September 2016s Loot Crate Is All About SPEED Gotta Go Fast

first_img September 2016’s Loot Crate theme is SPEED, which is why I was surprised by a dearth of Sanic the Hidgeheg swag in the box (though the Loot Wear extras include some classic Sonic socks, along with a great Mario Kart blue shell t-shirt). Check out the video for a closer look at what’s all in the box, which you can turn inside-out and make into a box car. Not a boxcar, a car that’s made of a box. Because it’s still cardboard, with no wheels or internal motive force.The t-shirt is straight from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, specifically Iron Man 2. It’s a Stark Enterprises Stark Motor Sports crew shirt, and it looks pretty rad even if that movie kind of sucked compared with Iron Man 3.Hope you like stuff on your desk, because this month has plenty. There’s a vinyl Titans figure of the scarred Cylon raider, with a clear base so you can pose it in mid-flight. There’s also a not-Hot Wheels version of Eleanor, the Shelby Mustang GT500 from Gone in 60 Seconds (the Nic Cage remake, and really the GT500 from that movie looks so much cooler than the 1971 Ford Mustang Sportsroof from the original film).If that isn’t enough, how about a magnetic Hoodies hood ornament, either Green Arrow from Arrow or The Flash from The Flash (I got Green Arrow)? And, finally a metal Batwing keychain.A Flash hood ornament would have been more in-line with the SPEED theme, but the Arrow ornament is still cool and I don’t have a car anyway. However, the whole crate seems oddly time-warped. A shirt that evokes Iron Man 2 from 2010, a Cylon raider figure from the Battlestar Galactica series that ended in 2009, a car from the Gone in 60 Seconds remake from 2000? And the Batwing isn’t from the Nolan or new DC movies. It looks more in line with the Burton/Schumaker Batman vehicles. Man, this crate went so fast it traveled back in time!As always, Loot Crate is a monthly subscription service that sends you a box of geeky stuff every month, each with its own theme. There are also more specific Loot Crate subscriptions like Loot Anime, Loot Gaming, and Loot Pets, to fulfill all of your nerdy collectible needs. Stay on target The Best Wonder Wharf Prizes for Bob’s Burgers FansOpen The Nick Box from CultureFly, Get Amazing Hat last_img read more

Smooth Johnnie and Confused Alexa Why Robots Make Terrible Whisky Sommoliers

first_img We like to drink here at Geek.com. It’s not quantity that matters, but quality, and as such, we’ve held several fine whisky tastings in the lab over the years. Everything from rare and unique single malts to blended bar staples like Johnnie Walker Black. And the world-renowned scotch distillery tried to get artificial intelligence in on the sophisticated fun by putting out a whisky tasting skill for Amazon Alexa.Yes, if you really want to enjoy your scotch with the power of technology, you can simply install the skill on your Amazon Echo and say, “Alexa, open Johnnie Walker.” And the voice app will open and walk you through a primer to savoring fine whisky. At least, that’s the pitch, and Johnnie Walker sent us bottles of Red, Black, and Green Label to try it out.Jack Daniels might have Gentleman Jack, but Johnnie Walker is the true philosopher-king in my book. Note to other forward-thinking distilleries: It’s not too late to earn our respect, too. A nice 12- or 15-year and you can join the pantheon of virtuous whiskey makers that I just made up. This includes Mr. Daniels, Mr. Beam, and Yamazaki-san.Anyway, about Alexa and drinking. We tried it out twice on two separate evenings. And failed, twice, on two separate evenings. This wasn’t because we drank too much beforehand, but I have a feeling Alexa might have.Here’s the rundown: you say “Alexa, open Johnnie Walker” and the app opens. Alexa will then give a variety of voice prompts, including running a guided tasting. When you ask for a guided tasting, Alexa will then ask if you have any Johnnie Walker, and which label it is. This is where the whole process hit a brick wall.“Do you have a bottle of Johnnie Walker?’“Yes.”“Which label?”“Green.”“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Which label?”“Green.”“I’m sorry, I didn’t get that. Which label?”“Green!”“You have selected Johnnie Walker Red Label.” Like out of a sitcom. Yeah, Alexa was no help in our whisky tasting. The main reason is the simply, fundamental problem of using voice assistants like Alexa in a group: Alexa isn’t the best listener. When more than one person is talking at a time, Alexa tries to figure out what not just you’re saying, but what everyone is saying. Which means what you’ll be dealing with a failure to communicate.Of course, when I quieted the group enough to talk to Alexa, she still heard me say the wrong label. The brilliance of technology!But you know what? We’re studied gentlefolk with refined palettes at Geek.com, so the failure of our Amazon Echo and the confused voice inside it didn’t stop us from holding a whisky tasting. So let’s talk about Johnnie Walker as an after-work refreshment.Johnnie comes in varieties identified by different colored labels, which are arranged in a general hierarchy of price and quality. Johnnie Walker Red is the basic, entry-level scotch, a simple blended variety without a specific age. Johnnie Walker Black is the next step up, using only 12-year scotches in its blend. Johnnie Walker Green is a 15-year blend of specifically malted whiskies, giving it a different test from the other varieties. Johnnie Walker Blue is the finest of the “standard” blended whiskies, with Gold and Platinum labels also standing out as the more high-end, expensive, splurge-y varieties that Mr. Walker was not quiet cordial enough to provide us. No complaints here, since Red and Black are stalwarts who are always welcome on my desk.Let’s start with Johnnie Walker Red. It’s a perfectly serviceable scotch. It’s better than bottom-shelf blended scotches you’ve never heard of, but it doesn’t have the sort of body or complexity necessary to really warrant a tasting. Honestly, Red is best used as a mixer. It’s a scotch you serve with cola or ginger ale for an easy drink. Its flavor is a bit smoky and sharp, with a sweet, slightly citrus finish.Johnnie Walker Black is more refined, and really the start of a good scotch tasting. It’s readily available and affordable, but with a complex enough flavor to make it a satisfying drink on its own. If you want to guide your friends through a tasting, a glass of Black can help kick things off with a taste that’s worth taking a few minutes really delving into before you turn towards more expensive, nuanced scotches. It’s also fantastic with black coffee. It’s smokier, smoother, and a little sweeter than Red, with a deeper flavor that contains notes of caramel and oak.Johnnie Walker Green is… difficult. It’s a blend of 15-year scotches, but its flavor profile doesn’t have the depth and complexity that should come with that age. That’s because it’s a blend of only malt whiskies, and the result is a very, very sweet scotch. This is the sweetest whisky I’ve ever tasted outside of those cloyingly sweet honey-infused bourbons from Jack Daniels and Evan Williams (which are excellent in hot toddies, at least). Because it’s so sweet, it’s very smooth, which makes it a dangerously easy to drink whisky. I could imagine some good mixers that make use of it, but it doesn’t compare with Johnnie Walker Black as a “proper” scotch. It’s a unique, niche whisky, and you can look at it as a replacement for honey-infused bourbons if you want a very sweet whisky as a building block for certain cocktails.Putting technology unnecessarily into things is a staple of what we do and what we love, but it hasn’t mixed well with scotch quite yet. Sorry Alexa, but we’re going to have to cut you off. And hog that delicious scotch all to ourselves. Geek Pick: Amazon Smart Plug Puts Alexa in Your WallsGeek Pick: Amazon Echo Show 5 Is a Nightstand Alexa Display Stay on targetlast_img read more