Then & Now

DM's recent post concerning this vintage Mickey Mouse comic strip led me to think about some of the other cartoon characters that have changed even over the course of my lifetime. Enough has been written about the disturbing trend in the sexualization of childhood staples such as Candy Land, My Little Pony, Rainbow Brite and even Lisa Frank (no!), so I'll just leave it at this: I think what saddens me the most about Strawberry Shortcake's (d)evolution is that Custard also received an unfortunate facelift. I wonder what Tamale looks like these days after his "fruit-forward" makeover. 

Internet Roundup

A few recent online reads. As always, click on the individual photos below for corresponding captions and links.

In defense of pumpkin beer

The Week knows what's up:

You probably hate pumpkin beer. You are wrong.

Pumpkin beer has become a punch line, unfairly lumped in with all the truly terrible pumpkin-flavored products that infect our lives each fall. It's not just the Pumpkin Spice Latte. There are now Pumpkin Spice Oreos, Pumpkin Spice Eggo Waffles, and Pumpkin Pie Spice Pringles. There were even rumors — thankfully proven false — of a pumpkin pie spice condom.

So maybe it's not your fault that you hate pumpkin beer. We have reached peak pumpkin, and it's not even technically fall yet. Blame the nefarious Pumpkin Spice Industrial Complex.

When it comes to beer, pumpkin-flavored offerings have also moved from the margins to the mainstream. Pumpkin beer is no longer an innovative novelty, but a ubiquitous presence on store shelves as early as August.

Understandably, drinkers are miffed about this pumpkin interloper invading their booze. But the backlash has grown so shrill it's devolved into fatuous faux-outrage and, worse, outright condescension.

Here's the thing though: Pumpkin beer is great. Not all of it, of course. But there are a number of delicious, well-balanced takes on the style.

Southern Tier's Pumking is a classic example of the style done right. It's a bit on the sweet side, but it features graham cracker notes and a hint of vanilla that give it a more rounded flavor than most other pumpkin brews. Cigar City's Good Gourd rates not just as a great pumpkin beer, but as a fantastic beer, period, with a 96 score on Beer Advocate. Even Harvest Moon, from pseudo-craft brewery Blue Moon, is a decent iteration that doesn't go overboard on the spice notes.

When done right, pumpkin beer still tastes like beer. Good beer. Subtle spice and a hint of pumpkin add a comforting, warm layer to beer's inherent goodness, making the style perfect for sipping all through the fall.

Sure, there are plenty of horrible, over-spiced, too-sweet pumpkin beer concoctions that taste as if someone liquefied a stale pumpkin pie — metal tray and all — and carbonated it. But there are also a bunch of delicious pumpkin beers. Stop impugning their honor.

And is it any surprise that more and more pumpkin beers exist each year? For all the vaunted independence of the craft beer industry, it is still an industry, a capitalistic enterprise. Breweries make what people are drinking, and what the market demands. Pumpkin beer is incredibly popular and enormously profitable. Though IPA sales typically outpace those of seasonal offerings by 300,000 cases or so per month, fall seasonals led IPA sales by 300,000 cases in October and November last year, according to the Brewer's Association. Moreover, sales of the top pumpkin beers from 2012 leapt a ludicrous 366 percent over a four-week stretch in 2013, indicating the market is still soaring.

And while you may be horrified at the thought of Natt-o-Lantern, this trend is actually great for the craft beer industry as a whole.

First, the booming sales of pumpkin beer boost the profits of craft breweries, allowing them to grow and better compete with the big guys. Craft beer sales rose 17.2 percent last year, and anything that helps craft breweries continue to grow apace is welcome news for fans of variety, innovation, and flavor.

Second, pumpkin beer is a gateway beer. It is a stepping stone from macro swill to the wide variety of styles and tastes craft beer has to offer.

The first ever craft beer (non-Sam Adams division) I can remember trying was Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. Alongside the PBR I was used to chugging in college, it immediately vaulted to top of my fledgling "Best Beers Ever" list. Today? I wouldn't touch the stuff. But Pumpkinhead was the first brew to pique my interest in craft beer as an alternative beverage, leading me to try more good beers — including, yes, good pumpkin beers — down the road.

Writing off an entire style of beer to burnish your beer snob cred, or because you hate seasonal pumpkin creep, is misguided. And in doing so, you're keeping yourself from enjoying a drink with a rich place in American history.

So shut up and drink up. Pumpkin beer is great.

Fave vs. Fav, A Linguistic Explanation

From Fast Company:

On Monday afternoon, The New York Times published an article with the following headline: "Save the Fav, Twitter’s Digital Body Language," igniting a debate on Twitter about the proper spelling for the shorthand of Twitter's favorite button. Some people fave, others fav.

The New York Times, it seems, prefers fav, but defaults to faves plural. The Atlantic and The Washington Post have both used "fave" in headlines. But The (Atlantic) Wire says fav. (One of the people quoted in that story, Mat Honan, prefers to fav faves.) Urban Dictionary has entries for both, as does the Oxford English Dictionary. Although, none of the definitions mentions Twitter in particular.

There's no consistency--so what's right? Fast Company reached out to a linguist, who prefers to remain anonymous, for enlightenment. Her thoughts:

Fave is more phonologically right based on English spelling rules. Fav is more true to an abbrev(e?) of the written word because there is no 'e' in it.

The moral: BLECH WHATEVER

We asked the copy desk of The New Yorker to weigh in; will update with comment about this important issue. Like the never-ending GIF pronunciation debate, both are right. Yet, people will continue to debate each spelling's rightness for years to come.

Because even when the debate about the spelling dies down, there's always pronunciation. As Stanford-trained linguist and data scientist Tyler Schnoebelen points out, the missing "e" from "fav" can create some concerns--namely, "of 79 words that end in -ave in the CMU Pronunciation Dictionary, 63% are pronounced like brave, cave, Dave, gave, pave, rave, wave. Or crave." There is always the case of "have," but Schnoebelen says that most people know that that is a "weird" case. "So 'fave' is probably the easiest to indicate what I take to be the predominant pronunciation," he writes in email.

One other possibility exists: that "fav" is like "Mojave." "It's unlikely someone will pronounce it that way," Schnoebelen writes, "although I would love to hear someone do that."

Update, 6:03 p.m.: The New Yorker has picked a favorite! From their copy desk: "We don't have a style on the short form of "to favorite," but if we did we would probably favor 'fave.'"

Update, 10:45 p.m.: It might be a verb noun thing, says linguist and Wall Street Journal language columnist Ben Zimmer. He likens the debate to "mic" versus "mike." "Some people prefer 'fav' as a noun and 'fave' as a verb, which parallels usage of 'mic' and "miked," he told Fast Company. "This happens with any new technology and the lingo surrounding it. For an earlier case, see '(tele)phone.'" 

Tuesday, 9 September 2014, 1:43 AM MDT

How did I miss this?! / On second thought, maybe it's a good thing I missed it... / Oof, Yosemite / Super Harvest Moon! / Oh, hello again / Turns out, this bourbon kind of sucks, definitely stick with the original / Candy by Decade / This keeps getting funnier every time I read it / Looks like DM and I aren't the only ones who need to brush up on our geography / Oh phewf, not-the-Chargers won! / So excited for AHS Season 4!

Friday, 5 September 2014, 3:17 AM MDT

HOW IS THIS MOVIE STILL SO GOOD?? / Jimmy Kimmel’s Mean Tweets series really does a great job of taking people’s unfounded awful meanness and turning it into something entertaining / I think I need a pair of these down booties / Looking for a terrarium delivery service in Austin? If so, check out Slavonk & Hortus Terraria! / Ohm's Law has never been so cute / My parents are headed to France this month and will be stopping in Annecy for a few nights; nope, not jealous at all / D does a really great pika impression / Boise has some great pizza / Yay for the start of football season!