t need no papers
That man is not your maker

Yes, the guy (who is not you) with whom the lady is dancing is clearly holding her under some kind of spell against her will. If only you were there to “save” her, big guy.

What about before these guys go out for the night in their roving bro-packs? What kinds of things might they say to themselves in order to “hype themselves up?” You’d want to say something encouraging and affirmational, right? Something like…

And that’s why I’m gon’ take a good girl
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
You’re a good girl
Can’t let it get past me
You’re far from plastic
Talk about getting blasted
I hate these blurred lines
I know you want it
I know you want it
I know you want it
But you’re a good girl
The way you grab me
Must wanna get nasty
Go ahead, get at me

I rest my case. Never doubt Robin #Thicke

Last Week’s Article on AskMen: Hitting Your Late 20’s

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I wrote this last week, but it’s still super popular so I figured I’d share it here with the subset of people who follow my blog but don’t read AskMen, which I assume is around 2 people. I think people enjoy reading things they can relate to, and most of AskMen’s readers are either approaching their late 20’s themselves, or passed them by not so long ago. A snippet:

It’s great if your first real, adult relationship results in a lasting marriage, but if not? Welcome to your first real, adult breakup and everything that comes with that. Those pitfalls are also, I think, what makes the 20s so significant. You’ve gone from an age in which you had a lot of support to an age in which not only does life get harder, but you’re expected to handle it much more on your own. If you can limp across the finish line into your 30s, chances are you’re much better off than when you started. Your teens might be when you’re ushered into adulthood, but your 20s are when you lay the groundwork for the man you’ll eventually become.

Read the rest at AskMen.

#Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” is not About Rape

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Unless you are dead and/or def, you’ve probably heard Robin #Thicke’s song “Blurred Lines.” If you are a sane, well-adjusted person, you agree that it’s the greatest gift to music since the invention of the major chord. But for some people, getting offended and complaining is as intoxicating as any drug. Because these people hate all things that are good, they’ve set their sites on the best song since the Star Spangled Banner. The reason? It promotes “rape culture.”

Has anyone heard Robin Thicke’s new rape song?” blogger Lisa Huyne wrote in a post in April. “Basically, the majority of the song…has the R&B singer murmuring ‘I know you want it’ over and over into a girl’s ear. Call me a cynic, but that phrase does not exactly encompass the notion of consent in sexual activity … Seriously, this song is disgusting

Oh for Chrissakes, go comb your armpit hair elsewhere and shut up. Just because you took a Womyn’s Studies class one time, that doesn’t mean you’re qualified to say what is and what isn’t a “rape song.” Her main issue with it is that #Thicke repeats the phrase “I know you want it” over and over. Ok, that could be considered a little rape-y, in the context of, I don’t know, an actual rape situation. But have you ever had consensual sex? By definition, both parties “want it,” and if you’re having the sex you know, in fact, that the other person “wants it.”

If anything, the idea of taking offense to something like “I know you want it” and dismissing it as rape undermines women. What if she does want it? Are you trying to say that women aren’t capable of wanting sex, so that when a man declares he “knows you want it,” it can only be an unwelcome advance? Sure, contextually that kind of thing could be negative, but this is just about a man trying to have some swagger, some bravado. I wasn’t aware that wasn’t allowed anymore.

DON’T WORRY, the video (which is fantastic and features beautiful women in various stages of undress) is under plenty of scrutiny too. I know, the gall of someone to hire women who look sexy for a living to look sexy in a music video. For his part, this is what #Thicke had to say about it:

We tried to do everything that was taboo. Bestiality, drug injections, and everything that is completely derogatory towards women. Because all three of us are happily married with children, we were like, “We’re the perfect guys to make fun of this.”

People say, “Hey, do you think this is degrading to women?” I’m like, “Of course it is. What a pleasure it is to degrade a woman. I’ve never gotten to do that before. I’ve always respected women.”

Hmm. That sounds like an answer from a man who a) knows what’s up and understands the purpose of the thing he created and b) is probably sick and tired of people asking him if his music video is “rapey.” Of course it is, he made it that way on purpose. It’s not as though someone caught them with a hidden camera and leaked it to the web. It doesn’t matter, though, because we live in a world where art is dead, primarily because we’re all incapable of deciding what things we take seriously. Like, listen to this lady:

“[T]he fact that they are all married with kids does not make it OK for him to say these things or depict them in a song. Because songs like this are dangerous,” wrote blogger Liz Terry earlier this month.

Yes, this song is super dangerous. Here’s a tip – if your son or daughter grows up to be a rapist, it’s not because he saw and heard “Blurred Lines” by Robin #Thicke. It’s because they have a screw loose, or you’re a lousy parent, or both. If it’s too inconvenient for you to have a conversation with your child wherein you explain that things like music videos and video games are not real and should not be taken seriously, then you deserve for your child to grow up to become a rapist. You know the easiest way to take something like a music video and turn it into a big deal that can influence children? You incessantly blog and talk about how it’s a big deal that can influence children.

In breaking news, people are still idiots who get great big boners from complaining about otherwise innocuous things.

This Chili Recipe Fights Cancer

Chili

This is not my chili, but looks a little like it

Ok, so the recipe itself probably doesn’t fight cancer. I say that though because I created it for my friend’s Relay for Life chili cook-off, and all of the proceeds (entry fees, etc) went towards her team’s fundraising goal. Still, it won best meat chili out of a very competitive pool, so it’s worth sharing.

I almost feel bad calling this chili, because I think of chili as a kind of American peasant food. It’s hearty, it’s simple, something you’d picture two grizzled cowboys sharing over an open camp fire after a long day of driving cattle. Or, think of it as something to enjoy after coming in from a game of family touch football on a crisp New England fall afternoon. Maybe mom started the chili when you and dad and your cousins went out to play, and now that you’re done you come in, put on a cableknit fisherman’s sweater and sit down by the fire with a warm bowl of hearty chili, maybe discussing with your grandparents how your studies at Exeter are going this semester, and yeah ok I have no idea how those people actually live. Regardless, this chili is neither simple nor rustic. It’s tedious.

What it is, however, is chili so good that your friends will smack their own thighs after every bite. Chili so flavorful and savory that if you notice the crockpot’s missing, it’s because one of your guests has snuck off into a corner with it and is naked and crouched over it like a caveman, slathering it all over their body and forcing it into their mouth with their hands. That’s what I knew it would take to win, something with a crazy strong, savory, umami punch to it. That’s why there are approximately 1500 ingredients. Also, because I made it up as I went along.

Ingredients:

 1.25 lbs ground meat (any animal) 1/2 small can tomato paste Sriracha
1 can crushed tomatoes 2 onions Beer
1/2 can black beans All of the garlic 1/2 package of mushrooms
1 tiny can baked beans Soy Sauce Chili powder
Garlic powder Onion Powder Cumin
Red wine Dr. Pepper Ground coffee

 

Yeah, like I said, it’s a lot. The good thing about this chili is that instead of making the whole batch on the stove and having to baby it for several hours, once the prep work is done everything goes in the crock pot and you can leave it alone until you’re ready. Let’s make some chili.

Step one: Brown your meat. Do not do this the same way you would for meat sauce, which is to say do not plop your entire cake of ground beef into the pan and break it up with a spatula. Instead, use a knife to cut the meat cake into oh, say, 5 slices. Then using your hands, break each slice up into the hot pan one batch at a time. The goal here is for heartier chunks of beef. The other goal is to get the meat fucking brown, not grey. Get the pan good and hot, and get a good, crackly char on at least one side of each batch. Don’t worry, it’ll soften once we get the liquid in there, but for now we need that charred flavor. Each time a batch is finished, drain the grease off and shovel it into the crockpot, and then prepare the next batch. While each batch works, use this time to dice both onions (keep them separate) and mince all of that goddamned garlic. Don’t be afraid, I’m talking 8, 10 big cloves. Mincing garlic by hand is a colossal pain in the ass, so if you have a mincer or a food processor, I suggest using it.

Step two: Create the base. Using any leftover beef tallow (or just oil), get once of your diced onions sweating over medium heat. A little salt here might help speed things along, but use it sparingly. Once those look like they’re close to where they need to be, add all of that damned minced garlic and cook until it’s fragrant and getting soft. When that happens, dump in a bunch (A tablespoon? A tablespoon and a half?) of chili powder and mix it around to coat everything.

(A note on chili powder: In this case, I’m using store bought stuff. It probably doesn’t add a ton of flavor, per se, but it does create some incredible aroma and adds color. If you’re the kind of foodie dweeb who wants to make their own powder or base from your own dried chiles, be my guest. You’ll probably need a lot less of it, in that case.)

Once the chili powder has filled your home with the smell of TexMex, plop in a good tablespoon of tomato paste and mix that around to coat everything. Let that go until the color has mellowed a bit ad you can smell it, and then dump the whole mess into the crockpot with the beef. Mix it all up.

Step three: Go ahead and add the rest of the “standard ingredients” to the crockpot, which you can go ahead and crank to high at this point. Half the can of black beans, rinsed thoroughly. Not quite the whole can of crushed tomatoes. Lots and lots of cumin. Plenty of garlic and onion powder. Take your mushrooms and rough chop them into, I don’t know, 1/4″ square pieces (Leave larger if you like bigger, meatier chunks of mushroom. My wife does not). Go ahead and put these in raw, because the liquid they produce will both add a meaty punch and help with the consistency of the final dish. Pour in about 2/3 a bottle of beer.

Since this is a summer chili, I wanted something that would add floral and citrus notes, in which case the New Belgium “Rolle Bolle” in my fridge worked nicely. Sam Adams Summer Ale would probably be good here, as would Blue Moon. There’s nothing wrong with using plain old Budweiser if that’s all you have, but it won’t bring a whole lot to the party. Anything brewed for summer is best, stopping short of something as fruity as a Shandy beer. Finally, add just a few glugs of cheap red wine to restore some of that iron-y, meaty flavor we cooked out of the meat.

So what we now have is essentially a TexMex bolongese sauce, which is great but not at all chili. Part of that will resolve itself over time while cooking, and the rest we’ll sort out with the “secret” ingredients, as follows:

– Caramelized onions: These add a warmth and unidentifiable sweetness to the chili. When I say caramelized, I don’t mean “browned,” like you’d get at a burger joint that advertised them. I mean cooking an entire onion down to less than a cup of what amounts to onion marmalade, like you would for French onion soup. You can do this the old fashioned way over almost imperceptibly low heat, in which case your onions will be done sometime around the winter solstice. Or, you can follow Kenji’s lead over at Serious Eats and use higher heat and sugar combined with the occasional water de-glaze to speed things up significantly. Kenji got his time down to about 15 minutes; mine took about 20 because I wasn’t trying to mess with baking soda. Once they’re cooked down all the way, into the pool they go.

– Soy sauce: When I first started messing around with chili recipes a couple of years ago, this was the first “secret” ingredient I used to augment the initial recipe my mom provided. I use light soy sauce, because while it does add some needed salt to the dish, the real value is in the umami-y glutamates found in soy sauce. I’m not sure exactly how much I used, but I’d say somewhere around 1/3 of a bottle. Put it in little by little, mixing and tasting. I generally stop when the chili is closer to the burnt umber color of chili and less red.

– Baked beans: Lots of people opt for kidney or pinto beans over black beans in their chili, but I don’t know anyone who uses baked. Some chili recipes call for brown sugar and cinnamon, and while I’ve tried those with success, they’re too forward and warm in a summer chili. Baked beans give me the warm notes I want at a more acceptable intensity, add savoriness due to their bacon-cooked origins, and add further sweetness to help cut the tomato’s acidity. I buy and use one of those comically small cans they sell, sauce and all.

– Sriracha: Most people use cayenne to add heat, but my problem is that cayenne brings heat and nothing else in terms of flavor. Everything in my chili has to count, so a one-note ingredient like cayenne is out. Chipotle powder used to be my go-to, but it’s too temperamental. Not enough and you can’t taste it, but just a pinch too much and you’re overwhelmed with both heat and smoke. I put in several good squirts of sriracha, which adds not only an easily controlled amount of heat, but also the chile pepper flavor the dish is lacking at this point. Again, squirt, taste, and then adjust as needed.

(Note: I realize that I’m using a few distinctly Asian ingredients, which might lead you to believe this will end up tasting like Thai or Chinese chili. It won’t. Shut up.)

– Ground coffee: Odd sounding, but not so much when you consider that it’s often used in dry rubs for a lot of TexMex steak preparations. I happened to have mocha flavored coffee, which was nice seeing as how chocolate is found in mole, that distinctly Mexican sauce. When I say ground, I mean really ground, like into a powder (a spice grinder, blender, or food processor should accomplish this) because you don’t want anyone chewing on noticeable coffee grounds. You only need a teaspoon or so, and if you don’t have mocha coffee you can add some shavings of baker’s chocolate to make up for it.

– Dr. Pepper: This was the last thing I added, actually the day after it did most of the cooking because it still needed something. I used diet (because that’s what I had on-hand), and less than half a can. I can’t say it added any unique flavors of its own, but it did pull all the other flavors together and gave the finished dish what one taster described as a “left turn.” Again, this sounds super weird, but Dr. Pepper is a favorite braising liquid in some regional barbecue styles.

That’s it. Get it all into the crockpot, give it a stir, and let it go on high for a couple of hours. Once it gets to a low boil, turn it down to low and let it simmer until the sun collapses into a White Dwarf (or, y’know, 4 hours). This is a chili that definitely benefits from having some time to itself so the flavors can mingle. Once it’s done, let it sit overnight in the fridge, and when you go to eat it the next day, place a friendly wager with your friends to see who can go the longest before their eyeballs melt out of their sockets.

Tedious. Time-consuming. It’s everything chili shouldn’t be, but tastes like everything chili wishes it could be. It’s really more of a condiment than anything else, because it’s too flavorful to eat an entire bowl. Try it on a hotdog. Put some over pasta. Slather some on your lover’s private parts. It’s good on literally anything.

Beyonce Doesn’t Want You to See This Picture

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Or any picture not provided to you by her publicists, to be correct. If you are a member of the press covering Beyonce’s tour, you may be bootylicious, and you may be crazy in love, but you may not take any damned pictures. Via Buzzfeed (ugh, sorry):

Outside photographers have been banned from the singer’s Mrs. Carter Show World Tour, which began in April and ends in September. So publications wanting to run photos from the show have to use pre-approved ones her management provides.

“Everyone has a camera at concerts these days,” freelance photographer Kyle Gustafson told TBD.com at the time. “And it’s unfortunate that they are trying to crack down on the professional photographers. People that are given photo access have more restrictions than people sitting in the front row with their cameras and their flashes popping off.”

I don’t have a problem publishing the above photo, for one because I’m not a journalist. And two, fuck Beyonce. Beyonce Knowles Carter is a rare talent, a beautiful woman, and deserves at least some credit for promoting the third wave feminism of the early aughts. That said, in terms of our greater cultural cannon, she Doesn’t Fucking Matter. She didn’t create a new genre of music, nor did she perfect an existing one. To my knowledge, she’s no great humanitarian. She’s just a talented artist and a marketing genius. If anything, she should be thrilled that anyone still wants to take her picture 15 goddamned years after the release of her first hit single.

Obviously, when you hit a certain level of fame, you begin to believe that the rules governing society don’t apply to you. That’s why Beyonce thinks it’s ok to hire a videographer to follow her around for 16 hours per day, and why she thinks it’s ok to tell the free press (the reason she is famous to begin with) that they aren’t allowed to do press things on her tour which, incidentally, I would not have known was going on had I not read about it in the press. As to her motivations behind the crackdown, who knows? Being caught in unflattering poses would make her seem more “real” and “accessible”, but I think by now it’s clear that Beyonce sees herself as someone to be worshiped, not someone “of the people” (to be fair, many of her fans agree). Maybe she’s just getting older and doesn’t want to be reminded of it.

It’s also possible that for whatever reason (being married to Jay Z, having met the president a few times), Beyonce thinks she is an Important Person, someone who actually has the power to dictate the actions of the press. This is false. No celebrity is bigger than the press. The press creates them, and the press tears them down. You would think she’d have figured that out by now.

Please do not Smoke. It is Bad For Business.

don-draper

I am a smoker. That is, I am addicted to taking small paper tubes stuffed with impossibly dry tobacco and God knows how many toxic chemicals, lighting their ends on fire, and inhaling the resulting smoke. Whichever of our prehistoric ancestors first thought to light a plant on fire and then breathe in its vapors was equal parts genius, daring, and probably mentally handicapped. Regardless, if you’re a smoker, you get it. That reassuring rush that somehow calms your nerves while simultaneously increasing your heart rate is second to none. If you’re not a smoker, I should say that the momentary buzz is not nearly good enough to warrant starting. Smoking, like getting shot or struck by lightning, is very detrimental to your health.

Despite being a smoker, I’ve never been a big “smoker’s rights” kind of person. Not allowed to smoke in a bar anymore? Fine with me. Don’t want me to smoke near a door or window or whatever? Ugh, ok, you’re kind of being a pussy about it but if walking 15 feet means it annoys you less, I’ll do it. I avoid smoking near children, lest a minute wisp of second-hand smoke reach their lungs or skin, stunting their growth or giving them asthma or whatever other health defect their parents can blame the smoke for in place of their own inadequate, worrisome genes. If I insist on burning and inhaling a smelly, unhealthy thing, I will concede your right to not be forced to also inhale that smelly, unhealthy thing. As long as we’re outside and there’s sufficient distance between us, all should be quiet on the Western Front.

That’s the precise reason why I chose to rent an apartment with a balcony. I can be outdoors without having to go all the way downstairs, and yet the design and location of the balconies ensure that my neighbors are sufficiently protected from the noxious fumes that hang around for a second and then disperse harmlessly into the atmosphere. Drinking beers, smoking cigarettes, and listening to music on my balcony is one of my favorite summer pastimes, right up there with golf and baseball. Well, according to the do-gooders who manage my apartment building, that’s all about to change. The following is an email sent out to all residents (emphasis mine):

Dear Valued Resident of Archstone Courthouse Plaza:

In Fall of 2012, [Apartment Name] began the conversion to a smoke free community. With the recent change in ownership, I wanted to make you aware that we do intend to continue the conversion to smoke free living. This will prohibit smoking in individual apartments (including balconies and patios), any common areas (both indoor and outdoors), as well as within 25 feet of the community. We will continue implementing and enforcing this policy immediately, and a smoke free lease addendum is now a part of all lease agreements signed under [Management Company]. This transition will take time, as current lease agreements do not contain the smoke free addendum and will not until the lease has expired. All new leases and lease renewals will contain the smoke free addendum. You will find the smoke free addendum below for your review, so you can familiarize yourself with the policy and restrictions. We appreciate your patience and support while we continue to implement this policy. Please feel free to contact the leasing office with any questions or concerns or simply reply to this email.

SMOKE-FREE LEASE ADDENDUM
This Smoke Free Lease Addendum (“Addendum”) is dated and effective as of the date on the Residential Lease – Term Sheet (the “Term Sheet”) to which this Addendum is attached and made a part of (“the Lease”) and is made by and between Lessor and Resident for the Premises at the Community identified in the Lease.

You acknowledge that the building in which the Premises is located, and the Community as a whole, are smoke-free living environments. You and all of your occupants and guests are prohibited from smoking anywhere in the interior or exterior of the Premises (including balconies and patios), or anywhere else in the Community. This policy is intended to benefit all residents of the Community. You are responsible fo r any violation of this non-smoking policy by you, or any of your occupants or guests.

You understand that we will take reasonable steps to enforce the smoke-free terms of the Lease and to make the Community a smoke-free environment. However, because our ability to police, monitor or enforce the terms of this Addendum is dependent on the full cooperation of all residents, occupants and guests throughout the Community, we cannot guarantee that the Premises or the Community will be totally free from secondhand smoke.

If you or any of your occupants and guests violate the terms of this Addendum, such violation will be deemed a material default under the terms of the Lease, and we will be entitled to exercise all rights and remedies at law or in equity, consistent with the provisions of the Default Remedies paragraph in the Lease.

Sincerely,

[Name]
Community Manager

Leading up to this, the gist of their smoke-free messaging was basically “You talked, and WE listened!” There were claims of surveys being administered, complaints, etc. Bullshit. I’ve lived in this building since July of last year, and not once were we surveyed, nor were we notified of any complaints of people being bothered by cigarette smoke. And really, I don’t mind not smoking on our common rooftop area, even if it is completely outside and people are just being dweebs about it. But balconies and patios? Get bent.

I would be fine with it if this were a litter issue, because in fairness cigarette butts are gross and no one should have to pick up after you as a smoker. I could even get behind some kind of public health issue, even if that would be unlikely because again, I’m only smoking outside and there is an overabundance of air outside that is not smoke. If either of those were the case, they could just say so. But they don’t. The third, bolded paragraph tells me all I need to know about their motivations. Roughly translated, it says “We’re making this a rule, but in terms of practicality we cannot enforce it. We’ll rely on the community to police itself, and even then there isn’t much we can do about it.” So, there won’t be any smoking police, wearing crossing guard sashes and little train conductor hats adorned with a picture of a cigarette with in a red circle and slash emblem, to blow the whistle on nefarious balcony smokers. Why, then, would they implement a policy they’re incapable of enforcing?

Marketing. It’s all marketing. As a gigantic residential property company, my apartment’s owners are always looking for ways to make more money. The easiest way to do that is to attract wealthier customers, and you know who’s wealthier than an unemployed blogger and his questionably employed wife? Families. Families and their dirty, filthy children. A spawning pair of humans in the DC area is likely to be older, have more income, and be willing to pay more for a nicer place. What’s more, a family with kids is far less likely to pack up and move, meaning they’ll bend over and take rent increases year after year. By being able to tout their community as “100% Smoke Free!”, the management company can do a much better job of attracting fussy, neurotic parents and their disease-ridden offspring, even if the claim isn’t “technically” true.

Usually, when people hear a smoker complain about ridiculous policies, they say something like “well, if you don’t like it then maybe you shouldn’t have picked up such a disgusting habit in the first place.” Blow me. I’m the first person to admit that my “habit” (addiction) shouldn’t infringe on others’ right to clean air. I’m also the first to admit that a company shouldn’t bullshit and inconvenience its residents just to pad the bottom line.

Please do not smoke. It is bad for business.