Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Greatest Thing Since, Well, When Mtv Played Music

Someone over at Beyond The Veil had to just go and send me a link to this website, which just happens to be a free on-line platform in which you can browse and watch the entire Mtv music video catalog. If you go over there, please make sure you've got a few hours to kill....because it's taking my entire night at the moment.

Strangely enough 8 other people had watched the video of Mark Arm talking about grunge, and 9 other people had watched the video for Tripping Daisy's Blown Away. Also strange, it appears there was never a video for the Meat Puppet's Backwater, which I find hard to believe.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

If memory serves, the first time I went to the Oak Lawn Street Party (henceforth known as Street Party and occasionally known as the Gay Parade) was 1996, when I was 15. May have been a year later, but I know I was dating Alex and I was a young lad. I went in drag, though not sure why, and when I was cleaning out my childhood room just a few months ago I found the costume. Twelve years later I've probably been to a half dozen more of them, and every year it's a good time. I understand that people have issues (though I don't know why) with going to the "gay part of town" as though Oz style anal rape is a serious concern, but I learned long ago not to fight people on it and just accept it. People have their pre-conceived notions, and I'm not going to fight that.

That said, this year like most others, was a blast. Sure, there was the normal quotient of drag queens and men in little but a loin cloth and body glitter, but I've always been a firm believer in that we can all get along and when everyone is just having a good time the result is one hell of a party. Short of St. Patricks on Greenville Ave, this is probably the biggest street party of the year in Dallas. Great costumes, thousands of people, some bands, a fair amount of boozing....it's just fun. And for 8 of us, the cab fare from Lower Greenville was only $26, surprisingly low. I've got some photos which will eventually get uploaded to my myspace page, and some great memories.

Not to mention, I finally got a costume out of the headcrab hat. And many questions about what the fuck i was, along with many kudos from those who actually, you know, got it.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You Thought Your Break-Ups were Bad?

Just a funny story from some canadian website to end the week on a high;

Woman 'kills' ex-husband in online world

The Associated Press

A 43-year-old player in a virtual game world became so angry about her sudden divorce from her online husband that she logged on with his password and killed his digital persona, Japanese police said Thursday.

The woman, who has been jailed on suspicion of illegally accessing a computer and manipulating electronic data, used his ID and password to log onto the popular interactive game Maple Story to carry out the virtual murder in May, a police official in the northern city of Sapporo said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy. "I was suddenly divorced, without a word of warning. That made me so angry," the official quoted her as telling investigators and admitting the allegations. The woman, a piano teacher, had not plotted any revenge in the real world, the official said.

She has not yet been formally charged. If convicted, she could face up to five years in prison or a fine up to $5,000 US.

Best response I've heard? Atleast she didn't go digital Lorena Bobbitt and hack off his e-peen. What a strange world we live in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vinetta

While at the aforementioned wine tasting yesterday I tried quite a few fantastic wines. And I'd love to make Far Niente Cabernet or something of it's ilk the booze of the week, but the fact of the matter is none of us can afford to buy something like that for anything but the most special of occasions. Static and Wine supports alcohol consumption on a regular business, not the teetotaling consumption only on special holidays that some folks endorse. Moderation and safety are obviously key, but wine should be a part of people's lives. So as I stumbled upon one of the more underated and affordable wines I've had in a while, the little hamster started running on it's wheel in my head and I knew I had a lock for BotW. So without further adieu, Robert Mondavi Private Selection Vinetta is this week's selection for Booze Of The Week.

This is an extremely affordable (~$10 a bottle) wine that over delivers for it's price point, but first thing's first, what is a vinetta? Well the word Vinetta, while sometimes used as a name, is just a variant of Vincentia, the latin for vineyard. In this case though, vinetta is the name Robert Mondavi uses for it's bordeaux-style blend. It's a blend of 68% cabernet, 14% merlot, 11% petite verdot, 5% malbec, and the elusive 2% cab franc. Why they chose to call it vinetta is anyone's guess, but I will tell you it is quite lovely.

While a little fruitier than one would expect from an actual Bordeaux, I think it's a fair comparison. It's a well balanced wine that has a fair amount of staying power but not overly tannic or heavy. The nose is mostly oak and plum while the taste is cherries, cocoa, licorice, and a bit of smoke and/or oak.

It's available in both 1.5L and 750mL sizes, has a faux cork, and the fruit is from the Central and North Coast Appellations. I'd pair it with grilled meat (though it might be a little underwhelming for a big steak, think lamb or pork) or blue cheese.

It's one of those rare few bottles of wine that overdelivers on it's price point, then again that's true of most Robert Mondavi wines (if you can find a better Sauv Blanc than Woodbridge for $9 a 1.5L I'm all ears). I could easily see paying $14.99 for this and consider it quite the bargain at $10. So there you have it, you know the drill, drop me line if you've had it or if you find yourself grabbing a bottle this weekend. Cheers!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Fun Than Should Be Allowed In A Coat And Tie

I won't lie, there are most certainly some very nice perks to being a wine salesman. I mean sure, there are plenty of drawbacks-as there are with any sales position- but those of us in the business often pontificate on the fact that atleast we're not selling copy machines or cars. We're selling a product that's arguably not a necessity, but instead a luxury item and something that people enjoy. And best of all, no matter the economy or personal mood one truth always remains-people drink. Celebrating? Have a drink. Depressed? Have a drink. Unlike many luxury items, it takes a lot for people to turn their back on alcohol. That aside though, one of the greatest perks is being able to taste so many great bottles of wine.

Today was Glazer's 4th annual "Big Reds & Bubbles" tasting, and the second I've attended. Much like the yearly TPSA Convention (if you ever get a chance to go, do yourself a favor and do it) except without the spirits and beer, this is basically a giant room with 30 some odd wine suppliers showcasing their best of the best for customers (and salesman, hehe). Each one has a table with somewhere between 5 and 10 wines available to taste and they're more than willing to not only pour you some, but also educate you on the wines. It's a fantastic experience, and one I can't recommend enough to everyone if you ever get the chance (and if you're into wines and/or in the retail alcohol or restaurant business, lemme know and I will try to get you an invite next time).

Most people made the obligatory beeline for the Cristal when they got there (which I'd like to add is quite over-rated), but then like me found themselves preferring Roederer's L'Ermitage Cuvee which is quite possibly the best Champagne I've ever had, though the vintaged Moet and Veuve Clicquot offerings were also great as was Gloria Ferrer's vintage cuvee and the Cuvee Louise from Pommery. Most people that know me know that, like my father, I'm a sucker for the bubbles....we're a family of Champagne lovers. You put the bubbly in front of us and it doesn't last long.

Which isn't to say that the reds weren't also magnificent. I was a little disappointed that BV didn't showcase their Rutherford (Rutherford Dust is one of the more delicious, and curious, regional wine qualities), but the Dulcet, Tapestry, and Georges de Latour were mighty fine, especially sitting next to the Sterling 3 Palms Merlot, Sterling Reserve Cabernet, and Navarro Correas Ultima. On the whole I thought Diageo had one of the better tables. Other notables included the Far Niente Cabernet (still amazing), Allegrini's fantastic Palazzo Della Torre, each of St. Hallet's shirazes, the J. Lohr Cuvee Series, St. Clement's Orropas, and 75's Sauvignon Blanc (what can I say, I'm a sucker for a dry, slatey, grapefruit style Sauv Blanc).

In the end, it was a fantastic afternoon, I tasted some 60 wines-and I was even disciplined enough to pour and/or spit out a lot of really nice wines and pace myself. I'm almost shocked at my sobriety.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Political Sign Game

After my brother bought one last week, and subsequently had it stolen (no shock there), I decided today that it was finally time to get myself an Obama yard sign. Now I of course bought two ($5 a piece, fyi) knowing that the one in the yard would be vandalized and/or stolen, and put the second one on our balcony where a thief would have to be very James Bond to get it.

I say all that just to say this. Most people have no idea where to get a presidential yard sign. I actually had to do a little research myself to find it. So if you want an Obama, or any Democrat, yardsign, in Dallas you need to go to Parry Ave. just east of Exposition to find the Dems HQ and you can have your very own for $5. And while you're there, stop into Amsterdam Bar and grab a beer. Should you want a McCain, or other GOP yardsign, in Dallas you go to the GOP HQ on Greenville Ave. just north of Lovers. Both offices will also give you a list of places to early vote if you're into that sort of thing.

Me? I prefer voting on election day. And am voting against every incumbant and encourage you to do the same. Yes, that includes voting against Democrat Eddie Bernice Johnson in the House, who drives me just up the wall.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Max Payne

So I went to go see Max Payne this weekend. On opening night at that, something I haven't done since a Lord Of The Rings or Star Wars movie, although it wasn't really by design-just a free night and finding someone willing to actually go with me what with the terrible reviews and all. Although I will admit I was fairly excited to see it, what with being a huge fan of the games and all. I absolutely loved both of the games, and outside of Half-Life, Half-Life 2, and arguably No One Lives Forever they were my favorite first person shooter (guess it was actually third person, but hey, it's a shooter). Great games, complete with a good story line (strangely enough, I remember there were rumors of a movie with the first one) and good game play. But the games aren't the point of this, the movie is.

The cinematography was amazing. Done in a very film noir style, the lighting, sets, and constant falling snow gave the movie a great vibe. It was actually quite loyal to the style of the game, and it gave the movie a great starting base. The problem is, I'm starting off this review by talking about the cinematography...and that's not a good sign.

I will be upfront, I'd give the movie a C, maybe a C+. And that's coming from someone that knew and loved the story going in, and really enjoyed the game. Much like Hitman (which I really did enjoy) I really, really wanted to love this movie. And while I'm not totally sold on Mark Wahlberg, or even Ludacris, I do find Olga Kurylenko to be amazingly hot (sadly, no nudes like in Hitman, and I feel like a teenager asking for boobies). The problem is this, the movie didn't know what it wanted to be. The first 20m or so were extremely slow, and throughout the rest of it they would introduce ancillary storylines that weren't at all crucial. Then on top of that, the tried to shove in the storyline from Max Payne 2 on top of the original, and the result was this garbled mess of strange tangents that weren't advancing the plot combined with unexplained parts of the story that, well, really kind of needed to be explained.

When the movie is over and you look over the storyline presented you see holes, but not glaring ones....it's a complete story. It's just that while you're watching it you feel as thought it's garbled and could have been done so much better. You see a few good action scenes, but also some really completely unbelievable ones. And in the end, it just felt incomplete. I think that's my best description, it seemed like a long and yet incomplete movie without any real drive or purpose.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Debate No. 3

First off, this was most certainly the best of the debates. It was the first time it actually felt like a debate, the first time the candidates actually challenged each other, and the best moderated of the three. Last time was a bit of a snoozer with the first being a feeling out process, so I felt this was a nice cap to it-though I would love to see a couple more.

What actually shocked me about this one was not the attacks, those were expected, but the uncertainty in victory. While the polls are still being run, I was surprised to find that when surveying people I knew afterwards, they tended to think the other won. The big Obamaphiles I know thought McCain had won it and were doom/gloom, meanwhile the McCainiacs I know thought Obama won it. Strange, really.

Me? I thought Obama won it handily. In fact, I thought while this might not have been his best performance (as Paul pointed out, he stumbled over his words quite a bit) as an orator he did the best job yet of refuting the McCain criticism and laying out plans. I thought the only clear victory for McCain was in the way he twisted Obama's vague syntax to make him appear more like a politician. Meanwhile, I thought he completely dropped the ball on the abortion question (don't kid yourself, pro-life crazies are a huge swing vote for the GOP), refused to get into specifics in most cases, and while he tried to play the Ayers card was rebuffed.

In the end though, I think it comes down to this. I don't make $250k a year, nor do you most likely....nor do most if not all of the people we know. When Obama says he's going to give us all a tax break, McCain responds with saying it will affect small business, and Obama then responds that it won't affect 98% of small businesses....well....how can he not win? And McCain sounded so muddled and pro big business in his responses, while CNN thought McCain won the first half hour I thought it sunk him. Then again, we shall see what the polls say, in the meantime my notes;

-Fucking John McCain blinks every other second. Is that a medical condition? Because it's driving me insane.

-A few minutes in starts the Joe the Plumber nonsense. Obama originall dodges it, then roundaboutly addresses it-thing is, the dude is buying a business....he's increasing his income. Since when do our taxes not go up when our income goes up?

-McCain then goes hardcore at painting Obama is a socialist. All the FNC conservatives are fist pumping and pelvic thrusting in their living rooms. The rest of America heard what Obama just said about, you know, lowering your taxes.

-This MacAllen 10yr old Scotch I bought for tonite is fucking orgasmic. Seriously. The honey on the palate is completely unexpected.

-McCain dodges the specifics of what he will cut, and while Obama did a partial dodge, McCain dodges it and then brings it back to energy.

-I can't recall a case where a candidate trashes his party's incumbent President like McCain has. Crazy to me how low the public support for Bush is, and how the candidates are distancing. Being associate with the President right now appears to be akin to being a pariah.

-McCain shows support for the Cowboys losing. I regret my vote for him in the 2000 primary.

-McCain states that Sarah Palin "understands that autism is on the rise." What the fuck does that even mean? Who doesn't understand that, and why does that make her qualified?

-Obama finally broaches the Ayers topic himself (previously he'd only mentioned ACORN). Obama does a great job refuting the Ayers connection, but a very poor job regarding ACORN, never addressing why money went to them. The former was a win Obama, the latter McCain.

-I understand amongst intellectuals, or atleast those involved in politics, the litmus test regarding SC judges is somewhat an issue. Thing is, to the majority of America I don't think they give two shits. McCain prattles on about litmus tests and experience instead of taking the clear victory amongst pro-lifers given to him. Mind you the pro-lifers are never going to support Obama, but their lack of support for McCain is alarming for him, and his bobbling of that question appalling. He needed to come out hardcore in support of pro-life SC judges, and he muddled it.

-McCain talks about "gold caddilac insurance plans" and then moves on to cosmetic surgery and.....transplants? Yes, he said transplants. I really fucking hope that was a mis-speak, because I'm not sure a heart transplant counts as luxury surgery.

-It's amazing how healthcare, education, and abortion have become ancillary issues. Money talks, and people are losing it.

-Over the past decade there's been this strange shift to where we think people are entitled to college education. Why is that? Obama mentions people graduating college with debt...and while I personally was blessed, I'm really not sure what the problem is. Why is it the governments job to help you get through college? They offer you education through high school, why is that being extended to college?

-I've never heard about this Troops To Teachers program, but it scares the hell out of me that McCain says a soldier can become a teacher without any training or certification. That sounds like a terrible idea.

-And finally, McCain tried to pull the heart strings of the American woman with his silly Sarah Palin understands special needs children thing. The woman has a six month old child with Downs, and yet she's now supposed to know "more than most" about special needs children? She's supposed to be an expert on Autism? That's as absurd as his claim that she's an expert on energy. A baby's a retard at 6mos old regardless of disease, if she thinks that's given her some special knowledge on special needs children then she's in for a rude awakening when the kid turns 2 or 5 or 15.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado

As it often does, this week's BotW selection found me versus me finding it. As there I was at El Guapo's in Denton, TX. trying to decide what to drink, not wanting the sugars of beer or wine, and opting instead to order Sauza Hornitos, my standard tequila, on the rocks when Big D the Bartender told me I wanted the Tradicional instead. I insisted no, I prefer the Hornitos, but he insisted as well-and being a friend of mine he can do that-and poured me the Tradicional instead. With three cubes and a wedge of lime which I didn't find myself needing. It was an exceptionally smooth, albeit unspectacular tequila, and on account of being in my belly and tasty is this week's selection for Booze Of The Week.

Before we go into the tequila itself though, a few tequila basics. Tequila is distilled from the Agave plant generally in the Tequila region of Mexico which is near Guadalajara in the state of Jalisco. It is similar but not the same as Mezcal, another spirit which most folks know for the worm in the bottle. There are two types of tequila, mixtos and 100% Agave. Mixtos use up to 49% of other sugars in the fermentation process where as the latter is obviously 100% agave, with the best tequilas being 100% blue agave. As with other spirits, there's also an aging classification system with tequila. Blanco (or silver) tequila spends less than 2mos in oak barrels, oro (or gold) is blended with aged tequilas, and mixed with coloring and or sugars, reposado tequila is aged between 2mos and a year in oak barrels, and anejo is aged 1-3 years in oak barrels. Recently an extra anejo category was established for tequilas aged a minimum of 3 years in oak so ya, they've got that going for them.

Normally at this point I'd also go into the history of Jose Cuervo, but it's a really long and strange history. Suffice it to say that there have been several different Jose Cuervos, although José Antonio de Cuervo was the original in 1758 with a grant from Spain for the distillery, and that tequila was the drink of the masses and/or proletariat during most every war and uprising within Mexico. For such a weird beverage it has an equally weird history.

As for the subject here, Jose Cuervo Tradicional Reposado, it is obviously a reposado tequila-and beyond that a fantastic entry level high end tequila. On account of a shortage of Blue Agave a few years back tequila tends to be fairly expensive for anything but the most rotgut, and as a result of that and our familiarity with the Margarita, most people have little regard for high end tequila. This however qualifies as a higher end tequila, and at ~$25 a bottle isn't prohibitely priced. It's quite smooth, although you can definitely taste the alcohol, with a little bit of smoke and wood on the taste and a fairly long finish. It's very indicative of a reposado tequila, and a nice entry level selection for those not wanting to spend the money on a high end tequila which can easily run $50 a bottle.

The Delta Lodge

Mark Twain once said, "reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated." I'm not going to necessarily apply the line to the fate of the Delta Lodge, but after a year or more of hearing from folks that the Lodge was dead, I won't deny that it came to mind today during the organization's National Convention. But more on that in a bit.

Most people know that I spent my first semester of college at SMU in Dallas on account of having aspirations of a career as an attorney (I've since discvored that while I do enjoy the law, law school just wasn't for me). And while I did enjoy my time there, and really I did, about midway through that semester I realized that it just wasn't for me, and that the outrageous tuition was just that. Upon this realization, I made the decision to transfer to the University of North Texas in Denton, TX. and my fate was sealed. And while I enjoyed UNT more than SMU, and the cost was much less, after about a year there I had a fairly limited circle of friends, a failing relationship, and I felt the need to broaden my horizons, to improve my collegiate experience.

I'd considered the fraternities at SMU, and decided they just weren't for me. When I got to Denton I'd heard a great deal about the Delta Lodge, infamous for Fry St. Fair, their toga parties, and their persona as the twin brother of Delta Tau Chi of Animal House fame (which is fictional, for the record). I'd rushed the fraternity a couple of times, but backed out of pledging-the idea of joining a fraternity just didn't seem like a good one. In the fall of 2002 however, at the age of 20, I decided to take the plunge and go for it. I still remember vivdly the day I decided to do it, it was a brother's barbecue (note to those not familiar, Delta is a co-ed fraternity. and yes, that's weird) at the still infamous Fry House, but this was back when the abandoned (and haunted) hospital was across the street instead of the current overpriced apartments (also haunted). I also remember the way the people I know looked at my like I was on fire when I told them I was not only joining a fraternity, but joining the Delta Lodge. But I was stagnating, and it was something I had to do for myself, and so I did it-and after a series of strange events I won't bother recounting because if you lived in Denton in 2002 you probably remember, I became a member. But you see, that's not all I remember.

For while that place brought me a more than moderate amount of weight that could be attributed to excessive beer consumption, or my succubus of an ex-girlfriend, or a broken foot and road rash on account of getting hit by and thrown off of an automobile whilst wearing a bedsheet, at the same time it brought me so much more, and I was reminded of this as I sat there today. Of the confidence in myself I gained, of the maturation in me as a person, of the mastery of beer-die, of the first woman I ever really loved, of the lifetime's worth of great (albeit debaucherous) memories, and most importantly all of the good people and great friends I met. Like most any organization it had it's dead weight, but a few years removed from college I look back at the people I met, many still very good friends today, and I think little but fond thoughts. And even more impressive has been watching us all grow together, from terribly immature and melodramatic college students (you can't fathom the drama, believe me) into strangely drama-free and rational adults. It really does bring a smile to my face, and it also brings me back to where I started.

Considered dead in December of 2007 when the lone chapter was suspended and a buyer was sought for the monstrosity of a house at 1305 West Oak St. in Denton, TX, now a Campus Christian Center, it appears as thought the organization will survive. It seems quite clear that it won't be as a collegiate fraternity (not that the Lodge ever bore more than surface resemblance to a classic Greek fraternity anyway), but instead as a social organization in the vein of the IOOF or Water-Buffaloes. How that organization will be built and how it will function is a subject of debate at this point, but there are many of us to whom it is very dear collaborating on that, and in the end I wrote all that to say this;

If you're a member, and many of my readers are, do yourself a favor and get involved with this. It can be as simple as just registering at the new website or as in depth as getting your proverbial hands dirty and helping to craft a new organization out of the ashes of the old one. Much like with politics, if you don't get involved you forfeit your right to bitch. And to the outsiders whom have in the last year mocked the demise of the Lodge, let me just say that "reports of my demise are greatly exaggerated." Or atleast they might be.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Is there a better feeling in the world.....

....than getting to call the cable company and tell them you want to discontinue service.

Ok, maybe sex. Or free money. Or a good football game. Heroin's apparently pretty good too. Ok, there are a lot of better feelings.

Point is, it's such a liberating feeling to call the cable company and tell them to take a hike. Oh why did I want to disconnect my service, the "retention specialist" asks? Because you don't have NFL network. And your picture quality sucks. At which point he of course tells me that the NFL is greedy and they're trying to negotiate something and hey, I still get the other football games. At which point I of course respond that that's fantastic, but it's not the NFL network.....and you didn't even address the terrible picture quality. Oh, is there anything you can do to retain my service, you ask? I said sure, free HBO and Showtime. And then he grudgingly admits defeat.

Victory is mine. Soon the cable will be gone, replaced with sunny happy AT&T U-verse and it's more channels, faster internet, better picture quality, and a free DVR that will record four shows at once. Oh, and the NFL network. And just in time for Winter.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Presidential Debate No. 2

I'm intentionally avoiding the post-debate talking heads to provide myself better, and less influenced, perspective on the hour and a half of hot air I just witnessed. I don't know why I enjoyed Presidential debates (nevermind that they're not even a real debate), as when they end I always find myself in the same position-shaking my head at all the bullshit the candidates tried to spoonfeed us, and further shaking it at the thought that people really believe them. But I guess that's why they have debates on tuesdays (no football) and broadcast it on all networks to avoid actually entertaining programming....and in the end, I owe it to myself and this blog to patiently sit through the debate with an open mind, open eyes, and a wee bit of Cutty Sark, which may or may not have been on sale and made the debate much more palatable.

So ya, my analysis. I think if one went into this debate with no knowledge of the current political landscape and as a truly middle of the road candidate, one would give the nod to Senator John McCain in this one. I thought, while at times sounding a little too Washington (to some folks that's statesmanlike, its really relative), he overall seemed to have the better grasp of the issues, especially when it came to National Security and while he made jabs at Senator Obama, he resisted the temptation to go for the jugular which I think would have backfired. In fact, I was quite surprised by the lack of attacks within the debate, expecting quite the opposite. And I was utterly shocked that McCain didn't reiterate the talking point VPILF Palin had been pushing earlier this week of Obama's "association with terrorists" referring to William Ayers. Obama had many great moments, I just thought McCain had a few more and a better protrayal of himself.

Yes, I would give McCain the advantage and a slight victory in this debate. That said, going into this debate with knowledge of the current political landscape, I think he didn't do what he needed to do. I think it's close to impossible for a GOP Presidential candidate at the moment in light of the proverbial shit hitting the fan the past few weeks (and especially past couple days) with the financial markets to distance himself far enough from George W. Bush, and furthermore to build any sort of credibility when the GOP has held the Presidency for the last eight years and congress for most of them. McCain's task is gargantuan, and as such I thought he had to have an incredibly good performance tonite to try and stop the bleeding that the polls indicate is occuring. With a month to go Obama is starting to run away with it, which shouldn't be happening, but is on account of this economic mess. So McCain tonight needed not only an Obama fumble, but also to pick up the fumble and return it for a touchdown. Or he could have blocked a field goal and returned it for a TD....the analogy holds. Genius, right? Point being, Obama didn't turn over the football and McCain wasn't able to score some convincing points. And now, to my notes;

-To open the debate Brokaw says that the world has changed in the past 12 days. Could that favor Obama?

-10m into the debate both candidates still looked really uncomfortable and shaky in the debate. And there's something really odd about having them just pacing around during questions, or sitting in strangely tall chairs. I liked the questions, but the pacing was just weird.

-When confronted, both candidates refused to acknowledge the 300lb gorilla in the room, namely that the economy is going to get a hell of a lot worse before it gets better. Really a little disappointing that they wouldn't admit what we all know. Hell, have you checked the Dow today?

-McCain wants to renegotiate home mortgages with the bailout plan? I know the plan allows for it, but it's a little surprising.....and a welcome change in policy-even if I still loathe the bailout. But if you're gonna do it, you might as well use it to bundle mortgages and use that buying power to renegotiate them.

-I'm not sure if the audience is in their formal attire, but if so, these are some of the worst dressed people ever. Mis-matching clothes everywhere, to say nothing of their terrible wording of their questions.

-McCain admits that Social Security benefits will have to be altered so as not to bankrupt this country. He may have ignored the other 300lb gorilla, but kudos to him for acknowleding this one.

-McCain refuses to prioritize issues (presumably to get back at Obama saying McCain couldn't do multiple things at once back when he suspended his campaign), Obama prioritizes them energy, healthcare, and then education. Strangely enough, to this point, McCain puts a lot more emphasis on energy while Obama put the emphasis on healthcare-which befuddled me.

-Obama compares his 10 year plan to energy independence to JFK's 10 year program to get to the moon. Nice move.

-I understand an am equally annoyed by the candidated running over and refusing to stay in the allotted time, but does Brokaw really have to be a broken record about it?

-Why is McCain so in love with Nuclear Power? I understand it as a component of energy policy, but he repeatedly cites it over wind or water or even solar. This isn't 1965.

-So Brokaw asks this great question about whether we need a Manhattan Project or a Silicone Valley like approach to the energy problem-a fantastic question-and McCain dodges it while Obama is never even asked the question. That was a great question.

-I don't get McCain repeatedly saying we need to drill for more oil now to "bridge the gap" on energy when just last week even VPILF Palin didn't refute that it would take 10 years to access to the oil we'd be drilling for. Even if the drilling did reduce prices, there's no way that would hold up-it's really a poor stopgap.

-At 9:10pm CST I switched over to CNN for a few minutes. They're running with that stupid tracker again this week, and again it's "Uncommitted Ohio Voters." I guess the Cleveland Browns fans need something to feel good about.

-Why the fuck are we talking about Pakistani territorial sovereignty? Seriously? That's important? With everything going on, we're going to discuss Pakistani territorial sovereignty? And the worst part was, it was a heated topic

-One thing about what Obama is saying, can you imagine if on 9/11/01 the American public had been told that in a debate on 10/07/08 we'd still be arguing about finding and killing Osama bin Laden? Over seven fucking years later, dude's still alive and well.

-At 9:25p we get the obligatory Israel question. Why the hell are we talking about Israel? Again, with all the issues, is that seriously concerning anyone right now?

-If you're John McCain's age, his wife is the American dream. Just saying.

-Did it strike anyone else strange that while McCain is just shaking hands and talking to people, the audience are all whipping out cameras after the debate to take pictures, both of and with, Obama? I didn't see any camera angles of that going on with McCain. The Obama effect is just so strange.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


In contrast to most saturdays, I decided this saturday to forego College Football for a few hours, along with work, working out, and Warhammer (but fear not, i squeezed them all in later) and to get a few friends together and go see a matinee. I'm not sure why, what with Burn After Reading also in theatres , Max Payne arriving in them next week, and having pre-screening passes to see W. next week, but we decided it would be a nice day for a $5 noon matinee and to roll with Appaloosa, I'll admit at my suggestion. In case you've missed it, here's the trailer.

It's a western based in New Mexico Territory in the 1880s. Starring Ed Burns (who also directed it), Aragorn (or Stryder....or I guess Viggo Mortensen, if you don't follow me here), and the fairly unattractive Renee Zellwegger who looks absolutely terrible in this movie. The trailer offers glimpses of a standard western movie reminiscent of Tombstone which is action packed, full of gun fights and injuns and cowboys...you know, a western.

Well, Appaloosa wasn't quite that. I mean it was in the West, and it had a few gunfights, and occasional action, but the film was built around the characters and the dialogue and not testosterone and violence. Not saying that's a bad thing, the characters were fairly deep and likeable (or hateable, if you will) and the dialogue was good for more than a few laughs, just that it is what it is. A fair amount of the 2 hour film is spent with dialogue between Virgil (Harris) and Everitt (Aragorn) in what amounts to a fairly strange friendship/partnership-and I will admit there are some great conversations, some ending almost Seinfeld-ian. It's just that I wasn't prepared for witty epithets and dialogue going into a Western-and the trailer didn't exactly prepare me for it.

For instance, here's the decscription of the film;

When two gunmen, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, arrive in Appaloosa they find a
small, dusty and lawless town suffering at the hands of renegade rancher Randall
Bragg. Bragg has not only taken supplies, horses, and women for his own, but
also has left the city marshal and a deputy for dead. In Bragg they find an
unusually wily adversary who raises the stakes by playing with emotions. It is
now up to Cole and Hitch to stand against the actions of the renegade rancher,
which have already taken their toll on the town.

And while all that's true, the bulk of the movie isn't spent on that. Without spoiling it, just let me say that while all of those things do happen, they're not the bulk of the film-instead it's dialogue and the dynamics of relationships (with Zellwegger's character looking remarkably familiar to me). Again, not bad....really, it wasn't a bad movie. Southwick liked it, compared it to the infamous Unforgiven, which is fairly high praise.

Me? I was lukewarm in the end. It was good, but not great. I'm glad I saw it, I did enjoy it, but it's not one of those movies you tell people that they absolutely must see it. If it were being graded, maybe a C+ or B-. I'd say it's a great home movie, not a great theater movie (though the sound on the shotgun firing was pretty cool, as strange as that sounds). It's a great movie for a bored night at home to grab off PPV, Tivo, or Blockbuster.

Friday, October 3, 2008


Originally I had something else in mind for this week's selection, but between yesterday evenings trip to happy hour at the Cock and Bull and the couple bottles that T-bone left in my fridge before he left this weekend, I'm calling an audible at the line and choosing Maredsous as this week's Booze Of The Week.

One disclaimer though, there are actually two different types of Maredsous. They're quite similar to each other, but one is generally draft only and is 8% alcohol whereas the bottled version is 10% alcohol. There's also a blonde that's 6% but I've never seen it, so I'm going to pretend it doesn't exist. The Maredsous 8, as the 8% version is called, is a dubble ale which is a designation simply that it is stronger than a pilsner but weaker than a triple, which is what the Maredsous 10 is.

Maredsous is often confused with Trappist (or Abbey) ales which are actually produced in a monk's abbey, as has been the tradition for hundreds of years. Chimay is a prime example of this, except that Maredsous is not actually produced at the Maredsous Abbey but is instead licensed to another company (although the Maredsous Abbey does produce Maredsous Cheese). It's also worth noting that the producer of Maredsous (Duvel Moortgat Brewery) are also the makers of Duvel, which was founded in 1871 (Maredsous only dates back to 1963).
But that's not what you care about, you want to know more about the beer itself (unless you've already had it). So I will tell you that it's pretty widely available at specialty stores and pub-style bars in the US before telling you that for such a high alcohol beer, it's amazingly smooth and sweet. There's a little more hop and spice on the Maredsous 10, but both of the beers share a characteristic of being dark beers that are not bitter on account of the burnt malt, but instead strangle sweet, and as a result one of those trap beers that's so good you don't realize how drunk out of your mind you're getting as you drink it-consider that a pint is the equivalent to almost two pints of your average American pilsner, and you know why this beer has produced so many drunken nights for so many folks.
It's also worth noting that Maredsous is bottle-conditioned, meaning that it's fermented in the bottle and can last several years if stored upright in a cool place, unlike most beers which spoil in a matter of months. It also means there will be a fair amount of yeast and sediment in the bottle, so be prepared.
But ultimately, the charm of this beer is that it's a dark beer that doesn't taste quite like a dark beer, but at the same time is a great cold weather beer that's chock full of alcohol. And while I envision this re-appearing as the BotW come December or January, its also this week's Booze Of The Week.

The VPILF vs. the Man With The Creepy Forehead

Well now, that was much more interesting than the first Presidential debate. I almost wish we could have another VP debate. I took notes last night as I watched it with Stacey and T-bone, but before I go down those I want to say that I think Biden won the debate handily. The media seems to be running with it was either a draw or a slight edge to Biden and conservatives are generally holding to it being a draw. In reality, I think Biden beat her pretty soundly. The problem is that people went into it with such low expectations for Palin that the fact that she didn't sounds simply retarded somehow makes this a draw. That's absurd. If you judge it based solely on the debate and without political persuasion or expectations going in, it's pretty clear that Biden won. Which isn't to say Biden was without questionable comments-as I will point out below-but instead that he simply sounded as though he had a much better grasp of the issues. Now, some of my observations;

-Biden starts talking about controversial issues he's been working on. What is the first thing he cites? Violence against women? How is that controversial, unless he's advocating more of it.

-The first, and it was weak, attack from Palin was regarding Biden's year in the senate, and how that made him an insider. In the same breath she then praises John McCain as a maverick, apparently unaware that he's also been in the senate for 20 years?

-Five minutes into the debate, Palins has said "darn right" three times. Thankfully she stops at three.

-At 8:09pm CST the GOP officially abandons the notion of personal responsibility as Palin blames the entire financial crisis on "predatory lenders" preying on the unsuspecting public. Please, that's ridiculous. On top of that, she then asks for more government oversight and more government involvement....it sounded like Bush.

-Biden hammers Palin about McCain's constant votes to de-regulate, she dodges the question. The moderator asks if she'd like to answer, she dodges the question. I mean flat out doesn't even reference it, instead falling back to energy.

-Ten minutes after askin for more government involvement, Palin says that, "government isn't the solution, but the problem" and promises less government. Um, which is it?

-Palin claims energy is her area of expertise and keeps coming back to it in spite of the questions. At this point in the debate, approximately 30m in, she sounds lost. She sounds as though she's reading from a set of rehearsed talking points in spite of anything Joe Biden says and in spite of the questions actually asked of her.

-Biden proposes not just adjusting the interest on bad home loans, but adjusting the principle. Um, what? So the bank is just going to give the customers money? This made absolutely no sense.

-Why does Biden keep numbering his answers? Stacey points it out and it after that it annoys me everytime he does it. Every answer was first this, second that.

-Palin brings it back to the 05 energy bill that Obama voted for four times. Is that all she's got? Because a 3 year old energy bill really doesn't sound like much, especially when Biden pressed her on it taking 10 years before we'd see a drop of the oil she's proposing drilling and she doesn't address that.

-I had to rewind it to be sure, but yes, Palin did in fact call him General Betrayus.....that's a pretty bad freudian slip.

-At 8:43pm Palin made her first succesful rebuttal of Biden and it was regarding Iraq. This was the point in the debate where she started to sound not just comfortable, but competent. If you watched the last half it was a draw, the thing is, if you watched the entirety of it she was beating soundly.

-At 9:05 I switched it from FNC to CNN which again was running their little meter at the bottom of the screen. And while I have no idea how they're measuring this weird little graph, I'm even more confused on why this week it was measuring "uncommitted Ohio Voters" which as Stacey pointed out is poorly worded....are these single voters? Bad in relationships? Or just undecided?

-At 9:14 Palin says that John McCain has tapped her. We all laugh. Especially since it was 20s after I commented how nice her ass and legs looked, and the third time T-bone made a really creepy comment about how he would have her.

-Why was there so much argument over the role of the VP and whether it's more executive or legislative? Besides it being a pretty clear issue, it was a really weird avenue for the debate to go down as they ended up arguing about Dick Cheney.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


The following is the letter which I both e-mailed and literally wrote and mailed to my congressman. Knowing that the Senate was going to rubberstamp this thing, I didn't see much point in sending one to Hutchinson or Cornyn. Anyway, thought I'd share;

Dear Rep. Johnson,

As a constituent of yours, I felt it necessary to alert you to mysevere disdain for the $700b bailout package being debated in congress, and urge you to vote against it.

Like most responsible Americans, I did not take out a loan in excess of my means, or attempt to purchase a house outside my means. Furthermore I am well aware that the stock market is a risky proposition and while much of my savingsare tied up in stocks and my 401k plan, I am willing to take the short term hit to improve the long term health of the American economy. It's going to get worse before it get's better, I understand and accept that.

I find it extraordinarily disturbing that the American government hasseen it fit to even consider this package, one that further erodes at the free market and once again bails out the haves on Wall St. in the face of the rest of America that is already struggling in this economic recession. The estimated $2,300 cost per every man, woman, and child in the United States tied into this bill is simply unacceptable.

This may or may not turn into a crisis, but it needs to be a crisisthat resolves itself and not one that is again patched with a band-aid solution only to re-appear months or years down the road with taxpayers already holding the bag. I implore you, please do not vote for this bill, and please convince your colleagues to join you in voting against it.

It's not only prohibitively expensive, but it is recklesslyirresonposible.

Sincerely, M.A. Gunter

And that's all you're going to get out of me tonight. After 9 hours of holiday meetings at the office today, I'm going to enjoy a glass of Scotch and an hour of Warhammer Online and then sleep.