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Archive for January, 2010

Friday Beer Snob: Saranac 12 Beers Of Winter 2009 – Maple Porter

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Saranac Maple Porter

Brewed By: FX Matt Brewing
Brewed In: Utica, NY
ABV: 5.3%
Type: Porter

What They Say: Saranac Maple Porter is a robust, flavorful porter reminiscent of a by-gone era. True to brewing tradition, we’ve used dark caramel and chocolate malt as well as Fuggles and East Kent Goldings hops for a smooth, yet slightly bitter, roasted flavor. Look for hints of maple syrup flavoring used in this deliciously different brew. Enjoy!

Website: The Saranac website is unchanged from last year’s 12 Beers series. They have, however, added Club Saranac. The fact Saranac has a club, a nice brewery, and a Summer Band Schedule is the one thing that would make life in Utica tolerable. I say this after having spent a week in Utica once. It was……. unpleasant.

Why I Picked It: Weirdly, the Saranac posts do pretty well on Google and, since Saranac invited me to a preview of this back in October (which I sadly couldn’t attend because it was in Utica… on a Thursday) I’ll be running this concurrently with the Samuel Adams Winter Classics review. This is beer one of six in this year’s 12 Beers Of Winter.

Presentation (5): As we discussed last year, Saranac’s thing is double colored labels with a watercolor of some sort which may or may not have anything to do with the beer. With the rating system I used last year, I generally gave 4s if the painting had something to do with the beer and 3 if it didn’t. 4

Originality (5): I spent some trying to remember if I’ve ever seen another Maple Porter from a craft brewer. On Google, the only results ahead of Saranac’s are a homebrew recipe and a Site That Shall Not Be Named’s posting of a limited edition brew no longer in production out of Michigan. On top of that, the Saranac website calls this a “returning favorite.” I don’t recall this from a previous 12 Beers which means it probably dates back some time. Minor suggestion to Saranac — take a page from Sam and list the year a beer was first brewed and, if possible, list what collections these beers appeared in. You can’t expect us to remember it when you’re in the business of killing brain cells. 5

Body (10): Pours the color of actual maple syrup with a fairly decent head. Lacing is much more distinct then I expected. It’s thin for a porter which, given the source ingredient, is something of a surprise. If it was as thick as the bold flavor and strong ingredients would suggest, though, it would be a brick in the stomach after two. The carbonation is much higher than I originally expected but, again, given the strong flavor, the carbonation is necessary to lighten the mood. 8

Taste (10): It is… fantastic. Much like Saranac did with their Caramel Porter, they took a flavor not usually associated with beer, made it the superstar ingredient of a porter, and went with it. It smells like maple, starts with maple, sits on your tongue as maple, and finishes with same specific sweetness of real maple syrup. If there is ANY knock it’s that the taste is so strong and so distinct it would blow the doors off anything else in this sampler. However, that’s not a strike in the flavor department. 10

Efficiency (10): As per usual, Saranac’s beers come in between 5.2% and 5.5% with the reasonable cost of a beer brewed in Upstate New York. Unfortunately, this beer is the antithesis of “poundable” with a hugely-heavy flavor. Even though this really can’t be consumed quickly, the body and carbonation is a great balance to the heavy flavor. Combine with a reasonable price and it’s of serviceable efficiency. 7

Versatility (10): Many of the beers exclusive to sampler packs take a solid versatility hit due to the limited availability. This beer is packaged well in a sampler. It’s heavy and, while I don’t think I’d like a case of them, two are perfect. On the other hand, the distinct, bold maple flavor is going to turn off anyone who doesn’t like maple syrup… or doesn’t want a beer that tastes like it. 7

The Snob Sez: This is quite possibly my favorite Saranac brew outside their Caramel Porter which had graduated out of the 12 Beers to its own sixpack for a while. Great thing to try if you love maple. Terrible thing to try if you don’t.

Final Score: 41 (of 50) – Great beer

Written by Tom

January 29th, 2010 at 3:37 am

Premiere Week 2009.5 — Human Target

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In this loosely defined premise, Mark Valley (the dead partner from Fringe), Chi McBride (Boston Public and Pushing Daisies), and Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach on Watchmen, the new Freddy Krueger) are a team of some sort. Valley’s character, Christopher Chance, is a bodyguard of sorts who protects his clients from death threats while his partner Winston (McBride) and shady character Guerrero (Haley) research the threat behind the scenes. I’m not really sure what the company does — it seems like a crazy combination of private investigator/bodyguard/hitman. The pitch must have been like the South Park Manbearpig concept. “He’s half-bodyguard, half-P.I., half-MacGyver, half-awesome — and he protects rich people from danger!” And then the pitchman flew out of the room making “whoosh” sound effects. As Chance himself says it: “I blend in to the background so that the threat feels safe and reveal themselves. When they appear, I take out the threat.” So, I guess since the threats are lethal, he has clearance to murder people like Jack Bauer?

The Good

  • I can’t really get enough of Chi McBride’s sarcastic sidekick character. He plays the same character as on Pushing Daisies and, since I liked that character, I’m fine with it. And also, how in the world did this show wind up with Jackie Earle Haley? Not that it’s a bad thing or that Haley’s like an A-list actor or anything… but he was just in Watchmen, he’s about to be the new Freddy Kruger in a rebooted Nightmare on Elm Street franchise that’s certainly bound for at least three movies, and is Sinestro in the upcoming Green Lantern movie. What among those factoids leads to “be in loosely conceived Fox pilot”? Their gain, I guess.
  • Tricia Helfer in the pilot joins the parade of BSG alum popping up along with Mr. Gayda on Smallville, Helo on Dollhouse, and Starbuck on 24. Although it looks like the client of the week is just going to be a rotating guest star. I guess the Client of the Week format works here.
  • I’m not really sure of the relationship between Haley’s Guererro and the other two primary stars. I do, however, like his calm, shady character. The pilot’s top scene was him sitting down across from hired muscle and calmly explaining to them: “If it comes to violence, I’m going to fight back. Well, I’m not going to fight back. I’m going to take the beating because that’s all you’re authorized to do. Then, in a couple of days, I’m going to kill you in your sleep. I’ll probably hit [first guy's name] first to give [second guy's name] a couple more days with [second guy's wife's name] and [kid's name]. How do I know your names? Because your employer keeps secret things on a drive he thinks is secure, but isn’t.” I’m more interested in him then I am in the lead. Whether that’s because he’s Rorschach or not… I can’t say.

The Bad

  • I really don’t get the premise. I don’t get what, exactly, he does and why it’s legal. I don’t get why it was OK for him to toss the assassin out the train so he got shredded in to ground paste against the wall. I don’t understand why he’s this suicidal and crazy. Both the beginning and end of the episode had Winston talking to Chance about how he’s either losing a step and is crazy or he wants to die. Well, why? Where did all these skills come from? Why can he speak fluent Japanese? How is it he was able to build a parachute out of seat-belts and canvas? And, I know it’s a TV show and all, but how is it OK that he can just kill people? Why can he catch bad guys?
  • The pilot’s plot was so contrived that it actually took me out of the episode. Some faceless giant company builds a high speed rail-line from San Francisco to Los Angeles. On the maiden run, we discover a design flaw whereby if the emergency brakes happen to be pulled too many times and malfunction, then the WHOLE TRAIN WILL EXPLODE IF THE BRAKES ENGAGE. Really? REALLY? An $80 billion rail line funded with $62 billion in taxpayer money, which would certainly have half the state’s Congressmen, both Senators, the state’s legislature, Schwarzenegger, and every high-end investor on the maiden voyage — and JUST THEN the lead engineer (who is, of course, gorgeous Tricia Helfer) realizes that there is a design flaw that would lead to the BRAKES EXPLODING? Do you know what worked on the first airplane? F*cking everything. No intercom that wasn’t hooked up yet for plot reasons, no emergency system not online yet, no nothing. And, what would happen if this brake issue happened on the way in to Los Angeles? The train’s just going to crash in to the Los Angeles Amtrak station at 200 mph? Besides all of that, her husband decides to hire an assassin to kill her WITH ALL THESE PEOPLE ON BOARD? The assassin decides the best course is delivering her a poisoned drink? And, failing that, hunting her down with a gun? This is the best plan her husband’s assassin could come up with? I’m not an assassin, but I’m relatively certain I could come up with a better plan then this and it likely wouldn’t involve killing the woman on a train with 100 people.

The Rest

I just don’t get it. I don’t get his company and I don’t get what he’s doing. I don’t understand why he gets paid in whiskey (to avoid taxes, which isn’t true) and diamond rings. I don’t know much about the State of California’s Revenue Service but, from what PLR tells me about phone calls she’s received from them if a hedge fund’s five-figure tax payment is short one figure (seriously) I sincerely doubt they’d not notice a business accepting five-carat diamond rings in lieu of payment for services rendered. The whole thing was just so far over the top that by the end I pretended to be watching a Jason Statham movie. Then it was OK. And, ultimately, I don’t know if I believe that rich people would stand out in public if they knew they were being threatened. I think they’d probably hire a P.I. and hide home.

Regardless, it looks like they wanted to make a weekly Bond movie for television. The credits are even reminiscent of the opening of a bond movie and cast of 3 guys and the rotating array of hot “Chance” girls. Taken just as that, it’s not bad.

Written by Tom

January 27th, 2010 at 6:13 am

Premiere Week 2009.5 — Caprica

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Following Ronald Moore’s relatively big success with Battlestar Galactica‘s re-imagining on the Sci-Fi Network, the newly rebranded SyFy Network gave him the greenlight to create a prequel. As for myself, I’ve expressed love for BSG many times and, as Moore’s the guy who wrote the best series finale of all time, I’ll obviously give the new show a look. According the opening scene, Caprica is set “58 Years Before The Fall”. If I have my timeline correct, that places it 18 years before the First Cylon War and, as mentioned, 58 years before the events of the previous series. That’s really all I know since I don’t really watch SyFy (even, sadly, for ECW) so I haven’t seen previews. From what I understand, the show prequels the Cylon war — where the Cylons came from, where the skinjobs came from, and, apparently, where Bill Adama came from.

As an aside, this is the first thing I’ve watched on my spankin’ new HDTV and full surround set-up. Glorious. Thanks, Panasonic!

The Good

  • The pilot makes the series look as though it’s covering a lot of the same ground just covered on Dollhouse. Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) figures out a way to download herself on to their version of the Internet. She hides her avatar at the V-Club, a teenager-filled sex club where teens can live out every experience possible and one new girl who’s constantly there will make no difference. Zoe also codes in a locked room only accessible by her, her copy, and her two friends where the avatar can hide out. It’s not really clear how the V-Club is governed. Her father, Dr. Graystone (Eric Stoltz), says it was hacked together by kids. Whether that’s legal or not, I have no idea. The V-Club Avatar contains all her knowledge: “the human brain holds about 100 terabytes of data. It’s almost nothing.” It is, in essence, her identical digital copy. Following the real-world Zoe’s death, the digital copy gives her “father” a speech about how the human brain — and this may sound familiar — is just a database full of information. But when that’s coupled with all the information stored about a person throughout the world (which, in Moore’s way, leads to a 60-second recitation of a creepy laundry list of how much personal information about us is stored elsewhere and available to the world — shopping habits, clothes purchases, medical records, food habits, police records, surveillance footage, etc) an exact copy of someone, who thinks they ARE someone, could be created.
  • Even with Zoe’s effective speech, her father takes the next obvious step of downloading it in to a cybernetic body. According to him, the human brain is just “storage and access. Zoe already figured out how to copy the storage.” Dr. Graystone is the creator of the Holoband; BSG’s version of the Holodeck. It’s the even better version of the Holodeck as the user can realistically experience anything without leaving his couch. While he’s describing his resurrection plan to Joseph Adama (Esai Morales, Bill Adama’s father) he says that if a person looks like who they’re supposed to be and thinks they’re who they’re supposed to be, who exactly are we to tell them they’re not who they’re supposed to be? In the marketing of the Holobands, they say “if there doesn’t look to be a difference, then it’s a difference that doesn’t matter, so there is no difference.” Later, in his philosophical debate with Adama, who believes this is unnatural in wrong, Graystone says: “You mean only the gods have power over life and death. I reject that notion.” And, really, that’s everything that’s going on here. The gods (or circumstance) took his daughter away and he’s going to bring her back. Is it unnatural to use technology to create a carbon copy that thinks, looks, and acts like a loved one? Add another chapter to the Star Trek: The Next Generation debate of whether or not Data constitutes life and robot rights.

The Bad

  • I think my biggest issue with the series in general is that we 1) know how Battlestar ended and 2) know which religious group is right. We know Dr. Graystone is going to be successful in creating Cylons and we already, after the pilot, know why they’re going to end up programmed with the belief in the one true God. I’m already not really sure what’s left to cover in the series. Thus the problem with prequels.
  • Extended from that: we already know the monotheistic terrorists are correct in the BSG universe as evidenced by Balthar and Six walking around Times Square at the end of the series. So, who are the bad guys? The Disciples Of The One really ARE following the right path… and that path leads to blowing up a train full of innocent people? Who are leading to society’s downfall because they’re using the Holobands for a technologically advanced form of masturbation and video games? I found this confusing.
  • So, let me get this straight — Joe Adama delivers a threatening message to the Caprican Minister Of Defense in the morning. And that night his brother breaks in to the Minister’s house and kills him with daggers. And that’s just it? No questioning of Adama? I’m supposed to believe that the Minister of Defense, who made passing reference to Joe Adama that he knew what kind of slimy operators the Taurons run, either did not take any steps to defend himself or Sam Adama is SO good at what he does he broke in to the “Secretary Of Defense”‘s house and killed him undetected by anyone? I had a bit of trouble with belief suspension there. I understand the Taurons are supposed to be the Twelve Colonies’ version of mobsters but really?

The Rest

I get what Moore is trying to communicate in the world created by the Holoband. He has respect enough for his audience to not employ the Sledgehammer of Plot ™. He does state the obvious. The obvious line from Dr. Graystone: “those were for adults.” And the obvious response from his daughter’s program: “you people can justify it however you want. You can’t see the world is falling down around you because you’re too busy and too arrogant.” I even get the V-Club’s ties to the the whole “anything goes” aspect to the fall of Rome and, yes, the path we are on in the United States. Adults created the Holoband, the porn companies made it profitable, kids cracked it for their own use, and it’s leading to the corruption of youth. Sound like any (or every) other entertainment medium?

But still, I understand why Dr. Graystone created the Holoband world… and I even understand why he is using what his daughter did to try and re-create her. What I don’t understand is why Zoe decided to create a copy of herself within the confines of the Internet to grow and learn and be unaffected by the murder of people and why, exactly, if her boyfriend was in on this plan why he end her work. She was clearly more important to their movement then the guy who recruited her (her boyfriend, who eventually led her to the Soldiers Of The One) and it made no sense that he would put her on the train and kill her. I understand the writers needed her dead for plot reasons but it felt wrong to me somehow. I don’t know if they’ll ever revisit this or if it’s just loosely-written on-ramp to the real plot: her father creating Cylons with her brain somewhere in the matrix of their stolen technology.

Definitely good enough to replace my Dollhouse recording on Friday nights. I expect a few angry comparisons from Whedon fans about liberal lifting on concepts but, ultimately, Moore made the better move by sticking with SyFy. Dollhouse should have been a CW show from its inception. It would still be on if that was the case.

Written by Tom

January 25th, 2010 at 5:54 am

NFL Picks 2009: Conference Championship Round

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AFC — New York Jets +8 at Indianapolis Colts: I picked this game for the Pulse Sports Roundtable. I wrote on Monday: Here’s the weird thing: the Jets match up better with the Colts then they’re being credited for. Then, somewhere along the line, all the shows started picking the Jets. Is it possible that the Jets can no longer play the “No One Believed In Us” Card following their free pass in to the playoffs? Regardless, I can’t change now. I still see this game as the Jets annoying Peyton Manning by cutting off the field, totally destroying the run at the line, and recreating circa 2005 Happyfeet Playoff Manning. And besides, I can’t get over the idea of the Football Gods visiting karmic retribution on the Colts for forfeiting the Jets in to the playoffs. I said it last week and I say it now. Jets 24-Colts 20, Jets fans become insufferable for the next two weeks, Super Bowl tickets shoot to $11,000 for upper deck.

NFC — Minnesota Vikings +3.5 at New Orleans Saints: Confidential to Bootleg and Joe: There is no such thing as running up the score on the Cowboys — there is only beating them by more points. Besides, the Cowboys are not allowed to refer to any other player as “classless” while that cheating, dirty, leg-whipping piece of rat feces Flozell Adams is still drawing a paycheck from Jerry Jones. Maybe my Cowboys-hate just overrules the Favre-hate. I digress. I have a buddy who is the only Saints fan I know, and he’ll be impossible to deal with should the Saints win the Super Bowl. That’s not really the reason I can’t root for the Saints here. The culprit there is my lingering hatred of Jeremy Shockey. Besides, I do think the Vikings just have better personnel and, well, isn’t it about time for an Adrian Peterson playoff coming out party? As difficult of a time I’m having with picking both road teams in the Championship games… I have to do it. Vikings 38, Saints 31. Sorry, Matt. Favre, Jets, Media!

Written by Tom

January 24th, 2010 at 2:06 am

Posted in NFL,Sports

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Friday Beer Snob: Kelso Chocolate Lager

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Kelso Chocolate Lager

Brewed By: Greenpoint Beerworks
Brewed In: Brooklyn, NY
ABV: 6.5%
Type: Schwarzbier

What They Say: Purchased as a growler at the Bowery Whole Foods. The website succinctly states: “Full, rich flavors of bittersweet chocolate and fresh espresso are mellowed by the traditional clean finish of this dark lager.”

Website: Serviceable. It looks like an out-of-the-box Flash template but it’s at least lightweight enough that there’s no irritating “WE PROMISE THE SITE IS LOADING” bar. Not quite sure about the wood-paneling background. It’s kind of reminiscent of my grandparent’s choice of living room decor or really ugly stationwagons. Is this just hippy Greenpoint ironic-ism?

Why I Picked It: Kelso is a brand I’ve only sampled at one of the cask festivals at the Brazen Head bar in Brooklyn. Since the growler that I was expecting was not available, Chocolate Lager was the next best sounding seasonal on the list.

Presentation (5): Kelso has clearly decided to compete with Sixpoint for Brooklyn’s “too cool to advertise” title. Unless you’re someone in the Gotham Beer Snob circle (and by that I mean someone who attends cask festivals or occasionally visits bars like Rattle ‘n Hum, Puck Fair, or dba) you’ve probably never heard of the brand. Since I’m pretty sure they’re still too small to really advertise, and too small to even bottle, I can’t fairly rate their presentation. n/a

Originality (5): I’ve only seen one previous chocolate lager and that was in the Saranac 12 Beers Of Winter in 2006 or 2007. Interestingly, one of the only other Google hits for chocolate lager is a Michelob product. Go figure. I’m not quite sure if the fact Michelob makes one should be a strike or not. 5

Body (10): An amazingly light body for the heavy flavor and far less dry than it has any right to be. It pours a beautiful dark amber with a quarter-inch, creamy, persistent head. This beautifully fresh beer laces the glass the entire way down. Just enough carbonation to enhance the chocolate. Great consistency for the style and somehow lager lightness with heavy porter/stout flavors. Well done. 10

Taste (10): This beer is really everything I’ve ever wanted in a beer. The chocolate flavor is bold with just a hint of espresso in the finish. The lagering left it surprisingly not dry so all the bold, bitter flavors of a porter or stout are available with none of the dryness which is amazing. Greenpoint expertly didn’t go way overboard with the sweetening process, choosing instead to let the carbonation do the work to keep the tongue distracted. How they kept this beer from the sickly sweetness or dry maltiness that affects most beers with these flavors is a trade secret worth my love. 10

Efficiency (10): Only available in Growler form, which means Whole Foods will get you a half-gallon (64 oz.) pour for under $10. Combined with a great flavor and a huge ABV, this might be one of the best beer deals one can find in a city where six-packs (72 oz.) can be well over $10. One complaint about this beer it’s that two are enough. The bold flavors, while delicious, can be a bit too much and the big taste of the high ABV is apparent. In no way is the beer bad, and I found myself constantly wanting more, but at a certain point I just couldn’t drink it anymore… and that was after two pints. 7

Versatility (10): The same things mentioned above are also strikes here. It is simply too big for most situations. The high ABV makes it a tough bar beer and relegates it to the unfortunate realm of “12 oz. pour”. Although one or two glasses are delicious, settling down with it for an evening might be difficult. There’s just not a lot to be done with it. 3

The Snob Sez: Kelso’s Chocolate Lager joins the pantheon of my favorite winter seasonals with Samuel Adams’ Winter Lager and Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate Stout. Excellent first purchase for me from Greenpoint.

Final Score: 35 (of 45) = 38.8 (of 50) = 39 (of 50) – Really good beer

Written by Tom

January 22nd, 2010 at 4:30 am

Ten Thoughts On Smallville Season Six

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1) The season opens with Clark banished to the Phantom Zone where the real Superman logo appears for the first time. I guess as of season six they could afford to pay the rights to… themselves. Jor-El, of course, left a way for his family to escape the Phantom Zone should they ever be caught there which probably would have been nice for the Fortress to tell Clark early on. “Hey, if you ever get caught in this inescapable pocket dimension, this is how you get out.” Regardless, Clark is able to escape the Phantom Zone with help from a former Jor-El employee. When Clark escapes, a number of Phantoms come out with him… so there’s your season. For the unread, the Phantom Zone is an intergalactic prison created by Jor-El to house the galaxy’s worst criminals. Phantoms are the ones who were so bad they were stripped of their bodies.

2) I’m not sure what was going on in the WWE this season but we get three different Smackdown crossovers. I’m treated to both Batista and Kane playing escaped Phantoms and Ashley Massaro appearing as a tough-girl security guard. I’d also ask here: are humans the ONLY race not granted superpowers by the yellow sun? Aldar (Batista) and Titan (Kane) are not Kryptonian but are either already super-powered (by human standards) or rendered super-powered by the yellow sun. Also: poor Ashley Massaro… the only Smackdowner not super-powered. On the other hand, the Phantoms can take over a human body, push the original occupant’s personality aside, and imbue it with whatever powers the Phantom possesses with no harm to the body. Baern came from the Phantom Zone and took over a host (played by Lil’ Bow-Wow) and absorbed a huge amount of nuclear radiation. Later, Clark separated the phantom and banished him back to the zone with no ill-effects to the host body. This creates a weird plot-hole from last season since Lex Luthor had to be “vaccinated” by BrainIAC before becoming Zod’s phantom.

3) And we’re done with Zod after one episode? Really? Clark separates Zod from Lex in the first episode and that’s ALL we get of one of the only Kryptonian super-villains so far? And Lex finds out about Kryptonian abilities (again) and forgets them all (again). I still dislike that an entire season’s worth of a big bad is resolved in the premiere of the next season. This is certainly the Smallville Formula, though, and I suppose I need to get over it. I’d like to think that the taint of Zod’s influence is what finally pushed Lex down the road to evil and not something so lame as the girl.

4) Our new ability for this season is Clark’s super breath — rather, his ability to blow a door off the hinge. The super cold arctic version of his breath doesn’t make an appearance but, I’m a season ahead at this point and it hasn’t been seen again. This is one Superman’s more plot-based abilities, really. One of his “Oh I need to get that guard to turn around without hurting him so I’ll blow some papers off the table” abilities.

5) This season also introduces a few more DC staples. Jimmy Olsen appears at the Daily Planet as Henry James Olsen. Another billionaire ex-friend of Lex’s arrives in the person of Oliver Queen — otherwise known as the Green Arrow. Green Arrow is introduced to us by Robin Hooding a party and stealing back stolen merchandise from the rich and famous. I have an internal debate as to whether or not their first choice at dark, gritty billionaire to patrol Metropolis and start the Justice League was Bruce Wayne or Oliver Queen. Of course, we can’t have an appearance of Batman because they can’t secure the rights from… themselves.

6) This was the season I officially got over Lana Lang as a girlfriend foil and character. Clark had a thing for her but she loved quarterbacks. Then, Lex steals her away from Clark and she decides Lex is good for her because she couldn’t get over the fact Clark was hiding something from her. So, she either goes with Lex because he’s honest or because she knows it’ll hurt Clark the most. It’s not really clear. But then, for all she knows, Lex is being honest with her and is (arguably) nothing but straightforward and she STILL isn’t happy. She’s just plain annoying this season and when Lex finally says something to the effect of “put up or shut up” it was a small victory for men everywhere. And, for the record, Clark never gave her the whole story but never asked her to change who she was… Lex immediately asked her to cash in her values to stay with him. Proving, again, that… well… dating Superman is probably better then dating Lex Luthor.

7) The writers put together a great fake turn this season. Lex and Clark were trapped together underground in meteor rock laced caves. The meteor rock had sapped Clark’s powers and, cut-off from the sun, he couldn’t regenerate them. Again, Lex saw him as a mortal man. Clark is buried under steel and rock, pinning him down and Lex looks at him and leaves him behind, apparently finally making the turn from Clark’s friend to enemy. But Lex only went to get a lever to pry the debris off of him. It was one last gasp at the friendship that had been torn apart.

8) I was a fan of the introduction of the Justice League even if this version will likely never have the full trinity available because of rights’ issues preventing them from using Batman or Wonder Woman. I love the parts of Corporate America that say the television division of a company isn’t allowed to use character rights owned by the film division of the SAME company. I also love the idea that some slutted version of young Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince — in clearly alternate canon — will somehow damage the movie franchise. Do you know what damaged Superman Returns? Being a crappy movie… which is really hard to do when your bad guy is Kevin Spacey. Do you know what wouldn’t have damaged Batman Begins or The Dark Knight or the non-existent Wonder Woman movie? Bruce Wayne or Diana Prince being on a show that 4 million people watch. Hence, the reason I might keep making allusions to companies not being able to get rights…… from itself.

9) The most interesting subplot for me this entire season was, again, the weird sort of duality in Lex Luthor. What Lex knows is that Kryptonians can come to Earth and vaporize an entire police force in minutes. They’re immune to bullets and can’t be stopped by any Earthly means. He also knows that people who get infected by meteor rock develop a super power at the cost of kind of going crazy and wanting to rape and murder everyone. With Clark not really volunteering the information that he’s a one man meteor-freak wrecking crew, Lex actually kind of thinks he’s doing the right thing. His means aren’t the best — imprisoning the meteor freaks in a secure facility against their will — but the ends? He is basically assembling an army ready to fight unstoppable, super-powered monsters. The army he recruits is voluntary and the people he’s taking off the streets are, as we’ve been shown in previous seasons, exclusively evil. Much like the profiling episode in season three, it’s tough to treat the meteor-infected as a protection-worthy minority when a good side to them is never, ever shown. Of course, we also find out this season that Lex filled Lana with pregnancy hormones and set her up with Luthorcorp doctors to fake a pregnancy so she’d marry him. I’d like to know which one of them used the other harder to get back at Clark.

10) Clark catches up to the Phantom Zone’s final released phantom in the finale and it turns out to be Bizarro, stealing a piece of Clark’s DNA and generating himself a body. Also, Lana caught in a car-bomb, Lois dead, and Chloe’s meteor-power being revealed as healing tears. When she brings the dead back to life, it apparently kills her. I presume this means Bizarro will be dead, Chloe will be alive again, and Lana death will be revealed as fake by the end of season seven’s premiere.

Summary: I think this was my least favorite season so far. It was really convoluted with a bunch of diverging stories, annoying Lana, and everything else. It also created 33.1, the JLA, a weird Project Ares storyline that is brought down way too easily, and the abandonment of the great soundtracks that followed previous seasons. In fact, when the All-American Rejects show up to play It Ends Tonight at a benefit for Dark Thursday (what the media named the world-wide blackout accompanied by BrainIAC’s super virus, it was out of place.

Written by Tom

January 21st, 2010 at 2:29 am

NFL Picks 2009: Blackberry Postin’ Divisional Playoffs

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Stupid Blackberry didn’t publish yesterday…

Saints -7 over Cardinals
Ravens +6.5 outright over Colts
Vikings -2.5 over Cowboys
Jets +7 over Chargers

Written by Tom

January 17th, 2010 at 1:34 pm

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Friday Beer Snob: Samuel Adams Winter Classics 2009 – Winter Lager

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Samuel Adams Winter Lager

Brewed By: Samuel Adams
Brewed In: Boston, MA/Cincinnati, OH
ABV: 5.8%
Type: Bock

What They Say: The first thing one notices in a Samuel Adams Winter Lager is its color: the deep brown of winter. Then comes the magical aroma which promises something special on the tongue. The warm aroma of cinnamon and ginger which blends with the roasty sweetness of the malted barley and hint of citrus from the orange peel. And after that first sip the promise is fulfilled. On the palate Samuel Adams Winter Lager is rich and full bodied, robust and warming, a wonderful way to enjoy the cold evenings that come with this season.

Website: Same as it ever was. I do still hate the double-confirmation screen, which remains silly. I also hate how sometimes their Flash app just stops loading and never continues. They should really catch whatever exception is happening there. I shouldn’t have to refresh the page manually. Loading bars are bad practice, people.

Why I Picked It: I couldn’t tell you. It was ages ago the first time I had it. In this case, it’s because I finally wanted to get it a proper score, compare it to the recently rated Blue Point Winter Ale, and, now that it’s 2010, kick off the Samuel Adams Winter Classics 2009 Series.

Presentation (5): If you’ve seen Sam’s presentation, you’ve seen it. The Winter Lager’s label is a different blue than the Boston Lager… but not my much. The Sam Adams branding is pretty recognizable, though. 3

Originality (5): Much like many of these seasonal brews, Sam Adams was my first. According to their website, Winter Lager was first brewed in 1989… so until someone can show me a Winter Lager brewed before then, there’s no way Sam can fairly not be retroactively given full points for originality. 5

Body (10): They say brown, I say red, but I’m kind of color-blind. It’s a nice reddish-brown with a decent head and a nice lace. A perfect amount of carbonation and just a touch thicker than their regular Boston Lager. It’s just on the border of being too heavy without ever quite getting there and I think it’s because there’s a lot of big flavor stuffed in to a lighter body. The only complaint I’ve ever had of this beer is the same one I have with a lot of Sam’s early recipes: the beers all have an extreme dryness that makes it very hard to make an evening out of it without breaking it up with water or lighter brews. 8

Taste (10): I like citrus hints in my beer, I like malts, and I like spices. Winter Lager has all of the above. The taste rests on your tongue with a hint of cinnamon and citrus and finishes with malt and ginger. This beer has been around so long that a Christmas without it doesn’t feel like Christmas. 10

Efficiency (10): With a great taste, a very solid ABV, and a the reasonable price offered by the macro-microbrew, Sam’s Winter is one of the best seasonal values for your dollar. The dryness of the beer unfortunately isn’t made up for by the ABV and thus the efficiency rating suffers. 6

Versatility (10): I’ve met very few people who dislike this beer. Some may like one of Sam’s other seasonals more, but this one performs very well in crowds. It’s not a fast drinking beer, nor is it something you can sit down with and just slug all night, but it’s an excellent 3-beer maximum selection and a crowd-pleaser. From personal experience, it’s also makes quite the tasty base for a pork-chop brine. 8

The Snob Sez: This is the grand-daddy of Winter brews. It remains my favorite winter seasonal and, like I said last week, if a brewery wants to enter a crowded winter seasonal market, they need to beat this.

Final Score: 40 (of 50) – Great beer

TDLevision: SNL Thoughts 01.09.2010

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Host: Charles Barkley (2). They solved Sir Charles’ acting limitations by not making him do much and giving him home run funny lines. His monologue included gems like: “[16 years ago when I hosted] I was in great shape, coming off an MVP season with the Phoenix Suns. Now, I play bad golf, drink, and sometimes I get arrested” and “You’re pretty in a kinda Jewish way. You a freak, right? Yes you are, I’ve been in the NBA a long time, I know a freaky white girl when I see one.” The skits weren’t bad either. He tripped over a couple of lines but didn’t outright drop anything. I admit to setting the bar low, but Barkley did a great job.

Musical Guest: Alicia Keys (2). Alicia Keys is one of the pop acts I really enjoy as I’m a sucker for a girl and a piano. She performed the second single off The Element of Freedom Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart. Her second song was her re-done version of Empire State Of Mind called Empire State Of Mind Part II (Broken Down) which is a slower, more bluesey version of the song with, obviously, no rap part. Full disclosure, my favorite version of the song is her and Stephen Colbert’s version Suburban Empire State Of Mind with what is, I believe, the first recorded appearance of the suit hoodie.

Cameos: None

Best Skit: Scared Straight 4: Yes, I know it’s a one-note joke told in different ways with the same punchline over and over again, but I can’t help it. This one was the best version thus far and is in the running for skit of the year. Barkley as Lorenzo Macintosh’s father Macintosh Sr. just killed me. Keenan is so good in this skit that he cracks everyone. It’s unbelievably good.

Honorable Mention: Basketball Commentators: Jason Sudekis and Charles Barkley are doing commentary on an NBA game and have a kid in the booth with them. A nice welcome back for Andy Samberg’s “That’ll move the chains” kid. Also featuring Charles Barkley running down a fake disease. And, since I couldn’t decide, Charles Barkley Golf where we see other things that Barkley can’t quite grasp like sweeping and opening doors.

Line of the Week: Racially Insensitive Macgruber. In the first skit — “Once we leave… I mean once we scram Duh-RELL.” “It’s Darryl” “Oh, like a white Darryl?” And in the second skit’s theme song: “He makes his jokes in private now MACGRUBER!” How in the world is Jorma going to make this in to a full length movie? I mean, I have faith in the Lonely Island guys but this seems Herculean.

Character of the Week: Samberg’s Nicholas Cage gets this every time he’s on. He just does.

Worst Skit: Sexy Shana At The Ski Lodge. Another Kristin Wiig character that just doesn’t do it for me. But it did give me this line, delivered by Barkley, that I’ll absolutely steal: “You guys wouldn’t know sexy if it sit on your face sayin ‘where’s my butt’”.

Should Have Been Funnier: Reel Quotes: They really like the format of Bill Hader playing the straight-man game show host with contestants who don’t quite get it. When I watched this a second time I thought it was funnier then the first time, but I put it here in the initial viewing so I’ll leave it. I think I put it here because Kristin Wiig’s part just isn’t good but Barkley’s is killer. And, much like Saturday, I cracked up at the “We’re going to need a bigger blank” “Shark.” “No, they’re trying to catch the shark. We’re going to need a bigger blank.” “Shark bag!” Also, “Life is like a box of dead people” didn’t suck either.

Digital Short: Booty Call. Alicia Keys gets home after a hard day of being Alicia Keys and calls Andy Samberg’s nerd character to come by and visit. Resounding “meh” but pretty much the only work Abbey and Moynihan got all night.

Weekend Update

  • James Carville (Bill Hader): My second favorite impression of the night after Samberg’s. Hader just nails Carville’s mannerisms and speech patters. He talks about the Christmas Day bombing and about his “why don’t you just measure my penis and let me get on the plane” line about body scanners at airports. “Measurin’ my penis is a long process…. and I mean’t the hell out of that pun.”
  • Nicholas Cage (Andy Samberg): Nicholas Cage comes out to discuss his new humanitarian efforts with Seth but keeps dropping off in to his various movies. Samberg (and the writing) nails the “takes himself way too seriously” Nicholas Cage.
  • David Paterson (Fred Armisen): The third appearance of David Paterson. This is so mean (but funny) and I am a sucker for New Jersey jokes. Did you know the people on Jersey Shore are the cream of the crop and that the show is Jersey’s McLaughlin Group?
  • “The California Medical Board has charged the doctor who treated of Octomom for violating professional guidelines. Who would have thought you could get in trouble for seeing how many babies you could stuff in to a crazy lady?”

Final Notes: Solid episode following their largest lead-in audience of the year. Although I thought putting the news between the football game and the show was kind of a stupid call by NBC. They spent half the day promoting the hell out of the fact Barkley was the host (including showing him dressed as Alicia Keys sitting at the piano and being in-studio with the Sunday Night Football studio crew) then they go through a half-hour dead period of stupid news so people can immediately tune out. It’s a shame, too because this was probably one of the strongest episodes of the year. Seth & co. really bring their A-game when writing for a non-actor. I was also sad to see it caused the “Barkley Bank” skit get cut to commercial in the middle because it looked like another really good one. Barkley runs a bank where he makes 2 promises: he’ll either double your money or lose it all. When you make your deposit, just pick your favorite color between red and black.

Written by Tom

January 12th, 2010 at 12:54 am

NFL Picks 2009: Blackberry Postin’ Wildcard Playoffs

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Totally forgot to do this… don’t even know the spreads but I’m assuming the Jets and Eagles are about 3 point dogs:

Jets outright over Bengals.
Eagles outright over Dallas
Cards outright over Packers
Patriots -3.5 over Ravens.

Written by Tom

January 9th, 2010 at 3:42 pm

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