Friday, February 12, 2016

Eat Your Heart Out

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Well… it’s that time of year… when everybody out there is spending major bucks for fancy dinners, jewelry, chocolates & all that mess… people are proposing and flooding Facebook with pictures of their engagements rings and rants about how they’re the luckiest (blank) in the world… all that sentimental bullsh*t… and trust me, there’ll be more about all that hogwash later in the weekend (once I found out who in my family & friends will be doing that) but until then… Izzy & I have had a bit of a tradition this time of year. Our first Valentine’s together four years ago, we watched “Cannibal: The Musical” and “Orgasmo”. Three years ago, I had just got back from Mardi Gras & the Super Bowl in New Orleans. Two years ago, we watched “Ladies Man” & “The Thin Man”, two completely different movies. Last year, we went to a homebrew club event at Anchor Brewing, then I bought her a 12 pack of Taco Bell tacos for dinner. Yup, we’re hella romantic. So in going back to the theme of our first VD… here are some new movies about people eating people that we just watched…
 
The other night I (alone) watched a movie called “The Green Inferno” starring… well, nobody… but directed by Eli Roth (“Hostel” & “Knock Knock” from a few weeks ago). This movie is about a group of hippy ass wanna-be college students who fly out to the Peruvian rainforest to stop the bulldozers from tearing down a section of forest where they’ve discovered a previously unknown village of natives. Noble enough cause, right? Yes, even if it’s pretty f**king pointless… but they get out there… and basically do a little eco-terrorism by blowing up some dozers, while broadcasting the whole thing on the web (somehow… don’t ask) and eventually are turned away by the mercenaries in the gentlest way possible. Roll credits. Super lame movie. NOPE!!! On the flight back to civilization, their plane crashes… and they’re in the middle of the f**king jungle… and are rescued by the natives. Oh wait, I mean the natives take them to their village… and then start to EAT THEM!!! YES!!! Cannibalistic tribes eat hippie trash!!! Yet another great premise, Mr. Roth!!! Now for the usual stuff… great premise… poor execution… except for one thing, THIS MOVIE WAS ACTUALLY PRETTY GOOD!!! Okay… the acting is… mediocre. The dialogue is here & there. There are about five scenes were I literally went “Why the f**k is this in the movie? It’s not funny. There’s no point. It’s not propelling the story. Did they just need to fill 90 minutes?” There’s a LARGE amount of torture porn in the latter half of this movie… but to his credit, not as much as others. A lot of the violence is more implied (leading to the imagination which may have been the benefit of either poorly executed practical effects or low budget… but it works better). Yes, the movie has its flaws. However… it’s pretty beautifully shot… and for what the story is… pretty well done… and there’s not a lot of “Oh shut the f**k up” moments that pop up in horror movies just to set up situations. It’s pretty organic. Okay… so overall… if you’re looking for a pretty good horror flick that you may or may not forget in a few weeks/months… then check this out. If you’re squeamish, just pass.
 
 
Then Thursday night, Izzy & I watched a another new movie with a similar premise (cannibalism) but in a completely different setting & situation… and that movie was “Bone Tomahawk” starring Kurt Russell, Patrick Wilson, Richard Jenkins & Matthew Fox… and cameos from David Arquette & Sid Haig too. Great cast. The movie follows the story of a four-man posse in the Old West going on a journey to save two people who were abducted by cannibalistic cave dwellers. The posse is composed of the sheriff (Russell), his elderly deputy (Jenkins), a mysterious dapper gentleman whose family was killed by natives years before (Fox) and the husband of one of the abducted who also has a broken leg (Wilson). Yes, a truly motley crew for facing legendary unknown vicious antagonists… but it’s the old west… and they’ve got facial hair and/or crutches… and their trusty weaponry. Alright, this movie… really set itself up well in the first ten minutes or so… and then… I kid you not, for the next 90 minutes or so… it’s basically just four guys… walking in the desert… talking, on the way to save these people. The topics of conversation? Morals… how stupid the guy with the broken leg is for slowing them down… and not telling them that eventually they’re going to have to amputate… and that’s really about it. It’s very slow… no score… I mean… great way of showing just how trudging & monotonous the situation would be… but there’s seriously a part where they lose their horses that lasts about 12 seconds… to get you excited… and then it’s a full hour of pretty much nothing except for the occasion sound guy jerking himself off at how crunchy he can make leg bones sound when somebody’s trying to walk on them with crutches. Things pick up for the last 30 minutes or so though when they catch up to the cannibalistic tribe… and then you get your ultraviolent conflict resolution… and then a pretty awkward ending that THANKFULLY they cut out the journey back to their city of Bright Hope. Was it a horrible movie? Of course not. It was very artfully done, the acting was pretty good as far as gruff Westerny folk go, intrigue was built when the time was right, fairly realistic for the time period… but my God… that middle 90 minutes when they walk is just… unnecessarily long & pointless. I’d say just fast forward for a bit… or watch it at 10x speed until you see something interesting… but when they’re just talking, keep going until something good happens.
 
So yeah… something to think about over the Valentine’s / President’s Day weekend… for all you fellow cynics out there. Also, if you’re thinking “$teve, you’re being awfully hard on Valentine’s this time around… what gives bruh? Something bad happen?” Not at all… I’m probably just compensating for something… hiding my real emotions… pay you no mind until next time. Have a fantastic weekend everybody!!!

Monday, February 8, 2016

Super Bowl L50

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
This last week has been pretty crazy at work & at home with the presence of Super Bowl 50 here in the Bay Area. Last Monday, Izzy & I thought that since we were stuck in traffic so often & had to put up with some of the “benefits” of hosting the big game… why not check out some of the festivities? So we went down to the Embarcadero to see Super Bowl City.
 
First & foremost though, Izzy & I had the opportunity to see “Deadpool” the other night… a week before released in theatres. Yes, this is yet another comic book / graphic novel / superhero movie from the Marvel Cinematic Universe… and I know that a lot of you are tired of them. I’m starting to get there… but there’s some great movies out there… if not just for fun. This movie… is f**king AMAZING!!! Now… it’s rated R for violence, sexual references, language & other content… but if you know anything about the comics, then you already know this. Ryan Reynolds plays Wade Wilson… who’s a wise-cracking mercenary with a heart of gold… but when he’s diagnosed with cancer, he takes part in some experiments to overcome the illness by releasing his recessive mutant genes to help combat the cancer cells. Well… he soon finds out that it’s all a shame to make super soldier slaves… but not before they release some of those powers. He escapes the facility… but due to the process, he’s horribly disfigured so he lives with a blind lady instead of his super hot prostitute girlfriend (Morena Baccarin), and spends a lot of his time hanging with his comic relief bartender buddy (TJ Miller). Well… now he’s full of vengeance to take out the guy who disfigured him (Ed Skrein) and that’s BEFORE he decides to kidnap his girlfriend… yes… making this basically a wisecracking superhuman ninja VENGEANCE movie that’s rated R for violence, sexual references, language & adult content. This movie is basically MADE for me… and probably you if you’re an adult. I HIGHESTLY recommend that you go check this movie out… give it all your money. I would do the pros & cons thing… but there’s really not a whole lot of cons that I can come up with. The story is told is a way that it’s an origin story but keeps you entertained throughout… the acting it good… the effects are okay… the questionable actors (Gina Carano) are kept to a few words at most… it’s basically just a lot of fun & Ryan Reynolds is perfectly cast. This movie… is a THOUSAND times better than his first portrayal of Deadpool in that sh*t snack movie “Wolverine Origins” a few years back that I spent more time talking about my brother being “one of those guys” who talks about how the movie is different from the comics than talking about the movie. It just wasn’t good… and it had Wolverine, Deadpool AND Gambit. Sigh… anyway, a THOUSAND times better. Give this one all of your money. Don’t take the kids. Take the girlfriend.
 
Back to football... Super Bowl City was… well… to be honest, it was basically a BIG promotional platform for the NFL’s many sponsors… from Bud Light to Pepsi to Hewlett Packard to Verizon Wireless to CBS Sports to anything else that Peyton Manning forgot to mention in his post-game interview. After getting through the security checkpoint, we wandered around to see what was going on… and there was a lot of stuff to buy… but the interesting stuff was little tents / structures where you could see some new promotional technology for a company… we caught a game-winning touchdown pass with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background (that we could then hashtag CBS Sports for a chance to win free junk mail) and there was also a concert venue for free concerts. The night we went, it was a guy named Alomar… never heard of him… not good enough to Google. Alicia Keyes was on Saturday night though… and because it was free, they had to close the doors at 2 PM so that people wouldn’t literally stand on one another. Anyway, here are some pictures…
 










 

Friday night, we met up with Izzy’s mom & aunties for some wine sampling & karaoke at Four Fools Winery in Rodeo (near their homes). The venue is small, nice, and very communal. I really liked it. It’s kind of a wine taproom meets a storage facility for other vineyards… but they’re growing so that they can get their own vines one day. We basically spent the first hour or so chatting up with some of the owners… and yeah, they were pretty great. We sampled their wines, had some snacks, and then it was off to the great room to sing “Naughty Girl” like a f**king boss…
 













Sunday was the big game… so we went to a party with some elderly lesbians (as is the norm most weekends as you may have noticed) but it was hella fun! The party was… not the game… that was actually pretty hard to watch with all the turnovers & sloppy play… but that Denver Defense really took over. Well played guys! That’s really all I’ve gotta say on this game.
 
Now for the REALLY BIG NEWS from this week. Izzy & I have FINALLY… recorded a PODCAST!!! Yes, it only took like… three months… but we did it. It’s recorded… and should be coming to the internet in the next day or two… and to iTunes shortly after that. Details to come… but again, it’s called “Everything I Learned From Movies” or you can just hashtag #EILFM and it’ll be trending before you know it. Until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, February 5, 2016

Still Just a Rad-a-Nic Cage

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Nicolas Cage is an American treasure. Let’s be honest. He’s an Academy Award winning actor (“Leaving Las Vegas”) and has had iconic roles & legendary freak-outs. His movies have been colossal blockbusters and incredible flops… and his acting has ran the gamut of award-winning to a meme maker’s wet dream. However, can you recall the last big, good movie that he has starred in? “Kick Ass”? “Sorceror’s Apprectice” maybe? Those were five years ago… and he’s been in a LOT of movies since then. We’ve already reviewed a few of them (“Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance”, “Drive Angry”, “Outcast”, “The Frozen Ground”) but there are a LOT more… and you’ve probably never even heard of them. So thanks to Netflix… here are a few movies from Nicolas Cage’s last five years that you might have missed…
 
First up was his latest movie, “The Runner” starring himself, Sarah Paulson, Connie Nielsen & Peter Fonda from director/writer Austin Stark’s feature length directorial debut. The story is about a Louisiana politician (Cage) who is ferociously fighting for his constituents in the aftermath of the 2010 BP Oil Spill… and just when he’s getting traction… get involved in a sex scandal because he’s been banging a fisherman’s wife while his trophy wife is the hot sister from “Devil’s Advocate” (Nielsen). Well, on the advice of his advisors (including Paulson) & his father who was a somewhat disgraced mayor of NOLA (Fonda), he decides to resign from his post… wait it out… and then start fighting BP again… and then has a relationship with his advisor (whose still married) and… okay, it’s a movie about politics and how it’s all kind of screwed up… and it’s called the runner because he runs every morning… and he’s running for office… and he’s running from himself & his own stupid decisions I guess… but it’s an okay movie. It’s really tough to root for the guy when he keeps making HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE decisions constantly throughout… but you’ll notice that’s a trend in a LOT of Nicolas Cage’s recent movie roles (and personal life). If you like political non-thrillers & wanna see some New Orleans, check this movie out… if not, pass.
 
Now, if you want a more exciting New Orleans-based Cage movie, then check out 2011’s “Seeking Justice” starring Sir Nicolas, January Jones & Guy Pearce from director Roger Donaldson (“The Recruit”, “World’s Fastest Indian”, “Species”, “Cocktail”, so he’s got some range).This movie is about a high school English teacher named Will (Cage) whose wife (Jones) is violently assaulted… and while he’s in the waiting room, he’s approached by a man named Simon (Pearce) who says that he sympathizes for his situation… and the city has gone to sh*t… and the Justice System is flawed… but he knows who attacked his wife… and if Will would like… then Simon & his group of fellow-minded vigilantes can exact VENGEANCE and make it look like a suicide. The cost? Sometime down the road, they will ask him to do a favor for them. That’s all. What happens after that… is a bit of a twisted tale of corruption, lies, counter-lies, VENGEANCE and more. I really enjoyed the movie… even though there were a few decisions made along the way that didn’t make a whole lot of sense… but I’m surprised that I didn’t hear much about this movie. The performances are good. It’s set in New Orleans. It’s a Vigilante Vengeance movie. Yeah, check it out!
 
Next up was a bit of a throwback with 2005’s “The Weather Man” because it was on Netflix… and Izzy & I hadn’t seen it. This was the movie that Gore Verbinski directed between “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies… and is about a Chicago weatherman (Cage) who wants to be the weatherman on “Hello America” in New York with Bryant Gumbel. His father (Michael Caine) was a Pulitzer Award-winning author… but he’s dying of lymphoma. His wife… is divorced & marrying another guy. His kids… pretty much don’t want anything to do with him. People throw food at him in the street because… people are dicks. The movie is about whether he can get his life together… and basically he’s a bit of a selfish prick… but also doesn’t use his words well (odd for a weatherman) and ends up just screwing things up along the way. Now… it’s an okay movie despite my horrible summary… but it’s also kind of boring at times, not going to lie. There’s a lot of things about choosing between your career & your family… maximizing your short, short life… all that stuff… but you may want to follow it up with an action movie. Check it out!
 
 
Okay, back to the last five years… and remember when I mentioned ‘incredible flops’ earlier? Well, “Trespass” was #1 on my list. This movie stars Sir Cage, Nicole Kidman, and is directed by legendary filmmaker Joel Schumacher (mostly legendarily bad for “Batman & Robin” but he also directed “Phantom of the Opera”, “The Client”, “A Time to Kill”, “The Lost Boys” and others). The budget was $35 million. Any guesses what the total box office for this movie was? No, seriously, guess. About a million? Lower. About half a million? LOWER!!! Fifty grand? LOWER!!! Total box office was $24,094 and it broke the record for theatre-to-home-video speed by going from nationwide release to DVD in only 18 days. “From Justin to Kelly” took 29 days. That being said… I actually liked this movie. The story is about a diamond dealer (Cage) and his family (wife Kidman) are in their home when it’s attacked by robbers… who want to get the diamonds in the vault… but then betrayal rears its ugly head. I don’t want to spoil anything, so I’ll just stop it there. Yes, some of the acting is… annoying. Overall though, it wasn’t a bad way to spend 90 minutes. You could kind of see what was going to happen… but the way it unraveled was pretty interesting. Check it out!
 
Next up was one called “Pay the Ghost” starring Sir Nicolas and the mom from “Walking Dead” as the parents of a young son who… well, they lose at a Halloween carnival (no, his name isn’t Carl). After a year without any leads… the couple has divorced… and Halloween approaches again… and some things start to suggest that their son may not have been abducted by a pedophile at a public place… but some ancient evil ghost. Yeah… the premise is… shaky. It’s not a horrible movie though. Not a great movie either. Not even really that memorable to be honest. It’s… very blah. Fun fact though: the kid in the movie is the kid who’s the star of the Academy-Award nominated movie “Room” and he does a pretty good job. Cage does well too. The mom not so much… she kind of just has the creepy waif neck muscles that are mildly disturbing… but yeah, check it out. It’s free. Why not?

  
We also watched “Rage” starring Sir Nicolas, Rachel Nichols as his completely age-appropriate wife & Peter Stormare. Cage plays a reformed criminal / construction foreman… and his daughter is kidnapped… and killed. So now he rounds up some of his old buddies for some good old fashioned VENGEANCE and finding out who killed his daughter… and maybe why… he has plenty of reasonable reasons from his past indiscretions though. This movie… was probably my favorite of all the ones reviewed this entry. I mean… it’s Vengeance… it’s twists & turns… it’s gritty… and honestly, I think the best performance in this whole movie is from the head of the Russian Mafia (No, NOT Peter Stormare, he’s Irish in this movie) played by Pasha Lynchnikoff. He really does a great job for such a small part… and I REALLY liked the ending. Crazy stuff… check this movie out!
 
Last up was a little movie called “Stolen” starring Nic, Malin Akerman, M.C. Gainey & Josh Lucas… and directed by Simon West, probably best known for the modern classic “Con Air”. This movie is about a bank robbing foursome who get pinched by a New Orleans detective (Danny Huston) during their big $10 million heist… well, just Nicolas Cage does, but he’s not found with the money… so he serves an 8 year stint in jail. When he’s released… he’s under constant surveillance since the police think he still has the money… as does his old crew… in fact, one of them kidnaps his now teenage daughter and holds her ransom in exchange for the money. One problem though… he burned it to get a reduced sentence when they found him. He’s got 12 hours to get $10 million dollars… or his daughter’s dead. What do you do? Well… I think Nicolas Cage has really made it a point to have every movie over the past few years be in New Orleans, which I’m all about… even if it’s probably because of house arrest and/or probation. That being said… I’d say check this movie out. There are a few questions that will come up… but overall, not a bad little flick. It’s pretty much what you expect.
 
Oh, there are a few more movies like “Joe” and “Left Behind” that… well, really I’ll probably get to another time… but Christ Almighty, that’s SEVEN Cage Movies in a week… my penis can only get so erect. Until I’m in my refractory period… have a great weekend everybody!!!

Monday, February 1, 2016

SF Beer Week 2016 - Part Two

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Wednesday night, Izzy & I continued our mild SF Beer Week adventures with a visit to Fieldwork Brewing in Berkeley. This brewery is HIGHLY regarded within the brewing circles that we keep, both professionally & amateur… and for good reason. They always have a wide variety of brews on tap (usually at least 12 different options) and they are CONSTANTLY changing… and some very unique options made in-house. For example, when we went on Thursday, they had options such as:
 
·         Mandarina – Tart Saison
·         Good Conduct - Barrel Aged Imperial Stout
·         Olde Dubliner - Imperial Dry Stout
·         Black Thai – Thai Tea Espresso Porter (very nice)
·         Chocolate Milk – Brown Ale with lots of TCHO chocolate & lactose (milk sugar)
·         Amarilloweisse – Dry Hopped Berlinerweisse
·         Coconut Milk – Double IPA with LOTS of hand-toasted coconut & lactose
·         5-6 different versions & levels of IPA with different hop characteristics
 
So yeah, I recommend checking them out if just for the fresh options & variety… and they also have Crawlers now, which are basically 32 oz aluminum cans of their fresh beer that you can take home in addition to their growlers.
 
Thursday night, Izzy & I visited Seven Stills Distillery’s Taproom for a special release of… BEERCEPTION!!! See… it’s a beer within a beer! How you ask? Well, as you may remember, Seven Stills specializes in making whiskey from distilled craft beers. Well… for Beerception… they barrel aged their Whipnose IPA in a Whipnose Whiskey barrel… and dry hopped the barrels with Chinook & Citra hops. Nice little spot… right over by Laughing Monk Brewing too (will check another time, private event Thursday) in the Dogpatch… go check it out… well, in a few months… they’re still getting things put together… it’s a work in progress…
 





Saturday, we did a new first… and that’s a DOUBLE BATCH!!! What’s that mean? TEN GALLONS of beer made… in ONE BREW. BOOM!!! SCALING IT UP!!! Well… sort of… see…this is how we did it different. We basically just doubled the grain bill ingredients (malt extract mostly in this case) to make a SUPER strong wort… and then diluting it down so that it’s ten gallons of wort instead of the five or so that we started with. Why? Because we wanted to make ten gallons of Stout to run a few experiments with… including some souring… and we wanted to cut the time in half (maybe more since we used cold water to dilute at the point where we were trying to cool the hot wort). Here are some pictures from our double batch of Chocolate Stout…
 




Sunday was the day of the big SF Homebrewers Guild / Seven Stills Barrel Aging Competition in which Izzy & I BOTH had entries of our delicious beverages. We had both a barrel-aged hard cider… and a barrel-aged Scotch Ale… and there were over 30 other barrel-aged beers there to try… and a few dozen others… so times were good. Food was provided by Casey’s Pizza Van… and yeah, EVERYBODY had a great time!!! Here are some pictures of the event…
 
Towards the end, they announced the winners for the Top 3 in the Barrel Aging Competition… and top for all of the other homebrew shared… People’s Choice, of course since there were almost all of the beer styles involved & with unique twists like Mexican Chocolate Imperial Stouts and all kinds of stuff. Well… the winners were announced… and some great beers won…
 









 
The Barrel Aged winners were announced… and we didn’t win for either beer… so we were mildly bummed… but then, the non-comp People’s Choice was announced… and somehow… we had won!!! Even though both beers were part of the competition…
 
Does this sound incorrect? Well… it should… apparently when you get a bunch of drunken hipsters together to tally up votes, math goes to the wayside. It’s a mix of Steve Harvey & a Hanging Chad… but when all was said & done… apparently Tricera-Scotch actually won 2nd Place in the Barrel Aged Competition… and we don’t have a picture with the 2nd place ribbon because… well, they just took our ribbon & didn’t replace it with anything… so yeah. Then again, I’m pretty sure that everything was just tallied wrong… and based on our feedback throughout the event… I’m pretty sure that we ACTUALLY won… even if it won’t show on the official ledger… regardless, LOTS of great beer & LOTS of great people!!! Even taking home 2nd Place is pretty f**king amazing… and we’ll take it!!! WOOHOO FOR TERRIBLE LIZARD BREWING!!!
 
Anyway, so a great SF Beer Week 2016… and now we just get ready for the Super Bowl… and the clusterf**k that will be upon the Bay Area for the next few weeks. More on that to come… until then, have a Happy Groundhog Day everybody!!!

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