18 July 2008

Watchmen Trailer

Shana and I saw The Dark Knight at a midnight showing last night (didn't get into bed until 4 AM, and had to be at work at 8 -- yes, I'm tired!), and yes, it was awesome.

At least equally awesome, though, was the Watchmen trailer.

I have to admit, I haven't been particularly excited about this adaptation, given the long history of this adaptation, and how iffy a lot of V for Vendetta turned out to be. But this trailer makes me absolutely jazzed about the final result -- I don't think there's a single shot in the trailer not taken directly from the graphic novel.

Of course, whether the excitement built out of two minutes of footage can be sustained over the course of a nearly-three-hour picture is another issue, but for now I think that Warner Bros. is planning a really nice early birthday gift for me.

16 July 2008

Beer Review, Leute Bok

Leute Bok by Brouwerij Van Steenberge N.V.

Appearance: Dark brown body, almost black, opaque, with a thick off-white (almost khaki) head that sticks around. 4.5/5

Smell: Very sweet, malty, yeasty. Aroma is subtle -- smells mostly like a Belgian take on a brown ale. Very nutty aroma with that Belgian funk underneath. 3.5/5

Taste: Very sweet, somewhat astringent. The Belgian funk is muted here, but the sweetness turned up a notch. The nuttiness is also there, and maltiness, and some hints of citrus. Finishes sweet, like a high-alcohol brown ale. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Thinner than I'd normally expect, but not quite down to the "watery" level. Carbonation is low and hops are mild. Pretty much to-style. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Dangerously so, for such a high-alcohol beer. From the name, I was expecting something bock-like, and this pretty much fills that expectation perfectly. 4.0/5

Overall: 3.8/5

14 July 2008

Beer Review, Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

Brooklyn Pennant Ale '55

Appearance: Pours a middle-grade orange color with a thick white foamy head, lots of effervescence from the bottom of the glass, significant lacing. Very nice presentation. 4.5/5

Smell: Strong bitter hop presence at the start, with a kind of sweetness underneath. Hints of citrus. A slightly "stale" aroma, like a mediocre IPA, but otherwise nice and inviting. 3.5/5

Taste: A bracing citrus up-front with a smooth middle and a somewhat dry finish. Some notes of hops, some sweetness, not too complex. A good hot weather beer taste. 4.0/5

Mouthfeel: Moderate, sticks around on the palate for a bit, even thick for an APA. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Like pretty much all of Brooklyn's beers, this is a brew that takes a very simple style and simply does it to perfection. I don't like it quite as much as their lager, but for a nice not-too-complex APA you could do a lot worse. 4.0/5

Overall: 4.0/5

13 July 2008

Beer Review, Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti Imperial Stout

(Consumed on 7/10/2008. Tasting notes copied verbatim.)

Appearance: Dark black completely opaque body, originally-thick head dissipates quickly to soapscum. Leaves significant lacing. 4.0/5

Smell: Very sweet, strong notes of coffee, some chocolate. Slightly astringent. Very malty. 4.5/5

Taste: Very hot with alcohol, very oaky. Drink somewhat chilled or the oak takes over. Careful sipping reveals malty chestnuts, coffee. Slightly dry on the finish. 3.5/5

Mouthfeel: Fairly thick, moderate carbonation, somewhat hoppy on the tongue. 4.0/5

Drinkability: Stick to the regular Yeti unless you love oak. It's really overwhelming in this one. 3.0/5

Overall: 3.8/5

12 July 2008

Hentai Transformers....

...and actually licensed by Hasbro? Oh. Em. Fucking. Gee.

So why would the Transformers hanging out with underage girls? Because, like the earlier Motormasters line, they got their power from these girls. Yet these girls didn't transform into engine blocks. No, they powered the Transformers through kisses -- hence the name "Kiss Players."

That's right: the power of an underage girl's kiss just seemed to charge Optimus Prime's engines, readying him to go into battle against the Decepticons. Because there's just nothing like suggestive sexual contact with underage girls to make the body of an extraterrestrial war machine flood with energy.

I'm sure someone thought this was a cute idea: combine Transformers with the popular phenomenon of anime girls, then make the girls give those Transformers cute and innocent little kisses. Who could object?

Until you see those figures. And how they're posed in promotional photographs. And the art on the box.

If you remove the "underage" part of this, then that's a Transformers movie I might actually want to see!

Go check out the link. There are pictures. Seriously. Unless you happen to be at work, in which case you will probably be fired. Seriously.

10 July 2008

Morgan Reading Mason & Dixon

Richard K. Morgan is reading Thomas Pynchon. Here's what he has to say about Mason & Dixon:

Currently reading: Mason and Dixon by Thomas Pynchon. Colossal seven hundred and something page epic detailing the meeting and developing friendship of those two guys who drew the famous Mason-Dixon line – though at the stage I’ve reached, they haven’t yet reached America and are busy with astronomical duties for the Royal Society. Looking up, brooding and squabbling with each other, mostly. Doesn’t sound very interesting, I know, but trust me, this is some of Pynchon’s finest work. I mean, a book set in the eighteenth century and there’s a Bill Clinton joke on page 10! There’s also a primary narrator called the Reverend Cherrycoke, a family of mad Afrikaaners called the Vrooms (the mother soberly addressed as Vrou Vroom) and an intensely knowledgable ship’s crewmember and esteemed yarn spinner called Pat O’Brien. Catch that lot, if you can. Mason and Dixon features some of best laugh out loud tricks I’ve ever seen in modern literature, along with a poignant look at the dawn of the Age of Reason and the Independence of America. However, Linda should be warned it also features more than a few “curse” words, presumably demonstrating that Pynchon, like me, is suffering from stunted vocabulary development. If you can forgive him that, though, I can’t recommend this book highly enough. Just make sure you set aside a good three weeks or so to read and digest it.

Yep, that about covers it. I've only read one of Morgan's works, but I've been eyeing Thirteen for awhile now, and this may be just the poke to get me to buy it and read it sooner rather than later.

07 July 2008

A Movie Every Year

The AV Club has a post in which one of their music critics picks a favorite album for every year they've been alive. Personally, I'm not enough of a fan of music to pick an album for every year, but I thought it might be interesting to do a version of it for movies. Here are my picks.

Note: There are some years in which there are very few movies I've even seen, and more in which my pick is only slightly higher than at least one or two other films. I'm picking them at this moment based on a "what would I like to watch most often" criteria, as opposed to trying to judge absolute quality. In other words, I don't think The Princess Bride is really a better movie than Full Metal Jacket.

Second Note: Wikipedia has lists of movies by year -- I started here and worked my way forward.

1980: The Empire Strikes Back
1981: Superman II
1982: Blade Runner
1983: Wargames
1984: Ghostbusters (or Revenge of the Nerds, I can't decide!)
1985: Real Genius
1986: Ferris Bueller's Day Off
1987: The Princess Bride
1988: Die Hard
1989: How I Got Into College (Yeah, crucify me, but I loved this movie as a kid and I'd love to see how it holds up.)
1990: Goodfellas
1991: Terminator 2: Judgment Day (just slightly over JFK)
1992: A Few Good Men
1993: The Fugitive
1994: Pulp Fiction (One of the greatest years ever for movies -- I could pick a dozen I love almost as much.)
1995: Strange Days (Despite my love for Nixon, which is probably Oliver Stone's best movie)
1996: Fargo
1997: Chasing Amy (honorable mentions to L.A. Confidential and Face/Off)
1998: Pleasantville
1999: Magnolia (1998 and 1999 are both amazing years)
2000: Snatch
2001: The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
2002: Adaptation
2003: What a terrible year! Very few movies I've seen that I really love unreservedly. I'm sticking The Rundown in here because...
2004: ...Kill Bill Volume 2 is really only included if you include Volume 1 in 2003, and I consider the two-part series to be much better than either part by itself. And 2004 also had Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Shaun of the Dead, and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story besides.
2005: The 40 Year Old Virgin (with Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and Sin City both getting honorable mentions
2006: Clerks II is my favorite, despite the presence of Children of Men and Borat
2007: There Will Be Blood
2008 (so far): Forgetting Sarah Marshall (Yes, better than Iron Man and Wall-E)

Obviously I've left myself a lot of wiggle room here, and there's a lot of stuff that I'd probably pick differently on another day, but it's an interesting thing to look at. Anybody want to pick a bone with anything?

06 July 2008

Malkin, Hitchens, and Torture

Michelle Malkin isn't impressed by Christopher Hitchens' being waterboarded so that he could find out what it was actually like. From Malkin:

He seems to have recovered pretty well. Occasionally has trouble sleeping.

Gee, I sure do hope Khaled Sheikh Mohammed isn’t having any of those lingering after-effects. I’d be pretty sad to learn he wasn’t sleeping soundly.

Except, of course, that Hitchens deals with this issue in the original article.

As they have just tried to demonstrate to me, a man who has been waterboarded may well emerge from the experience a bit shaky, but he is in a mood to surrender the relevant information and is unmarked and undamaged and indeed ready for another bout in quite a short time. When contrasted to actual torture, waterboarding is more like foreplay. No thumbscrew, no pincers, no electrodes, no rack. Can one say this of those who have been captured by the tormentors and murderers of (say) Daniel Pearl? On this analysis, any call to indict the United States for torture is therefore a lame and diseased attempt to arrive at a moral equivalence between those who defend civilization and those who exploit its freedoms to hollow it out, and ultimately to bring it down. I myself do not trust anybody who does not clearly understand this viewpoint.

Okay, so Hitch not only anticipated the point you're making, but still has a serious hard-on for killing all the brown people he can in Iraq. But he goes on to give a list of reasons why waterboarding isn't really the best thing we can be doing in this war (which I'll let you go read the article for yourself to find), and closes with this thought:

Which returns us to my starting point, about the distinction between training for something and training to resist it. One used to be told—and surely with truth—that the lethal fanatics of al-Qaeda were schooled to lie, and instructed to claim that they had been tortured and maltreated whether they had been tortured and maltreated or not. Did we notice what a frontier we had crossed when we admitted and even proclaimed that their stories might in fact be true?

Well, yeah. I stand by my earlier assertion, that if we're arguing about whether a technique is torture or not, one ruling guideline might be whether or not it was in common use by the fucking Iquisition. Waterboarding a few of their guys doesn't make us morally equivalent to them, but it definitely starts us down that path, and if we're really going to claim to be fighting for truth, justice, and the American way, maybe we'd better actually start living those values even when it's inconvenient.

Malkin closes her blog post with this thought:

I can see agreeing to waterboarding for an article like the one Hitchens was writing.

On the other hand, crippling electric shocks, probably not.

As much as I might like to see Michelle Malkin undergoing water torture or undergoing electric shocks (both links seriously NSFW!) in a more inviting context, I think she'd chicken out even at these much more consensual and lighter uses of these techniques. Which is a pity. Because as anyone who has ever tied up a lover (or been tied up) knows, different people have different trigger points, and even on different days what's perfectly okay and what's seriously over the line can change drastically. Some people can't take anything harder than a couple of light slaps, whereas others do seriously extreme body modification stuff and even play with seriously scary things like knives. More power to them. But if the guideline is "what I, personally, would undergo isn't torture" then you're looking at a seriously gray line.

(Anyone who thinks I wrote this entire blog post so that I could link to Water Bondage and Wired Pussy in a political post knows me far too well....)