Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Screening in the Rain

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Last Thursday, we had probably the worst rainstorm we’ve had in some years… definitely in the last four years that I’ve been here. I don’t know the exact numbers in regards to rainfall because it changes block to block, but there was definitely a steady pour and some places got flooded… and basically everything north of Golden Gate Park in the city was without power for at least six hours… some up to 12 hours… but thankfully we don’t really have to deal with freezing temperatures in December like so many other places do. Basically, I went to work… the power was out for a while… I couldn’t do my job with the power out… so I picked up Izzy & we spent the day in the dark… doing beer stuff of course. No… really… we totally kegged our Beet Pale Ale & transferred our Chocolate Hazelnut Porter to secondary, unfortunately because my phone has been a piece of sh*t the past few weeks, only Izzy has a few pictures… but it's pretty standard stuff...
The power came back on about an hour before sunset, so then we decided to watch some movies that completely fit the rainy setting, starting with “Sharknado 2: The Second One” starring Ian Ziering & Tara Reid. Look… you’ve probably heard about this movie… or at least the original where a tornado hits Los Angeles carrying swarms of sharks in its tunnel & they start eating half of the city? Well, this was greenlit shortly after and… well, they go on a trip to New York City… and as luck would have it, there’s another tornado… carrying hordes of bloodthirsty sharks into Manhattan. There’s cameos by the likes of Perez Hilton, Billy Ray Cyrus, Judd Hirsch & others… but it’s exactly what you’d expect from a SyFy Channel movie sequel. If you liked the first one, then you’ll think this one is even more ridiculous… if you didn’t, then pass to the next movie we watched…
We followed that up with another sequel “Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2” featuring the voice talents of Bill Hader, Anna Faris, Will Forte, Terry Crews, NPH, Kristen Schall, Andy Samberg, James Caan & others. Okay, so the original which I haven’t seen is about an inventor named Flint Lockwood who makes a machine to help end world hunger… that causes food to fall from the sky… and then it goes haywire and spoiler alert, everything ends up okay. Well, in this sequel, Flint realizes a dream of his by working for his idol, inventor Chester V with Live Corp (think Steve Jobs & Apple) and is soon sent on a mission to find his invention from the first one… when he finds out that it’s now producing food-animal hybrids on the island that it’s located on. Again, I haven’t seen the original, but if it’s anything like this one, I want to see it as soon as possible. This was a pretty funny kids flick and extremely cute. Sure, the story isn’t the most solid & the conflict between some of the characters is a bit ridiculous… but overall, the characters are fun & entertaining, the humor is surprisingly good (not just fart jokes, etc), and it was just a great time watching it & I’d do it again… preferably with the niece & nephew so it’s slightly less creepy… but I figure as long as Izzy’s around, that’s pretty good too. Also, the monkey voiced by Neil Patrick Harris is named Steve… what else do you need?

That night, we watched “Noah” starring Russell Crowe, Jennifer Connelly, Sir Anthony Hopkins, Ray Winstone, Emma Watson & directed by Darren Aronofsky (“Requium for a Dream”, “The Fountain” & “Black Swan”). First & foremost, this story is based on a book. You know how I feel about movies based on books… why spend days/weeks reading a book when you can just watch a two-hour movie? Case closed. Okay, so it’s not quite that bad of an opinion… but I’m just lazy when it comes to reading books usually… especially when the book in question is the Holy Bible, King James Version. Why? I live in America… and everybody has a different interpretation of the same (often crazy sounding) source material from this particular series of novella. Trying to keep an open mind about religious dogma, I tend to keep everything on the same frame of perspective… mythology. For example, if I were watching a movie based on Catholic or Hindu or Greek Mythology, I would expect a strong antagonist (like Hercules or Odysseus or Moses) to be heading the story and hear about him fighting giant mythical creatures & being a total badass in every conceivable way… and of course based on whoever is telling the story passed down through the generations, it’s going to vary slightly or greatly… but the root story/moral is usually the same… or at the very least adjusted to modern times. You know… changing little things like a child-bearing wife being 12 years old to an adult by the current framework of the law… or maybe adjusting the gruesomeness of the Grimm Fairy Tale and making it a little more “child-friendly”. Not as many ravens pecking out eyes or chopping of bodily appendages. What Hollywood is doing a lot nowadays with the infallible antagonists from mythology, is making them more realistic & personable… basically making the superhuman above-average human. We’ve seen it in movies like “Troy”, “Hercules”, and basically every comic book movie in the past decade. Sometimes it’s worked out great, sometimes it really hasn’t… but it’s always up for interpretation as it’s usually the same source material but with a new angle or perspective on the story.
That being said… you know what’s one story from the Holy Bible that sounds boring as f**k to watch a movie about? The Story of Noah… about a man who is told by God to build a large ship to house his family & two of every animal on the Earth because there’s a pending flood that’s going basically clean the slate of the mistake of humans. The antagonist is a person who has visions in his dreams that this is something that is going to happen & is really more mentally unstable than hero in the modern view. No battles or conflicts other than convincing his wife & kids that he’s not bat sh*t insane and is now dedicating his life to completing this task instead of… you know, providing. No mythical creatures except maybe for the unicorns & dragons that get left behind and thus don’t make it into the Earth reboot. Really no appeal to the story other than seeing what a visionary director is going to do with this story since he turned math into a thriller with “Pi” back in his independent days. Now, I kinda liked “Evan Almighty” a few years ago when it did a comedic, modern day take of this story… but Steve Carell is a comedic genius & Laurie Graham is fantastic MILF eye candy. So for this movie… how are they going to solve the problems with the story since it doesn’t seem intriguing? Well… they cast Maximus (Russell Crowe) as Noah. Well played, Hollywood. Well played. Badass by association from past movie roles achieved… and there was definitely a lot of asskickery in this movie. MUCH more violent than I expected. Oh, let’s throw in Jennifer Connelly as the MILF eye candy. Now we’re really getting somewhere $teve likes! Now they’re adding in the conflict with the local group of marauding sinner hordes led by Ray Winstone, who also happened to kill Noah’s father? Now it’s personal! Wait… was that in the book? You know what, it doesn’t matter… there will be BLOOD!!! Now we just need some mythical creatures & we’re on our way… so now let’s do the breakdown:
What I Liked about this Movie:
·         Liberties Were Taken – Noah is a fallible character, certain things had to be tweaked in the story to make it more appealing to people willing to spend $15 a ticket to watch a movie more than based on the whole “being a good Christian” aspect. Like all of the new Moses & Ramses remakes, “The Last Temptation of Christ”, “The Passion of the Christ” and a whole score of other less popular movies the filmmakers take their liberties to make the story either more realistic, personable, glorifying, controversial, conservative, whatever the desired demographic demands… and this movie desired ALL of the demographics if possible. Were there people up in arms over the liberties taken? Of course… but since it wasn’t as big a splash hit as the “Passion” or anything, nobody really seemed to care. Overall it makes a movie that can be received by all, interpreted & then everybody will have their pros & cons depending on their perspective, instead of completely alienating from the beginning with an overly conservative or absolutely hedonistic retelling.
·         The Tone – Dark, gloomy, gritty, twisted. Director Darren Aronofsky is pretty much a master of keeping the viewer in a certain frame of mind with the tone, color & pacing… and then whenever something is a little off, such as something being brighter, faster, basically off-kilter, then it emphasizes how it differs from the baseline narrative. The scenes were you venture to the village of sinners are extremely dark, dangerous, just makes you wish that a giant flood would wash this entire… oh wait… that’s kind of the point.
·         Emma Watson’s character – Look, anybody who looks into the future & thinks about sequels before the movie ends was going to look start shuttering in disgust when they realized that Jennifer Connelly was going to be the only human capable of repopulating the human race with her husband and three sons… and though Jennifer makes that kind of vision half-tolerable, the addition of Emma Watson at least puts the next generation question on the backburner until you really start to think about the other two brothers… but more on that later. It also adds a LOT more conflict within the family relationships, almost to a negative, but yeah, she’s not in the Bible but I’ll allow it. Let’s face it, the Bible does a horrible job of explaining a LOT of the repopulating the Earth thing too, so you can’t really hold that against the movie. Consider the source material.
What I Didn’t Like:
·         Ham’s Story – Ham is the youngest son of Noah… and I feel like his character in this movie is pretty oddly constructed. Look, the interpretations of the story of Ham are wide spreading, varied and basically just all over the f**king place. From what I gather though, is after the flood, Ham looks upon his naked drunken father one afternoon… and decides to leave the family and go off into the wilderness. Now, based on who’s telling the story, he becomes the new world’s first confirmed bachelor and likes men, which is an abomination… or he goes off to repopulate the world with people darker than Irish, which may or may not have involved bestiality presumably since there were no other humans out there… unless there were other people who weren’t affected by the flood… but again, the Bible is NOT a historic document. In this movie though, he wants a woman for after the flood… as any teenager would. One cannot repopulate the Earth with a tube sock… and he doesn’t want his dad or brother’s sloppy seconds… especially when it’s probably his mom. The problem: All other females are sinners & doomed to death by drowning and an eternity in the fires of Hell. Also, his dad says no way because of this. There’s no Resentment like Cock-blocking Resentment. What’s a teenager to do? (clear throat) When the injured leader of the barbaric hordes makes his way onto your ark, you find him, nurse him back to health for nine months (not 40 days because spoiler alert, there’s a baby involved), then as he’s ready to KILL YOUR FATHER WHO YOU’RE MAD AT, then you suddenly have a change of heart. Also, don’t give me that whole “he wanted him to kill Noah because of the baby aspect” BS because Ham couldn’t give two sh*ts about his new niece or nephew… it was all out of spite over letting the woman that he knew for all of 15 minutes but was his only option for female companionship being left behind in a bear trap while they were trying to get on the ark. Oh yeah, spoiler alerts & sh*t. Then after saving his father at the last second, they get to dry land (“It’s not a myth!”) he sees his dad drunk & naked, apparently realizes that there’s nothing for him there with his family, and goes off on his own path… into the unknown. That part I can get. The other stuff… come on. There’s a LOT of stuff there like… so nobody knows when there’s another person on the boat? Nobody even looks around from time to time… or even, I don’t know, takes a walk? For nine months? I assume he ate all the cool animals on the boat?
·         Rock Monsters – Okay, so Noah gets help from Golums, which are basically fallen angels, to build the Ark… over the course of about eight years. Again, the timeframe is a LOT longer than traditionally told… basically just so you can have a little girl turn into Emma Watson’s tappable self… but yeah, apparently it still takes eight years to make a giant boat, even with the help of magical seeds making a forest for them, a dozen giant rock monsters, and thousands of marauders seeing this bountiful forest and saying “Nah, let’s mine for mystical gold nuggets that we can turn into cannons.” Anyway, these fallen angels take the form of Rock Monsters, which gives it a very distinct “Lord of the Rings” vibe in those scenes. Now, this is their interpretation of the fallen angels / golum that helped out… and I’m all for it as opposed to other possibilities for angels… but it was just a little awkward. Also, the other “mythical” creatures like the armed dog thing (very pangolin-ish animal) that I guess… didn’t make the trip, those were okay too. Basically it was showing a time before documented time of which it’s a blank slate that we really know nothing about & going from there… but still, just odd at times.
·         Methuselah – Sir Anthony Hopkins is LEGEND!!! However, in this movie, he plays Methuselah, the grandfather of Noah… and he basically has three short scenes in the entire movie. The first when Noah goes to him at his man cave (literally) to seek advice on his dream & ends up roofied and having a lucid dream… another when Noah’s wife goes him asking to help make Emma Watson fertile so that she can carry on the human race… and a third scene quite randomly eight years later when he shows up looking for berries, blesses her womb, and she runs off & instantly makes savage love to Noah’s eldest while they’re supposed to be looking for Ham… minutes later, they both end up back at the ark without Ham but the glow of freshly released teenagers, “Where is Ham? Where is your brother?” Dumbfounded look of “Oh yeah, sh*t… we were supposed to be looking for him.” You could say that he has a fourth scene when he’s washed away the moment he bites into a berry like it’s a 5 Gum commercial… but yeah, that is all this legend of screen is utilized in this film.
·         Noah’s Conflict Towards the End – Okay, so while aboard the ship (or maybe moments before boarding, I can’t quite remember) Noah tells his family that his new mission after seeing the horrors of the marauder’s village… is to get all of the animals safely through the flood… and then they, the last of the human race having only barren females, will simply die off & the world will be ride of the evils of Man. Surprise! Emma Watson is pregnant! “Okay well, if it’s a boy, then that’s okay… it’ll die with the rest of us. If it’s a girl though, I’m gonna abort it in the fourth trimester… in the name of God.” At that point, this seems like a REALLY pointless contrived scene made to basically extend the movie for another hour… because otherwise you may as well roll credits as soon as the doors of the ark are locked up & the thousands of marauders’ screams die off in the waters. You know… a high note. How contrived of a scene is it? Well… the “stepdaughter” Emma Watson that wasn’t in the Bible is thrown in… 40 days becomes nine months… the stowaway evil Ray Winstone that never existed… Ham nursing him back to health because he hasn’t learned the pleasures of masturbation… all have been written into this movie, along with the antagonist turning into a baby killer… JUST to make the last hour of the movie any kind of intriguing. Even then it only kinda works…
Overall, I’d say if you have any urge to see it, go for it. It’s not a horrible movie by any means… it’s just that if it wasn’t rooted in the Bible, the story sounds kinda ridiculous from an outside perspective. However, if you have nothing better to do on a rainy afternoon and want all-natural surround sound while watching a movie about an epic flood… then by all means check it out. There are a LOT better movies out there though.
On that note, I guess I’ll leave you all for my annual Christmas vacation back home in Utah. The $tevies may be delayed this year due to the length of my vacation, the certain pile of catch-up when I come back, and my general laziness as I seriously haven’t even thought about them until just now. Upon my triumphant return, I will certainly share pictures, tales of merriment, probably a few movies that I’ve seen, this year’s $tevies, all that wonderful stuff… and until then, I just want to wish you all the merriest of Holiday Seasons & the best of times!!! Hopefully you get to spend it with the ones that you Love!!! Happy Holidays & a Fantastic 2015 as well!!! Have a great rest of the year everybody!!!

Redlands Adventure

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
Wednesday, we helped out at Elevation 66 Brewing again... and this time I got to see them keg & transfer for the first time..

This weekend, Izzy & I did a quick road trip down to Redlands, California to see her mom for the holidays. Basically we made pretty good time in getting down there in about 7 hours during rush hour from downtown San Francisco out to Riverside (where our hotel was). The only real note was… we had our first bottle bomb… while sitting in traffic… on the freeway… in the back of my Jeep. We had loaded a few bottles to give to Izzy’s mom… and one of them was our Cali Common recipe from a few months ago… and apparently this one had a little too much pressure… and we both just about sh*t ourselves thinking that somebody had shot out one of my windows with the loud pop and feeling glass on the back of our heads. Here’s the thing… it was in a Trader Joe cloth bag… back behind the rear seat… and the glass went THROUGH the bag… off the window, ceiling, whatever… and still hit us a little bit in the front seat of the Jeep. Needless to say, it could’ve been a LOT worse. We’re probably going to keg the rest of our Cali Common (2-3 gallons?) to avoid not only the danger… but losing a lot of our bottles. Them things ain’t cheap, ya know…
Saturday morning, we met up with Izzy’s mom at her home, and then we headed out to Oak Glen in the mountains, which is famous for their apple & other fruit orchards. Here are some pictures…

After a few quick stops, then it was off to Hangar 24 Brewery located near the Redlands Airfield. This brewery just started up in 2008 but is already expanding at an exponential rate… and they have some great beer. We had a quick tour of the facilities, tried some of their samplers, and even grabbed a variety 12-pack to enjoy back at home. I highly recommend checking them out if you’re in Redlands… here are pictures…

After a few samplers, we realized that we hadn’t really eaten in a while, so we went to Mill Creek Cattle Company for some great barbecue & burgers. I have a Reuben and the ladies had Tri-tip sandwiches… they were both delicious & great portions. We even had leftovers for evening snacks. DEFINITELY check them out if you’re in the area.
Just before sunset, we headed over to the Kimberly Crest Mansion to see how the upper echelon of society lived back in the day. Unfortunately we just missed touring hours, but we got to see some of the exterior…

Sunday, we met up and went to the Mission Inn in Riverside to see some of the surrounding churches & this iconic hotel. They were really busy with a few weddings going on, but we walked around the hotel a bit & then checked out their on-site museum. Here are some pictures to give you an idea of what it looked like…

After that, we grabbed a quick slice of pizza and started the drive home to San Francisco… making it in just under 7 hours. Overall, a fantastic little trip… and it was good to spend some time with my ladyfriend & her mom before heading off to Utah later this week. Anyway, more on that later… have a great day everybody!!!