Friday, October 18, 2013

Pikachu, I Choose You

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
It’s been a busy time as usual… and of course with government shutdown, BART strike threats, Columbus Day Weekend (kinda the same as a government shutdown anyway) and all that it’s been a little trying… but we all maintain. Here are a few highlights of the past week:
Thursday night, Dizzy & I went to a special screening of “The Fifth Estate” starring Benedict Cumberbatch (Khan in “Star Trek Into Darkness”) and Daniel Bruehl (“Inglorious Basterds”) which is a dramatic representation of the founder of WikiLeaks Julian Assange and his main partner during the boom prior to their HUGE scandal in 2010 where hundreds of thousands of secret government documents were released to the public. The feel of the movie was very similar to “The Social Network” a year or two ago where it was a partnership that starts out good, then turns sour, and it kind of paints Julian Assange in a negative light as it’s based on the book by the other partner… but that being said, for what it is, it was a pretty good movie. Beautifully shot across Europe, it told a story, loosely based in reality, you know how Hollywood twists things, but yeah… it was okay. The movie did seem to be really long though it was just over two hours I think… we may have been privy to an early director’s cut or something though so I’m sure it’ll be trimmed by the time it releases nationwide/worldwide. The performances were really good… Benedict had all the mannerisms you’ve seen in the Assange interviews… and it’s always good to see a good German actor working like Daniel Bruehl. Anyway, if you like “The Social Network” it’s a lot like that… and if you didn’t, then you’ll probably pass on this movie.
Saturday morning, Dizzy & I woke up early to go assist with the Meals on Wheels FallFest Spectacular in Hermann Plaza near the Ferry Building. It’s an annual fundraiser where top restaurants & wineries come from all over the Bay Area to show off their goods & guests who purchase tickets via donation get to spend the afternoon enjoying the festivities, trying some fantastic hors d’ouevres, various wines from all over Napa & Sonoma valley & beyond… and basically just have a great time for a great cause. We were there to also sell raffle tickets for some the giveaways… and we had a pretty good time. Dizzy is quite the saleswoman… and I’m decent eye candy. We got to sample some of the foods & beverages towards the end… and it was spectacular… and most importantly for a good cause. Since the government shutdown, Meals on Wheels isn’t getting any funding… and they’re literally waiting payday to payday to maintain, there’s really no reserve. Luckily this fundraiser was planned for this time anyway… but they REALLY need your help if you could possibly donate.
That night, we sampled our Red Ale (discussed in earlier post) and then watched a documentary entitled “Killer Whales” about… wait for it… killer whales. I think it was produced by the Discovery Channel… but yeah, talked about Killer Whales as the vicious apex predators of the oceans that they are… including them eating dolphins & great white sharks… no joke… and they had them attacking seals, shaking them in their jaws until they went limp & then playing with their mangled corpses before finishing them off… so in other words, it was pretty f**king awesome!!! A children’s book may be coming out very soon based on these beautiful, terrifying creatures that I like to call… Sea Pandas. Anyway, I’d check it out. It was pretty interesting in my humble opinion.
Over the weekend, we also watched “Brew Masters” starring Sam Calagione & the rest of the crew at Dogfish Head Brewery of international fame based in Delaware. The show only lasted six episodes, one of which was never aired in the U.S. apparently, but the other five are on Netflix. The story is that… the show was cancelled because “Big Beer” may have threatened to take out their advertising… but whatever case, the ratings were kind of low too. I didn’t even know about it until a few weeks ago. Each episode focuses on the development of one of two of their unique beers… usually starting with the inspiration behind it or the (sometimes convenient) tie-in with another company or event in the industry… then going through the research involved, experimentation of various ideas, sometimes travels to different places around the world (must be sweet to be rolling in dough like that), some problems along the way… and then finally the end product, a craft beer. Regardless of whether I’d try the beer that they made (Chicha still makes me vomit at the thought) the whole process was pretty sweet to watch however doctored for TV it might be… and also, Sam’s a pretty charismatic guy to narrate a show like that… though I kept thinking of Zac Bagans from “Ghost Adventurers” for some reason. Not nearly as douchey though… so I really enjoyed the show. Too bad that “Big Beer” had to shut ‘em down… like they’ve tried to do with several of their most popular beers like Punkin’ Ale & Chicory Stout. Merciless in those billion-dollar industries… but still, check out the show if you can.
Sunday, Dizzy & I woke up a little early and drove to Pleasanton so that she could take part in the Pokémon Video Game Regional Championships. Dizzy loves the Pokémon video games… and this competition was the Nintendo DS version where the pocket monsters that range from adorable to just weird battle in teams against one another. Obviously I’m not well versed in this universe… but she was there to be my Sherpa when I questions. The event was held in the Commerce Building of the Alameda County Fairgrounds and what I was expecting was something out of “The Wizard” with giant screens showing some of the premiere battles featuring former world champions & possible children of Yakuza druglords trying to establish their turf in the western U.S. Instead… there were no screens to watch what was going on… and I had to contain myself from channeling my inner Ogre and yelling out “NEEEEEERRRDS!!!” every few minutes. Not really… but yeah, it was great people watching. Here are some pictures…

Yes, the smoking area was a tent basically in a beautiful sunny park...


She doesn't look nervous at all...
That guy was at nationals last year...
That's better...

The thrill of Victory!!!
Dizzy finished #72 out of 107 in the Masters division (18+ I think) but from what I understand, this was a pretty stacked competition. Being the first of five regionals, some of the former world champions & those invited to worlds showed up so that they would lock their invites to Nationals in Washington D.C. or wherever it’s held. That way… if they somehow finish just out of the Top 8 that advance, then they can try in Phoenix or Indianapolis or one of the other regionals. Who knew there was such a world? Also, I expected a little more sh*t talking… but most were very respectful. There was one douche who almost got his ass kicked… but he seemed to mellow out after Dizzy told him that he “should learn to be a better winner.” Now I’m trying to convince my brother to enter the Utah Valley VGC’s in Provo on October 26th so we’ll see if he goes. It’s actually about the same distance from his house as Pleasanton was for us… but I had a little determination. I’ll keep you posted. Congrats Dizzy!!!
After the VGCs, we headed into town to the Main Street Brewery and sampled their Raspberry Hefeweizen & all-day IPA which were on special… as well as their Cajun Fries & Nachos, which were all pretty amazing. We watched a little bit of the 49ers game… Yes, I gave up football for the VGCs because I’m amazing… but yeah, pretty nice place. I’d recommend it if you’re in the area.
Tuesday night, Dizzy & I went to the San Francisco Homebrewer’s Guild Meeting at Anchor Steam Brewery to meet some of our peers in this Homebrewing adventure. We showed up & they had some of the great Anchor Steam brews on tap… complimentary to attendees. Yeah… great beer too. We mingled & met a few of the members… and most of them have been doing it for 8… 15… 20+ years off & on. So then they asked how long we’ve been doing it, “Six weeks.” I think we got a little bit of credibility already coming to meetings like this when we’re so new to the game & so passionate about it… so yeah pretty sweet.
The Guild had some special guest speakers come to talk about “Sour Beers” (the purposely sour kinds) and a lot of the talk was more scientific than we have ventured into yet, but having read the books I was right there for most of it. I’m sure it’ll make even more sense down the road when we have a few brews under our belt. Afterwards, we mingled some more & tasted some of the other brews that members brought along for feedback (pretty good). Next time we may have to bring in our Red Ale & perhaps our Pumpkin Ale or Hefeweizen to get some feedback on how to make the beer even better. You know, whether it’s stuff like Irish Moss for clarity or maybe add a dash more hops or anything like that. These guys & gals seem to be pretty legit. Also, with membership, we get a 10% discount at brewshops… which is cool because we were going to go shopping this weekend anyway. BONUS!!! The meetings are monthly and we’re already pretty excited about going back.
This Thursday night, Dizzy & I met up with her aunts, mom & friend from school to watch a special preview screening of “Last Vegas” starring Michael Douglas, Robert DeNiro, Morgan Freeman & Kevin Kline in a premise that’s basically “The Bucket List” meets “The Hangover.” Four friends for life have grown a little apart over the last… 58 years but they reunite when the life-long bachelor of the group (Douglas) finally gets hitched to a woman less than half his age. So they meet up in Las Vegas to throw him a bachelor party, throw in a little internal conflict, some cold feet, a lounge singer of a certain age (Mary Steenburgen) and a lot of hilarious (if not a bit unrealistic) situations… and it’s actually a pretty hilarious little movie, especially if you’re… of a certain age. I thought Kevin Kline was absolutely hilarious… and everybody else was pretty good too. It’s exactly what you expect in all the best possible ways. Go check it out! Take your parents! They’ll love it! You’re welcome…
Aside from that, nothing much else going on with me… my brother & buddy Chris convinced me that getting “Grand Theft Auto V” was a good idea for some reason, so I will probably play it with them a few times before they get bored of it & I’ve wasted $60 on another GTA game that I’ll play a total of 10 hours over the past 7 years or so… but hey, I’ll get a little fun playing time in with my peeps back in Utah. By the way, did anybody catch that Utes pounding of Stanford over the weekend? First big win since the Sugar Bowl over Alabama for the Utes! Congrats! Have a great day everybody!!!

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