Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

A beer, a game, and Karl Marx for kids

Crash Landed by Begyle Brewing Company


I never imagined that my favorite beer would be made a mere 1,500 feet from my doorstep, but that’s my fault for underestimating the unquenchable thirst of our nation’s greatest drinking town. Chicago-based Begyle Brewing bottles several tasty varieties—and pours even more at their taproom in the city’s North Center neighborhood—but none can top Crash Landed, an American Pale Wheat Ale that lives up to its name thanks to a 7 percent ABV. With a hoppier flavor than the average wheat beer, Crash Landed is a homegrown answer to A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, one of the signature products from recent Chicago transplant Lagunitas. It’s the type of drink I’d recommend to anyone who likes the bitterness of a pale ale, but doesn’t want to feel like they have a mouthful of flowers. And if I’m making that recommendation at home, I can also give quick directions to the primary source of Crash Landed—though I’m more likely to just walk over there myself and pick up a six pack. [Erik Adams]

Plato & Co. children’s philosophy books

Part of the challenge of raising kids is how to introduce them to big ideas in a way that doesn’t immediately bore the living shit out of them. Even the word “philosophy” sounds boring; explaining some of the ideas that fall under that category can seem like an exercise in futility. But it’s amazing how some cool illustrations help the medicine go down: Diaphanes press is publishing Plato & Co., a series of books ostensibly aimed at providing the little ones of the world with an engaging and simple way to start learning about some basic ideas of philosophy. So, naturally, they started with two of the most light-hearted tales possible: The Death Of Socrates and The Ghost Of Karl Marx.

The former delves into the world of ideas, asking what we’re supposed to do in the face of inevitable death. (You know, the kind of laid-back stuff you always love your kid to ask you about.) The second book gets into the nitty-gritty of what, exactly, is the proletariat, and why we should oppose the exploitative capitalist system in favor of something much more socialist. Again, probably the kind of thing you’re dying to try and explain to an 8-year-old. Luckily, these books can now do it for you! Or, if you’re skeptical kids will get into it (and it does seem like a tough sell to get kids to read long passages about “a class of exploiters who were, for once, represented, personified by the army”), they also just make damn cool coffee table books, which is where my copies have been sitting for the past month, eliciting appreciative smiles from just about everyone who’s flipped through them to admire the artwork. Who doesn’t imagine the ghost of Karl Marx, traveling around righting wrongs? After reading about it, it’s hard not to imagine. [Alex McCown]


Shovel Knight: Plague Of Shadows

My friend and fellow gaming commentator Gary Butterfield has a theory about the emerging conversation between games and their own downloadable content. He argues that developers have begun to use DLC as a way to apologize for or fix the flaws of their original offerings. The recently released free expansion to last year’s critically worshiped Shovel Knight is a great data point in that argument, addressing as it does almost all of the game’s (already pretty minor) flaws. The new character, Plague Knight, completely reinvents the game’s solid movement mechanics, replacing Shovel Knight’s straightforward jumping and downward strikes with elaborate aerial acrobatics. Meanwhile, shovel-swinging combat is gone in favor of a satisfying, highly customizable projectile weapon that encourages the player to change things up on the fly (in the 3DS version, anyway, where the menu is perfectly placed on the touchscreen) as they battle from a distance. And the need for cash (and upgrade materials) to keep Plague Knight’s bombs competitive pushes the player to explore every single level in full, burning through the “I’ve already bought all the upgrades I need so money is useless” ennui that could set in near the climax of Shovel Knight’s original campaign. The fact that the whole thing is completely free for people who already own the base game, along with the adorably charming plot, are just icing on the cake. [William Hughes]


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