Category: beer


Most of you may have noticed that I the bands I have featured here aren’t real heavy hard rock, until now.  I love rock, especially hard rock and metal and this weeks band is one of that fits that category perfectly.  Blue Gillespie.  The first time I heard about Blue Gillespie was at the 2011 Chicago Wizard World.  We were at a panel for Torchwood, the Doctor Who spin off. The two members of the cast that were on the panel were, Garetth David Lloyd, who until he was unjustly killed off in season 3, played Ianto, and Kai Owen, who plays Rhys.  Both guys were great and had a ton a fun, they even gave money to two audience members for beer.  During the conversation, Garetth mentioned his band, Blue Gillespie, and their upcoming plans.  So after the panel we went downstairs and they were signing stuff and he was also selling the cd’s so the wife bought it and he signed it.

So when we got home, we opened it up and threw it in, I was impressed, I liked it.  So I decided to find out a little more about the band so I looked them up.  This UK foursome was formed in 1997 with Gareth Lloyd on Vocals, Anthony Clark on Guitar, Rhys Bryant on Bass and Nick Harrison on Drums.  The name Blue Gillespie represents a “character” comprised of all 4 members inner struggles and anger.  The band is used as a way for them to clear their alter egos of darkness and anger and for them to become more positive.  Prior to the first full length album, Synesthesia, The band had released 2 EP’s.  Cave County 1 and Cave County 2, with the latter being more of an acoustic record.  They received mostly positive reviews and got great reactions at their live shows, which they live for.  As of this writing, their second album has been released, Seven Rages of Man, which was inspired by the Shakespeare speech from As You Like it.  We’ll start with the first full length album…..

Synesthesia 2010

This is the first full release and was met with plenty of critical acclaim from all over the world.  It is full of loud guitars, great bass and pounding drums.  The vocals help complete the package matching the band perfectly.  It all comes together for a nice tight Hard Rock/Metal package just right for anyone that likes the genre.  To be honest, after seeing Lloyd on Torchwood, it was hard for me to believe that those vocals were coming from him, but they do and it’s awesome.  The lyrics are great, somewhat dark, but that’s what you would expect from a band like them so it’s just right.  In fact its almost like a Blues band went metal….and kept their lyrics.  Its dark, brooding and moody and it’s great. The album is full of great tracks, not even kidding, would I recommend a one hit wonder to you guys?  Of course not.  The opening track, Beat Oven, is a great beginning and the album just goes like a freight train headed downhill with no brakes after that.  My favorite tracks? Well, I thought you’d never ask…..Beat Oven of course, Sugarglass, Skinned, Growsome, Making Sound, Black Waltz, and Paradox & Time Knot.

Seven Rages of Men 2012

Seven Rages is the Sophomore album by Blue Gillespie, but unlike a lot of Sophomore attempts this one is as good if not better than the original.  The album was mixed, mastered and co produced by Skindred guitarist Jeff Rose.  Like I mentioned above, its structure is inspired by Shakespeare’s Seven Ages Speech from As You Like It.  The album explores the depth of rage incorporating Shakespeare, Greek tragedy, modern philosophy and even mythology as influences.  Making a Metal opera almost, I say almost because Metal is awesome, Opera, well, sometimes I suppose.  The album contains different locations, characters and differing levels of anger and rage.  The album follows them from birth to death, complete with a prologue and an epilogue.  The tracks are all excellent and the same quality from the last album is there, in fact it’s probably a bit better.  The tracks sound great stand alone, but listened to in order give the listener a great experience….if you like Metal.  The best tracks? Well, if I have to choose it would be…..The Mewling, Interlude 1, Effervescent Youth, Sullen, Grim Determination, Interlude 2, The Misanthropist and  Epilogue.  Yup, that is almost the whole album, and with good reason, it rocks.

Conclusion

Blue Gillespie was influenced by great bands such as Tool, Portishead and Down and the influences show in their work.  They are a great Hard Rock act and from what I’ve seen on the internet and heard put on a hell of a live show.  They truly enjoy what they’re doing and it shows on both their albums and live.  So if you like Metal, give them a shot, their official website is http://www.bluegillespie.co.uk/ and you can even listen to their albums on there.  Thanks for reading, now start listening!

-John

All biographical info was gained from http://www.bluegillespie.co.uk/

Well here we are another week of 2012 in the books, so what did we learn?

Apparently you can sue yourself…..kinda.

In an ongoing saga for the great Stan Lee, he is now being sued by himself….kinda.  He is actually being sued by a company he started…..then left…..which actually bears his name.  I wonder in the courtroom if there will be Stan Lee then an evil Stan Lee? That would be wicked….the full confusing story can be found here http://www.movieline.com/2012/03/07/stan-lee-vs-stan-lee-the-epic-legal-follies-of-a-comics-mastermind/ for those of you interested.

 

What the?! I thought I had the new iPad?!

Well, not me, I never would be able to afford one, but for millions of Apple users and fans the iPad 3 was released this week to….well…I’m not really sure.  There are some improvements over the iPad 2, but not to the extent most had hoped.  Most of my Apple friends say they’ll wait for the 4th one.  I mean it’s nice and the new display is awesome, although calling it a retina display is a bit confusing, I thought it had to do with retinal scanning for security.  I’m sure it’s going to sell, I mean for 10 years Apple could’ve sold a ketchup popsicle to a woman wearing white gloves in the desert, but the latest iPad just doesn’t seem to be a huge jump.  While the new feature set is nice, better rear camera, better and faster graphics, better display etc, I think the biggest feature is that it caused a price drop for the iPad 2’s.  Which means more people will probably be giving them a look.  For the full specs take a look here http://www.digitaltrends.com/mobile/the-new-ipad-3-everything-you-should-know/

 

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Bat!

Batman Year One Deluxe edition is being released on March 14th.  For those that don’t know, year one is critically acclaimed and is one of the most important in the Batman saga.  It’s obviously about the crime fighters first year, one thing that makes this issue special is that it’s written by Frank Miller, with artwork by David Mazzucchelli.  So if you’re a Batman fan, this is a must have.  For more info check out http://firewireblog.com/2012/03/08/batman-year-one-deluxe-edition-new-printing-due-on-march-14th/

 

They do exist! Well maybe.

So, in Peru a mummy was found, nothing new there, except that it has an elongated skull.  Yup, this things skull is almost the size of its small body and as usual everyone is baffled.  Did I mention the larger than normal eyes also?

An anthropologist believes it to be a child of under 2 with an enormous head which possibly a human sacrifice.  Let’s be real for a minute, chances are it’s just a deformed human, but I’m sure that crazy greek dude, Giorgio A. Tsoukalos from Ancients Aliens (I love that show) will be talking about it soon enough!

Check out the full article at http://reinep.wordpress.com/2012/03/07/mummy-with-giant-head-discovered-in-peru/

 

I just bought the game! What do you mean there’s already DLC that I have to pay for!?

So the hotly anticipated ending to the Mass Effect trilogy, Mass Effect 3, was released this week…..along with the first DLC (downloadable content)  Some people see this as just another way to get more money from the already popular game by offering the DLC at launch.  We as gamers are always surprised to see a patch needs to be installed for a game that just came out, but to have DLC on launch day just makes it seem like we bought an incomplete game, jeese, give us a month to think that our 60 bucks bought a full game before you release the DLC! Anyway that’s just my thought on it.  As long as it’s not important to the finale I guess no one’s twisting your arm to buy it.

“What do you mean there’s already DLC?”

 

Glad you’re back from the injury, now if you would look at this pink piece of paper…….

It was announced this week that after 14 years the Indianapolis Colts decided to release Peyton Manning.  I guess the main concern was the amount of surgeries he had, but in 2011 they signed him to a 5 year deal, worth 90 million dollars.  I guess the prospect of another injury was too great for a team that went 2-14 last year.  With Peyton gone and their Superbowl winning coach, I guess it’s time for rebuilding.  I’m sure Manning isn’t retiring anytime soon and plenty of mediocre clubs would pay millions more for him.  For more about it check out http://anomicofficedrone.com/2012/03/07/peyton-and-the-colts-part-ways/ and http://www.nfl.com/news/story/09000d5d82777827/article/peyton-manning-colts-part-ways-in-most-appropriate-fashion

“Seriously, I always thought you’d get cut before me!”

 

From the “What the hell?!” department…..

Conservative Christian Pat Robertson wants Marijuana legalized.  Yeah I know of all people right?  His arguments actually make sense on this one though.  He talks about the cost of the war on drugs and even thinks the US has gone too far when it comes to drugs.  Pointing out how many juveniles are being locked up for years over a joint, unless you’re rich of course (he points that out)  He also says that he believes it should be treated like Alcohol.  He even points out that since 2006 47,515 lives have been claimed in Central and South America (granted not all are related to Marijuana)  Any way, if you’d like to read more, and I’m sure some of you would like too, here’s the full story http://20poorandfabulous.com/2012/03/08/pat-robertson-wants-marijuana-legalized/

“Is it 4:20 yet?”

 

What’s it take to be an internet star?

Well apparently not doing an informative beer show on Youtube, blogging about beer or this blog either.  Apparently you need to be a rebel leader for 20 years in Africa kidnapping and terrorizing villages oh and keeping them as slaves, normal and for sex.  In an effort to catch him a video about Joesph Kony was released on Youtube.  The 30 minute video shows his atrocities and had 32 million views by Thursday.  For more on Kony check out http://www.freep.com/article/20120309/NEWS07/203090359/Hunt-for-jungle-militia-leader-Kony-goes-viral-aiming-to-get-him-arrested?odyssey=nav%7Chead   or Wikipedia him.  If you want to check out the video of this scumbag for yourself, take a look here http://youtu.be/Y4MnpzG5Sqc

“Joseph Kony, putting the infant back in infantry since 1986”

 

Take him down Red 1!

12 years ago a little game called Counter-Strike was released, well, to be fair it was a Half-Life mod.  It quickly became one of the most played PC online tactical shooters ever, in fact many still play the original today.  Then a few years later Counter-strike Source was released, bringing a new level to the genre of tactical shooters.  Not only were the graphics better, but using the Source engine made the physics way better as well.  Even though the Call of Duty and Battlefield series have kind of taken the lime light, both Counter-Strikes are still played today.  Now, 12 years after the original, Valve and Hidden Path Entertainment are releasing Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.  One of the coolest features? Cross platform play across all supported systems! Yup, whether you have a Mac, Windows machine, Xbox 360 or PS3, you’ll be able to blast your friends full of holes.  I for one can’t wait.  For more info and a trailer check out http://store.steampowered.com/app/1800/

“Here Kony, Kony, Kony.”

 

It really is bigger on the inside.

So apparently the babies room, formely my computer room/office/catch all is a T.A.R.D.I.S (Time and Relative Dimension In Space for you non Doctor Who fans) because it seemed to bigger on the inside.  For the last for weeks I have been sorting through 15 to 20 year old crap and throwing out countless garbage can loads.  I then moved the rest into a much bigger space in the basement….which apparently couldn’t hold everything, so I went through again and finally the basement is about 90 percent done.  How an 11×11 room wouldn’t fit in a 40×20 space is beyond me.  How I accumulated that much junk is also beyond me, I guess old John is less tolerant of crap and throw more away then young John did.

“Yup, there is 25 years of crap in here, including a Sony sports cassette walkman and a socket 3 486 motherboard! Old Skool bitches!”

So yeah, that’s it for this week, it’s actually kind of a lot isn’t it?  So I hope you learned something and enjoyed it.  Thanks for reading!

John

What did we learn this week? Well I learned that this is a lot harder to do when I’m in Vegas for 3 days, cleaning and painting a babies room and working all week so I don’t have time to read any blogs! But for my fans I’ll see what I can throw together.

If you’re ahead….stop! then shop!

While in Vegas I made my money back the 2nd day and decided not to gamble anymore, I did spend money on food and a shirt but that was about it.  My friend that was with me on the other hand was winning at the machines then “reinvested” in the tables….lets just say the market collapsed!

What the hell is leap year anyway?

Well, if you were paying attention to my blogs you’d know!  Yup I explained on leap day, so if you want to know the history, or at least a brief history, check the blog at https://johnsbluebox.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/leap-day-and-leap-year-why/

R.I.P Davy Jones.

Yup, no snarky comments, no jokes.  Just R.I.P Davy Jones, who was a member of the Monkees.  Davy was probably the most famous and popular of the Monkees and died way to young at 66.  You could read more about him here https://johnsbluebox.wordpress.com/2012/02/29/rip-davy-jones/

What are the odds that United would fail me 4 out of 4 times?

Apparently very good.  I’ve had 3 bad experiences on United, not horrible, just bad delays and luggage lost for a few hours.  So for the Vegas trip we booked US Airways (we were delayed leaving!)  So when we got to the airport to find that the “US Airways” flight home was actually a United flight I thought, “What are the odds I’d have bad luck with them 4 out of 4 times?”  Apparently better than I thought because we had a 2 hour delay that got me home (in my house) at 2 am instead of midnight.  Should’ve bought a lotto ticket that day! I will say the flight crew, ground crew and gate staff did a commendable job getting us off the ground and home quickly, albeit 2 hours late.

A burger by any other name…..

While in Vegas I also learned the Le Burger Brasserie has awesome albeit expensive burgers.  I had the Italian burger, that consisted of the burger, pancetta, arugula, fresh mozzerella, with tomato and red onions on the side if you want to add it, I also had my choice of buns, I picked the parmesan crusted roll.  It was awesome.  If you’re up at the casino, stop by Paris and try them out.  Oh did I mention the Waitresses look like this?

Welcome to the John Potoky Retro Junk and Computer Museum………

So as I cleaned out the closet in the babies room, I found all kinds neat old things.  The oldest was probably a light up schlitz sign from the 70’s that I didn’t even know I owned! (know to find out how much its worth!), next would be the 2nd generation Commodore 64 and 2 small boxes of Commodore and DOS software, then the pink M.U.S.C.L.E characters.  Some where in that mix was also a Socket 3 motherboard (for you non geeks that I believe was a 486 board and was probably about 20 years ago) and an even older server board. So I am glad to say that stuff is not in the closet anymore….or the house.

So thats what an F-Stop is……

I also watched a little video from B&H Photo and Video about taking portraits and started reading a great book, understanding exposure, 3rd edition by Bryan Peterson, that explains how to use the manual mode on my Canon T3, so now I can actually use the camera the way its supposed to be used.  Here’s a sample…..

That’s about it, like I said I am way behind on my reading, so next week I’ll be more on top of it.  Hope you enjoyed it and if you want more to read I did post a new post over at http://thebeershow.wordpress.com/ so have a good weekend! Oh and always, thanks for reading.

John

Vegas baby day 3

How did it end?  Well not bad….overall.  We checked out at 11 then decided to grab lunch.  We decided to go to the Paris buffet.  So we got there and saw one hell of a line.  Now I’ve eaten there before and thought it was good, just not 30 minute wait good.  So we walked a bit further to the little “outdoor” cafe.  We checked out the menu, but decided tobstill go somewhere else.  My only requirement was tht it wasnt Bill’s again.  So as we walked back towards Ballys we so a gourmet burger place, Le Burger Brasserie. Now I had heard the place was pretty good so we decided to check it out.  Of course the waitresses dresed in a red corset kind of top and black hot pants may have influenced the decision also.  My buddy oredered the kobe burger, I ordered the Italian burger, medium of course. 

The burger was awesome, it had mozzerella, pancetta, oruguella, red onion and tomato.  It had a choice of buns also, we both picked the parmasean roll, which made the Italian even more awesome.  My buddy got the kobe burger, which he said was pretty good also.  If you’re in Vegas and want a unique and good burger (and dont mind spending 16 bucks for the combo) you should try it.

After lunch we went back to the Wheel of Fortune machine.  My buddy started playing, I decided that since I was up, I wasn’t going to play at all.  So we had about 3 hours till we needed to head for the airport, and based off the day before, my buddy thought his last 25 bucks would last the 3 hours.  He was wrong.  So after maybe an hour tops we headed for the airport…..nows when things would get interesting.

So we headed for the US Airways check in, only to find there was no record of us or the flight…because it was serviced by United Airlines.  Those of you that know me, know my luck with United, 3 flights and problems with all 3.  I figured what woukd the odds be that it would be 4, besides we didn’t have a choice anyway.

So we went to the self checkout, which went fine.  It even asked us if we wanted to look for an earlier flight, since we were so early, we fugured why not.  So we went through the whole proces, only to get an error and confirmation code.

So went and talked to a nice lady at the counter that said it would be 75 bucks.  We dnidnt remember reading that, but we probably just didnt pay attention.  So we declined and with our flight, she was nice enough to put us in economy plus for no extra charge though, which was awesome. 

So we got to the gate and hung out for awhile.  We were way early so we walked around the D concourse at McCarren,which I thought was very nice.  I even found and bought a shirt I liked.  We went back to the gate and saw that the flight was on time and that boarding would start at 6:03pm Vegas time, putting us into O’Hare at around midnight Chicago time.  So we ran over to the California Pizza Kitchen.

When we got back to the gate, I noticed that it had been pushed back till 7:30pm….4 times I’ve flown United, 4 problems, I know its not really their fault, I just have bad luck with them..and will now pay the little extra for American, since I’ve never had problems with them.  Oh, and remember, our US Airways flight Saturday was delayed also, what are the odds twice in one weekend with two different airlines!? 

So after a few more minutes it was pushed to 8:00pm.  Which puts us into O’Hare at 1ish.  I was a bit irritated but what can you do?  Then came the announcment that the plane would come in about 735 and that if we weren’t boarded with the door closed by 8:15pm the pilots would illegal and we couldn’t leave….until God knows when tomorrow! 

So, again I was irritated but holding it together.  I will give the crew a ton of credit, they pulled it off.  They deplaned a 757 and boarded us before 8:15.  In fact, we got asked if we wanted the emergency aisle seats, which have awesome leg room.  Also, its funny how much more forgiving you are when the first class flight attendant gives you a free mini bottle of Bicardi Superior to go with your Coke.  She along with the rest of the crew, grounf crew and gate agents did a great job of getting us airborn.

That being said, I still doubt I’ll fly United again,  I’ve only flown US Airways twice and got delayed once, so I’ll probably give them another shot.  Because of the delay I am typing this in the air and when I finally get home at like 2am I’ll turn on my wifi and post it…..if I don’t pass out first…..still though…..Vegas baby!

Stay posted for a recap of the trip in the next day or two, hope you enjoyed reading.  If you did, please share the link, oh and as usual, thanks for reading!

John

Oh and in case you didn’t realize, I did in fact fall asleep at 2am before posting.

Well day 2 in Vegas turned out alright, we woke up and hit Bills Saloon and gambling hall for their world famous 13.99 prime rib.  I’ll tell you, it was pretty darned good and worth the 14 bucks.  Plus the horseradish sauce it came with was excellent, talk about clearing out the sinuses, that’s what horseradish sauce should be. 

After that we went back to Paris, I of course hit the slot machines and my buddy hit the tables.  I was playing this Dean Martin’s Wild Party machine which at least made it fun to lose.  So after my buddy was done on the tables and I had lost a little we went to Ballys casino. 

While at Ballys we walked around a bit and ended up finding this Wheel of Fortune slot machine.  For 90 credits (90 cents) a play you played all lines and had the chance to play all 3 wheels at once.  If you spun the right things anyway.  There are 4 that were all ties together then linked to a big screen,  the two we were in were good to us, the people in the other two, not so lucky.  In fact we did well enough that our “names” were on the daily leaderboard in 5 out of the top 8 spots, my buddy was on the all time leaderboard in i think 5th.  So if you see the names Sterling and Archer up there, that was us.  We actually made some of our money back on that one, we were at it for like 3 hours.  Until we got hungry.

So we decided to go towards the monorail station,  we had seen a sushi place there on day 1 as we were exploring.  It was a nice little place, pricing for rolls was a bout the same as anywhere else and it was pretty good, it was called Ichiban sushi.  If your in Ballys stop in and try the Las Vegas roll.  So after dinner it was back to the casino. 

Well,  actually we went back to Paris, it just has a nice atmosphere.  So I, for some reason, went back to that same Dean Martin machine, well mainly because my buddy wanted to see the bonus round.  So this time I decided to play 90 cents a turn instead of 30, it wasn’t going so well at first.  My buddy, who still hadn’t seen the bonus round, went back to the tables.  Like 5 minutes later it hit the bonus, and with 90 cents instead of 30, I was up to 135 bucks!  That was almost my losses from the day before!  So I played off that money for a bit and cashed it out at 120.  Pretty good, I thought, then I said, “what the hell” and sat back down and put another 20 in, I ended up cashing that out at 124 and some change.  I did try it with a 3rd 20, but the 3rd time wasn’t the charm.  Even though, by the end of day 2 I had made up all my losses and even had more than I started with.  Then we headed off to Bills again for the famous 6.99 steak and eggs breakfast, it starts at 11pm.

As happy as I was with their prime rib, the steak and eggs left a little to be desired, I mean, I didn’t expect a Tbone or Porter house, but a steak slightly larger than the palm of my hand would’ve been nice.  The flavor wasn’t bad and I guess for 6.99 you really can’t complain, but spend the extra and get the prime rib.

So that was the day 2 recap,  its about 945 in the morning on day 3, which is the last day.  I don’t plan on gambling myself today, especially since I’m up at the moment.  It’s going to be a long day though, check out at 11, find some where to hang out for a bit, then head to McCarren at probably 330. Or 400 for a 6 o’clock back to Chicago, whic wouldn’t be bad if it wasn’t for the time change, I mean we’ll be getting back at midnight Chi Town time.  But as soon as I have time I’ll recap day 3.

Thanks for reading.

John

You maybe wondering why i’m blogging at 7 in the morning Vegas time.  Well, for some reason, even on vacation, by body won’t let me sleep more then 6 hours. So while I have some time to myself (the friend i’m with has no problem sleeping more then 6 hours) I thought I’d share how day one went.

It was actually a long day, we got to o’hare airport in chicago around 10 and were supposed to fly out 11 to Phoenix.  Well the plane was delayed 45 minute, so we had to reschedule the connecting flight, so instead of being in Phoenix at 2:30 and Vegas at 2:45 (time zone difference) we got to Phoenix at 3:45 and Vegas at 4:15, I did have a rather good philly cheese steak in Phoenix’s airport though.

After checking into our hotel, Ballys, we hit the casino next door at Paris.  I know some of might think it’s campy how the casinos mimic places but I enjoy it, to me its like a little get away.  Now when I gamble, I’m like a n old person.  I find a penny slot machine, I put 20 bucks in, and I play 5 lines at 1 penny each.  8 also enjoy my free rum and Coke’s and people watch.  On one 20 I can use play for well over an hour, and drink 4 or 5 drinks.  Don’t panic, they aren’t full size drinks that they give you so it’s not really that much.  After 2 hours at Paris we headed to the casino at Ballys where I repeated my procedure (which was actually my moms way of playing).  We didn’t spend nearly as much time there, then we headed to Bills Saloon and Gambling Hall (I think that’s the name) to grab something to eat. 

While there I had a pretty nice run going on a Battleship slot machine until we got called for dinner.  Now I had the fish and chips, which wasn’t bad, but someone at the table next to us had the famous 13 dollar prime rib, which looked really good.

After eating we headed back to the casino where my buddy had a nice run on a Wheel of Fortune machine.  We then headed over to Cesaers and walked around a bit, then back to Ballys for a bit before going to bed.  Apparently we went to bed to early since I am up at 7 and he is hibernating.  Well hopefully I’ll have time to tell you how day two goes also!  Thanks for reading!

John

Many of you have heard of New Zealand, some of you know a little more about it, like the fact that the Lord of the Rings movies were filmed there, or maybe that parts of Avatar were filmed there.  Even fewer of you know about New Zealand because of their love of rugby. That all changed a year ago today (or yesterday if you’re in New Zealand and Australia), when the New Zealand city of Christchurch was devasted by a shallow earthquake of 6.3 on the Richter scale.  Christchurch had been hit by quakes before, in fact New Zealand is on the Pacific Ring of Fire, the country gets hundreds of small quakes a month.  A few months prior, a larger quake hit Christchurch, but the city appeared to make it through.  This quake was different, while a lower rating on the Richter scale, it was shallow and was basically in the perfect spot.  At the end of it, 185 people had been killed, the Christchurch Cathedral had been all but destroyed along with most of the city centre.  The suburbs fared as bad if not worse. Throughout Christchurch and its suburbs the ground liquified flooding homes and streets, boulders fell from nearby mountains, there were landslides that blocked roads and tunnels.

You might be wondering why am I talking about this?  I don’t live there.  It’s simple, I’ve been there.  about a year earlier, we visited in May of 2010 for our honeymoon.  Not really sure why, one reason is that the wife is a closet Lord of the Rings geek (I am proud of my geekness and don’t hide it) the second reason was that my wife had a friend from there, Henry.  They met in college, they were both studying abroad in Europe (or something like that) and had kept in touch.  I met Henry when we went to London the second time back in 2008.  He was leaving the day we were arriving, so we met at a Fullers pub in a train station.  He was a great guy, little bit of a redneck, but great guy and we had lots in common.  I asked him about New Zealand and where he lived.  He told me that he lived about an hour south west of Christchurch.  He told me that we should come visit and if we do, that we had to go to Queenstown.  So in May of 2010 we did, the wife took care of planning the flight to Auckland and I took care of the rest.  In Auckland we stayed in what was then the Hyatt Regency Auckland, we had a nice harbor view.  We then flew to Christchurch where we rented a car (I only made a wrong turn once.  They drive on the opposite side by the way.)

We hadn’t heard of Christchurch before, but there was a Lord of the Rings tour from there, so we stood there for I think 3 days.  While on that tour we met a now very good friend of ours, Sarah, from Brighton UK.  In Christchurch we had stayed at the Hotel Grand Chancellor, the tallest building in Christchurch, we had a nice view over some of the city.  We decided to check out the city our first day.  We left the hotel and made a right which took us to Manchester St, which after a block or two, it seemed a bit shady, oddly though, we did see barefoot guy with a Chicago White Sox t-shirt on.  Especially since were from Chicago and are Cubs fans.  It didn’t look like there was much to see so we went the other way.  We traveled west on Cashel St to High St and made a right onto it.  We found a very nice pleasant shopping area, very similar to State street in Chicago.  Smaller and no skyscrapers but nice.  we then turned right on Columbo St.  We walked about about a block and found the Christchurch Cathedral.  It was a beautiful church and the entire square around it was very nice, I think they were having a market that was just getting ready to close because it was early evening, but it was very nice.  There was also a traditional Maori performance going on in front of the steps of the church.  We stopped on the way back to eat then went to bed.  The second day we had the Lord of the Rings tour.

As we were driving out of Christchurch from our hotel for the tour we saw that the city was much bigger and more diverse then we thought.  We also found out that they supposedly had some beautiful gardens, parks and zoo’s.  Unfortunately, we only had one more day there after the tour.  So when we awoke on the third day, we checked out the city center some more, we walked down Cashel west all the way to the Bridge of Remembrance.  At the Bridge of Remembrance we walked down the river bank a bit and was very pretty, there was a little mill with a water wheel and nice flower beds.  There were plenty of ducks and other little animals around.  Along the river walk everyone was very nice and said hi when we passed.  It was a very nice walk.  Cashel itself, was similar to High St with stores, both unique to New Zealand and familiar ones.  In fact it was on Cashel that I bought some CD’s, Midnight Youth, ShapeShifter, Tahuna Breaks, Dane Rumble and Liam Flynn.  All CD’s I still listen to.  We went back to the hotel and dropped off our spoils of war and went to dinner.  Let me back up a bit and talk about the room.  It was nice and big.  Although it was a bit dated, probably remodeled in the late 70’s early 80’s but it was nice enough.  The staff seemed nice and friendly and even told me how to get around paying to leave the car in the parking garage.  So back to the story, we ventured back out down Cashel to Oxford Terrace and made a right, at this point we were looking for a decent dining spot.  We walked about a half block and looked at the restaurant Liquidity, it looked nice but not quite our style.  We back tracked a bit and found The Tap Room.  It had a nice outside patio, and even though it was a bit chilly we grabbed an outside table, the center of the tables had heaters in them so it wasn’t bad.  After we sat down it started getting a bit busy and there were three people waiting for a seat, so we told the waitress that they could sit with us.  We always like to meet new people and they were pretty nice.  we chatted a bit, there were two women and a man, I wish I could remember there names.  It was the first place that I ever had a burger with a fried egg and it was the first time I had grass fed angus beef.  It was awesome! It was also the first time I hand Montieths Ale (which I now buy at one of the Binnys in the area).  It was a nice night then we turned in.

the next morning before we left for Henry’s place in Temuka, we took another quick walk down Cashel and picked up a few things, we then checked out and headed out of Christchurch in our rented Toyota Camry listening to Tahuna Breaks.  We felt kind of bad that we didn’t spend much time there, but we usually revisit places we like, so we said next time we spend a couple of extra days exploring what we missed…..

Then came 2-22-2011, and the pictures and videos….The cathedral spire had collapsed from the quake, the Hotel Grand Chancellor leaning to one side and High St and Cashel St in shambles with rubble everywhere.  The first thoughts I had was about the people we had met, I got in touch with Henry and he said he was fine, he was far enough away that there was no damage by him.  Then I thought about the nice guy that gave us the Lord of the Rings tour, and his son.  I never did find out what happened to him, even Sarah in Brighton told me she tried to find out, but never did.  I also thought of the three that we had met at The Tap House.  Two of them were kinda on their first date with the mutual friend who introduced them.  The receptionist at the hotel, a very nice sweet pretty girl.  The waitresses we had at the two places we ate, both were great and very friendly and were glad to tell us about there home cities and what we should try to see.  The girls we talked to at the Christchurch Lush store, we wanted to buy from them, but they closed before we got there (my sister worked at Lush in our area, so we wanted to bring back something unique)  All we really could do was hope that they were all alright.  I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.  Then I thought about the beautiful river front, was the little water wheel and mill there? was there any damage to the Bridge of Remembrance.  More things that I still haven’t found out.  Then, a few weeks later, they announced that the Cathedral may never be repaired, numerous other buildings were condemned and would need to come down, including the hotel we stayed at, The Grand Chancellor.  To find that out really makes you think, you know?  I mean, if we ever do make it back, how much of what we saw or wanted to see will still be there? No one really knows yet.  A year later and the most of the city centre of Christchurch is still closed off, I haven’t really seen anything new.  I try to keep up with the news there reading the New Zealand Herald on line once or twice a week along with listening to some radio stations from there, but I still don’t know much about whats left.  I know for months there were aftershocks, then about a month later Japan got hit with an earthquake and Tsunami, so most news outlets turned there.   All I can say is that after meeting the people we did, I know Christchurch will rebuild and be stronger than ever, my thoughts will still be with you and sometime in the future, I still hope to go back and see it.

as usual thanks for reading.

John

The Beer Blog

So I’m sure some of you are aware that I do a short little show over on Youtube where I talk about a different beer each week.  I usually try to get them up by Friday, but this week I just couldn’t get the crew together (yup there is a crew, of two other people) to film one this week.  So hopefully I can get two up for your viewing pleasure this week before my weekend trip to Vegas.  I didn’t want to leave my fans with no beer related talk this week so I thought I would just give a short description of the most common types of beer.  I have been requested to do a show for this also, so hopefully I’ll get that done soon, but for now you’ll have to read it!

The first thing you need to know is that there are 2 basic types of beer, Ale’s and Lagers.  Yup, just two, all of the other styles are descended from one of these two basic styles.  There are a couple of specialty ones out there, but ultimately depending on the yeast they still fall under one of the big two.  What makes them different you ask?  Well, basically the yeast.  The yeast used in Ale’s is top fermenting.  That is, it sits at the top of the tank and are most effective between 60 and 72 degrees (Fahrenheit). The yeast used in Lagers is bottom fermenting, it sits at the bottom on the bottom of the tank as it ferments.  It works better at lower temperatures, usually 45 to 55 degrees (Fahrenheit).  The Lager yeast is also more aggressive as it ferments leaving less sweetness that the yeast used in Ales.

While the yeast is the basic and biggest difference, its not the only one.  The brewing techniques are different also.  After they are done fermenting, Lagers are aged at lower temperature, 32 to 45 degrees, and usually for months.  Ales on the other hand are only aged for a few weeks and at a warmer temperature, usually between 40 to 55 degrees.  Lagers are usually clearer and cleaner because of the time spent aging or lagering as its called.

Whats this mean for you? Well, Ale’s are usually more complex and more flavorful (although personally I think that’s a matter of opinion).  They are also rich in aroma and are served closer to room temperature (well, usually).  Lagers on the other hand are served cold and are usually considered clean and refreshing, they are also lighter in both aroma and flavor.  Lagers usually go with more types of food, where Ale’s go better with certain things, which make them harder to pair.  I guess really, its up to you to decide what you like, beer is very subjective, I love Guinness, but I to this day have people tell me its to heavy and it must have a lot of carbs and calories (it really doesn’t, in fact its less then a can of soda)  Guinness is a Stout, which falls under Ales, by the way.  So I hope that helped shed some light on the difference, below I’ll list some of the most common of the two categories.  If you’d like to hear about some of the beers that I would recommend, please drop by my Youtube channel and catch up on the previous episodes of The Beer Show here http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF257ED14691B4177&feature=plcp  As always thanks for reading!

Ales

  • Bitters (Youngs Bitter)
  • Brown Ale (Newcastle Brown Ale)
  • India Pale Ale (Goose Island India Pale Ale)
  • Barley Wine (Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot)
  • Wheat Beer (Hoegaarden Witbeir)
  • Porter (Fullers London Porter)
  • Stout (Guinness)

Lagers

  • Bock (Paulaner Salvator Dopplebock)
  • Pilsner (Pilsner Urquell – widely regarded as the original pilsner)
  • Dunkel (Warsteiner)
  • Oktoberfest (Hacker-Pschorr)
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