Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Bottomshelf Beer Reviews: Bud Light Platinum

"15-yard penalty for not writing a football sexual pun caption."

Last Sunday the New York Football Giants played the hated New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.  It was a good game, but seeing as it was the most watched event in American history I really don’t feel the need to rehash it in any sort of detail.  For the benefit of the international readers of this blog: The Giants won and I got pretty drunk; also the commercials kind of sucked this year.  Advertising during the most watched event in American history is kind of a big deal, but this year the commercials were pretty forgettable.
How is a commerical without sexy ladies and dudes in cowboy hats supposed to excite me?

That's more like it
I don’t know whether it was the crappiness of the commercials or the fact that I spent every commercial break loudly telling my buddy Brian about the American Flagg hardcover reissue and enumerating the finer points of Troll 2, but I completely missed the commercial unveiling Anheuser-Busch’s new beer, Bud Light Platinum.  Resultantly, I got blindsided by the stuff a week or so later when I went to buy myself a case of Schlitz.  I mean blindsided in a much more literal sense than most people do.  The box was really shiny, like the inside of that briefcase in Pulp Fiction.  The new bottles looked sleek and hi-tech like a concept car or a really high-end vibrator.  Was this new look justified?  Was it the same shit in a different package like every fucking U2 album for the last 15 years?  Or is it nuanced and different like Ms. Pacman; the Stefan Urquell to Bud Light’s Steve Urkel?
How the fuck was this crappy show so popular for so long?

Astute readers are well aware of my longstanding hatred of light beer, due to its lower alcohol content and lack of flavor. Bud Light Platinum solves half the problem by offering 6% ABV (Bud Light is only 4.2% ABV and Budweiser is only 5%,) which means less trips to the bathroom.  Personally I hate going to the bathroom, unless I can take a nice long dump.  As for the flavor, Bud Light Platinum is pretty good, highly carbonated, a little sweet for my taste but definitely better than Bud Light.  It might be because at 137 calories it’s only 7 calories “lighter” than regular Budweiser.  On the other hand it’s only 27 calories more than Bud Light’s 110 calories and Bud Light tastes like they pour it down a homeless man’s asscrack before they bottle it.  For those concerned with maintaining their girlish figure Bud Light Platinum is only 22.83 calories per percentage point of alcohol versus Bud Light’s 26.2cal/1%ABV.  Now there is absolutely, scientifically no reason to drink Bud Light, except for the price.
A couple jugs of Bud Light Platinum

More MoonPies Jeeves!
Platinum beer demands a platinum price.  While I think Bud Light Platinum is pretty good, it’s not $12 a twelve-pack good.  For that kind of money it should suck your dick or do some light yard work. Are there really that many people out there that want cheap beer at a premium price?  If so I’ve got a few $7 MoonPies in my pantry.  The only reason BLPlatinum even qualifies as a bottomshelf beer is because the box says “Bud Light.”  For the kind of price their charging you could buy a twelve-pack of Guinness, or if you’re like me, a 30 pack of LaCrosse Lager.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s not as bad as those ivory-tower-snobs on claim; it’s just about $3 or $4 more expensive than it should be. 
"Bud Light Platinum? What a lark!"

That should change soon enough.  Typically if a beer costs too much it either comes down in price or disappears (the invisible hand of capitalism at work.)  I hope it’s the former because I thought it was pretty good, and if it sticks around it’ll piss off the kind of dick-beater that calls Bud Light Platinum an “affront to civilization.”  (the only beer that qualifies as an affront to civilization is whatever beer Torgo drinks, because just look at that guy.  Creepy, right?)  In the meantime, I’d say drink something cheaper.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Favorite Video Games: TIE Fighter (PC) 1993

This is exactly what my dreams look like.

Most normal people that grew up in the 80’s and 90’s owned a Nintendo Entertainment System when they were a kid, and I was no different (see previous post); however unlike all the other normal people I knew I didn’t upgrade to a Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo.  My mom felt such a purchase was a “wasteful” use of the money I received for making my first Holy Communion.  I have no recollection what I eventually ended up spending my communion money on, but I guarantee that if it had been a Sega Genesis I would remember it fondly to this day. 

How many gently used sex dolls can I buy for $5?
As a result of all of this I didn't own a current video game console after the NES until I bought a Playstation 2 in college.  So for the decade or so after most people sold their Nintendos at a garage sale I played a lot of computer games. The first one I'll be reviewing is:

TIE Fighter (PC) 1994

TIE fighter was originally released in 1994; the same year as Mortal Kombat II and Sonic the Hedgehog 3, the height of the 16-bit era.  As much as I wanted a Sega, I have to admit that a game like TIE Fighter was far more sophisticated than anything a home console could handle.  TIE Fighter utilized a full keyboard and joystick to create one of the best space-flight-combat-sims of all timeYou couldn’t exactly capture the experience of being a pilot in the Imperial Navy with six buttons and some arrow keys.

Die Rebel scum!
That’s part of what makes TIE Fighter so freaking sweet.  It’s one of the best representations of the Star Wars universe in any game before or since.  The graphics, AI, controls, writing, and game play were light years parsecs (a unit of time not distance) ahead of anything available on a console at the time, and all of those elements worked in conjunction to create a truly immersive experience.  You start the game as cannon fodder for the Emperor and end the game flying missions with Darth Vader, and I think that’s a big part of the game’s charm; for once you’re not a Jedi or a nigh-invulnerable bounty hunter, you’re a regular pilot.  It’s unclear what kind of benefits or retirement plan a fighter pilot could earn a long time ago in a galaxy far far away, but adjusted for inflation I bet it was worth a lot of space dollars.

TIE Fighter was also unique among Star Wars games, until Knights of the Old Republic came out about a decade later, in that you can play as a bad guy for a majority of the game.  More importantly the bad guys aren’t portrayed as totally evil.  Check out the opening text (the game begins around the same time as The Empire Strikes Back):

At the battle of Yavin
Rebel terrorists, aided by
spies and traitors within the
Empire, struck a cowardly
blow at the new symbol of
Imperial power... The Death Star!

Darth Vader brought swift justice
to the Rebels by destroying their
main base on Hoth. The pitiful
remnants of the Alliance have
now scattered to the Outer Rim.

In the days ahead, the Emperor
will call upon the Imperial Navy
to eradicate the last vestiges
of rebellion and restore law
and order to the galaxy!

Hello, sexy TIE Pilot
How cool is that?  Star Wars tends to be as preachy and black and white as anything this side of the Bible: the good guys are good, and the bad guys are evil and deserve to die.  Conversely, in TIE Fighter the Empire stands for law, order, and justice.  It stands to reason that a lot of people in the Star Wars universe must have felt that way for the Empire to stay in power as long as it did, assuming you’re a giant dork that contemplates the motivations and feelings of fictional people in a fictional universe.  Complex motivations and developed back stories are something of a rarity in video games today, let alone in a Star Wars game made in 1994.
Do I kill a bus full of war orphans or not?  What a complex moral dilemma.

That’s all well and good, but what really catapults TIE Fighter into my upper echelon of video games is my unconditional love of Star Wars.  I was born in 1983 and I don’t remember ever not knowing every single line from the original trilogy.  I grew up watching those movies, and when I was about 12 years old or so I became pretty obsessed.  I read a bunch of the novels in the expanded universe and played the shit out of TIE Fighter.  The only thing that saved me from becoming a total weirdo was my even bigger obsession with women’s breasts.
Click the pic for the animation of Alison Brie's boobies

In the entire Star Wars trilogy there’s only a few scenes of Princess Leia in that sexy metal bikini.  To see anything more than that I had to either start reading creepy fan fiction or go out and develop a personality.  I chose the latter option, but I still love Star Wars, and by extension TIE Fighter.  If you haven’t played it I think you can still get it pretty easily.  Check it out.  You won't be disappointed.  Until next time…

Oh baby I hear the blues a-callin’
Tossed salad and scrambled eggs.

Frasier has left the building!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Bottomshelf Beer Reviews: Classic Ice

A classic babe from classic Doctor Who
I consider myself a big fan of the classics: classic literature, classic rock, classic video games, and classic horror movies; as you’ve no doubt surmised on account of all the incessant references to the aforementioned classics littered throughout this blog.  Recently I found myself in a classic horror movie type situation.  I was swimming in a Black Lagoon shopping for a case of delicious beer.  Imagine my horror when I got to the beer section and saw the number of the beast 666, or more accurately 6% 6% 6%: three cases of Classic Ice.  Shit.
If you play the album backwards, there's totally a warning not to drink Classic Ice

Before that fateful day I’d never heard of Classic Ice, and if it was up to me I would not have chosen to explore the eldritch forbidden secrets of a 30 pack of Classic Ice.  Honestly, I just wanted to buy a case of Schlitz and get the hell out of there, but when you see a small shipment of some mystery brew at the grocery store there’s a better than even chance that you’ll never see it again.  Most people take this as a good thing, but as a man who reviews bottomshelf beers I knew I couldn’t let an opportunity like that pass me by.  Now I know how that guy in Call of Cthulhu felt.  
I took one for the team and googled "sexy Cthulhu"  this was the only picture that didn't make me want to throw up

 Under normal circumstances I’d be kind of excited to find a new beer for this blog, but not a whole 30 pack of the stuff.  What if the beer sucks?  I’ll be stuck trying to pawn off 29 cans of putrid swill at every party for the next sixth months.  There’s also the whole “number of the beast” thing (each of the three boxes advertised that Classic Ice contained 6% alcohol.)  Although printing the percentage of alcohol on the label is common in Europe, in America it seems to mostly be a marketing tool to attract only the most wretched and vile of God’s creations (hobos, frat boys, and teenagers.)  As a general rule, if a beer advertises how much alcohol it has and not how tasty it is, it probably tastes like carrion and shit.

Typical Classic Ice drinker.  Note the three empty bottles of Classic Ice

You know how in some horror movies there’s a twist ending?  Like in Friday the 13th: A New Beginning when it turns out that guy dressed as Jason, and not Jason is murdering all those troubled teens?  Or in Jaws when it turns out that the shark is actually Brody’s dad?  Well, Classic Ice is more like an M. Night Shyamalan movie; you think it’s going to suck and then it totally sucks.  I was expecting it to be bad, but this shit is the “Mark Wahlberg talking to a plastic tree” of shitty beers.  If Classic Ice was a movie, it’d be Sucker Punch only with killer plants.  I only managed to choke down one or two cans of the stuff, and the only other person I could get to even try Classic Ice threw it up all over my backyard.
Do not be fooled by the pictures Sucker Punch fucking sucked.  It probably would have been worse with killer plants.

Classic Ice smells fruity and disgusting, like rotten produce.  If you smelled it in a salad you would throw that shit away.  The flavor is artificial and weird.  It almost tastes like a good beer, but at the same time it doesn’t taste good at all.  It tastes like beer the same way Banana Laffy Taffy tastes like actual bananas, only disgusting not delicious.
 Q:  What did one Yeti say to the other?
A: Did you stick your anus in my beer or is it just Classic Ice?
-Jeff Smith age 8
There are no jokes on the side of the can.  Classic Ice tastes similar to Gameday Ice, but I didn’t have pour it down the drain so it’s at least a little bit better.  Although it tastes very different I’d put it right around Steel Reserve in terms of flavor quality on the bottomshelf beer spectrum.
Real classic ice

A weird drunk that tries to warn everyone of their impending doom is a classic horror movie staple, and since I don’t see him around… YOU’RE DOOMED! YOU’RE ALL DOOMED!  CLASSIC ICE IS EVIL…I mean…AWFUL!  CLASSIC ICE IS AWFUL!  NILBOG IS GOBLIN SPELLED BACKWARDS!  Ia-R'lyehl Cihuiha flgagnl id Ia!