25 October 2009

a pretty nice little saturday

On Saturday i went - with brooke, eric, bethany, shane, & grant - to the quaint (don't look up etymologies, as a general rule) little town of Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin. It was my first visit to Mt. Horeb, though i'd known it by reputation and street sign for more than a dozen or so years.

The drive there is the same drive (at least at the start - US Hwy 18) as the road to Decorah, so even en route, i am calm and content... On entering Mt. Horeb you pass through a series of roundabouts. The great thing about roundabouts is that you never quite have to stop & wait at them as you would a stoplight. The lousy thing about roundabouts is that Americans don't really quite get them... or trust them.

On arrival, after Rex Grossman walked around and screamed at people downtown, we made a brief stop at the Mustard Museum. There was quite a lot of mustard there.

After this visit, we moved on to the main stop, The Grumpy Troll, a well-run, really pleasant brew pub & pizzeria at 2nd St. & Main St. We sat downstairs, at the bar (the best way to get to know any place is to sit at the bar) and sampled some of the beers. The Troll's beers tend not to fall victim to the great failing of many micro (or home)-brews. Often a small brewing operation tends to rely too much on flavor, forgetting that beer-drinkers, in fact, enjoy beer. A chocolate stout tastes a bit much like chocolate, an ale with a hint of citrus too often gets drowned out by that citrus, but, for the most part, the Grumpy Troll avoids this pitfall. Their jalepeño beer (Slow Eddie) has just a touch of spice, on the finish, and adds a lovely compliment to a pizza (more on that in just a sec). Their only beer that does tend to fall victim to over-flavoration is the Maggie Imperial IPA and, in fact, the way it's over-flavored isn't offensive, rather, pushy. The Maggie measures 100 IBU's (International Bittering Units?), and is, in some ways, an IPA drinker's dream beer, but the bitter almost (but not quite) overpowers all else. In the end, the Maggie is good for a pint, but i'm not sure i'd want much more than that. The champion beer for me, though, was the CCCP Spetsnaz Stout, a lovely, dark stout with chocolate & coffee undertones.

Finally, at 4pm, the pizzeria upstairs opened. The pizza was some of the best i've found anywhere. I think maybe even better than (and certainly distinct from) Mamma Lilla's in Clinton, which is my favorite (comfort food) pizza. The crust was really quite good and they had several well-designed specialty pies. Also adding to the place's charm were the sort of retro video games, including a Sunset Riders knock-off in which we (Shane & I, natch) played some sort of mutant bulls...

After leaving the wonderful company of the Grumpy Troll, we headed back into Madison & hit the Great Dane Pub & Brewery at the Hilldale Mall in Madison. A diverting stop, though, no beer for me...

Finally, on the drive home we made a stop at Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills, having some pints of their Pumpkin Spice Ale and Chocolate Porter as well as picking up a Growler of the Stone Tepee Pale Ale. And, with a gassy belly & a really quite mild beer buzz, we returned home to Milwaukee.

23 October 2009

on this date in history:

joel was awash in consumer electronics (and actually being read)

20 October 2009

Lo-Fi Authenticity: a review of Paranormal Activity & Capitalism: A Love Story

*Note: This entry went unfinished for a long time (currently writing most of it 13 January 2010), so it isn't very well thought through or specific... but that shouldn't do much to the credibility of RNJ as it is already in question (see rest of blog).

The fairly simple premise of both these films gets carried through to their structure and feel. What you've got here is a couple movies about terror (as opposed to horror) and an amateurish, 'thrown-together' feel, which makes the terror feel real.

Perhaps the best scene that tells this story is when Micah leaves a Ouija Board on the coffee table and (SPOILER ALERT!) the 'cursor' moves a little bit, it starts spelling something out, then starts on fire. This is a cliché more often than not, but it works because it looks like it HAS to be real, because there're no 'special effects' in this movie (because it looks like a home video, see).

What, you may be asking, is the distinction between terror and horror. Well, Ann Radcliffe thought that terror is the sensation of feeling immanent horror. Horror is actually experiencing the event.


I remember when I first conceived of this post and it was going to be so good... so interesting.
Sorry about that.

Oh, and there was a great parallel to Capitalism, but by this time it's pretty well gone, so... yeah, the economy is horrific... so that's that.

09 October 2009

Zombie Day!

Source: Dumb Things I Have Done LatelyFor reasons inexplicable to me, Monday, October 12th will be zombie day at the UW-M Student Union. Max Brooks will be speaking at 7pm (unfortunately, it seems to be a "zombie preparedness presentation", but i'm holding out for a good Q&A).

Additionally, the UW-M cinema is showing Dead Snow, a Norwegian zombie, Nazi comedy. I haven't seen it, nor have I read a lot about it, but what I have heard has been generally positive. I'm looking for it to be a hilarious update on the French non-classic, J'Accuse.

But, in addition to both of these events (each exciting and worthy of note in its own right), there is also a lecture being given by Patrick Bellegarde-Smith, a professor of Africology called "Do Zombies Exist?"

Overall, Monday promises an array of zombie thinking, satirical zombie preparedness conversation, zombie comedy (zombedy?), & (hopefully) rigorous academic attention. Hope to see you all there.

***Updated: 19 October 2009***

Although I had the pleasure of meeting Professor Bellegarde-Smith after his talk (and he seems like he's a fascinating guy), I very much regret the extent to which he gave up the floor both to a documentary created for Canadian TV & to an open "discussion" of the question. While the documentary did make a fair number of claims, Professor Bellegarde-Smith, an (ordained?) Voodoo Priest merely talked around the issue - he seemed most interested (and this I got mostly from our conversation after the lecture) in the fact that Voodoo, unlike other mystical religions (Sufi, Zen, Kabbalah, even Native American religions) has never had any sort of modern renaissance. No young folks, looking for answers turned to Voodoo en masse as they seemed to many of the other mystical religions. This was accounted for because of race, but these claims didn't go much further, nothing more interesting was said, really.

Now, with Dead Snow, there really was absolutely no disappointment. The movie was quite funny, quite gory (the demise of movie geek Erlend is particularly gruesome {and simultaneously hilarious}). The premise of the movie is a lot like Evil Dead, except in Norway, with Nazis, in the snow...

Finally, Max Brooks' (evidently, son of Mel Brooks) talk was entertaining (and very well attended). Because the premise was a zombie-preparedness lecture, I wasn't too disappointed, but I did feel like his responses to the Q&A was overly glib. Something akin to Stephen Colbert appearing on other shows, still fully in character.

07 October 2009

A Nigh Sci-Fi Guy

For most of my life, i've generally tried to avoid being (or being perceived as) a total sci-fi (or SyFy, as the pre-eminent nerd station would have it) geek with a generally complete success.

1. The Stargate canonical viewing order -

- from a website called "Hixie's Natural Log" - The link seems a bit flickery (I find I can't often find it), so I quote it here. Hope you don't mind, Hixie (let me know if you do) & your work is much appreciated.

Stargate movie
Stargate SG-1, episodes 1.1 to 8.2
Stargate Atlantis, episodes 1.1 to 1.15
Stargate SG-1, episodes 8.3 to 8.20
Stargate Atlantis, episodes 1.16 to 2.1
Stargate SG-1, episodes 9.1 to 10.2
Stargate Atlantis, episodes 2.2 to 3.4
Stargate SG-1, episodes 10.3 to 10.12
Stargate Atlantis, episodes 3.5 to 3.19
Stargate SG-1, episodes 10.13 to 10.20
Stargate: The Ark of Truth
Stargate Atlantis, episodes 3.20 to 5.1
Stargate: Continuum
Stargate Atlantis, episodes 5.2 onwards.

2. Online Role Playing (via message board) - setherick & his friends are playing an old school dungeon crawl at the moment.

3. SyFy Network's original shows, I've actually gotten into a couple of them (and more to come from what I've seen)... Warehouse 13 wasn't a great show, but it was something to keep up with. There were characters you could sort of care about, and a lot of actors that looked like other actors... And Roger Rees (of my so called life fame - as the substitute teacher), who I just love. What was most fun about Warehouse 13, though, was the artifacts, the blending of literature with the literal - in many ways, this is my favorite type of text, that which blends what we all think, in fact, is with that which we assume is "fiction".

I've also gotten into another new SyFy show, Stargate: Universe. For (somewhat) overly-frequent readers, this isn't too much of an admission... I have in fact watched 6 seasons of the Stargate TV series, but the new series has the lovely benefit of the 'Lost Wanderer' premise that so many sci-fi shows have tried before (Battlestar Galactica, Star Trek: Voyager, ___(fill in the blank here)___).