Movin' on out

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I'm getting tired of maintaining my own blog here at Jiggle The Handle, so I've moved back to my blog, Trifle One Sided. As a added "benefit", that blog contains all of posts from the late and much lamented blog of the same name. Check it out and follow over there, won't you please?

Trifle One-Sided

My Movie Confessions

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Jandy, over at her wonderful blog The Frame, talks about a survey / meme entitled "My Movie Confessions", where you answer a series of questions about possibly controversial subjects. I figured I would give it a try myself.

My Movie Confessions

Which classic movie don't you like/can't enjoy and why?

Goodfellas I'm not sure if you could consider them "classics" but they are movies that are very well thought that I just really disliked. And those are Martin Scorsese's two "Mafia" movies, Goodfellas and The Departed. The latter one I almost couldn't finish watching while the former one I found hackneyed and boring. Neither of them made much sense and, to me, included some laughably over the top performances. Blech.

And as a bonus, I will throw in the "modern classic", Tree Of Life. Even without its annoying religious overtones, it was slow and dull.

Which ten classic movies haven't you seen yet?

Stewart & Novak in VertigoWell, leading the list is Sight & Sound's Best Movie of all time, Vertigo. Not really all that familiar with the Hitchcock oeuvre, and that one has just slipped by me. Listing the first ten in the S&S list that I haven't seen, it would be:

  1. Vertigo
  2. Tokyo Story
  3. Sunrise
  4. The Searchers
  5. Passion Of Joan Of Arc
  6. 8 1/2
  7. L'Atalante
  8. Late Spring
  9. Au Hasard Balthazar
  10. Persona

Obviously, I have to get better at the foreign language films! But the oddest one in this list is The Searchers, as I am a huge fan of Westerns, especially John Ford Westerns. Not sure why this hasn't shown up in front of me.

Have you ever sneaked into another movie at the cinema?

RabidI've never sneaked into a cinema but I have sneaked into a drive-in movie theater. A friend and I slipped in the exit at a showing of David Cronenberg's Rabid, featuring the adult film star Marilyn Chambers. Wow, was that movie ever bizarre, about a woman who kills her lovers via something weird coming out of her armpit, and they turn into zombie's. Yikes. Good thing it was free!

Which actor/actress do you think is overrated?

Never been a real big Meryl Streep fan, as it always seems like it is Meryl Streep acting. And Marlon Brando pretty much overacts every chance he gets.

From which big director have you never seen any movie (and why)?

Jean Luc GodardDespite not listing Breathless as a classic I haven't seen yet, I'm going to include Jean Luc Goddard here, as I haven't really sat down and watched Breathless, nor any other Goddard movie. What pieces I have seen of Breathless seemed to me to be triumphs of style over substance and never resonated, so I haven't been in a big hurry to see it or any other. And that pretty goes for all of "French New Wave", really.

Which movie do you love, but is generally hated?

Happy GilmoreNot sure I can think of any in this category. My movie watching is pretty limited, so I don't generally waste it on movies that aren't that highly considered. Maybe the closest would be the Adam Sandler movie Happy Gilmore. Maybe it's because he wears a Boston Bruins uniform, but I find it pretty funny. The sound the golf ball makes when he tees off (by running up to it!) with his hockey stick just cracks me up. What a brilliant sound!

Have you ever been "one of those annoying people" at the cinema?

Never. Just never would occur to me.

Did you ever watch a movie, which you knew in advance would be bad, just because a specific actor/actress was in it? Which one and why?

Going back to the previous question about watching movies that aren't very good, I just don't have enough time dedicated to watching movies to watch a movie generally thought of as bad, or will be bad, just because it stars someone in specific. Again, just not enough time to focus on an actor as opposed to a movie I'd like to watch.

Did you ever not watch a specific movie because it had subtitles?

As Jandy says, while I have never not watched a movie because it has subtitles, I have definitely put off watching one because of it. If I'm tired or just need a more passive experience, I will skip a movie with subtitles.

Are there any movies in your collection that you have had for more than five years and never watched?

These "collection" questions (this one and the next one) are a little odd in this day and age of streaming movie content. I do have a fairly extensive collection of DVDs (and a few VHS tapes, although I don't even have anything that will play them any more I don't think!), but I just don't buy too many of these any more because lots of what I want to watch is available in other places, like the Amazon Prime Instant Video or, of course, Netflix. And so for that matter, most of my DVDs are at this point at least 5 years old, because, as I said, I don't really buy them much any more. But let me take a minute to scan through my collection that is here, in order to do this literally, and see what I come up with.

Jimmy Stewart with HarveyMy mom gave me Harvey and, while it is a "classic" Jimmy Stewart movie that I would like to watch at some point, I just have never gotten around to putting it in the player. I think I'd like it, but maybe because I don't have the emotional attachment of having actually bought it, means I haven't watched it yet. I should do that soon though!

Which are the worst movies in your collection and why do you still own them?

Heavy Metal, Taarna episodeProbably the Heavy Metal discs. The original Heavy Metal was something I watched a lot when I was a teenager but the DVD doesn't really hold up quite as well. One reason is the fact that the Devo song "Working In A Coal Mine" isn't on it, which is a drag. And most of the humor (tits, sex and misogyny), just doesn't appeal to me any more. But there are still plenty of interesting animation styles and stories so I keep it around. But I don't think I have ever watched Heavy Metal 2000 - I just happen to have bought it in a set withHeavy Metal.

Do you have any confessions about your movie watching setup at home?

I still have my HD DVD player. I put an early bet in on HD DVD, bought a dozen or so HD DVDs and then, just as I was getting interested in the format, it folded. I still say Unforgiven on HD DVD is the finest looking disc I have in my collection. I have the player but it no longer is even hooked up, as I ran out of HDMI inputs on my A/V receiver. But I have some of my favorite movies on HD DVD (the aforementioned Unforgiven, The Sting (my final HD DVD purchase), Bladerunner, Pan's Labyrinth, one of my nearly infinite copies of Casablanca), so I'm loath to get rid of it, as I haven't replaced all of those.

Any other confessions you want to make?

Liza Minelli in CabaretI don't like the "classic" musicals. Not interested in seeing Singing In The Rain, or pretty much any other Kelly/Rogers musical. Cabaret - si. Meet Me In St. Louis? Non.

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Prospecting For a Beer

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The cocktail for our weekly cocktail, beer and gaming night last night comes from the wonderful local cocktail blog, cocktail virgin slut :

prospect512.jpgProspector Cocktail

Stir with ice and strain into a double rocks glass. Add ice cubes and garnish with a lemon twist.

And it was a very nice cocktail, reminiscent of one of my favorite cocktails, a Rusty Nail, with the added complexity of the Chartreuse. Good stuff. I even used one of my fancy round ice cubes from the cool ice cube tray I got for being an "ambassador" for Maker's Mark bourbon. Being an ambassador just means I let them mail me tchotchkes whenever they want, which is a pretty nice job. I've gotten some cool stuff from them - letter sealer, fancy cards, and the aforementioned round ice cube maker, which makes cubes about the size of a tennis ball.

Eisenbahn LustWe followed that up with a pretty special beer. My friend brought over a big bottle of Eisenbahn Lust, which is a "champagne style" beer from Brazil. Pretty special. I'm not usually a big fan of extremely carbonated beers, but this one went down very well, even despite (or maybe because of?) the 11.5% ABV. Plenty of sediment, but a pretty light taste with plenty of feel. Really enjoyed it, although at over $30 for a 750ml bottle, it probably won't get bought very often.

And while we sipped the Eisenbahn Lust, we played some more Dead Island. It has been pretty fun. We played until after midnight, which is pretty unusual. We moved the main story line along (we finally opened up The City, which promises to be pretty tough) and solve a bunch of side quests along the way. There's still some annoying UI glitches that make me twitchy. Takes too many clicks to wield a weapon. And when you pick up a bottle of liquor (one of the recurring sidequests uses those), you for some reason "wield" it as a weapon. If you don't notice, when you swing, you swig instead. And for some reason, it wouldn't let me "set" which sidequest I was working on - kept saying I wasn't allowed to track another quest when working on the main quest in co-op mode. I have no idea what that means.

But racing along the road taking out zombies has been fun. And there have been a few tough battles, although death is far too painless. You spawn pretty close to where you died, with the only penalty being you lose a few dollars. Hardly effective, really. I would have liked for more. But it has been fun and we're looking forward playing again next week.

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Beer and a Shot

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We didn't do a cocktail last night. I managed to find 3 of the "Must-Try" beers on my list of beers from my 365 Bottles Of Beer For The Year calendar (chronicled on my Pinterest board), so we had just beer instead. I decided to serve them up in rising ABV (Alcohol By Volume) order. They are all pretty strong beers, though.

Founders Cerise Cherry Fermented AleSo that meant first up was the Founders Cerise Cherry Fermented Ale, made from real Michigan Montmorency sour pie cherries. I am not a big "fruit" beer fa, although oddly enough I had the Wachusetts Blueberry Wheat beer for lunch and really enjoyed it, despite the bar insisting on floating 3 blueberries in it (I really abhor putting foreign objects and food in my beer). It was fresh and crisp, with very nice blueberry aromas but the blueberry taste itself was very very slight.

And so it was with the Cerise (the most repinned and liked post on my 365 Beers Pinterest board). I really didn't have any hope of finding it, as not only is it a seasonal beer, but one from a Michigan brewery that I hadn't remembered seeing around here. But I was very excited to find it at the local "big" liquor store and anxious to give it a try.

 Tasting BeerIt pours very nicely. I've taken to being very aggressive at pouring, since reading about it in my Tasting Beer book. It gave up a nice head and the color is really spectacular. A very nice deep red color, with a nicely red-tinged head. It had a fine light cherry aroma, with some interesting hops or something.

Unfortunately, one of the bottles that I poured wasn't right. I didn't really notice anything when I opened it or poured it, but after pouring both, one had a very nice head and the other was flat. And it tasted flat. So I think the bottle cap seal wasn't good. So I tossed it out and opened a new one and it worked very nicely.

Again, it tasted great, with a very crisp taste and only a hint of cherry, although more than the Wachusett had of blueberry. This is a very refreshing beer.

Rochefort 6Then we cracked open a Rochefort 6, a beer the calendar called possibly "the best beer in the world". At US$6 for a 120z bottle, it had better be! I actually had one a few weeks ago at a local beer bar and thought it pretty excellent. But maybe because it followed the unique taste of the Cerise, it felt a little lacking. Mind you, very nice and quite crisp for a Belgian. It poured with lots of carbonation and a big aroma. At 7.5% ABV, it is pretty strong. I enjoyed it, but I think I will try the 8 and 10 next. This one may be more of a lunch beer.

To top the evening off, we jumped into a Widmer Bros. Nelson Imperial IPA. At 8.6% ABV, it may have been just a little much for the end of the evening, but it sure had no problem standing up to the fine beers that preceded it. And excellent pour, with a big head and big aromas. Both malty and hoppy, a really great beer. Very drinkable and thus probably pretty scary. I had another one tonight and it gets another big thumbs up.

Nelson Imperial IPAAnd for gaming, we had our second night of Dead Island, the co-op zombie shooter. Last week's game session wasn't too impressive. The three of us wandered around, usually not together, and beat up, easily, on random zombies. There is a little bit of a skill tree, and you can work on your weapons, but that's about it for RPG elements. I've never been too keen on the games that have your weapons "wear out" - my least favorite party of System Shock. Not sure why after hacking on a few zombies my machete would just explode into dust.

But this time we adhered to the main story quest, worked together, and had some fun. We all went up a few levels and added some more skills. I read online where the game gets a little tougher once you get off the island and into the city, so that's good. And we also got to drive cars, which is always fun. Chasing down zombies and blasting into them with a car is always a grand time.

One oddity caused by the weapons wearing out is that you hit the zombie to knock it down and then proceed to kick the shit out of it to avoid "wasting" your weapon. So it gets pretty gruesome really. But we played for almost 3 hours and had a pretty good time. At this point, the three of us have played together about a year, so we have plenty of history. I'm the one that can't be trusted with a thrown weapon or anything with splash damage (although that's not really a bad shortcoming in this game, as there doesn't seem to be friendly fire). Michael is the one who just charges forward, no subtlety. And Chris pushes us forward like a drill sergeant. It's a blast and we got into the game's rhythm, so I'm looking forward to next week's session.

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First The Money, Then The Game

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For our Wednesday night cocktail, I made an old standby. From the New Classic Cocktail book comes this twist on the "Cuba Libre" (or, as I just call it, a rum and coke):

First The Money
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp. white creme de menthe
  • crushed ice
  • 1 oz dark rum (I used the old standby, Myer's)
  • 3/4 oz Toussaint coffee liqueur (I've never seen this so I do as the book suggests and substituted Kahlua)
  • Cola

Cut the lime into wedges and muddle in a highball glass with the creme de menthe. Fill the glass with crushed ice and add the rum and Toussaint. Top with cola.

I had a recently opened 2 liter bottle of kosher Coca-Cola (the kind with the yellow cape and real cane sugar), so that's why I wanted to make this. It is a very nice variation on a straight rum and coke. Even that tiny bit of creme de menthe adds a real pop to it. Went down smooth while sitting on the deck on a warm summer eve.

Bell's Oberon AleOur beer tonight was Bell's Oberon Ale, which my friend had "imported" from Pennsylvania. I enjoyed it - a little fruity and a little fizzy but a very nice drinkable 5.8%ABV summer ale.

For our co-op computer gaming, we decided to punt playing Serious Sam 3 on Mental level, as it still wasn't enough of a challenge and we had had enough of tweaking the parameters. So we moved on to Dead Island, which was on sale a couple weeks ago for US$12. Spectacularly brutal game, with some slight nods to RPG lite, with things like levels and skill trees. Still pretty easy though, with almost no penalty, besides a cash one, for death. It doesn't really even penalize you for wandering off alone, which is unfortunate, as we did tend to split up - not much of a co-op game if you don't have to play it together! We have only scratched the surface, so perhaps it will get harder.

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Friday Drabble: Rain Haven

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drabble-150x150.pngA drabble is a very short story of exactly 100 words. Feel free to join in and write your own drabbles on Fridays and tag them with "friday drabble" and on Twitter with the hashtag #fridaydrabble.

Rain Haven

The cold, dreary rain come down in sheets as he slogged his way across town. The forgotten umbrella remained dry on the back seat of his car, as the rivulets of water ran down his face and underneath his collar. Avoiding puddles at this point was useless, as their vastness defeated him and his shoes were soaked through anyway. A harsh wind sliced right through his all too thin summer jacket. He continued his slow trudge across the slick city streets.

As he reached for the door, it opened and she handed him a warm towel and a hot toddy.

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A Beer, a shot and a shotgun

A quick recap from last night -

We had our weekly cocktail and beer with co-op gaming last night. The cocktail for the evening was from one of my favorite cocktail books (I do have a lot, don't I?):

New Classic CocktailsNew Classic Cocktails by Allan Gage :

In this one, he gives the recipe for a "classic" cocktail and then shows another twist on it. Here, the "classic" cocktail is the Tijuana Sling. But we had the twist:

Border Crossing
  • 1.5oz gold tequila (I used my favorite, Cazadoras)
  • 1oz lime juice
  • 1oz clear honey (I actually used agave nectar)
  • 4 dashes of orange bitters (Fee Bros.)
  • 3oz ginger ale

You mix everything but the ginger ale vigorously and strain it into a highball glass with plenty of ice. Top it off with the ginger ale and add blueberries and lime wedges as a garnish.

It was very good. I might cut back a tad on the agave nectar and, probably, add a little more tequila (never a bad thing), but I can see how this would be quite refreshing on a hot day. It was a warm evening and it helped.

1554 Enlightened Black Ale by New Belgium BrewingThe beer was from New Belgium Brewing, the 1554 Enlightened Black Ale. It was a very nice "session" (5.6% ABV) ale, very malty and smooth. We let it warm up a bit while we drank our cocktail and it was perfect. This was an "imported" beer, as New Belgium beers aren't found 'round these here parts. But my buddy has in-laws who come up from PA and they brought him a couple six packs. Very nice.

The Black Ale went very nice with our Serious Sam 3: BFE co-op gaming. 3 of us are replaying the game on the "Mental" level, which is as hard as it gets. The monsters are mostly invisible, only briefly appearing when they are hit. We've been having fun, although we might have to ratchet up the difficulty a little bit. When we did the first play through, on the Hard level, we made it tougher on ourselves by having to share the armor and health powerups. We've set this one to not share, so everyone gets their own health & armor, but that may be too easy. I like having to negotiate who needs the armor and health.

Well, we played until Steam started hiccuping and kick my remote buddy off. Michael and I played a bit more but called it a night, as we had already finished the 4th level (out of 12).

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Hockey Loss

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The big C took another good one today. My hockey buddy and my friend Mike K passed away this morning after a long battle with pancreatic cancer and he will be sorely missed.

I started playing with Sunrise Hockey about 20 years ago, picking up the goalie pads after a long hiatus. It was, and still is, a great group of skaters who play twice a week, Tuesday and Friday mornings from 6:30am to 7:30am. They didn't seem to mind a goalie who was both rather a beginner and rather rusty. And Mike was the guy in charge, even well before I got there. You know, the guy that holds it all together - collects money, pays the rink, keeps the maintenance guys happy and runs a tight ship on the ice. The sort of guy that, without whom, these sorts of pick up leagues fade away after just a few years.

But Sunrise Hockey has been going strong for well over 30 years and Mike was a big reason why. His presence on the ice was impressive too. A big guy, not too smooth a skater but when you got hit, you stayed hit. Of course, we play a nominally non-checking game, but, as I like to say, it is non-checking, not non-contact. And Mike was solidly built and not afraid of contact. His shot always tended to fool me too. Not a hard one, but he was always looking down at his stick so I couldn't follow his eyes. And it was hard enough and on target enough, to always make it a tough save.

He also took full responsibility for keeping the ship running smoothly on the ice too. When one player began to take things a little too seriously, he formed a committee and brought it to that player's attention. That that player chose to leave instead of reforming was his loss, not ours. And everyone I ever invited to play with us always wanted to come back for more. It's a good, hard skating, fair group of guys, formed in Mike's image.

When he stepped down to fight his cancer 18 months ago, you know how well he had done his job, as it has continued to run smoothly since. We were all confident he would be back on the ice, and his visits over the past year gave some light to that hope. But we got word the other day that he had a relapse and so his final passing this morning wasn't a complete shock.

But our locker room will be a slightly darker place without him, his spirit and his humor. And while Sunrise Hockey lost a great player, the world lost a great guy and I lost a friend and a mentor. I know he is somewhere right now, throwing thunderous body checks and riding herd on a fractious group of hockey players, right where he should be.
big mike.jpg

Book Review: City Of Thieves

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City of ThievesCity of Thieves by David Benioff
My rating: ★★★★★

Let me say this up front, City Of Thieves is one of my favorite books from the past couple of years. This audiobook had me laughing, crying, horrified, amazed and uplifted all the way through, and totally enthralled me during my long drive to Florida. An absolute stunner, and one I recommend to everyone.

City Of Thieves tells the story of Lev and Koyla, two guys trying to survive the German siege of Leningrad (St. Petersburg) during World War 2. They meet in jail, sure to be shot for looting (Lev) and desertion (Koyla). Instead, they are given the impossible task of finding a dozen eggs for a powerful colonel, who wants to make a cake for his daughter's wedding. So they begin their unlikely quest, through the starved city of Leningrad and beyond, having one week to find this impossible item, that hasn't been seen since late summer of the previous year.

And adventures they have. Cannibalism, whores, chess games, bomb carrying dogs, cold, starvation, deprivations of all kinds, they come in contact with. Impossibly evil Nazi troopers, partisans scratching at the occupation, everyone doing what they can under deplorable conditions. Through it all, Kolya maintains a bountiful energy, an irrepressible spirit and humor in the face of all odds, while Lev, the narrator whose story has been pulled extracted by grandson, just tries to figure out the world, barely 17.

What can I say? The storytelling is simply amazing. I am driving and laughing, crying, horrified and amazed as the story unfolds. Benioff's descriptions of the cold and hunger are vivid, and what goes on is, at the same time, believable and unbelievable. You just never know what Lev and Kolya are going to uncover and what they go through during their search for the eggs.

And of course, looming over it all is the indescribable evil of the Nazis, and, more specifically, the Eizengruppen murder squads, as Kolya, Lev and a group of partisans set out to take down their most infamous leader. And yes, there is even a little sex and a little love. Like I said, wow, this book has it all.

There were only two (one small and one not so small) drawbacks to the book. The small drawback was that some descriptions were repeated. Lev would tell his story to others and the shorthand version was repeated a couple of times which, even listening on an audiobook when repetition is often welcome, got annoying.

Spoiler alert! Highlight to read.

The second, and fairly big one, was the death of Kolya. Throughout the novel, I kept feeling like Kolya was wearing a "red shirt", in that it seemed inevitable that he would die. I can't figure out if that is how it should have been, both the feeling and the inevitability of it all, or just a mistake. If I was writing the book, I would have just split Kolya and Lev up, and just have Lev wonder what had ever happened to Kolya, as Lev wonders about many of the people he came across in his amazing journey. I thought his death, while splendidly handled and wonderfully ironic in a Catch-22 / M*A*S*H sort of way, was somewhat deflating and an easy out after such an amazing odyssey. But again, maybe that is how it should have been.

The second, and fairly big one, was the death of Kolya. Throughout the novel, I kept feeling like Kolya was wearing a "red shirt", in that it seemed inevitable that he would die. I can't figure out if that is how it should have been, both the feeling and the inevitability of it all, or just a mistake. If I was writing the book, I would have just split Kolya and Lev up, and just have Lev wonder what had ever happened to Kolya, as Lev wonders about many of the people he came across in his amazing journey. I thought his death, while splendidly handled and wonderfully ironic in a Catch-22 / M*A*S*H sort of way, was somewhat deflating and an easy out after such an amazing odyssey. But again, maybe that is how it should have been.


But in the end, City Of Thieves is one of my favorite books from the past couple of years. I am a tough grader and I would probably give it 4 1/2 stars if I could, but this was good enough to push it to 5 stars. I simply love it and if you don't cry and laugh at least a half dozen times, I feel sorry for you!

Ron Perlman at the 2011 San Diego Comic-Con.

Ron Perlman

A word on the audiobook - it was incredibly well done. Ron Perlman did an amazing job with the narration. He didn't really stretch to do the character voices, but he still lent the needed gravitas to the words and added the emphasis where needed. It truly felt like the grandfather was narrating into a tape recorder. I am glad I was able to listen to it for long stretches of time during a long drive, as I was transported to a different world and enjoyed every bit of it. There were just the right musical touches during chapter segues and I couldn't have asked for anything more from the book. I don't regret for a minute not reading it myself, although I think I will tackle it as a real book again real soon.

View all my reviews

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On Cocktails And Serious Sam

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So we had a good cocktail and beers and gaming night last night. First up was a cocktail I got from one of my favorite cocktail books. I have a ton of books, but this one is really great. "The Martini Book" by Sally Ann Berk is much more clever and unique inside than the vanilla title would indicate. Lots of great recipes, with little interesting jokes and historical tidbits, like the Winston Churchill martini - pour a glass of ice cold gin and look at a bottle of vermouth. Or this joke:

A college professor walks into a bar. "Bring me a martinus," he says.
The bartender smiles politely and says, "You mean martini?"
"If I want ore than one," snaps the professor, "I'll order them."

Bada bing!

I had a copy for years, but glitter glue(!) got spilled on it, so it was kind of a mess. And it was out of print, so impossible to replace. But I was very excited to see it got reprinted in 2007, so I grabbed a copy.

Last night, I made a Mama's Martini:

  • 6 part vanilla vodka (Stoli in this case)
  • 1 part apricot brandy (I actually used Marie Brizard Apry, which is a top notch apricot liqueur)
  • 3-5 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 3-5 dashes of lemon juice
Shake over cracked ice and strain into a martini glass.

This was real good. Probably a tad sweeter with the Apry than the recipe wanted, so maybe I would add a little more lemon juice next time. And probably try it with the Barrel-aged Bitters from Fee Brothers too.

Then we cracked opO'Hara's Irish Stouten a beer that was recently added to my "365 Beers" Pinterest board - an O'Hara's Irish Stout. And this too was very very good. A real drinkable stout, with great flavor and only 4.3% ABV, so it went down really well while playing Serious Same 3: BFE

And we came really close to finishing it, I think. We blew through the Last Man On Earth level, after having some trouble with it last week. And then we went quite far in the final level, The Guardian Of Time. At least I think we went quite far. We played for about an hour and a half until finally getting taken out. But even after we finish, I think we may crank the difficulty (we're playing on Hard) and give it another whirl. It's been fun and the three of us have had some serious chuckles. I am working on a fan fiction retelling of our game that I need to get back to.

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365 Bottles Of Beer

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For Christmas I got a 365 Bottles Of Beer For The Year daily calender and, unfortunately, every last one of them sounds great! But for ones that really rise above the rest, I have created a Pinterest board to pin them too. Let me know if you want an invite to Pinterest. I've found it fun enough. Here's my latest entry:

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Sports and Politics

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 23:  U.S. President B...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

Tim Thomas is *right* off my Christmas list now. The Bruins had a White House ceremony today, and I loved President Obama's speech. He's probably not much of a hockey fan (basketball fans usually aren't) but he is a gracious speaker and seemed to be having fun, right down to saying he knows everyone was "wicked happy" to be there. Then he rattled off the championships from the area and said "enough already Boston!". He had some fun with it, going so far as to call Marchand by his "Little Ball Of Hate" nickname, and it was really cool. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves tremendously.

Goalie Tim Thomas, NHL Hockey player for the B...

Image via Wikipedia

Except Tim Thomas, who boycotted the event because he feels that government is "out of control". What an idiot. As some have said, it's his "right" to not go if he doesn't want to. But it is also *my* right to call him out for a selfish boob, who stood up his teammates for a big occasion to make a political, selfish point. To show him how it is done, I'm sure that if/when his teammates are asked about it, they will all defend his "right" and back him up, just like he should have done when they went to the White House. Put out a statement afterwards if you must, but, as Kevin Paul Dupont said, "Win as team. Lose as team. When team is honored, attend as a teammate."

Teams are funny things. I *love* being a member of a team. And it really has to be a sports team - business can try to coopt the team ethic, but you have to have black and white wins and losses to really pull a team together. It's been a while since I've been on a real team, but once a year, I pull together a group of the guys I play hockey with and we enter a team into a local tournament. And it is an intense 3 to 4 games, played over just a couple days. So much so, that I am usually too burned out to play goal come our regular morning skate.

And I love it. Even just for that short period of time, the "team" pulls together. Some are just friends of friends, so we just see once a year for this tournament, but it doesn't take long for the team to gel and we have a blast. And as a goalie, I am a unique kind of teammate. Probably akin to a pitcher in baseball or a kicker(!) in football, from the outside we get more share of the blame and more credit than we deserve. But the teammates just know how it works, and how the dynamic works and they would never ever say anything bad to me as a teammate, no matter how much I screwed up. And that's the thing with goalies, pitchers, kickers and the like - when you screw up, it is usually pretty major and pretty obvious. And your teammates recognize this, knowing that they'll screw up and you'll bail them out and vice versa, despite how it might look on the outside. And I really dig that kind of responsibility and ownership.

Boston Bruins

Image via Wikipedia

So the Bruins will have Thomas' back but I pretty sure they also wish, deep down inside, that he had just gone along with the flow and hadn't been, as my teammates will sometimes rib me, a "fuckin' goalie". Because we are different, let me tell you!
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Movie Review: Inglorious Basterds

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Inglourious Basterds

Image by sdfbss via Flickr

Spoilers abound ahead - hard to write a critical review without disclosing the action and the ending...

"Inglorious Basterds" is a story of a guerrilla operation, run by Brad Pitt and a motley collection of Jewish fighters in World War 2. They wreak havoc upon the Nazis, showing no mercy, and, in a typically Tarantino fashion, graphically in some cases, including the brutal baseball bat beating (too many b's?) of a Nazi officer who refuses to divulge the location of another patrol. It also follows the story of a Jewish girl who escaped a brutal murdering of her family at a French farm house. She escapes to Paris and runs a movie theater(!). There she accidentally befriends a Nazi officer who is sort of a German Audie Murphy, who supposedly single-handedly cuts down over 100 Allied soldiers from a church steeple. He then stars in a movie based upon his exploits and the Nazi high command wants to debut the movie in her movie theater. All the German high brass, from Hitler on down, attend, drawing the attention of the Allied high command, who promptly begin plotting an attack on the theater. Can they pull it off and end World War 2 in one blow?

Cover of "The Shot"

Cover of The Shot

As you can see from the synopsis, it has a big problem it shares with other historical retellings, like "Day Of The Jackal" (about an assassination attempt on DeGaulle) and Philip Kerr's "The Shot" (a reimagining of the Kennedy assassination) - you know what really happened, so you know the ending. Well, this was true in the case of Jackal. In "The Shot", Kerr does manage to escape the historical ending straight jacket, but only just barely. In the case of "Basterds", Tarantino shows amazing chutzpah and just totally ignores real history and proclaims a successful attack that kills them all! How totally bizarre and unexplainable.

Another problem with "Basterds" is that really, not much happens, at least for the first 90 minutes or more of a 250 minute film. There is no real story building, just a few episodes that paint in the background of the two major stores, but in such broad strokes to make it kind of boring and uninteresting, despite the graphic violence.

English: SS Colonel Hans Landa in the movie In...

Image via Wikipedia

But Christoph Waltz is absolutely mesmerizing as Col. Hans Landa, the Nazi agent in charge of ferreting out Jews, and then the Basterds. The opening scene, where he interviews a French farmer who is harboring his Jewish neighbors is nearly unbearable in its suspense and its graphic, explosive finale. And he continues to amaze in the rest of the movie.

Brad Pitt is just fine as the scene chewing leader of the Basterds. Mélanie Laurent was enchanting as the bitter Jewish survivor who plots the destruction of the German high command. Her ending was just so over the top Tarantino-esque as to be amazing.

But all in all, a 2.5 or maybe 3 out of 5 star movie. I just wasn't invested in the characters or the story, and I still don't understand the ending.

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Bruins Victory Parade Video

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Using kdenlive, I put together a video of the pictures and video I took while Adrienne and I were at the Bruins Stanley Cup Duck Boat parade last Saturday. Man, we had fun! Us and (literally) a million of our best friends screamed and hollered for hours. You'll have to forgive the poor video quality. I didn't set the video quality high enough when generating it to begin with, so it didn't come out nearly as well as it could have. Anyway, on with the show.

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On Monday, we also did one of the water parks - Blizzard Beach. We got the whole shebang when it came to tickets, adding the dining plan, park hopper and water parks. I'm not sure we got our money's worth the the "water parks and more" option, although it really wasn't all that much more. We were so busy with the regular parks, and the pool at the resort was so nice, we hardly had time for the water parks.

P4180342_medium.JPGBut we headed over to Blizzard Beach for a few hours. It was, not surprisingly, packed. We barely found a single chair to toss our towels onto. And the lines for the various "rides" were pretty long - no FASTPASSes here! We tried a couple and, to be honest, were not all that impressed. I found the toboggan run to be hard on the neck. You go down on your stomach using this polyurethane "sled" but you have to keep your back arched and your head up, which put a strain on my neck and back.

There was a group ride down on a big raft that was fun, but hardly worth the long wait. And the huge water slide actually was tough on the tailbone. Even my girls complained of it hurting their back and butts after coming down it. And that was the shorter of the two, as Blizzard Beach claims to have the highest water slide in the country. But its extra long lines discouraged us from trying it and getting banged up enough of the shorter makes me think I'm pretty glad we didn't try that one.

But the big wave pool was fun, as was the lazy river ride that went all around the park. Just grab a tube and float along. For obvious reasons, that was my favorite. So it was a fun few hours and, as it turned out, the only time we went to a water park.

For dinner, we had another late night meal, this time over at EPCOT. It was nice to walk around the park at night, with lighter crowds. We ate at the Marrakesh, in the Moroccan ""quarter" and had a lovely "chef's choice" meal, with a bunch of courses and delicious chicke, lamb and vegetable dinners. The girls enjoyed their ribs (they have become real rib fans) and another busy day drew to a happily stuffed ending.

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2011 Reading Challenge

Jonathan has read 6 books toward his goal of 50 books.

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