Thursday, February 26, 2015

Dr Homebrew & Prison Shakespeare

Good Afternoon Ladies & Gentlemen,
So the other nights, Izzy had to watch an Italian movie for her class (almost graduated) and she had a list to choose from… but only 2-3 were on Netflix, so we chose a movie called “Caesar Must Die” which was about Italian prisoners who put on a performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” during their incarceration. Now, this was billed as a documentary… but the details are a little shady as… if you’re watching it, the movie looks like it’s a legit movie with real actors, lighting, camera angles, etc. Basically, my understanding from checking the internet is… the movie is staged, scripted & shot like a film… but the majority of the actors were real prisoners in an Italian maximum security prison (with cells bigger than my apartment, but I digress) so it’s… kind of a documentary, but not really? Anyway, the movie is only about 72 minutes long, so it’s a good, quick one… and it’s actually very interesting. It’s interesting how these very proud Italian men take to this story of their Roman heritage, as told by one of the great English writers, and the parallels in that story with what happened to some of them… and how some of the decisions made in both realms are come to… and overall, it’s just really well acted & I really enjoyed it. I highly recommend checking it out if this sounds at all interesting… and trust me, it sounds a thousand times better than other Italian movies that we had to choose from.
Sunday night, Izzy & I watched a movie that I had never seen before… and being a fan of good horror movies, Izzy couldn’t believe it. The movie was 1979 horror classic “The Amityville Horror” starring James Brolin (Mr. Streisand) & Margot Kidder (not the 2005 remake starring Ryan Reynolds or the slew of other movies that threw ‘Amityville’ in the title to get watched accidentally). It’s the classic tale of a young family (husband, wife, 2.3 children) who move into a house where a year earlier, there was a gruesome murder where a young man killed his parents & four young siblings in a fit of rage. Well, apparently that greatly affected the resell value, so this young family moves in on a bargain… and soon find out (I think it’s over the course of the first three weeks they’re in the house) that the house is A) Haunted; B) Bloodthirsty; and C) Possibly a gateway to Hell. This movie was… what I found out by watching… basically the original that a LOT of movies borrowed a LOT from in regards to not only getting jump scares & establishing tone… but one of my favorite horror movies of all time “The Shining” came out a year later… and it’s pretty f**king similar… like, maybe Kubrick should’ve taken Take #4 instead of #37 on some of the scenes and released this a little earlier so he wasn’t accused or ripping this movie off by critics of the day. Regardless, the movie was pretty impressive… and if you haven’t seen this movie, you’ve probably seen some of the iconic images already in other things like the bleeding walls (referenced in “Ghostbusters”), father figure going crazy with an axe (“Shining”), flies signaling the presence of evil (“Poltergeist” & many others) or all of the above (Simpsons “Treehouse of Horror” #2 I believe). I highly recommend checking it out. Great flick… no wonder everybody wants to try to steal its thunder.
Also Sunday night, Izzy invited me to an event that she was helping out at for the Safe House for the Performing Arts in the Mid-Market area of downtown (corner of Crack & Cocaine?). Basically it’s a community group that rents space where available for various classes & projects that otherwise couldn’t be done in the area due to… well, ridiculous real estate costs. There were some great snacks, art being displayed, opportunities for writing & photography classes, and there were even some demonstrations by virtual artists & flamenco dancers… which I personally LOVE ever since my visit to Barcelona back in the day. Anyway, great event, great cause, here are some pictures…

Tuesday night, I also had the special opportunity to be part of the Brewing Network’s Dr. Homebrew podcast. Through the guild, the producers were looking to get a few in-house guests & I volunteered… that’s really about it… nothing like “Oh, we heard that you kicked ass at the Napa comp…” or anything like that. Then again, half of being successful is being there, right? Anyway, the podcast is actually done at The Hop Grenade Taproom in Concord, about 45 minutes away without traffic… but this was brought to my attention while at work… when Rush Hour was about to start the day of the show… so about a two hour drive later, I was in Concord… and checking out the taproom while I waited to pop my podcast guest cherry. First & foremost, the taproom is pretty legit. They have about 24 taps with a wide variety of local and national brews on tap so you can try a little bit of everything. There’s also a bottle room where they have even more to choose from… basically just about anything that you could be looking for in a beer, can probably be found there… or at least something similar. Here are some pictures…

 Beer Lacing - I see the United States in this one...

Then it was my time to set the internet on fire with my sexy voice… so the producer led me to their soundstage and I met the stars of the show (JP, Lee & Brian) and they gave me a quick run-through of the show and how to properly make sweet love to the microphone, etc. The concept of the Dr Homebrew podcast is there’s the MC named JP who kinda leads the show & operates the equipment… and then Lee & Brian are two master BJCP judges who break down styles of beers sent in by homebrewers from all over the world… and in my case, who are willing to bring them in personally… and then they’ll break down how their beer would be scored by the BJCP standards, whether it’s a good/great beer, and offer a few tips to make it better the next time around so that you can take your brewing to the next level. Of course, along the way, they also make a few jokes, have a few laughs & just have a good time talking about beer with their bros (and I assume broads from time to time). I had only heard about it a few days prior, but the two episodes that I listened to beforehand where pretty helpful, so I was obviously intrigued.
Anyway, they invited me in… and I brought my offering… my newly bottled Raptor Red!!! The information they were about to provide would be very useful as… well, because it was newly bottled, I hadn’t really tasted the finished product yet. It hasn't been posted yet, but you can listen to the entire episode HERE!!! If you’d like… and it’s free of charge. I think it'll be Episode #44 or #45. Basically they did a quick intro, and then we poured a sample for each of us… and then they break down everything from the appearance (absolutely gorgeous, clear red ale if I say so myself), malt & hop characteristics, head retention, possibly brewing errors, tastes that seem out of place for the style, all of that. Granted, we weren’t making this beer to the specific styles that’s in the BJCP guidelines… as we were really making a beer that we’d love… but there were definitely some flaws in the beer as we were tasting it… and offered me some great pointers on how to make the next batch better that I’ll definitely try. I also got to stick around, crack some wise, throw in some questions that I thought the listeners might want to know (not just myself) & also got to try this wonderful imperial stout that a gentleman named Garrett sent in from Minnesota and… damn… it was just fantastic. Kudos to Garrett! Their scoring of his beer made me feel a LOT better about my low score… but it was definitely a great time! Hopefully they’ll invite me to come back when our Barrel Aged Imperial Stout is ready… or maybe whatever we make next. That’s right, I’m down for being a repeat guest… and with proper planning I can make it out to Concord a little easier too. Thanks for having me, guys!!!
Aside from that, it’s been a pretty relaxing weekend… still doing the smoothie thing. Obviously I’m not living exclusively on smoothies… but basically just replacing Mountain Dew with smoothies… and so far it’s been going great. I’ll keep you posted, but so far I’m recommending it. Fresh fruits & vegetables instead of high fructose corn syrup and… extreme? Not really sure what’s in Mountain Dew but I assume crack-cocaine has similar qualities. Anyway, have a great weekend everybody!!!

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