Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bottomshelf Beer Reviews: Hamm's

This article was going to suffer from a lack of babes, fortunately I remembered Hammer Films star Ingrid Pitt.  Here she is offering you some delicious beer (possibly Hamm's?)

I don’t really have much of a plan when it comes to deciding which beers to review and when.  Sometimes I think of something I want to say about a particular beer or a joke I want to make and purchase accordingly.  Who can forget the biting “deer blowjob” social commentary in my review of Buck Range Light?  More often than not though, I just end up seeing something at the grocery store and buying it without any prior thought.  Such is the case with Hamm’s .  The only joke that immediately sprang to mind was that Hamm’s sounds almost exactly like the word “ham.”  (Hilarious!)  I bought it anyway and decided to come up with something that didn’t involve homophones when I got home.

Possibly the weirdest thing for me about Hamm’s is that I’ve known the chorus and tune of the Hamm’s commercial jingle “From the Land of Sky Blue Waters” as far back as I can remember, despite the fact that I only became aware of Hamm’s existence in my early 20’s.  I find it odd that I can remember a commercial jingle from 25+ years ago, but I have absolutely no recollection why I’m covered in blood right now.  As far as Hamm’s is concerned, it seems that America’s cultural memory is similar to my own.  During my research I found tons of information about the Hamm’s Jingle, their mascot The Hamm’s Beer Bear, and various promotional items the brewery released over the years (beach towels, refrigerator magnets, vanity catheters, etc.) but came up short when it came to the actual history of the beer.

Sammy Hagar is worse than Hagar the Horrible
Specifically, I couldn’t find any information pertaining to the beer’s fall from nationally advertised grace to the bottom of the bottomshelf.  I do know that after operating as an independent brewery from 1865 to 1968 the company got punted around until it was acquired by Miller in 1999.  Miller’s eventual goal is to phase Hamm’s out of production with the hopes that people switch to other Miller products.  Personally, I can’t think of a bleaker future than one that precludes beers like Hamm’s in favor of godamned Miller Lite.  It makes 1984 look like 1999 (the Orwell novel and the Prince album, not the Van Halen album and the Prince album because both albums are pretty fucking sweet.)  My only hope is that this dystopian future will somehow involve Judge Dredd riding around Mega-City One shooting people in the fucking face.  More likely it’ll involve a lot of 90’s era Aerosmith and shooting CD’s at a bunch of nearly identical government thugs.  
Dredd 3D was one of the best movies I've ever seen and it bombed.  You people disgust me.  Someday they'll make a Revolution X movie and you retards will eat it up like the last three Transformers movies.

No caption necessary
All that being said, Hamm’s is pretty good.  It’s about as stripped down as a beer can be, while still tasting exactly like beer should.  If I had to choose one beer to represent American beer on a deep space mission, Hamm’s would be my Kal-El son of Jor-El.  (In this elaborate hypothetical Bill Clinton is Lex Luther and George W. Bush is Brainiac.  Figure it out stupids.)  Essentially, I think Hamm’s isn’t great but it’s one of the beeriest beers that ever beered.  To those of you that think it’s kind of a copout to say that a beer tastes like beer, let me say that totally I agree with you.  On that note, Hamm’s is kind of grainy like MGD but not as harsh, like a slightly fancier Miller High Life.  That’s right, it’s fancier than the champagne of beers.
Ingrid Pitt, from the film Where Eagles Dare.  Note:  She Ain't No Goddamn Sonofabitch! (you better think about it baby)

I think this one turned out pretty well, and I got to try a decent beer for the very first time.  I’m going to call it before I say something stupid, well stupider than usual.  I do drink a lot.  Before I wrap it up, I have to say that it’s really unfortunate that a once proud beer seems relegated to the sands of history.  Go buy some Hamm’s so we can prevent a future where the only choices are Miller Lite and going sober.  You won’t like me when I’m sober.
Fortunately I don't see that happening anytime soon.
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Favorite Video Games: Doom/Doom 2 (PC) 1993 and 1994

Am I the only one that feels like sweet box art died out with landlines and VHS tapes?

Doom and Doom 2 were probably my hands-down favorite videogames from the time I acquired them in the 5th grade or so to my first year of college.  Technically I would say that Doom2 was my real favorite, but if I did’t mention Doom I couldn’t to talk about the games’ historical significance, cultural impact, etc.  Anyway, I got both games around the same time, and aside from a few minor details they’re pretty much the same game.  So I now present to you the first DOUBLE VIDEO GAME REVIEW!  That’s just one review about two games (kinda.)

Doom (PC) 1993/Doom II (PC) 1994
If only real life was as easy as a videogame.

Aside from being one of my favorite games you can make a pretty strong argument that Doom was the most influential first-person-shooter of all time.  In fact up until around 1997 first person shooters were typically called “Doom Clones.”  The term was pretty accurate too, most of the “Doom Clones” coming out around the time were just “Doom in the Old West,” “Star Wars Doom,” or simply “Doom on a different space station than the one in Doom.”  This is partially due to the fact that many of those games actually licensed Doom’s engine, and partially due to the fact that to this day most game designers are fucking hacks.
"Gloom" not not be confused with "Boom," or "Loom: A Weaver's Tale"

Doom is essentially a refinement of the “shoot monsters/find keys/ find exit” formula established in Wolfenstein 3D.  Doom replaced Nazis with demons, and instead of a knife you get a fucking chainsaw.  In Doom you could also go upstairs and downstairs, which may not sound that exciting to all but the most dedicated of Slinky enthusiasts; however adding the ability to move up and down as well as side to side, not to mention varying light levels, non-perpendicular walls and stereo sound allowed the designers build levels that were way more interesting and complex than those seen in the likes of Blakestone 3D.  Speaking of complex, how about that movie Inception?  Why was Lo Pan living in that dude’s brain?  Talk about confusing.
Maybe he was looking for a girl with green eyes?

The graphics were pretty fucking awesome too.  It seems quaint now, but I can still remember looking out the window in the first level (E1M1) at the mountains.  I had never seen graphics like that in a videogame before.  It looked (kinda) like (pixilated) real life mountains.  The graphics may be outdated, but I think they hold up pretty well.  They certainly look better than early polygon based graphics from the mid to late 90’s.  Talk about shitty.  I know it “was the future of gaming,” but we didn’t live in the future in 1997.  Now that we do, we can all agree that women’s breasts look better when they’re not jagged and pointy, like a bunch of glass triangles smashed into a boob shape.
These boobs on the other hand, look great. At least they would if she'd just move her fucking hand.

One of Doom’s best features is probably the one that left the biggest impression on the FPS genre: the deathmatch.  Doom was the first FPS that allowed players to go head to head and try to kill each other.  It was awesome, because killing people is awesome.  I used to stay up all night playing Doom LAN games with my cousins.  (Personally, I preferred using the desktop to the laptop, because it had better controls; although it was much easier to screen look with the laptop.)  Doom deathmatch was so popular at the time that companies even wrote programs like “antidoom” to shut down games on company servers.  Today deathmatch is easily a bigger part of the FPS genre than the single player campaigns.  I think it’s safe to say that 14-year-olds wouldn’t be able to hurl homophobic slurs at each other while playing video games across the world wide internets if Doom hadn’t paved the way almost 20 years earlier.
Cutting edge

Computer piracy is a crime (a sexy crime!)
And there it is the exact moment in my video game review where I start to feel really fucking old.  If you want to play Doom or Doom 2, both can be found relatively easy if you’re willing to resort to piracy (Arr!)  If you manage to get the game or already have it lying around somewhere ZDoom is an excellent front-end program that adds extra features like mouselook, and more importantly ZDoom allows Doom and Doom 2 to be played on a modern PC.  Both Dooms are also available in the recent Doom3 re-release and in the X-Box marketplace, although only the downloadable version for the 360 offers internet deathmatch support.  Just don’t play a bunch of Doom and shoot up your high school.  I know it seems obvious, but I wouldn’t have said anything about it if it hadn’t come up before.  Too soon?   

"This game's so fun I'm going to shoot up my school...?"  Hard to believe people were that sick before the internet

The programmers for Doom were inspired by Evil Dead II and Aliens.