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Showing posts from November, 2013

Samuel Adams Juniper IPA

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I'll admit that the blueberries on the label give me pause. But I've had some spectacular Sam Adams beers in the recent past, and I really know that they can make some more wonderful beers with ingredients I wouldn't typically associate with good beer. I have hope. And hope is a dangerous thing.

The color is a dark gold with red twinges. The head is thick and extra sticky. I mean, really sticky. The thickness of the bubbles on the side of the glass now that the head has started to dissipate is the same as the bubbles across the top. It's downright odd. The aroma is not particularly fruity, so the blueberries on the label may be a red herring. The smell is mostly hops with a bit of grain.

First sip is generally good. It hits with a good, hoppy taste with a bit of bread, but it's not too bitter. That start is really, really good. Then, the finish is rough. It's kind of citrus, and then it hits with a whole heap of bitter. It overwhelms everything else and is lite…

The To Do List (2013)

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I like Aubrey Plaza. From her quirky character on Parks and Recreation to her somewhat distressing TV interviews, she shows a certain disrespect for authority and wanton disregard for convention that I find endearing.

It seems, however, that this character is the only one she knows how to play. The character in this movie is a snarky young woman who ignores convention and treats her parents as if they are her peers. It would be nice to see her stretch her acting legs a little, but maybe they are already stretched - I don't know.

So, the movie is a coming of age movie where a girl graduating high school studiously makes a list of sexual things that she has to do before she goes away to college. She then goes about attacking that list, even though she has very little understanding of what any of the terms or experiences actually mean. It's actually harder to believe that a studious high schooler wouldn't know how to find out what the terms mean then it is to believe that Aub…

Kick-Ass 2 (2013)

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The first Kick-Ass was an unexpected joy. It was much more lighthearted than Defendor, which had been released a year earlier, and it managed to make the whole idea of someone trying to be a superhero without any powers a bit more fun (even in the dull drudgery of everyday). While dealing with death, blood, and mayhem in a less dark way (it was still pretty dark).

This sequel to that movie follows our heroes as they deal with the world evolving around them. They have inspired lots of others to be costumed heroes now, and they have to deal with the fact that they aren't the only ones out there. In the midst of this - and their fractured personal lives - they deal with The Red Mist. He was the son of the bad guy in the first movie, and he pretended to be a hero in it. Now, though, he embraces his dark side to become a villain.

Chloë Grace Moretz comes back as Hit Girl, and she has definitely grown quite a bit. She's still just a young lady of 16, but he size means that her attac…

Elysium (2013)

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I don't know what Jodi Foster's accent is supposed to be, but it's not a very convincing one. It's not quite as bad as the in-and-out accent of Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, but that doesn't make it good.

So, the Earth is full of disease and poverty, and all of the rich people have escaped to a satellite called Elysium. The movie tried to get the District 9 feel of slums. The difference here is that the whole planet is slums. YEA! A DYSTOPIAN FUTURE! There are some subtle parallels between the wealth imbalance in the US, and when I say subtle, I am being sarcastic. Likewise, every random person on the street is Hispanic, and every random person in orbit is white. Subtle.

So, Jodi Foster is the manager of the space station. It is unclear what legalities have transpired, but she is referred to as "Secretary" and she appears to report to the president of something. The whole government and social services of the planet are really kind of hard to understand, b…

Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale

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Sam has produced some remarkable beers. At some point, I want to meet Jim Koch, son of the founder and current Chairman and lover of beer, and give him a hug. Sam Adams seems to have the magic figuring of beer. They can do some fantastic things, and it turns out well. It's not always going to be great, but they have a firm basis to work from.

This beer is a dark brown with a bright, sticky head that grips the sides of the glass as the beverage is imbibed. The aroma is strong with this one; I can smell it from my chair, and that is something that hasn't happened with a beverage in at least a few months. I smell malt and hops. There's a bit of spice there, as well, with some floral scents.

It has more malt than I expected. It also has some citrus from... orange, maybe..with chocolate and coffee tastes merged together. I expected more hops in here, but the expectation does not equal letdown. The taste is robust and heavy, and I might even taste a little berry in the beverage.

The Lone Ranger (2013)

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Oh, sweet childhood. What would this world be like if Hollywood didn't rape our memories with the likes of Transformers, The Karate Kid, The "A" Team, and this movie? I suppose it is fortunate that this was not a box office success, but I still decided to see it.

This should have been called Tonto. That's not a ding against the direction of the movie, though. If you recall the original Tim Burton Batman, it should more properly have been called Joker. The fact that another character takes over from the title character doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be bad, but I find it a tad misleading. I mean, look at this box art to the left - they nearly cut the actual ranger off of the picture entirely.

Johnny Depp can certainly carry a movie. He cannot, however, come across as a Native American. Even with the caked on makeup that makes you question how he manages to shave without stripping it off and the big, dead bird that he has on his head that never see…

Strongbow Dry Cider

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The folks across the pond tend to take issue with people who refer to "England" instead of "The UK" or "Britain," but the brewers of this dry cider very specifically put England out there as the place of origin, and I will not argue that the small print actually says UK.

I've had other ciders, and I may have been overly negative toward them, as my normal drink of choice is beer, and they loosely fall into the category with beer instead of hard alcohol or the like. The fact is, I like filtered, pure apple juice that is not from concentrate, and I've had non-alcoholic cider before that I enjoyed, so I need to shift mental gears to properly enjoy a beverage like this.
The pour is as simple as it gets. It looks like Juicey Juice apple juice and there is no head to speak of. The scent is of apple with alcohol - which is exactly what this is. I'm not sure what to make of the fact that this is a "dry" cider as opposed to the other ciders I&…

Mike's Shandy Hard Lemonade and Lager

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I've had Mike's hard lemonade before, and during a trip to a NASCAR race in Michigan one year I learned that Mike's was a great beverage to wake up to when you were planning on a whole day of drinking heavily. Today, I'm not planning on drinking that much, so I want something that doesn't just go down easy after a night of drinking and before the next night of drinking. This time, I'm looking for taste. The fact that this is half Mike's and half lager means that it may suck quite a bit. Or, like an Arnold Palmer, it may turn out to be just right.

It pours a hazy pale yellow. It looks exactly like what you would expect if you poured a Mikes into the same bottle as a Bud or a Miller light. The head goes away quickly, and a decent ring around the top lets you know that there is beer in here - seriously. The aroma is a bit malty with heavy lemons. There may be a hint of grain, or it is possible my mind is playing tricks on me and letting me smell the things I t…

Saranac Red IPA

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Hailing from the Empire State, this oddly named beer is a red IPA. I can't say I know the difference between a red and an amber IPA. I suspect it's just a preference of terms, but there could be some origin differentiation, as well.

The head is a bunch of sticky bubbles that cling to the sides with an impressive willpower for being just a bunch of bubbles. It's a pretty hazy red ale that has more brown in it than I would have expected. It's so hazy that there are tiny bits floating in the beer. The implication is a bit of bottle conditioning, but I don't think we're looking at enough sediment to justify that assumption. The aroma is kind of flat with a bit of hops and something smokey in there.

First sip is a complex one. It starts off kind of watery, but it blossoms right in the middle with a kind of smokey caramel with the sweetness of the hops really taking hold. Then, very quickly, the sweetness is shoved right out of the mouth with the bitterness of the ho…

Samuel Adams Cherry Chocolate Bock

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I have a soft spot in my heart (and palate) for bocks. My first double bock was a Sam Adams, and it really opened my eyes to good beer. I had a flirtatious affair with a triple bock at one point, but it was too rich for use as an everyday beverage. I've had a cherry Sam Adams beer before, and it was WAY too much cherry and not enough beer. Hopefully, this will not have the same failing.

The beer is black as midnight. The head has a red tint to it. Presumably, that has to do with the cherry in there, and the head doesn't stay around very much. It dissipates to a thin veneer across the top with the usual ring around the edges. It's not sticky, so it doesn't leave any traces along the sides as it goes down - that makes me just a little sad. The aroma is of cherries and chocolate - no big surprise - but there is less chocolate than cherry. I'm reminded of fantastic chocolate stouts that I've had that had no chocolate added, and I also remember bad chocolate stouts …

Bard's Original Sorghum Malt Beer

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I got another six pack of assorted beers from my local distributor. It seems their methodology for selecting beers that are prime for this packaging is whatever hasn't sold or is missing a label for some reason. As a result, I already had to pour two beers out that were clearly skunked. WHY won't beer makers put dates on their damn labels?

It's a very clear, yellow-brown beverage. Bubbles fear the top of this beer, so only a few stay on top. I've had a sorghum before, and the smell is familiar, but that beer was gluten-free, so it had a lot going against it from the start. I'd say the aroma has malt with a bit of hops, pine, and lemon with that queer sour sorghum twist.

First sip, and it's pretty clear I don't like sorghum. There is a sweet taste on the front end followed by a tart fruit followed by some grains. The finish is strangely wine-like. I'm not a wine drinker, but I remember this taste from wine as well as pure grape juice. It's not entire…

Event Horizon (1997)

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I went back to watch this movie. It's been a while since I first saw it, and it left an impression when I did before, so why not watch it again? Well, anyone who saw the original Red Dawn when they were young and then went back to watch it when they grew up knows that things are not always as they seem.

Lawrence Fishburn leads here in his pre-Morpheus role while he was still young and fit. He delivers a commanding performance of the captain who is both haunted by his past and dealing with things in the present. The character gets rattled and recovers to make reasonable decisions and protect his crew wherever possible. The lines they gave him were good, and the way he delivers the description of a crew member being engulfed in fire in zero gravity is haunting. 
Sam Neil is not a great actor. In Jurassic Park, which I'm pretty sure is his biggest role ever, he was cold and stiff through the whole thing. Maybe that was the character, right? Well, he's stiff and cold throughou…

The Taking (2013)

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This is apparently unrelated to the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. In retrospect, I really wish that Dean Koontz book had been made into a movie instead.

This movie is an arthouse, masturbatory charcoal sketch of what an actual horror movie is like. It's not really a movie. I think I've made PowerPoint presentations that had more movement and more coherent storylines. Instead of relying on things like exposition or dialogue, this movie feeds you a series of barely moving scenes and nearly intolerable music/"scary" noise.

There's a story in there somewhere, and there may even be glimpses of acting, but it's really just a wilting pool of nonsense with the occasional lilypad of stark recognition that you, the viewer, are truly wasting huge portions of your life watching crap that was spewed from the mind of art school drop outs who envision their own reality and try to force it on the world as if anything produced by someone who has declared themselves an a…

The Frozen Ground (2013)

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In this movie, John Cusack plays a disturbed kidnapper/killer who tries to outsmart the police while doing horrible things to women. Nicholas Cage plays the impressively ineffectual police detective who tries to catch John doing the bad things he does.

John's character does only the bare minimum to not get caught, and it's almost unbelievable that Cage's character would be so bad at his job - the entire police department would be so bad - that they wouldn't have captured him and been able to tie all of the murders to him. Instead, John's ability to capture and kill at will is nearly laughable.

The whole movie is shot in winter, so they add that dark tint to every scene that gives it the feeling of depression and impending doom. It's actually pretty effective at making the movie feel more dramatic than it is. The script adds in the wayward young woman who needs a cop's protection while she is singled out by the psychopath, but it's kind of hard to actual…

Shock Top Pumpkin Wheat

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I've had three other Shock Top beers, and two of the three got 2.25 out of 5, so they were slightly below average. The original Belgian White, however, I was more a fan of (at 3.25 out of 5). I am hoping this is on the better side of 2.5 (my middle of the road for beers).

The head is big and thick, and it dissipates to a good 1/8th inch layer floating on top. The color is slightly hazy, and it is gold with a hint of orange. The aroma is, true to form, a bit of pumpkin and a whole bunch of spice. I imagine I can smell hops or malt in there, but I am almost assuredly fooling myself. That spice is like an overblown pumpkin pie - it's just so heavy in the spices that I can't actually smell anything else in there.

First sip is like a slice of pumpkin pie with more spices and a hint of orange. Orange and pumpkin - I wouldn't have thought that they would go together, but that first sip wasn't bad at all. I imagine this would be great as a table beer with some relatively i…

We're the Millers (2013)

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It's a pretty simple story - a guy hires a couple of stray 18 year olds to pretend to be his children and a stripper to be his wife. The fake family then goes to Mexico to smuggle drugs back into the US. Really, it's the all-American story.

Jason Sudeikis is here from SNL. That's the only thing I remember him ever being in, but he does a pretty good job with this role. I mean, there isn't much to the role, but it works out pretty well. I imagined during the course of the movie that other people were in the role, and I could see several actors doing an okay job, but the role is pretty bland, and I can't imagine anyone having this as their breakout role.

Ed Helms has become a regular supporting cast member in these comedies. He doesn't have a huge role here, but he does a good job as the drug lord of Denver. He has Ben Folds and killer whales to emphasize his over the top prima donna persona. Again, it's not a huge role.

For a huge role, we turn to Jennifer A…

Samuel Adams Cherry Wheat

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Another Sam Beer. I have enjoyed a few, and Sam's beers have been surprisingly good in the recent past. Some have been absolutely outstanding. So, my expectation for this cherry wheat is mixed. I've had some good wheat beers lately, but adding the cherry seems like it's got to be a mistake. I guess there is only one way to find out.

The color is an ever so slightly hazy gold with just a hint of red. the head leaves a good film across the top with a firm ring around the edges. the aroma is more interesting than I had suspected. It is kind of malty/hoppy with an overwhelming cherry scent. I mean, I have had straight cherry juice in the past, and I would easily mistake this for some Juicey Juice.

The taste is... unique. The first sip is a touch of carbonation followed by malt and cherry. Then, I get the distinct impression that I've bitten into a cherry pit. It's not the best taste I've ever had. The finish is more smokey than I would have expected, and it is frin…

Dos Equis XX Ambar (Amber Lager)

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My week of Mexican beer isn't going as great as I'd hoped. Tecate was just bad. Sol better, but not actually good. I've got two beers left in this particular quiver, and I really hope things turn around. I remember having a Dos Equis in the past, and I am not really sure I remember what it even tasted like.

The color is a deep amber - a lot darker than most of the other ambers I've had. The substantial head goes away and leaves an exceptionally think cap on the beverage. The aroma is weak but malty with some citrus in there.

First sip is kind of weak - like the aroma was. The taste is mostly watery with a bit of sweet malt. There is probably some grain alongside, but I'm not picking out any hops in there. A second sip reveals a tiny sliver of citrus at most, but nothing else. Ambers tend to be fairly bland in general, and this one is more bland than most of the others I've had.

A bigger draught give the beer a whole different character. Tip-in is just as bland …

SweetWater Motor Boat Ale

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A "catch and Release Seasonal" which is still well within its ascribed season, as the bottle says it is best enjoyed before the end of November. As I write this in mid October, there is plenty of time to drink up. The last two SweetWater beers I've had ranged only from the bad to the moderate.

The color is a somewhat murky light brown. the head is a sticky heap of tiny bubbles mixed with a few big baddies. And when I say sticky, you bet it clings to the sides, leaving a nice layer as the beverage goes down. the aroma is very light, and it is only with great effort that I can smell the hops, and it is only at the extremes of my olfactory senses that I can sense the hops.

A sip reveals the bitterness of the hops and little else. I have had hoppy beers before, and I generally like them. This one is all bite and no taste. My brother once told me that he always thought that the difference between Frank's Red Hot and Tabasco Sauce was that Frank's was hot with taste, a…

White House Down (2013)

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This is not Olympus Has Fallen. Instead of a trained Secret Service agent protecting the president from a group of armed gunmen with both an internal and external component, this movie is about a private security professional who WANTS to be a secret Service guy who winds up protecting the president from a group of armed gunmen with both an internal and external component.

This whole idea is especially odd, as the security guy (played by Channing Tatum) is employed to protect the Speaker of the House. This is a role typically filled by actual Secret Service members. Through a series of stupid, stupid circumstances, Channing finds himself as the only armed man in a position to protect the president when all hell breaks loose.

Channing's daughter is a know-it-all who keeps spouting facts about the white house and eventually posts inside video to her blog. What I find odd is that she isn't particularly adorable or even correct in her fact-spouting. She claims that the presidentia…

Now You See Me (2013)

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I hadn't seen Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson together since Zombieland. I hadn't seen Mark Ruffalo since his middle of the road job as Bruce Banner in The Avengers. I last saw Dave Franco in Warm Bodies. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman may as well have walked together from the set of The Dark Knight Rises.

In this movie, a mysterious stranger gives four struggling magicians some grand scheme to do...er...something. It's never quite clear what the whole plan is. And it is Mark Ruffalo's job as a cop to figure out how they are breaking the law and bring them to justice. He gets a French woman from Interpol to help him out and eventually enlists the aging magician Morgan Freemen, who he never fully trusts. Michael Caine is their benefactor who eventually turns on them when they turn on him.

The whole movie is all about redirection and misdirection. The idea is to not give the viewer enough information to come to any kind of conclusion either way. And, for the most pa…

Dos Equis XX Lager Especial

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Third in my series of Mexican beers, I have higher hopes for this than the others. Tecate, I'm sure you know, is the Mexican equivalent of Budweiser, and it sucked. Sol was better, but not great. I'm not even sure I would recommend it to anyone outside of a Mexican restaurant where your options are severely limited. Dos Equis is a more popular beer in the US, and you can often find it in non-Mexican bars, so it should really be better than the others.

It's crystal clear with a pale yellow hue. The head is not generous, and it goes away very quickly. What remains is a slight stain on top with the usual line around the glass. The aroma is faint, but I detect grains, a bit of bread, and some sweet malt. It's actually looking pretty good so far.

First sip is not terrible, but not the best. It hits with sweet through the whole thing, a bit of dinner roll toward the end, and a hit of carbonation acid right at the finish. That finish is probably what I find so off-putting. I …