Friday, November 22, 2013

I'm a beer drinker, I haven't had a tremendous amount of whiskey. All I'm really qualified to tell you is what I like (and, the truth is, that applies to movies and beer, too). So, having established that qualifier, I'll tell you this. I absolutely love Templeton's Small Batch Rye Whiskey.

This stuff pours a very light brown, far lighter than the bourbons and whiskeys I've enjoyed lately. It smells sweet. It hits the nose with a lot of vanilla, butterscotch, raisins. And the flavor is just about the smoothest, best balanced booze I've had in a while, maybe ever. That sweetness in the aroma is strong and dominates the flavor, but it doesn't cover up a lot of strong spice and (of course) rye. I had this over a few ice cubes the first time around, and liked it so much I had the second tumbler neat. My only concern is that something this tasty is going to require a little forthright moderation on my part.

If you believe the label, this was Al Capone's whiskey of choice. Capone might have been a thug and a crook, but apparently he knew a thing or two about what to pour. Templeton Rye whiskey is delicious; really, just top to bottom outstanding. I might have a new favorite way to unwind before bed.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Orkney Brewery's Skull Splitter Scotch Ale pours a bright, clear brown with a little head. The aroma is subtle. Subtle might even be too strong a word. There just isn't much going on in the nose, here. The flavor is better. It's rich and sweet, I picked up on malt and honey, and pear and cinnamon notes, too. Not bad.

Kay and I got on the topic today of movies that are absolutely disturbing but still very good. Movies that many people might say that they're glad they saw but that they'd never want to see again. A lot of my favorite movies would probably be described that way. I don't know that I'd say that this list is definitive, but here are ten movies that are certainly odd, intense, even disturbing ... but still very good. Movies that are well worth your time and that I'd recommend to any adults who are interested in movies that are well made, unique, compelling, demanding, even ground-breaking. You may never want to see any of these movies more than once, but seeing any of them one time is time well spent.
  • 10...LEOLO

    I caught this film on IFC one night several years ago, and I couldn't believe what I was seeing. The only word for it is audacious. There are a couple of scenes that are violently disturbing, one involving the abuse of an animal (it is all simulated as far as I can tell). But there are images in this movie that are among the most visually striking I've ever seen. I bought this movie on DVD as soon as I could get it, and every time I see it I am amazed at how singular it remains.

  • 09...AUDITION

    A scary movie that sneaks up on you. I won't say more than that about the plot. This movie left me feeling manipulated and totally creeped out.

  • 08...CRUMB

    A documentary as upsetting and weird as any fictional film I've ever seen. It's all the worse because the "characters" aren't characters at all, but real people caught in flat-out disturbing lives. The main character's older brother, Francis, remains one of the most compelling human beings I've ever seen in a film.

  • 07...SID & NANCY

    This movie is the reason that the phrase "a Gary Oldman like performance" exists.

  • 06...NAKED

    The first Mike Leigh movie I ever saw remains my favorite, and that's saying a hell of a lot, since Mike Leigh has made some outstanding films. This one features some of the best acting I've ever seen from David Thewlis. Another serious statement.

  • 05...OLDBOY

    This movie has recently been remade for an American audience. Having seen nothing of the remake, I'm still willing to guarantee you that the remake has nothing on the original. Avoid the remake like the plague until you've seen this fine Korean film. But consider yourself warned, this very good movie is going to freak you the hell out.


    If you need to talk someone out of trying heroin, this might be the best way to do it.

  • 03...SHAME

    A gorgeously made, absolutely stunning film that might make you want to never, ever, ever have sex of any kind again.


    I couldn't shake this movie for weeks after I saw it the first time. I've seen it a total of three times now (maybe four). Every time I watch it I am shocked at how good Nicholas Cage is in this movie, and disgusted that he hasn't done anything this good since. Then again, a performance like this might be the kind of thing that makes a guy want to only make substance-free movies for the rest of his life.


    I've heard people say about this film in specific that they thought it was brilliant but they'd never want to see it a second time. That hasn't been the case with me. This is one of my favorite movies of all time, I watch it a couple of times a year. Absolutely every single element comes together in this film. The direction is perfect. Just note-by-note perfect. The acting is amazing; Darren Aronofsky manages to get great performances out of the entire cast. Even Marlon Wayans is great here. And Ellen Burstyn... oh, good God, there's just no way to say enough good about her work in this movie. She's only ever been better than this once, in a movie I am trying not to mention. Burstyn's work here is one of the best performances ever committed to film. Beyond that, the photography is gorgeous, the editing is both showy and completely organic to the story. Even the score is perfect. I've seen two or three movies that are as good as this one, but I've never seen a better film.

*A few qualifiers: No schlock. If a movie only seems to exist to compete for the title "Most Disturbing Movie Ever," then it isn't worth considering. No Human Centipede type shit, no Eli Roth films. Also, nothing that seems intent on shocking the audience just by being borderline porn. Sorry, but Lars Von Trier movies are boring. And for once in my life, I'm going to make a top ten style list without mentioning The Exorcist. It certainly deserves to be the number one movie on a list like this, but I mention it in every damn movie list I make (favorite horror films, favorite movies of all time, favorite performances, etc).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sixpoint's Righteous Ale isn’t bad, but it’s nothing spectacular. It's billed as a rye ale. I didn't pick up on a lot of rye. It pours caramel brown with a medium size, long lasting head. The aroma is big malt, a little tingle, background notes something like apple butter. The flavor is like an American strong ale, but not a strong strong ale. It reminds me of a watery Arrogant Bastard or maybe a little like Lagunitas Lucky 13 without the rich, strong character. I didn't dislike this, but I'm kinda all, like, OK, whatever.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Bell's Java Stout pours black with brown highlights and a brief, quick head. The aroma is malt, strong black coffee, a little dark chocolate. So is the flavor. Not remotely complex, but delicious.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

I'm becoming a fan of Parkway Brewing, my neighbors down the road in Salem. Their Bridge Builder Blond is a Belgian style ale, and it pours hazy, golden brown. The head fades and leaves no lace, but a tenacious little ring along the rim. The aroma is the usual for a Belgian; bananas, peaches and mild cloves atop a buttery malt. The flavor brings that malt to the foreground and it closes with a nice, peppery tingle. Tasty.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Schlafly T IPA is billed as a Tasmanian style IPA, and it looks great, smells great, and tastes great. It’s crystal clear, almost on the level of something like Nectar Nugget. Lots of carbonation. Big, citrus aroma with notes of pineapple and grapefruit. The flavor opens with a sweet malt, slightly roasty, and finishes strong and bitter and bright. I enjoyed every sip.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Bell's Special Double Cream Stout is tasty. It is deep coffee brown with little head. A rich, sweet malt dominates the aroma. The flavor is smooth and sweet. A little hop tingle in the finish. I don’t know how "special" this stout is, but it’s pretty darn good.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Parkway Brewing's Raven's Roost isn't the best Baltic porter I've had; Smuttynose makes a hell of a good one and that is my favorite example of the style. But this is a pretty good beer, and it's worth checking out. It pours dark brown, not much head, and the aroma is chocolate and a little bit of coffee and malt. The flavor has that salty, sweet thing going on that makes Baltic porters so distinct, and I enjoyed it.

Great Divide's Hercules is a substantial double IPA. It pours a heavy bronze color with a brief head. The aroma is sweet, malty, with honey notes. The flavor is really good. Rich. Buttery. The malt and hops are both big, so it's strong but balanced. A little boozy kick in the finish. This is a delicious beer. It might make it hard for session favorites to follow it.

Monday, November 4, 2013

DuClaw bills Sweet Baby Jesus as a chocolate, peanut butter porter. It's a fairly glossy porter with a slight, mild peanut butter quality in the aroma and taste. It pours dark brown with a quick fading head. The aroma is a mild malt, maybe a little coffee, and some slight peanut butter. That slight peanut butter presence is up front in the flavor, too. There isn't much of anything on the back end. It's as though someone dropped a little bit of Cap'n Crunch into a very average porter. Maybe not a bad idea if you need to liven up an average porter. But a better idea would be to just have a better porter instead.