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Showing posts from July, 2015

Dogfish Head Grateful Dead American Beauty Imperial Pale Ale

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This is a beer based on a music group. I've had these kinds of things before, and they haven't had 100% success. This one is a Dogfish Head beer, though, and they do some pretty good beers. So, even though this is named after an album that was released in 1970, I'm going to go ahead and get my hopes up.

The copper beer lazily spits bubbles up at the top to form a smooth and clean cut head. The aroma is hops, but it's very laid back hops like they were refined at a concert for the Dead in the 70's, and they just wandered over here to take a look at what was going on in the bottle. Malt and citrus are there for the party, but they are even more laid back - like a couple of stoners sitting in their car getting baked.

First sip is not as laid back at the smell was. It has pine hops and floral hops that positively attack the tongue with tastes. It's not subtle like the aroma was. Instead, it hit hard and fast. I was distracted for a little while, so I let the beer s…

Founders Big Lushious Stout

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Founders is a good beer maker, and this is a stout with chocolate and raspberries. I had a chocolate treat once that had a hint of raspberry, and it was quite good, but I think I'd prefer that Founders not actually add chocolate, and they should instead rely on the chocolate taste coming from the malt. Still, they make beer, and I only drink it.

One look, and that is a damn chocolate stout. It's not a porter masquerading as something more or better than it. Instead, it is big, thick, nearly black, and it sports a thick head of tiny little bubbles. Light does not penetrate the blackness of this beer, but I can occasionally see a hint of red in there. The head is a dusty tan, like the pith helmet worn by the guy stranded in the desert for a few weeks. The aroma is heavy chocolate with smokey malt and, yes, a hint of raspberries.

First sip is... ZOUNDS! THAT is a LOT of raspberries. It's a whole heck of a lot more than you would expect from the aroma. The smell was overwhelmi…

Evil Twin Brewing Ryan and the Beaster Bunny

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I had an Evil Twin beer before, and I was not impressed, but I've had farmhouse ales before, too, and I seem to like them quite a bit. This situation should make the best of chances for Evil Twin making a darn good beer that I will enjoy tremendously (not to set the bar too high for them).

It's the color of pale straw, and the head reduces to a patchy webwork of bubbles trying to cluster as a heard without seeming to do so, so it's a lazy grouping, but it's still a grouping. The aroma is grains and oranges. It's a bit more spiky than I'd expect from a laid-back farmhouse ale, but I came for a good beer, and I expect this should be one.

First sip is an interesting mix of overly-strong and a bit too timid. It seems to hit with bitterness from floral hops almost immediately after a carbonation burn slaps the tongue with no gentility. Then, all of the sudden, the bottom drops out, and the finish is the ghost of a malt. It doesn't linger for a particularly long …

Lagunitas Undercover Investigation Shut-Down Ale

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I have said it before, and I'll say it again - Lagunitas is the best brewery in operation today. I like them so much that I bring them up in reviews for other beers, and that kind of complicates the search algorithm that Google builds into this site. This is another ale, and tradition would mean that it should be a hell of a good one.

The copper-colored beer has a fullsome, thick, and white-ish head that sticks to the glass with the iron grip of a toddler holding onto a lollipop. And holy crap, the smell! It's hoppy and grainy and citrusy and makes me want to just drink the sucker and stop bothering to write stuff down. Given the traffic this website sees, I'm kind of inclined to do that, but I have a natural tendency to finish things I start, and I'm going to soldier on... not that I see any ending in the future.

First sip is a full bodied beer, indeed. It reminds me of the Brown Sugga' Substitute. It's a quick hit of sweet malt mixed carefully with bitter hop…

Kill Me Three Times (2014)

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The reason this movie is on anyone's list to watch at all is that Simon Pegg plays the more-or-less straight character of a professional hitman. As an actor, he played it well enough, but the character was about as uninteresting as it could be written.

I can't help but thinking that this movie would have been SO much better if they had gone the way of The Whole Nine Yards and made it more overtly comedic. Instead, there were a couple snicker points, but then it fell back on the story, and the story was really weak and kind of stupid. Maybe today's audiences have become too sophisticated for the simple redirects that this movie relies on, but it was SO predictable.

Alice Braga plays the wife of local all-around terrible person Jack, played by Callan Mulvey. He hires Pegg after he suspects that Alice is cheating on him with Luke Hemsworth - the most discounted Hemsworth you can buy on the market today. When you can't afford the Thor money of Chris nor the People Magazine…

Maggie (2015)

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An Arnold Schwarzenegger movie about the zombie apocalypse. If this was the 1990's or 2000's, they'd have hit pay dirt. Instead, they decided to make an incredibly slow drama about Arnold's daughter (played by Abigail Breslin) slowly turning into a zombie. For some reason, society has not ground to a halt, and it's not really clear how the disease has been spreading (aside from getting bit and - oddly - corn crops).

So, this isn't really about the virus, the apocalypse, or even survival among the undead. Instead, it's about a father coming to grips with the mortality of his children and the inevitable failure he will suffer when trying to protect her from the inexorable force of death that the virus represents.

We find out that all of the infected are usually quarantined, but Arnold calls in favors to get his daughter home. We don't know what those favors are or why everyone seems to have such a high opinion of Anrold, but they do, and let's just al…

The Chrysler Remote Hack Fix - Flawed By Design

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Hopefully, the story isn't new to anyone in the security community - some Wired researchers hacked a Jeep through the Sprint-enabled network connection through the infotainment system. The media went ape over the whole thing, as they are want to do, and Chrysler had to issue a recall to fix the problem. The problem is that there seem to be very few security people who have noticed that the fix... is a band-aid.

The issue with a software patch to fix the vulnerability is that the vulnerability should never have existed. As the group I Am The Cavalry has properly been proselytizing, the issue is that cars and other Internet of Things devices that can potentially lead to direct harm of humans need to be designed to be secure by default. With cars, this means that the infotainment system should never be able to CHANGE something that has to do with safety. Yes, it can read what gear the transmission is in, but it should never be able to tell the car what gear to move to. For that matte…

Frank (2014)

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If you take something like The Life Aquatic and make it slightly less artsy and marginally more real, you would have the world where Frank was filmed. The movie has Michael Fassbender, but in a way where you would recognize him for most of the movie. Yes, he plays the titular Frank, and the movie is supposed to be about him, but he's not really the focal point of the story... kind of.

Domhnall Gleeson plays a guy who witnesses a different guy going nuts and wandering into the sea. He finds out that this person going nuts will result in a band being without a keyboard player. As a man who knows his way around a keyboard and thinks of himself as a songwriter, Domhnall volunteers. Heavily restrained hilarity ensues, as he finds that his more folk-pop tendencies are drowned out by the group's experimental music style. This style is generated by Fassbender, and the most curious thing about him is his unwillingness to ever take his papier-mâché head off.

Domhnall's decision (wit…

Turtle Anarchy Portly Stout

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The fact that City Sliquors has started to sell growlers is an excellent new way for me to get local brews that are fresh and from-the-tap perfect. I'm firmly of the opinion that beer is best from the tap, next from the growler, then from a bottle, and then from a can. I've found cans that were excellent, but the tap gives every beer the best chance. I suspect it's the way the beer is given carbonation in the process, but I am no expert. I just know what I like. Today's beer is from just South of Nashville in Franklin, TN.

Forged in the darkness of a black hole, the beer seems to emit a kind of negative light. This is the place where photons go to die, while the head is a tan affair that seems almost not brown enough for the beer underneath it. It needs to be either darker or lighter, but it's caught in between. It's sticky enough to leave a bit of lacing on the sides, and I always appreciate that. The aroma is chocolate, smoky malt and some sweet caramel malt.…

Lagunitas Twenty-Fifteen Olde GnarlyWine

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Lagunitas is my favorite brewery. They worked hard, and they got there with consistency and deliciousness. They can do the gimmie beers really well, and they can do the difficult beers really, really well. A friend said that they have become the darling of hipsters, and I will forgive them, because the beer stands for itself.

This beer would be a brown ale if it weren't for the distinct red tone the permeates the beer. The exceptionally sticky head has tiny bubbles, but none so tiny that they may be mistaken for nitrogen. It eases down to a wispy doily that is patchy and alluring. The aroma is thick and very, very malty. I can almost taste the sour malt right through my nose. Raisins, orange, and biscuits float on top of that heady scent.

This beer proudly talks about sips on the label, so I'm going to give it the sip first. It's thick and full of character. I'm pretty sure I'm not a fan of these sour beers, though. This is really reminding me of one of the dark al…

Southern Prohibition Devil's Harvest APA

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This is the third and last of my SPB tastings. So far, these things have been pretty darn good. These guys like their dry hopping, and I have to say that it's working for them. The examples of West Coast IPAs so far have really made me think that this might be my new favorite style.

The murky depths of the deep golden beer looks almost exactly like the Simply Apple apple juice I like so much. The sticky head is the giveaway, but the scent would give it away even sooner than that. Hops and citrus sitting on a biscuit greet the nose with a warm welcome.

A sip brings a simple but powerful beverage that has some very nice piney hops that are cut very nicely with some malt to give a sweet sensation rather than getting all bitter from those delicious hops. The citrus is in there, too. It adds a certain acidic quality that definitely enhances the entire drink, but a sip isn't the way to drink a good beverage.

Tip-in is a mild orange with carbonation just nuzzling the tongue a bit. Th…

Get Hard (2015)

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This movie is a sober treatise about race relations in America. Will Farrell delves deep into the heart of what separates us and what brings us together to try to get past the imaginary lines that we put in between us. With the help of Kevin Hart, they explore the common ground that we can use as a first step to healing the cultural and race divide that has been constructed by years of oppression and cultural disharmony.

Okay, it doesn't actually do any of that. This movie is the racial equivalent of a fart joke. We start with Will Farrell as the excessively wealthy hedge fund manager and fiancee of the impressively gorgeous and self-absorbed Alison Brie. He works for his soon to be father in law, played by Craig T. Nelson, and has no concept of other people around him. Inevitably, he gets convicted of a crime he did not commit, and he has to figure out how to survive in prison.

Enter Kevin Hart, owner of a struggling car washing business, husband, and father of a lovely little gi…

Boyhood (2014)

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Everyone seems to have lost their stuff over this movie, and I can kind of see why. It's an epic tale that is a technical masterpiece that actually follows the aging of these actors along with their characters. Rather than trying to cast people who kind of look like each other, this movie actually took 11 years to film. Few and far between are the writers who can also direct a movie, but Richard Linklater is counted among the few.

The movie is ostensibly about the boy, played by Ellar Coltrane, who grows up in front of our eyes. The story for this movie is actually very weak, but that's because of the scope and the attempt to give such an intimate perspective of this family, their lives, how they mature, how they deal with each other, how they deal with external forces, and how they struggle to better themselves and learn from their mistakes. Ellar, for his part, is actually a good actor. I have no idea how they could have known that that little kid was going to be able to act…

The Theory of Everything (2014)

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It's hard to do a movie about someone so smart and yet so out of reach like Stephen Hawking. The ideas that he comes up with and the innate understanding of how things in the universe work inherently limits the relatability of him as a character in a movie. While the man himself might be approachable and even enjoyable to be around, the legend has grown so huge as to be intimidating.

Eddie Redmayne manages very well to reduce the myth of the man to a guy who has to go through the same crap that all of us have to go through, but he has the added burden of expectations and a curious mind that cannot be sated with the same minesweeper-esque twiddling of the thumbs that you or I can zone out with. Instead, he fiddles with models of the universe in his mind, and he manages not to be pretentious all the while.

Felicity Jones plays the girl Eddie pursues and ultimately has children with. The movie was based on the book that her character, Jane Wilde Hawking, wrote. As a result, the movie…

Time Lapse (2014)

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These time travel sci-fi movies usually struggle with paradoxes and continuity. If you want something to have a lot of mass market appeal, you have to dumb-down as much as possible, and you really walk the line of screwing up causality altogether. When you look at something like Back to the Future, for example, you can semi-maintain plausibility in the first movie (not really), but then you destroy the entire timeline in the second movie, but those were supposed to be more about the characters than about the technology.

This movie also shrouds the technology in mystery, and it uses that perspective to dismiss any quantum issues or discussions about the nature of time. This trio of roommates discovers that the crazy old scientist who lives across the parking lot has been taking pictures of their apartment with a mysterious camera that takes pictures of the future. After discovering it, the three forward their own personal plans for using the information from the future for personal gain…

Last Knights (2015)

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Let start with the setting: I have no idea what the setting is. I have seen movies with knights in them before, I've seen fantasy movie with knights in them, and I've even seen sci-fi movies with knights in them. We have knights, and they seem to be in a strange version of a combination Rome/England/miscellaneous Asian country.

I have no idea why they decided to go this route. The swords that the knights use are clearly Asian designs. Their armor is leather rather than metal, and that doesn't make a lot of sense. We have high ranking Asian men, and our hero, Clive Owen, works for his black master, played by Morgan Freeman. So, we have a mishmash of different cultures and races melding together to tell the tale... a tale that has been told before, and it has been told with more skill.

The acting is not the problem with this movie, though. Let's just assume that Clive and Morgan showed up and did their best. They didn't, but they aren't the problem, so let's …

Daddy's Little Girl (2012)

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This is the very essence of a revenge movie. I have no idea why this was labeled as a horror movie aside from the fact that the aforementioned revenge that is taken is enacted in such a gruesome way that it's possibly the horrific thing that shoved this movie into the horror category.

The story is painfully straight-forward. If you're looking for twists and turns, you've come to the wrong place. These people don't know subtlety when it comes to scripts like this, so they hit hard, and they hit whatever is directly in front of them. In this case, what they hit is a little girl.

Billi Baker plays a pretty little blonde girl, and that seems to suit her particular skillset, as she is really little, blonde, and a girl. She doesn't have to do much acting as the movie progresses. Michael Thomson is the father who is dealing (not well) with his daughter's abduction and subsequent murder. He's not a great actor, but I really like how comfortable he is in his own ski…

It Follows (2015)

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This is a horror movie that never had me scared. That said, I thought this was a very good movie that had a fresh take on the same old kind of slasher film that has been knocking around since Jason and Freddy tore it up. I had heard that this was a good movie from periphery sites, but I didn't delve into it too deep - I wanted to be surprised by whatever happened.

Turns out, there isn't much to the story. The slasher is invisible to people who are not on his/her kill list, and it will move on to the next person only when the current target either dies or has sex with the next person. So, to survive (once you've been added to the list) you have to have sex with someone you don't mind giving a death sentence to, and you have to hope that they are hot enough to have sex with someone else before they get caught by the thing.

The thing "follows" by walking slowly toward the target at all times. Don't try to do the math on some of this stuff, either. It is remi…

Run All Night (2015)

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Tired of waiting for the next Taken movie by tiding yourself over with the mostly uninspired A Walk Among the Tombstones? Good news. This movie is taking a page right out of the same book as that one. It stars Liam Neeson as a guy past his prime gets pushed into a situation where he has to use all of his pent-up skills to protect those he loves and punish the wicked.

He starts off as a laughing stock. All of the relatively useless people in the bar where he sleeps off and then regains his stupor laugh at him unabashedly. Liam himself shows little spark of life and instead lives off of handouts and the kindness of those around him. Specifically, he lives off of Ed Harris and his son.

See, Ed and Liam were the best of buddies when they were young, and neither of them have forgotten their friendship. Liam inexplicably shows an inability to do anything right, but Ed keeps him going out of friendship and love. Needless to say, the bond they feel as lifelong friends can only take this movie…

Southern Prohibition Suzy B Dirty Blonde Ale

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This is not the first Dirty Blonde I've had. This one comes from the same brewer as the Jack The Sipper ESB that I enjoyed very much. This package has three different beers, and this is the second of the bunch. I've had a checkered past with wheat beers - I'm not a fan of beers that require you to add fruit to make it taste right. This is not a wheat beer, but they added wheat to it, and I wonder if this will result in a superior beverage or disaster.

The beer is a hazy gold with a fluffy white head that dissipates slowly to leave a fair amount of lacing on the sides of the glass. One could be forgiven for thinking that the presentation is that of a domestic macro-brew with a particularly dirty glass. The aroma gives away the game, however, with a lemon and grainy effect coming off the top of the glass.

First sip makes me suspect that this is actually a wheat beer with packaging that claims to be blonde. It is a fistful of lemon zest and wheat grains, but it is impressivel…

Cut Bank (2014)

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As a result of being burned by some pretty bad movies in the recent past, I started using IMDB as a rough guide. If the aggregate reviews of a movie are below a 6, I may not watch it. If they are below 5, I will not watch the movie. This movie scraped by with a 6, and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a lowly 30%. Even Roger Ebert crapped on it with a 1.5/4. For the life of me, I don't know why this wasn't more highly reviewed.

Liam Hemsworth isn't exactly the new Dustin Hoffman. He simply doesn't have a whole heap of acting talent to work with, but his role in this movie was suitably straight-forward. He plays a guy who is the local town stud, and he longs to get out of the crappy town that boasts the fact that it is the coldest place in the US. I assume they mean the continental US, as Alaska likely gets a lot colder, but that's not the point.

His girlfriend is the local hottie. While we don't really know what they did in school (they are too old to be in high school) …

Alpha Alert (2013) (Event 15)

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Alpha Alert seems like a pretty stupid name for this movie. Fortunately, it has two other names: Event 15 and Trauma. Of the three, Trauma is probably the best, Event 15 is the next best, and Alpha Alert sounds like the name of an episode of G.I. Joe. And not one of the good ones - it's one of the ones where Destro only shows his chromey face like twice, and Duke doesn't fire a shot.

This movie is about three soldiers, and all of them are suffering some form of PTSD and dealing with it in their own way. The three get stuck in an elevator together when leaving their respective psychologists' offices. The pressure of being stuck in the elevator when it gets stopped in the shaft adds to their existing PTSD issues, and they all have to deal with their inner demons as well as the demons of the elevator-mates. The whole movie reeks of movies like Cube, Chariot, and Enter Nowhere where the focus is on the people and the situation rather than the events that caused them.

Our main …

Yazoo Red House Ale

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My opinion of Yazoo beers has been trending up. The Fest Ale and Sue were both very good. I can only assume that either I am now being exposed to better examples of the beer, or Yazoo is just getting better. Either way, it is excellent to get bigger and better beers as time moves on. The local beer scene here in Nashville is definitely on the way up, what with CSB, Yazoo, and ugh... I guess the third one would be Blackstone, but I'm not going to turn this review into a complaint about how disappointing they have been. Maybe I should have just put Mayday on that list.

At first, I was going to complain that this wasn't red enough. Now that I actually look through it at a light source, it is pretty damn red. It's like a deep, dark cherry red with a healthy head that results in a pillow top cover laying across the beer. I had to look again at the label after giving it a sniff, as the hops sent a sting right in at me. I expected this to be more like a red ale or a farmhouse ale…

The Returned (2013)

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This has nothing to do with the TV series of a similar name. This is a movie about the world after a zombie virus breakout. There is a protein that is suppressed to stop people from turning, but the protein can only be harvested from current undead, and it has to be given to suppress the protein every day. That's where we find ourselves at the beginning of this movie.

So, you have a second class of citizen that has been created as an underclass that is generally disliked by the public. As a result of their requirement to take a shot every day, these people are considered ticking time bombs. So, there are demonstrations, protests, and there is generally accepted casual prejudice against them. and there is a social stigma against anyone who is openly one of "The Returned" which includes one of our main characters, for obvious reasons.
Kris Holden-Ried is the man who is infected and has to deal with the issues surrounding his status. He struggles with telling his best frien…

Bad Country (aka Whiskey Bay) (2014)

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So, the first thing they do is put words on the screen to tell you that person X and person Y were responsible for the largest taking down of a criminal organization ever. I'm not saying that this really undermines the tension of the story, but it really does. It's the equivalent of telling you that Rosebud is a sled at the beginning of Citizen Kane.

Willem Dafoe plays the angry, rule-breaking cop who gets the job done despite interference from his superiors. The role clearly breaks all the molds, and really gives him a lot of room to make the character his own. Wow. I'm being more sarcastic than usual tonight, and I'm not sure it will translate to the written word. Essentially, there was not much to the role, and he did an okay job, including the big old mustache that I'm pretty sure he stole off of Paul Teutul Sr from Orange County Choppers.

Sporting similar facial hair is Matt Dillon, who is not dead (much to my surprise). He plays the bad guy who has a heart of…

As Above, So Below (2014)

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Found footage! I think you can guess what kind of movie this is, can't you? Yup, it's a horror film with the never-before-seen-except-for-everywhere trick to making your movie on a shoestring budget and get lots of jump scares for cheap, cheap, cheap. Now, you need to add a bit of claustrophobia or a house that is completely wired with cameras. This movie goes for claustrophobia.

We join a group of adventurous friends, with Perdita Weeks as the pretty leader, as they decide that they want to explore the catacombs under Paris for some lost something-or-other that none of them are really sure about. So, we need to go down our checklist of important stuff when going to a foreign land to do something that is not particularly bright like this:

Local guide who doesn't seem to actually know anything.Stories about people like them doing what they are doing and never being heard from again.Buddies who complain about everything.A leader who ignores warning signs.Vague warnings for hi…