Alamo Drafthouse: Off-Center Beer Festival: Blazing Saddles

Ok, so I don’t know how much cooler this could get. Awesome craft breweries from around Texas and getting my picture taken with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head Brewery and then watching Blazing Saddles on a wonderful Thursday night with a cap gun to shoot at the screen.

First up, lets talk about the beers.  (512) Brewing brought an amazing Pecan Porter with toasted coconut, died cherries, and Mexican Vanilla; I had four 6 0z. glasses of the stuff.  The other breweries that were there there all had beers that were very, very good, but not as stand out as the (512) Pecan Porter.

Jester King brought a new beer, Beer Geek Rodeo, which is an oatmeal stout brewed in collaboration with Mikkeller (a Danish brewery).  I’ll be picking up a few bottles of Beer Geek Rodeo when it finally hits the store shelves.

Thirsty Planet also came through with a nice smoked coffee Belgian Dubble called Jittery Monk.  It was very smooth and had a good coffee flavor.  As the person working the tap said, this is more beer than coffee and he was right.  I just wish Thirsty Planet would figure out a way to get all these weird experimental beers out to the public because I’m not a total fan of Buckethead and Yellow Armadillo Wheat.  Where is Smokey the Beer and Jittery Monk Smoked Coffee Dubble on tap?  They’re better, more interesting tasting beers, in my opinion.

The only beer that I can say that I really disliked, but really wanted to like was the Twisted X Fuego.  Any beer that has been infused with Jalepeno has to be awesome, right?  Unfortunately, it didn’t have any of that jalepeno twinge or heat that I was expecting.  It tasted a little skunky and barely tingled the back of my throat at the very end for a few seconds.

My only complaint with the beer vendors is that Dogfishhead only brought Indian Brown Ale; I was hoping they could find it in their hearts to grace us with some wonderful 120 minute IPA or another concoction that is hard to find in Texas.  But, I guess they had to save all the interesting beers for the Once Upon A Time in the West feast at Alamo South Lamar.  Oh well, I suppose I need to get myself a trip up to the north east United States again.

The movie, of course, was awesome, and it was made even better by the fact that it was a quote-along.  Not that I needed the quotes scrolling across the bottom of the screen to yell out the lines (yes, I’ve seen it that many times).  As a side note, the food was quite tasty as well, although I have an issue with what they called a torta.  It should have been called a cheesesteak (but I’m not gonna nitpick on a day like this.  I’m just glad there are companies that can still put on a kick-ass mini-beer fest and movie without messing everything up).

Get Lamp

Get Lamp is a documentary about the text adventure / interactive fiction games such as Adventure, Zork, and the like.  It discusses the past, present, and future of the text adventure.  As one review mentioned, there is an awful lot of focus on ex-Infocom employees and not too much on the other companies.  I’d say it was bad that most of the people interviewed were ex-Infocom, but at the same time, if you’ve got a limited amount of time and need to get a good feel of the history, go to them.  I enjoyed listening to all of the people, however, to me, the best stuff is on the second disk – especially Chris Crawford‘s discussion on interactivity which I think a lot of game designers should be forced to watch.  One thing I wish that was added was information and interviews related to interactive drama.  Interactive drama in my opinion is where the merging of the interactive fiction and games are headed and it would have been nice to have some interviews with those in the field (although it is mainly academic right now).

I really loved it and can’t wait to actually see the other documentary I bought from the director on BBSes.

1/16/12: Reworded some sentences since  it could be read that I hated the film, but also liked it.  For the record: I loved it and found it very interesting.

Drive Angry

Drive Angry is an absolutely amazing homage to the 70s revenge flick.  Too bad the movie going populace didn’t understand that simple fact.  Of course it is cheesy!  It’s supposed to be.  If you don’t like the first five minutes of the film – you’re not gonna like the rest.  It starts out with three rednecks in a truck being chased by Nick Cage’s character through the streets.  He catches up to them, causes their truck to flip over and proceeds to dispatch them in a bloody and mean way.  It’s over the top, bloody, violent, and honestly, a little funny.  I love it.  It’s completely stupid and awesome.  Throw in Satanic cults, breaking out of Hell, hot chicks, lots of gun play, fast cars, wrecks, it’s got a little of everything awesome and it is completely a 70s revenge flick.  It just happened to be filmed within the past few years.  If it had a bit more of a nihilistic streak and all the characters dying in the end, I’d rank it up there with Dirty Mary Crazy Larry (just kidding, or maybe not 🙂 ).

Canceling NetFlix

Yes, you read that right, I canceled NetFlix.  I love NetFlix and think it is a great service, but I still canceled it, now let me explain why.

NetFlix was first given to me as a Christmas present by my brother in 2009.  I immediately fell in love with the instant streaming, so many movies available right away and I was watching movie after movie of everything I thought I wanted to buy and soon found out, I didn’t.  But, NetFlix did allow me to see these films for only a few bucks a month.  I didn’t even care about renting their DVDs.  Fast forward a couple months and I’m finding out that I don’t have the time to watch the movies on NetFlix as much and on top of that, they’re going to up the fee by an extra dollar.  At this point I was a little ticked that they upped the fee for having the ability to receive DVDs by a buck and seeing a lot of the movies I wanted to watch on Instant Queue be moved into the “we don’t know when they’ll show back up” category, they were becoming a little worthless to me.  Why should I pay $10 / month when I don’t have time to even watch a single movie or TV show from NetFlix?  The answer is, I shouldn’t (nor should you :)).

So, I made the executive decision last night to cancel my NetFlix subscription.  Is this a stupid thing to do or a smart thing?  As of right now, I believe it is a smart thing to do.  It was $10 / month that was going toward something that I honestly wasn’t using and now it’s making me think I’m going to see about canceling my TiVo subscription as well.  Why should I be paying for a service I’m not going to use and haven’t honestly used in over 8 or 9 months?

Labor Day weekend movie-a-thon

Labor day weekend I managed to do some clearing out of my Netflix Instant Queue. I watched a lot of films.

  1. Blue Velvet
  2. The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard
  3. The Gore Gore Girls: Special Edition
  4. Let the Right One In
  5. Beer Wars
  6. Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa
  7. Rampage
  8. Postal
  9. Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film
  10. Right at Your Door
  11. Jackass 2.5
  12. Run! Bitch Run!
  13. Machete

You might be wondering, is it possible for one man to watch this many movies and come out sane?  The answer is not normally, but I am no ordinary movie watcher.  I watch any movie at least once (my siblings will vouch for that) so I thought a few of them were very good, a few stunk it up, and a few I could take or leave depending on my mood.  In other words it was: The Good, The Bad, and the Meh.

The Bad

You always hope that everything you watch is going to be really good, however, as you know, it never happens.  The worst one I watched was Jackass 2.5.  I thought Jackass 1 and 2 were amusing but 2.5 it was obvious why these skits were cut and should have stayed on the cutting room floor.

The other bad one was Run! Bitch Run! which was supposed to be an homage to grindhouse films.  It is supposed to be a revenge flick, and it turned out being one, just some scenes were way too long and it didn’t reallly feel like a grindhouse film.  It could have used a bit more on-screen violence cause if you’re going to do it, go all the way.  It had potential to be really freaking good (for what it is) but I think it feel pretty flat in too many areas to make it more than just bad.

The final film in the bad category was The Gore Gore Girls.  I feel really bad myself for putting it here because it was right on the cusp of being Meh, but it just slowed down too much in the middle of the film.  It was very entertaining and was a definite true exploitation flick, which I found pretty good.  Just in the end, I didn’t find it compelling enough to move it up to the meh category.

The Meh

Now, the meh category is where a lot of the films are ending up.  These are ones that I could take it or leave it… basically films that if I bought, I’d watch them once then put them on the shelf.  Off the Grid: Life on the Mesa is the first film I’ll throw into the meh category.  I enjoy documentaries and this one was interesting, but at the same time, I didn’t really feel like I learned anything from it.  On IMDB it was eloquently described as ‘a film about f*ck ups in the desert.’  And based on that you can decide if you like it or not.  It was decent, but at the same time, there wasn’t enough in there to make me think about it anymore past when I stopped watching it.

The next film in the meh category, is another documentary, Beer Wars.  It shows how the deck is stacked against smaller breweries like Dogfishhead and Boston Brewery Company compete against the big boys: Miller and inBev.  It also closely follows the plight of Moonshot Beer, a beer with a dose of caffine, as it attempts to gain distributors.  I found the documentary very interesting, but just like Off the Grid, it seemed to be missing something that didn’t push it over the top into a I’ve-got-to-watch-it-again category.

Another film I deemed meh was Right at Your Door and it was right on the cusp of being in the good category.  It just moved a little slow in places and they used the fade-to-black cut an awful lot.  Granted, fade to black cuts are a good way to show the passage of time, but they could have done something else.  Overall, I did enjoy it and the ending was definitely a shocker and well worth it.

The last film I deemed meh was Going to Pieces: The Rise and Fall of the Slasher Film.  I thought it was very interesting, but they didn’t spend as much time talking to the movie directors, actors and special effects artists as I thought they should have.  The film was basically the highlights of the slasher films from 1972 to 2005 in under 1.5 hours; so, you couldn’t talk a whole lot to the writers, directors, etc. but it would have been  nice.  I’d also have liked to have seen them talk with some of the new horror directors like Eli Roth and then perhaps some of the directors who enjoy the whole grindhouse scene like QT and Rodriguez.

The Good

Finally, like Clint Eastwood, here are the good movies.  First up, I’m just going to lump two films together: Postal and Rampage.  Normally Uwe Boll makes films that I am not a fan of.  However, these two were really damn good.  Postal was definitely shocking humor and Rampage had plot twists that I would have never expected to have seen from Boll.  Because of this, I had to place them in the good category.  It isn’t to say that they both had some issues, but in overall, it wasn’t enough to detract from the fact they were truly enjoyable.

The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard almost slipped into the meh category because I felt it kinda lost itself in the middle of the film.  The jokes however kept on coming and everyone was waiting for the big payoff joke at the end.  You know how the film is going to end before it starts, so you’re just along for the twists and turns along the way.  It starts out strong, lags, then finishes a shade of mediocre.  Because of the beginning though, it stays in my good category.

Next up is Blue Velvet, starring a helium-huffing kidnapping Dennis Hopper with mommy issues.  After watching it, you can tell that it has had a lot of influence on directors since many of the things have been lifted from it.  It starts out a shade slow, but it moves at a very decent pace and always keeps a certain level of suspense until the very end of the film.

Machete, I caught at the theaters on Monday night.  As with The Goods, the movie starts out with a bang then slows down, picks back up, and finishes like you expect it.  I think the best part of the movie is Steven Seagal playing a samurai sword wielding drug lord.  The showdown between he and Machete almost brought a tear to my eye it was so great.

The best film I think I watched this holiday weekend was Let the Right One In.  I’d read the book and just now got around to watching the movie.  Of course, the book is better :), but the movie itself was pretty faithful to the source material and captured the mood and feel of the book quite well.  I just can’t believe they’re remaking this film as Let Me In only two years after Let the Right One In came out.  So do yourself a favor and watch this movie before going and seeing Let Me In.

The Slammin’ Salmon

The Slammin’ Salmon is the newest movie from the creators of Super Troopers, Club Dread, and Beerfest.   The Slammin’ Salmon is a restaurant run by retired boxing heavyweight champion Cleon Salmon who needs a lot of money to repay a debt he has to a Yakuza boss.  That day.  His idea is to take the money made that day from the restaurant to pay back the debt and stages a contest with his waitstaff in order to get the money.  I laughed a lot at this film, it has some great lines and some very funny moments.  Some of the best lines go to Michael Clarke Duncan playing Cleon Salmon; however, everyone gets great lines.  If you’ve seen any of the other Broken Lizard films you’ll see a lot of familiar faces throughout the movie.  For you familiar with the other movies, the best way to rate it is that it isn’t as good as Super Troopers and not as bad as the misuderstood Club Dread; it is on par with Beerfest.