Beers of Walmart

Sooner or later everyone ends up at a Walmart, whether they’d like to be there or not.

Unfortunately for me I had to purchase some items for Jenn this weekend that are just better/easier to get at Walmart, but fortunately I found some new beer I haven’t had, so it wasn’t a total loss.

Now I’ve come to find out that, much like the big macro brewers globally, Walmart is trying to get in to the growing category of craft beer.

I was able to get a six-pack of Cat’s Away IPA (by Trouble Brewing) for under $6 which is pretty amazing. The quality was a lot like an early aught’s knock-off of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but there are worse things to drink especially at that price point!

I also bought a tallboy of Rockdale Classic.

There are differing sources online, but it seems like it’s contract brewed by the same company as the Trouble Brewing line, exclusively for Walmart.

This beer looked more like a house brand and was similar to a Coors in it’s can & taste. I had to do a double-take to make sure it wasn’t actually the banquet beer. ;-)

Both beers were better than similar beers contract brewed by Winery Exchange for Kroger, notably Caguama & Dieselpunk, but maybe that’s damning with faint praise.

Whether or not the Walmart beers were objectively good, they were both decent for what they were. The Trouble Brewing beer was actually quite pleasant and I could see buying it again if I were at Walmart.

I wouldn’t go out of my way to get it, but it might make a good beach beer or last minute decision in a crunch. Maybe if I was late to a tailgate or even if I wanted to spice things up for a price-conscious craft newbie.

Whatever the case I think this will be a hit for Walmart. The price is right, the branding is right (no sillier than actual craft brands) and the flavor is what you’d get from some craft beers of those styles.

Cheers!

On Steve Whitmire

Yesterday a regular reader of this blog (whatever that means anymore, given my posting schedule) brought up the topic of Steve Whitmire’s firing as the performer of Kermit the Frog by Disney.

He asked me, earnestly, what I thought of the whole kerfuffle and whether I’d seen Steve’s new blog.

I’ll answer reverse-chronologically:

No, I had not seen Steve Whitmire’s blog, until yesterday and now I have. Start reading it at the beginning. It’s … something.

Reading a blog – especially one of someone creative and new to blogging – can be a raw, harrowing experience. It’s clear that Steve Whitmire is a passionate person but it’s also clear that he’s too close to the situation to be a reliable narrator.

I think the real issue stems from where the line between the performer and the character is drawn. In the case of the Muppets, the performer is even more important than an actor or a voice performer. They literally inhabit the character by putting their arm inside of the felt.

For all intents and purposes Steve Whitire was Kermit.

But the problem here is that there are writers and producers and directors involved in the ongoing life of the Muppet franchise.

There were two theatrical films in the past 10 years and a (flawed) TV show. They all succeeded in some ways and fell short in others.

The first film was excellent and the second was pretty good, if uneven. The TV show never really found it’s own voice, partly due to the fact that it didn’t take advantage of any of the characterizations or storylines from the films.

But mostly the issue is that The Muppets need to evolve in order to be a sustainable, vital part of Disney’s portfolio. Steve Whitmire, by his own admissions, seems tied to a very narrow vision of the characters that was not shared by Disney, the Henson family, and potentially even some of his fellow performers.

Whatever the true issues may have been, Disney seems to have moved on and Steve Whitmire hasn’t. He’s still wrestling with how and why he was fired and my heart goes out to him.

But the fact remains that Disney & the Henson family clearly have one set of feelings about his performance and behavior and he has another. The preponderance of the evidence leads me to side with Disney, but I still sympathize with Steve over the loss of his job and empathize with him that he wants to understand exactly why things happened the way they did.

From my perspective The Muppets still need to evolve.

In a world when Kermit’s likeness has been co-opted sipping tea to indicate a sarcastic comment the Muppets have to be more contemporary than they are.

Listen, I loved The Muppet Show of my youth. There’s a reason the blog has the title it does & why I have the username “mostlymuppet” on every service imaginable.

I LOVE THE MUPPETS.

And even I know that the movies and the tv show are part of making them more relevant to people today. You can’t survive on pure nostalgia and zero character growth, just ask The Simpsons.

I just hope Steve Whitmire finds some peace. It sounds (reads) like he’s getting closer to that but it must be traumatic to lose something that you’ve done for 27 years and separate from a group you’ve been associated with since the late 70’s.

I wish Steve and the Muppets nothing but the best in the future.

I’ll be here, watching.

Echoes of Familiarity

Did you ever get a tune stuck in your head and you just can’t stop whistling or humming it to yourself? Happens to me all the time.

In college I used to actively try to get songs stuck in Jennifer’s head by singing them when she was around. Turns out she’s incredibly susceptible to suggestion (and I imagine most other folks are too).

A funny thing happened recently when I heard the new (to me) Urge Overkill album, I swore I’d heard one of the themes before. Listen to the guitar chord changes of “Thought Balloon” and tell me you don’t immediately think of the theme song to Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.

“Thought Balloon” by Urge Overkill

“Go” by Valley Lodge

Maybe it’s just more proof that there aren’t any new ideas, only new combinations and both artists simply got to similar sounds around the same time. Urge Overkill’s album is from 2011; Valley Lodge’s is from 2013.

Or maybe I’m just hearing them for the first time and imagining a correlation.

What do you hear?

Flying the fashionable skies

My father-in-law worked for an airline for 43 years, so I’ve flown on a few passes before. When my wife and I were dating, I can recall getting told several times while getting dressed to fly on a pass that I should “look nice”. A college-aged me bristled when told I had to iron some khakis (they were likely pleated; it was the 90’s) to look acceptable for a flight.

In the time since we stopped flying this way and started paying full retail, I’ve flown in any number of outfits. Sandals, an aloha shirt & shorts on the way to Hawaii. Jeans and a t-shirt on countless trips for work. Just a few weeks ago, a bowtie and a jacket.

Made it through our media event and lived to tell the tale, no worse for the wear.

A post shared by Seth Miller (@mostlymuppet) on

In all that time flying I can only recall ever noticing folks flying as a “non-rev” one time and that was because I was the one flying with that status.

I bring this up because of the recent United snafu, started when a passenger overheard a gate agent asking a young woman to change her outfit – No leggings! – to comply with their wardrobe policy. As someone similarly scrutinized, though never told to change my clothes by a gate agent, I sympathize with their situation.

Dressing up, or down as is the norm these days, for flying should be a personal choice. No one knows you’re a pass traveler anymore than they can guess your astrological sign. I’d go so far as to say that whenever I see a well-dressed person without a carry-on, I assume they’re flying non-rev. This goes double for kids dressed like small accountants.

The issue here is the power that the gate agent has and the unwritten rules of how nice one must dress. My father-in-law, as the employee, was given pretty wide latitude due to his tenure and “flight status”. Women, in my limited experience, were scrutinized more closely as was the case with my wife almost being denied boarding a flight once for wearing open-toed shoes.

The horror.

This is 2017. Almost no one dresses up for a flight unless they’re traveling for business and even then I see an awful lot of sweatshirts, baseball caps & jeans in First Class as I walk by.

Making a big deal out of what a child wears on a plane and then compounding the problem by explaining (poorly) pass flying expectations on Twitter is the real “bad look” here. And gate agents have enough to worry about without having to play “Concourse Cop” to all those non-revs.

The better solution is to simultaneously relax the policy to conform to current attire standards and to let someone other than a gate agent (maybe the ticket/check-in counter) handle the enforcement so as not to incite angry passengers right before they board.

More than dress codes, it’s good behavior airlines should be enforcing. Entitled passengers and complaints about service, comfort, and timeliness of flights are the norm when I’ve flown recently. Airlines should worry more about (and guard against) how their pass-flyers act on flights and less how they dress.

Because I’ve experienced enough assholes on planes in the past year to know you don’t have to dress like trash to act like it.

Sampled

During lunch this afternoon I watched a pretty cool video that catalogs some of the samples used in Daft Punk songs. I’m not a big Daft Punk fan, but their choices of source material are pretty excellent.

One track in particular, “I’m Not In Love” by 10cc, sounded familiar to me in an odd way. It actually sounded to my ear (I was munching on a sandwich, not watching the screen) like “She’s Gone” by Hall & Oates.

Turns out the latter was written a year prior to the former, but I defy you to listen to both intros and think the blue-eyed soul of one didn’t influence the English pop ballad of the other.

Or it could be that the success of “I’m Not In Love” in 1975 is what made RCA re-issue “She’s Gone” in 1976.

The world may never know, but I just can’t believe I heard these songs as the same song. Maybe it’s just my ears.

In short: Happy Wednesday!