Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Government Can

a little comic relief:

Boise Beer Fest 2009

One of the greatest things about blogging is the immediacy of publishing--as soon as an event happens (or even while it's still going on)--descriptions, reviews, photos, etc. can be put out there for the world to see. Which is why I'm just now talking about a two-day event that started 17 days ago.

I am so on top of things.*

The weather couldn't have been better for this event at Ann Morrison Park--more than warm enough, but not the swelter that August can bring. The weather was a double-blessing in that there were HUGE numbers of people that attended, and the B.O. generated under the beer tents was bad enough already--if it'd been hotter, it probably couldn't turned off more than a few appetites. But it was the perfect setting for a really great local experience. (and yes, I assure you, my underage niece only drank Monster energy drinks, pretty sure she was holding one while I snapped that picture of us)

I've read some criticism of the pricing--token system vs. admission price. I had no problem with the tokens, after buying a $5 sample mug the tokens were $1/ea. which could be traded in for roughly 1/3 of a mug (or a can of Oly...shudder)--I bought the smallest package, and couldn't use them all up, and walked away very satisfied with my intake. We gave our extra tokens to my niece who could turn in 3 for a can of Monster. I should note that I didn't have to shell out anything for my mug as I won mine from a radio station (Thanks BOB!), but The Love of my Life and my sister did, and there were similarly pleased with the value.

I was only there for a few hours, and didn't move around a whole lot so I'm not claiming any sort of exhaustive knowledge, but in the time I was there, we only saw 2 people who'd over-indulged. And the Festival volunteers and Police were quick to assist them out of the area.

We could only come up with a few needed improvements: more chairs, more food vendors (I'm sorry, a 45 min. wait after you've paid for French Fries is inexcusable, no matter how big the plate or how nummy nummy they looked), and more space--I've been in mosh pits with more breathing room--both outside the beer tents and within them. A little wiggle room goes a long way.

Let's see, I think I've covered everything in my disorganized ramble...oh, whoops, I forgot the beer! Here's what I sampled (some more than once):

Mac & Jack's African Amber: I'd had this about 3 years ago when I was in Seattle for a weekend, loved it then. Really enjoyed it now--it was hoppier than I recalled, but still yummy. My sister showed up a few hours after we did and they'd run out by that time--apparently we weren't the only ones to enjoy it.
Budweiser American Ale: based on a recommendation of a friend, I'd been tempted to try this one for a while, but really couldn't bring myself to spend money on an Anheuser-Busch product, so this was the perfect chance for me. It wasn't horrible. Pretty fruity. Can't see myself buying another one, but I probably wouldn't turn down a free one.
Perseus Porter Gave this coffee-ish porter a solid B, and will not hesitate to try it again.
Sierra Nevada's Brown Saison: blech.
Arrogant Bastard Ale I wasn't sure what to try after that disappointment, and then TLomL spotted the banner for Stone Brewing. After reaffirming my love and devotion, I hastened to this line for a couple tokens worth of one of my favorites.
Full Sail Imperial Porter This was pretty good, and I've not had great success with Full Sail beers in the past (never picked the right one), but I'll keep an eye out for this one.
Fire Rock Pale Ale From Kona Brewing Co., maker of the only other beer I've talked about on the blog. This was a pleasant surprise, and definately helped me get over my disappointment in their Porter not being available. I think both my sister and wife went back for seconds and maybe thirds (I would've too if I'd had the time).
Georgetown Brewing Company's 9lb. PorterMy notes on this one read simply, "niiiiice". Truly a shame I didn't have time to try other beers by Georgetown, they looked/sounded great. Even a greater shame that they don't bottle their beers yet so I could buy 'em here.

While I was waiting in line for the 9lb., a gentleman in his late 50's/early 60's standing next to me asked if I'd heard of a couple of the other beers from Georgetown and we chatted a bit about how nice the Fest was and how we were both surprised at how many people were there to which he added, "Yup, this makes me think there's hope for Boise yet."

Now, I don't know that I'd go quite that far, but I had a lot of fun and am looking forward to next year's.

* I really have no idea why it's taken me this long, I sat down to write this 6-7 times before the 10th.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Spider Woman the Motion Comic?

As dead-tree publishing (books, newspapers, magazines, etc.) tries to figure out where they fit into our increasingly digitized media world, it's really no surprise that the comic book industry would experiment as well.

Both the "Big 2" and Indy comic companies have experimented with "Motion Comics"--not quite animated versions of print comics set to musical scores and with voice acting. The motion comes in from taking elements of the original panels and zooming, panning, moving of certain elements of panels, etc.

Up 'til now, motion comics have made from pre-existing comics--Image's Invincible or DC's Watchmen, for example. I enjoyed, but wasn't crazy about the former, and from the samples of the latter I glanced at, I figured I'd have a similar reaction.

This week, Marvel Comics released the first issue/episode of Spider Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D. which promises (and may deliver) to be a game-changer. This series was designed to be a motion comic from the get-go. The drawings, script, etc. were intended for the medium, not revised for it (a print edition, which will have some new elements should be released next month).

And the improvement in quality is obvious.

I'm not the biggest fan of Jessica Drew/Spider Woman, nor of the artist, Alex Maleev. The writer, Brian Michael Bendis, is almost never fails tho, and I wanted to see how it worked. I'm glad I did--episode 1 worked so much better than anything others have tried, the voicework was spot-on, the art was compelling, the length (about 10 min.) was long enough to satisfy, but not so long as to bore (can't imagine this format working for longer pieces), and the script was...well, I said Bendis wrote it.

Will this be enough to broaden Marvel's audience? Will other motion comics follow the same scheme? Who knows, but it's worth a shot. And as long as iTunes has it for $.99 (for another week or so), you can't go wrong.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Poor Preparation

One of my daily reads is the blog, The Outfit: A Collective of Chicago Crime Writers. Not only do I get exposed to some things/people I need to be reading, a lot of great advice for the writing I purport to do, and some great commentary on things that too few care about, 5th amendment rights, for example.

Today, Michael Allen Dymmoch, had a great post on education. His punchline is:

It seems to me we’re preparing students to pass tests, but we’re not preparing them to learn or think. We’re not preparing them to live in our complex world.
Why do so few get this? Especially so few who are supposed to be doing the educating? Tolle Lege.

Brushes with Disappointment

Obviously, I've failed my 1 post a day 'til the end of Summer goal, for no good reason. Oh well.

I typically only blog about books/shows/movies that really impress me--or at least aren't complete wastes of time. But I've decided as a public service, to warn my readers away from a few items--all of which are critically acclaimed, I should add, so take my warnings with whatever measure of salt you find appropriate.

First off is Two Lovers, supposedly Joaquin Phoenix's last film. Not the way someone should go out. This was dismal story about a suicidal young man reeling from a broken engagement who falls for a wreck of an inaccessible girl (Gwyneth Paltrow) while being pushed into a relationship by his overbearing, but caring parents. Phoenix's character is a horrible, selfish man who deserves neither of the girls' affections/time. I spent most of the movie wondering if it was morally acceptable to root a suicidal character to succeed in one of his attempts since he's only a fictional character. The indy movie (inexplicably nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes) didn't have the indy ending I expected, but that small surprise was little compensation for this waste of time.

Visioneers is another much-heralded movie that I just don't get the raves for. Set in a distopian near-future where people explode from stress (mostly from not being the happy, productive people that they're supposed to be, I think) . The opening sequence (about 7 minutes is my guess) sets up what could be a great dark satire--what Idiocracy wanted to be, but at least it featured likeable characters. After that, the wheels fall off. This is a movie full of wasted potential--the only attribute of Zach Galifianakis' that was really used to his potential was his bushy beard. On the plus side, the criminally underemployed Judy Greer got some good screen time (where she didn't get to be terribly funny at all, of course)--ditto for James LeGros and Matthew Glave (who, I have to admit, was pretty amusing). I had to wonder if I'd "get" the flick, or at least enjoy it, if I'd been smoking marijuana at the time. But since I have never/would never do that (and I was on duty at a rehab center while watching it), the movie's appeal shall elude me.

Last, and possibly least, let's look at Benjamin Anastas's debut novel, An Underachiever’s Diary (newly republished). The recommendation I read for this called said it "may have been the funniest, most underappreciated book of the 1990s". Really? I remember the 90's having better taste. This is the very colored reminiscences of the lesser of two twins. William is constantly outshone by his brother Clive (despite testing as well as, if not better than) from the cradle onward. Clive's more successful in school, socially, athletically, etc. He's better looking, healthier...better in ever conceivable fashion. William sees this from an early age and determines to keep things that way--to basically excel at not being as good as his brother (or anyone else for that matter). And in that, and in that only, does he find success. There are sentences/paragraphs scattered throughout the novel that almost make it worth the effort, like:

universal LOVE, the failing panacea of my parents' generation: flower children, baby boomers, whatever name you'd like to use. Exactly what had the sexual revolution gained them, after all? Some measure of bodily happiness, a sex instinct unfettered, the herpes virus, the social acceptability of T-shirts and cutoff shorts, but what else? Had they really changed our values and attitudes?
Aside from those momentary displays of authorial talent, there's no profit from spending time with this determinedly miserable character.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ukraine's Got Talent, Indeed

This just knocked my socks off...

(h/t: Kung Fu Monkey taking a break from a great Leverage season)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Life Moves Pretty Fast - Fixed

sigh...forgot to embed the montage I talked about...oops.

Life moves pretty fast.
You don't stop and look around once in a while,
you could miss it.
- Ferris Bueller

Hardly an original quote to tag a post about the late, great John Hughes, but why be the only guy to ignore perfection?

I've been wanting to say something about the filmmaker who (tho I didn't realize it at the time) captured, crystalized, and yes, defined the experience of the young American in the 1980's. His stamp on American pop culture generally and particularly on so many of the novelists, filmmakers/writers and actors that I admire, will probably only be understood in 20-30 years.

Maybe the greatest thing about Hughes was that he got out of doing what he needed to for all the right reasons. Something far too few have had the courage to do.

This montage is well worth watching--especially if you read this and have no idea who John Hughes is...you'll keep saying "ooooh, that guy" and you'll suddenly care about his death last week.

And if you've ever doubted the effect one filmmaker, one writer can have on an individual not in the entertainment industry, or if you just want to read a fantastic tribute to the man...you've gotta read Alison Byrne Fields' story of her friend.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

This is the Kind of Thing Parents Live For

their families must be so proud:

Two Caldwell fugitives were arrested in the county courthouse Tuesday afternoon when they attempted to attend an unrelated court hearing, Caldwell police announced Wednesday.

Maxamillion Chavez Zavala, 19, and Rocky Chavez Hernandez, 21, eluded an early June gang sweep that yielded 15 arrests. They are now in the Canyon County jail on federal charges of conspiracy to recruit gang members, conspiracy to intimidate a witness and conspiracy to unlawfully discharge a firearm
Y'know, you hear these things on Morning Drive Time Radio all the time and chuckle. But when it's in your backyard, you just want to call the School Boards and demand some resignations.

(well, okay, yeah, after you get done laughing)

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Idaho Stop

This is great...for years, I've felt bad for poor California, demonized in the name of the dreaded CRS (California Rolling Stop) as explained in Driver's Ed classes around the country. And this morning, I learn that we in Idaho (state mottoes: "Remember Us?" "No, not Iowa") we have been similarly immortalized in the biking world with "The Idaho Stop."

(h/t: TreasuredValley)

Shocked, Shocked to Hear this About Oregon's Assisted Suicide/Health Care

I'm also still having problems believing that there's gambling at Rick's...

Basically, Oregon's Health Care system won't pay for this lady's chemo, but they'll chip in to help in other ways, like say, Assisted Suicide.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Thought for the Lord's Day - #43

(h/t: Christian Theology)