Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The More Things Stray The Same

ALRIGHT, I GUESS this may seem to be getting mono-tonous, but, well, firstly, I like cheeseburgers and beer. Secondly, once you have the ingredients assembled, it gets kind of hard to resist. Thirdly, there is an element of luck of the draw here. I mean, I don't JUST eat cheesburgers. Sometimes I eat chili dogs . . .

Over and above all that, I wish to report that following the UFO with the IPA is both really weird and very rewarding. My mouth had been so attuned to the practice of seeking out the hoppiness of the hefeweizen that the IPA cam across as slighlty sweet and salty, which brought out the pepper element in the ketchupo something terrific.

The movie of the day was Angels in the Outfield. The original. Don't ask me why. For some reason I just didn't turn the damned thing off.

The movie of the day is not Conan O'Brien's new show on TBS, and not for any of the reasons you might be thinking.

One might be that I don't watch late night TV, which by and large I don't. I don't watch Leno or Letterman because I learned many, many years ago, that there's never any guarantee that the show you'r about to see will be funny. Also, the guys are both arrogant jack-offs on occasion, and, well, @#$% them.

But Conan I have a soft spot for, about which more in a mo. So if I did watch late night TV, this might be a good candidate.

One might be that the promos for the new show have been kind of . . . Well, actually, I find most of them somewhat amusing, but the Wifey finds several of them . . . creepy. Particularly the ones set to that Missing You" song, where people are doing all kinds of whacko things because they miss Coco, including making him seventy five bar mitzvah cakes, which . . . You know, I'm going to take that back. For all I know, Conan O'Brien might actually be able to eat 75 bar mitzvah cakes.

I kind of like the one where he's dancing without the music. And the one where he's washing his desk, I think, is a lovely bit of satire. (Seriously, why is washing a car supposed to be sexy? Am I supposed to wanna screw the car as well?) (And seriously, folks, soap tastes nasty. I shouldn't want anyone to taste soap.)

And then of course there's the reasons I might be watching and I won't. One of which is that it means I am in increasingly less danger of accidentally watching the George Lopez show. George Lopez is only ever intermittently funny, he's a lousy interviewer, and whenever he gets on the subject of latinos I begin to suspect he secretly works for Fox News.

So thank you, Conan. If nothing else, thank you for that.*

Secondly, I do have a bit of a soft spot for him. He does seem to be one of the more genuinely funny guys in the business. He seems to have a fondness for running gags, which I appreciate. He's also responsible for one of the very few truly resonant "interviews" with Hunter Thompson in the years before his death.

Conan and crew were whisked to the Owl Farm, handed firearms, plied with whiskey, and told Hunter would be along shortly. (This was at like 7 o'clock in the morning. Quothe Conan: "I think I'm going to throw up.") So Hunter showed up, being Hunter, just doing that off-putting thing where he was very clearly hiding behind his persona, and proceeded to convince Conan and crew, in his rambling way, so commence firing upon the targets, which included stuffed animals for whatever reason. (Somebody thought shooting a teddy bear was funny, I guess.) The proceedings lurched along; Hunter urging them to use increasingly higher explosives in the guise of fulfilling some sort of membership ritual, Conan and crew getting an increasingly queasy vibe about the whole thing as Hunter handed them more and more powerful weapons. (I seem to recall Hunter saying "Here-- throw an grenade at it!" and Conan replying "Why?") At one point, Conan decided to try and placate Hunter by concentrating on the teddy bear, which, unfortunately, he wasn't able to hit with great accuracy. Then, at one point, the combination of the impact of the grenade and the carnage inflicted by a carbine suceeded in ctaching the bear in fire. "Ooh! Look! It's on fire!" To which Hunter said three or four utterly excited, thoroughly indecipherable things.

It was the first time I had seen anyone legitimately interact with Hunter S. Thompson in at least a decade. It was just kind of sweet.

So I have reasons I might watch Coco's new show, but I probably won't. He comes on at 11; so does Jon Stewart. Sorry, but if I have to choose between the two, I am probably watching the Daily Show. Until I find out what the next-day re-run situation is, that's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

*Also there's the whole network late night crappola aspect. I kind of like the way Conan handled his part in the shennanigans, and it was especially gratifying that people were lining up and buying airline tickets to appear on Conan's non-televised-live shows, while that craphound Leno, who insisted that America wanted him to molest the airwaves every night at ten, so all those poor folk who couldn't stay up past 11:30 could catch his action, crashed and burned. Leno has been funny, but that whole thing was just outrageously presumptious.

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Raging Beer

SO HERE WE HAVE, as I am so fond of saying, a beer fulla fridge. The local mega-mart had the last of Harpoon Brewery's summer stock-- HA!-- on sale for fifteen bucks, so this morning I broke down and shelled out. This despite the fact that, historically, I haven't liked wheat beers, and fully half the bottles in here are a hefewiezen of one sort or another. (Literally: three are one kind, three are another.) Given that today's lunch . . .

is the double cheese-burger I am so fond of, I figured it would be a good day to try out a wheat beer. The cheeseburger, which I am not calling the Double Whammy, and the tots, which are not Totlettes, would be capable of walking up to any substandard beer and staring it down into cowed submission. This turned out to be unnecessary. The UFO, often seen but never heard, was bold and hoppy, where most of the wheat beers I've experienced before tended to the sweet and thick. The summer brew was what about everybody does for a summer brew these days, which is a lighter bodied lager with brighter hops, which was just fine as well. The next question mark is the Harpoon crystal wheat brew, but fortuantely, between here and there, there will be the ubiquitous IPA, and there's a coupla Red Hook ESB's to be had there, too.

The movie of the day is not this ultra-violent love letter to a more embittered, embattled time when we all had the souls of wolves and the wits of sharks.
I did see this a number of years ago, largely on the grounds that it was something I ought to see one day. I think I had just recently seen one of Scorcese's other celebrated greatest hits and nipped out to Blockbuster to get this. I remember describing it, in an e-mail to Ol' Doc Nagel, as the most relentlessly violent movie I had ever seen. This was before I had seen Straw Dogs. I have now seen Straw Dogs, and this is still the most relentlessly violent movie I have ever seen. It's not just the fight scenes. It's everything. The dialogue, the mob scenes, the relentless jealousy and serial adultery and spousal conflicts and on and on and on. Where Scoresese's mob movies are cruel in the way that characters are tortured and killed, this one is cruel in that way in which characters are tortured and spared.
So I tried. I really did. But thanks, Marty, once was enough. My most fervent hope was that you meant this one to have a positive message-- See, kid? At least you're not them!!!"-- but it's just hard to watch that much brutality in one sitting.

At least the movie of the day is not this. I caught it on one of the vaunted on demand-- sorry-- On Demand chanels day before yesterday when there Was Nothing On. It was perfectly fine, the kind of indie tragicomedy where all the characters are defined by quirks, evil is comprised of conformaity, and heroism lies in not making very obviously bad choices when they are blatently presented to you, veritably shoved in your face. All the performances are commited, nuanced, and utterly false. Which is all to say that it killed ninety minutes that I could have otherwise spent reading David Crosby's 1988 autobiography, which I picked up at the Goodwill last weekend for a buck thirty nine.
So that's good at least.
But when it cropped up today, at three in the afternoon, right as I was done with one thing and not quite started on another, ehhhhhhhh-- no, thanks. Once was fine.
So do I recommend it? Sure. Don't read anything about it first, if you do, just kind of dive in and let the movie fill you in. It's got a little more suspense going for it that way. DeNiro gained and lost a total of four Marlon Brandos perparing for this role, which may just be his most commited and finest performance to date, and Marty Scorcese bankrolled at least a half dozen Columbian soccer teams in the making as well, so I think we all owe it to them, and the universe, to experience this film just once. Amen. So far the Harpoon products have yet to let me down, so yeah, unless they start producing lye-- and this would have to include the presence of skulls and crossbones and DO NOT INGEST warnings on the labels-- yeah, I'd go ahead and do it.
And sure, have the cheesburger. Like Warren said, before he went: enjoy every sandwich.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

The Sad Clown Wants You To Know His Pain

SO YESTER-DAY I found the Magic Hat Brewery's new variety 12 pack on sale at the local for 13 bucks, so I snapped it up, with the result that I still had Saras for lunch (Two Saras For Quasimodo: black forest ham with cheese and mustard between slices of French toast).

(Actually, lemme go there first: had the Quasimodo with Polaner's blackberry fruit spread, which I keep wanting to call a compote, except I keep thinking that I probably don't have a firm grip on what a compote actually is, and the Saranac Black & Tan and Black Forest. The fruit spread was interesting, but the real revelation was finding a splash of the Black & Tan in the bottom of the bottle at the very end, and mixing that with the last of the Black Forest, which, well, damn! Turned it into an entirely new beer.)


This is a ham and cheese omlette with diced shallot and sliced black olives topped with chili and drizzled with mustard. The Magic Hat beers were phenomenally interesting. The first, their 2010 annual brew, called Odd Notion, was a bright, hoppy, light-hearted brew that rbought to mind Fisher's Bitter D'alsace (if memory serves, and I haven't had one of those in a long, long time). The second was an IPA, which brought to mind another craft brewed IPA whose name I can't remember, but it was quite nice as well: bright, stiff, hoppy. And there was an element of top-of-the-palate sweet spiceyness to both beers that is sticking with me, both literally and figuratively. The memory is lingering in my brain, and the sweet spiceyness is hanging on the top of my palate like a frightened rock climber.

Clinging to a . . . Nah. I got nothin.

In other news, Bobcat Goldthwait is a mean, mean man.

I caught his stand-up routines several times in the 80's, when he was featured in one-man shows by HBO, as well as a couple of festival appearances and whatnot on Comedy Central later on. I watched the entirety of Shakes The Clown (and blogged about it, by the way), and while I got the point, and appreciated the sheer intestinal fortitude it must have taken to stick with the premise so rigidly all the way through, I couldn't escape the conclusion that Shakes The Clown is a viciously, enormously painful enterprise.

So I figured I have given Mr. Goldthwait more than a fair, um, shake. I confess that I only got through about five minutes of Sleeping Dogs Lie, which is a movie about-- SPOILER ALERT!-- a woman who gave her dog a blow job in college and then spends the rest of her life not talking about it. (What the @#$ do I know, like I said, I didn't get through it.) This, on the other hand, I slogged through almost in spite of myself.

Who am I kidding? In spite of myself. This is a movie that seeks to take everyone who thinks they are even remotely inadequate and grind their faces into a muddy landfill, in January, and then convince them that their own desperately painful existences are deeply funny, the kind of epic farce that recognizes that like itself is a joke, and death is merely The Great Pratfall. It's the epitome of the Mel Brooks concept: this is the joke where YOU fall down the manhole and die, and it's funny because you weren't that great a person in the first place, really. Oh, and also? Anyone who has any interest in or appreciation of poetry is a self-involved wanker who's only in it to get laid.

Which, that last part is largely true, but anyways.

The concept here is that the kid was a useless, vile wanker-- literally and figuratively, and after he dies wanking, his dad uses him as a strawman to gain literary fame. Which is a wholly crass assessment, and totally unfair. As Onion AV Club head writer Nabin wrote in his review, there is a kind of sweetness in this, a sense of affection for all the screwed up characters in this Marquis De Sade morality play. A sense that the writer/director is really, really sorry to point it out, but these stupid, useless people really suck. Oh, and life's a bitch. Sorry about that. Sucks to be you.

So I get the joke, but I'm not sure it's really worth the effort. And the longer it goes on the less believable it gets, the harder it is to swallow, and the less funny it gets. So do I recommend it? Sure. Watch this movie, ya craphound. The makers of this film want you to know they're glad you enjoyed it, ya bunch of meat-sacks.

PS: And, as it turns out, the punchline of the movie is a pratfall, almost literally. Do not watch this film unless you are fully prepared to watch Robin Williams high-dive in the nude.

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