Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stuff to (not) give up for Lent

Happy Ash Wednesday to the Catholics out there and happy regular Wednesday to everyone else! If you're the type to give something up for Lent, consider sparing beer from the potential list.
This past weekend I went with my fabulous friends to Avery Brewing Company in Boulder for a mid-afternoon tasting and tour. Our awesome tour guide, decked out in bike pants and Crocs, gave us the skinny on the most "outta control" and "whacked out" beers on tap. That includes beer from their "Holy Trinity" series, which features some saintly-tasting brews. Hog Heaven Barleywine Ale (surely the most whacked out, in this guy's opinion) is super-super hoppy and is responsible for turning the tanking Avery into a happening, nationally-known brewery. The Reverend Belgian Ale is made with specialty malts and a hint of cherry/molasses goodness. On the lighter side, Salvation Strong Ale has a light, sorta peachy taste (like heaven!) I walked away with a bomber of Salvation, so come on by and share it with me!
Not to be outdone, Hell is equally represented in Avery's "Demons of Ale" series. Dark and tasty-looking (I haven't yet tried any) Samael's Ale, The Beast and Mephistopheles' Stout brings in darker flavors like chocolate and anise. They're also whallopingly strong-- 14 to 16 percent alcohol.
Check out Avery's Strong Ale Festival Friday, Feb. 27 and Saturday, Feb. 28 to sample 60 strong-ass beers. $25 at the door gains you entry, a commemorative tasting glass, and sixteen 2oz pour tasting tickets.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Telling Stories Feb. 20 and 21!

Telling Stories, a super-fun collection of FREE live music and essay readings, returns 7 p.m. Friday, Feb 20 in Boulder and Saturday, Feb. 21 in Denver. This month's installment is "Finding Our Religion," an exploration of spirituality through a collection of creative musical and written art.

Word on the street is that there will be essays about bathroom graffiti, the Midwest and the ghost of Cab Calloway. There will also be a host of electric guitars, marimbas, cellos, zarbs and clarinets.
Telling Stories features young classical musicians and writers, but the group aims to "leave the stuffy concert hall behind." Full disclosure: I'm a contributing writer for the event, and this event is far from stuffy. I followed a gorgeous and unconventional flute piece at the last event, I managed to drop the F-Bomb on stage as I read my essay.

If you're in the Boulder area, check out Telling Stories Friday at Old Main on the CU campus. For the Denver crowd, check out Telling Stories at 910 Art Gallery, 910 Santa Fe. Both events are FREE and start at 7 p.m.

For more information, visit

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Rock out with (Jew)elry

Image via

I always get a little too excited when I get another free issue of Nylon in my mailbox. (Thanks free trial offers!)It's all so silly: the neon fashion trends! The ugly but somehow irresistible shoes! The long-haired guys with jeans so tight they look like grungy ballet dancers!

I was especially excited when I saw a small feature on Carlen Altman's Jewish Rosaries that seem to be slung around everyone's necks these days (the guys from MGMT, English model Agyness Deyn, musician Adam Green, are just a few of the usual hipster suspects). And the likes of Elle, InTouch and Heeb have all found a place in their pages for the jewels.

Some priests in the Catholic church have said they're disappointed to see traditional rosaries used as a fashion statement, but the trend made popular by Madonna seems to be going as strong as ever. Now that there's a Jewish equivalent, even I want one-- and I'm not even Jewish. They remind me of the super-pretty beads my grandma had (and the sky-blue one I kept tangled in my sock drawer with my rarely-used prayerbook.)

I can see the Catholic church's caution against using the beads as a date-night accessory. When you think about it, the fashion angle can detract from rosary beads' spiritual and practical use the same way decorating with prayer flags in Boulder detracts from their actual sacred purpose. But the let's-play-dress-up side of me wonders why rosaries have to be so darn gorgeous if they have to stay zipped in a carrying case or Sunday-best pocket.
Check out Altman's spazzy, tongue-in-cheek Web site here for the full scope of her awesome rosary madness.

Hey mommy, is Islam the light?

Remember all those horror movies with the talking dolls whose only mission was to kill humanity in gruesome and fucked-up ways? Needless to say, I've never been one for talking toys. In fact, as a child, I preferred to come up with my own voices for my baby dolls. That's why I never had this odd problem: several parents who bought the "Little Mommy Cuddle n' Coo" doll say the baby declares the phrase "Islam is the light!" in a garbled, creepy voice.
Some parents have complained about the same problem with the Baby Pals game for Nintendo DS.
So what really happened? Was it simply a cheap recording malfunction that cobbled together the word "mama" too many times? Or is some toymaker really, really dead-set on converting the world's young population with a single electronic phrase?
Neither Nintendo nor Mattel take responsibility for the error. Nintendo backed away from the issue by saying the game is manufactured by a third party, and Mattel said the compressed audio files can sometimes get corrupted. Sounds like a conspiracy to me!
I personally can't see how someone happened to get access to change the audio on these toys to add a religious message, but if you really want to hear it for yourself, check out the news story here.
And if that DID happen? Hey, if you know the guy who manipulated the audio, send him my way so I can indoctrinate children with a healthy fear of zombies.