Thursday, May 28, 2015

San Andreas: Rock Quake

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,

Tuesday night, Izzy & I were invited to a special screening of the new blockbuster disaster movie “San Andreas” starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti & Ioan Gruffudd. The long and the short of it is that there’s a helicopter rescue pilot (Rock) who lives in L.A., is in the middle of a divorce (from Gugino) and whose daughter (eyecandy Alexandra Daddario) is flying out with her mom’s wealthy boyfriend (Gruffudd) on a private jet to go to school at Berkeley. How could things possibly get worse? Well… apparently California isn’t just going to have a series of strong earthquakes… it’s basically going to slide off into the f**king Pacific Ocean. Remember that movie “2012” that came out in 2009? Well… replace the limo driver/writer with a helicopter pilot… and put all the ridiculous global upheaval events and localize it to California (and the Hoover Dam briefly)… and the Rock is going to save his family, despite being HUNDREDS of miles away. Add “from the director of Journey to the Center of the Earth 2” and you’ve got this movie… okay, here’s the breakdown.
What I Liked About the Movie:
·         Sound Effects – The special effects are pretty good too (in spite of things later on) but the sound effects in particular were pretty incredible, especially in the theatre screen format where we saw it. Usually you just got a lot of loud booms & rumblings and… just noise to create a sense of danger. However, a lot of this movie has everything from like the bending of steel, crumbling of concrete, crashing of glass, thuds of skull on various things, squishes, all that stuff… and a lot of it happening in a pretty organic way to what’s actually happening on screen. Do I think they’ll be nominated for anything? Probably not… but I wouldn’t be surprised. Kudos to sound!
·         The Rock > John Cusack – I like the Rock. This has been known for a while. Sure, there’s what I like to call the “Arnie Syndrome” where… he’s an absolute movie star with all the looks, charisma & skills necessary to be a movie star. However, it’s basically impossible for him to blend into 99.9% of anonymous roles. Seriously, would somebody built like the Rock… be a helicopter pilot? Basically anything except a bodybuilder, football player, Greek demi-God or comic book character? However, he’s basically everything that Arnie was in the 80’s… but can actually speak English well. He can actually act too… and he actually has some brief moments which evoke caring & concern… which even the great John Cusack couldn’t do in “2012”. I know it’s not a direct parallel but… it’s the same f**king movie. Let’s be real.
·         Tracking Shots – There are a few scenes where I have to give it up to director Brad Peyton & everybody involved. Yes, the special effects don’t hold completely throughout… but one scene in particular that I really liked, in spite of how ridiculous it was, is the one where The Wife (Gugino) was in a high-rise restaurant in L.A. having a bitchy brunch with Kylie Minogue (I think she was boyfriend’s sister?) when a giant quake hits while she’s talking to The Rock on her cell phone… and she has to meet him at the top of the building… because he’s coming for her. What follows is a pretty interesting scene where it zooms into the building, you see her & other patrons running around the restaurant while all hell breaks loose at every turn, explosions, flames, ceiling falling, wings of the floor shearing off, all types of sh*t, made to look like a continuous shot… and it’s not half bad for what it is.
What I Didn’t Like About the Movie:
·         Physics – The usual suspect when it comes to these grandiose epic movies with Biblical proportions. Tucking a helicopter mid-air under a cliff with absolutely no wiggle room to save somebody? Building falling on it & it just flies away? Fluid dynamics of waves and/or debris? Didn’t you just say that all the phones were down? So what good is a ground line? Is a Tsunami only one wave now? Lots of others but those are the ones that I haven’t completely shunned from my mind for the time being… or give away too much plot.
·         Evil Stepfather Character – Completely unnecessary! Okay, so rich Stepfather (Gruffudd) & The Daughter are in a parking lot very near where I work in San Francisco when the initial quake hits… and long story short, the limo driver is crushed, The Daughter is trapped (though I’m skeptical how) & Stepfather can’t move a rock (unlike The Rock) so he goes off to get help leaving her behind. Not at all a horrible thing… if he follows through. The alternative is… he stands there & they both die, right? Well… he tells the security guard that she’s down in the lot while everybody’s running around, death crunch right in front of him, he’s absolutely demoralized by it (though the driver was no big deal minutes earlier), so he just kinda runs off leaving her behind. Now… initially I was like “Okay, PTSD trauma… he’s outside of his mind… he’s just not thinking straight & leaves.” Over the course of the next hour or so, you keep up with him… and he’s basically fine… just wanting to get the f**k outta town… and don’t worry, it’s an obvious setup for “The Come-up’ns” but it’s absolutely unnecessary. Disaster strikes… you don’t really need a bad guy. Mother Nature is the bad guy. Circumstances are the conflict. Why everybody gotta hate on Mr. Fantastic? Which leads me to a few more questions…
·         Is the Protagonist Actually a Villain? – Here me out… The Rock is kind of a villain in this movie. Yes, it’s all in the vain of saving his family and all of that but… when the quake series starts… he’s flying a helicopter to base to get refueled or something, so that he can go help survivors of the Vegas/Hoover Dam quake. 1st Quake hits… “F**k Nevada survivors, I’ve gotta get my soon-to-be-ex-wife whose 100 miles away atop a teetering skyscraper!” Okay, I understand the off to LA to help there, got it… and he tells his wife to get as many people to the roof as possible (not knowing that they’re crumbling). I get it. After the ridiculous rescue of The Wife, they get the call from The Daughter trapped in a basement… in San Francisco… 400 miles away! I’m not sure what the mileage is on a helicopter… but I’ll let it go. Then they have to crash land in Bakersfield 100 miles away… and long story short, in order to go the next 300 miles… they steal a truck (which I half expected them to try to jump a giant canyon in), a plane (which they then jump out of midflight to land at AT&T Park… letting the plane crash land in Oakland I assume), a boat (which they really gloss over) and while boating through the canals of San Francisco… and every step of the way, there are THOUSANDS of people in need of assistance. I can only imagine how many victims clinging to life that they literally have to kick off the sides of the boat in order to find (the corpse of) their daughter. So is he a Villain for not helping everybody along the way? No, you say? Then how about Evil Stepfather?
·         Why Does It ALWAYS Have to Be San Francisco? – Many movies over the half-century have destroyed the City of St. Francis… the City by the Bay… to the point where it gets ridiculous and almost cliché… if it weren’t such an awesome city! So why are more than half of all disaster movies set in San Francisco? Easy. It’s always in movies… because it’s aesthetically pleasing… even when all of its iconic images are being destroyed. More on this later…
·         …and Paul Giamatti as… Exposition!!! – Academy Award nominee (winne?) whose job in the movie is basically to tell you that earthquakes are bad, throw in some bullsh*t science jargon & easily-disputable explanations, and basically keep narrate for the audience how the Quake is doing in its slow& methodical demolition project of turning Nevada into shoreline property. There’s one point in the movie where he talks directly to the camera (and the city of San Francisco, which was odd actually BEING there) and gives a speech basically saying “You’re all f**ked… God help us all!” Half expected the theatre to start shaking & every bowel in the theatre to be voided…
Overall Summary: You know… I enjoyed it… it’s campy but there’s actually some pretty poignant spots (drowning scene, The Rock’s clip for academy consideration, etc) but it’s EXACTLY what you expect. No more, no less… maybe more… it’s your money. Check it out if you’d like… but don’t go into it thinking it’s going to be nominated for Best Picture or anything. That would be ill-advised & disappointing.
San Francisco Disaster Movies
When I started thinking about it… it’s pretty ridiculous how often the city of destroyed on film. Not just movies like “Book of Eli” where it’s post-apocalyptic future and everything is destroyed & set in San Francisco… but it’s the jump-off point for global catastrophe. I’m going to put some of this in scope… from least destructive to “are you kidding me?”…
A View to a Kill: Now, Zorin’s plan is to flood all of the Bay Area & Silicon Valley so that he’ll be a sole supplier of microchips (Really? Has he not heard of Asia? I’m pretty sure they actually make the microchips) and there’s a pretty major explosion in a far off tunnel with many fatalities… and an “epic” blimp battle between two rich white guys on Golden Gate Bridge… but yeah, not much here in the actual destruction. I can see this as an “also-ran” on local news the next day.
The Birds: Birds go nuts and try to take out people’s eyes & cause mass chaos… but overall, pretty sure a few SWAT helmets and batons can put this Hitchockian sh*t to rest.
The Rock: There's an epic car chase (excuse me, Ferrari vs. Hummer chase) that derails a street car, dozens/hundreds of car wrecks, I'm guessing more than a few pedestrian deaths... there's also the explosion of an iconic landmark called Alcatraz... and Candlestick Park almost got lit up like the 4th of July by nerve gas missiles... but it didn't happen... so they get this spot.
Rise & Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Super-smart simians escape a laboratory, a catastrophic virus is released in said lab, there’s a fairly major battle on Golden Gate Bridge but it’s left standing as the apes go to live in Muir Woods… virus takes over eventually… but the next battle with apes is a decade later. City is pretty intact save for eventually the power goes out (not even going to get into all the BS) but yeah, low death toll in the movies.
The Towering Inferno: I feel like this movie happened hundreds of times in "San Andreas"... no exaggeration.
The Core: Ugh… f**k this stupid movie… but I have to put it in because of the “Magnifying Glass” sunbeam that cuts directly across the Golden Gate Bridge melting it in half… and we get to see it from the point of view of Buster from Arrested Development. Seriously… don’t see this movie. You can read my review here.
X-Men: Last Stand: The Golden Gate Bridge is completely destroyed, Alcatraz is a mutant & military killing field, but I assume spectators in the city are watching the fireworks of the Phoenix’s final burst from a safe distance.
Pacific Rim: Transdimensional Kaiju travelers pop up out of the Pacific Ocean… and their first stop is through the Golden Gate Bridge and into the East Bay to eventually be taken down by I assume ALL of the human military. Thus ends the original battle that unites the World in conflict with these Kaijus to build Gundam suits & a giant wall to keep them out. It changed the world as we know it… but it looks like they only made it a few miles onto land before being taken down.
Star Trek Into Darkness: Spaceship of epic scope is crashed directly into the heart of downtown San Future-isco… definitely a lot of fatalities… but hundreds, perhaps thousands… only decent for this list. By the way, "Star Trek IV: Voyage Home" doesn't count because they go back in time to (spoiler alert) save San Francisco from being destroyed by aliens by saving humpback whales... so drop it.
Godzilla (2014): Of course, the first Kaiju/MUTO’s HAS to cut through San Francisco to get to Nevada to lay eggs or something… and then come back to destroy the city to have hanky-panky with another Kaiju/MUTO, lay its eggs in Chinatown… and then basically destroy the town in a fight with a THIRD giant Kaiju gets to town to clean house. Several neighborhoods are destroyed (SOMA, Chinatown, Nob Hill, FiDi) and of course Golden Gate Bridge but overall… rents in the Mission, Richmond & Sunset would f**king SKYROCKET!!!
Contagion: This movie just scares the f**k out of me… and without explosions or falling skyscrapers… because it could really happen… like pretty easily. Seriously. Plague wipes out humanity… starts like anything else & then within a month… downfall of civilization… f**k you Steve Soderbergh! Yet well done…
Terminator: Salvation: I almost didn’t want to include this one as it’s the whole post-apocalyptic thing… but then again, Skynet starts & sets up their major production center in San Francisco… really the only change is replacing humans with robots & nuclear winter has made recycling a moot point.
San Andreas: Every building crumbles, tsunami turns the streets into canals, even a collection of survivors in the flooded remains of Oakland was taken out by an airplane that crashed into their compound… complete annihilation… property values instantly fall from record highs to New Orleans levels. Complete & total destruction.

Anyway, check out this movie if you'd like... I enjoyed it for what it was... and now I kinda want to watch a bunch of these other movies too. Have a great day everybody!!!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Congratulations Izzy!!!

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Jam packed week of fun coming up… starting with Thursday night when I met up with Izzy & her mom. We headed out for a fun evening of Extinction NightLife at the Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park. I’ve discussed the NightLife series before… but essentially it’s a great 21+ event where you get to see the Academy of Sciences without all the rat bastard kids running around AND enjoy alcoholic beverages (at a nominally escalated fee). An added bonus was that this was Izzy’s mom’s first time to the Academy… and she loved it. Here are pictures!!!

Friday was Izzy’s Graduation Ceremony at the Cow Palace… so her family & I watched her walk the stage like a CHAMP!!! Congratulations to my beautiful ladyfriend!!! I’m so infinitely proud of you!!!

Sunday was our San Francisco Homebrewers Guild Annual Picnic in Golden Gate Park… and it was a great event where we shared some of our fantastic homebrew & had a great barbecue. Pictures…

Monday, after brunch with Izzy’s family, we had a Memorial Brewday where we made a quick batch of Erdbeer Hefeweizen (it’s Strawberry Wheat Beer)…
… and we made a wonderful beet puree for transferring our Beet Pale Ale to secondary…

So that’ll do it for a quick catch-up on our week… and hopefully you enjoyed the pictures. If not, then join us next time… we’ll have movie reviews & random stories and pictures as well… have a great day everybody!!!

Monday, May 25, 2015

NBA Christmas Predictions

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
That’s right… the NBA Draft “Lottery” has finally happened where a bunch of bouncing balls are placed in a lotto machine, bad teams are given more balls, and then it’s all decided in a room that nobody else is allowed into so that nobody knows what’s really decided (by David Stern/Adam Silver). What’s that? Oh! They did it in front of everybody this year? And Cleveland didn’t win it? Or New York? It was a small market team that free agents don’t want to be exiled to? Weird how that happens… but hey, kudos to the NBA for having the lottery balls drawn in an open environment. So… This draft probably isn’t as deep as last year’s where there were alleged 7-8 franchise players… and this one really boils down to maybe 3 or 4… if they luck out. It’s really down to two HUGE names… Karl-Anthony Towns of Kentucky & Jahlil Okafor of Duke… who had great freshman years in this one-and-done era… great tournaments… all that jazz… so now with the draft order determined… this is how I think the NBA teams should draft in order to turn their team around.
1.       MinnesotaKarl-Anthony Towns – Center from Kentucky – Very similar to Okafor, but MUCH better on defense. I could totally see him as the next DeMarcus Cousins but with the defensive fundamentals of somebody like Al Horford mixed in. Big shot-blocker but can also run the floor & has great post-up moves. I’d pick him as #1 for my team. My only concern… is that he had so few minutes of actual playing time… I have no idea if he can do 40+ minutes on an NBA schedule… even working up over a few years… but he’ll be the centerpiece of a franchise from Day One. Personally, as I’ve mentioned on previous draft reviews, I’d bring in Karl Malone or Hakeem Olajuwon or something… get this kid in shape to be an absolute BEAST!!! Also, everybody assumes that this means that Minnesota is going to get rid of man-beast center Nikola Pekovic to make room for him… but why? You don’t have too! Twin Towers in the Twin Cities? Wait… Kevin Garnett is back??? TRIPLE TOWERS IN THE TWIN CITIES!!! Also, a nice player to teach Towns. Andrew Wiggins becoming an elite wing in the next year or two? Ricky Rubio… hopefully staying healthy to orchestrate the offense? Get your NBA League Pass ready… I’m liking this!
2.       L.A. LakersJahlil Okafor – Center from Duke – Sigh… look they were horrible this last year… but I hate to think this pick was rigged so they’d get yet another premiere player in their storied franchise history. Anyway, whatever, they had a chance, it turned into the #2 pick. Watching Jahlil play in the final four, you can see that he has limitless potential… it just oozes out of him. Is he perfect? Of course not, he’s 19 years old. He’s big, he’s strong, and he’s really talented on the offensive end of the court… I’d say the best singularly offensive big in college this past year. Frank Kaminsky was a better team player, but straight post-up one-on-one, I’d give it to Jahlil. He reminds me of former Duke alum & #1 overall pick Elton Brand… or a current player would be like Al Jefferson, who will get his 20+ points but not exactly the best defender. Although, I’ve said it a few times before… get a guy like Karl Malone to come in & teach Jahlil how to be a power forward, work the block, pass, and enforce on defense as well. Physical specimen that he could grow into… that’s the real potential that I’d like to see. He’s got the build, just needs to work on a few things… should be a star. As for the Lakers… sigh… they’ll have last year’s lottery pick Julius Randle (who I STILL believe will be great) coming back from his leg injury that missed all of last year… Kobe Bryant will be back in whatever capacity… and yes, I think they’ll get Rajon Rondo at point guard for a discounted price because of his horrible time in Dallas… and I also believe that Kevin Love will sign with the Lakers (like I mentioned two years ago) and then you have this incredible f**king lineup of potential All-Stars… and whatever they can get for the bench (starters this year like Nick Young’s crazy ass) and the Lakers should be back & loaded for the next few years. Then again… what do I really know? Oh… and the BIG red flag with that lineup of Rondo-Bryant-Randle-Love-Okafor… is who plays defense on the low post… because those three frontcourt players, though amazing set of skills on the offensive side & rebounding… are NOT at all known for their defense in really any way. Just a thought…
3.       Philadelphia Emmanuel Mudiay – Guard from China – Shocker! I don’t get Chinese basketball league games… but I may consider it. He’s the prototypical tall 6-foot-5 point guard & athletic (because he’s 19?) but he could totally be a guy in the Victor Oladipo, Brandon Jennings, Jrue Holiday mold… he’ll be a shoot-first kind of player until he realizes that his career won’t be as long since there’s only one ball & winners share it. He can really turn a lottery team around with some leadership & skills (like Damian Lillard does) but yeah, never really seen the guy play… and playing in China is different from college… still the potential is allegedly there… as well as a bunch of questions about game, character, etc. He’ll be a top pick… but I’m not on his bandwagon just yet. I think the 76ers will pick him because… they need a point guard… or anybody that can shoot outside of the paint & he’s the best fit here in my opinion. Another added bonus: He’s playing in China so their GM Sam Hinkie can do what he’s done with so many other players and basically just let him play in China for another year or two of sucking (and he comes back drinking age) for this apparent big push that the franchise is going to do. Crazy… but hey, I hear good things about this guy… like I did with Dante Exum last year… just glad that the 76ers might fall for it instead of the Utah Jazz.
4.       New YorkWillie Cauley-Stein – Center from Kentucky – Now, I really see the Knicks trying to trade this pick… because they need a LOT of help. They have Carmelo… and then… is their 2nd best player Andrea Bargnani? Really? 3rd leading scorer is Langston Galloway? Who the f**k is that? Although I could see them trying to get a more versatile wing player as a scorer… but what I would do is try to give them a real post player… because in looking over their current roster, there’s Jason Smith, Cole Aldrich, the broken old body of Samuel Dalembert & the undersized Quincy Acy as their post players (Bargnani is a 7-footer who stands at the 3 point line). “Willie Trill” (as he’s calling himself) is a towering defender & shot blocker… but barely used on offense. Everybody compares him to Tyson Chandler & DeAndre Jordan (minus the posterizing skill) because all he does is block & put back in rebounds… which isn’t all that bad… but you know some other players that do that? Bismarck Biyombo, John Henson, Hassan Whiteside, Manute Bol, and the like. Now, I could never understand why this guy was so average in the games that I saw of him the past two years… but because the Knicks have built around ‘Melo and not have anybody who will rebound all of his misses… but yeah, they’re kind of screwed for the next few years unless they get some real big free agent signings… which I don’t see happening. Yes, this is high for drafting this guy… but you can’t teach tall. I could also see Justise Winslow going here… because I can already see the billboard set up like a Daredevil premiere – “Justise is coming…”
5.       Orlando – D’Angelo Russell – Guard from Ohio State - This guy’s a pretty good shooter… so he’s kind of in that Monta Ellis, Steph Curry mode when he’s brought up… but I see this guy as more of a Wesley Matthews type. He’s a better defender & more physical than Ellis or Curry… and Matthews is a great spot-up shooter. That being said… would you spend a top-five pick on Wesley Matthews? If you would, I’m pretty sure the Blazers GM would LOVE to talk to you right now. I haven’t seen a whole lot of this guy’s play… but I’m optimistic. I think Orlando would go for him because he’s the best talent available… then again, they have Victor Oladipo & last year’s rookie Elfrid Payton already for their backcourt of the future. Do they really wanna “Phoenix Fudge” that by getting three weird-hybrid shooting-point guards who can’t really shoot or run point? That’s why I feel like D’Angelo may focus more on popping threes & spacing the floor like a Wesley Matthews / Aaron Affolo / Danny Green kind of player & find a great niche… but also have the ability to slash to the bucket.
6.       SacramentoFrank Kaminsky – Forward/Center from Wisconsin – I see this as the first real shock of the draft. Sure, the Knicks pick of “Willie Trill” might be unexpected… but the Kings taking “Frank the Tank” at #6 seems almost too realistic… like it already happened & we’re just waiting for it. I mean… they picked Nick Stauskis last year, right? How weird would it really be to draft the National Player of the Year & two-time Tournament Darling who plays a great team basketball format… stretch-five who actually plays some defense… and a great passer out of the post surrounded by people who just want to shoot the f**king ball (DeMarcus Cousins, Stauskas, McLemore, Rudy Gay, etc). It’s a match made in heaven. Also… Vlade Divac 2.0!!! Animated big man who just does all the intangibles & will be a social media darling for the next decade. This guy would be the next Vlade, Dirk Nowitzki, Kevin McHale or Pau Gasol as a best case scenario. Worst-case, he’s more like a Christian Laettner, Sam Bowie, never really living up to his potential kind of player… and the Kings still suck like they have for almost 15 years now. There’s really only one way to go for this franchise… and I think this would be a great start.
7.       Denver Justise Winslow – Forward from Duke – I want this guy on my team. I feel REALLY bad that he made it this far down the draft board based on everybody else’s needs. He’s got skills, size for his position, totally see him as the next All-Star caliber player that nobody cares about because he’s on a horrible team like DeMar DeRozan or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. Decent shooter, can run the floor with the best of them & slasher/driver with defensive skills… and better yet, the desire to get better. That’s the kind of guy you want on your team… and he steps up for big games too. Future All-Star. Possible steal of the draft if he really makes it this far.
8.       Detroit Devin Booker – Guard from Kentucky – The Pistons need to be able to spread out the floor. Even though Greg Monroe may be bailing soon for greener pastures, they’ll still have Andre Drummond for another year or two at least… and teams are kind of honing in on him because their backcourt can’t shoot the three with consistency. Many scouts out there are saying that Booker is in the mold of Klay Thompson or Kyle Korver and the best shooter in the draft… and that may be true… but he’s not there yet… not at all. However, he does have the potential to be… and in the limited minutes we’ve seen out of him, he can run the floor and all the other guard stuff pretty well… but the key to a successful career is staying healthy & finding your niche… your special skill that is both valuable & in the top 1% of the league. That’s what turns you from just a replaceable cog in the machine into a max-contract player. This might be a bit of a reach with whose still on the board… but it could be a great pick for the Pistons. Besides… he has a great Detroit name… like I could see Devin Booker as that name of a fellow officer for Axel Foley… let’s be real.
9.       CharlotteKristaps Porzingis – Forward/center from Latvia – So there’s this Latvian guy whose height fluctuates from 6-10 to 7-2 depending on who you ask (I blame the metric system conversion) but it’s fairly certain that he’s about 208 pounds… and he allegedly has some great “point-center” skills. Sigh… now, I blame Dirk Nowitzki for everything to come out of Europe in the past 15 years. He’s great. There is no doubt. When he was drafted, everybody was like “Who the f**k is this German porn star?” He took off… and then EVER franchise wanted to find the next Dirk… so you got all the hype & some rough videos… and you got the likes of guys like Andrea Bargnani, Danilo Gallinari, Darco Milicic, Jan Vesely, Nikolai Tskhitischvili and dozens, possibly hundreds of other catastrophic flops to come out of the international game. That scares me about this guy… but you can’t teach tall… if he really is tall… but then again, he may be the next Dirk or some kind of super-skinny Arvydis Sabonis… like Arvydis’ son who played for Gonzaga & may not even be drafted this year because he played against the semi-competitive NCAA level players. Draft with caution.
10.   Miami Myles Turner – Forward from Texas – The Heat were pretty sure that they had their center of the future all locked up on a sweet contract when Hassan Whiteside blew up on the scene & finally lived up to his potential… and then they realized that he may be a self-destructive entity. Also, with Chris Bosh’s health concerns… that formerly formidable frontcourt is looking pretty sketchy at best. Insert Myles Turner who best case could be the second coming of fellow Texas alum LaMarcus Aldridge (going to the Spurs soon… just act surprised) but even as a worst-case scenario, probably something like a John Henson or Ed Davis type of player… long, lean & mediocre… but does a few things well. He really needs to step up his defense… but yeah, great potential… and I think he’ll take to the Miami lifestyle & veteran leadership with Dwayne Wade& Bosh around for the foreseeable future.
11.   IndianaStanley Johnson – Forward from Arizona – They could’ve really used a player like Johnson when Paul George missed this last year with a horrible leg injury… and so with PG-13’s health still in some question, why not go with the player with the most upside who will probably backup with quality minutes & maybe eventually replace? He’s still pretty raw like a Giannis Antokoumpo kind of player (big wingspan, unlimited athleticism) but could potentially be a Kawhi Leonard All-Star caliber player. It just won’t be easy.
12.   Utah – Kelly Oubre – Forward from Kansas – Everybody in their core is still pretty young & inexperienced… but lucking out with Rudy Gobert is a huge plus… so now they’ll try to add an athletic wing alongside Gordon Hayward and hopefully spread the floor a bit. I don’t see them running the offense through Rudy any time soon… but he’s there to rebound & put back… and occasionally posterize fools on the pick-and-roll. Oubre is the best wing available… so it makes sense… thought I wouldn’t sleep on Sam Dekker at this point either.
13.   Phoenix Mario Hezonja – Forward from Croatia – Athletic wing who can shoot and often draws comparisons to guys like Manu Ginobili, Jamal Crawford, Jason Terry, and other sparkplugs off the bench. Again though… European hype player who many people have in the top 5 of the draft… but I just don’t see it. Would you spend a Top 5 pick on Manu Ginobili? Even in his heyday? However… with the 13th pick, that makes a lot more sense… and would work well with what the Suns currently have… which is an intriguing mix of players… but could change completely before this draft rolls around.
14.   Oklahoma CityJerian Grant – Guard from Notre Dame – Great shooter as displayed during the NCAA tournament (at least the first weekend) and though he’s probably not the 2nd coming of James Harden by any stretch… he could potentially be like a Jamal Crawford or Kyle Lowry kind of off-guard. He’ll have to up his outside shooting for the big leagues… but with great slashers like Westbrook & Durant back, he may find a great niche in Oklahoma City… at least until everybody decides to leave the organization. Don’t know if that destruction will really happen… but for the time being, this might be a smart pick.
15.   AtlantaKevon Looney – Forward from UCLA – I haven’t seen a lot of this guy playing… but he’s apparently a big guy who has sort of underwhelmed at UCLA (a la Shabazz Mohammad) but could be a pretty decent post player like Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap… but I see him more like a slowly developing Jared Sullinger type of player… but that would work well with Atlanta since they already have guys like Al Horford to learn from.
16.   Boston – Sam Dekker – Forward from Wisconsin – THE SECOND COMING OF LARRY BIRD!!! Okay, that’s just f**king crazy to even see in type… but hey, if I’m the Celtics & trying to hype up somebody… why not? Oh yes… the horrible repercussions… he’s a good player though. He’ll have to change his game slightly for the pros… but I could totally see him as a taller, more athletic version of Gordon Hayward for the Celtics… and a fan favorite for years to come.
17.   MilwaukeeTyus Jones – Guard from Duke – Another tournament feel-good story not unlike Shabazz Napier last year… but could be a decent backup point guard to Michael Carter-Williams (that’s who’s there now, right? The trade deadline was f**king nuts…) but eventually, I could almost see this guy being like Isaiah Thomas (the new one, not the Hall of Famer). He’s a little undersized… but there have been some good players that are undersized. Even if he’s like a Brandon Knight or Jeff Teague kind of player… mission accomplished. Now I’m going to skip around in the draft a little bit…
Picks 18-20, we shall see… probably guys like Bobby Portis (Arkansas) and Montrezl Harrell (Louisville)
21.  Dallas – Jakob Poetl – Center from Utah – I totally see the Mavericks taking a bit of a gamble on the Austrian-born center (he & Dirk can chill and speak their native tongue) but he’s got great size (though could beef up a bit) and I’ll be honest… his offensive skills are… okay, not good or great. However, I think that he could totally be a player in the mold of Robin Lopez or like what Roy Hibbert used to be before his body suck “F**k that noise!” He may be a late second-rounder or not even drafted at all… but this is my reach… GO UTES!!!
26.  San AntonioDevon Wright – Guard from Utah – That’s right… I’m calling it now… 6-5 University of Utah point guard comes into the Spurs organization (with LaMarcus Aldridge, wink wink) to eventually take over for Tony Parker for Championship Decade take two!!! On the real though… Wright’s a good distributor and seems to understand the game pretty well… he reminds me a lot of guys like Shaun Livingston who always seem to be in demand but also has a lot of Michael Carter-Williams in his game. I don’t know… may just be hopeful & they already know of some foreign player who’s going to revolutionize the game as we know it… but we’ll see. Fingers crossed!
Anyway, that’ll do it for my random picks… like last year, trades will probably happen… injuries will even probably happen… crazy sh*t always happens… and let’s face it, I have a unique perspective… just like everybody else. Have a great weekend everybody!!!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Avengers: The Age of Max

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Saturday, we decided to go to a matinee at Cerrito Theatre… and oddly enough, Big Ben & his family did too… we saw them in line… and then we saw “Avengers: Age of Ultron” starring… the Marvel Cinematic Universe. You know the actors & characters… and if you don’t, you checked out a LONG time ago. Basically the story starts out with the Avengers attacking a Hydra (bad guys from previous movies) stronghold to recapture an ultra-powerful scepter… and incidentally release two new foes, the Maximoff twins (Quiksilver & Scarlet Witch, played by Aaron Taylor-Johnson & Elisabeth Olsen… who played a married couple in their last movie “Godzilla”, don’t think about that though). While the Avengers have the scepter, Iron Man decides that it’d be a good idea to use it to make artificial intelligence using its power.. you know, so that they can achieve world peace… and spoiler alert, it doesn’t happen… and he ends up making a super-powerful robot called Ultron (voiced by James Spader) who spends the rest of the movie making a horde of indestructible robots that he can transfer his conscience through (using the internet, which he also runs now) and there’s a floating island and… you know, what? I’m not going to be able to do a good job in making this sounds like a good movie… but trust me, it’s better than a lot of people are giving it credit for. It’s a huge movie event… so there are gonna be things to knit-pick… but yeah, it’s an action movie. Here are my quick pros & cons:
What I Like About This Movie
·         Getting Everybody Involved – It’s a massive cinematic universe… it’s actually easier to tell you who from the previous movies is NOT in here (Gwyneth Paltrow & Natalie Portman) and they even added another dozen or so including…
·         Andy Serkis – Because there wasn’t enough big names in this movie, they brought in the Great Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaw who will probably be in the Black Panther movie, which I’m okay with… and other new faces include the twins (mentioned before), the voice of James Spader, and Hawkeye’s family with his wife Velma from “Scooby Doo”
What I Didn’t Like About This Movie
·         The Floating Island – Yes, THIS was the point in this movie of superheroes and such that I just gave up on the Physics like I’m watching “Interstellar” or a Syfy movie… but yeah, even given the stuff like the magnetic/force field used to making it fly… then why are people falling off the edge?
·         Ultron’s Motivation – Look, you’re an indestructible robot who utilizes the internet as your plaything with (apparently) limitless vibranium resources to make thousands of clones and such… who’s threatening you? Just run sh*t! No need to wipe out all humans… you want to destroy the world K2 style and then NOT have your resources? Logic flawed!!!
·         It Wasn’t Infinity War or Civil War – Quick cockteasing me!!! F**k the anticipatory foreplay, let’s get down!!!
Yeah, go check it out… it’s no Mad Max: Fury Road… but on that note…
We rewatched the rest of the Mad Max trilogy starting with “Mad Max 2: Road Warrior” starring Mel Gibson & directed by George Miller. In this installment, Max (Gibson) is wandering the wasteland of post-apocalyptic Earth and stumbles upon a small oil refinery community… and he’s out of gas… but there’s also a band of marauders who are looking to take it over, get the gas & kill everybody inside… probably after some rapening. So then it works out that Max isn’t a complete dick & tries to save them… while saving himself. Before Fury Road, this was the best Mad Max movie… not just my opinion, basically FACT. Google it. There’s great action & intrigue throughout… and I highly recommend that you see this as soon as possible… and then go see Fury Road.
Later that night, we also watched the finale of the original trilogy “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome” starring Mel Gibson and… Tina Turner. Yes, THAT Tina Turner… who also provided the soundtrack. Ugh… okay… in this installment Mad Max (with really long 80’s hair) is inexplicably surprise camel-drawn-wagon-jacked by one of the people that he saved in Mad Max 2… and then follows him to Bartertown, the Mos Eisley of this realm… where people come to trade their goods, get some companionship, and just not die if at all possible. Well, he goes in to get his camel-drawn wagon & supplies back… and then stumbles upon a political coup when the mayor of Bartertown (Turner) who’s trying to killer Master Blaster, who’s running the pig sh*t farm that this city (and plot) is built upon. Okay… so in summation, there’s THUNDERDOME which is a duel to the death… then there’s a surprise group of children who save Max… and a train… but did you notice one thing that I haven’t mentioned about this movie? Anything that’s missing from the plot outline? F**KING CARS!!! THERE’S NO CARS IN THIS CAR-CHASE MOVIE UNTIL… about 80 minutes in… and even then, it’s the bad guys who have the cars… and they’re on a train… which apparently still runs just fine on a clean track and… INEXCUSEABLE!!! Ugh… look, it’s easy to mock this movie… I mean… Tina Turner is the 2nd billed ACTOR in this movie. Is it a horrible movie? Not at all… seriously, the potential of this movie is f**king amazing… and I want to see the sequel to Fury Road be a reimagining of this concept in some way… but yeah, it’s not great… and almost killed the franchise… until 30 years later when it RISES LIKE A PHOENIX IN FURY ROAD!!! SERIOUSLY GO SEE THAT MOVIE!!! “PITCH PERFECT 2” IS THE #1 MOVIE IN THE AMERICA!!! MEANWHILE FURY ROAD MADE ABOUT HALF AS MUCH MONEY & IS AT 98% ON ROTTEN TOMATOES!!! THAT MAKES ME ASHAMED TO BE A F**KING AMERICAN!!!
Earlier in the week, we were forwarded an email (possibly propaganda) about 20 horror movies available on Netflix that we should check out. We’d already seen three of them… but we figured that we’d watch some of the rest, if not all. First up was “Housebound” which is the story of New Zealand troublemaker (Morgana O’Reilly) who is arrested and sentenced to 8 months of house arrest… at her mother’s house. That’s right… moving back in with your mom & stepfather… what could be worse? Well, what if your well-intentioned blabbermouth mother also thinks that the mouth is haunted… and after a few days, event cause you to believe her. That’s about all I’m going to give you about the story… but I would highly recommend checking this movie out. It’s not super gory or anything… the acting is decent… the suspense is great… the story is even pretty decent with just a little disbelief. For example, I was trying to figure out how old the main character was supposed to be. In the story, she seems like she might be anywhere between 17 & 22 because she’s apparently fresh out of school… but the actress is obviously in her late twenties… but I just assume that’s why they mention that she’s on meth (quickly, but she’s pretty gorgeous for meth head, just saying maybe it aged her a bit)… and there are a few other things that you’ll just have to wave off… but overall, check this movie out! Support independent movies from Kiwi Hobbit World!
Next up was a movie called “Late Phases” starring Nick Damici & Ethan Embry (was in “Can’t Hardly Wait”, “Empire Records” & “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” but has honestly not aged well) and is the story of an aging wounded war vet (Damici) who moves to a retirement community where people are dying of mysterious circumstances… like BEING TORN TO F**KING SHREDS!!! Okay, I really do recommend checking this movie out… I want to get that out of the way right away because it’s a good flick & Nick Damici does a good job at playing a blind iron-resolute vet who seems amazed that everybody around him is f**king stupid… and the other actors do pretty well, including Tom Noonan who I haven’t seen in a while… you can see him as a priest with a beard. There are also some great teases that show that the writers have obviously seen past werewolf movies like “Silver Bullet” (there’s a priest involved AND an eye-patch guy) and others of the ilk. My main problem with this movie… is that EVERYBODY IS SO F**KING STUPID!!! The police? F**king useless… like even more so than they are in real life. “Eh, maybe it’s dogs doing it.” THEN KILL THE F**KING DOGS!!! The neighbors & other people in the retirement community? Friends & member of your community are dropping like flies… and not the peacefully in their sleep way as you might expect… more like screaming & being torn asunder… so what do you do? ABSOLUTELY NOTHING! No heightened security, no extra camera footage (like three cameras in the whole sprawling city and two are at the front gate?), all kinds of stupid sh*t that you just have to say… “Okay, they all long for death’s sweet embrace & the people running the community have a lot of prepaid leases and a healthy waiting list for new entries… I’ll go with that… I guess.” Aside from that though, I liked this movie… made me think of my dad a little bit (sadly) and he would’ve probably liked this movie… picture a blind Charles Bronson going against a legion of werewolves… you’re welcome!
We also watched an odd little movie called “Volcano High” that… apparently was a Korean martial arts movie set in a high school where I guess everybody has super fighting powers… insert the new kid protagonist… and was on MTV for a while back in the early 2000’s. Now, I like martial arts movies… even the ones bordering on anime… but why would I watch this one as opposed to the hundreds, thousands of others? Well… this one was dubbed into English… but some of the biggest hip hop artists of the day… namely Snoop Dogg, Method Man, Andre 3000 & Big Boi of Outkast, Kelis, Mya, even Li’l Jon before he blew the f**k up… and random ass selections like the late great Pat Morita& Tracy Morgan. Intrigued, right? Yeah, me too! Well… the movie was okay… the lead guy especially had some amazing Jim Carrey-esque goofy smiles and stuff that was entertaining… the story is… well, it’s what you expect… and fighting scenes are okay loaded with special effects & reality bending… but it’s what you expect. My knit-pick… is that everything seems to be in super slow motion when they fight… to the point where I’m pretty sure a regular speed version of this movie… would last about 22 minutes, your average sitcom episode. Anyway, do you need to check it out? Of course not… but then again, that got me thinking about doing some ADR work for other foreign language movies… but these ones are actually good… so I give you my ADR nominations for the English dubbing… of “Raid: Redemption”!!!
Now, because it’s so jam packed with action, there’s not a whole lot of dialogue required to dub… I feel like Rama, the protagonist supercop could be voiced by… Eminem. Hear me out! Why Eminem? Because you can understand what he says… regardless of what Sly, Arnie, JCVD & others might say that’s pretty f**king important. Plus, he has a more miniscule, almost childish voice that he can use to give some empathy towards the hero. One thing from “Volcano High” that irritated me was Andre 3000 voicing the main guy who’s supposed to be kinda nerdy… Andre 3000 sounds cool as f**k all damn day… every day. Plus… you get a lot of raging Eminem “Ha-YA!!!”s once the fights start… you’re welcome!
I also like the idea of the injured officer Bowo being voiced by the great R. Kelly. Why? Why the hell not? That velvety voice would sing-song it’s way through his moans of pain... and I just like the idea.
Now for the crime lord Tama Riyadi... you'd think that I'd go with some boss like mutha f**k like Jay-Z... and that's an interesting pick... and I'd watch that movie... probably twice. We're talking about the "final boss" in this basically video game movie... and to have Jigga yelling out orders & runnin' sh*t from the top floor would be nice... but I'm casting Jay-Z's voice (if he has time) as the police commissioner barking out orders or something. Instead, I'm giving Tama's role to...
DMX!!! That rough, gravely, crazy voice with emphasis EVERYWHERE... you know it's the right decision. This show would be epic... how is this not already done? DMX should be in everything.
Anyway, that'll do it for tonight... busy little weekend coming up with Izzy's graduation & her family in town. Have a great weekend everybody!!! Support our troops!!!

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Dark Wheat Duck

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Wednesday morning (4 AM) was the start of an early, exciting brewday at Elevation 66 Brewing and despite Izzy being under the weather still, we had a full house with owner Super Dave, lead brewer Big Ben, and four volunteer brewers (me, Li’l Jon, Black Jack & new returner Easy E). With six brewers, the work was fairly easy when spread out… so during the slower times (waiting for water to boil) Big Ben’s wife was also there studying for her BJCP/Cicerone certification… and she conducted an Off-Flavor Tasting. What’s that? Well… it’s basically a taste test where you take a basic beer (in this case, Trumer Pilsner) and you basically add some off-flavors to it… and see if you can identify the off-flavor. Oh… there are some tricks in there too… as there are some placebos… and you’re just drinking the base beer… so it puts your senses to the test… especially if you don’t really have an amazing sense of smell like me. It’s a great way to test your senses… learn what might cause these kinds of off-flavors… and basically I was drinking some beer with my friends at something like 6 AM. Here’s some pictures…


After the brew day, Super Dave offered to take us out to T-Rex for some barbecue and brews… great restaurant to check out if you’re in the neighborhood.
A few hours later, Izzy headed back home and we headed out to the city of Concord to visit the MoreBeer homebrewing shop (warehouse level selection) and then we headed to downtown for some beers & snacks at the Hop Grenade, their neighbor E.J. Phair Brewing, and just down the street is Ale Industries’ Pig & Whistle location. All three have some pretty fantastic offerings. Hop Grenade has a more “connoisseur” level selection of brews… and of course, the elaborate podcasting area for the Brewing Network (which I WAS finally a guest on). E.J. Phair has some great brews including my personal favorite Shorty’s Revenge which is an English style Amber… and they had some great prices for their beers and decent snacks. Pig & Whistle seems like a nice place to check out after watching a movie late night across the street. Just a nice little area… congrats to Concord!

Here's a picture of a sunset & our hops growing up now...

Also, Izzy is graduating in less than a week! Yes, the amazing woman who has been joining me on these many, many adventures over the years… is finally graduating with her Illustration degree in mere days… and I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’s truly an amazing woman & I’m lucky to have her in my life. Feel free to leave your congratulations below… she checks everything (though I think the last REAL comment that wasn’t her… was probably over two years ago). Congratulations beautiful!
Sunday morning, we also started a Dunkelweizen recipe… that we’re affectionately calling Darkwheat Duck (Dunkelweizen means “Dark Wheat”) and it was a pretty standard recipe… but here are some great pictures…

We also kegged our Taddy Porter from Learn to Homebrew Day… it’s a little lighter than I expected, more like our English Pale Ale but more of an amber color… but still pretty delicious. More pictures…
So yeah… a good week of beer enthusiasm… and there are plenty of movies as well… until then, have a great day everybody!!!

Where Should I Go Next?