Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hot Cup of Dickens Cider

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Sunday, Izzy & I met up with aunts & mom at the Cow Palace to go to the Great Dickens Fair… where they turn that space into turn of the 19th century London but with slightly less child labor and definitely better conditions… because they have cinnamon almonds. Dozens of potteries, craft stores, haberdashers, cobblers, psychics, jewelers, clothers, and other various trades of the time… and a few choice food establishments offering meals ranging from meat pies, bangers & mash, fish & chips… to gyros, hot dogs & pasta. You can even enjoy some hot mulled wine (if you are looking to punish yourself) but there was also some Lagunitas handy. Hundreds of actors & patrons dressed in Victorian garb, yelling to show off their Renaissance Fair barking skills in Cockney accents, “Happy Christmas!” everywhere you turn, what’s not to love? We had a fun time trying the fares, Izzy bought a nice clay mug, good times. Here are some pictures…


Monday night was our CHAMPION Softball Team’s celebration party at Jillian’s and it was a lot of fun… a few drinks, some billiards, some great appetizers, catching a little football, pro basketball & college basketball… good times… here’s the team photo…
That’s really about it with the early week due to the Thanksgiving Holiday… but there will be plenty of pictures & stories from that. Also, this weekend is our first trip to & being a part of the Treasure Island Flea Market, so plenty of stuff coming from that experience as well. Until then though, have a great Thanksgiving everybody!!! And THANK YOU for reading!!!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Anomalawnmower Man

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Tuesday night, Izzy & I were invited to yet another special preview screening, and this one was held right in my neighborhood… at the Industrial Light & Magic Premier Theatre in the Presidio! Yes, next to the Yoda Statue… and basically Lucasfilm’s private screening room! It… was pretty f**king awesome… and I’m not even a big Star Wars guy… but that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy some drinks & snacks while posing with Boba Fett and Darth Vader…

The movie that we saw was “Anomalisa” by writer/co-director Charlie Kaufman (“Adaptation”, “Being John Malkovich”, “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”, etc) and it’s essentially a play that he wrote… but played out in stop-motion clay animation and featuring the voice talents of David Thewlis, Jennifer Jason Leigh, and Tom Noonan (and that is IT). The story is about a man named Michael Stone (Thewlis) and he’s on a business trip in Cincinatti… and he’s essentially going through the motions of a Larry David created episode where nothing really happens out of the ordinary… in fact, even all of the other people’s voices sound exactly the same (Noonan). He’s having issues with his wife… he writes books & gives speeches about customer service for companies… but underneath it all, he’s just sick & tired of every day being essentially the same & not being stimulated in any real way. Even when he reaches out to a former girlfriend that he hasn’t even talked to in over a decade for a drink… the voice is the same… the routine is the same… he feels like he’s missing something, but has no idea what it is. Don’t worry, everybody. There’s some of that Larry David-esque comedy throughout so that it’s not a total downer. Then, after taking a shower, he hears a different voice in the hallway! He runs out into the hallway to meet Lisa (Leigh) and her friend Pam (Noonan). He’s infatuated with her and this new voice… but he can’t quite figure out why… but he must find out! Okay, that’s where I’m drawing the line on the plot. Go check out this movie! It’s totally a critic’s wet dream… smart, sharp, yet realistic dialogue… beautifully shot… the plot is pretentious yet thought-provoking… probably going to be in the high 90’s on Metacritic and nominated for a few things. Not interested in any of that? How about some nudity & a sex scene? WHAT? In award bait? Absolutely! The entire movie is one of those awkward & thought-provoking films that writer Charlie Kaufman is famous for… and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s a movie experience. Not like “Mad Max: Fury Road” where the adrenaline is going constantly… but more of an experience that you’ll look back on and say “remember when we watched that movie with hundreds of people in their 50’s & 60’s where the puppets had sex? That was still a pretty good movie… or play.” The movie doesn’t come out until December 30th so put it on your calendar. Yeah, I highly recommend checking it out… and a big thank you to ILM & Lucasfilms for inviting us!!!
Now, Lucasfilm… there’s another movie that you’re wrapping up production on that… you know, we’d really appreciate a glance at a few months before its release… just to f**k with everybody who’s already bought tickets while I’m like “Eh… I’ll wait for Netflix.” You know the one that I’m talking about… don’t play coy with me. If you want some great criticism about this “Force Awakens” sequel thing… I’m more than willing to help out… and I’ll even keep my comments off the internet. You’ve read the posts, you know I’ve got the goods. Anyway, just think about it… you know how to reach me.
Wednesday night, Izzy & I watched 1992’s science-fiction-horror flick “The Lawnmower Man” starring Jeff Fahey & Pierce Brosnan. The story is about a scientist (Brosnan) who is creating virtual reality technology that will allegedly revolutionize the world and make anything possible in the physical world… you know, like virtual reality did in the late 90’s, right? Anyway, he’s also experimenting with these drugs in a fashion similar to “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” where they stimulate the brain & make the subject smarter. Hell, the opening sequence of the movie is even one of the chimpanzees trying to escape the facility using his superbrain & virtual reality technology… and of course a gun. That’s worth watching right there. After the “incident” with the chimp’s escape, the doctor wants to push the research forward… but with a human subject. The company’s director (Dean Norris from “Breaking Bad” 20 years younger) says no… but he does it anyway using a mentally challenged lawnmower named Jobe (Fahey) who… basically just picture Simple Jack from “Tropic Thunder” and you’ve got him… but with steely blue eyes. After a few treatments, Jobe is becoming increasingly smarter… but also, more self aware. I’ll leave the plot there… but yeah, I’d recommend checking the movie out. The visual effects are quite dated being from the early computer imaging days of 1990-1992 but at the same time, it’s also a somewhat cautionary tale about technology in everyday life (though a little ludicrous) and there are just a few scenes in the movie worth watching for the “what the hell?” of it all. Like… well, the sex scenes… especially the one in virtual reality… and what becomes of the lady involved. Hmm… there’s been a few awkward sex scenes mentioned in this post already. Anyway, check it out with friends!

We then followed it up with its 1996 sequel “Lawnmower Man 2: Jobe’s War” (on our version, it’s also been under “LM2: Beyond Cyberspace” and a few other names apparently) starring Matt Frewer as Jobe… and the only returning cast member is Austin O’Brien who played Jobe’s child friend Peter in both movies (he was also the kid in “Last Action Hero” if you need a visual image). So… just to warn you up front, on IMDb, the first movie was rated about 6 out of 10… the sequel is rated 2.3 out of 10. It's not a great movie… but it’s a little better than that I think. Basically, at the end of the first movie, the building where Jobe was trying to go all “Transcendence” / Skynet and rule the world through the internet… was destroyed in a massive explosion (spoiler alert). However, for the sequel to happen… Jobe’s body is not completely destroyed in this government facility crushing explosion… but he is crippled. Well, “IN THE FUTURE” as the title card says, an evil technology mogul resuscitates Jobe and hooks him up to his new virtual reality supercomputer so that Jobe can use his skills to create a computer chip that will connect all of the computers & technology of the world into one network that he can then control. Obviously that’s a stupid f**king idea as Jobe plays them for fools and starts to take over the world through the interwebs… and offers everybody to jack into his new virtual world for solace & freedom from the woes of their future world (which he’s controlling to turn into even worse sh*t). You know… like PS Home. Oh, you don’t remember that? Anyway, there’s only one man who can stop him… a random ass doctor who had little to do with anything really involving the backstory (played by Patrick Bergin) and then a bunch of apparently homeless orphan teenagers led by Jobe’s friend Peter. Yeah… it’s not a great movie… but Matt Frewer is pretty decent. I feel like he’s doing a Jim Carrey impersonation half of the time… but he’s legit. I wouldn’t recommend seeing this movie alone by itself… but if you’re immediately following the original, why not? It’s a scant 90 minutes or so.
The biggest problem that I personally had with this movie… was the timing in the universe. Mostly with the title card after the recap of the events with “IN THE FUTURE” title card at the beginning being incredibly vague. Why does that agitate me? BECAUSE IT’S NOT VAGUE!!! PETER IS IN THE MOVIE… FOUR YEARS OLDER THAN HE WAS IN THE ORIGINAL!!! Now, they make the future world to be like… 30 years in the future or something… because it looks like a homeless man’s “Blade Runner” with all kinds of futuristic cars and technologies… but at the same time has the same actor playing the same role four years old… so maybe a late teenager? So this is 1996 “in the future” PERIOD!!! Look, even if they said something like… 2006, ten years in the future & made Peter a little older (moustache or something?) then I’d buy it if he threw a little gravel in his voice… but he didn’t. THIS IS A PRETTY MAJOR THING WHEN WRITING UP THIS MOVIE!!! Is it four years later? Obviously not because everything (even in an alternate dimension or timeline) is about 30 years advance… but it’s four years later. Did Jobe’s shenanigans in the first movie push technology forward that fast? NOPE! THAT SH*T GOT BLOWED UP!!! LIKE HE DID!!! Anyway, just my take… aside from that… it’s just a ridiculous little movie… and Matt Frewer is awesome.
Thursday night, Izzy & I went to a QUICK DRAW SF event at the club F8. Essentially, Quick Draw SF promotes these meetups where artists from all over can come together and share their works. There are some featured artists… but mostly it’s about getting people involved and making art alongside them. This events theme was “Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs! Dinosaurs!” so you know that Izzy & I were all about that! F8 is essentially a smallish bar and they had house music playing… and an area set up for some of the featured artists… but everybody else had to do with the seating usually intended for girls who are drunk and/or trippin’ balls on the weekends… but it was still a pretty nice venue. I think if they toned down the music… let’s say in half, then it would’ve been a pretty interesting and great event. How so? Well, a little music is good for the creative process… but not when it’s giving you a headache. Also, if you see other artists that interest you, you can have a little conversation… as opposed to screaming at them like you’re trying to get their phone number on the dance floor or something. “That’s really interesting!” “Thanks!” “What’s your favorite medium to work in?” “Yeah, I’ve been doing it since I was a kid.” “What?” “No thanks, I’ve already got water in this bottle!” “…okay, great work. Nice meeting you!” Just a suggestion for the next one… still a great idea!
This Sunday, Izzy & I will be going to the Dickens Fair at the Cow Palace with her family… and then we’re going right along into Thanksgiving and a pretty darn busy time with selling art at various festivals. If you’ve got nothing better to do Thanksgiving weekend, come on out and see us at the Treasure Island Flea Market! I’ll be the tall guy handling the money & she’ll be the one selling the most adorable art that you’ll find on this planet! Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Kreed: Jenesiz

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Over the weekend, Izzy & I watched a summer blockbuster that got some scathing reviews… and that’s the fifth movie in one of the most iconic movie franchises in history, “Terminator: Genisys” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Emilia Clarke, Jason Clarke (no relation in real life… but apparently mother-son in this movie) & Jai Courtney (homeless man’s Channing Tatum). Okay, so I’m going to assume that you’re all up to date with at least the first two Terminator movies… and the whole Judgment Day in 1997… Skynet being a computer system that essentially becomes self-aware and starts eliminating humans… and there’s this whole humans vs. robots war that rages on for a generation-plus… and then Skynet builds a time machine to send a robot (Arnie) to go back to 1985 to kill the mother (E. Clarke) of the human rebellion leader (J. Clarke) and avoid this whole war thing… but then the humans find out about it, assault the facility and then the humans send back a soldier named Kyle Reese (Courtney) to protect the mother. I’m also going to kindly remind you to forget many, many other plot points from previous movies in order to push this movie’s logic forward. Trust me, it’s just easier. So in this movie, it’s essentially a reboot of the first movie with sending Kyle back in time to protect the mother Sarah Connor… but apparently this has already been done a few times so by the time he goes back to 1985 there’s a reprogrammed Arnie robot sent back to protect her… and apparently a T-1000 liquid metal version from Terminator 2 sent back… and a whole lot of other sh*t going down… hell, even the leader of the future resistance John Connor gets sent back… but as long as you don’t think about it too hard, it can make sense. Okay… here’s a quick breakdown… and I want to start off with I actually recommend checking this movie out… but I’ll be brief.
The Good: The action is pretty good and the visual effects are decent… there’s plenty of throwbacks (or direct ripoffs) of past movies, and the essentially frame for frame remake of the original movie’s first 15 minutes or so is particularly entertaining to me as I’ve seen that movie literally thousands of times, so that was a treat. J.K. Simmons shows up too… and that’s a treat. Aside from Jai Courtney, the acting was even pretty good… though I kept expecting Kyle Reese to be revealed to be the robot as he had reactions similar to Arnie’s character. This is an action movie… so with good action gets good reaction from me.
The Bad: First & foremost, the previews for this movie REALLY f**ked them over!!! First, there was the preview that showed Arnie jumping out of a helicopter to kamikaze dive bomb another helicopter to completion… or in other words, THE CLIMAX OF THE F**KING MOVIE!!! Secondly… in the other previews… sigh… I don’t even want to say it as some people might really enjoy this twist & haven’t seen the preview. If so… please move along to the next paragraph… heck, maybe to the next movie where you see an ancient Sylvester Stallone & the other Michael Jordan (with a B.) Okay… so in the other previews, including those aired during the f**king Super Bowl months earlier… they reveal that the John Connor sent back in time… is actually a robot… and sent back to kill Sarah Connor and everybody else. Now, would this had been a better movie if that MAJOR TWIST wasn’t given away months before people even saw the movie? I’d like to think so… but alas, somebody in marketing really f**ked up this movie for most moviegoers before it even came out to the public. Would it have put this movie on the money-making level of “Furious 7” or “Jurassic World”? Probably not… In fact, I’d say I’m about 90% sure it wouldn’t have made much difference.
Overall: Unfortunately I think people were kinda f**ked out of the Terminator franchise a while back… but I still think that this movie was not nearly as bad as everybody made it out to be. You’ll probably find that most of the people talking sh*t on it… actually haven’t even seen it. They heard it was bad from the critics and/or other people who hadn’t seen it. This is one of those movies that scores like 22% on Rotten Tomatoes with the critics… but around 60% with people that watched the movie. Not great… not horrible… just kind of in the middle. However, I’m a fan of the series… so I enjoyed it… except Jai Courtney… and with him & the recent announcement that “Suicide Squad” is going to be PG-13 I’m looking less & less forward to it… but you know I’m still going to check it out.
Now for a special treat!!! Monday night, Izzy & I were invited to a special preview screening of another long-awaited (by some?) continuation of an iconic movie franchise… the Rocky Balboa franchise… and this movie is called “CREED” starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone… and this movie was NOT written and/or directed by Stallone… but rather by Ryan Coogler who did “Fruitvale Station” last year and was even on hand to introduce the movie at the theatre. Now… again, I’m going to basically assume that you’ve seen the other SIX Rocky movies as well… and really knowing anything past halfway through Rocky IV is really just going to be little snippets & one-off jokes in this movie… but I’m going to assume that you know all about the story of Rocky Balboa… who was a semipro boxer in 1976 who through a fluke incident involving a training injury, got the once in a lifetime to chance to square off against the reigning heavyweight champion Apollo Creed… and he trains hard with a former boxer named Mick and spoiler alert… goes the distance with the champ. That movie won Academy Awards… and then there was the sequel rematch with Apollo (Rocky II)… and then in the 3rd installment, Rocky’s trainer Mick (Burgess Meredith) dies during a match with a younger, hungrier opponent named Clubber Lang (Mr. T, and there’s an entire post about his character from years ago)… and now-retired Apollo Creed steps in as his trainer to help him win & regain his eye of the tiger. Then in the 4th installment, Creed comes out of retirement to fight a new Russian champion named Ivan Drago (Dolph Lundgren) but is killed in the ring after Rocky doesn’t throw in the towel (by Apollo’s request but drama…) and then Rocky has to come out of retirement to blah blah blah… but you already know all of this… I don’t even know why I mention it.
Well, this movie is centered around what happened shortly before Apollo Creed’s fatal last fight. Apparently he had a son… with a woman who was not his wife (Phylicia Rashad). Well, this encounter gave birth to a young man named Adonis Johnson (Michael B. Jordan) who bounces around group homes after his mother’s death… but then is adopted by Apollo Creed’s wife Marianne when he’s about ten & rowdy… but then raised in the lap of luxury. Fast forward a few years… Adonis is boxing in Tijuana. WHY? Because he has the itch… he’s a fighter… and he doesn’t have a constructive way of utilizing that itch apparently. Well, this leads to drama with his mom who obviously doesn’t want him to fight… especially after he quit his newly promoted job at a financial firm (WHAT???) to essentially leave the mansion he was raised in… and go to Philadelphia to train to be a boxer. Why Philadelphia? Why not? Anyway, all these poor decisions aside, Adonis runs into (stalks) the former champion Rocky Balboa (Stallone) and through hard work & guilt convinces Rocky to help train him… throw in a love story with a neighbor girl (Tessa Thompson) and the story basically writes itself from there. Now, my telling of the story is pretty basic & sarcastic… but you get all of this from the trailer… and it’s the story of a man who has a lot of rage and needs a place to direct it… and it just so happens to tie into the Rocky cinematic universe. That being said…
I REALLY liked this movie! If you enjoy boxing movies (probably have to do a Movie List for these soon) then you’re probably going to also REALLY like and/or LOVE this movie. The story is basic… but the acting is pretty fantastic, the cinematography is beautiful, and there are these continuous shot fighting scenes that are some of the greatest that you will ever see. Seriously, there’s one in particular that’s a two-round prize fight… that’s a continuous shot… with dialogue and all the action of a boxing match to make it feel like you’re the referee standing in the ring with them & eavesdropping in the corners. It’s very impressive. Though there are some sapping subplots… they’re not done in the usual sappy way. There’s drama… that some might say is completely unnecessary… but you’ll say that about life as well. Life is drama some of the time… but it pushes the plot forward and has some meaning to it… so yeah, go check this movie out. Also… write this down…
Michael B. Jordan… is going to be the next Will Smith. He’ll basically be offered ever major role for a young African-American actor and they’ll be his to turn away. He’s got the skills, he’s got the charisma, soon he’ll have the paparazzi all over his ass… but he’ll also have the big paychecks. I know that his star has slipped a bit with the forced entry in superhero films that was “Fantastic 4” (don’t want to judge too harsh since I haven’t seen it yet but seriously, nobody asked for this movie, right?) but overall… I think he’s going to be huge. I was right about Megan Fox (to a point) and I’ve learned as a young child… to never doubt somebody named Michael Jordan.
So is this going to be the start of a new Rocky/Creed Trilogy? Well… I’ve had some thoughts about sequel of course… so here are some of my ideas for further movies in the Balboa Cinematic Universe… and I’m gonna warn you, some small spoiler alerts from the first Creed:
Creed vs. Lang – In this first Creed sequel, Adonis is moving up the ranks… and the champion that he faced in the first movie to the final bell (“Pretty” Ricky Conlan) is currently serving time for a weapons charge (seriously, it’s in the movie) and they have a series of fights to determine who will take over the championship belt during his sentence. I’m guessing probably a Final Four scenario involving the newcomer who pushed Conlan to the limit, Adonis… some iron-fisted Ukrainian stereotype (NOT Drago, this is lightweight) that he has to go against in the first match… and then he moves on to the winner of Token Black vs. Gunner Lang, one of the many out-of-wedlock children out of Detroit from mysteriously reclusive former champion Clubber Lang (Rocky III) and of course… Gunner is a sh*t talkin’ mastermind of the boxing game… I’m thinking somebody like Brandon Jackson or O’Shea Jackson if they bulked up… or Chadwick Boseman if he wanted to break out of being typecast as legendary sports/music figures in the mid-20th century and wants to be the 2nd coming of Mr. T. Anyway, we skip ahead to him KILLING (or crippling) challenger Token Black in the first match… and then it’s leading up to the showdown between Creed & Lang… and Gunner talks about how he’s going to kill him in the ring, take his woman & eat his child as the promotional press conference… wiping the seed of Creed from off the face of the Earth. Yup… Iron Mike ain’t got sh*t on Gunner Lang.
Oh yeah, for personal drama, he finds rich life comfortable now that he’s getting endorsement money ON TOP OF ALREADY BEING RICH FROM APOLLO’S CAREER so he gets a little soft… his girlfriend (not wife) is preggers with a child… Rocky is not doing well at all after the chemo, but he’s still around… until he passes on while training for the big match… but not before giving a few big speeches about family, fire in your belly, tiger’s blood in your veins & their eyes in your ocular sockets, all that stuff… and then the Final Match… well, I don’t want to spoil it…
Creed vs. Creed – So after Lang cripples Adonis in the final match, punches his woman in the stomach forcing a miscarriage & then bedding her like nobody’s business… No seriously, that’s what happens in my movie! Gunner Lang goes on to have a wonderful boxing career unlike his father and the title Creed vs. Creed is symbolic of Adonis’ long journey back to eating solid foods, communicating with apparatus and perhaps walking again. This is Oscar winning sh*t right here! What? Do you want him to win the final match against Lang, is the undisputed lightweight champion of the world, but then there’s YET ANOTHER BASTARD CREED CHILD who is only a few months older than Adonis… but raised in England (played by David Oyelowo BTW), is good friends with the still-incarcerated Ricky Conlan, but also has his promoter from the first movie… and his trainer is none other than the legendary Luther Mandela (played by Idris Elba). Essentially it’s what everybody really wants in a boxing match… Klitschko vs. Klitschko… except they’re both in their prime… and they’re actually very similar genetically… though one “started from the bottom now we here!” while the other… no, they’re both going to have the EXACT SAME backstory. Yeah, Apollo knocked up a woman in Liverpool or some sketchy off-shoot of London’s underground… he was raised in the system but was educated in school, eventually becoming a Rhodes Scholar AND athlete… but there was always this itch that only bashing a man’s skull could scratch… and so he started boxing… and then when Adonis made it big, he started looking into his own lineage… pictures of Apollo & his mama at Studio 54 or the English equivalent… boom, we have essentially the same vs. same… except Samson Creed (did I mention that’s his name & he was going to have dreadlocks a la Lennox Lewis? Cuz he is & that was pretty f**king important!) is actually taller, stronger & more adept to the sweet science… apparently his mom was an athlete too… and hell, they can’t say something like “My mama wouldn’t allow us to fight” like the Klitschkos because… for one, different mamas… for two…
Personal drama this movie – Marianne Creed passes away… Rocky Balboa passes away… Adonis’ dog Mercury passes away… his now wife is still around, but she makes a lot of trips out to Detroit on business in an effort to resurrect Motown Records and punctuate her sagging music career… leaving Adonis to train without Rocky’s direct influence… but then there’s a new trainer / promoter to help him out, Nick Naylor (Aaron Eckhart) who’s the champion’s mouthpiece and can inspire whales to walk on land… but does he have a hidden agenda? Can Adonis regain the family that he’s lost? Why is he promoting cigarettes & Colt 45 now? How did Nick Naylor convince him to do it? All this will be revealed and more… and then… the final fight… which leads to…
Cult of Clubber – This is the harrowing tale of a fallen boxing superstar Gunner Lang returning to the backwoods of Michigan to join his reclusive father Clubber Lang, who for the past 30+ years left his champion boxing career to start a fundamentalist cult of people who believe that only the strongest humans will survive the End of Days or any scientific apocalypse scenario… so they’ve been breeding generations of Langs with VERY few men and gaggles of women. Gunner tried to leave this life behind for fear that his father would betray him… but in his advanced age, Clubber is realizing that his baby batter isn’t as potent as it used to be… and he must help to teach his son Gunner to take over the group and lead his family into the dark days. This movie looks into religious/cultural beliefs and norms vs. natural selection… and could potentially finally give Mr. T the Academy Award that he so desperately deserves from his long underappreciate career as a thespian… you know what? I’m totally in love with the idea of this movie. I’m starting the script TONIGHT!!! Spoiler alert: Adonis’ wife is part of the Cult of Clubber, that’s why she’s going to Detroit “on business”.
Creed vs. Drago – Back on the Adonis Creed tangent… I’m not even going to tell you how Creed vs. Creed ends… but I think this one writes itself… he has to bulk up to go Super Middleweight or something since anything coming out of Ivan Drago’s sack is going to be half bull anyway… and after the dwindling box office return of “Cult of Clubber” and its ultra-controversial material, I think this one is going straight to DVD like “Fast & Furious: Tokyo Drift” only to be resurrected by…
Creed vs. Predator – Need I say more? Intergalactic boxing… in an environment similar to the Thunderdome! Two being enter, at most one being leaves.
Anyway, that’s my thrilling reviews of some major blockbusters that came out six months ago or will be coming out in a week or so… and some great ideas for future movies, Hollywood! You’re welcome! More fun stuff on the way! Have a great day everybody!

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Tuna & Shark Soiree

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Tuesday night, Izzy & I joined her mom and aunties for some Line Dancing at the Pinole Senior Center… and that may sound like a hellish day to most heterosexual males… but I’m not most males. I took a few ballroom dancing classes back in college… and I grew up in Utah when line dancing was part of the curriculum… and I’m just naturally graceful & athletic… so yeah, it was a pretty fun time. We did five different basic line dances over the course of two hours… and yeah, it was like waltz and cha cha and stuff like that… but the ladies were nice, the teacher Patty was great, and we had a few beers afterwards back at the aunties’ house. Not a bad night at all.

Thursday night, Izzy & I continued our Cannon Film adventures with what many consider Chuck Norris’ crowning achievement in filmmaking, “Invasion U.S.A.” This romp was directed by Joseph Zito (“The Prowler”, “Missing in Action” and “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter”) and stars Chuck Norris as a one-man army whose called out of retirement in the everglades to help save American from Cuban/Russian invaders who have snuck into the country… and are causing major acts of terrorism all over the state of Florida… and spreading fast. Now… if you’re looking for a politically correct take on terrorism, Russians, certain American subcultures, suburban life, please keep in mind that this movie was made in 1985. There’s none of that. However, the story has its flaws… but it’s still a pretty interesting take on how an invasion of the states might actually happen… and honestly, if you watch the news, a lot of the tactics that you see in this film… are actually used in other countries. Terrorists dressed up as police, paramedics, or other trusted public servants (before Michael Brown) and then opening fire on crowded public areas… or firing off missile launchers in quiet communities… causing mistrust between the people & public officials that are trying to help. It’s pretty interesting. At the same time though… it’s a Chuck Norris movie… and there are a LOT of explosions… and one liners… and yeah, if that’s what you’re looking for then you’re totally going to find it here. Oh... and I got Izzy a unicorn...
Saturday night, Izzy & I attended the Tuna & Shark Soiree hosted by the Farallones Marine Sanctuary Association at the Jewish Community Center. You may recall the Sea Slug Soiree from a few months ago… and this was very similar. For a nominal donation, you get a few drink tickets that you can use towards wine or beer or what have you (in keeping with the theme… the beers were Lost Coast Brewing’s Great White Wheat Ale and Ballast Point’s Big Eye IPA with a picture of a tuna on the can). Then there are some nibbles… some art on display for sale / donation… some activities… and then a special presentation, in this case it was a TED talk speaker Ms. Barbara Block talking about the importance of tracking tuna & shark populations and how it effects our oceans. The event was pretty fantastic… and here are some pictures…

Sunday was a bit of a wonderful rainy morning followed by a beautiful day… which means that we stayed at home watching football… but also starting our newest batch of beer, a Belgian Chocolate Porter/Stout. Our last batch was the Belgian Quad… and it’s been going great… and we mentioned how the Belgian yeast gives off different flavors than other yeasts. So we thought that we’d use the yeast towards one of our favorite homebrew recipes, the Chocolate Porter that we’ve made a few times… and just see how it changes with the Belgian yeast as opposed to the California Ale yeast that we typically use. It should be quite interesting. Here are some pictures…

We also kegged our barrel aged porter & put our Barleywine in the barrel...

Also over the past week, Izzy has been hard at work at completing a coloring book for all ages of Dinosaurs that we’ll be selling at upcoming events… including this coming weekend’s Pinole Crafts Fair (if they can get their sh*t together and process our paperwork), Central Valley Con the first weekend of December, and Zoo Lights at the San Francisco Zoo in December. Come on out and say hi! We’d greatly appreciate it… and while you’re out there, get some art in your life and enjoy the zoo!
Anyway, more awesomeness to come… but until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Belgian Quadrilogy

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Monday night after work, Izzy & I finally started on our Belgian Quad that we’d been planning for a few weeks… and are using some of the dry yeast that we got at NHC back in June. This is our first Belgian beer… and they’re often quite more in-depth and difficult to control than other types of beer. Historically, Belgian beers use multiple-step mashes… which is when you use the mash tun to extract the sugars, you’ll often add water to reach different temperature points during the mash to extract more of a variety of sugars for your wort. This process obviously requires a bit more math & fine tuning to get exactly what you want, especially on a homebrew level. We ugh… totally just went the partial mash method with malt extract, but also about four pounds of various specialty malts for various flavors and coloring… so that’s a bit of a cheat. Again, it’s our first time.
Another aspect of Belgian beers are the ingredients. Probably the “Belgian” beer that most people are familiar with is Blue Moon which is a Belgian-style wheat ale that also includes coriander & orange peel. Typically, true Belgian beers don’t use a whole lot of spices in their preparation… but it’s the yeast that gives different characteristics like the notes of coriander, orange, black pepper, white pepper, and the like… but often times there will be additions of these spices to emphasize the characteristics. In this particular batch that we did, no spices were used… but we did add Belgian candi syrup which is a distilled syrup of two of my favorite fruit sugars (fructose) from beets & dates. How could that possibly go wrong? (Please don’t look back to our Beet Beer that we experimented with about six months ago… we’ll fine tune that one next time around)

Also, the Belgian yeast is unique as well. For this recipe, we used the Abbey Ale dry yeasts that we were given at NHC that are for higher-gravity beers… which a Belgian Quad is, hopefully about 8-10% ABV if all goes well. These yeasts often give off notes of pepper, phenolic spiciness, and other different notes that say… a California Ale yeast would not. A little over a year ago, I did that side-by-side comparison at Southern Pacific Brewing where we sampled the same wort, but fermented with different yeasts… and the results were quite fascinating. I highly recommend it if you get the opportunity. The White Labs tap room in San Diego was a great place to try that with a WIDE variety of beers & yeasts. Another interesting aspect of the Belgian yeast is that they typically ferment best at higher temperatures in the range of 70-75 degrees Fahrenheit. We’ve had a bit of a cold spell that started here in San Francisco, but our brewhaus (my living room) is still a pretty decent 60-65 degrees. We may have to raise the temperature a bit though and make sure we do what’s best for the yeast. If our starter was any indication, it loved the warm kitchen while we were brewing.

Anyway, the brew went pretty smoothly… and we’re SUPER excited about the results over the next few weeks. Belgian beers may be difficult to brew (when not cheating like we did) but they can often times be worth it. These beers often offer a different complexity that you wouldn’t expect from a standard beer… and hopefully we just do those Belgian monks that perfected these styles justice in our attempt. We’ll definitely keep you posted. Again, congratulations to all the winners of the California State Comp! Thank you to all the judges & stewards!!! Thank you to Karlo & Sami for hosting LTHD!!! Just a big thank you to everybody, especially if you’re still reading this blog thing… I find it therapeutic… but hopefully you find it at least mildly entertaining or informative. Have a great day everybody!!!

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