Showing posts from October, 2014

Southern Tier Pumking Imperial Ale

I usually avoid beers that appear to be trying too hard not to be beer, but it's Halloween, and nothing says All Hallows Eve like a pumpkin. And the king of the pumpkins? Must be the Pumking. Southern Tier has brought us a very good ale and an uninspired Xmas beer. Let's see if their autumnal beverage can reflect the goodness of the former while avoiding the excesses of the latter.

The head (what there is of it) flees the top of the beer like an ISIS fighter upon seeing a drone overhead. What is left is a wisp of bubbles that hang around trying to look inconspicuous, clinging to the walls and reaching out to the stranded island of friends floating in the middle. The color is cloudy and more brown than gold. The aroma is a bowl of spices and a slice of sweet pumpkin pie with a flaky crust of bready malt. It smells pretty good.

First sip is stronger than I expected. You can definitely taste the pumpkin and the spices, and they overwhelm the beer. The issue, I think, is that it t…

Sex Tape (2014)

Do you remember the Sandra Bullock movie The Net? I remember watching it and thinking how stupid it was that anyone could believe the premise, which was laden with technical faults to the point of near aneurysm. Well, this movie takes the prolific technology of the iPad and iTunes and iCloud and pretends that none of us knows how it works. I mean, if we knew how it worked, there would be no movie, would there?

Cameron Diaz and Jason Segel are a couple whose life went from constant sex to multiple children and no spark. So, to restart their love life, they decide to make a sex tape with an iPad. Wait, you may say, don't most iPads have pretty crappy cameras? Why wouldn't they opt for a phone that would be more mobile and easier to use? Look, let's not go nuts with the nit-picking just yet. The insanity will come later.

You see, Jason keeps two iPads at a time, and he gives the many, many, many old ones away as presents. He describes the sync method that he uses as "rea…

A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014)

Do you like Family Guy? I'm not a huge fan, but I expect people who are fans would really like this movie. It has a certain amount of very juvenile humor coupled with generic nerd and hypochondria with a bit of slapstick humor and jokes that are glancingly funny and get hammered into the ground by a script that assumes everyone loves hearing the same joke over and over again.

There is one version of the movie poster that proudly proclaims that it is "from the makers of TED" and that should have been a clue that this was not going to be a particularly cerebral kind of comedy. This was substantially better than Ted, but it suffers from some of the same flaws; this is even despite the large number of decent actors who are involved in it. The underlying problem is that, like Ted before it, this movie made money, and that just encourages these people to make more.

Seth MacFarlane has an almost Woody Alan style of neurotic acting that is enjoyable for some people. I feel it ge…

The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh (2012)

When the credits rolled on this movie my wife succinctly summed it up with, "Well that was a waste of time."

This movie drowns itself in silence. The main character is on screen for almost the entire movie, but he has fewer lines than his mother who is dead before the movie starts. As a result, there is a lot happening on screen that has almost no audio to go with it - it's a shame I paid so much for my sound system. The movie's attempt to be artsy more than communicative results in what winds up being a very dull experience that simply does not get across the horror that we are supposed to be feeling.

Aaron Poole plays the grown son of the woman who owned the house that this movie takes place in. He is generally somber and seems annoyed at the sheer volume of religious artifacts in the house. I don't blame him, as they aren't even all from the same religion, so it's kind of hard to understand what the mother even believed in, as she speaks of the importa…

Neighbors (2014)

There is a point in your life when movies about college hijinks stop being the free-for-all fun that they used to be where the glimpse of a nipple, the shaking of a rear, or the quaffing of copious amounts of alcohol start to lose their appeal. At some point, the struggle between the fraternity and the evil dean is a little simplistic and hard to justify. This movie is about the people who recognize that the real world has to take over at some point, and they are dealing with a frat moving into the house next door.

We are supposed to root for Seth Rogan and his wife (played by Rose Byrne) who have a newborn daughter and have to deal with this frat that just moved in. The problem is that they demonstrate none of the qualities that stable people in the real world have. They are terrible parents who leave their daughter unattended for huge swaths of time, they are irresponsible to the point that you have to wonder how they could have bought their house in the first place, and they do dru…

The Guard (2011)

This movie is the very definition of a sleeper. I don't remember hearing about it when it came out, even though it had Don Cheadle and Brendan Gleeson in it. Don is kind of hit and miss (although not nearly as much as Cuba Gooding, Jr.) but Brendan is usually pretty good no matter what. He reminds me of Brian Cox in that respect.

The movie is about an Irish police officer as he goes about his daily business. This business includes things such as frequenting hookers, covering up for teens who did stupid things and need a little help, and various other tasks that would not normally be ascribed to a law enforcement officer. I don't know that I would call this a buddy cop movie, but I can't think of another way to describe it.

Don comes along as the American with an on-again-off-again Southern accent who is in pursuit of a bunch of drug dealers that he, as a member of the CIA, has been tracking. He is trying to help the local constabulary find and apprehend the aforementioned b…

Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)

I entered into this movie with relatively high hopes. I mean, I loved The Transformers as a kid, and I was stoked to find out that I wouldn't have to see Shia LaBeouf in these movies anymore. The addition of Marky Mark isn't necessarily a good thing, but it HAS to be an improvement over Shia. I was unprepared for the movie that I got - it was disappointing to the point that I may just choose to not watch anything else from the franchise.

I'm not even sure who their target audience is anymore. This movie is rated PG-13 (just like the previous ones) for some simulated violence, sexual language, and more cursing than I remember from any of the other movies. The real draw for Transformers is that they transform from robots into cars and planes and other stuff that is fairly common - so they are "robots in disguise." The previous movies generated a lot of complaints due to the strange and complicated nature of the robots making most of them look nearly identical and s…

Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014)

I remember watching Mr. Peabody and Sherman as part of the Rocky and Bullwinkle show. The thing about both of these cartoons is that they are layered in subtext and have a whole lot of jokes that go over kids' heads that adults can enjoy. This movie had some of that, but there wasn't much. They relied on puns for laughs more than anything else.

The story is nonsensical and irrelevant. I mean, we're starting with a genius dog who adopted a boy and also invented a time machine. Suffice to say that some people have a problem with a dog as a parent, there are issues at school, and the hijinks ensue when Sherman and his female companion take the time machine for a quick spin. I'm not sure I recognized any of the voices other than Stephen Colbert as Sherman's female friend's father and Patrick Warburton as a Greek soldier.

The odd thing is that they seem like they are trying to teach actual history at times, and they are pretty clearly making stuff up or perpetuating…

Scotch…in the Caribbean (The Balvenie)

Alright, the title was a stretch I’ll admit, but I think you’ll see what I’m on about soon.

First off though, I feel I may owe an apology to Lost Spirits Rum.  In retrospect, I feel I've made an error in my initial process…I tried to treat their rum the same way you drink Scotch.  I don’t drink rum straight, and I’d say most people don’t.  My beautiful wife and I took Lost Spirits with us to a local Polynesian BYOB restaurant and they serve a "Hawaiian Tea" that’s basically orange, pineapple, and lime juices mixed with a little brewed tea.  Perfect for rum!  Lost Spirits still has that…distinct…odor about it, but it went rather well in that mix.  So, still it’s on the expensive end for what I can only give an average rating to for rum.

Now then, next up I want to introduce you to my favorite Scotch.  Before we go into this I really feel it necessary to explain why I became such a fan of Scotch. In a word:  craftsmanship.  There are few distilled spirits, in my mind at le…

Sabotage (2014)

It's hard to believe that Arnold isn't 70 yet. I looked it up, and I assume the almighty Wikipedia wouldn't steer me wrong about something so inconsequential. Well, he is long in the tooth, to say the least. Yet, we are to believe that he is an active member and leader of an elite group of DEA undercover agents. I say that they are undercover agents, as that's what they say they are. This doesn't hold much weight, as they never seem to go undercover, and they never make an effort to hide their faces or tattoos, even when meeting with a bunch of Mexican police who all wear masks.

Arnold needs to start doing what Clint, Connery, and Costner have all decided to do: play guys who aren't young and prepared for punching matches. It's not that Arnold did a terrible job with this movie, but it would have been MUCH better if someone else had played the lead. Watching Arnold try to float through the movie without putting out a heap of effort is a bit of an effort for…

X-Men: First Class (2011)

When the third movie horribly wounded the franchise, a pseudo-reboot was probably a good idea. In this movie, they recast the lot and made it a prequel. Unlike Star Wars Episode 1, this prequel has a coherent and compelling story, characters you can like even if you don't know their history, and develops some known characters in substantial ways.

I didn't think James McAvoy would work as Professor X. He plays the young Charles completely differently than I would have expected, and he's helped by the fact that the character has been written to be as glaringly not the same as the Charles from the previous films.

There was never any doubt about Michael Fassbender, though. That guy acted the living crap out of his characters in Inglourious Basterds and Prometheus. I simply expected him to come in and kick butt, and he did not disappoint. In fact, I didn't expect him to physically kick as much butt as he did, but he brought knees and elbows and the occasional punch to the t…

X-Men (2000, 2003, 2006)

The original X-Men trilogy really opened the floodgate for all of the modern superhero movies. Superman had his run, Batman had his (which petered out pretty quickly) and there were a few one-offs, but X-Men really brought the comic book storytelling to mainstream. After these movies, we would get the Man of Steel, Spider-Man, Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and countless others. I thought it was only right to go back and rewatch the films that established the new reigning box office genre.

X-Men (2000)

This movie was made 14 years ago. It is difficult to let that settle in at all. This movie still has effects that stand up to some of the best out there today. The ham-fisted attempts at melding computer generated graphics with live action that I saw in both of the new Spider-Man movies is nowhere to be seen here. Instead, we get good animation and better storytelling. Yes, there are some physics issues and Wolverine's claws can't decide if they slice without issue or generate fricti…

Lawless (2012)

This movie reminds me of Tombstone - wait, give me a chance to explain. In Tombstone, Kurt Russel is the main character, and his personal life and romance are the focal point of the movie, but Val Kilmer is really the reason to see the movie. Likewise, we are supposed to care about Shia LaBeouf and his girlfriend played by Mia Wasikowska in this movie, but Tom Hardy is the real reason to see it.

Shia LaBeouf is the youngest of three brothers who have built themselves a small moonshine operation. He has little understanding of the consequences of his actions, no idea of how to romance a woman, and is supremely overconfident. In other words, he plays pretty much the same character as he usually plays, and it is entirely possible that this is who he actually is in real life. Shia is not my favorite actor, and he does little to improve my view of him during this film.

Tom Hardy is awesome. He gets to play the most badass character for the movie, and he fills that role perfectly. It's …

The Quiet Ones (2014)

This movie has the worst audio I've ever encountered. The problem is, I don't know if I should blame the sound guy, the editor, the director, or someone else. The movie firmly believes that everyone should speak softly to the point that you turn up your audio and... WHAM! Did that scare you? If sudden loud noises are what you call scary, then get ready for a scare fest! If, however, you are looking for an interesting story and character interaction, you should look elsewhere.

The title of the movie is a terrible one. They at one point have to explain why the movie is called The Quiet Ones through forced exposition by one of the few characters who have any lines apart from the five people in the house. It was so inconsequential that I don't even remember it having just watched the movie. The movie should have been called, "WHAM! Did that scare you?"

You know what overused trick we should have in here? A little girl. Everyone is scared of little girls, aren't t…

Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale

Another Blue Moon. It really seems strange to me that I go into bars, and the waitresses say they have Blue Moon, and they are surprised when I ask which one they have. For some reason, they expect people to ask which Sam Adams they have, but Blue Moon doesn't get the same respect.

The color is a deep copper, and the frothy head dwindles to a relaxed ring around the rim of the glass. The center of the beer is left shivering in its own nakedness. The aroma is thick and malty with fresh baked rolls billowing from the aforementioned beverage's top. The tiny bit of cinnamon adds to the sweet and somewhat unique sensation.

First sip is a bit of a mess. It's got a lot of spices in there mingling with the malt and the cinnamon and the apple. It's just a lot to take in, and I'm not sure that parsing them out is going to reflect positively on the beverage itself. I cannot in any way recommend sipping this beer, even though I suspect that is the way most people will drink it…

Cool Springs Brewery Brussel's Muscle Belgian Style Dark Ale

Cools Springs Brewery (CSB) is a local brewhouse, and they are the best one I've found so far, but I will keep looking. For now, I will try this Belgian-style dark ale, and I certainly hope it is a bit better than the Dragon's Milk that I had before that is in the same general broad category.

The color is a deep, deep brown with red highlights. The head pretty much doesn't exit. The scent is sweet and a little citrus with a very little bit of fresh baked rolls and what smells to me like cherries.

First sip, and this is a strong beer rearing up and kicking me in the face. This is not just its 10.1% ABV talking here, there is a lot of flavor packed into a single beverage. This beer could stand up to a heavily curried meal and still bring something to the table. What would it bring? I'd have to say the overriding taste is mostly molasses and a bit of the aforementioned cherry. I'm not saying it has actual cherry in it, but it has cherry in the same way that mahogany s…

Locke (2013)

I like Tom Hardy. He got a lot of flack from people over the way Bane was portrayed (and the horrible audio through the mask) in the last movie from The Dark Knight Trilogy. I thought that there was a lot wrong with that movie, and it is unfair to place too much of the blame for it at Tom's feet. He was spectacular in Lawless (he carried the movie) and he did a sensational job opposite Patrick Stewart in the last of The Next Generation movies.

It's nice that Tom is a good actor, as this movie relies entirely on his abilities. There are other people in the movie, but they are all voices on the phone. The entire movie takes place as Tom is driving his BMW SUV to London to see the premature birth of his illegitimate child. In order to make it interesting, this is also the night before a very important, complicated, and expensive thing happens at work that he is responsible for. Not enough drama? He hasn't told his wife about the baby or the mistress yet, and he is clearly pre…

21st Amendment Brewery Hell or High Watermelon

I've never been a huge fan of wheat beers, but Cammo Brewing put together a watermelon wheat beer that started my big turn around on them. The fact that this wheat beer uses watermelon makes me think that this might have the stuff to make it stand out among its peers.

The color is a very pale yellow with wisps of cloudiness forming in the center like nebula among the stars; it is a really cool three dimensional effect. The head disappears nearly completely, with a ring around the top being the only evidence that this is a kind of beer (and even that goes away entirely within ten minutes or so). The aroma is mostly grainy malt and lemons. The grainy malt also gives the sense of biscuits in the oven.

The first sip is actually a lot more tame than I had expected. It's got the light grains of a regular wheat beer with a bit of melon and lemon kind of surfing across it. It's a mellow melon flavor, and it crosses ever so quickly and fades away very quickly. I suspect that this w…

Samuel Adams Rebel IPA

Sam brings me a new beverage today. It's modeled on the IPAs of the West Coast, and I know that they can be really good or really bad. I sincerely hope that this is the best of them. Given the history of Sam Adams, they know what they are doing, so they should be able to get this thing going the right way.

The color is very clear yellow-heavy amber. With a thick white head that slowly retracts itself while leaving a weighty webwork of remnant along the side of the glass. The aroma is hops and more hops. There is a bit of lemon there with it, but the hops are nice and stable - they don't bite at you with their aroma like some of the overly hop-heavy beers I've had might. I am really looking forward to drinking this beer.

First sip is a pretty good one. The hops are flavorful without being overwhelming - just like the smell had indicated. In fact, the malt adds a certain amount of sweetness that really rounds out the flavor. I'm surprised that a beer with so much hops is…

Hoppin' Frog B.O.R.I.S. The Crusher Oatmeal Imperial Stout

This was a gift, and I am not sure what to make of it. An oatmeal stout that is also an imperial stout is a bit ambitious. The fact that this is from Akron, Ohio also does not inspire confidence. Although, if I was stuck in Akron, I would spend a LOT of time trying different recipes of stuff that would make me forget that I was in Akron.

The color is pitch black. The head is a dark brown and very thin; it dissipates so quickly, it's almost as if it is afraid of something. The aroma is more like a coffee-style stout than either an imperial or oatmeal stout; even a milk stout sweetness in lingering there. The grains are heavy and smokey - almost like a good porter. Enough sitting on the sidelines - I'm going to jump in and play the game.

First sip is not sweet, that's for sure. It is smokey to the point of being burnt, but the coffee taste I was afraid of is only a background to the rest of the scorched oats. Layered in there is something almost syrup with its sweet taste. T…

Short Mountain Apple Pie Tennessee Moonshine

Previous encounters with moonshine have been generally disastrous for me. The bright spot has been the Firefly Apple Pie. The Ole Smokey Apple Pie wasn't terrible, either. So, I figured I would try another Apple Pie version - if I was going to go for a moonshine in the first place. Today, I AM going for the moonshine, so I grabbed this one to try.

The aroma is sadly both cinnamon and antiseptic (maybe a little acetate). Seems like this is unlikely to be the smooth sweetness that firefly was (especially the like 5th or 6th glass), and it smells a lot stronger than I remember even the Ole Smokey apple pie being. The color is a dark apple juice from concentrate - very clear.

First sip confirms the fear. This does not have the drinkability of the Firefly or even the restrained aggressiveness of the Ole Smokey. Instead, this is more like the White Lightening with a bit of flavoring added. This is especially concerning as a result of the 20% ABV that is well below what a moonshine would…

Cammo's Pedantic Scarecrow Cranberry Wheat

Cammo means a lot of things to a lot of people. To most people, it's a pattern that hunters and the military use to blend into their surroundings for stealth purposes. To me, Cammo means the brewer who cares the most about his public. He takes criticism well and constantly asks for feedback to improve his beverages. It shows too, as his beers seem to be getting better and better. I'm not normally a fan of wheat beers, and I don't know what would possessed him to add cranberry, but what the hell...

The beer is a murky light brown that makes me think of the leather interior of a Ferrari. Honestly, how many different shades of light brown am I supposed to come up with for this blog? I think I need one of those color wheels that designers use. The beer is not nearly as carbonated as the usual Cammo beer, and that's fine by me - no cleanup or lost beer. The head dissipates very quickly to a scant few bubbles hugging the glass. The aroma is suitably grainy and sweet with a c…

Oculus (2013)

This movie was originally made as a one man and a camera short. I understand that the studio originally wanted to make this a "found footage" style movie, and the writer/director, Mike Flanagan, wisely said no. I can say with experience that my review of this movie would have gone a lot worse if this had been yet another found footage style movie.

The man in the short that this was based on is separated into two people - Karen Gillan and Brenton Thwaites. Karen most notably was Amy Pond in several seasons of Doctor Who and more recently was Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy. She tries to do an American accent in this movie, and she does a fairly good job. Only the slightest of hints around some of the consonants belie her Scottish roots. Her character comes across as overly harsh and analytical, even though she also appears to not adapt to growing concerns about her own danger.
Brenton Thwaites is supposed to be the level-headed, realistic person here, and he was just recent…

Divergent (2014)

This movie. THIS movie.

This is not The Hunger Games. Yes, the dystopian future where people are separated into groups so they are easier to control and the actual finances and way people get clothes, food, etc is never explained because it just couldn't work is very similar to the way the world in the Hunger Games was created. And yes, when they told the heroin (who looks like she could be Jennifer Lawrence's sister) that she could pick her own name, I almost expected her to say, "Catniss." But these are different movies.

The idea in this world is that something terrible happened, and the remaining cool people have built a wall around a city and tried to rebuild society by separating everyone into five groups: 1) Abnegation: the selfless people who deny themselves everything but the bare minimum where our main characters mostly come from. 2) Amity: the peaceful people we basically never see in this movie. 3) Candor: the honest people who are presumably meeting with …

Founders Centennial IPA

Another IPA? Yes. There are an infinite number of results from the same ingredients of beer, and I want to taste them all. It's like the limited octave on a piano keyboard that results in an infinite number of songs. Some songs are good, some songs are bad, but you won't know until you hear them.

The color is a murky amber with a foam of medium to small sized bubbles that cling for a little while to the sides before giving up and floating listlessly on top of the beer. The aroma is a floral and piney hops with a citrus spritzer. I think I might be able to smell a bready malt underneath, but it might be a trick of my mind.

First sip is a bit harsh. It's not a subtle beer, and it requires more patience than just tossing some beer in your mouth and slurping it down. Nevertheless, I can say that the sip was like pounding a nail made from hops into the back of my tongue. I like hops in general, but beaten by the hop monster is not what I'm looking for. I need to drink this …

Straight to Ale 4th Anniversary

I had kind of a hard time figuring out what the name of this beer was. It says Straight to Ale across the top, and there is a 4 that the devil is holding, but I wasn't sure if 4 was the name of the beer (like #9 for Magic Hat) or if there was something more subtle. Turns out, nothing is subtle about this beer. Nothing.

The beer is a murky mess of dark brown and foam. The foam is dominating everything - and it started as soon as I popped the top of the beer; the foam just poured out of the top and spilled all over the place. The aroma is all kinds of ale - lots of hops with flowers and a bit of pine.

First sip reveals Nothing more than a whole barrel full of hops. It's just like the smell - very flowery and piney. The bitterness is significant and not fantastic. As with most complex beers, this beer is a muddled mess when you just try to sip it, and it's clearly not intended for just sitting back and drinking while watching TV or something. A good beer requires attention, a…

Godzilla (2014)

This is not the first movie named "Godzilla" that I have seen. I'm starting to get annoyed with reboots that just appropriate the name of the previous incarnation without thought of the confusion that may occur when people refer to "that horrible hunk of crap that should never have been on screen... you know, Godzilla!" "Oh, you didn't like Bryan Cranston?" "No, I was talking about the Matthew Broderick one, although I don't think that bookending a Japanese movie with Raymond Burr really makes in an American movie, but it is pretty much a classic movie at this point, isn't it?" "That's not the one with Bryan Cranston, either."

Bryan Cranston was the acting draw for this movie, and I don't know why. It's not that I don't like Bryan Cranston, it's just that he really isn't the focal point of the story. I know what you're probably thinking; you're thinking that Godzilla is the focal point, a…