Sunday, July 20, 2014

Return to Tahoe

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Friday night, we transferred our Cali Common from two weeks ago to the secondary carboy... behold...





Saturday morning, we headed to Motobrewer again for a Big Brew Day in making JJ's award-winning Cali Common recipe (that we started two weeks ago) but on a 20-gallon scale & using Paul's badass system... here are pictures...















Around noon, we headed up to Truckee to meet up with Izzy's aunts for a birthday celebration... and we gave some presents...

Then we headed over to one of my favorites, Fifty Fifty Brewing... and enjoyed great food & a full sampler of their great beers... but just FYI, the bartender is kind of a f**king idiot there now... you'll know which one when you go...

The next morning, we went to a little lake near the aunts for a quick dip... for the dogs...

 







Then we drove back in a little traffic & picked up our 5-gallon carboy from the big batch for the Northern California Homebrewers Festival... which we also officially got our tickets for this morning. Here she is... after a little twenty-minute drive from Motobrewer home...

More on that in the weeks to come though... quick updated, I'm tired. Have a great day everybody!!!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Make It Happen, Hollywood!!!

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
This last week, Izzy & I watched “Manhunter” starring William Peterson (“CSI”), Brian Cox & Joan Allen among others. For those who aren’t familiar with this movie… it’s from 1986 and was basically the first “Hannibal Lechter” movie. Basically, this movie directed by Michael Mann (“Heat” & “Collateral”) came out… and basically bombed at the box office despite decent reviews. Then it wasn’t until 1991 when Joe Dante’s “Silence of the Lambs” came out & awards followed that Anthony Hopkin’s character Hannibal Lechter became a household name. Then, ten years later, Ridley Scott directed “Hannibal” which was basically the sequel… and then the next year Brett Ratner directed “Red Dragon” which is basically an almost word-for-word reboot of this movie “Manhunter.” Does everybody got that? Good… okay, so in this original telling… an FBI Specialist (Peterson) is called “out of retirement” to help find a serial killer known as “The Tooth Fairy” who is kidnapping & killing women seemingly at random. The killer is incredibly meticulous though… so in order to do find him… the specialist must ask a brilliant & legendary criminal that he put away for assistance… that man of course is Dr. Hannibal Lechter (Cox). From there, the search goes on… now, I’ve seen all four of these movies based on Thomas Harris’ characters… and I REALLY liked this movie. Especially given that it was in the mid-80’s before hard-hitting, suspenseful & intelligent cop dramas weren’t really all the rage (more blast & shoot-up kind of cop flicks) this movie really did a great job. Sure the lead character seemed a little… too lacking in emotion at times… but when it seems more to emphasize when he does show emotion. By the way, Brian Cox as Lechter… though only for like three scenes the whole movie… kinda remarkable. I just love Brian Cox in movies. Period. He’s really good… but will probably never win anything except a paycheck. Now, the movie is not without its flaws (like most movies involving blind people unfortunately) but overall, it’s a great, gritty little flick that if you enjoyed the three newer Hannibal movies, I’d definitely recommend that you check this out. You’ll see that despite the dialogue being almost word-for-word with “Red Dragon” at some spots… it’s a different interpretation. Check it out.
 
Another reboot from the 80’s is the new “Robocop” movie starring Gary Oldman & Samuel L. Jackson. Now… as you know… I’m a HUGE fan of the original Robocop (and to a lesser extent the ridiculous sequels) and director Paul Verhoeven in general. When I heard that they were doing a reboot… I was instantly excited… and then reality set in that it could very well suck. As the little tidbits like the costume design came out… that feeling only got worse. Gary Oldman’s going to be in it? Cool! Samuel L. Jackson? Michael Keaton? F**king BATMAN is going to be in this? ALRIGHT!!! Who the f**k is Joel Kinnaman? Answer: Still pending. Director is Jose Padilha? Never heard of him… what has he done? Oh he’s Brazilian… sigh… okay. Maybe he’s one of these Alfonso Cuaron or Guillermo del Toro guys who knows what he’s doing… I’m optimistic. Who’s playing Robocop’s partner Officer Lewis? Michael K. Williams? That’s a funny name for a chick. Anyway, that was before the movie was released… and then it came out… and then it went away… and then nobody ever spoke of it again. Not a good sign. Okay, now for the movie, it’s set like 10-15 years in the future I think… and basically robotic drones are policing areas in the Middle East… and there’s both a push & a pull to doing the same in the United States… replacing police officers with drones. However, the concerned half feel that drones lack the human emotion & decency required to be a police force (having never met most of those a-holes first-hand I assume). So to find a solution, the creator of the drones (Keaton) works with a renowned physician (Oldman) to create a hybrid cyborg. As luck would have it, a young policeman (Kinnaman) is recently blown the f**k up… so they have a fresh corpse to work with… and viola, you have RoboCop. The original from the 80’s was basically a Jesus-resurrection story ripe with subtle political commentary set to somewhat campy action & one-liners… and this remake was basically a full-fledged piece about using drones overseas. Plain & simple. There were a few lines from the original that carried over (though most were obviously forced in & out of place… and the best one was left out “Bitches leave…”) and the action scenes were kind of cool if not a little on the ridiculous side… I especially liked the training scene with legendary rock track “Hocus Pocus” by Focus playing in the background… but aside from that, the story just really wasn’t that good. The villain was… not very villainy. Red a.k.a. Kurtwood Smith in the original… was a villain. He had presence. I feel like too much was played on the human side of RoboCop and the whole “something else” that was interfering & overriding the controls over RoboCop… which I guess is supposed to be a soul or free will or something… but really it just ended up being a big confusing & unnecessary mess to the story. There were just a LOT of points where I had to stop thinking for the movie… so that the plot could move along… and that was frustrating. Also, I think Sam Jackson showed up for a day or two to yell out a few monologues in front of a green screen the same day he was doing some Capital One commercials… and that was another seven digits in the bank. Good for him… but as the legendary line from The Great Muppet Caper goes “It’s plot exposition. It has to go somewhere.” Anyway, check it out if you want… but I’d rather watch the original for the thousandth time…
 
 
So… a few months ago, I was primed & ready to see two movies on opening day - “The Protector 2” & “The Raid 2”. Both didn’t show here in the entire bay area except I think Raid 2 had one showing during a weekday in San Jose or some ridiculous stuff like that. Regardless, they were still on my Netflix queue… and the first to arrive was “The Raid 2” last week, written & directed by Gareth Evans… and starring a bunch of Indonesian martial artists that you’ve never heard of unless you know the Jakarta movie business pretty damn well. Now, the original “Raid: Redemption” follows an Indonesian cop named Rama with an elite SWAT team as they attempt to take down a drug lord in this heavily fortified 30-story building… and basically the entire movie is a video game with intense fighting & craziness for a little over two hours & there’s really no backstory or plot necessary. Did you see the “Dredd” remake earlier this year? It’s basically that but more exciting & a LOT better for a multitude of reasons. The sequel picks up after the original… sorta. Spoiler alert: They took out the drug lord in the original… but he was small fries… and now the big boys are after him. To protect his family, Rama has to go undercover & infiltrate the criminal underworld himself (don’t ask why?) to bring down the big boys. So that’s that… and the next 2.5 hours is a lot of gritty fight scenes with massive amounts of violence, gunplay, ligament tearing, betrayal, backstabbing, LITERAL backstabbing, facial reconstruction, and basically… they take this “video game” kind of movie out of the building and all over the rest of the city, complete with distinctive boss characters who… frankly probably have a more interesting backstory than any other character in this movie… but they don’t even scratch the surface on them. Probably makes them more menacing… but just an observation. Of course, I enjoyed this movie for the martial arts aspects… and seriously questioned a lot of the plot devices& elements… and I feel like it was at least 30 minutes too long… but hey, if you liked the first one, check out the second one. For a martial arts movie, it’s pretty good & interesting… but obviously if it’s not your thing then you’re probably not going to care for it. I heart Martial Arts movies.
 
How much do I heart them? I watched the directorial debut of Keanu Reeves “Man of Tai Chi” last week as well. That’s right. He directs now too. You know… it’s weird to think that Keanu’s career has gone from the laughable buffoon of “Babes in Toyland” & Ted “Theodore” Logan… to ridiculously quotable action star in “Point Break” & “Speed”… and then has made a career in being absolutely expressionless in ridiculously crazy circumstances for the past 20 years in movies like the “Matrix” trilogy, “Constantine”, “The Day The Earth Stood Still” remake and even really in “Sweet November”, “The Lake House” & “Hard Ball” if you wanna get technical. “Devil’s Advocate” was… sigh… and I even really liked “The Replacements” but… yeah, typically about the most acting you’ll really get out of him was when the three vampire chicks are sucking him dry in “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” as he’s trying to scream at Gary Oldman’s hair before passing out / blood cumming. You all know the scene, don’t lie. Anyway, now he’s directing… and even plays the villain role in this movie about underground fighting rings… but it’s the usual Keanu performance of the past two decades. Cold. Emotionless. That intense look on his face… like he’s a robot trying to compute emotion. Seriously, if it came out next week that Keanu Reeves decided to retire in 1997 and since then the studios have been using a fairly advanced robot in his place, would anybody really be THAT surprised? It’d be like finding out Rihanna was a robot… or Drake likes LeBron… like… more than a friend. Anyway, back to this movie, Keanu is not the focus, it’s this guy named Tiger who has mastered the martial art of Tai Chi (wait, what?) and wants to unleash his power upon the world in the ring… but his master says it’s not a good idea. Well, evil mastermind Keanu steps in, forecloses on the temple, and now Tiger has to make some money, Keanu offers him money to fight in his worldwide semi-illegal online pay-per-view gambling conglomerate tournament or something… and Tiger is good… but he fears that there are ulterior motives… and his life may be in danger. If you like martial arts movies & making fun of Keanu, check it out. Otherwise, you’re not going to like it. It’s not particularly well crafted or anything.
 
In this Hollywood realm of reboots, prequels, sequels twenty years late, blatant rip-offs & such… I thought I’d share a few that I’d like to see in the near future…
 
Reboots/Prequels/Sequels that Need to Happen
 
·     Ghostbusters III – This may drop into the sequels 20 years late thing like “Dumb & Dumber To” and with the passing of Harold Ramis, there’s a real odd twist to it all but… then again, in walks Christopher Mintz-Plasse as the son of Egon (or maybe Louis & Janine… with a twist that they used Egon’s sperm?) and a few others with tutelage from the original cast… and boom, you’ve got a good start to a movie. “The script is tricky… and timing for all the actors… and blah blah blah…” please, you mean to tell me if there was a lot of money on the table it couldn’t happen? What has Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Rick Moranis… or even Annie Potts or Peter MacNicol really been up to the past few years? Of all those Bill Murray has been the busiest and… aside from a few Wes Anderson movies, the greatest cameo in history in “Zombieland”, “Monuments Men” and whatever “Passion Play” was… he’s probably got some free time if only for a small role. It can happen… and it should happen. Make it happen, Hollywood!
 
·     Escape From Cleveland – John Carpenter’s classic “Escape from New York” and even the sequel set in L.A. (a few years late?) were all well & good… but both movies referenced events that happened years earlier in Cleveland… and that’s basically the best way to start a Snake Pliskin reboot. Kurt Russell is not necessarily needed (though he has to be involved, right?) but you get a young Snake in there… boom, you have a new badass franchise you can then lead on to New York, L.A., Vegas, Paris, Mars, wherever. You’re welcome!!!
 
·     Captain Power & the Soldiers of the Future – If you don’t know about this show (or the comics it’s based), then find out about it and you’ll join me. Okay, so 30 years ago, there was this obscure Canadian TV show that $teve fell in love with… and was immediately followed by his favorite game show at the time, Animal Crack-Ups. It’s a show set in the future… an evil overlord named Lord Dread (“I AM THE LAW!”), no not that one… but… hmm… Stallone could play the part… anyway, he controls everybody with a robot army… and there’s a human resistance led by Captain Jonathan Power and a collection of others with “super suits” that always seem to not work properly at the most inopportune times. 22 episodes of amazingness… and ends on a cliffhanger… and then never heard from again. The effects were state-of-the-art CGI by 1987 standards (so not really that good & they repeated a LOT) but overall, decent show… and can easily be rebooted nowadays since better graphics can be done on your average smartphone.
 
·     Masters of the Universe – From the same director as Captain Power, this little nugget of 80’s is the movie version of the He-Man cartoons… and it was okay. I rewatched it recently… and it still holds up as kitschy… but since the Conan reboot didn’t really work out as well, maybe we could get one of the Hemsworths in here as Dolph Lundgren 2.0 to play He-Man. Skeletor will be played by… THE ROCK!!! Okay, Dwayne Johnson’s probably busy… but it was played by Frank Langella in the 80’s so it could be played by a hologram & voiced by Vincent Price with today’s technology so we should make this happen. Just leave Gwildor out of this one… and maybe Courtney Cox too…
 
·     Kiss Kiss Bang Bang – I already have the opening few minutes courtesy of a dream
 
·     The Last Boy Scout – Down-on-his-luck former secret service agent turned private investigator… down-on-his-luck football has-been with a girlfriend’s corpse shaped like early 20’s Halle Berry… criminal conspiracies that seem to go all the way to the top… of the owner’s box. BIG shootout of a finale during Monday Night Football (or whatever it was) that ends in a Irish jig… and then NOTHING??? I don’t know about you… but I’d kinda like to see Bruce Willis & Damon Wayans team up again for another bout of badassery & one-liners.
 
·     Serenity – Everybody’s not going to be young & amazing forever… since nobody is apparently going to commit to an entire TV series… you can at least have a few kick-ass movies following the adventures of the “Firefly” crew (by the way, not a rip-off of Outlaw Star at all) on fantastic voyages across the galaxies. Sure, Joss is out being Joss with Marvel right now but… it can still happen & I think it should. You can only watch the episodes & one movie so many times before you start watching the actors in other shows & thinking “When is Inara going to tell her terrorist husband that she’s been cheating on him with Mal?” or “When is Mal going to tell that detective chick about Inara?” or “Why the f**k can’t I see Kaylee in anything ever?”
 
Anyway, that’ll do it for today. I’m sure I’ve bored you enough… have a great day everybody!!! MAKE THIS HAPPEN, HOLLYWOOD!!!

Monday, July 14, 2014

This Weekend in Funville

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
 
Okay… I’m going to start off with a  few things that I forgot to mention last weekend… because it was busy. Last Wednesday night was the start of the Rogue Independence Day Garage Sale, where you can usually find some pretty good ideas like cases of 24-12 oz bottles for about $20-25 (take into account a case of reusable bottles for homebrewing, it’s like $10 for beer), dollar pint glasses, discounted T-shirts & other merchandise. Though there have been great deals in the past, this time around it wasn’t much. I got about 30% off on their anniversary ale (which was delicious) and I bought a nice $10 tie-dye T-shirt (which should’ve been free for my birthday according to their original Rogue Nation pitch) but other than there, there really wasn’t anything. Maybe next time…
 
Also, big announcement everybody… we finished our keg of ChocoNut Stout!!! Yup, in three weeks we went through five gallons of that sweet dark deliciousness… but to be fair, it wasn’t all us. After factoring in growlers that we donated to Izzy’s Aunts, Big Ben & Super Dave, the SF Homebrewers Guild, and other sharing… we maybe got half of it… but it was delicious & we’ll certainly have to do it again. The recipe was pretty easy (once we figured out the basics of kegging) and obviously delicious. We’ll find out soon if it’s award-winning… but at the very least, a decent beer to just have around. What does that mean? We have an empty keg and probably the next thing to go in it will be one of our beers for the family reunion in September. We’re thinking a Pale Ale & our award-winning Honey Amber… but we shall see. We’re still open to suggestions.
 
Also last week, I mentioned that we decided to put a little wait on the Pale Ale recipe that we were going to try… as the real target date for freshness is early September and we only need about three weeks to do that quick recipe… so instead, we did the California Common. However, I forgot to elaborate on the process of how we came to that decision. You see, leading up to the weekend, I decided to put out on Facebook that we were taking suggestions… and kinda did our first “Crowdsourced” brew. Now, it’s not funded or anything… just taking people’s suggestions… and kinda picking one that sounds good to try. There were some great suggestions ranging from a Caramel & Sea Salt Stout (possible future attempt) to Strawberry Blondes to things involving Cherries… which were all great ideas.
 
However, when it was all said & done… there was one that sounded like a great summer beverage… and a bit of a challenge. You see, a fellow leader on the SF Homebrewer’s Guild named JJ suggested that we do a California Common, of which she has won MANY prestigious awards for her recipe. I jokingly said “Hmm… if only I had an award-winning recipe to start from…” or something like that… and basically within a few minutes she had sent me her recipe… correction: THE Recipe for a California Common. Well, having tried her version on a few occasions, it’s absolutely delicious… and now, Izzy & I are going to try to see if we can recreate the recipe to these incredible standards, much like we did with Elevation 66’s ChocoNut Stout. We shall find out soon enough… and of course, JJ gets a growler (and more if she wants it… but I’m sure she has plenty of her own at home).
 

Especially since next weekend, we’re taking part in a 20-gallon Cali Common Brew Day of her recipe at Motobrewer for entry into the Northern California Homebrewers Festival in September. Basically the same recipe that we’re a week into… but on a larger scale to share with fellow homebrewers… and probably take home a ribbon or two… because it’s pretty amazing. More on that next week though…
 
THIS Saturday morning, we woke up early (for a weekend) to observe a collaboration brew between the SF Homebrewers Guild & FreeWheel Brewing in Redwood City. You may recall from back in December that FreeWheel Brewing specializes in cask conditioned ales… which are typically English milds or stouts with a lower carbonation so they typically have a smoother, richer taste & texture that most beers for easy drinkability (and lower alcohol content as well). The brewmaster & the assistant brewmistress walked through the setup & process on how they were going to brew this next batch… which was a lost recipe for a Ruby Mild that we had found in another guy’s book… but yeah, it sounded very intriguing & should be amazing. Here are some pictures…
 









After we got things started & more people started showing up, unfortunately their brewery isn’t big (like… maybe 100 square feet of moving around space in there) so we kinda took turns between observing… and enjoying some of their brews on tap in their dining area. They also have some great, non-pretentious food there to go along with it. Here are more pictures…
 











A few minutes in the World Cup 3rd place game, we headed out to Orangevale (near Sacramento) to pick up some beer at Heretic (cuz it’s amazing) and meet up with some of Izzy’s friends… but first, we stopped by Orangevale Meats to get some exotic burger patties (boar, buffalo, kangaroo, elk, venison, etc) and sausages. We got some Hunter’s Sausage & Bockwurst. We also stopped by a grocery store called WinCo to get some bulk goods. Afterwards, Izzy took me to a nice Mongolian BBQ place & we hid from the 100+ degree temps outside. Good eats all around.
 
Then as the sun started to go down, we met up with her friends at the taproom Final Gravity for their 2nd Anniversary Barrel Aged Celebration, complete with a list of 10+% ABV beverages and birthday cake. We were there for a few hours (don’t worry, I was hella responsible since we drove back around midnight) and just had a good time catching up & tasting various brews. If you’re in the Sacramento area, definitely check it out.
 
Sunday, we met up with some of Izzy’s other friends at Little Star Pizza in the part of SF known as the Western Addition (?) over by Alamo Square… and we tried some of their highly-regarded pizza that often listed as Top 5 in SF. Well, yes, the pizza was great… we had both thin crust & their deep dish to try out… but the service was hella slow (like well over an hour wait & yes, I know we ordered deep dish… but they had time for a mulligan & we were the first ones there before the post-World Cup final rush) and… yeah, it was the post-World Cup rush… and there was a group of drunken douches (male and female) who were just as load as they could possibly be. Hell, we even yelled our conversation at some point to emphasize it & they were too f**king stupid to realize it… we’ll blame it on culture I guess… but yeah, not the setting for loud-mouthed douchery… so maybe get the pizza to go? Anyway, we then walked off the pizza by Alamo Square…
 


Then had a few drinks at Mini Bar before heading over to Barrel Head Brewing a few blocks away. Now, this place is fairly new… and let’s be honest, they have a few fermenters that made their three in-house selections (Black Kolsch, nitro-carbonated Rye & a Saison that I didn’t care for) but they’re essentially a taproom for other breweries while making some of their own. Overall, a great place with decent service… and the beer is pretty good, especially if you know what you like.
 
Anyway, that was the weekend… next week, Big Brewday at Motobrewer in preparation for the NCHF… and also, a trip out to Truckee to hang in the mountains with Izzy’s Aunts and introduce you all to one of my favorite breweries… Fifty Fifty!!! Have a great day everybody!!!

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