Here’s a project I’m really excited about - Manual Coffee Maker No. 1 by Manual Goods.
I learned 90% of everything I know about coffee (still very little) from Overextracted, the blog run by one of Manual Goods’ founders. I’ve been watching this idea develop over the past year and, as I’ve become more and more fluent in the language of coffee, I find myself coveting it a little more each day. 
So I’m really excited that I had the opportunity to give some money to the Kickstarter to get this thing off the ground - and it’s especially cool that it’s not only the coffeemaker that is launching, but a whole line of philosophically similar products are also launching via the Manual Goods brand. Everything is centered around slowing down and focusing on the ritual of creating something with your hands - “craft over convenience.” And I’m really in love with this idea and can’t wait to watch Manual grow.
Check out Overextracted and start figuring out coffee, check out Manual and their current lineup of goods, and check out the Manual Coffee Maker No. 1’s Kickstarter.

Here’s a project I’m really excited about - Manual Coffee Maker No. 1 by Manual Goods.

I learned 90% of everything I know about coffee (still very little) from Overextracted, the blog run by one of Manual Goods’ founders. I’ve been watching this idea develop over the past year and, as I’ve become more and more fluent in the language of coffee, I find myself coveting it a little more each day. 

So I’m really excited that I had the opportunity to give some money to the Kickstarter to get this thing off the ground - and it’s especially cool that it’s not only the coffeemaker that is launching, but a whole line of philosophically similar products are also launching via the Manual Goods brand. Everything is centered around slowing down and focusing on the ritual of creating something with your hands - “craft over convenience.” And I’m really in love with this idea and can’t wait to watch Manual grow.

Check out Overextracted and start figuring out coffee, check out Manual and their current lineup of goods, and check out the Manual Coffee Maker No. 1’s Kickstarter.

(above image, design by Kyle Fletcher pulled from Dribbble. You can buy an awesome t-shirt with this design from Good Beer Hunting here.)
This weekend I finally got cider. I had always liked the stuff enough, from the mass-produced Mike’s swill that I drank as a high schooler, to the more artisan versions picked up from the Whole Foods down the way. But I never saw it as transcendent the way I look at beer. 
But then I had Virtue Cider's The Mitten. I have had this cider before, many times even, dating back to about a year ago. It's a bourbon barrel aged cider blended with a cider freshly produced from this year's crop. And it's delicious. 
There’s a lot of depth in this drink - you taste those apples right up front, and then you sink into the layers of bourbon - vanilla, caramel and oak float across your tongue, perfect complements to the acidity of the apples. 
I drank a few small glasses of this at this past weekend’s Naperville Winter Ale Festival, a small gathering in the west suburbs of Chicago, with my friends Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting, and illustrator Andrew R. Wright. Chicago’s breweries were well represented there, from Pipeworks, to Solemn Oath, to the perennial festival heavy-hitter, Goose Island. But there were a scant two cideries, as far as I could tell, in Vander Mill and Virtue. Andrew grabbed me a glass of The Mitten and let me know that it was a pretty flawless way to start a day, and he was right. Perfectly light and beautifully complex, it gave you something to think about without weighing you down. 
Virtue is the perfect cider ambassador, with a catalog of fantastic offerings. I’ve had a few of them, and the new context of enjoying the Mitten helped me retroactively recall some of their other ciders, like the funky, sour Percheron (made with Brettanomyces!), the tart, lemony Spanish Cidre de Nava, and the wine-barrel-aged Lapinette. They’ve opened my eyes about what cider can be.
And they’re the latest in a long line of Michigan artisans that strengthen this inextricable link between Chicago and Michigan. I grew up near Fort Wayne, Indiana, less than an hour and a half from Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall, Michigan. Just a straight shot up I-69, I never visited the place while I lived there. And while I still haven’t, I feel more strongly connected to the place than I ever did living in northeastern Indiana. It’s so much more well represented here on tap lines, as are places like Founders, Bell’s, and Greenbush (well, Bell’s has a pretty huge presence in and around my hometown - probably even bigger than Three Floyd’s).
Whatever the reasons, I’m happy to have Michigan cider and beer more prevalent in my life. And I can’t wait to have a glass of Percheron with my next Sunday paper.

(above image, design by Kyle Fletcher pulled from Dribbble. You can buy an awesome t-shirt with this design from Good Beer Hunting here.)

This weekend I finally got cider. I had always liked the stuff enough, from the mass-produced Mike’s swill that I drank as a high schooler, to the more artisan versions picked up from the Whole Foods down the way. But I never saw it as transcendent the way I look at beer. 

But then I had Virtue Cider's The Mitten. I have had this cider before, many times even, dating back to about a year ago. It's a bourbon barrel aged cider blended with a cider freshly produced from this year's crop. And it's delicious. 

There’s a lot of depth in this drink - you taste those apples right up front, and then you sink into the layers of bourbon - vanilla, caramel and oak float across your tongue, perfect complements to the acidity of the apples. 

I drank a few small glasses of this at this past weekend’s Naperville Winter Ale Festival, a small gathering in the west suburbs of Chicago, with my friends Michael Kiser of Good Beer Hunting, and illustrator Andrew R. Wright. Chicago’s breweries were well represented there, from Pipeworks, to Solemn Oath, to the perennial festival heavy-hitter, Goose Island. But there were a scant two cideries, as far as I could tell, in Vander Mill and Virtue. Andrew grabbed me a glass of The Mitten and let me know that it was a pretty flawless way to start a day, and he was right. Perfectly light and beautifully complex, it gave you something to think about without weighing you down. 

Virtue is the perfect cider ambassador, with a catalog of fantastic offerings. I’ve had a few of them, and the new context of enjoying the Mitten helped me retroactively recall some of their other ciders, like the funky, sour Percheron (made with Brettanomyces!), the tart, lemony Spanish Cidre de Nava, and the wine-barrel-aged Lapinette. They’ve opened my eyes about what cider can be.

And they’re the latest in a long line of Michigan artisans that strengthen this inextricable link between Chicago and Michigan. I grew up near Fort Wayne, Indiana, less than an hour and a half from Dark Horse Brewing in Marshall, Michigan. Just a straight shot up I-69, I never visited the place while I lived there. And while I still haven’t, I feel more strongly connected to the place than I ever did living in northeastern Indiana. It’s so much more well represented here on tap lines, as are places like Founders, Bell’s, and Greenbush (well, Bell’s has a pretty huge presence in and around my hometown - probably even bigger than Three Floyd’s).

Whatever the reasons, I’m happy to have Michigan cider and beer more prevalent in my life. And I can’t wait to have a glass of Percheron with my next Sunday paper.

I am writing about this a few days after his tragic death, and it’s been a heartbreaking, but beautiful few days of revisiting Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s body of work. There are so many highlights across his career, a few of my favorites being his role as Lester Bangs in Almost FamousCayden Cotard in Synecdoche, New York, and Scotty in Boogie Nights, but my all-time favorite is his stunning performance as Lancaster Dodd, a cult leader of sorts, in Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. Every performance in this movie is a tour de force, but none more so than Hoffman. His intensity barely conceals the rage beneath the surface, and you can’t take your eyes off him in just about any scene he’s in, especially the infamous “informal processing” scene. But my personal favorite is the above scene, where Dodd is questioned by a skeptic and sputters his defense, red-faced. It’s a stunning display of control, as even as the rage rises and Dodd’s almost Tourette’s-like explosion gets the better of him, he reels it back in with more restraint than most any other actor would be able to. There is a volcanic rage contained within two syllables, and I can’t think of another actor capable of that scene.

Music For Thought, Vol. 4 (Feb. 1 - Feb. 7)

The weather is killing me. I’m a broken person. I feel like I will never leave my apartment for non-work reasons again. I may never again drive a vehicle. I have subsisted on delivery Chinese and pizza, and some leftovers in the fridge since New Year’s Day. And despite all this, I’ve gotten to listen to an astoundingly small amount of new music. I am confined to my couch, eyes affixed on the TV screen, watching nothing noteworthy all night. My week’s worth of commuting consisted of listening to podcasts about Peyton Manning’s tragic arc, and about the truly devastating news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death and his extraordinary career. But I haven’t listened to much this week outside of talk radio and the shifting of the icy tectonic plates outside.

Being an adult, at least in my experience, is full of weeks like this. You’re either too beat or too busy to even get up to cook dinner, let alone listen to music and think about its value. Much less even set aside some time to write about your experiences. It took everything I had to sit down at my computer tonight and start typing. I set aside an hour or two (or more) each Tuesday to focus as much as I can and articulate my thoughts, and if I haven’t listened to anything yet, I try to at least put together a playlist of the stuff I want to hear. Then I save a draft, and update my thoughts throughout the week as I hear more and more of the music I’ve decided to listen to. So Tuesdays are sort of my “drawing board” days and I look forward to them. Most weeks. But this week it’s hard to drag myself out of bed and face the arctic chill, trudge through the dirty snow to the train, and sit in an office for eight hours. So there isn’t going to be much this week. Winter is crushing me.

But I’ve been giving Sun Kil Moon’s new album Benji some rotation whenever I get a chance. Mark Kozelek has always made the kind of music that I find my self striving to enjoy despite not always quite getting there. I understood the cult following, and I wanted to be a part of it, but I just couldn’t commit entirely. So far, a few listens in, I’m feeling a lot of those same feelings, but I don’t know if it’s this year’s gray, painfully cold and long winter or something else, but I’m able to connect with the music a lot more than I used to. They’re all story songs, as most (at least I think) Sun Kil Moon songs are, and I don’t even know if they’re better than most Sun Kil Moon songs, but they’re more direct, and more modern. Ian Cohen, in his review for Pitchfork, addressed Kozelek’s last album, Among the Leaves, which was basically the equivalent someone’s dad discovering social media. Well, not really, but there was a lot of oversharing and portraits of a small moment of a small day. 

Benji seems like a streamlining of that album, a refinement. It’s stream of consciousness. It’s direct and unobscured. And maybe Sun Kil Moon songs used to sound dusty and old to me, or maybe their cover artwork just made me think that, but this album is effortless to me, and it isn’t like work trying to connect.