Monday, April 26, 2010

Shapes Of Things To Come

SO I HAD burgers. I had cheese. I had bacon. Even-tually, this was going to happen. I think it probably happened as a result of having Chinese take-out last night. For some reason, having a bacon double cheeseburger strikes me as the polar opposite of having fried dumplings and mixed lo mein, and the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the spark in the firmament that connects them. Very Zen, very yen-yang.

Tomorrow will be the cheeseburger at the local, which doesn't necessarily follow as a consequent at all. It'll be Tuesday. Tuesday is the day I go to the local for the cheeseburger. This, too, is more or less inevitable.

I also thought this was inevitable, but I was wrong. We got through maybe ten minutes of it before the Wifey had had it. She had decided, after the fourth sequel came out, that maybe we needed to catch up with the series. Which meant watching this, 2 Fast 2 Furious, The Fast And The Furious: Toyko Drift, and Fast And Furious, the ingeniously titled fourth installment of this seemingly deathless series. I didn't make mention of the fact that I gave up watching the third installment after five minutes of hammy, cliche-ridden, shallow exigesis that went down worse than old crackers from a packet of C rations without water, an analogy almost as cryptic and stupid as the movie itself. Of course, it didn't help that I knew a little about the "sport" of drifting, which is a nasty, filthy, wasteful, awful activity, perpetrated by idiots who hate their cars.

But, after all, crisis averted. When Vin Diesel is the most convincing actor in the flick, time's come to give it the fuck up.

AND then we watched this. I forget precisely what fomented it, although it clearly had something to do with the derbying, but she decided awhile back that she wanted to give it a shot, in advance of seeing the 2002 remake. Whilst this was waiting in the queue, we watched about two minutes of the newer one, about 15 minutes in, before Rachelle decided that it was a stack of shit not worth measuring. Which was fine by me. Say what you will about the man, but when Jean Reno is your seasoned veteran brought in to give the youngsters some gravitas, well, you're fucked.

But the original played nicely. Rachelle's classic quote, after the elucidation that the world in 2018 will be run by corporations, was, "Well, they got a couple of things wrong." (Which is funny, see, 'cause we taxpayers supposedly own several large banks, General Motors, etc., although it has been argued by yours truly that the political parties in most countries in this day and age are basically corporations.) Her classic after-action report is even better: "Also, I would totally watch a game of Roller Ball live. Without the killing." Yeah, the homicide would kind of put a damper on the thing for me.

The larger part of the reason I like the film has to do with how awfully ironic it is. We're supposed to be enjoying it because of all the terrible things it says about humanity, because all us smart folk are misanthropes who abhor violence. But we're NASCAR fans at heart, most of us. We're going to see people get smacked in the head with spikey gloves and shiny metal balls.

And when I say we, I mean you. 'cause I'm that kind of schmuck.

After that, this. Just happened to be on the TCM channel, a tad over half the way through, which is a fine enough way to watch it. This is another example of how much it is possible to get wrong. The International Space Station is a glorified high school science lab, there is no base on the moon, you can't fly manned spacecraft any further than the moon, and even then it costs a fortune and wastes resources, and so far as we know, freezing kills. No such thing as suspended animation.

The rest, howeverm is all true. The bone that famous ape-man threw into space turned into a spaceship, and then that monolith caused that one guy wo spend etenity in a ninteenth century drawing room before hurtling across the high deserts of California wearing neon filter glasses. Don't you read the papers?

So: to the recommendations. Anything you add bacon to in your own home is your own business. Wow. Think about THAT for a minute. The possibilities! On the other hand, what went wrong with the Fast & Furious movies is essentially what went wrong with the remake of the Rollerball movie, which is, basically, they added bacon to it. I could be wrong about that. But I do think that it's part of why no one ever thought to remake Kubrik's movies. They already had bacon added to them. Little known fact: Kubrik added bacon to everything.

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Monday, April 19, 2010

We Approach The Gates Of The City-- Alert The Spoilers

SO THIS IS the final conse-quence of having bought a package of ersatz roast beef a couple of weeks back. It made me consantly regret having done so, because what I had actually wanted was Black Forest ham. So today this is what I have: Black Forest ham on rye with sliced shallot, white and yellow American cheese, faux-Mexican cheese, and Plochman's yellow mustard. And fries and Ketchupo!(TM). So excited was I, in fact, at the prospect of such a sandwich, I piled on about four more slices of ham than I rationally would have, which, along with all that cheese, made for an unfinishable sandwich. Which is a very good thing indeed.

The beer, both of them, were relatively recently procured for the purposes of consuming fried dumplings and mixed lo mein from our lovely local Chinese take out joint, but in this case proved instrumental. Mainly in that I have always claimed that Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's closest genetic sibling is Harpoon IPA, and this, at least to my satisfaction, proved the case. Harpoon's the one with the dimples.

This was the Weekend Movie, which we watched while eating our Chinese take-out. We speculated openly beforehand that, without the Chinese, we wouldn't make it all the way through. (This is what happened, you might recall, with The Informant!, about which more in a moment.) But shortly in, we started having an inkling that this flick might be worth more than originally anticipated. The acting was more than reasonable, the set-ups weren't overly hammy, and there was no attempt to make up some kind of absurdly over-arching explanation for the whacky plot device-- which was that some little kid in Massachusets back in 1959 predicted the date, death toll, and latitude-longitude location of every major disaster for the next 50 years, up to and including-- and if you didn't know this was going to be spoilered, go back and check your brain in with the manufacturer, it should still be under warranty-- the end of the fucking world. It was like a roller coaster, at least in that the only way to ride it was to strap in, hang on, and trust the machine.

That was before the aliens showed up.

Yes. The big plot twist was somehow aliens knew the world was ending, whispered to selected children for no adequately explained reason, and whisked them off to their own little Eden-planet (and I mean little, you could see the curvature of the planet at the horizon, or maybe that was because they ran out of CGI money by that point in the production and had to skimp) while Nick Cage went home and reconciled with his religioso father and bland sterotype mother and sister to await the end of the world.

Now, I knew beforehand that this flim had something of a troubled past, that it was in and out of production and turnaround and what-the-fuck-ever for the better part of a decade, and there was some Dim of the Yard (Consternation! Uproar!) when the selection of director Alex Proyas was announced, and, of course, when that guy announced his intentions (according to Wikipedia,
"to emulate The Exorcist in melding 'realism with a fantastical premise'"), I figured the whole damned house of cards was doomed. Then, after it came out, the majority of critics panned it, most of them taking the standard "this thing is fucking awful because everyone in it sucks for this specific reason that I alone seem to have divined. Only our beloved, beknighted Roger Ebert seemed to tilt at the true nature, insisting that the film itself was really pretty good and rather suspenseful with an unfortunate detour at the end that kind of ruins things.

With which I would mostly agree. But, really: aliens? For the lovea Claude, man, why?

I found myself hoping, actually kind of day dreaming, that part of what happened in the pre-production-stall-and-turnaround period, the thing could be sold because no one thought anyone would want to see a movie that has, as its ending, the predicted, yet utterly unstoppable, destruction of the earth (and that it wouldn't have been by way of solar flare that kills everything on the planet, which, any physicist will tell you, is both just stupid and something that wouldn't happen wihout centuries of warning signs) (and a realignment of the planets) (and living in another solar system orbiting another, far different, @#$%$#@ @#$%$##@$#%%$ sun) (or maybe that was different too). And eventually some producer type said "I know! Aliens!" And some half-witted, inbred, terminally stupid Hollywood execuitive type narrowed his milky eyes in sly agreement.

Or whatever.
Hey! How about another look at those Rockwaffles!


So I definetely recommend buying the right thing. If what you're craving is not available, buy something like it, and then when you finally get that thing your were craving, it's really twice as good. Nick Cage movies are always a challenge-- and a crap shoot-- and, to my mind, there are two kinds of Nick Cage fan: the ones who roll the dice and watch his stuff when it comes out, and the ones who wait slavering for their chance to finally get to see Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans. If you're the second kind, I don't really need to recommend this film, because you're gonna see it anyways. If you're the first kind, then sure: load up on goodies, and make sure you're not watching with someone who will be constantly annoyed by your exclamations of "Really!?!" And "What the FUCK!?!" And you'll be just fine, really. It'll only hurt for a bit.

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Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Who Are You Gonna Believe, Me Or Your Lyin' ADM?

THIS IS NOT today's lunch. It is (was) also not yesterdays' lunch, which was a cheese-burger with my friends at the local pub-- and, note to beer drinkers in my area, a copper altbeir from the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery, which I had not even heard of before yesterday-- and, note to beer drinkers anywhere, the Sam Adams Noble Pils, which I had been meaning to try for a coupla months or so. No, this is/was Monday's lunch. I show it to you now because I wish to brag. I made a simple, pure double cheeseburger in my own home. And it was delicious. (The alternate line here was "This is my cheeseburger; there are many like it, but this one is MINE.") The Sweetwater IPA went along with the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale rather precisely, and both went more than decently well with the burger and fries. (And yeah, there are two different kinds of fries there. Cleaning up, if you can dig that.) The conclusion of the Sweetwater Experiment, by the way: IPA yum, EPA not bad but not great, the Blue(berry) beer stands just this side of the line of yuck, and the Imperial Stout simply tastes like they were trying too hard. 'nuff said.

The real reason I bring you this image today is that I wanted to take the oppor-tunity to show off my brand new, way-funky, technically-not-running shoes. These are the Nike Rockwaffles: the foreportion of the sole, about three-fifths of the length of the shoe, is a soft rubber compound built to stick to hard surfaces; the heel itself is standard Nike waffle sole material. I got them mostly because they're waaaaaaaay cool, and available in eleven and a half, and partly because the Wifey and I will soo be taking up indoor climbing as a sport, or at least giving it a shot or two. The reasons for this are twofold: the Wifey recently decided to take a break from roller derby and try reffing for awhile, and so needs to find an activity to fill in for all the skating, and our pal Paige, who, along with her husband, owns the indoor climbing joint, recently quit derby because she simply didn't have the time to invest in it. So we are climbing both for excercise and for the chance to hang out with our former derby pal.

Speaking of heavy lifting, this is not the seque of the day, but it'll do until one comes along. We got this thing in the Netflix envelope last week, preferring to watch Star Trek IV: The Quest For Late 80's Sterotypes first, but finally succumbed and watched it over Chinese take out Sunday evening.
They tried, folks. They really did.
But in the final analysis, this was just an intensely interesting but fundamentally unsalvageable story. In the end-- SPOILER ALERT-- Mark Witacre was just a kind of a bland weirdo who stole a bunch of money and then tried to white-wash it by pointing out that ADM and the rest of the know agribusiness world were fixing prices on obscure compounds which would appear to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Finely acted, beautifully filmed, and annoying as hell. I sat through it without too much wear and tear, but I thought the Wifey was going to take her fork out of her pork fried rice and stab herself in the eye with it. Instead, she grabbed her handy-dandy laptop computer and let her indulgence in the series of tubes keep her blissfully distracted. This, I submit, is what the internet is really for.
That, and buy really cool shoes. How 'bout we take another look at those funky, funky shoes?

I feel better already.

SO while I heartily recommend making your own cheeseburger, as well as having one out, not to say having one on, I can't either recommend or condemn the Sweetwater Breweries products. I didn't like like three out of the four I tried, but that doesn't mean anything. Except that, aside from the IPA, they didn't quite suit my tastes. Oh, and the Sam Adams Noble Pils I heartily recommend, very nice, light bodied but intensely hopped. And the Olde Mecklenburg Brewery Copper Altbier, too. Very nice. The Informant!? The Informant?!? I felt like I had to, but there's no reason you have to. Then again, you might quite like it. Don't take my word on anything but the shoes. The shoes you should most definitely not try.

Because they're mine.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

A Partial List Of The Damned

SO THIS is today's lunch, nothing hugely creative: smoked turkey with two kinds of American cheese and Plochman's mustard (SING! "And into Plochman's, beat their swords; and into Plochman's, be-at their swords . . . " Sorry-- that occurs to me once in awhile), grilled, with bacon.

Lemme say that last part again: with bacon.

Now, while I do love bacon, I am not in the "anything can be improved by adding bacon" school, for the sole fact that there is one thing in the world that I do not think is improved by the addition of bacon, and that would be a cheeseburger. You add bacon to a cheeseburger, it becomes a completely different beast. This is one truth that I do hold to be self evident: a bacon cheeseburger is not a cheeseburger. Not that I don't reeeeeeeally dig a bacon cheeseburger now and again. Just that when I want a cheeseburger, I want a cheeseburger.

All that said, part of the inspiration for today's sandwich is this: Subway Restaraunts, Inc., is dead to me. DEAD. D-E-A-D dead. Some time back, literally years ago, I signed up for their internet newsletter thingy in order to take advantage of some deal or such that I never took advantage of. At this point, I was going to the local store for a sandwich about once a week, and it was fine; I trusted the people who worked there, the kitchen was visibly clean, and, heck, when you got right down to it, the sandwiches were just fine. I mean, nothing spectacular, but you could get a good, solid sub and a bag of chips for a little over five bucks, and it was fine. Then, once, I got a bad sandwich. It didn't make me sick, it wasn't horrible, it was just a shade off. Like something in it was just a leeeeetle past its prime. And that was all she worte for the local. I just didn't want to go there anymore. Not like an aversion, really. Just didn't want to. Part of it had to do with the fact that I had made friends with a couple of the people who worked there, and I really didn't want to have to tell them that they had poisoned me. (If, y'know, in the future they gave me a really bad sandwich, and, y'know, POISONED ME.)

The second blow was visiting the Subway at the Bluefield, West Virginia, mall, which was the ONLY place within gunshot to eat when we went there for a roller derby event last november. This was right after the avunted New York trip, so in addition to being served a really rather bad sandwich-- verifiably old, Pops, to the point that I had to decide within the first couple of bites whether I was putting my fate in jeopardy-- it was up against the memory of pastrami and corned beef on rye from the Stage and the deli on the corner and need I go on from there?

Then I opened one of their cockememe e-mail blasts to read their declaration "PEPPERONI-- IT'S THE NEW BACON!"

Never mind my general aversion to the whole "X is the new Y" bullshit. Pepperoni is not bacon. What kind of a @#$%ing idiot could . . . I mean, no one who has ever had . . . You see, unless you are a G*D-DAMNED @#$%ING ROBOT . . . Pepperoni is not bacon. Bacon is bacon.

Dead. Dead dead dead. @#$% the @#$%ing @#$%ers.

Saturday night's movie was this, which El Wiferino put in the Netflix queue when she concluded that we were not going to go see it in the theater, and I very nearly struck when the DVD reviews came out. Where the theaticals had damned it with faint praise, the DVD reviews spelled it out: not only is there nothing special here, the whole thing is one great, big re-tread, and nothing particularly funny at that. And while I think I did laugh once, and Rachelle got a couple of good lauhgs out of a couple of different bits, the fact the reviewers seemed to either miss or omit is that this thing is stupid. STOO-PID. I mean, really really dumb. The part that bothered me most was they peppered the whole thing early on with sight gags that could have figured into an over-arching explanation of the plot, and they squandered it all, just refused to connect the dots. In the end, it didn't feel so much like we had been ill-used (as viewers) as that a great deal of money and potential had simply been squandered. It was like watching a top of the line Mercedes getting detailed by a pack of chimps bearing brillo pads.

THAT's better.
This is one of several movie the Wifey refuses to watch on the grounds that it's dumb. STOO-PID. Which, I can see her point, but to me it's one of those films that is very smart about how it goes about being stupid, and on top of that, Billy Murray is very, very good in it, as are Peter Gallagher and Alfred Molina, a couple of guys whom I would watch wash windows, and Joanne Whalley, whom I would watch watching them wash windows. Also, it has a coulple of amusing things to say about the nature of spying and cold war politics, and, on top of that, I'm a sucker for anything that says crude things about the whole art of drama, the world of acting and actors, especially if it does it in a tongue-in-cheek, meta kind of way. Filled the time. Went with my sammich pretty well.
Oh, speaking of which, the beer: I had meant to do this up there, but this'll do just as well. I had been meaning to try the SweetWater Brewery beers for awhile, and hadn't done so mainly on the grounds that I don't like Atlanta (which is where they're located), which is about as stupid a reason not to try their beer as you could probably find. Week before last, their variety 12 pack was on sale, and the marketing on the box was cute (We boxed up whatever we didn't drink! HA! he he. Alright, not funny, but at least cute.), so I got a little closer. That weekend I decided to bite the bullet and plunk down for the 12. When I got it to the register and scanned it, it turned out it was no longer on sale: instead of fourteen bucks for the 12, they wanted 18 and change. Which, I figured, I already had it rung up (and, Rachelle pointed out, they had already stripped the sale price off the shelf lip), so I ponied up the cash and bought it. The next day, for lunch, I had the Extra Pale Ale followed by a blueberry ale that tasted like medicine. I later had one of the blueberries as part of a midnight snack, but it still tasted like medicine. I didn't finish it. Today the IPA (yellow label) and the EPA (green label) went alright with the turkey-bacon sammich. But the IPA had kind of a fruity high note, actually kind of mangoey, where the EPA kind of tastes like an overly chunky ale. Not bad but, like their company slogan-- Don't Float In The Main Stream!-- just kind of reeks of effort. Like they were trying too hard. Or maybe it's just that I don't like Atlanta. Either way, I don't think I'll be doing this again anytime soon. As it is, I have a few more to face up to, including three Imperial Stouts, which weigh in at a whopping 9% ABV. NINE. Which is alright, I suppose, just kinda gotta plan on not doing a whole lot the rest of the afternoon if I have a coupla THOSE for lunch.
So I don't recommend Planet 51, The Man Who Knew Too Little, Subway Restaurants, Sweet Water Brewery's variety 12 pack, or substituting pepperoni for bacon. Good thing no one's reading this.

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