Tag Archives: 2011

Baltimore Beer Week Begins Today

Today is a holiday in the City of Baltimore. It’s not the usual thing for a holiday to be on a Thursday, but… wait; is today Thursday? Who cares! It’s a holiday. A high holy day. A high holy week. And by week, we mean like 2 weeks. Eleven days to be exact.

Today marks the opening festivities for the third annual Baltimore Beer Week with the Star Spangled Banger Parade kicking off at high noon. They’re going to muster up at Fort McHenry with the eponymous banger, a giant ceremonial cask-cracking mallet. The parade itself is somewhat, er, ambitious; rivaling this Spring’s Schaefer Tour in terms of scope.

The Star Spangled Banger... a mighty symbol of Baltimore's thirst for liberty. The liberty to drink beer, that is.

Billed as a walking pub crawl, the parade begins in Locust Point, but includes stops as far-flung as Alonso’s, Grand Cru, and Canton. We’re kind of dubious that people are walking that far for a pub crawl. Carrying a giant mallet all those miles would be part barhopping, part Olympic torch relay, and part Stanley Cup showoff fiasco. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Charm City Pedal Mill were somehow involved.

For those drinkers not of the pedestrian persuasion, the parade ends at Power Plant Live at 6 pm, where the official opening ceremony will take place and the first firkin of heavy seas will be cracked open. After that, Baltimore Beer Week is pretty much a free-for-all with more than 300 separate events from which to choose.

We made the trip to Oktoberfest last year, and it ended up exactly like we said it would. We might even make it back this year, who knows? The truth is that we’re thoroughly incapable of writing one of those elementary school style essays on the theme of “What Baltimore Beer Week Means to Me,” but one thing is certain, with that many events happening, we’re definitely going to sample a few new brews even though we’re decidedly not a beer snob.

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Chop Style: Avoiding the Freshman Sydrome

First things first… The first thing is that we’re happy to announce that this blog was recognized yesterday by the City Paper in their annual Best of Baltimore issue as being Baltimore’s Best Local Blog. The BoB award carries a lot of weight in this town, and most of your finer local establishments display one on their walls from some year or another, so we’re excited to have one of our own to put in the office. We’re looking forward to spending long hours staring at it while we’re lazy and distracted and saying to ourselves “What the fuck are we going to write about today?” which is how blogs are made.

We also want to thank the CP staff for paying enough attention to remember that we are a blog. If we were handing out advice to a beginning blogger, it would not be “don’t write anything at all for 3 months” which is exactly what we’ve done up until yesterday. It means that much more to us for having been offline these 90 days.

A visual approximation of the Chop being the best.

So like we said, we get a little award suitable for framing. But the real prize when you win one of these is that you score an invite to the annual Best of Baltimore party, and get to hobnob and schmooze and glad-hand with the other winners, and of course, be privy to an open bar.

So we went there yesterday, and we did that. We even managed to get a date for the event. And without saying too much about it, we didn’t look at it as one of these “Oh I just need somebody to go with so let’s just go and hang out or whatever” dates. It was more like one of these “She seems pretty awesome and I really want this to go well and I’m kind of nervous about it and I still sort of can’t believe she said yes.” kind of dates. The best kind.

Which brings us to the main idea of this post. For a big date, or any type of big event whether it’s a job interview, a holiday, a wedding or what have you, the temptation is always there to go shopping beforehand and find something new to wear. It’s a temptation we usually resist, and we recommend the rest of you do the same.

Think about the beginning of high school. The first day of ninth grade is a big fucking deal for most kids. You’re out of middle school, and thrown in with a lot of older kids. You may be meeting kids from other middle schools, taking new classes, dating for real for the first time, and you’re trying you’re level best just to fit in, let alone cut a great figure down the hallways.

Maybe it’s different for girls, but for most of us boys your mom dragged you to the mall to hit the back to school sales and made you try on jeans and shirts for hours on end, wouldn’t let you get any of the things that you really wanted, or anything that wasn’t on sale, or anything that couldn’t double as church clothes- in short, anything good. So the first day of school rolls around and now that the clothes are bought you actually have to wear them, and in addition to all the hassles and stresses and pressures of starting high school, you’re constantly thinking “Do these jeans look like Dad jeans? Do these look like floppy clown shoes? Does this shirt make me look like a doofus?” And you wish you’d never gone shopping at all.

We’ve got it better as adults. Most of us have a much improved sense of style and a better sense of self than we did at 14, and we’re free to buy and wear what we will without any help from Mom. All the same, the Freshman Syndrome still persists.

Sure, those pants look great, but do they look great on you? That sweater is nice enough to be an investment piece, but will it itch your neck until you wash it a few times? New shoes are great to have, but they’re even better after you’ve broken them in and they’re not stiff and unforgiving. At the end of the day, looking good is mostly about confidence, and it’s hard to be very confident in something you’ve seen only once in a store mirror. The clothes that really inspire confidence are the ones that we know fit the best; that we’ve seen in our own mirrors, that we’ve been photographed in, that have generated plenty of compliments in the past. Better than new clothes are your favorite clothes.

Having a closet full of clothes that we can count on is one of the best things about being a bona fide adult. In our case, we’re always prepared for anything from a wedding to a funeral to a formal event, or even a date… no trip to the mall required.

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Opening Day 2011 @ Camden Yards Today

We hate to naysay.

Oh wait… no we don’t. We do it all the time. Like right now when we say that the Orioles will not break 70 wins again this year. We’re not one of these fancy schmancy analytical sabermetric blogs, so we’ll just give it to you in a nutshell. Aside from having Buck Showalter and a new coaching staff for a whole season (Thank Christ no more Terry Crowley), we don’t think the team is much better off than they were last year.

Unfortunately, we can't muster this much enthusiasm just yet.

We like JJ Hardy. We’d like to see him stick around for several years. We think he might be the first decent acquisition since Adam Jones. We can’t say that about anyone else. Mark Reynolds? He’s not much more than a second Luke Scott. Vlad? Vlad is a better signing than Sammy Sosa was, but that’s not saying much. Kevin Gregg? We shall see. Derek Lee? Sure, anyone’s an upgrade over Garrett Atkins, but we fail to see how he’s any better than, say, Kevin Millar. He’s not better than Aubrey Huff, who is now the proud owner of a World Series ring.

We went to opening day last year. We forgot how un-fun baseball can be when there are 40,000 fairweather fans making huge lines in the men’s room and standing between us and the beer concessions. As we write this, the current forecast is for a high of 54° and cloudy with a slight chance of rain. You can have it. We’re going to head down to the neighborhood bar, have a few pints and lunch on the bar. We’ll make it out to the Yard when it warms up a bit.

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Chop Style: Put Your Goddamn Keys Away

This has gone on far too long, Baltimore.

We see a lot of people on a day to day basis. We notice things. Once we notice them enough, we start to form an opinion, and then we run and tell that to the internet. That’s how blogging works.

Of course, we’re not just now noticing that people wear keys on their belts. We did notice though, that of all the people we encounter in our travels around Baltimore, none of them happen to be motorcycle riders, jailers, janitors, building superintendents, boaters, or have any other practical reason to wear keys on their belts. We’ve also noticed that it’s 2011 for fuck’s sake!

How outdated is this keywear trend, really? Not only are belt clips actually marketed as “Hipster Key Rings”, but you know a trend should be well over when the designer version hits Urban Outfitters and sells for $18.00. Of course, the one in that link is on clearance, which indicates that even UO thinks this look is like… soooo 1999.

You might think this is handy, but as an adult it’s the functional equivalent to your mom pinning your mittens to your jacket. It makes you look like sort of a retard. If you carry a bag put your keys in there. If you don’t, put them in the pocket of your jeans. If your jeans are too tight to get them into the pocket comfortably, then for Christ’s sake get some jeans that fit.

We’re embarrassed for our fair city to see so many people still trying to rock this look. We’re putting you on notice Baltimore. It’s a rule now: no more keys on belts. We’re giving you until April to re-blog this on your tumblrs and get the word out on the street. After that we might have to start indiscriminately cutting belt loops. They don’t call us Chop for nothing.

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New Year’s Eve 2011 in Baltimore

Here we are, Baltimore, at the end of the year. You might expect your Mobbies winner for best nightlife blog to give you some kind of nice little round up about all the fun things that are going on around town tonight. Nope. We say balls. We already went on record last year as coming out against the amateur hours that are drinking holidays, and New Years’ is the worst of the lot.

Our approach to New Years’ has always been that we’ll go out if and only if we can do it cheaply and easily and if we have a reasonable expectation of actually enjoying the evening. This year, there’s not one thing that came to our attention so we’re staying the hell inside. Gonna get some Chinese food, or maybe roll some sushi, crack open some of that good Christmas booze, watch a couple movies and probably fall asleep at 11:30, just in time to be awakened by one of Baltimore’s favorite NYE traditions… random gunfire.

Montreal. Maybe next year.

So instead you get a post about what we’re not doing. We’re not having anyone over for a late-night sit down dinner. That would have been a pretty decent idea if we’d thought of it a month ago. With New Year’s day being on a Saturday, that would have been another good day for entertaining. Meh. We’re still not fully in the habit of entertaining at home. Next time we’re around for the holidays, we’re going to make sure to host dinner.

We’re also not going to hop on a jet. We’ve been mostly pretty bored all month, and we’re anticipating a pretty dull weekend, so we thought why not throw a few shirts in a bag and go some place? Some place not close but not too far, that we’re not sick of yet; maybe Chicago, New Orleans or Toronto. How cool would it be to say bonne année from Montreal?

At a time when most people are expecting big credit card bills in the mail, we’re anticipating a lot of back rent and BGE money due from roommate. We also took most of our Christmas gifts in cash, so what the hell? Turns out New Year’s weekend is not the ideal time to jump on a last-minute-super-saver-William-Shatner type deal. If we wanted to go on Wednesday, it would be feasible, but then again, it would be Wednesday.

One of 2011’s resolutions will definitely be to get better at planning things more than a week in advance. Happy New Year.

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Predictions for Baltimore in 2011

Chopstradamus has seen the FUTURE, and we predict the following things will happen in Baltimore in the year of Our Lord two thousand eleven…

The Baltimore Charm of the Lingerie Football League will play their final game and no one will care. It might be because they can’t sell tickets, might be because the Arena is on the way out, or maybe the whole league will fold. Who knows?

Get ready to hear a lot about this junkpile in 2011.

Plans to tear down and replace the Civic Center will be the dominant issue in city politics. It will end to the satisfaction of no one. Meanwhile that ugly old Mechanic Theater building will continue to rot for another year.

Gregg Bernstein will start to clean up Pat Jessamy’s mess. Some old dirty laundry will be aired. No one will care much. Crime will drop slightly.

Michael Steele will come back to Maryland unemployed. Maybe Bob Ehrlich Wigs will hire that dumb, bald motherfucker to model their new line of “Urban” “Street” wigs.

Buck will wave bye-bye to BRob this Summer.

The Orioles will win 71 games. Brian Matusz will be the only pitcher, rotation or bullpen, to fully pull his weight. Brian Roberts will be traded near the deadline. Attendance will improve slightly. Showalter will continue to be an old hoss.

Downtown traffic will be for shit because of Baltimore Grand Prix preparations. Charm City Circulator service will expand, but will still not be worth riding.

Honfest will scale down to two days. Not as a direct result of the recent controversy, but possibly as an indirect result. Beehives can only go so goddamn high before they collapse, and 3 days was a bit much before most of the city went up in arms.

Outsiders will get bored of Beach House and catch on to something equally dull.

J Roddy Walston and the Business will supplant Beach House as the most popular Baltimore band outside Baltimore. This blog will probably continue to ignore both those bands.

Painfully slow progress will continue in Downtown’s Westside. Everyman Theater will be a success in the new location. Alewife will survive and accumulate some new regulars during baseball season.

Something will finally happen to the Chesapeake Restaurant building. This prediction is cloudy, but some kind of thing will definitely happen. Something. Around the corner, the new version of Liam’s Pint Size Pub will be very successful.

U2 will play, and it will be way more trouble than it’s worth for everyone involved. It will also be more trouble than it’s worth for those not involved. We predict a bigger crowd than the pope drew last time he was in town. (50k)

What we'll be eating this Summer.

The food trend for 2011 will be sandwiches. Primarily cold sandwiches. People will go nuts about different possible combinations of bread, meat, cheese, veggies. You’ll also see foodies praising the simple, quick, mobile, utilitarian nature of sandwiches and meals like the Ploughman’s Lunch, pushing these things to extremes the same way they did with cupcakes and small plates. Also, by the end of the year you will have an uncontrollable urge to punch anyone who says “sammich” if you don’t already.

Thus spake Chopstradamus. Go forth, ye Choppers, and prosper in yon new year.

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