Showing posts from April, 2013

Innis and Gunn Original

***This review has been replaced***

Hailing from Scotland, this beer arrives in a clear glass bottle. Anyone who knows anything about beer knows that this is a bad idea. The natural enemy of beer is light, and a clear bottle lets as much in as it can. It's a bad idea, and it does not bode well. Maybe Innis and Gunn didn't figure that this would be sent to America and wind up in the South, but here we are together.

The aroma hits before the pour starts. It's got a distinct skunky smell that indicates that the clear bottle did not help things out. Being sold here in the South means that it probably sat for quite a while before purchase. Unlike many of today's beers, there is no brew date to go by. I expect this one was some time ago. I'm going to try, anyway.

It is a clear, deep gold with a very thin head that goes away fairly quickly. The aroma doesn't change while it's being poured - it is a bit off. I take a sip, but what's the point? I can review this …

Victory Golden Monkey

Victory Brewing has a warm place in my heart. I have sampled many of their beers over the years, and I've enjoyed them with friends and family alike. Today's triple ale is a bit spicy, which I normally eschew, but this particular brew carries it well.

It is a murky gold (bottle conditioned) with a thin head. That head mostly dissipates rapidly, but enough sticks around the rim to please. The aroma is potent. It's got a mix of strong alcohol and quite a bit of spice. The smell is strong enough to waft over from my reliable table beside my chair. It's certainly not unpleasant  but I'd prefer less spice. It's covering up the hops - and there's definitely a goodly amount of hops.

It's been some time since I had one of these. I forgot how a sip will hit you like a hammer. They didn't lightly spice this, but the hops are so strong that they manage to power through the taste. The whole taste is rich and smooth - which is unexpected given the strong flavors …

An Idiot Abroad (TV 2010-2013)

I know Ricky Gervais is the driving force behind getting this whole thing done, but the most he seems to do for the series is help Stephen Merchant arrange the situations where Karl will find himself uncomfortable or overwhelmed. I don't mean to minimize his contribution, but if you decide to watch this based on an enjoyment of Ricky's stand-up or even things like The Office, you need to understand that this is completely different.

Karl is billed as the idiot, but I would say he has a very unique view of the world. He is generally small-minded, and that informs his opinion about all the things he encounters. By exposing him to the Seven Wonders (in the first season) and a Bucket List of locations (in the second) and eventually pairing him with a little person (for the third) we have the opportunity to experience his wonderment of the stupid little things and his near disregard for the momentousness.

He describes Christ the Redeemer at the top of a mountain in Rio de Janeiro a…

Left Hand Brewing Good Juju

"This is a light ale and it has a bunch of ginger added to it. Why?"
"Because we did so well with our milk stout that we deserve the latitude."
"Fair enough."

The beer pours a very clear gold. The head is a wisp that dissipates very quickly. The aroma is dauntingly gingery. I'm not a fan of adding these random ingredients to try and make a beer, but I will give this one the benefit of the doubt.

The taste is as I feared. A single sip tells me they were not going for a particularly good ale - they were looking for a conveyance for their ginger. I've always been fairly apathetic to the ginger content of most of my meals. Really, the only reason I know what ginger tastes like is that I have had gingerbread cookies. They were dry and fairly nasty, and I should have predicted this beer would also not be good.

This beer proudly states its contents: rocky mountain water, malted barley, hops, yeast, and organic ginger. The noun "ginger" in and of…

Zombieland (TV 2013)

This is not a review of the movie. It's a review of the Amazon Streaming series. I'm referring to it as a TV series for the sake of continuity, but rest assured this is not about the movie. This is only this series.

What a hunk of crap.

I have watched all four Lake Placid movies and six Universal Soldier movies, so I know crap when I see it. Here's the thing - I really liked the Zombieland movie, and I'll probably review it at some point in the future, but this series sullies the name Zombieland beyond recognition. As it sits now, this series has a three and a half star rating on Amazon, and I have no idea what those people are thinking.

It's like they decided to make the horror/drama with comedic elements that was the film into a sitcom. It just happened that the situation was a post-apocalyptic world. The characters are horribly cast, the jokes simply aren't funny, and there are basics of the horror/survival genre that are ignored completely. Most notable for …

Hemlock Grove (2013)

I'm on the second episode as I start to write this.

Is this supposed to be a Twilight that sucks less? They've made references to one guy being a werewolf, but we haven't actually seen anything yet, and they are being very coy about the whole thing. One kid appeared to be able to use a bit of mind control, and we can only assume that he is a vampire of some sort.

Mind control boy's mother is Famke Janssen, who you might remember as Jean Gray in X-Men, and she has the most god-awful British accent I think I've ever heard. Her interaction with the other actors is stilted and awkward, and I'm still not sure if that's her interpretation of the character or if she's really that bad. I've seen her in a couple other things, and I think she's gotten this far on her looks alone. Unfortunately, she's not really pretty enough to get much further in life without a bit of talent.

Her house is furnished in 20's era furnishings for no particular reason.…

Rock of Ages (2012)

I admit to not expecting greatness with this one. A friend told me it was an entertaining movie, and I ignored my better judgement and decided to watch it. See, this particular friend once recommended Zombie Strippers, and I just can't think of anything other than that when he makes a recommendation.

I'd call this a kind of rock opera. I remember being told that Billy Joel's songs were strung into a musical, and I'd seen Across the Universe, so I'm familiar with the genre. Then, I saw that Tom Cruise is in it, and I was more worried. I wasn't sure that he could pull it off.

Well, they didn't call on him too much, and they basically used it as a showcase for this blonde chick and young guy, as they sang most of the songs. Catherine Zeta-Jones jumped in with some singing, and even Paul Giamatti got to sing a bit. Russell Brand jumped in with some decent singing, and Alec Baldwin stunk up the screen with some singing as well. Of particular note was that they …

Universal Soldier (1992-2012)

Fresh off the success of reviewing the undying series Lake Placid, I've decided to look at the Universal Soldier series. Why? Because I'm a glutton.

Universal Soldier (1992)

The first Universal Soldier seems like a fantastic movie right from the get-go. Released in 1992, it features Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren in their prime, and they die within the first ten minutes of the film. Then, they are resurrected by a secret government program as pseudo-cyborgs. On the plus side, most of the movie consists of robotic acting that is intentional.

As you might suspect, things don't go perfectly, and Dolph's homicidal tendencies take over to allow him to become the bad guy he was always intended to be. As Dolph is actually a better actor than JCVD, it benefits the audience that JCVD takes so long to regain a personality. Now, when I say he's a better actor, that does not necessarily mean that he's good. His monologue in the grocery store really drives that hom…

Lagunitas IPA

The sayings on the bottle are a bit snarky - including a "Life Is Uncertain, Don't Sip!"

I hope their attention to detail in making the brew exceeds their attention to detail in combing out comma splices from their sayings. That's right; I'm calling out the comma splice. That just happened.

The pour is simple. the beverage is a clear deep gold color with a whispy head that dissipates quickly. The aroma is very hoppy, as you might expect from an IPA, and I expect it from any IPA that refers to itself as "homicidally hoppy." The smell is VERY hoppy. It reminds me of the hoppiest beer I've ever had, Heady Topper.

Unlike Heady Topper, this one is from Petaluma, California. The only reason I've ever heard of Petaluma is because I listen to Tech News Today in the mornings, and their recording studio is there. As far as I can tell, that's pretty much the only useful thing in that city this side of the brewery. I shouldn't say that, as I've n…

The Master (2012)

Joaquin Phoenix is the central focus of this film, messed up lip and all. A half hour into the film, I still had no idea what it was about. We got the back story for Joaquin's character, and we heard a brief rorschach test that indicates an unhealthy obsession with sex, but we don't have any direction for him or any significant emotional motivation (aside form the aforementioned obsession with sex). We can tell that Joaquin has decided to drop a bunch of weight for this role, and he looks unhealthy. He looks quite a bit like Billy Bob at this point.

We finally roll around to Philip Seymour Hoffman's character as what we can only assume is the title character as master of the ship that Joaquin will work on. I guess they decided that "Master and Commander" was taken, so they would shorten it and make it more hip - kind of like when they took the "Wizard of Oz" title and shortened it to that awesome spectacle, "The Wiz." Well, we are to assume th…

Killian's Irish Stout

I have high hopes. I've liked the drinkability of Killian's Irish Red. However, I'm anticipating disappointment as well. See, I know the story of Killian's Irish Red, and I know that it came from George Killian, who is long dead. So, I would not be surprised if this was just an attempt by someone at Coors to sully the slightly good name of Killian's.

The cap is twist-off, so it's not starting off brilliantly. The aroma is very imperial stout - and that's definitely an issue. I know what Guinness smells like, and I know what Murphy's smells like. This does not smell like those. The head is nice and thick, though, with lots of tiny little bubbles dancing like a terrier trying to get his ball out of a tree. The hue of the head is a bit rose colored, which is odd.

The first sip is... interesting. It is very smokey. I take a deeper draught and taste the chocolatey malt added to the smokey taste. It's a very dry taste with a hint of what I can only think o…

Pawn (2013)

This movie has Forest Whitaker, Common and Ray Liotta in it. Even though they have those stars, it's Michael Chiklis who has the bulk of screen time. Surprisingly, he has a pretty good fake British accent in it, too.

It's a story along the lines of Dog Day Afternoon, but not quite as well done. The premise is that a group of bad guys enter a diner to rob it and things do not go as planned. As we learn through the movie, there are several sub-plots and intricacies that we were not privy to at the beginning. The inevitable police stand-off results in a very unlikely turn of events, and it does not really take too much away from the generally likable script.

It's not the greatest story ever told, and it's not got the best dialog (in fact, the dialog is a bit sketchy), but it's a relatively entertaining movie with some very good performances by the talent they have. And I should probably change my expectation level for Chiklis. I've seen him in a few things, and I …

Shock Top Raspberry Wheat

It pours even, a little cloudy, and with a thin head. After all, I had to follow the instructions again. This is the second Shock Top beverage that I have had that gave me instructions for pouring it. I am willing to tolerate such eccentricities from my beloved Guinness, but you really have to give me a damn good reason to make me change my normal pour-down-the-middle technique that I learned from a brewmaster.

The first thing I notice is the aroma. Guess what I smell. Raspberry, silly! In fact, sitting here on my comfy chair, I can sense the raspberry wafting towards me while I write. The problem is that I don't smell any hops or malt. All I smell is raspberry, and I'm seriously afraid I've made a mistake.

Well, carpe diem! (That's YOLO to you internet youngsters)

My first sip is sweet. It's not got a lot to it this side of the raspberry. I mean, I taste just this slight hint of malt, but the rest may as well be raspberry juice. Maybe I just didn't drink enough…

Shock Top Wheat IPA

I poured this one and took a whiff. The pour had been unremarkable, and the head was relatively thin, but resilient. The color was a foggy dark yellow. But this is taking me away from my point - the aroma.

It smells faintly of hops and strongly of... is it soap? It smells like soap to me. This does not bode well. Now, a friend of mine drinks Shock Top all the time, so I'm guessing the aroma is just an anomaly. At least, I *hope* it's anomalous.

Tentatively, I take a sip. No, I don't detect any significant soap taste. I guess it's just the smell.

It's not bad. It's not a great IPA, as it were, but it's not a bad beverage. It's got way too much citrus in there to be a proper IPA, and I have never really been a fan of wheat beers. Nevertheless, it's not the most horrific beer I've had. The taste isn't particularly lasting. It is possibly the most ephemeral tasting beer I've ever had. The taste goes away in a flash.


All Superheroes Must Die

This is an independent movie. They somehow managed to score Dexter's dad as the main villain, but that's the extent that I recognized anyone. Also, you have to go into it expecting the effects from a low budget (if any at all).

So, now that we've level-set, let's dig in. The movie is about a group of superheroes who have had their powers taken away and are being toyed with by their arch-nemesis who has decided to turn the tables on them and let them know what it's like to fail every time you try something. We aren't given background on any of the heroes immediately, and we have only a vague idea of what their powers were supposed to be in the first place. So, they have to go through a series of challenges to try to save innocent lives, and they are blocked at every turn. 
The acting wasn't terrible, if you can get past the superhero voices that they keep producing. I will admit, the voices are off-putting, and it never really gets much less annoying. I'…

Shock Top Belgian White

Yes, I got a sampler pack, and that explains why I have another Shock Top beverage.

And yes, this is another wheat ale, and I've indicated a general distaste for wheat ales. This is not to say that I've never enjoyed one, but they are few and far between. I remember a really small brewpub right off the main roundabout in downtown Gettysburg that produced one called, "The Wheat Field," after the area of the nearby battlefield. It was particularly good. In fact, I tried every beer they made, and each and every one was a treat. Unfortunately, the guys who ran it treated it like a hobby, and it must have been too much work, so they closed. When I went there and found that they closed, I wept at their doorstep.

But you're not here to read my ramblings about the remembrances of good beers. You are here, presumably, because you found my link and decided to be nice enough to follow it. Be proud, as you are in the vast minority out here on the internet. Think of this site …

Lake Placid

Today, I doing something a bit different. I'm reviewing this entire series of movies. From the first one that was made in 1999 to the most recent 2012 entry.

The original. It is surprisingly not bad for a monster movie. The effects are well done (for a late 90s movie) and the creature is shown effectively in glimpses and then in full later. It has the feeling of someone who wanted to produce a Jaws in Maine. So, it had a few big name actors doing a reasonably good job with their roles.
I've never been a big Bill Pullman fan, but he is a relatively good actor (when compared to the likes of Bill Paxton, for example). And he does an okay job here. Bridget Fonda is likewise a middle-of-the-range actor, but she does the best you can hope for with what is ultimately a very predictable character. Brendan Gleeson does a very good job - especially when interacting with Oliver Platt. Betty White is tremendous, "This is where, if I had a dick, I'd tell you to suck it."

Killing Them Softly

Ray Liotta has passed his prime. Brad Pitt has not, so I still had hope for this movie. I mean, a modern gangster movie with those two and James Gandolfini - this should be reliably good, right? Well, err... No.

The problems start right at the beginning. I mean, they can't even get through the title sequence without this jarring visual and political speech haphazardly spliced together. And that is when I finally get to the title at all. There had to have been fifty silent logos that cam up on the screen first. I get it - you're a company that spent money on this, so you feel you are owed my time to look at your logo, as I have paid for the right to watch it... wait, that makes less sense now that I read it back.

Anyway, the whole story happens at the time of Obama's first successful presidential campaign. I'm pretty sure there is supposed to be some kind of symbolism or parallel that is supposed to be going on through the story, but it was too complicated for me to giv…

Harpoon Chocolate Stout

I normally avoid chocolate stouts, but my local beer distributor has a fairly pitiful collection of brews, so I've opted to just jump in and try one. I am reminded of the triple chocolate stout that I once tried at the Fox and Hound in Pittsburgh, and it was truly terrible. I fear a repeat, but I've already paid, so why not go for it? After all, I have some extra Left Hand Milk Stout in the beer fridge.

The pour is unremarkable, but this is a blog, so let me remark. The picture attached to this is immediately after pouring, and there is nearly no head. That's pretty much where it sat for the rest of the experience. The foam that formed was thin, and it clung to the edge, but it stayed pretty well. The aroma is very chocolate. This is not the proper chocolate malt aroma - this is added chocolate flavor. Hmm. I can't say I'm optimistic about the taste.

I have tasted it. I have tried big droughts and short sips. I even let it warm up a little to see what changes may e…

Dundee Pale Bock Lager

Many years ago, I found a double bock and then a triple bock. I drank quite a few before I was tired of the heavy taste. I'm reminded of the beer that my father once told me was the best beer he had ever had. It was when he was in Germany, and he had Riedenburger Weizen-Doppelbock. I've never had that particular beer, but I like to think it's at least got the main feeling of the bocks I have already tried.

In fact, it's probably best that I avoid what he swore was the best beer he ever had. From the reviews that I've read, it is a middle of the road beer. I blame the fact that he was out of the country and young.

This one has never seen Germany, Bavaria, or pretty much anywhere near Europe in general. It pours a very light golden color, and has a light, fluffy head that dissipates very quickly. It smells heavily of malt. Percentage wise, I'm not likely to enjoy a lager, but let's give this a go.

First sip, it's really good. It's sweeter than I remem…

The Cabin in the Woods

When you hear the premise, you may be tempted to think that this is just another slasher film. I mean, I've seen the Cabin Fever movies, and they certainly aren't everyone's cup of tea. Well, this starts with the usual cast of jock, stoner, brainy guy, virgin, and slut. so... not promising then, eh?

Well, this is one of the best movies released in 2012. It was directed by Joss Wheden, and Joss does a heck of a job when he tries to do something different. Reviews of this movie are difficult, as there is an underlying difference in this movie that changes the landscape entirely. The problem is, it is better if you don't know what that difference is when you go to see it.

My friend Rick asked if it was a parody, but it's not. It's more of an exploitation of all of the other movies that have a similar premise. It builds on what you expect from this kind of movie with a bit of humor and unexpected twists. Oh, and it's got the guy who played Thor.