Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Press Release: TMS Was Right To Endorse Wells

More TMS archive folderol.

This just in! ***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Thunder Matt’s Saloon Was Right To Endorse Wells

Chicago, IL – July 29, 2009

After 8 solid innings of shutout ball, giving up only 6 hits and walking 2, TMS's July 16th endorsement of Randy Wells has thus far proven to be "right on, bitches," in the words of an anonymous TMS staffer.

This staffer then went on to call Wells "Nails. Totally f@cking nails, bro."

Mr. Wells himself remains unavailable for comment, no doubt because he is to busy kicking ass and taking names.

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c/o Thunder Matt’s Saloon
Chicago, IL and Parts Unknown
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Monday, July 27, 2009

TMS Beer Project: Hamm's

TMS archive.

Even the can screams 'DRINK ME, IF ONLY TO NOT LOOK AT ME!'With the name Saloon included in our moniker, one could surmise that we here at TMS like to drinky drinky. One that would make such an assumption would be correct, thereby throwing out the whole, 'when you assume you make an 'ass' out of 'u' and 'me' bullshit. We also like to plagiarize each other. In the same vein as the Wrigleyville Bar Project, we are proud to bring you another installment of the TMS Beer Project. The premise is simple: we review beers. Each rating will feature a variety of scores from 1-10 and comments from the bartender. This is a public service damn it. We don't want you to be the sucker who pays $15 for a six pack of some overrated Belgian cat piss. Now, we all drink massive amounts of beer so we know what we speak of. Each of us seem to have a favorite style of beer though. Will we be reviewing macrobrews like Bud and Coors? Oh you bet your Aunt Susie's ass we will. For purposes of this science experiment, and it is in the name of science, those will be the "control" group. Use them as a base line for when we review lesser known imports and microbrews. Without further ado, I bring you our next beer:


I think Hamm’s deserves a bit of a preamble. This venerable beer (first brewed in 1865, no doubt to celebrate the end of the bloody American Civil War) is in the same family of Cheap American Lager as the more commonly consumed PBR and Old Style, but of late has failed to be fully retrofitted into either the Hipster Community (like the former) or the Chad Community (the latter). Of especial note is the incredibly awesome vintage commercial featuring the Hamm’s Bear, that can be found on youtube:

Apparently, Hamm’s had a heavy sponsorship of Chicago baseball in the 50s and 60s, but as I have only been on this earth for 33 years, and in Chicago for 5, I do not see much evidence of this once mighty footprint.

Brewery: Miller. Which means it now joins High Life as The Only Two Miller Products I Don’t Hate. Seriously, if you’re ever in the Buena Park region and want 3 cans of Miller Lite that my dad left last time he came to town, let me know. The process that made it a Miller product is fairly tortuous: according to Wikipedia, the Minnesota-based Hamm’s family sold the brewery in 1968 to the Hueblein Brewing Company, then a long chain of mergers and purchases pushed its ownership through Olympia (“It’s the Water!”), Pabst (“It’s the Aluminum!”), Stroh’s (“It’s…affordable…”), and finally Miller (“It’s crap!”), which is actually owned by some South Africans now, apparently.

Type: American Pisswater Lager (If you know me, you know I don’t mean that in a bad way)

Receptacle: 12 ounce can. I’m sure you can get it in a bottle as well, but cheap beer belongs in cans, dammit.

Bring this guy back, dammit!Drinkability (1 being Jim Jones' kool-aid, 10 being the nectar of the gods): Ease of drinkability is at least an 8. If you can’t drink this, you are either the lightest lightweight in the history of lightweights or a pretentious ass that only drinks skunky hippie microbrews. However, if drinkability = flavor in your mind, knock this down to about a 5. It’s not unpleasant, but it’s moving into “making love in a canoe” territory.

Heartiness (1 being fresh mountain spring water, 10 being a pureed British steak infected with mad cow disease): 3. Hamm’s is, after all “From the Land of Sky Blue Waters.”

Intoxication (1 being your friend's weird pentecostal grandmother high on Jesus, 10 being Boris Yeltsin on a week long bender in the Crimea): 3. Maybe 4 on an empty stomach. An ABV of 4.73% pretty much means you need to really pound the everloving hell out of these to get too embarrassingly drunk. I downed about 5 of these with a burger and tater tots, and a shot of tequila, and I was fine. And I'm not a remorseless boozing maching like Dave "White Chili" Thomas.

Celebrities You May See Drinking This Brew: Well, I had it at the Holiday Club, so maybe Vince Vaughn. That and old Midwestern guys like Dennis Franz and Dennis Farina. Hell, any ex Chicago cop named Dennis that became an actor.

Affordability ($ being chiclets in Tijuana, $$$$ being diamond encrusted braised lamb shank from a trendy cafe on the Champs d'Elysee): ¢. This is about as cheap as you can get without choosing “American” Beer at Delilah’s on Punk Rock Night.

Overall: 8. But I love cheap, pisswater lager. My tastes in beer are pretty much either “High End Import” or “Under $5 a six pack.” The middle-of-the-road is for dead possums with yellow stripes on their backs. So, buyer beware!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Grown Man Attempts to Review NES Games, part 3

More TMS Archive Joy.

Or, Smiting Pagans With the Power of EXODUS!

I've been holed up in my apartment for roughly a week now, sick as a dog, so I decided to dust off the old NES emulator, and write a review. However, I'm just not up to discovering another lost gem like The 3-D Adventures of World Runner or the face-meltingly odd 8-Eyes. I'm sticking with one of my own personal favorite games from "back in the day," a classic of non-licensed, religious-themed, oddity.

Of course I mean...EXODUS!


I first discovered this classic when I was in High School, at The Good News Bookstore in Mt. Pleasant, SC. This blessed place was a combination Fundamentalist Christian bookstore, deli, music store, and toy store that I used to refer to as "The Christian Chuck E. Cheese." The 17-year-old obnoxious punk version of Wolter used to come there after school with his obnoxious punk friends to play this classic of the genre on an NES they had set up in the back. Why?

Well, you are Moses, leading your people out of Israel. According to the game's description you...

But, ultimately, that really means


Oh sure, once I read the instructions (when I caved a bought a copy in college), I discovered that you are ostensibly using the "Word of God" (it's shaped like a W, but it's a lighting bolt, people. Trust me on this) to "convert" them. But when they are converted, they explode and disappear. Sounds like a smiting to me, chief.

But does this game live up to my fond memories? Let's find out using science (by "science," I, of course, mean "arbitrary ranking scales based on my whims"):

Graphics: Okay, these are pretty basic, even by 8-bit standards. But Moses is actually surprisingly cute. And unlike some games, I know what the hell is going on at any given moment. Also, there are plenty of subpar single picture "scenes" in-between levels, but not every game can be Ninja Gaiden. The graphics are nothing special, but nothing awful. Plus, you get to SMITE PAGANS WITH THE POWER OF THE LORD. (3/5)


Sound: Oy. This is where it gets bad. Unless you love an endless midi loop of "Father Abraham had many sons" playing for all eternity. I usually turned off the sound and listened to the Misfits on my walkman back in the day. (1/5)

Gameplay: Okay, this game is a lot like some sort of weird allegorical Dig Dug. You're Moses, and you shoot little W-shaped bolts out of your staff (the "Word of God") these in turn help you dig tunnels through "The Murmuring of the Israelites" and "convert" assorted Egyptian soldiers, magicians, and etc. (as mentioned above). You can also "convert" the pagans by pushing boulders on their heads. While moving through the level, you collect "manna" jars, bibles, and "questions" while looking for the door to the next level.


At the end of each level are 5 questions from the Bible. You get a bible for answering each question correctly. Every 7 bibles gets you an extra Moses. Oh, and when Moses dies (usually from failing to avoid the unclean touch of a pagan), he puts his hands over his eyes in a truly adorable fashion.

Really, though, the point of this game is SMITING PAGANS WITH THE POWER OF THE LORD. (5/5)

Level of Adult Confusion: Dude, you walk around SMITING PAGANS WITH THE POWER OF THE LORD. What's not to get? (0/5)

Level of Childhood Rage If I Had Spent Money on This: I doubt I would have been angry as a child. I was pretty religious, plus I loved smiting things. (0/5)

Time Spent Playing As An Adult Before Quitting in Annoyance: Hell, I'm only annoyed that I had to quit long enough to write this review. I need to get back and SMITE PAGANS WITH THE POWER OF THE LORD.

Composite Grade: Sound issues aside, I give this one five bibles out of a possible five. Because I'm pretty sure I have literally every track the Misfits recorded.


Now, if you'll excuse me, I have some smiting to do...


Thursday, July 16, 2009

Press Release: TMS Endorses Wells

TMS archive.

Wuxtry! Wuxtry!***FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE***

Thunder Matt’s Saloon Endorses Wells

Chicago, IL – July 16, 2009

The following is a transcript of the speech delivered by TMS Bartender “Wolter” this morning (annotated with hyperlinks, and edited to be printable):

“Thank you all for coming. I’m here today to talk about a matter near and dear to my heart: the Chicago Cubs.

“Given the poor quality of the Cubs’ offense in the current season, it has been a temptation to say that “This whole damn team sucks,” and indeed many Cubs fans and TMS bartenders alike have joined in iterating some variation on that theme.”

[Wolter pauses for a moment, clutching the podium with white knuckles and mutters something that sounds like "Sori-f@ckin'-a55h0le."]

“However, this fails to take into account the bright spot of this year. The anemic offense (God, has that cliché ever been more accurate) is at least being offset by the solid, and occasionally brilliant starting pitching. As much of a “f@cking nutpunch” (per a high-ranking TMS insider) it is to lose close, low-scoring games, at least the Cubs are not being utterly annihilated in the field, like the residents of ”NATSTOWN!”

“One of the linchpins of this rotation is the surprisingly competent rookie, Randy Wells. Once thought by many Cubs commentators, including this speaker, to be a career Quadruple-A player (much as the namesake of The Saloon is sadly turning into), by picking up a surprisingly devastating “Slutter” (a slider/cutter hybrid that just defeated the "Slurve" to become the Best-Named Pitch in Baseball History), Wells may even garner some votes for Rookie of the Year (like first ballot HoFer Jerome Walton…).”

[Wolter coughs nervously.]

“Moving on…

“Wells, like pre-sex change Rich Harden last year [Note: Harden’s agent will neither confirm, nor deny, Mr. Wolter’s assessment], has been the victim of a few atrociously bad offensive games which have kept his W-L record from being particularly impressive”

[Wolter balls hands into fists and smashes them into podium]

“Can we please agree, as thinking people, that wins are as meaningless a stat as “holds” and move on with our lives?

[Wolter again coughs, and an unnamed TMS intern approaches the podium nervously. Wolter waves him off]

“I can do this. If you look at Wells’ performance, he is pitching damn well. In 81 innings, he has an ERA of 2.55, with about six K’s per nine, and only about 2 walks. His WHIP is is like 1.1, and most importantly…seriously guys…his slider is sickhouse.

“In conclusion, I have been authorized by the Powers That Be at TMS to give Randy Wells our blog’s official support. May God have mercy on his soul.”

[Wolter pauses for applause, then realizes he has been delivering this speech standing on his desk, alone, in an empty office.]

“Holy crap. This cold medicine is awesome…”

Mr. Wells has not yet commented on this announcement.

Press Secretary
c/o Thunder Matt’s Saloon
Chicago, IL and Parts Unknown
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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Very Modest Proposal That Most People Probably Don't Agree With

TMS archive, folks.

How is Mark Buehrle not a Cardinal?
The All-Star Game Sucks. Get rid of it.

I should probably say more on this subject.

St. Louis sucks. Get rid of it.

Ok, I'll elaborate on both of these notions.

First: St. Louis, you couldn't get any classier if you assigned monocles to every single bemulleted Jorts-wearer in St. Louis County. Booing Ted Lilly? Classless. Booing the sitting president? Seditious. Cheering the former president louder than any other, despite the fact that man-ape ran the country about as well as Peter Angelos runs the Orioles? Dumber than Ronny Cedeno opening a baserunning school.

Second: the All-Star Game is just a giant letdown. It always is. And I'm not just talking about the fact that the NL couldn't win against the Washington Generals. I'm talking about the fact that it isn't really ever much of a good baseball game, involves more lineup changes than even Tony LaRussa can stomach, and is about as culturally relevant as a Pro-Bowl with a better publicist.

Once upon a time, the All-Star Game made sense. There were two leagues that only played each other for 4-7 games a year, max - and that was only the two best teams. Free agency was an insane pipe dream that hadn't even twinkled in Marvin Miller's eye. Good players on periennial sucky teams (like Ernie Banks or Warren Spahn) didn't have a chance to show their stuff against the other league. And beer cost a nickel, dammit!

Even after Curt Flood made a small crack in the reserve clause, and those after him shattered it, the All-Star game was still a fun little break from the regular season. It was a meaningless game, meant to be an exhibition of the best talent baseball had to offer. For fun. The fans voting for whomever they wanted to see play made sense. Because, you know, it was for fun. A game.

But then, Bud Selig had to do what he does best and douche it up by doing the following:
1. Starting Interleague play
2. Making it count.
Addressing the first point: I'm not 100% opposed to interleague play. At least not opposed enough to rant about it. But, alongside the rampant team-hopping of the free agency era (which I am not opposed to at all - I'm glad players aren't the slaves of the owners any more. As greedy as some of these jagoffs players are, they are saints compared to most owners) it renders moot the coolest part of the All-Star Game: finding out how good your favorite player is against the best of the other league. My dad (though a lifelong Cubs fan) idolized Stan Musial as a kid. What a thrill it was for him to find out just how well The Man would do against an AL ace like Whitey Ford or Early Wynn (assuming they ever faced each other...I'm just being rhetorical here).

Fast-forward to today. Most fans with google and patience could tell you how well any given All-Star has done against the other league in general, and often, any other player in specific. Using my own pathetic favorite team, I don't have to wonder how well my favorite Cubs would do against any of a number of AL players, because at some point I've seen the matchup before. Although, to be fair, I could safely assume that the Cub player would probably screw it up this year.

But I digress. More than usual. My point being: it's not a big deal to see these player matchups these days.

I'm going to do my best to be brief and not to rehash the numerous criticisms many have made regarding the second point: making the ASG "count." The main problems I have with this are that

A) That can't be much motivation to the numerous skilled players who are playing in cellar-dwelling (or at least mediocre) teams. If you play for the Orioles, why on earth should you hustle and possibly injure yourself so that some Massholes will be the ones celebrating in October? Honestly, if you're the kind of person to play your hardest with that low a level of incentive, you're the kind of person who would play that hard in an exhibition anyway.

B) Most people playing in the ASG are very good at what they do. But most of them have never played together before this week, and probably never will until next year. This isn't a team playing another team. This is a lineup of skilled individuals that have no vested interest in each other playing against the individuals on the other team. I don't really believe in the hokey notions of team chemistry overriding talent, but on some level not playing with the group you've gotten used to working with day-in, day-out over the course of a season has to be a tricky prospect.

C) It's just not as much fun. Christ, there are 162 regular season games that "count." If you have to have an exhibition game midway through the season, make it a joyous celebration of playing a game on a summer evening just for the joy of the game. Baseball is awesome, folks. It doesn't have to mean something to be awesome. I for one would love to be able to watch a great AL homerun or defensive webgem without thinking to myself "dammit, even if the Cubs somehow pull this shit off, they're going to lose home advantage."

Ultimately, all this is moot because it's not really like watching a real baseball game. By the time one pitcher finds his rhythm, his inning or so is done. There's no real sense of "uh oh, Player X is running out of gas and the heart of the lineup is coming up. Who do we have in the pen?" There's no thinking "if Player Y strikes out, Player X might be able to finish out this inning against the bottom of the lineup." It's just: "Inning over. Next inning will be a new #1 starter or last year's best closer facing 3 solid hitters." No flow, no game rhythm, no dynamics. That gets old. It's the reason hardcore bands don't make 18 minute songs.

In conclusion: the All-Star Game sucks. Get rid of it.

Unless the NL ever wins one of the damn things.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

It's Pop Culture Quiz Time!

TMS archive. Again.

Featuring: The Exquisite Existential Horror of 16 and Pregnant

Ok. First and foremost: I am not here to praise this show.

I know TMS has a long and storied history of promoting incredibly crappy television. But that isn't my style.

This nightmare is merely on while I am in the room (actually, in the interest of full disclosure, it just ended and my fiancee changed the channel to the slightly less hateful Chelsea Lately). But it is the single bleakest thing I have ever been exposed to. And I have read almost everything Samuel Beckett ever wrote, and own Joy Division's complete discography.

So I did what my father taught me to do when encountering a tough chore. I made a game out of it.

The rules: Pick out the false statements from these random true facts about this show. Every right answer earns you $50 in TMS Fun Bucks, which can be redeemed for Mustache Rides from Chaim Witz1

The "Facts":

1. Whitney is 16 years old and pregnant.

2. She has dropped out of school to have the baby, because she is ashamed of being pregnant.

3. Her mother is also pregnant.

4. Both she AND her pregnant mother are living at her "Mee-Maw's" house.

5. Her "Mee-Maw" is renting said house.

6. Said house is already overcrowded. Before Whitney's son and her brother are even born.

7. Her "Mee-Maw's" landlord is selling the house.

8. Once the house sells, they are evicted, meaning the only good thing about the crappy housing market is that maybe the depressed economy of whatever backwater community they live in will actually keep a roof over their head.

9. Since dropping out of school, Whitney was a social recluse. Because her friends will not hang out with her for fear of "getting pregnant theyselves."

10. Did I mention everyone in East Dogpatch, or Hooterville, or St. Louis, or wherever this takes place sounds and looks like an extra from Deliverance? Because they hella do.

11. When she ran into her friends at the mall on the first day she left the house in weeks, it was more awkward than discussing "Black Quarterbacks" with my extended family...

12. Oh, remember that House of Despair currently on the market? "Mee-Maw" has to sleep on the couch.

13. Whitney and her Babydaddy Weston (WESTON?) go looking for an apartment. Despite the fact that they live far enough from human civilization that the rent for AN ENTIRE HOUSE costs less than an efficiency in Lincoln Square, they still couldn't afford it. Because they are sixteen.

14. Weston.

15. Weston has a job, but his hours are being cut gradually...

16. While clearing a drawer out in "Mee-Maw's" old room (remember, she's on the couch now!), they found her New Orleans souvenir mug with a ceramic penis for a handle.

17. This made "Mee-Maw" so angry that she told them they had to move out. To recap this one: Whitney's grandmother kicked her pregnant granddaughter out because she found her mug with A CERAMIC PENIS FOR A HANDLE.

18. In an hilarious twist of fate, Whitney goes into labor on what would have been her Prom night. If she hadn't dropped out. Because of her baby.

19. Oh, and there were complications with the labor, necessitating a C-Section. Even after the labor inducing drugs were given.

20. Oh, lest I forget, the baby was not moving enough before delivery, which necessitated being placed on a Fetal Heart Monitor.

21. I still almost forgot...she was just going in for a check-up. The baby wasn't actually due.

22. The baby was born healthy, and Weston actually ended up being good with him. Which is fortuitous, because Whitney was clearly suffering from post-partum depression.

23. The notion of a happy ending was introduced, when Weston's parents offered to let them move into their storage room.

24. A few weeks later, Whitney sat with her baby, and stated in a flat voice "I was too young to have a baby. Thank goodness I had help."

25. The baby looked like a Gray with a pignose. Or, I guess...Sean Marshall.

26. Did I mention the baby is named Weston, Jr.?

27. In celebration of their life maintaining subsistence levels, Whitney ends up baking a cake. Which looks like the easter bunny had diarrhea. Only more depressing.

28. I was just reminded on re-reading this list that Whitney cannot tie her own shoes. She has reproduced.

29. Weston, Jr.

Answer key: If you said every single one of these things was absolutely true, give yourself a mustache ride!

Tune in next week, when a weeping teenage couple decides to re-enact the plot of Juno, only with more heart-wrenching despair, as they decide to bring a baby to term for adoption!

MTV, you truly are devoted to the joy and fun of youth!

1. The Chaim Witz Wild Mustache Ride is unfortunately closed for repairs.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Billy Lee Riley needs help!

Not one of my usual jokey, frivolous posts. Bear with me, and if you can, help.

I found this out here, which in turn got the following from the Rockabilly Hall of Fame site:

Billy Lee Riley ...
one of the remaining original Sun Records artists, Is in VERY bad need of help! Billy has had his share of health problems, and is now battling Stage FOUR bone cancer. Although musicares is helping with house payment, car and such, He and Joyce are totally out of money and can barely afford to eat. This is a CALL FOR HELP to all musicians and fans. Please remember, twenty bucks from all of us would make a HUGE difference in Billy's life! What if this was you? Let's all get together and send something today to Billy and Joyce and show them that he means alot to us. If you have a website, a facebook or myspace, please post this need for help on it! We can't save the world, but it will mean alot in Billy Lee's life!

His Address is:

Billy Lee Riley
723 Crest Drive
Jonesboro, Arkansas 72401

I don't have much to add to the blog above (read the link, it's short and to the point), but Billy Lee Riley is a living legend, and his "Flying Saucers Rock and Roll" is as close to perfect as any music can be. In an ideal world he would have been as big as Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins, or really any of the great Sun artists.

If you can help him, please do. I know I can't afford much, but he's worth it.