Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Raven's Brew Gourmet Coffee.

I've already been blasting this image all over the web, but I'm not about to pump the brakes on horror-themed coffee beans.

Our good friend, Kristen, sent us through the mail and into our filthy hands, just in time for the new album. Her idea was that we'd brew these up during the week and half long session in the studio, providing warmth, energy and that shaky, puke-y feeling you get after too many cups. Her idea is welcome, and will be put to the test. Normally, Hollywood would lead you to believe that "life in the studio" is all sex, drugs and rock and roll. Turns out it's just coffee, mugs and your mouth hole.

"Raven's Brew," the centerpiece of Raven's Brew coffee, is the least of my favorite, but still very loved. The image on the front draws you to the idea that you're drinking ground up raven bones, with the spirit of the raven floating and soaring all up in you. You can do a lot of raven-y things with that information. Like fly great distances over this great land of ours or peck the shit out of someone's eyes.

I like this, because I would love it if a wolf in women's clothing served me coffee. The spookiness adds great charm, even if it's just a dumb Little Red Riding Hood themed packaging. Avoid Dumb LRRH, stare into the eyes of the wicked wolf. Look at the glowing moon. Enjoy.

This is my favorite. It's everything I need in advertising, which, apparently, is a sleepy skeleton in bed. Extra points for the description of "our famous high speed blend," making me think of doing jumps on a motorcycle or the quickness of which my bowels will blow up.

I feel it's a great and simple way to get the point across, too, mimicking nearly everyone's initial rise from slumber. The pained eyes, the gross mouth and the throbbing temples. On the worst mornings, I swear I might be dead, if only for that hibernation-shattering, split second. The only redeeming quality and any inspiration to get the fuck up is, of course, coffee. The smell, the taste, the instant shits. I am that skeleton. I'm looking into a mirror with this. This is the perfect blend of coffee. I've yet to taste any of these, but they're perfect. I just know it.

Totally perfect.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Jungle Balcony.

I love a good patio.

It offers a sunny refuge from dark and cramped apartment living, allowing a breath of fresh air to calm and relax the nerves.

Some balconies suck. It's the way it goes. I refuse to take part in that, though. You're not guaranteed a shimmering oasis while hunting for a place to live, so when life gives you a lemony, outdoor balcony, you make lemonade outdoor balcony. I'm sorry, I suck at anagrams. It's called an anagram, right? ENOUGH WITH THE NUMBERS LET'S MOVE ON.

You know what I mean, though. If you're like me, you enjoy a solid sit outside every so often to break up the monotony of sitting inside, most likely in front of a computer or TV. So we escape to our summer fortress, our humble, nature filled hideout. We like to think, drink a cold beverage, annoy the neighbors with the constant strumming of an acoustic guitar.

My balcony/patio/haven is gated by a large, stucco wall. It hits right above the waist and overlooks the middle of the complex, so I'm completely sealed off from the rest of the world if I decided to sit down on the floor or, coincidentally, take photos of all the crap you're about to see. I have a few chairs, a washer and dryer behind closed doors and spider lights from Halloween three years ago. This is where it all began.

Normally, and originally, I wanted the "tiki" theme. It's a perfectly acceptable theme, but through the years I've never managed to actually do it. Call it procrastination, but I guess I'm unwilling to buy bamboo and hula skirts and hang them on the wall. I tried a Halloween motif, with glowing spiders and billowing ghosts, but why would I want to mirror what was already going on inside my place?

These days, I've created my own version of the tried and true "Hawaiian" theme, but with a little more creative flair. Through manipulation of the objects around me and the continual lack of any direction, I've created The Jungle Balcony.

I do like tropical and I do like Halloween, but both don't involve clever recycling of soon-to-be-trash.

You see, what I have now is a quick and easy way to involve both leftover fake plants from an old roommate and all the dinosaur toys a grown-up doesn't want displayed in his apartment. Also involved: cigarette butts, bottle caps and the occasional, lone sock. I'm a mess.

So let us journey through my own "Jurassic Park," my very own secluded wonderland where I can do laundry naked and spy at all the pretty girls down at the community pool.

That was probably the creepiest thing I could have ever said.

Ahh, yes! The journey begins! What we have here is the entrance to the jungle, loaded with ferns and dinosaurs and nothing that would ever be found in a jungle. Will there be a gorilla involved? What about a tiger? Here's a hint: NO.

Blue Dinosaur guards the entryway, arms in attack position, eyes aglow with either hate or confusion. You're new to him, so he's still a little wary of your presence. He's also at a loss as to whether he's to scale with the rest of his surroundings, or one of those tiny dinosaurs that attack a little girl in
"Lost World." He is, altogether, quite confused on a lot of things.

What lies beyond? Who claims the two white-tipped feet? And is that a green dinosaur?

Surprise, surprise. The greenest and the meanest.

I got this at a swap meet. Rather, Davey got it at a swap meet and I either bought if from him or stole it. Whatever the case, it's now a part of my world and will be a constant reminder of "Roseanne," where you can plainly see a Godzilla toy, much like this one, behind their couch in every episode. You don't have to watch all of them to know what I'm talking about, though, just watch the one's that count. Which is all the Halloween specials and the era of Darlene as a comic book writing, flannel wearing rebel.

Past the G-Man is...well, another green dino, accompanied by a hula-girl much intended for the dash of my car and not an empty pot. It was another "one of those things" I never got around to doing, and instead chucked it outside to rot. There is no sadness in this, because I'm sure if I had a dancing, wobbling toy to stare at while driving, I would surely crash and die in a ball of flames.

Oh, and that thing! The thing next to it! My battery-powered fountain!

This was a daring purchase at Walgreen's, and I only use the word "daring" because it's an astoundingly boring story if I didn't. You shove in a few batteries, add a cup of water and press play, allowing the shock and awe of a serene, bubbling geyser to wash over you. Not literally, but figuratively. I hate being wet. And so do you.

I think I've only seen it in action once, but boy, was it beautiful. It now remains as a silent, stoic statue, imagined as a shrine to the part in "Temple of Doom" where Indy and the gang, in the jungle, stumble upon weird statues...covered in blood. The entire scene was horrifying, and has always been a constant image in the back of my mind. I mean, geez, you try to adventure and explore and you're hit in the face with blood-soaked totem poles. Nothing says "bonerkill" like blood soaked totem poles.

I think I might paint streaks of red over it, for the full effect. Or dribble a bit of maraschino cherry juice over the top.

Unfortunately, Jungle Balcony has come to an end. I hope you had a good time, and cordially invite you to any Saturday night parties or holiday themed jamborees to check it out for yourself. Will I really invite you over for fun and games? Do I dare propose my home as your own?

Here's a hint: NO.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

St. Patrick's Day, 2012.

I've never celebrated on St. Patrick's Day. If I could overcome the idea of going out and being yelled at by drunk college kids, plans are instantly derailed because St. Patrick's Day probably fell on a shitty day of the week.

Excuses, excuses.

Well, this year, I wanted to go out. I really, really did. There are so many events and concerts and bars with giveaways and prizes and stupid, sloshed weirdos...I almost felt the urge to leave my cave to drink-puke-cry like the best of 'em.


I'm staying in. I may have purposely sabotaged myself this year, but I'm gonna spend this fine holiday by lying down because holy shit I'm nursing a hangover and my guts hurt. I know it was only a beer fueled bender last night, but I feel like I ate a giant pizza covered in pollutants and toxins found in chemical dumps and landfills. Oh, maybe it was the actual, greasy pizza I ate at one in the morning that's caused this irreversible pain. All five, wet slices of death and cheese.

If anyone asks, I got too excited. I celebrated early. And now I'm paying the price with Vitamin water that doesn't do a damn thing and Netflix.


I can't not drink tonight. Call it tradition, call it alcoholism, call it a flag-waving salute to fun.

Harp Lager. I like Harp Lager. I'm not a huge beer snob, but I can't stand cheap American stuff and anything you can't read the newspaper through. I'm a sissy, yes, I can't chug sludge. Sometimes IPA's are too much, as well. My all time favorite are sunny, sparkling lagers. Stuff that looks like apple juice and tastes like water from a spring in Germany. I've heard of these springs of endless, flowing beer. They exist. I know they do.

I might make half and halfs, if only because I'm a slave to consumerism and bought a six pack of Guinness. They're a good and tasty, but I think the real charm lies in the idea that you mix two beers together to create a new beer. You use a spoon to drizzle the Guinness into the Harp, fusing the alcohol and hops and all the junk into...well, into science. You're drinking science. And that's a good feeling.

Have fun, dudes!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Quick and Crappy Coffee House Reviews: Steve's Espresso.

I think I'm going to start blogging about coffee spots throughout my neighborhood.

I've done it before, but it's never been a solid priority. Between the mixed reviews of dollar store finds and lazily putting together a string of photos to recreate the idea of a "Masters of the Universe theater," I've hit a wall. It was bound to happen, but so soon? So out of thin air? My only excuse is that my mind is on our new record, and instead of type-type-typing I've been strum-strum-strumming, slowly confirming what exactly I'm going to do in the studio. With a month away to record, you'd think the songs would be one-hundred percent complete by now, but nahhh. Too easy. Gotta live under pressure, gotta write on the wire.

What I'm trying to say is to expect a lot of this throughout the next few months. Coffee house reviews? Really? YES, COFFEE HOUSE REVIEWS REALLY GET USED TO IT.
Where to start? From the beginning, duh:
Whether it be to get groceries, go jam with Calabrese or to get a cup of coffee, I always seem to pass "Steve's Espresso." There's nothing necessarily stand-out-ish about the place, but it's always on the way to where I wanna go. It's either a bold sign telling me that drinking a cup of Joe at Steve's is destiny, or that I rarely venture anywhere that I haven't been to a million times. But if Steve wants my business, through my own repetition and curiosity, he's reeled me in. Well, I've reeled myself in, meaning he didn't do shit, but I've already parked and it's hot in the car.
From outside the shop and inside the privacy and shame-free bubble of my car, there you have it. I hate taking photos of anything in public, for fear of God-knows-what. I have this thing when it comes to snapping shots of anything that could make me look like an pervert or a spy. I understand it's a wild leap from "interested food patron" to "sexual deviant," but it's the way my head is wired. No one knows I'm attempting to blog about Steve's Espresso, they just know I'm nervously fumbling around with my phone with my hand possibly down my pants.

I went it, went to the counter and went over the possibilities. They have everything you'd expect, but I'm a no-frills kinda guy and I wasn't planning on drinking whipped cream, so I got a medium hot coffee. Which, for those curious, was instantly less expensive than you-know-who, and was nice and piping hot.

I think it was, like, a buck seventy? Eighty?

Some blogging skills, eh?

Decor was nice, ranging from "hole in wall store converted into a warm, chic coffee den" to "every other coffee shop ever." Not a bad thing, really. You wouldn't want it to look like, I dunno, Burger King. Or the dentist.

This is where I take a picture to show you what I see. Here is that picture:

Was my shot ruined by Captain Blue Jeans? No, not in the slightest.

I've said it before, but I get a total kick out of taking photos of people in random situations and posting it here, on this blog, for the entire notion that, one day, hopefully, that person will recognize their own butt staring at a case of crumpets. I'm entertaining the thought that Captain Blue Jeans will ultimately be interested, shocked then wholly confused.

"Why would anyone take a photo of my ass?" he would ask. I would respond, "Because you were in the way, and because I get a thrill plastering you, unwillingly, on a tiny corner of this great, big Internet." "What an asshole," he would say.

Well, it ain't your ass that's the center of attention, Captain BJ, it's the cute, chalk-written signs and endearing, brown color scheme. Is there ever a coffee establishment that isn't painted some sort of brown? Why can't the walls be colored hot pink? Or, I dunno, purple? Is it because it would throw you off and make everything feel like shit? Yes, it is because it would throw you off and make everything feel like shit.

Well played, Steve's Espresso.

Which brings us to another high point at Steve's -- fresh, home-baked scones, muffins and sandwich things.

I'm a huge fan of pastries, purposely magnified by the "bite and sip" procedure with a cup of coffee. The taste is elevated with the perfect mix of cake-food and java, nearing an instantaneous cranial explosion. It rivals that of sex, but the comparison is so cliche that I nearly flinched at the thought of actually writing it. I would never commit such a bland, literary faux-pas. Or...would I?

I just did. I just so fucking did.

Now, you might dip your dessert into your drink, as opposed to the act of chomping and slurping, but I think that's weird. Who dips a blueberry muffin? In proportion to the cup, the shape is all wrong. You'd need a saucer, or a gravy boat. Otherwise IT'S ALL WRONG AND YOU'RE GOING TO HELL.

Well, there she is.

There's a sign on the wall stating that all the coffee was done by a French press, which makes me wonder if, every morning, they press a bunch of coffee and dump it into a big vat in the back or have one, giant French press the size of a doghouse. Whatever the case, the taste is definitely different, leaning more towards a smoother and slightly distinct flavor than drip coffee. Mild, definitely. Watery, in a way.

I'm not even sure I like coffee.